Friday, November 4, 2011


I was very pleased to receive in our Taproot box this week… a daikon radish, and a beautiful head of Napa cabbage. When certain events converge in the universe it can only be time for… Kimchi!

Kimchi is the pickled cabbage-and-vegetable side dish that you will always be served as a side dish at any Korean restaurant that you visit. The recipes vary widely, and I have tried several recipes, but this one is what I find most closely resembles in looks and taste the Kimchi that Halifax Koreans make.

Before I get to the recipe I will note that you can be rather free with the recipe, depending on your taste. This may be part of the reason for the variety. I like the idea that the pickle can vary so much, but Kimchi purists may disagree. Western kitchens may not have all of the ingredients and in the past I have made substitutions that have yielded reasonable results (ie. Spanish paprika, instead of Korean chilis; a flour roux and/or babies' rice cereal, instead of sweet rice flour; I have skipped the fish sauce altogether). It will benefit you, however, to make the recipe at least once with the real ingredients. If you live in or near Halifax, then I recommend that you stop by the Heiwa Korean and Japanese Grocery on Chebucto Road at the corner of Philip Street (by the old West End Mall). These folks are so personable, and love to spread their own love of Korean (and Japanese) cooking and culture. They're full of hints and recommendations and will even provide an impromptu cooking lesson, if parties agree that it may be required. Another good place is Tien Phat at Bedford Highway and Flamingo Drive.

Okay. There are five main parts:
- the cabbage
- the other veggies
- the chili paste
- the final assembly
- fermentation

Step one: Salt the cabbage.
1 Large Napa Cabbage
10 Cups Water
½ Cup Coarse Sea Salt (For Salt Water)
⅔ Cup Coarse Sea Salt (For Sprinkling)

Stir ½ Cup Coarse Sea Salt into 10 cups of water until dissolved.
With a kitchen knife divide the napa cabbage length-wise, into 4 equal quarters. Remove the hard pith at the bottom of the cabbage and compost this. Then slice the cabbage quarters width-wise in one-to-two-inch pieces. Rinse these very well and spin/dry them. Then submerge them in the salt water in layers, sprinkling the remaining Sea Salt between the layers. (This part is a bit like making sauerkraut, if you have done that before.) You will notice the cabbage will start to "wilt" and begin to lightly leech its own fluids within a few minutes.

Set this aside at room-temperature for two to five hours. Then drain the salt water off, and rinse all of the cabbage completely. Rinse it twice, to ensure all of the salt is gone.

Step two: prepare the chilli sauce.
3 Tbsp Water
3 Tbsp Sweet Rice Flour
2 more Cups Water
1¼ Cup crushed Korean chillis

Whisk together the 3 Tbsp Water with the 3 Tbsp Sweet Rice Flour. After this is completely blended, whisk the roux into the 2 cups of water. Put this on the range top on medium heat and stirring frequently (it likes to stick to the bottom) heat it until the top is almost covered in bubbles. Boiling is not necessary. Remove this from the heat, pour it into a very large mixing bowl and this whisk in all of the chillis. Set aside.

Step three: prepare the veggies:
2 Cups Daikon Radish
5 Green Onions
½ Onion (save the other half for below)
Some Hot Peppers
4 to 5 Tbsp Minced Garlic
½ to 1 Tbsp Minced Ginger

There is the most room for variety here. In the past I have also included or substituted: yams, leeks, and other veggies.

Most of the veggies are essentially julienned. This includes the green onion. Slice the onion to julienne-size to (half or quarter rings). Add the hot peppers according to your taste preference. There are no extra points for displays of testosterone.

Step four: put it all together:
More ingredients:
¼ to ½ Sweet Apple (roughly match the onion size, below)
½ Onion
1 Tbsp Sugar
⅓ Cup Fish Sauce
½ Tbsp coarse sea Salt
2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds (optional)

Chop the apple and the onion and then use a blender to purée both together. Add this purée and the sugar, fish sauce, salt, and sesame seeds to the chilli sauce in your mixing bowl. Stir well.

Next, add the julienned veggies and the minced garlic and ginger. Stir well again.

Finally, squeeze any remaining water from the napa cabbage and then stir it into the chilli sauce in batches. Using a large spoon or a wood spoon, make sure the cabbage and sauce is well blended, and the napa cabbage is as covered as possible. It should be easy to have all of the cabbage touching the sauce with only a few turns.

Step five: fermentation.
Technically, you could eat your cabbage mixture at this point, but then again it really wouldn't be kimchi! Kimchi should ferment, the same as a sauerkraut in order to give you the true kimchi experience.

Start by loosely covering your mixture or just putting a plate or saran wrap over top of it. Leave it on the counter-top for 24 hours. Stir it a few times over this time. You will note an increase in the liquid as the kimchi begins to ferment.

Then, spoon the kimchi into clean bottles or Mason jars (this recipe makes about 4 litres of kimchi), and move into the refridgerator. Leave it in the fridge to ferment for a bout a week. It will last this way forever. Literally forever. Not kidding.

And it is so delicious. And good for you, so I am told.

Bon appetit!


PS: You may have noticed a downward trend in our posting frequency. Kathy is entering the last month of her pregnancy, and sleep and repose are beginning to be increasingly important. I hope that you will forgive us; and accept a large onslaught of posting in January when parental leaves give us some leisure. (Ha ha.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

pesto and pickled plums

Another preserving night - this time canning the spiced plums which I made up a few days ago ( plus finally dealing with the basil in the garden (and from Taproot last week). The plums look great, but only made two jars, and there was yet more syrup - so we took a risk and canned two jars of apple chunks too. (I figured if crabapples tasted good, then regular apples should work as well.) The apples came out of the hot water canner looking a little mushy, so it might be a spiced apple syrup or sauce we got - but they also look very pretty, since the plums had coloured the syrup a beautiful glowing red.

I've been meaning to make pesto for a while, since the basil in our garden looked to be nearing its best-before date, so this evening Ria and I picked most of the basil. Pesto is a very simple recipe, and is definitely a money-saver if you make your own in season, rather than buying jars. We make a batch then freeze it in ice-cube trays (try to remember to spray the tray with olive oil first; the pesto comes out more easily) and eat it all winter long.

The recipe I use is a combination of a few, with the aim of lots of basil and less oil or expensive pine nuts:
1 c very packed basil leaves
1-3 cloves garlic (depending on their size and your taste)
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 T pine nuts
2 T -ish of olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1/4-1/2 tsp of salt (depending on your taste)

Toss everything in a blender and puree. You may need to use a little more olive oil to get the blender blending - you will also have to push the basil down occasionally with a wooden spoon to make sure the blender keeps chopping. (Don't do this while the blender is running, or you will have woody pesto ... yes that's the voice of experience speaking.) Taste and add whatever is missing, then freeze in small quantities.

You can substitute walnuts or other nuts for the pine nuts, and you can also combine other herbs with the basil.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fennel Pasta with Caesar Salad side

Fennel is sort of my newer love, and some of its uses remain a mystery to me. When Taproot delivered several full bulbs in as many weeks I went looking for new uses and adventures.

Where it asks you to "slice thin" the fennel bulb, I chopped it, but I'm not sure that it makes too much difference. I'll slice it next time, and let you know. I also used penne, for want of spaghetti.

This would make a great meal by itself, but I added caesar salad and pickled olives for some variety on the plate. The pasta then made a pasta salad good for lunches for the week.

Olives aside, I am a bit of a stickler for preservatives in food, so I NEVER use that poison (he said, zealously) that they sell as "salad dressing" at the grocer's. So I make my own caesar salad dressing. Here is a recipe for enough dressing to make two big batches of caesar salad. This is sort of the minimum amount, as the lower limit is set by the single egg.

Caesar salad:
Clean and dry romaine leaves or similar lettuce (we used Taproot's bib lettuce this time around). Set aside.

Bring water to a boil and toss in one egg. Boil for exactly one minute, then remove and immediately put it in a bowl of ice water until ready to use.

Toss into your blender and purée:
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/2 rib of celery, chopped
1/4 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. anchovy paste
1/2 tsp. gound pepper
1/2 tsp. powdered mustard seed
a pinch of sugar

After this is puréed, add this and re-purée:
the egg (spoon both cooked and raw bits into the blender)

After this is puréed, add this and re-purée:
2/3 c. oil (You are supposed to use pure olive oil, but I cheat and go 1/3 c. olive oil, and 1/3 c. sunflower or safflower oil.)

