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Happy-Gourmand

Sticky fingers

Sticky fingers and dirty toes

This weekend will mark the official beginning of the sunny season. The sunny season is more than spring, it runs into summer, it is the feeling you get that lasts right through ’til September . . . you know, that feeling when we get to be outside and soak up the sun. 

Sometimes that is a decadent relaxing thing, but other times it means doing those outside things you love to do which is gardening for me and barbecuing for the Chef. It works well, as I spend the day in the dirt, then get to finish with finger-lickin' sticky goodness on the deck while surveying our domain.

I am lucky to have my greenhouse (thanks to a thoughtful husband on our ‘aluminum’ year). I have been watching my little seedlings and nursing my plants with tender loving care. Some of those plants will come outside this weekend, and they will be kept company by the seeds that will be sowed in the newly tilled garden. I can't wait to watch them grow.

We have wacky things planted in our garden: Easter Egg radishes that come in a bevy of colours, purple carrots (the original look for carrots, believe it or not), fingerling potatoes - they don’t just sound cool, they are fun to eat. 

Many of these plants are heirloom varieties, which means they have true seeds – ones that will grow the same as your original plant if you plant them. Hybrids, like much of what we buy at the grocery stores, will often not produce any fruit.

Having a garden is a great way to eat healthy and get reconnected with Mother Earth. You may think I sound a bit like a hippie, but I do think that knowing where your food comes from is a wonderful thing.

One word of caution: Over-enthusiasm. This is my downfall in the garden, and with heirloom seeds it can be catastrophic, in a bountiful way. 

I planted Bachelor's Button flowers in my edible flower box a number of years ago, and now I am pulling them by the dozens out of the gravel next to the box. In the vegetable garden, I used to let the volunteer seedlings grow, until I ended up with a garden I could hardly get through to harvest the crop.

Now I keep in mind that a weed is any plant growing in a place you don't want it growing. If you feel the need to save plants, then give them away to friends. You will be thankful later, I promise. So will your remaining plants. 

Being in touch with Mother Earth also means knowing one's place in it, I think. To me that means I have to be humble and remember I am not planting a jungle.

I think the simple act of digging in the dirt is great therapy for any of us, it’s a pause from the hectic nature of our lives and a chance to enjoy being outside. Let yourself get into it. Take your shoes off and let your feet feel the grass. Let your toes get dirty, you can wash them later with the garden hose. 

And then when you sit back with a drink in your hand, you can admire your handiwork as it grows and changes throughout the entire sunny season. If you don't have someone to feed you something sticky made at home, then treat yourself to take-out just this once. You deserve it after all that hard work.

If you are looking for heirloom plants for your garden, ask at your local farmer’s market, or at one of the private nurseries. We love the folks at Dogwood, near our place – they know lots and have a great variety. In downtown Kelowna, I have had great experiences at the Flower Farm.

For a great BBQ recipe, my husband Martin was willing to share this one. His sauce for this is a secret recipe, so I’ve included one from our days of catering for movie crews. It was always a hit.

CHEF MARTIN'S GREEK LAMB SKEWERS

Serves 6 people

Lamb cubes, 4 lb - chicken could also work if you like, but this is a great way to eat lamb
4 cloves of crushed garlic
4 tbsp dry oregano
1 fresh lemon, juiced
1 tbsp garlic powder
Salt & Pepper

Marinade meat in bowl or bag overnight, squishing it every time you go to the ’fridge. 

Place on skewers, grill on high heat to a nice medium pink for lamb. 131F

Grill thick pita bread, serve with tzatziki sauce and hummous, maybe a Greek salad on the side.

TZATZIKI SAUCE

1 litre plain Greek yoghurt
1 English cucumber, grated
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon dry oregano

Grate cucumber over paper towel and squeeze extra juice from it. In bowl, combine yoghurt, grated cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, oregano and garlic. 

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

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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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