Torontonians have lucked out in a major way this week — the first few days of April have been unseasonably warm, sunny and simply gorgeous! With temperatures in the 20 degrees + range, it’s been hard to sequester myself indoors to study for exams (the only downside of spring). Thoughts inevitably turn to strolling in the sunshine, drinks on patios and picnics in the park.
Speaking of eating outdoors, the summer-like weather also reminds me of barbequeing. I enjoy grilled veggies and potatoes on occasion, but this week I tried a raw recipe from Sarma Melngailis’ Living Raw Food. (Yes, I know I talk about her books a lot. I love them!) The recipe was for skewered veggies, dowsed in raw barbeque sauce and dehydrated for a few hours to impart a cooked-like texture and flavour. I chose to use different veggies than the ones called for in the recipe, and I didn’t make the coleslaw side part of the dish, but it was delicious nonetheless.
The barbeque sauce itself was incredible. You know the indispensable smoky flavour created by barbecuing food? The sauce recreated this element by using an amazing ingredient – lapsang souchong tea, which is essentially smoky-tasting black tea. I had been keeping my eyes open for lapsang souchong for awhile, and finally found some at one of my favourite health food stores. Blended up with sundried tomatoes, olive oil, and a little touch of sweetness and sour, the barbeque sauce came out eerily like the real thing.
I scored some baby pattypan squash at Whole Foods (aren’t they adorable?), and chopped them up with some zucchini, carrot, red pepper, and asparagus. Mix in some sauce, dehydrate for a few hours, and voila! My new favourite way to eat veggies, and a delicious raw take on a summertime classic. If you can’t find lapsang souchong tea, a few drops of liquid smoke would also do the trick.
In other news, I welcomed some new plants into my home this week: a pink orchid, pink and yellow begonia, and a tiny mint plant! The flowers are pretty, but I’m really excited about the mint. Mint grows like crazy, and as soon as I know it will stay warm enough outside, it’s going on my rooftop patio to get big and help feed my After Eight smoothie addiction for the summer. I’m really excited about gardening this summer. I have a community garden plot, and I’m going to grow as many kinds of vegetables as I can on my patio. Any suggestions for patio-friendly plants? Does anyone else garden, and what do you grow?