Not Necessarily Christmas Craft Fair — November 29th, 2014 (10am-4pm)

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Crafts are a unique form of self expression which often go unappreciated. Whether an artistic outlet, a fun hobby,
or a livelihood, everyone deserves a chance to share their creativity. In chatting with customers over the years we
have realized the true extent of creativity present in our community. It’s so inspiring and exciting when you learn
that a friend has an amazing artistic side that you never knew about.

This November, we want to showcase these community talents! In order to celebrate that bit of creativity in each of
us, Niagara Grocery holds a craft fair every year where those with or without artistic inclinations can appreciate and
share community arts and crafts. Need an early holiday gift? What about just a nice art piece for your home? The craft
fair could even just be an excuse to share food and conversation with fellow community members! Whatever its
meaning for you, come and share with us on November 29th from 10am to 4pm!

Some of the many items that will be on display and available for purchase include:

Hand-made instruments, Lino cut calendars, felted animals, chocolate, candles, ornaments, cards, textiles, jewelry,
teas, dog treats and so much more!! So come, share your crafts, find unique gifts and purchase cozy accessories for the
winter months. We will even have a food cart on site offering hot lunches, because what would Niagara Grocery be
without great food?! We can’t wait to craft with you!

Let’s Get Seasonal!

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As we unveil our local produce box program, bringing you a box full of local produce each week, one question keeps coming up: What happens in the winter?

It is easy to grow accustomed to the idea that local produce is only available in the spring and summer. Many revert back to Californian greenhouse tomatoes and Chinese cucumbers, thinking it’s just that time of year when ‘local’ doesn’t exist. Now, this may be true for items such as citrus, avocado, and banana which are grown in more tropical climates, yet there are plenty of local food options to sustain us year-round. Some of what is available in winter may be produce that stores well, while other items grow year round. No matter the season, delicious and nutritious local food can be found and enjoyed.

So, what’s locally available in the winter months? (to name a few):

  • Potatoes: They are full of the good things your body needs to be sustained

through the winter. On top of that, they have a wonderful shelf life!

  • Pears
  • Apples: Although the apple picking season only lasts until November,

apples store well and, thus, can be a crop that’s available from July to March.

  • Carrots: Another good storage veggie, carrots can be made available year round.
  • Onions, Leeks, Garlic, and Shallots: These can be cured and stored throughout the winter
  • Winter Squash
  • Mushrooms: wild harvested from Saltspring Island
  • Kohlrabi
  • Celeriac
  • Peashoots, sunflower sprouts, mungbeans and lentils
  • Beets
  • Asian greens
  • Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Spinach
  • Collards
  • Arugula
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Parsnips
  • Turnips
  • Rutabagas
  • Chard
  • Kiwis
  • Nuts (please ask if you would like nuts in your box)
  • Nettles
  • Endives
  • Raddichio
  • Winter Lettuces
  • Rapini
  • Broccoli
  • Kales
  • Cabbage

Research suggests that, in the winter our bodies need those carbohydrates and nutrients found in winter vegetables and hearty greens more than in the summer months. Therefore, eating what’s in season can be best for everyone involved, from the farmer to the consumer!

Our box program will be running year-round, and through getting a box each week, you will be learning how to eat seasonally! What could be more exciting than that?! We will also be including recipe suggestions each week, which can be found here!

 

For more info about what is seasonal for our climate, check out these handy sites:

http://www.bcfarmersmarket.org/fresh-market/subpage/bc-winter-markets-2013-2014

mgabc.org  

 

Veggie Tales

This broccoli raab start will turn into six plants.

This broccoli raab start will turn into six plants.

You know it’s spring when Alex from Green Girl Gardens shows up with veggie and plant starts. What makes them special is that they’re organic, locally grown, and hardened off. Here in Victoria we can grow a wide range of plants, so how do you choose?

