Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Blog Break

If you are an avid follower (and I don't think that there are many of you) of this blog, you will notice that my posts have been absent for the last few weeks.  I have had to take a blog break, not because I am not enjoying doing it, but lately I have had some undue work pressures that are taking up a lot of time in the evenings.  I have been away a bit and am going away again for a week so wouldn't have anything interesting to say for another few weeks anyhow.

I hope to be back to my regular posts soon. . . .

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Harvest Box for August 30, 2012

AKA: I Have Too Many Tomatoes!!!  

This week is not going to be so much about what you can do with the veggies in your order, but what I did tonight with the veggies in my order.  Each week I look at the list when it comes on Monday to see if there might be something I want extra of that week but I don't really start thinking about the list seriously until Wednesday or Thursday when I write the blog.  So this week, I'm unpacking my box and look, a lovely 3 orange tomatoes, ummm, they will go well with my 2 that I still have from last week.  Ooohhh and look, another lovely pint of cherry tomatoes to go with my other pint from last week.  And WOW, a clamshell full of Roma tomatoes.  (NB - you can return the empty clamshell in your blue tote box and Ferme aux Pleines Saveurs will recycle it)  And then I look over to the counter where I have 2 large bowls of tomatoes picked from our garden.  The plans for the evening suddenly changed.

What was to be a quiet evening of finding some recipes, writing the blog, maybe reading, and heading to bed early has turned into a marathon of cooking, prepping, canning, and figuring out what to do with the tomato bounty.  As I type, there are still two lovely pints of mixed cherry tomatoes sitting in front of me, but that's the best I could do on short notice.  And photos to document it all.

As I stated last week, the leeks were going to get used in soup, never happened, but now that I had two from last week and two more this week, I couldn't let the other two go bad, so a batch of Leek and Potato Soup onto the stove.

Why can't this wait until another night when I don't have to spend a couple of hours writing?  Because we are headed to the cottage this weekend, and I decided earlier today that I would make a Mediterranean Rice Salad knowing that I was getting some red peppers in the order.  I am not really sure where this recipe came from, but it is one of my favorites.
3 c. cooked long grain rice
1 c. cooked wild rice
1 c. feta, crumbled
1/2 c. chopped red onion
1/3. c. each of red, yellow, and green pepper, finely chopped (use the green from last week and the red from this week)
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/4 c. each chopped black and green olives
2 tbsp capers
1-15oz can of cannellini beans (ordered those a while back as well)

Combine all of that in a large bowl and mix well.

3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced

Mix the dressing ingredients together in a bowl with a whisk.  Pour over the rice mixture and combine well.  Serve chilled, and even better the next day.

The wild rice is still cooling as I type before I can add it to the salad.

 Beets, from last week.  I cooked them last night and since I was on a roll, I decided that they might as well get pickled.  This is the easy recipe from my London Olympics post from a few weeks ago.  Super easy, can't wait to try them.  Make sure to process them as directed.

And the tomatoes - what to do with that many tomatoes?  I looked up a lot of options online.  You could check out the Top Ten Ways to Use Up Tomatoes.  The Tomato Medley recipe from last week is a great option to use up all three types at once.  You could certainly slice the orange tomatoes and have a nice toasted tomato sandwich with some mayo, salt and pepper.  Or as I saw on one "what to do with too many tomatoes" post - upgrade the simple toasted tomato sandwich with a thicker bread, some gouda, and fresh basil.  Layer the tomatoes first onto the bread, top with the gouda, place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly then top with some shredded basil and cracked pepper.

Most sites suggest roasting the tomatoes or baking them on low heat to dry them for future use.  A lot of recipes also suggest making tomato sauce or paste and then freezing it.  You can also just dry pack the tomatoes (put them in a Ziploc and take out as much air as possible) and freeze them.  When you want to use the tomatoes, bring them out of the freezer, run them under warm water to remove the skins and use in sauces or soups.  If we weren't going to be a the cottage this weekend, I would probably take the time to make a nice pasta sauce with the Romas, the garlic, and some fresh herbs from my pot.

However, I had a soup on the stove, 2 jars of beets waiting to be processed, and a some wild rice about to be drained for a salad - I opted for the least time consuming option.  This title Grab the Blender caught my eye.  So, a bit of sacrilege to some fine tomatoes, but not even a minute in the food processor and I had first some lovely orange tomato juice and secondly some red tomato juice.  I have put it in small storage bags and into the freezer.  Not even 20 minutes of my time, and I will use that juice for sauces and soups over the next few months.  I won't feel bad about any tomatoes going bad, and I won't resent my garden from overdosing on caprese salad, tomato sandwiches, and pasta with tomatoes!

The soup is done, the beets are in the canner, and I am just about done typing.  I want to leave you with one last recipe that I will be making tomorrow night with the Savoy Cabbage and Red Pepper.  It's a Napa Cabbage Salad (sub the Savoy for the Napa) and is similar to a Japanese Coleslaw recipe that I may have given you in the past.  I apologize if it's a repeat, but it's a good one.

1 large cabbage, chopped
2 bunches green onions, chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
Place chopped cabbage, onion, and red pepper in a large salad bowl

1/4 c. butter
1 c. slivered almonds
2 pkgs chicken flavored ichiban noodles with the seasoning mix
Melt the butter in the frying pan, then add the almonds, broken noodles, and seasonings.  Saute until almonds are golden.  Add to cabbage mixture and toss.

1c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp. soya sauce
1/3 c. sugar
Shake the dressing ingredients in a jar or resealable container.  Consider only making half the dressing or pour about 1/2 the dressing over the salad and toss at least 30 min before serving.  If you made a full batch of dressing, you will have leftovers, refrigerate and use again.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Organic Harvest Box for August 23, 2012

So while I was out of town last week, Tasha is sending me this beautiful photo of the cherry tomatoes from Songberry Farm (not to make me jealous of course) and some of you may have been lucky enough to get them if you are getting the Local Only box.
And then she proceeds to send me this recipe for a Tomato Medley by Jamie Oliver.  Really, we are out of town, not cooking for ourselves checking email only to see mouth watering cherry tomatoes and a great idea for what to do with them - and we can't have any.  However, this week's order has both cherry tomatoes and orange field tomatoes and if I raid our own plants, I think the Tomato Medley will be a great starter one night for dinner.  In case you are unsure, you can get Halloumi cheese for the recipe at almost any Middle Eastern grocery store.  

