Tangy and Tasty…For Two!

This weekend we were treated to above-normal temperatures, and found an abundance of locally-grown greenhouse greens at the market. It put us in a salad sort of mood.

While some ingredients aren’t local, we have tried to strike a balance.

For two: 

In a large salad bowl, combine:

Zest and juice of one lemon

15ml/1T oil

10ml/2t Dijon mustard

(Did you know Canada was a world-leading producer of mustard seeds?)


1l/4c washed mini greens and herbs (parsley in our case)

1 diced avocado

1 diced zucchini 

2 cherry tomatoes

90g/3oz diced goat cheese 

Toss lightly and enjoy!

Grainy Goodness…

I bought some farro a couple of weeks ago for a recipe, so when I went casting about for ideas to use more of it, I came across this great recipe from Jamie Oliver. It’s the perfect sort of thing to make on a lazy weekend – it takes an hour or two, but with lots of breaks for reading or tv watching…

It makes large servings, so could easily feed more for a potluck. Also, we decided to leave our veg much chunkier than in the original photo. Can’t wait to make it again in summer, with grilled veggies instead.

On Top of Old Smokey…

We were in California this week, where roadside stands were selling avocados ten for a dollar. (Grapefruit, too!) With the skyrocketing price of produce here in Canada, this is hard to even imagine.

Friends know I am a keen “eat local, make it yourself” advocate. So I’m not going to buy a Brussels sprout that has travelled halfway across the continent when we grow them right here. On the other hand, I have no illusions that the world is going to give up coffee, tea, or spices. So today, I propose a delicious compromise.

On top of a slice of homemade wheat bread, toasted (Canada is a huge provider of wheat to the world), some locally-made Kozlik’s Old Smokey mustard. Then, an avocado (yes, even at $1.29 each, one makes two affordable breakfasts). Finally, local eggs, nicely poached. 

That’s a compromise I can live with!


Now what???

We arrived home Tuesday night from beautiful San Francisco, after an exciting week of learning, volunteering to practice our skills, sightseeing, and eating and drinking lots of delicious food and wine. It was snow, rain, and freezing rain all around us when we woke up. Back to reality with a thump!

We’re pretty grateful de such opportunities – and to be back home – so no complaints. The fridge was pretty bare. We did hav lots of carrots, and some ginger and apples. There’s always a stock of broth on hand (pardon the pun). So before rushing out to shop, I considered what was at hand. Plenty of fixings for a tasty carrot soup. While I got ready for work, I chopped and roasted three large carrots at 400F with a quartered apple, a little walnut oil and some maple syrup (about a tablespoon or 15ml of each). It doesn’t matter if they are fully cooked – they’ll finish off in the soup. 

When you’re ready for soup, bring the carrots to the boil in a litre (4c) of water with 2 or 3 coin-sized pieces of fresh, peeled ginger. When the carrots are soft, purée the lot with an immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender. Add 2 cups of cooked chickpeas (or one can, drained) and stir over low heat, just until hot enough to eat. 

Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dollop of fat free yogurt, or some fresh chopped herbs.

Oh, cheese!

This is not a good post for you if you are one of my vegan or non-dairy friends. We are still in cleanup mode prior to doing a spring refresh on cupboards and fridge – one of many steps of renewal we take during Lent. Right now I am targeting cheese. 

Following a busy holiday season I’ve realized we were giving safe harbour to far too much cheese. I’m willing to eat cheese, but it does contain a large amount of fat – and so should be eaten sparingly, if at all. Since we are also frugal eaters and shoppers, though, I see no sense in throwing away perfectly good food. Better to eat it up and then simply cut down or stop our purchases.

Hence, today’s lunch was more tasty lentil pasta, tossed with sage, celery, and a creamy cheese sauce. No packaged macaroni dinners for us, when in the time it takes to cook the pasta, one can make a tasty sauce:

In a nonstick or smooth, easy to clean pan, melt 2 T (30ml) butter and stir in 2 chopped stalks of celery and a few chopped herbs – we had sage left over from another dish. 

Sprinkle in 1-2 T (40ml) white flour and stir until it sort of coats everything but doesn’t brown. Add 1/2c (125ml) milk (1% for us but even skim will do as cheese provides more than enough fat). Then add grated cheese – max 2 oz or 60 g per person. Stir over low heat until the sauce bubbles, then mix in your cooked pasta. Serve with a grind of pepper or some freshly grated nutmeg.


Something from nothing…

The fridge is starting to look a little bare as we get ready for a cleanup and refresh. Whether it’s because you’re going away, there’s a change of season, or your cupboards and fridge just need a good sorting, it helps cut down on waste if you take one day a week to cook just with what’s on hand. 

Here’s what I saw that needed to be used:

3 homemade sourdough buckwheat buns – I keep these in the freezer because with whole grains and no preservatives they spoil easily.

Sundried tomatoes in oil – bought for a recipe; I prefer the dry-packed, as they keep longer without electricity.

Green olives – good for martinis but alas, we are out of gin.

