Saturday, May 30, 2009

Recipe | Spring Greens with Brown Sushi Rice

This is one of those recipes that I invented because it's what I felt like eating today. Those are the days that Craig says "what's for dinner?" and I answer "a concoction!" 95% of the time my concoctions are better than anything I make from a recipe. The other 5% are brutal bad. I find that to be acceptable odds.

So last week I was in Nelson for family time (and had suuuch good food at my Aunt's house, as usual...mmmm Ethiopian goodness) and we stopped by the Kootenay Co-op. This is my all time favourite food store. It's all organic healthy goodness and they carry as much local and in season goodness as possible. I was very excited to find spinach (fiiinnally, spinach! It's been a long winter.) as well as fiddle heads. I've been reading about fiddle heads in the food blogs I read, but had never tried them. One of the advantages about being in a colder climate is that you get to see all the recipes about upcoming produce before you can get it. I tell myself that that's an advantage anyway. Long story I bought both (as well as three bars of chocolate mmmm) and brought them home.

Fiddle heads are the tops of young ostrich ferns. Apparently that is the only kind that is edible, so don't go running around eating ferns. Also you have to make sure they are thoroughly cooked or else they are apparently toxic and bitter. Mmmmmm toxic plants.

Also, I am totally guessing at the amounts here, but it's pretty foolproof. Just throw in whatever amounts feel right.

Spring Greens Stir Fry Ingredients
1/2 lb fiddle head ferns
1/4 lb spinach
1/2 lb asparagus
1 shallot minced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 T lemon juice

1) Clean fiddle heads, all the brown fluff needs to come off, and cut the brown ends off. We found this easiest to do in a sink of cold water.
2) Snap the ends off the asparagus and snap in half or thirds.
3) Blanch fiddle heads and asparagus in boiling water, just until they turn bright green. Then immediately throw in a ice water bath to prevent overcooking.
4) In a bit of butter, fry the shallot and garlic until fragrant.
5) Throw in the drained fiddle heads and asparagus, cook until tender.
6) Add a splash of lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, as well as more butter in you want (I wanted). Throw the spinach in as well.
7) Stir it all up and cook just until the spinach wilts.

Brown Sushi Rice
1 cup short grain brown rice.
1 T sugar
2 T rice wine vinegar (I can't find mirin in this town, but this works)


1) Rinse rice and if you have time let is soak for an hour.
2) Cook rice, I use the rice cooker. Like with all brown rice I find it takes a bit more water then they say.
3) When rice is cooked stir in the sugar and vinegar.

Mmmm, you can obviously make these separately and use them for things like...sushi...but I liked the combination!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Preserves | Asparagus Pickles

This is a repost from my other blog from last year. Craig and I are making more pickles today and I'm wishing that I had found this post sooner...because I would have bought more asparagus! It is my intention to make over 20 jars this year as we looooove these pickles. I highly recommend making them with the skinnies because then you can put them on sandwiches without having to slice them. I'm all about the laziness.

Pickled Asparagus

10 pounds of asparagus makes 6 quarts of pickles.

First each jar gets 1 clump of dill, 4 cloves of garlic and 1 small jalapeno.

Then you pack as much asparagus in as you can manage. We put a mark on the cutting board to make it easier to cut the asparagus to the right length.

While you are doing this, you should have a pot on the stove with your brine boiling in it. The brine includes 4 cups of vinegar , 10 cups of water and 1 cup pickling salt.

Once your jar is full of asparagus, pour the brine in until it is full up to the top of the body of the jar. Then make sure the top of the jar is completely clean (or it won't seal) and put the lid on. The lids should be in a small pot of boiling water to soften the seals. Once the lid is on and screwed shut with a ring the jars go into the canner.

The canner needs to have enough water to cover all the jars (we can fit 7 quart jars in ours). Bring the water to a roiling boil and let it boil for a few minutes (5 or so). Then remove the jars and wait to hear the pops as the jars seal. They should pop in the first few minutes, but a couple of ours took their time.

Huzzah, spicy asparagus pickles for all! You should give them a try, they are very yummy and a fun addition to the ho hum pickle dish.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Recipes | Asparagus Soup

I invented this last year when Mom and I were making pickled asparagus and found that we had way too much dill. You could make this with veggie or chicken broth in a pinch, but if you really want asparagus soup, make asparagus broth.

