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Balcony Gardening

Dinosaur kale in our balcony garden. What a show-off.The one question about apartment gardening that I am asked more than any other is: what should I grow this year? Fair enough. My sort of obvious, kind of cop-out answer has always been: grow what you like to eat.

My expertise on small-space gardening was always a bit theoretical. I’ve grown tomatoes and a whole bunch of other things in a small garden at the cottage, but it’s really twice as big as some community-garden plots in downtown Toronto. Stretches the “small space” definition. This year though, we moved into a new place with a balcony, just in time to cultivate some plants that gave us food this summer and that made our apartment a more pleasant space.

No Longer Chicken of Wild Mushrooms

As kids my brothers and I split our time pretty evenly between sports in our backyard and sports out front in the driveway. In the frontyard we played under a lot of rules that pertained to not get running over by a car; there were a few out back but the one I really remember is: “Don’t Eat The Mushrooms.” (more…)

Pickled Spruce Tips

Young spruce tips with their papery husks still attached in places.

Forbes Wild Foods is a unique source for a wide variety of foraged Canadian edibles. Frankly, though, some of their prices are a little steep so I have to admit that instead of buying from them I’ve borrowed ideas from their website or market table that inspire my own foraging. Most recently, I gathered spruce tips and used them to make the pickled spruce tips recipe below.

Spruce trees grow upwards in the usual, obvious way but because they don’t drop and regenerate their needles every year the outward growth is a bit more complicated. Every spring the tip of almost every branch has a bud-like tip that sheds a papery brown husk and produces a new bunch of needles. (more…)

Chile Oil and Chili Vinegar

Two recipes for using dried chiles to make a condiment.

The restaurant critic for the New York Times, Pete Wells, announced on Twitter last week that his newspaper has changed their style guide’s spelling for hot peppers to “chile” from “chili”. I don’t always perfectly land the proper execution but the debates that involve spelling are catnip to me. (more…)

Hunter Angler Gardener Book

Up there with the Paupered Chef blog Hank Shaw’s Hunter Angler Gardener Cook blog is a resource I’ve turned to consistently since I started blogging myself. With two nominations for a James Beard Award for Best Blog and a win from the IACP it only makes sense that Hank now has an excellent book out called Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast (Rodale).

Back in May he hit the road is his white Toyota pickup for a an old-school book tour that this week has brought him to Toronto.

I had the chance to drop in on his demo at the Evergreen Brickworks today. For the ebbing and flowing crowd he made a traditional Spanish Chilindron stew with rabbit and other ingredients from the Saturday farmers’ market. (more…)