No Skipping Allowed!

Breakfast: for me, it’s still the most important meal of the day. I know there are plenty of trends promoting fasting, or other approaches to weight loss or maintenance, but for me, exercise and breakfast are “must-haves” for a good start to any day. And it’s more about feeling great and having lots of energy to face life’s challenges, than about weight.

Our breakfast rotation doesn’t vary a whole lot – all year, one of the options is a smoothie; in winter, another is oatmeal (granola in warmer weather), and occasionally an egg (with or without leftover pizza). This particular version features one of my favourite smoothie ingredients: a beet. Along with that, there was a carrot, some kale, ginger, cinnamon, a few berries, sunflower seeds and soy milk. Creamy, delicious, and fast!

What’s in your fridge? Autumn Veggie Melts

I’m a big meal-planning fan, but life can sometimes interfere. Last-minute engagements, ingredients that come in packages larger than the meal plan needs, and special one-time deals all can impact the inventory and leave you with stuff in the fridge that needs to be used. Here’s what I made with what was on hand, for today’s lunch.

I took some whole wheat and spelt raisin cinnamon sourdough, made this week:

img_64941That’s some Dijon mustard on there, from Kozlik’s.

Then I mashed an avocado with some lime, and put it on as well:

img_6495While I was doing this, I moved an oven rack up and set the oven to broil. My trusty assistant put some parchment on a cookie sheet for me – this gets messy.

img_64961The avocado is not only tasty but it helps the veggies stick to the melt. Grate up some leftover veg, or chop. I had some grated carrot and beet.

img_64971Then I topped that with some part-skim mozza (again, what cheese have you? Use that.)

Under the broiler it goes until bubbly and golden. That’s it. Tasty veg, healthy fats, and a little decadent cheese. You could absolutely use a melting vegan cheese, if you prefer.

Eat it up!


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.

Feast for a winter's day…


We spent a chilly morning remembering the Halifax Explosion and firefighters at the Line of Duty ceremony this morning. Traditions help us remember where we’ve come from and appreciate where we are going.

Food is another way we connect to our world – today we are having a smorgasbord of flavours – some old, some new. Delicious French cheeses – Tomme and Reblechon – from our friends at Ratinaud, along with a rabbit rilette. They’re an example of the wonderful community that has grown up in Halifax’s North End since the disaster, showing the resilience of community.

Olives, and some homemade Lebanese pickled turnip added tang and zip. We added apples and grapes for freshness. Homemade rye bread, creamy mashed turnip, and leftover beet risotto for warmth (and because we are above all, frugal).

So beyond being grateful for delicious food, we are grateful to be sitting in our warm house, and not shivering in the cold like our predecessors 97 years ago, when the world’s largest pre-nuclear explosion had rocked Halifax. Thousands were killed and rendered homeless. We are truly grateful, and we will always remember.

It's Not Too Late for Salad!

As the weather cools and many of our garden crops have been harvested, it can be easy to turn our thoughts to root vegetables. Well we should! But it isn’t too late for salad yet, even without cold frames. Yesterday we harvested delicious beets and Swiss chard, an we still have a healthy crop of mizuna. All of this was turned into today’s lunch salad, along with some chopped apple, walnuts, and feta cheese, held together with this vinaigrette (for two):

15ml/1T each of red wine vinegar, tarragon Dijon, and olive oil, whisked together. If you don’t have tarragon Dijon, use regular, and add some chopped herbs of your choice.

Tasty – although we admit if the chill stays in the air, we will turn our thoughts to soup!


Necessity is the Mother of the…Bulgurito?

