Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!



What an exciting year it's been! We kicked off the 100 Mile Challenge at the start of the year and made it three quarters of the way (silly pregnancy and its food aversions getting in the way!). The lasting effects of the challenge are still felt today. We try to buy the bulk of our grocery items from local farmers and vendors at the market and we're more conscious of where our food hails. In the summer months, we gathered, froze and preserved lots of food to see us through the winter and its handy to have a stocked freezer and pantry, especially when the snow starts and heading to the grocery store isn't possible.

We also try to buy local and support our community and it helps that we have incredible choices, like Anointment skin care and the beautiful cards handmade by Jessi (click here to check out her amazing work!). Doesn't hurt that April and Jessi are just about the nicest people you'd happen to meet!

It was also a jubilant year for our family with the birth of our son, Samuel. We've been so blessed to be part of a caring and supportive community and we've been spoiled by neighbours and friends who've stopped by with casseroles, clothes, diapers and more. I hope wherever you are, you are part of a similar community of people who offer such unconditional support and free flowing generosity.

So from our family to yours, we wish you the very best of the season and many rich blessings in the coming year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dark Days Meal #2 - Porridge

We're very fortunate to have family visiting with us and they're spoiling us by making our suppers. By the end of the day, making supper is the last thing I want to do as I anxiously await bedtime and my only chance to grab 2 hours of sleep at a time.

So, you work with what you've got and we've got plenty of oats. And maple syrup and blueberries and goats milk to top it off. So you make a hearty bowl of porridge and congratulate yourself that you accomplished another Dark Dark meal (barely...)


We're fortunate to have a great source of oats from Speerville Mills, the blueberries were picked locally and frozen, the goat's milk is part of our CSGS (community supported goat share) and the maple syrup is leftover from our annual pilgrimage to the sugar shack. As my mother says, it's food that "sticks to your ribs" and perfect for our Dark Days.



Sunday, December 4, 2011

5th Annual Dark Days Challenge: Meal One

We're excited to participate in another Dark Days challenge, as hosted by (not so) Urban Hennery. It's a winter long challenge and once a week, you prepare a meal based on SOLE (sustainable, organic, local and ethical) and blog about it. It's fun and we really enjoyed seeing what sorts of meals other bloggers were preparing and being inspired by their creativity and knack at turning relatively few ingredients into really tasty dishes.

Admittedly, our first meal is pretty lame and kind of truck-stop"ish" but these days, we're excited if we manage more than eggs on toast, so you can imagine how psyched we were with this dish. It's pedestrian and no where near gourmet, but it's hearty and easy (enough).

Potato and Carrot Latkes, Fried Egg and Maple Breakfast Sausage.
The potatoes and carrots were part of our CSA basket that were shredded and combined with an egg as binder and the garlic that seasoned them was from our garden. The eggs are local and available from our goat milk provider and the local pork was hand ground in our new meat grinder and combined with some maple syrup for a delicious breakfast sausage. While the sausage is a little time consuming, you control the quality of the ingredients and they froze nicely. We just threw these things together, which is part of the creative joy (and frustration) of the Dark Days Challenge, so we have no real recipes to offer.

Potato and Carrot Latkes
We're excited for another chance to participate in the challenge!





Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Here Comes the Sun..."



We are very excited to welcome our son, Samuel to our locavore brood! He arrived on November 10th at a near 9 lbs and is a fantastic, very laid back baby.



Life is grand, albeit a little crazy and hectic. We've been fortunate to have family visit and help prepare our meals and we still have lots stored in the freezer from my nesting/crazy preparathons in the last trimester, including many of the recipes we tried during last year's 100 Mile Challenge, such as the refried beans recipe, which helps makes taco night a breeze, or Buttercup/Pumpkin Pancakes that you plunk in the toaster on hectic mornings. Or if you're feeling ambitious, like I was this morning, give this German Chocolate Cranberry Cake a whirl!











Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Leftover Shmeftovers

It's been a while, I know. Life at the Locavore house is gearing up for the big event in less than two weeks and we're all pretty excited. The freezers are stocked to the gills with lots of ready made food, like soups, stews and lasagnas. The preserve cabinet is "jam" packed and we've got a ton of frozen fruit to see us through the winter.

