Monthly Archives: September 2012

Decision time

I feel like continuing to give the tomatoes and zucchini more time to do their thing at this point in the season is a waste of time. I think it would be better to pull up the summer stuff and plant more fall greens before it gets too cold for them to germinate. This seems like a good plan at the end of September :).

The tomatoes are blocking the herbs planted behind them from getting any sun (the collard greens are looking spindly) and frankly I’m a little sick of dealing with them. Last week the zucchini had two blossoms, this week only one and it’s pretty dried out. The plot was looking really dry today so I watered it. I think my brother, the principal waterer, has been neglecting his duties because we’ve had some rainfall lately and the temps have cooled off. It rained yesterday, he pointed out, but as my sister also pointed out: not very much.

No garden pictures today; my camera died. Instead, here are some pics of a cute kitty that lives near the gardens. We have pet sessions every time I see him.

I’m interrupting something…

but he comes to say hi anyway

 

I think he’s an old guy but he’s quite friendly

 

Plan for the weekend:

  • Take down the tomatoes and stakes. We have to do this by the end of October anyway so I might as well get an early start
  • Pull up the zucchini
  • Plant some garlic and fall greens (kale, collards)
  • Replace camera batteries for next visit

I want to plant some annual rye grass as a green manure this year, but I haven’t quite figured out how I’ll plant the rye grass and also grow things at the same time. By the time I have to pull up the fall stuff it will probably be too cold for the seeds to germinate. The idea is to plant the rye grass around this time and let the winter kill it off. In the spring, turn it over into the soil. I was also told I could plant it in the early spring and turn it over once the grass reaches 6 inches height. Decisions, decisions.

Came across this great seed storing tips link on Urban Harvest’s Facebook page on the 19th. I haven’t refrigerated my seeds in the past but I think I will this season.

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I made sushi!

To be more accurate, I made maki on the weekend. I love maki! I prefer the cooked stuff and tend to go for the vegetarian options as well. I decided to make vegetarian maki, just to make things easier.

I bought the nori at Tutti Fruitti in Kensington market. I chose the Yamamotoyama brand because I liked the packaging and the price was right.

Nori

On Saturday after work, I made the homemade pickled ginger recipe I found on Allrecipes.com. First I peeled the ginger using a vegetable peeler. Then I salted it and let it stand for 30 minutes as the recipe stated.

Super thin ginger slices using a vegetable peeler

Then in a pot I mixed the rice vinegar and sugar until it dissolved.

Rice vinegar and sugar mixture. Steam is fogging up the camera.

Once it came to a boil, I took it off the burner and poured it into the jar with the ginger slices. Once it cooled, I put the cap on and put it into the fridge. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! The recipe makes a lot of pickled ginger.

Pickled ginger

On Sunday, it was time to get down to it. My brother had been trying to source out wasabi for most of the week. I told him to buy powdered wasabi because I had read it was cheaper than the paste. However, he managed to find a very affordable paste at T&T Supermarket. He picked it because it actually had wasabi in the ingredients. The downside was that it had sorbital and other preservatives.

Wasabi

I bought Lundberg brown rice from Essence of Life in Kensington Market and followed the instructions on the package for boiling the rice. The package said it could be used when a sticky consistency was desired and I’d read that short or medium grain rice was ideal for sticky rice. I used the recipe at essortment for making the sticky rice seasoning.

I decided to attempt a California-style roll with the rice on the outside. I don’t own a sushi mat so I researched what I could use if I didn’t have one. I came across a Youtube video that used a kitchen towel, which sounded interesting. In the end I decided to go with plastic wrap, which had come up a lot in my research, because it was handy and I could just toss it.

Fresh veggies for filling

I placed a piece of parchment paper on top of a cutting board (to keep it from getting dirty) and got to work. After putting rice on my nori, I realized that I had put the plastic wrap underneath the nori with the rice on top. Instead of just rolling it with the rice inside, I clumsily reversed everything so the rice was on the bottom of the nori and on top of the plastic.

Ready to roll – California style (the rice is on the bottom)!

The first roll didn’t turn out too well as I didn’t wrap it tightly enough…

Attempt no. 1 – fail!

but man, it tasted great! My sister, who swears she hates maki (she doesn’t like the taste of nori), loved it. The wasabi was brutally hot (and therefore really good) and the pickled ginger was pretty good as well (maybe a bit too salty). Neither condiment, nor soy sauce, were necessary as sticky rice seasoning gave everything more than enough flavour. Yum!

We rolled a few more California-style rolls and rolls with the nori on the outside. My brother wet the edges of the nori so it would hold together better. I skipped this step on my first attempt so that could have been the cause of my rolls falling apart.

My brother shows me how it’s done

We ended up using the parchment paper to roll our maki in later attempts because it held its shape better than the plastic wrap.

Nice, tight roll

My technique improved on subsequent attempts. I found that the trick to keeping it together is to roll it tightly (I used a roll-squeeze-roll-squeeze technique) and to use a serrated knife to cut the rolls.

