Celebrate Summer!

In theory, the Summer Solstice is my least favourite day of the year since from then on, the days only get shorter!  But it’s hard to resist the puffy clouds against the bright blue, the burgeoning green of the fields, the gentle breezes drying the sweat from your brow … and the promise of produce!! green-onions-1.jpgFrom our organic farm, we’ve had green garlic, the above onions, microgreens, head lettuce and are waiting (only drooling a little) for strawberries next week.  One of the first fruits of the new season, though, is rhubarb – a wonderful way to shock your taste buds out of the winter tedium.  There’s quite a large patch on the property and for weeks, Father Greg has been faithfully bringing the kitchen some stalks on his way in to work.  We stew it, freeze it, make it into crisps, pies, cakes AND these wonderful bars.

RHUBARB OAT BARS

Yield: One 9 inch x 9 inch pan gives 16 pieces

Mix together in a saucepan…

2 c rhubarb, sliced finely

½ c sugar

2 T cornstarch

¼ c apple cider (or water)

1 T each of lemon juice and vanilla

zest of one orange

2 T diced candied ginger

Bring to a simmer, then let cool.

In a large bowl, stir together

1 c flour

1 ½ t baking powder

1 c brown sugar

1 ½ c oats

1 t each of nutmeg, ginger, ground coriander or to taste

½ t salt

Add and work in with hands until just crumbly (do not overwork) …

1 cup soft butter

Pat half the oat mixture into greased 9” square pan. Pour the rhubarb mixture over this and sprinkle the remaining oat mix over all.  Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until golden.  Cool completely before cutting.

rhubarb oat bars

It’s a tasty treat and will give you strength for more weeding!

Take care of yourselves, and each other ❤

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Just Barely June.

apricots

Now that Spring seems to be firmly established, it’s time to start anticipating Summer.  There is no taste that says “summer” to me more than apricots.  Alas, apricots – fresh, fragrant and juicy – are months away but dried apricots are better than no apricots at all.  This is especially true of the organic, sour apricots pictured above and even more so when they are baked into this intense, cheesecake-like pie!

SOUR CREAM APRICOT PIE

(for one 10 inch pie – serves 8 or 10)

Thaw and flute the edges of a 10 inch pie shell (or make your own crust if you are a keener).

Mix together …

2 cups of sour cream

one orange and one lemon – finely grated zest and juice

1 T really good vanilla extract

1/2 c organic cane sugar (regular sugar works as well 🙂 )

Beat well and strain into the mix …

3 eggs

Slice and add …

2 cups dried apricots  (sour are nice, organic won’t be processed with sulfites)

Stir well and pour into the uncooked crust.  Bake at 177 degrees Celsius (or 350 F) for about 45 minutes – until the crust is cooked and the filling is just barely set and just puffing around the edges.  You don’t want the filling to start to colour, this is a sign that the eggs will be starting to toughen.  Let it cool completely before slicing. 

sour cream apricot pie

Enjoy in moderation and dream of mid-summer.

Thanks to all who helped to make last week’s Taste of Diversity dinner so much fun, especially Christine, Maria, Cathy and Jean … and as always, Greg.  It will seem like a long time until the next one in November.  Next year’s dates will be March 25, June 3 and November 18 … avoid disappointment and book now!

This Sunday at 10 am will be the annual Land Blessing, a wonderful opportunity to renew connections to the land, the IJC community and to gratitude.  Come join us!  Gather at St. Brigid’s Villa. There will be a potluck lunch at 12:45, bring your water bottle, coffee mug, plate & utensils.

Until next month, take great care and love one another!

heart cookie 2

Whilin’ away the Winter …

winterWinter in Ontario is just not giving an inch to incipient Spring!  After a windstorm/blizzard on the weekend which closed highways, we were left with drifts which o’er-topped the snow fences meant to corral them.  All thanks and admiration to our intrepid Land Staff, Nick and Jaye, who keep the arteries of the Ignatius Jesuit Centre open!

This is perfect weather to huddle around a hot pot of tea and a bit of sweetness.  Thanks to our Emily, we have the perfect cookie to nibble or to dunk.

Emily’s Sesame cookies

In a 350° F oven, toast until golden brown (6 – 8 minutes) …

1 cup raw sesame seeds

Combine …

1 c flour

½ t salt

½ t baking powder

Cream together and beat until light …

½ c unsalted butter

2/3 c brown sugar

Add to butter/sugar mixture and stir until smooth …

1 egg

1 ½ t vanilla extract

Stir the wet ingredients into the flour and mix until all the flour is incorporated. Then gently stir in the cooled sesame seeds.

