Monday, September 26, 2011

by default

I'm a bit embarrased by the market riches that adorned my counter a few weeks ago.

I've written before about our farmer's market cooking competitions - this year I've participated in all of them. I did a rhubarb crumb cake for Best Cake (didn't win), Zucchini Loaf for Best Sweet Loaf (won), Banana Oatmeal Macaroons for Best Cookie (won) and a couple of weeks ago I took Summer Squash Casserole for the Best Casserole contest. I won by default as there were no other entrants. But the dish was well received. The leftovers were being guarded by the market organizer for her afternoon snack. I did get my dish towel back that I'd wrapped the casserole in to keep it warm as I dropped it off early in order to get my eggs (they sell out early in good weather - come the rain and eggs are available into the afternoon).

I'd been trying to come up with a recipe to submit for this contest and finally settled on this one after made it from the squash in my last winning market basket a few weeks prior. I found the recipe on Heidi's 101cookbooks and it is delicious. And I loved that it featured things that I routinely get from the market (cheese, parsley) and from my garden (zucchini, oregano) and my own pantry (bread). I was given a huge zucchini from a co-worker a few days before the contest and that sealed the deal.

The boy was covered in a mystery rash that morning and I was going to take him to the clinic once it opened but by the time we headed that way, the rash was getting better and the boy was vociferous in his desire to not see the doctor.

In my winning basket I received tomatoes, beets, zucchini (ironic!), eggplant, banana peppers, garlic, cherry tomatoes, a large hydrangea, strawberry preserves, pineapple salsa, a gorgeous orchid fridge magnet, two huge cinnamon buns, some coconut snack bites and a bunch of pickling cucumbers.

Summer Squash Casserole (adapted from 101cookbooks)
zest of one lemon
1 1/2 pounds summer squash or zucchini, cut into 1/6th-inch slices
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups fresh whole bread crumbs
1/2 pound waxy potatoes, sliced transparently thin
3/4 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese, grated on a box grater

Preheat oven to 400F degrees and place a rack in the middle. Rub a 9x9 pan with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with lemon zest, and set aside.

Place the zucchini slices into a colander placed over a sink, toss with the sea salt and set aside for 10-15 minutes (to drain a bit). Make the sauce by pureeing the oregano, parsley, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes, and olive oil in a food processor.

Make the breadcrumbs by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes until the butter is wonderfully fragrant, and has turned brown. Wait two minutes, then stir the breadcrumbs into the browned butter.

Transfer the squash to a large mixing bowl. Add the potatoes and the oregano sauce. Toss until everything is well coated. Add the cheese and half of the bread crumbs and toss again.

Transfer the squash to the lemon-zested pan, top with the remaining crumbs, and bake for somewhere between 40 and 50 minutes.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

canning weekend

So last time, I mentioned that its been a bit busy around here. And last weekend, I added more onto my plate in the interests of preserving summer. I bought a huge box of peaches, big, beautiful Okanagan peaches.

And I had plans to can the whole box. And I did. Over two days I made canned peach slices,

 peach sauce, peach jam and peach chutney. And if that wasn't enough, while the canner was boiling away, I made some tomato jam and more dill pickles. The dill pickles was a last minute addition. The ones I made about last month have been sampled and 3 quarts have been consumed already and another 2 quarts have been given away. So I panicked a bit about my dwindling stocks and with the end of summer looming, I bought 15 lbs of organic cukes and added that to my canning weekend. On Friday night, waiting for my husband to come home, I put up 5 lbs of the cukes into dill pickle spears.

The following morning I started the tomato jam before soccer

and then after soccer came the peach chutney

and canning peach slices and I started peaches in the slow cooker for sauce.

Sunday I canned the peach sauce, made peach jam and pickled 10 lbs of cukes into dill pickles. Phew! But I get an enormous sense of satisfaction from my cupboard filled with jars full of summer goodness.

Peach Sauce
8 large peaches, washed, pitted and sliced
1/4 c water

Put the peaches and water in a slow cooker and cook on low until the peaches are soft enough to go through a food mill. Process the peaches until relatively smooth. Add 1 lemon's worth of juice to the peach sauce. Pack into sterilized jars, cap and process in a canning bath for 10 minutes.

