From Garden to Table

Our 2012 backyard garden, mid-July

Our garden is coming along pretty well. In addition to picking lots of greens for salads, a couple of handfuls of raspberries and fresh herbs, we netted a container of very small carrots when the boys thinned them out the other day. Given that we live in Calgary, we thought we were doing pretty well. But after visiting Grammy and Grandpa GeoK this morning, we realize just how far ahead their garden is compared to ours. Perhaps their backyard is a little warmer than ours. But it’s more likely because they have both a sunroom and a greenhouse where they started a lot of plants earlier in the year before moving them out to their many raised-bed garden boxes.

Thanks to the advanced progress of their garden, we came home with lots of fresh-picked goodness, including lettuce, peas, a large zucchini, a long cucumber, a handful of tomatoes, a couple of small onions and almost 2 litres of Saskatoon berries. K had never picked Saskatoon’s before and his fingers were quite purple by the time he filled his little pail to the very top.

Back at home, after brewing a pot of fresh mint tea, I got to work in the kitchen. First up, I started a small batch of chicken stock using some leftover roast chicken bones, adding lots of veggies (including some of the fresh onion and herbs from my pots) for flavouring.

Ingredients for chicken stock, ready to simmer

This small pot netted three pint containers of stock, just the right volume for making Spanish rice or gravy for chicken schnitzel or chicken pot pie.

Next, I recruited C to bake a Chocolate Zucchini Cake. Since I was unable to locate the other Grandma GeoK’s recipe, I found one on Claudia’s Cookbook blog. C made two changes to the posted instructions. First, he replaced the margarine with unsweetened applesauce. Second, he omitted the nuts, since we have a severe nut allergy in the family. Those small changes seem to have worked out just fine. Even Mr. GeoK likes it and he normally refuses to eat any baking with vegetables or bananas as an ingredient!

Zucchini ready for gratingChocolate zucchini cake This cake is nice and moist and should easily keep for a few days. Grammy GeoK suggested slicing and grilling the zucchini, so she’ll be pleased to know there’s about one-third of the squash left for grilling tomorrow.

Lastly, I washed the Saskatoon berries. After measuring them out I found I had more than enough for a pie. I put the extra 3 cups into the freezer until I come across another recipe I’d like to try. As for the pie recipe, I first turned to a pie cookbook that Great-Grandma GeoK gave to me when I was about 16 years old. Since Saskatoons only grow on the Canadian prairies, I wasn’t too surprised that I didn’t find a Saskatoon pie filling recipe in that cookbook. (But I did use the hasn’t-failed-me-yet double pie shell recipe from the back cover). Fortunately, a quick internet search led me to the Kitchen Magpie, written by another Alberta blogger. It just happens that this week she’s featuring recipes incorporating Saskatoon berries, including this Old-fashioned, Traditional Saskatoon pie recipe.

Saskatoon pie

Considering how long it’s been since I made a pie from scratch, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. What I’m not so happy with is my indoor food photography! Hmmm…this is a good excuse to continue working on my camera skills.

What about you? Are you enjoying the fruits of your gardening labours?

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