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The Art Of Squash

Many people consider squash a vegetable but it is actually a fruit! And with 15 different varieties, there are plenty of different types to choose between summer and winter varieties. You can find both summer and winter varieties all year long, but they get their names from the time they are ready for harvest. When you are picking a summer squash, look for its thin, tender skin and smell. While a winter squash will have a thick solid skin, and will feel slightly hollow.

Our best vegetarian entrée is Squash Ravioli- in the fall and winter served with roasted wild mushrooms, whole pecans and a sage-pecan truffle emulsion and in spring and summer served with a light roasted tomato sauce. Whether vegetarian or not, this beautiful dish will satisfy anyone’s taste buds.


Squashes are not just for autumn meals, or decorating for Halloween but have multiple purposes. Both winter and summer squashes have become great staples in meals replacing noodles and rice. For winter, a spaghetti squash is great with a classic tomato and meatball sauce, or pesto. Or use a summer squash like zucchini to replace the noodles in lasagna, or with a cashew cream sauce, or a raw heirloom tomato sauce like we did! This raw heirloom tomato sauce with zucchini pasta was wondering on a warm summers eve- and super easy to make. Here is how!

Ingredients:
4 small-medium zucchini of all colors

3 heirloom tomatoes

2 handfuls of basil

1-2 Teaspoon of fresh thyme

2 Gloves of garlic

½ Cup Sun-dried tomatoes

3 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 Teaspoon of maple syrup

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
1) Using a Julian peelers or mandolin slice the zucchini length wise

2) Blend everything except the zucchini in a food processor until sauce like

3) Place sauce on top of zucchini and top with parmesan cheese and/or olives and  serve!


*View our menu here to cater your next event 

*Share a picture of your zucchini pasta on Instagram and be entered to win a free picnic basket lunch. Just tag us in your picture and hastag #TrufflesCateringZucchiniPasta


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Festival of Lights

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Are you ready to experience the city’s most dazzling holiday tradition?  We can hardly wait!  The annual Festival of Lights is about to begin at VanDusen Botanical Gardens, and we’re excitedly preparing to take part in the magic.

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Opening December 7th, this spectacular display of twinkling trees and sparkling shrubs is a must-see event, ideal for the entire family.  Scads of volunteers and gardeners have been hard at work since Thanksgiving, checking every one of thousands of bulbs and delicately stringing them across the boughs of the Garden’s multifarious botanicals to create the finest light exhibition yet.

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Meanwhile, we’ve been putting together a show of our own, carefully planning and preparing the perfect comfort food staples to serve at four different booths inside the illuminated Garden.  Imagine the smell of fresh popcorn blending with that of fall cedar, the spicy aroma of hot apple cider lacing the brisk winter air, the warmth from a bowl of gourmet chili spreading through mittened palms, the pop and sizzle of traditional Bavarian sausages grilling under sparkling boughs…  No matter which part of the Garden’s Winter Wonderland you’ll be wassailing in, hot and delicious fare will always be close by!

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Here’s a more detailed picture of the gourmet goodies you can expect to sample from our Festival of Lights feast:

hotchocolate whitebkgdHot Chocolate Stand: steaming mugs of our famous hot chocolate topped with creamy marshmallows, hot and spicy apple cider, assorted souparomatic teas

Chili & Soup Bar: deep bowls of chili chock-full of local veggies and spicy seasoning, generous servings of our favourite soups made lovingly from the freshest sausageingredients

Gingerbread Wood BBQ Hut: smoky Bavarian sausages hailing the traditional baked potatoChristmas Homeland, piquant Tandoori chicken wrapped in soft warm tortilla topped with  succulent mango chutney400-04314475

Truffles Truck (from December 16th): classic poutine with rich gravy and real cheese curds, giant baked potatoes bedecked with sour cream, bacon, and cheese, crispy hand-cut french fries, juicy BBQ  pulled pork sandwiches, hot and buttery popcorn

In addition to these delectable offerings, our Garden Cafe inside the Visitor’s Centre will be open, serving more substantial fare and our usual menu of cold, hot, and alcoholic beverages.

The Festival of Lights runs every evening from 4:30-9pm until January 1st (excluding Christmas Day, when the Garden is closed).  For more details on the many festive goings-on to see and do at this event, check out VanDusen’s web page.  Get your tickets, friends and family together – this is an incredible holiday experience that you won’t want to miss!

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Urban Beekeeping

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Ever considered becoming a friend and farmer of bees?  Now might just be the best time: in addition to growing its participation in the urban farming movement, Vancouver is dabbling in the art of urban beekeeping – an earth-friendly hobby that’s taken off since the City Council gave its official nod of approval in July 2005.  Under the subsequent bylaws, residents can register up to 2 hives per 10 000 square foot lot – or up to 4 on lots exceeding that size – with the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, and reap the many benefits of hosting an apian community right in their backyards.


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What benefits might those be, you ask?  An unexpected many, in fact!  To start off with, there’s the abundance of fresh bee products.  A single colony of bees can produce more than 100 pounds of harvestable honey.  That’s pure, unadulterated sweetness in the belly, produced right at your doorstep.  Imported varieties, by contrast, often contain GMO’s, sugar syrups, pesticides, and other additives used during commercial processing.  Nothing beats the taste of homemade, honest-to-goodness honey – like VanDusen’s house-made wildflower honey, which you can taste at the cafe with Afternoon Tea!


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Other bee products, including beeswax, pollen, bee venom, propolis (tree resin mixed with bee-produced enzymes) and royal jelly (enzyme-enriched food made by young worker bees to feed their queen) can be used in a wide variety of holistic health and healing practices, the science of which is known as apitherapy. 

Bees also offer backyard, community and public gardens incredible pollination power.  In fact, the pollination  service provided by bees is estimated to be 60 to 100 times greater than the market value of honey.  This is due to the rich diversity of plants that such efficient and Printwidespread pollination supports.  Due to an interdependence cultivated over 90 million years of co-evolution, many flowering plants will not bear fruit without pollination by bees.  It’s thanks to the bees that we can enjoy such a wealth of crops and floral blooms – 80% of our favourite fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes rely on honey bees for pollination.

Interestingly enough, studies have shown that urban areas are much healthier environments for bees than rural ones in many ways.  For instance, the density of city and sub-urban gardens tends to include a much greater concentration and diversity of pollen and nectar sources – a whopping 1000 varieties, in some places, compared to the average 10 in rural areas.  Most cities also enforce strict pesticide limits, which make these sources cleaner and healthier for both the bees and the honey they produce.  Additionally, the average temperatures within urban areas tend to be higher than those of rural regions, which allows bees to stay active (and productive) for longer periods of the year.

 Noah Wilson-Rich explains why every city needs healthy honey bees.

Love the idea but not a so DIY-inclined?  Hire a beekeeper to tend your hives for you!  Experienced beekeepers, like Melissa Cartwright of Backyard Buzz, have begun to offer their expertise to hive-owners throughout the city.  If the Lorax speaks for the trees, then Melissa speaks for the bees.  She’ll commune with the bees and do the hive-keeping heavy lifting, and you’ll get to keep all the honey.  A happy hive helps the city thrive!

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