I don't want to rush the end of summer by any means, my oldest daughter starts school for the first time in a couple of weeks, swimming in the lake won't last much longer, and traffic on your favorite thoroughfare is going to get busy again.  But I do love to see the start of the fall harvest in our veggie order.  Soup season will start again soon and it's one of my favorite meals so I'll probably make a Potato Leek Soup this week.  I make this recipe from the Joy of Cooking, it is very simple:

3 tbsps. unsalted butter
6 medium leeks, chopped
1 1/4 lbs potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
6 c. stock (poultry, vegetable) or water
Salt and Pepper
1/2 to 1 c. heavy cream

In a soup pot, over low heat, melt the butter.  Add the leeks, stirring regularily, and cook until they are tender but not browned about 20 minutes.  Stir in the potatoes and stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are soft, approx. 30 min.  Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth.  Add the cream and reheat gently.  Serve garnished with snipped chives.

I was trying to keep summer in mind and think of some light and fresh recipes to keep me away from what I really want to start cooking - fall comfort food - so I started to search out salads with beets and fennel.  I could write this whole blog just about that combo (and I apologize in advance if that's what it turns into).  Add some apple or some oranges to the mix and I will need three extra orders of each.  Here is what I came up with - starting light and fresh and still a great choice for this weekend's hot weather - Hearty Beet and Fennel Salad - don't forget to use that basil from the plant from week's ago.  Everything is grated, no cooking and a really fresh tasting dressing - you might want to wear rubber gloves when grating the beets.  Another two salads that caught my eye are Herbed Beets with Fennel and Beets with Fennel, Orange and Walnuts; both require cooking the beets first, roasting or boiling.  But fast forward a few weeks from now when we are getting much cooler weather, frosty mornings, and leaves turning, and you would do equally well to make this recipe for Roasted Beets, Fennel and Apple  or Beet and Fennel Soup with Kefir.

Since I offhandedly mentioned wearing rubber gloves for grating your beets, I thought I should check into how to clean beet juice stains from your hands.  Google is a wonderful thing but can easily distract - did you know that drinking beet juice is the latest performance enhancing craze.  According to Adrian Chen of Gawker - beet juice was "the fuel of elite international athletes in London."  Apparently the nitrates improve the muscles ability to use oxygen.  I digress from my original thought - how to remove beet stains from your skin.  If you can, do avoid getting your skin stained in the first place by wearing kitchen gloves when prepping your beets, but if you prefer bare hands - then after the fact you can try a bit of lemon juice when you are washing hands.  Or you can use coarse salt (or table salt if you don't have coarse) on your dry hands and try rubbing them together until the stains start to lift and the salt starts to "melt".  At this point you can rinse you hands, if the stains still remain you can try repeating the process.  Be aware of a couple of things - remove your watch and jewelry prior to using the salt, be wary if you have any nicks or cuts on your skin, and this trick may actually work on clothing as well.

A couple of more ideas for this week:

And enjoy the hot weather this weekend with some great food and fresh produce.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Organic Harvest Box for August 10, 2012

I am not actually getting a box this week but am hopefully getting just some beans and sugar snap peas to snack on as the peas were so good last week, I couldn't resist.  I am single parenting with only one child this week and we are not getting through our veggies fast enough before we leave on Saturday morning for a few days away.  There will be no box photo with this post, and no post at all next week.  I do have photo though of the makings for a fantastic quick fresh pasta that we enjoyed Monday evening after arriving home from the cottage.
Put your pasta on to boil as you start this sauce.  Heat approximately 2-3tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat.  While that is heating, finely chop your garlic, add to the oil.  Chop your tomatoes (they don't have to be perfectly uniform, and you can use large or cherry tomatoes) and add to the oil.  They will splatter, turn the heat down a little bit.  Let the tomatoes cook for about 5 minutes.  Chop some fresh basil and add to the sauce with some salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat when the pasta is ready, add some shredded parmesan cheese and stir into the pasta.  I don't know if it was specifically the tomatoes that we had last week in our box, but it was so sweet and tasty that my 2 year old ate 2 full bowls - I didn't have any seconds or leftovers for myself!

I came across this great post today on a quick way to chop cherry tomatoes at Food52.com.  I will be using it when I make this pasta again later this week with my garden tomatoes.

I can't believe all the good fruit coming this week, and then the huge amount of veggies.  These days, I am not the best person to ask about how to cook any of these veggies because as usual, they are mostly getting eaten raw.  But I have been cooking the zucchini.  Zucchini is apparently a great source of antioxidants and Vitamin C but research shows that the antioxidant benefits can decrease depending on how it is prepared.  The best way to keep as many nutritional properties as possible with zucchini is to eat it raw or just briefly steamed, and eat the skin, and seeds if possible.  Summer squashes such as zucchini can have fragile skin that can get bad spots if nicked.  To store your zucchini it is best to not wash it and place it in an airtight container in the fridge.  It should last up to 7 days that way.  If you are getting over run by zucchini from the garden then freezing it is a great option and it does maintain its antioxidants when frozen.  Some websites suggest blanching it before freezing, but my experience is to grate it so it can be thawed later to be used in sauces, baking, or casseroles.  My dad has a huge garden and is constantly picking zucchinis at this time of year.  He reminded me of a stuffed zucchini recipe that he does, and this is the closest I could find online - Stuffed Zucchini with Tomatoes and Mozzarella.  Zucchini goes really well with tomatoes and could be done roasted, sautéed, or raw in a salad such Zucchini Carpaccio (Raw Zucchini Salad).

As I said, my yellow beans are going to get eaten raw as a snack on our road trip.  But there are so many options with yellow or green beans to make a nice side dish.  You can easily sauté or steam them and add your favorite oil/butter/lemon juice and then herbs or seasonings.  This recipe for Garlic Yellow Beans is a great starting point and you can add or adjust with your preference or what's in your pantry.  If beans are still available after my holidays, I am going to get a few pounds and try these Spicy Dilled Beans from Canadian Living.  Their intro caught my eye stating that the dilled beans would be a great cocktail garnish, and I might tone down a jar or two given that the kiddies are into everything pickled (don't judge, but they love a pickle at breakfast).

I often feel that I should be writing more recipes for the fruit that's in the box, however, I would be surprised how many people are actually cooking with their fruit as opposed to just eating it.  But I am going to challenge myself to include 1 fruit recipe each week.  Last week's Plum Strudel recipe was the inadvertent start, and as I was reviewing the list this week, I thought to myself that I better include that easy tart recipe from the Food and Drink, and good thing I looked at last week's blog - already done!  So this week, I want to share some ideas for Mango Salad.  Mango Salad with shrimp is one of my favorite dishes at Vietnamese or Thai restaurants.  Here are two easy recipes with no shrimp in either but it could be added easily.  One recipe for Thai Mango Salad from the Toronto Sun and another recipe from Canadian Living.