So while I get a gold star for food preparation, my cooking mojo has been completely thrown off and I've had very little to show for anything remotely interesting or blog worthy. Most of my savoury dishes are just....off. Too much seasoning, not enough seasoning or not the right kind of seasoning. We'll all eating it and enjoying it for the most part, but rarely am I making something that is making us sit up and take notice.

Except sweets. My baking can do no wrong. These last few weeks have left me hankering for all manner of sweets and I partially wonder if it's my body's way at grasping quick sources of energy. Either way, we've been plowing through chocolate zucchini loaves, muffins, cakes, you name it. It's the kind of food that should be enjoyed in moderation, not 2-3 times a day like I have been. Note to self: back AWAY from the sweets!

So while I try to curb my love of homey, comforting baked treats, I finally managed to make something really delicious that incorporated a fair amount of local food items and was a lovely treat that was a breeze to prepare.

Coconut Curry Chicken Noodle Soup
I take absolutely no credit in the recipe, as I followed it almost to the letter from this blog: Baked Alaska.

As you may remember, I'm a sucker for a great local chicken and can justify the expense by turning it into everything under the sun, like Lemon Chicken Leek and Potato Soup or Fiesta Chicken Bean and Rice Soup and even Cock-A-Leekie. This soup incorporated some homemade chicken stock, the meat from the roast chicken, local onions and garlic, Atlantic produced bean sprouts, my neighbours green onions, Canadian grown red pepper and an admittedly good smattering of very non-local ingredients like coconut milk, limes and cilantro.

It's spicy, flavourful and perfect for our cold nights. Plus, you feel like a rockstar for making something so exotic in such a short period of time.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Season

I'm not sure what it is about pumpkins this year, but I'm all over the recipes I see floating around, like Dates and Quinces incredible Pumpkin Scones with Spiced Glaze. Pumpkin is cheap and versatile and is one of the few food items that can span the range of savoury to sweet with ease.

While pumpkin is easy to dolly up, there's nothing better than your traditional Pumpkin Pie to usher in cooler weather.

Pumpkin Pie with Brandied Caramel Sauce

I think the tastiest pies comes from freshly roasted pumpkins, so like to roast up a bunch at a time, puree them in the food processor and let them sit in a fine mesh sieve for about an hour. Anything I don't use gets frozen. The crust is a special gluten free crust from Land O Lakes but any pie crust will do.

The pie filling was super delicious and made two 9" pies (not deep dish) and went like this:

Pumpkin Pie Filling

2 eggs
15 oz pumpkin puree
1 can of evaporated milk (12 oz)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp cloves

Combine all ingredients and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook 45 minutes until pumpkin has set and is cooked through.

Brandied Caramel Sauce
Taken directly from the now defunct Harrowsmith Country Life, December 2007

1 cup white sugar
3 tbsp cold water
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla (I used ground vanilla bean)
2 tbsp brandy

Place the sugar and water in a small pot over medium-high heat and bring to a full boil. Watch carefully and remove from heat once the sugar mixture has turned amber. Pour in cream and reduce heat to low and stir until completely smooth. Remove from heat and add vanilla and brandy. Store refigerated until ready to serve. This sauce was unbelievably good and we kept wishing we could attack a bowl of it with just a spoon.





Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall Update

Late Summer Harvest


The night-time temperatures continue to drop and I'm sure before long, the first hard frost will nip everything lovely in our garden, so it fills me with joy to take my big bowl out into the garden and nab everything harvestable. Many of these will be canned (like Elderberry Syrup) or Diced Tomatoes. Many will get enjoyed (like the strawberries, thank you Ever-Bearing Strawberries!) and some will be put to good use in quick breads and cakes (thank you, ever producing zucchini).

In last week's CSA pick-up, we took the plunge and grabbed an eggplant. We don't normally cook it, so it was a fun experiment and while many recipes call for more than one eggplant, this one fit the bill and gave us more reasons to use up the garden harvest while rejoicing in exotic flavours:

Baingan Bharta
I followed the exact recipe here at All Recipes and was really pleased with how it turned out.

The second recipe is full of fall flavours and I was able to pressure can some for the winter, leaving my deep freeze for the larger cuts of local meat we intend to buy and store.



Autumn Harvest Soup
Inspired and Adapted from Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup at Dates and Quinces.

