Food Program

12th Annual Nettlefest by Alison Colwell

Whenever I’m explaining the Food Program to new people (both on island and off), I always mention Nettlefest because it’s a Galiano celebration that both mystifies and inspires!

Most people think nettles are a weed, but those of us who are lucky enough to live on Galiano know better! Stinging nettles are among the first edible plants to burst from the ground in the Pacific Northwest. Around Valentine’s Day, sometimes even earlier, green shoots start emerging from the ground, and soon the nettles are everywhere! For me nothing says spring like the arrival of this tasty green plant—free for the foraging. Plus, nettles are good for you, high in Vitamin C and calcium.

When you are picking nettles for cooking, choose the young, tender leaves, usually the top four or six on a plant. Use scissors and you won’t damage the plant. Nettles are delicious—but most first-time nettle eaters are nervous about being stung. Use rubber gloves when you are picking and until the nettles are processed in some way. Once the fresh nettles are steamed, frozen, dried or cooked, the sting is neutralized. There are lots of ways to use nettles. Some of my favourites are: soup, pizza, nettle pakora, and a green nettle ravioli pasta.

 

2019-07-18T17:47:19-07:00March 18th, 2019|Categories: Food Program, Nettlefest|0 Comments

Community Greenhouse by Barry New

Located behind the Galiano Library on the School grounds, the Greenhouse Growing Group grows vegetables together in the Community Greenhouse. Anyone is welcome to join. The charge is only $20 for the whole year. This fee includes all soil amendments, seeds, pots, and tools, but people are still encouraged to bring their own. Participants share the produce.

We specialise in the early Spring Starts and then roll out a program for year-round crops. We learn and share our knowledge about potting mixes and seeds, pests and problems. Over the years, we have built up a good collection of saved seeds and benefitted from the Seed Library of Galiano with a Seed Swap and sharing their collection. The group meets informally once or twice a week throughout the spring and summer. By the summer, we have a watering schedule so participants take regular (weekly) turns to keep the plants well- watered. It is a teaching and learning environment—we have knowledge and experience to share, and some resources and good links to help further the skills of participants and answer your specific gardening questions.

We specialise in tomatoes, eggplants, basil, peppers, melons, and many other seasonal vegetables. There are also raised beds (no bending!) outside the greenhouse where we have grown strawberries, runner beans, zucchinis and cucumbers.

First meeting of the 2019 Growing Season is Saturday, March 16, 11:00, at the Greenhouse. Come on out and see what it’s all about! If you have any questions, you can email Barry, the Greenhouse Coordinator.

What Perogies Mean To Us by Brahmi Benner

Join us on Sunday, January 27th for an immersive experience in Ukrainian culture and cuisine. We will pinch, cook and eat together as our workshop presenters share stories and songs from this rich traditional culture. Bring a rolling pin and a tray!

“While pyrohy were a regular part of meals in our household, they were especially important during festive events like weddings, church functions or Christmas. On Ukrainian Christmas Eve (Svyata Vechera) pyrohy were made with homemade cottage cheese, sauerkraut, potato and prune fillings as part of the twelve traditional meatless dishes. The prune filling was especially memorable to me as a child as it was made only during Christmas and it was like having a dessert during the main part of the meal. Sour cream and a sauce made from high bush cranberries (kalyna) were used as a dressing.” -Ed Andrusiak, Galiano resident, Ukrainian- Canadian

“To me, pyrohy are the ultimate comfort food from my childhood. They evoke memories of my grandmother, mother and all my female relatives in somebody’s big kitchen, laughing, singing, talking and arguing while peeling potatoes, grating cheese, chopping onions, mushrooms and sauerkraut, and making and rolling out paper-thin dough. Then we would put potato and cottage cheese or sauerkraut and mushroom filling, my two favourites, gently into each circle and finally fold and lovingly pinch it closed before plopping them—one by one—into huge pots of boiling salted water. Dining on a plateful of these precious, delicious dumplings, sliding around in butter and sour cream, is heaven on earth. – Christina Stechishin, Galiano resident and great-niece of Savella Stechishin, author of Traditional Ukrainian Cookery