Asparagus Broth
- Save all the woody ends of your asparagus. I just keep a bag in the freezer and chuck them in every time I cook asparagus.
- Get a head start by using water you've already blanched asparagus in. Then fill the pot with asparagus ends, with enough water to cover. Cook for about half and hour. Pull the ends out and put a new batch of ends in the same water. Cook for another half hour. This makes the broth more flavourful.
- Either pressure can or freeze your broth. I often add a splash of olive oil and a clove of garlic to each jar.
- This is obviously great for the following soup, but also is awesome for risotto!

Asparagus Soup Ingredients (serves 4)
1 large shallot (or two small), minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb asparagus, ends snapped off and diced
1/4 cup dill
Parmesan cheese
sour cream

1) In a large saucepan cook the shallot and garlic in the olive oil, until fragrant and soft, but not yet brown.

2) In a separate pot, cover the asparagus with water and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

3) In a blender or food processor, blend 3/4 of the asparagus with a little bit of the water you cooked it in to help it along.

4) Add the broth, blended asparagus and chopped asparagus to the pot with the shallot mixture. Bring to a boil.

5) Add the dill. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

6) Serve garnish with fresh grated Parmesan and a dollop of sour cream in each bowl.

I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tips | Freezing Asparagus

Asparagus is wonderful but the season is tragically not that long. And out of season asparagus, in my humble opinion, tastes like wood. So how do we keep the yumminess? One way is pickles, which I'll get into more another day (although I will be making some today I hope) but the easiest way is to freeze them. Here's how I go about it:

Frozen Asparagus Directions

1) Wash your asparagus and snap the ends. Keep the ends! More on this later.

2) Chop into one inch pieces. This is the most useful size in my experience, great for pasta, omelets, pizza, and all sorts of good things.

3) Heat some water up in a large pot. Bring it to a boil.

4) Blanch the asparagus in small batches. Leave them in the water just until they turn a nice bright green. Then immediately submerge in ice water. It's easiest to blanch in a colander.

5) Spread the cooled pieces on a cookie sheet and freeze overnight.

6) Once frozen they will store nicely in a large freezer bag. Then you can just grab a handful out whenever you want!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Recipes | Chocolate Chip Cake

This is the classic birthday cake in my family. It's from an old copy of Betty Crocker and we all love it. Try it, you'll never go back to vanilla cake with frosting, I promise you.

It was my mom's (on the left) birthday On Friday and my Aunt's is coming soon so they celebrated together...and I brought cake!

Chocolate Chip Cake Ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cup milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or one bar good dark chocolate chopped)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla


1) Beat all ingredients at low speed for 30 seconds, then at high speed for 3 minutes.
2) Pour into two greased and floured round pans. (or a 9x13...if you must)
3) Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.
4) When cool assemble cakes with butterscotch filling in between and top with the chocolate glaze.

Butterscotch Filling Ingredients

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup water

1 tbsp butter


1) In a small saucepan mix sugar, cornstach, salt and water.
2) Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until mixture thickens.
3) Boil and stir for one minute.
4) Remove from heat and stir in butter.

(Gramma's favourite too!)

Chocolate Glaze Ingredients
1/2 cup chocolate chips, or one chocolate bar, chopped
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp corn syrup (or maple...if like me you don't keep corn syrup around)

Melt all ingredients in a saucepan or double boiler over low heat, stirring constantly until chocolate is melted.

(Gramma and me!)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gardening | Containers Ahoy!

Welcome to my container garden. It contains (ahaha) my Tumble Tom Tomato, rosemary, mountain spinach and gourmet lettuce mix. I may have marked the lettuce and spinach wrong, because I already forgot which planter is which. Dang it.

They will soon be joined by a pot of oregano when my parents come up this weekend. They have oregano growing like a weed all over their gardens (thus my keeping it in a pot) and thought they could spare me some. Also, the white plastic ugly like a bum planters were free! Hooray for my Aquafit ladies giving me things!

