Consequences of Going Organic

Consequences of Organic from Island Natural Markets, Nanaimo, BC

Consequences of Organic from Island Natural Markets, Nanaimo, BC

Squash and Adzuki Soup: A Recipe for Health

Butternut Squash And Adzuki Bean Soup

Butternut Squash And Adzuki Bean Soup

Of all the challenges wrought by the Eat Local, Live Longer Project creating new recipes from local products is the least. Especially when it comes to one of my favourite foods: Winter Squash.

One of the oldest cultivated vegetables, it bursts with good health from cancer fighting beta carotene to fat reducing fibre.

Most farms grow a good supply of this tasty veggie because they keep so well. It’s almost February and I’m just eating my last pumpkin. In December I was driving down Yellow Point Rd in Cedar and at MacNab’s farmstand a collection of squashes still lined the shelves and spilled over the front lawn almost reaching the edge of the road.

My favourite squash is butternut…it’s easy to work with, has few seeds and is simple to peel. Plus it has a sweet, rich flavour you can’t deny is comforting.

Yesterday I bought three BC butternut squash and whipped up this delicious soup with one of them.

Squash and Adzuki Bean Soup

1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and sliced
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
olive oil spray

Roasted Squash with Lemon Pepper and Olive OIl

Roasted Squash with Lemon Pepper and Olive OIl

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel squash, remove seeds and slice into 1 inch rounds. Lightly spray a cookie sheet. Lay squash rounds on sheet and spray lightly with oil. Sprinkle lemon pepper over squash. Bake in oven for about 30-40 minutes until soft when forked.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 inch piece of ginger, slivered and chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup cooked rinsed adzuki beans (or one can) I cook up a large batch with a bit of seaweed for extra minerals
4 cups water
2 organic chicken or veggie bouillon cubes
1 cup hazelnut milk
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
cayenne pepper

IMG_5626In a medium sized pot heat oil. Add onions, garlic and ginger. Saute for a few minutes until onions are translucent and slightly wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Add corn and saute for another three minutes. Add roasted squash, beans, water and cubes. Let mixture simmer on stove for about 20 minutes at medium low heat.

Remove from heat and blend in food processor or with a hand held blender until desired consistency. Add hazelnut milk. Drop a few sesame oil drops over each bowl of soup and then sprinkle with cayenne (depending on the amount of heat each person wants).

Interesting Squash Facts:
-One of the oldest cultivated veggies
-Pilgrims would hollow out a pumpkin and put apples and spices in centre and bake.
-Squashes contain beta carotene, vitamins A, B, and C and are low in calories (Yippee).

Farming Seniors

Favourite Food…Garlic!

While browsing stats Canada, for entertainment purposes, (hardly, it was for a psychology paper) I came across a rather interesting and concerning statistic!

The study, “Labour market activity among seniors”, was published in the July 2010 online issue of Perspective on Labour and Income, Vol. 11, no. 7.

In it, researchers found that between 1996 and 2006, employment for both senior men and senior women, aged 65 and older, increased by 3% and 2% respectively.

Of that figure, seniors with higher levels of education were more likely to be working.

Wait, there’s more…the really interesting stuff!

“Almost 1/2 of working seniors were employed in the business and consumer services industry. The most common occupation among senior men was farmer.

When this is combined with other figures: lower fertility rates, aging population, decrease in skilled, knowledgeable workers, my thoughts meander to a future with no one to grow the food I love. What happens when I’m in my 90’s and need to rely on others to grow garlic?

Maybe, instead of just farming food we should look at how to farm seniors!

Ants, Chickens and Raid

Taking A Break from Swatting

The other night Zack comes in from running the dogs saying there were ants all over the back of the house. Great! Maybe he’s exaggerating.

About an hour later I go outside to see for myself. Yep, the wall is crawling with ants, many carrying larvae, all looking for cracks in the house they disappeared into.

A fly swatter comes in handy for more than flies. I attack the hard workers with a vengeance, getting very hot and very sweaty.

While wielding my weapon over and over I notice the undead ants don’t like crossing paths with the dead ones and as there are carcasses all over the side of the house, I leave the mayhem and go back inside. Okay I solved that one.

As I am sure many of you are saying under your breath, where there is one ant there are ten thousand ants, so yes, I went back outside the next day to repeat the fly swatter solution and added another step…..water. Some of those ants caught the wave of their lives! They won’t come back I thought.

Next night, they’re back, only this time they’ve gone around the corner. Sneaky little buggers. It’s hard to reach them in the carport. I have to swat in between hanging garlic bulbs, boxes and garden paraphernalia

And I talk to the chickens. They aren’t far. Their run is the other side of the carport. They’re eerily quiet as I swing my swatter. They like hearing my voice. Probably a Pavlovian response, I’m the one that feeds them.

After a half hour and at least a cup of sweat I begin to wonder if I’ll be swatting ants for the rest of the summer an hour every evening. Not a cheery prospect. I want to see a movie or two.

I consider pest control, but throw that idea out as they use toxic chemicals and the product used for ants is one of the most deadly neurotoxins. I have animals wondering about and humans living in the house.

