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Happy-Gourmand

Planting & eating a rainbow

If you are like me, this time of year you have an uncontrollable urge to have things growing at your house. We have all kinds of garden space and a little greenhouse so I could be called a bit obsessive about my green hobby, but even if you only plant a few boxes or containers you can still grow edible things and not just pretty flowers. When I work with kids and coach them on eating well, one of the phrases I love is to "eat a rainbow", encouraging them to try all the different foods of various colours in their meals. You can certainly plant a rainbow too; it's an inspiring way to be creative when you cook!

If you are a regular reader, you might remember when I spoke of the history of carrots - they started out as purple and have become orange only in the last hundred and fifty years or so. You can grow purple carrots, or yellow or orange or even white - they are all available, even in rainbow packs.  And if you don't want to mess with changing carrots' colour at your family's dinner table, how about inter-planting them with radishes in a row? This is a useful technique not just for variety in eating; the radishes will ripen first and when you pick them you will naturally thin the row for the carrots to grow bigger. How's that for "working smarter, not harder" ? Who says gardeners can't be a bit lazy?

Another easy variation that works in containers is to plant a "potpourri" of herbs and spices. You can get pre-planted pots at many of the nurseries, often with themes like Italian or French herbs. These plants like being trimmed on a regular basis, which means you can add some fresh flavours to dishes you cook and the plants in turn will continue on, getting even bushier as the season goes on. Some of these planters can even come inside for the winter. Or, if you'd like something simpler, try planting a few different lettuces in a pot. Keep it in a cooler spot so the leaves won't burn once things heat up outside, and make sure there is a saucer under the pot or a self-watering system so it doesn't dry out. Don't pull the plants but rather cut the leaves and you'll get more to snip as the plant renews itself.

If you're feeling confident, grow tomatoes. They take a bit more care and a bit longer to produce but there is nothing like tasting your own fruit in late summer - you might never want a store-bought tomato again! To get the most from your tomato plants, follow these great tips from the folks at West Coast Seeds in Vancouver. They are a great resource, and supply many local garden shops with their rainbow of veggie and flower seeds.

For gardeners who want to make more of a commitment, there are great connections to be made at local farmers' markets.  Folks here grow plants in our region so they can tell you how to get the most from what you choose, whether plants or seeds.  There are the usual suspects - tomatoes, peppers, squash and all kinds of herbs - and lots of flavours and textures to add to your rainbow. They have experience and are happy to share it; use their expertise. I particularly like the team at Sunshine Farms but there are many vendors at the Kelowna Farmers & Crafters Market and also at other markets throughout the Okanagan.

Please don't dismay if you are one of those people who is more of a "consumer" than a "producer", as my husband says. There is nothing wrong with simply enjoying the fruits of the labour, whether it's yours or someone else's. Check out this list of farmers' markets or the vast resources of SoilMate, a website that connects with farmers, restaurants and all kinds of businesses interested in promoting local and sustainable food and drink. Celebrate the growing season by enjoying the local bounty!

 

For a recipe this week, I thought a good idea might be a simple salad dressing. It works well with a salad made of fresh veggies, and it's great to incorporate leftovers too. Remember,  you are only limited by your own creativity. Consider your result the pot of gold at the end of your rainbow :)

CHILI CUMIN DRESSING

This dressing works with salad greens, especially firmer ones like romaine, but it's really good with veggies that have a firmer texture like tomatoes and cucumbers (think Mediterranean or Mexican as a theme). I love it with cubes of leftover beef or chicken added in for that bit of protein, but you can keep it vegetarian by adding cheese if you prefer.

  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (you can use olive, or grape seed if you want something lighter)
  • grated rind of 1/2 orange
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced (to your preference)
  • 1/3 cup / 80 mL red wine vinegar 
  • 1/4 tsp / 1 g cayenne 
  • 1-1/2 tsp / 8 g chili powder
  • 2 tsp / 10 g cumin 
  • 1/2 tsp / 2 g salt
  • 1 tsp / 5 g pepper

 

Whisk egg, if using. Add oil, still blending (a blender or food processor works well for this if you have one).  Add remaining ingredients and blend again. 

Pour over salad ingredients in a large bowl, mix and let sit 10-20 minutes for flavours to mellow and integrate. Enjoy!



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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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