Toss about half of this dressing with the lettuce and some croutons. If you like a more "dynamic flavour" (as I do) you can add – to taste – a clove or two of raw minced garlic and some more lemon. Raw grated lemon is best.

Store-bought croutons are a crap shoot (read this as you will), but you can make your own croutons easily enough by chopping and frying up some dried-out bread with butter and minced herbs – and maybe some garlic. If your bread is not dried, then chop and put it in the oven at a really low heat as you prep the rest of the meal. Be careful not to toast it much in the oven, as the frying pan will do this already.

Bon appetit!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

balsamic salmon & zucchini

Quick and easy dinner tonight: rice, salmon brushed with dijon and balsamic vinegar, grilled in a grill pan (these are great for when it's raining and you can't bbq) alongside yellow and green zucchini slices tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar; sliced fresh tomato on the side.

And the salsa is canned! The recipe I posted yesterday makes exactly 6 250-ml jars.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A canning night

A productive evening - tonight we finally got to the canning we've been meaning to do for a while. We aren't quite as overrun as we were last year - I think we're getting fewer tomatoes from the garden, for whatever reason, and Ria is making a significant dent in the abundance of fruit - but there were still a few things that had to be dealt with.

#1 crabapples
I'm not crazy about jams and jellies, and we have lots downstairs, so I decided to make last week's crab apples into something else. A friend told me about her grandmother's pickled crab apples, which sounded good, so this is the recipe I tried: (I halved the syrup recipe.) We got two 500 ml jars out of it - and they look so pretty!

#2 plums
I had lots of syrup left over from the crabapples. Last year we made spiced plums that were fantastic, and the syrup for the crabapples was close enough that I decided to use the rest of it on the quart of plums from the fruit share. But this is the real recipe, if you want to try your hand at them. (They're pretty strong on their own, but they're really tasty with ice cream.) As you can tell, it was a British recipe I inherited/found (I have no idea of the source now) - someday I'll translate into cups. The pits are a bit annoying but not as annoying as trying to take them all out.

Spiced plums
4 quarts plums
3 lbs sugar
1 pint vinegar
1 T cinnamon
1 T cloves
1 T allspice
Make a syrup from the vinegar, sugar and spices. Boil 5 minutes. Prick each plum with a fork and pour syrup over fruit. Cover and allow to stand three days. Skim out plums; boil syrup 5 minutes. Add plums and heat to boiling; ladle into hot sterilized jars; can 20 minutes.

#3 salsa
Tomatoes were starting to take over the counters and fridge, as always seems to happen, so Kenneth and I also made salsa tonight. We'll simmer it all day tomorrow and then can it tomorrow night. The recipe is Kenneth's mother's recipe, slightly modified to our own tastes.

10 cups chopped tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
1 small can of mild green chillies
3-6 jalapeno peppers, finely diced (suit heat to your own taste)
1 large tin (370 ml) of tomato paste
3/4 cup vinegar
1/4 c brown sugar
1 T coarse salt (pickling or kosher)
2 t paprika
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch cilantro/coriander

Mix everything together except a couple of the jalapenos; bring to a boil uncovered; simmer at least 1 1/2 hours (longer is better). Taste and add jalapenos to taste. Can 20 minutes.

The salsa sounds like a lot of chopping, but we have a hand-turned food processor/chopper, so it goes pretty quickly. I'm sure it would be even faster with an electric food processor.

I'd love to hear your canning recipes!


pork spring rolls

Last night I used up the rest of the leftover pork shoulder steak and a lot of the new and old vegetables from the box. It was a pretty simple meal, actually, though a little messy to eat!

I sliced the pork, julienned pea pods, cucumber, and carrots, and chopped cilantro; everything went on the table in small bowls. I also made a bowl of vermicelli noodles, and added plum sauce (from Taproot), soy sauce, and Thai sweet and sour spring roll sauce to the assortment on the table. Then we had a pan of warm water, dipped rice paper wraps in right at the table, and assembled our own spring rolls. It makes dinner fun - and everyone can have the ingredients they want! Ria loved them - ate mostly vermicelli with plum sauce, had a couple of little rolls, and then when we were all done she ate her way through the rest of the pork. So much for the leftovers for lunches I had planned!


Sunday, September 18, 2011

potato day

Today seemed to be use-up-potatoes day - they've been accumulating in the bottom drawer of our fridge. I was going to make muffins for breakfast, but using up the potatoes seemed smarter. We still have loads left, but today made a bit of a dent.

So for breakfast I made potato pancakes. Every country/cuisine has a different recipe for these, but my mother never made them, and I happened to learn mine in Hungary. I think in Ireland and America they tend to make them with mashed potatoes, but this version is easier because it doesn't require pre-boiling or mashing. You just grate a few potatoes on a cheese grater (usually 3-4 does us - it makes more than you think), and mix in enough flour to stick them together (I usually use whole wheat). If they're for dinner, you can add garlic or other spices/flavours; for breakfast I keep it simple. Heat about 1/2 cm of oil in a pan until a piece of grated potato sizzles; shape the flour and potato into pancakes and fry until browned and crispy. Serve with yoghurt or sour cream if you're being authentically Hungarian; ketchup if you're having an American day.

With the potato pancakes we had meat-share sausage, eggs, and cooked half-tomatoes, all cooked in the same antique cast-iron frying pan. Not the healthiest breakfast ever, but it sure holds you longer than muffins do!

For dinner we ate the leftovers of Kenneth's meatloaf casserole, but that didn't seem quite enough, so I mashed up a few potatoes. I don't like most people's mashed potatoes - not sure why - but this is my way: chop potatoes into chunks (unpeeled), boil until a fork inserts easily, drain. Return to pot; add a hunk of butter, a minced clove of garlic, a couple of chopped green onions, and cream cheese if you have it (milk or cream if you don't, but not too much). Mash, taste, add salt and pepper, cook a little longer, and add more salt/butter/cheese/pepper if needed.

I was going to make spiced pickled crabapples tonight but might just pack it in.


pork steaks and corn on the cob

Yesterday Kenneth's sister was kind enough to come over to help paint the garage, so the least we could do was feed her. We still had corn from the box, but not quite enough to make a meal in itself. So we thawed two pork shoulder steaks from the meatshare, and made a caprese salad to go alongside. All local - all tasty.

For the pork, I looked up a couple of recipes online and the rule of thumb seemed to be keep it simple. So I brushed each steak with dijon mustard, then coated it with a rub Kenneth had made up a while ago - a Caribbean spice mix, which probably had paprika, chili powder, salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin, and who knows what else. Threw them on a fairly hot BBQ and made sure not to overcook. The steaks were huge - the three of us ended up splitting one, and the other we'll have for leftovers this week.

The corn I kept simple as always, and then made an easy-but-fancy-looking salad: alternated slices of red and yellow tomatoes (mostly from our garden, but possibly some from Taproot) in a circle on a plate, topped with slices of boccocini (mozzarella would also work) and lots of shredded fresh basil, then salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. A bit of fresh bread, and we called it dinner.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Tasty German Meatloaf with cauliflower

This is a tasty dish that I started making back in college. Tonight I found out that it can feed a young family too – at least a young family with a cauliflower to use up.

I know that I originally found this recipe from some cookbook or the other, but I can not remember the source. For some reason, I thought maybe Jane Brody, but that seems a bit unlikely. I researched it and found the same recipe online; however, this site seems to have not cited their source, leaving me even more curious.

It's a very simple recipe, and here it is.

For the step that mixes the cheese and milk, they mean the condensed milk.
I also modified the recipe by adding about seven to ten short sprigs of fresh thyme – de-stemmed – from the herb garden. (It does say "German" meatloaf, after all. Ja!)

I served this with yellow and green English cucumber from Taproot and the garden, respectively. Also, Taproot's famous carrots, lightly steamed, then stirred with a spoonful of Cosman and Whidden's honey and a small handful of chopped Italian parsley from the herb garden. On the side a small amount of brown bread, and some Chamomile Pear jelly* that I made the other night.

And a beer. (It does say "German" meatloaf, after all. Ja!)

Bon appetit!


* Chamomile Pear jelly, plus the pear nectar recipe demanded in this recipe. I often pick a mass of chamomile flowers from the Annapolis Valley on our annual strawberry-picking pilgrimage. The best chamomile often grows in the same place/conditions as strawberries. The dried flowers will make a tea that can knock out the most hopeless insomniac.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

aubergine/eggplant pasta

I've been saving the aubergine/eggplant we got in the box last week - when I dated a vegetarian, I learned all sorts of really good aubergine recipes, and I was looking forward to using one. I'm delighted Taproot has managed to produce good-sized aubergines! I didn't even know you could do that in this climate.

