Freezer Fruit, Quick Tip and some Aloha

13 05 2012

Well another season of growing has sprung. We’ve done our spring cleaning, prepped the garden and planted a few cool weather crops like radish and lettuce. A new home for the composter means new possibilities in the garden and space which we needed badly. The rhubarb is over a foot tall already, in its new home in the fresh tilled garden (we added our favourite sea soil again this year + our home made compost). The sorrel is a few inches tall and also has a new home in a sunnier location.

Frozen fruit ready for oven

In all this prepatory garden work, I realized I hadn’t eaten half of what I froze last year! I’ll have fresh rhubarb in weeks and bags of it in the freezer still. The past couple of months I’ve been baking fruit to make room in the freezer. Crumbles are such an easy and healthful dessert, they are a common write up here. The last one I made was a delicious mix of Okanagan peaches and blueberries and rhubarb from the garden. Just take the fruit out of the freezer, let it defrost for 30 min or so. Remember to freeze cut fruit and berries on cookie sheets first, easy to pull apart later. Here are some recipes: Rhubarb Crumble with Walnuts, Rhubarb Peach Apricot Cobbler and Blueberry Peach Cobbler.

Travel has limited my kitchen time. I have been sticking to old favourites and well buying lunch quite often, which I don’t love doing. I have discovered a place to get veggie chilli, and that got me through an entire week once. Last week I pulled a fast one – put together a quick version of my quinoa salad for lunch.

  • Bought a large container of quinoa salad from Planet Organic.
  • Added chopped and deseeded cucumber, diced yellow pepper, diced carrot and celery from my favourite market KFM and a can of chickpeas.
  • There was enough dressing and flavour in the salad from Planet – so I mixed it together and enjoyed for a few days.
  • Nice! Lunch for days in 5 min.

I hinted at Aloha last blog…here is a short food tour through Maui…I cry when I leave Maui, I love it there. From the moment we land we seek out the best fish tacos. My pescatarian diet flourishes near the ocean, fresh seafood everywhere. We have a favourite, Paia Fish Market. I think T loves those tacos more than me for brief moments ;-).

I also had the best veggie tacos filled with grilled Portobello mushrooms at Fred’s (thanks Joanne for the tip).

Each morning on the way to practice with Nancy Gilgoff, you’d drive past the sugar cane fields. They burn them to harvest, eek. We visited the museum last time, lots to consider. Sugar has taken over other less profitable and natural crops and has huge historical impact.

On the road to Hana, you gotta stop and pick up toasted coconut ‘candy’. 4 bags for $20, leave your money in a box and take the flavours you like, it’s an honour system. I grabbed vanilla, regular and candied ginger as well, which you may need if you get car sick on the way to Hana. 

Mmm and the Hawaiian purple sweet potatoes, so good. We ate at a new place in Kihei a couple of times, Three’s, we highly recommend it.

Mmm fish tacos (and a beer) on the beach.

Eat well, Be Well and Aloha

Nat

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Recipe Share: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

12 09 2011

I finally did it, I made a pie :). Well, I cheated though. I was over at grandmas the other day and after a tour of the tomato garden, raspberries and talk of slugs eating the soska (sorrel) we started talking pie. She makes pie all year round by making and freezing pie shells, tops included. She’s made round pie top holders out of cardboard and covered with tin foil, smart lady. In the summer she just adds fresh fruit and in the winter adds frozen. She is a bit sugar savvy and doesn’t like to use a lot of sugar although in recent years she started using Splenda…whadda gonna do? Oh well. However, I notice she will always give you the full recipe (sugar and all) so you can adjust it yourself. She knows you need to know and understand the basics before experimenting, so she never filters a recipe before giving it to you.

I have said before I am not a pastry chef, but she felt that I should make a pie with all the wonderful rhubarb I have. She is not happy with her own and can be caught now and then snatching some from my garden…and doing a general inspection of my gardening skills in which she gives me a report the next time I see her (rave reviews the last time :)). So, to facilitate this pie making she sent me home with a frozen shell and top. A boost of confidence, she trusted me with a pie crust!

In a previous post, I told you about the recipe journal I got at my wedding shower, with recipes from all the ladies pasted inside. Well grandma shared Strawberry Rhubarb Pie of course. I love how my friend kept the pin in the paper. So with recipe in hand (and a few other pointers that were left out) I gave it a go on Sunday.

