Tuesday, September 28, 2010

a boy's bucket list

For a long time, over a year, T has been a tiny bit obsessed with roller coasters. He's painted them and talked about them and expressed a keen desire to ride one. Now you should know that D and I are both on the wimpy side when it comes to carnival type rides - anything spinny, or  high or generally above bumper cars has us running for the nearest exit. T is made of sterner stuff. And so this year, when the PNE came around, he added his desire to ride a roller coaster to his desire to go to the PNE (and he said it - peen'ee). And figuring I might just be able to manage the kids roller coaster, I thought we should go this year - before he graduates to a bigger, scarier ride that I might have to go on. Also our boy isn't yet tall enough for some of the rides, so qualifies for a discounted ride pass.

So we went. We saw the animals in the barns including a horse from the RCMP Musical Ride. T took pictures of the ducklings and chicks and the cows and goats and baby pigs with his camera (thanks Auntie K) except it didn't have a flash so none of the inside pictures came out except for the cow. Then we looked at the bees and then the tractors and then we stopped for a snack and some much needed tea for D and I. From there we proceeded to Kid's Playce and T spent the next few hours going from ride to ride and having a blast.

He and I lined up and rode the roller coaster (and got our picture to prove it). Then we went back to the barn to watch the duck and pig races before heading to the super dogs show and then a tour of some military equipment. (Here T thinks he is driving a tank!)

Along the way T managed to play a midway game and win a small green fuzzy shark (I think it's a shark - it might be a whale). And then it was time to head home.

And from our happy, sticky, tired boy came "when can we go camping?" on the drive home. So it seems that once roller coaster riding was crossed off his life list, up popped the next thing - camping.

So a few nights later, D was working late and T and I had a "camp out" in the back yard with his teepee.
We had to bring a lantern, construction hat, snacks, games, drinks, sleeping bag, stuffie and his drum. We proceeded to get the tent set up, the sleeping bag laid out, the snacks and drinks lined up and then T had to have a singsong. So he pounded on his drum and sang for a bit.

 It was a prescribed length of time - no mummy, we have to keep singing - before we could stop and have our drinks and snack. Then we laid down on his sleeping bag and tried to see the stars, which didn't work very well as it wasn't very dark. T got concerned about mosquitos and bats coming out in the dark so we moved the tent inside to the living room and eventually he fell asleep in his sleeping bag, inside his tent on the living room floor.

Another thing off the boy bucket list. So we have moved on. Recently T has focused on preparing for Hallowe'en by painting skeletons. Last night he took most of his stuffies down from the shelf in his room and decorated his room with them, and then put them in families (bears, sheep, elephants, miscellaneous). He wants to decorate the house with them for Christmas. He thinks Santa will be so impressed he might leave all the toys at our house.

And last week he requested I start making his birthday cake right away. (His birthday is in January.) He wants a working exploding volcano lava cake in chocolate for his birthday. Hmmm. Need to think about this.

Note: this is my 200th post (I only counted the other day because Dana posted her 400th). Thanks to you readers for reading this (and letting me know that you do).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

missing the fruit stand

Last weekend my fruit stand closed for the summer. It's not really mine, I just stop there a few times a week for fruit and assorted veggies and although I've been dropping by for a few years now, this year I got to know the guys who run it a little bit. T would ask as I picked him up " are we going to the vegetable man today?" - because when cherries were in, it meant T filling a bag of cherries and the two of us eating them on the way home. Over the summer, I had to clean pits out of the car on a regular basis. D was lucky to get any that were left by the time we got home.

We started back in June with strawberries, hot house campari tomatoes and peppers and soon there were raspberries, blueberries, nugget potatoes and then came plums, cherries, beans, peas, cucumbers, currents, gooseberries, peaches, corn, nectarines, apples and in the last week, eggplant. Last Saturday I picked up corn, fall raspberries, strawberries and potatoes. The stand was the only place I found selling fall raspberries and ever-bearing strawberries so we had our last local strawberries and raspberries last Saturday and Sunday. But this year, I froze and canned some of the fruit at it's peak so we'll have some to see us through the rainy season (s). Thanks Brian and John for a wonderful summer of fruit and vegetables!

