Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

The Not-So Normal Birthday Carrot Cake

My Dad had a big day a couple weeks ago.  He turned 65, retired and moved all in one day. Somehow, my sister, mother and I had failed to foresee this day coming and we had nothing planned in terms of celebration besides knowing that we’d go out for dinner.  So, I took the Friday afternoon off (from what you may ask? hah. I keep busy) and made a cake.  My sister requested “no funny business” and “just do something normal for once Kim”.  And so I truthfully set out to do just that, to make a normal, white flour and white sugar Birthday cake.  I don’t know what happened along the way, or how it ended up being sugar free…..and whole wheat…..with raw cashew icing.  My eco/health conscience is so strong I think I lose friends because of it sometimes…..tough go for my family, they can’t unfriend me.  hah.

I merged 2 recipes into one for this one and I’m quite proud of the esthetics of it all.  I don’t know where I got the idea for using dried mango to cut little carrot triangles out of, but it must have been a brilliant post somewhere.  I came across the little green christmas tree candies at the Bulk Barn and voila! Carrots.  The Bulk Barn apparently only sells candy corn (those awful candies that look like carrots) around Halloween, and I’m glad that’s the case because it forced me to get creative.  Why carrot cake?  I don’t really know.  I just know that we have killed my dad with Chocolate over the years, he doesn’t like things too sweet and I think he likes muffins. Solution: carrot cake, naturally.

I set out to find a winning carrot cake recipe, but in that search came across a winning recipe that happened to be sugar free and whole wheat.

http://sweetandnatural.wordpress.com/2008/12/31/yogurt-glazed-carrot-cake/

It uses a lot of agave nectar and I even threw in a handful of raisins, so I figured it would be sweet.  The yogurt glaze from the recipe wasn’t quite enough for me to decorate with, so I put it in the middle layer of the cake and then iced the top with a thick layer of raw cashew icing.

Check it out, home-grown carrots for this special man’s birthday cake! That odd shaped orange thing on the bottom left of the cutting board is a carrot that got super stumped by the clay-pack at the bottom of our raised beds so it grew a lil’ round.

And you mix it all together….. (I had a hard time believing that this would turn out to be a cake…it was very carrotty)

But, after 30 min in the oven: amazing, cake!  Icing with the cashew icing was awesome and easy.  It is the perfect consistency to stick around and be thick and yummy.

And tadaa!  Not bad for an amateur if you ask me!  The “Definitely past half way” is an inside joke, but look at those dried mango carrots! They were my favourite thing about the cake.

And even though they knew it was healthy, they all loved it.  To be honest, getting my father to eat some pure food and giving my diabetic-in-denial mother a treat without the sugar high is more important to me than buying their love with refined sugar and white flour.  And they ate it all!  Mission complete.

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My First Canning Project – Ketchup!

Like many first-year gardeners, I have way too many tomatoes.  And not only that, but I even bought some more tomatoes from my friend John! Ridiculous, I know.  I must have had about 50-75lbs of tomatoes in the kitchen sorted into baskets and buckets and bowls according to their level of ripeness.  After 3 rounds of pasta sauce, 2 rounds of raw pasta sauce and many tomato sandwiches, I decided to tackle a real tomato project – KETCHUP!  I rarely eat the stuff, but when I roast potatoes or we have scrambled eggs, that sugar and sodium laced condiment just screams to land on my plate.  So now, I am happy to say that I have an all natural, mostly organic (save for the red wine vinegar, pepper and ginger) ketchup.  Thanks to Fig and Lime Cordial for the recipe! It was the best and easiest one I could find on the internet.  I love the roasted tomato flavour.

http://figjamandlimecordial.com/2010/11/03/roasted-omato-ketchup/

I made a few changes because I made A LOT more than this recipe.  To be exact, I made 5x the recipe.  Rather than weighing the tomatoes at the start, I just used as many as I could stand to work through and then measured the passata based on the size of my pot when I had pushed all the roasted tomatoes through the sieve.  I substituted a combination of red wine vinegar, balsamic and apple cider vinegar for the white wine vinegar just for a little fun and I read in another recipe that this make the flavour very robust.  Fancy schmancy.  Besides that, the only difference for me is that it took probably about 3 hours to boil it down to a thickness that I was satisfied with, it probably could have gone for another hour or 2.   I actually stuck the whole pot in the fridge once it was cooled because I wasn’t ready to can it until the next day when I had the jars and another big pot to process in.  Which I think is ok because I heated it up again to a boil before canning it.