Roll the dough into small balls and place on a baking sheet (here parchment paper is your friend). Flatten the cookies slightly and bake until golden – about 10 minutes.  Let them cool slightly before you move them from the baking tray.

sesame cookiesRemember that seeds are full of protein, healthy fats and minerals … and have a second one!

As hard as it is to believe it, spring will eventually nudge aside this winter and we will be preparing for Easter Brunch.  Don’t forget to book your tickets now – it’s a popular (and fun) occasion.  Contact Pam at officecoordinator@ignatiusguelph.ca or at 519 842 1250 ext. 241.  You’ll be glad you did.

Take care to stay warm … so you can take care of each other and our Mother Earth.  ❤

 

 

May Musings.

easter table2

Easter Brunch has come and gone.  We served 200 people and had just a great time!  There was a special encore appearance by Ryan – who came up from London to lend a hand … thanks, buddy!  You make service fun and easy.

Book your tickets early for next year!  We can’t accommodate many more … unless we build an addition (and add a couple of ovens!).  There’s something for every taste.muffin eggs 2Well, maybe not the above … if I tried to get my staff to make (the dis-respectfully-named)  “muffin eggs” for 200 people, I am sure I would face insurrection!

An easier recipe follows.  It was passed on to the kitchen by our Executive Director and we’ve been using it without a change.  Occasionally I will add a handful of slivered almonds for texture but it is a wonderful treat just as it is.

Father Roger’s Rice Crispy Squares for Grown-ups.  

Line an 11 x 7 inch pan with parchment paper.

Heat slowly, stirring constantly, in a large pot…

2/3 c honey

2/3 c almond butter

1 t vanilla

1 t cinnamon 

As soon as mixture is warm and well blended, stir in…

6 c whole grain rice crisps (or other cereal).

When well coated, move mixture to pan and gently press it in to all the corners (wet hands help!).  Cool completely before slicing. 

Not ideal for mid summer as it tends to get too soft and fall apart.

I do have to note that we use honey from Tuckamore Bees … who are so local that their bees harvest nectar from our land!

Enjoy the spring!  Stay dry and take care of each other!  ❤

 

 

 

 

A bit of foolery for April.

TOD march room

Last Wednesday saw us all dressed up for the first of this year’s Taste Of Diversity dinners …

TOD march menu trialThe evening was sold out … as these dinners tend to be … and was enjoyable all around.  What could have been a stressful evening became fun with the combined efforts of our stalwart staff (Patty, Shirley and Todd) and some valiant volunteers (many thanks to Regan, Christine, Julie and Cecilia).  Oh, and I was there too …TOD march susan trialThat is what remained of a whole hip of beef from the local food heroes at Thatcher Farms ( http://www.thatcher-farms.com ) … just enough for a couple of sandwiches for staff…

TOD march appto be chased down with a healthy veggie shot!  Of course, some people like to go right to the source …TOD march toddThanks to everyone who came out and remember, there are still two more such extravaganzas this year.  Except next time … Let’s go Dutch!

Of course, I wouldn’t be allowed to escape this post without a recipe … so let’s try a very seasonal one.  Rhubarb and asparagus are the first two fresh items we get each spring – and asparagus doesn’t make a very good cake.  Once you try this cake, though, I think you will find it deserves its name …

Fabulous Rhubarb Cake

 Cream well (until light in colour and texture)  …

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

Add while still beating slowly …

1 egg

1 cup applesauce

1 T vanilla extract

zest of one orange

Mix together well …

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. soda

2 cups flour (I use half whole wheat and half all-purpose)

1 t ground ginger

1/2 t ground nutmeg

Add and toss well to coat …

1 1/2 cups raw Rhubarb cut fine

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just mixed through and no bits of flour are showing.  This can be baked in a 9×13 inch cake pan for about 30 minutes at 350 F (or until done).  We like this one in a bundt pan though and that takes a little longer to bake – maybe 50 minutes.  Remember that the cooking times are approximate – they depend on a lot of factors.  The best way to know if it is done is to gently touch the centre of the cake.  It should be as firm as the outside of the cake.  For those without Teflon fingers … insert a toothpick into the centre and make sure it comes out clean – with no wet batter sticking to it.

This is a very moist cake, so a strip of parchment paper in the bottom of the cake pan or a handful of crumb topping in the bottom of the bundt pan can save you the grief of the cake sticking and tearing.  It really doesn’t need icing – an orange glaze might be nice but I find what this cake needs most is a great deal of self-restraint!

