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!  ❤

 

 

 

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September’s “Taste of Italy” Celebration.

T o I sept

On Wednesday night, Loyola House hosted 2015’s third and final “Taste of Italy” fundraising dinners.  It was a warm and heart-warming time, like having 85 of your closest friends over for supper.  In this case, we had 27 new friends as well, the Anglican Church of Canada was here for a “Stronger Together” retreat … so they joined in the festivities!

Thanks to everyone who came … and ate … and hugged and sang!  Thank you, Moses, for the ever-popular music.

I would like to make a very passionate, grateful “thank you” to our amazing volunteers … Vicki and the indefatigable Olga – who did most of the cooking, Jerome (who did most of the dishes!), Dan and my baby sisters, Chris and Julie, who showed up to help out and did all that was necessary … including some of my thinking for me!

Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of a truly astonishing staff … Michele, Ryan, Theresa and Autumn!  We fit together like cogs in a machine … complementing each other’s talents, helping each other keep spinning.  Thank you.

These dinners have gone so well and have been so much fun that we’ll probably do something similar next year, so be warned … book your tickets early!!

 

TOMATO FENNEL SOUP (one of our favourites!)

Sauté until soft but uncoloured….

1 c sliced onion

1 bulbs fennel – sliced thinly and attractively

1 T toasted fennel seed

2 T minced garlic

1 c sliced celery

Add….

1 large (100 oz) can of whole (organic, Canadian)  tomatoes – break them up with your hands, take out bits of skin and stem scars then strain away as many seeds as you can and add up to a can more of water

Simmer until fennel is soft. 

Adjust seasoning with

2 T rice wine vinegar or lime juice (my favourite!)

2 T maple syrup

2 T dried Tarragon

Salt, pepper, hot sauce as desired

As with most soups … this is better on the second (and third) day.

 

Take care of each other … ❤

T o I dessert

(just as a side note – and to exasperate my mother – in two years, both of my baby sisters will be eligible for “senior” prices in some places!   How time does run away with us!!)

In Praise of Volunteers

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Here at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre,  we are blessed with many blessings … there is the land, the history, our delicious well water but most especially our people.  Our clients are the most interesting people in the world – and from all over the world.  Our staff is varied, dedicated and congenial.  Very far from the least is our cadre of volunteers who help out in every facet of the centre.  We have a wonderful soul who comes in to help our housekeeper change bedding!  We have people who do regular volunteer reception shifts.  The Farm, Buildings and the Land departments each have an assorted crew with a very wide assortment of skills. We had a Guelph company volunteer an entire environmental assessment prior to the Plant an Old Growth Forest project!  There is an amazing woman – a audit expert – who drives in regularly from down Toronto way just to volunteer her financial acumen!

Most dear to my heart of course are our kitchen volunteers who help us out peeling carrots, making salads, with dishes, with everything!  Cheery, flexible and hardworking, these folks lift our hearts and lighten our burdens.  Here’s to Virginia and Dan from the kitchen and all the rest of our volunteers.  Thank you and bless you!

One of our most-requested recipes is the following stew.  It is healthful, we can serve it to vegans but everyone likes it.  I especially like the whole coriander seeds .. you occasionally get one between your teeth and poof! an instant explosion of taste … like a present for your tongue!  It also freezes well and you can add more water (or apple cider) and puree it – roughly or finely, as you like – for a wonderful soup.  This makes quite a large batch – to serve almost 30!  You might want to cut it in half … or maybe not!

African-Inspired Groundnut Stew.

2 T vegetable oil

2 c coarsely chopped onion

1 c chunked celery

2 T whole coriander seeds

2 T chopped garlic

2 T chopped ginger

Sauté until the onion just starts to colour.  Add…

8 c sweet potato – peeled and chunked

3 c canned tomatoes with juice – broken up with hands

2 c apple juice or cider

1/2 c roasted, unsalted peanuts

Bring to a boil stirring constantly, reduce heat, lid and simmer 5 minutes.  Add…

2 c chunked squash (or potato)

2 c chunked cabbage (or cauliflower)

2 c chick peas – ready to eat

2 T ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

(Optional – hot sauce or chilies to taste, chopped okra if available, red pepper for colour)

Simmer a further 15 minutes or so until all vegetables are soft.  Just before service, stir in 1 c peanut butter.  This will thicken it quite a bit!  Add more apple juice if it is too thick.

(Optional…. ½ c chopped cilantro)

Enjoy the spring!