Saturday, 30 January 2010

Around the Sound the Second Time Around

Around the Sound in Owen Sound
A couple weeks ago we went to Around the Sound, in Owen Sound. We went back again this week. Looks completely different, doesn't it? That's because they have moved.

The new address is 685 6th Street East, at the corner of 7th Avenue. This is a more convenient location to drive to, since it avoids the downtown bridges (and especially now that the main bridge is out of commission for a year to be rebuilt.)

The new space is not as pretty as the old one, but it is a great deal lighter and more convenient. All their old products are there, as well as new ones and space to expand to even more.

My photos make the store look very empty, but in fact we arrived during a lull and 5 minutes later the place was packed.

As before, lots of local preserves and honeys.

This space behind the main shop area is storage at the moment, but there are big plans for it. At some point it will become a community kitchen that can be rented for catering, bulk cooking or product development, as well as being used for cooking classes.

Friday, 29 January 2010


We are busy painting the bathroom at the moment. Nothing like waiting a year and a half. Who, us? Procrastinate? Nah.

It's going to be a lovely bright turquoise, with periwinkle trim. And a grass-green door. And now we will have to venture out and buy new towel racks, a new shower curtain, a new bath mat and, I suppose, -egad! - new towels as the old ones were all on a mossy green theme that clashes quite horribly.

Anyway, back soon.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Beet & Red Cabbage Salad - Bottled as a Relish

I've posted about this recipe before, but the last time I just made it as a salad and ate it fresh. It's a bit odd to be doing canning this far away from the harvest, but red cabbages and beets are still readily available.

Traditionally, this is served with beef, and that's a good way to have it. I also like it with egg or cheese based dishes.

9 250-ml jars
1 1/2 hours prep time - plus an hour to cook the beets

Beet and Red Cabbage Relish
6 to 8 large beets (4 cups when cooked and grated)
4 cups finely chopped red cabbage
1 cup Sucanat or dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons pickling salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 250 ml jar (1 cup) prepared plain horseradish
1 1/2 cups plain white or cider vinegar

The beets need to be cooked in advance of the rest of the preparations. I find it least stressful to do this the day before. Put them, washed but whole, into a pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil them steadily for 45 minutes. Let them cool in the pot; they can be left out overnight if your kitchen is cool.

The next day, put a sufficient number of canning jars into the canner, and cover thm with water to an inch above the rims. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and grate the beets. Finely chop the red cabbage. Mix the beets, cabbage and remaining ingredients in a large pot or canning kettle.

When the jars come to a boil and you set the timer for the 10 minutes of boiling, put the lids and rings on to boil in a pot with water to cover them; boil them for 5 minutes. Heat the salad/relish until quite hot, or just boiling. It really shouldn't cook - it is a kind of preserved salad - but cold salad in glass jars going into a boiling water bath is a Bad Move.

When the jars are ready, remove them to a heatproof board, and fill them with the hot salad. Wipe the rims and seal with the boiled lids and rims. Pop the jars back into the boiling water bath and boil for 15 minutes before removing. Let cool and check the seals, then label and store in a cool dark place. Refrigerate once opened.

If you decide you want to use 500-ml jars - and I admit, that's what I tend to use - they must be boiled for 25 minutes once filled and returned to the boiling water bath. Don't forget you will still need one 250-ml jar.

Last year at this time I made No-Bake Puffed Barley Squares.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Tofu "Schnitzel"

Okay, I threatened to do this, and I did it. I have to admit I served it with plain steamed cabbage mixed with frozen peas rather than with the Cabbage Paprikash. Some mashed or roasted potatoes will finish off the meal nicely. You could make some Mushroom Gravy if you really wanted to get carried away. This is a quick and easy way to deal with tofu and surprisingly tasty.

3 to 6 servings
30 minutes - 20 minutes prep time

2 large eggs
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup good-tasting (nutritional) yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon savory
a good grind of black pepper
450 grams (1 pound) firm tofu
3 to 4 tablespoons mild vegetable oil

Break the eggs into a wide, shallow bowl and beat them, and set aside. Mix the flour, yeast, salt, savory and pepper in a similar bowl, and set aside.

Cut the tofu into 6 slices, cutting it in such a way that they are the thinnest slices that can be achieved with the configuration of your tofu.

Dip each slice in the flour mixture, then in the egg to coat, and then back in the flour mixture. Shake any excess back into the bowl, and put the finished slices aside on a plate. They can be piled up somewhat. Repeat with the remaining slices.

Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Sauté however many prepared slices of tofu that you can fit in the pan (probably 3) until golden brown, about 2 or 3 minutes, then turn them over and sauté on the other side until golden brown. Remove them from the pan and repeat with the remaining slices of tofu, adding more oil first if necessary. Serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Beef with Multiple Onions and Lemon-Apricot Carrots.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Spaghetti Squash Kugel

About the only local squash I am still able to find is spaghetti squash. I haven't cooked much with it but I thought a kugel might be the way to go. An awful lot of kugels are rather sweet, which does not particularly appeal to me so I went a more savory route. There's just a lingering bit of sweetness from the ginger and raisins and they make this otherwise rather lasagne-like dish a bit unusual.

This is quite easy, and if the cooking is broken up over two days not particularly time consuming either.

4 to 6 servings
about 2 1/2 hours - 30 minutes prep time, and 2 sessions of baking for an hour

Spaghetti Squash Kugel
Cook the Squash:
1 medium spaghetti squash, about 3 pounds (1.5 kilos)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Pierce the squash in several places with a fork or knife, and bake the squash for 40 to 50 minutes, until soft enough that it has a little give when pushed. Let the squash cool enough to handle, then cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard them. Using a fork, tease out the strands of squash.

