Friday, August 23, 2013

Gardening Graham Style

I just realized I haven't wrote a post on our vegetable garden yet.  I haven't taken pictures of it recently because it's a big'ol mess of tomato and pumpkin plants. The garden itself wasn't overly successful (I rely more on my mother-in-law's green thumb for that) but the kids (mostly Emma) sure had fun planting it, watching it grow, and now enjoying its harvest.

We had a wooden sandbox "frame" that we had removed from the playhouse and reused for our garden. Everyone knows a good planting medium is required for a healthy lawn and garden so Dean got some well aged manure and mixed in some potting soil.  Emma was a great help.

Next came the planting.  Marigolds around the perimeter to keep the bugs away, pumpkins, tomatoes, asparagus, spinach, dill, summer savory, and some wildflowers. 


And this is what it looked like midway through the summer. 

Not too bad you say...well it didn't really last.  The asparagus didn't do well, something eventually ate the dill, and we had one good feed of spinach.  The tomato plants are still going strong as are the pumpkin plants and the summer savory is still doing good.  The wildflowers are also beautiful.  So it was not 100% successful but we still did pretty good.

But honestly it would not have mattered if we only had one tomato.  There was so much joy on Emma's face when the garden started coming up, she loved watching it progress over the summer and is now really enjoying running down to the garden to grab a tiny tim tomato and popping it in her mouth. 

I think the lesson learned from this is how important it is to teach our children where our food comes from.  I will not "protect" Emma and Dustin from the fact that the cows we have wondering by the house will eventually be dinner or the fact that the chickens in the barn will feed us all winter (If you ask Emma what we are going to do to the chickens she says "kill them and eat them"). 

So just as my kids will understand where their meat comes from, they'll also understand that tomatoes don't always come in a plastic container from the grocery store. 

What did you grow in your garden this summer?


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Berry Pickin' Time

I have a little passion for blueberries.  It's kinda in my blood.  You see my grandparents and my dad harvested wild blueberries in Nova Scotia for many, many years. 

The last two weeks of every summer for most of my life was spent in the blueberry fields.  I also had a summer job in blueberry research at the College I graduated from.  I have decorated my kitchen/dining room in a blueberry theme (not over the top tacky blueberry but just a few things that suggest it's my favorite fruit).  My good dish set is titled "Blueberry" and I have many beautiful pieces of pottery decorated with, you guessed it, blueberries.

But perhaps my most favorite decorative blueberry item decor is my rake.  Rakes are used to hand harvest wild blueberries and that's what we did every summer in August, gathered up a crew of kids and headed out to rake buckets and buckets of blueberries. I can literally hear the clanging of rakes, smashing of buckets and crates and my dad saying "over yonder" as I type this.

So I carted my rake from Nova Scotia to use as a decorative piece in my home never thinking I would have a chance to use it.  Oh, this is what the rake looks like. 

Wild blueberries are not as abundant in Ontario as they are in NS (from what I've been able to find) so instead of being able to use the rake for its intended use, for the last 7 years I've tied a bow and pine branches to it for a Christmas decoration.  

Until this July!  I finally got to dust that ol' rake off and use it to rake blueberries, at the family hunt camp.  I've seen the bushes there but have never been able to harvest the berries - either they have never produced or the bears have gotten to them first.  Well this year we hit it at the right time. And honestly, the taste of wild blueberries just can't be beat. 

The kids and my mother-in-law picked.  Actually Dustin and Emma spent most of their time eating.  I raked a container full. 

And then I spent many hours cleaning the berries!  That's the thing with raking, you get everything.  But I'd rather spend 2 hours in my kitchen, than 2 hours in a berry patch picking them one by one.  Here is the finished product ready to go into the freezer and some in my blueberry pottery bowl.

TIP: I laid the blueberries out on waxed paper covering a baking sheet.  I find they freeze better that way and are easier to grab just a few for a snack or baking.

I'll probably use most of the berries in muffins, smoothies and for my morning snack (low fat plain greek yoghurt with fruit).

What's your favorite blueberry recipe?