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.

escape artists

15 09 2008

You KNOW it’s time to harvest your beets when they start pushing themselves out of your garden bed. This weekend I found several beets trying to make a break for it, but I’m pretty sure I corralled them all. And I’m so glad I did! I had meant to use a recipe for beet soup from Canadian Living magazine (they have awesome recipes on that site!). But when I got myself all set up in the kitchen , I realized that I was missing half the ingredients. And so I got creative. The result, I’m proud to say, was FANTASTIC. If you have any escape artists in your bed, I recommend you give this a try:

Gillian’s Beet Soup

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 medium-sized onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4-5 large beets with ends removed
  • 1 potato
  • 5 cups of water – maybe slightly more
  • ½ Tbsp ground coriander
  • 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • sour cream

Heat the butter – yes, I cook with butter! – to medium in a large saucepan. Chop the onions finely and fry them in the butter until softened. Mince the garlic and add to onions. Add coriander. Chop the beets and potato into smallish pieces. Add beets, potato and water. Cook until beets and potato are soft… probably about 15 minutes. Take half of the soup and blend it – if you’re not using a handheld blender, be very careful!! Hot soups can blow the lid off a blender if you try to blend too much at once. Don’t learn this lesson the way I did!!! Return the puree to the saucepan. Stir in vinegar and chopped parsley. Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream in each bowl.


picking favourites

12 09 2008

When I was living in my first adult apartment (you know… out of school, paying bills, trying to figure the world out) I got the idea that I should decorate my place. I already had a beautiful antique candleholder with swirls of gold, yellow and orange covering it – trust me, it was beautiful – and I thought it would be nice to get a throw cushion with similar colours. The cushion would brighten up the blah beige sheet that covered my 80’s inspired sofa.

So I took the candleholder to a nearby store and asked the owner to show me cushions with similar colours. She pulled out covers, one by one, with each one appearing more gorgeous than the last. But when I looked at them all together – 14 of them in total – I found that I couldn’t pick a favourite. So I didn’t. I bought them ALL.

These days I’m a whole lot less likely to buy 14 new cushion covers (unless they’ve been recycled!) but my inability to pick favourites has stayed with me. Two nights ago, my beloved and I had a tomato-tasting session and we were amazed at the range of textures and flavours. One tasted earthy, almost like mushrooms. Another had a classic tomato taste but it was more delicate somehow. Yet another tasted smoky and looked like a bell pepper. And once again, I couldn’t pick a favourite. Each one was fantastic in its own right.

The tomato season continues, so be sure to go out and savour some. I defy you to pick a favourite.

summer bounty

6 08 2008

At this time of year, the freshness of local food practically JUMPS off your plate and smacks you across the face. You feel RICH with summer bounty that seems never-ending. But, my friends… it will end. If you’re a 100-mile dieter, six months from now you will crave things like fresh pesto, spinach and bell peppers. You will long for the taste of raspberries and blueberries. You’ll wish green beans and swiss chard were on your plate once again.

So here’s the reminder: stock up NOW. Don’t just savour the flavours of summer today – save them for tomorrow!! Freeze them, can them, dry them, store them SOMEHOW. There are so many easy ways to do so. It’s just a matter of doing so.

wild abandon

1 06 2008

Sometimes we forget some of the bounty the Earth gives us. Instead we do our darnedest to control the plant life around us. We coax seedlings along – stressing about water and light levels – we build garden beds, we carefully measure the space between each plant before it goes in, and then we mulch, weed, water, and pray that the weather will work in our favour. But regardless of what we do, plants will always grow. And sometimes we need to appreciate them and their wildness.

This past Thursday, I had the pleasure of indulging in a foraged dinner, produced and prepared by Matthew and Jen at Castlegarth Restaurant. I’ve mentioned Castlegarth before. As far as I’m concerned, Matthew and Jen were doing local food before the phrase existed. And that’s exactly why it’s so fantastic. For me, Castlegarth is a relationship and an experience – not just a trendy meal. Matthew and Jen are masters at bringing me closer to my food, and they do that through carefully-produced, prepared and divinely good dishes.

When I asked Matthew and Jen if they would be willing to do a vegetarian version for their foraging dinner, they happily obliged. And not just happily – from the moment I arrived I didn’t feel like an outsider, as I so often do, for not having partaken in the meat-eating version. The service and my dinner was seamless, complete and scrumptious. Have a look at my menu – but be forewarned, you WILL drool:

So, as much as I love my garden, I realize it is just one source of food. And that the Earth is very generous in providing us food without all our gardening attempts.

busy bee

26 05 2008

This weekend, my better half organized a working bee to put a new roof on our old shed. This is the type of thing he does to prove he’s the better half of this equation. I didn’t help with the roof at all. Yes, you sense some guilt in there, but I am just a WEE bit terrified of heights. I decided the least I could do was to make some awesome lunches for all the lovely boys helping my boy with the roof. First thing Saturday morning, I headed out to the Carp Farmer’s Market to load up on lunch treats.

To start, I picked up some divine sourdough bread from the Art-is-an Bakery booth. I’ve heard their bread described more than once as Crack Bread and I have to agree. It was their first week at the Carp Market, and I’m SO happy to see them there! My weekly trip to the market just got a whole lot yummier.

Right beside was the ever-so-lovely Jim from Back Forty Cheeses. Jim makes ewe milk cheeses by hand and they are WORTH their weight in gold. He’s very generous with his samples and, once you’ve tried them, you’ll want to take each one home with you – and probably Jim too!

So, add the bread and the cheese to some tasty local lettuce and a few more nibblies thrown in… by lunchtime, I had those worker bees eating out of my hand!

Update: This past Saturday was a sad one. I learned that Art-is-an will not be returning to the Carp Farmers’ Market. I heard whisperings about the politics behind the scenes being a little too much for them. I hate to think this is true. All I know is that I now have to make my way into the city to find their crack bread. But I will… I’m an addict.