This can be done up to 2 days ahead, and the prepared squash stored in the fridge. You will need 4 cups of the prepared squash strands. They should be blotted fairly dry just before use.

Make the Kugel:
4 or 5 dried tomatoes
1/4 cup water
1 medium onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon sunflower seed oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 to 3 tablespoons raisins
4 large or 3 extra-large eggs
475 grams (about 1 pound) ricotta cheese
100 grams extra-old cheddar cheese

Snip the tomatoes into small pieces, and put them in a small pot with the water. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let them soak as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking pan (I used a 9" glass pie plate) by rubbing the inside with butter.

Peel and chop the onion. Peel and mince the garlic. Heat the oil in a skillet, and sauté the onion until quite soft and slightly browned. Add the garlic and seasonings, and cook for a minute or two longer. Put the onion mixture into a mixing bowl with the tomatoes and any remaining soaking water from them, and the raisins. Beat in the eggs.

Mix in the 4 cups of dried, prepared spaghetti squash strands. Mix in the ricotta cheese. It should not be well blended, but fairly lumpy thoughout. You may wish to mix some in, then put half of the mixture into the prepared pan. Dot the remaining ricotta over the mixture, then spread the remaining mixture over the top. My container of ricotta was a rather odd size, but I just put it all in. A pound would certainly be enough though.

Grate the cheddar and sprinkle it over the top of the kugel.

Bake the kugel for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cheddar is lightly browned in spots. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Last year at this time I posted about making Carrot Marmalade.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Another Apple Pudding

We managed to slog through peeling, coring and slicing about three-quarters of a bushel of apples to be dried, before we flagged. That leaves us with a quarter of a bushel of somewhat tired apples, as we left them sitting out in a warm room for that period. This was a good way to dispose of some of the remains.

It's a lot like that old classic, Apple Batter Pudding, but it's a bit sweeter and more refined. Slightly more work too, with the beating and folding of egg whites, although it doesn't really take long to put together. Ideally, you will end up with a bit of syrupy sauce around the apples, but it will depend a bit on how juicy your apples are. As always, it's best to use a mix of varieties if you can, although one will do. We just used rather soft Mutsus.

6 servings
1 hour - 30 minutes prep time

Apple Pudding
Prepare the Apples:
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Sucanat, or dark brown sugar
8 cups sliced, peeled apples (6 medium, or 4-5 large)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put a shallow roasting pan (I used my small lasagne pan, 8" x 10") in the oven with the butter to warm as you peel the apples.

When the apples are peeled, take out the pan and sprinkle the Sucanat evenly over the bottom of the pan. Slice the apples into the pan, and spread them out evenly. Sprinkle them with the cinnamon. Return the pan to the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, while you prepare the batter.

Prepare the Batter:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
3 extra-large eggs
2/3 cup soft whole wheat flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and sugar until light, and blend in the extract. Separate the eggs, putting the whites in their own mixing bowl and adding the yolks to the butter and sugar.

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff.

Beat the egg yolks into the butter and sugar mixture, and continue beating until the mixture is very light and pale, about 2 minutes. Beat in the milk, starting with just a tablespoon or so at a time, until the mixture is fairly liquid, at which point it can all be added, and beaten until smooth.

Gently stir the baking powder and salt into the flour. Fold half gently into the batter, with a spatula. Fold in about a third of the egg whites. Fold in the remaining flour, then the remaining egg whites.

Take the apples from the oven (assuming they have been in there for 15 to 20 minutes) and gently spread the batter evenly over them. Return the pan to the oven, and bake for 30 minutes, until browned and just firm. Serve warm.

Last year at this time I made Potato Pancakes.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Good-Tasting Yeast Spread

It's been a while since I have had any Tartex, which is a yeast-based paté-like spread from Europe, popular amongst vegetarians. I doubt very much I could find it around here, though.

I was introduced to it many years ago in my vegan anarchist bakery days*, and I am ridiculously fond of it, although it is hard to find and expensive when you do find it, at least on this continent. I read the list of ingredients and came up with my own version, although it is by no means identical, or even all that close. I'm pretty pleased with it, although I may tweak the recipe a bit more before settling in with a final version. Tartex is made with potato starch, but I didn't have any and didn't feel like adding yet another packet of mysterious white powder to the back of the cupboard, so I used what sounded good to me, and I think it's fine. I'll have to try the potato starch sometime though.

Also, I have to be vague about the quantity of miso that goes into this, as it will depend entirely on the saltiness of the particular miso you are using, and also the level of saltiness you would like the finished spread to have. It should have a bit of a salty-yeasty bite, since the plan is to spread it fairly thinly on bread or crackers, but it can certainly be over-done if you are not careful. Stop adding the miso once you think it is good, but could use a bit more - once it is cool you are not likely to think it needs any more and if in fact it does need more you can always add it later, but once it's in it's in, and that's that. I put in two tablespoons of miso but I bought my miso after careful comparison of several different brands as having half the quantity of salt of most other brands - a significant difference!

Another note; I tried it with garlic and that was good, but be very careful with it if you use it instead of the shallot. It should just get tossed in the oil and stirred around for a minute, and then the chick pea flour should be added at once. The garlic will go bitter if it is let to get too brown.

I should also say that even though I was inspired by thoughts of lighter meals I couldn't describe this as low-calorie particularly, and definitely not low sodium. On the other hand, it's pretty intense and should be used somewhat sparingly.