A can of tuna in water.

Kozlik’s Tripke Crunch mustard, which I love but which has, of late, been ignored in favour of Old Smokey.

Some cheese bought “off list” on last week’s market excursion and needing to be finished off.

I chopped the tomatoes and olives, mixed with the tuna and mustard, and spread this on the buns (sliced in half). Next I grated the cheese and put it on top, popping under the broiler just until melt-y.

That’s it! Another weekend use-it-up assignment complete:


Grammy's Onion Pork Chops – 2016 Style


It starts with some simple sliced onions – in this case a yellow onion, but any colour or type will do. For two, we used half a very large onion.

These are browned in a pan with some olive oil (Grammy would have used butter, but it’s much more inclined to burn).


Don’t be afraid to use a regular (not non-stick) pan – it will give much better colour to the dish. Cook the onion until it is a little more caramelized than these, then add the pork chops. We bought the onion and the chops from our local butcher, Mark, at St. Jamestown Steak and Chops. We don’t eat much meat any more, so when we do, we like to make sure it’s good quality.


Raise the heat a bit, and brown the chops on both sides. When they have some good colour, and the bits in the bottom of your pan are turning a nice brown, deglaze with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of wine or vermouth. We used vermouth. Grammy would have used neither. She also would have used a lot more salt, but we love the natural taste of the meat and the onions.

Next, add about 1/2 a cup of water, cover and simmer about 20 minutes over low heat – your chops will relax and become very tender.

Stir in a tablespoon or so of cornstarch that you’ve dissolved in a bit of water. Raise the heat to medium and stir, just until the juices become clear again and a delicious, oniony gravy has formed.

We served ours with mashed sweet potatoes and a simple salad of local hothouse mixed greens and cucumber, dressed with equal parts walnut oil, Kozlik’s Old Smokey, and homemade white wine vinegar.



Call them what you will, one of the best ways to stretch your grocery bill is to incorporate leftovers or things that need using up into your lunch. 

We’re off to run a couple of errands before the Super Bowl and we were smart enough not to eat the two extra lamb chops in the grocery store package (on sale last week and held in the freezer). We broiled the lot last night and sliced the leftovers for lunch. They’re served on a bed of local baby greens and cukes, both hothouse-grown.

For the dressing:

1/4 c / 60ml homemade wine vinegar

2T / 30ml olive oil

1oz / 30g crumbled feta

1T / 15ml Dijon

1T / 15ml dried oregano or basil 

6 dry-cured olives, chopped

Sprinkle on top:

1T / 15ml chopped sundried tomatoes 

Are you up for the challenge?

As the supply dwindles toward shopping day, it can be tempting to run out to the store for just an item or two. But let’s face it, most of us in the developed world have enough food in the house. I’m not talking about low-income households, who face true hardship in feeding their families. But for the rest of us, “there’s nothing to eat” often means “I’m not sure how to make a meal out of what’s in the house.” 

This year we moved back to a location where I am in walking distance of a plethora of food sources. So when I started to throw together a quick chowder for lunch, I realized I didn’t have any potatoes. I have sweet potatoes, but I have plans for those. Those of you who know me, know that not having a meal plan is an unusual situation. But did this predicament really call for desperate measures? I think not.

Hence, this classic simple chowder now features turnip (more appropriately, rutabaga, but that’s not what we called the big purple and yellow root vegetable where I’m from).  We are still working hard to choose local first, and the veg in this dish came from across the street – and before that, from farms here in our own province. We’re happy that our neighbourhood FreshCo makes an effort to clearly identify local items, and usually has a good selection of those. If you want to know what’s in season in Ontario, check out this handy guide. Many provinces and states have something similar.

Here’s the result – it was pretty tasty. What do you have on hand that you can use up to keep your grocery bill in check this week?

For two:

2 c / 500ml water

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 c diced turnip

1 onion, peeled and diced 

1 6 oz / 180 g frozen fish fillet, slightly thawed and cut in 1″ / 2.5cm pieces

1 c / 250ml 1% milk

Fresh ground pepper

Bring the vegetables to the boil in the water. Turn down and cook for 11-12 minutes on medium low heat. 

Add the fish pieces and simmer for another 7 minutes.

Stir in the milk until heated through.

Serve with a grind of fresh pepper.

And we are still eating it…

We have really been focusing on local veg this week. One thing I love to make is a big Asian-inspired slaw. Although it began with a recipe, in truth, it is this simple: 

Grate a bunch of winter veg – think celeriac, carrot, beet, turnip, cabbage. A food processor makes it  easy to do a big bowlful. Toss this with a tablespoon or so of sesame oil, some vinegar (change it up!), grated ginger and garlic – as much as you like, a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup, and some sesame seeds, any colour. Beets make an especially eye-catching mix. 

On day one we are it with poached fish. Yesterday we tucked some in our sandwich. And last night, we buried some Whitehouse Meats smoked wild boar sausage in it and baked it for half an hour at 350, covered. It was delicious with mashed blue potatoes.