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Farmer's Market Garlic

 

Humans have been using garlic for over seven thousand years. The Chinese, Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, and Vikings all used garlic. It is as fundamental to the human experience as romance, religion, or commerce. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market and find tons of fresh garlic all through the summer. Garlic stores well if kept in a warm and dry environment, and the garlic you buy at the market today can be used well into the winter, allowing you to avoid bland garlic from the store for months.

If you wish to grow your own garlic you can nearly get started. A good experiment is to take a bulb of garlic and plant it in autumn, about five weeks before there is a chance of freezing. Be sure to plant it deep enough so that it will not freeze, or else it will rot with its thaw. Garlic planted in the autumn should be ready to harvest by the late spring and early summer.

Garlic is the base for so much cooking. It is like onion, olive oil, or salt and pepper. It can go into just about anything as a base and add lots of flavour. It also mixes easily with a few simple ingredients to make delicious sauces. Basil, garlic, and Parmesan make pesto. Yogurt, garlic, and salt create tzatziki. Garlic, egg yolks, and olive oil form aioli.

Although most scientific studies on the health benefits of garlic have come back as inconclusive, there are many theories, myths and stories revolving around the health benefits of garlic. Take a listen to the people in Les Blanks 1980 documentary Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers. They claim it helps with dysentery, heart problems, mosquito bites, sunburns, and longevity. Garlic was used in World War I and II as a way to prevent gangrene.

Garlic is a world-renowned food. It has many links to traditions and myths all around the world. Perhaps the most common to us is its ability to repel vampires. But the Hindu’s and Buddhists note how garlic fuels sexual desire. For Nowruz, the Persian calendar New Year, it is part of the Seven-Seen table, which is a traditional New Year’s display that also includes wheat, pudding, olive, apple, sumac fruit, and vinegar. Muslims are told to avoid eating garlic before going to the mosque as to not distract the other worshippers due to its pungent smell.

Garlic can be found in virtually every culinary culture in the world. To eat garlic is to be one with all of humanity as garlic’s roots indeed run that deep. On your next farmer’s market trip be sure to pick up some garlic. The fresh garlic from farmers offers a much fuller flavour than store-bought garlic and it can be kept for months if stored correctly. Use it in nearly any dish to add more flavour. And be sure to catch the Metro Vancouver garlic festival, which happens every year in late August (this years festival was just last Sunday, August 21).

 

Websites consulted for this article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garlic

http://metrovangarlicfest.ca

Link to Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers: https://vimeo.com/111386326

Recipes Share Your Ideas!

Beets

 

Beets are a polarizing vegetable. Many love the red root, while others despise its existence. If you are in the second category, I must suggest that you reconsider. When beets are in season in British Columbia, as they are now, they can make refreshing salads and delicious side dishes. They are also extremely good for your health. Beets can grow into the winter, making them a resilient crop that will continue to be fresh while other vegetables slowly end their growing season.

Beets are a very good source of folate and manganese. Folate, also known as folic acid, helps make and repair your DNA. Folic acid also helps in aiding rapid cell division and growth, most needed during pregnancy and infancy. Folate is also necessary in producing healthy red blood cells. Manganese has a detoxifying effect on the body. It is an important element in our development and metabolism, and in our antioxidant system. With these benefits, it becomes evident that eating beets helps keep your body healthy. It is also worth noting that beet greens, located on top of the beetroot, are actually more nutritious than the beetroot itself. Beet greens are a source of fiber, potassium, iron, vitamins A and C, and various minerals.

Through the winter’s frost beets will grow. In fact, they can continue to grow in almost freezing temperatures. In World War II, one Russian city survived Nazi-occupation by eating beets, as they were the only crop that would grow during this harsh time.

To store beets, you can freeze, can, or pickle them. However, as with nearly all food, beets are best when they are fresh. What follows is Mama Friesen’s beet salad recipe. This recipe is a delicious side dish that has a beautiful presentation and can compliment nearly any meal. Try it at your next dinner party or family gathering.

