Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Littlest Wood Shop at Blim Market

Julie is an artist, gardener and woodworking diva/instructor who has started her own business. This weekend she brought her lovely wares to the Blim Market.

Goddesses on the roll for the child who has everything! Julie now has an etsy shop so you can buy her products on line. They are made right here in a shop in east Vancouver. And yes, it is tiny, I've seen it!

I love this little vintage style rocking chair pin cushion and thread holder. Julie is also a fabulous quilter and fabric artist.

The toys are finished with beeswax and Julie is making a line of toys specifically for a form of art therapy. She also has a line of wooden moustaches.

We bought a jar of beeswax wood finish. Julie says you can even use it on your hands to help with dry skin. Or you can use it to condition your wooden moustache!

Michael from Open Sesame was at the Blim Market as well and he made three kinds of byriani and all these wonderful toppings including: tamarind chutney, onions and shallots, grated carrots, sliced almonds, cilantro and mango raita.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Kale Recipe Roundup

I've had a request on more recipes featuring kale, so here is a round up of recipes that look tasty to me.

The Tea Cup Chronicles currently features a good lookin' kale salad with apple, roasted beets and caraway.

How about this kale pesto with roasted walnuts at Taste Spotting?

I want to try his hearty kale and sausage soup from the Kitchn.

This looks like a classic: spaghetti with braised kale at Bon Appetit.

Here are kale chips and kale-dusted popcorn at Smitten Kitchen.

Now my favorite kale dish is Gomen wat (Ethiopian Greens). Here is a recipe for the spiced butter Niter Kibbeh and Berbere and Awaze--spice mix and spice paste at A Hungry Bear Won't Dance. I imagine you use the butter and spice paste with to make braised spicy kale. It's the butter that makes it UNCTchewous

Let me know if you try any of these recipes!

I also encourage you to listen to the podcast of Chef Bruce Wood talking to Sheryl on NXNW on CBC about his marmalade recipe and cooking with nettles. Charming!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Drink Kale and Prosper

I've been spending time in an elementary school teaching kids about eating, planting and yes, drinking kale. Tricia Sedgewick from World in a Garden has launched an awesome "Eat More Kale" campaign. Kale. Trust me, it's gonna be big. Tricia made smoothies with the kids and told them some of the nutritional info about kale. Did you know that kale has more calcium than milk and your body absorbs it much more readily than moo juice? Did you know kale has vitamin K in it, which helps your blood clot?

Today I made a kale smoothie with coconut water, frozen blueberries, a banana and a handful of purple kale. It's Vulcan approved! Drink kale and prosper, dudes.

For Tricia's delicious vegan smoothie recipe, check out my post here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lost Childhood Foods

When I was growing up in Saskatchewan I used to go out with my dad and our dog named Lunar to the farms to deliver fuel. This is the way I'd be able to have impromptu play dates with my friends. The farm wives would hear the gas truck pull into the farm yard and they'd put the coffee on and dig out some kind of homemade treats for us. Farm wives had cupboards and freezers full of squares and cookies they could pull out at a moment's notice. Sometimes there'd be fresh baking or candy. I remember one neighbor used to make penuche, which is a delicious sweet, soft treat.

Once in a blue moon, we were served a pan of what was called "farmer's cheese." It was made in an 8 by 8 inch pan and cut into squares and it had a gelatinous "squidgy" texture that melted in your mouth. It was savory and buttery, like brie without the crust. I have never seen that cheese outside our community in Cactus Lake Sask. It may be a German treat, since most of the people who settled there were from that country. It is not the cheese many call "farmer's cheese" which is made from ricotta.

The CBC radio program called North by Northwest is doing a series on lost childhood foods, based on the success of their searches for lost childhood books. Do you have a food from childhood that you miss?

One other food I have never seen since my childhood is an ice cream treat we used to buy at the beach which was like a Revel, only in strawberry flavor with little cookie crumbs on the surface. I can't remember what it was called. I remember reaching for the ice cream and getting a shock from the cooler because I was still wet from swimming in the lake.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Last Pumpkin

We often celebrate the beginning of a season: the first asparagus spear or strawberry, but we rarely mark the end of the season. I believe the poignant process of letting go of a food should be ritualized as well. I grew a Styrian pumpkin last fall and I was so proud of my striped novelty that I couldn't bare to cut into it. It was green when I picked it and over the fall and winter months it sat calmly on my window sill developing shades of orange and gold. Whenever I looked at it it made me a happy gardener.

The point of growing it is to eat it, so I finally decided to take the plunge. I cut it up and roasted it, making two of my favorite desserts: pumpkin pie and a Gujarati pumpkin dessert. I made a walnut crust for the pumpkin pie and realized I should not have pre-baked it as it became somewhat over-browned as I cooked the custard. Nut crusts probably work better with unbaked pies anyway.

The seeds in Styrian pumpkins don't have shells and they make the best quality pumpkin oil. When we were in Vienna we found a market stall that carried several kinds and grades of pumpkin oil included roasted pumpkin seed oil which has a rich, toasted flavor.

We used to go to a restaurant in Kits called Surat Sweet. The owner was a staunch believer in cooking seasonal foods. He would only make mango lassis when mangos were in season and when fall came around he made a dessert with pumpkin and cardamom. I am imitating it here with ricotta, warm roasted pumpkin, green cardamom seeds and maple syrup. I roasted the seeds and used them for garnish. So long pumpkin season, we'll catch you again in the fall.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Valentine's Day is Over

But let the romance continue, I say. Lunch at the French Table: give me a simple seafood salad any day. I love it.

For V-Day brekkie I cooked crepes which we ate with Bergamot marmalade from Beta 5. This is flowery, but with those real bitter notes you gotta love. I don't understand their aversion to pectin.

