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Zucchini is a delicious vegetable that can be found at farmer’s markets across British Columbia right now. It can also be bought at some local farms around the lower mainland. Zucchini works as a side dish as well as in desserts. There are some restaurants in Vancouver that seasonally serve up special zucchini flower dishes. These blossoms are tough to find but worthwhile to seek out.

Zucchini is ready to be harvested in August, September, and October. Usually, for culinary purposes, a zucchini is harvested when it is less than twenty centimeters in length. Given their ability to grow in temperate climates, zucchini can become overwhelmingly large in home gardens around British Columbia. An over-sized zucchini can often become fibrous and more bitter than a smaller zucchini.

You can buy zucchini at nearly any farmer’s market in British Columbia through September. If you are in the lower mainland, you can also buy fresh zucchini from a variety of local independent farmers. Bloomers in Maple Ridge, Cropthorne Farm in Delta, Croft Produce in Mission, Dave’s Orchard in Langley, and Forstbauer Family Natural Food Farm in Chilliwack are all selling fresh zucchini.

When cooking zucchini on its own, little more is required than oil, butter, and some salt and pepper. Zucchini is also a main component in ratatouille – a stewed vegetable dish of French origin. With its sweet flavour, zucchini also works well in desserts. Chocolate zucchini cake is a big hit with kids, and they are unlikely to even notice the vegetable within the dessert.

Zucchini is also very healthy for you. They are very low in calories, containing only seventeen calories per one hundred grams. They also contain folate, potassium, and provitamin A. Folate helps the body create DNA and red blood cells. Potassium can help reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. Provitamin A helps you maintain good vision and a strong immune system.

If you are at the market and see a zucchini with a flower still attached, buy that zucchini. The flower is the sign of a truly fresh and immature zucchini that is distinguished by its sweet flavour. The flower itself can be eaten and is considered a delicacy. The flowers are seasonal and only appear on a young zucchini, and as such they will not be commonly found on many restaurant menus. However, there are restaurants around Vancouver that have had stuffed zucchini flowers as a special and you may be lucky enough to try one if you go on the right night. Restaurants like Cioppino’s on Hamilton Street, Ask for Luigi on Alexander Street, and Cibo Trattoria on Seymour Street all have been known to serve stuffed zucchini flower appetizers when in season.

 

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

https://cioppinos.wordpress.com

http://www.askforluigi.com

http://www.cibotrattoria.com

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

http://www.bcfarmfresh.com/farm-products/zucchini/

 

 

Community Gardening

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