Makes about 2 cups
20 minutes prep time

Good Tasting Yeast Spread
1 medium shallot
1/4 teaspoon rubbed savory
1/4 teaspoon rubbed basil
1/4 cup sunflower seed oil
1/3 cup chick pea flour
1 cup water
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
3/4 cup good-tasting (nutritional) yeast flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste or ketchup
1 to 2 tablespoons light miso (start with one)
black pepper to taste

Peel the shallot and mince it fairly finely. Heat it in a heavy-bottomed pot with the oil, over medium heat until it begins to sizzle. Cook the shallot, sizzling steadily but not intensely, for about 5 minutes, until it turns golden brown.

Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the chick pea flour. Return the pan to the heat, and continue cooking for another minute or two, until the chick pea flour begins to brown slightly in spots. Stir constantly, and remove the pan from the heat again as soon as this happens. This time, you can turn off the burner.

Stir in the water, a little at a time, until a smooth mixture is obtained. Then, stir in the yeast and tomato paste, again until the mixture is very smooth. Stir in miso, a tablespoon (or less) at a time, taking tiny tastes as you go. When you have achieved a good balance of yeastiness and saltiness, stop adding miso. Add a good grind of black pepper, to taste. Keep in mind it will seem saltier as it cools, so don't over-do it with the miso.

Use this spread with bread or crackers, on its own or as part of a vegetable sandwich. Keep it well sealed in a jar and refrigerated. It should keep for a while, but I confess to not knowing exactly how long.

I was not a vegan, just the anarchist baker part. But the "bosses" were. *Rolls on floor, laughing.*

Monday, 18 January 2010

Braised Beef Brisket

This summer we signed up for a meat CSA, instead of ordering our usual quarter of a cow for the fall. This turned out to be a good way to get a more varied selection of meats, although it was no doubt more expensive. One of the things we got in our last delivery was a beef brisket, which I had never cooked before.

Brisket is a tough, flattish piece from the front chest of the cow, full of connective tissue so rather gelatinous. Being an awkward shape, it is usually rolled and tied. Obviously, it's a prime candidate for braising, which is what I did. The result was meltingly tender with a very rich and flavourful gravy. Most of the recipes called for cooking it a day ahead, skimming off the fat once it is cooled, then reheating it. Since a good sized roast plus two people equals more than one meal, I did indeed reheat the majority of it. However, I found it was quite lean - there wasn't that much fat on it. No doubt it will depend on your particular cut.

6 to 8 servings
6 1/2 to 7 hours - 30 minutes prep time

Braised Beef Brisket
Prepare the Seasonings:
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar or pickle brine
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons sea salt (less if using brine)
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon dill seed, ground
1 teaspoon rubbed savory
1 teaspoon rubbed thyme

Mix the vinegar with the dry spices in a small bowl or jar, and mix or shake until blended. Set aside.

Prepare the Roast & Vegetables:
4 medium onions (450 grams, 1 pound)
3 or 4 stalks of celery
2 medium carrots
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 medium brisket roast, rolled and tied (4 to 5 pounds; about 2 kilos)
1 tablespoon arrowroot

Peel and cut the onions in half, and then slice the halves. Wash, trim and chop the celery. Peel and slice the carrots. Peel and slice the garlic.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet, and gently sauté the onions, celery and carrots in them until fairly soft, but don't let them brown. Put them in a roasting pan that will hold the brisket and vegetables fairly snuggly and which has a lid.

Next, brown the brisket on both sides, then lay it on top of the carrots and celery. You may need to add a bit more oil to the pan.

Turn on the oven to 275°F.

Finally, sauté the onions until quite soft and starting to brown a little. Add the garlic, and sauté for another minute or two. Lift the onions from the pan and arrange them around the roast as evenly as possible. Mix up the spice and vinegar mixture again, and pour it over the brisket.

Cover the roasting pan, and put it in the oven. Braise the brisket for 5 1/2 to 6 hours, until very tender when pierced with a fork.

Remove the brisket from the oven, and let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, remove the vegetables and accumulated juices from the pan, and purée them in a food processor or blender with the arrowroot. Put them in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the starch thickens and clarifies. Taste and adjust the salt if necessary.

Slice the brisket and serve it with the gravy; mashed potatoes are an ideal accompaniment. Brisket reheats very well, so this can be made a day ahead and the sliced meat reheated ( in the oven) in the gravy.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

School Lunches

"Today's menu: Hamburger, wheat buns, tator tots, fruit jello, chocolate milk.

I ate everything. The patty was how do you say nothing like any hamburger I have ever eaten. Mystery meat in every sense. I also really wanted more than just six tator tots. The fruit cup was NOT FROZEN, so I ate it. I also drank the chocolate milk, which was ok.

I sort-of want to stop drinking milk at lunch. I normally don't drink milk at lunch. In fact, I used to have milk only on my morning cereal, but this winter I've been opting for a hot breakfast of instant oatmeal and so prior to doing this "experiment" I would go without milk for whole days. So now that I've added a lunchtime milk, I've noticed some interesting changes in my body. I think I'm getting a little lactose-intolerant in my old age.

This lunch was better than other lunches in that there was more protein and I wasn't as desperately hungry after school like I have been in the past. But overall it still isn't enough for the kids who eat this one meal at school and that's it for the whole day. There is significant poverty at my school and some of the kids are very thin (and others are very, very chunky). No matter what size you are you should be able to eat healthy at school. "

If you check out the exciting links at the side of this blog - you should, they're exciting! - you will have read about this new blog at Marion Nestle's site, Food Politics.

