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Too Hot!

I don’t think I could live in a tropical climate long term. I like food too much. 

For the last week or so, it’s been a steady 30 degrees during the day and then around 20 at night. We don’t have air conditioning, so the heat never really abates. 

In these temperatures, neither one of us feels much like cooking. Who wants to heat up the house any further by turning on the stove or the oven? I don’t even feel much like eating or drinking something hot.  

Salad is great, and there are a million ways to make it. It’s a bit early for much in the way of local ingredients but we have used many of the garden herbs. 

Farmers market radishes were the star in this everyday blend of greens. They kicked things up a notch, helped along by the first of the garden arugula and hubbie’s classic French vinaigrette.

We were gifted a beautiful piece of tuna frozen at sea, and it topped our salad perfectly. Chopped chives, parsley and thyme from the garden didn’t hurt either.

A cool and wet spring has meant plenty of dandelions. These greens were “foraged” from my raised beds in our back yard.


Ordinarily we have an early spring by Canadian standards, and so I’m spoiled with early edible blossoms and veggies at the farmers market. 

This year it was cool and wet, so the dandelions and arugula were the first bonuses. The price I paid for scrounging them was a stunning array of mosquito bites. 

I don’t plan on starting a raw diet, so I was happy when I heard the forecast for cooler temps over the next week. Then I can adjust to this scenario and come up with some other meals that work in the heat (besides salads and omelettes). 

Perhaps I’m just getting slow to adjust in my advancing years? I haven’t even managed to unpack my summer outfits yet! Even if one were to say they didn’t believe in climate change (which seems hard unless you never look out a window) one would have to believe in some sort of adjusting, don’t you think? 

What do you cook in the heat? I’d love to hear some new ideas. I’m certainly inspired to check my tropical cookbooks. Watch for new recipes 🙂 

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Yes, we have garden tomatoes!

winter-troops-2013

It’s the dead of winter here. Even though we don’t have big snow drifts anymore, there is no such thing as fresh-grown local produce in January in the Okanagan. At best we have local food that has been stored, but usually that means apples and root vegetables. As a chef I once worked with said one winter, “How much parsnip soup can one person eat?!” But here at Rabbit Hollow, we have been very fortunate.

This past summer’s bounty was particularly delicious, and it continued longer than usual even for this pocket of Canadian paradise. I use edible flowers from the garden for our catered BBQ events with The Chef Instead, and I was able to do that this year up until the very end of November. img_3624 img_3633 I didn’t harvest the last of the vegetable garden until after Thanksgiving (in October for us Canadians, a time when frost is usually on the ground in most parts of the country). We have a wonderful root cellar which this year held summer and winter squash, potatoes, tomatillos, peppers, carrots, green tomatoes and apples (in case you’re wondering, the apples have to be kept in a separate room or they hasten the spoiling of everything else). I’m not trying just to brag here; I want to put things in perspective, so you won’t think I’m offering “alternative facts” when I say we used the last of our stored veggies in tonight’s salad. Yes, we have no bananas, but we did have garden tomatoes (insert cheeky emoji here to help justify my title).

There’s something especially inspiring about eating our hard-earned produce in January. Such a meal deserves special treatment. And it got said treatment. My hubby was inspired to make a delectable blue cheese dressing and make a wedge salad highlighted by our harvested morsels.

Now you may still be unclear on why I titled this post the way I did. It comes down to terroir. Nowadays it’s not difficult to buy any vegetable I want at a grocery store. But most tomatoes this time of year don’t taste like much. Even after they have ripened in my basement, my garden tomatoes still have the beautiful complexity of homegrown produce. They taste like summer. So did the last carrots and the roasted pumpkin. We savoured every bite. Iceberg lettuce never tasted so good.

wedge-salad-happy-gourmand

Something for Everyone


I grew up on the Prairies, and my parents both came from families that had been on the Prairies for generations.  I believe that part of my heritage links me to an innate sense of country living. Not only existing in small towns where the community is smaller and more intimate, but also coming from an environment that was more harsh and unforgiving than bountiful. Not to mention that I grew up with relatives who had living memories of the Depression, wartime and rations. As a result, I am always conscious of waste, and thinking of ways to avoid it.

Today my kitchen project was simple: making sweet potato chips for “the troops”, our two dogs. Both Simon and Ella enjoy treats just as we do, but junk food is no better for them than it is for us. A crunchy sweet potato chip is a nice way for them to have something without any processing except dehydration. (Seven hours at 130F works perfectly. )  There is no mess ; Simon sometimes leaves a few crumbs, but Ella is a master at clean-up, being a Labrador. The only catch is that the ends of the potatoes are too small to use for chips, due to the tapered shape. We do have a compost, but why not use the ends in another way?

sweet-potato-chips-and-ends

I had an epiphany one day while making the chips and thinking of what to put in our salad for dinner. How about roasting pieces of sweet potato and adding them to the salad?  It worked like a charm. I put the pieces on a baking sheet with some olive oil and herbs & spices (whatever strikes my fancy that day).

