“What a lot of work!” a neighbour exclaimed the other day, peering over my fence. She was looking dubiously at my little garden.
“Not work. It’s fun,” I replied cheerfully and I meant it. What my neighbour could see was just a lot of digging, lifting, pulling, hoeing, bending. Possibly, she may have also been wondering “why bother, when food at the store is cheap and plentiful.”
Either way, she didn’t “get” why I was doing this.
I’m heartened that more do “get it,” nowadays, and peering over the proverbial fence, want to try growing something themselves too.
That’s what’s behind the Dig In Challenge in Winnipeg, a five-month urban food initiative of Food Matters Manitoba. Launched this spring, its aim is to help a lot more Manitobans get started growing, harvesting, preserving and cooking a little more of their own homegrown food.
That might seem a little odd for those of us who come from families who planted gardens and taught their kids how. The Dig In Challenge reminds us there’s a lot of people who did not, but who want to learn those skills.
The Dig In Challenge asks its participants to devote $10 a week towards buying local food as a way of making a connection with Manitoba farmers and processors. But the other big part of it is the workshops it offers — more than 40 — as a place to learn not only how to grow gardens, but to cook and preserve food too. Other workshops look not only at how to do these things, but why, exploring some of the social and ethical issues around growing a little more of one’s own food.
As of last week there were 360 families signed up to Dig In, including about 35 who’ve agreed to be “dig deeper” families and share their experiences using social media.
Meanwhile, Dig In’s website — www.digin manitoba.ca — is a kind of online “over-the-fence,” where participants can swap tips and learn from each other. There’s a recipe link too that serves as an evolving community cookbook.
This is a posting from Joanne on the Dig In Challenge website. (I tested this recipe and would increase the whole wheat flour to 1-1/2 c. and the oatmeal to 1 c. if I made it again. I used large flake oatmeal. The ingredients fill an 8×8-inch baking pan. — LS)
- 1 c. whole wheat flour3/4 c. oatmeal1/2 c. brown sugar1/2 c. margarine1 tsp. cinnamon
Mix above ingredients until crumbly.
- 3/4 c. sugar2 tbsp. cornstarch1 c. water1 tsp. vanilla4 c. rhubarb
Put half of the crumb mixture on the bottom of the pan and then add the rhubarb on top. Cook sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla until thickened. Pour over rhubarb. Top with remaining crumbs. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Serve warm with ice cream. Prep Time : 15 min. Cook Time : 60 min. Serves: 10 to 15.
Joanne’s BackstoryThis recipe reminds me of spring and being with my grandma picking rhubarb from her garden to dip into sugar. This was one of the first desserts that us kids learned to make and is still a favourite in our house!
Rhubarb Maple Muffins
With so much rhubarb at its finest right now, here’s another recipe for using it. This one was a contribution of the Village of McCreary to the Supper in the Field Cookbook, a regional cookbook put out by Parkland Tourism Association in 2010.
- 2 tbsp. maple syrup1/2 c. sour cream1/4 c. vegetable oil1 large egg1-1/3 c. flour1 c. diced rhubarb1/2 c. brown sugar1/2 tsp. baking soda1/4 tsp. salt
In a small mixing bowl, blend maple syrup, sour cream, oil and egg. Set aside. In larger mixing bowl, stir together flour, rhubarb, sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir in sour cream mixture just until moistened. Drop by tablespoonfuls into 12 muffin cups or greased muffin tin.
- Topping:1/4 c. chopped nuts2 tsp. butter, melted1/2 tsp. cinnamon2 tbsp. maple syrup
In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, nuts, cinnamon and butter. Spoon a little topping on each muffin. Bake at 350 F for 25 to 30 minutes.
Veggie Tuna Salad with Asparagus
Here’s a simple recipe loaded with healthy ingredients found online among Peak of the Market’s recipe collection www.peakmarket.com.
- 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed, cooked and diced1-1/2 lb. potatoes, peeled, cooked and diced1-1/2 c. corn kernels2 cans tuna, drained and flaked4 c. lettuce, coarsely chopped1/3 c. parsley, chopped4 green onions, chopped 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar 1 clove garlic, minced Salt and pepper to taste2 tbsp. olive oil
Salmon and Asparagus Pasta
This heart-healthy and delicious dinner recipe courtesy of Manitoba Canola Growers is another great way to use another garden vegetable that’s abundant right now.
- 2 tbsp. canola oil 2 shallots, finely chopped2 cloves garlic, minced 1 lb. fresh skinless, boneless salmon, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces1 c. sodium-reduced chicken broth 2 tbsp. freshly chopped marjoram (or 1 tsp. dried) 1/2 lb. asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces 4 c. baby arugula leaves 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil 3/4 lb. whole grain farfalle (bowtie) pasta