Fed Up With School Lunches is a blog written by an American public school teacher in Illinois. For the rest of the school year she plans to eat the lunch that's available at her school for the kids who attend it. Of course the point of eating these lunches is to record them for posterity, so there is a photo and a description of each lunch. Mmm, yummy. NOT. I look at the picture of the meat patty that came with the meal described above, and think about the fact that it will have been treated with ammonia in an effort to keep the bacteria down to a dull roar. I don't think I could have gotten it into my mouth.

It makes me wonder. What are Canadian (Ontario in particular) school lunches like these days? Never having had a dog in this particular fight, I have been out of touch with them since my own school days. The ones I remember date back to the 1970's when I was in high school, and since I mostly brought my own lunch I don't remember too much about them. On the other hand the things I do remember are french fries (good french fries mind you, although generally ordered awash in bad gravy), which were consumed in vast quantities by pretty much all present , and Margaret's chocolate "creme" doughnuts, which were the fakest things in creation, and of which I was inordinately fond. So not exactly a golden age of yore. However, I'm pretty sure that besides the french fries there were usually a couple of choices for main dishes, and vegetables and salads were on offer, if not enthusiastically received.

Anyway, those of you who do have kids going to public school these days: what are their school lunches like?

Friday, 15 January 2010

Refried Beans

I like the "intermittant blast" method of cooking beans because it means I really don't have to pay any attention to them for more than 2 minutes at a time. So even though they take a long time to cook, they are very easy. If you want to cook them faster, you can keep them at a steady simmer instead of turning off the heat once the water has been changed. You'll need to remember to stir them frequently though! Burnt beans are thoroughly nasty.

This is not the most authentic recipe for refried beans (which should really be translated as "well-fried" beans.) To make them authentic you should use at least twice as much lard, and really fry those beans, until they are quite thick and intense. I don't think my digestive system is up to that anymore though, so it's the lower fat version for me.

6 servings
days and days... but maybe 30 minutes actual work

Refried Beans
2 cups dry red kidney beans (450 grams, 1 pound)
1 medium onion
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup lard or bacon dripping, or vegetable oil if you must
2 teaspoons cumin seed, ground
1 teaspoon rubbed thyme
salt to taste

Put the beans in a large pot with plenty of water to cover - at least 3 times their depth. Bring them to a boil, then turn off the heat and let them soak, covered, overnight. In the morning, drain the beans and cover them again with plenty of fresh water. Bring them to a boil, then turn off the heat and let them soak, keeping them covered.

Continue turning them on and bringing them to a boil, then letting them soak for an hour or two or longer 3 or 4 more times until the beans are cooked. Give them a stir each time you bring them to a boil.

Once the beans are cooked they can be "refried". Drain the beans, but keep the cooking water.

Peel and chop the onion. Peel and mince the garlic. Heat the lard, fat or oil in a very large skillet, and sauté the onion fairly gently, until it is quite soft and just beginning to colour. Add the garlic and the seasonings, and sauté for a minute or two longer. Put about a cupful of the bean cooking water into the pan, and follow it with about half of the drained beans. Mash them with a potato masher, mixing them in well with the onions and seasonings. Add the remaining beans and mash them as well, adding more bean cooking water if necessary to achieve a soft but not too liquid texture.

Serve when the beans are hot through.

Last year at this time I made Sweet Potato Waffles.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Whole Wheat Tortillas

Homemade tortillas are so much tastier than commercial ones it's a little scary. They are also quite easy to make, and cook in a flash. As you can tell by the surrounding accoutrements, we made burritos! The one disadvantage is that we did find them harder to roll than commercial tortillas; our burritos ended up looking more like giant tacos in the end. No complaints though; we just pass the paper towels. I'll be making these again soon.

Refried beans, shredded greenhouse lettuce and tomatoes, jarred salsa and grated cheese make classic burritos. A few slices of avocado are also very good.

8 to 12 tortillas
30 minutes prep time - plus resting time for the dough

Wholw Wheat Tortillas
1 cup soft whole wheat flour
2 cups red fife whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sunflower seed oil
about 1 cup warm (tap) water

Mix the flours and the salt in a medium sized mixing bowl. Stirring steadily, drizzle in the sunflower seed oil. When it is well distributed throughout the flour, and there are no large lumps left, begin to mix in the warm water to form a smooth dough. You may not need quite all the water, or you may need a tiny bit more. It will depend on the dryness of the flour.

Turn out the dough onto a clean countertop and knead it for 4 or 5 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. If it is too sticky, sprinkle some flour on the countertop. Shape the dough into a neat log.

Loosely wrap the dough and let it rest for at least half an hour. It can be kept up to overnight in the refrigerator, but it should be brought out to warm up at least half an hour before you roll it.

Divide the dough into 8 (or 12) equal pieces. Flatten and roll each one out until they are very thin but still structurally sound. Aim for round, but there's nothing wrong with a somewhat home-made look.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat once you have rolled out a couple of tortillas, and keep rolling the rest as you cook the first ones. Cook the tortillas on both sides. Turn them when they have formed a number of bubbles. This won't take more than a minute; once turned over another 15 to 30 seconds should be enough to finish them. They should look mostly dry. Wrap the finished tortillas in a tea-towel to keep them warm until they make it to the table.

Last year at this time I made Savoy Cabbage au Gratin.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Winter Minestrone

This makes a fairly massive pot of soup. That's the trouble with soup; you put in a little of this and a little of that and the next thing you know you have a vat full. You might want to keep the noodles separate, and divide up the soup into 2 or 3 portions, adding noodles only as you get to each portion. That way they don't turn into huge, bloated whale-noodles before you can finish the soup. Also, I find that as the noodles expand, I have to keep adding more liquid to keep it soup, rather than sludge. Better to put them in in stages.

