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Cooking from the garden

For years growing veggies at our home had been limited by lots of shade. I could grow spinach and lettuce and onions and some herbs and a few other things but forget about tomatoes or chilies or chard. That changed when Nick’s bungalow next door was torn down to make way for a huge new home. Huge homes are the trend around these parts these days. The days of of small bungalows surrounded by loads of green-space seem to be over.

At first the builder wanted to split the lot but he considered the opposition to that idea from the neighbours and decided to build one large house instead. To facilitate construction, he got a permit and took down a larch and a couple spruces which shaded the strip of our property between the place to the south of us and our walkway to the street. We learned later that construction also damaged the root system of another spruce, which had to be taken down for safety. I hated losing mature trees in the neighbourhood, but one positive unintended consequence became quickly obvious. We now had a sunny area at our place.

I started veggie gardening in containers and buoyed by early success, I’ve turned much of that strip of land into a front yard container veggie garden. This year we’ve enjoyed cucumbers, onions, garlic, zucchini, tomatoes galore, hot chilies, loads of rainbow chard and kale, celery and lots and lots of herbs. The veggie garden brings me great joy as well as delicious food.

I really enjoy picking fresh veggies and creating dinner around what I’ve picked. Today I drove up to that excellent fish store on Vansco Rd – the one just a couple blocks north of the Ikea – and bought some squid. At home I prepped hot chilies, a red pepper, some chopped onion, a couple cloves of garlic minced, a few paste tomatoes roughly chopped, and a few leaves of rainbow chard.

There are lots of ways to cook squid beyond deep frying them pub style, and they’re all good. The big thing to remember is to not overcook them. If you cook squid more than about 4 minutes they quickly become quite tough and will stay tough until they are cooked for a really long time. Here’s how I prepared dinner tonight.

I started sauteing onions, red pepper and hot peppers together. I added salt and dried basil, and after a minute I tossed in the garlic. I let this cook another minute then added the squid pieces, tomatoes and chard. After 2 minutes I added maybe a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. At 4 minutes I shut off the heat, squeezed in the juice of 1 lime (I would have used lemon but lime is what I had and it was fine), and a splash of some really great extra virgin olive oil (we use Salah’s Gold, from Lebanon). After adding some fresh ground pepper, I tossed it all together and served it in bowls.

Very yummy.

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