Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Canning Salsa

Mom bought 6 bushels of roma tomatoes this past weekend. Like a trooper, she canned 5 of them for the winter, in the same way my Italian nona does: criss-cross cutting the bottom, boiling for a few minutes, slipping the skins off and then stuffing them into sterilized jars with a basil leaf. They are great for just about anything because they're still not fully cooked, but mushy enough to smash-up with a wooden spoon into sauces and stews over the colder months. With a bushel left over, I set about making salsa. Tomatoes, onions, garlic scapes, garlic, hot peppers, garahm masala, vinegar and honey (because I couldn't use sugar). The end result was a perfectly stewed, spicy concoction perfect for dipping my Barrie's Brother's asparagus tortilla chips into!

Breaded Chicken Tenders with Peach Salsa

Local chicken breasts sliced thin, coated in egg and flour/breadcrumbs/spices and baked with a few drizzles of butter. Fresh, ripe peaches cut up into salsa (canned earlier in the day) with fresh basil made a juicy accompaniment. Serve on a bed of peppery arugula beside tangy pickles or sliced cucumbers.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

An August Dinner

This 100-mile dinner showcased the best ingredients summer has to offer: tomatoes, fresh herbs, green beans, perfectly crisp lettuce, and more.
A tomato and cheese tart served as a nice side-dish.
For the main: Spicy Malaysian flank steak and mashed white beans, wrapped up in butter-head lettuce.


Blueberry & Peach Pie Re-Invented

 Today we bought a proof of blueberries for $50 and a 1/2 bushel of peaches for $10. After slicing, packing and canning all day, I'm hoping we have enough to last through the winter. ...I'll use them sparingly.
I snuck a few of them away to use in tonight's dessert: "Pie in a glass"

To make this trifle-like concoction, I made a thickened blueberry sauce, stewed peaches, flat & round pie crusts (baked on a sheet pan) and a sweet cream. I layered them into tall, wide-rimmed wine glasses because I adore nothing more than eating out of something that should be used to hold a drink. Good examples: brownies baked in hot-chocolate mugs, creme-brulee in tea cups, soups in shooter cups as an appetizer and parfaits in goblets.

Friday, August 19, 2011

100-Mile Brunch

I thought I'd give you a taste of what my typical 100-mile breakfast/lunch looks like. I usually stick to posting dinner meals because I have more time to think about recipes and prepare them. While a few months ago I would have been eating oats, spelt, bread and/or eggs in the morning, summer is a chance to cram as many fresh-foods as possible into the day. Rarely do I stick to "breakfast foods" in the morning and "dinner foods" at night. As far as I'm concerned, as long as it's edible (and relatively healthy), it's free game, any time of the day. Cheesecake was a personal 9am favourite before starting the challenge :) As you can see here, my 11am brunch included fish, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. I bought a loaf of sprouted-grain bread from George the Milkman (I'm still on the waiting list for unpasteurized milk...) which I toasted and topped with a tomato/cucumber salad, including lots of fresh basil. Smoked salmon used to be one of my favourite foods before I started the challenge, so my substitute is smoked rainbow-trout from Lake Huron. A 2-egg omelette - eggs from "The Unfactory Farm" - fried in ghee, rounded off this tasty start to the day.
Thanks to Natalie and Pauly from the gym for the best tomatoes ever!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Risotto Two Ways

Risotto is one of the great Italian comfort foods, and although the temperature outdoors is piping hot, a friend of mine demanded I make it for them after seeing a picture of it on the internet.

Butter, oil, starch and more butter.
In her words, " Can you really put a price (or caloric value) on pure, undiluted joy?"

 Obviously, a classic risotto recipe requires that I cheat from the 100-mile challenge, so my compromise was making it "100-mile friendly" the following day. I substituted pearl barley for rice, only used butter (no olive oil), no lemon zest at the end, no pine nuts and stuck to local cheeses. Personally, I enjoyed the classic recipe made with Arborio rice a little better. I found its flavour more complex and the rice a better carrier of stock and wine. Both versions were served with a salty pesto meant to be stirred into the creamy base upon eating. My brother however, preferred the barley version. In the second day's version I had to season the stock more (salt, bay leaves, thyme) because the barley kept going bland with each liquid addition. Taste and adapt! The final product was creamy and just as flavourful as the day's before.
A friend from Crossfit Kitchener (my gym) supplied me with a bundle of collard greens this week as well! What better way to make a dish 100-mile than throw in some serious, local foliage? Okay, so risotto isn't exactly the optimal pre-workout snack, but I figure I can blame this one on my lovely, adolescent metabolic rate. I simply de-stemmed the collards, washed them, cut them into ribbons and threw them in the risotto pot for the last 20 minutes. When it was time to eat, they twirled around the fork like tagliatelle! YUM!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ontario Peaches

One of the best treats of summer... in my opinion. 
Their juicy halves are almost blushing for the camera.
Ontario varieties include Harrow Diamond, Garnet Beauty, Early Redhaven, Redhaven, Vivid, Loring and Harrow Beauty.
Peaches fall into the category of being "cling-stone" or "free-stone," pertaining to whether the hard centre is easily removable or not. 
I personally enjoy working with free-stones for baking and cooking, but many of my favourite eating peaches are of the other variety. 
Stone fruits like apricots, nectarines, plums and peaches are so delicious, but short lived! Stock up now and get canning & preserving for the winter.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

National BBQ Contest Winner!

The results are in! 
People from all over the country threw amazing barbecues featuring local food from their regions. I had a blast reading through all of the top entries. Birthday parties, thundershowers, Brickworks, farmer's markets, you name it... Canadians sure know how to throw a party. 
Better yet, "By buying local food you are supporting your local farm families and economies, eating food with higher nutritional content and preventing pollution from the extra packaging and transportation." 

If you sneak a peek at the last post (beneath this one) you'll understand why I'm thrilled to announce that I won! See the link for the full story. National BBQ Day Winner...
Thank you for all the support from friends and family!
This tasty success puts two Westjet tickets in my hands.
...Now, where to go and who to take...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

National BBQ Day

A lovely lady named Anne (who read the recent newspaper article) emailed me about a national Barbecue contest. On August 6th, Meal Exchange hosted the 2nd annual "National BBQ Day," where grillers around the country rolled up their sleeves to cook local food for their friends and family. --> http://nationalbbqday.ca/?page_id=29 . The winner receives two Westjet tickets anywhere the airline flies.
Being at the family cottage on lake Huron, I was out of my element finding local foods. Back in Waterloo region, I  know where to buy what, on which days and from who. This contest presented a wonderful challenge because it forced me to learn about the local food system in the Saugeen Shores. With a very helpful neighbour Heather, supporting parents, and a nudge & wink from the townsfolk, I managed to pull together a 100-mile diet barbecue. I met new farmers, made new friends and even got a bushel of basil leaves for $1.00 along the journey!
Highlights of the meal were corn & spicy beef tamales, pork belly with plum chutney and fruit tarts with pastry cream and a rosemary jelly.
*In case you're wondering, the last photo where we have all of our hands us... it's the group counting too 100, to stand for the "100-mile challenge." Awe