Friday, September 24, 2010

another new green

Vegetable that is. I think my life is beginning to revolve around food too much. Wait - not too much but more. In a good way. As in I'm becoming a little bit more adventurous with trying new things - especially when it comes to vegetables. A couple of weeks ago I was looking for chard at the market and asked the guys at one of my new favorite stands - an urban garden co-op, if they had any left. They didn't (I found it at some other of my fav's stands) but they did have collard greens. I confessed I'd never had collard greens and the guy told me to cook it the same way I did chard - it has a different but still sharp, green, good flavour. So last week I served it sauted with some onion and thai chili sauce as a side veggie and it delivered - green earthy goodness. And then I happened across this recipe from Tea - so last Sunday I picked up more collard greens and an acorn squash and last night I made it. I'd roasted the squash earlier (I just pop the whole squash into the oven at 350 deg F for about an hour - when you can smell it roasting, it's usually time to take it out).

Ginger glazed squash with collard greens and sausage (adapted from Tea & Cookies)
1 roasted squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 bunch collard greens, ribs removed, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 lb mild italian sausage

4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 c water
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp honey
grated fresh nutmeg

Saute the onion and sausage over medium high heat until the onion is soft and turning golden brown and the sausage is broken up and mostly brown.

Meantime, in a small saucepan combine the water, ginger, butter, honey and nutmeg and bring to a simmer, simmering gently for 10 minutes or so.
To the onion and sausage mixture, add the squash

and saute for 5 minutes. Add the collard greens and 3 tbsp water and cover. Let cook for 3-5 minutes and then stir. The greens should be wilted but not soggy. Pour the ginger glaze over the dish and let cook for a couple of minutes. Serve.

This is how I served it - alongside roasted purple potatoes harvested from our garden.

Note: the ginger glaze smelled really familiar to me and it suddenly struck me just before I finished the dish - it smelled like Vicks Vapo-Rub which I've been putting on T this week (tickle medicine) as he's been stuffed up - it also smells a bit like ginger beer or maybe that was just wishful thinking! Either way, the glaze was delicious.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

a fall supper

So fall snuck up on me - seems to be a theme here. Time whizzing by me so fast I can't keep up. I made soup for supper - not just any soup but tomato stilton soup. Yum! And served it up with some cheddar olive drop biscuits and a green salad. And then I realized it was the start of fall. So it was a fall supper. Ta da.

Tomato Stilton Soup (from Tea and Cookies)
3 lbs tomatoes, peeled, seeded, quartered
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium leek, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
4 c chicken or vegetable stock
4 oz stilton
3 tbsp cream

Put the tomatoes in a baking pan, sprinkle with salt and bake for 35 minutes at 400 deg F. Meantime heat the olive oil in a soup pot and saute the leek and carrot for about 10 minutes or until tender. Pour in the tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the cheese and cream and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Serve warm.

I made 6 cheddar olive biscuits to go with the soup from this recipe from smitten kitchen
1 c + 2 tbsp flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter, diced
a handful chopped olives
1/2 c grated sharp cheddar
1/2 c buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 deg F. Place flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixed. Add the cold, diced butter and pulse until the butter is incorporated. Add the olives and cheese and pulse briefly to mix and then add the buttermilk and pulse until the dough comes together. Form 6 biscuits and drop onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 16 minutes or until the biscuits are browned.

A postscript - 15 years ago my sister-in-law was in labour and we were the only people she and my brother could phone with the news (the time difference being 9 hours). Happy birthday to my oldest nephew! (he doesn't read this but his mum does...)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

another peach pie

I made another version of peach pie the other night and the concensus is that this one is better than the peach struesel pie, that I baked earlier this week. My tasting panel was my two co-workers who have bravely eaten peach pie for my selfish blogging purposes. Although I didn't notice too much complaining. D hasn't been complaining too much either. Except that a couple of his co-workers sometimes read this and are telling him he's pampered by all my food. (Thanks for reading J and K!)

So for this version of peach pie I used the same start off recipe as last time - this peach pie from sassy radish. One day I may get around to making a form of honey bourbon caramel sauce - one day. Maybe. When I get some bourbon.