I grew up eating pierogies and they are deep in my Polish soul. I love to eat them but I also really enjoy the way people gather to make them. Spreading flour on a kitchen table, making the dough, preparing filling and

boiling the water in a big pot. Everyone got their hands dirty to create a mythical half-moon shape stuffed with their favorite filling. After a few minutes in boiling water, the pierogies would land on our plates and the feast began. We shared the work together and we also shared stories about our best pierogi recipes. We reminisced about people in our lives and all the moments spent with our family and friends preparing pierogies to celebrate the beauty of life. -Konrad Dwornik, Galiano resident, born in Poland

“It was my favourite food as a child. I grew up being part of the assembly line. There would be at least three generations at the table pinching the pyrohy, cousins, aunties, grandmas, and kids. The matriarchs always bragged about how many they made. You don’t just make a few!” -Beverly Dobrinsky, founder of Zeellia, Slavic Soul and director of Barvinok Ukrainian Choir

“Homemade perogies remind me of my aunt Beverly’s kitchen, her Christmas Eve dinner and her way of bringing Ukrainian music and food together. I’ve always stuffed them too big and I still do. Before dinner, I would pester my aunt to find out how many dozen we had made this year as my mom nudged me to leave my busy, flour-dusted aunt alone. As kids, my brother, cousins and I would compete over who could eat the most. I was so greedy and just wanted to stuff as much as I could into this one magical night of the year. Maybe that’s why I love to make and share perogies now.” -Brahmi Benner, Galiano resident

2019-07-18T17:37:29-07:00January 18th, 2019|Categories: Food Program, Workshops|0 Comments

Solstice in the Dark by Alison Colwell

I was working in the kitchen at the South Hall, with a small group of volunteers, baking the bread for the Solstice dinner when the storm started on Dec 20th. The power went out, and after 30 minutes, we decided to start the generators. A grant to upgrade the Hall’s electrical system had allowed us to get the generators wired in properly, but I’d never used them before. It took a little while. We had to call for help, but we got them going, and (hallelujiah) kitchen lights, stoves and freezers were all working. We’d discovered the gas cans next to the gennies were empty, so one volunteer left to fill them, but the tree that came down at Murchison Cove stopped her getting back to the hall that night.

A few hours later, more trees had come down between the hall and the pub, but the bread was all baked, I abandoned my van and walked home.

By the next morning it was clear the whole island was out of power, and we weren’t getting it back soon. But I also had 5 huge free-range turkeys in my fridge that needed to be cooked. That was the tipping point. Solstice was on. We’d just make it up as we went along. When we set the tables we didn’t know if twenty people would come, or a hundred. Would people stay home? Or would they want to eat a hot meal, and get together with neighbours?

Some volunteers came. Some couldn’t make it. We carried on. During the day a steady stream of people stopped by the hall, looking to charge their phones, looking for information. “If you have Facebook tell people we’re still on. If you see Hydro, tell them to come by for hot food,” I told them. Sandy couldn’t bring the wood for the bonfire, but Orion, Barry, Stephen and Ron decided fair was fair, and we’d burn some of the tree that had taken out our power lines.

At five o’clock Emma opened the doors. We lit the dozens and dozens of tea lights in the hall. And people came. Lots of people came. Like 160 people. Some brought lots of food. Some brought none. It was just perfect.

I was in the kitchen when I heard the clapping, turned to seeing the standing ovation in the hall. “What’s happening?” I asked one of the volunteers watching the potluck table. “A Hydro crew just arrived.” We don’t always have a lot of real heros in our modern world, but that week, we did. At the end of the night we packed up a box of sandwiches to give to the crews who were giving up their holidays to get us back our power. The next day, I was talking to one of the men, and he said: “I’m going to bring my wife here next year. I couldn’t explain what it was like, last night , in that hall. I want to show her this place.”

I hope he comes. (Though maybe with a truck – just in case!)

2019-07-18T17:34:03-07:00December 29th, 2018|Categories: Food Program, Winter Solstice Potluck|0 Comments

Community Magic by Alison Cowell

It’s traditional on the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, to stay awake all night, keeping a bonfire burning, in an effort to call the sun back. We have a bonfire on Solstice too, but our celebration is all about gathering with your friends and neighbours, sharing some wonderful food, watching the kids arriving at the hall in a torchlit parade, chatting around the fire, and enjoying the entertainment of talented locals. The Solstice is all about creating the magic of community.

