My love of gardens comes naturally

I grew up in a gardening family. My paternal grandfather had an amazing garden full of flowers, vegetables, fruit trees and berry bushes. He had a goldfish pond (and threatened the grandchildren with unpleasant things if we dared harm those fish). The very back of his property was a favourite spot because it contained Salmonberry bushes and he didn’t care how many we picked and ate, whereas he did limit us when it came to his other crops. If you’ve not heard of Salmonberries you probably don’t live on the west coast of North America. The fruit is almost raspberry like in appearance, but the colour is a deep golden yellow to a deep orange-red. They are luscious, sweet, juicy and the very best kind of berry to offer up to hungry grandchildren!

My Mom

My Mom

My childhood home contained a good-size vegetable garden that Mom tended diligently. That space harboured a plentiful supply of peas, beans, beets, spinach, potatoes and peas that were picked and preserved, as well as strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes and a big ol’ cherry tree. She grew the food crops out of necessity; her real love was her flowers, and that remains true even today.

When I moved out on my own it was apartment living for a lot of years and I sorely missed digging in the dirt. This was before the days of community gardens. For several years I lived not too far from my paternal grandpa and would occasionally stop by after work for a cold glass of lemonade on the back deck and a tour of the garden. My Grandmother had passed away, he was remarried and his new wife (my step-grandma) was as funny and kind as my grandma had been. I adored them both.

butchart gardens

Butchart Gardens

I love going to plant nurseries and gardens just to walk around and take it all in. A couple of years ago my hubby and I went to Vancouver Island with his sister and her husband, who were visiting us from Ontario. One of the things we did was tour Butchart Gardens. What an amazing place! This was one of B.C.’s rare “heat wave” summers and we went early enough in the day to be able to enjoy it all without dying from heat stroke.

my tour companions

resting in the garden

I think I could have stayed all day, wandering around and taking photos but my companions weren’t quite as enthusiast. This is a favourite photo I took while they took a little break and I continued experimenting with my camera.

It’s meatloaf without the meat!

I often tell people I’m vegetarian but in actuality I am really more of a pescetarian – I add fish to my mostly vegetarian diet. I’ve occasionally indulged in chicken (but would never use the term “pollo vegetarian” because honestly I think that’s a little silly. Might as well say you are a chicken lover that also eats their veggies)! I was never a real lover of meat growing up, and discovered (upon giving up red meat, chicken and pork) that my stomach hurt a lot less. So there you have it, not complicated as to why I eat what I eat! Now onto the topic at hand which is….

veggiemeatloafFAUX “meatloaf”

I made this last week for dinner and for the most part it was good. For me personally it had a little too much onion, so if you’re not an onion lover, cut back on that part (I know I will next time). Don’t forget that this is NOT a gluten free recipe, Yves Veggie Meat contains wheat. I know there’s some gluten free faux meat alternatives but I haven’t tried any of them.

Sorry to say this isn’t a fancy printable version, maybe if I actually start putting up more than a few recipes I’ll think about formatting a printable version. For now just cut and paste into notepad and print (that should work)!
Preheat oven to 375°F or 191°C. Grease a large loaf pan.
Gather your ingredients together:

  • 2 pkgs of Yves regular Veggie Meat (I buy the bulk pack from Costco which makes it pretty economical)
  • 3/4 C. Old fashioned oat flakes (or instant (quick) oats if that’s all you have)
  • 1 raw potato (after grating, about 1 1/2 cups) – I used a red potato, unpeeled and well scrubbed
  • 1/2 Cup – 1 Cup finely chopped onion – use something mild. I used what was classified in the store as a sweet white onion. I used 1 Cup chopped, next time I will go down to a half cup
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and grated
  • 1/4 Cup bar-b-que sauce (if you don’t have bar-b-que sauce, use ketchup and a pinch of chili powder)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 Cup soy sauce (you can use low sodium if you want)
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp thyme (or rosemary)
  • 1 tsp basil (I used some fresh basil that I’d frozen in Olive Oil last year, but you can used dried)
  • chopped Parsley – use what you’re comfortable with – personally I use lots!
  • salt & pepper to taste (about a 1/2 tsp of each)