Wish me luck on a 6 hour road trip with a 2 year old, some snacks of yellow beans and snap peas, multiple kids CDs, and likely a barrage of stickers in the backseat.  I'll return, somehow rested hopefully, in 2 weeks.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Organic Harvest Box for August 2, 2012

This is going to be a quick one tonight, it's late, I have to get up early and the long weekend is upon us.  It was so nice to see so much local produce in the regular box this week.  If I can brag, I think the cherry tomatoes from my back yard are equally as good as the ones in this week's box, however, they are not as plentiful as I have little hands who get them every time they are outside!  Also to brag, sort of, the week we were on holidays in July I forgot to ask anyone to water my plants.  Most everything did fine except the herb pot, it didn't look like anything survived the week of crazy hot weather.  But after just a couple weeks of watering, there is one plant that is back to life and doing better than before - that little basil plant that we got in our box almost a month ago.  Phew.

Also, last week I made the Chard and Tomato pie from the Bristish website, and it was delicious, a great lunch meal with some fresh veggies.  This week you could do the same recipe and use the beet greens and tomatoes.  Here is a photo of everything getting cooked up.

Last week I meant to give you this recipe for the plums for a lovely dessert out of the Summer 2012 edition of the Food and Drink magazine.

Plum Strudel
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. fresh bread crumbs (challah bread if you can)
1 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
3 c. firm ripe plums, cut in 3/4" dice

6 sheets of phyllo
1/3 c. melted butter
1/3 c. sugar

Preheat oven to 400F.  Combine 1/2 c. sugar, bread crumbs, flour and cardamom.  Toss all but 2 tbsp bread crumb mixture with plums.  Set aside.  Lay phyllo sheets on counter and cover with a tea towel.  Working with the long edge of the phyllo in front of you, place first sheet on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush with butter and sprinkle with about 1 tbsp. of sugar.  Repeat until all of phyllo and most of sugar have been used.  Sprinkle reserved 2 tbsp of bread crumb mixture on lower third of top layer leaving about 2 inches from the long edge and 1 inch from the short edge.  Place plums over bread crumb mixture.  Fold in short edges and roll pastry lengthwise into a strudel shape, sealing edges with butter and making sure the seam is underneath.  Brush with butter and cut 3 slits on top.  Sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp sugar.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the top is browned and plum mixture is cooked. Serve with fresh whipped cream.

I got a sneak peek of the Fuji apples last week when I popped in to pick up my box and I can tell you, they are fantastic, crisp, and so delicious.  One of those ones that I should have remembered to order extra of.

Unfortunately, my little beets did not get pickled last week - these big ones may as we are just two in my house this week and that's a lot of beets to go through.  What I forgot to mention last week was how to store beets.  It is important with these beets to trim the greens off near the top of the beet.  Try to use the beet greens fairly quickly as you would chard (steamed, boiled, sauteed).  Put the beets in a plastic bag, push out as much air as possible and tie up the bag.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks that way.  The beet page at WH Foods outlines all the good properties of beets, and some simple ways to cook them.

I came across a neat summer recipe for Creamy Corn and Zucchini that at first glance I thought it was a salad but as I read the ingredients and directions - it is a cooked dish that's pretty simple.  If you are familiar with the Kraft.ca recipes you know how the recipes are part advertising but still appealing enough to want to make them so you can easily substitute any of the brand name items they recommend for your own choice, and even substitute their dressing recommendations with homemade.  Kraft also had this simple Farmer's Market Corn Toss that would be easy to make with the zucchini this week and maybe pick up some nice local corn.  A few years back a lady I play ball with made a delicious potato salad recipe that is so simple to make, the new potatoes we got this week are the ideal size for this salad:

Potato Salad (courtesy of Dominique)
Red potatoes - cook and cool
Finely chop red onion and shallots
Stir together equal parts of canola oil and plum vinegar.  Add some pepper and cilantro.  Toss with the vegetables and chill.

One last thing, I usually don't say too much about the easy vegetables (that's how I think of them) such as carrots.  When I opened my box and took out the carrots, the variety of colors was fantastic so I thought I should look something up to see if there was any good recipes to showcase the color variety and I came across the carrot museum website - www.carrotmuseum.co.uk  I had a bit of a laugh and then clicked on it, and actually found some really interesting information about all the different colors of carrots (incidentally, the purple carrots have more beta carotene than the orange carrots).  If you scroll down to the bottom of this article, The Many Colours of Carrots, it outlines the nutritional benefits and differences of each of the different colors.  And there is a recipe for Coloured Carrots and Couscous at www.coloredcarrots.com that also looks really good.

Enjoy the local produce, make a caprese salad with the tomatoes and basil, and snack on the sugar snap peas - that's what I'll be doing.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Organic Harvest Box for July 26, 2012

It feels like a very long time since I have posted.  I have been without my veggie box for 2 weeks now, but luckily instead of having to negotiate the grocery store this past weekend, we went to the Ottawa Farmers Market to purchase our weekly supply.  It's such a great time of year for produce, the fruit that is coming into season, and all the fresh vegetable harvest.  And you probably don't need to hear again how much the harvest will be affected throughout the summer by this drought.  My girls have been eating peaches, plums, and apricots endlessly right now so I know that the plums from this week's box will be well enjoyed.

I received an interesting Savvy Mom article this week about party ideas around an Olympic theme and so I'm a little hooked on it this week.  It started with Torch Cupcakes (cupcakes baked in to mini ice cream cones with icing flames), and that led into the Fruity Olympic Rings (pictured above) which led into me wondering if there is enough of the food in this week's box to make the Olympic rings - blue (hmm - not quite), black (the plums), red (cherry tomatoes), yellow (beans), and green (zucchini or broccoli).  I don't think you'll see a creative Olympic ring photo from me tomorrow when I get my box, but I have chosen to fill this week's post with British recipes or recipes from British food sites to make use of this week's selection and to pay homage to and celebrate the opening of the Summer Olympics in London on Friday, July 27, 2012.

I started with beets - my great aunt, whose background was British, had beets, pickled or otherwise, at many Sunday dinners alongside whichever roast was cooking.  We generally enjoy our beets roasted with just a bit of butter and salt and pepper served alongside any dish (try this recipe for Roasted Beets).  However, I may get ambitious this week and actually try to preserve my beets by pickling them.  My kids are all about pickles right now so some homemade pickled beets should be a hit.  I found a Pickled Beets recipe on the TLC website or this English Style Pickled Beets recipe which can do as little as one jar of beets.  Don't forget to cut the greens off the beets (if they are there), and use them as you would the chard, or add them to any of the chard recipes that you decide to make.