Parmesan cheese rinds: you do keep 'em, don't you? Whenever I buy a new piece of Parmesan I cut off the rinds and put them (well wrapped) in the freezer. That makes the rest of the Parmesan easier to deal with, and then the rinds are also handy for making soup. Think of them as a kind of vegetarian soup-bone. Also, it's hard to give quantities as it all depends on how large your piece of Parmesan was, but in general, you want several good-sized pieces. Cooking makes the rinds softer and more cheese-like, but by the time the soup is done they have been leached of flavour and they are just tasteless globs of fatty calories - I toss them.

10 to 16 servings
1 1/2 hours prep time, about, not including the overnight soak

Winter Minestrone
Cook the Beans:
1 cup dry red kidney or pinto beans
4 cups diced or crushed tomatoes
2 or 3 bay leaves
the rind from a chunk of Parmesan cheese

Put yer beans in a large pot and cover them generously with water. Bring them to a boil, then turn them off and let them soak, covered, overnight. Drain them, and cover them with water again. Bring to a boil again and simmer until about half cooked.

At this point, drain the beans, keeping the cooking liquid. Add fresh water to the cooking liquid to make 8 cups, (or discard some, ditto, if it's more than 8 cups) and return it to the pot with the beans. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves and cheese rinds, and simmer until the beans are tender. Meanwhile...

Sauté Some Veggies:
1 large onion
3 stalks of celery
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons sunflower seed or extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon rubbed basil
1 teaspoon rubbed thyme
1 teaspoon rubbed oregano

Peel and chop the onion. Clean, trim and chop the celery. Peel and mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, and sauté the onion and celery gently until soft and showing signs of browning slightly. Add the garlic and herbs and sauté for just a minute or two more, until very fragrant. Add all this to the soup.

The Final Ingredients:
4 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 large potato
1 large carrot
2 cups chopped green or savoy cabbage
250 grams (8 ounces) noodles or small pasta shapes

Put the water and salt on to boil in a good-sized pot. Scrub the potato, and peel the carrot. Cut them both into small dice. Chop the cabbage, discarding any large tough stem pieces.

When the water boils, add the noodles, potato and carrot, and boil about 4 minutes. Add the cabbage and boil 2 or 3 minutes more. Add this mixure - which should be rather underdone - to the soup including the water, and simmer the soup gently for a further 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove and discard the cheese rinds and bay leaves before serving. You are now souped for the next week. Yes, you can freeze some, but see my suggestion about leaving out the noodles and adding them as wanted.

Last year at this time I made Apple Butter Spare Ribs.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Music Garlic

Music Garlic
It occurred to me, as I was peeling a couple of cloves of garlic for a dish, that when I call for garlic in my recipes I assume it's obvious I mean Ontario-grown garlic, seeing as that's what it's all about around here. It's not that you couldn't substitute other garlics - if you really must - but there are some things you should realize about Ontario-grown garlic first.

The most common kind of garlic grown in Ontario is called "Music", after its developer, Al Music, a farmer who switched from tobacco farming to growing garlic in the early 1980's and developed the strain from garlic he acquired in Italy. (I've occasionally seen it refered to as "Musica".) It's proven to be very adapted to southern Ontario growing conditions, and is a fine, flavourful garlic of medium pungency with large cloves, and which stores well.

When I say large cloves, I mean large cloves. The single clove in the photo above is about the size of an Italian plum. That's larger than average, but even an average clove is about 3 to 5 times the size of a clove of the puny Chinese-grown softneck garlic that's so ubiquitous in grocery stores. In short, when I call for "1 or 2 cloves of garlic" I am not being skimpy with the garlic; that's probably 4 to 6 cloves of Chinese garlic, at least. Although I'd be inclined to use that one huge clove and call it two, for recipe purposes.

Music is a hardneck garlic. Garlic is divided into three general types; hardneck, weakly hardneck (or intermediate) and softneck. Softneck garlic does not generally send up a flower stalk as it grows, and so consists of a head of cloves in loose layers, without the hard central stem that gives hardneck garlic its name.

Within the class of hardneck garlics, there are 3 further subdivisions: porcelain, purple stripe and rocambole. Music is a porcelain garlic, with a fine white (sometimes blushed mauve) and rather glossy skin. It generally has between 4 and 7 cloves per head, with 5 or 6 being typical in my experience. In stressful growing seasons it is likely to produce fewer but larger cloves.

Like all garlic, it should be kept at cool room temperature, dry (airy) and dark for longest storage, but not chilled. Garlic, like daffodils, does much of its root development in cool to downright cold autumn and early winter weather. If you keep it in the refrigerator, it is likely to think that this is what is happening and that it's time to grow. These rather specific requirements are why garlic storage jars are popular for keeping garlic. However, if you grow your own or stock up in the fall such jars are likely to be too small. Try a double paper bag with a few small holes poked in it for most of your garlic, and keep your garlic jar for just a few heads at hand on the kitchen counter.

If you want to grow your own garlic, it is best planted in the late summer to early fall. You could do much worse than reading up on the process here: Choosing, Growing, Using and Selling Garlic for Small Scale Growers in Ontario, from Seeds of Diversity Canada.

Garlic on Foodista

Monday, 11 January 2010

Cabbage Paprikash

I've been making this lately as a hearty but not too heavy vegetarian meal. If you wanted a little more heft, I think it would be good with tofu. You could add cut up cubes of tofu to the sauce just before the cabbage and yogurt go in, but I'm having visions of tofu "schnitzel". Maybe that's my next project.

