Sunday, January 30, 2011

Just a little comparison...

 

Store bought peanut butter vs. the real stuff I made out of crushed Ontario peanuts and honey served on apple rounds.
Dad agreed the later tasted much better. You would too if you tried it!
Just take a look at the difference in ingredients!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What's for Dinner? My Brother's Fried Chicken

 

A 100-mile meal devoted to my meat-crazy brother. Local cornmeal, flour, breadcrumbs, eggs, garlic, chicken and buttermilk - baked NOT fried to crispy delight :D A little side of coleslaw (with local cabbage and carrots), and spicy beans.
The first picture is of the marinating chicken I skinned and cut-up, the second of the finished dish.

You Voted...

With my plethora of apples in the cold cellar I had to get rid of them some how! The majority of votes this week were in favour of the iconic apple crisp. It wasn't too difficult to re-invent the classic casserole dish. I just subbed honey for the sugar and didn't use any sweetener in the crust (honey or maple syrup would make it soggy), instead choosing to serve it with sweetened honey after it was finished. I used Red Prince apples because I find they hover perfectly on the line between holding their shape and mushing to apple sauce. I wanted an apple neither to firm nor to soft and these were perfect! Combined with honey, flour (and you could use cinnamon) with a topping of oats, flour and butter this was a simple dessert that really showcased the star local ingredients. The apples were so sweet and the oats so flavourful, that I didn't have to help them out too much with other ingredients. I also made apple sauce this weekend as well as apple wrings which have all been preserved and have found their way onto on of the shelves in the cold cellar. Hurray for apples!

What's for Dinner? 100-Mile Stew with Cornbread Topping

A deliciously local combination of beans, peppers, tomatoes, corn, sweet potatoes and a crunchy sweet cornbread cobbler topping, all baked to perfection.

Friday, January 28, 2011

What's for Dinner? Cheesy Quiche, Root Vegetable Matchsticks & Salad

The star of this plate was the teeny tiny root vegetable matchsticks: Turnips, celeriac and carrots that I sliced on my mandoline. A simple cheese quiche grounded the dinner and a nice little salad on the side with a cider vinegar/sunflower oil/honey dressing to round things off.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's for Dinner? Bean Mash, Savoy Cabbage, Wild & Button Mushrooms and Fresh Bread

This was a quick and simple dinner (as they seem to be these days, during final exams for school). I'm still manging to keep local with all my ingredient choices, which makes me feel accomplished in these dark days of winter. In the summer, eating local is more of a luxury. Think of those sweet ears of  fresh corn you bring home in August. People praise about the fresh, crispness of texture and the candy-like sweetness in flavour. Nobody praises about cabbage in January. Especially not my brother. I'm trying to find ways to bring that sense of pride back to the table during these unfavourable months. A well-organised, well-stocked fruit cellar (http://cooking-with-claire.blogspot.com/2011/01/revamped-fruit-cellar.html) is one of those ways. Also, buying what fresh produce I can find at the market, particularly root vegetables make me very proud! I was recently overjoyed when I found Jerusalem artichokes! It feels great to be sticking to the challenge at such a difficult time of year. After bussing home from school in ice-cold weather, there would be nothing better than making a cup of hot chocolate, but of course, that's not an option. I get started on making a dinner like this one, and sip a cup of local herbal tea instead.

Hunt for the Best Loaf #3 - Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread

 

This was a wonderful recipe to work with! I highly recommended this book as it really dives into the science behind good bread making. Lahey's story is quite inspiring. He studied in Italy, then back to New York, then back to Italy, and presently he has a store in New York, the Sullivan Bakery, where people line up a mile down the street to get their hands on a loaf of his famous bread or pastry. He was made famous by his recipe in the New York Times for no-knead bread, claiming that anyone can have Italian-style, crusty, artisanal bread with just 5 minutes of hands-on work. What a thought! No kneading at all! He says - let "time" do the work instead. With less manual labour, you give the yeast 12-16 hours of untouched time to "activate" the gluten rather than through the process of kneading. He says the flavour and texture are better, and I  tend to agree. There was very little work involved and the method of baking it within a dutch oven gave the bread a similar "crackle" to the kind loaf you would buy in a bakery. Again I used spelt flour instead of bread flour, so the 'rise' wasn't as much as I would have liked, but it was delicious nonetheless and the crust was magnifico!
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html

100-Mile Popcorn

This was an easy one... local corn kernels from Tevistock, canola oil from Waterford, butter from Huron County, and  a dash of Garham Masala, which is by no means local to us, but a gift (bought locally) from my relatives living in Kenya. I checked the 100-mile rules, and it counts!