After some reading here's how I planted my containers:
1) Made sure the pots were nice and clean.
2) Covered the drainage holes with newspaper to prevent clogging.
3) Put in layers of moisture soil mix, veg and herb soil mix and dirt from the garden. (The options for organic potting soil were slim so I made my own recipe. I am not an expert, so we shall see what happens. Craig wanted me to just stop harassing the poor garden centre guy at Canadian Tire...but I want to do it right!)
4) Plant the plants/seeds and cover with a bit more soil, pressing it down so that it's not all fluffy and loose.
5) Put the containers on bricks or bits of wood so they can drain better (happily I hadn't thrown out that broken cd rack yet...)
6) Water until the water just starts to come out the bottom.

So fingers crossed! Look, my first tomato flower!
And here's the beauty shot. These are the garden plants. Crying. They are out for a field trip because apparently they don't like the sewing desk. They are going in by Saturday at the latest. Don't cry little plants!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tips | Sun Tea

As soon as it gets sunny out it's Sun Tea time around here! Why not just make normal iced tea? Here's why:

1) I am lazy. And sun tea is the easiest thing ever.

2) It never gets bitter because it warms up slowly and doesn't boil, so it takes less sweetening.

3) Did I mention that I'm lazy?

Here's what you do. Get a big 1 gallon jar. I think mine was a pickle jar. I don't remember where I got it. Maybe my mom got it? Maybe I harassed someone at a sandwich shop? I don't know. Anyway, get your jar and add 4 tea bags. Any kind you like, that's the fun part. This batch was half peppermint and half jasmine. Fill the jar with water and set it in the sun for...a couple hours maybe. You can't over steep it, so just leave it for a bit. Then when you bring it in, remove the teabags and add some melted honey, to taste. We dont like it super sweet, but we like a bit of honey. Mix it all up and stick it in the fridge to cool.

Voila, perfect summer drink! Makes me think of picnics and BBQ's. Or just just everyday, because that's how much we drink it.

As a side note, it was sunny today but I didn't make tea. Because it was pouring rain at the same time. Pretty!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Links | From my Bookmarks

Here's some yummy looking recipes from the foodblogosphere that I have bookmarked to try:

Jian Bing (Chinese Breakfast Crepes)

Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers

Japanese Pizza

Ricotta Lasanga with Handmade Spinach Pasta

Soft Pretzels (I have been seeing these everywhere lately, I really want to make them...even though I can't remember if I've ever actually had a soft pretzel...)

So go forth! Be inspired! Spend the rest of the long weekend cooking!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Recipes | Asparagus Fajitas

Asparagus Fajitas are something I learned from my mom. Sooo yummy. If you have a favourite way of making fajitas then do it your way, just swap the peppers out for asparagus. If you want to try my way, here's something I came up with last week. I doubt it's even remotely authentic, but it is delicious!

Serves two. If they are very hungry. I made my soft corn tortillas for them.

Marinade a medium steak for at least an hour in:
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp-1tbsp hot chili sauce

Snap the ends off about a pound of asparagus.

Fry the steak up with a dash of olive oil.. I am not at all a steak expert but I sear them first, then turn the heat down a bit and stick the lid on. Someday I will learn to cook steak properly.

While this is happening add to marinade:
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp flour or corn starch (I like my sauce to be think enough to stick to the asparagus)
1 tsp salt
whisk together

When the steak is done to your liking remove it and add the asparagus to the pan with a dash more oil if needed. Once they are a nice bright green add the marinade mixture. Continue cooking until they are as done as you like (I like a bit of firmness but some like them dead).

Slice the steak into thin slices and serve in the tortilla with asparagus, cheese and sour cream.

Eat while sighing with delight.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gardening | Getting Started

So we are very excited to start gardening this year, especially as we didn't think we would be able to. But it seems that we will be staying here for the summer and also that our land lady is more than happy to share her garden space as she was only going to use half anyways!

Here it is, now that we've gotten all the millions of weeds off. You can see that half of it was tarped, but apparently they had given up on the other half, so it was quite a bit of work to get ready. There's a rhubarb and a chive plant in the corner that I hope we can raid.

Then today we went to Family Tree Gardening in Thrums. Because word on the street said that they were a good place to hang out. We got most of the bedding plants we were looking for and they now live on my sewing desk. So much for sewing until the weather warms up enough to plant!

