by Lyra Bloom
With spring heartily marching forward, it’s time to think about cooking with this season’s bounty. The Jerusalem artichoke is easy to cultivate, rich in potassium and iron, and a good source of carbohydrates. But most people aren’t all that familiar with this tasty tuber.
Technically it’s not a native crop, since it comes from the east coast originally, but that’s close enough! Ironically, it’s also not related to the artichoke in any way, and has nothing to do with Jerusalem. Read more »
by Major Furry
When we ran out of growlies on a recent trip to Nanaimo, I was close to crying like a hungry puppy. In case you humans don’t know—you all seem so plump and powerful, after all—it doesn’t take long for hunger to hurt. You can’t think about anything else. Read more »
by David Parkinson
I spend a lot of time thinking about our local food supply, and how we will get ourselves back to the level of community self-reliance that we used to have in the not-too-distant past. Probably many people consider this sort of thinking to be a little out there—maybe more than a little; but with the economic decline of the last few months showing no signs of slowing down, it is time to buckle down to finding ways to strengthen our food supply. This means many things: learning how to cook better with less expensive ingredients; starting to grow some of our own food, or growing more if we’re already growing some; sharing our knowledge and skills about how to grow, preserve, and prepare food; growing more than we need and getting the excess to those whose need is greater than ours; learning how to support our local farmers; encouraging more people to farm and produce food locally; and so much more.
We are heading into a time of challenges and unknowns, and this is making many of us nervous. An economic system based on unlimited greed and plunder of the natural world is starting to fall apart from its internal contradictions and failures. When something that big begins to totter, then we all need to run for cover. And the best place to run to for protection is our social support networks: our families and loved ones, friends, neighbours, and community in the broadest sense. Together we can be stronger, safer, better fed, and more secure. Read more »
by Hana Louise -voluntary co-ordinator PRCRC
This is our vision, adopted with permission from Nanaimo Community Garden Society: “People in gardens together, sharing, belonging to, nurturing and healing the earth for others and ourselves.”
Our mandate directs us to
• promote and demonstrate sustainable local food-production and systems;
• educate the community about growing, preserving, and preparing fruits and vegetables; and
• provide opportunities for maintaining health, healing and horticultural therapy through gardening. Read more »
Don’t let the stairs deter you! (Lawn dining in clear, warm weather.) Well priced, central, pleasant licensed restaurant in an old house, with several dishes worth coming back for. Local owners see to your every need without over-hovering. “Everything is made from scratch,” says Sharon Smalley.
We three fussy diners had a great time for $88 plus tip, including 2 appies, 2 desserts, four drinks, and three entrees. Try the stupendous coconut prawns for your next deep-fried delectation (8 points out of 10). The “Chippers” appie is deliciously different (7). Best dish is planked wild salmon with blackberry-orange relish (8).
Come back for Sunday breakfast—the traditional is a mere $2.99 (8), but you’ll be tempted by full menu—the Southwest Bennie gets a resounding 9 points from a picky breakfast eater. Lunch at $5.49 to $10.95 offers a full range of sandwiches.
5th Avenue Bistro
Location: 4722A Marine Avenue
Menu: Seafood and more
Pricing: $5.49 - $10.95
by Stacey Forbes
Yaaaaay, it’s local strawberry time! The only trouble: there aren’t enough district growers to supply our voracious appetites for the beloved berry. Let’s beg them to grow more. I have succumbed to purchasing one box of un-local strawberries to get the juices flowing on my continuous regional search. And in preparation for next year, have inserted, into my recently amended garden soil, twenty strawberry plantlets. As it is their first year, I was to pick off all the berries—I have been dutiful -and regrettably counted all 87 of the sacrificial buds. But next year…
For your first truly ripe berries of the season, there is only one choice of preparation: eat them straight off their stems, juices dripping. When the excitement of ‘au naturale’ wanes, slice the cored berries in half lengthwise, add a few drops of lemon juice, (or excellent balsamic vinegar), a decent sprinkle of white organic sugar, and a gentle toss. Let sit at room temperature for an hour and serve without adornment.
For an unpretentious, but luscious, dessert find the last of the pink stems of tart rhubarb selling at the Open Air Market. Cut them into chunks, gently tenderize them along with a small scoop of sugar in a saucepan over medium flame until they yield to a blunt knife; cool. Fold rhubarb gingerly with a similar amount of fresh berries done in the macerating-style above and alternate with softly whipped, organic cream in a tall-stemmed glass.
Savour this delightful short visit from the strawberry in its finest hour and happily anticipate forthcoming seasonal gems.
Stacey Forbes is a former chef and a cooking teacher; to add to her field of interest, she is now discovering an intense interest in sustainable food gardens.
by Eva van Loon
On the way to or from Saltery Bay, you can’t miss the sign to magic–NIMH.
Intrigued, you pull over and park. What on earth is NIMH?
Peace envelops you as you wend your way through the riot of happy plants to a funky little building where, hopefully, the hand-lettered signs will tell you what’s going on.
NIMH is a small, family-owned organic farm, based on perma-culture design. NIMH’s goal is sustainability. It stands for Natural Institute for Medicinal Health.
You can eat plants and flowers here, including the biggest variety of tomatoes ever seen. All produce is grown right on the farm all summer long, and several greenhouses extend the growing season.
Step inside the tranquil arbor. Sit and sip a cup of organic coffee or tea, with nothing more important to do than watch the goldfish swimming in the pond.
Doesn’t it all inspire you to get on with your own garden? NIMH is ready for you: there’s a selection of hard–to–find organic fertilizers and garden products that will lighten your wallet in a good way.
Need protein? Free-range chicken eggs are available year ‘round, and NIMH’s homegrown pork, chicken and duck will add organic meat to your diet.
After tea walk over to beautiful Donkersley Beach. Take an organic cold drink, a snack or frozen treat along.
Wait–hang around till evening. The Starlight Lounge, inside the arbor, will be hosting gatherings for music and friendship.
by Stacey Forbes
I know you don’t know me yet, as this is only the first issue of my column, however, can you do me a favour? Will you stop buying lettuce greens from California? At least until November, when I will again ask you not to, but give you a new reason. After all, you can grow your own lettuces easily in our climate, or buy them at the Open Air Market from a local producer, or from a BC grower at the supermarket... maybe.
When I picture, in my minds’ eye, a clear plastic box of organic, Californian, “spring greens” taking up space in a fossil-fueled “boxcar” on wheels, spewing greenhouse gases, unsafely passing its way up Interstate 5, I cannot help but wonder if this is logical. Do we really want to buy “easy” greens from a thousand busy highway miles away?
I’m not going to ask for anything else this month—this is a great start, and an easy one, especially at this time of year. For now, until I can figure out how to grow them here, I still buy a few lemons, and more than a few avocados, with the idea that I will allow myself to buy the things that cannot grow here, the awaited treasures of the season. All I can really ask of you, of course, is that you give my ranting some quick thought. And provide you with this caveat emptor: don’t expect to pay less for your local greens than ones from far away. Local farmers work hard, and they need to make a living. The grand scale of the lettuce imports make them relatively cheap, but their grand march lessens their original value.
Stacey Forbes is a graduate of the Dubrulle Culinary Institute in Vancouver