Mush it all together in a large bowl. When everything is thoroughly mixed, dump it into the greased loaf pan and pat it all down firmly. Brush a light layer of about 1/3 cup bar-b-que sauce or ketchup that’s been combined with about a 1/2 tsp of vegetable oil. Cover your meatloaf with foil and bake for about 30 minutes then remove foil and bake for an additional 20 – 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, lightly cover with the foil you used earlier and let sit for 10 minutes (long enough to heat dinner rolls, finish up some pototoes or make a salad)! Turn out onto a plate, slice. Serve warm.

Things I’ll do differently next time:

  1. Sweat the onions before combining with the other ingredients (it makes them sweeter). Link: Sweating Onions
  2. Add about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of veggie stock or broth. I found that while oats improved the texture of the veggie loaf and acted as a sort of binder (in lieu of a beaten egg), oats are traditionally what you’d add to a meatloaf to soak up the greases and other liquids that real ground round (or hamburger meat) gave off while cooking. So this faux loaf got a little too dry around the edges. I think the addition of some liquid would help. I’d probably mix the oats and broth together and let them sit while sweating the onions, then mix in with everything else.

This recipe is a mash-up of several different recipes along with my own original recipe (that used hoisin sauce instead of bar-b-que sauce or ketchup)! You can add/substitute whenever you see things that don’t appeal to you. Ketchup instead of bar-b-que sauces make a sweeter, less tangy meatloaf. Use garlic powder but NOT garlic salt, if you don’t have fresh garlic. If you only have garlic salt, don’t use salt or this will end up way too salty. I am also not a fan of onion powder, I think it’s ghastly, and I think the minced onion adds another layer of texture that this recipe needs. You could also add ground flaxseed (about a 1/4 cup) in with your other ingredients or sprinkle some whole flaxseed on top before baking to up the protein level. I doubt you’ll notice the nutty flavour, but the protein addition can’t hurt.

Let me know if you try this!

Longing for the sun

click for bigger pic

Even more than wanting to be warm without socks and hoodies, I’m anxious for the sun to stay out for longer than a day at a time. I miss the sun. This photo makes me smile because I remember what a gorgeous August day it was, and how perfect the yard looked to me. I think while the yard still looks so barren and empty you’ll be seeing a lot of photos from last year on here.

This past Monday I managed to cut the edge around 90% of the new garden space, then dig about a 3′ x 3′ piece of sod out (where the raspberries are moving to) before the rains took hold again. The raspberries were planted too close to the deck (my fault), and I’m digging out a 10 foot x 3 foot area for them first. I’ll turn it by hand and add some compost and build it up with soil from the existing vegetable garden. We’ll add the wood ties later. After removing the sod from the rest of the new section I’m going to rent a rototiller. The beds are going to be raised but this soil is heavy (and clay-based) and turning it all by hand would not be good for me or the hubby, who has offered to help on his days off from work. After that I’ll get a couple of yards of good garden soil delivered, which I’ll then have to transport from where-ever it gets dumped to the garden in the back.

I did manage to plant some garlic and was pleased to see that I have some green onions coming up that self-seeded from last year. Bonus!

I’m taking a one day beginner landscaping course at a local nursery in a couple more weeks, and found a program online to map out my garden so I took all sorts of measurements on Monday. As well, I ordered a couple of interesting looking gardening books, which arrived unexpectedly today (surprised the heck out of me since I used amazon’s free shipping option which usually takes at least 5 days if not longer). There will be more on these books and the author later.

Since today was a lovely day to be outside ONLY if you are a duck, I spent my time immersed in code, trying to learn as much as I can about WordPress. I’ve not stretched my brain like this for a while and it feels good (and struggled with “a while” vs “awhile”, so it was nice to have Grammar Girl to fall back on).

My garden books are calling… can you hear them? Since the new washer/dryer won’t be arriving until the middle of next week (our 23 year old pair packed it in), I also have that time when I’d normally be doing laundry to enjoy the new books. Who needs clean clothes anyway?