Dec 29, 2010
Last night I browsed through the posts that I did in the last twelve months. There were some that I'd forgotten about and others that made me smile once again. It brought back a lot of good memories for me. As a result, I thought I'd make a list of my top 10 favorite posts for 2010 (in no particular order):
1. The Big Debate - Butter vs. Margarine (January 13 2010)
2. Has it been a Success? Yes, I think it has! (March 13 2010)
3. Bison (May 28 2010)
4. The Best Dessert Ever (July 3 2010) - cherry-picking in Arkona
5. Garden Update (July 9 2010) - about my experience gardening for the first time
6. 1-Year Anniversary/100th Post (August 1 2010) - Food Day celebrations at the Covent Garden Market
7. Savour Stratford Rocks (September 25 2010)
8. Johnston's Cranberry Marsh (October 8 2010)
9. Raspberry Picking in October (October 13 2010)
10. Foodland Ontario Videos (November 16 2010)
Did you have a favorite post that you really enjoyed reading?
Are there any topics that you'd like to see me post about in 2011? Farms/markets that I should visit? Recipes?
My mom gave me a mandoline vegetable slicer. I had been wanting one of these for a while now so I was happy to see that she had been listening. I'm hoping to make some veggie chips with it this weekend.
My mother-in-law really surprised me this year and got me an indoor grill. A couple of months ago we were talking on the phone and she had told me that she was grilling some chicken on hers for dinner. I guess she remembered me saying that I had been wanting one too because she had one for me under her Christmas tree. It'll be great for grilling fruits and vegetables and for making burgers over the Winter months. Anyone know if I can make panini's with this too? I hope I can!
The other appliance that I got this year was a dehydrator. My aunt contacted me a few weeks ago and asked me if I would be interested in hers. She had one that she wasn't using anymore and thought of me. I immediately said YES! I can't wait to start drying some fruit making some raw cookies/breads that I've been meaning to try out.
Unfortunately, once she gave me the dehydrator I wasn't able to bring it home with us after the holidays. My daughter got too much stuff for Christmas so I wasn't able to fit it into the car. Sigh... I guess I'll have to wait a little longer to use this one. Perhaps my parents will come over for a visit in February for the Family Day weekend? I don't want to wait much longer.
My brother gave me the ultimate Christmas gift - a Chapters Gift Card. What foodie doesn't love going to Chapters? In fact, a friend and I have a tradition - we meet for lunch on Boxing Day and then make our way out to the Chapters to buy new cookbooks. This year, I bought 3 of them:
- The Earthbound Cook: Recipes for Delicious Food and a Healthy Planet (Myra Goodman)
- Seasons (Donna Hay)
- Illustrated Cook's Book of Ingredients (Dorling Kindersley)
So those were the main 'foodie' gifts that I received. What did you get for Christmas this year? Did your gifts inspire you to get back into the kitchen?
Dec 20, 2010
-slows/prevents cancerous tumours
-reduces morning sickness (nausea)
-reduces motion sickness
-reduces pain and inflammation
-for migraine relief
-for menstrual cramp relief
-prevents blood clots
-lowers LDL cholesterol
Christmas is a great time to include ginger in your diet. Gingerbread cookies are a popular holiday treat. This year, I made cookies again, but also made gingerbread waffles and a fruit cake ice cream with gingerbread, walnuts, and candied cherries.
- 1/4 cup Ontario butter, softened
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup applesauce (made with Ontario apples, of course)
- 1 Ontario egg
- 1/3 cup dark molasses
- 3 cups flour (Arva Flour Mill)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
In a mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar and applesauce until smooth. Add egg and molasses and mix well. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda and spices. Add to sugar and molasses mixture, stirring well. Divide dough in two; cover with saran wrap and chill for 2 hours.
Roll out dough to 1/4 to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut gingerbread cookies with cookie cutters. Place 1-2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350F.
Bonus: per cookie (approximately) - 94 calories and 1.8g fat
- 2 cups flour (Arva Flour Mill)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 4 large Ontario eggs
- 3 tbsp Ontario butter
- 3 tbsp applesauce
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 3 tbsp molasses
Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, combine the eggs, butter, applesauce, milk, yogurt and molasses. Add wet ingredients to the dry ones. Cook in a waffle-maker until crisp and golden.
