Posts tagged ‘growing flowers’

White bean, chard and beet salad (and what do you think about #vb6?)

white bean beet salad

Have you heard about VB6 yet? It’s new to me since reading an article in the Georgia Straight this week and I have to say that I think you’re all about to become vegans. Part-time vegans, anyways.

VB6 is short for “Vegan Before 6,” a diet / catchphrase coined by New York Times food writer and cookbook author Mark Bittman. The idea is to eat a plant-based diet during the day, and then after 6pm you’re free to eat what you like – meat, eggs, dairy, junk food, whatever you want. “All the benefits of a strict diet without the deprivation,” he says on his website.

I think it’s great. I’m much more a fan of moderate solutions like this, and like Meatless Monday, that promote modest, incremental shifts in our habits and mindsets that lead to actual change. So much better than the usual diet narrative of no this, no that. It’s yes to plants all day, and then yes to whatever you want at night. And if you cheat, that’s fine. Actually, that’s the point: you’re supposed to cheat.

I’m curious to see if the movement catches on. I think it will. I really agree with the woman in the Georgia Straight article who says this: “Something magical happens when people start down the path of a plant-based diet. They start asking what’s in their food. They begin being concerned with the ingredients, quality, the source, the cost to the environment, and the toll it takes on animals.”

I know, you’re thinking, no way, not me, never. Vegan food is gross – too much quinoa and kale and hippie-dippy nonsense. Meat4ever.

But watch, as soon as you start thinking about what you’re eating – whether it’s an animal or a plant – I bet you’ll notice yourself leaning a tiny bit toward the plants. That’s what happened to me, and now I eat things like white bean, chart and beet salads all the time. With edible flowers on top.

Those plants…they’re a slippery slope!

White bean, baby chard and beet salad
Makes 1 salad

This salad was inspired by the beautiful baby chard from Vancouver’s Local Garden. You could also substitute spinach or baby beet greens or any other type of lettuce from your fridge or garden.

Pile 1-2 cups of chard leaves on a plate. I also added a few pea shoots, arugula, mint and Asian greens from my garden. Drain and rinse a can of white beans and sprinkle 1/2 cup of them on top of the salad (reserve the rest for something else). Top with 1/2 cup diced roasted beets and 1 tablespoon of toasted nuts or seeds (I used pumpkin seeds). Drizzle with a balsamic or raspberry vinagrette, and don’t forget the flowers! If you’re eating vegan, you might as well go for it. Nasturtiums, violets, pansies, roses and all sorts of other flowers can all go on salads – mine has (had) arugula blooms on top.

arugula flower

June 14, 2013 at 7:09 am Leave a comment

Arranging spring

spring flower vase

This sweet brown vase was a gift earlier this month: it’s the latest addition to a collection of tiny vases that are perfect for my small garden.

Once again these vessels are filled with spring flowers. I’ve been enjoying the zen-like art of flower arranging once or twice a week lately and it’s a reminder that few things make me happier than walking outside to my own garden and cutting flowers for a bouquet.

I love photographing them, too, and the small arrangements are the perfect size for my teeny studio.

vase with periwinkles 2

tiny vases

daffodil and hyacinth

white narcissus

April 13, 2013 at 4:45 pm Leave a comment

Winter gardening

arugula seedlingsNew year, new plants! A batch of seedlings sprouted on my windowsill last week and with that I am on my way to my 2013 goal of growing more of my own food.

Arugula and Asian greens like pac choi and mizuna  stand up to slugs better than most of the leafy greens I’ve tried growing in the past. I am trying kale again as I’d love to be able to grow my own since I eat it almost every day. I’ve never had much luck with kale as the garden critters like it as much as I do, but here’s hoping the new year will bring fresh success.

winter seedlings

January 23, 2013 at 8:25 pm 2 comments

End of summer garden

This weekend feels like the end of summer. The weather is still warm, but it is changing, as is the light, which is thinner now and less intense. Shadows are more pronounced and I see them invading sunny places earlier in the day. I don’t mind – there is something beautiful about the dance of tree leaves in the shade.

The plants of summer are still growing – yellow impatiens, a pot of blue forget-me-nots grown from seed that are just catching their stride, green tomatoes, mint, oregano and chives – but they’re slowing down. Two strawberry plants joined the garden this year and I’m pleased about that: from what I’ve seen in other people’s yards, they don’t wither away in the cold. I’m hoping the Asian greens will stay with me, too, if I don’t eat through them before winter arrives. Gai lan (Chinese broccoli) is the one below with the beautiful white flowers.

I’m looking forward to spending the afternoon outside on the patio in my wicker lounger chair saying farewell to summer and enjoying the beginning of fall. Next weekend I’ll find a garden store so I can plant kale, chrysanthemums, and winter pansies.

September 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm 1 comment

Flowers from the garden

All winter long I’ve been buying cut flowers from the store. No longer. Now I just need scissors. My container garden is full of spring blooms: tulips are opening up, pale daffodils that came up late are just starting to fade away alongside the long, variegated leaves of the crocuses, which are quite beautiful all on their own even though the flowers are long gone. My hanging baskets are filled with a mix of primulas and the pink and orange ranunculus and purple periwinkles you see here. All are plentiful enough that I’ve filled a little vase with them.

For those of you who are counting, there are 25 flowers and leaves in this little vase, picked in honour of a sad but special day. Life is a strange place, and hard to deal with at times. Somehow everything feels a bit lighter with flowers brightening a space, especially when you’ve been outside carefully plucking them from your own garden. It’s easier to find a sense of meaning and calm when you’re surrounded by beauty. It’s a simple thing, maybe silly, but there’s a little voice in things like flowers from the garden that calls at you and pushes you to try to make the rest of your world just as right – whether it’s indoors, outdoors, or like these flowers on a windowsill, somewhere in between.

April 25, 2012 at 11:14 pm 3 comments

Spring bulbs already sprouting!

It’s hard to believe, but the first shoots of snowdrops and crocuses are peeking up in gardens around the neighbourhood, including mine. This photo was taken yesterday afternoon, which you can see was lovely and sunny compared to today’s drizzle and grey. (more…)

January 6, 2012 at 5:18 pm Leave a comment

Primulas in bloom

Vancouver experienced some very chilly temperatures a couple of weeks ago (even snow!), but luckily my primulas were hardy enough to survive the cold snap. I planted them in early February after seeing them displayed in these gorgeous, colourful rows at my favourite garden centre, Southlands Nursery,

It’s this time of year that makes me love living on the west coast. When we used to live in Victoria I always enjoyed the annual flower count and the bragging rights that come with being the first place in Canada to experience spring. And when I lived in Calgary this is the time of year I hated the most – waiting and waiting for the endless winter to cease.

There were primulas blooming in our tiny garden when we bought our new house here in Vancouver last year. It’s amazing to see them again and think of all the time that has passed and everything that can happen in the short space of a year.

March 10, 2011 at 9:26 pm 2 comments

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