3 cups cleaned and chopped carrots
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chunked
1 tsp oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 head of local garlic, roasted (for tips on roasting and a fantastic mustard recipe, go here)
1 apple, cored and chopped (peel on)
3 cups water
4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp Madras curry powder
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional: sour cream or yogurt

1. Over medium heat, warm oil and sautee onions until softened. Add in curry powder and toast flavours for about a minute.
2. Add in water, stock, sweet potatoes, carrots, garlic and apple and reduce heat to low. Cover and stir occasionally, about 45 minutes - 1 hour.
3. Let cool and puree in batches (or use an immersion blender) and add in remaining spices and seasoning. Serve with dollop of sour cream or yogurt. Enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

The End of the Summer

Not like there really was a summer. We're only now coming into some beautiful weather and you know, I'm completely OK with that. Fall is my favourite season and enjoying sunny days with moderate temperatures is ideal. Plus, I'm huge and heat isn't agreeing with me, so double bonus.

Fall is also the signal of all the nesty things I need to do, like get a whack of soups, stews, chilis, sauces and more frozen and ready for baby-crazy-hectic-welcoming-company chaos that begins about 8 weeks. In the meantime, I'll happily start cleaning up the garden, freezing and drying what I can in prepration for winter.
I received a lovely little virtual award from Adventures in Dinner, which was a really kind gesture and I thank her. I have continiously enjoyed reading her blog posts and found them inspiring as she tackles leftovers, a toddler and home renovation. Her honesty is refreshing and she is such a likeable blogger!



This award is a kind of fun chain thing, because after accepting the award, you thank the giver (You rock, Jane!) and link them back to your post. You then share seven things about yourself:

  1. I have had all sorts of odd jobs - retail jobs, administrative jobs, restaurant jobs, house cleaning jobs, gardening jobs, make-your-own-job jobs and more. I like contributing and if there are no jobs available, I try to figure something out.
  2. I'm a Trekkie, but a particular one. I'm especially fond of Star Trek Voyager and TNG. I was reluctant at first and before long, I was sucked in and now, I watch it almost nightly while I have my pre-bedtime nap.
  3. I met Jeff during our undergrad at Carleton University, in Ottawa. He got liquored up at a free wine and cheese reception our department was hosting and got the nerve to ask me to dinner and the symphony. He could have been a chimp and I would have said yes. Luckily, he wasn't a chimp and we had an incredible 8 hour date. We never looked back.
  4. I'm a perpetual student and really, really need to finish the last two credits of my Masters (and you know....stop having babies so I can finish!)
  5. I'm not a very creative cook. I like recipes and structure and only when I'm comfortable will I branch out and experiment. I wish I took more risks in the kitchen.
  6. I'd much rather concentrate my gardening efforts into a vegetable garden then a flower garden.
  7. As I'm typing this, a neighbour is jogging by my place and I'm reminded how much I hate running. I wish I could run, but it feels like torture and the only way you'll catch me running is if I'm being chased or you've offered me some really tempting food and I'm anxious to get there fast.
Here's the extra fun part, where I get to take 10 new blogs I really enjoy and hopefully introduce you to some gems you may or may not have discovered: From Maggie's Farm, Northwest Edible Life, Toronto Tastings and My Mom's a Nerd.

Monday, August 29, 2011

How We Spent Our Summer Vacation

New York!
  • Vacationing in Ontario and celebrating Honey Bear's 2nd birthday *sob*
  • Enjoying a toddler-free babymoon in New York City (for more on our adventures, please see my Uncanny Preserves blog.
  • Battening down the hatches for Irene's arrival
  • Trying to salvage our half-assed attempt at a garden this year - so far, so good! Replanting beans, peas and beets means a late harvest, which isn't half bad
  • Solving the mystery of why my tomato plants look horrid (curse you, blight!)
  • Canning, canning and more canning. On today's agenda: more Crabapple Jelly
  • Opening and digging through the multiple boxes of baby clothes and pulling out the gender neutral 0-3 clothes and organizing the baby cloth diapers in very early anticipation of baby #2's arrival
  • Crashing on the couch by 8 p.m. and looking in horror at my swollen, Flintstone feet. (When I was overdue with Honey Bear, I asked Jeff to try some pressure points on my ankles to induce labour. He very cautiously asked me where my ankles were...)
  • Cooking up a storm, but little of it is blogworthy - we're talking BASICS! Whatever gets us through dinner in a way that's fast, nutritious and uses up our CSA goodies so nothing goes to waste.

