High-rise dates

High-rise dates

I’m home from the harvest, after a two-day date with the king of dates in Yuma, Arizona. Day 2 of our Medjool Bloggers Summit began with a Date 101 session over breakfast. Then it was off to the Bard Valley, a strip of desert in the extreme southwest corner of California, 20 minutes from where we sat. … Continue reading

Take the 1:45 to Yuma

Take the 1:45 to Yuma

I left green T.O. at 9 this morning and landed at 6 p.m. (3 p.m. Arizona time) in the desert. It feels like another planet … spiky brown hills rising in the distance out of what looks from the air like an ancient seabed, dry and cracked. We stepped off the plane into a wall … Continue reading

Meet our Mighty Mato!

Meet our Mighty Mato!

When I heard a lot of people have been disappointed with their grafted tomatoes from President’s Choice, new this year, I figured I’d better weigh in with this bruiser of a brandywine from our back-lane garden. No, it’s not the least bit round, but it was delicious!

Awash in squash!

Awash in squash!

Bill Boot is awash in squash, and he couldn’t be happier. Five days a week for more than 30 years, Boot has arrived at the Ontario Food Terminal at midnight from his farm in Scotland, an hour and a half west of Toronto. By dawn his outdoor stall is a work of art, with 17 … Continue reading

September shell game

September shell game

Leave the canned beans for winter and reach for handfuls of fresh romano beans, available by the bushel right now from Ontario farms. You can’t miss these beauties, their long pods streaked with a vivid pink. The plump, shiny beans inside are a swirl of cream and pink. Unfortunately their colour’s only skin-deep, and they … Continue reading

Demystifying kohlrabi

Demystifying kohlrabi

There are few vegetables more intimidating than kohlrabi. This alien creature, shaped like a Sputnik with leafy arms sprouting from a pale green or purple sphere, gets a wide berth from those of us who didn’t grow up with it. In fact, kohlrabi — German for cabbage-turnip — may be the most mild-mannered vegetable of … Continue reading

A currant affair

A currant affair

Now I know how it feels to be caught red-handed. While it’s true my neighbour gave me permission to pick his currants — suspended like thin strings of red pearls from a scruffy old bush more than a metre wide — I hadn’t warned him that I might need more for recipe testing. Emerging from his house … Continue reading

Sweet onions easy on the eyes

Sweet onions easy on the eyes

The onion counter is probably the last place you’d expect to find sweet treats, but take a closer look on your next trip through the produce section. Next to the all-purpose yellow or Spanish cooking onions, the tangy whites beloved in Mexican cuisine and the sharp-tasting reds that trade on their good looks, you’ll find … Continue reading

Okra has multicultural appeal

Okra has multicultural appeal

To experience multiculturalism at its best on Canada Day or any day, find a supermarket with a bin of fresh okra. Lovers of the edible green pod were stocking up at my local No Frills recently, thrilled with the low price and excellent quality from the Dominican Republic. Small quantities of okra are also being grown in … Continue reading

Discover sweet-tart physalis

Discover sweet-tart physalis

Would you buy a fruit that sounds like a disease? If not, you’d better call the physalis by one of its many other names, perhaps Cape gooseberry or ground cherry. Sweet and tart, with an exotic perfume, these golden berries are enclosed in a papery straw-coloured calyx that adds to their mystique. Pull it back … Continue reading