Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer, where art thou?

I cannot believe how quickly this summer has flown by. Mid-August already! It flew by for us due to welcoming a newborn in our house for the first time, having lots of visitors and having amazing weather  in July and August. Our little one arrived in June and I have been trying to savour every moment.  It also means that until I get in the swing of things, this blog has taken a bit of a backseat temporarily. 

Having said that, here is a brief snapshot of some of the food and garden-related activities from this summer. 
Roasting tomatoes to make pizza sauce. 250 degree oven, six hours. Then purée them to make a sauce. Yum! 

Our garlic harvested about 50 juicy, plump bulbs. Very successful! Looking forward to planting again this fall.

Fermented pickles, in progress. This is day four- brine is cloudy, there is a bit of bubbling and the cucumbers are turning into pickles. This recipe called for less salt then others I have tried and the results are much better. I will post more info once it finishes.

I found these awesome jars at Home Outfitters for 25% off. I am going to do larger batches of fermented pickles with this new recipe once the smaller test batch is completed (assuming it worked well). 

My first tomatillo husk appeared on the plant this week! So excited. This is my first time growing tomatillos.

Lots of beautiful zucchini flowers in the garden. Not sure if you can see in this one- a bee is in the middle, working away.

Another beautiful zucchini flower.

I planted peas for a fall harvest, they have started to grow and cling to their supports.

I found beautiful strawberries and red currants at our farmers market. I combined them both to make a fantastic jam. We have been enjoying it on croissants, biscuits and in strawberry shortcake desserts. 

Found these beauties at the market, too. Love sunflowers. Might try to grow my own next year.

I hope your summer is going well! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Garden Tour/Update

Things are moving along quite nicely in the garden beds. I have tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, Swiss chard, beets, herbs, tomatillos, peas, beans, berries, rhubarb and garlic growing. Most are doing well, with the exception of cucumbers and zucchini- I think the soil should have been analyzed more as I suspect some nutrients are missing. The leaves are yellow and growth is very, very slow.

If you have a garden, I hope you are having a great season! 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Rhubarb Ginger Scones

My love of rhubarb continues. I made scones today that include the flavours of ginger and rhubarb- they work really well together. In total, these took about 35 mins to make inclusive of baking time.

2.5 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp of baking powder
0.5 tsp of salt (I use a fine sea salt)
8 tbsp of cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup of sugar, mixed together with 1 tsp of high quality vanilla extract  
3 tbsp sugar to mix with rhubarb
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups chopped rhubarb, chopped into 1/4" pieces or smaller if you'd like. If you are shy about the tartness of rhubarb, scale this back to 1.25 cups instead of 2.
2 tbsp chopped crystallized ginger (chewy pieces of ginger with a sugary exterior.) Chop them into small pieces- smaller the better.

Start by preheating oven to 425 degrees F. Then begin mixing 3 tbsp sugar with rhubarb pieces. Toss to evenly coat, then set aside.

Then mix together flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Once thoroughly mixed, cut butter into small pieces and dump into bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut butter into flour mixture until it gets coarse. 

Add vanilla sugar mixture, stir in well. Then add rhubarb and ginger pieces. It may seem a little a$$ backwards to do this now but it works best. Ensure it is mixed up well then make a well in the centre of bowl and add cream. Fold in dry mixture to cream, gradually forming a ball. I like using a fork to do this but if you prefer, this could all be done in a food processor using pulse mode until dough loosely forms.

Pour dough mixture onto floured surface and with your hands, make a round disc shape. Don't knead the dough or over work it. Once you have a disc shape, dough will be about 1/2" thick or so. Cut into wedges, you should be able to get 8 pieces. Dust pieces on top with sugar if you would like.

Put pieces on ungreased baking sheet and bake 18-20 mins until tops are browned. 

Enjoy! I can't wait to have one with a cup of hot coffee. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Super Easy Homemade Granola

We are gearing up to start a new chapter in our lives- parenthood, and starting to think about snacks and meals that will be easy to grab in the first few weeks. Today I decided to make a hearty granola. It is based on a recipe from Ina Garten. I love having granola with a bit of my homemade jam, plain Greek yogurt and cut up fruit. It is packed with protein and delicious!

This recipe takes about 30 minutes to make and only has a few steps. Ingredients:
2 cups roughly chopped hazelnuts
2 cups roughly chopped cashews
2 cups old fashioned steel cut oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup shredded coconut
6 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the ingredients in a large bowl, ensuring the honey and oil get evenly distributed. Tip: pour oil first then honey- the honey will slide out of the spoon easily. Spread out evenly on a large sheet pan. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Turn over granola every 5 mins to ensure it gets golden brown throughout. If you skip this part, it might get overdone in some spots.  Remove from oven and let cool completely. Then, you can add anything else you like: dried fruit like cranberries or pieces of mango, or you could add raisins or throw in some chocolate chips. Store the granola mixture in a sealed container; it should last a couple of months if airtight. 


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Upside Down Rhubarb Crumble Cake

I love watching Martha Bakes on PBS and fell in love when I saw this cake recipe. I love a crumble cake and rhubarb is one of my favorite things about spring. Combine the two and I am in heaven!

Ready, Set, Go!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crumble, mix 1/2 cup flour, 4 tbsp melted unsalted butter, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 tsp sea salt. Set aside. 

For the cake, cut up one pound of rhubarb into one inch pieces. Mix with 3/4 cup sugar. Let sit for two minutes, then stir.

Grease a 9" cake pan with butter and drop pieces of unsalted butter on bottom of pan, equalling 4 tbsp. 

Whisk together 1 and 1/4 cups of flour with 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1 and 1/2 tsp salt. In a separate bowl, mix 1.5 sticks of softened unsalted butter and 1 and 3/4 cups of sugar until it looks fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in zest of one lemon and 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice. Then beat in two eggs, one at a time. Mixture should look silky at this point. 

Beat in flour mixture divided into three parts, alternating with sour cream. In total, one cup of sour cream is used. By the end of mixing, the batter should look like this:

Dump the rhubarb mixture into your cake pan and spread evenly. Then pour batter evenly over rhubarb. Finish by sprinkling the crumble on top.

Bake for one hour. Crumble mixture should lightly brown. Remove from oven, let stand for ten minutes.

At the end of ten minutes, run a knife around edge to loosen it then flip it over onto a plate. Voila! The smell is ridiculous- you have been warned.


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