How's your summer going?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dolled Up Tuna Casserole

Cheesy Tuna Casserole


Once again, I was inspired by Jane and her Adventures in Dinner blog about not letting food go to waste and now that we've been given the green light by Honey Bear's doctor to bring back dairy, we're going for it!

Nothing fills me with more satisfaction than making one meal we can all enjoy, especially if it's crammed full of vegetables. Veggies are still the last holdout for Honey Bear and I know it will come eventually, but if I can help foster that love by smothering them in cheese and butter, I'll do it.

Here's a grown up version of Tuna Casserole that is delicious, adaptable and is a great way to use up pantry/fridge items. We had some leftover Boursin kicking around the fridge and without crackers, it was wasting away.

Your Basics


Your "Dolled Up" Ingredients


Dolled Up Tuna Casserole
Adapted from this recipe: Boursin Mac and Cheese at Kitchen of Friends blog.

1-300 gram box of whole wheat rotini
2 cans light tuna
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Speerville flour
2 cups milk
2 tbsp grainy mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 package of Boursin cheese (I used garlic and chives)
1 cup mozarella
Diced up veggies, like parboiled green beans or carrots, onions, red peppers, peas.
1/2 cup parmasan cheese for topping

Directions:

1. Boil pasta in a big pot, about 2 minutes less than the recommended time on the box. Drain pasta and keep pot tucked aside for mixing.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk together until smooth, continue cooking for another minute or so. Very slowly and whisking constantly, add milk and bring to a slow boil over medium-low heat, about 4 minutes. Random tip: At this point, I like to switch from whisk to a wooden spoon, but whisk is perfect at ensuring no lumps in your sauce. When thickened, add in Boursin and mozarella, mustard, salt and pepper and any additional herbs and seasoning (like hot pepper flakes, thyme/lemon thyme, dill, etc).
3. In your large pasta pot, add pasta back in with your vegetables and pour your sauce overtop, stir to mix and then pour into a large casserole dish.
4. Sprinkle parmasan on top and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until piping hot. Enjoy!

We were definitely "Hungrrrrry" for Dinner!




Monday, August 8, 2011

The Summer That Never Was

So, unless my memory is sketchy (which is entirely possible), but it only seems like there was one week in July where the weather was absolutely perfect: three days of warm sun, a day of rain, three more days of sun and a cloudy day. May was a write-off with all the rain, the end of June had a frost warning (!) and the rest of July was relatively rainy and cold. August is heading in the same direction, with almost two solid weeks of rain. Our CSA is saying they are already 2-3 weeks behind in their harvests because of this weather and I know it's not just the vegetables that are suffering.

Does weather affect you adversly, like it does me? It could be because I'm as big as a house and lumbering with achy hips, or it could be this never ending lousy weather of an already too-short Maritime summer that's making me grumpy. Sackville is nestled close enough to the Bay of Fundy that our summer's are actually quite cool, rarely going above 26 degrees with little to no humidity, which is fine by me. It also means our winter's tend to be milder, so it's a fair trade off. This past winter was brutal though and one of the things that got me through was the promise of nicer weather ahead.

I was wrong and I feel a little cheated.

So hopefully you're enjoying some warm, sunny weather in your neck of the woods and with a vacation to Ontario and New York City coming up soon, I plan to steal some of it and bring it home! If you catch some swollen, pasty looking woman dancing barefoot in the park, it's most likely me offering up a dance to the sun gods in gratitude.

While not grumbling or lumbering, we're still working at using this time to prepare for the winter by visiting all the u-picks we can, including sour cherries, highbush blueberries and raspberries. While the cherries and highbush blueberries have been unaffected by this weather, the raspberries were flabby and flat tasting and it looks like my one batch of raspberry preserves is about all I can expect from this season.

When not canning, we're preserving the harvest in delicious, drinkable ways, like a hefty Mason jar of strawberry liqueur, some homemade almond extract made from cherry stones and thanks to Jeff's increasing homebrew skills, we have a gallon of strawberry wine mellowing and an exciting 3 gallon batch of blueberry wine:

Doing Something Homebrewy: Maybe an Acid Test? Sugar Test? Heck if I Know.

