Wednesday, August 31, 2011

summer on a stick

Last summer, I made one batch of this - as I didn't have popsicle molds, despite searching everywhere for them - I froze the mixture in a pyrex dish and served it up as ice cream. My husband raved about it and I ended up freezing bags containing 1 lb bags of strawberries (the everlasting ones from the fruit stand). But I only made the ice cream once more during the fall and come spring, I turned most of the bags into this, my husband's other favorite dessert. But when big baskets of strawberries came back to the fruit stand, I searched again for the recipe and made some again. I think I was confused the first time I made it and added too much milk as the flavour and colour weren't the same as I remember even though the result was good. I made a double batch last week as I had gone crazy and bought piles of day old strawberries. This time I read the recipe properly and the colour and flavour were exactly as I remember from last year. Try them - either as popsicles or ice cream - Roasted Strawberry Popsicles or Ice Cream. With balsamic vinegar and vanilla - it is seriously good.

Roasted Strawberry Popsicles (Ice Cream) from Sarah via makegrowgather
1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
1 1/2 tsps balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 c milk

Toss the strawberries, with the sugar,

vanilla and balsamic vinegar and pour into a baking pan. Roast for 2 hours at 275 deg F. Let cool for 15 minutes or more. Pour all the berries and any juice into a food processor and blitz for 30 seconds before adding the milk and cream. Blitz until relatively smooth. Pour into popsicle molds or into a pyrex dish. Freeze until hard (at least 4 hours).
rocket ship shaped popsicles

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

cucumbers + dill = pickles (hopefully)

Last year, at our fruit stand, I saw a woman buy a big box of cucumbers and huge bunches of dill. "Don't forget to make your pickles right away so the cucumbers stay crunchy" was the advice from the fruit stand guy. So this year, I thought I would try making pickles myself. So a couple of weeks ago, I asked the fruit stand guy to put my name down for a box of cucumbers and dill. And last week I got a message from him saying I would get my box on Monday. So I found a recipe, got out my jars and lids, bought vinegar and pickling salt and on Monday, the boy and I stopped and bought the box of cucumbers and dill. And I got the "make them right away so the cucumbers stay crunchy and wash them really well" advice.

So I washed and sorted cucumbers for about an hour - all 10 pounds of them.

I washed the jars and lids, boiled the water in the canning pot and made the brine. Then I stuffed the jars with dill,

mustard seed, black pepper corns and the cucumbers and topped them up with the brine solution. Into the canning bath for 20 minutes and now they are put away in the cupboard to "cure".

They look like pickles, so I'm hoping they taste like pickles.

Here's how I did it:

Dill Pickles (based on blue ribbon dill pickles from

9 wide mouth jar, with lids and seals
10 lbs cucumbers, washed and sorted by size
fresh dill, flowers and a few inches of stem
mustard seeds
pepper corns

17 c water
4 1/2 c white vinegar
1 c pickling salt

Wash the jars and keep hot, either in a canning bath or from the dishwasher. Place the lids and seals into a saucepan, cover with water and simmer. Shake the dill flowers and sprigs to remove any bugs. Fill the canning bath half full of water and set to boil on the stove.

Make the brine by adding the water, vinegar and salt to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to low until ready.

When everything is ready, begin to fill the hot jars, one at a time. Place a few dill flowers in the bottom of each jar, add 5 peppercorns, a few mustard seeds and fill the jar with cucumbers, fitting the cucumbers in tightly up to the neck of the jars. Pour the brine in the jars, leaving 1/2" head space. Add a tiny sprig of dill to the top and cap with the lid and seal. Place the jars in the canning bath. Process for 15 minutes. Remove from the bath onto a clean towel and let cool, covered with another towel for 24 hours. Place in a dark, dry area for storage.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

memories of maine

Lately it seems everyone has been talking about lobster (lobsta) rolls. I even came across an article in the paper about a food truck in Montreal that does them. And while we do have awesome shrimp and crab here on the west coast, we don't have lobster shacks a short drive away like say, the coast of Maine.

The best lobster I ever had wasn't from a lobster shack though - it was eaten on beaches, beside campfires, with corn and melted butter. With this coastal schooner anchored not far away.

But all this talk of lobster rolls is making me hungry for some lobster. I may have to go find some.

Monday, August 8, 2011

postcards from home

A couple of weeks ago, on a solitary evening walk, I came across a gem of a view.

It’s close to our house, about 6 blocks, as the crow flies. A tiny signpost pointed the way through the woods or I never would have found it.

It’s a special place to our family because it’s where my husband’s siblings spent some of their childhood, in the days when there was a marina in the bay. I’ll take our boy there for a picnic soon so he’ll know it too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

summer days

We spent some time in the woods and at the beach last week. Catching up with family and just getting away from our daily routines. The weather co-operated so we got in a lot of summer fun stuff - beach time

 making sand castles, stick castles, rock castles

and sand crocodiles covered with seaweed,

looking at fossils and lungfish at a local museum, go carts, mini golf, ice cream, looking at old airplanes,

 hiking around a swamp and a marsh,

riding a steam train and looking at old logging equipment and construction trucks

and having dinner with family. And two rides on a ferry.

I hope you are all having an awesome summer.