Fruit Cake Ice Cream
Believe it or not this was the first 'real' ice cream I've made in my ice cream maker. Normally I make frozen yogurt or an ice cream using evaporated milk or condensed milk. But, since it is the Christmas season I thought I'd indulge and make a traditonal ice cream.
To begin, combine 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream in a saucepan. Add 3 tbsp fine sugar and the seeds of one vanilla bean as well as the pod into the pot. Bring to a simmer (do not boil). Meanwhile, mix 3 egg yolks with another 2 tbsp fine sugar.
Let the milk mixture cool a bit and then slowly start adding it to the yolks, whisking constantly to prevent scrambling the eggs. Once combined, pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it thickens (when it coats the back of the spoon). Pour the custard into a bowl and cool the mixture in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
Using an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into it. After about 10 minutes add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup crushed gingerbread cookies, 1/2 cup red candied cherries, and 1/2 cup green candied cherries.
Add more crushed gingerbread cookies on top when serving.
Dec 14, 2010
It's not just the work either; with root vegetables I think we all get stuck in a rut and just end up roasting them, mashing them, or making a soup with them. As a result, I'm always on the lookout for something new to try.
I had seen a recipe previously for a butternut squash souffle so thought I'd adjust it and use rutabaga instead. Here's the recipe:
- 1 rutabaga, peeled and cubed
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs, separated
- salt/pepper, to taste
Cook the turnip with the sugar and enough water to cover. Once tender, drain and mash with the butter. In a bowl, mix together sour cream, baking powder, salt/pepper, and 2 egg yolks. Add mashed rutabaga. In another bowl mix egg whites until stiff and then fold it into the rutabaga mixture.
Put the mixture into an 8x8 baking dish and then bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
I was kind of surprised that this recipe worked out like it did. It was fluffy and light--just like a souffle is supposed to be. Like many other people I've spoken to, I doubted my abilities to actually do a souffle. Who knew it was actually a very simple dish to make! And, I found another use for rutabaga. Yippee!
Dec 11, 2010
When you think of carrots what do you think about? An orange carrot? What about a yellow carrot or a purple one (heritage carrots)?
What about a radish? Do you think of the common red radish? What about a radish that's green on the outside and purple on the inside (a watermelon radish)?
Chances are most people have never seen a purple carrot or a green and purple radish. The main reason -- because grocery stores just don't carry these items. They only carry a select few 'common' options. In other words, items that all look exactly the same - same size, same color, same blandness. They must all look perfect and have absolutely no imperfections. Heirloom vegetables, on the other hand, don't look the same, aren't always pretty, but they do taste wonderful. You can't always judge a book by its cover!
According to Wikipedia, "an heirloom plant is a cultivar that was commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but which is not used in modern large-scale agriculture....In modern agriculture most food crops are now grown in large, monocultural plots. In order to maximize consistency, few varieties of each crop are grown. These varieties are often selected for their productivity, their ability to withstand mechanical picking and cross-country shipping, and their tolerance to drought, frost, or pesticides."
While trying to put down my thoughts I was having trouble putting into words the importance of heirlooms so I thought I'd quote the experts:
"There's only one reason needed to try growing heirloom vegetables - Taste. There are thousands of heirloom vegetable varieties available for the home vegetable garden. Heirlooms vegetables became heirlooms because people prized them enough to save seeds. You won't find many of these varieties in your grocery store because they weren't developed for mass production or storage. That's all the more reason to make room for growing some heirloom vegetables in your own vegetable garden." (www.gardening.about.com/od/heirloomvegetables).
"At Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm my specialty and passion is Heirloom vegetables. Growing heirlooms is an exciting way to try new and unusual tastes, shapes and colours. But more than that it is an effort to maintain the genetic diversity of our food crops. In the last century, we have lost 90% of our vegetable varieties, a tragic loss of diversity and threat to our food security. It is important to stop this trend,and as growers and consumers look for alternatives. Heirlooms are the link to the past and are key to our future. As well unlike some hybrids, heirlooms are not grown for their ability to withstand shipping and chemicals or their uniform look at market. They are grown for taste. Eat in the past!" (http://www.treeandtwig.ca/)
Heirloom vegetables are becoming increasingly popular at farmers' markets and in home gardens as customers recognize that what they are buying at the grocery store might be affordable but is lacking in quality. It's a misconception that people who are trying to eat a local diet are lacking in variety when, in truth, there is actually more variety at the farm or market than there is at the grocery store. There's always something new to try.
