Location: Newcastle, Ontario, Canada

Born in Toronto, a degree in Psychology at Carleton in Ottawa, ran a photography business for 10 years from a studio in Parkdale, Toronto, apprenticed with a stained glass artist, and, and, and...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Eating daisies...and ice cream.

Late July, early August, 2005: If Finnie's theory of trying everything once, also applied to vegetables, we would be encouraging this eating of Black-Eyed Susans. I suspect they are bitter to taste. Not so ice cream. Again, funny how you don't need to entice children to eat sweet things, even when they had never tasted them before. They just know that they want it, some extra sense that wears off with time to connect kids with sugar.

Everything was so verdant at this point, even a little tired, like a play that has gone into its fourth season. Still unmistakedly beautiful but mature is maybe what I'm looking for. I read what I'm writing and think I sound ungrateful. Really we had ekked so much out of this summer that having it still here was surprising to me. Usually there is so much to take me away from experiencing summer that I blink and the leaves are falling from the trees. So to notice its many nuances might be understandable with our daily scrutiny.

One morning in early August I did look closely, with a macro lens at things in the garden. Like undersea diving or snorkelling, looking closely gives one entrance to another level, another place co-existing with the world one normally rambles about in. Too easy to take neat pictures but so easy to forget your surroundings when you dive so deep that you bump a spider's hindquarters.

I was harvesting zucchini's the size of baseball bats, almost really. I know, they should be harvested earlier so they taste better but to a first time food gardener it was buckets of fun to bring in vegetable that we could theoretically eat that rivaled the kids in height. I was actually stressed by this part of gardening. We are not massive eaters of vegetables and I am not a superb cook so to see so much edible stuff looking at me as if to say, well, you grew me, what did you think was going to happen? was daunting. Zucchinis became zucchini bread, shaved and frozen zucchini for later, stuffed zucchini and I still was not on top of it. They laughed at me and grew faster to send me into a tizzy.

I swear, I would see a 6-inch zucchini before bed and the next morning its size could only be accounted for if it had eaten a rabbit that night. And we had beets. As said earlier I was planting the seeds for them going, I don't like beets why am I doing this, but like some unalterable idea of what a successful gardener grows, I planted them anyways. Confronted with my past actions in the form of dark red, purple beets I plucked a bunch, washed them, peeled them and cut them into bit-size pieces. Put in the oven with salt and butter they were delivered onto our astonished tongues as more than delicious. Couldn't stop eating them. So the learning year put another check beside my chart.

At the beginning of this post I alluded to Finnie's aversion to green healthy things. Owen too. But this is important. Give the kid a chance to go into a garden and pluck and eat snap peas and you would not be able to convince him that these were the same item that later lay on his plate, cooked. Environment and control are so vital to a child deciding to try something. And the novelty of being able to eat something outside that grew outside. So, next year I will teach them to cook them so they see the same item come to the plate. Maybe it will work, or I'll just leave them in the veggie patch during the day.

I won't do scarlet runner beans again. I mean the flowers are great and I had read some nifty ways to set up archways so that you could walk under the bean vines amongst the orange blossoms. But we didn't like the taste and I planted too many so in the end, they just stayed on the vine. Same with a white cucumber I tried. We couldn't get past the white color. Probably tasted the same as green ones but couldn't convince us they weren't dangerous. Yellow pear tomatoes were another thing Owen loved to eat outside so maybe one plant next year but more likely the plum tomato as I'm a bit squeamish around tomato innards and the plum is less gushy (technical term.)

I wouldn't plant both swiss chard and spinach again as we used them for virtually the same purposes. Hilary showed me how to slowly cook swiss chard in only the water left on the leaves after washing. Again, a great taste discovery.

Now my gardening time was being hampered by cooked or preparing or storing food. Nice feeling to be filling a freezer with stuff we'd grown. Like pesto. I NEVER got tired of plucking basil leaves, dropping them in a food processor with olive oil, garlic, almonds or walnuts, salt and zap instant incredible smell. This had to be balanced with the smell of the basil though. I loved it but Tim thought our cats had peed in the kitchen. Bet if he had harvested it it wouldn't have smelt bad to him. Connections to smells mean so much. Unknown origins can mislead the nostrils to some nasty assumptions.


Anonymous Barbara Spriggs said...

Carrie, I am rereading your blogs! I do so love them! They make me laugh and I am right there again with you in the garden. Soon it will be time to think of planning a garden again - what veggies to plant - and where. I remember when I was very young, being given a bit of garden for myself to plant what ever I wanted. I planted peanuts. I dug them up every month to see if they were growning. I got 2 in the end and was very proud of the result!
I check each day to see if you have a new blog.
love Hil.

8:25 a.m., March 27, 2006  

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