Peach Lattice Top Pie (adapted from sassy radish)
all butter pastry dough, enough for a double crust (I used the recipe on sassy radish but added 1 tsp vanilla)

3 lbs peaches, sliced
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tbsp flour
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
grating of fresh nutmeg
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c peach honey (any honey will do)
sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 425 deg F. Make pastry and roll out half of the pastry dough and fit into a pie plate. Fold down the edges so they line up with the top of the pie plate and make a pretty edging. Toss the sliced peaches, cornstarch, flour, lemon juice, spices, sugar and honey into a bowl and mix well. Mound the filling into the pie. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut into strips - I used 6. Lay them over the pie

and weave into a lattice top, tucking the pastry ends into the edge of the crust.

Sprinkle the top with sanding sugar. Bake at 425 deg F for 20 minutes on a baking sheet and then turn the oven down to 375 deg F and bake for a further 40-50 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Cool on a rack for a few hours.

chard for dinner..again and again

Considering that I'd never cooked (or eaten) chard until last summer, this summer I seem to be making up for my lifelong lack of chard with a bang. Almost every week for the past few weeks we've been eating chard. Mostly the recipes (if you can call them that) are based on a version of creamed chard (which is loosely based on this recipe from smittenkitchen).

First there was creamed chard with sausage and parmesan that I served over polenta.

Then there was creamed chard with onions and peppers and sharp cheddar that I layered with hard boiled eggs as a version of this, that we had for supper last week. The picture isn't great but the dinner was.

Then there was the smothered leftover pork recipe - delicious.
Smothered Leftover pork - adapted from here
1 leftover pork loin roasted, sliced (with ~ 4 sliced cooked pancetta, diced)
1 3/4 cups leftover peach and blackberry gravy (or 1 1/2 c broth thickened with 1-2 tbsp cornstarch)
1 small onion sliced
2 c sliced mushrooms
2 minced garlic cloves
dash of salt, pepper
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 c cream
1 bunch chard, sliced, sauted until wilted
1/3 c crumbled feta
1 tbsp olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the salt, let melt, and then add the onion and garlic and soften slightly. Add the mushrooms and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the broth and the meat and bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add the cream and the chard and heat for a few minutes. Add the feta and serve.

This was delicious.

portobello mushroom burgers

I've been meaning to tell you all about these since I first made them based on this post. For some reason I actually made them prior to the posting date as Ree was updating her website and the original posting came and went and came back again but in the meantime I had made them which seemed a bit odd but all worth it. I've made these a few times now but this is the first time I've managed to get pictures before they were all devoured. D always looks a bit hopeful as he finishes his last bite, as though maybe I have more stashed away somewhere! And any leftover basil mayonaise that happens to be lying around makes a wonderful dip for veggies or chips so it doesn't last long.

The basil mayonaise was revelatory.

Who knew that my store bought hellman's and handfuls of basil from the garden could mingle together so magnificently. Which now has me plotting on the best way to bring in my basil plants and protect them all winter so I can keep eating this. I did, the other day, come up with some other ideas that could also work in this burger - roasted garlic mayonaise or roasted pepper mayonaise - we will have to see how I manage with my basil.

I am really grateful that although it has been a bad summer for tomatoes (unless you love green ones!) and not so great for zucchini in my garden - I have had lots (and lots) of basil which I've been using for these burgers and for pasta and summer hash and on corn and salad - so much so that I still haven't made any pesto...

But back to the burgers - for 2
4 portobello mushrooms (similar size if possible)
2 kaiser or onion buns
2 slices provolone cheese (I've also used Havarti - see note at the bottom)
2 slices prosciutto
a couple of dollops of mayonaise
a handful of fresh basil
olive oil or butter

Add a couple of good sized dollops of mayonaise to the bowl of a food processor. Add the basil leaves and pulse until combined. Set aside. Add a couple of tsp of oil or butter to a saute pan which will fit all 4 mushrooms (if smaller you will need to do them in batches). Lay the mushrooms in the pan, top side down and cook over medium heat for ~ 10 minutes.

