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Organic Greens With Spot Prawns

Seasonal Recipes With Field Chef Doug Hawrish

Local Spot Prawns are in season! And they melt in you mouth – just like lobster!

I have created a simple and delicious green salad with a honey herb vinaigrette topped with you know what!   Enjoy some of the best of our local delights here in Vancouver.

Organic Greens With Charred Spot Prawns

Honey Herb Vinaigrette

Whisk together in a small bowl:

- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar/ champagne
- 1 tbsp local honey or to taste
- ½ teaspoon course grain mustard or to taste

Add in a slow steady stream whisking constantly 8 TBSP extra virgin olive oil.

Taste and adjust seasoning.  Add a pinch of finely chopped parsley/ cilantro.

Toss with fresh local greens (Mizunia, Rocket, Red Leaf etc…) Divide salad on four plates.

Charred Spot Prawns

- 1 lb spot prawns peeled
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Place prawns in a bowl.  Add paprika, toss and coat evenly.  Place large frying pan (preferably cast iron) on medium high heat.  Add prawns and stir-fry for four minutes.  Remove from heat, place prawns in a bowl.  Toss with lemon zest and parsley.

Arrange prawns evenly among 4 plates, sprinkle with more parsley if desired.

Recipe by: Field Chef, Doug Hawrish

Good Quality Soil

Growing Food With Sharon Hanna:

Taking a trip out to West Creek Farms in search of good, high quality organic soil

Last spring I wanted to take my Gaia ‘Growing Food In the City’ program class somewhere to see how soil was “made.” There seemed to be a real problem finding a source of organic soil for people to grow food—even amongst all kinds of people involved in programs all over the Lower Mainland. It struck me as odd that you can buy 50 million different kinds of useless things every time you turn around, but sourcing good soil seemed a mystery, even for professionals.

Years back when I worked with Odessa Bromley at her nursery in Southlands, we used a beautiful, high-quality gritty potting mix to pot up the field-grown perennials. Turns out it had come from West Creek—that’s all I knew, so I gave the place a call.

West Creek Farms in Fort Langley

So I took my class out to Fort Langley to check out West Creek Farms, which involved a beautiful drive out in the country on a sunny Sunday in May. About 30 of us showed up for a tour, led by Frederick Munn, co-owner of the company.

Those of us in love with soil and soil amendments were led swooning around the huge area, smelling the mile-high piles of bark mulch being aerated with pipes—like aged tobacco or fine Cabernet—as well as big cargo containers of organic rice hulls and other stuff in various stages of mellowing.

The experiment: Which soil mix for what veggie

West Creek Farms

Frederick and I struck up a soil-based friendship and began a conversation about trialing various soil mixes to see which grew what veggie best. For example, I’ve always had a hard time growing beets at home—so we’re going to try beets in all the mixes to see which one yields the best.

Truck driver Rob King, a jack of all trades, whipped up six raised beds, 4 feet by 12 feet. We thought we’d try three “organic” and three “conventional” types of soil mixes, and garlic seed was planted in mid-October.

Operations manager Tommy Floyd got too way enthusiastic—carried away even—and arranged to do 18 more beds for 24 in total! So there’s lots of room for growing food this year. Looks like West Creek will have a demonstration garden ready for viewing sometime this summer… Right, Frederick?

The aisles between, I said to Frederick, were way too wide: “such a waste in all that full sun.” So “we” have decided to plant lots of pumpkins and squash in those wide swaths, allowing them to run all over the place and using the lasagna garden method of building up an instant garden. It will be no problem getting the organic material for all the layers.

Frederick attended the workshop I had the pleasure of leading for landscapers last Friday, put on by the BCLNA. Not having been a grower of food up until this point, Frederick has a steep learning curve ahead of him but I think he’s up to it.

“I am very excited to launch this project as it provides an opportunity to use our experiences, skills and creativity and at the same time gain additional knowledge about soils,” he says. “Working with Sharon has been a rewarding experience and I look forward to making a contribution to the further development of organics!”