Here's what we picked up:

4 basil plants (should I have gotten more? Eeee)
1 cilantro
1 parsley
1 rosemary

1 cayenne pepper. For funsies.
(these three are Bells, I hope...)
1 Gloria pepper
1 Bell Boy pepper
1 Early California pepper

1 Lemon Boy (large low acid)
1 Tumble Tom (cherry sized low acid)
1 Sub Artic (early salad sized tomatoe)

I still want to get a summer squash but they didn't have any, so I will try another green house. I am also planning on getting an oregano transplant from my parents as they have a ton of it. I will pick up some seeds and whatnot later this week hopfully.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Kitchen | Updates

I have been neglecting you guys, and I am sorry. Here's the excitement in my foodie world lately:

- Asparagus Season is here! The local asparagus farm starting selling yumminess last Wednesday when we were down at my parents and I came home with 12 pounds. That would be both my crispers full to the brim. So expect lots of asparagusy yummy posts this month!

- We are going to garden this summer! Craig does not yet have a job (booo!) so were are staying where we are for now. Luckily where we are is very nice and our upstairs neighbours are only using half of their garden. They haven't used the other half recently so we (and more Craig than me) have been spending a lot of time pulling weeds. Well it's more like removing sod, actually. Apparently May long weekend is supposed to be planting time in these here parts so we'll be out to the greenhouse later this week. I'm very excited.

- The Aquafit class I teach was cancelled for the summer, and some of the lovely ladies in my class gave me the Whitewater At Home cookbook which I have been drooling over since it came out a couple months ago. Soooo pretty. I'll post a review when I've done more cooking from it.

What has been going on in you foodie world? Any new projects? Any gardens? Tell!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My Kitchen | Vintage Pyrex

Sorry for the lack of posting this week! My cousin and I had a girly shopping trip down south and while I was mostly after clothes, I couldn't resist these two additions to my little kitchen.

Hooray for vintage pyrex!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Contest Link!

Just wanted to let you all know about a contest over at ErinCooks. She's giving away a copy of a book that's been catching my eye around the foodblogosphere...Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon. Wander over to her blog to enter.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Kitchen Cure 2009 | Update #2

More organizing fun!

So this cupboard was a big pain before, just a lot of random stuff. To start with I actually bought a proper compost container. It's ceramic and is suposed to not smell? It was the only non plastic one I could find. I also bought a shelf and put a bunch of little things (appliance attachtments and such) in a container under it. I made a really cute bag keeper (photos to come) so the random bags are gone. Much less ucky under there now.

I decided that if I keep ending up with appliances out here I should just stop fighting it and make some room for them (except my crock pot...because as it turns out I hate it). Ditto with the teapot that kept ending up on top of the fridge instead of being put away properly on it's very high shelf. I sorted my cookbooks and put some in another room as well as the canning which is in other bookcases. This will be a problem when I start canning again, it all barely fits now that I did chicken soup recently. Where will pickled asparagus go? No one knows.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Recipe | Curried Chicken Crepes

This is a super yummy supper dish. If you are short on time you can do these up with tortillas, but they are yummier with crepes. With my seasonal cooking I couldn't use celery this time of year so I seasoned it with some celery salt.

Filling Ingredients:
2 tsp butter
1/2 medium onion
1/2 cup diced celery

1 tbsp flour
1 1/2 tsp curry powder (more if you want, taste it)
1/4 tsp salt (ditto)
1/2 cup chicken stock

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 plain yogurt

1) Cook butter, onion and celery until soft.
2) Whisk in flour, curry and salt. Stir for one minute.
3) Add chicken stock. Simmer for two minutes.
4) Remove from heat, add chicken, sour cream and yogurt (you can use all yogurt or all sour cream if that's what you have in the house).

Crepe Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups milk
2 tbsp melted butter
2 large eggs

1) Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
2) Add wet ingredients, beat until smooth.
3) Lightly butter an 8 inch skillet
4) Pour 1/2 cup of batter in at a time and immediately rotate the skillet to coat the pan.
5) Cook until it's drying out on top, then flip. Cook until other side is lightly browned.

Final Directions:
1) Fill 6-8 (depending on their size) crepes with the filling, roll up and put in a greased pan seam side down. I use a glass 9x13 for this.
2) Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
3) Serve with toasted almonds or peanuts on top.