My Green City Life

Summer food
July 29, 2007, 3:10 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen, on the town

I love food. I love looking at it, smelling it, cooking it, growing it, and of course eating it! Summer time is, in my opinion, the best time for food. And the best place to get summer food, besides your own garden (which I, sadly, do not have) is the farmers market! Most of the food is super fresh and local and sometimes organic.

The farmers market I frequent doesn’t have rules against selling non-local food, so you will see things like mangos and pineapples and other produce that could never be grown around here. I think the farmers market should be just what the phrase implies: a market for local farmers to sell their produce. Let the big box grocery stores sell foreign non-seasonal produce if they must, but please keep it out of my farmers market! This is where I could easily get on my soapbox and go on and on…

But back to the happiness that is the farmers market! It’s so fun to get lost among the stalls full of beans, tomatoes, lettuce, corn, potatoes and berries. Two or three weeks ago, zucchini was going for a dollar each. Now you can get four for a dollar. A few of the stalls had eggplant, and a few had peaches, so I’m guessing that those will be around in much more abundance (and will be cheaper) within the next few weeks. Buying what is at the peak of its season means that you get delicious food at a really good price, and you get to know the growing cycles in your part of the world.

As for me, I got a whole slew of potatoes, five tomatoes, a dozen eggs, half a watermelon, a head of broccoli, and a calzone for lunch all for $14. You gotta love summer food!


Lessons in toilet-ology
July 24, 2007, 1:40 pm
Filed under: in the bathroom

Our toilet has been leaking for months. It was annoying and kind of gross, sure, but it didn’t seem like a huge problem. After all, it only leaked when you flushed it, and most of that water got collected in a bucket that the cats certainly enjoyed drinking out of. Yesterday afternoon Matt decided that enough is enough. He bought a really big wrench and started to do battle with the toilet. Unfortunately, early on, something happened that neither of us saw coming. A piece of the pipe that connects the tank to the bowl came off. It just fell off, and now there is a hole in the pipe. (The piece that fell off was worn extremely thin. No wonder it was leaking! How old is this toilet anyway??) Flushing was suddenly an inaccessible luxury.

Last night, as we were both starting to do a little bit of the squirming “I gotta go” dance, we decided to learn about the mechanics of the toilet. Thank goodness for the internet. A simple search landed us at a site with all we needed to know, complete with animations of toilet mechanics in action. We now know that you can flush the toilet with the water turned off. It works like a siphon. You just pour water in the bowl, and when the pressure builds up enough, everything in the bowl gets sucked down. It’s a very simple concept yet one that has drastically changed my understanding of a small part of the world around me. Plus it only takes about two gallons of water to flush the toilet this way. With our toilet, a traditionally performed flush takes three or more. As one who is always trying to find ways to conserve resources, I’m think that the flushing bucket may stay in the bathroom for a while yet!

Bikes for all in Montréal!
July 21, 2007, 2:47 pm
Filed under: on the town

Yesterday, No Impact Man blogged about a possible bike-share program in NYC, which is interesting because I was just about to blog about the same sort of thing here in Montréal.

A few days ago, a friend and I were checking out some restaurants over on the Plateau and we noticed some folks with green bikes huddled around a kiosk in front of the Mont Royal metro station. Turns out it was a bike-share kiosk! The program is called Bécikvert. It’s not very extensive. They only have 20 bikes and two pick-up spots, and the program only runs until mid-September. However, I think the coolest part about it is that it was put together by the area’s merchant association. I suppose you could say that it’s just a marketing ploy, but I will applaud a marketing ploy that encourages people to get out of their cars and onto their bikes. Besides, it’s way better than putting a giant inflatable gorilla on the roof of your shop.

You can read more about the program in English here.

CSA day
July 19, 2007, 7:20 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen

Yesterday was CSA basket pickup day. It was the third basket we’ve gotten so far and also the biggest. As we get further into the growing season, we keep getting more produce, which is awesome. Once again, we got salad greens, asian greens and cucumbers — two this time. New additions this week was green beans and a small zucchini. Yum! I was hoping to get at least one not green item, but that’s OK. Fresh organic local food is fantastic no matter what color it is!

Strawberry Jam Party!
July 12, 2007, 4:24 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen

Around here, the farmers market has been overrun with strawberries the last few weeks. This past weekend, a few friends and I decided to take advantage of the situation and stock up our pantries with some homemade strawberry jam. We spent all day stemming strawberries, measuring sugar, stirring boiling pots of sweetness, and labeling jars. It was a lot of fun, and at the end of the day, while we were tired, we had a lot to show for our work. We’d made almost 60 8-oz (250 mL) jars of jam!

I took a few pictures during our strawberry jam party to show you how easy it is to stock up the season’s finest produce for a taste of summer during the cold months. So here’s a bit of a tutorial on how to make strawberry jam.

First of all, you’ll need some strawberries! We bought these two flats for $30. You don’t need to buy this many berries unless you’re really in love with jam!

Strawberry Jam 1

You will also need sugar and any other fruits you want to mix in the jam, rhubarb for example. You may choose to buy pectin as well. Pectin is what makes jam gel and is found naturally in fruit. Some fruits, like apples, have a lot of pectin, but strawberries don’t have a lot. We chose to make all our batches but one with pectin. That one batch took a lot more time on the stove before it was ready for canning.

Choose a recipe and prepare your ingredients. Measure out your sugar, pectin if you’re using it, and of course your strawberries. Rinse off the berries and cut off the tops. You can toss the strawberry tops on your compost pile.

Strawberry Jam 2

Let’s get cookin’! Toss the strawberries in a pot and turn on the heat.

Strawberry Jam 3

Once the berries are boiling, you’ll probably add the sugar. Follow the directions in the recipe you choose.

Strawbery Jam Tutorial photo 4

The concoction is ready for canning once you’ve boiled it for a pre-determined time if you’re using pectin, or if it passes the spoon or freezer test if you are not using pectin. Ladle the hot jam into clean and sanitized jars.

Strawberry Jam 4

Put on the pre-boiled lids and rings and stick them in a hot water bath for about 15 minutes.

Strawberry Jam 5

And there you have it! Homemade strawberry jam. Yumyum!