Anyways, tonight's dinner was taken from the Paradiso Seasons cookbook - one of the best vegetarian cookbooks ever, and a lovely restaurant too (if you're ever in Cork, Ireland, make sure you go). Usually I mess with recipes a little, but tonight the only change I made was from 4 whole dried bird's-eye chillies to a tsp of dried crushed red chillies.

Aubergine/Eggplant Pasta sauce
1 eggplant, in small dice
olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp coriander
2 sprigs thyme
5 fresh tomatoes, diced
120 ml (about half a cup) red wine
2 tsp tomato puree

Toss the aubergine in olive oil & rosemary and roast at 400 until they're browned and cooked through, stirring occasionally. Cook onions in a bit of oil in a large wok or pan for 5 minutes. Add garlic, spices, and leaves from the thyme. Cook 2 minutes more. Add tomatoes, wine and tomato puree. Bring to a boil then simmer 20 minutes or until thick. Add the roasted aubergine and cook another 10 minutes. Add salt; serve with pasta and some parmesan. (Olives on the side were good too.)


ways with cherry tomatoes - orzo salad, cherry tomato chutney

For lunches this week I made orzo pasta with cherry tomatoes - an easy, tasty pasta salad. Orzo pasta looks like rice, and makes a really nice pasta salad because it's a bit more delicate than some pastas.

1 c dry orzo
1 c cherry tomatoes, halved
10-20 kalamata olives, halved and without pits
handful herbs, chopped (basil, thyme, lemon thyme and mint all work well)
feta or mozzarella cheese
3 T lemon juice
3 T olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the orzo in water; drain. Run under cold water. Mix with tomatoes, herbs, olives, and cheese. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper; toss with pasta. This salad keeps well; you might have to add a little more oil and lemon juice if the pasta absorbs too much of the liquid.

If you're finding it hard to use up the abundance of cherry tomatoes (if you get both the fruit and veggie boxes), here's another recipe I used last year - though I haven't had time yet to make it this year.

This recipe grew out of desperation: we were getting about two or three pints of cherry tomatoes in our CSA share along with regular tomatoes – not to mention the tomatoes we ourselves had planted! My kitchen was overrun with tomatoes, and I started a hunt for something to turn cherry tomatoes into. All the recipes I could find, however, were for cherry tomato chutney or salsa you could keep in the fridge a couple of days – nothing you could preserve. So I invented this. Leave the skins on, by the way – have you ever tried to peel cherry tomatoes?!

Cherry tomato chutney

1 onion, chopped

2 quarts cherry tomatoes, halved

5-7 apples, peeled and chopped

2 cups raisins

1 ½ cups white vinegar

2 cups brown sugar

½ jalapeno pepper, diced finely

2 T ground ginger

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp ground nutmeg

3 T lemon juice

Cook onion in a little oil in a large pot until soft. Add apples and tomatoes; cook 2-3 minutes on medium until the tomatoes are starting to lose their shape. Add the raisins, vinegar, sugar, pepper, and spices. Cook on low for about an hour or until thick. Add lemon juice. Ladle into sterilized mason jars, stir to release bubbles, and put on lids (don’t overtighten). Boil in a canner for 30 minutes.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

September avalanche

Wow - I forgot how September hits like a brick wall. Combine that with harvest being a bit late this year, I think - at least the abundance of fruit and tomatoes seems later - and what with canning, pickling, freezing, and class prep, I haven't had any time to blog. My apologies.

So - here are a few highlights of the past couple of weeks.

Corn - we ordered an add-on and have had a couple of corn meals. It's easy and fast and everyone loves it; lightly boil corn and serve with vinegar cucumbers, pickled beets, carrots, tomatoes, and fresh bread, and it's on the table in 15 minutes.

Salmon with green tomato salsa, adapted from p. 112 Simply in Season cookbook. Grilled zucchini and bbq-roasted potatoes on the side. Another night, the salmon & kale recipe I blogged about here: I added fennel this time, which worked alright.

Pizzas - Our usual Friday-night specialty got a bit fancy. We had a variety of leftovers, so made a few different small pizzas. Kenneth's sister had left some homemade bechamel sauce from when she stayed here, so one pizza was a 'white pizza' with bechamel sauce, leftover chicken, sweet taproot onions sliced finely, garlic, and mozzarella. We also had a Tex-mex pizza with leftover green tomato salsa mixed with regular salsa, chicken, green peppers, broccoli, cheddar and mozzarella. Ria made her own creation of olive oil, broccoli, chicken, green peppers, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella, and I finished up with a margarita: olive oil, fresh sliced tomatoes, lots of fresh basil, fresh oregano, and mozzarella. Yum, and leftovers for lunches too.

Salads - we have, of course, been making a variety of salads. The most unique one is maybe the Jamie Oliver 'root salad' - I adapted it a few weeks ago with the napa cabbage, but made the real version this week. Slice fennel, carrots, and celery as thinly as you can. Toss with olive oil and red wine vinegar, and fresh herbs (he calls for marjoram, basil and oregano) and salt and pepper. Let it sit for a bit for the flavours to mix.

Chili - on one of the gloomier days, Kenneth made a great fall dish: an almost-all-local chili. He's dictating to me: 2 lbs of ground beef, browned; 2 big handfuls of oregano sprigs from the herb garden, destemmed; 2 large onions, chopped; 1/2 chopped green pepper (celery and mushrooms also work, but we didn't have any); 3 handfuls of ground cumin & 5 handfuls of chili powder (but he adds that probably our spices are a little stale, so that seems like a lot); 3 cloves minced garlic. After this cooks for a while, put in a lot of tomatoes chopped in 1-inch pieces (he's estimating about 5 lbs). He cooked that all day on the lowest heat our stove could manage (drain off the condensed water on the lid occasionally) and paired it with freshly-made spicy cornmeal bread.

Pickles - we ordered an add-on of pickling cucumbers, and tried our hand at the Benardin recipe for low-sodium dill pickles. We'll let you know in a couple of months how those worked! We also dilled the last of the beans from the garden.

Desserts - Kenneth made a fantastic ginger peach pie, and a plum tart. I was sick of the bushelful of apples sitting in the middle of the kitchen (we don't have a cold cellar and there wasn't room in the fridge) so made applesauce to freeze (you can also can it). I also tried making apple-peel chips, so as not to waste the peels, sprinkling them with cinnamon then baking them on low in the oven - but they were a resounding failure!

Breakfasts - sausages from the meat share. Apple waffles from Simply in Season. Lots and lots of fruit every morning.

Snacks/lunches - fruit, carrots, cucumbers, green pepper, broccoli, etc. etc.!

Kenneth at present is a busy beaver and seems to be making a broccoli soup of some sort. Me, I'm packing it in for the night!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

fennel and napa slaw; aubergine and green tomato fritters

Hi folks - sorry it's been a while, but we were away on holiday (and thought it unwise to announce that fact on the internet until we got home). So we gave our boxes to a friend, and had a lovely time in Ontario in the heart of Mennonite territory - lots of fresh corn and tomatoes and peaches.

We're back, though, just in time for a bonanza haul from Taproot (especially all the fruit! I love it.) and from the garden.

Last night I sent Kenneth to pick a few beans for supper and he returned with mounds of beans, peas, and tomatoes. We didn't have the energy to do anything interesting with them (ie: canning, pickling) so we just blanched the beans and peas and froze them for winter. For dinner we had fresh garden lettuce salad with Taproot and home tomatoes, beans, peas and carrots - tasty.

For lunch today Kenneth had his favourite meal - toasted tomato sandwiches - and I had mine - tomato basil mozzarella and balsamic vinegar salad - but we also decided we'd better do something about the napa cabbage and fennel from two weeks ago that our house-sitter didn't manage to eat. (It says something about how long grocery-store produce must sit there, when Taproot food can still taste good after being in the fridge so long!) I adapted a Jamie Oliver salad to make a kind of coleslaw:

Fennel coleslaw
fennel, sliced thinly
napa cabbage, sliced thinly
1-2 carrots, julienned
1/2 onion, sliced thinly
1 T each fresh marjoram, Italian parsley, basil
3 T red wine vinegar
5 T olive oil
salt and pepper

I think this will taste even better tomorrow, when the flavours have the chance to meld a bit.

