Whee! We made it!

veggies-dec-2016Happy 2017!  It sounds like a science fiction story … aren’t we supposed to all have flying cars and inter-planetary holidays by now?  I’ve just gotten back from a holiday in BC where it is mild and rainy so while I am delighted to be back at work … actually getting to work through all this wind and cold and white stuff is a bit of a shock.

Naturally, my mind turns to thoughts of something warm and comforting to enjoy as a reward for yet more shoveling and I was surprised to notice that we have not yet featured one of our staple entrees …

RATATOUILLE

Sautee briefly

1 large red onion, sliced

1 bulb fennel, sliced

2 T minced garlic

¼ c olive oil

 Take off the heat and add …

6 cups canned whole tomatoes

Wash, cut into large, attractive chunks…

4 c zucchini

Toss with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and 1 t oregano and roast in a 350° oven for 10 minutes

Do the same with …

4 c multi-coloured peppers – but roast for 15 minutes, stirring once

Do the same with…

up to 4 c eggplant – but roast for 30 minutes, stirring several times

Add all of the vegetables to the tomato pot along with

2 T puree of fresh basil (or 2 T dried)

2 T lemon juice or red wine vinegar

2 T sugar or honey

Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste

Bring to a simmer and let simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve over pasta or rice or with a good, crusty bread.

 

This will bring back memories of mid-summer and the vegetable bounty of those fleeting months.  Even mid-winter, our farmers have ways of making us happy though … look at the wonderful radishes they grew this year and passed on to us in December!

purple-radish

Don’t you now wish you had bought a CSA winter share?

Enjoy the nascent year … 2017 is going to be a great one!  Let’s be careful out there and take care of each other!  ❤

 

Advertisements

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.

Out with October! We’ve got a winter to attend to.

Finally, Fall has … well … fallen.  The crops are harvested, the community gardens are turned over,  the annual 40 day retreat is drawing to a close and we put up enough Green Tomato Relish that I actually had to buy more canning jars!

In homage to our farm’s amazing root crops, I offer this salad – substantial, nutritious and satisfying – perfect for this time of year.

BEET SALAD

Use enough beets to ensure ¼ pound per person. Do not peel before cooking.

Rinse and cover well with water, then bring to a boil. Lid the pot and simmer – 35 minutes for smallish beets up to an hour for very large ones.  Drain and allow to steam off in a colander.  When cool (you can even refrigerate overnight), peel and cut up beets.  Dress with the following vinaigrette and allow to marinate at least one hour before serving.  There is no in point trying to garnish this salad with different colours of  vegetables as the beets will just stain them all a uniform red.

Note: this salad looks AMAZING using golden beets, although you might want to cut out the brown spices to let the glory of the yellow, gold and rose colours shine!

Cider Vinaigrette

(for beet salad or carrot slaw – as well as many other possibilities)

Whisk together in a large bowl ….

½ c good cider vinegar

2 Tbsp grainy Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup

½ tsp salt or to taste

¼ t pepper

½ t cinnamon and/or nutmeg and/or cloves

(¼ c apple cider reduction and/or a dash of hot sauce are both optional)

Whisk in slowly… to form an emulsion (like mayo)

½ c  oil  (I prefer to use olive or coconut oil for the health benefits, but both are solid at fridge temperature so you have to be careful to serve this salad at room temperature)

This should dress quite a bit of salad. It will also keep in the fridge almost indefinitely – although it might separate.  Go heavier on the cloves for beets and on the cinnamon for carrots.

two-beets

Welcome to the world, Hannah!  Welcome to the kitchen, Shirley!  Elaine, your recipe will be up next.

I still have a few hatches to batten down, so until next time – take care of each other!

 

 

“More Soup For You!”

menu board chicken 4

It has been a hectic summer at Loyola House with retreat after retreat full … of familiar faces and friendly new faces. The farm has been showering us with delicious, nutritious and fascinating produce despite the wretched distribution of precipitation.  Our new team is settling in like they’ve been here forever.  We now are preparing to say goodbye briefly to Autumn G. who is going on maternity leave.  It’s a bittersweet occasion … we will miss her madly but are madly excited about meeting her new daughter Hannah – when she arrives!  We also look forward to working with Shirley who will be with us as Autumn adjusts to new motherhood.

Last month I promised a departing retreatant that I would post a recipe … apologies that it has taken so long!

GINGERED CARROT SOUP

Sauté until soft but not coloured….

¼ c coconut oil

2 lb carrots, peeled (or just scrubbed!) and sliced thinly

3 T grated fresh ginger

2 c diced onion

1 c sliced celery

1 T garlic

Add …

4c veg stock or water or apple cider

Cook until carrots are very soft.

Puree to desired texture … silky smooth or chunky – both have their own charm.

Season with…

salt, pepper, lemon juice. .. and maybe just a dash of hot sauce to wake up your taste buds!

Serve garnished with crème fraiche (or sour cream or yoghurt) and chopped cilantro (if desired).