Number one child arrived home yesterday, and we had great plans to make bean burritos for dinner. Somehow in the midst of all the harvesting, pickling, canning, and freezing, though, our food inventory-keeping went awry. We were okay with substituting chickpeas and Jacob’s cattle beans for the black beans. But no tortillas, either? That was problematic. So we hit on a plan. Bulgur would play the part of the tortilla, in a manner of speaking. For three:

Boil 1 cup (250ml) water. Add 1/2 cup (125ml) bulgur and 1 tsp (5ml) olive oil, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook 3 cloves of garlic and 1 tsp (5ml) chipotle powder in 1 Tbsp (15ml) olive oil. Add a drained can of beans or about 2 cups (500ml) beans and 1/2 cup (125ml) broth. (Go crazy – black beans, chickpeas, whatever strikes your fancy…we are improvising now). Simmer until bulgur is cooked.

Line 3 bowls with greens – we still have mizuna in the garden, so that’s what we used. Stir the bulgur into the bean mix and spoon over the greens. Top with chopped tomato, diced avocado, fat free yogurt, salsa, and grated cheese. (Did I mention we were also out of salsa?) Spicy chioggia relish to the rescue!

All this is to say, in a cost-conscious kitchen, it isn’t always necessary to run to the store when you’re short on ingredients for a recipe. Use a little imagination and you might invent a whole new kind of delicious.


Gardens Gone Wild: Harvest Niçoise


We’ve been traveling, attending a couple of family weddings and doing a little business along the way. It didn’t seem realistic to ask them to postpone their special events on account of our vegetable patch, so the consequences when we got home were, well, interesting…

First, beans were just nicely coming into bloom when we left. Which means Jack’s beanstalk had nothing on us when we arrived back. Beets are still growing, and we’ve already harvested potatoes. A few tomatoes were spared the post tropical storm blight that has attacked local crops.

All in all, we had the makings of a lovely salad (and roasted veg are in our future). The eggs, olives, and tuna are not our own, but the rest is absolutely home grown.

For two:

Cook 2 small red potatoes and 1 large golden beet (reserve the greens for the salad). Throw the beans in to blanch, just at the end of cooking.
Hard boil 2 eggs.
Chill all of this (we cooked ours at breakfast time).

Arrange the chopped greens on a plate. Top with the cooked, cooled veggies, some sliced tomato, olives, and good quality water packed tuna.

For the dressing, mix 1T/15ml each of Dijon, olive oil, and vinegar (your choice).


Imagine…leftover leftovers!

Some of you know that earlier this week we roasted a turkey, and have been benefitting from that delicious pre-cooked goodness at several meals. The night before last we made an adaptation of Jamie Oliver’s Singapore Noodles recipe. As recommended, we substituted what was called for, for what we had. With a plentiful veg garden and lots of turkey, it was quite a different dish, in the end. (At least we used the noodles!)

We halved the recipe but it was definitely still too much for two, so yesterday we had about 1 serving left. We considered just reheating with a salad, but at the Tantallon Farmers’ Market we had acquired some delicious-looking chorizo. From the garden we grabbed a golden beet (including greens), about half a cup of fresh sweet peas, and three small carrots. We cooked these up – dry browning the sausage then adding about 1/2 cup of water, and steaming the harder veg and sausage until the sausage were cooked through. We sliced the cooked sausage and tossed everything together with our leftovers…no waste, all taste.



Wow! We are surrounded by a bountiful harvest.


The consequence, of course, is that we have to find ways to use it all…and preserve what’s left for future use. So tonight’s adventure included a zucchini-orzo-pepper-goat cheese dish…after we finished putting two batches of roasted beets (golden and red), two batches of beet greens, and a couple of jars of pesto away for chillier days. Fortunately the orzo was quite a reward – reminding us why all our hard work has been worth it!


What Goes with Veggies

We’re back from vacation with a distinct longing for vegetables – which seem to be in short supply when eating in many restaurants. Too much fat, salt and meat has left us hungry for fresh food. As luck would have it, our veggie garden has run rampant, so we have a surfeit of choice.


Our choice? A combo plate of golden beets roasted in balsamic and garlic, green and yellow beans, peas, and beet greens, all steamed. On the side, fish poached in white wine, lemon pepper and tarragon. Feeling full (and full of gratitude that the deer left us something to eat!)