April Fool-ery

springWow!  Almost overnight we have gone to full-blown Spring.  Sunshine and rapidly dwindling snow piles have put a bounce in everyone’s step.  Of course, there are always those pessimists who mutter grimly about “one more blast of snow” but we’ll just ignore them, shall we?  Instead, let’s look forward longingly to asparagus and the first baby greens.

BABY SPINACH SALAD

Spread on a baking sheet and toast gently in a 350° oven for 5 minutes or until they just start turning colour …

¼ c sliced or slivered almonds

Allow to cool while you make the dressing.

Mix …

1 orange – finely grated zest and juice

3 T cider vinegar

1 T basil

1 t minced garlic

1 T honey

1 t ground black pepper

Whisk in …

½ c olive oil

In a large bowl, mix ..

½ c dried cranberries

½ c crumbled feta

toasted almonds (from above)

6 cups baby spinach – washed and dried well

Pour the dressing over and toss well. Serve immediately.  This should satisfy 4 – 6 people.               

spin salad 2

Enjoy on the back deck … soaking up the new sunshine.

Remember – Easter Brunch is coming up quickly … there may still be a couple of tickets left.  Email Pam at officecoordinator@ignatiusguelph.ca .

Take care of yourselves and start thinking about the new nourishment ready to sprout! ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.  ❤

 

 

Spread the Love with Artichoke Hearts.

Happy New Year!  It’s a marvel to me that the year is 1/12th over.  While I intend to savour every moment – I am also looking forward to the year 2020.  It sounds so science-fiction-y!

Southern Ontario has had a mild winter until last week; now it has finally gotten serious.  The cold is bitter and we have to start planning exactly where to pile the next snowfall.  This season has many glories but to a cook it can be challenging. We love our roots but after a couple of months we miss the stimulation of summer’s progression of fresh produce. So we look elsewhere for inspiration.  Canned artichoke hearts form the basis of this winter salad.

artichoke salad

This is another salad for which I like to quick-pickle the onions.  After a couple of hours of being tossed in vinegar, the colour softens and takes on a lovely blur.  The taste loses some of its sharpness as well, a boon for those who aren’t raw onion fanatics.

ARTICHOKE HEART SALAD

2 to 3 hours before serving time, toss together…

1 medium red onion, sliced as thinly and as attractively as possible

1/4 c white wine vinegar

1 T maple syrup

1 t each of salt and black pepper

In a large bowl, assemble the salad ingredients …

3 cans (398 ml or 14 oz) of artichoke hearts – drained well and cut into quarters

2 medium peppers (red, yellow or orange) cut in a large dice

4 stalks celery, sliced thinly

1/2 bunch fresh basil, sliced in long, thin pieces (in a “chiffonade”)

(optional – 3 green onions, sliced thinly on a sharp angle … for those who need more onion in their lives)

When ready to serve, drain the vinegar from the red onion and add …

1 T grainy Dijon mustard

1/2 T minced garlic

Wisk in very slowly, to form an emulsion …

1/2 cup of good olive oil

Use this to dress the salad, tossing very gently to avoid having the artichoke hearts fall apart.  Enjoy!

Incidentally, I was informed by a naturopath that the latest information indicates that to maximise the health benefits of garlic, it should be chopped finely and allowed to sit for 10 minutes before using.  This allows the compound “allicin” to form and it is allicin that carries many of the health benefits.  What really surprised me is that if the allicin is allowed to form in this manner, it will persist even when the garlic is then cooked!  There are always so many things to learn …

Don’t forget that the first Taste of Diversity dinner is coming up fast on March 5.  We will be visiting the Ukraine for this excursion but berths are popular and sell out quickly. Contact Pam at 519 824 1250 x 241 or officecoordinator@ignatiusguelph.ca

 

Thanks to Rose for this recipe (although I have taken some liberties with it) as well as our thanks for so much more.

Take care of yourselves so you can take care of each other. ❤

Awww … There Goes August!

edamame salad 5I made up a salad!  I am quite excited about this … this is the way things are supposed to work. I had a bunch of ingredients (including WAY too many zucchini – if you can possibly believe such a thing about this time of year) so I said to myself “Self – how can we put these together so they taste better together than they do apart?”  And the “Serendipity Salad” was born and got rave reviews on its first few outings.

