[caption id="attachment_169" align="alignleft" width="450" caption="Vicki Emlaw delivers organic spinach to Harvest Restaurant in Picton, Prince Edward County, Ontario. Not just any spinach, but hand-picked, just minutes before Vicki Emlaw made the delivery."][/caption]
You know you're in another place when you turn off County Road 13 in Prince Edward County, Ont. and and start down Morrison Point Road. Huge maples form a canopy over the road. There's a peace about the place that makes you feel like you've arrived.
And you have. Just ahead, the sign for Vicki's Veggies. The pretty one-room white frame building, in times past the local post office stands by the road, welcoming visitors to come in to check out what Vicki's got in her freezer and fridge, or dried and preserved on the shelves. Rather more than your regular roadside stand.
The sign outside Vicki's Veggies announces what's fresh - in this case foraged wild leeks, aka ramps.
Outside, an array of whatever's in season - not much in early spring, but later, some of the 100 varieties of heirloom tomatoes she and her partner Tim Noxon grow from seed, or ground cherries, spinach, sorrel, asparagus, wild leeks or peppers. When Vicki's around, she'll help you make your choice and take your money. And when she's not, because the farm is the source of boxed vegetables that go out weekly to members of Community Supported (Shared) Agriculture (CSA), local restaurants like Harvest in Picton, and the passing public, Vicki and Tim are out in the fields - just drop your money into the cigar tin.
Wild leeks grow in shady parts of the bush. If you buy a bunch like this one with freshly dug roots, plant a few in a shady part of your garden, even your flowerbeds, and you will soon be able to harvest your own "wild" leeks.
When I visited the farm 10 days ago, the trees were barely budding, and activity in the garden centred around snappy stalks of asparagus and lemony sorrel.From the bush, came wild leeks for the stand. But in the greenhouses, thousands of heirloom tomato seedlings were growing their second set of leaves.By the upcoming Victoria Day weekend, the tomato plants will be ready to graduate to the outdoors. May 16 and 17 and May 23 and 24 between 10 am and 5 pm, the sale of heirloom tomato seedlings takes place. There are over 100 varieties of tomatoes, and be warned, it's first come, first served. An assortment of other vegetables, herbs and tree seedlings complement the tomatoes.
If you miss the sale, and want to plant heirloom tomatoes next year, circle the upcoming Labour Day weekend when Vicki's Veggies has its annual tomato tasting. Then next year, you'll know which tomato you really loved - and be there in time.
But, back briefly to the spinach Vicki was personally carrying to chef Michael Potters at Harvest Restaurant. In all the excitement of local asparagus, red-tipped leaf lettuce and chives, something as basic as spinach can go unnoticed. But not here. A favourite recipe came to mind when I got home and found some pretty decent looking organic spinach. Not Vicki's - but not bad.
Wilted Spinach with Currants, Pine Nuts and Garlic Croutes
This robust combination of greens, pine nuts, garlic and currants is popular all around the Mediterrnean, and gives a new twist to something to nibble on with a glass of wine. Plan on a selection of olives, multicoloured cherry tomatoes and a chunk of feta to serve with. The super-crunchy croutes are one-bite, so choose a slim baguette, or cut baguette slices in half. There's another way to serve the spinach - as a side dish with roasted or grilled fish, chicken or pork.
1/4 cup (50 mL) currants or 1/3 cup (75 mL) golden raisins
5 anchovy fillets
8 cups (2 L) packed spinach leaves, 10 oz/284 g
20 thin slices baguette
5 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup (75 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (75 mL) pine nuts or slivered almonds
. In small bowl, cover currants with boiling water; soak for 15 minutes. Drain and set side. Meanwhile, soak anchovies in cold water for 10 minutes; drain, pat dry and chop finely. Set aside.
. Wash spinach, trimming stems if necessary; shake off excess water. Place in large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until wilted, turning 2 or 3 times, about 4 minutes. Drain in a sieve and let cool; press out excess liquid. Chop coarsely; set aside.
The spinach has cooked barely 4 minutes, just enough to wilt the leaves, but not fade its bright green colour.
. Arrange bread slices in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet. In large clean saucepan, warm garlic, salt and pepper in the oil over low heat until oil is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; lightly brush oil over the bread. Bake bread slices in 350°F (180°F) oven until crisp and golden, 10 to 15 minutes.