Tonight I broke two of my cardinal rules for corn: 1) we didn't eat it the day we got it but had it tonight instead; and 2) I changed the menu a little. It was a good meal - but I stand by my rules!

With the corn we made barbecued fritters of eggplant/aubergine and green windfall tomatoes from the garden. Neither is in the box, I know, but I think it would work equally well with ripe tomatoes - and we did get eggplant last year, so we might again. The recipe is simple: mix an egg with about 1/3 c milk in a shallow bowl, and put cornmeal in another shallow bowl (stir in salt, chilis or herbs if you like). Slice the eggplant and green tomatoes about 1 cm thick, dip each slice in the egg then in the cornmeal, and spray both sides with olive or canola oil. Barbecue at medium until the coating is crispy. Serve with salsa, garlic aioli, or whatever other topping you like.

The plums, cherries and blueberries are disappearing rapidly into breakfasts and snacks, and Kenneth is promising peach pie. We're also musing about that duck - Kenneth had a bad experience cooking one once, so we'll have to find a proper recipe. Any suggestions you have would be welcome!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spaghetti alla Genovese

Tonight Ria and I played in the wading pool and ate beans and peas right out of the garden for a snack, so I didn't feel like breaking up the fun and doing anything time-consuming for dinner. This is a great speedy dinner, and perfect with the fresh produce this time of year.

Spaghetti alla Genovese
2-3 new potatoes per person
handful of green beans per person, trimmed & cut in half
1-2 T pesto per person
1 T pine nuts per person
parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
pasta (preferably spaghetti)
While the pasta is cooking, cut the potatoes in quarters or bite-sized pieces and boil until just tender; drain. Steam or boil the beans until just tender-crisp; drain. Scoop out 1/4-1/2 c. of pasta water; drain pasta when al dente; toss with potatoes, beans, pesto and pine nuts. Add enough pasta water to make the pesto smoothly coat everything. Add parmesan and s&p to taste. Serve with sliced or quartered fresh tomatoes.

We didn't have enough green beans from the garden so used a mix of yellow and green; it detracts slightly from the totally-green effect of the dish but tastes equally good. We also have finished last year's basil pesto, so I used a bit of garlic scape pesto and then lots of torn fresh basil and some olive oil. The combination of potatoes and pasta always seems a bit odd to me - both being 'breads' in my mental categories - but it works in this dish.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

chard filo packets; tabbouleh

Yesterday Kenneth made a very fancy-looking bread stuffed with spiced ground pork, onions, carrots, mushrooms and herbs. He's working to a deadline this week so I don't know whether he'll get the chance to blog - and I have no idea how he made it - but I think the recipe was in 300 Canadian Bread Machine recipes. It was very tasty. Lots of leftovers for lunches, too.

And yes, a confession, in case you were wondering why we didn't post about them: we let the vitamin greens linger in the back of the fridge, each hoping the other would know what to do with them, until the compost bin finally stepped in and claimed them.

Tonight I wanted to use up the filo we still had from last week. I was pleased we got one of the boxes with swiss chard instead of callaloo - the callaloo was fine but I love swiss chard - so I chopped up an onion, some garlic, the rest of the zucchini, the chard, and some red pepper, and sauteed the mix (in order: onion, garlic, chard stems, zucchini & pepper, chard leaves), added salt and pepper, then put a spoonful in the middle of every four sheets of filo and folded it up into a packet - brushing with butter, of course. Cooked at 350 until golden-brown and crispy. They were pretty good but I think would have been better with feta.

To go with the chard packets I made tabbouleh with the lovely fresh parsley we got today. I cooked 1/2 c. of couscous (you're supposed to use bulghur wheat but I only ever have couscous on hand), chopped all the parsley plus a handful of mint and chives from the garden, added two of the little tomatoes we got, a crushed/minced clove of garlic, and stirred it all together with the juice of 1 1/2 lemons and a fair bit of olive oil. This is a lovely fresh-tasting salad that only gets better as it sits - we ate about half and will add the rest to our lunch rotation of salads.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

pickled beans

"I think we should pick a few beans tonight," Kenneth said Friday. I dutifully went out to the garden after dinner ... and came back with our two largest bowls overflowing. And that's with a pile of as-yet-unused Taproot beans still in the crisper drawer.

So, tonight is the official inauguration of the summer canning season, wherein I, barefoot and pregnant (well, this year at least), or Kenneth, barefoot but not as obviously pregnant, can be found canning at odd hours of early morning or late night to beat the day's heat.

Tonight I did three jars of yellow mustard beans, two of green mustard beans, and three of green dilled beans. The mustard beans are my mother-in-law's recipe, and like all such family-handed-down recipes, it's a little vague on the quantities (it doesn't say how many beans, for example). But it's a great pickle, one I had never tried before coming to Nova Scotia. Here's the recipe (and I don't think I'm giving away any family secrets here!):

Eva's Mustard Beans
3/4 c flour
6 T dry mustard
1 T turmeric
4 c white sugar
3 1/2 c vinegar
slightly cooked beans, cut in 2-inch pieces (hmmm, let's say about 5 500 ml jars' worth?)

Mix together the dry ingredients. Add vinegar. Heat until bubbling - but don't burn, my mother-in-law helpfully adds!

There aren't directions for canning but I followed the Benardin cookbook recipe for mustard beans which is very similar - boil for 15 minutes in a hot-water canner.

This is the first year I've tried dilled beans, so I used the Benardin preserving cookbook recipe. It's a great book and if you're interested in learning how to can produce, it's a must-have. It gives very detailed directions and has some great recipes. (You can pick it up beside the canning supplies at Canadian Tire; most of the recipes are also on the Benardin website.) It maybe errs on the side of overkill when it comes to boiling times, but unless you're doing this with your grandmother or mother-in-law who has been canning since she was in diapers and has never had botulism, it's best to follow the safe-but-sure directions.

I'll let you know in 3 months or so how these taste...

Even if you don't have a garden, pickles are a great way to make sure the Taproot abundance doesn't go to waste. And if you don't have the amounts the recipe calls for, it doesn't really matter; you'll throw out a bit of the sauce/brine, but vinegar and sugar are pretty cheap. And the pickles are well worth it come February turnip season!


Friday, August 12, 2011

BBQ pizza, salads, and other BBQs

The triumph of this week was tonight's pizzas. We often make pizzas on a Friday - you can throw almost anything on them, everybody likes them, and they're reasonably healthy - but tonight I tried making them on the BBQ. I made our usual dough (see below), then split it into two large and one small personal-sized pizzas, grilled them a couple of minutes until toasty, flipped them over, let everyone pick their own toppings, then grilled them again on a lower heat until the toppings were cooked. Positively gourmet! Ria had cherry tomatoes, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and motz cheese; I had pesto, cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, olives, pine nuts, mozzarella and goat's cheese; Kenneth had pesto, zucchini, mushrooms, olives, and mozzarella. Everyone was happy except apparently I didn't make the 'toddler-sized' pizza big enough because she ate some of ours too!

My dough recipe is pretty easy:
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp fast-rising yeast
1 c very hot water.
Mix 1 c. flour, sugar, salt and yeast; add water; knead while mixing in enough of the other 1/4 cup of flour until the dough is soft and stretchy (3-5 minutes). Cover with a bowl and let it sit 15 minutes. Knead a bit more and roll into pizzas. You can also make this with 3/4 c. whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup of white flour, and 2 T honey if you want an even healthier option - this crust tends to be a little thinner and crispier.

For lunches we've been eating cold bok choi and soba noodle salad, Hungarian cucumber salad (cucumbers sliced as thinly as possible and soaked in a vinegar-sugar solution, tossed with fresh mint), and romaine lettuce & veggies salad.

Last night Kenneth made a fantastic BBQ - nothing we haven't made before, but it tasted really good. He basically baked four potatoes on the BBQ until they were lovely and soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, then cooked salmon topped with BBQ'd roasted cherry tomatoes, zucchini strips with pesto, and steamed beans & peas. Other than the salmon, an entirely Taproot meal. The night before I made scallops with bacon, mushrooms and the green tops of the onions; rice; and lemon broccoli (steam broccoli until tender-crisp; toss with olive oil, lots of lemon juice, salt, and pine nuts. Add more lemon, oil and salt!).

So a simple-meal week, but all very tasty.