For me the Community Solstice Dinner begins with a visit to Ireland Farms to pick up the four large organic turkeys that we roast for supper. (I’m always grateful the dinner is potluck, as four turkeys are all I can fit in the ovens at the hall, but those aren’t nearly enough to feed the hundred plus people that arrive for dinner!) I work with groups of volunteers in the kitchen the day before and the day of the dinner, preparing dozens of loaves of bread, gallons of soup and pounds of roast potatoes. (We make gravy in a soup pot!)

It’s the community that creates the wonderful dinner, the magical setting, the awesome bonfire. It’s the magic of a community of people who go beyond all the time. We have chosen to make our homes here on this island in the Salish Sea. We have chosen this community. And together we can create a community that cares, that supports us when we are sick or hungry, and need an extra meal, a community where hundreds of volunteers work at everything from making food, to running a library, fighting fires, tending a garden, recycling our garbage, or helping at the school. It’s a community where you can always find someone to stop at the bank for you, or bring something home from town, or lend a hand when you need your kids looked after for a couple of hours. Every day we make choices about what we can do for others, and we choose to work together, to volunteer together and create together, to dream something better for our island. This is what makes our island such an amazing place to live.

In my opinion, the magic of this season is something that exists all year on Galiano.

This is the 11th year we will celebrate the Solstice by gathering together for a potluck. Contact the Galiano Community Food Program to find out how you can share your enthusiasm, talents and skills for this wonderful community celebration.

2019-07-18T17:29:25-07:00December 18th, 2018|Categories: Food Program, Winter Solstice Potluck|0 Comments

Gingerbread House Competition 2018

It’s official!

This year will mark our first Solstice Gingerbread house competition….

There are only two rules:

Firstly, the whole construction has to be edible. (Go ahead and use carrots if you want!) Second rule, the wooden base can be no larger than 8″x 16″ (I can provide bases if needed.)

Winner will be determined by everyone at the dinner.

2018-12-09T15:42:20-07:00December 9th, 2018|Categories: Food Program, Winter Solstice Potluck|0 Comments

Putting Food By – Alison Colwell

It is one of the sweetest sounds of late summer. The soft, ping, ping as the jars on the counter seal. It is one of the most satisfying sites – rows of translucent, jewel toned jars, filled and ready to be stored. It’s rewarding to see shelves filled with sparkling jars of homemade preserves, made from the freshest fruit, put by for the winter.

As the harvest starts to come in I am always seized by an inescapable urge to save the food, to put it up for the cold months ahead. Perhaps it comes from my grandmother, from a generation that lived through the London blitz and the food shortages that followed the war, or perhaps it’s simply a part or our biological heritage, similar to the squirrels urge to stockpile nuts or geese need to fly south.

I do know that there are few things more satisfying than looking at pantry shelves laden with home canned goods, or knowing that your freezer is full of food to feed you over the winter.

When I first moved to Galiano I lived at the north end of the island, off the grid, and “putting food by” meant canning jams and tomatoes, and drying strings of onions and braids of garlic to hang from the rafters through the winter. Now that I live with power, I also fill my freezers with frozen pies, berries, stews and casseroles. My grandmother taught me to make jam. Some of my earliest memories of my grandmother are standing with her in the kitchen with a pan of jam bubbling on the stove, and cutting out disks of wax paper to seal the tops! In my grandmother’s time, everyone “put food by”; for our generation, and those following us, we need to remember or relearn those skills. Each fall I lead classes in preserving and pickling through the Food Program, as a way to pass on that knowledge and to stop it getting lost.

Making jams and preserves or canning tomatoes is one of the best ways to extend the bounty of the harvest. It’s satisfying to eat something you have made yourself. It will taste better, and cost less than anything you find in a store. And provided you follow some simple techniques, proper hygiene and food safety, careful storage, preserving will be successful and rewarding.

