Gardening Recipes Restaurants

Basil in the Garden

Basil is a wonderful and versatile herb that is found frequently in Italian and Southeast Asian cooking. Known as the “king of herbs,” basil has a long history as an herbal symbol in Christianity as well as having an unusual association with scorpions. If you have been growing basil, now is the time to start using it up as it does not keep growing once the weather starts to cool off.

Basil grows best in hot, dry climates. It is very sensitive to cold and that is why it is best to plant your basil quite late in the season when there is no chance of frost. If your outdoor climate is not very dry, as is the case for most of Vancouver, basil can be grown indoors by a window.

If you grew a lot of basil this year and do not quite know what to do with it all, it can be kept for a short time in the refrigerator, or for a longer time in the freezer. If you are going to put your basil in the freezer, you should first blanche your basil leaves quickly in boiling water for no more than 5 seconds. After you blanche, quickly put the basil in an ice bath and then dry. After the basil leaves are dried, put them in the freezer.

If you did not grow your own basil this year but would like to taste the herb, there are a number of delicious Italian restaurants around Vancouver that serve dishes involving basil. Basil Pasta Bar on Davie Street has a pesto shrimp linguine, as well as a spaghetti puttanesca and lemon chicken fettuccine. Nicli Antica Pizzeria on East Cordova Street has the pesto B. B. T. pizza and the diavola pizza. Pronto, on Cambie Street, has a caprese salad, pasta pomodoro, and margherita pizza. All of these delicious dishes use basil to an extent.

Finally, Mama Friesen has a delicious pesto recipe to share. Done largely in a food processor, pesto is a great addition to all sorts of dishes including pasta sauces. It also freezes well and can be stored into the winter so you can have that fresh basil taste all year around. The recipe is as follows:

2-3 cups fresh basil leaves

2-3 cloves of garlic (preferably Russian)

100-gram package of toasted pine nuts

Ground pepper

½ teaspoon Sea salt

¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan

¼ cup Olive Oil

1 Lemon (optional)

Add the basil, garlic, pine nuts, sea salt, pepper (as much as you prefer), and Parmesan into a food processor. Whirl the ingredients together until they are mixed. Slowly drizzle your olive oil into the mixture through the feed tube while the processor is still running. If you wish, you can add the juice from your lemon at this time too. Mix well.

Store the pesto in a Tupperware. Drizzle some olive oil on the top of the stored pesto to keep it from turning brown (the lemon helps with this too).


Websites consulted for this article:


Gardening Recipes Restaurants



If you are growing kale in British Columbia this summer, you will have noticed that the time to harvest is upon us. And you would be right, kale is ready to harvest by August, but it need not absolutely be harvested. As an experiment, I suggest trying to hold off on harvesting some of your kale. The leafy green vegetable, similar to wild cabbage and a bit tougher than your average lettuce, can continue to grow into the winter. In fact, kale can be more flavourful after being exposed to a frost. I would absolutely suggest harvesting some kale now, for it makes a delicious side dish and salad, but I would also suggest attempting to leave some kale in the ground during the winter, as it will continue to grow and can be harvested at any time.

Although a trendy food in our community here in British Columbia, and across the Pacific Coast of North America, kale has been eaten throughout the world for centuries. It is involved in many traditional dishes in countries like Ireland, Scotland, Germany, and the Netherlands. Variations of kale are also found in Africa, Russia, and China. It is commonly used largely because of its easiness to cultivate and its resilient growth habits. As stated previously, it can grow through the winter. Therefore, many kale dishes throughout the world are served traditionally during winter holidays such as Halloween in Ireland and New Years in Denmark.

If you are in Vancouver and are not growing kale but want to taste this tasty green, there are a variety of restaurants serving up delicious and creative dishes involving kale. Tractor, for example, on West 4th, Burrard, and Quebec Street, have put together a delicious kale chicken Caesar salad, as well as a veggie sandwich with kale, peppers, grilled zucchini, tomato, asiago cheese, and a lemon aioli. Fable Kitchen, also located on West 4th, serves a mushroom polenta that involves kale. MeeT, on Main Street and in Gastown, serve a steamed kale with sesame seeds and scallions. MeeT also has multiple salad options that all involve organic kale.