Mind you, the name is misleading.  I was able to put this together because we stay prepared.  We always have pickled ginger (gari) on hand.  We always have beautiful red onions, Canadian grown, shelled and frozen edamame, a selection of herbs and of course, the beautiful produce from our organic farm.  Perhaps this salad needs a new name (suggestions welcome).

So here we go …

I love gari or, as you may know it, “sushi ginger”.  I used to go to the Asian market and buy a bunch of  jars of it to cook with.  Then, one day I read the ingredients!  Now we make our own – cheaper, healthier and much more fun.

Slice peeled ginger – young and firm is best – as thinly as possible, making sure you cut across the grain.  A kitchen “mandolin” or V-cutter is useful for getting ginger paper thin.  Be careful with this instrument, though! v cutter 2It is so sharp and you can get going at such a clip that it is easy to miss the transition from ginger to finger and we don’t want that!  Place the ginger slices in a canning (heat resistant) jar.

At this point, you can add a couple slices of raw, peeled beet – to give it the traditional pink colour, if that is important to you. It won’t affect the taste but it is pretty.  Just don’t add too much beet or it will turn out quite a surprising colour!

Bring to a boil …            

2 c rice wine vinegar

1 T sea salt

½ c sugar or maple syrup or honey

When this liquid is boiling, pour it over the ginger in the jar – making sure to cover well. Allow it all to come to room temperature then lid and refrigerate.  Let it sit in the fridge for 3 days before using.  Make a lot, it’s good for you and your digestion (see my post “Ginger is the New Garlic”) and it lasts almost forever!  Use the juice in salads or sauces.

gari 4

2 hours before starting on the recipe … start the onions pickling!

Place in a steep-sided stainless steel or glass bowl …

2 c red onion – sliced thinly and attractively

Cover with red wine vinegar and add …

1 t salt

1 T black pepper

2 T maple syrup or sugar

Stir well and leave in a warmish place to pickle – stirring occasionally. The red colour will soften to pink and blur slightly and the harsh taste will soften as well.

Mix … 

8 c zucchini – very finely sliced (the mandolin works well here too)

1 c pickled red onion

1 c edamame (without shells)

¼ c sliced green onion

¼ c chopped cilantro

2 T slivered pickled ginger

Whisk together …

1/4 c pickled ginger juice

2 T lime juice

3 T toasted sesame oil

Whisk in slowly – to form an emulsion …

1/4 c vegetable (or other neutral-flavoured oil)

Dress the salad and garnish with black and white sesame seeds.

Enjoy! gari 5Wishing you a most felicitous fall!  I hope this recipe will help you take care of any backlog of summer squash … freeing you up to take care of yourselves, our mother earth and each other!  ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simmering in the Summer.

That title sounds good, but today’s recipe takes no simmering at all.  This will be welcome during summers in less comfortable kitchens than the Loyola House Kitchen.  We like to joke that the kitchen is the coolest part of this house in midsummer – thanks to our amazing Director of Operations, Lisa, who upgraded the heating/cooling unit for us to something near miraculous.  That, plus our astonishing view, plus our wonderful co-workers PLUS the inspirational and congenial folks who make their way here from all over the world combine to make our kitchen a happy place indeed!  The recent rush of fresh produce from the farm only intensifies our joy … is there anything more wonderful than a crisp sugar snap pea just hours off the vine? Or burying your beak in a bushel of basil?

After such sweetness … a little balancing tartness.  This is my personal favourite of the dressings that we make.  Blueberries and lemons are a “gestalt” combination … the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  It is great in baking and I love it in this dressing.  I must confess though — part of my affection for this dressing is for the dramatic colour!

blueberry dressing 3

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Blueberry-Lemon Vinaigrette

Slice and remove seeds …

2 whole lemons

Put  in a cuisinart or blender, then add ….