The garlic and olive-oil toasted baguette slices (croutes) are also delicious with soup. For this test, I heated part of the oil, garlic and seasonings separately, but it makes more sense to heat all the oil, garlic and seasonings together, and simply brush the oil from the pan. One less dish to wash up!
. Spread pine nuts on small rimmed baking sheet; toast in 350°F. (180°C) oven until golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. (Watch the pine nuts carefully as they go from pale to too dark in a flash.) Set aside.
. Set garlic and oil mixture over medium heat; fry, stirring until garlic is tender, about 2 minutes. Add anchovies; mash until fairly smooth and hot. Add spinach and currants; toss together and cook, tossing often, until spinach is well coated and hot. Spoon into warmed small serving platter; squeeze lemon juice over the spinach. Sprinkle with pine nuts and surround with croutes.
Spoon the spinach onto a croute - fancy word for toasted bread, and enjoy as an appetizer, or skip the bread feature and side the delicious spinach with grilled or roasted fish, chicken or pork.
. Makes 6 servings.
Tip: To make up to 2 hours ahead, prep all the ingredients up to the point of adding the cooked spinach to the olive oil. Refrigerate the chopped anchoves and chopped cooked spinach. Cover remaining ingredients and leave at room temperature.
Vicki's Veggies: www.vickisveggies.com
Harvest Restaurant: www.harvestrestaurant.ca
Add a touch of whimsy, colour or class to your winter wardrobe with a great manicure.
When it comes to winter, we usually forget to have fun with our beauty look. It's probably because we're more concerned about keeping warm with hefty sweaters and tuques. When it comes to beauty we're focused on keeping our lips soft, our skin hydrated and our beauty updates affordable. We tend to put fun lip colours and bold eyeliner on the back burner.
But break out of that winter beauty rut! There's an easy way to have a little fun—and you won't even need to pick up a new lipstick. Instead, make your next manicure (whether you're heading to a salon or DIY-ing your mani at home) one of these great picks. We looked at our favourite nail brands, artists and manicure spots to bring your the best winter manicure ideas.
Bored with the same old meat-and-veggies? These creative combos shake up dinner. Bonus: One pot is all you'll need for most.
Quick Chorizo and Mixed Bean Stew
Fresh, spicy chorizo sausage is the perfect option when you want a lot of flavour in a little time. Pair this stew with a crusty baguette—you'll want to sop up all of the delicious broth.
Hoisin-Glazed Chicken with Five-Spice Broth
Reminiscent of Vietnamese pho, this noodle soup starts with a flavourful broth that takes a fraction of the usual time to prepare. Serve with lime wedges and Asian chili sauce on the side.
Ginger Miso Steak Salad
This fresh steak salad is bursting with the bright flavours of ginger and miso. Garnish with extra cilantro for a citrusy, herbal hit of flavour.
Tomato and Fennel Poached Tilapia
Fennel's mild licorice flavour goes especially well with this combination of tomato and mild white fish. Reserve the delicate fennel fronds for a pretty garnish.
Listen Pod Save America. Four of Barack Obama's former aides have teamed up to create a podcast to discuss the current American political landscape. The co-hosts are joined by noteworthy guests, including journalists, politicians, activists, and, of course, comedians.
If you're not already watching "This is Us," then it's time to get caught up on this heartstring-tugging family drama. The ensemble cast just took home Favourite New TV Drama at the People's Choice award show.
Zadie Smith's thought-provoking new novel, Swing Time, follows a childhood friendship through the years.
Read on for expert advice on maximizing your enjoyment, staying safe and feeling empowered at every age.
NOT FEELING IT? Many women mistake a low sex drive for a clinical case of sexual dysfunction— but chances are, the cause is more than medical.
You aren't exactly sure what's up, but even though you love your partner, you just haven't felt like sex lately. You duck his touch, opting to watch Netflix instead. Maybe it's been months, and you're starting to wonder: Is there something wrong?
You can carry on with binge-watching The Crown, because, for most women, there's nothing medically amiss between the sheets. And, if it's any comfort, you're not the only one who's concerned about the possibility of sexual dysfunction. Teesha Morgan, a Vancouver sex therapist, says it's the question patients ask most. But, "almost 100 percent of the time, what they're experiencing is normal," she says. "There are so many things that can affect sexual desire: if you have little kids; if you're on antidepressants; if you take the birth control pill; if you're perimenopausal, postmenopausal or going through menopause...."
