Category : food

Yummy in my Tummy!

Gold Medal Jam

Today I took the rather reckless step of attempting to make jam while caring for a toddler and an infant. Naturally the crucial, timing-required steps occurred right around the start of that very tenuous event known as the baby’s nap time. Thankfully the hubster not only works 100 feet away, but is also a very good sport and quite understanding of my current difficulty in putting together a cohesive thought, let alone a good plan.

In truth, what with the pregnancy and ensuing baby I didn’t really contribute much to the making of this jam.

I selected and purchased the seeds for the Gold Medal tomatoes at our local Seedy Sunday this spring.
My mother sowed them and supplied me with the small plants.
I planted them in soil tilled by my step-father, and prepared by the hubby, who also did the majority of the weeding all summer, as well as the watering.
My mother picked the ripe tomatoes.
I did have the idea to make the jam, found a recipe and assembled all the required ingredients and supplies.
I cut up the tomatoes and plopped them in the pot over heat with the sugar and lemon juice, but after that the whole mess got turned over to the man, who finished cooking the jam, jarred and processed it.

But I’m still going to say I made it…

Isn’t it pretty?

Canning the Sun

Yesterday, I preserved myself a bit more summer.

Well, late summer. Harvest time, to be exact.

It was a busy morning, but it ended well, with five pints of applesauce (apples from my mom’s Lodi tree), five pints of pickled green beans (from my garden, improvised recipe, have no idea if they’ll taste any good), one pint of garlic dill pickle spears (garden cukes, unfortunately failed to seal so they’ll be early eaters from the fridge) and a half-pint of pickled jalapeños.

sun for winter
The pints of August

Whew. It was a bit of a learning experience, but I think I did pretty well for my first water-bath canning run. Now I have a bunch of jars of stewed and pickled sunshine, waiting for the shorter days when I can pull them out and think of how clever I was.

Also loving the rampant rudbeckia and zealous zinnias, seen in the corner.

It must be August

Because the beans, man, they are producing like it’s the end of days. And I, well I just don’t quite know how I’m going to keep up…

Just now, while the munchkin is napping, I thought “I should probably go pick a few beans” because I haven’t picked the bush beans since the day before yesterday, and at that time I started to notice a few wee ones on the Purple Rattlesnake pole beans. It took about five minutes to fill a 4L basket. I glanced at the lone broccoli plant and saw the green bunches leaning towards blooms so snipped off the little florets for tonight’s dinner. And of course a few Swiss Chard leaves from the thriving 8′ row for my lunch. The cukes I’ve been keeping up with and seem to be between blasts anyways, so I just got the one little mutant that was loitering on the bush, but I did spot 4 or 5 more that are at least double the size they were yesterday and will surely need to be culled tomorrow. The four golden cherry tomatoes didn’t make it back to the house for the photo op. Not sure why. I know I picked them, nestled them in my palm… oh yeah, because they are like CANDY. Mmmm, sweet sweet vegetable (I know, fruit, but it’s not as impressive sounding) candy.

Broccoli and Swiss Chard and Beans, Oh My!

Now the fun part comes; processing the beans. Fortunately freezing beans is pretty quick and easy, the most time-consuming part is trimming them. It’s just that between having to test a website migration, do laundry, research chicken-keeping and, oh yeah, care for a toddler, my free moments are few and fleeting.

But when I think of January, with snow feet deep all around and the days supposedly getting longer but it’s hard to tell, when I’ll be going bonkers because it takes 10 minutes to put on enough clothes to take out the compost, I know I’ll be so glad I scurried now so that I can open the freezer, dump a bag into a steamer and taste the sunshine of August again.

Mmmmm, Soup.

It starts with having the presence of mind to remove a container of chicken stock made back in February from the freezer. This can be done even while holding a baby.
Score one for mommy-brain.

After that it’s just a matter of chopping some celery and carrots, sautéing in some olive oil, then adding some cubed potatoes and the stock (all done while papa manages the baby), and letting it all simmer for about 15 minutes. That’s just about the right amount of time to soothe a fussy baby.
Score two for mommy-brain.

A few minutes before serving, toss in some chopped green beans, put some cheese on toast or a hearty cracker and call it dinner. This is best done with papa in charge of the baby again.
Score three for mommy-brain.

Now, here’s the good part.

More presence of mind moves a piece of pastured local ham from the freezer to the fridge the same night.
The next day for lunch, heat up the leftover soup with some cubed ham and a few broken up spears of asparagus. This can all be done while the baby has a lovely little lunch-hour nap.

