local food 411 please!

16 09 2009

Recently I’ve been trying to figure out where I can find local sumac. You’re probably asking, “Is she crazy?” Now I KNOW we’ve got sumac growing everywhere in the Ottawa area, but I’m not sure if it’s the type of sumac I’m looking for. I’m looking for sumac, the spice. I tried some with thyme on a toasted pita a little while ago and it was SCRUMPTIOUS. So I’ve been googling to see if this spice comes from the same trees that grow around here. So far I haven’t found anything conclusive. Anyone got any ideas???


them apples: take two

22 01 2009

So what to do with all those apples…? How about my favourite – the ever so easy apple crisp? Yes, in fact it’s SO easy, why am I even bothering to post a recipe for it? I mean, you could probably make apple crisp with your eyes CLOSED… right? Well that’s what I thought for years, having tossed away the recipe card for apple crisp sometime in my late teens. By then I was making it with one hand tied behind my back. And after that I graduated to TWO hands behind my back! I mean, come on, who REALLY needs an apple crisp recipe?!?

You do.

Yes. You need this recipe I am about to give you. You need it more than you know, because until you make it you will be missing out on the best darn apple crisp you have ever tasted.

Best Darn Apple Crisp (from one of my favourites The New Best Recipe)


  • 6 Tbsps all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg and salt
  • 5 Tbsps cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch squares
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts


  • 6 medium apples (The authors of TNBR recommend a mix of Granny Smith and McIntosh, but I’ve tried this dish with Ida Reds, Cortlands, McIntoshes… you name it)
  • 1.5 Tbsp of lemon juice (or for a little more LOCAL zing, substitute with apple cider vinegar – yowza!)
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Place the dry topping ingredients (not the nuts though) in a food processor and pulse briefly. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. Add the nuts and pulse briefly a few more times. Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Quarter and core the apples – some people like to peel them as well, but I prefer to leave the skins on. Toss the apples with the sugar and the lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Put the mixture into an 8×8 inch square pan or a 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle the topping evenly on top and place into the oven for 40 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

Enjoy with abandon because before you know it, it will all be gone. Thank goodness it’s so easy to make. You’ll be making it again and again and again!

them apples

14 01 2009

One of the challenges of eating locally, is having enough space to store food for the winter. Apples for example. Apples store quite well into the winter if you keep them in a cool place, like a refrigerator. But unless you have a fridge the size of a MONSTER TRUCK, it’s kinda hard to squeeze enough apples in there to last you through the winter. A cold storage room would be even better but not everyone is so lucky.

All this to say that my apple supply has been dwindling lately. So you can imagine how happy I was to hear about Hall’s Apple Market which takes orders online and will DELIVER their local apples to four different locations in and around Ottawa. I placed my first order last week!

Apple crisp, we’re back in business.

Mother Hubbard

5 01 2009

It’s January and I am in HIBERNATION mode. This happens to me every January but this year it has hit me times TEN. Apparently that is what housing another being inside yours does to a person. (That and an almost obsessive urge to organize, clean, organize, clean, etc. But I digress…)

Hibernating for me means comfort food. Warm, solid, substantial comfort food. Unfortunately, I’ve been feeling a little tired in the kitchen lately. But I’ve discovered that not all comfort foods are labourious – like this winter squash recipe which I plan to make again and again.

Mashed Winter Squash with Roasted Garlic

  • 1 Winter Squash – like the beautiful Golden Hubbard above
  • 1 Whole Garlic Bulb – with outer layers peeled but skins left intact
  • Butter
  • Cream or whole milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Slice the tip of the garlic bulb, so that each clove has a tiny opening at the top. Place the bulb and the winter squash on a pan. Bake at 375F until the squash can be pierced easily. Don’t worry about the garlic. By the time the squash is ready, it will be too. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and peel.

Mash or purée the squash pulp. Add a little bit of butter (1-2 Tbsp, depending on size of the squash), a dollop of cream or milk and then squeeze the roasted garlic paste into the pulp. Mix well, add salt and pepper to taste and voilà – a dish that makes hibernation feel easy and delicious!

holiday celebrations

10 12 2008

I’ve been walking around with a silly little grin on my face since Friday when I handed in my last paper of the semester. I feel so freeeeeeeeeee! Nights and weekends are mine once again. And just in time for all the wonderful holiday preparations… like baking!

My holiday baking plans include lots of cranberries, which always evoke a festive mood for me. And how lucky are we, in the Ottawa area, to have a cranberry grower right in our backyard?!? There are so many good cranberry recipes, but my favourite is this simple recipe from Nigella Lawson

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake taken from How to Be a Domestic Goddess (one of my favourites!)

  • 50g + 125g unsalted butter
  • 150g + 125g sugar
  • 175g cranberries
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • approx 1-2 Tbsp full-fat milk

Using a cast-iron frying pan or a tarte-tatin dish, melt 50g of butter over the stove-top. Add 150g of the sugar, stir, then empty the cranberries into the pan and coat them in the syrupy liquid. Turn the element off and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Put flour salt, cinnamon, 125 g of sugar, 125 g of butter and the eggs in a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are combined. Add enough milk, pulsing briefly until the batter is a soft, dropping consistency (if this sounds sketchy to you, don’t worry, it will likely work no matter how you interpret this). Pour the batter over the cranberry mixture and transfer the pan to the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and place a plate on top of the pan. CAREFULLY turn the pan and plate upside down and then lift the pan off. You’ll find a scrumptiously good dessert underneath.


local yokel

17 10 2008

All this local eating is not giving me enough time to post on HPD!!! Yes, for now I won’t blame the various assignments I’ve had due for school, or the long days at work – let’s just blame local eating! WHAT exactly was I thinking, signing up for the Eat Local Challenge this month? Usually when I get busy like this, I abandon the kitchen and count on either my beloved or the frozen food aisle at the grocery store to get us through. And since my beloved is in the middle of a fairly extensive renovation at our house this month… well, let’s just say, I didn’t exactly pick the best time to participate in the ELC.

But maybe, just maybe, I really picked a good month… because I still feel committed to the challenge, so I’ve actually been doing more cooking than I normally would if I were busy. Somehow I’m making the time. And if I can eat local this month, well then I should be able to eat local every month! Commitments be DAMNED – you won’t stop me from eating local!

So if I had more time to post, I’d probably tell you about the purple cauliflower soup we supped on, or the good-golly-miss-molly best apple crisp I have ever tasted, or the best autumn sandwich that I made after Aimee posted it on Under the High Chair. Maybe next time… for now I’m busy trying to eat local!

hunger pangs

2 10 2008

I felt so virtuous last night while preparing a potato and kale gratin. I had come home feeling SO tired, wanting nothing more than to prop my feet up in front of the oven as a frozen pizza baked inside. But I RESISTED. I had the last of the summertime CSA order in a bag on the counter and there was a voice inside my head saying, “For #@*& sake – it’s the first day of the challenge and you can’t even make it until DINNER?!?” So I found a yummy recipe and restored myself through a home-cooked meal instead.

This is something I’ve noticed about local eating. I often have to do battle with my whims. I can’t just open a bag of potato chips when I get hungry, or most other prepared foods for that matter. Food preparation takes awhile and, unless a carrot or apple will do, I often go hungry while I prepare something more substantial. It makes me realize what a culture of convenience I live in. The idea of having to wait more than 15 minutes for food is foreign to most of us.