Honestly, I only had to call her once when the pie filling was bubbling over in a couple of spots which I placed little pieces of tin foil to catch the dribble. Here is the recipe and instructions in its entirety and my adjustments:

  • 3 cups chopped Rhubarb, 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 cup sliced Strawberries
  • 3 tbsp Tapioca flour (if using honey, up the tapioca to 4-5 tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 cups Sugar (I used 1/3 cup Honey instead)
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 9″ Pie Shell, with a top
  • 1 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1 Egg for egg wash or water

Mix the fruit with the tapioca, sugar/honey, nutmeg and salt. Let sit for 20 min. Dust the bottom of the pie crust with the cornstarch. Add the fruit to the pie shell. Brush the edge of the pie shell with an egg wash or water, put the top on, press the edges together lightly with a fork and trim excess (some people do fancy edges, grandmas way is faster and easier). Cut 8-10 openings in the top and brush with egg wash or water. Bake at 375 F for 1 hour or until golden brown on top. Use pieces of tin foil to catch any dripping fruit. Don’t put a pan or big piece of tin foil under the pie or you disrupt the heat.

Well, it turned out pretty good. I learned I need more tapioca with the honey and I could have used a bit more honey. I have green rhubarb so it is a bit more tart. T liked it and that’s all that mattered, ah. Now, to learn to make my own crusts….

What is your favorite fruit pie?

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Blueberry Peach Cobbler

10 08 2011

Cobbler Warm from the Oven

Oh boy, this is yummy. I follow a chef/writer Mark Bittman and he posted a recipe for a Blueberry Cobbler the other day. It asked for white flour and 1 cup of sugar, so I of course set out to modify it. I had fresh picked peaches and blueberries from Kelowna and I was ready to experiment. If you want the original recipe, follow the link above, but for the no white sugar version, here you go. I saw no reason on adding white sugar or all that butter to it. I used honey instead and thickened it with a bit of Kuzu, or Japanese Arrowroot.

  • 4 cups Blueberries
  • 4 cups sliced Peaches, skin on
  • 4-8 tbsp Honey (instead of 1 cup of sugar)
  • 1 tbsp Kuzu mixed in 1 tbsp water (or use the appropriate amount of cornstarch for a bit of thickening)
  • 4 tbsp cold Butter (instead of 8 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 cup Spelt Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder (I use wheat & corn free, but double the amount)
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract (get the good stuff, it’s worth it)
Pre-heat over to 375F. Mix the kuzu water blend with the fruit and 2-4 tbsp honey. If the fruit is in season, it doesn’t need sweetening, the sugar does make the juice thicker though, that’s why I used the kuzu. Use a bit of butter to grease a pie pan or a 8-inch square pan. Add the fruit mixture into the pan.

Warmed up over the Fire

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut the butter into small pieces, add to the flour mixture. Using a pastry knife cut the butter into the flour mixture as well as you can. Add 2-6 tbsp of honey, experiment with how sweet you like it, blend with pastry knife. If you have a food processor you can pulse the flour mixture, butter and honey together using it.

Add the egg and vanilla and mix into a thick batter using a fork. I made this twice and the second time I added a wee bit too much flour so I added a tbsp of water and mixed it in. This dough is not rocket science. Spoon the batter onto the fruit, I agree with Mark to not spread it out, but I gave it a little push around. Both attempts were good at 45-50 min in the middle rack, but check to make sure it doesn’t get to golden. I baked the first one in my brothers oven and it got a bit over done. Let cool and set for 10 minutes or so. At my brother’s house I warmed it up over the fire after dinner!

Cobbler served with Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

Serve with frozen vanilla yogurt like we did. Best compliment I got “Nat, this tastes clean, so good”. Just what I was going for, the fruit sang.
Eat well, Be well,
Nat




Roadtrip: Kelowna and Vernon

1 08 2011

Enjoying the summer? We have had a busy agenda so far. This past week we made it out to the Okanagan in BC for our second annual trip to stay and visit friends in both Kelowna and Vernon. Can you call something twice done annual? Sure. This year we stayed at the Palliser Lodge in Golden, BC on the way out so our drive wasn’t as long and we didn’t have to leave early in the morning from Calgary. It was lovely, quiet and just what the doctor ordered. I was fighting a summer cold, but I warded it off with Vitamin C, Echinacea and homeopathic Coryzalia (besides my pillow and lots of rest). I was not risking a cold for wine tasting and buying. 😉

Our first stop was, well, uh, um, a winery. I changed into a summery frock in the Orchard Mall parking lot and we headed to Summerhill Winery for a light lunch and glass of wine before meeting up with our friends. Priorities eh, kidding, it was a scheduling opportunity. At Summerhill we had a build-it-yourself cheese platter. The one thing that I was in love with were the Truffled Wild Mushrooms. How easy would this be to make. Saute various wild mushrooms (chanterelle, morels, porcini etc) in some light olive oil and a bit of truffle oil. Yum. I’m gonna remember this one to try one day. We picked up wine after lunch and headed to Cedar Creek, their Merlot is a favourite of ours. It was all business, we know what we want, taste the newest press, choose, buy.

