Raspberry picking at Proulx Farm

In mid-July, we went raspberry picking at Proulx Berry Farm in Orleans. We are more accustomed to the busy seasons of strawberry and pumpkin picking, and were pleasantly surprised to find that there were just a few other groups of pickers for raspberries. Proulx is great as a U-Pick location. You pay a small admission fee per person but that cost is deducted from your berry price at the end (keep your entrance receipt!). Their pricing for both strawberries and raspberries seemed fantastic (compared to buying berries at the farmers’ markets). You take a short wagon ride (attached to a tractor – selling point for young kids) to and from the bushes. Raspberries are a bit easier to pick than strawberries as they grow on bushes (not along the ground). We went a few weeks into the season but there were lots of ripe berries to pick.

Raspberries

After we had finished picking, we enjoyed a pre-packed allergy-friendly lunch on a grassy area. Our toddler played on their play structure and with their numerous toy trucks in the sand ‘pit’ (really more like a huge pile of sand). We also visited their animals and looked at more tractors.

Animals Little chicks! Hello! Sitting Pigs Hanging out

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Roots and Shoots CSA share – 2nd week of August

Share

Summer is really ticking along! This is the first share where we’ve gotten a hot banana pepper. I don’t recall ever having one in any of our shares over the past years. We got some eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and beans – the staples of summer.

A garlic harvest of our own

Last weekend, we celebrated our very first garlic harvest! After eating the little scapes from our garlic last month, we were excited to see what the bulbs looked like beneath the soil. I think we harvested them a little bit later than we maybe should’ve (1 week earlier would’ve been good) but sure enough, we found fully formed bulbs! They were rather small but I’d still say we were fairly successful for a first ever garlic planting. These were from cloves that we picked up at last year’s Carp Garlic Festival. We’ll be going back to the festival this year to buy a few more bulbs for eating and for planting.

Fresh out of the soil Ready to be hung

In other news, our tomatoes are still green but there are a good number of them growing larger by the day. We also have a healthy number of flowers that will become tomatoes very soon (fingers crossed!). The peas are doing fabulously but like last year, the plant is large and unruly. I really need to work on how to grow a nicely contained pea plant. Our purple beans are beautiful as ever and the plant looks like it is doing well. The chard and kale are producing good yields, and unlike last year with a mold issue, this year’s cucumbers are looking great! We’ve got a lot of flowers and a few cucumbers already growing.

Ripen, babies, ripen Future tomatos Part of the haul Peas IMG_4481

I love seeing our vegetables doing well. It is so satisfying! But I also cannot believe that it is August!?

Roots and Shoots CSA Share – 4th week of July

So fennel…really not a fan. There is just something about the smell and the flavour that I absolutely dislike (black licorice…). Otherwise, we had another healthy helping of zucchini (which I blanched, chopped and froze) and cucumbers, a lovely bunch of beets, onions, beans, carrots, kale and chard.

CSA share 4th week of July

New this week: some cute and crisp green peppers and a bulb of garlic! Can’t wait to get more peppers!

Roots and Shoots CSA share – mid July

The first year we joined our vegetable CSA (community shared agriculture), I took photos of our shares each week. I decided that it would be fun to start with the photos again this year. We are still with the same fabulous Roots and Shoots Farm (see some photos from the farm tour several years ago) and are getting a full share this year, as we cook just that much more from scratch nowadays.

Do you know what each of the vegetables are?
Do you know what each of the vegetables are?

Our shares actually started a few weeks ago. Radishes, hakurei turnips and onions have been the staple vegetables for all of the shares. We’ve had scapes for two weeks, zucchini and cucumber for two weeks, last week was the first showing of broccoli and this week, we have carrots and beans! I’m fairly certain tomatos are just around the corner, which is exciting…but it also reminds me that summer is passing so quickly!

Lately, we’ve been making a lot of green soups. Using our homemade stocks, we add beet greens or radish greens and puree with our Vitamix (new addition to our household this Spring – loving it!). Our toddler absolutely loves these soups and we’re happy because he’s getting greens and fiber. Occasionally if we’re inundated with lettuce or chard, we’ll throw those into soups too.

Cucumbers, when not added to salads, are turned into quick Japanese pickles (I just use rice vinegar, sugar and salt). These are so refreshing on a hot summer day! I tried this recipe with radishes but found that they were a bit spicy; the pickles tasted like wasabi. However, the recipe with hakurei turnips is reminiscent of pickled daikon, which I love!

I love seeing that some of our friends, near and far, are getting onboard with CSAs in their area. They typically start with vegetable CSAs but I like to remind them that there are beef, chicken and pork CSAs too!

Lovely Sunday Lunch

I had heard many-a-time about a very lovely Sunday lunch spot at a duck farm near Plantaganet, Ontario. A place where they feed you the vegetables that they grow in their garden and the ducks that they raise on their farm. A quiet haven off a two-lane highway about a 45 minute drive from downtown Ottawa. It was only recently that I finally made it out to Mariposa Farm to enjoy a meal.

