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  • Writer's pictureTom Cavan


Last weekend on a bright sunny cool morning I went harvesting native wild leeks (some 2,000 sqft!) at the back of our wooded property as they flourish amonst a 10,000 sqft understorey of Vinca, Trilliums and Ostrich Ferns beneath Sugar Maples, Ironwood, Paper Birch, Alder, Dogwood and a few surviving Elm. The trilliums are mostly white but we do have some light pink to reddish burgndy volenteers. * Foot-note back in the early 1900's Ontario debated between Dandelion and Trillium as the two candidates for provincial Flower. In hind-sight they picked the jewel and that's a good thing! After all Triliums the diamonds of native plants to

(picture by Natalie Cavan) behold and are not edible and do not like to be picked (air travels down and desicates the root) furthermore, in short protected supply, so just walk on by please and thank you: where as Dandelions are edible, everywhere and free as the wind.


Look to the centre of the leek patches and see the larger leaves, those are the mature ones ready to pick/dig ( will have a basil white end about the size of a healthy green onion, sometimes larger and much larger flatter leaves, I use the entire plant-the little roots) leaving the secondary, subsidiary surrounding young ones time to spread and mature. Take only what is ready, take only what you need and besides its alot of work cleaning them (6-7 rinses for starters) its a labour of love: cooking 101. Backfill the holes firmly with the previous years leaves of the over-storey (no shortage) to patch the process and lend a helping hand to the future of the forest floor. If for some strange occurrence there are no leaves fill the hole with compost........another labour of love. Well sourcing actually....sounds like another blog!

I have been managing this patch for 7 years and its growing! No Fiddle Head Ferns yet, keeping a watchfull eye because they are really fast, with leeks you have more time to harvest which is good because they take time to clean as their habitat is wetland leaf mould, ie. black muck Maple forest. 6 rinses out on the lawn and...after one hour of play outside I retrieved this tender bounty.

I do the Jamie Oliver bashin in the blender this many leeks divided by three equal parts=three hits with the machine=this many 12 x 10oz bags with these approx. ratio's

One third of the bowl of leeks 3 cups about roughly copped

One cup of ground Parmesan

One cup of toasted whole Almonds/Pecans/Hazel nuts pending avail. and cost

A pinch of lemon zest call it 1 tsp

A glug of Maple Syrup call it a tbls takes the edge off and makes it truly Canadian!

A bash of salt call it1-2 tsb (and pepper to taste-add after if necessary as the olive oil has a peppery addition), and turn on covered blender then glug olive into the blender while running until you get the right consistancy like the store bought stuff which is ok but ....'

typically 5 oz for $ 5-6 pending quality so this translates into $ 160-170 worth of pesto, $ 60 for olive oil, nuts and parm so save (about half price is a bonus) but let me tell you store bought does not touch this stuff, its got a fresh garlic punch you cannot compare. Place in the freezer and pull when desired, thaws in 2 hrs. A favourite spring(and winter) pesto pasta is the always the 1st to hit the stove. However coat wild fish and bake for the next level of home cooking. We have pickled in the past (aewsome) but filling the freezer with pesto is the 1st job and pending the growth of the patch and work schedule you know being landscapers and all..........

Proof is in the pudding! Not sure who to thank for that quote? Thomas Jefferson, Julia Childs, Martha Stuart, the Cooking Channel, Charlie Brown?

Certainly not Jamie Oliver

I had left-overs scrapping the blender etc. so coated this piece of wild Cod (premeditated) and baked 15 min @ 375 degrees.......say-no-more......except lock the back door!

Make the best of these times of physical distancing and turbulent weather. Star date 05-11-2020

You may wonder why I have decided to blog about food the second week of May 2020 well........its May 11th and........look outside!!

Note the wheelbarrow caught in the storm, looks like I won't be grilling this week.

Looks like we won't be eating out on the deck this week, and our common Lilac has white flowers this spring, lavender to follow......... phenology: the science of natural reoccurrence.....sounds like another blog!!

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