Voila! And without even asking for victims to taste test, I came home from teaching a lovely yoga class to Dylan’s expression that my ketchup is amazing!  yay!

Rice, we’re over. Cavena Nuda Je t’aime.

I confess – we eat rice.

Rice straight from the Bulk Barn.  Not straight from the rice fields, but from the truck that travels thousands of miles from the port in the US where it met the tanker that had crossed the ocean after it met more trucks in the harbour where it came from.  Straight from unsustainably managed rice fields somewhere out there where a farmer is just trying to feed his family.  Even worse, we love white rice.  Sticky white basmati rice.  While I keep a supply of what is touted as a healthier choice, brown basmati, on hand also, neither are remotely local and if I want organic, I’m bound to buying some form of plastic packaging.

With (purchasing) power comes great responsibility.

For the most part, I’ve played the ignorant card when buying rice, justifying it because well, everyone else eats it and if I have things on hand that Dylan enjoys, such as rice, he’s less likely to say “Pita Pit?” when brainstorming dinner ideas.  But rice, you’ve been replaced (it may be more of a gradual phasing out, and I make no claim to perfection).  Welcome Cavena Nuda. Je t’aime.  I first found you in the bulk barn flyer, labelled “New! Rice of the Prairies” and the possibility of a rice from Canada made me have to try you!   A “hull-less” oat that cooks just like brown rice, cavena nuda is a nutty grain that cooks al dente and is amazing in many dishes because it holds up very well.  I may be late for the cavena nuda train because apparently it was on Dragon’s Den, but I bet there are many people out there who have yet to hear about it.  I can’t remember all the ways that I’ve used it, but the other night I added some garlic scape pesto, basil, steamed beans (all from the garden), and some canned Ontario tomatoes and wow!

Here’s another fresh spring meal that we had, pretty much simple rice (eek) pasta with a simple home-made sauce of garlic, onions and canned tomatoes, made so fresh with herbs from the garden!

And here are our watermelon radishes that have been great additions to potato salads, beet salads and sandwiches…

Having vegetables right in our backyard has been the highlight of my summer!  No more ethical dilemmas at the grocery store, no more debates at farmer’s markets and lots more fresh, local, organic veggies!

Garlic Scape Pesto

Desperate to cook with something from our garden, I decided I would make use of our only crop of a decent size at the moment – garlic scapes.  Since I just learned what scapes were last year, I can imagine there are some people out there who also don’t know (ahem *city folk* cough cough).  Well, they are the first shoot that comes from garlic that had been planted the previous fall.  Yes, you must plant garlic 3 whole seasons ahead of time before you can harvest the bulbs in the summer.  So, at least we get garlic scapes in June – that taste just like garlic and can be used kind of like green onions – otherwise I’m sure some of us would get anxious and pull up our garlic too early (I’m dying to know how big those bulbs are under the soil). It is also essential to cut the scapes before the flower blossoms, to keep the plant’s energy going into making your garlic bulb nice and plump.  I got the idea for pesto from Stacie at the Kimberley General Store (who is always full of great local food ideas).  One of our first garden recipes!

I started out processing just olive oil and scapes, a la pesto style, until I lifted the lid of the food processor and got hit by a wall of garlic.  In a desperate attempt to cut the overpowering and overstimulating effect of garlic, I added some parsley, basil, ginger, parmesan and honey.  I don’t know if you could taste any of these other flavours, but it didn’t matter because it was delish, and also because now all I can taste is garlic still.  I bet some lemon would be a great addition also.  Even though Dylan says he will taste it for days, it was sooo good while we were eating it.