Sourdough Spelt Flat-bread

Quite an interesting experiment in the kitchen. A good friend Laura Puopolo gave me a jar of sourdough starter (which I mistakenly opened prematurely) this past weekend. Her brother began the "mother" starter a little while back, halved the amount and passed it on to Laura, who halved her amount and passed it on to me! The wonderful thing about a sourdough is that it is actually a living food. By "feeding" the mixture every week with flour and water, you are promoting the growth of the bacteria (Lactobacillus) inhibited by the yeast content in the soupy mixture. Of course, once the bread is baked, you are killing the living organisms (unlike eating them live in yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, miso, etc.) but what's left behind is their distinctive sour-sweet, fermented taste and the leavening of the baked dough.
I'm still experimenting with how to adjust recipes around the local spelt flour I have been using. I'm finding that it takes longer to rise, and even so, it remains more dense after baking (which I quite like). The bread making is a work in progress.

Quick 100-Mile Dinner


A juicy pile of savoy cabbage, sauteed leeks and carrots and aromatics. A perfectly fried egg, a slice of sourdough spelt bread and a garnish of crunchy sprouts. And just to finish, a sprinkle of hard-aged goat cheese. Simple but delicious, and ready in 20 minutes.

100-Mile Birthday Cake

This past weekend I turned 17. My mother had quite the dillema on her hands, figuring out what to make for a cake. I supplied her with a recipe I found for 100-mile pear upside down cake, and using no sugar, no white flour and no icing, she made me a very delicious dessert! We dressed it up with honey-ed yogurt to compliment the richness of the cake. THANKS MOM!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's for Dinner? Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin



  • ...Adapted from the Martha Stewart recipe. I used the creme fraiche and veg I got from my Bailey's pickup. This was delicious... though not as photogenic as I would have liked. The layers were moist and creamy and tangy and rich with the soft 'smush' of the potato and J-artichoke layers. Yum yum yum!




  • Ingredients

    Serves 6 to 8
    • 1 pound Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch-thick and reserved in cold water until ready to use
    • 3 cups milk
    • 8 ounces creme fraiche
    • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
    • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    • 1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch-thick
    • 5 ounces shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
    • 5 ounces peeled chestnuts, halved lengthwise
    • 4 slices white bread, lightly toasted, crusts removed, and torn into small bits (to make 1 to 1 1/4 cups)

    Directions

    1. In a large saucepan, combine Jerusalem artichokes and milk. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 3/4 cups of the milk.
    2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk creme fraiche, reserved milk, lemon juice, 1/4 cup Gruyere, thyme, salt, and pepper. Add artichokes, potatoes, chestnuts, shallots; gently mix to combine. Transfer to a 6-cup shallow baking dish, and cover tightly with parchment-lined aluminum foil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until artichokes are tender, about 1 hour. Remove foil, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.


    Read more at Marthastewart.com: Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin - Martha Stewart Recipes 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sprouts

I took what I learned on the "Little City Farm" Blog and I put it to work!

I purchased some spouts from "Mumm's" in Saskatchewan. I don't consider this 'cheating', as I am only purchasing the seeds and growing the plant myself.
This is a nice bit of 'green crunch' (the kind you crave in a big salad) at a time in the season when there isn't a great source of high 'life-force' food. I am amazed at how easily these grow. Just a bit of water and light and that's it! I'll be experimenting with different varieties and hopefully even rye sprouts to make sprouted bread.

Revamped Fruit-Cellar

 3 hours, lots of cleaning, and a re-organizing later... viola... all ready for canning season to start... in about 4 months.





              
 

What's for Dinner? Black-Eyed Beans and Wheat-Berries in a Rich Tomato Sauce with Lamb Meat-Balls

Isn't it frustrating when a meal is so darn tasty but not too good-looking? This is the perfect case. I made spelt bread soon as I got home from school and got my wheat-berries and beans (which had soaked overnight) on to a simmer. A fresh tomato sauce, packed with a load of translucent onions made the perfect base to carry the flavours of the beans, grain and lamb meatballs.
I bought good quality, ground lamb from Charles' Meats in Town and packed them full of basil, oregano (which has a great affinity for lamb), bread crumbs, a few binding ingredients. I pan fried them to develop a crust and cooked-out some of the fat, then they went for a dunk in the sauce. I simmered everything (sauce beans, grain and meat-balls) for about an hour to let the liquid evaporate and reveal a beautifully thick (stew-like) main course which tasted divine! On the side I served a slice of roasted squash and a thin slice of spelt bread for mopping up the sauce.
A little out of the ordinary, but my family loved it!
It's the hearty kind of meal that uses up a load of pantry ingredients and is perfect for a chilly day.

A Little Taste of Summer in Winter


HURRAY!!

