Category: farmers market

Souperbowl

I like football. This is surprising because I generally hate watching sports on teevee. I don’t know if its the tight-ends or the hairless arms, but football is a-okay in my books. Every Sunday, we dress baby Otis in his football onesie and have football family time. My friends love a good ol’ fashioned food competition, so I thought, why not host a soup competition for superbowl. Get it, Soup-erbowl. Turns out I’m not that genius and grantland hosted the king of all head-to-head souperbowl competitions online days after I had sent out my invite.

Superbowl custom dictates chili eating, so I decided to forgo the opportunity for soup supremacy and take myself out of the running by making a venison chili with skillet cornbread. I used up some of my black beans (thus continuing to fulfill my new years resolution) and used some fantastic Deer Valley venison from the Brickworks market. I wanted to be on theme, so I made Brooklyn based Baked’s tomato soup cupcakes with mascarpone icing. The batter was a horrifying shade of orange from two whole cans of tomato soup,  the finished cupcakes were…Mmmm wow…unexpected…moist, spicy, tomatoey – genius!

Our friends are so impressive – almost everyone brought soup, with garnishes! Fancypantses. There was a creamy cold “tailgate” vichyssoise with croutons and a perfectly soft boiled egg from Ferran Adria’s new home-cooking book, a parsnip soup with toasted mustard seeds and parsnip chips, and a 101 cookbooks cheddar broccoli soup with crispy croutons.  We each tried the soups and had a secret ballot drawing at half-time – the winner by a landslide was the “tailgate” vichyssoise, oh and that creepy slackline dancer.

Skillet Cornbread (makes one skillet)

1 cup All-Purpose flour
1 cup old cheddar
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1) Preheat oven to 400F. Grease seasoned cast-iron with shortening.
2) Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, cheddar and salt in a bowl.
3)Combine wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients until just combined.
4) Place empty cast-iron pan in heated oven for 5 minutes.
5) Remove and pour batter into pan.
6) Bake for 25 minutes, let stand 15 minutes before serving.

*I like to top cornbread when it comes out of the oven with a maple syrup butter  sometimes. You know, to gild the lily.

a little help from the little guy

Ping!


This is the fruit of my Summer labour (of love). Over 125 jars put-up for the off-season. Although, there really isn’t an off season for preserving. I plan on making winter meyer lemon preserves, seville orange marmalade and winter squash pickles. I am addicted to the Ping! That wonderful noise that confirms your bounty will be air tight and sealed until eaten. The ping is victory! I wait in the kitchen expectantly for the ping. When I don’t get a chance to hear it,  I tap the lids gently the next day to hear the telltale tinny hollow noise that confirms the seal. I had only one jar this Summer that didn’t seal properly, a jar of tomatillo salsa that is being eaten quickly from the safety of my refrigerator. My adventures is farmers market sourcing and preserving this Summer have been beyond rewarding. Why buy ketchup or relish when I could make it myself? 

I went on a day-trip to the St. Jacobs Farmers Market. The rain was treacherous, but I was willing to tough it out in order to buy beautiful turban squash, ontario garlic, leeks, grassfed beef, farm fresh eggs, unpasteurized apple cider, blueberry honey and my first brussel sprouts of the season. Compared to the markets in the city, the vendors at this market had a lot of bulk bushels of just about everything available. The canner in me was ecstatic. I saw a roma tomatoes and had to have them. I bought just about 70 lbs of roma tomatoes to can. The great tomato canning of 2010 was about to begin. The lengthy process of blanching, peeling, hot water packing and 45 minute water bath made me hope and pray to hear the Ping! at the end. They pinged and I rejoiced. 


Busy, Busy, Busy.

I have been busy. I just started my new job. I soon hope to fall into a more normal routine that includes going to work AND making delicious dinners, preserving, walking my dog and blogging. For now, I need a few weeks to get used to the daily grind.


At work, I have been busy making agnolotti dal plin*:



At home, I have been busy pickling asparagus….



And pickling garlic scapes…




And pickling a carrot onion sandwich slaw….

And, I won’t lie and admit I succumbed to buying another 7 litre bushel of sweet cherries from the market. I’m thinking they might need a good pickling. Pickled cherries are supposed to be delicious. We’ll see!