I continue to can up a storm for the market and our cold cellar and meals are still almost exclusively local, but definitely nothing to write about. Like tonight's dinner: I'm embarassed to admit I totally made this salad and completely devoured a huge portion of it. You might remember it from church picnics or potlucks:

Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad

You know the salad, with crisp bits of artificial tasting bacon and drenched in too much Miracle Whip/sugar/vinegar dressing that is a staple on every buffet table? I justified that at least the produce was local, the bacon was real and required that little extra step of frying and the Miracle Whip just needs to be used up. I cut the dressing back by a third (equal parts Miracle Whip and sugar with about a tablespoon of white vinegar). I ate it, glad no one was watching and declared it delicious and perfect with my boiled new potatoes and local pork chops drenched in some kind of sauce. We're definitely veering away from gourmet if it means dinner is on the table early enough for us all to enjoy it.

While the weather's gloomy, here's the silver lining: Honey Bear ate most of supper. Ate it. Chewed meat and declared it delicious. Something has come over her and she is eating like a truck driver. She can't get enough of eggs and bacon and when the pediatrician gave us the green light to try dairy again, we're not noticing any of the previous symptoms, which makes food preparation and eating together a sheer joy, even if it's church potluck food.



Friday, July 29, 2011

The Summer Song

"Trees swayin' in the summer breeze
Showin' off their silver leaves
As we walked by

Soft kisses on a summer's day
Laughing all our cares away
Just you and I

Sweet sleepy warmth of summer nights
Gazing at the distant lights
In the starry sky"

Maybe I'm being a worry wort, but something is telling me to live up this summer and really enjoy these last few months of being a family of 3. Travelling, while still cumbersome, is made a little easier by not having to stop every hour or so, pull over and feed a baby. Honey Bear is at an age where we can find common ground and get pleasure and enjoyment from a certain activity, like hiking or visiting parks. Plus, with the right snacks, you can do almost anything!

Here's what we've been up to:

With fossils over 300 million years old.





When not touring our local treasures, we've been busy in the garden and hard at work at canning and preserving the summer harvest for sale and for our pantry. Next up is to process 27 pints of handpicked sour cherries. Can't wait!

In the meantime, check out this fantastic meal we made!

How's your summer shaping up?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Eat Your Greens!

Greens Galore
I'm loving the challenge of using up the greens in our CSA package and frankly, it's never that difficult when the produce is this fresh, tasty and versatile. In addition to our half share we picked up on Saturday, we nabbed some more rainbow swiss chard and a heritage variety of kale. For last night's supper, the rainbow chard made a great side to a homemade spice rubbed and barbequed local pork chop. I used Adventures in Dinner's tip of some chicken stock and kept it on the savoury side with a dash of hot pepper flakes, some spring garlic and sliced red onion. The rice was pilaf"ed" with extra veggies and loads of garden fresh herbs, like lemon thyme, parsley and regular thyme (Honey Bear actually ate it!) and the spinach salad was dressed with some of our own garden fresh strawberries, walnuts and some local feta and tossed with a poppyseed dressing.

It was incredible.

The kale was used in this Italian Wedding Soup recipe, which turned out to be a gigantic hot mess. I can't figure out how I messed this up so badly. It was visually terrible and the broth lacked flavour. Foodies out there, tell me something: the meatballs are cooked in the soup after the addition of kale, and the raw meat clouds up the broth. Two eggs are added at the end, which act as a clarifier (I assume. It wasn't an egg drop soup consistancy), but the eggs got all muddled up in the kale, so I couldn't remove it and keep the soup clear without losing my kale. What went wrong here? It tasted alright, just wasn't the most anticipated dinner I've ever cooked.

On the bright side, check this out:

Homebrewed Hooch!
Our strawberry wine is doing its thing! A couple years ago, we tried elderberry sherry, which was a disaster. The sap from the berries destroyed some of our equipment and the temperature was obviously off, as it never went past 5% alcohol, but hovered at a 20 sugar count. Yuck. We disposed of it, despite our thoughts of cutting it with vodka as a cocktail.

