Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer CSA Week 8 and Roasted Beets

My youngest daughter Mollie, even the mere mention of her name, makes me break out in a big grin.
She's a funny, funny girl. Her antics, her cheerful chatter and her kindness make her a wonderful girl and wonderful company.
This week she decided to make the roof of Joey's little barn her new hangout. She slipped a long piece of rope over the nearby walnut tree with a 3 quart basket tied to the end and from the roof pulls the basket up and down, expecting me to deposit the required items in the basket. You never know what you'll need on the roof of a barn. Last night I offered to put her dinner in the basket, but she declined, ambling down the ladder to join me in the kitchen.

This Thursday and for two weeks after, we'll have a new person joining us at the kitchen table for supper.
It is pretty exciting actually. We are playing host family for a young girl from Brooklyn, New York  through the Fresh Air Fund. She'll get a little taste of life in rural Canada and we'll have the privilege of showing her around Niagara. Mollie is nervous...but thrilled too.

In the garden things are looking much better. My back is feeling much better too, so the weeds are getting pulled, slowly but surely, and the rain has definitely held off so things are much happier. I guess I am too. I'm feeling much more optimistic about this season and as I pick and pluck I'm thinking about the upcoming fall and winter season.
Perhaps it is the cool nights too this week. It seems so strange, but it has nearly been feeling like September mornings when I walk my dogs after breakfast. There is a chill in the air, the geese are flying and for some reason some of my trees are losing their leaves. All that is missing are the school buses.
I have been preparing garden areas over the last week for new plantings, and I plan on getting some of that planting done tomorrow. I'll get more beets in, lettuces, watermelon radishes, turnips and kohlrabi too. There is actually time to get a number of things in still. Kale, collards, carrots, winter radishes and you could even take a chance on a few summer crops like beans and summer squash. If you have seeds for these, check the days to maturity on the package and count ahead to see if you can squeeze it in before your usual frost date. Cool weather crops, as mentioned above are fine...they want the cool weather and do better because of it. The summer crops are iffy, but if you succeed aren't you just so clever!
Today's CSA baskets were pretty heavy. In the spring, with greens dominating I can carry 4 baskets at a time. Sometimes even 6.
Today it was definitely only 2 at a time. Baskets contained the following goodies: Potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, onions, zucchini, peppers, kale, basil, eggplants, mouse melons and beets. The beets have delicious tops and can double for chard in any recipe at all.

Last night for supper I thinly sliced some onions and garlic,  potatoes too and put them in a saute pan with olive oil. When they were nearly ready, I popped the torn kale on top, and cooked it down for about 5 minutes. Topped with sea salt, it was just yummy.
One of my favourite things to do with the beets is to roast them.

This recipe is one I cut from a local paper years ago.

Roasted Beets
3 or 4 beets
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp butter or veg alternative
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Scrub the beets and cut the tops to within 1 ". Wrap in foil and bake until easily pierced with a skewer. Remove from foil and let them cool until you can remove skin easily. Slice beets in a casserole dish. Heat sugar, butter and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over sliced beets and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Guest Post-PrimalFest 2013

Well, the cat is out of the bag. 
It is the wonderful Dr Richard Houghton who is making my sore back feel much better. 
During one of my appointments Richard passed along information about a very unique event to the area that I find very intriguing. Hope you do too!

Hello Organic-Heirloom Food Lovers!

Linda has been gracious enough to invite us to guest post today…thanks Linda!

We are happy to invite you to PrimalFest 2013!  PrimalFest is an all day interactive event that will be held in Niagara's St. John's Valley on Saturday, August 24.  This event will allow you to step away from the everyday world of cars, screens and phones, and instead, immerse you in the natural world, of activity, real food and fun!

PrimalFest will provide you with the information necessary to understand how short-term and chronic illness develops, as well as how to regain optimal well-being.