‘Frederick’s Organic Concoction’ soil mix recipe

Here’s the recipe for “Frederick’s Organic Concoction,” one of the three being trialed:

“…A blend of mushroom, duck and other composts. Includes kelp, fish meal, worm castings, red wiggler worms (actual worms) and more.”

Stay tuned—I hope to do a few more postings about how this pans out…

For more from Sharon, check out her blog postings at HotBeds.

Growing Leeks

Growing Food With Sharon Hanna

Start leeks now using these easy-to-follow instructions:

Now through early May is a peachy time to start leeks from seed. Sow thinly in seedling containers or pots—and by thinly, I mean no more than 12–16 seeds in a 4-inch pot or 4-by-6-inch plastic cell pack. Use seed-starter mix; do not use soil from your own garden. Try to sow seeds evenly spaced. This is never easy, but the more space between seeds, the longer they’ll be able to stay in the pots and the larger they can grow. Barely water (as usual), and give them bottom heat, which all members of the onion family love, especially at first. (They prefer cooler temperatures after, but warm at the beginning—another similarity to human infants ☺) Expect your leeks to take a while to germinate. When they do emerge, they come out as cute little bent over grassy seedlings which finally unfold and grow straight up, with the seed stuck to the end. Bringing them indoors and outdoors—out if the weather is warm, inside to your kitchen in the evenings—will make them grow faster. Leeks are heavy feeders. If you have a pinch of alfalfa meal, kelp meal, etc. add some of that, or water with liquid kelp or fish once they get larger. Transplant to LARGE containers (they won’t work in small ones, in my experience anyway) or to good rich soil in at least half a day of sun. Refer to the West Coast Seeds catalogue or the Internet for transplanting instructions. Leeks do great things for the soil—making it “friable,” which is another word for well-worked and luscious with lots of air spaces to hold oxygen, which is good for plant roots. They’ll also grow in less than perfect areas such as ones with part sun. They will not grow in heavy shade or in the dark. Give leeks a try this year. Many will overwinter on the coast. For fall and winter use, start more in early June. Sharon Read more at Gardenwise Online.

You Are What You Digest

Nutrition Tips With Registered Holistic Nutritionist Julia O’ Loughlin

We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat,” but that’s actually only a half truth.  The saying should really be “you are what you digest,” because without proper digestion, we can not fully benefit from the potential health impacts of the food we eat.  In order for nutrients to be absorbed by the body, they have to be properly broken down.  This process occurs in the stomach and is accomplished with the help of hydrochloric acid (gastric acid) and the body’s own digestive enzymes.  Some health professionals, including North Vancouver naturopathic doctor John Matsen, believe that inefficient digestion is a factor in ALL disease and its improvement is the single best tool for preventative medicine. So, how can you increase your own digestive abilities? See below for a list of simple ways that will help you rest assured you are absorbing all the wonderful nutrients from the food you eat.

  • Chew food properly – Stimulates the production of gastric juices and the release of an enzyme in the saliva that begins the breakdown of starchy foods.
  • Prevent dilution of hydrochloric acid – don’t drink large amounts of cold fluids with meals as this dilutes digestive juices and causes premature dumping of food into the small intestines.
  • Eat smaller, simpler meals, more frequently – to increase metabolism, relieve difficult digestion and balance blood sugar.
  • Do not eat with upset or rushed – this can upset the digestive process and lead to malabsorption.
  • Eat prior to 7:30 pm – As the digestive process weakens throughout the day, the earlier you eat the higher likelihood that nutrients will be effectively assimilated and absorbed.
  • Enhance consumption of digestive enzymes – do so by supplementation or by eating more raw foods, particularly tropical fruits.
  • Increase production of hydrochloric acid – begin day with a cup of water mixed with apple cider vinegar or lemon, or supplement with Betaine HCl-.