Tuesday, June 29, 2010

nutty tapenade

I'm in love with this tapenade recipe. Deb's recipe calls for it to be served on lamb chops - I've used lamb loin chops both times I've made it and I love it. D won't eat lamb, so for him I've served it with chicken - either breast or thigh, bashed between wax paper to get an even thickness, seasoned with salt and pepper and then browned for a couple of minutes on either side, then slathered with the tapenade on one side and baked at 350 deg F for about 5 minutes. I prefer the lamb to the chicken; the lamb seems to be better suited to the pistachio nutty saltiness but I won't say no to chicken with this. My only issue with this recipe is the shelling of the pistachios, as I haven't found shelled pistachios in our stores.

Monday, June 28, 2010

finally - a home grown radish

This is the third year I've planted radish seeds. Everything I read about radishes indicates they are super easy to grow and so come highly recommended for children's gardens. The first year, I got measly green sprouts but nothing happened and they withered and died. Last year, the slugs mowed through both sets of greens which sprouted and the radishes never got the chance to develop. So I wasn't too optimistic this year but I bought a mixed pack of radish seeds and T and I planted them in his big tubs (T's garden is two big barrel tubs). This time up popped a lot of seedlings, which I thinned, as per the seed package. And on Friday, on my morning tour round the garden I took a closer look at the radish patch and discovered this....

A radish lying on the soil! (I had been wondering how you know when the radishes are ready to harvest.) So I called T and we pulled the radish out. And lo and behold, there were more radishes ready to be picked.

A radish harvest! It's hard to say who was more excited - T or me. He ended up taking the large pink radish to his preschool teacher at the picnic!

The radishes are lovely - crunchy and peppery! And on Sunday there were more,

and another one tonight! Once these are done, I may replant for another harvest. Oh - better watch out. I'm getting cocky about my radishes!

a different rhubarb

After months of a fruit rut - apples, bananas, intersperced with the non-local raspberries, strawberries, watermelon and occasionally the silk of juicy pears we are in fruit heaven. Strawberries, raspberries and cherries from the market yesterday alone.

The strawberries have benefited from last week's sunshine and are now bursting with juicy lusciousness. And the other day I was lured into buying some local rhubarb and it was languishing in the vegetable drawer.

So yesterday I googled rhubarb and came up with a non-dessert recipe which fit in with my freezer and garden contents to make for supper.

Pork Roasted on Rhubarb
Adapted from Happy Days with the Naked Chef - Jamie Oliver via Homecooking.about.com

handful of sage (from the garden - yippee!)
2 cloves minced garlic
5 tsps olive oil

Mince half of the sage and bash together with the garlic and oil.

4 pork loin chops (2" thick)

Marinate the pork for at least an hour with the marinade.

3 stalks rhubarb, cut into pieces
8 slices pancetta
salt, pepper

Grease a baking dish big enough to hold the rhubarb and pork. Preheat the oven to 425 deg F.

Place the rhubarb into the bottom of the dish.

Nestle the marinated pork on the rhubarb, season with salt and pepper,

and cover with the pancetta. Sprinkle the remaining sage leaves over the top.

Also pour over any remaining marinade. Take a piece of wax paper, scrunch it up, moisten with water and tuck over the pork. Cook the dish for 15 minutes with the paper on and another 20 or so without the paper (or until the pork is mostly cooked through). Take out of the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the pork for serving. Serve the pork with the fruit and meat juices on top (I briefly whizzed this with my immersion blender).

I served this with roasted new potatoes (BC nugget potatoes) and market greens with balsamic vinegrette, with sliced strawberries and cream for dessert. The tart rhubarb works really well with the garlicy, sagey pork and pancetta - a hit for us.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

polenta again!

The other night I was a bit stumped with what to serve for supper. So to the rescue came polenta. With veggies partly inspired by this recipe.

I made the polenta like this (adapted from here)
half a small onion, diced
2 tsps olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c cornmeal
900 ml box of vegetable stock
1/2 c of sundried tomato pesto
1/2 c grated mozarella cheese

I sauteed the onion in the oil and added the garlic and cooked until soft. Then I added the stock. Once the stock had come to a boil, I added the cornmeal in a slow stream while whisking until it was all added. I stirred well, then covered the pot and placed it in a 350 deg F oven for 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Then I took it out of the oven, and stirred in the pesto and cheese and served with the vegetables.

For the vegetables, I sauted 1 red and yellow pepper cut into small strips, and a handful of slices mushrooms in some butter until they were soft. Then I added ~ 2 c of frozen peas and cooked the vegetables for ~ 10 more minutes.

Then I added cut up prosciutto and covered the pan for about 5 minutes.

For serving, I poured some polenta in the bottom of the bowl and added the vegetables on the top. It was delish!

raspberry strawberry oatmeal bars

My first purchase of raspberries this year were a little on the tart side and didn't last very long. We couldn't finish them the night I bought them and by the next day they were looking a bit sad and crumbly so I found this recipe and made bars.