Peach Chutney (from Canadian Living)
2 tsp vegetable oil

2 c chopped onions
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes

1/4 tsp pepper
8 c sliced peaches
2-1/2 c granulated sugar
1 c golden raisins

1 c cider vinegar

In a large dutch oven, saute the onions in the oil and add the mustard seeds, ginger, cinnamon, salt, cloves, pepper flakes and pepper. Once the onions are softened, add the peaches, sugar, raisins and vinegar. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for about 1 hours, until the mixture mounds on a spoon. Pour into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/2" headspace  and seal. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

  Peach Jam (adapted from Tea and Cookies)

5 lbs diced peaches
1 lb 3 1/2 oz sugar
juice of 2 1/2 lemons

Place the peaches, sugar and lemon juice in a dutch oven. Stir to a simmer over heat until a jam state is reached, skimming off any scum that forms on the service. Pour into sterilized jars and process in a canning bath for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

so exciting

It's been a crazy busy month around here at mummy dinosaur what with our boy starting Kindergarden and me becoming a school mum. The forms alone are a killer. (and I can hear all those experienced school mums snickering). In addition in a mad moment I volunteered to be team manager for our boy's soccer team - guess what - more forms. And uniform pick-ups and hand-outs, raffle tickets to organize and snack schedules to create, etc. All amidst a very busy time at work. And of course, when life is busy what do I do - give myself even more to do but that's for another post. So into my crazy September life came a little sunshine yesterday. This wonderful book. Weekend Handmade by Kelly Wilkinson.

If you don't know Kelly, well let me tell you about her. She has a wonderful blog over at and makes all manner of wonderful things - things to eat and drink, things to wear, things for kids to play with and things to decorate your house with. And she has put lots of those things and instructions on how to make them, in this book. In the interests of fairness, I should say that I am very lucky to be vaguely related by marriage to Kelly and her wonderful sisters. She is as amazing in person as she comes across in her book - so if you are at all feeling like you should craft something, pick up this book and start crafting. I'm just trying to decide what to make first. With the rain falling tonight and the gorgeous pictures I'm feeling lots of love towards the felted flower cowl in the make section.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

starting kindergarden

The days are getting shorter and the nights are growing cooler and the leaves on my beans are turning yellow. (Just when I was starting to get more than a couple of beans at a time as well).

Last week, our boy started Kindergarden. Mummies and Daddies got to stay on the first day. The children sang (Bonjour Mes Amis) and we heard the story of Pete the Cat ("I love my white shoes" is now stuck in my head). We all got to explore the classroom which is new this year and look at the new games and toys. Our boy made a beeline for the enormous floor construction equipment puzzle. And soon enough it was time for another song (Au Revoir Mes Amis) and time to go. The first day was only 30 minutes. Our boy is attending K in French Immersion and seems to be enjoying his class and new friends and playing on the playground. After a summer of adventures, the last 5 weeks at summer camp with beach picnics, learning to skateboard, trips to Science World, the Zoo, a local Museum, a Conservatory and lots of playing in water, it is time to settle into a new routine. And a new season of kid soccer starts this week and in a few more weeks, it will be time for swimming lessons again. This time our boy will move up to Ogopogos from Sharks. He's getting the hang of swimming (and kicking) which is great. He seems to be growing up in front of our eyes. He's already a head taller than he was at the beginning of the summer.

swing spinning at the park
But some struggles still remain. He still is fairly limited in what he will eat and what he will try and eat. He still fights bedtime with every fiber of his being, although once we get him there since Kindergarden started he does fall asleep much faster. And, as he has been around older children this summer, other issues have come to the fore. There has been some retreating on behaviours that we thought were done and gone. So our reserves of patience have been stretched thin (too thin sometimes) and we find ourselves feeling awful about things we've said or ways we've reacted. But our boy keeps on going - alternatively loving and charming ("I love you forever") or frustrated (I don't want to live here anymore) or cheeky (how about we make a deal?). He certainly keeps us on our toes. And to be fair - he's mostly a lovely, funny, smart boy but he does occasionally make me wonder "who is this child?". Maybe he wonders "who is this mummy?". And we make a deal - we want him to do his best everyday and we have to do our best as well, everyday. It's only fair.