Yearly Archives: 2012

  • BS Pie: How I’m coping with a surplus of butternut squash

    Butternut squash cheesecake. (Next on my to-do list: working on my pie slicing skills).

    There’s a reason why an old adage is… an old adage.

    It has stood the test of time because there’s more than a kernel of truth to such a saying.

    Take ‘Be careful what you wish for.’

    Turn the clock back nine months and I turned to Twitter to help me deal with the mounting problem of a never-ending pile of spaghetti squash I had accumulated from CSA deliveries. As I looked at the massive heap, it seemed like the least versatile squash ever and whatever was I going to do to squish my squash problem?

    I got some great suggestions — spaghetti squash ramen, anyone? — but I also found myself thinking, ‘If only they were butternut squash.’

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    Category Recipes, Uncategorized


  • Peach Tree
  • The vinegar vitae: Rose hip vinegar Part 1

    There are certain ailments with which I hope I’m never afflicted. Itchy bum is one of them.

    Laugh if you must. I know I chortled when reading up on rose hips in my foraging handbook, learning that the tiny hairs inside these rosy seed pods can cause such a problem as they pass. Careful cleaning is required before eating these guys.

    In my diligent efforts to avoid what strikes me as equal parts agonizing and embarrassing, I sliced open each tiny hip and gently scraped its innards bare. The process taught me one lesson I’ve never forgotten: Rose hips are a pain in the butt.

    Still, I remained undeterred by the work ahead of me when I went foraging for the fruit last week with my friend Rowan in the Twelve Mile Creek valley. We waited patiently for a hard frost, the best time after which to start the harvest. I felt a like a kid in a candy store at the sight of the sometimes fleshy, sometimes firm orbs — think oblong cranberries — tempting me to free them from the nastiest, thorniest rose bushes of them all.

    We picked, we clipped and visions of tangy and tart rose hip creations danced in my head. Last year, I made tea, hoping to reap the benefits of all the vitamin C rose hips pack. This year, I’d try something else. Something more interesting.

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    Category In the Wild, Recipes


  • Peach Tree
  • Recipe for a family bond: An ode to a pumpkin

    I watched as my cousin walked up to the cashier, basket of groceries in one hand and a small orange pumpkin in the other.

    With room in the basket, it struck me how he separated the small orange squash with its lopsided bit of curled stem from the rest of the groceries.

    I also wondered what he would do with it. He had only a couple more days in Zweibrücken, where we both were at the time of the great pumpkin purchase, before he’d return to his reality in London. And I, along with my husband Steve, had only a couple days beyond that before we would also be bidding adieu to Germany.

    We were there together this fall on short notice. Members of my family came from respective corners of this country and that continent to say good-bye to the matriarch of the Mayer clan; a woman who is, without question, loved, though there have been moments when that wasn’t easy. She is admirable in many ways, and yet those same qualities we all grew to admire — and to which we credited her longevity — had once made her unbearable.

    Still, at 99 and three-quarter years, with a mind that could put most a third of her age to shame, and a stubbornness that convinced everyone she would outlive us all, my Oma was flagging. She was certain she was going to die and as she laid in a hospital bed, she begged for death to happen.

    It wasn’t my favourite trip to a place that I love and, in typical Oma Mayer fashion, she cheated death, though I know she was the only one disappointed.

    For most of the week we were there, there was a heaviness to the days — hours of which would be spent at the hospital with her. There was a hollowness to any laughter, a worry about what the next day would bring. It was hard to imagine a world without her.

    And then there was this pumpkin.

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    Category Food Finds


  • Peach Tree
  • Good night Grackle Garden

    A late summer harvest at Grackle Garden.

    I’ve finally stopped sniffling.

    And I think I’ve shivered out the last bit of early November chill that went through my jacket, shirt and flesh to my very core where it has stayed for the last few hours.

    That’s what happens when you drag your heels putting your garden to bed, hoping that maybe this onward march toward winter and the ever-cooling fall temperatures are just a fluke. But I realize I’m just in denial about the six months of cold weather, grey days, layers of clothing and heavy footwear, and lack of gardening that are ahead.

    Today, my friend Rowan and I finally uprooted the spent tomatoes and tired peppers that we left lingering in Grackle Garden with the hope they might beckon summer back.

    I haven’t written much about Grackle Garden, so an introduction comes late, when the patch of earth in a yard that we borrowed this summer is well past its seasonal prime and interesting stories.

    Last year, while harvesting pears, a homeowner ushered me conspiratorially to her backyard where blue tarps laid undisturbed for years, protecting a swath of soil carved into her lawn. Her ageing parents, who were now in a nursing home, had used the garden every year during the decades they raised their family in their north St. Catharines, red-brick, one-and-a-half storey home.

    But when the garden became too much, rather than replace fertile ground with sod, they covered it with tarps and waited for the day it might be used again.

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    Category Food Security, Uncategorized