When I measured out the fruit, I only had 1/2 lb of raspberries left so I made up the missing fruit using strawberries. When I mixed up the fruit mixture, the sweet aroma of the combination made me swoon. And mixed with some oatmeal and butter and a touch of cinnamon, how could they go wrong? They didn't. They are delicious and earned me kudos from all who've tried them. I took some as an adult treat for the preschool picnic while the kids got smartie cake (gluten free) and both were a hit.

The bars are awesome as a breakfast treat with tea.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


It is strawberry season - yum, yum, yum. I got a bit carried away, buying big baskets of them two days in a row because really, how can you resist? I can't. So I had strawberries - we ate them and ate them but we weren't eating them fast enough as they last only a short time. As my guys had eaten most of the muffins I made last week, I made a new batch using some of the strawberries.

Strawberry Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Express
125 ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 mashed banana
1 1/2 c of sliced strawberries, pureed roughly to about 1 cup
250 g  flour
100 g brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
150 g chocolate chips

Add the eggs to the oil and whisk together. In a separate bowl, mash the banana and mix with the strawberry puree. In a medium bowl add the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt and mix until blended. Add in the oil/egg mix and blend well. Add in the fruit and mix until blended. Add the chocolate chips and mix until incorporated. Spoon the batter into 12 greased muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes at 400 deg F.

Note - the batter is quite pink before baking but after baking is only tinged pink. My boy didn't even notice!

Monday, June 21, 2010

father's day supper

I made a supper of a few of D's favorites on Sunday night.

Asparagus and cheese canelloni with tomato sauce,

balsamic feta mushrooms (if you don't want a black mushroom dish, scrape off the gills!)

and a large microgreen salad with all kinds of market goodies, served with a lovely Pinot Gris Reserve from a local Okanagan winery, Gehringer Brothers. Dessert was sliced strawberries and cream.

more felt animals...

I've been sewing lots and lots of felt in the last week. And now I have a whole menagerie of felt animals and one mug cosy.
T pulled them all out today and asked who they all belonged to.

So far only one has no end owner in mind - the rest are to go to friends's of T or children of my friends.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

happy father's day

T helped me give D breakfast in bed yesterday as D is working today. Strawberries, toast and tea. And T gave D a card with glitter fish on it, that he made in preschool. T already told D a few days ago that he would give him a card and a present today but he didn't know what the present was as I hadn't shown him!

hanging out and playing with trucks

Later today I'll get to watch my guys together - they are so much alike it's funny sometimes.

Monday, June 14, 2010

to the lighthouse

With apologies to Virginia Woolf.

Although the rain is tap, tap, tapping against the windown panes tonight, this morning was lovely and sunny. A perfect day for a walk in the woods. And we are so lucky to have this lovely area to walk in, not too far away. So to the woods I went.

I got out my camera to take this picture

 and found this guy sitting on a log.

(I think it is a banana slug - it's huge!)

The park is surrounded by water,

so the soundtrack of a walk in the woods today was the pounding of the surf, the twitter and chirps of birds, the occasional wild wing flaps, the sound of the wind rustling the leaves and once the flapping of sails out on the water.

One of the attractions of the walk is the lighthouse

and I usually stop to climb the rocks that lead to the lighthouse viewpoint but another favorite viewpoint is Jack Pine Point.

I often stop to sit on the rocks and listen to the surf and look out across the sound. Sometimes eagles soar overhead. Along the trails, there are breathtaking views,

towering trees and a variety of flora

and fauna.

And today, after my hike, I stopped for a bite to eat just down the road from our house (in T's favorite park)

- again, we are so lucky to have this so close to us.

another mousie joins the family

T asked for a girl mouse to go with his boy mouse, so I made him one.

And here they are, together.

market supper

After a drizzly start, yesterday turned out to be a stellar day. We went to the market and found, among other goodies, local strawberries and a big bag of mixed mushrooms. So after running some errands we came home to spend the afternoon in the back yard. Lunch was bagette and cheese followed by sun warmed strawberries. T played in the dirt, making roads with his trucks and then climbed one of the trees. We kept having to go rescue him - he still has to learn the rule, if you go up, you need to make sure you can come down. Auntie Kerry came over and took T to the beach so D and I got a quiet hour in the garden with tea and the remaining strawberries. T came home covered in chocolate ice cream, soaking wet and sandy from running in the water - pure boy joy!

For supper I made French Tomato Tart from the recipe here,

I sauteed the mixed mushrooms in butter and garlic, balsamic vinegar, splash of cream and parmesan cheese

 and made a new nugget potato salad made with diced onion, grainy mustard, dill, sour cream, mayonaise, salt and pepper.

Lots of food so there are lots of leftovers for lunch today - always a bonus for me!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

tooth fairy mousie

I fell in love with some felt rabbits a while ago when I read this. The idea was so lovely, I ordered Kata Golda's book. Once I got the book, I devoured it. I love so many of the projects and can't wait to make some. And after reading about wool felt, I've been trying to find some. I'm now waiting for my first order to arrive from here. I laughed when the woman (Natalie?) said, "I have to warn you, once you start with wool felt, you can't go back". But until my order comes, hopefully next week, I've been making do with ecofelt, made from recycled beverage bottles (to ease my conscience).