I think we might be pickling this weekend - we brought in our first big bunch of beans from the garden, and it was way more than either Kenneth or I expected! The chard is sad, the spinach is almost non-existent, but the peas and beans are so expansive they're planning winter campaigns in Russia.

Enjoy the weekend!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

bok choi noodles

Corn again last night - I think this will become a Tuesday ritual. If you don't already know this, make sure you eat the corn from your box as soon as is possible - the fresher corn is, the better it tastes (I think the sugars convert to starch over time or something). My family's legend is the time we were down at a friend's farm in New York State, and they would actually get the water boiling before sending the kids running to the corn fields, shucking the corn on the run back so it would be as fresh as you can imagine by the time it hits the pot! Best corn I've ever tasted - though Taproot's comes close.

Today for lunch I adapted my soba noodle recipe to use up the last of last week's bok choi. 2 T sesame oil, 2 T honey, 5 T soy sauce, 5 T rice vinegar in a wok; slice and throw in bok choi and cook until it reduces. Cook and drain soba noodles; stir into wok. Top with toasted sesame seeds.

And a fridge full of food! I love the box this time of year, though Tuesday evenings are always taken up with cleaning, chopping and prepping - mostly so everything will fit in the fridge! Ria helps, though - she ate three plums, several blueberries, half an apple and a carrot while we were unpacking the box. And a whole cob of corn (plus cucumber, carrot and mustard beans) at dinner!


Using up the freezer

With the box getting fuller every week, we're realizing abundance season is upon us - so this weekend we actually used up some things in the freezer/basement shelves.

On Sunday I cooked a peach souffle for brunch - an adaptation of the strawberry souffle in the first section of Simply in Season. We had a bag of frozen sliced peaches from last summer, so I stewed them with a bit of brown sugar, cinnamon, nuts and cornstarch to make a sauce. The souffle puffed up beautifully, but unfortunately fell in the time it took to assuage a burnt finger from a toddler a little over-eager to have some 'cake!' Still tasted good, though, if more dessert-like than breakfast-like ... leftovers were good too.

Sunday evening Kenneth made spaghetti sauce, using up some of the fridge veggies (the rest of the kale, etc.) but also finishing the last can of tomatoes and the last package of frozen tomatoes. Come on tomato season!

On Monday I used up the rest of the spinach in a spanikopita (taken from the recipe my friend adapted for nettles: you can find it here A confession: I had to toss the spinach from the previous week since it had gone slimy. Sigh - I hate wasting food! The spanikopita worked really well (though I didn't do the whole salting thing at the beginning) - I halved the recipe, and it was fine. Definitely the recipe I'll be keeping for the future.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Apple Cider / Nitroglycerine

A few months ago, I purchased 20L of apple juice from Taproot Farms with the ambition of making some hard apple cider.

Now, we have done a fair bit of home-brewing in the past, and we have even made apple cider before – but I think that I was perhaps not so well prepared for what happened with this batch.

BOOM! I may have overdone it on the carbonation.

You see we bottle-condition (a term for feeding extra sugar to the remaining few yeast cells immediately before bottling) our brews, but it appears that perhaps I shouldn't have.

After mopping up my basement two or three times, I decided that I would drink off the rest of the cider well before the aging date that I had set for late August. I anticipated a bit of foam-over when I opened the first bottle – but not like this. The compressed juice FLEW up (all of it) and splashed all over the ceiling. Another mop-up. Now I open these bottles/bombs outside, in a wide and clean bowl, and well clear the house and any municipal infrastructure.

Anyway. Now the batch is stored in our kitchen fridge. The four-degree temperature has stopped the volatility of the yeast/carbonation, but not of the much-chagrined Kathy who is missing her Taproot storage space. I am doing my best to carve through the entire batch – a duty left entirely to me, as Kathy is with child. It's not a bad bargain though, because it is delicious cider. I am only worried about the almost-certain alcoholism.

Yes, the apples that Taproot provide make for a delicious cider. They are light and crispy-sweet tasting – perfect for a hot, sunny day. I highly recommend them. Just don't try for a sparkling cider, like yours truly. Traditional ciders are not carbonated, and it appears that there is good reason for this.



Saturday, August 6, 2011

stir fry; roast chicken; chicken salad

Ah, the season of abundance. I can tell already we're going to have trouble using up the box this week. Not that I'm complaining!

Wednesday I decided to use up the huge head of bok choi we got this week, so made a stir fry. Usually I just invent stir fries, but wanted something different so did hunt down a recipe. This is taken from Sarah Brown's World Vegetarian cookbook, though I did swap some of the ingredients and added leftover pork:

1 tsp corn starch
250 ml vegetable stock (I used beet water saved & frozen from cooking beets a night or two ago)
2 T soy sauce
2 T rice wine (I didn't have any so used regular wine)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
(I found this really salty, so also added about 3 T rice vinegar. Next time I would probably cut the salt.)

Stir fry:
3 tsp peanut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, grated
2 shallots, finely chopped (I used 1/2 an onion)
2 carrots, in matchsticks
1 head broccoli, in pieces
2 handfuls snap peas
2-3 cups bok choi, sliced

Dissolve the cornstarch in cold stock. Stir in rest of sauce ingredients. Heat the oil in a wok and cook garlic, ginger and onions. Add carrots, then broccoli, then peas, then bok choi, stir frying for a minute or two each. Add the sauce and cook until the sauce thickens, 5-10 minutes. Serve over noodles or rice.

Note: this used up about a third of the bok choi, even though the wok was full! Sigh.

Thursday Kenneth made a roasted chicken - meat share - so tasty. He follows Jamie Oliver's method (sometimes with modifications when we lack ingredients - such as oranges for lemons, as this time). It's the only chicken Ria will eat; she devoured more than I did, about three slices of breast and some leg. He served it with steamed fresh broccoli and carrots, and leftover rice.

Tonight Kenneth was planning spaghetti, but it was such a nice day we wanted to stay outside and didn't feel like cooking, so I made a big salad with leftover chicken, romaine lettuce, basil, snap peas, carrots, cucumber, and herbed dressing. Ria got a happy-face salad plate, and made a pretty good dent in it, though once again the chicken was the favourite. She has discovered the toddler joy of 'dipping' vegetables, so ate a fair bit of broccoli, carrot and cucumber, too.

Other ways we're using up the boxes:
-leftover pork or chicken sandwiches
-blueberry pancakes
-berries on cereal
-carrots, apples, cucumber and peas for snacks or sandwich sides
-berry popsicles (drop a few berries into the moulds, top off with diluted juice - I use white cranberry or grape, because it's less messy when it drips - and freeze)

Still in the fridge: bok choi, kale, cucumber, peas, basil, spinach x2, broccoli ... hum, we might be freezing some this week!

Happy sun ... for a few days at least.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Corn on the cob dinner

Box day - and wait, no zucchini?!? What is the world coming to?

But corn, corn, corn. The reason summer exists. Corn on the cob is a ritual in my family, and we have very set ideas about how it should be cooked. Big pot, five minutes once the water returns to boiling - don't overcook. None of the barbecue grilled with lime or spice or whatever else magazines are advertising this summer. Just butter and salt.

We also don't serve corn on the cob with meat or anything else (my mother's concession to my brother-in-law involves sliced ham, but the rest of us all look on disapprovingly). We have corn on the cob, pickled beets, new carrots (raw), vinegared cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, and sometimes baby potatoes or string beans. This is always my birthday dinner - often the first corn of the season.

Tonight we replaced the pickled beets with beet greens, and we didn't have any tomatoes; we also added mustard beans (another favourite I only discovered after moving to Nova Scotia). But the carrots, cucumbers, corn and bread stayed true to tradition. Ria must remember corn on the cob from last year because she was begging the whole time I was cooking (and actually took a bit or two raw); she also likes the beet green stems as long as we call them 'noodles'!

Our fridge is jam-packed - Tuesdays in the summer are always busy evenings. Tonight we stewed rhubarb, boiled beets for Ria's lunches, and for a late-evening snack we'll have the raspberries and blueberries that didn't fit in the fridge. Life is good.


spiced zucchini muffins; hodgepodge

For Natal Day holiday breakfast Ria and I let Kenneth sleep in and I made zucchini muffins. I actually used up all of the zucchini the day before Tuesday! A record I think. This is a really good recipe, and uses up about two small-ish zucchinis.

1 c whole wheat flour
1 c white flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon (I like more)
1/2 t ginger
1/4 t allspice
1/4 t made
1/4 t salt
2 c grated zucchini
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 egg
3/4 c yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix together the dry ingredients. Add the sugar and zucchini. Whisk together the wet; add to the dry ingredients. Spoon into muffin tins and cook 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.

