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Happy-Gourmand

Sticky fingers and dirty toes

This weekend will mark the official beginning of the “sunny season” at Rabbit Hollow.

It’s more than spring as it runs into summer, it’s the feeling that lasts right through till September. You know it — the dreamy bliss you feel when you sit on a patio, soaking up the sun.

Sometimes our enjoyment is a moment spent taking in the warmth, but other times it means doing those outside things you love… at Rabbit Hollow, that’s gardening for me and barbecuing for my hubby.

Ours is a match made in Heaven. I spend the day in the dirt and then get to finish with finger-lickin' goodness on the deck, surveying our domain.

I am lucky enough to have my greenhouse  (thanks to a thoughtful hubby who gave me the perfect anniversary gift in our tenth "aluminum" year).

That means I have been watching my little seedlings and have been nursing my plants from the farmer’s market and my green thumb foodie friends 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.

One word of caution for fellow gardeners: over-enthusiasm. This is my downfall in the garden and with heirloom seeds it can be catastrophic, even if 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. 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. That means being humble and remembering I am not planting a jungle.

Even if don’t want to get esoteric, I still 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, when you do 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 Nursery on the Westside.

In Kelowna, I have also had great experiences at The Greenery Sunshine Farms is also having their plant sale soon, May 10 -11, and they are a great resource.

Lastly, for those of you who prefer engaging in the “sticky fingers” part of the equation, my husband, Martin, has shared this grill recipe. His standard Taboo barbecue sauce is a secret recipe, but this dish was always a hit during our days catering for movie crews in Vancouver.

It’s also delicious later in the summer with freshly garden veggies cooked on the grill or chopped into a salad.

CHEF MARTIN’S GREEK LAMB KEBOBS (serves 6)

  • 4 lb lamb, cut in 1-1/2 inch cubes (you can substitute chicken or beef if you like, but lamb is delicious)
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
  • 4 Tbsp dried oregano (or 2 Tbsp fresh if you have it)
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper

Place the meat in a glass bowl or pan. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and place in the fridge. Let marinade for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight, stirring a few times. *At the same time, you can make the tzatziki sauce and let its flavours mellow. (see below for recipe)

Place the meat on wooden or metal skewers and grill at high heat. Don’t worry about soaking wood skewers, it doesn’t do much. Instead just place a double-thick piece of aluminum foil on the grill where the end of the skewers will go, to shield them from the heat.

The best way to know they are done is to test the internal temperature with a thermometer:

  • 125F is rare
  • 137-142F is medium
  • 160F is well done

Quickly grill fresh pita breads to warm them and serve alongside the skewers with tzatziki sauce.

TZATZIKI

  • 1 L plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 English cucumber, grated and drained in a colander
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1 small lemon
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano (or 2 tsp fresh, chopped)
  • 2 tsp fresh mint leaves, chopped fine (optional but delicious)
  • Grate cucumber and place in a colander to drain liquid. Press with your hand to ensure excess liquid is gone.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Let sauce sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours for flavours to combine and mellow. Stir just before serving.



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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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