I love my exotic spices. This time I used Aleppo pepper on some pieces, and Aniseed Myrtle on others.

I love my exotic spices. This time I used Aleppo pepper on some pieces, and Aniseed Myrtle on others.

About 20 minutes in a moderate oven and presto! We can just as easily leave them in the fridge for another meal if need be. At least all that food isn’t wasted.

I suppose you could say this is another way to look at the concept of “nose to tail” cooking, in the vegetable world. I’m proud that I have kept something out of the compost – yay me! Somehow the lack of guilt I feel makes the salad taste better.

Short and sweet

I had intended to write about Friday afternoon cocktails today, but that outing was kaiboshed, so I shall hold that idea for another posting. I do have a redeeming thought, brought about by a dinner inspired by our purchases from a recent visit to Granville Island Market in Vancouver (one of my most favourite foodie haunts).

We had a winter picnic tonight, enjoying treats such as raw milk cheeses and fresh exotic fruits. I read an article in SAVEUR magazine recently about a newly appointed cheese from Switzerland called L’Etivaz (appointed in that they have designated a style and protocols for the making of said cheese). I looked for it, and was thrilled to find it at Benton Bros., the cheesemonger. It was deliciously nutty, and went very well with the tomato chili jam I had.  Martin splurged and got a beautiful mango – it cost $12.38 ! He made a delectable salad with jicama, cilantro and an Asian vinaigrette. A bottle of local wine gave us the chance to toast our good fortune, while bringing back memories of my time in France – Quails’ Gate’s Cailleteau, a light red in the style of Beaujolais Nouveau.

cheese-and-wine-picnic

It was a wonderful way to round out the holiday season. After all, today was Epiphany, the 12th night. I made a traditional torte, just as I remembered from France. (It sounds even more grand when you say “Galette des Rois“, I think. “King Cake” is what they call it in New Orleans, where they eat it at Mardi Gras.)

twelfth-night-torte

 

Here’s to celebrating every day of the year in its own way. Life is short, why not make the most of it?

A Gourmande’s Resolution

stack of cookbooks

I’m going to visit my cookbook collection more often this year!

Okay, I’m a bit slow getting going, but I showed up, didn’t I? I resolved this year to not only cook 1 new recipe each week, but then also to post those recipes here for all to see. I may have some that I’m not going to make again, but I figure that information might be valuable for fellow readers to know, too! So, I have made my recipes but I’ve just managed to get them all written down, hence this mish-mash of a post to get caught up. Will you indulge me?

The first week it was grey, with no sun. I mean not a single ray since the calendar page flipped to 2016! For a Prairie girl such as myself, this was tortuous. If I couldn’t have blue skies, I needed a bit of brightness on the dinner table. Thankfully, my Saveur magazine came to the rescue with pictures and a lovely article on winter salads. (sorry, no link, as issue #180 isn’t online yet.) I added my own twists, and reduced the dressing quantity as I still had leftovers even making half, and voilà! Winter Herb Salad with Fruit If I do say so myself, it was truly wonderful. The flavours of the herbs came through well, and the pomegranate and apple were just the thing to brighten my day. We had it with some sautéed snapper that had an Asian rub – a perfect Monday meal!

The second week has still been grey, with the exception of 5 minutes of sunshine I caught one morning while walking the dogs. We were talking about a trip to New Orleans in the fall, and of course my online research strayed easily when I saw native recipes. I knew about King Cake from my time in France, but when I saw the recipe from New Orleans, I realized it was a completely different animal. Instead of puff pastry, this was a sort of brioche dough. Well, what better occupation for a home body on a grey winter day than a yeast dough? Away I went with New Orleans King Cake.Rabbit Hollow winter sun

 

Granted, one probably doesn’t need a stuffed brioche right after the holiday season, especially when preparing to be fit and trim for a beach holiday (Jamaica looms on the horizon, only two weeks from now.) But, it’s for a good cause, right? I can tell you it was worth the sacrifice. This is a great Sunday recipe. Your man will love you when it comes out of the oven about half time 🙂

I’ve just signed up for the #PulsePledge too, since it’s the Year of the Pulse. No, not as in staying alive and keeping your heart beating, although that will be a part of it. This is about legumes – chickpeas, lentils, beans and the like. The idea is to cook one recipe a week for 10 weeks using some kind of pulse. I may include my pulse recipe next week, alongside an entrée recipe (pork, I think).

I hope these posts will help those cooks who are always looking for ideas, day after day. I hope it will help me to stay organized, cooking and writing more this year. I look forward to staying in touch!

 

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