Embracing winter.

I’ve decided that “embracing” winter is silly when all it does is backhand you a good one every time you try to get near it.  Today’s blizzard (which started the very second I opened the door this morning to head out to work) is certain proof that I should just stay away.  Far, far away.  Somewhere with plenty of sun and sand.

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Is time-travel less expensive than a tropical vacation?  Maybe we can fast-forward to spring….

Some comfort food has definitely been in order lately, so I cooked up this insanely delicious Vegetable Navratan last night.  It took me nearly two hours and I even cheated by using frozen vegetables and reducing the amount of garlic  (no-no’s, I’m sure), but it was worth every second in the kitchen.  The leftovers were even better reheated tonight.  Warm belly food, for sure.  And if you want to make your own garam masala to use in the recipe, check out this DIY mix.     Yum!

To continue the theme of food and winter, this tidbit of weird news caught my eye – apparently the town of Williams Lake, British Columbia, is using beet juice to de-ice the roads.  I suspect the practice has my hubby’s vote of confidence, given that he doesn’t think beets are fit for human consumption:  “The only good beet is the one pureed under my truck tires,” or something to that effect.  Next thing I know, he’ll be boxing up the beets we receive in our CSA basket and mailing them out to Williams Lake.

And what about these absolutely horrific vintage recipes?  I just HAVE to share this link with everyone…after all, I was brought up to be polite and I simply wouldn’t feel right if I was the only one suffering from a queasy stomach.  I have to know, though:  if you grew up in the era of these culinary masterpieces, did you or someone you knew ever cook or eat these?  Or something just as…creative?  😉

I hope you have a fun week – no matter what the weather!

Canada thistle.

Well, we’re digging ourselves out of a “nearly spring” storm here in Calgary – we received approximately 20 cm (8″) of snow yesterday and flakes are still falling as I write this. Just two days earlier, we were basking under +12°C (53.6°F) sunshine, which is pretty typical of the way the weather goes around here at this time of year. I was delighted to get out on Friday morning and take a walk up on Nose Hill, where I ended up sharing the sunrise with five deer and a grumpy porcupine (you can see one of my photos of him here).

While I was up on the hill, I noticed that the City’s war on Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) in the park is ongoing.  I don’t like the fact that herbicides are sprayed annually to control this nasty invasive, but if something wasn’t done about them, the whole park would be covered in thistles. Pulling them simply isn’t a good solution – and it’s not just because they are thorny!

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Canada thistle (winter)

CRAZY FACTS ABOUT CANADA THISTLE:

  • Canada thistle is not a native of Canada. It actually has its origins in Mediterranean Europe.
  • Another common name for Canada thistle is creeping thistle…as in, it “creeps you out” with its insane root system. 😉
  • Each plant can produce up to 5,000 seeds.
  • Each seed can remain viable in the soil for up to 20 years.
  • Just 8 to 10 days after flowers emerge, plants can already produce viable seed.
  • Canada thistle reproduces by seed AND by vegetative cloning – a double whammy.
  • New plants can form from the tiniest of root segments – just 3-6 mm (1/8 – 1/4″) thick and 8 mm (3/8″) long. This is why pulling and digging don’t do diddly.
  • The tap root of each plant can reach 6 m (20 feet) underground in a single growing season.  Isn’t that incredible?¹

I am sooooo glad I don’t have to battle Canada thistle in my flowerbeds! I have a severe problem with quackgrass (aka couchgrass, Elymus repens), however, which I have struggled with for over a decade. While I have made significant inroads, I cannot ever let my guard down….

What are your worst plant enemies?

¹http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/canada_thistle_control