Falling Gracefully into Winter.

It’s been a lovely fall season here in Southern Ontario.  Warm (mostly) and (mainly) sunny and lo-o-o-ong!  It makes the transition that much easier – and allows ALL the crops to be harvested in a timely manner without too much panic and shrieking.  Now, though, the nights have a real bite and the sunlight has an attenuated quality … winter is not far away …

Time to break out the winter menus; chili and stew and thick soups.  Comfort food, slow-you-down and stick-to-your-ribs food.  Whatever you call it, it definitely includes this salad!cauli salad 1

Lemon-Cumin Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Assemble marinade …

finely grated zest and juice of one lemon

1/3 c lemon juice

1/2 t salt

1 t pepper

2 T ground cumin

1 T chopped garlic

1 T ground coriander

whisk in …

1/3 c olive oil

Cut into bite-sized florets …

1 head cauliflower

Wash well, immersing in cold water several times.

Cut into chunky slices …

2 large carrots and 2 red onion

Parboil the carrot and thoroughly toss all vegetables with the marinade. Let sit for half an hour to get itself together. Just before service, turn out everything (vegetables and marinade) onto a parchment-covered baking sheet.  Roast in a 350 F oven for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring several times.  When stirring, use a flat spatula to pick up the marinade off of the parchment and re-distribute it over the vegetables.  A cut-glass platter makes a nice serving vessel for this salad and a sprinkle of chopped parsley would not go amiss.  Two of my favourite flavours (lemon and cumin) clinging to the meatiness of the cooked cauliflower … that will stick to your ribs!

Pro-tip for the carrots:  start cooking them in just enough cold water to cover.  By the time the water boils, they will be almost par-boiled all the way through.  If you added the cold pieces to boiling water, the outside would be mushy by the time the heat penetrated to the centre of the carrot.  Don’t forget to use the cooking water in your next soup or stew (or as the-mom-who-lives-in-my-head says “Just drink it! It’s full of vitamins!”).

I like to use what I call a “roll-cut” on the carrots.  It has lots of long, cut sides for the heat to penetrate quickly and it looks elegant. Start with a simple diagonal cut off of one end.  This piece will be different from all its siblings … treat it gently.roll cut 1Now turn the carrot one quarter turn towards you roll cut 2and make another cut on the same angle roll cut 5Keep turning and cutting until you run out of carrot. roll cut 6

More extreme versions of our usual thanks go to volunteers and members of the community who have pitched in to help during the 40 day retreat!  Virginia, Jerome, Regan, Zigang, Greg, my sisters Julie and Chris (and my Mom for one memorable afternoon!) – we literally couldn’t have done it without you all!  Thank you x 100,001!

They are taking care of us – you take care of each other and the world!  ❤





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



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

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.


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.


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!



Fennel and Orange Salad

photo by Kate Hendry

Fennel is a vegetable I only began eating in the past couple of years. And now that I know about it’s mildly licorice flavour, I am making up for lost time.

Making fennel salad is also a good way to practice and hone one’s knife skills. I think fennel is best when thinly sliced – almost shaved – so give yourself some extra prep time to put those skills to use. The oranges need to be zested, peeled, and segmented with care so as to remove all the white pith and membranes. This takes a while as well, so while this isn’t a salad to make when strapped for time, it is well worth the effort.

To prep the fennel, cut off the fronds (the dark green, feathery leaves). Some of the younger and finer fronds can be used as a garnish, but generally I find them to be bitter and with an unpleasant texture, so use sparingly. Trim the stems, cut the bulb in half, and remove the core with a paring knife.

The acid in the vinaigrette is lime juice, along with the orange zest. Whisk this together with honey, mustard, salt and pepper, and then slowly add the oil. (See my Cucumber Watermelon Salad post for vinaigrette ratio information).

Thinly slice the fennel and some celery. Segment the oranges, and mix everything together. Enjoy!