I made a pin cushion

to start with and it made sense to start with something small and that would help me in future projects! So I guess that means I'll also need to make the tool kit, something D would appreciate to help me keep my things organized. My left brain organizing my craft stuff is driving his right brain self crazy!

Then I made a proto-type mouse with a tooth pocket on the front. D thinks the mouse has a sneer and consequently looks grumpy and didn't think that T would want it. I didn't agree. And when I showed it to T this morning, he loved it right away and wanted it put in his bedroom right away (his highest honour!).

I had intended this mouse to be a gift for a new baby so I'll be making more mouses soon!

Today is a drizzly day, perfect for doing felt projects. Although, yesterday was a lovely sunny day and we were able to spend most of the afternoon outside in the garden. After tending to my plants, I was able to bring my sewing outside and sit in the sunshine with my tea, creating the tooth fairy mouse.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


We ate the first strawberry out of our garden yesterday - well, our boy ate most of it and I had a little nibble. Yummy. T was so excited and wanted more strawberries. But when I gave him some of the not so local ones he wasn't impressed. (He usually loves them but they really don't compare...) Then last night I got an email from our local fruit stand to say they were going to open either on Saturday or Monday (well actually the email was from the guy running the fruit stand - I don't think the stand itself actually has email access!) So they are expecting local strawb's to be ready on the weekend - yippee!

I went to check on the progress of some other strawberries in our pot today only to discover that we have a garden thief - one half eaten green fruit lay on the paving stones and bare stalks indicate that the couple of berries that were close to ripe yesterday have been stolen. Slug? Squirrel? Cat? Racoon? Small boy? All are possibilities...I will have to monitor.

As a side note, we had roasted yam pierogi for supper tonight. They are so tender they fell apart in the bowl but they were pretty good served with carmelized onions and sour cream.

So what is ready in your garden? What are you waiting for from the market?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

lovely saturday supper

Inspiration comes from lovely places. I've been thinking of the lovely honeymoon week we spent in Provence and was inspired by several blogs to create a french inspired menu last night. I served sliced radishes because I loved this post, cooked this chicken recipe using green onion instead of shallots (what was in the fridge), served with roast pesto potatoes - these potatoes tossed with sundried tomato and arugula pesto from the market and zuccini moons, zuccini slices sauted with a bit of butter, water, salt and pepper with parmesan cheese added just before serving, the recipe is in this book. And for dessert I made grape sorbet from our grape concentrate inspired by this. It was delicious.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

stuffed eggplant

A couple of weekends ago, our boy and I went on a little hike and talk on the "edible forest" given by our local ecology center. We woke up to pouring rain that day, which I remember being very surprised at, considering the forecast had called for sunshine. But after a quick trip to the market, off we set for the ecology center. T was quite certain we couldn't hike in the rain (he's such a fairweather boy!). But after a few minutes looking around the center (T fell in love with a large diorama of the forest which depicted many trucks (in farming, logging and quarry applications) and after pressing all the buttons, setting off bear noises and the like on the wildlife display, off we went with our group for a walk and talk in the rain. Along the way through the canyon we learned about the salmonberry and thimbleberry, the western hemlock and red cedar, the oregon grape and the licorice fern. T was being his annoying 4 year old self, humming loudly and saying " my legs are too tired, I want to go home", in between "I'm bored". But we completed the walk and afterwards went for tea and apple juice and then went on to Auntie Kerry's. She had asked D to come over and see her lawnmower and possibly fix it. T and I went along to play and afterwards we were all going out for a greek dinner at the restaurant just up the street. D managed to fix the lawnmower and while Auntie K took our boy to the park to play ball, we cut the grass in their small back yard. And then we all trooped up the hill for an early greek dinner. We were the only diners in the restaurant for a while and T did some kind of crazy Greek/Kung Fu style dancing while we were waiting for our food. Kerry choose a dish from the vegetarian options that I'd never heard of before - on the menu as Imam Balti - stuffed eggplant. It looked delicious so I googled it a few days later with an idea to try it at home.

I discovered it had many different names - usually Imam Bayildi or fainting cleric, with some stories of a holy man fainting because the dish tasted so good or alternatively, because so much olive oil was used in making the dish.

So I bought 4 small eggplants from the local farm market and gave it a try. First I roasted the eggplants, then I cut them in half, scraped out the flesh and diced it. I sauted the eggplant with 1/4 of a large diced onion,  plus three chopped tomatoes, 1 diced red pepper and ~ 1/4 cup of crumbled feta. I added some quartered green olives, oregano, lemon juice and zest to the mix once the vegetables were soft. Then I added the filling into the eggplant shells and baked for 30 minutes at 350 deg F.

I served it alongside some roasted red potatoes, with garlic and lemon.

The filling was delicious but I found the eggplant shells tough so next time I think I would soften them a bit by rubbing a bit of olive oil on them before roasting them.