Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Garden Report #101

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

‘The Canadian Thanksgiving Edition'

Our geraniums just before the frost
• Writers write: Vegans and vegetarians, advert your eyes. With all of the commotion and news about the recall of beef from XL Packers out of Alberta, one issue seems to be missing. Packing plants have gotten incredibly large and traceability has evaporated. XL now controls forty per cent of the cattle in this country. There was a time when a farmer sold his cattle to a butcher and then it was purchased by the consumer. Now, we have mega farmers selling their cattle to feedlots, who sell them to massive slaughter houses, that sell the processed meat to massive supermarket chains. No one knows where the beef came from, how it was handled and the source of the contamination. We need to take another look at a less complicated food chain. If we had a smaller food chain and there was a problem, finding the source of the issue would not be near as difficult.

     As an aside, I was at a fall supper at a farm south of town, a few weeks ago. I ate some of the finest sausage I have ever tasted. I was talking with the fellow who made it. It came from the same farm we were having the supper at, where the steers were raised on Saskatchewan grass. They were slaughtered locally and turned into this wonderful sausage. The sausage maker said “you can’t make good sausage without using good meat.” And it is so true. When I read on a package that a sausage is 100% beef, I also know that the 100% might include everything from the nose to the tail and still be a true statement.

     I am hardly on a soap box, but we have to realize that these mega processing houses are not good for us or the economy. I am leaning more and more to our locally grown products.

• Readers write:

     • It’s always good luck to start off any Garden Report with something from a Dutchman. And our good luck begins with Hans deJongh writing from Surrey, B.C. “Congrats on your 100th edition.”

     • Jean Freeman always sends along good vibes and today she sends them out to Joe Fafard. “Rod, you are wonderful as always!! Happy 100th!! (That also applies to your centenary birthday, just in case I lose track of time -- as I often do -- and forget to wish you a Happy Day then!!) I concur wholeheartedly with your comments about Joe Fafard, who I love and admire for many, many reasons!”

     • Wendy Richardson who used to be Wendy Campbell, many years ago, lives and gardens in London, Ontario. She writes: “By the way thank you for all your hard work in putting The Garden Report together. You make it look easy, but I know that it is not and it is very time consuming. I love all the pictures that you put in, they are very beautiful. Is Tina Hoffman related to Grant Hoffman? That is an absolutely beautiful picture of her and her new born, Wow, who took that?” Rod responds: Tina is Croatian. She trained in London, in theater and that is how she met her husband, Marcus Fernando. We met them through our Fringe travels. Marcus is an excellent photographer and takes the credit for that shot of Tina and their two boys.

     • Candace Holmstrom of CBC One fame, sent us this update. “What a wonderful milestone! Congratulations. Hope your knee surgery goes well. I’m on Salt Spring Island, BC, for much of the next eight months. This is a break I've been planning for quite a few years. I have a lovely home and guest house on an acreage with a peaceful view of the ocean and sunrise. I have been going wild, buying organic produce which is in amazing abundance from local farmers.”

     • Bill Warriner is also living on Salt Spring Island which leads me to ask, why not me? Bill is succinct. “Congratulations on #100......keep it up.”

     • Sandra Rayson sends along her blessings. “My heartiest congratulations to you on the 100th edition of The Garden Report. You have been a tremendous inspiration to this community, to me & all the people who know you. You touch the lives of the people you meet in more wonderful ways than you might ever realize. Thank you for sharing your knowledge & talents with all of us through your personal contact & especially through The Garden Report. I feel blessed & privileged to know you.”

     • Georgia Hearn is always a fan. “Another great Sunday morning tradition. I love the gardening advice and I practice it religiously because I know of your success first hand. Of course the humor and culinary comments are a treat as well. It's a pleasure to be part.”

     • Roberta Nichol is a regular responder. This week she is not finding grammar errors but offering up nice things in print. “Well, congratulations Rod! While I was aware that last week's Report was #99, I just didn't think that this week's would, in fact, be an ‘Anniversary Edition’. That's quite a milestone. You have done well. I know, by your readers' responses every week, that your hard work on this blog is so appreciated. I know how much time it takes to read, write, compile, and edit as, one evening, you showed me, and it was pretty overwhelming. It's pretty involved! And we love you for it!”