For dinner, Kenneth cooked the first hodgepodge of the year. We didn't have any Taproot carrots left, so we had to buy grocery store carrots, but if you have beans and potatoes leftover from last week you can combine them with this week's peas and carrots to make this essence-of-summer Nova Scotian dish. I had never experienced it before coming to Nova Scotia, but I'm now a convert.

Every family has its own recipe; Kenneth's method is to boil the carrots and potatoes until they're soft, then put them and the boiling juices in a casserole with string beans, peas, milk, cream, and about half a pound of butter, I think. (His is the low-cal version, as you can see.) Salt and pepper, then in the oven at 350 for about half an hour. We had company, so Kenneth also barbecued meat share pork steaks, but they aren't really necessary; with a loaf of fresh bread, hodgepodge is a meal in itself.

Dessert was ice cream with the last jar of last year's spiced plums.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weekend meals

Friday night we went to a make-your-own pizza party. We contributed zucchini, broccoli, sundried tomatoes, and fresh basil, along with some of the basil and garlic scape pesto I made and froze a while ago. Other contributions ranged from local goat-cheese feta to salami to fresh tomatoes to olives. Let me tell you, those were the best pizzas I've had in a while.

Tonight was a glorious day, so we barbecued salmon with zucchini marinated in a balsamic dressing, and the potato-kale-garlic scape packets that Kenneth invented a while ago. Ria discovered that string beans are much tastier and more fun when dipped in dressing, and didn't eat anything else! We still have lots of produce left - better get going before Tuesday arrives. Maybe I'll make zucchini muffins for holiday breakfast tomorrow.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Prima (Seconda?) Verde Pasta

Tonight I made pasta with fresh veggies - not exactly the first garden veggies of the season, so I'm not sure I can call it Prima Verde, but close enough. I could eat pasta like this every day of the year, I think. You'll find it a little watery if you're used to store-bought pasta sauce, but this is what I've been served in Casa Rugatino in Waterloo, Ontario - which is as authentically Italian as you'll get in Canada.

I use a big wok, and toss ingredients in in the order of toughness (ie: garlic scapes and kale stems cook longer; zucchini medium; peas at the last minute). You can use almost any vegetable: cook a little garlic (I used garlic scapes) in a bit of oil, then add vegetables, and at some point in the process add some tomatoes (fresh is best, but canned works fine) and some red wine, salt and pepper, and lots of herbs. Then toss the cooked pasta in the wok, and you're set.

Tonight I used garlic scapes, kale, aubergine (the only thing not Taproot, I think!), zucchini, and freshly shelled peas; oregano and thyme from the garden; and at the last minute stirred in lots of ripped basil.

If you're having trouble using up the box, this is a very adaptable dish that is quick and easy, and uses as many vegetables as you want - and I promise no one will mind eating vegetarian.


pork with yellow beans and rice

Last night Kenneth made a delicious bbq'd pork steak with some of this week's meat share. I think he kept it simple - just some barbecue sauce brushed over - but, having grown up in the era when mothers lived in fear of diseases caused by under-cooked pork, I am always startled that pork can taste succulent and juicy and not completely dried out.

Steamed yellow beans on the side - my grandmother's favourite vegetable, I think, and a hit with Ria too. But the pièce de résistance was the rice: Kenneth mixed in the callaloo leftovers and the rest of the can of coconut milk. It was a little soupy but very very tasty - spicy and creamy and everything good.

Leftover pork sandwiches for lunch today!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

zucchini bread

As promised: the Use-Up Zucchini Bread recipe I plan to make later today. You can double the recipe and freeze a loaf if you like.

(This recipe is one I invented after a little experimenting because most recipes I found used at most a cup of zucchini, and many had oil, etc. This is about as healthy as it gets, I think! You can probably use water - or oil - instead of the milk if you want to make the recipe vegan.)

2 c grated zucchini
3/4 c white sugar
1/3 c milk
1 c white flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
nuts, seeds, etc. if you like

Mix zucchini, sugar and milk. Separately mix the dry ingredients. Combine. Pour into greased loaf-pan. Cook at 350 for an hour (sometimes a little more, depending on how 'wet' your zucchini is) until a toothpick comes clean.

This can also be made with frozen zucchini thawed; the batter is a little wetter but it works out the same.


A week of Taproot

We haven't been very good at posting lately, partly because we were away camping for the weekend. Patricia noted on the blog that some people are finding it hard to use up the whole box, so I'll let you know how we used up last week's box(es) and also suggest some emergency use-up possibilities. There are only the two of us, plus Ria (who can go through apples like you wouldn't believe but probably doesn't make too much of a dent in things), and we get a full-size box, so I think most families should be able to use up the whole box.

-strawberries, raspberries
-meat-share homemade sausages

-salads with lettuce, sliced peapods, carrots, balsamic-vinaigrette dressing
-broccoli salad with leftover soba noodle dressing (see below), raisins, cheese
-couscous salad with cranberries, sunflower seeds, and coriander (dressed with sesame oil, wine vinegar, lime juice and a dash of tabasco sauce)

-whole pea pods

Dinners last week:
-summer vegetable stew with meat-share chicken wings, zucchini, canned tomatoes, olives, and herbs
-tilapia with bbq'd potato fries (in tin foil), couscous, zucchini and eggplant kebabs, and salad
-bbq meat-share chicken wings with potato fries and raw pea-pods
-meat-share hamburgers with cut up raw veggies
-homemade-from-meat-share bbq sausages with lettuce salad
-soba noodle salad with green onions (I've posted the recipe for this previously)
- tilapia (can you tell it's been on sale this week?) pan-fried with a Caribbean-spiced breadcrumb coating, perogies, and callaloo cooked with garlic scapes (we didn't have onion), coconut milk, butter, salt, and dried red chili peppers.

Still left over: zucchini, garlic scapes, potatoes

We've been pretty good about using everything up this year, but there are weeks we don't manage. These were some of the fall-back tricks we used last year:

-wash and chop kale and freeze. Throw into soup in the winter (I hate making soups in the summer, but like having the summer ingredients in the winter). My favourite is Italian Wedding Soup with kale, but I also have a kale tortellini soup which is good. I actually prefer kale this way to on its own
-make zucchini bread and freeze. I have created a use-up-zucchini bread recipe which I'll try to make (and post!) later today, which uses more zucchini than most recipes (and no oil).
-grate and freeze zucchini in 1 cup baggies. This can be then used to make zucchini bread in winter, or in the really really tasty (really really) rolls that are in the Simply in Season cookbook.
-apple sauce. Kenneth can't eat raw apples so many of our apples last year went into sauce; this year Ria and I are making more of a dent in them and we don't have so many leftovers. Applesauce is the easiest thing on the planet to make: peel the apples, chop into chunks, put about half an inch of water in the bottom of the pot, cover, cook on low until the apples are mush (stir occasionally) (this can take 4-5 hours but you really can let it sit on the stove and forget about it, as long as you don't let it get dry), add cinnamon and 1-2 T lemon juice, and either can or freeze.
-slice fruit (apples, peaches, plums) and put in freezer bags; use in crumbles or pies in winter
-chop carrots, celery, beans, peas (though these never last long enough in our house) and store in cup-size portions; throw into soups and stews in the winter. You're supposed to blanch these before freezing but we never do.
-cook turnip and beets and freeze in small portions for your toddler's lunches!
-make pickled carrots, beans and beets (these take a little more time but are worth it). I'll post recipes for these as I make them over the summer.

Hope that helps! I'd love to hear what works and what doesn't for you. Or if you'd like more complete recipes for any of the above, let me know.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Tuna Steaks with potatoes and zucchini

Tonight was a quick meal, but even the quickies taste gourmet with fresh produce.

We barbecued tuna steaks, with Taproot zucchini, potato and fennel on the side. The zucchini I just sliced lengthways, brushed with garlic scape pesto (the stuff I made a few weeks ago then froze in ice-cubes), and grilled over high heat beside the tuna. The potato I fell back on our standby bbq tinfoil packages, thrown on the bbq while I'm getting everything else ready; but I switched it up a little by slicing fennel in with the potato, tossing in a bit of fennel top green stuff, and brushing them with garlic scape pesto.

