Two Winter Power Bowls (Recipe: Quick Peanut Sauce)

During the winter months I find myself craving foods with maximum crunch and big flavours; that’s when these power bowls come into play.

The cold weather entices me to hibernate, so I try to avoid foods that will leave me sluggish and instead build salads heaping with ingredients that energize me.

Last week I was hugely inspired by a trip to a nearby farmer’s market where I found the most exquisite locally grown winter produce. I loaded up a crate with baby Savoy cabbage, watermelon and purple daikon radishes, mini red Napa cabbage and crunchy kohlrabi – and then took everything back to my kitchen.

A quick peek in my pantry turned up rice vermicelli and sesame seeds. I knew I had pickled carrots in the fridge, so I whipped up a tofu stir-fry and a quick peanut sauce and was soon stacking the building blocks for a Thai-inspired power bowl.

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Quick Homemade Harissa from ‘Whole Bowls’

Step into any book shop these days and you will be greeted by a fresh array of new spring cookbooks. It’s hard to know which ones are keepers amid the wide selection.

A large percentage of these books come across my desk, and I spend many evenings reading them cover to cover. In spring and in fall, the busiest times for publication, cookbooks are my novels. I binge on them like a cult Nexflix show. A few make it to my kitchen, a handful more remain on my shelf, and the rest go on a pile to give away.

Fellow Canadian food blogger Allison Day has a new cookbook, Whole Bowls, and it landed in my hands a few short days before my Noah was diagnosed with pneumonia. This was a few weeks ago, when I was sufficiently ‘done’ with winter produce, yet I became excited to cook while reading Whole Bowls – the first sign of a great cookbook.

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Autumn Pesto Blitz (Oregano-Hazelnut Pesto)

If there is one fall tradition I uphold above all, it is making and freezing pesto. Pumpkin spice lattes we can take or leave, but we simply cannot be without multiple batches of homemade pesto as we head into winter.

I keep an eye on the frost warnings, but generally I harvest my herbs during the last week of September. All the basil is set aside for pesto – and a good bunch of the parsley and oregano, too. We like variety in our pesto; it makes up for the fact that we are decidedly unvaried in our use of the sauce. Yep, you guessed it: pasta. I am the mother of three children, after all.

Pizza closely follows pasta as a vehicle for enjoying homemade pesto. There’s hardly a winter pizza we make that doesn’t take a spoonful of the sauce, like this Brussels Sprout, Walnut & Pesto Pizza. Ohh, la la.

Here’s how my autumn pesto blitz goes down, plus a recipe for a new favourite: Oregano Hazelnut Pesto.

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Five ideas for preserving Meyer lemons (recipe: Meyer Lemon Finishing Salt)

five ideas for preserving lemons on simplebites.new

Winter is spilling over into its sixth month, bringing snow and freezing temperatures once again to our northern city. At dinner yesterday I tried to look on the bright side: “At least we don’t have to mow the lawn”, then slumped back into my chair, sighing over the elusive spring and her warm winds.

Last month I collected myself and resolutely embraced winter salads, but early March found me longing for fruit other than lackluster apples. Spurred on by fellow home preserving enthusiasts, Marisa and Autumn, I treated myself to a box of Meyer lemons from Lemon Ladies Orchard in California.

In record time the lemons arrived in good shape, and opening the box was better than unwrapping a Christmas present. The sweet smell perfumed my kitchen instantly and almost as quickly, my head began to swirl with ideas.

I was smitten.

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Canning Week: Zucchini-Pepper Sweet Relish

Relish has always been the squeeze bottle I avoided on the condiment table. With its iridescent green chunks and watery pea-green liquid:  Non, merci. However, today’s recipe for homemade Zucchini-Pepper Sweet Relish is an entirely different garnish from that one.

Once again, I put my pickling in the hands of an expert and followed a recipe from Marisa’s Food in Jars. I loved the absolute pile of produce that went into the making of the relish and the terrific yield – 10  1/2 pint jars (which is the size I used). With one batch, I  stocked my pantry, as well as gifted a few jars to my little sister who just moved into a new apartment.

Other perks to this recipe are its dead simple method, as well as the relatively short ingredient list. Ready to get canning?

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