I've given quite a range for the amount of yogurt; it will depend on how saucy you would like your Paprikash to be. If it's to be used a side vegetable, I would keep the amount lower. However, if it's going over noodles or rice I think the soupier amount is best.

20 minutes prep time
4 to 6 servings as side dish; 2 servings as main dish

Cabbage Paprikash
Mix the Spices:
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet Spanish paprika
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dill seed, ground
1/2 teaspoon rubbed savory
a good grind of black pepper

Mix the spices in a small bowl and set aside.

Make the Paprikash:
4 cups finely chopped savoy cabbage
1 medium carrot
2 cups water
1 tablespoon sunflower seed oil
1/2 to 1 cup thick yogurt

Chop the cabbage, and peel and grate the carrot. Put them in a pot with the water, and bring them to a boil. Cook until tender, about 4 or 5 minutes. Drain them, saving the cooking water.

Heat the oil in a pot (you can use the one you just cooked the veg in, no need to wash it.) Add the flour and spice mix and stir in well. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Begin to slowly mix in 1 cup of the reserved cooking water. Be sure to do it slowly, to avoid lumps. Once it is well mixed in, continue cooking and stirring for 3 or 4 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Return the well drained cabbage and carrots to the pot and mix them well into the sauce. Mix in the yogurt, and heat through. Do not allow the mixture to boil, however, once the yogurt goes in, for fear of curdling.

Serve over rice or noodles. If you are using noodles, the water should be put on to boil for them when you start the cabbage boiling.

Last year at this time I made Braised Whitefish with Ginger & Green Onions.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

A Visit to Around The Sound

Around the Sound Market in Owen Sound
I heard about Around the Sound Local Food Market early in the summer, but what with one thing or another I was only able to visit them for the first time on Thursday. The first thing I discovered is that they are about to move by January 28th, so I will just give the new address. They are going to be at 685 6th Street East, in Owen Sound. Their hours will be the same; Thursdays and Fridays 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, and Saturdays 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Around the Sound Market in Owen Sound
Their current abode is an old house, and products are arranged in a somewhat higgledy-piggledy manner throughout. This is the main room, which has their baked goods, cereals, most of their jams and preserves, and grains, beans and cereals.

Around the Sound Market in Owen Sound
They've even got the hallway pressed into service, with a shelf full of toiletries and cleaning supplies, and beeswax candles.

Around the Sound Market in Owen Sound
Refrigerated and frozen products are mainly in the other front room, along with some spill-over of the juices, jams and preserves.

Around the Sound Market in Owen Sound
Currently you can enter directly from the parking area through the back sunporch where the vegetables are, or through the front door.

Around the Sound Market in Owen Sound
They had a nice selection of winter storage vegetables including some absolutely fabulous looking garlic.

Around the Sound Market in Owen Sound
There was a small area tucked away to keep children entertained while parents do some shopping. This seems typical of owner Anne Finlay-Stewart, who has some big plans for the new site. It's going to have a certified kitchen, to allow classes and rentals. It won't be just a grocery store, but also a community resource.

Around the Sound Market in Owen Sound
Lots of good local apples!

Around the Sound Market in Owen Sound
GrassRoots Organics
is something of a fixture in this part of the world... Around the Sound has a wide selection of their beans, flours and puffed cereals.

Around the Sound Market in Owen Sound
Cookies from New Moon Kitchen, in Toronto. The local connection here is the flour, which comes from GrassRoots Organics, via a mill in Tavistock. (I'd bet that it's Oak Manor Farms - who else?)

Around the Sound Market in Owen Sound
Local pastas and sauces.

Around the Sound Market in Owen Sound
Rainbow trout oil, wild rice, sunflower seed oil and olive oil, amongst other things. Okay, you guessed it: the olive oil is not local, it's from Palestine. Of the "100 Mile Market" type stores I've been in, this one takes a looser approach than most. Mostly the products, even if from some distance away, have a connection to someone in the Owen Sound area. For example, she had tinned tuna and salmon from the west coast, because of a connection to someone from Owen Sound.

Around the Sound Market in Owen Sound
Puffed cereals from GrassRoots Organics. Around the Sound gets some items from the Ontario Natural Food Co-op, with a particular emphasis on product from Ontario and Quebec. It helps give the store it's well-balanced selection of products. This is the first local market I've been in where I've felt like I could actually do a lot of the weekly shopping. Pity it's just a bit too far away for me to get to regularly. However, now that I've tracked them down, I'll be back. I want to see how things work in the new digs, which will be larger...

Last year at this time I made Cream of Rutabaga Soup and Buttermilk Pancakes.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Jerk Spareribs (or Chicken)

If you like spicy, peppery food, this is the dish for you. I had a look at the Joshna's Jerk Chicken recipe in Good Food for All and it's interesting to see what's the same and what's different between her recipe and this one, which I have evolved over a few years of jerking around. She calls for oil, which has never seemed necessary to me, especially in something like ribs which already have a certain amount* of fat. Even with chicken, if it's got the skin - and it should, I think - I just don't see the need. On the other hand she calls for a little lime juice and fresh ginger, which I think would make very good additions. I'll have to try adding them next time.

You may, of course, adjust the amount of chile up or down according to your taste and the strength of the chiles. Is it just me or do Scotch Bonnets seem a pale shadow of their former selves? At least the ones sold in grocery stores? The last couple I bought barely qualified as hot! and certainly not as HOT!!! which is what they should be. At any rate, I didn't have any fresh hot chiles of any kind when I decided to make this, so I used the combination of cayenne and Korean chile powder. I thought the results were perfectly fine.