Full victory for mommy-brain.

Successful Spontaneous Sunday Morning Muffins

This morning, being somewhat unwillingly awake and not desiring the usual breakfast fare, I decided to make muffins.

First I thought I wanted waffles (thinking of some lovely ones I made for the freezer last weekend), then I thought maybe pancakes, but since we’re out of maple syrup the muffins won out.

Now, a basic muffin recipe is something I don’t actually have in my recipe box, so each time I want to make them I find myself rifling through my cookbooks for a simple recipe to adapt to the ingredients currently residing in my cupboard/fridge, or asking the internet in the hopes of stumbling on a suitable one.

This morning I improvised. I thought to myself “banana bread is pretty much like muffins, and I have a banana bread recipe that I love, so I’ll use that.”

This is that recipe:
Banana Bread with Options

I made the following changes:
-substituted about 1 cup of applesauce for the bananas (delicious applesauce my mom made of apples from one of her trees)
-somewhat less sugar (I didn’t actually measure, but I think I used about 1/2 cup)
-added about 1/2 t of baking powder, just because it seemed like the right thing to do (applesauce can sometimes make baked goods a little heavy)
-tossed in about 1/3 or 1/2 cup of chopped dried cherries(leftover from Pie Day) instead of the other options because, well, wouldn’t you?
-reduced the flour (for which I use spelt) by about 1/4 cup and threw in about 1/2 cup of rolled oats, with the intent of keeping a nice grainy chewiness which I like in muffins and can sometimes be reduced by things like applesauce
-at the last minute stuck a banana slice in the top of each one, just because there was half a banana sitting on the counter and I couldn’t resist (it would have been for the irony, but I’m just not that hip)
-baked for 20 minutes as muffins instead of 1 hour as a loaf

And the results?
Muffin Solo
The texture, sweetness and flavours all just came together in that lucky way that sometimes happens when you really need a good moment to perk up an otherwise lackluster day. The cherries contributed perfect little nuggets of sweet & sour, and the sugars in the applesauce gave an ever-so-slight glaze to the outside, just right for enjoying with a cup of coffee (or in my case a bitter brown roasted barley beverage that is reminiscent of but in no way equal to coffee).
Muffins with Coffee

They were so good I had to blog about them. Yup, made my day.

Still alive… and baking!

The last month has been, well, busy I suppose. At least in relation to my energy levels.

But now it’s time to move on, and that means pies!

Yes, for Christmas dinner at J&D’s it was requested that I bring my “fabulous pie”. That’s a quote. A-hem. Yup.

So in an attempt to out-do the pumpkin pies from Thanksgiving last year (which seem to have earned their “fabulous” description by the simple virtue of having not been bought at the grocery store), I have executed not one, not two, but THREE complete pies.

All in one morning. (Well, they overflowed a little into the afternoon, but could have been done in a morning if I’d had all the ingredients present and gotten up just a smidge earlier.)

Each recipe at least slightly divergent from the original, ranging to a combining of three different recipes into one.
It seems that I am, after all, pretty much incapable of just going ahead and doing something in a tried and proven way, but must instead somehow modify things to make them mine. Mine I say, all mine!

But I digress.

To start with, there’s the sweet potato pie, which gained a gingersnap cookie crumb crust and a wicked spice mix, and appears thusly:
Mmm, sweeeet potato
I know, it looks as much like a mid-brown splodge as anything, but I think that the flavours will just be that much more impressive for the bland appearance. Oh, and of course I’ll blob some whipped cream around the edges, and as we all know, everything looks better with whipped cream.

Then there’s this lovely maple date pecan:
She bubbled a little frighteningly during baking (I think mostly as a result of my having left rather large blobs of butter in the crust) and left quite the smoke-inducing mess on the bottom of the oven (again, my fault, this time for not putting a baking sheet underneath) but isn’t she gorgeous? Hopefully the gustatory experience will not disappoint.

And finally, ye olde standbye… apple:
Apple, with zing!
Of course, I couldn’t leave it normal and had to add some dried cherries, and then cook it up in the ol’ spring-form pan to make it nice and deep, but really it’s a pretty straightforward apple pie. And it’s got holly leaves and berries on top, so that makes it special, right?

Of course I won’t actually know if any of them are any good for about another 27 hours or so, but by that point everyone will be so full of turkey and stuffing and J’s awesome mashed potatoes that I’ll be lucky if they can cram in the pie at all.