Chard is another vegetable that appears to also feature somewhat regularily in Bristish cooking - or I seemed to find a variety of chard recipes on British food sites.  This Chard and Chickpea Ribolitta soup, from the British publication The Guardian, is enticing because I love soup and I think that with the fresh vegetables in it, is light enough for our hot summer weather.  Use the onion and garlic from this week's box as well.  Or search through this collection of chard recipes from British organic veggie box distributor Abel and Cole.  I especially like the looks of the Tomato and Chard Pie as a lunch meal this weekend at the cottage, of course I will be cheating and buying either a puff pastry package or premade pie crust for ease of use!

I lived with my dad's cousin in university, it was her mother who was the great aunt with the British background.  My dad's cousin grew zucchini (and still does) every year, and every year, there were so many zucchinis.  She would shred zucchini after zucchini and freeze it all.  And mostly, she would make zucchini loaf, muffins, zucchini chocolate chip muffins or some variation therein.  I think it's a great way to use up overabundant zucchini and went searching and found this recipe from a UK food network for Zucchini Cake.  I doubt that zucchini cake is at all specific to the UK but is more likely a creation by necessity to make use of the vast amounts of zucchini throughout the winter!  I do joke a bit, because I no longer live in the same time zone or end of the country as my cousin, so I am not offered any extra bounty from the zucchini crop and I don't get so overwhelmed by zucchini in the summer.  We get less zucchini throughout the summer than I was used to growing up so I think that I really enjoy it more.  This time of year, consider slicing the zucchini into rounds, brushing with some olive and seasoning and grilling on the barbecue, or add some large chunks of onion and broccoli to a grill proof skillet or tray and roast all of them together.

Lastly, to stick with the British theme, I was thinking about making some small batch marmalade with the oranges (and shame - I have a lemon still in my fruit crisper - where is my post about using the lemon first?).  I am a big fan of preserving - more so B.C. (before children) when the kitchen could be hijacked for 12 hours straight, and I have a beautiful book,  The Complete Book Of Small Batch Preserving, that has recipes that are perfect for making just a few jars of something really good.  I was just going to type up a good marmalade recipe out of there, but low and behold, I've lent it to someone - this has spawned a plea email to friends to find out where my cookbook is.  In the meantime, I opened up my Bernardin Guide (basic resource for all things preserving) and found their recipes for the Easiest Ever Marmalade  and Orange Marmalade.  There is also this apparently no fail Orange Marmalade recipe from the Iowa Housewife website, and somehow I ended up at my new favorite foodie site - Food 52 (have I mentioned it before???) where they have a Valencia Orange Marmalade that is made over 3 days which is typical of marmalade.  I would half their recipe. Looking at all this marmalade recipes made me think that marmalade or jam of any sort really, would go well on some scones - truly Bristish.  Maybe sometime throughout the next couple of weeks while you are doing some Olympic sport viewing, sit yourself down for a nice cup of tea, a traditional English scone, with some clotted cream or butter, and some homemade marmalade.  Cheers.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Organic Harvest Box July 5, 2012

It's Thursday evening, I've travelled the Ontario countryside today for work, Brockville and then along the St. Lawrence to Gananoque, and up to Westport and then back to the city.  Hence, no veggie box yet.  I'm looking at the list of ingredients and can't wait to see everything tomorrow.  All I can think is green, green, fresh, green veggies, the kale, the choi, lettuce, basil, more scapes, pears and the green onions.  Most of our vegetables are getting eaten raw this time of year.  And I'm not sure why I even considered any recipes for my peaches or nectarines last week - the kids gobbled them up by Sunday.  I don't doubt that the same will happen this week.

Everything on the list this week (maybe cauliflower excluded) can be used in salad.  And given our heat and the forecast for the coming days - anything that doesn't require cooking is a blessing.  Add some grilled chicken, a can of tuna, or some chickpeas to your salad to make it a meal.  My favorite dressings for salads are homemade.  I have both a salad dressing making bottle (one of those home party companies that list their ingredients down the side for each different dressing) or my tried and true Tupperware Gravy Shaker.  To either I add some olive oil to start (try a nut oil for different flavor), then some vinegar (balsamic, cider, red wine) or fresh squeezed lemon juice, or grapefruit juice, then some seasonings, fresh chopped herbs, maple syrup, garlic, mustard, poppy seeds, or finely chopped onion, a pinch of salt to bring all the flavors together and then shake it up and place in the fridge until you are ready to use it.  You can put it in a jam jar with a sealer top and it should keep for a few days at least.  
My kale chips - they were a bit overdone
I started searching some recipes for red kale specifically and came across so many things that sound delicious.  Again, if I wrote this earlier in the week, I would know to order extras!  I really love how kale turns out in a salad when you massage the dressing into it - like in this very simple Red Kale, Raisin and Toasted Almond Salad and it's topped with Manchego cheese, one of my favorites.  I also love the idea of using the kale chopped up in an omelette, frittata, or Red Kale and Red Onion Savory Breakfast Squares (you could try substituting the green onions from the box).  The most interesting recipe I found for red kale this week is by far this Bacon Wrapped Red Kale recipe from the Preserving the Soul food blog.

Bacon Wrapped Russian Red Kale
1 Head of Kale - Halved or Quartered (depending on size)

1-2 pieces of bacon (depending on your love for bacon)
Handful of fresh thyme
Oil Oil
Balsamic Vinegar 

Halve one Kale. In a mortar, mash up the oil and thyme, drizzle it on the leafs then wrap it in bacon. Drizzle the balsamic and put it in the oven at 375 for, approximately 25-30 minutes or so.

I don't feel very innovative with pak choi - all I do is stir fry it.  If it was winter I would undoubtedly put it into a Chinese noodle soup but not right now.  There are so many different recipes for pak choi or bok choy that it's hard to choose just a few to post.  You might be better off to just pick your favorite stir fry recipe and add your pak choi to that.  This week you could also use small cauliflower florets, garlic scapes cut into 1-2" pieces, and the green onions to fill out the stir fry.  Add some chicken, pork, fish or tofu for some protein and then whip up an Easy Stir Fry Sauce.  I've come across two different sites that have great tips and some easy straight forward stir fry sauces.  First this Super Easy Stir Fry Guide from allrecipes.com walks through the steps of making stir fry and this post on www.fortysomething.ca gives a great list of 15 easy sauces to put on a stir fry.  However, if you want one recipe from start to finish try this Honey Chicken with Pak Choi.

If your cherry tomatoes don't just get eaten as snacks they would go well in this Chickpea and Cherry Tomato Salad.  Or if you have the air conditioner running and don't mind doing a bit of cooking at the stove, Jamie Oliver's recipe for Simple Summer Spaghetti is a great option for the cherry tomatoes and basil, you could substitute the garlic scapes for the garlic, and add some green onion as well.