Cucumber and Watermelon Salad

photo by Kate Hendry

In the hot and humid days of summer we have been experiencing, a cool and refreshing meal is always something I look forward to eating. And this salad featuring watermelon, cucumber, and lavender is always a top pick!

The dressing is a lavender vinaigrette. If you have lavender in your garden, I highly recommend making a vinegar with. Rice wine vinegar has a subtle flavour in the vinegar world, and will really let the lavender shine. Just cut some of the stalks and flowers, wash them to ensure they are free of dirt and bugs, and cover them in a jar with the vinegar. Let it sit it the fridge for at least a few hours, but preferably longer. Our kitchen is continuously stocked with lavender vinegar so it is ready to use at any time.

As is often said, we eat with our eyes first. When composing dishes it is important to consider its visual appeal. I love the look of this salad, especially when I take the time to cut the cucumber and watermelon with care. I like to remove the seeds from the cucumber and cut them into moon shapes. And the watermelon I cut into triangles. I cut up enough of each so there are equal amounts of both.

According to my cooking textbook, the ratio of oil to vinegar for a vinaigrette is 3:1. I prefer the flavour of the vinegar to stand out more, so I use less oil. If you prefer a milder taste, increase the oil. It’s as easy as that!

For a lavender vinaigrette, whisk together:

Lavender vinegar
Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper

Adjust the amounts until the flavours are balanced.

Slowly whisk in vegetable oil to emulsify the dressing.

I do this in a large mixing bowl, and then add the watermelon and cucumber. Mix everything together and let it sit to absorb the flavours. If available, garnish with lavender flowers and enjoy!

Dilled Mushroom Salad

photo by Kate Hendry

Mushrooms. They are certainly one of my favourite foods. But it wasn’t always the case. Before getting to the simple yet satisfying recipe for our Dilled Mushroom Salad, I would like to share a mushroom story with you.

When I was a young girl, I hated mushrooms. And when I became a not-so-young girl, aka an obnoxiously opinionated teenager, I thought anyone and everyone who enjoyed mushrooms were crazy. And stupid. (Thank You God for letting me grow through those teenage years!) My mom would periodically prod me to try them again to see if my taste buds had matured, but I always stubbornly refused.

Fast forward to the summer after my first year of university. I had decided it was high time I become an adult, and in my mind that meant learning to eat mushrooms. I didn’t have hopes to love them, or even to like them. My goal was to be able to politely tolerate them when served. I started by ordering the Portobello Sandwich for lunch at The Bullring on campus. And when visiting my parents I would ask my mom to put mushrooms in the pasta.   I ordered mushrooms on my pizza, which was previously a cringe worthy idea. I can’t quite place when it happened, but soon my disgust bypassed tolerance completely and I discovered a new culinary love.

photo by Kate Hendry

Last fall I bought the above Portobellos at the Guelph Farmers Market. Aren’t they exquisitely beautiful?!? And while I’m no longer my know-it-all teenage self, my mushroom journey reminds me the impossible is often possible, and to never stop opening myself to new experiences and tastes!

Dilled Mushroom Salad

This salad is one of the simplest salads we make, and it is so delicious. It tends to fly off the table each time it is served.

I should also mention that I’m not one for precise recipes outside of baking. I think it’s really wonderful to develop a sense of when a dish is well-balanced. So, most of my recipes will have approximate amounts. Also, since we tend to cook for a crowd – I made this salad for 50 people last night – you’ll probably want to adjust the amounts anyway!

To make the salad, I whisk the vinaigrette together in a large mixing bowl, adding the oil slowly at the end. I taste and adjust if needed. Then, I wash, slice, and add the mushrooms to the bowl. Finally, I chop and add the dill, mix everything together, and let it sit for a while so the mushrooms can absorb the flavours. And try not to eat the whole bowl while I wait.

As a side salad to feed 50, I used approximately:

1/4 cup of white wine vinegar
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1 Tbsp of grainy Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp of honey
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
1/4 – 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
4 lbs of button mushrooms washed and sliced
1/4 cup of dill

What is your favourite mushroom recipe?