Box day tomorrow, and we still have two zucchini. Maybe I'll make zucchini bread. I'll post my custom-made Z-bread recipe: designed to use up as much zucchini as possible. Unfortunately it doesn't include kale.


a weekend at Swallow's Nest

Hi folks,

Sorry I haven't been blogging but we spent a lovely weekend with friends at Swallow's Nest at Taproot Farms. Actually, it wasn't even the whole weekend, since we went up there Saturday noon-ish and only stayed one night - but it was a lovely getaway, and felt like a proper holiday.

I've been meaning to put up the saag paneer recipe we made with the spinach last week - and the paneer we made with the milk that has been continually going off, even though the fridge is cold enough to freeze the stuff in the back - but it wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be. So I think I'll hold out for a better version and post that.

At Swallow's Nest we ate steaks from our friends' meat share (not Taproot, although they get the veggie box), along with roasted veggies - mostly Taproot. We contributed a salad, some of which was from our box, but some of which we just wandered out and picked from the farm. You can't get fresher! Kenneth also made rhubarb pie with the last of our rhubarb.

Saturday evening we went to see Beowulf, which is being put on by the "Two planks and a passion" theatre company at Ross Creek farm just a bit past Canning (15 minutes from Swallow's Nest). One of our friends' friends is the stage manager, and her husband looked after Ria, our friends' four-year-old, and his own two-year-old while we watched the show. A brave man - but he said everyone got along fine (with the help of a few Dora dvds and Kenneth's pie). The show was fantastic. I had had my doubts - I am a medievalist by profession, so was leery of any adaptation of Beowulf. But the performance was excellent, and the adaptation stayed far enough away from the actual text - filling in the blanks of what wasn't told, rather than retelling the story more poorly - that it worked. And they even managed some alliterative poetry that was pretty good, even though the show itself is in Modern English. I strongly recommend that you go if you get the chance; and it's in a beautiful outdoor setting that really adds to the atmosphere.

Sunday morning breakfast was fresh local strawberries, bacon, and scrambled eggs made with picked-that-morning garlic scapes, beet greens, and zucchini - not to mention copious bowls of cheerios for the kids (what is it with toddlers and those things?). The rest of the day we spent lazing around, napping (kids and adults!), and wandering around the farm. Swallow's Nest is a beautiful place, huge - we could have been twice the number and wouldn't have noticed - and fully stocked with books, kids' games, and beautiful scenery. You bring your own food but Patricia and Josh say that you can pick whatever produce you like. It was a fantastic weekend.

Hope your summer is going as well as ours!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Kohlrabi

Hi folks.

I made up my kohlrabi this evening using this recipe:

I have to say that it tasted really good, but with this much butter and cream, it's hard to make anything taste bad. Especially with fresh parsley from the herb garden. In fact, the only drawback of the recipe is that I could not taste the kohlrabi much. That was too bad, because it smelled fantastic when I was chopping it up.

I recommend this recipe, but I will be trying some others recipes – if the Taproot gods provide us with some more kohlrabi – just to see if I can't make the ultra-fresh Taproot kohlrabi live a little more on the plate.

Bon appetit!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Swiss Chard artichoke dip and leftovers

Saturday night I tried out a recipe I've been wanting to try for a long time. It's supposed to be an appetizer, but I couldn't think of anything else to serve it with, and it seemed pretty much like a meal in itself (4 food groups, filling, probably enough calories for a meal!) so we ate it as a main course. I think I originally got the recipe from Canadian Living, but I changed so many ingredients (feta for ricotta, yoghurt for sour cream, mozzarella for parmesan) it bore little resemblance to the original.

1 bunch Swiss Chard
2 cans artichoke hearts
3/4 c. white kidney beans
1/2 c. feta
1/3 c. yoghurt
1/2 c. mozzarella, grated
2 t lemon juice
1 clove garlic (probably use more!)
salt and pepper
1/4 c. parmesan

Chop the chard and wilt it in a pan. Drain it then puree it in a blender with all the other ingredients except for 1 cup artichokes, mozzarella and parmesan. (This was harder than it sounds and takes a while.) Stir in the rest of the artichokes and the mozzarella; put it in a shallow-ish oven-proof dish, sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake 350 for 35 minutes. Serve with nacho chips or pita pieces.

We didn't come close to finishing this between the two of us, so tonight we made pasta and tossed most of the rest with the pasta (I actually preferred it this way!). I served it with barbecued chicken thighs and zucchini slices, both brushed with a mix of garlic scape pesto and basil pesto (frozen from last summer).

Mmmm, barbecued zucchini. Tastes like summer.


A week of Taproot

Oh dear, it's been a week since I've posted. Some of that is busy-ness, some of it is because we didn't really use many new recipes or ideas I hadn't blogged about before. But I'll give you a run-down of the meals last week so you can nonetheless see how we've been using up the box:

Monday: we were pretty low on box veggies, so I made a plum curry with plums frozen from the fruit box last summer, chickpeas, and our second-last (!) jar of tomatoes.

Tuesday: Kenneth made a really tasty quick stir-fry with whole pea pods and sliced fennel; a bit of white wine, I think, and some herbs. He served it with a fish casserole - tasty.

Sometimes I think kids have an instinct about how food 'naturally' looks - Ria ate pea pods straight out of the box on Tuesday, but refused them when cooked and on her plate. Likewise she'll eat carrots if I send the baby carrots we've been getting recently whole, unscraped (merely washed) in her lunch bag, but not if they're cut up into sticks. Ditto for radishes - straight out of the box covered in dirt, but not if they're sliced on a plate. She eats arugula, parsley, chives and mint straight out of the garden, but not only won't touch lettuce at dinner, she scatters it on the floor in protest. Tonight she ate raw zucchini when I was preparing it for dinner but turned up her nose at the cooked version.

Wednesday: We were planning on having friends over for a BBQ but there was a mix-up, so by the time we figured that out we were starving and it was late. So we ate the kale chips and french-cut oven-baked potatoes which we had made (I think I've provided the recipes for both before), tossed a salad, and saved the hamburgers for the following night. Ria actually enjoyed the kale chips for a while - yippee! the first leafy-green veggie she likes (at least the first not covered in dirt) - before starting to throw them on the floor. Oh, and we ate the strawberry-glazed pie!

Thursday: The friends came over so we had hamburgers made from meat-share ground beef, a fresh salad they prepared with some of their Taproot produce and some from their own garden (already!), and pickles from the cold cellar.

Friday: Celeriac soup and wisdom-teeth chicken soup (the best soup I have ever tasted - Kenneth promises to post the recipe, which he invented, sometime) defrosted from the freezer and mixed together.

Lunches: salads, salads and more salads!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

T-bone steak dinner

This morning I made strawberry muffins - recipe from Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet. I didn't have enough strawberries so I used half rhubarb, and that worked well. We still have apples from the fruit share, but I think everything else is gone now ... :( Oh well, it's almost Tuesday!

Tonight we barbecued a T-bone steak we got in the meat share. It tasted fantastic, and I don't think it's my cooking (though the new BBQ might help). But grass-fed and natural really does make a difference, I think. With the last of the box mushrooms and some fried onions - mmmmm.

With the steak we had potato skewers, which look fancy and are really easy. Boil the smallest new potatoes you have, just until you can insert a fork (don't over boil). Thread onto bamboo skewers. Mash some fresh herbs (I used chives and thyme) in a little olive oil, and brush over the potatoes. Grill on the BBQ until the skins are nice and roasty.

We also had an arugula salad: Taproot lettuce but the first arugula (rocket) from our garden. This is a really good recipe for arugula:

handful arugula
handful lettuce if you want
slivered parmesan cheese
toasted walnuts (or other nuts)
drizzle of olive oil
drizzle of maple syrup
freshly ground pepper
This sounds weird but the syrup's sweetness balances the peppery arugula, the sharp cheese and the bitter nuts.

Arugula seems to be the first lettuce-type thing Ria likes. Although as always she prefers it unwashed from the garden to on her plate!


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Canada Day and Saturday tapas

Yesterday we had a fantastic Canada day. We picked up some cheese and bread at Foxhill Cheese and then went to Taproot for the picnic and strawberry fest. If you haven't had a chance to go, then do - we had a great time. We got to meet new people, and heard that people are actually reading the blog, which is gratifying. And it's always fun to wander around the farm and actually see where the food is coming from - trying to identify different just-sprouted vegetables; noting the gaps in rows of lettuces and fennel that made up last week's box; anticipating tomatoes and chard and basil and other lovely things we saw growing. Ria had a blast running around the farm, seeing all the animals, and playing with Lily (Patricia and Josh's daughter).

