An Ode to August

purple peas1

‘Tis the time of year cooks love … all the hard work of our wonderful farmers and farm interns is now (literally) bearing fruit … and vegetables and herbs and a bewildering variety of greens!

It is such a privilege and a joy to work with ingredients that you know were picked that morning and conveyed down the hill by a friend.  This year we have the added pleasure of poetry with our produce …

Hey Susan, a purple and yellow pea poem for you:

For you we’ve grown these wonderous peas,
Like our children, they’ve grown so fast.
Sunshine and Sunset, their colours will make you freeze,
But if we harvest them any later than next week, their time will probably be past.

So to you, I hope that you will have reason to use
these marvelous twenty feet of delicious, if I may.
Just keep in mind that, thanks to plant-cues,
We may just harvest them Friday.
El Patricio (senior farm intern)

and my reply …

Oh Homey mine,

A thousand, thousand blessings upon your nappy head,

I beg you – quickly, quickly – pluck them from their loamy bed!

For I will surely serve them, with grandeur and with glee,

Upon the very instant you deliver them to me.


And if it would facilitate this so-long longed-for day,

I could even come collect them as I pass you on my way

Into my kitchen kingdom where I work (seems more like play)

To do the utmost justice to the treasures that you grow,

Enhance their subtle flavours and set retreatants all aglow!

Susan Sprague – Kitchen Manager and Queen of Doggerel Poetry

But enough frivolity for one post … here is a lovely, easy, gluten free cake that we like to make…


Process in a blender or a food processor until free of lumps …

1 c well cooked black beans

3 eggs

1/2 c sugar

3 heaping T cocoa powder

1 orange – blossom end and seeds removed

1 t baking soda

1 t vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Pour into a parchment-lined loaf pan (or double the recipe and bake it in a 9 inch (sorry, Dad) springform pan).  Bake at 350 F until just done (approximately 35 minutes).  Let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then gently remove it to a cooling rack.  This is a rather delicate cake – so be careful!

If we are feeling decadent, we make a ganache to ice it with by heating a good semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler until just melted and then stirring in an equal amount of almond milk.  If it is too thin to spread, let it cool (stirring occasionally) until it reaches the proper consistency.

When eating this cake, it helps to chant the mantra “Black beans are the most nutritious of all beans”.  This will allow you to contemplate a second slice.

Until next time, take care of each other!  ❤


5 thoughts on “An Ode to August

  1. Marilyn says:

    Wow, Susan. Little did I know that the kitchen magician was also a wordsmith! This retreatant is doubly impressed.

  2. Lorraine Roy says:

    Thanks for the day brightener! 🙂

  3. Sprague says:

    Susan, What a treasure this is –for my scrapbook. I love it!! You mean you aren’t the only one there with a talent for words?!!! I’ve been harvesting garlic from our garden. It’s hung around the kitchen; and so, we’re having no problems with vampires. Still haven’t finished using up the garlic scapes yet which make a nice bouquet while they wait to be devoured. Dave is arriving any time now with another batch of lemon balm for me to dry for you. He’s afraid it’ll all be more than you want. No prob, you can pass on any extra. He’s also asking who all is coming here for C’mas because he wants to join us. But he’s aware that his sisters may all be here at different times. Guess he’ll have to stay here for a long time in Dec to see you all. Hilda & Miles Keenleyside were here for lunch the other day. Eric dropped them off & picked them up; so we saw him, his wife & 2 children 10 & 8 ?? years old. I don’t know how he can be an actor; he’s not very handsome. Guess he plays roles of ordinary people. A difficult job to have to support a family. His wife is also an actress and also cooks (at home) making stuff like ravioli for a store to sell. Hilda got a great kick out of looking at the past calendars which you people have put together for us. She told me of a new degree I’d never heard of – PhT – putting hubby through; as Miles & John talked of their work for PhD’s. Actually, Miles talked incessantly. Dave’s been sailing a lot this week. He had his friend John Evans out from Calgary and they had 2 or 3 days of good strong winds (and sunshine) which they loved. Then yesterday we went with Dave after John had gone home. We had almost no wind, just sunshine and making about 1 knot’s progress through the water; which we loved too. Saw “bird island” a rocky out crop with almost no vegetation, just covered with gulls & cormorants. Expecting Dave’s car in the driveway any time now so I’ll sign off. Take good care of yourself; it sounds as if you are enjoying your work . Might as well; it’s much better that way than not enjoying it. Lots of love. Mom & Dad

  4. Deborah says:

    Hello,just met Susan in the kitchen here @ Loyola house,on a silent 8 day guided retreat and what a treat it has been,savouring all the marvelous fruits & vegetables of the Land prepared by Susan.Joe my husband is a Deacon in the Catholic Church,so we are a Diaconate couple.We do not eat red meat or pork,so the alternative of Susan’s seasoned Tofu and rice dishes are a blessing.My husband Joe has the unfortunate diligence of not eating sweets for a few years now,so to my delight I have been sharing all my tastes buds have had.The peach walnut bunt cake-peach crisp I waited to long,but I have had my share of the bounty of Love that Susan puts in everything.I anticipate before every meal of what treasures will unfold.What a beautiful place this is @ Loyola,my first visit,but my husband spent a week here 5 years ago on his last discernment retreat before his Ordination.I have always loved to cook and pasty bake.I must say I am told in Belleville On I am the Cookie Queen,but I did try today Susan’s Peanut butter cookies,just one and they are to die for.Susan I Love to see you have found your passion and gift of culinary.I look forward to the next few days.*I did not find your recipe from today’s dish/vegatable jjumbolia with zucchini & Eggplant,but I have it written down.Thanks for sharing. Deborah Kennedy

  5. lorraineroy says:

    Looking at the unorthodox ingredients, I did not have high hopes for this cake, but we have a new gluten free member in the family, and the recipe looked easy, so I thought, what the heck, might as well try. Well it’s delicious. Even my husband loved it. We topped it with an exotic cocoa/grape must sauce (aka adult chocolate sauce) from a local specialty shop, which made it absolutely divine. I should know by now to trust the recipes from your kitchen, Susan! Thank you for sharing it.

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