A brand new year, but I never make resolutions. It took me many years to conclude I can’t change the world. I can only change myself — and that person is me — little ol’ Ted. And, I speak with some experience when I say: that ain’t easy either. First, a bit of rambling.
AS A KID AT HOME DECADES AGO
… my folks percolated coffee the old-fashioned way on a wood stove that held a large water reservoir on one side. I can still recall Mother taking loaves of home-baked bread from the oven. Sometimes the loaves got slightly burned on the edges or bottom, but we loved the smell of fresh baking that permeated the entire house. Mom always told us boys to eat the crust “because the girls would like us.”
Here it is 2011 and I am percolating with all the amazing readers I’ve garnered. Thank you so much for sticking with me on my GrainewsSinging Gardener page. You are awesome people. Many thanks to those from all four western provinces, Ontario and eastward who took time to telephone and email me. It’s so much better to walk down the garden path with friends, than to go it alone.
SINGING GARDENER DRAWS COMING UP
I had the good fortune to acquire some items to be drawn for in March 2011. The list of garden-related goodies includes:
Bluebell grape plants from Corn Hill Nursery,Corn Hill, N.B., E4Z 1M2, phone (506) 756-3635;
Credit vouchers/gift certificates from the following to be applied toward any items in their catalogues;
West Coast Seeds,Delta, B.C., V4K 3N2, phone 1-888-804-8820;
Early’s Town &Country Seeds, Saskatoon, Sask., S7J 0S5, phone 1-800-667-1159;
McFayden Seeds,Brandon, Man., R7A 6N4, phone 1-800-205- 7111;
T&T Seeds,Winnipeg, Man., R3C 3P6, phone (204) 895-9964;
Terra Edibles,Foxboro, Ont., K0K 2B0, phone (613) 961-0654;
TheGarlicNews,Maberly,Ont., K0H 2B0, phone (613) 273-5683; (issued quarterly: spring, summer, fall, winter);
GardensWest,Cornwall Publishing Co. Ltd., Vancouver, B.C., V6B 3W8, phone (604) 879- 4991 (nine issues).
To enter, send your name and full mailing address to:
Singing Gardener Draws, c/oGrainews,
1666 Dublin Ave.,
Winnipeg, Man., R3H 0H1
KAKAI (CUCURBITA PEPO)
… is an heirloom squash from the Styria region of Austria and I’m splitting at the seams to tell you about it. Kakai is especially famous for its outstanding, naked (i. e. hulless), nutritious seeds that are delicious both raw and lightly roasted. Sprinkle some as a topping on salads too. Commercially, the seeds are pressed for a top-notch pumpkin oil. Kakai flesh is delicious in recipes for pies, soup, muffins and pancakes.
Harvesting the seeds is a bit tricky. Wash them quickly, but very carefully and dry them. The seeds absorb moisture so don’t leave them sitting around for hours on end without cleaning, otherwise they might begin to ferment. Seeds can be easily damaged, so gently-bently is the way to go while harvesting hulless seeds. Process one or two fruits at a time. Once cut open, remove the seeds by hand. I snack on a few as I go, right from the gut of the interior membrane. After washing the seeds, pat them dry between two layers of cotton dish-towel, then spread out on screens in a sunny window to dry. Do not use paper towel as they will stick.
BELIZEAN-STYLE STREET TREATS
In Belize, hulless pumpkin seeds are locally sold as a street-treat. They’re known as pepitos, which is Spanish for “little seeds.” The locals say they’re so darn tasty it’s easy to get hooked, especially since there’s no need to break open hulls between teeth.
Harvested seeds are washed to remove all the pulp and then rinsed in bowls of salty water. The water is drained off and seeds are spread on a cookie sheet that’s lightly coated with melted butter; baked in a 250 F oven and turned occasionally until crisp and a light, golden brown.
When trying this at home, don’t overroast the seeds, as they will become tough, lose flavour and nutrients. The crunchier; the better the taste.
I’m a bit of a grow-it poet as you know, and I appreciate different languages too. I was talking with a gardener who speaks and reads Ukrainian very well. I asked whether there’s a word that rhymes with Kakai. (pronounced: kak-eye). She replied: checkaii, checkaii. (pronounced check-eye). Translated it means: wait a minute, hold on now, or be patient a moment.
Not being of Scottish heritage myself, I’ve learned there’s a strong attachment to the proper way this prayer is written and I presume, the way it is expressed as well. I received two versions, both almost identical.
Glenn Mainland of Raven, Alberta wrote the following in an email.
“Hi Ted, Your article in the October 18Grainewsincluded a version of the Selkirk Grace. This grace is an old Scottish one, named after the town in the south of Scotland, and it is commonly used at Burns Supper celebrations. The version you quote must however be an Anglicized one, as the true Selkirk Grace goes as follows:
Some hae meat and canna eat, And some would eat that want it, But we hae meat and we can eat, And sae the Lord be thankit. Enjoy your columns.”
Glenn went on to say: “We had an unfortunate year for potatoes. The tops (shaws as we called them in Scotland) showed early signs of distress, with leaf curling. The final result was no crop at all — truly reminiscent of the infamous Irish potato famine of 1845-46 which resulted in around a million deaths.
I have noticed some references to others experiencing the same problem, and hope that it is not a blight which will hang around in the environment.
Meanwhile, all the best. Enjoy your columns.”
Now back to the Selkirk Grace and an email received from Iain Aitken, a Scotsman living in Alberta who was astonished to read my reference to the Selkirk Grace. Here’s what he says:
“Dec. 4-10 Hi Ted, What you quote is obviously a rough translation into modern English of Robert Burns’ most famous grace which is used universally at Burns’ Supper events. “Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it; But we hae meat, and we can eat, Sae let the Lord be thankit.” It is called the Selkirk Grace as it was composed by Burns while he was in the “Selkirk Arms” tavern in Kirkcudbright — a place that I frequented once or twice in my younger days! Just thought I’d point that out, Regards.” Iain Aitken.
SIMPLE TRICK TO TREAT A COLD
I often use three per cent hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in the garden, but that’s another story. Sometimes, I think we have to be our own best doctor. What follows is a home remedy I discovered for myself and personally use. H2O2 works quite well to open up nasal passages or reduce severity of a cold.
For a stuffed-up nose, I dip two cotton-tipped sticks into three per cent H2O2, then insert them both into my nose cavities at the same time for about 15 to 20 seconds and then withdraw them. I usually sense a slight tingling or tickle. About a half-minute later, I heartily sneeze five or six times. It sure opens up the nasal breathing passages. Works for me! It is not a cure-all for serious chest infections, viruses and the like. Remember, I am not a doctor, so always consult with your physician or health-care provider when a condition warrants it.
GRANNY GETS THE LAST WORD
Granny says this is no Old Wives’ Tale:
We squander health in search of wealth,
We scheme and toil and save,
Then squander wealth in search of health —
And all we get’s a grave,
We live and boast of what we own,
We die and get a graveyard
ThisisTedMeseytontheSingingGardener andGrow-ItPoetfromPortagelaPrairie, Man.ThankstoallmyGrainewsreaders, includinggentlemanGlennMainlandand gentlemanIainAitkenforwalkingwith meontheSingingGardenerpath.Always dotherightthing!Afewmaybejealous, youmightgratifysomepeopleandtherest willbeastonished.Myemailaddressis [email protected]
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