Cheese, Fresh Bread and Truffled Mushrooms

On the way home from BC we always pick up fruit. This is where my rants about organic versus local get stirred up in my head. We bought as much organic as we could, but it is not as prevalent and usually only found at the farmers markets that we missed. You can get pesticide free fruit, not necessarily certified organic, this is a good alternative though. It is expensive for farmers to certify when they can’t control the farms around them spraying. Anyhow, we did our best and picked up a box of apricots for grandma (she likes to make jam), a box of peaches (Tony’s favourite), a small box of cherries (they had a late harvest this year and we ate half of the box on the way home) and a big box of blueberries. What to do with all this fruit? Eat some fresh, bake some and freeze the rest!

I am not a jam maker, per se. I like to make fresh jams without sugar and they don’t preserve for long, so I make small batches of freezer jams and use frozen fruit through the winter to make new batches and other things. I bought the blueberries mostly for my green smoothies. Green Smoothie = fruit + green leafy vegetables, i.e. spinach, kale, swiss chard, beet greens etc. It’s the first thing I eat every morning. 1.5 cups of fruit to 3 cups of veg. Blend it up well with 2 cups of water. Good for the body, mind and soul (and digestive track :)). Drink this before a healthy breakfast, good to go.

Banana, Blueberries with Spinach and Swiss Chard from my garden

Freezing fruit for winter is easy. I like to wash it all off with a veggie wash. I fill the sink, immerse the fruit for a few minutes and then rinse. Let it dry a bit. Place berries on a cookie tray to dry, use a dish towel or paper towel if you’d like. Cut fruit like peaches into slices and place on tray. Freezing like this doesn’t take long. When frozen throw fruit into a freezer bag, pressing as much air out as possible. If you have an airtight bagging system, use that of course. I don’t, but might invest in one. Enjoy fruit all winter long.

What is your favourite summer fruit or fruit recipe?

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Just Eat It: Sprouted Quinoa Breakfast

17 05 2010

May seems to be a sprouting month, with the sun shining in Calgary and gardeners anxiously awaiting the May long weekend to get their pots and gardens growing. We are included in that group and ready to dig the garden. This past weekend we spent doing the spring clean up, getting the pots out, cleaning off the lawn furniture and cutting the bit of lawn we have. I am excited to see how the perennial bed turns out as we moved things around late last year. We spent the weekend in the midst of the plum tree in full bloom and the smell kept us smiling. The Nanking Cherry’s are blooming and buzzing with bees. Our white peonies are already 2.5 feet tall, flower buds are forming and ready for a June premier. Peonies are my favourite and although they bloom for short time they signal summer is here. When they bloom I’ll be sure to share!

Back to sprouting. This month’s Yoga Shala Just Eat It recipe is Sprouted Quinoa Breakfast. Sprouting quinoa, legumes, grains and seeds is easy. The best thing about sprouting is that you have healthy food ready to eat with no additional cooking or preparation. You just need a little patience and that’s exactly what us yogis are working on everyday :). This breakfast is easy, it can be made ahead and ready to eat after your morning practice.

To sprout the quinoa, use a glass jar and replace the lid with cheesecloth and an elastic band. Place 1 cup or more of quinoa in the jar and cover with filtered water. Let soak for 4-8 hours, you’ll see sprouts start to grow in just four hours. Rinse it once or twice by pouring out the water through the cheesecloth and adding fresh filtered water. After soaking, drain and place in the fridge, it will keep for 3-4 days. If you really like sprouting buy a sprouting jar like this one. It makes sprouting super easy. (See previous blog entry on sprouting.)

On top of 1/3 cup of sprouted quinoa, add diced apple, banana, orange and pear and a 1/4 of diced avocado. Sprinkle with a variety of sprouted, raw or lightly toasted seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, flax and nuts like almonds, walnuts and cashews. Don’t have a lot of quinoa, use the left over brown or wild rice, mix it together. Eat it.

Eat well, Be well,

Nat