We are off on holidays starting this weekend and heading to the cottage.  That means that I might actually get to cook all these things that I research each week.  And it also means that I don't have an internet connection and won't be able to post this coming week.  Enjoy.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Organic Harvest Box for June 28, 2012

Do you know what an RFP is?  Request for Proposal or what's been going through my head - Request for Pain.  It is due on Tuesday after the long weekend and has caused me enough overtime in 1 week to ensure my summer holidays are covered!  Hence the lateness of this post.  Because of my schedule, I can't even get my box until Friday midday so I don't have any hot tips from Tasha to share with you.  However, after painfully typing away at repetitive technical documents, I am just happy to sip the last of my decaf and write some ideas for this week's box.  I want to share some ideas about kiwi, the results of my scapes recipes, and  highlight a selection of "Canada Day" recipes.   And how smart of Tasha to start a Local Only Box on the week leading up to Canada Day when our national pride is bubbling up. I love the idea of a Local Only Box because for me one of the biggest appeals of buying through Life Organics is the opportunity to get as much local produce as possible.

So here goes - should we start with garlic scapes?  I hope that I'm not the only one who is still oddly excited about them.  I brought both my scape pesto and the white bean scape dip into work last week, although both went over well, I do think people think I'm a bit odd for being so excited about them.  The dip was really nice with crackers, chips, and the beans from last week's box.  I made a whole batch of pesto (so easy in a food processor) and have frozen it in ice cube sizes for use on pasta soon.  I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do with this week's scapes - hopefully get to that great Pork recipe from the New York Times from 2 weeks ago.  Maybe use up my pesto in this Warm Pasta and Chick Pea Salad with Garlic Scapes or for a great weekend entertaining recipe Garlic Scape and Potato Salad.

Kiwis are delicious when they are nice and ripe, and not too tart.  They should be left to ripen at room temperature.  If they are already ripe then they can be stored in the refrigerator.  Kiwis have a very high amount of Vitamin C, more than the an orange of the same size.  They also contain a lot of fibre and are great for the digestive system.  You can eat the skin of a kiwi but just make sure to wash it to remove any dirt or dust, and rub some of the fuzz off prior to eating as well.  I learned that the antioxidants in kiwis actually increase the riper the kiwi gets.  We mostly eat our kiwis just cut up, but they would be equally delicious in a salad, fruit salad or with some yogurt.  Or for something different, try these Kiwifruit Muffins.  Try making a unique salad with this week's romaine, spinach, and tomatoes, tossed with some cut up kiwi and some Kiwi Dressing from the California Kiwi Commission's website.  

We will be spending Canada Day weekend at the cottage with friends and plan to use the grill most of the weekend.  We've picked up the beer and Caesar's but I may have to grab a bottle of some Canadian Whisky and try out this Peach and Whisky Cocktail with the peaches from our box.  You could also use the peaches and/or nectarines in this recipe for Grilled Plums with Yogurt and Spiced Maple Syrup.  And although we don't have a lot of red and white veggies in our box this week, you can certainly still have a lovely Canadian menu with some great recipes taken from freshjuice.ca:

  • Green Salad with Toasted Mustard Seed Dressing - use the romaine, spinach, and even scapes in this salad that is inspired by the mustard and seed crops from the Prairies,
  • Wild Turkey Burgers - I suppose you could try to catch your own in a local field or on the side of the road!!  Serve these burgers topped with some spinach or romaine, sauteed mushrooms, and sliced tomato (or garlic scape pesto - just had to get that in there),
  • Cool Wild Rice and Mushrooms - use the Criminis in this dish that highlights the great wild rice that is harvested from our northern lakes and marshes.
I am fading quickly - one last recipe - a Mushroom Stuffed Zucchini (with good Canadian cheddar).  Have a great long weekend.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Organic Harvest Box for June 21, 2012

It's really late tonight as I'm writing this, so I apologize in advance for any nonsensical musings about garlic scapes and kohlrabi.  I'm trying my best to get the blog posted on Wednesday evenings and hopefully - coming soon to an email near you - to send the blog via email at the same time as your invoice based on the popular response from the survey.  So in my effort to get this to you on Wednesday night, after getting through regular work and family commitments, the blog is getting my full attention as last item to get done very late in the evening.
I am so excited to get garlic scapes this week, maybe a little overly excited.  I love scapes, I discovered them only last year and have been asking the last 3 weeks at the Ottawa Farmers Market, "when will you have scapes?"  And now we do, I bought a huge bag at the market and we are getting more in our veggie box this week.  You may have even had some scapes in your green garlic last week - they are the long firm bean like stems that come out from the green leaves of the garlic.  Scapes have a milder taste than garlic and are very versatile.  They can be sauteed, steamed, chopped fine, stir fried, grilled, put in sauces or pureed into pesto.  You could saute them with this week's green beans, or make a pasta with the scapes and spinach.  I have so many plans for my scapes, but I'm most excited about making pesto from them.  

Getting ready to make Scape Pesto
There are so many recipes out there for scape pesto that it really just depends on which ingredients you want more or less of.  Here are a few different recipes:
My Scape Pesto
I came across a recipe for Double Garlic Soup that could make use of last week's green garlic (if you have any left) and this week's scapes, and also this dip recipe from 2 Sisters Garlic in Indiana.

White Bean and Garlic Scape Dip 
1/3 cup sliced garlic scapes (3 to 4)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, more to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling.

In a food processor, process garlic scapes with lemon juice, salt and pepper until finely chopped. Add cannellini beans and process to a rough purée.  With motor running, slowly drizzle olive oil through feed tube and process until fairly smooth. Pulse in 2 or 3 tablespoons water, or more, until mixture is the consistency of a dip. Add more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice, if desired.  Spread out dip on a plate, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with more salt.  Serve with bread, tortilla chips, etc.

It may be sounding like it, but this is not late night craziness. I am also excited to get kohlrabi this week. Not quite as excited as I am about the scapes, but a little oddly excited about kohlrabi. I had it for the first time at some point last year in our veggie box and my girls ate it all up - just sliced - they thought it was apple. It was delicious. At some point this spring, my mother told me that my grandmother used to grow kohlrabi all the time in her garden because it grew so easily, and so my daughter and I planted some this spring in front of our tomatoes. I only have 4 plants, and the bunnies have eaten the leaves off three of them, so they are a bit sad looking but the bulbs are growing and should be ready soon. 

I read a few different things about kohlrabi and my favorite description is "little sputnik like vegetables." The bulbs should trimmed of leaves and then stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. The small ones can be eaten as is with the skin, larger ones need the tough skin peeled off. Most of what I read recommends eating kohlrabi raw and I completely agree.  Have it chopped as a snack, cubed, or shredded into a salad such as Kohlrabi Apple Slaw with Creamy Dressing. If the leaves are still on the "sputnik" then they can be sliced into a salad, that is if the bunnies haven't eaten all of them off the plants (not that I'm bitter or anything). Kohlrabi is also good cooked, slice or dice it and wrap in tinfoil to grill on the BBQ or cook it according to this recipe for Kohlrabi Ham Bake.

