Archives for May 2014

A trio of spring pickles: ramps, rhubarb and fiddleheads

My spontaneous pickling session last week began with a spotless kitchen. Few things are as inspiring as the blank canvas of pristine counters, an empty dishwasher, and every tool at your disposal.

I had just boiled the kettle and made a pot of tea. The afternoon stretched out open ahead of me, a rare block of time when I didn’t have something pressing to attend to.  My mind wandered to the ramps on the forest floor that were rapidly being taken over by dense foliage. Their season had nearly passed and I had only foraged for one handful. If I wanted pickles, today would have to be the day.

Come to think of it, my rhubarb was filling in nicely; I had also wanted to put up a few jars of pickled stalks. I may as well combine the projects. And if I was really going to do this, why leave out the fiddleheads in the refrigerator? Pickled fiddleheads are a must for future salads and cocktail garnishes.

Before I had time to question my ambitions, I filled my canning pot half full of water, lowered 6 jars onto the rack and set it on my gas range. I grabbed a notepad and jotted down a flavor profile for each batch. [Read more…]

How our kids made us brunch and how we lived to tell about it

Now that we’ve been cooking with our children for several years, we’ve always wondered how well would they function entirely on their own. My boys have claimed for some time now that they are proficient in the kitchen, and while they do a fine job, I have always remained close-by.

Last Monday was Danny’s and my wedding anniversary. The evening before was full of fugitive huddles and fervent whispers between brothers. Their eyes were shining when I tucked them into bed, and Mateo, the considerate one, asked me how early they could get up.

Something was afoot, although I’d never imagine they would attempt a full breakfast in our honour. It turns out those two are full of ambition.

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The secret is in the sauce…on the side (3 recipes)

We’re a family that dines together for seven dinners a week. This time around the table is important to us and is a crucial step in our journey to build a healthy family food culture.

But? This commitment to the family dinner has its rocky moments. On a nightly basis we’re dealing with spilled milk, tossed food, stormy attitudes and questionable manners. Oh, how our children’s manners are a work in progress (look for a post soon on how we’re working to improve them).

Some nights it would be a whole lot easier to serve up sandwiches on paper plates and then sit down to a hot! spicy! delicious! meal ourselves after we have tucked the munchkins into bed (and on the rare occasion, this is what happens), but we’re committed to that dinner hour.

Today I’m sharing one tip that has brought peace to the table – at least as far as the food is concerned; attitudes and pesky squabbles still need an intervention! This tip has helped to keep everyone happy with their food, especially Danny and I, who love full flavour dishes and are crazy about sauces.

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Black Bean and Farro Salad with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette

With a long weekend quickly approaching, my mind has been on summer and everything that comes with it: warm weather, cold drinks, and plenty of cookouts. I love this time of year because we do so much cooking and eating outside.

It’s never hard to decide what to grill as the main course, but choosing sides isn’t always as easy, especially when it comes to choosing something for a group of people.

Mayonnaise-based dishes are common cookout staples, but the thought of those sitting in the heat for too long makes them less than appetizing to me. Don’t get me wrong, potato salad is one of my favorite summer sides. When it comes to eating outdoors, though, I prefer something much lighter and with no dairy. Enter farro salad. Light, refreshing and endlessly adaptable, this may just be my favorite recipe for summer.

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Spring produce and Cheesy Ramp Pull-Apart Bread

Yesterday, a glance at the weather for the remainder of the week convinced me to abandon the dishes and the laundry and head outdoors. If I was to get only one day of sunshine, I’d better make the most of it.

Today there is a slight stiffness to my shoulders from the garden work and my fingernails need attention, but the raised beds are half planted. The roots of the small seedlings will be kept damp with the coming rain and that is one less chore for me. It feels good to be a step ahead of things, at least in the gardening department. Let’s not speak of the state of my house. The kitchen alone is shell-shocked from Danny preparing two meals on Mother’s Day, bless his heart.

While I worked around our homestead and Clara amused herself by poking grass (and the occasional stick, yikes!) into the chicken coop, I kept a bowl handy to collect edibles. Salad ingredients don’t always show themselves as lettuce leaves and cucumber slices; sometimes you have to think outside of the box.

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