Mariposa Farm (6468 County Road 17, Plantaganet, Ontario)

The Farm
The Farm
Large plant markers!
Large plant markers!
Welcome to Sunday Lunch at Mariposa Farm!
Welcome to Sunday Lunch at Mariposa Farm!

They change their menu every Sunday and for $45 plus tax/gratuities, you get a well-sized three-course meal: starter, entree, dessert. There is also homemade bread with soybean oil, and self-serve tea and coffee.

The cozy dining room
The cozy dining room
The view out the window
The view out the window

They provide three different options for each of the parts of the meal so it’s a semi-set meal. There was no vegetarian option for the entree…lucky for me, I’m not a vegetarian! Instead, I opted for their duck confit, which was absolutely amazing! Not to mention it came on one of my favourite fall vegetables: delicata squash!

One of the choices of starters: head cheese with a fruit puree, black radishes, mustard seeds, and some toast.
One of the choices of starters: head cheese with a fruit puree, black radishes, mustard seeds, and some toast.
Duck confit on a bed of buckwheat, delicata squash, celerium, and pears.
Duck confit on a bed of buckwheat, delicata squash, celerium, and pears.
A selection of local cheeses with oatmeal cookies
A selection of local cheeses with oatmeal cookies
A peach tart with raspberry sauce and a dollop of whipped cream
A peach tart with raspberry sauce and a dollop of whipped cream

It’s a lovely place if you’re looking for a special meal in a relaxing setting, friendly hosts, delicious food (albeit not very vegetarian-friendly), and something a little different from your city restaurant. I’ve not yet heard one person walk away from Mariposa Farm dissatisfied.
Mari Posa Farms on Urbanspoon

A new magazine and a new street food fest

Destination Seattle for Street Food Fest

Let me start with the street food fest. While we here in Ottawa revel at the (slow) introduction of a new fleet of food trucks and cart (slow both in the city offering up new street food vending permits and in getting the trucks/carts ready and out on the streets), many other cities have been flaunting vehicles serving up delicious fare for years. Last summer, I took a trip up the west coast of the US to Vancouver, trying to enjoy the food trucks and carts all the way. When I travel, I typically walk A LOT. Often I’m just too cheap to pay to take public transit and I’m a healthy able-bodied person…so I figure…why not walk. San Francisco had Off the Grid (food truck gatherings throughout the week) and Portland had pods (permanent food truck parks). These were fabulous, as I made Off the Grid and pod locations a destination; yes, I planned my day around where the food would be located for lunch or dinner on any given day. Unfortunately, Seattle didn’t make it easy for me to try many food trucks as only a very few came to the heart of downtown during meal time. Fortunately, for anyone in Seattle on August 17/18 this year, the city has its first Street Food Festival! It’s bringing a bunch of the city’s best mobile food vendors to one part of the city and throwing in some live music…how fantastic does that sound!?

Modern Farmer

If you enjoy reading about the wide variety of issues around food production, I just read about a new magazine called the Modern Farmer and it may interest you! They have some neat posts on their website and their inaugural magazine edition for Spring 2013 is now on sale. Read about how to save seeds or read a snapshot about the Senate Farm Bill in the US. A little bit of something for every food-lover.

Stimulating Saturdays: Food culture in a food desert

The value of turning land in the middle of a city into a garden is amazing. People who do the gardening and nurture the plants and the land find great joy in the activity, the people passing by and interacting with the garden are affected by their experience with nature, and slowly, food deserts disappear.

Stimulating Saturdays: How do we feed the world?

In the previous Stimulating Saturdays post, I shared a video that explains the concept of food security. This week, I’m following up with this video on the ‘global food crisis’, which is a combination of inequitable food and resource distribution, a rising demand for food as the population increases, and building or maintaining sustainable resource systems (food production, environment, lifestyles).

It’s interesting that a picture of corn is used to represent food in quite a few of the animation frames. I recently watched the documentary, King Corn, which follows two relatively young guys who go to middle America to grow corn because they learn that their body is essentially corn. A testament to how much corn products make their way into our foods. A substantial amount of food is grown to be fed to animals, not people, so that countries that crave a large amount of cheap meat can be satisfied. Corn is a common feed element for animals but it is also processed into various corn-derived substances. A lot of the corn that you see driving through the countryside is not meant to be eaten directly by humans but you end up eating a lot more corn than just corn-on-the-cob if you buy pre-packaged or pre-prepared foods.

If you’re interested in these topics, a great book to read is Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System by Raj Patel.

Stimulating Saturdays: Fighting hunger with policy

How do you feed the world’s population while protecting ecosystems, cultures, people’s livelihoods and dignity? How do you democratize food, making fresh, delicious, wholesome foods available to all? How do you address hunger and inequalities? Food policy deals with all of these questions and more. This short video describes how food policy can fight hunger and was produced by the Interational Food Policy Research Institute.

If you’re interested in learning more about the policy direction for food in Ottawa, the organization Just Food, which champions a just and sustainable food system in Ottawa, features the discussion and learning forum, Food for All. The City of Ottawa also publishes the Nutritious Food Basket Survey on an annual basis and commented on the price of eating well in Ottawa in 2011.