well I never!

25 05 2008

In addition to all the vegetables growing in the garden, we planted a crabapple tree this spring. Not only are the blooms beautiful at this time of year, but crabapple juice has a delicate zing that is lovely in the fall.

Since this is the first summer with the tree, I’m not sure how many crabapples we will get. So after reading this post over at My Tiny Plot, I thought maybe I should give the pollinators a helping hand. It was all a little bit naughty if you ask me, but I’ll do almost anything in the name of local food!


my subconscious is working against me

9 04 2008

I ♥ coffee. And I know I’m not the only one, but SO MUCH do I love a good cup of coffee that I try to drink only the awesome good stuff, like this brew. And this ardent love also means that I don’t have coffee every day (gasp, I know!) because it really is such a treat. Or at least it used to be.

Usually, I do my bringing-home-the-bacon from an office located on the outskirts of the city. This was the shortest commute for which I was qualified. (Qualified for what, you ask? Well, I am still figuring that out.) But for the past few weeks, my boss has got me working deep in the downtown jungle, in a client’s office. The commute is not as hellacious as some, but there are still days where I feel a bit sorry for myself – until I start wondering if my boss is trying to re-locate me into unemployment. But let’s not go there.

So what do I find deep in the downtown jungle – to the left, to the right, and across the street? Coffee shops! Good ones! Fair-trade-I-can-still-pretend-I’m-virtuous ones! I was walking back from one of them just a short while ago, when I remembered myself and my new treat mentality.

I can be so easily influenced. But, now that I’m finished this latest cup, back in the saddle I go. No coffee until I sort things out with my subconscious!

cranberry vodka on ice

27 03 2008

A few years ago, I made a huge batch of cranberry vodka and this is the last of it. I had given away all but one bottle and I finally decided to open it a few days ago. And it was worth the wait!! It is still just as sweetly tart as I had remembered it.

Cranberry Vodka

1.75L vodka
1/2 kg cranberries – fresh or frozen
1 1/2 cup of sugar – adjust according to your sweet tooth

Sterilize a large jar. Pulse cranberries in a blender briefly. Put cranberries and sugar in the jar and add vodka. Cap tightly and store in a dark place for at least six weeks. Try to remember to shake the jar every couple of days or so.

You can also add some spice to it if you like. I added a small cinnamon stick to this batch. Next time I think I might try a little bit of nutmeg or allspice.

Serve it alongside a sticky sweet dessert and I guarantee you’ll be in heaven!

local connection… coffee

11 03 2008

alright… I know coffee is NOT grown locally. I have several metres of snow in my backyard, so this should come as no surprise. But with my new treat mentality, rather than avoid the issue, I sip on coffee when I make a conscious decision to do so.

When I do indulge, I purchase coffee that has been roasted locally. Equator Coffee roasts in Almonte, Ontario – which is definitely within my 100 miles (in fact I think it’s within 1000 metres of my morning putter, but who’s counting :P).

I know that not everyone has the luxury of a local roaster, but even fewer of us have the luxury of coffee grown locally. And those of us who do have it grown locally, it can still pose a challenge finding it. When I lived in Ecuador, I was within a hop skip and a jump of coffee beans on the bush, but all I could find in the grocery store was Nescafe.

By choosing a local roaster, I reduce my cup’s food miles much more than if I were to purchase it at the busy coffee chain just next to my office. And by choosing to see coffee as a treat, I reduce my lifestyle’s imprint.

Oh and one more thing – if you can stand to listen to me for just a little bit longer on my soapbox – that paper or UGH styrofoam cup that holds the coffee… well, it’s just NOT necessary. Bring a mug with you – wherever you go – or resist the treat.

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.

rhubarb, how do i love thee?

26 01 2008
Let me count the ways, starting with this recipe for rhubarb vodka, adapted from one by Nigella Lawson. This drink reminds me of June, the month when all I want is more, and more, and more fresh rhubarb. In the winter months, I pour it into a glass and watch the light play tricks with it. And the taste? Oh, the taste sends me over the moon!

Rhubarb Vodka

1.5 lbs chopped rhubarb
1.14L vodka
1 1/4 cups of sugar

Divide the rhubarb, sugar and vodka into some sterilized jars and cap tightly. Shake them all up and store in a dark place. (I leave mine in the fridge.) Shake the jars regularly over the next few weeks. Serve chilled, and share only with your most cherished friends.

sweet strawberries

16 01 2008

These frozen strawberries satisfied my sweet tooth last night, and helped me to avoid an emergency candy bar mission to the corner store. I also realized how many pounds of frozen strawberries I have stored in my freezers – lots. They’d be perfect for strawberry margaritas. Hmmm, I wonder if there’s anybody making local tequila…