My mother had a lot of favourite tips from aunts, grandmothers, and country women she admired. If something got stained or drab looking, she’d say, ‘Put it out in the March sun’, and the combination of cold and sunshine did seem to work particularly well. We haven’t quite reached the equinox yet, but the strength of that March sun is enough to brighten fabric, to melt the ice on the rink, to pull sprouts up out of the ground, and to lift the spirits.
Alvaro Venturelli says the garlic is up in Plan B’s greenhouse, and Jessie Sosnicki has been reporting on lots of seeding in preparation for early returns to market. If you’re thinking of doing some planting of your own, Parkdale’s Seedy Saturday is on from 11 to 3 at 250 Dunn this weekend, and you’ll find Urban Harvest among the vendors there. Colette and Pablo will be back at Dufferin the first market in April.
We’ve got a little winter left, though. Ayse from Marvellous Edibles writes: “We are buried deep in snow yet another time. We still have greens although we could really use a warm spell; then we should really see an abundance. We just seeded a whole bunch of greens into a greenhouse, the aim being to keep on having greens before the fields have production. Celeriac is done. Onions are almost done, but we still have lots of carrots, beets, potatoes and sunchokes. And of course Jens is making sausage and bacon and smoking hocks today.”
Hmm, sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes). I have to admit, I’ve never totally warmed up to these homely little lumps, but it’s not because they’re ugly. On the contrary, beauty is to blame. Once upon a time, the attractive yellow flowers on the plants that grow from these tubers led some well-meaning individual to plant them in a garden I was looking after, and they really ran amok, so I have associated them with weeding ever since. [Note to gardeners: you won’t resent their enthusiasm if you give them their own bed!] Recently, though, I’ve learned that they are a fantastic source of iron and potassium, and I’ve developed more appreciation for them as a tasty winter vegetable.
Here’s a picture from Johnny’s Seeds so you can match the tubers to their flower.
Wondering what to do with them? Try sautéing a sliced onion in butter and oil until halfway done, and then adding a pound of thinly sliced sunchokes, a sprinkling of thyme leaves, salt and fresh-ground pepper, plus a little water, and simmering for 15 minutes or so until tender. Cover the pan at first, and check to see if more water is needed a couple of times during cooking.
If you want to elevate this side dish, spread several Tablespoons of sour cream over the sunchokes at the end, sprinkle grated cheese and breadcrumbs over the top, and put the pan under the broiler until bubbly.
A word of caution: Jerusalem artichokes are rich in fibre, too, so don’t eat the whole panful if they’re new to you; results can be anti-social until your body gets used to them.
Spade & Spoon is bringing beet soup this week. Blythe and Adam are both excellent soup-makers, so I’m not sure who gets the credit for this batch.
Ying Ying Soy Food will be absent this time, but Ming will return next week.
Come on out and enjoy the beautiful snow while it lasts, and pick up some great food from our faithful farmers and vendors.
See you at the market!
Our Vendors this week:
Ali Harris RINKHOUSE
Bees Universe RINKHOUSE
Country Meadows RINKHOUSE
Culture City GARAGE
Dufferin Park Bakers RINKHOUSE
Forbes Wild Foods RINKHOUSE
Kind Organics RINKHOUSE
Marvellous Edibles Farm RINKHOUSE
Spade & Spoon RINKHOUSE
Ted Thorpe GARAGE