2019-07-18T17:25:43-07:00July 18th, 2018|Categories: Food Program, Workshops|0 Comments

Upcoming Gleaning Season by Emma Luna Davis

Are you a landowner whose fruit trees are dripping with fruit, but you have no time to pick them? Would you benefit from having access to healthy fruit but have no fruit trees of your own? Is your garden overflowing? Would you like to share the bounty with other members of the community? Do you enjoy the simple joy of harvesting fruit or vegetables in a group?

If so, the Gleaning Project is for you! The gleaning project organizes groups of volunteer pickers to pick excess fruit (and sometimes vegetables). The harvest is divided 3 ways: One third for the landowner, one third for the Food Program, and one third divided amongst the picking volunteers. The Food Program share is used in our events, as well as distributed via the clinic, school and food bank. We gather all of the harvest together first and weigh everything so we can do things as fairly as possible, and so we can keep an accurate record for our notes and our funders. It’s an exercise in working communally, and everyone takes home some fruit picked by each of the volunteers.

We’re very excited to be adding the Mt. Sutil berry crop to our picking sites this year. We are very grateful to the landowners who generously host us, and work hard to be respectful of their space and property. That means we schedule picking times that are convenient to them.

When we have a site that is ready to pick, we email the volunteer pickers to inform everyone of the opportunity. We try to give you as much notice as possible, but often the window is pretty tight – ripe fruit waits for no picker!

We work hard to gauge the right number of pickers, taking into consideration how much fruit there is and what we can safely manage at each site. Sometimes there are more people interested than we can accommodate—please know that we do our best to make sure everyone gets a chance to pick and if we say no to you for one pick, you’ll probably be first in line for the next opportunity. This does mean that each person

should not expect to pick more than a handful of times each season. How often you can expect to pick depends on your availability and how bountiful a harvest we have from year to year—last year about 55 people participated in about 20 picking sessions.

If you are offered a chance to pick, please take that commitment seriously. We know that things come up and sometimes it is necessary to cancel—in that case please give us as much notice as possible so we can replace you. That lets us visit a site with the right number of pickers and get all the ripe fruit, rather than have to return multiple times to the same site.

Some people want to pick but they don’t have a use for all of their share. If this is the case for you, please let us know when you ask to pick – that helps us figure out the right number of pickers.

If you would like to be notified about upcoming picking sessions, or if you have trees that need picking, or if you have any questions at all, please email Emma.

Seaweed Harvesting

Summer is seaweed season in the Pacific Northwest. On Galiano, we are literally surrounded by seaweed. It’s a wild, sustainable, delicious local food source that is both nutritious and delicious. These days it’s enjoying a reputation as a ‘superfood’, but coastal cultures included seaweeds in their traditional diets long before it was trendy.

If you’re interested in harvesting our local seaweeds, you might be wondering how to learn what kind of seaweeds you’re likely to find on our coast, where and when to collect to make sure that your harvesting impact is sustainable, how to preserve it and how to prepare it to eat. While a license is required to harvest seaweed for commercial use, individuals can hand harvest at low tide without a license (though not at Montague as it is against the terms of the park’s foreshore lease).

The Food Program is excited to host a workshop this month that will get you started. Amanda Swinimer operates Dakini Tidal Wilds in Sooke, BC, which sells hand-harvested seaweeds for food and medicinal uses. She holds a BSc in Marine Biology from Dalhousie. Amanda teaches people about seaweeds in schools, colleges and universities, and leads workshops in communities. Amanda is passionate about sustainable harvesting. Her seaweeds are ‘pruned’, leaving the rest of the seaweed to continue growing, and only when seasonally appropriate.

Join us on Sunday, June 10, at 9:00am for a hands-on session at a local beach at low tide, followed by further instruction at the South Hall. Amanda will cover species identification, sustainable harvesting, and incorporating seaweed into your diet.

And finally, in keeping with the theme of gut bacteria, did you know that researchers have found that many Japanese people have a gut microbe that “has acquired a gene from a marine bacterium that allows the Japanese to digest seaweed, something the rest of us can’t do as well” (Michael Pollan, New York Times, 2013)

2018-05-20T11:59:53-07:00May 20th, 2018|Categories: Food Program, Workshops|2 Comments
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