Category Archives: Eating local

The Kitchen Garden

It’s time to harvest; tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, parsley, squash, mint are all begging to be brought inside and cooked, preserved, fermented and/or dried. Though, if you are an edible food in my garden, more likely placed directly on a plate as salad. More recipes will come on cooking from the kitchen garden. But, for now, a bit about the garden.

 

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Our kitchen garden was designed based on some simple permaculture ideas. We are novices in this field, but we are guided by the principles of using local resources, planting edible fruits, keeping your herbs and annuals close to the house so you can tend to them, building garden beds that require little irrigation, composting EVERYTHING, planting a “food forest,” and generally establishing systems that take a while to create but are low maintenance and autonomous in the long run.

My favorite permaculture technique? Hugelkultur. Long story short, hugelkultur entails burying logs or big sticks underneath your layers of compost, leaves, mulch, soil etc. Why would you do this? Less irrigation for starters. (I watered my vegetable garden 3 times this summer, after planting). Lots of oxygen for the plant roots is another reason. Third, if your compost is like mine and comes mostly from kitchen scraps, the carbon in the wood (brown stuff) balances out all the nitrogen from your kitchen waste (green stuff). The result? We are harvesting zuchinni, basil, crookneck squash, bushels of cucumbers and lots of beans and peas; all out of a bed we hardly watered. And they taste amazing.

 

Let us know: what are your favorite fruits or vegetables in season right now?

 

 

 

 

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Spiced Pumpkin Seeds, Two Ways

This is a quick, simple recipe involving my favorite vegetable: the squash. Winter squash were first cultivated in North America, grown in many beautiful varieties of which the pumpkin is perhaps the most ubiquitous. My favorite, however is the boston marrow squash, a bright orange hubbard squash with a strong lemony flavor and hardy flesh.

Instead of chucking the pumpkin seeds you scoop out while carving your gourd, you can make a sweet or savory treat with the nutritious seeds which are full of minerals. These recipes work equally well with any winter squash seed. To clean them, soak well and drain, picking out the flesh as you rinse. Dry them the best you can by patting them with a towel.

Coat the seeds in coconut or vegetable oil, and then salt to taste. Spread out on a baking sheet and sprinkle on one of the following spice mixtures:

Smoky Garlic Pumpkin Seeds

(I make this one in large batches, and use it for just about any roasted vegetables. The proportions are up to you, equal parts of everything is fine).

Smoked Spanish paprika

garlic powder

onion powder

mustard powder

black pepper

oregano

cumin

sage

Sweet Chai Pumkin Seeds

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon (more if cinnamon is not strong)

Pinch: Cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, ground black pepper, ginger

Place in a 350° oven and turn off. Check in about 30 minutes, the material of your baking sheet will affect how quickly the seeds toast. Seeds are done when they are golden and the shell is crispy.

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top five things to do with leftovers

I am an avid composter. We currently have two compost heaps in our yard, and we give a lot away to the city of Toronto. But this is not enough. With the goal of self-sufficiency in mind, waste management standards (read: compulsions) must be higher.

I hate throwing away anything edible. This is why my co-chef and I have come up with many creative ways to use, even improve upon leftovers. These recipes will make you want to make extra portions just so you get to enjoy it again in a new recipe. This way, you get double the labor and attention in one dish.

Also, elderly and wilting fruits and vegetables should be considered valuable as their sugar content is higher. In fact, many people prefer deserts such as banana bread to be made with over-ripe fruits. This is why I usually make banana bread when we have old rejected bananas lying around. Thus, our list covers almost any food item that you may have in excess.

And now, to the top 5 list of our favorite recipes for surplus food:

 

5. Pasta salad

Cold pasta (unless it’s the long stringy kind) tastes amazing with a vinaigrette on a bed of leafy greens. Just about anything that’s not drenched in sauce or curry can be added to a salad the next day: potato chips or home-made fries, roasted vegetables, dry bread (heavily toasted and preferably brushed with olive oil), chicken, ham, beans, salmon…the list goes on.

 

4. Basic soup

Not so much for left-overs, but a great way to take care of all those extra broccoli stems and leaves. Cut the stems into small pieces and simmer for about 45 minutes in a stock mixture. Add some green lentils after about 15 minutes. Right before you eat, add some fresh vegetables such as peas or carrots.

 

3. Stir-fry

Great for leftover rice. Add sesame oil, any vegetables you have around, and stir. At the end, crack an egg in it and scramble it up. Possibly the most delicious thing you can do in under 5 minutes.

 

2. Frittata

This tastes great with pasta, vegetable dishes, any meat, or even rice. Heat left-overs in a skillet, beat 1-2 eggs person with a little milk and seasonings, pour into skillet. You can broil it for a few minutes to finish cooking the eggs. If you want to go all out, add some cheese on top right before broiling.

 

1. Crumble

The perfect place for soft fruit. Apples taste amazing baked. So do peaches and pears. Just toss with a little cinnamon and cardamom (maybe some brown sugar or maple syrup) and bake. You can add nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans to the fruit. For the topping: 2 parts oats to 1 part butter or coconut oil. Add sugar or honey to taste. Bake for 30-45 minutes at 350°.

 

We are curious about your creative recipes for surplus food. Please, leave us a comment!

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mushroom broccoli mini quiches

This is the perfect recipe for winter because you can literally substitute any vegetables in and it tastes great, thanks to all the cheese. The more vegetables you add, the more exciting each serving will be. My favorite variation includes brusell sprouts cut into fourths, green onion and  bacon. Needless to say, this recipe can be quite easily converted to fit an herbivore diet. I like an egg-heavy quiche, but if you want something a bit lighter, add an extra 1/2 cup of milk and leave out a few eggs.

The crust comes from one of my favorite food blogs: chocolate and zucchini. To make the mini-crusts, follow the dough recipe*, divide the dough in half, roll it out and cut it into twelfths with a sharp knife. It takes a little bit of manipulating, but each piece will fit it into a muffin hole (muffin cavity?). This recipe will make crusts for 24 mini-quiches.

*It calls for 250 g of flour, but 2 cups is pretty close.

 

Mini-quiche filling:

  • 7 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 3 slices of prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup broccoli flowers
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower flowers
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • dried sage
  • salt and pepper

 

Lightly fry the vegetables in butter, salt and pepper. Add a pinch of sage or oregano right before you turn it off. Lightly beat the eggs, milk and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add most of the cheese, and the prosciutto.

 

 

Arrange the vegetables in the crusts and pour the egg mixture on top. Here, I used less shredded cheese and put chunks of soft cheese in with the vegetables. Sprinkle that extra cheese you put aside on top. Bake for 25 minutes at 400°.

 

 

 

 

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winterlicious salad

Ever wonder what vegetables are in season in February above the 41st parallel (north)? You are not the only one. After much first-hand research (read: grocery shopping), I realized that fresh local food in winter consists mostly of root vegetables, some hardy squash, and cabbage. Apples are also known to over-winter in root cellars, as long as they are not touching. Luckily, these are some of the sweetest foods our corner of the earth has to offer. This delicious salad combines all local vegetables with a few exotic imports (read: lemons) as dressing.

Winterlicious Salad Recipe

 

  • 1 beet
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 small turnip
  • some cabbage (about the size of your fist)
  • raisins
  • dried redcurrants
  • walnuts (optional)

 

dressing:

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (or hummus)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • dried mint
  • salt and pepper

 

Grate or very finely chop the vegetables. Add the dried fruit and nuts. Mix the dressing in a cup and toss into the salad.

 

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