Our strawberry wine was headed in the same direction. I had originally asked Jeff to write a guest post about his methods and when the wine was sinking fast, we decide best not to share our recipe for failure. In a last ditch effort to salvage the wine, we pitched the yeast again and crossed our fingers.

Well.

Last night it was moved over into a smaller carboy and the sugar and alcohol levels were rechecked. It went from a 5% alcohol with 12 sugar count to a 10% alcohol to a 2 sugar count. PERFECT! It may get drier as it ages, which would be great. It was proclaimed delicious and a huge hit and I'm delighted for a big batch of homebrew for under $10. What to brew next?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Afternoon Tea

Sunflower Thumbprint Cookies with Strawberry Preserves
AdventuresinDinner has totally inspired me not to let food die in my fridge and despite my best intentions to make a peant-free spread that Honey Bear would like, my poor Sunflower Butter was wasting away at the bake of the fridge, but crafty mama's know that sometimes, you need some ingenuity to get that food eaten and this did the trick. Also made for a lovely afternoon treat.

Sunflower Butter and Jam Thumbprint Cookies
Adapted from this Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint recipe at My Recipes

2 cups all purpose "white" flour (closer to a whole wheat)
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sunflower butter
1/4 cup margarine
2 cups eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Jam

1. Combine dry ingredients.
2. Combine sugars, margarine in a large bowl or stand mixer and stir until whipped. Add eggs one at a time. Add in vanilla and gradually add in dry ingredients.
3. With oiled hands, roll out little balls of cookie dough onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and indent middle with your thumb. Refigerate for one hour.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes and allow to fully cool before adding about 1/2 tsp of jam. (I got impatient and added the jam, leaving a jammy pool under the cookie. Really is best to follow directions sometimes!)

Putting Strawberry Vanilla Jam to Good Use!


Enjoy!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

First Harvest Supper

Summer Harvest Supper


It has only dawned on me now: I divide my plate like my toddler's. Clearly I haven't learned anything from cooking shows on TV and layering food properly. So, presentation aside, it was all super delicious. The first vegetables are coming in from our CSA and we are loving the bounty of chard, beet tops, pak choi, new potatoes, broccoli, napa cabbage, spring garlic and rapini. I love all these options and the varities of meals you can prepare. We had the tail end of an Atlantic salmon squirrled away in the freezer and it made the perfect addition to all these beautiful vegetables. Incidentally, I realized it also made for a super healthy prenatal meal with all the oils from the fish and those dark leafy greens. If I keep it up, maybe it'll make for a healthy, intelligent baby?

Here is my favourite way to do up swiss chard or beet tops:

1 lb beet tops or swiss chard
1 small onion, sliced
1 clove garlic or bulb of spring garlic, minced
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar or honey
salt and pepper to taste
*optional: diced tomato and/or bacon (if using bacon, sautee first to render fat and once crispy, remove and return to finished dish. Proceed to sautee onion and garlic in bacon fat.)

1. De-stem and soak your tops. Drain well and put through a salad spinner.
2. In 1/2 tbsp olive oil and over medium heat, sautee half a sliced onion and some garlic (or spring garlic, in our case).
3. Once caramalized, throw in your tops. I didn't bother cutting them into bite sized pieces. Put a lid on it until tops have wilted enough and there's room to stir your mixture.
4. Reduce heat and continue cooking with lid on until all the tops have wilted. If using a diced tomato, now's the time to add it. You'd like it to stew a bit with the mixture.
5. Remove lid and season with vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust. Serve hot.

The broccoli is simply steamed and the new potatoes scrubbed and boiled. The salmon steaks were seasoned and seared before finishing in the oven at 300 degrees and this sauce brought the whole dish together:

Creamy Dill Sauce
Creamy Dill Sauce
Serves: 3

2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp yogurt
2 tbsp fresh dill
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp grainy mustard
salt and pepper

Mix together and serve over fish. It was so delicious and it was a shame Honey Bear took a few bites before asking for porridge. Still, she watched us eating it and loving it and I'm hoping before long, she'll clue into the sheer joy of eating locally grown and lovingly prepared foods. One can hope, right?!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake

Delicious, Local Dessert

So 30 lbs of strawberries later (not counting the strawberries coming in from my own patch) and I've done almost every preserve imaginable, including a batch of strawberry wine and some strawberry liqueur. I've had a lot of energy the last few weeks, which is handy, because as the third trimester is a little over a month away, I know the return of that soul-crushing fatigue will soon be upon me and I won't have the time or energy to preserve like I used to. But for now, more than 10 lbs of berries are frozen and squirreled away for the winter and now it's time for full on gorging of these suckers.