Choose plants that are productive. Corn is not very prodigious unless you have a lot of room; salad greens, kale, chard and the like can thrive in small spaces and be harvested over several weeks if you “cut and come again.” Vegetables that may yield more than one crop per season are beans, beets, carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, and turnips.

Start small. If you live in an apartment you can plant in containers of various shapes & sizes. If you have the room, my favorite is a raised bed, 4 feet by 8 feet, made from 2 x 10 boards reinforced with short 4 x 4 posts in the corners. You can fasten the frame together with deck screws, and fill it with topsoil and compost. Raising the bed keeps the soil warmer than planting directly in the ground, and allows easier access to growing plants. You now have 8 square feet  to farm, so it’s easy to lay out rows and space plants according to their needs.

Do you have enough sun exposure? Vegetables love the sun. They need at least 6 hours of full sun every day, and preferably 8. Be sure that taller plants like peas and tomatoes don’t shade lower growing plants.

Placement is everything. Avoid planting too near a tree, which will steal nutrients and shade the garden. In addition, a garden too close to the house will help to discourage wild animals from nibbling away your potential harvest.

Read up on the subject. Two solid references that come to mind are Sunset’s Western Garden Book–a good reference to what will and won’t grow in our climate–and Carolyn Herriot’s Zero-Mile Diet books (and recipes).

Here's the reward: Enjoying the fruits (or veggies) of your labor.

Here’s the reward: Enjoying the fruits (or veggies) of your labor.

Rhubarb Custard Bars

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Chef Heidi Fink is a professional chef, food writer, cooking instructor, and Mom. She recently shared this fabulous recipe for rhubarb, which in turn she credits to Ciara Dooley of Kildara Farms. Now, no one has ever accused me of over-praising rhubarb. Sure, it’s a beautiful vegetable with its deep red stalks and pale green/white flesh. But it always seemed like so much work to tame. Heidi’s recipe convinced me that the trick is to treat rhubarb more like a fruit than a vegetable. The result is this crisp, nutty crust married to a sweet, smooth, sliceable custard, and filled to bursting with tart pieces of rhubarb. You know it’s a success when the kids ask for seconds.

Crust:

1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup whole wheat flour (try whole wheat cake & pastry flour)

½ cup cool butter

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9? x 13? (approx) metal or glass pan.

In a large bowl combine all ingredients.  Mix with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.  The butter should be completely incorporated. (You can use a food processor for this step, if you like.)

Press crumbs (not too firmly, but firm enough) into the bottom of the prepared pan. Press a bit up the sides of the pan as well. Place pan on lower-centre rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350 F.

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Topping:

1½ cups sugar

3 eggs

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

1/4 cup whipping cream

4 to 5 cups diced fresh rhubarb, diced small

While the crust is baking, mix the topping ingredients together.  In a large bowl, mix the sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla, salt, and whipping cream, whisking well to eliminate lumps.  Stir in the diced rhubarb. Once the crust comes out of the oven, pour the topping over it (the crust should still be warm).  Return to the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until custard no longer jiggles and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.

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Asparagus

With asparagus comes Spring. This delicately-flavored perennial—especially its first few pencil-thin shoots–is the promise of a new season. We’ve cooked this vegetable dozens of ways, in soups, quiches, even stir-fries, but we’ve found the simplest way is often the best: on the grill.

Asparagus

Trim any thick or woody bottoms from the spears, or use a peeler and shave the lower half of each spear. Toss them in a bit of extra-virgin olive oil and kosher salt, and arrange on the grill over direct medium heat. Some folks line up the spears across the grate like soldiers; I tend to chuck them on and toss with the tongs so I can play with fire. Turn the spears until they pick up a bit of char, but keep them crunchy—maybe three to four minutes total.

Then you have a few options… You can get fancy and wrap half a dozen or so in a piece of pancetta. Or shave some Reggiano, Asiago or other hard cheese on them. Or like me you can just place your tasty pile of Spring goodness on the table and dig in.