Until next time, take care of yourself, each other and the crocuses!  ❤

Kitchen Advent-ures.

peppers-from-emily-2

Our Emily is an accomplished gardener.  This year she grew an astonishing variety of peppers and gifted me with some.  I fermented them with garlic and pink Himalayan salt and now I will have hot sauce all winter -thanks,  Em! I though I’d share a little colour (and heat) on this grey day…. especially since the recipe that I have been asked to post is for yet a another monochromatic delight.  Good for eating … but not so much for photographing.

pepper-ferment-for-blog-3

Trying to find a dessert when you don’t eat gluten OR dairy can be quite challenging!  We have come up with a few really good ones (and we’re always looking for more… hint, hint).  To the Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies and Chocolate Black Bean Cake (see previous entries) we now add …

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Melt together …

3/4 cup coconut oil

4 oz good, dark baking chocolate

Stir in and whisk together until smooth …

1 c mashed banana

¾ c maple syrup

1 t vanilla

1 c cocoa powder

Stir in …

5 c unsweetened, shredded coconut

¼ c chia seeds

¼ c coconut flour

Form into balls, “haystacks” , nests or your preferred  shape then refrigerate until solid. (These are best not served in the heat of summer as the coconut oil will melt and make the consistency too soft and your fingers all gooey).

These are very popular AND they pack quite a nutritional punch!  They contain protein (chia), potassium (banana), antioxidants (cocoa), lots of good fats and lots of fibre.   But still …. brown, they’re just brown ….. so here is another unrelated yet more visually satisfying photo of our Quinoa Tabbouleh with calendula petals from our kitchen herb garden.

tabbouleh-close

As we begin this holiday season, please remember the Jesuit Community of Guelph is having their annual Open House at Loyola House on Sunday, December 4, 2016 from 2 pm until 4 pm.  We’d love to see you out here!

Take good care of yourself so you can take good care of others and the world.

The Flowering of May

april TOI

The first Taste of Italy fundraising dinner has been successfully served … to a sold-out crowd as usual. This time we were celebrating the cuisine of Naples and surrounding area.  Many, many thanks to Christine Clementi for all her help, ideas and calm cheerfulness!  More thanks are due for her splendid cooking … people are still talking about her Pasta Puttanesca and a luscious Eggplant Parmesan (I think she may be after my job).  My apologies to those who were not able to attend – there are still tickets available for the June 15 and September 28 dinners, although possibly not for long!

The appetizer platter was photographed by Emily – one of our new kitchen staff treasures, who is revealing diverse unexpected and welcome talents. It featured Christine’s seasoned, roasted peppers; a tedious, sticky thing to prepare but well worth it …especially when someone else is doing it!  In homage to the abundant seafood of the area, I made a calamari salad with arugula, artichoke hearts and white beans.  Mushrooms a la Greque saluted both the amazing lemons of the area and the subtle Greek influence on culture and cuisine.  Finally olives – no platter would be complete without olives and plenty of them!

For dessert, we did a variety of  fruit and a brace of cakes; a Lemon Polenta cake and a Torta Caprese.  These were chosen to compliment each other in taste and texture.  The lemon cake was very lemony and had the pleasant grittiness of cornmeal in contrast to the decadent richness of the torte.  It is a surprisingly fun cake to make and I highly recommend it!

Torta Caprese

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Farenheit (sorry, Dad).  Grease a 10 inch spring form pan.  Line the base with a circle of parchment paper for added insurance against sticking!

Melt and allow to cool to almost room temperature …

200 g butter

In a food processor, grind …

250 g of almonds – I made sure not to grind them too fine to add interest to the texture

then …

200 g of good dark semi-sweet baking chocolate – again, don’t grind it too fine or too long lest it start to melt!

Separate 4 large eggs.  Beat the yolks until thick and quite pale with …

1 1/4 c sugar

3 T good vanilla extract

Fold together the yolk mix, butter, chocolate and almonds.

Clean the mixing bowl very well before tackling the egg whites!  Rinse with very hot water to remove all vestiges of fat and then cool. Whip egg whites until they form soft peaks, then fold them into the rest of the batter.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until just barely done – about 45 minutes.  Run a thin-bladed knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the edges of the cake, then let it rest in the pan for half an hour before removing to a serving plate.   This keeps well if wrapped tightly and HIDDEN VERY WELL!

I added a square of unsweetened chocolate to each recipe to give a slightly bitter edge. After such a rich meal, the last thing one would need is a too-sweet dessert and  I am still convinced that bitter will be the next new flavour fad.  You read it here first … thanks for reading and take care of yourself so you can take care of others!

pear plate