The day will include:
*Optimal Health Talk with Dr. Richard Houghton
*Primal Movement Patterning with Gavin Dobias
*Medicinal and Edible Plant Walk with Dr. Shawn Manske
*Outdoor Yoga with Cheryl Dobias
Group Drumming and African Dance Class led by Dr. Isaac Nii Akrong
Paleo Dinner, followed with a performance by AfriDance
For more information, visit www.humanforlife.ca

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Produce and friends

CSA Week 7 and Summer Squash Saute

I've been everywhere  over the last week. Some of it has been real and some of it is my imagined future.
I'm looking at blueberry farms for sale a distance from here, lakefront homes in the Muskokas, and planning trips to anywhere and everywhere. I'm driving my girls nuts.
The reality is that I've been frustrated and a whole lot of overwhelmed by things and it is made worse by my sore back. It's a helplessness I don't like, as weeds take over, grass grows and planting doesn't get done.
I'm seeing wonderful chiropractor who will get me straightened out I know, but I'm not always patient with this kind of thing.

Today things seemed a whole lot brighter. My back didn't feel quite so bad after yesterday's appointment. I got some very nice CSA baskets out and plugged away at getting the big crop of garlic up upon my return home from deliveries.

The garden is a mess though. The rain last weekend saw the weeds take over some areas, but that's just the way it is. I have to prioritize and getting a nice crop of garlic up comes first.

And it is all just fine. I take a deep breath and accept that this is how things are this year and I need to heal my back as best I can.  There is still some lovely produce coming from the garden and more to come.  The garden isn't a showpiece, but we are eating well.

Todays baskets were a good value to be sure. Beans, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplants, basils, thyme, stevia, parsley, kale, onions, lettuce and fresh garlic filled the baskets up quite well.  A few mouse melons and Szechuan buttons were popped in for fun.
The tomatoes are still the ultra early Stupice, which are producing like crazy. The lettuce is quite different- it is a very old variety called Sword and is quite distinctive.
 If you check back on my blog you'll find some good uses for all the basil. Basil lemonade and basil butter are two of my favourites. Find them HERE .
There are lots more herbs coming. I always dry some for winter use. The basil dries really well and tastes so good in the winter, as does the thyme.

So what to do with the zucchini?
This recipe-Summer Squash Saute- is from Epicurious


  • 2 pounds summer squash and/or zucchini, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Place squash in a colander set in the sink or over a large bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon salt. Let squash stand 10 minutes, then squeeze well to remove as much excess moisture as possible (do not rinse).
Meanwhile, toast almonds in a large dry skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate; let cool.
Heat oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add squash and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisptender, about 5 minutes. Fold in Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Fold in almonds.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Summer-Squash-Saute-51169540#ixzz2Zv3LZevM

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Produce and friends

Week 6 Summer CSA and Minestrone Salad

I had my weeding schedule figured out for this week, but a few seconds on Sunday changed all that.
After dealing with a family emergency on Saturday, I had a bit of time on Sunday to get to the grass on our property. With all the rain and now the heat, it's been growing every bit as quickly as the weeds.
When I got the riding mower stuck as I always do, I tried to hoist it, but didn't succeed the first time.
Knowing I could lift the mower, I tried harder the second time. There was a crack in my back and over I went, truly stunned that it happened.
Good-bye weeding schedule, and hello to "let's see what I can even do."

My job depends on my back and I am hopeful that an appointment tomorrow, my first with a chiropractor, will be helpful.  The weeds will wait, I'm sure.

The heat of the last few days has been tough to work in, especially when you are in pain.  My favourite part of the day, my walks with my beloved dogs, Ellie, Darwin and Bandit are minimal in this heat.
My chickens have stopped laying and give themselves frequent dust baths in a tree shaded spot.
Joey, my sweet pig, pops out for meals, but otherwise hides out in his cool inner sanctum.
The cats feel the same and stay in the house where it's cooler. The ducks need more water and my bunny stretches out motionless in the shade. Hot. Smothering hot.

I was concerned about putting greens in the baskets today because of the heat. I'm sure by the time they were picked up, the greens and basils were a tad wilted.
Todays baskets contained zucchini, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, beans (or beets), kale, basils, garlic, rosemary and berries (gooseberries or currants). The basil variety that dominated in the baskets is my favourite-African Blue. This variety is one that doesn't grow from seed and I would think that I have successfully overwinter plants for about 10 years or so now, taking fresh cuttings in the spring to revive the failing parent plants.

The tomatoes are Stupice, my favourite little Czech heirloom that produces a really tasty tomato nice and early. I ate my first ones in June from my small hoophouse.
The garlic is fresh-not cured. You can use it as is, or cure it so it will store better. This simply means drying it..hang it up out of direct sunlight, or just put it somewhere dry, warm and shaded. I've cured mine on my driveway in the shade with good results.

