Thursday, 11 April 2013

Edible Flowers and Herbs in the Garden: April Meeting

North Toronto members knew they were in for a treat when guest speaker Glenn Brunnetti, an herb and food educator, showed up to the April meeting with a food processor in tow.  Glenn filled us in on a long list of herbs, their ideal growing conditions and the versatility of these amazing plants.  Then, he served up some munchies.

Food and Herb Educator Glenn Brunnetti

Many herbs have an interesting history and uses that you might not be aware of. Did you know Bergamot (also known as Monarda) was named after Dr. Nicolas Monardes, a 16th century Spanish botanist? In his writings about North American flora, he called the plant Bergamot because the leaf flavour reminded everyone of the Bergamot orange. This is the same orange used to flavour Earl Grey tea.  If Monarda is growing in your garden, a cup 'o Earl Grey (after a fashion) is right at your fingertips.

Did you know there is a heat scale for chili heat? Glenn suggests, as a rule, the smaller the chill, the hotter the heat.  On the upper end of the hotness scale, the heat of just one small chili can be tasted in about 300 gallons of tomato sauce.  That's hot stuff!

What's in a name? Well, in the case of coriander, the origin may be enough to make you squirm. Coriander refers to the smell of the plant. It comes from the Greek "koris" which means "bedbug."

Coriander Pesto

Glenn wasn't about to let the name turn us off.  He worked his magic with two cups of coriander (leaves and stems), a cup of parsley, a clove of garlic, a half cup parmigiana cheese, a quarter cup toasted almonds and a half cup extra virgin olive oil.  Throwing them into his food processor, Glenn blended all the ingredients into a thick coriander pesto. Some of the self-confessed coriander detesters in the club had to admit it wasn't half bad!  The beauty of such a simple recipe is that you can adjust the ingredients to your own taste.

North Toronto extends a big thank you to Glenn Brunetti who inspired us to go ahead and sprinkle some lavender flowers on that pound cake, throw some sunflower petals on that salad to add a nutty punch, and explore the many flavours, colours and textures that edible flowers and herbs can add to our gardens and our culinary efforts.

April also kicked off the flower and design show schedule.  Here are some of the dazzling entries:

A Sculptural Design
Mary Audia
Best in Show: Design

A Sculptural Design
Dorothy Cartmell
Judge's Choice

Horticulture: Special Exhibits
Julie Forbes
Best in Show: Horticulture

May is always an exciting time for North Toronto Hort.  Members are invited to bring in vases and flowers from their own garden for design tips by guest speaker Nicole North who will take us from Garden to Vase.

May is also when we hold our annual plant and garage sale.  Please consider dividing some of your plants for the sale and finding some treasures to add to the garage sale.  More details will be posted on the blog soon.

Until next time, happy gardening.

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