(I couldn’t get this first photo to flip properly, so please turn your head to the right to view the beautiful garlic scapes).

All in the food processor…

Mixed up with some brown rice pasta (or pasta of your choice), some salt and pepper and voila!



Mujadara

I picked up some Canadian grown french lentils at the 100 Mile Market last week and wanted to put them to proper use.  Before I tell you about Mujadara, I will share that according to pulsecanada.com, Canada is the largest exporter of lentils and peas, and I have a hard time finding Canadian grown lentils and peas.  On top of that, apparently Ontario has a huge kidney bean crop, yet any dried or canned bean I source is “prepared for x company”, making it obvious that the beans are not from around here. sigh. Another symptom of a system gone wrong.

Anyhow, on a lighter note, this dish was super cheap, easy and made for scrumptious leftovers!  Stamped and approved by the carnivore of the house too.  He was very full after the meal and was pleased and surprised by it.  We didn’t have onions when I came across it, and I almost was going to try it without them.  That would’ve been a terrible mistake. The caramelized onions are absolutely essential!  They make every bit perfectly well rounded with their smoky and sweet flavour.  Let me know if you try it out (especially because it can be likely made “locally” in many global places!…fyi: It’s a middle eastern dish).

Recipe and photo credit: http://desertcandy.blogspot.com/2009/08/mujadara.html

Mujadara

2 large sweet white onions, thinly sliced
2 tbl butter
2 tbl vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups brown or green lentils (not red lentils or french lentils!)
2 cups long grain white rice
3-4 cardamom pods
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
splash of good olive oil
optional: plain thick yogurt for serving

1. Melt the butter along with the oil and a pinch of salt in your largest skillet, and add the onions. Set heat on medium-low and stir occasionally until very soft, about 30 minutes. Turn heat to medium high and keep cooking and stirring often until deeply browned and sweet, another 20 minutes or more. Deglaze the pan with a splash of water (or more untraditionally white wine), stir and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, cook the rice and lentils separately according to the package directions. Add the cardamom pods to the rice pot while cooking, then discard when done. The lentils should be tender but not smushy or soupy, they should retain their shape.

3. Combine rice, lentils, half the caramelized onions, cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper in a large pot. Add about half a cup of water and the olive oil and heat everything together until fragrent, warm and combined.

4. Place mujadara in serving dish. Scatter remaining caramelized onions over top. You can also decorate with some toasted pine nuts or chopped parsley. Serve, with plain thick yogurt on the side if desired.

Parsnip and Red Fife Bread

This recipe, originally from a CBC article, worked really well!  Like 100% better than anything I’ve tried to hide red fife flour in.  It turned out rather like muffins, so like any good home-made muffin, slap some butter on it and mmm.  Next time I would add raisins, or maybe even a blend of carrots and parsnips, and I’m planning to splurge on some cardamom.  I don’t know Evelyn – but thank you!

Evelyn’s Parsnip Red Fife quick bread:
Yield: 2 9×4 loaves

Ingredients:
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup kefir or yogurt, full-fat
2 1/2 c. Red fife whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cup finely shredded parsnips
8 T melted unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350F.

Butter and flour two loaf pans
In a large bowl, add eggs, sugar, kefir and mix well. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl and add to the egg mixture. Stir in the parsnips and melted butter.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until loaf starts to pull away from the pan and feels firm to touch.

Wild Leek and Mushroom Risotto

Since everyone has been asking what we did with the Wild leeks we picked (ya right), we made Risotto!  The recipe was found here: http://convivial.blogs.com/my_weblog/2004/04/wild_mushroomle.html

We used about 20 wild leeks – the white stem and the leaves – in place of one leek.  We couldn’t find any fresh thyme that wasn’t packaged from Chile, so we opted out of the thyme and the parmesan cheese, and garnished with some more chopped leek leaves – it was lovely.

Here are some photos documenting the process!  It was delicious, simple and rewarding!  This made enough for 2 meals for 2. (First we had it with steak, the next day we had it with rainbow trout – both 100 Mile Market treats)