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.

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Eating Canadian…

Canadian FlagHappy 149th birthday, Canada!

As an advocate of home cooking as an alternative to unhealthy, over-salted, sugar-laden processed foods, I also love local fare. There are real advantages to eating food from as close to its source as possible. So I do my best to grow food, pick or buy food that’s in season, and support my local farmers. There is, however, another side to the coin. We’re in Canada.

Being Canadian means that the food growing season is very short. Depending on your location, having a farmer’s market is an option for only a few months, or you had better learn to like cabbage, potatoes, and turnip. Heck, even those quintessentially Canadian winter vegetables are frequently imported by major grocery chains from as far away as Texas and California. And that’s not our only challenge.

We have the great good fortune here in Canada to be what we describe as a mosaic, rather than a melting pot. People flock here from all over the world for an opportunity to live in an accepting, expansive, amazing country. When they get here, we welcome them, and their cultures, and that includes their food. Feta and falafel, tofu and tangerines, wasabi and watermelon have all made appearances on our household menu.

So here’s our compromise: We don’t grow coffee, but I’m not prepared to give it up, so I buy it, and look for fair trade. I’ll lean toward a local roaster over a multinational if I can. Figs, dates, and other foods that are prominent in my neighbourhood because we have a huge population of new Canadians…great. I’m in. I support farmer’s markets where and when I have access. Oranges? Florida’s marginally closer than California, but either way I’ll keep eating oranges. If there is locally-produced couscous, farro, tofu or even feta, I’ll give it a preferential position in my (reusable) grocery bag. Wine, for me, has no boundaries.

I avoid products that should be available year-round in my supermarket (sorry Texas carrots and Washington apples, you’re not coming home with me). Lastly, there’s the budget. As much as possible, I will pay extra for the privilege of eating food that’s grown in my home province, even though that is an unfair result of our grocery chains supporting the industrial food complex. But if push comes to shove and the unprocessed fresh or frozen food I can afford isn’t as local as I’d like, it still beats something from a can, box, or jar. I can live with myself.

Have a happy Canada Day, all, and eat well, wherever you are. We’ll be enjoying a seasonal, local treat homemade with all-Canadian ingredients: strawberry shortcake.

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?)

Add:

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!

Spring IS coming. Really!



Saturday we visited the Seaport Market and I was especially excited to discover at Noggins Corner, the first tiny tomatoes of the season from Den Haan’s. They made a fantastic breakfast treat to reward ourselves for the gym, next to a celery and mushroom poached egg. Tasty!

Kitchen Sink Salad 2014

We make variations of this salad all summer long, as various vegetables come into season, either in our own garden or the Farmers Market. Start with a good glug of olive oil and vinegar, and a couple of tablespoons of Dijon. Whisk those together to make a dressing.

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Next, add some cooked beans or chickpeas (we made Jacob’s Cattle beans a couple of days ago) and some chopped onion (here, baby red and white ones). We had some sliced radishes as well.

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Next, two or three chopped hothouse tomatoes and a good handful of chopped greens (we had spinach, baby Romaine, and Swiss chard). Toss on a few olives or anchovies and some sharp cheese or Feta for tangy goodness.

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Stir together and let rest at least 10 minutes. It will keep in the fridge for two or three days, flavour improving each day.

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This leaves the kitchen cool on a hot day and is quick and easy to prepare if you are busy watching the World Cup!

Inspired by a Trip to the Market

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Halifax’s Brewery Market was full of fantastic things today – with the benefit of hothouses or a slightly milder microclimate than ours, their lettuce and spinach were way ahead. So after a blueberry muffin we picked up the delicious greens you see here. Then we hurried home to start transplanting, now that we finally are receiving some sun and milder temperatures.

When lunchtime rolled around, we topped the greens with a local apple – these are getting to the end of their useful lives now – some Cendré de Lune cheese, walnuts, and a vinaigrette of Dijon, sherry vinegar, olive oil, and tiny spoonful of maple syrup. By next week our own spinach and lettuce will be starting their picking cycle.

Next: more seeding and some flowers for the boxes…

Happy gardening (or eating). Either way, thank a farmer.

Out to Pasture

It’s coming! Spring has nearly sprung. Today we were at the Halifax Seaport Market and picked up a delicious steak from Pasture Hill Farm. That, with a few blue fingerlings and a salad seemed like it would be a heavenly choice. We were just tallying up our purchases and we spotted them: local grape tomatoes from Den Haan’s. I wish there was a recipe here, but this is it: grill steak, boil potato, make salad, dream of sprong

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Tomatoes, and More Tomatoes…What Next?

September is tomato-canning month. After putting up dozens of jars of diced and ground tomatoes, salsa, and sauce, we still had more tomatoes that needed to be used. We were incorporating them into breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Here, some tasty huevos are nestled in a spicy tomato stew – a great way to add some zip at the start (or end) of your day.

Lightly saute a diced onion and a couple of hot peppers (we got these ones from our garden, but the selection is wonderful these days at local farmer’s markets). Then dice 2 or 3 large, juicy tomatoes and add them to the pot. Reduce the heat and simmer until the onions are soft. Crack in a couple of eggs for each serving, cover the pan, and continue to cook until the eggs are just set.

We at ours with a side of homemade multigrain toast.

It's World Food Day. Do You Know Where Your Food Came From?

We love being lucky enough to walk out in our neighbourhood to buy food. Sometimes it’s from small shops where we know the proprietors and they know the source of the food they’re selling. Other times, we’re lucky enough to get it direct from the farmers. Even luckier, is that we’re never truly hungry.

Today groups around the world are celebrating World Food Day. We’ll be giving thanks for the food we have, and doing our part to support our local food bank. We hope you will, too.

Turkey Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow…it's Thanksgiving in Canada!

Thanksgiving around our house means two kinds of pie (pumpkin and apple), cranberry sauce (homemade, of course), squash, mashed potatoes, green beans, carrots, gravy, and of course, turkey with dressing. Whether it’s held on Sunday or Monday, it’s all about family. (Psst: Happy Birthday, Kathryn!)

Here’s a picture of this year’s succulent bird, before dinner. We’d like to share more photos, but we were too busy cooking, carving, chatting, and eating.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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