Saturday, July 26, 2008

how to freeze peas

Got a nice surprise at the farmers' market today - peas!

Thought I'd missed the season as I couldn't find a farm to buy peas from in quantity and then I got busy yada, yada, yada. Anyway, my favourite farmer had a huge tub of peas at the market today so I snagged a big bag full. Then came home and got to work processing them.

Here's how it works.

1. Find a comfy spot to shell the peas

2. Shell the peas.

3. Admire the shelled peas (and maybe sink your hand into the bowl just because)

3. Get a bowl of ice water ready and also a pot of boiling water and start blanching - 45secs to 1min in the boiling water and then immediately into the ice water (I keep the peas in a sieve in the ice water because I heard something about not letting the ice touch the peas, but maybe I'm making that up. I keep the peas in a sieve in the boiling water because its easier to get them in and out).

4. Lay all the peas out on trays covered in dish towels and dry them gently.

5. Lift the peas off the trays, line the trays with wax paper, and put the peas back on the trays (without the dish towels).

6. Put the trays in the freezer. The next day put the peas into yogurt containers or ziplock bags or other freezer safe container.

7. In january pull some peas out of the freezer and enjoy the summery goodness

Friday, July 25, 2008

No tasty treats for me. boo.

Just felt like telling anyone who is listening that instead of going to the caf and getting a chocolate bar or an iced cappucino (things that I want even though they are bad for me and the world - including the orangutans), I am going to sit at my desk and drink the juice that I brought into work in a mason jar.


(I'll feel good about this decision later. But now I'm just grumpy.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

my nanna and butterflies

My nanna was among other things, an amazing seamstress. She made my mum's wedding dress and my aunt's wedding dress and for a time, most of her own clothes.

This weekend my aunt came for a visit and presented me with this box of my nanna's thread. Isn't it gorgeous? There is some silk thread in there and some of it is even on wooden spools. My favourite is the lime green one.

Now I can start making some stuff with all the fabric I got from usedottawa last summer. :) My first project is going to be a top to wear at a cottage/around the house (takes a bit of pressure off as it won't have to be perfect!) I'm hoping it looks something like this (except more flow-y at the bottom).

An on an unrelated note, we saw our first butterfly in the garden this weekend. I figure the garden must be in good shape if we are attracting butterflies.

See how pretty.....

Sunday, July 20, 2008

more jam

Last weekend my mum and I made a batch of raspberry redcurrant jam using a recipe from Seasonal Ontario Food. I liked it so much I decided to make another batch this weekend.

Ferdzy over at SOF has some great canning recipes so even if raspberry redcurrant jam is not your thing, you should go and have a look at her blog. Let me tell ya though, you might want to give this jam a try. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it is the best jam I've ever had.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Free transit

Impossible you say? Crazy?

Well Hamilton city council was discussing just that last week.

The short version is that HCC received a recommendation from its Works Committee outlining ways the city could introduce free transit. On smog days only, in the summer only, or year-round all-the-time free transit.

The year-round all-the-time free transit would come at a cost to residents of, on average, $161 a year (included in property taxes).

At first I thought, everyone is going to have to pay for something that not everyone uses? No way is that going to fly.

But then I thought, wait a sec, the point of taxes is to provide services that are for the general good of society - free health care, free social services, free education. I would certainly argue that free transit should fall under that category. Offering free public transit would make taking the bus more palatable to those who aren't so keen, and would also mean that folks who aren't making a lot of money would be able to get to work and still have money for food, and if transit were free prompting more people to take the bus (figures show that there would be a 20% increase in ridership), then carbon emissions would be reduced a substantial amount.

I think its something worth talking about.

Unfortunately Hamilton decided that it didn't have time to implement it this year but would look into it for next year. Boo.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mini harvest

My first harvest from the garden!

Fennel tops
Green beans
Gooseberries and

Am cooking the gooseberries up now with a bit of maple sugar. There weren't really enough to do anything with so I think I'll add them to some thickened yogurt.

If I had more I would have made this.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

2008 Strawberries!

Spent a lot of today making jam with a friend. Was a lot of fun, we ate a lot of jam off giant wooden spoons and ended up with 5 batches of jam.

The first and second batches were made with certo pectin. The recipe called for 7 cups sugar to approx. 4 cups crushed berries. These batches turned out great but were sooooo sweet.

For the next batches we switched to Pomona's natural pectin. We used 2 cups sugar with the first batch and only 1 cup of sugar with the next two batches. They taste amazing.

But then I called my mum who told me that there likely isn't enough sugar in those batches to stop them from going mouldy.


Jam anyone?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mmmmm muffins

Somewhere along the way in my experiment with the Riot, it became impossible for me to only use the oven for one thing. I can't bear to see that second rack with nothing on it.

So I've taken to making muffins. Since I only use the oven about once a week, I can make one batch of muffins at the same time and that will last me until the following week.

I've tried a few recipes and my favourite by far is the below carrot muffin recipe (modified from this original version). I think they are delicious but I'm still trying to have as little sugar as possible so some might not find them sweet enough.

Carrot and cranberry muffins

1 cup spelt flour (from Little Stream Bakery)
1tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1tsp cinnamon *
1/8 tsp all spice *
1/4 cup dried cranberries sweetened with maple syrup from Upper Canada Cranberries
2 tbsp coconut (think I'll try elminating this next time to make the muffins more local)
2 tbsp oil
4 tbsp apple butter (Filsinger's organic apple orchard - Ayton ON**)
4 tbsp rice syrup (probably could just use 8 tbsp apple butter. I'll try that next time)
1 cup grated carrot from Terre a Terre farm
1 egg (local, organic, free range)

Mix the dry together in one bowl
Mix the wet together in another bowl
Add the wet to the dry (or the other way around) and stir until just mixed (this is the part I always used to get wrong and I'd end up with hockey pucks instead of muffins).

Bake at 375 F for 10-12 mins (until brown on top and a tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean).

* I used 1 tsp mixed spice instead of the cinnamon and all spice. Its a mix commonly available in the uk - corriander, cassia, ginger, nutmeg, caraway, cloves. So basically any combination of these spices or cinnamon or all spice would work just fine.

**Ayton, ON is not within 100mi (is 602km from my house according to google maps). A local option would be apple butter from Hall's apple orchard in Brockville. They aren't organic tho'.