Okay, now I am into late night craziness as evidenced by the photo, so just one last thing for this week's box. My favorite mom website is SavvyMom.ca.  The most recent installment of One Ingredient, Four Ways, on their EatSavvy section is about cucumbers, which for me is perfect timing.  Number one - we have cucumbers in the box this week, and number two - we are entertaining at the cottage this weekend (where the kids will outnumber the adults, hence sliders instead of burgers) so I can try the Lamb Sliders with Cucumber and Feta Sauce.  The other cucumber recipes from EatSavvy are Homemade Tzaziki, Roasted Salmon with Fresh Cucumber Salsa, and Chilled Cucumber Soup.

Under the wire, blog finished and posted on Wednesday evening, a first for me, like growing kohlrabi and making scape pesto.

POST NOTE - Friday, June 22, 2012 - just got my box and Tasha wanted everyone to know - try to eat your green beans soon, ASAP if you can.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Organic Harvest Box for June 14, 2012

A potted basil plant?  What if it doesn't grow, how guilty will I feel? It's the same sentiment I had when my mother-in-law told me that she had a hibiscus tree for me when we first got married, what if I kill it?  "Maybe you should keep it for now until we get a bigger place."  That was 15 years ago, I still don't own any indoor plants.

Some basil at Belle Terre
I am pretty decent at keeping a vegetable garden but in the last few years, I haven't had any luck with basil. It could be the constant sun in the backyard, or the plant boxes that didn't retain any moisture, and most recently the children that like to water everything all of the time, over and over and over.  This year, I have my herbs in a new pot, and not surprisingly the mint has taken over almost the whole pot.  Luckily, my oldest daughter is keen to chew on anything that comes out of our garden so every time we go outside, she can have a sprig of mint.  I will try to grow the 3" potted basil in that big herb pot.  I did a bit of reading to make sure I am doing the right things with my basil, and what I did learn is that basil does need sunny conditions (up to 8 hours per day) with soil that has good moisture retention.  It is important to regularly (weekly) pick the basil leaves to encourage further growth, and apparently by pinching the centers, it will promote bushiness.  Fresh basil is so great to have all year if you can.  My favorite use for fresh basil is a simple Caprese Salad which you could do this week with the new basil plant (your first trimming) and the hot house tomatoes.  Pick up a really good piece of buffalo mozzarella or fresh mozzarella, your favorite olive oil and I opt for some balsamic vinegar as well.  Part of the fun of making Caprese salad is deciding how to present it.  Later in the summer when I have cherry tomatoes, I slice them in half and then toss them with squarish chunks of mozzarella or torn pieces of the cheese.  With the tomatoes that are coming in this week's box, a more interesting presentation would be to slice the tomatoes into 1/2" slices and mozzarella into 1/4" slices.  Overlap the tomatoes and mozzarella in a round on a plate or my absolute favorite (taken from a great meal we had at Casa Bella in Gananoque years ago) is to alternate stacking them about 2" high.  Sprinkle the basil leaves over the salad.  Drizzle the olive oil over, sprinkle with a bit of balsamic if you choose and a really good salt (I love fleur de sel for this) and a bit of pepper.

I am making a new lamb dish this weekend for friends from the Early Summer edition of LCBO's Food and Drink magazine - it is Slow-Roasted Breast of Lamb with Potatoes and it calls for Yukon Gold potatoes - how apt that we are getting some in our box.  This dish is a bit fancy, but you could also use your potatoes for roasting in the oven or on the BBQ, or sliced with some onions, the green garlic, and some butter wrapped in tin foil and placed on the BBQ.  Here however is the LCBO recipe - I'm sure in a few months it will be available www.lcbo.com, but not just yet.

4lbs lamb breast on the bone (about 2 breasts), trimmed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2lbs large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut in thirds
1/2 c. 2 inch rosemary sprigs
1 whole head garlic, separated into cloves

1/2 c. red wine
2 tbsp. port
2 c. beef or chicken stock
1 tsp. tomato paste

Preheat oven to 275F.  Cut away any excess fat from the top of the breasts.  Sear, fat side down in a large skillet over high heat for 3 min. or until browned.  Turn over and repeat for bone side.  Season lamb with salt and pepper and place, fat side up, in a roasting pan.  Add potatoes to skillet and toss in lamb fat to coat.  Season with salt and add to roasting.  Sprinkle over rosemary sprigs and garlic cloves and cover pan tightly with lid and/or foil.  Place in oven and roast for 3 to 3 1/2 hrs or until the meat is fork tender and much of the fat has melted.  Uncover, raise heat to 400F and roast for 20-30 minutes longer until potatoes are golden and meat is browned.  Remove lamb and potatoes from roasting pan to a carving board.  Let rest for 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

Discard all fat from roasting pan but keep any juices.  Discard rosemary.  Slip garlic out of skins and discard any burnt ones.  Mash the remaining garlic.  Add red wine and port and place over high heat scraping the base of the pan to incorporate all the browned bits as well as the garlic.  Reduce by half then add stock and tomato pasted.  Continue to boil until sauce coats the back of a spoon.  Divide the breasts into ribs and serve with potatoes and sauce.

I got a sneak peek at the green garlic when I was picking up last week's box from Tasha, it looked so good and I can't wait to use mine.  Green garlic is regular garlic that is picked before the bulbs start to form.  It can be called spring garlic or baby garlic.  Farmers sometimes offer it up when they are thinning their crops and lately as it becomes more popular, some are growing it as a crop.  It has a milder flavor than garlic but still stronger than a green onion or chive.  To use green garlic, slice off the root and remove any tough green leaves.  It can be used in very much the same way as green onions, baby leeks, regular garlic or chives.  I plan to use some of the green garlic in the sauce for a big batch of pasta that I am making for the kids (who are not getting served the breast of lamb).  I also came across this article from the New York Times, Grassy, Sweet and in Season when gathering info on green garlic, and I am definitely going to try their Seared Pork Cutlets with Green Garlic Salsa Verde - with my overabundant mint, my own chives and fresh lemon juice from the lemon in the veggie order.

In wanting to give a few more ideas to use some of the vegetables in this weeks box, I thought that broccoli and lemon or green beans and lemon would make a great combination.  Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks this - I came across so many recipes for both.  I think the appeal is in the contrast of yellow zest against some fresh dark green vegetables and also the fresh taste of lemon paired with some crisp greens. I really had to narrow down the list of recipes so I'm recommending to use the broccoli and lemon with chicken in any one of these recipes: Lemon Chicken and Broccoli, Chicken, Broccoli and Lemon Stir Fry, or Lemony Broccoli Pasta with Chicken.  Or use the lemon with the green beans in Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic, Lemon Green Beans, or Green Beans with Lemon Butter.  All are pretty straightforward easy recipes and most can use the green garlic as well.