As usual, Darlene King at Harrowsmith Country Life has a recipe that is begging to be tried. If you aren't a Harrowsmith subscriber yet, give it a whirl. It's the only magazine I've never thrown out and still refer to past issues. This one comes from June 2010's issue.

Shortcakes with Rhubarb Compote and Fresh Strawberries
Darlene King, Harrowsmith Country Life, June 2010

Flour and Butter Combined
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour (don't do what I did. I love Speerville, but their whole "white" flour must not contain enough gluten or something. They're always a little flat and too grainy for a delicate shortcake like this)
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup butter (I kept mine chilled)
3/4 cup whipping cream (35% cream)

1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Sift dry ingredients together and with the paddle attachment or with a pastry cutter, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.
3. Stir in all but 1 tbsp of the cream until just combined and move to a well floured surface. Knead until just combined and pat out into 1/2 inch. Cut out 6x3" biscuits (I wouldn't recommend using a screw band from a mason jar, but I was rushed for time and it seemed 3 inch"ish")


All Lathered Up and Ready to Bake
4. Lather the shortcakes in the whipping cream and bake for 15 minutes or so.

Voila! The baked cakes.


Rhubarb Compote

5. I had some preserved rhubarb in syrup kicking around, hidden in the fridge, so I simmered it for 10 minutes or so, but if you have some frozen rhubarb still hanging out in your freezer, try 2 cups of rhubarb with 1 1/2 cups of sugar for a rhubarb stew.

Completing the Dish

6. Add some freshly whipped cream, your stewed rhubarb and some freshly sliced berries between your sliced shortcake. I added a mint chiffonade, mostly because I kept the flavours pretty classic and thought the mint would add a citrus brightness. It worked and was really tasty. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

One more reason I love the Farmer's Market

Due to rainy weather, I took a time out from selling at the market to enjoy being a customer. I'm constantly reminded just how much I love our Farmer's Markets when you come home with a haul like this:

L-R: Our CSA order, new potatoes, all manners of freshly baked breads, a Quebec Oka, Dutch Gouda, a flat of strawberries, some Korean, Filipino and Indian, varieties of sausage, shnitzel, ground and a roast of beef.

Oh. Baby.

Not to mention all the friends and neighbours you bump into and catch up with. Definitely not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Strawberry-Palooza


We learned one very important lesson during our 100 Mile (winter) Challenge - we needed more fruit! This year, I'm determined to can and freeze like a crazy woman so if we do undertake another challenge, we'll have some variety. U-Picks are great places to stock up and although it was a rotten year for strawberries, I was pumped to find a place that offered great prices and had availability. So, we went to town:

Not the most flattering shot...
Hardcore Picker

We picked and picked and picked. Well, mostly I did. Honey Bear did a lot of eating, collecting straw and stepping all over the berries while Jeff did a little picking, but mostly eating. I'm thankful they didn't weigh us before we picked.

Honey Bear scoping out the pickings

After about an hour of picking, we ended up with 14 + lbs of strawberries. Most are destined for my preserves shop, but a good chunk of them are getting frozen or turned into strawberry wine. While it's a lot of work now, the pay off will be worth it in the dead of winter.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cape Breton Adventure

Skyline Trail, Cape Breton National Park

We just got back from a week-long vacation in the beautiful Lake Ainslie area of Cape Breton, near Inverness. The only downside to the vacation was the unbelievably lousy weather. Out of seven days, we managed one and a half days of sun. The temperatures were cold and one evening actually had a frost warning for our area. In June. Late June.

Still, bad weather aside, it didn't deter us from travelling, exploring, adventuring and eating our way through some very fine restaurants. We travelled with our good friends and their toddler, so I actually managed only one photo during our rather hectic meal times. Still, you can't travel in Cape Breton without enjoying some of the finest fish and seafood in Canada and all of it minutes from the restaurant.

