Garden Journal


View from the bridge

Wintery chill.
Wonderfully still.
Solitude with nature.


Poor woman's 'bouillabaisse' (vegetarian)

I'm not sure peas are in season anywhere in the world right now; here in the northern hemisphere, where it's mid-summer, I also don't know if anyone is craving soup -- unless it's chilled and the main ingredient is cucumber.  Today in my home city, though, it's cool and mostly cloudy after yesterday evening's thunder, lightening and heavy downpour.  Perhaps, then, it's not completely out of sync to publish this post now.  If the recipe strikes your fancy, you'll be well prepared when fresh peas are in season again.  And here on the West Coast of B.C., if you sowed a second crop in July to mid-August, that will be autumn.

A couple of weeks ago, while seeking the perfect recipe for the abundant peas, I stumbled upon one of Martha Rose Shulman's Recipes for Health: 'Bouillabaisse' of Fresh Peas with Poached Egg.

When Sophie and Kathryn tweeted their approval of this recipe...


...I decided to make it soon -- the coming weekend, in fact, to coincide with the final pea harvest of the season. But because I'd be spending all Sunday afternoon at a community garden work party, I modified the method for the busy gardener.  Based on what I actually did for reasons of practicality and time management -- not because I think I can do better than Martha Rose Shulman -- here are my suggestions:

1) The evening before: Shell the fresh peas and store them in the fridge. (I didn't have enough 'Green Arrow' shelling peas so, inspired by Sophie's post, I improvised and shelled some of the larger 'Brazilian Snow Peas'.)

2) The next morning:  Make vegetable stock. (Now, even though the recipe states you can use water, I wanted to use stock but didn't have any on-hand. I was also out of onions. So I got up a little earlier than usual to shop, chop and simmer. I followed this basic recipe and used a slow-cooker; next time, I will make Lucy's version.)

While the stock is simmering, par-cook the potatoes and set them aside. (I'm still perfecting my par-cooking method but I like to slice the potatoes, place them in steamer basket, and then steam them over gently boiling water until they're about three-quarters done.)

When the stock colour and flavour are "just right", turn off the heat and strain the stock. Return the strained stock back to the slow-cooker, add the par-cooked potatoes and turn the heat to low before going about your other chores. (For me, this meant sorting, chopping and sifting compost at the community garden. In a way, just like making stock!)


3) Early evening, dinner-time, about 15 minutes before serving, finish and assemble:

Add peas to slow cooker; turn heat up to high. Poach one or two eggs to the partly-set yolk stage. (I "cheated" and used an egg poaching pan.) Slice the crusty end off a rustic multi-grain baguette and place the bread slice at the bottom of the soup bowl. Place the poached egg on top of the bread. Stir the herbs (I used fresh parsley and tarragaon) into the soup and then ladle the soup into the bowl and serve immediately.

Now before your look at the following image, if you haven't already viewed the New York Times recipe page, please do so. The accompanying photo looks much more appetizing than mine, which I took on a very empty, very hungry, very impatient stomach that wouldn't wait for any fancy, schmancy food styling:


 Highly recommended. This bouillabaisse will be on regular rotation during the next pea season.


Peas so lovely, peas so many

In the beginning, the young transplants were well behaved.

'Dwarf Grey Sugar' Pea Transplant, April 22nd 'Dwarf Grey Sugar' Pea flower, May 26th

Shoots, leaves and early blossom on 'Brazilian Snow Pea'Very soon, though, the dwarves and giants got into a bit of tangle.

Pea flowers & tendrils, June 3rd

And 'Green Arrow', being of modest stature and slower pace, got caught in the middle & was almost overwhelmed.

'Green Arrow' Pea flowers

In the end, everyone finally decided to shake hands and share teepees.

Pea teepees, June 3rdThere was peace, if not order.

Wild & Wonderful, June 24th

And there was abundance.

Brazilian Snow Pea harvest, June 25th

Final pea harvest, July 16th


Peas, sweet & edible, July 16th


At the community garden

As I mentioned earlier this week, I'm trying the new Squarespace 6 platform.

If you're interested and have a few moments (the posts are short), you're welcome to pop over to the "summer home" and read about the community garden.

Here are the direct links:

At the community garden: good neighbours

At the community garden: lavender & more

At the community garden: inviting the pollinators

As always, I welcome all comments and feedback. And it's ok to be a silent reader, too :-).


...or maybe not

In yesterday's post, I announced Greens & Berries' had moved to its new summer home.

But I've reconsidered. Much as I like the new Squarespace 6.0, I love the platform (version 5.0) I've been using, tweaking, and becoming very familiar with during the past few years.

So I'll be staying here. For now. But also testing the new platform and perhaps using it more like a Tumblr blog, for writing very quick posts and clipping interesting Web links.

Thanks for your patience!