     • June Mayhew, proud mother of our Olympic Silver Medalist in rowing, wrote this: “Congrats on the 100th issue. Each and every one has been a wonderful combo of humor, gardening insight and folksy philosophy. Thanks too for the plug for Rachelle in issue #99. Looking forward to the next installment.”

     • New reader, Bhupinder Singh, likes what he sees. “Thank you for The Garden Report! It’s nothing but spectacular. Now I finally will be able to sort out my garden. I've bookmarked it and will go through the past postings, bit by bit.”

     • Margo Soriano sent this missive in to share. “Wow Rod #100! (Worth the punctuation.) Congratulations. I have selfishly enjoyed every edition that showed up in my in box without a hearty thank you. Time to fix that. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Keep up the great work. I look forward to it.”

The Saskatchewan Legislature at sunset
• Canadian Thanksgiving: For the benefit of our non Canadian readers, we celebrate our Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October, every year. We do a similar supper to Americans, with a roast turkey and pumpkin pie; but sweet potatoes are not near as integral to our suppers as they are in The States. It was traditionally, a post harvest supper, when our farmers were finished bringing in their crops of wheat, barley, rye and oats. Today, farming has expanded to include lentils, mustard, peas, canola, flax, canary seed and winter wheat for the ethanol plants. While Thanksgiving is an important part of our social calendar, Thanksgiving in Canada has never taken on the level of importance that it occupies in America. When I was a young man and single, I was in The U.S. for their Thanksgiving. People commented, feeling sorry for me, “you’re going to be alone, without your family, for Thanksgiving.” Being raised Canadian, I didn’t get what they were saying and I didn’t’ feel alone at all.

• The book is out: Taste: Seasonal Dishes from a Prairie Table is now on the market. I ran into CJ Katz, the author, at The Italian Star on my Saturday morning visit. I have a copy and it is a lovely book. The photos are great and there are a variety of recipes. The book promotes locally grown products wherever it can, but let’s face it, how do you source locally grown olive oil? The timing of the book’s release is perfect for the upcoming gift giving season. I think a lot of foodies would love to have this under their tree. The cost is $30.

• Garden Tip: This question is asked every fall: Should I cut my roses in October or in April? Answer: I wait until April to cut my roses back. That way, I can see how much winter kill they experienced and prune accordingly. Some years I have to cut quite a bit and other years, only a minimal amount. Another thing I like to do to protect my roses is after the first snow fall, I scoop up snow from my patio and walks and use it as a mulch or a covering over my roses and other more delicate plants. The snow acts as a wonderful insulator for plants. When it is minus thirty air temperature, if you have twelve inches of snow cover over a plant, the soil is a balmy minus six.

• Tulips for sale: I ordered in a few thousand tulips to plant in the gardens that I am involved with. I have three hundred left and I am selling them. I have two hundred Negrita, which are a dark purple and one hundred White Dream, which are obviously, white. They are both mid season tulips and work well planted together. They are in boxes of one hundred and each box costs $60.00. If you take all three boxes, I will offer a discount.

'Katherine Dyke's' potentilla is a lovely, soft yellow
 • ‘Tangerine’: This bistro, on 14th Avenue near Lorne Street, is clean, friendly and serves food selected from a chalk board menu. I love clean and friendly and I love chalk board menus. Chalk board menus indicate that the kitchen can keep the food fresh and seasonal, and when the chef gets bored, he/she can create a new item and have it up and running the same day. You never want to block the creative energy of a good chef.

     Both Maureen and I had the soup which was Italian sausage with corn and other veggies. It was fist rate and a good soup is positive indicator for a bistro. Then we switched things up. I had the dilled egg salad on a croissant. It was definitely dilled, no getting around that. The croissant, to me, is supposed to be a work of art. It is supposed to be light, flaky on the outside and soft on the inside. My croissant was soft from one end to the other, so I am going to assume that it was stored in a sealed container or a plastic bag, to keep it fresh. But keeping it fresh, takes away its flakiness and turns it into more of a bun. They need to address that issue. Maureen had ham, cheddar cheese and green apple on a multigrain bun. A much, much better bun for this sandwich than mine. The bun was chewy, flavorful and everything it should have been. The ham was real, not that processed crap. Don’t get me started on processed ham. Maureen had a dark roast coffee and reported it was good. No desserts for us, but they looked really tempting and appeared to be made in the back.

