Work With What You’ve Got

Farmer’s market fresh! One thing about summertime trips to the market is that (in the words of my grandfather), your eyes can be bigger than your belly. That’s sort of what happened with the basket of fresh peaches we picked up on Tuesday. To be more specific, it was our capacity to consume them before they hit their tipping point. We’re surrounded by overripe fruit, and so there are peaches in every meal. To top it off, we had a surfeit of cheese, left with us by some departing guests. What to do?

When I have a host of items that need to be used, one of my first thoughts is always salad. It’s a go-to when vegetables are in season. This one started with a vinaigrette of homemade red wine vinegar, canola oil, and Kozlik’s Balsamic Fig and Date mustard – in equal proportions. I mixed this in a large bowl, and then began adding veg – greens from the balcony garden, cucumbers, radish, and celery – but use whatever you have, like in this Kitchen Sink Salad. Then I topped it off with some walnuts, sliced peaches, and crumbled Stilton. If you’re a vegan, omit the cheese or use some chopped smoked tofu instead.

Even though I bought too many, I never get tired of too many peaches. We love them, and all the other seasonal bounty, so I’m grateful to be able to have many delicious ideas to use them up.

Keep it simple!

Sometimes when you’ve had a long day, it can seem onerous to make homemade food. That’s when something like a one-pot or oven dinner comes in handy. Also, if you’re really tired, the best thing for you is to get some fresh air and exercise, so you’ll be able to sleep when the time comes.

Earlier this week we combined both of these – after a long day’s work, we walked up the street to our friend Mark’s butcher shop, and picked up a couple of pork chops and some fresh Ontario asparagus. We circled back home for this tasty oven dinner:

First, heat the oven to 400F. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Then scrub your potatoes and slice 1/4″ or a little less than 1cm thick. Brush with olive or canola oil (we use canola, because it’s Canadian). Press a sage leaf into the top of each slice and place on the pan in a single layer. Sprinkle sparingly with salt, if you like, although they are very tasty with just the sage.

To prepare the pork chops, we brushed them with some fig mustard from Kozlik’s, and put them in their own parchment-lined pan.

Lastly, we took a sheet of foil and put the washed asparagus on it. This could probably have cooked less, but we didn’t want to fuss with it. We chopped a couple of cloves of garlic and added this along with the zest and juice from half a lemon. Wrapping the packet securely, we put it on the sheet pan and added all the dishes to the oven for half an hour.

That’s it! While we were waiting, we enjoyed a beer from the latest batch we bottled at Fermentations  on the Danforth. Charles and his team can match the flavour of your favourite beverage, or help you create wine from juice or actual grapes.

We’re feeling pretty fortunate with all of the great food and drinks we can find within a short walk or streetcar ride. Thanks for letting me share.

What Salad Season Means To Me

Two great things for me about salad season are (a) variety and (b) surprises! We do our best to eat local produce when we can get it, and we are at the height of the #Canadian season, with lots of delicious things in abundance. I have no trouble buying lemons, or spices, or coffee, or even avocadoes from afar. But oh, the glorious greens, the field tomatoes, the cukes…who could resist?

Combine that with my efforts to eat more plant-based meals, leading to new and interesting mixtures of veg – and I’m having the best time! Today I had a Greek-salad-inspired dish with an Asian flair. That’s a real Toronto meal if I ever saw one.




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 

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.

Using it Up, with Flavour!

We had some roasted tofu in the fridge (for you vega phobics it almost tastes like chicken). The roasted root vegetable and red lentil soup was in the freezer from last week. (Abridged version: cook red lentils, add leftover cooked veg and a little water or broth, purée with a hand blender and a tablespoon of curry powder).

I diced the roasted tofu leftovers, in my fridge for a couple of days, and stirred into the soup. Excellent for a partner or roomie with a cold!


Here’s how to roast the tofu: Press unwrapped firm tofu on a plate by weighting another plate on top with a can for 20 minutes, drain and cut into 1″/2.5cm cubes. Drizzle w soy sauce, sesame oil and grate over some fresh ginger. Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally until golden brown.


Looking Backwards

20120704-100325.jpg Those of you who read our last post will realize that this meal actually preceded that one; I just couldn’t find the photo!

It’s hard to imagine why, but we decided to eat a real cold day food on one of the hottest days of the year. When we returned from golf the other day, we coated this lovely rack of Ontario lamb with Dijon and chopped rosemary from our garden. We surrounded it with halved new potatoes, rubbed with oil and decorated with a single sage leaf on each half. We roasted the lot for about 30 minutes (start at 450F then immediately drop the temp to 350F – check doneness with an instant-read thermometer; 125 for rare). On the side, steamed broccoli.

While it was cooking, we enjoyed the cool shade and watched the world go by from our front porch.

A Long Day's Dinner


We took a well-deserved day off on Friday, golfing in beautiful Northumberland. Then we visited friends in Kingston and took the slow road home through Prince Edward County, including a few winery stops and a delicious lunch at East and Main in Wellington.

By the time we arrived home, though, all we wanted was a simple meal and a rest. This is what we cooked up: a stalk of celery, a small onion and a garlic scape, sautéed with a diced chicken breast. To that we added a splash of wine and a couple of diced fresh tomatoes. With a few ribbons of basil from the garden, it was a relaxing and satisfying meal. There’s no place like home.

Get Grilling!


Despite the recent cold snap, grilling season is ramping up once again. This weekend we picked up these delicious chops from Rowe Farms, as well as a mixed bag of organic veg.

To cook veg in a packet is foolproof! Take two layers of foil, and put sliced veg of almost any variety (we had carrots, spinach, radish, onion, sweet potato…). Toss with a little olive oil and herbs of your choice. Wrap it up tightly and put it on the grill while it’s heating. Continue to cook, turning occasionally, until chops, steaks, or burgers are done.