Jammin’

The Brickworks Saturday farmers market is quickly becoming my favourite place in the city of Toronto. I have eaten the best belgian waffle of my life from the waffle bar, drank delicious coffee from the merchants of green coffee, bought beautiful tomato plants from the Evergreen garden centre and snacked on the most rich and delicious chili chocolate from Chocosol. The Brickworks is our new Saturday morning routine. 


Early summer produce is now getting to market and I am fulfilling my life-long goal (yes, big dreams, big dreams) to preserve my own food. When I was a kid, my dad always preserved pickles, tomato sauce and salsa, and I have vague memories of the process but hadn’t made anything other than freezer jam since that time. I visited family in Prince Edward Island and was inspired by my great-aunt’s cold cellar and the amazing jarred tomato soup she served for lunch made of tomatoes when they were at their ripest and most delicious. What a pleasure it was to taste a summer tomato soup when it was still cold outside. 

The Dunes in Prince Edward Island

I started with strawberries. I bought a flat of the ripest strawberries from the market and made 9 jars of jam. Alongside this, I made a strawberry rhubarb jam that is far more strawberry than rhubarb. The jam itself is extremely sweet, far too much sugar in the recipe, but live and learn, live and learn. Preserving, or “putting up” is a forgotten skill. Many of our grandparents preserved out of necessity, so that they had food in the leaner times of the year, we don’t need to do this anymore. We can visit the grocery store and have strawberries, albeit, watery, gross and impotent ones, all year round. Preserving the flavours of fresh food while it is at its best and reducing my dependence on the grocery store is important to me. 

And I love new obsessions. This is one of them. 

Campo de’ Fiori

In Italy I had many technical glitches. It seemed most electronic devices I touched stopped working in one way or another. The first of a string of electronic mishaps was when my precious life-line of a laptop died, the day before I left the safety of ALMA, my Italian cooking school, into the remote countryside of Piacenza. Until I arrived in Bilegno (lets not forget – population 70), I had no idea how much I needed the laptop. Luckily, my roommate and co-worker, Sara, let me borrow her laptop while I was there. What an angel.

One of the great tragedies of the laptop debacle was that I had just transferred thousands of photos from my time at ALMA where we went on the most unbelievable field trips. Today, I got the photos off my old laptop and thought over the coming weeks I should share some of my adventures on this blog, like I would have if I had access to them when I was in Italy.

It’s no surprise I went to many markets when I was in Italy. I took pictures at some of them, while others will be remembered fondly and revisited again. The Campo de’ Fiori is in Rome, near Piazza Navona, a famous piazza that is home to a beautiful Neptune fountain and a fun Christmas market. The Campo de’ Fiori has an interesting history (doesn’t all of Italy!?!), it once was a place of brutal punishment. There is an extremely foreboding statue in the centre looking over the market. The statue is of the philosopher Giordano Bruno, who was deemed a threat to the church and burned alive. The statue is in the exact place of his death. Creeeepy.

And now, the Campo de’ Fiori is filled with a market every morning of the most gorgeous produce, puntarelle, raddichio, artichokes – anything you could imagine. We arrived when the market was closing for the day so we saw the quick clean-up with the tiny little pick-up trucks that seem to be everywhere.

We ate some tasty pizza bianco at Forno Campo de’ Fiori, a bustling bakery busy with hungry locals looking for an afternoon snack. Rome is where the heart is.













Bunches of Basil

What do you do when the friendly farmers market boy gives you three bunches of beautiful basil for the price of one? You make pesto. Emerald green pesto. Now, I love basil but the overpowering smell that emanates from cleaning and tearing the leaves has me feeling queasy. To combat the smell of basil, I started to clean the even bigger bunch of cilantro I got from the farmers market. I love the crisp clean lemony smell of cilantro. Five years ago I hated cilantro (and most things, really) and now I could eat it at every meal. Funny how tastes change. My plan for the cilantro is to make a chimichurri, tomorrow.

My first pesto. My first post.

I grated the Parmigiano Reggiano, minced the garlic, and blanched the basil. While toasting the (expensive!) pine-nuts, I started to write this post. The familiar smell of burnt wafted from the kitchen. oops! I burnt the pine-nuts! They weren’t salvagable, so I started over again. A quick pulse or seven in my small, but mighty red cusinart processor and voila! pesto! Tomorrow I’m having a kitchen phobic friend for dinner, so I think we’ll use the pesto in some homemade panzerottos.