I consider Raid, the chemical the workers take back to the queen and she explodes. Looks effective on TV and fairly benign. Only the queen gets it. But I have animals wondering around and what if they get the bait instead of the queen.

The next idea was to squirt caulking in every nook and cranny of the house. The ants would get stuck inside. Wouldn’t they die eventually? Maybe, but I had images of ants squeezing in to the house and crawling over me in bed. Don’t think so.

The whole time I’m ruminating on these pest control possibilities, my chickens are watching me from their run, listening to my voice and every so often clucking while they scratch in the dirt for grubs and wayward seed.

Lightbulb moment!

Chickens eat bugs, including ants. I have chickens, I want the ants gone. Put two and two together.

When John got home that afternoon we set up fencing to keep the chickens in the area where the ants were.

Voila….no more ants. The girls even dug under the concrete pad to get at the nest. The next few days their eggs tasted better, meatier, with a rich deep yellow orange colour.

I could start a whole new pest control business. Guard your garden against bugs and fertilize at the same time.

I love my chickens!

Adaptation in the Garden-Snow Peas and Oregon Grape

Abundant Snow Peas

Adaptability. Some embrace it, others descry it, fact is…it happens. What does it mean? It’s the ability of a species to alter behaviour in response to changes in the environment.

Humans have been doing it for thousands of years. We’re one of the most adaptable species on the planet. Others aren’t as lucky. Climate change is reeking havoc across the globe. Food crops are failing and food insecurity is forcing rapid adaptation in plants, animals and humans. Some make it, some don’t.

The need for adaptation is really noticeable in my garden. We had a cold, wet and very long spring.

In fact, we’ve only had five days of sunny weather in what seems like months. It’s set some of my veggies and fruit back a few weeks, while others just aren’t doing so well and may not make it.

Pre Processing-Wish I’d remembered to write down the type they were!

Adaptability plays big in food security. My peas have never done so well and I’ll be harvesting about 40 pounds of broad beans. I also have an impressive crop of Oregon grape berries and the blueberries are dripping off the bushes. My tomatoes, eggplant and cucumber didn’t fair as well.

Growing a variety of plants, I can focus on consuming and preserving what’s produced well. And in response to what’s happening with the climate I can plant additional crops geared to the weather.

In other words, I adapt.

Over the past two years of growing, that is the best lesson I have learned. You preserve what you can.

Last year was great for eggplant but my peas didn’t produce enough to freeze. Blueberries only produced enough to eat off the bush but raspberries were overflowing.

About a month and a half ago when I heard weather forecasts predicting rain, rain and more rain, I dug up my failing eggplant and planted more pac choi. The cucumber plants were stressed, so I broadcast more lettuce seed around them, just in case they didn’t make it.

I may not be able to make pickles this year or store many squash, but we will be eating blueberries in December and delicious snow peas in January!

Freezing Snow Peas

The secret to freezing snow peas is a quick blanch a few peas at a time followed by a thorough cold water bath.

1. Prepare peas by washing and removing left over petals or stems.
2. Place four cups of snow peas in a steamer over boiling water. Cover and let blanch for about a minute or until a brighter, fresher green colour.

You may need to keep adding ice cubes

3. Remove from steamer and immediately put in a sink full of cold water and ice cubes (you may need to add more ice cubes periodically).
4. Do the next 4 cup batch. I like to set up an assembly line as I do it by myself. Pot is on stove with steamer and water. I use tongs to remove blanched peas and put in the sink which is right beside the stove. The strainer is in a large bowl to catch the drips.

After drip drying put in freezer bags

5. When all the peas are done and excess water removed put into freezer bags and seal.


Some of the food I preserve is earmarked as medicines. Oregon Grape is high in antioxidants and antibacterial properties. The stems and root contain berberine a potent medicine that is known to help with diarrhea caused by dysentery and when applied to skin is soothing and healing for eczema, rashes and slows abnormal skin cell growth.

The berries also contain berberine which gives them the lovely bitter flavour! I use the powder for bladder and kidney infections.


Preserving Oregon Grape Berries

Oregon grape on stems

Do not eat them fresh, unless you really, really like bitter. They don’t taste good at all. I use them for medicines. Some people make jam and jelly, I don’t as I would have to add too much sugar.

1. Snip clumps of grape at top of berry covered stem. Hold a bowl underneath so you catch any falling fruit.
2. Remove by running your fingers down the stem.

Run fingers along stem to pop berries off.


3. Rinse well as earwigs love nestling amongst the berries.
4. Lay berries on dehydrating trays and process till crisp.

Ready for dehydrating


5. Using a mortar and pestle crush berries into a powder or store in dark bottles (I recycle Fleischmann’s yeast bottles).

Food Insecurity

We all need to become more aware of food insecurity. It doesn’t take much to grow a few of your own plants and putting up food is easy when you do it with a friend.

Check out this article.

Fermented Carrots and Ginger

It’s amazing what you can find in wordpress blogs. Found this site and a recipe I intend to use when Nanoose Bay Edibles and Cormie’s carrots are ready! The added ginger will be an added treat!

Enjoy! This family is growing on 6512 feet! What an inspiration!

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