We love soup.  We love to make it, we love to eat it.  We don’t always love taking pictures of it; it is often so monochromatic … so here is a memory of early summer Salade Nicoise.

nicoise 6

I am told that the Taste of Italy dinner on September 28 is sold out already!  We are looking forward hosting you all again.  If you missed out on a chance at tickets, be consoled with the knowledge that we will be doing another series of dinners next year … The Taste of Diversity!  They are such a good time and for such a good cause.

Until next time, take care of yourselves … so you can take care of others.  ❤

 

 

kohl rabi 2

This is the beginning of our kitchen’s favourite time of year.  It’s busy and hot … and everyone else is on holiday or has just come back and wants to tell you all about it  … but the produce makes it all worthwhile! The asparagus and strawberries are over, now we are getting lettuces and greens of every description, broccoli, garlic scapes, snow peas, snap peas, the above-pictured baby salad turnips and of course, everyone’s favourite alien-looking vegetable … the mighty kohlrabi!

Today’s recipe is for Black Bean Soup.  Looking back, I realize we have explored the possibilities of this most-nutritious-of-all-legumes in dips and in desserts but not in the easiest and most obvious of ways.  It is delicious, versatile and so good for you … unfortunately it is not particularly attractive (being a sort of lumpy dark grey) so no pictures unless you take them yourself after trying the recipe.

 BLACK BEAN SOUP

Soak overnight …

4 c black beans

Discard the soak water, rinse beans. Place in a large pot and add fresh water until it covers the beans by 2 inches. Add …

6 bay leaves

Simmer until beans are soft, skimming when necessary. Drain.

Dice …

2 c each of onion, celery and carrot

Saute until soft with …

2 T minced garlic

2 T coconut oil

Add …

4 c canned tomato

2 t dried thyme

1 t chillies –if desired

2 T grated orange zest

2 T lime juice

2 litres water or apple cider

Cooked beans

Bring to a boil, then simmer for half an hour, stirring frequently.

Remove 1/3 of the soup and puree roughly – watch out for bay leaves! Add back in to soup and adjust salt and pepper according to taste.  This is nice served with sour cream or yoghurt, diced green onions and a bunch of friends.

Enjoy the summer … remember the Taste of Italy in September … and take care of each other!

 

 

 

Reflections on a gift of a Watermelon Pickle recipe.

watpic2

This title will only make sense to people who remember a certain middle-school English Literature textbook.  I’m not sure I really understood the poem at the time but now I am glad that I (was forced to) read it … otherwise when I finally did stumble across a recipe for pickled watermelon rind, I might have laughed in disbelief and turned away!  Yes, it sounds weird and it may not have many redeeming nutritional qualities but it certainly is yummy and it surely makes a unique gift as well as a sure-fire conversation piece.

You will need a watermelon with a solid, thick rind for this recipe.  If you can manage to leave a little of the red flesh clinging to the inside, it provides a nice visual accent.  Carefully pare all traces of green off of the outside and cut into your preferred shapes.  I am partial to triangles and parallelograms but I have seen “fingers” that look great served in a ‘rocks’ glass.  Most recipes call for salting it overnight and then rinsing well in the morning … this is supposed to give it a better texture.  One day I will do a carefully designed and conclusive comparison of the two methods but until then I just race right in to the pickling stage and that leaves more time for the 1001 other tasks that daily surround us all!   Some recipes advise tying the spices in a cheesecloth for easy removal.  Personally, I like the look of the star anise and the cinnamon sticks.  As for the ginger and the cloves … well, I just chew them up for an extra flavour hit!

watpic4

Watermelon Pickle

Bring to a boil in a non-reactive pot …

2 c apple cider vinegar

2 c apple cider

1 c organic cane sugar

1 T sea salt

2 pieces of star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

1 whole nutmeg – carefully cut in half

1 T each of whole cloves and peppercorns

2 T ginger root – peeled and sliced across the grain

10 c watermelon rind – all green removed and cut into small, attractive pieces

Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until rind is translucent and texturally soft – but not soggy  (about 10 minutes).

In each of 2 one-litre canning jars (heat-resistant!!) place….

1 lemon and 1 orange – sliced and de-seeded

Fill the jars  with the watermelon pieces and pour the hot pickling liquid over all to cover.  Lid the jars and allow them to cool.  These pickles are really better if you can allow them to macerate for a couple of days … but I will understand if you can’t wait.

Note, please that these pickles need to be refrigerated!  You can process them in a water bath so that they are shelf-stable … but I never do.  There is always room in the fridge and they don’t seem to last long anyway!  Enjoy!

 

And finally … one of the 1001 reasons that I love my job …

fawn 1 cropped The scenery is fantastic!  This little darling’s Mom parked him/her for the day in the long grass in the centre of the labyrinth while she went off to do Mom-deer things.  I hope the little guy got a lot of meditation done.  Thanks to everyone for being so respectful and letting her/him enjoy the peace of this place.

Take care of yourselves, each other and the rest of 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