Now I’m off to make the Christmas Eve Tourtière. I’m thinking to make one proper pie (though it’ll have to reside in the foil pie plate as the real ones are all occupied) and a bunch of little ones in ramekins. I did that once before and there is just nothing like grabbing a little personal tourtière out of the freezer for lunch a week or two after the effort of making them.

Mmm, tourtière. Thank you, Québec.

It should be sinful

pl1PLUSpl2PLUScubesPLUSmmmmm, cheesePLUSyeasty goodness
Potato Leek Soup Delight!

Yup, good ole potato leek soup. Easy, fast, cheap and oh-so-tasty. Not quite steamed broccoli and broiled chicken breast in the nutrition department, but not bad. Add some chunks of white fish near the end for more protein and you’ve got a chowder! And hey, you could probably even add some broccoli without ruining it, if you’re going to be that way…

Go Tomatoes, Rah Rah Rah!

I’m totally stoked. Nay, thrilled, even.

Just look at this:
Tomatoes Ripening
See that blush? See the embarrassed glow on that one hiding in the corner? That, my dears, is a Black Krim tomato very close to being ripe.

It’s just beginning to have that luscious, plump & juicy feeling when squeezed so even though it’s still clinging to its stem like Pyewhackett to a kitty treat, it’s getting there. I’m guessing maybe tomorrow if we’re lucky enough to get some sun, but likely the day after if the forecast is correct. But after that I think they’ll come along in quick succession with the warm sunny weather we’re supposed to have for the rest of the week.
They’ve had some good water now, as evidenced by some cracking which just showed up today, so they should be happy for a few days of sunshine.

I’m so pleased I could giggle, and indeed probably will make some sort of funny noise when I finally get to take the first bite. Soon!!!

Worthy of report

It’s been a while since I’ve been really inspired to write on here… I guess life is just sort of moving along and not feeling too worthy of note.

Or maybe I’ve just been a little tired. Could have been pms too…

But contrary to appearances there have been events.

Had a lovely visit with some in-laws last week, with pictures to prove it:
What a cutie… No, we didn’t keep him behind bars (at least not entirely…) that was at the playground.
OK, just the one picture really, but that’s mostly laziness on my part.

That and I’m so stoked because I just found out about this movie, coming out in June:

I swear, there are times when I’m so disgusted at the way food is produced and marketed that I can barely buy the stuff if it’s not straight from the farmer’s market (and yet somehow I’ve rarely got it together enough to go to the local farmer’s market, which also disgusts me), and it appalls me that so many people care only about how much they spend on it. I’m not rich; I struggle to pay my rent most months, and am no stranger to phone calls from creditors wondering where their cheque is. But I have accepted that good food from a healthy, sustainable, ethical source is important enough to spend a high portion of my income on it.

So it pleases me to see that slowly (oh so very slowly it sometimes seems) certain segments of our society at least are becoming more aware of how horrifying much of modern food production is, and that media like Michael Pollan‘s books and now this movie might just be evidence of a bigger movement to swing our priorities back into line.

One can hope…


to me!

Yesterday, it was, and there was cake:
Mmmm - cake

Here, let’s just see that yummy Dufflet’s Carrot Cake (with, oh yes, SO MUCH cream cheese icing…) once again:
Mmmm - cake again

We also went to the Design Exchange to see Carrot City, an exhibit of lots of ideas and executions of urban agriculture projects. There were some things that were definitely a little on the fanciful side, though also certainly innovative and creative (hello, vertical pig farms? I mean, if you must have pork, why not have all the piggies in their own high-rise?), but on the whole, very inspiring for my Year of the Garden.

For lo, thus it shall be. This year I will not be foiled by debilitatingly stressful projects, nor dearth nor excess of precipitation, nor even the vicissitudes of a family of wash-bears (Maggie knows who I mean, look up the Dutch if you’re confused). This year, I am going to have lush, fruitful tomatoes and peppers and flowers (OK, maybe not fruitful flowers, but lush) in my deck containers. And if I (please please please) get a plot in the new Christie Pits Community Garden (OMG YAY!), I will have green beans and carrots and sunflowers and dirt and leaves and roots and flowers and my oh my to get my hands in the soil… it just sucks out all the stresses. Focusing on pulling every little weed, or spreading some ripe compost or gently watering in new seedlings just pulls me out of the day and lets me be just me with the green things for a little while.


Yes, I do go a little loopy at this time of year, why do you ask?

And I think there are people who know me, because I even got some seeds for my birthday from my sister, along with some other lovely things from her and others: