Friday, February 28, 2014

The Audit of My 2013 Ontario Garlic

How is everyone doing with their Ontario garlic stored away for the winter?  This past season I purchased 58 heads and I am down to my last 19. Should I panic or stop cooking Italian and Greek?

This past evening I did an audit of my remaining stinky roses and they are all still in good shape.  I have kept them in the cool, dry basement since I first purchased them.  They have been in open short paper bags, a maximum of 6 heads to a bag.

Most of the garlic heads are forming a bit of their garlic germ.  This is quite typical for this time of year. Very few have actually sprouted.  I just cut out the garlic germ when I am peeling my garlic.  A recent post by David Lebovitz endorses this practice.

It is pleasing to know that heading into March, I still have firm, moist flesh in each clove.  Of course, the garlic is at its most flavourful and juiciest when it is first harvested and allowed to dry for a few weeks.  But I feel fortunate that I am having such great success.

One of the evils of storing garlic is mold.  Too much humidity in the air or poor circulation will quickly ruin a garlic. This is why I only store a few in each bag and leave the bag open for air to move freely. I am fortunate as well to have a cool, dry basement.  I have heard of others storing their garlic in the garage. I have too much moisture coming from wet cars to dare consider that. Plus my garage tends to hover around 4C.  Fridge temperature is too cold to store garlic.

Some will also experience cloves that just dry up and disintegrate. I felt that accelerated drying was happening with a set of 6 bulbs back in November so I used them up right away.  This was disappointing as I have had reasonable success with that variety and farm in the past.  It was a colder wetter growing season in 2013. Both factors affecting the quality of garlic crops.

Each bag has been labeled with the Date of Purchase, Number of Bulbs, Price, Grower, Variety and Place of Purchase. This has come in handy when selecting garlic for cooking.  Some varieties are stronger than others.  It also helps me to see which garlic I may consider repurchasing in the next season. My eye is still not trained well enough to just recognize a bulb's pedigree by its looks.

I have been particularly pleased with garlic from my CSA farmer Roots and Shoots Farm. That is now all gone.  Also Glengyle Garlic from the Ottawa Farmers' Market has held up well.  A farm that has been a star for me but I did not purchase in 2013 is Waratah Downs Organic Farm. Other farms I have tried and have had good success are:
Rainbow Heritage Garden
Bashert Farm
Upper Canada Garlic
Vicki's Veggies

My garlic was mainly purchased at farmers' markets and garlic festivals. On average, I paid $1.30 for each head of garlic.

 Most of my garlic was purchased throughout the months of August and September.  My first local garlic came in my CSA basket on July 25, 2013. That means I have to wait another 21 weeks for a fresh crop.

Will my 19 garlic take me to late July? I suspect not. Luckily Rainbow Heritage Garden from Cobden will be participating at Seedy Saturday this weekend at the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre, Britannia Beach, 102 Greenview Avenue.  It runs from 10 am to 3 pm. They have promised to bring along their certified organic garlic, potatoes, beets and carrots.

Did you store local Ontario garlic for the winter?  How has it weathered the winter?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Morning Getaway in Paris - Croissant From Chez François - Plaisirs de Provence

On a friend's very strong endorsement, I stopped in to Chez François - Plaisirs de Provence in Westboro at 427 Richmond Road to try one of those 'out-of-this-world-the-real-deal' croissants.

I have to agree, it was worth the trip.

The flaky buttery pâtisserie was neither greasy nor too dense.  It's tender interior gently held its pronounced layers. There was a distinct light sweetness that had me wondering if it actually came from the butter itself.

I hear these croissants are much sought after and felt lucky to still get one late morning.  It's freshness very much intact, I might add.

This treat will set you back $2.50. Recommended with a full-bodied coffee.

Perhaps next time the Pain au Chocolat. Research after all.....

Chez François - Plaisirs de Provence
427 Richmond Road

Tues to Fri: 8:30 am to 6 pm
Sat: 8 am to 6 pm
Sun: 8 am to 5 pm

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Live Now

As sure as we know the sun will rise and set, we know we can count on the comfort of egg salad sandwiches in our time of sorrow.

While we sip our strong tea or drink that weak coffee, it doesn't seem to matter whether there are crusts, margarine vs. butter, onions and celery, mayonnaise or Miracle Whip, brown bread or white. It just matters that they are there and in abundance.

The trip last week was a hard one.  Although she was an Ottawa friend, the service and burial were back in her hometown, clear across the province.

As I struggled with making the trip, I wondered why, as I am a funeral person.  But for some, choosing to go to a funeral is fraught with dilemmas. How well did they know the one who passed. The disruption to their schedule. The time away. The cost. The awkwardness of death. The shear sadness of it all.

For me, funerals are for the living.  For a life taken far too soon and so tragically, families need all the reinforcements we can muster.

The 9 month journey to this final day has been filled with ups and downs. Hopes and despair.  As much as a family rides the ride in the front seat, friends too are caught in the wake.  We gather to give comfort and also get comfort.  To celebrate a special life.  To celebrate a special someone.

With a generous care package of egg salad sandwiches, I started my long journey home. A few hours in and I detoured into Toronto's west end to a small shop on Roncesvalles.  Green Light District, formerly from Ottawa, had posted a picture of an elegant white vase three weeks earlier that caught my eye.  I was keen to see it in real life.

There was my usual humming and hawing.  How do I buy another vase when I had just let 3 or 4 go?  It wasn't terribly dear.  The height seemed perfect.  I almost left empty-handed and then contemplated my potential regrets. In my head a little voice was softly squeaking, "Live now."

I decided I wanted this vase as my reminder of a great lady.  Someone who liked fine things.  A caring, tender-hearted friend who was full of love and compassion for others.

Those comforting egg salad sandwiches from last Friday are long gone. There are no cures for sadness. Though this special keepsake sure brightens the day.

I am standing upon the sea shore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says; “There, she is gone! ” “Gone where? ” Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at that moment when someone at my side says, “There, she is gone! ”
There are other eyes watching her and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes! ”

And that is dying. 

* Many attribute this poem to Henry Van Dyke. I was not able to confirm this.

The Ottawa Bagelshop - Bagel Special Until February 28

There is new math this week at the Ottawa Bagelshop and Deli at 1321 Wellington Street West.  Buy a dozen bagels and receive 14.  This deal ends Friday.

When it comes to bagels, we prefers the Montreal-style bagel. Wood-fired baked, no salt and a light sweetness from being boiled in honey water. As it turns out, there is a family connection between our favourite bagel shop in Montreal, St. Viateur Bagel, and the Ottawa Bagelshop.  We can get the same chewy, dense goodness without leaving town.

The Ottawa Bagelshop's wood-burning oven was out of commission for a few days last week.  While it didn't cause full-scale pandemonium, faithful customers such as ourselves were feeling the withdrawal. Happily they are back in business.

The bagels freeze well. Cut in half first before packing.

Get them while they're hot!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chocolates For Your Valentine - Cylie Artisans Chocolatiers

If you are inclined to participate in gift giving on Valentine's Day tomorrow, you might find your point quotient soaring if you choose to share the gift of Cylie Artisans Chocolatiers' artful creations.

They are imaginative in flavours as well as beautiful to look it.

February 14 could possibly be their busiest day of the year. But these beautiful chocolates make wonderful presents for many other special occasions. As long as there are birthdays, weddings, dinner name it, chocolate will be flowing from their doors all year round.

Cylie Artisans Chocolatiers
204 Dalhousie Street
Ottawa, Ontario
Facebook: Cylie Artisans Chocolatiers
Twitter: cyliechocolat

Tues - Sat: 11 am - 7 pm

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