Deee-lish!

Looking forward to making them again!

 

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Fall on the horizon

Quickly ran by the garden before meeting up with a friend for dinner at Guu Sakabar. I had about 15 minutes to assess what was happening and  harvest whatever was ready for eating and for storing (ie. seeds).

The zucchini was putting out a few blossoms but not making any fruit. It’s starting to go down to  single digit temperatures overnight so I’d be surprised if any fruit actually produces. I hope more blossoms continue to bloom so I can try making a stuffed zucchini blossom recipe.

Blossoms only : (

The tomato plants continue their natural decline but I’m happy to say that energy is being put into ripening the fruit.

Fruit is still ripening

Parsley and dill are getting stronger. I’m not sure what the oblong-shaped leaf near the parsley and dill is. It doesn’t look like the collards near the back of the photo.

Parsley and dill

This chive flowers were closing up and starting to make seeds.

Chive seeds in the making

I was tempted to pick the buds but decided to leave them. A post on saving garlic chive seeds on the Garden web forum told me that, much like with other seeds, it was best to wait for the  seeds dry on the plant before picking them for storage. I wonder if they taste any good like this?

I’ve noticed for a while that the basil were going to seed and recently discovered that the  seed pods are actually underneath the flowers. I had to turn the plant upside down to find them.

Green seed pods under Dark Opal basil flowers

Basil seeds

I gently picked off the dried flowers and managed to separate some seeds from the pod.

Basil seeds

I’d soon run out of time so I quickly picked a few more dried basil, calendula and cornflower flower heads so I could remove the seeds at home.

Seeds and dried seed pods

Calendula and cornflower

Guu had an interesting atmosphere and the food was delicious. After dinner, we sat on the patio outside  Starbucks. I felt a little chilly in my short sleeved sweater. What was I thinking coming out without a jacket? Fall is just around the corner…

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Adios verano…

On Labour Day, my brother and I headed up to Mel Lastman Square for the Hispanic Fiesta. It was our first time attending the festival. We were going to see Imbayakunas, who are always entertaining (we went to the Beaches Jazz Fest just to see them), but we were delighted to find that the entire show was amazing.  My brother really enjoyed the Mariachi Viva Mexico band, in particular. We had such a good time. It was a great way to end off the summer on a high note. It was quite clear though that summer was over. Somewhere during the performances we realized that it had become pitch black all around us. I looked at my watch, expecting to see that it was at least 10 o’clock, and was surprised to find that it was only 8:30! The days are becoming shorter. Adios verano (bye bye summer).

I’ve been passing by the gardens for short periods of time these days, really to collect seeds. I planted some beets, carrots, kale, spinach and collard greens at the end of August. We’ve had a few downpours so we haven’t had to water as much. I noticed that a week after I planted the beets, they were already starting to come up.

Beet seedlings

This time my brother picked up Early wonder tall tops from Urban Harvest at Dufferin Grove Farmers Market. According to the description, these are the type you’re supposed to buy if you like to eat the greens. I’m really looking forward to trying them. Too bad they take a month and a half to two months to reach maturity. The carrots are coming up too but they take just as long.

I continue to enjoy the chive blossoms and it seems I’m not the only one:

Yellow jacket wasp enjoying the chive flowers

A bee takes his turn

I’m not sure which I enjoy better – the gustatorial delights of the closed blossoms sprinkled on my meals (oh man, so good!) or the visual delight of the flowers in full bloom. I personally don’t think they taste as good when they’re in full bloom. I’m interested in seeing what it will be like to collect the seeds.

Chive blossoms, almost all in full bloom

Last weekend I managed to collect some nasturtium seeds:

Some nasturtium seeds can be found on the plants but you have to look carefully

I haven’t been successful in finding nice looking seeds under the plant itself. The green ones I found on the plant. I wasn’t sure about the viability of the white, wrinkled looking ones (or if they were even seeds at all) so I squished one between my fingers and it disintegrated with some pressure. I left the rest. They really didn’t look like the ones in nasturtium video I found on YouTube.The green ones are drying well at home.

Are the white ones seeds? I have no idea

The cornflower seeds are really easy to identify and to harvest. I’ve just been running my thumb inside the dry seed head and the seeds just pop out.

The seeds are really easy to identify – they have fringes at the end

Seeds separated from the chaff

I was doing this in the garden until I found I was losing a lot of them so now I’ve been taking the flower heads and separating the seeds at home. I’ve become more than a little obsessed with the cornflower seeds in particular.

Last week I spent some time searching the ground around the calendula flowers for seeds. I found some this way last month. I inspected the flowers and realized that some of them were pretty dry and I could recognize the seeds!

Calendula seeds

Another view

I was too impatient to take the dried flowers home and hang them upside down in a paper bag so I picked off the seeds and took them home in a baggie to fully dry before I store them.

Bag ’em and head for home!

The end of summer is not such a bad thing after all!

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