When I checked my emails this morning as I always do, I was thrilled to find this recipe which I think will be perfect with todays baskets.  This came to me via Epicurious.  No, I have not made it yet. This however will be tomorrow night's dinner. It looks just great.

I'm not going to be adding the asparagus though-I like to work with what I've got.

Minestrone Salad

Serves 8
This pasta salad is a clever take on a well-loved soup. Because it's served at room temperature, it makes a great side dish at a picnic or barbecue. It's colorful and extremely flavorful, with pesto, beans, and vegetables.


  • 12 ounces fingerling or baby red potatoes
  • 8 ounces green beans, cut in half
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound gemelli or tubetti (or any short pasta you choose)
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • one 15 1/2-ounce can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
  • one 6-ounce jar roasted peppers, sliced into strips
  • salt and pepper to taste


1. Place 12 ounces fingerling or baby red potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. Spread them out on a baking sheet to cool, then slice the potatoes into 1/2-inch coins.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon salt. Prepare a bowl of ice water. Add 8 ounces green beans, cut in half, and 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces so they're about the size of the pasta you're using, and blanch the vegetables just until they're bright green, 1 to 2 minutes. Scoop the vegetables out of the hot water with a spider or a strainer, rinse them with cold water, and submerge them in the ice water until completely cool, then drain, pat dry, and set aside.
3. Add 1 pound gemelli or tubetti (or any short pasta you choose) to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and put it in a large bowl to cool a bit.
4. Toss in the potatoes, asparagus, green beans, 1/2 cup pesto, one 15 1/2-ounce can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed), one 6-ounce jar roasted peppers, sliced into strips, and salt and pepper to taste. If preparing ahead of time, combine all of the ingredients 1 to 2 hours before serving.
Reprinted with permission from What's a Hostess to Do?: 313 Ideas and Inspirations for Effortless Entertaining by Susan Spungen. Copyright © 2013 by Susan Spungen. Published by Artisan, a division of Workman Publishing Company, Inc.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Guest Post-Jo "The Tried and True"

guest post by Jo Pavlov
Each week when I get my Tree & Twig basket, I am often stumped as to what to do with some of the things.  I go back to the tried and the true everytime, and occasionally I branch out and put something extra in, to see if it works.

Today's sauté included my old standbys: kale, chick peas and tomatoes (ooh, these little guys pack a punch this week!  YUM!!  Flavourful!) but I also cut up some green onion and the yellow beans.  Yes, the beans that don't usually even make it in my front door, because I gobble them up raw in the car ride home.  I have a friend staying with me this week, and she's learning how to drive, so she was driving back from Linda's in the beast (a gigantic Dodge Durango, don't ask) and I was talking her through backing out the driveway, so the beans wound up in the back seat and on the back burner.  Quite literally.
So today I sautéd everything up andI put a liberally helping of lemon juice on at the end, and served it up on a bed of rice.  It was quite possibly the best one yet!  I often use spinach, but kale is just as good, if not better, if it came from Linda's garden.
Christine just remarked earnestly, "That was really really good, especially considering there were no embellishments on it."  Salt, pepper, lemon and a bit of red curry powder, which is flavourless, really.  That's it, that's all.  The food's natural flavours shine through.
Did I ever tell you the story about how I wound up with a taste for red curry?  A number of years ago, afriend of mine named Adrienne finished up a tour with the Canadian military in Afghanastan, and was offered a flight anywhere in the world as a 'palette cleanser'.  She picked Tanzania and decided to climb Mount Kilamanjaro.  Afterwards, she went to the island of Zanzibar, and got me a nice gift of mixed spices from a market stall in town.  I was obsessed with the red curry, but could not find it anywhere.  Not online, not at local markets, not even in Toronto.
This year, Christine decided to go to Tanzania too.  I mentioned the red curry to her, and she told me she'd get me some.  Adrienne, she and I had a three-way email that was hilarious -- Adrienne described the market to her, and remembered the stall!  Christine took notes and was off on vacation.

She brought me back two large bags.
I now divide my friends into two categories:  those who fly to Tanzania to get me red curry and those who don't.  It's a pretty elite group.  :)