If you did grow your own kale but do not know what to do with it, I must suggest making your own kale Caesar salad. Mama Friesen is a mass kale cultivator and she has come close to perfecting the kale Caesar salad. Her secret? The kale massage. Stay with us, here is the recipe:

2 bunches of kale – washed and dried

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1½ teaspoon minced garlic

6 drops Tabasco sauce

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Anchovy paste (to taste)

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Croutons (store bought or homemade)

To make your dressing: in a food processor, combine your garlic, Tabasco sauce, sea salt, Worcestershire sauce, anchovy paste, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. Process until well mixed and then drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify.

Cut the leaves off the central spine of the kale leaf. Discard the spines. Cut or tear the kale leaves into 1-inch pieces. Perform the kale massage (method below) and let it sit for 30 minutes. Toss with dressing. Sprinkle with croutons and Parmesan.

Kale massage: Sprinkle the cut/torn kale with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt. With your hands, give it all a good rub. Continue to squeeze the kale between your fingers for 3 to 5 minutes. You will see the colour start to change and will hear the kale snapping a little. The longer it sits after the massage the better.

That is all there is to creating a delicious kale Caesar salad. It also keeps better than most dressed salads. If stored in the refrigerator, the kale Caesar salad will keep for 2-3 days.


Kale information:


Fable Kitchen:


Kale Caesar Salad: recipe given with permission from Nancy “Mama” Friesen

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Yes, August is a most fruitful time of year. Much comes to harvest in this month. One favourite among adults and children alike are the Okanagan peaches. These orange and yellow gems are harvested at the end of July and start of August. Typically, when picked, peaches have about two weeks before they must be stored, frozen, or eaten.

You can store your peaches in two ways: pickling or jamming. Here is how to do a basic pickle:

4 cups sugar

1 cup white vinegar

1 cup water

2 tablespoons whole cloves

4 pounds of peaches

5 cinnamon sticks

Combine the sugar, vinegar, and water in a large pot and boil for five minutes. Press one or two cloves into each peach and place in the pot. With the peaches added, boil for twenty minutes. Pour the mixture into sterilized mason jars. Add a cinnamon stick to each and seal the jars. You should also process the jars in a hot water bath for about ten minutes to seal the pickled peaches.

A link to this recipe is found here:

Here is how to make a basic peach jam:


15 large peaches

6 cups sugar

1 lemon

½ teaspoon cloves

½ teaspoon allspice


Remove the pits and imperfections from the peaches. Put the peaches in a large pot and simmer on the stove with just enough water to keep them from burning. When they are warm and soft, muddle them or put them through a food mill. Add the sugar, lemon juice and rind, and spices. Cook slowly until thickened. Check using a plate, the jam should just hold its shape. Pour the jam into hot, sterilized jars and seal with paraffin.

A link to this recipe is found here:

You can also freeze your peaches. This works if you want to keep your peaches for a later recipe. A peach can be stored in the freezer at 0 degrees Celsius or lower.

You can also eat your peaches right away. If you are in the Okanagan, purchase your peaches from Blossom’s fruit stand in Summerland, the Penticton Farmer’s market, Palomine Orchards in Oyama, or Paynter’s Fruit Market in Westbank. Vernon’s farmers market will surly have them to, as well as the Kelowna, Naramata, and Peachland farmers markets.

In Vancouver, some places bring in fresh peaches from the Okanagan. Find these at Pete’s Okanagan Fruit Stand in North Van, as well as several pickup locations brought to you by (

One really good peach recipe is a peach cobbler. It makes for a great dessert but is also a perfect breakfast food when accompanied by yogurt. Here is a recipe for peach cobbler straight from Mama Friesen:

6 cups fresh fruit. You can use straight peaches or combine with sour cherries or blueberries (can be fresh or frozen)

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup flour – you can substitute coconut or almond flour for white if you wish

½ cup quick or rolled oats

1/3 cup softened butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Peel and slice peaches. Skinning a peach is very easy. Just heat a large saucepan full of water to a boil. Gently add peaches, blanche for approximately one minute. Put peaches in a strainer in the sink and run cold water over the peaches. Skins will easily slide off.

Heat oven to 375 Fahrenheit. Grease bottom of baking dish with canola oil.

Measure fruit in a large, glass measuring cup. Pour into a deep-dish pie plate or an 8-inch, square baking dish. Spread fruit in prepared pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together remaining ingredients, working in the butter with the back of a fork. Sprinkle over fruit. Fruit should be covered nicely with the topping.

Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and you can see the fruit bubbling on edges.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.


(This recipe was adapted from Betty Crocker’s cookbook.)