Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bye-Bye Vancouver!

I am off to London! I will miss Vancouver's beaches, mountains, and gardens, not to mention all the good times to be had here in the summer, but good European times await!

Garden Update: July 10, 2009

I'm leaving for London tomorrow afternoon to hang out with my great friend Sara, so here is the last patio garden update for a while. May the garden be well watered, occasionally fertilized, and often harvested while I'm away for the rest of the summer.

While I'm traveling I'll be using this blog to show off the gardens and landscapes and markets that I visit in London, Barcelona and beyond. Check it.

Yes, that is a tomato plant that's over five feet tall!

No, this photo is not upside down, these sun gold tomatoes are just a little confused because I have them hanging unsupported. I'm so happy a few were ready to eat before my travels!

Royal burgundy bush beans should be showing up soon

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Patty Pan Squash Fritters

I'm leaving on a rather long trip in three days' time, so in an effort to enjoy my patio garden to the utmost I've been harvesting the profusion of little baby vegetables that have already grown. Swiss chard is great in an omelette or frittata, cherry tomatoes are delicious on their own, herbs can and should be thrown in anything and everything. As for the peas and beans, well, they just haven't shown up in time and will have to be enjoyed by house-sitters and my boyfriend, Jeff, when he returns in advance of me.

With all of the easy things figured out, I was left with only a colander of baby patty pan squash to find a delicious use for last night. Luckily, I've just finished reading Laurie Colwin's inspiring, food writing masterpiece (one of two that she published before her death in 1992): Home Cooking. Among the many edibles that Colwin dishes about repeatedly are zucchini. Thankfully, zucchini recipes translate seemlessly if you prefer to use the less-popular (yet, in my opinion, infinitely more interesting) patty pan squash, the vegetable which I found myself having an abundance of three days before my scheduled departure. Should you be lucky enough to have your own garden, you too will undoubtedly find yourself with too many zucchinis, summer, or patty pan squash. Though you wouldn't want to eat this every day (for the sake of your heart, not due to lack of deliciousness), every once in a while I can certainly advocate for squash fritters, a recipe I learned from reading Home Cooking and now pass on to you.

Grate the equivalent of 4 medium zucchini squash (mix different varieties as necessary). Separate 2 eggs (keep both the whites and yolks), and beat the whites until they are quite stiff. Add 1/2 cup of milk to the yolk and beat until mixed. Add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of flour to the yolk and milk mixture (it should be slightly thicker than pancake batter), add grated squash and mix together until well incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste and incorporate green onions (green part only), chives, or other fresh herbs as you see fit. Fold in the egg whites. Fry in butter or olive oil until golden brown on both sides and enjoy hot with sour cream or plain yogurt. Finally, rush out to your nearest independent bookseller and pick up Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking, and it's fabulous sequel, More Home Cooking right away!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Forsake the Lawn: The Dreamy Backyard Gardens of East Vancouver

This afternoon I was looking for both inspiration and some outdoor time so I hopped on my bike and headed east. I took the Seaside bike route to Adanac/Union and followed that until the first north-south bike route after Commercial Drive: Lakewood. I decided to make my route a big circle, so I headed north on Lakewood into the heart of Grandview-Woodland, which (according to the City of Vancouver website) was the first Vancouver suburb. This vibrant neighbourhood is also home to lots of young families and twice as many native Italian speakers as the Vancouver average. Of course, this makes sense considering nearby Commercial Drive is the heart of Vancouver's Little Italy.

What discoveries did I make biking through this interesting little community? Well, a polkadot house for one, but also a plethora of amazing and gigantic backyard gardens! They are everywhere and they are big! Collected below are a few photos of some of the best ones I encountered. If you live in Vancouver perhaps a bike ride up Lakewood is in order? You could even head that way on a Saturday and hit up the farmer's market at Trout Lake. These Vancouverites are on to something: who needs grass when you can have fresh produce, fruits, and herbs all summer long? Of course, it is also like having another part-time job with all the work that comes with a garden: watering, weeding, harvesting and trying to pawn zucchinis off on your neighbours!

Grapevines and fruit trees

Pole beans, fig trees and tomatoes fill the entire backyard;
dill hides the concrete fence

Flowers, herbs, raspberries, pole beans and more

These plants are more than six feet tall and it's only July 2nd!

Even those with more driveway than backyard
are making the most of their garden space