3 T  Dijon mustard

2 c frozen blueberries

½ c white wine vinegar

½ c lemon juice

2 T sugar or honey

1 t pepper

½ t salt

(dash of Tabasco)

With machine running, add in a VERY slow stream…

1 c veg oil

With machine running, add steadily, but in a faster stream…

1 c veg oil

1 c extra virgin olive oil

1/2 c apple cider or juice

If it gets too thick – add a little more apple juice to thin it down. Remember that it will thicken up in the fridge as the olive oil gets cold.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Store in fridge.

You can substitute raspberries for a change of flavor and a different but equally dramatic colour…

We are in the midst of our busy retreat season … back to back to back eight day retreats, usually full, so not much news to report.  If you are planning to attend our third and final Taste of Diversity dinner ( A Return To Italy), I advise getting your ticket NOW.

I leave you with an amazing thing that I found in a perfectly ordinary box of mushrooms this week.  The world is full of wonders … find them and celebrate them!monster raw mushroom

And take care of each other and yourselves…<3

Squelching Happily into June.

asparagus outside1It’s here! The first of our farm’s produce has been delighting us for the past week.  Asparagus is wonderful in and of itself but also as a harbinger of everything to come in the following months.  It has been very welcome in what has been another grueling month for the kitchen.  In May we were producing meals on 30 of the 31 days which stretched our relatively small staff … and they came through valiantly!  So props and respect to Patty, Todd and Shirley and to our stalwart volunteers Virginia, Jerome, Regan and Greg.  We can’t forget Theresa who is the entire Housekeeping Department all by herself and calmly works as hard as anyone I have seen!

It’s been a month full of fascinating and wonderful people.  Well, ALL our visitors are fascinating and wonderful … but so many of our clients are here for silent, contemplative retreats that we don’t get a chance to interact with them.  They are here for a purpose – and that is not to amuse the kitchen staff!  When we get workshops and conferences with groups like the Women’s Songwriting Workshop, Guelph Community Health Care or Unitarian ministers from all over the continent who fill the house with talk and laughter, there’s a different vibe to the house.  “A change is as good as a rest”  some people say …

Asparagus (like many vegetables) is versatile and plays well with others.  After you’ve had your fill of eating it plain (steamed or roasted), you can have it as a soup, as a salad, on the BBQ or as the highlight of a quiche.  Quiche is a staple here at Loyola House.  We love it, clients love it, it’s nutritious, attractive, keeps well and especially good for using up that last little bit of whatever you had last night. We have a good source of pre-made pastry shells too, so that makes it easy to whip up.

Basic Quiche

Thaw a 9 inch unsweetened pie shell.  If you like, flute the edges – this makes it easier to serve and less likely to spill as you move it in to the oven.

Whip together …

5 large eggs

2/3 cup 10% cream

Strain this in to another bowl.  This will remove the strange gooey bits of the egg attached to the yolk (called the chalaza, in case you ever wondered).

Whisk in …

1/4 t salt

1/4 t pepper

pinch of nutmeg

dash of hot sauce (more if you like it spicy but the aim here is to have just a touch of undetectable heat to stimulate the taste buds)

Smear the bottom of the crust lightly with Dijon mustard and sprinkle with grated cheddar.  Arrange the fillings and then carefully pour the custard over all.  Sprinkle again with grated cheddar.  This will melt and produce an attractive glaze while protecting the eggs from forming a less palatable skin.  Bake at 350 until it starts to puff and the centre is completely firm – about 50 minutes.  This is one dish I like to bake on the bottom shelf of the oven to make sure the pastry is completely cooked.  Allow to sit 10 minutes before slicing.

Fillings?  well just about anything that goes with cheese!  Often we use meat – bacon or ham or chicken or sausage … even salmon.  Vegetarian is good too – broccoli, spinach, peppers, tomato, onions (caramelized or not) … and yes, asparagus!  One of my favourites is a 3 (or 4 or 5) cheese variety sprinkled with fresh chives.  Let your imagination (and your leftover shelf) be your guide.

For your gluten-free friends, this is even easier!  Simply smear a pie plate or pan with coconut oil, pour in the custard then proceed with fillings, top with cheese and bake … and proudly call it a Frittata.

kohlsparagus4

I’m back to the kitchen … trusting you to take care of yourselves and everyone around you!

PS – Thanks to Mike-the-farmer (a man of many talents) for the first evocative, lovely photo!

 

 

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!  ❤