     Here’s what you need to know. This place is really good for coffee and a treat or for a lunch. It impressed me. I will be back. The details were being paid attention to. The service was very good. Guys should be forewarned: This is a ‘chick place’ and not The Husky House. On Friday, I was the only dude in the place, surrounded by thirty, beautiful women, not that I am complaining. The staff assured me that other men venture in, but I didn’t see any and I am pretty good at spotting my gender, with or without baseball caps. And for our history buffs, Tangerine occupies the same space as once did ‘Gene’s On the Avenue’, which was a hangout for artists and writers, back in the sixties.

• Garden Tip: When you are laying stone work or interlocking bricks, do not use concrete or wood as a border or edging. If you notice the brick work in Victoria Park, you will see that the concrete edging has shifted to the point that they form uneven surfaces. Bricks, stones, concrete and wood all shift at slightly different rates and if they are mixed together, often create a trip hazard.

The flowers of the cimicifuga appear to be dancing
• Off the record: A friend of mine is a Queen’s Bench judge. I asked him if being a judge was difficult. He said: “Not as difficult as you would think. If you let people talk long enough, it becomes apparent who is lying and who is telling the truth.”

• Storing dahlia tubers: This information comes from reader Stew Wass, who gardens at Indian Head, Saskatchewan. Stew loves to grow dahlias and has become one of my go to guys for information on this flower. Stew writes:  It has become evident that there are just about as many methods as there are growers. First and foremost, they require very cool storage, in the 45 F. range. Cut the stocks back to just above the crown. Clean them well, spray wash if necessary and air dry for a day or two, in the shade. Pack in cardboard boxes and cover with newspapers. Check periodically during winter and if shriveling, spray them lightly with water, trim spoilage and repack.

Manchurian Ash-fall color
 • Farmers’ Market: There is one more Saturday market in the downtown left. After that, they will start holding them indoors at The Cathedral Village Arts Center. Always worthwhile.

• In Canada, we have another word for it: Several years ago, I was producing a Harold Pinter show from England. The last scene of the play required the lead, male actor to get naked. I produced the play, I didn’t write it. I was in the tech booth of the theater with the female director. When the actor’s underwear came off, the director turned to me and said in her British, clipped accent, “I hate it when his thingy flops around like that.” My response to her: “His ‘thingy’? His ‘thingy?”

• Fish and Chips: Reader/writer CJ Katz and I are always on the search for fish and chips that excel. CJ insists that Regina’s best are served at La Bodega. This week, I checked out ‘Union Jack’s Authentic British Fish and Chips’ at 363Broad Street. It is a little difficult to find this place as it is set back from the street, tucked into an area with only a few parking spots. Here is the nitty gritty. The service was good and the place was clean. For ten bucks you get one piece of fish, chips and a sauce. Your choose between cod, haddock or salmon. I had to ask: The cod and haddock run around fifty/fifty as choices and they sell a few salmon pieces a week. For fourteen bucks, you can have a two piece fish dinner.

     I went with the cod. The fish was fresh. I could see that from the counter. The batter was bland or non descript. I like a batter that has something to it and this one didn’t. No pizzazz. The chips were store cut and were very good. I noticed the boxes the potatoes came in labeled as being from B.C. Not sure why when we grow them here in the valley. There were four choices of sauces. I went with the basic gravy and it was definitely basic. Something that grabbed my attention was that all the condiments, including the malt vinegar, came in packages. I would have thought a place self labeled as ‘authentic’ might have had some of their seasonings in shaker bottles. Small point.

Anne's garden #2
     Here is what you need to know. It was good, but not great. Definitely not worth a drive which is something I use as my own barometer. If you are in the neighborhood, which is just north of all the Broad Street car lots, then check it out and send along your opinion. Meanwhile, CJ and I carry on with our magnificent journey for the best place, unfortunately, this was not it.

Thanks for reading…enjoy your pumpkin pie, Rod McDonald in lovely Regina.

No comments:

Post a Comment