Fall Gardening

It’s been a busy fall with lots of activity in the veggie garden.  For the first time in a number of years Andrew and I successful grew zucchini.  Now we just need to figure out new ways to eat that tasty vegetable. And I’m sure there is more in the garden that we need to pick before a cold snap gets the plants.

We’ve also dug our potatoes, onions, and garlic.  I love root vegetables that store well over the winter months.  Nothing beats having snow outside and making a delicious meal (maybe stew?) with home grown vegetables.

As I mentioned earlier this was our first year growing garlic.  It did fairly well, but I think the soil where we planted them could have used some love last year. As a result they aren’t huge bulbs — but they are still flavorful and full of goodness.  It has been a learning experience, I hadn’t realized how much maintenance the garlic needs once it’s planted.  I’m going to bring some down to Southern Ontario for family there next week.  And we’ll hopefully plant this year’s fall garlic in the very near future.

Artwork and Beer: Collective Arts Brewing

I recently picked up a six pack of State of Mind, the session IPA from Collective Arts Brewing.  Light, citrus flavoured, and full of hops this was an enjoyable pick for me.  It poured a light golden yellow and had a slightly hazy look.

Collective Arts has a few other IPAs and pale ales that’s I’m hoping to try in the future.  The Rhyme & Reason was recommended when I bought this selection so maybe I’ll try it next time.

One of the reasons I was excited about trying this selection was the labels that Collective Arts uses.  The bottles feature limited-run artwork by artists.  Additionally many of the labels are compatible with the Blippar app which allows you to scan the image to learn more about the artwork, artist, or listen to paired music. I loved the uniqueness of each label and the added bonus of being able to learn more about the artist using your phone was a neat surprise. A great conversation piece combined with tasty beer.

At the hundredth meridian where the great plains begin

I’ve had the Hip song “At the Hundredth Meridian” stuck in my ever ever since a friend recommended that Andrew and I try the 100th Meridian Amber Lager by Mill Street.  Neither of us are typically drawn to lager style beers, but our friend said he usually wasn’t a lager fan but still liked the beer.

Brewed at Mill Street’s Toronto Brewpub this selection’s name reflect the fact that it was made with ingredients from west of the 100th Meridian.  I’ve found Mill Street beers hit and miss in the past. But the Meridian was smooth and easy to drink.  It’s a nice middle ground between the very mild Mill Street Organic and the more robust Mill Street Tankhouse.  It has a light body, pours golden-amber and has a distinctive malt smell.  Simple but tasty.

While enjoying the Meridian, Andrew and I fondly recalled our visit to the Mill Street Ottawa Brewpub a few years ago.  Located in a former grist mill, the 140+ year old building is a great example of adaptive reuse of a heritage building.  Well worth the visit if you’re in Ottawa, even if it is a little bit out of the way of downtown.

Sharing and Gardening

One of my favourite parts about having a garden (other than eating the delicious veggies) is sharing produce and talking about gardening with other people.  I love the idea of trading vegetables, sharing bountiful produce, and having a gardening community.

Within our local family and friends we try to share plentiful produce.   This summer we’ve been treated with cucumbers from Andrew’s parents garden – they had far more than they could eat.  We plan to share some of our garlic with local and far away family members.  I also enjoy cooking and sharing meals that were made out of food we grew.  There is nothing more satisfying than eating a meal that you cooked from scratch and that contains the food you laboured over.  Those meals are true works of love — even if the occasional dish ends up being a creative failure.

Some of the best gardening tips and advice I’ve received have been from other local gardeners.  I have tendency to want to read a lot before starting a project. There are a ton of gardening books and blogs out there and beginning to read about a topic like vertical gardening can be a bit like venturing down a rabbit hole.  Which is great but sometimes it’s hard to find suggestions of what will work in our specific climate and soil quirks.  Even locally there is a lot of variation in soil, but local success stories are heartening and highlight the ability to grow such a range of produce in the North.

Where do you turn for gardening advice? Who is your gardening guru?

Volkan Brewery and Greek Debt

GreekDebtAndrew and I are still working our way through our July beer of the month delivery.  This shipment included two selections from the Volkan Brewery in Greece.  One of the most interesting parts of these two beers was a small logo on the side of the bottles which indicated the beer is a certified “Greece Debt Free Product”.

Essentially for each 1 euro of profit Volkan Brewery will help reduce the Greek National debt by 50 euro cent through the purchasing of Greek government bonds in international markets.  More about the Greek Debt Free program can be seen here. Of course the logo caused Andrew to joke that he was being a good global citizen by drinking tasty beer.

The two beer selections from Volkan that we sampled were the Santorini blonde pilsner and the Santorini black lager. Both beers are brewed with Santorini honey. The pilsner was a fairly generic tasting blonde, good on a hot day but nothing spectacular. The black lager was a bit more complex with nutty, mild chocolate malt flavour and accompanying aroma. On a whole I wasn’t overly impressed with the Volkan beers, but they did make for interesting conversation around economics and social conditions.

So far in cases where the beer of the month delivery included an Ontario and an Italian or Greek beer both Andrew and I have preferred the Ontario brew.  It seems like this was the case in July as well.