Flip them over and cook for another 5 minutes. After a couple of minutes place a piece of cheese over 2 of the mushrooms. Stack one naked mushroom on the top of a cheese mushroom and set aside. Do this for the other two mushrooms. You can slightly toast your bun halves in the same pan (to soak up any residual mushroom cheese bits) or heat in the oven. Once the buns are ready, spread the basil mayonaise liberally on the top and bottom, slide a mushroom duo onto the bottom, and top with the prosciutto slice and the top of the bun. Eat.

A note - the first time I made them with Havarti cheese and no prosciutto - and while good, we did have a bit of an issue with the mushrooms sliding out of the burger with every bite. This seems to be much less of an issue using the provolone and the prosciutto - so you are warned.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

a peachy day

I had a big box of peaches

on my counter so on Sunday morning I started canning. I ended up around lunch time with 21 jars of canned peaches of various sizes and still had some peaches left over.

I also had a loaf of freshly baked bread.

So after a jaunt to the market and the grocery store, I settled in to make dinner. I made pork with peaches and blackberry based on this recipe, roasted potatoes (using potatoes from our farm trip the day before), sauted collard greens,

 and a peach struesel pie.

Here is how I made the pie - Peach Stuesel Pie
(inspired by a couple of recipes - sassy radish's honey bourbon caramel peach pie and apricot peach struesel pie in the Recipes Only Cookbook - Caroll Allen, June 1989, McGraw Hill Ryerson press)

1 recipe sweet pastry (I used this recipe)
3 lbs sliced peaches
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tbsp flour
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c sugar

In a bowl, combine the sliced unpeeled peaches (I've noticed that in baking with ripe peaches the peels tend to melt into the fruit so no need to peel them), cornstarch, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, salt and sugar and mix together. Make the pastry and roll it out to fit the pie dish. Fill the pie with the peach filling, mounding the fruit in the center of the pie slightly.

Struesel Topping
1/2 c raw almonds
1/4 c flour
1/4 c brown sugar
2 tbsp butter

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until they are in smallish pieces but not meal. Add the flour and sugar and pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse until well distributed. Pour the topping over the peach filling and distribute it as evenly as possible.

Bake the pie at 400 deg F for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a rack for 2-3 hours before serving.

It was yummy and I'm glad I went with less sugar than all the recipes I had so the pie has a lovely peachy nutty flavour.

saturday morning scones

Saturday morning I decided to make a scone to go with my peach jam. I used my favorite scone recipe as a jumping off point - the brown sugar scone recipe from my old Recipes Only Cookbook (Caroll Allen- June 1989,Mcgraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd edition). I halved the recipe to yield 8 scones.

Cinnamon Nutmeg Scones
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter
1/2 c milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon
zest of 1/3 of a lemon
grating of fresh nutmeg

In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, baking powder and brown sugar. Pulse to blend well. Add the butter and pulse until well-mixed in. Add the milk, cinnamon, lemon zest and nutmeg and pulse until a dough just forms. Dump the dough onto a counter and pat into a 3/4" thick rectangle.

 Cut in half and cut each half into 4 triangles.

Lay the triangles onto an ungreased baking sheet, sprinkle sanding sugar on the tops of each triangle and bake at 375 deg F for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

another lunch

So I wrote about the lunch I made last Saturday which we had in the garden but two days later we had another lunch - albeit smaller - but the tone was decidedly more autumnal. Early morning rain and a chill in the air meant we ate inside and I made soup, salad and this bread.

My version didn't look quite as pretty as Dana's but it was delicious and it was easy to make, despite my panic about the directions - " Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times. Pat or roll the dough into a 2-by-24-inch rectangle. Spread the onion mixture on top. Cut the dough crosswise into 10 pieces. Stack 9 pieces onion side up, then top with the final piece, onion-side down. Carefully lay the stack in the prepared loaf pan ".

I was so distracted by the time I got the dough into the bread pan that I forgot the next bit - about brushing the top with butter. Nevermind - the bread baked up into cheesy deliciousness which is all that matters. And I think I might forgo the butter brushing step next time as the bread was decadently rich as it was.