Dr. Natalie Rosen, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in Halifax, says true sexual dysfunction persists for at least six months and is "associated with significant distress for the individual or couple, as judged by a clinician." So, while it may seem as though all of your friends are in the same sexless boat, just 12 to 20 percent of women and 11 percent of men have sexual dysfunction.
But if it's not a medical problem, what's behind your lack of drive? As Morgan says, there are tons of reasons. However, one major cause might be a truism we were hoping to write off: In women, sex drive tends to dip over time. According to a study published in Psychological Medicine last year, which looked at sexual function (desire, satisfaction, ability to achieve orgasm) in more than 2,000 women, those in long-term relationships tended to see a drop in desire. But that doesn't mean you should buy into the clichés about women hating sex; instead, take the opportunity to be more realistic about your expectations—it's OK to have less sex! And take heart: The study also found that the long-partnered women had an easier time achieving orgasm.
So, if you want to have sex like a champion, don't be afraid to try new things: Get it on anywhere but the bedroom or use a sex toy—and make your personal preferences clear. Dr. Laurie Betito, a clinical psychologist in Montreal, suggests that you "liken having sex to going to the gym." Put it in your calendar if you have to! Because, just as with exercise, the more you go, the easier it will be to keep your commitment.
TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES How your smartphone could be messing with your sex life.
No one can be present in the moment if they're waiting to jump on that next ping, so, for God's sake, put down your phone. Experts recommend charging your devices as far from the bedroom as possible. If you really can't let go, at least turn down the volume. And consider trying "mindful intimacy." The wellness buzzword can easily be applied to sexual health; mindfulness is about focusing on the present, and mindful intimacy means being aware of what you are experiencing while you're with your partner. The idea is that couples who practise it can overcome the barriers they've built up and feel more connected to each other and their own individual sexuality. So sign up for a meditation class or use a mindfulness app like Headspace. (Ironic, we know—but apps really are easy and accessible ways to try mindfulness!)
LIBIDO BOOSTERS A look at how the newest sexual aids stack up.
Elvie: Remember those squeezing exercises you had to do after giving birth? Pelvic-floor muscles can make all the difference between a meh or mighty sex life, which is why Kegels are a must. But how do you know they're working? This pelvic-floor exerciser monitors your motion in real time thanks to a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone app.
Aphrodisiac marijuana: California-based medical marijuana purveyor Paradigm Cannabis Group markets a strain of weed called Sexxpot that promises to boost mood and libido. Researchers haven't been able to definitively establish a link between weed and libido, but there's anecdotal evidence that some people do benefit from partaking before sex. Trial run?
"Viagara for her": Big Pharma has been trying for years tcome up with a love pill for women, with little success. The most recent, Addyi, hit shelves in the U.S. in 2015, with a resounding thunk. A prescription pill aimed at premenopausal women, it delivers an average of just one-half of an extra satisfying sexual event per month—at a cost of US$900!
BACK IN THE SADDLE When you've been ill, sex is often the last item on your to-do list—but that doesn't mean it can't move up a notch or two.
Let's be honest: Sex isn't top of mind after you've been sick. Even sneezing and coughing from a cold or flu can drag you down, so it's no wonder something more serious can affect your sex life. But a thriving connection after a medical condition is possible.
First, though, it's important to know it's OK if you're not exactly feeling frisky. "There's psychology related to illness and sexuality," says Dr. Christine Palmay, a family physician in Toronto. "Depression from an illness, sideeffects from medication and body-image concerns can all lead to a lack of interest in sex."
So don't feel pressured to immediately return to your pre-illness state of affairs. Maybe you've had a mastectomy—that can be a huge blow to your femininity. Or you've had a heart attack and are nervous that strenuous sexual activity will cause another one. You can still be intimate. Trade cuddling for intimate touching—get as naked as you both feel comfortable with, then engage in sex talk or remind each other of favourite moves. It will do more for your relationship than sitting side by side watching TV in parallel play.
And you don't have to worry about a subsequent heart attack after all. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2015 says sex doesn't trigger a heart attack or increase your risk of a repeat. In fact, researchers found it's actually considered "moderate physical activity…and is comparable to climbing two staircases or taking a brisk walk." So putting a little hanky-panky back into your repertoire can't hurt—and it might even help your recovery.
