Little Green Sprouts to Brighten the Dark Winter Months

It’s that time of year, things are a bit dark and dreary and thoughts of spring gardens are popping into everyone’s minds. Most of the locally grown fruits and veggies we eat now are roots, squash, carrots and cabbage. These are the veggies that store well through the winter months and while they keep you full and warm, it’s nice to have something a little fresher to liven up your meals. There is something fun and tasty you and your kids can do to revive your taste buds and even add a little zing to your meals 😉

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How many folks have hit the farmers market and eaten half a bag of sprouts on the way home? I know I can’t be the only one! Sprouts are a great way to enjoy fresh local food in a short period of time. Children love to help grow them and many will eat them straight from the sprouter (which can be as simple as an old spaghetti sauce jar!), the larger seeds and beans make a great snack. Most folks know the two most famous sprouts found in oriental dishes and salad bars around the world. Tiny little alfalfa sprouts can be added to salads, sandwiches and top many a casserole. Good old mung bean sprouts are the ones found in chow mien and egg rolls and a variety of stir fries.

While the traditional stuff is all fun and tasty there are hundreds of seeds out there you can sprout. Radish and mustard can add a little heat to your salad or sandwich. Sprouted chick peas can make a great hummus (check out the chocolate avocado mousse while you’re there!). Barely sprouted raw nuts like almonds taste heavenly and are even more nutritious than their dormant cousins. Sprouting beans before cooking can make them tasty and easier to digest. Continue reading “Little Green Sprouts to Brighten the Dark Winter Months”

High Park Cherry Blossom – Update

Again a brief reminder to please take the TTC to the Park if you’re joining us this weekend! 

A final Cherry Blossom Update before we head out for the weekend.  It’s getting very close out there!  Many of the Park and Nature Centre Staff have picked their dates for the blossoms to open … Jorge the Park Supervisor says Saturday … Nature Centre Staff are thinking Sunday (I think) … I’m liking Monday myself.  I might be a little late with that prediction but I’m thinking the Cherry Blossoms will be at their peak by then.

Continue reading “High Park Cherry Blossom – Update”

Seedy Saturdays (and a Sunday!)

It’s that time of year once again!  Seedy Saturdays (and a Sunday) are just around the corner.  Perfect timing for starting your seeds indoors.  

There’s nothing like watching seeds grow to get you through the tail-end of winter.  Watching tiny little leaves unfold and slowly but surely turn into the plants we all know and love provides us with that little taste of spring.  Here are a few great resources for starting seeds …

Lets Start Seeds – You Grow Girl (very comprehensive list of resources)

Gayla Trail’s (You Grow Girl) Awesome Seed Starting Chart

Seed Starting 101 – Canadian Gardening

Seed Starting Basics – Mother Earth News

Our best seed sources will be at these great Seedy Saturday (and one Sunday!) events:

Scadding Court – Sat., Mar. 3
Evergreen Brickworks – Sat., Mar. 10
Heron Park Community Centre – Sat., Mar. 17
West End – Sat., Mar. 24
Lawrence Heights Community Centre – Sun., Mar. 25 

Check out one of these great events in your area.  The closest one to High Park will be the West End Seedy Saturday at Masaryk-Cowan Community Centre on Mar. 24.  We hope to see you there!

Warm Up With A Little Sage Tea

Sage is a pungent herb most of us associate with stuffing and turkey but it’s a much more flexible seasoning then most folks think!

Have you ever tried sage tea?  Admittedly it has a flavour that may take some getting used to but it can help with congestion and stuffy noses that often crop up at this time of year.  You can combine it with other herbs or lemon tea to make it tastier if necessary.

Another great combination is sage and squash!  Add sage to your squash recipes for a tasty, savory side-dish.  A teaspoon or two of dried and crumbled or close to a tablespoon of fresh combined with olive oil and garlic then spread over the inside of your favourite squash is sure to please.

For a real treat fry fresh sage leaves in butter (preferably organic sage leaves (and butter of course!) … some store bought types can be a bit bitter) until golden brown and use them for garnish on squash, rice, potatoes or other savory dishes.  Just try not to eat all the sage before it makes it to your plate … oh so yummy!

Chicken Of The Woods

So very COOL!  The Gardeners here in High Park found a little forest treasure today … it’s called Chicken Of The Woods.  It’s an edible fungus that tastes surprisingly like … chicken.  As you can see the human race is not overly creative when it comes to naming stuff!

Please Remember – Never eat mushrooms or fungus unless you are 110% positive that it is safe and you know what you’re eating!!!!! (yes this warning requires 5 exclamation points!)!

Also here’s another reminder that it is considered illegal to remove anything from a national, provincial, municipal park or conservation area.

So here are some photos of the fungi that were knocked off an Oak here in the park … and no these are not orange brains … we promise 🙂

Continue reading “Chicken Of The Woods”

Spring Greens Information and Recipes!

Over the next few months as things start to wake up and grow here in Southern Ontario we’ll see a few very special, local and truly seasonal spring greens popping up.  They’re tasty, extra healthy and make for a great way to celebrate the upcoming garden season … it’s that first taste of fresh, seasonal, local food!

What are the popular early spring greens found here in Southern Ontario?  Well they’re often considered weeds.  Yes we encourage you to eat your weeds!  Others are true delicacies that are native plants to our area.

Collecting these in the city can be a bit difficult and in many parks and conservation areas they are protected.  It is also important that these plants are properly identified before you pick them.  For this reason we always suggest purchasing these greens from your local farmers’ market.  If you would like to learn more, a quick search of the web will find you a number of courses in proper foraging techniques and plant identification.

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Just About Time for a Long Winter’s Nap!

It’s that time of year.  Gardens are being put to bed, snow shovels are being dug out from the shed and the leaves are added to the compost pile.  Well, almost on that last one!  After a quick survey of the Garden yesterday we’ve found a few plants still plugging away and trying to survive these last few frosts!

Cardoon – related to the Globe Artichoke

Continue reading “Just About Time for a Long Winter’s Nap!”