This is a simple dish but it does require some advance planning, given the marinating and cooking times. The chicken is notably quicker, and a better choice if you can't start cooking until you come home from work. I really like the slow cooked ribs though. Joshna also says you can make jerk tofu in the same way as the chicken, marinating and baking it, making sure it has enough on top to form a nice crust. I might add a tablespoon of oil with tofu, since it's not going to ooooze like the meats.

4 servings
15 minutes prep time; 12 to 24 hours marinade time; 4 to 6 hours cook time

Make the Marinade:
2 tablespoons allspice berries
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (strip from stems)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
4 large cloves of garlic
4 green onions or shallots
2 small bird or de arbol chiles
OR 1/2 of a medium-sized Scotch Bonnet chile (or more)
OR 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne AND 1 tablespoon Korean chile powder
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Toast the allspice berries in a dry skillet until they darken slightly and smell fragrant. Remove them to a dish to cool. When they have cooled, grind them with the pepper.

Peel the garlic and shallots, if using, or trim the green onions. Using gloves, de-stem the fresh chiles, if using, and remove the seeds as well if that seems good to you. (They supply much heat.) Put the ground pepper and allspice into a food processor with the remaining ingredients except the vinegar. Process to form as smooth a paste as possible (probably not very) stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Process again, this time adding the vinegar.

Marinate and Cook the Meat:
about 2 kilos (4 pounds) spareribs or bone-in chicken pieces
3 or 4 bay leaves

Cut the spareribs into sections, or your chicken into serving size pieces. Trim the ribs of excess amounts of fat, if you can.

Rub the pieces with the marinade, placing them in a glass or ceramic baking dish as you go. Tuck the bay leaves amongst them, and pour any remaining marinade over them once they are all in the dish. Cover and marinate in the fridge, for 12 to 24 hours.

To cook the pork spareribs, cover the dish and all the marinade with foil and place in the oven. Heat to 250°F and braise the ribs for 5 to 6 hours, until very tender.

To cook the chicken pieces, put them in an uncovered baking dish in a single layer, with the marinade poured all around them. Bake at 350°F for 35 to 45 minutes, until the chicken is done.

Traditionally served with rice and peas - the peas being dried, not green. Brown rice and lentils works very well.

Last year at this time I made Apple, Beet & Walnut Salad #2 and Prune & Apricot Whip with Custard.

*i.e. lots.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Stop "Good Food for All"

Sorry for the radio silence here; I got into the habit of cooking a lot of old favorites over Christmas, and I've been enjoying them so much that I haven't been making anything new to post about, although that should change shortly.

I'm expecting to get some good inspiration from one of my Christmas presents this year, from a relative who works at The Stop: "Good Food for All: Seasonal Recipes from a Community Garden" put out by The Stop Community Food Centre in Toronto.

Quite apart from having been put out in support of a great cause - check out The Stop's website link above if you don't know about the huge range of valuable food security advocacy that they are doing in Toronto - this is a cookbook after my own heart. The recipes are divided into 4 seasons and contain a wide choice of fairly simple, easy to make at home recipes that are still imaginative and range through a whole array of ethnic influences, and sound just delicious.

Since it's winter, I turned directly to the chapter of winter recipes. Right away, there's a bunch that have caught my eye: Red Lentil and Carrot Soup, Chilaquiles, Easy Chicken Curry (although admittedly I'm never going to find curry leaves out here in the boonies), Joshna's Jerk Chicken (yes! I'm in the mood for jerk! In fact, I have jerk ribs in the oven even as I type... recipe soon.) There's more: Tofu Baked Bean Casserole, Pear Spice Cake and Apple Walnut Muffins. Every other season looks as good.

Sounds like it should be fairly easy to get your hands on a copy; have a look here to see what will work best for you.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Sauerkraut Coleslaw

Coleslaw is a great winter salad, and I always love one that has red cabbage and carrots for colour. The sauerkraut adds a nice tang and the dressing plays off the sweet and sour flavours that are frequently used with sauerkraut. If you prefer a more standard dressing though, this works perfectly well with Italian Dressing. The amount of sauerkraut in this is fairly subtle, and could be increased.

6 to 8 servings
30 minutes prep time - 1 hour (about) to marinate

Sauerkraut Coleslaw
Make the Dressing:
the juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

Mix the lemon juice, vinegar and sugar together, and shake or stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Make the Coleslaw:
1 1/2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
1 cup finely shredded savoy cabbage
1 leaf finely shredded red cabbage
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
2 cups sauerkraut

Trim and finely shred the cabbages, and peel and grate the carrot. Drain the sauerkraut ( first rinse it if it is too strong) and mix the vegetables together. Toss with the dressing, and cover the cole slaw. Return it to the fridge for the flavours to blend for at least half an hour.

Last year at this time I made Tomato & Red Lentil Soup, and Rabbit Ragu.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Seed Catalogue Season Coming Up...

So here it is, barely 2010 and already I am hitting the seed catalogues. I don't know about you, but I have pretty much given up on the printed ones, so I'm hitting them almost exclusively virtually.

There are an awful lot of good catalogues available online and when you find a variety listed that sounds interesting, you can immediately do a little research and try to find out some of the things that the catalogues inexplicably fail to mention... like for example that a particular pea or bean grows to be a 10 foot vine or that a particular tomato will collapse in a mushy heap at the faintest whiff of blight. On the other hand you may find forums full of gardeners singing their praises, and confirm that that's the veggie for you.