I also cooked up some blood orange curd which has a rather weird color and texture--like uni.

I made the crepes with half buckwheat and half wheat flour.

Chocolate covered ginger from Beta 5. I found it dry and stringy. Peter liked it.

We made pork dumplings for our Valentine's supper.

Valentine's chocs from Beta 5. The color coding system did not work. I like it better when you can just choose chocolates a la carte and I prefer the dome shape they used to make. I also get tired of every filling based in ganache. Do I sound like the Valentine's grinch yet?

Ullie's charming and disturbing treat bag. Pac Man says: "wakka wakka wakka."

Marusya Bociurkiw's Book Launch and Seedy Sat.

Wow, I can hardly believe that Seedy Saturday is NEXT WEEKEND! Have you been sorting seeds these days? I've started to make some labels inspired by the full colored stickers you see above designed by Mary Woodin.

Also, next week:

"Feeling Canadian: Television, Nationalism and Affect"

"How did a beer ad become a national anthem? When did the Olympic
opening ceremonies become an advertisement for national superiority?'

Come and hear author Marusya Bociurkiw read from from her new book and
join in the discussion.

7:30 PM (come for dinner first)
RHIZOME CAFE, 317 E Broadway, Vancouver (across from Kingsgate Mall)

Free admission; books for sale

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

V-Day Blooms

A fireman in orange overalls laughs easily in the back of a fire trick returning from a false alarm. 8:40 a.m.

Good choice! How's your sandwich? More iced tea? 12:15 pm

The harpists tune their strings. 1:40 pm

harp. siren. harp. 2 pm

I see her grey curly head in the window of her painting studio. 2:13 pm

A pot of knobby Solomon seal roots appear on the steps. 2:15 pm

Monday, February 13, 2012

Occupy Valentine's Day

Seven years ago Federico Hewson started the Valentine Peace Project, hijacking the "day for lovers" and making it a day for peace. What a great way to transform a Halmark Holiday! I love the poster on one of the photos on his website that says: "Compassion is the new currency." Federico helps inspire children to write peace poems, attach them to flowers and hand them out to people on the street. What are some of your ideas for "hacking" this holiday?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Seasonal Snapshot

The aroma of sarcococca is overwhelming as a city worker in an orange jumpsuit yawns and uses the tip of his pickaxe to open the manhole. As if there was a garden under the city full of fragrant blooms we don't know about--the perfume a blend of roses and hyacinths.

The grey sky creates a restlessnes in me as I open the curtains repeatedly, obsessively waiting for change.

Snowdrops are blooming in traffic circles.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lemon Curd, Where Have You Been All My Life?

One of my art professors in Saskatoon took our class out to her place in the country to fire some clay sculptures in a pit. I don't remember much about the art, but I do have a fond recollection of the amazing jars of her own homemade lemon curd she generously shared with us over afternoon tea.

I do love tarts filled with lemon curd, but I've never made it myself because of the fear of overdosing on cholesterol-laden egg yolks. Today I decided to get over that fear of egg yolks and make Meyer lemon curd, as directed by David Lebovitz. I used extra large eggs with bright orange yolks from the winter farmer's market. I used 1/2 cup of brown sugar, since we don't have any white sugar on hand and it worked well. Really well. And it's so simple to make! Trust me, when you taste that buttery rich tang, you will never turn back. Mixed with low fat Liberty yogurt, it is a spine tingling pleasure. Tonight for dessert I will make whipped cream for the boys and fold in the curd. Tomorrow I will make lime curd, maybe infuse in some kaffir lime leaves. The next day I will make blood orange curd and whisk in a bit of peel. Calamansi, grapefruit, yuzu, tangerine--the possibilities are making me very excited. And pairing these curds with scones and tea is going to make me as happy as sunshine in February.

Tonight I made fresh scones, whipped up some cream and stirred in lemon curd. Put a dollop of curd on top of the whipped cream mixture on a warm scone and you will see the light.

Spring flowers are on sale now: primulas, tulips, and pussy willows, oh my!

Lunch at Home

A bowl of homemade chicken soup for lunch at home because it's a school holiday. The sun streams through the windows and I am compelled to putter around the kitchen.

For a special treat: enchiladas made by Catherine with beans and smoked turkey legs. The pepitas are from my own Styrian pumpkin which contains seeds without husks.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

DIY Sushi Party

Last night Peter's sister invited us over to make sushi. We headed to the winter market at Nat Bailey where we had four fish vendors to choose from and we picked up some tuna and salmon.

We could choose brown rice or white rice and an assortment of vegetables. It takes some practice smearing and rolling, but what a cool way to make sushi to order.

This is also a great way for kids to get some hands on experience making their own dinner.

The rolling mats are inexpensive and the nori is quite easy to find in Vancouver.

Ules found the warm rice disconcerting so next time we'll pop it in the fridge ahead of time.

Make sure you leave space at the top and bottom of the roll so it will stick together.

I'm sure there are billions of "how to" videos on homemade sushi. So go for it!

Au Pear

I've been having some lovely breakfasts lately: homemade applesauce on yogurt with maple sugar walnuts, pumpkin with maple syrup on ricotta, and pears poached with cinnamon and cardamom on yogurt and ricotta.

Some days however, I really need a treat or two for elevenses and these blood orange sticky buns from Coco et Olive hit the spot. In fact, I went first thing this morning to see if they had baked more of them, but no such luck. Coffee shop baking is a fickle mistress on Main Street, which is probably a good thing in my case.

Signs are spring are arriving in the 'hood. My neighbor informs me the pine siskins are returning. She also says the chickadees have been pulling the cardboard tubes out of her mason bee house and feasting on the larva. This is why the "predator guard" was invented. It allows the bees to escape when they hatch in the spring, but keeps hungry chickadees at bay.