Visiting the farm also reinforces my appreciation (and my guilt - we probably should be paying twice as much!) for how much work farmers do - I don't know if other people noticed, since they were on one of the further fields, but the Taproot farmers were planting even on Canada Day. No holidays for them.

Tonight Kenneth and I, having failed to find a babysitter for our anniversary, had one of our favourite meals at home: loosely based on mediterranean tapas or mezze, it's an assortment of of small dishes from which we pick and choose. Tonight was homemade baguette, cheese from Foxhill and Pete's, olives, various pickles made last year from Taproot or garden produce, and kale chips. I know the world has discovered kale chips, so I probably don't need to blog about them, but they really are a pretty good way to eat kale. (Just don't believe the people who tell you they taste 'just like potato chips' and you won't be disappointed.) All you do is tear washed kale up into bite-sized pieces, spray them with olive oil, sprinkle salt and chilis if you want over them, and roast them at 300 for 10-15 minutes. Ria refused them whenever offered them, but then at the end of the meal pulled the bowl over and tried one - and then was disappointed when told they were 'all gone'!

Tapas is a great way to eat a variety of veggies - you can put out whatever you have, served with a bit of cheese, olive oil, some olives and fresh bread - and it's nice not to use the hot stove on a summer day!


Potluck contribution - beet and carrot salad

Canada Day is my brother-in-law's birthday, and he always has a potluck BBQ and a bonfire. Our contributions were hamburgers made with meat share ground beef, and a beet-and-carrot salad. I felt that it was cheating a little bit, since it was getting rid of some beets I had cooked up and frozen ages ago and which Kenneth won't eat - but I justified it by rationalizing that if I brought it, I knew there would be at least one thing Ria would eat. And most of it disappeared - so apparently not everyone shares Kenneth's prejudices!

Carrot and beet salad
4 c cooked beets, grated
2-3 large carrots, grated
2-3 T olive oil
2 T white wine vinegar
2 T lemon juice
chopped parsley


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

BBQ hamburgers with kale potatoes; garlic scape pesto

Last night Kenneth made hamburgers for the new barbecue with meat share ground beef, herbs from the garden, and some chopped garlic scape thrown in. He also made tinfoil packages of Taproot's new potatoes and some kale, tossed in a bit of olive oil. They were very good - better than I expected - since some of the kale crisped up and the flavour complemented the potatoes very well.

This evening I tried making garlic scape pesto. I looked up a bunch of recipes on the net, but they all seemed pretty 'by-guess-and-by-golly' type recipes, so I just chopped up all the scapes, threw in some pecans (the recipes I saw had walnuts or almonds, but Kenneth is allergic to raw versions of both), a bit of salt, lemon juice (maybe 1/4 cup) and enough olive oil that my blender didn't seize up when trying to chop things. Tossed it with pasta, served it with a salad and some grilled halloumi (an *awesome* cheese you can cook on the BBQ - you can get it at Pete's Frootique).

The pesto was alright but I found it a bit too raw-garlicky for my taste. You couldn't really taste the pecans at all. But Ria loved it! We made enough to freeze it in ice-cube trays, but I think in the future I'll mix it with basil pesto, or else just use it as a rub on chicken or something.

Fresh strawberries with ice cream for dessert. Can't be beat.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Swiss Chard pizza & salad with herbed dressing

We're getting into the summer routine of having rotating salads for lunches. One of my favourite dressings is a 'herbed ranch' dressing - store-bought ranch dressings have so many preservatives that we just make our own. I'll post the recipe below.

For supper, we had one of my all-time favourite meals with the luscious Swiss chard we got in the box last week (seriously, have you ever seen healthier Swiss chard)? I had never eaten Swiss chard before my friend Marc introduced me to his Majorcan Swiss chard pizza. I don't know if it's authentically Majorcan or not but that's where he learned the recipe. I am now a die-hard fan of Swiss chard - eating it this way is way way better than steaming or stir-frying it. It looks prettiest with the red-stemmed chard, but works with any type. You can skip the red peppers if you don't have any, and top with feta or cooked chicken or cooked pork or whatever you please. I also swapped the green garlic for the garlic today, and it worked fine.

Majorcan Swiss Chard Pizza

1 bunch of swiss chard, washed and chopped

2 chopped onions

5 cloves of garlic, minced

2 red peppers, chopped

Cooked chicken or leftover pork or feta if desired

Olive oil

1 wholegrain pizza crust or flatbread

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 425 F. Sauté onions and garlic in a bit of oil until soft. Add chopped ribs of chard and the red peppers. Cook low 10 minutes. Add chopped chard leaves; cook and stir until just wilted. Roll out pizza base; spread on hot pizza stone. Brush pizza base with oil; top with the chard mixture. Add meat or feta if you’re using them. Season with lots of freshly ground sea salt (more than you would normally use – trust me) and black pepper. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is brown and crisped. Add more salt and pepper (trust me).

Herbed dressing

¼ c. vegetable oil

¼ c. white vinegar

3 T mayonnaise

1 T lemon juice

½ tsp Worchestershire sauce

1 T grated Parmesan

1 tsp sugar

¾ tsp dry mustard

1 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

Salt and pepper

strawberries strawberries strawberries

We went strawberry-picking in the Valley on Thursday, so this weekend was spent in extreme gluttony and enjoyment. Not that anyone needs help using up strawberries, but since we're supposed to be getting three more quarts this week in Taproot's veggie and fruit boxes (whee!) I thought I'd post some of the things we've been doing with the berries.

Saturday breakfast was strawberry crepes. Crepes are really easy, and I don't even have a recipe: you put an egg in a medium bowl, beat it, add 3-4 spoonfuls of flour, stir it in, add milk until runny, add more flour, add more milk, and keep going until you have enough batter and the mixture is smooth (stir very well or you will get lumps) and as thin as it can be and still hold together in the pan. Heat a pan to medium, put a bit of butter in the bottom, then pour in a ladleful of batter, whirl the pan around so the batter covers the bottom, and flip when the edges curl. Thin or thicken the batter if need be (my first crepe is usually a failure). Fill with chopped strawberries and maple syrup mixed with plain yoghurt. Yum!

Saturday afternoon Kenneth made strawberry jam while I made my family's strawberry glazed pie recipe. I’m a bit reluctant to publish this recipe, since it’s the one pie I bake (Kenneth is the pie-maker in our house) and I’ve never served it to anyone who hasn’t been impressed. The three or four strawberry pies we get a year in my family – as long as strawberry season lasts – are fiercely fought over and every last crumb devoured. My Dad once made this with corn syrup instead of corn starch; even then it tasted good ... if a little runny!

Strawberry Glazed Pie

(serves 1-6, depending on greed)


1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs (or 1 cup crumbs plus ¼ cups white sugar, if you don’t buy the pre-crushed crumbs)

1/3 cup melted butter


1 ½ quarts of strawberries, hulled, rinsed and quartered

½ cup of water

¾ cups sugar

4 T cornstarch

1 T lemon juice

Mix graham crumbs and melted butter. Press into a pie plate, making sure the crumbs go up the sides to form a crust. Cook at 375 for 5-8 minutes, until it just starts to turn a slightly darker brown. Cool the crust completely. (I actually bought a pre-made crust this time, since it had no preservatives but the graham cracker crumbs did - go figure).

Crush one cup of strawberries in a small pot. Cook with water for about 2 minutes. Strain, reserving the juice; discard crushed strawberries (I use them in yoghurt). You should have about a cup of juice; add water if there isn’t quite enough. Return the juice to the pot. Combine sugar and cornstarch, mixing thoroughly; stir into juice. The mixture will be cloudy and opaque. Cook and stir continuously on medium heat until the juice turns clear and thickens. Stir in lemon juice. Remove from heat; allow to cool slightly (about a minute). Fold the rest of the berries into the sauce; spoon into completely cooled graham crust. Lick the spoon, spatula and pot. Refrigerate the pie 3-4 hours; try not to serve – instead eat it all yourself. Survive your family never speaking to you again – it will be worth it.

Saturday evening we had salmon with mango salsa (okay, the mangos weren't taproot, but the cilantro and tomatoes were!), oven-baked chips, and steamed beet greens; pie for dessert. Sunday morning: fresh berries, fresh scones/biscuits with new strawberry jam, and strawberry yoghurt. We have one quart left in the fridge; the rest we crushed and froze or froze whole, so we'll have summer-tasting (almost!) local strawberries all winter.