I'm not a fan of gardening. Like baking, I can do it, but I don't really like it. It feels like a chore. I do, however, like food, and the fact that bees are our main pollinators and dying off at an alarming rate alarms me. So I plant flowers and avoid garden centers that use neonicotinoids as pesticides, and try hard to not cringe when dandelions bloom on our property. It might not be much, and maybe won't have a massive impact overall, but if my garden or deck boxes provide a small oasis for some local bees, then I know I've done something to address the problem. Here's another article about this in Wikipedia.
I have a little bit of personal involvement in this issue. When I was a little girl I used to visit what we called "the farm". My grandpa was a beekeeper. The first time I saw those bees winging their way from the house to the fields was terrifying to me, being a city girl through and through. But he and my dad pulled me aside to watch them as they flew to the water barrel next to the house and back out to the fields or wherever they were going. He showed me that they weren't going out of their way to scare me, that if you respect them and give them their space, they would work hard doing what they do- to my young eyes, the only thing they did was make honey for me to take home- but that was a good enough lesson to stick with me for a lifetime.
My mom loves gardening. She always thought I would get to the point in my life where it was something I would eventually enjoy, that it must be an inherited trait. It's really, really not. But as I said, I like food. So my boys (especially my second son) and I are taking care of our "crops"- this year, we're growing flowers and a few herbs, and my first son is growing a bean stalk and a pea plant- we'll keep them protected (as much as possible) from hail and drought. I will take the time needed to deadhead them. I will use my lemongrass, basil and thyme with gratitude, and I hope to sit out on the deck and enjoy the buzz of the bees as they appreciate the effort we went to in order to give them some flowers to visit. My boys are learning that food actually comes from somewhere other than a store, which I think is a helpful thing for them to learn.
Planting flowers does improve our community overall, I think. When spring and summer are such fleeting seasons for us here in Alberta, it does make a heart happy to see and smell flowers and plants growing and thriving, green and blooming. It gives other species a place of peace and rest too, such as birds and butterflies. It is so fun to watch birds chase each other around, to listen to them sing, or to find a place to nest in your clematis. And larger than our local community, giving space for these pollinators will help with global needs. It's not just here that we would lose our pollinators- a world wide food shortage will be the outcome if we lose our bees. We need to be more globally focused and think about what we can do for the earth as a whole. It's a shared space, and we are a village, albeit a pretty large one.
I don't know if the bees will come to my house this year. I've learned a lot about bees in the last few years, ever since a bunch of them spent a summer living in the dirt under our deck. But I hope they'll return; there aren't many in our neighborhood the last few years. I'm going with a lesson learned and deliberately misquoted from Field of Dreams, a movie from several years ago: "If you build it, they will come". (Misquoting makes more sense in this context!)
Peace and love, friends. Enjoy your weekend.
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Over the weekend my husband and I went to this event produced by Northern Lands (@northernlnds), which was held at the Shaw Conference Centre (@EdmontonSCC). These were Canadian wine, craft beer, and spirit producers as well as some of the best chefs from the area. It was a fundraiser for the High School Culinary Challenge and The Edmonton Community Foundation Grateful Palate Fund.
We are definitely going to take in this event again when it comes back. They say in 2 years, or maybe sooner...who's with me? Anyone want to join us?
I was looking forward to this event so much that it didn't occur to me to actually take pictures of our food until I was part way through, so you'll have to take my word for it that there were many other vendors of both of food and beverages. We didn't try everything, because we got to the point where we both had had enough to eat and drink. Their food was amazing. I love to cook, and I like to play with my food, but next to these amazing chefs, I know nothing. As much of the food as possible was sourced locally, which I really liked.
Those skewers were "Nouveau Beef-on-a-Stick 3 Ways". My husband said "I can't believe I ate flowers, but it was so worth it!" And my favourite wine of the night was Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc.
I can't wait to try to incorporate some of the amazing flavours and textures into my cooking. Something all of them were well-versed in was layering flavours, so each bite gave a different, distinct impression of the food that somehow worked so well together. Those little meatballs were the first thing we tasted, and they were one of my favorite tastings. That bottle of beer tastes like caramel. And the pasta was stuffed with ricotta and black truffle moliterno. It was melt-in-your-mouth amazing.
Another thing that struck me was how everything was prepared so distinctly. Those bites on a spoon were easy to eat and delicious, with rabbit and wild cherry terrine. That beer actually tasted like blueberry, and that interesting little thing on the end was a tapioca cup filled with rabbit mortadella and other interesting ingredients. I would love to know how to make that tapioca cup. It was light, airy, and salty. Really an ingenious way to serve an appetizer.
This crustini was prepared with beef shortrib, organic ricotta, among other things. The view from the Shaw Conference Centre was just beautiful, and made the evening perfect. The plate on the right was a pigs-head mortadella with boar bacon and house-made pickled asparagus and beets. We're on the hunt for some wild game now! I can't wait to experiment with some of those flavours again. The most exotic I've gotten is cooking with bison, but we're going to try to find some goat, wild boar, and rabbit.
This first plate was a jar-jar pork, garnished with lots of fresh cucumber. I loved the flavour combination of them together. Those knives, from Knifewear are going to be on my wishlist. Doesn't it look like you can make amazing food with those beautiful knives? The last picture, a bit blurry (so sorry!) was so tasty, a Filipino dish with sweet potatoes and lentils, fresh cilantro garnished, and served with rice.
As you can see from these pictures, the event was very well put together, very well organized, and everything I was hoping it would be. Not one thing the whole evening was a disappointment. Our hotel that night was the Delta Centre Suite Hotel, located in Edmontont Centre West, walking distance from the event. We had excellent service and a really great room.
I hope you'll join us the next time it comes to town!
Fort Saskatchewan is blessed with an agency that seeks to better the lives of families. They offer so much support to such a variety of people by offering early childhood services and programming, parenting seminars, and so much more. They're known as Families First Society.
I, myself, have been blessed by Families First countless times over the years. They have outgrown their current location and are fundraising to renovate their new home to make it more useful and family-friendly.
I'm offering my skills to assist them in their efforts. If you've been sitting on the fence about hiring me to meal plan or grocery shop, here's an opportunity to benefit Families First while getting on track with your meals and grocery budget. Purchase a 30-meal Meal Plan plus 2 weekly grocery shops from me and I will donate $25 to the Society. Just 4 clients will give them $100. Small amounts add up to make a big difference!
Enjoy your weekend, friends.