Here are a few sites to check out if you're looking for heirloom vegetables or interested in buying seeds to grow your own:
- http://www.treeandtwig.ca/ -- Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm in Wellandport, Ontario. She grows heirloom vegetables and also sells the seeds online.
- http://www.cubitsorganics.com/ -- from Toronto Ontario she sells a large variety of seeds on Etsy (see: www.etsy.com/shop/cubits) I'll be making an order myself for my garden!
- http://www.soiledreputation.com/ -- The 'Manic Organic' farm and greenhouse; sells at Saturday outdoor market and at Fieldgate Organics at Covent Garden Market and Sundays at the Slow Food Market in Stratford.
Have you tried any new 'old' vegetables lately? What do you think?
Dec 5, 2010
- Kernal Peanuts located in Vittoria, Ontario (Norfolk Road 58 - (http://www.canadianpeanuts.com/)
- Picard's Peanuts located in Lasalette, Ontario and processed in Waterford, Ontario (http://www.picardspeanuts.ca/)
While I was there I also bought some peanuts to plant in the Spring. Only $0.95 for the pack I believe. It'll be fun to eat our own fresh peanuts next year!
So...I guess the point of my post is to tell you to bypass the department/grocery stores this Christmas and make a stop at Picards! They have locations in St. Jacob's, Talbotville, Windham, Fonthill, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Morriston, Waterdown and Woodstock.
Top things to buy there for the holidays:
- Ontario peanuts to snack on (many flavors available)
- Ontario peanut butter (to make yummy peanut butter balls)
- chipnuts for your family gatherings (jumbo cocktail peanut covered in a crispy shell--like a chip--available in 16 flavours)
- gift baskets and boxed gift sets for the hard-to-buy people on your list
Now...if only they'd open a store in London!! (wink, wink!) I'd be there all the time!
Dec 2, 2010
I think the trick to a great tasting quiche is in the crust. I really enjoy a savory crust for this. No more Tenderflake pre-made pie shells for me! I think I've finally mastered the pie crust/tart dough. Thank god for my food processor!
- 1/4 cup mixture of fresh herbs such as thyme, dill, basil, tarragon, etc.. (I used thyme and dill)
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 stick cold butter (1/2 cup)
- 2-3 tbsp ice water
Place the herbs in a food processor with the flour and salt. Pulse briefly to mince. Add the butter and then pulse until the mixture looks like a coarse meal. Then with the machine running add the water and process to combine. When the dough forms a ball turn it off. Turn the dough onto a piece of saran wrap and form it into a flat disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days (or frozen for 3 months).
Roll out the dough and place on a tart shell or pie plate.
The filling for my quiche today included 3 leeks (chopped), a cup of sliced mushrooms, and some baby spinach (spinach wasn't local - oops!). I usually cook my veggies and then let then cool before putting them in the crust. I also used some medium cheddar and 4 eggs whisked with milk.
Once the filling is ready bake at 375F for 50 minutes.
Another way to clean out the fridge or to get creative is finding ways to use up old fruit. For instance, I bought quite a few pears a while back and the last few really needed to get eaten. Normally when I have old fruit in the fridge I'll usually make a dessert crisp, a sauce for pancakes, or will make a flavoured applesauce. On Sunday I decided to poach my pears and infused them with vanilla bean seeds.
It's such a simple recipe - Peel and core 4-6 pears. They can either be left intact or cut into chunks. Cover the pears with water (4 cups or so) and add 1 1/2 cups sugar. Bring the water to a soft boil and then add the seeds of one vanilla bean. Leave the pears to soften and then remove them from the pot. The remaining juice can then be reduced into a syrup by bringing it to a boil and being patient. It'll eventually reduce to half. I used part of the 'syrup' on my pears and have the rest in my fridge.
I think I may make a small cake and drizzle the syrup on top. Yum!