Shakshuka

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My husband got a taste for shakshuka, the Middle Eastern egg and tomato dish, when he was travelling in Israel last year, and he hasn’t let up about it since. In the past year we’ve had it for breakfast, brunch and lunch, and with a few variations literally thrown in, it makes a great supper as well. Made with the best tomatoes you can get your hands on-which should be easy this time of year-and served with thick slices of fresh bread or soft pita it is a one dish masterpiece. Shakshuka is a great way to use up those fresh tomatoes that are just a little over ripe and not suitable for salads or sandwiches.  Continue »



Filling in the Cracks with Hardy Sedums

Sedums can fill unusual spaces in the garden, like this V-shaped gap in the garden.

Sedums can fill unusual spaces in the garden, like this V-shaped gap in the garden.

Perennial Sedums, the winter hardy version of succulents, are tough. Remember, if you like succulents, there are two kinds, the tender ones that can’t survive freezing temperatures—like echeveria, jade plants, burro’s tail—and these, commonly called Hens and Chicks or stonecrop, which are perfectly able to withstand Canadian winters. There is always a space where you can fit a few in your garden. And there are so many named varieties of hardy sedum to choose from. Colours range from green, blue-green, and pink all the way to deep purple. One of my favourite new varieties that does well in dry shade is bright yellow-green ‘Angelina’, which turns orange in the fall.

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‘Angelina’ sedum turning orange in September.

 

The sustainable approach to gardening is to make sure you have growing plants covering soil, rather than on relying on mulch. Avoid bare soil at any cost. Instead, use low ground covers for any garden bare spots. Sedums work especially well in garden crevices, as seen in the picture above. They are true ground huggers and help to stop erosion on slopes. This sedum patch above, is growing on a slope, where even mulch would be regularly washed away.

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Tramezzini

 

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This long weekend, many of us are headed to the cottage or campground, while others are just as happy to pack the picnic basket and make a bee-line for the nearest beach or waterfront park. Packing the cooler is always a labour of love, and deciding what to put in the cooler –or picnic basket- is part of the fun. Picnic favourites include cold fried chicken pieces, picnic eggs or their high-falutin’ cousins, devilled eggs, pasta salads and lots of refreshing in-season fruit like local strawberries, cherries, peaches and fresh cut watermelon. And sandwiches; don’t forget the sandwiches! And this summer, why not up the wow factor a couple notches by making tramezzini? Continue »



Heucheras Aplenty

Heuchera 'Caramel'

Heuchera ‘Caramel’

Heucheras have taken off with a bang of late, due to clever plant breeders. In the old days heuchera, (Coral Bells) were “dependable yet boring workhouse plants” with green leaves and red flowers that were thought ‘insignificant’. That’s all changed with the explosion of new varieties. It’s almost impossible to keep track of them all, as they now rival the numbers we see in hostas and daylilies: a collectors dream.

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A Jubilee of Cherries!

 

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We here in Ontario are in the latter stages of cherry season. Have you indulged yet? Whether you opt for the large sweet plump cherries –perfect for eating fresh, and wonderful in fresh fruit salad- or the smaller, tart Sour Cherries that are great for baking and making jam, Ontario cherries are one of summer’s true delights.No county fair would be complete without a cherry pie competition, and is there anything better on a sultry night than cherries jubilee? Continue »