Posts tagged ‘local organic food’
Finally! Months of coddling tomato plants grown from seed have produced an actual tomato. As you can see below, there are more on the way. I’m sure they will be wonderful, too, but the first tomato brings the clearest sense of victory. Our patio is shady, part-sun at best, and it takes a good stretch of warm weather to make veggies grow. Double victory!
I was paralyzed by it, of course. How does one consume such a precious treat? If I had some buffalo mozzarella handy, I’d have gone for a classic caprese salad without a second thought. But I don’t. So I decided on a home-grown theme. Arugula, basil, chives, and parsley from my garden, olive oil carted back from Spain and sea salt that was a gift from my husband. Such specialness, and oh-so-good.
I’ve just arrived home from a relaxing 10-day holiday on Prince Edward Island and it was so refreshing to be in such a simple place. My parents have a cottage near an area of PEI called Tyne Valley, a tiny place filled with small town charm. In their yard are several sour cherry trees that were ripe with berries when we arrived. You’ll see a lovely tractor in the photo above: it was there along with several others to help repair their bank, which was damaged in the winter storms. Not the most tranquil thing to have at the cottage, but it was helpful for cherry picking in the treetops.
I spent about an hour picking these cherries and my mom and I put in at least another hour pitting them (drinks in hand, of course). I made a sour cherry sauce that we enjoyed on my mom’s famous no-bake cheesecake and on ice cream. More cherries were picked when my uncles visited and they were transformed into an amazing sour cherry crisp. I think it is safe to say that sour cherry eating, in all its delicious forms, will become a new cottage tradition.
Sour cherry sauce
8 cups of pitted sour cherries (I’m sure cherries of any variety would also be good)
1/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Put cherries in a saucepan along with sugar and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook over low-medium heat for about 15 minutes until cherries come to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and simmer for another 15-20 minutes until cherries are tender and the juice is beginning to thicken. Dissolve cornstarch in remaining 2 tablespoons of water and stir into cherry mixture. Let simmer for 5 minutes until sauce thickens to desired consistency. If you find it to thin still, add mix another teaspoon of cornstarch with water and add to the sauce; if it is too thick, add a touch more water. Squeeze in the lemon juice at the end and store sauce in a jar until you’re ready to slather it on cheesecake, ice cream, biscuits, etc.
I’ve started going through travel photos recently as a diversion to the grey winter days. Tomatoes have never looked more beautiful to me than they did in this salad, which was served on a hot July day as part of our lunch at the Torres family’s Mas Rabell restaurant in the Penedès wine region of Spain (about an hour south of Barcelona).
The produce was grown in an on-site organic vegetable garden and all of the food was seasonal, local and impeccably fresh. Seasonal and local have a completely different meaning and taste in Mediterranean countries. Vegetables like tomatoes, artichokes and olives come with rich flavours and an abundance we rarely experience in North America, and the olive oil is truly a wonder. We brought some back with us, but it just doesn’t taste the same as it did when the weather was hot and you could see groves of olive and almond trees dotting the landscape.
Everything we ate at Mas Rabell tasted like something from a beautiful dream. Along with the tomato salad was fresh bread with extra virgin olive oil, a cod fish main course, a cheese course, apple pie and, of course, delicious Torres wines: Santa Digna Sauvignon Blanc (2009); Ibericos (2007); Mas La Plana (2006), sweet Moscatel Floralis and the Torres 20 brandy.
When we moved to Vancouver, I dragged along a variety of products from Highwood Crossing in Alberta. They make awesome organic flours, canola oil and breakfast foods that I doubt are available here. I’ve written before about how much I love their granola and I’m also a big fan of their steel cut oats.
I always admired my grandfather’s unbreakable routine of beginning each day with a steaming bowl of porridge topped with brown sugar and milk. Is there anything more comforting than that? This is my modern-day version – steel cut oats topped with fresh fruit, soy milk, maple syrup, sunflower seeds and ground flax.
Steel cut oats
1 cup of steel cut oats
3 cups water
pinch of salt
Add oats to boiling salted water. Cook for 15-20 minutes over medium heat, stirring often. Add toppings of your choice and enjoy for breakfast, lunch or whenever the mood strikes.
Just thought I’d share a few pictures of how we’re enjoying the summer fruit season. I love this time of year when local berries and fresh fruit are so plentiful. (more…)