We had our first ever Bailey's Local Foods pickup, and boy did we bring home the loot! Oats, Wheat Berries, Flour Oat Bran Cider, Garlic, Popping Corn, Black Beans, Navy Beans, Kidney Beans, Squash Yogurt, Creme Fraiche, PEANUTS....And all 100% local! Our region truly has an amazing food system at work.
No hungry tummies in our house this week.  

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Preserved Pears

Just a little dabble in the world of preserving last weekend. Nothing too big. More experimental than anything. I made a simple syrup from honey and water, flavoured with lemon balm, then jarred, quartered bosc pears. I also made a sauce version. I plan on getting serious with preserving this summer. Expect to see many more canned items filling up the fruit cellar! 
 

  

100-Mile Macaroni and Cheese

What a treat! Locally sourced flour to make the pasta, cheese, milk, butter and flour for the sauce. And, a crunchy topping of bread crumbs, homemade goat's milk ricotta and bacon to finish.
And for dessert - preserved pears in a honey and lemon-balm syrup with honey-ed yogurt.



 

Nom Nom Nom....

Yummy days, yummy days....
With all my new supplies, this 100 mile thing is a breeze! I've decided to embrace the 99% rule and not deny myself the right to use products like yeast, rennet, etc... If a lady has gone to the work of growing her own cucumbers, pickling them with local vinegar and salt, but uses a tablespoon of non-local sugar, does that mean I should reject her notable efforts in staying as close to home as possible? I don't think so. I've stuck to my guns when it comes to sourcing local flour, eggs, vinegar, oil, and more. The first 2 weeks were rather boring when it came to meal choice, but now that I have a plethora of ingredients to work with, I'm back to eating well! This is a collection of pictures of the various meals I've been eating....
1. Baked Apples with Honey & Yogurt
2. Mushroom Souflee with Butter Potatoes
3. Grilled Cheese (homeade bread) with sour cream for dipping, preserved corn salad and apples
4. Bean Medley with Chopped Dumplings
5. Oxtail Stew (made with homemade stock) w/ beets and squash & Homemade Bread
6. My fourth loaf of bread in 3 weeks - They're looking and tasting better! :)


Sourcing Ingredients

What's tricky about sourcing ingredients is that a lot of things at the farmers market are in fact imported and bought from the same distributer that supply the big supermarkets in town. To find locally grown produce and other food items I have a few main pointers:

1. Do your research ahead of time
Most farms have a website that you can investigate. For pantry items, I figure out which brand I want, then find a store that carries it in town. Before going shopping, I decide which items I'm in need of (ie: sunflower oil, oats and milk, etc.) and take a peek at the "Buy Local, Buy Fresh!" map, online http://www.foodlink.ca/index.php?p=blbf_map_locations For example, I would discover that FlorAlps farm makes sunflower oil, check their website for which store distributes it - Eating Well Organically in the Uptown - then take a trip on over. It saves me weeks of aimlessly searching store isles.

2. Buy in-season from the "small guys"
If you are buying oranges in January, under a heated tent at the farmer's market, you can bet they aren't selling you local. This isn't to say that our family hasn't bought the odd bunch of grapes or bananas from such market-stands, it's just that if you're trying to go local, you're better off buying produce that was grown at a near-by farm. You'll be surprised how cheap things can be! I bought a half litre of maple syrup from a Mennonite family at the market for just $10. I bought a pound of dried kidney beans from a man that grows them just outside Tevistock, for just $1.50.  Better yet... I am now getting my dairy from a local shop that costs about $1.20/litre of milk, after the $2.00 bottle return. It pays off to buy from the people who know their produce and are proud to sell it.

3. Join a CSA or Buying Club
Or do what we did and join both! This is a fabulous way to cut down on the work of sourcing items for busy families. With a CSA (community shared agriculture), you buy a share in a farm, and for the majority of the year you pickup your seasonal items that the farmer has prepared for you. With a Buying Club, the organizers specifically source items (local and non-local) for its members, then all you have to do is order which items you would like via their website, everyone agrees on a pick-up location, you show up with your grocery bags and pickup your food. I would say that it's even easier than the grocery store shopping because your food is ready for you when you arrive, and you never go over-budget because you pay in advance.
Our CSA is with  http://www.fertilegroundcsa.com/
Our Buying Club is with http://baileyslocalfoods.ca/




Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Making-Do

And that title might just be the understatement of the century! I'm eating better and better every day. I've now made pasta from scratch with a homemade tomato sauce, including dried herbs I bought locally while in Italy, onions and garlic. For breakfast, a lovely slice of homemade bread with a draping of silky, sweet roasted red peppers we froze in the summer, a slice of fried salami my Nono made and a well-done egg to top it, only to be garnished with preserved chillies. Yum! I could do this 100-mile thing for a year! And I am.