Good luck with the basil plant, hopefully it will continue to prosper throughout the summer so it can be used over and over in a variety of recipes and doesn't get sunburned, over watered or picked by little hands too soon.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Organic Harvest Box for June 7, 2012

When I picked up my box today, Tasha gave me the heads up that the spinach needs to be eaten first if you can.  It's also important to cut the tops off the radishes, which I did right after this photo.  And, I cut the tops off my carrots right before I took this picture (it makes them easier to fit in the frame) and then proceeded to leave them on the counter and didn't find them until I was mostly through putting everything away, hence no carrots in the photo..

Thank you very much if you took the time to complete the Survey Monkey.  Those of you who read the blog are in the minority, some people even emailed Tasha to say that they didn't know that the blog existed.  But the feedback about the blog itself seemed very positive.  I'm going to keep writing it for now, until Tasha tells me otherwise, and maybe can arrange for it to be emailed out as that seemed to be the preference.  I'm a bit of recipe junkie so I still love researching everything and sharing all my thoughts.

I wanted to update you with my uncle's eggplant recipe (that I couldn't quite remember last week) because it is so good.  I did have to call him again just to get it right.  Here goes: slice the eggplant into 1/4" slices, brush it with olive oil, grill it but not too long as it will get mushy.  After it's grilled, let it cool, and then slice it into thin strips.  Mix up some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic, a bit of white wine and pepper.  Marinate the eggplant at least overnight, and it will keep for a few days.  Serve it on crackers or sliced baguette.  It would be good also as a salad topper or on a grilled sandwich.  

This week's list just screams salads.  With all the lovely fruit, the avocado, (which is a fruit as well technically) the butter lettuce and the spinach, I picture fancy salads.  I couldn't resist "googling" the combination of spinach, grapefruit, and avocado and came across a couple of great recipes, the two I would recommend are Spinach and Quinoa Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado (I'm a little addicted to quinoa since I bought the 1kg bag of it from Costco) and Grapefruit, Avocado and Spinach Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette - use the juice from an orange instead of the grapefruit to make the dressing.  And you could interchange spinach or the lettuce from this week's box in either recipe.  This recipe from www.skinnytaste.com for Avocado Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette also caught my eye to make use of the cucumbers, avocado, orange and lettuce.  Darn, wish I would've ordered extra avocados and extra grapefruit.  Hindsight is 20/20 right, or maybe I really need to be trying to write the blog on Monday nights when we get the first list so I can adjust my order on Tuesday!

I can't really remember when I started using more cremini mushrooms, they sort of feel like something new to me as I don't remember them being around when I was growing up but I also feel like I've been using them as long as I have been cooking for myself.  We tend to buy them over white mushrooms as they are a bit "meatier" and hold up better in cooking, however if I am using them raw, I do make sure to slice them pretty thin.  So as I was thinking about how I use creminis, I decided that I don't really know anything about them, or the nutritional importance of mushrooms in general.  For us, they are just necessary for a variety of things: pizza, stroganoff, mushroom barley soup - see below, and sauteed with onions for my husband any chance he gets, and I've never really thought about them too much.  So I did a bit of reading and was happy to find a lot of good information that supports what I already thought or do when it comes to mushrooms:
  • Button mushrooms, creminis and portobellos are all the same type of mushroom but just differ based on their age.  Button mushrooms being the youngest and softest in texture, creminis are a little older with a darker flesh and a meatier consistency, and portobellos are the most aged with the darkest color and a full thick cap.
  • Creminis have a bit of a fuller taste and do stand up better in cooking because of their meatier texture,
  • "Mushrooms need a shower, not a bath" as stated in this story from The Kitchn.  I love this quote because it confirms what I've been doing for years.  I got tired of wiping mushrooms with a damp paper towel, went through too many paper towels which was a waste in my mind, and I started just running the mushrooms under a little water and wiping them with my hand.  
  • Mushrooms can help the immune system, help protect against cardiovascular disease, have a significant source of conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) which can help with certain forms of breast cancer, and can potentially contain vitamin B12 depending on the type of mushroom (taken from www.whfoods.com),
  • Mushrooms are best stored as soon as possible in the refrigerator or else they tend to lose their phytonutrients if left out in temperatures that are too warm.
My husband and I have a joke between us that if we get divorced, I get the cottage and he gets the Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe - it is a big favorite (taken from the Joy of Cooking):

3 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, sliced and tough stems removed
1/2 c. chopped shallots
3 tbsp. dry sherry or Madeira (or just red wine)
1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
4 1/2 c. Beef Stock or Beef Broth
3/4 c. pearl barley
1/2 - 1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Heat the oil and butter in a soup pot over high heat.  Add the mushrooms and shallots, cook, stirring often until the mushrooms are wilted, about 5 min.  Add the sherry and thyme, and reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring and scraping off the bottom of the pot for about 5 more minutes.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the barley is tender, about 1 hour.  Serve garnished with chopped parsley or whole thyme leaves.

I am looking forward to more radishes in this week's box.  Like the carrots in the box, remember to trim off the greenery and store them in a perforated plastic bag in the fridge.  If your radishes get soft or mushy, you can try refreshing them in a bowl of ice water.  Radishes are a really great source of Vitamin C and can help combat urinary and kidney problems.  And although they taste spicy, they can actually help to freshen your breath.  My daughter and I tend to gobble up the radishes raw or sliced on salads and they don't last that long in our house.  Last time we got radishes I suggested a dish for sauteed radishes that was really good, but I found lost the spicy flavor of the radish, which is my favorite part.  A different way to cook the radishes that may retain a bit more of the flavor might be Roasted Radishes with Olive Vinaigrette.  And of course, since I am a bit stuck on salads this week, Watermelon, Cucumber and Radish Salad or Farmer's Salad which reminds me a lot of my grandmother's old creamy cucumber salad.

If you read this on Friday, sorry, no photo yet, as I don't have my box.  And the fact that you are reading and hopefully enjoying the blog does inspire me to continue to write it.  Enjoy.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Organic Harvest Box for May 31, 2012

It just might be a soup weekend again, given that I have to close the windows in the house as it is getting too cold!!  I picked up my box today and the small coloured peppers are just about gone as they were my lunch when I was late for an appointment this afternoon.  Then I could barely keep them on the table to get the photo before little fingers were grabbing at them and just eating them raw.  I really shouldn't say too much because about a dozen blueberries snuck their way into my mouth pre-photo shoot as well.  I took the tomatoes out of their packaging in order to set up the photo and if the other ones are like mine, it would be best not to keep them in the packaging too long as they are ready to eat.