Friday, September 10, 2010

canning applesauce

Suddenly fall is in the air - summer may return for brief shining moments in the afternoon but mornings and evenings are crisper and call for cuddly things - nubby sweaters, cosy blankets, cups of tea. I'm sad to see the end of summer although the fruit stand is still full of corn and peaches and tomatoes and ever-bearing strawberries along side the first of the gala apples. T started back to preschool this week and it feels like we've left the lazy days behind and life is speeding up again - more traffic, more stress, more rush-rushing everywhere.

Monday, an extra day off this week, I spent some time in the kitchen. I made a couple of batches of oven dried tomatoes (sadly these came from the market and not from my garden). And then I made applesauce out of the bag of organic apples I'd won the day before.

5 lbs of apples, quartered
smidgeon of water

Toss the apples and water into a saucepan and heat over medium low heat until the apples are soft and mushy. Pour into a food mill and process over a bowl.

Discard the peels, cores, seeds and stems. Taste the applesauce and adjust seasoning as desired - sugar for sweetness or a touch of cinnamon or nutmeg if that is your taste. Pour the applesauce into hot, sterilized jars and process in a canning bath for 15 minutes (pints).

I didn't add any sugar or seasoning to this batch as it was delicious all on it's own. My apples yielded just over 4 250 mL jars.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

more peach goodness

Before my sister-in-law told me she would bring a galette to lunch on Saturday, I thought I would make a ginger peach crumble. I bought peaches. So I made it late last night.

This morning, after waking at the crack of dawn (6:30AM) and not being able to go back to sleep, I got up and read for a bit. By 7, I was joined by a bouncy boy so our day began. By 7:30 (AM!) I wanted nothing more than to crawl back into my bed and sleep for 2 or 3 hours (days) but D was at work and T was wanting to play trucks, build a lego airport, etc so I had a bowl of peach crumble instead.

With a cup of tea.

Ginger Peach Crumble
5 ripe peaches, sliced
2 tbsp corn starch
dash of cinnamon
1/4 c sugar

Combine the peaches, corn starch, cinnamon and sugar together and pour into a greased baking dish.

3/4 c ginger snaps
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c flour
2 tbsp butter

Process the ginger snaps in a food processor until they are crumbs. Mix in the sugar and flour and then pulse the butter into the mix until well blended. Pour over the peaches and pack into a crust. Bake at 350 deg F for 40 minutes until bubbly.

At one point this morning, T got a hold of my camera and when I downloaded the pictures, I had a lot of pictures of his trucks - well, pieces of his trucks - like this -

I don't think I'll scrapbook these ones!

late summer lunch

I realized late last week that it was Labour Day weekend this weekend. What can I say, it snuck up on me. So I tried to organize a lunch in the garden for Saturday which the forecast deemed would be our best day, weatherwise. So we had lunch in the garden. I made Chard and Saffron tart, Scalloped Tomatoes and salad and had a baguette and some cheese and my sister-in-law brought a blackberry peach galette. Lovely.

Scalloped Tomatoes (from Smitten Kitchen)
3 lbs of campari tomatoes, diced
3 c cubed bread
1 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c sliced basil
1/2 c shaved parmesan

Toast the bread in the olive oil until brown.

Mix the tomatoes

with the garlic, sugar, salt and pepper and add to the toasted bread and cook for 5 minutes.

 Take off the heat, add the basil and pour into a baking dish. Sprinkle the parmesan on the top.

Bake at 350 deg F for 35 minutes.

Chard and Saffron Tart (from Dana Treat)
1 tart shell
1 bunch chard, no stems, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
kosher salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 c milk
1 large pinch saffron in 1 tbsp warm water
zest of one lemon
3 tbsp grated parmesan

Roll the tart dough and place into the tart pan. Cover with 1 tbsp dijon mustard.

Heat the oil and saute the onion for about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and the garlic. Toss the chard leaves into the pan and cook for about 3 minutes.

Whisk the eggs together. Add the milk, lemon zest, salt, pepper, saffron, cheese and then add the chard and onion mix. Pour the custard into the shell.

Bake for 40 minutes at 375 deg F.

It was a lovely lunch and I love both recipes.