Our travels took us to Glenora Distillery and the best whiskey in Canada, not to mention the best lunch we had on vacation.

Glenora Distillery

While Jeff enjoyed a pulled chicken sandwich with jalapeno lime dressing and fries, I sampled these salted cod fish cakes with chow and a mesclun salad.

Atlantic Fish Cakes with Salad

We finished off our meal with a very non-local but incredibly tasty chocolate ganache cake with a whiskey sorbet. While I looked on longingly, Jeff and our friends enjoyed some lovely aged whiskey. Not to be forgotten, we were serenaded by the talented Pius MacIssac who entertained our well-past-their-nap-time toddlers and made our meal so enjoyable (click on his name for a little YouTube audio sample). A highly recommended place to eat if you're in the area.


Post-Bite Picture of Dessert

Next, our travels took us to Neil's Harbour in search of the much lauded fish 'n chip restaurant, as suggested by my neighbours. I'm assuming they meant this little gem:

The Chowder House, Neil's Harbour

It's a quaint little restaurant with almost wall-to-wall windows facing the ocean, made rustic with picnic tables. The chowder was thick and hearty, with big chunks of lobster and scallops and while we all thought the fried fish was a little on the oily side, it was light and crispy and almost everything fried fish should be and worth the long drive from our cabin for lunch. The surroundings were equally impressive:

Neil's Harbour, NS
On our one and only full day of sunshine, we took advantage of one of the most famous trails in Cape Breton: The Skyline Trail. The day was incredible and although the 9.2 km hike was a little taxing on a near 21-week pregnant mama and a toddler-wearing Jeff, it was an incredible hike with some majestic views:

Skyline Trail

We finished up the week with a little day trip in Baddeck and in honour of my birthday, we went to my favourite yarn store: Baadeck Yarns - with hand dyed, local yarn in the most sumptuous colour and then off to the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. Did you know his second home was in Baddeck, NS where he invented lots of interesting things, like the HD-4 Hydrofoil? Me neither, but since Honey Bear made me take her back to that part of the exhibit so she could see the big "plane" over four times, I'm now fully versed in the size, speed and dates of all HD models. Kids will do that to you.

There you have it - Cape Breton: A great place to eat, vacation and adventure!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Road Food

In preparation for an upcoming trip to Cape Breton, I'm all about good food, made easy and portable. My good friend and foodie extraordinaire, Alyson at Dates and Quinces made these beauties: Almond Cranberry Oatmeal Bars way back in February and I've never forgotten them. To me, they seemed the perfect road food or quick source of energy to fuel a long hike. Since we intend to do both, I knew a batch of these were in order.

But first. The almond butter suggested in her recipe brings me to the first recipe:

Cinnamon Sunflower Seed Butter
Cinnamon Sunflower Seed Butter
Joy McCarthy, recipe found here at That's Fit

1 cup sunflower seeds, left to soak overnight
2-3 tbsp raw honey
1/2 cup almond oil (I used walnut oil, couldn't find almond oil)
1 tsp pure vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Soak seeds overnight. The soaking will help make the seeds more digestable.
2. In a food processor, blend seeds until smooth.
3. Add oil, vanilla, honey and cinnamon.

This makes about 3/4 cup of butter and was really delicious. I've been paying an insane amount of money on commercial sunflower butter due to Honey Bear's peanut allergy, but this replacement was perfect and totally reasonable. Plus, it goes really well with...

Sunflower Cranberry Oatmeal Bars
Sunflower Cranberry Oatmeal Bars
Adapted from: Dates and Quinces

1 cup oats
1/2 cup whole "white" flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1/4 cup dry, sweetened cranberries
1/4 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut
1/4 cup unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp Dairy-Free Margarine (like Earth Balance Natural Spread) melted and cooled
3 tbsp sunflower seed butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare an 8x8 pan with a layer of tin foil, made long enough that you can easily lift up your loaf. Lightly grease your tin foil.
2. Combine dry ingredients and stir.
3. Stir to combine liquid margarine, seed butter, egg and vanilla and add to dry mixture.
4. Pour into baking dish and cook for 20-25 minutes and let cool before cutting.

* I don't have an 8x8, so I used a loaf pan and it worked great. Check out the original recipe, as Alyson has some great suggestions on variations.

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