Archive for August, 2011

This is a food blog.  It is not a blog about the news or about politics.  But today, I can’t talk about summer berry cakes or peach salsa or yellow dahl or homemade ricotta cheese.  Today, I can only talk about Jack Layton.  I won’t say too much, because there are many people who will or have already said things better than I probably could (including Jack himself).  I will say, though, that I have never felt the loss of such a public person in such a personal way.  I never had the opportunity to actually meet Jack – and my thoughts are very much with those who did know him personally, because your loss is surely greater than the rest of ours – but his death still feels momentous in my own life.  I do not believe that Canadians have had a political leader (of any party) who has had the dedication, the charisma, the integrity, and the courage that Jack Layton had, and I am immensely grateful for all of his hard work.  Everyone should read his letter to Canadians, and we should absolutely not forget that while we have lost an amazing political leader, everything we voted for in May still holds true, and we should not let anybody tell us differently.  Keep voting, and keep fighting – I don’t think there is any better way to honour Jack.  May he rest peacefully.

Photo credit to Jenna Marie Wakani, who worked with Jack and who lost a friend today.

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PEACHES. Holy moly, do I ever love them. I feel like this year I’ve missed a lot of the summer seasonal fruit, both because I was out of town so much during the month of July when things like raspberries and blueberries were in their heyday, but also because this year was actually not very fruitful for some of our more beloved summer fruits – mostly the stone fruits.  Why? Well, we had a wet spring, and our already-waning pollinators can’t go out in the rain to pollinate those beautiful cherry and apricot blossoms.  Not Far From the Tree has a great blog post explaining this, check it out here.  What this all means is that now that I’m finally moved and settled, I’m also ready to start cooking, baking, and preserving like a madwoman, and peaches are right on time.

I bought myself a basket of Ontario peaches, and since our dear friend Emily was coming over the next day to see our new apartment in the morning, I wanted to make some kind of breakfast cake to be enjoyed with coffee or tea.  In the recent tradition of my freestyle banana bread, I decided to essentially make the recipe up as I went along.  The problem? Well, it seems that when I cook I can remember EITHER to take photos, OR to write down the recipe I’m making up as I go.  I have yet to master the taking of pictures AND the recipe recording AND the cooking altogether.  The result this time is that I have a great new recipe for you, with no photos of the work in progress. D’oh!

The good news? I couldn’t have been happier with how this little coffee cake thing turned out.  It was just the right sweetness, a great texture, and the peaches weren’t overpowered by the other ingredients.  Without further ado, here’s my recipe – finally, an original of mine!

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I used bread flour because it’s what I had on hand)

1/4 cup or so of regular large flake oats (this was an afterthought so I just dumped some in)

3/4 tsp of both baking soda and baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

some freshly grated nutmeg, and a generous pinch of cinnamon

Stir together those dry ingredients!

3/4 stick of butter, softened (a stick is one quarter of a 1lb block of butter, or 6/8 of a cup)

1/4 cup of white sugar

1/4 cup plus another small glug of maple syrup

1 egg

a splash of vanilla and a splash of dark rum

3/4 cup of plain yogurt

1 cup of chopped peaches

Cream together the butter, sugar and syrup, and then beat in the egg, vanilla, and rum.  Stir in the yogurt and then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Stir until combined and then add in the peaches.  Bake in a VERY well-greased or parchment-lined loaf pan for approximately 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  You’ll have to keep an eye on it and just keep inserting a toothpick or fork to test for the cake’s doneness – for a long time it seemed like the top of mine was going to burn long before the cake was cooked, but it worked out fine.  I also sprinkled the top with some turbinado sugar before baking for that crunchy sugar topping!  A great finishing touch! Here’s what the cake looked like when it was done:

Now, since I did such a poor job of photo-documenting this tasty little creation, I’ll end with a smattering of photos of recent edible delights.  Next time I’ll do better, I promise!

Pizza with golden zucchini, caramelized onions, and fresh basil and kale from the garden!

Bread and Butter Pickles with Fresh Ginger!

Strawberry summer cake back from Canada Day weekend! Kat didn't get any and she was sad...

See you next time! I’ll keep you posted about my preserving exploits and the vegetarian creations I cook up on my brand new (drumroll!) BBQ!

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Building my pantry…

I moved again last weekend. Yes, again.  In case you aren’t keeping track, this is the 4th apartment I’ve lived in in the last year. CRAZY. What is this, Montreal again? Whatever stability credibility I gained by living at 381 Lansdowne for two whole years is now shot! The important thing is that I’m hoping to be settled in this new place for awhile.  I have a roommate again – none other than Kat Burns – which means some changes for me but it’s going to be great! Next month I’ll be back in school, and since I’m going to be living off of savings and OSAP I want to be as self-sufficient as possible.  Therefore, while I am terribly behind (too many vacations in July! Sigh, woe is me!) the canning and preserving marathon month starts now.  I’m looking forward to building a pantry of preserves that can help me last through the winter months.  That, in addition to making more and more things from scratch (granola, bread, CHEESE, yogurt…) will hopefully mean that Kat and I can live on the cheap, and still on the delicious! Once tomatoes are in full swing I’ll be going crazy standing over my big pot of boiling water filling jars forever, but for now – it’s PICKLES.

Last year I made my first foray into pickling, which was also one of my first adventures in canning beyond jam.  Don’t get me wrong, jam is awesome, but really I don’t eat that much and I’ve been looking for more challenging projects.  I love dill pickles, and the ones I made last year turned out pretty great, so I opted to make a similar batch again this year, with some slight changes.

First of all, this year I made a bulk order of pickling cukes from my CSA.  I picked them up yesterday – all 12lbs.  While I would have been happy to turn them all into dill pickles, I thought maybe I’d do half that and half something else.  Today I made the pickles, and I’ll still accept your suggestions as to what I should do with the second half of those cukes! Last year when making my dills, I used a club house pickling spice mix.  This year I opted to make my own – because really, why wouldn’t you? After a trip to my new neighbourhood bulk store for spices, I crafted a spice mix containing: coriander seeds, mustard seeds, whole allspice, ground ginger, red pepper flakes, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and dill seed.  Let me tell you, this pickles are going to be ZESTY.  I also opted to put a bit of sugar in with my brine because last year my pickles were just a touch too zippy – likely because I used the 7% pickling vinegar rather than the regular 5% stuff, which I did again this year.  Into each jar I put a dill head, a clove of garlic, and a dried chile.  Dried chile! I’m excited about this addition – I have no idea how spicy these pickles are going to be, but I think they will be pretty hot and I’m psyched.

I packed in my cukes – I actually had washed and prepped too many, so hopefully they will keep for a few days in the fridge until I make whatever’s next.  (As for prepping, I cut the nub off of each end and let them sit in some ice water for awhile – this supposedly helps them to stay crispy – and I like a crispy pickle).  Boiled my brine and poured it over, and processed my jars for 10 minutes! They look pretty good.  The worst thing about making pickles is the waiting – they’re best if you wait a couple months before eating them.  TORTURE.  I’ve been thinking of trying to make a dill relish with the rest of the cukes, because yesterday I was inspired by the internet to try my hand at making ketchup, mustard, and relish this year for gifts.  I just simply don’t think there is anything cuter sounding than that! I’m a dill relish, not a sweet relish kinda gal, so that’s my plan for now, but I’m also open to other pickle suggestions! I can always get more cukes for relish! Tell me your pickle ideas!!!

P.S. Here lies the requisit apology for taking so long to update, accompanied by the requisite photo of my new, terrific kitchen! Still unpacking but this apartment is really coming together, and I love this kitchen!

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