Mama Friesen’s Beet Salad

Salad

5 medium-sized beets

1 package goat cheese (flavoured or not)

½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds

½ cup cherry tomatoes

¼ – ½ cup fresh dill

Greens (preferably Asian greens, arugula, spring greens,

or a combination of the three)

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Dressing

½ cup balsamic crema (thick balsamic vinegar)

¼ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh dill (chopped)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

 

To roast your pumpkin seeds: Put the seeds in an 8-inch square-baking pan. Toast the seeds on bake at 325 Fahrenheit for approximately 10 minutes or until the seeds are lightly browned.

To roast your beets: Put the beets in aluminum foil as they are (skin on and everything). Drizzle some olive oil and crack some salt and pepper onto the beets. Close the foil around the beets. Roast in the oven at 350 Fahrenheit, for 30-45 minutes depending on the size of your beets. Poke with a fork to check if they are tender.

Remove the beets from the oven and let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. Then, cut the roots off and peel the beet. Slice your beets into rounds.

On a large platter, spread your greens to form a bed for your beets. Layer your sliced beets on top of the greens. Crumble the goat cheese onto the top of your beets. Then, sprinkle over your toasted pumpkin seeds. Scatter the tomatoes on top of that. Chop your fresh dill over all.

Combine all your dressing ingredients together. Whisk and pour over the salad.

 

(This recipe was adapted from White Water Cooks At Home by Shelley Adams)

Websites consulted for this article:

http://www.healthy-beets.com/beet-greens.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beetroot

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folic_acid

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manganese

http://www.almanac.com/plant/beets

http://www.almanac.com/blog/celestes-garden/growing-beets-backyard-garden

Community Recipes

Greek Salad

 

August is when you start to see many large vegetables at your local farmer’s market. After one trip to the market, you can come home with fresh green peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. With these vegetables, some fresh basil from your garden or the market, and a few extra ingredients bought from the store, you can create the freshest Greek salad that you may eat all year.

Peppers are harvested in August in British Columbia, and you will certainly find some at your local farmer’s market during this month. Their variations in colour can add a lot of visual appeal to your Greek salad as well as slightly different tastes. Did you know that a red pepper is only a green pepper that has matured for longer on the plant? Red peppers are also known to be sweeter, while green peppers are more bitter. Either way, peppers from the market in August are nearly all crisp and fresh.

Cucumbers are available at the farmer’s market in August too. Although they may not all have the same shape (or even same colour) as your typical cucumber from the grocery store, the cucumbers at the farmer’s markets are unbelievably delicious and fresh.

I use cherry tomatoes as the main tomato variation in my Greek salad. This is because they are easy to cut, not very messy, and have a sweet taste. Cherry tomatoes are also extremely plentiful at the farmer’s markets in August. I would suggest using a combination of tomatoes in your Greek salad. For example, try cherry tomatoes with pear drop tomatoes. Both small, the pear drop tomatoes are actually yellow when ripe and have a very different flavour and texture then that of the cherry tomato.

Onions are an option for your Greek salad, although some may not like their harsh taste. Yes, onions are very powerful, but they are also very flavourful and can be quite sweet. Ask a stall vendor at the farmer’s market for his or her sweetest onion, like a Walla Walla. These onions are still quite powerful, but they also have a taste of sweetness to them.

To make a Greek salad, I first cut up my vegetables from the farmer’s market in chunky bits, each large enough to be pierced by a fork. I put them all in a bowl and then I use my hands to crumble some feta cheese on top of the vegetables. I then top that with a little fresh cracked black pepper to add some spice. Finally, I rip up a little of the “king of herbs”, basil, that I cultivate from my backyard garden. If you do not have a garden, basil will surely be available at the farmer’s market. I sprinkle the basil on top of everything in my bowl.

I use only olive oil to dress my salad at this time of year. The vegetables are so fresh that I allow their flavours to dominate the dish without the use of a heavy dressing. Olive oil is a nice touch, but, if you want a stronger dressing, feel free to use a salad dressing of your choice bought from the grocery store or try an artisan dressing from your farmer’s market.