It's also worth noting that lots of women struggle after illness. "Energy levels post chemotherapy tend not to improve for several years. In some cases, women never return to their previous level of functioning," says Dr. Palmay. "So be gentle and patient with yourself." And when you do eventually feel ready, "experiment, be adventurous," she says. "Maybe sex will play a different role in your new life, and that's OK."
YES MEANS YES Consent isn't just a concept that affects carefree young people. "It's still a consideration in relationships, whether of a casual, short- or longterm nature," says Mary-Jean Malyszka, a registered provisional psychologist and clinical sex therapist in Calgary. But it can be sticky to address. Here are some tips for striking up the conversation.
With your partner: Consent is an ongoing conversation. "If you would like to change the type or degree of sexual activity, check in by asking, 'Is this OK?' or 'How would you feel about…?' " says Malyszka. Or remind your partner to check in with you. And, if you're planning to try something new, consider choosing a code word or action that means "stop immediately," she advises.
With your teens: Explain what consent is, keeping it simple but clear: You are allowed to stop at any point if it doesn't feel right, even if the other person really wants to continue. "You don't need to go into a big explanation. It's all about what you want and don't want for your body, and your partner has to respect that," Malyszka says.
With your parents: This can be an awkward conversation, but, considering the possibility of cognitive decline, an important one. Explain the importance of informed affirmative consent, which means each partner understands exactly what is going to happen and is enthusiastic about trying it.
SAFETY FIRST Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise among older adults. Here's what you need to know.
Remember having "the talk" with your kids about sexually transmitted infections (STIs)? It's time to revisit that conversation— with yourself.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says the national rate of STI infection has been rising steadily since the late '90s, including among older adults. According to the Sexual Health at Midlife Study, a joint project by Trojan and the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN), the rates of chlamydia, for instance, among Canadians aged 40 to 59 increased by 153 percent between 2003 and 2012.
Dr. Betito has noticed an increasing need to educate even elderly adults. "Seniors' residences are like college dorms. There's often one man for several women, and they don't use condoms because there's no risk of pregnancy," she says. Dr. Palmay has also seen more STIs in her perimenopausal, menopausal and postmenopausal patients. "My senior patients go to Myrtle Beach, have fun in the sun and come back with syphilis, and they're nonchalant about it," she says.
Postmenopausal women are actually more vulnerable to STIs—the lining of the vagina becomes drier with age, which makes it "more likely to tear and become irritated during sex," says Dr. Palmay. "These tears could lead to more susceptibility to STIs."
Blame lack of condom use for the increased health risk—of the 77 percent of respondents in the Trojan/SIECCAN study who had intercourse in their last sexual encounter, only about 28 percent of women said their partner used a condom (see What's Behind the Rise, below, for more info).
"Youth today are taught 'no glove, no love,' but older women didn't grow up with that concept," says Dr. Betito, adding that people who are widowed or recently divorced "don't know how to negotiate condom use with a new partner." She advises women to take charge by carrying condoms and telling their partners they expect safe sex.
WHAT'S BEHIND THE RISE? Experts say the increasing incidence of STIs among the 40- to 59-year-old cohort can be traced back to three things.
Hookup-specific apps such as Tinder and Bumble: People looking for casual hookups use these apps to find potential sex partners with the swipe of a screen—no sexual history required.
Birth control use over condom use: For the 40-year-olds, birth control may help prevent pregnancy, but the pill doesn't ward off STIs. Condoms are close to 100 percent effective (though you can still contract HPV and herpes through oral sex).
Screening confusion: Not all STIs are diagnosed through blood or urine tests, and not all STIs are part of standard screening. For example, herpes and HPV require their own tests.
RUBBER CHECK If you thought we'd reached the apex of what a condom could be, think again. This is what rubbers could look like in the near future.
The number-one protector against STIs, HIV and, yes, babies, the latex condom has held steady for years. But once you've got thinner condoms, flavoured condoms and condoms bearing Sailor Moon designs, where do you go? To science, that's where. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is backing projects searching for a biodegradable condom that works just as well as the traditional sort, and a model that can also act as a drug-delivery system forSTI prevention. And, if those two aren't enough, behold the Rapidom. It's an applicator that will help a guy get the rubber out of the package and onto his penis in one swift move. Handy (and more likely to prevent user error)!