Archive for April 2011

Ahhh spring in Winnipeg

So the snow became rain. As nice as it is to clean up the gook and dust from winter, it sure puts a damper on construction. Oh well. We will get things going soon enough!

What to do with all those herbs

Written by Jenny Holm for Fresh Recipes:

Please visit the site Fresh: The Movie. The movie is wonderful and the blog is educational and fun.


Whether in your garden, at the farmer’s market, or at the grocery store, herbs are everywhere come May, their glistening leaves and fresh scents as tantalizing as cool water on a hot day. I eagerly stock up on fragrant bunches of cilantro, parsley, mint, and dill, dreaming of all the springtime dishes I’ll make. I throw a handful here, a sprinkle there, but can’t seem to make it through a full bunch of anything before the leaves have wilted in my fridge, their once-lush greenery faded and sad.

This year, I’ve come up with a plan to make sure this doesn’t happen again. You can, too: instead of thinking of herbs as just a garnish, let them take center stage in dishes that capitalize on their punchy flavors and springtime abundance.

Russian “green borscht” contains no beets and instead takes its color from copious amounts of sorrel, parsley, and dill. It’s a light yet filling spring meal in itself.

Finely chop generous handfuls of parsley and mint and mix them with bulgur wheat or couscous, ripe tomatoes, green onions, olive oil, and fresh-squeezed lemon juice to make a cool and refreshing tabboulehsalad.

Basil, parsley and Dijon mustard make a snappy accompaniment to grilled tofu and mushrooms. The flavor pairing works equally well with shrimp.

Herbs are a natural fit in all sorts of spreads and sauces. A traditional basil pesto can be spread on homemade pizzas, folded into Sunday morning omelettes, or stirred into pasta with fresh peas and fava beans. But pesto needn’t be limited to basil: try parsley-almond or lemon-dill for a change.

Gremolata is a Italian minced herb condiment that enlivens everything from red meat to grilled fish and sautéed vegetables. For this cilantro and mint gremolata, just toss the herbs together in a bowl with garlic, lemon zest, olive oil, bread crumbs, and salt and pepper. Scatter over pan roasted zucchini and drizzle with lemon juice to serve.

There’s even room for herbs on your dessert plate! If you’ve got an ice cream maker, experiment with herbal flavors like honey lavender or ginger chamomile. If not, try crushed ice granitas in unexpected flavors like grapefruit-mint and blood orange-tarragon. Once the strawberry season starts, toss strawberry slices with sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar, then scatter with chopped basil for a classy meal-closer.

Let the proliferation of herbs outside and inside your kitchen serve as a challenge to expand your culinary and gastronomic horizons. Bon appetit!

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Snow in the forecast

So this being Winnipeg and April there is some snow in the forecast for this weekend. It will possibly hamper some of the plans to get started on the first grow systems outside. Hopefully it won’t be too bad. Alberta got up to 4″ of snow I hear. Usually whatever Calgary gets we get a few days later. Hoping this will swing by us…

Great article about Grocery Shares

The clubs work on the premise of power in numbers, because the people in the groups qualify to buy groceries at wholesale prices.”

What does “organic” mean?


The word “organic” may appear on packages of meat, cartons of milk or eggs, cheese and other single-ingredient foods. Certified organic requires the rejection of synthetic agrochemical, irradiation and genetically engineered foods or ingredients. Any materials used in the production or processing of organic food must be proven safe.

Sales of organics have surged more than 20 percent each year in the past decade. In terms of number of farms, acreage and value of production, the organic food industry is growing at a rate of 20-30% per year. As commodity programs are eliminated, more farmers have discovered that organic production is a legitimate and economically viable alternative enterprise.

In current organic production systems, growers are not permitted to use conventional synthetic organic fungicides in their disease management program. Non-organic milk comes from farms that are allowed to use genetically modified cattle feed, along with routine antibiotic treatments and synthetic pesticides. Arguments have long raged as to the effects these hormones and chemicals have on the bioproducts. Growth hormones in cows, pesticides on produce and antibiotics in poultry are among the reasons we are turning to organic foods.

Organically raised animals may not be given growth hormones to or antibiotics for any reason. Producers are required to feed livestock agricultural feed products that are 100 percent organic, but farmers may also provide allowed vitamin and mineral supplements

The US Department of Agriculture finally put in place a national system for labeling organic food. The new federal rule guarantees you, the consumer, organic products that are grown without toxic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Pesticides derived from natural sources (such as biological pesticides) may be used in producing organically grown food. Limitations in relation to which pesticides may or may not be used, present the organic grower with some unique and very demanding challenges. Food that is at least 70 percent organic will list the organic ingredients on the front of the package. More than 40 private organizations and state agencies (certifiers) currently certify organic food, but their standards for growing and labeling organic food may differ. Even with these labeling rules in place, consumers should be prepared for some confusion when shopping for organic foods. For one thing, organic products are not uniformly labeled because many farmers using organic methods do not pursue certification at all. In addition, the language contained in seals, labels, and logos approved by organic certifiers may differ.


Green is not a fad. It’s a way of life.

There are so many people out there who shrug off the Green Movement as a scam or a hustle. “It’s just an excuse to charge more for organic stuff that’s no different.” Attitudes like that will always be around. You can’t convert people like that. So focus on educating the people in your life that have an open mind and are willing to be deprogrammed. That’s right. We are programmed. We are programmed by our experiences, the media, and our own families and friends. In most cases it’s not malicious. It’s what they were programmed to do.

Yoda said it best, “you must unlearn what you have learned.” Such a wise wee green man.

Being Green isn’t so much about saving the planet or annoying your wasteful friends as it is a way of life, a state of being. You can go with the consumer crowd and be thoughtless and wasteful. Or you can try each day to leave less of a mess behind you. It is  the simple things like recycling, composting, buying local, choosing less packaging, walking or bussing instead of driving that make us Green. They really are simple. Try a couple of things. No one expects people to be Green overnight, forsaking all consumerism has to offer. Just think each day of how you can make a little less of an impact and do it. If you convince some friends, family, or coworkers to follow suit then great. But the true victory will be when you realize how little it takes to make such a big change.

Urban Facts

  • 50% of the world’s population lives in cities.
  • 800 million people are involved in urban agriculture world-wide and contribute to feeding urban residents.
  • Low income urban dwellers spend between 40% and 60% of their income on food each year.
  • By 2015 about 26 cities in the world are expected to have a population of 10 million or more. To feed a city of this size – at least 6000 tonnes of food must be imported each day.
  • 250 million hungry people in the world live in cities.


Bounty from my friend’s food forest