I am excited about the eggplant this week.  I didn't write about the eggplant last time as it was a late substitution so all week I've been thinking about it and what to write about.  There is this recipe that my uncle made when we were visiting him in Edmonton last year.  I tried messaging him and voice mailing him and he still hasn't gotten back to me - so I am going to do my best to wing it with the recipe because it is delicious.  Some quick tips first:
  • To store the eggplant,wrap it in a paper towel or the paper it came in, 
  • Place it in a plastic bag with holes and/or in the veggie crisper, 
  • Eggplant shouldn't be left for more than about 4 days in the refrigerator as then it starts to get bitter,
  • Try to use the eggplant as soon as possible for best flavor and results.  
My uncle would slice the eggplant, brush it with some olive oil and then grill it until soft.  He then cut it into strips and marinated it in . . .this is where I get stuck - I'm sure it was olive oil, garlic, some salt, and . . .whatever else was in there made it absolutely delicious served on crackers or sliced baguette or your favorite crispy bread.  (I'm sure he'll call me back sometime and I'll be able to fill you in.)  This Calabrian recipe for Melanzane Arrostite (Marinated Eggplant with Olive Oil, Garlic and Mint) looks delicious and very similar to my uncle's eggplant.  I also came across this recipe for Spicy Grilled Eggplant that I think would be very tasty and the slices could be used on a sandwich for a meal.  The eggplant could be roasted with the coloured peppers (stove or grill) with some olive oil, chopped and then added to some chopped tomatoes and fresh herbs to make a bruschetta.

The baby bok choy looks fantastic, so fresh and full, but make sure to give them a good wash when you are ready to use them.  Bok choy is a member of the cabbage family and apparently has some of the highest anti-oxidant levels compared to other veggies in the cabbage family.  It is also a great source of Vitamins A and C, fibre, folic acid, and calcium.  It can be stored in the veggie crisper for up to a week.  Chinese cabbage of any variety usually ends up in a stir fry at our house, and it's easy to use but a bit time consuming to do it right.  The stems take a bit longer to cook than the leaves so I often end up taking a little extra time when slicing the bok choy in order to put the stems in to cook before the leaves.  You might have to go get some shitake mushrooms, as the most appealing recipes that I found for baby bok choy included shitakes.  And coincidentally, all my favorite recipes for bok choy are from LCBO's Food and Drink (my vast collection sits in the bookcase next to me as I type each week).  Four different ideas for bok choy:
I do get a bit wordy doing this but I have so many yummy food ideas all the time for all these veggies.  I don't ever get to cooking all of them, but I daydream about all of the fantastic recipes that I would have endless to make - and they would all turn out delicious of course.  Bear with me for two more things. Number 1 - cauliflower - my absolute favorite way to eat it is to toss the florets with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, roast it in the oven at 400F for 20 min or so.  While it is cooking, mix up some cream or preferably creme fraiche, a bit of dijon mustard, and a small squeeze of lemon juice.  When the cauliflower is done cooking, toss it with the sauce.  

Number 2 and last thing for this week - field cucumbers - I know I had one witty post about uses for cucumber, but I have to admit, they are lunch box fare in general for us.  Cukes are so good just sliced up on their own, or with just a dash of salt to curb that craving for a salty snack that it's hard to make a point of "cooking" with them.  I do have one recipe that I use regularly that makes great use of the cucumbers - Gingery Pork and Cucumber Pitas.  My mom found it in Real Simple magazine and every time I make it, my husband and I say to ourselves, "why don't we make this more often?"  It's so easy, and so good and now I feel like I've given you a real recipe for cucumbers.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Organic Harvest Box for May 24, 2012

So we did get eaten alive by blackflies on the weekend, but we did enjoy our Japanese Coleslaw, a fantastic Quinoa salad, a tasty cantaloupe and the asparagus grilled on the BBQ was fantastic.

And we went on a field trip to Belle Terre Organics Garden at Otter Lake, QC.  Owners Joyce Angelus-Keller and Wayne Keller were fantastic hosts and showed us around, let the girls plant some pumpkin seeds, let us taste some herbs, and astounded us with their immense amount of knowledge.  It was fascinating to learn that their business is the original Belle Terre Botanical Gardens that ran from 1978 to 1994 when the Kellers ran a tea house, teaching gardens for local colleges, and their organic plant business.  Their business is much smaller now, supplying their organic plants, flowers and herbs to a small number of select stores in the Ottawa/Gatineau region.

Joyce is wealth of information when it comes to plants, what their uses are, how to prepare or eat them, grow them, and care for them.  They have an unimaginable variety of plants from flowers to herbs to vegetables to perennials and more.  If there is something unique or unusual, they might have it.  Pretty much anything that you are looking for, Belle Terre can probably offer.  It is obvious when talking with both Wayne and Joyce that they have a love of the business and the land around them.


Belle Terre is certified by Pro-Cert and meets both the Canadian Organic Standards and the Quebec Organic Standards as they follow the strict criteria for organic production.  Organic production is based on principles that support healthy practices that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment.  Belle Terre uses watering and irrigation sources from natural spring headwaters.  They work with the Quebec Ministry of the Environment to maintain a healthy and sustainable forest and they compost and sterilize their own soil through strictly organic means.

Helping out with seed planting

All sorts of basil

The classic old sign that Joyce didn't want me to photograph, because "it's old and there's dirt on it."

Kale plants on their way
Young Toy Choy plants which do well in our cooler climate
I am sure that if you had any questions about any of the plants that Belle Terre is offering that Joyce and Wayne would be happy to answer them.  Our visit there made me really excited about the growing season and I'm looking forward to our harvest in our small garden.  Life Organics is still offering Belle Terre's plants for sale and a full list is available on the Life Organic website.

The newer sign that Joyce really wanted me to take a photo of, no dirt!
I won't offer you much in terms of recipes for this weeks produce. Don't forget to chop the greens off the carrots to keep them as fresh as possible, and Tasha thinks that the Pachino tomatoes are better if they have been chilled for a few minutes.  We have our daughter's birthday party this weekend and will be serving up sliders and mini hot dogs for the kiddies and parents so the romaine and spinach are going to come in handy for a nice big green salad.  And the carrots will be great cut up and dipped for the younger crowd.  I can't wait to grill the asparagus again as it is so good this time of year.  And I still have more rhubarb from my garden so another apple and rhubarb crisp is on the way.   But I am a recipe addict so I have to leave you with Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Apples which is how I will choose to use the yams and apples, served alongside some simple grilled asparagus, grilled chicken and elk sausages from the market.