For a really complete list of the seed sellers out there that are best suited for Canadians see this post at Seeds of Diversity.

I don't yet have a lot of experience ordering seeds on line, but I'll mention a few I've tried and a few that look really interesting. And holy moly, there are some really interesting looking seeds out there right now.

I haven't ordered from William Dam in a few years, but they were always very reliable when I did. They have mostly conventional, but some organic seeds and they have some surprising things like Red Bull Brussels sprouts (yes, red!) and fascinating German salad radishes. Also their prices are among the best. They have a lot of heirloom and open pollinated seeds that are not always labelled as such; I find that once I have a list of seeds that have been "sold" to me by some other company I should go back to William Dam and see if they have it for a dollar or so less per package. They often do - and that can add up, after a while.

The Cottage Gardener
is new to me, but I'm seeing lots of good things there. They have an impressive selection of melons, including the Crane melon, and 6 pages of tomatoes from Amana Orange to Zapotec Ridged. In general, it looks like a good, comprehensive selection of vegetables and at $3 per packet prices are reasonable, especially since they are all organic.

Hawthorne Farm Organics
also has organic seeds at $3 per packet, and a good, comprehensive selection of vegetables. I don't think they have as large a selection, but they have some interesting items nevertheless, including a long list of unusual lettuces. I have my eyes on Carouby de Maussane snow-peas, which are huge (both plant and peas) and have beautiful 2-tone pink flowers.

The seeds at Greta's Organic Gardens are a bit more expensive at $3.50 per packet, but again, a wide selection of heirloom veggies. They've got Moon & Stars watermelon, Citron melon, Dakota Black popcorn, du Puy lentils, paprika Kalocsa, two kinds of tobacco, and 206 tomatoes. Yes, I said 206. And many, many more.

By comparison Heritage Seed & Produce has a much smaller list, but it includes Hookers Sweet corn and Stowell's Evergreen corn. Heirloom corn seed is a lucky find - since it's wind polinated, it's a bugger to keep it true to type. The also have d'Espelette, a Basque hot pepper. At $2.50, prices are affordable. Also, Black Plum and Green Zebra tomatoes - 2 of my favourites from this summer.

Located in New Brunswick, Hope Seeds & Perennials has an east-coast slant, and has some items I haven't seen anywhere else, although it should be noted their catalogue hasn't been updated for 2010 yet. But Gilfeather and Melford rutabagas! Pattison Panache scallop squash! Long Pie pumpkin! Golden Bantam, Ashworth's "Rat Selected" and Painted Mountain corn! Falstaff purple Brussels sprouts! Giant Red celery! As if all that isn't enough, they have a very decent choice of potatoes, an impressive selection of garlics, and two Jerusalem artichokes, including one called "Passamaquoddy Potatoes" which is fabulously knobby and purple, and has a great history.

If you want herbs, common or obscure, Richters Herbs is the place to go. I have not always had good luck with their seeds, but most of the things I've bought from them have done well, and it's always a bit of a crapshoot when you buy seeds for a plant you've never even seen, let alone grown. And seriously, there are few herbs so rare that they don't carry them.

Solana Seeds is another delightful little discovery. They are in Quebec, and are désolé that their seeds are labelled only in French. But the website can be navigated in English, and they have some very good stuff listed. White, Yellow, Purple and Red carrots. Boothby's Blonde cucumbers. Numerous eggplants. A fabulous selection of melons, including the legendary Montreal Market and Oka, as well as a couple of Spanish winter storage melons. Peppers galore, including Pimentos, Purple Marconi, Doe Hill, Corno di Toro, Anaheim, Ancho, Cascabel, Purple Cayenne, Cheiro Recife, White Bullet Habanero, Black Pearl... and on, and on. Blue Shaman and Oaxacan Green corn. Yellow radishes. Honestly, they've got vegetables I've never heard of. Colour me impressed.

Terra Edibles is an old favourite of mine. They've been around a good few years now, and have a good selection of certified and non-certified organic veggies at the affordable price of $2.50 each. They are particularly strong in tomatoes and beans, and have such choices as Thibodeau de comte Beauce beans, Sangre de Toros beans, Hopi Black beans, Flambeau and Cranberry beans. They introduced me to almost all my favourite tomatoes, including Amish Paste, Opalka, Principe Borghese, San Marzano, Striped German, Stupice, and Tigerella. Mind you, that's just the tip of the tomato iceberg with them. Smaller but choice selection of lettuces, melons, and peas as well.

Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes
doesn't sell anything but seed potatoes (and a little garlic), but they have the best selection in the country as far as I can see. We ordered from them last year and were very happy with them.

Mapple Farm doesn't have a website (get with the program, guys!) but they are the only Canadian source I know of for sweet potato slips. They also have Jerusalem and Chinese artichokes, Egyptian onions, French shallots and Horseradish. And tomatoes, apparently. Send for a free catalogue to Mapple Farm, 129 Beech Hill Rd., Weldon, New Brunswick, E4H 4N5.

Annapolis Seeds
is my final and most recent discovery, and I am totally in awe of this guy. He's 17 years old*, in his second year in business, and has an impressively well designed website and great list of seeds at a reasonable $3.00 per packet. Look for Gallina, Sicillian Saucer and Bali tomatoes amongst a list of old favourites, Blue Jay beans (Canadian heirloom) Papa de Rola, Kahnewake Mohawk, Stevenson's Blue Eye and Bird's Egg beans; Amish Snap and St. Hubert peas, a surprising number of soybeans, Purplus lettuce and many others.

*I wish I had had even a glimmer of a clue what I wanted to do at that age. Half a glimmer would have been good.