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!


the food of love

6 03 2008

Last night I went to a cooking class at the Urban Element with some family members. UE holds a special spot in my heart because it’s where my beloved and I got married almost four months ago. It’s a cooking studio for both staged classes and private events. We discovered the place a year ago, when we were trying to decide whether to get married or not.

Whatshisname and I are both somewhat non-traditional when it comes to traditions. That’s not to say we don’t appreciate tradition, but we tend to analyze every aspect of them to the nth degree before deciding how we’ll proceed with our version. (I imagine we’re somewhat tiring to watch when we get in these discussions…) Anyways, when we were discussing whether to get married, we realized that a huge part of that decision revolved around what the ceremony would be like. In our minds, we already felt married in a sense. But the idea of celebrating that union with our families appealed to us.

So, we started talking about a ceremony. Food had to be central, and as local as possible. We heard about the Urban Element and liked what its website had to say:

“We at the Urban Element believe in supporting the farmers who grow our food, the artisans that produce our cheeses and other handmade foods and the small, local companies that bring these items to our door.”

And we wanted the night to be fun for everyone, with an air of mingling, laughter, and common ground with others. From our first visit to UE, we knew we’d found the right place. Carley and Oliver have created a business that celebrates food, eating and socializing. With their open kitchen, hands-on approach, and deliciously good food, you can’t help but feel at home as soon as you walk in.

Our wedding celebration was fantastic. And so was the class last night, and every other class I’ve attended there. If you’re in the Ottawa area, treat yourself to a class at the Urban Element. And if you’re not, schedule a night to celebrate food sometime soon, no matter how you want to do it. Food is so much more than fuel.

a few of my favourite things

15 01 2008

I haven’t yet posted a blogroll. I feel I owe my favourite blogs something more. It seems so trite to reduce them to a list in my sidebar. Under the High Chair is one of those blogs I visit regularly. It’s like a love letter to food and cooking. Aimée’s photos are beautiful, her recipes delicious, and her writing draws you in so that you feel like you’re sharing a coffee at her kitchen table. She posted a recipe for french onion soup, which I think I will curl up with tonight. French onion soup is comfort food on dark nights like these, and so easy to prepare using local ingredients. Thanks Aimée!

colourful nights

13 01 2008

I purchased this purple cabbage in early October, and was told I could expect it to last about a month if I put it in the fridge. Well, I put it in the back of the fridge and promptly forgot about it. It looked perfectly good when I pulled it out today.

Along with the cabbage, I realized I should use some sweet potatoes before they went bad. So I adapted this recipe from Simple Suppers by the Moosewood Restaurant. The colours brightened our dark January evening and the soup filled our bellies.

Indonesian Sweet Potato & Cabbage Soup

1 Tbsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion
2 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 1/2 cups chopped cabbage
4 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbsp tamari sauce
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce, or chopped tomatoes

Optional, any of the following:
mung bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, mint, basil, scallions

Using a pot, cook ginger, garlic and cayenne in butter for 1 minute. Add onions and cook 5 minutes. Stir in cabbage and sweet potatoes. Add broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add tamari sauce, peanut butter and tomato sauce, or tomatoes. Simmer 5 minutes. For some eye-catching colour, serve each bowl topped with something green – bean sprouts and fresh cilantro, scallions, mint, or basil.

to the beet

10 01 2008

As I’ve mentioned already, one of the challenges with receiving a local food box, is switching your frame of mind from cooking that is driven completely by whim, to cooking that considers the supplies you have. Sometimes when we get a food box order I think, “how the heck am I going to use up all these whatchamacallits?”

Last night, I discovered an excess of beets in supply at the house. Somehow they’d been shoved to the back of our storage area and now I have to use them up quickly or else they will go to waste. Maybe I’ll follow Stacey’s idea over at Just Braise, and make a chocolate beet cake.

winter blah blah blah

10 01 2008

I arrived home from work last night with a serious case of the winter blahs. At first, I didn’t know what had hit me (the winter blahs are good at sneaking up from behind), but I walked in the door and suddenly felt like doing nothing. I wasn’t tired, just empty – those are the winter blahs. My husband had made an early dinner and by 7:15, having eaten, the only thing that inspired me was the thought of going to bed. But I wasn’t really tired – or not physically tired, at least.

So, I decided I needed to do SOMETHING. I mentally pulled and prodded myself out of the blahs long enough to start a soup. I diced the onions, chopped up the turnips and parsnips, added some carrots, and let the stock simmer beside me as I did the dishes. The dishes done, I looked around the kitchen, searching for something else to keep me there… my cookbooks! I always enjoy rifling through them when I have extra time. By the time the stock was done, I’d felt inspired by several recipes and my head felt clearer. I felt connected again.