1. Preserving Your Food

    September 17, 2014 by Sarah

    Considering the substantial amount of food waste in the Western world, there’s a good chance you’ve found yourself with an abundance of food about to go bad at one point or another. So instead of adding to the landfill or gorging until you have to undo your belt buckle more then one notch, try a few of these ideas instead.

    Drying

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    Drying your food can take a long time, but if you happen to be puttering around the house all day, worth it. And if you’re anything like me and avoid anything over ‘mild’ on the spice meter, one batch of dried chili peppers could last you a whole year (or longer). And yes, you can dry things other then chilis. You’ll just have to ask google about that.

    Jam

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    Once I conquered my fear of poisoning all of my loved ones with botulism, the idea of canning became a lot more enjoyable. I was able to preserve an enormous amount of fruit this summer with jam- that of course, we couldn’t all eat fresh. You can also try and make jelly, but I would highly recommend not following my instructions.

    Blanching

    DSC_0304-rBlanching is as easy as boiling something for 30 seconds, throwing it in cold water, straining and freezing. This works well with almost any leafy green (expect lettuce. thats gross), and was a great way to tame this once it overtook the whole garden.

    Pureeing

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    Just cook up your item of choice, throw it in the blender, and freeze. Works best with root vegetables and squashes, less so with roast dinners.

    Freezing

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    I may or may not do an upcoming post with tips on freezing different types of fruit, so I don’t want to give any spoilers. But I will say it involves throwing berries or chopped fruit in a bag and putting it into the freezer.

    If all else fails, just combine all your pre-mold remains into one of your favourite fridge cleaning recipes- soups and pasta sauces are my go-tos, with both also freezing well if you’re not going to eat right away.


  2. Okanagan Wine Tasting- Round 2

    September 10, 2014 by Sarah

    The family and I were lucky enough to return to the Okanagan over the long weekend, and somehow managed to double our wine tasting intake from last year. Now before anyone tries to take away our licenses (or the puppy), I would note that overall tasting consumption probably topped out at 2 glasses total..over 4 days. Not quite time to start attending meetings yet.

    There’s not much to say about Okanagan wineries, beyond the delicious wine and incredible views. They’re all slightly different of course, all with their own unique charms and perspectives on the valley.

    I’m not what you’d call very knowledgeable on the finer art of crushed grapes. I never really pick up on the hint of worn saddle or asian pear grown in slightly acidic soil. That said, all the sweeter white ones tend to be my favourites. Or really any type that doesn’t make me scrunch up my nose and begin to slightly gag (the sign of a true connoisseur, no doubt).

    The first winery we visited was Church and State. It had a beautiful outdoor tasting bar with an incredible view. They also encouraged us to wander through the grape vines, and even let us take a few bunches of grapes with us. (Someone even mentioned we could probably take a whole garbage bag full and no one would notice. Duly noted….).
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    The next we stopped at was The Burrowing Owl. Another beautiful location and great wine. The tasting was inside (and a bit crowded), but there was an observation tower and great views from their restaurant on site. We stayed for lunch, and I had one of the most delicious meals I can remember (a daily special)…unfortunately the service was a bit disappointing.

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    The next day we stopped at the Young and Wyse winery. This was the smallest location we visited, which also meant we got the most personalized attention. While comparably the views weren’t quite as spectacular, it was undoubtably in a beautiful location.

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    The last winery we visited was Rustico, which was a completely different experience. While the views were similarly beautiful, the whole thing was set up in an old saloon style, complete with drinks poured out in tumbler glasses, like a line of shots (although apparently this is the more authentic way). While we probably enjoyed the wines the least here (but not by much) this was a fun change from the typical winery experience and definitely worth the trip. They also have a particularly cute puppy that might have stolen a lot of the attention..

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    DSC_0661 Check out last years winery’s here- See Ya Later and Tinhorn Creek


  3. Cheesy Lentil Tomato Rice

    September 4, 2014 by Sarah

    Or really, just rice and beans in disguise. A slightly fancier, less latino disguise. However just like the original, it’s cheap and easy to make a big batch and let it sit in the fridge to pick at whenever hungry or in need of an actual meal. That is, one with real protein, grains, dairy and vegetables. I’m no expert, but it sounds to me like this may check every level of the food pyramid of science.

    DSC_0537-2-r-psTo make:

    Saute half a diced onion and few cloved of minced garlic.
    Pour in 1 cup of brown rice and 2 cups water and let cook.
    Simulatenously, cook 1/2 cup green lentils in about 2 cups water.
    When everythings cooked, strain and mix together.
    Crumble in feta, chopped tomatoparsleysalt and pepper.

    * essentially everything can be substituted according to what you have on hand.

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  4. Cherry Vanilla Pudding Popsicles

    August 28, 2014 by Sarah

    Cherry vanilla pudding popsicles were the perfect way to take a break from the (relative..) summer heat, use up some of the cherry stockpile while it’s at its best, and continue to recover from a cherry deprived childhood. They are as simple as the name sounds, with all the ingredients laid right out in the title. To make, just mix up some vanilla pudding, throw in some chopped cherries, and freeze!

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    If you want to get all fancy you could also add in a teaspoon of almond extract, or perhaps some lemon zest (but probably not together). I can imagine these would also work well using almond milk with the pudding mix, should you be so lactically inclined. These were also originally supposed to be fudgsicles (made with chocolate pudding), so I would give that a try as well (for comparison purposes only, of course).

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  5. Homemade Vanilla Custard

    August 22, 2014 by Sarah

    Sometimes recipes are off limits. As in, don’t even attempt to make any changes because tough luck improving upon perfection. Around these parts, one of those things is custard. Bird’s custard. A lifelong family dessert staple, that up until recently, I didn’t even really realize could be made from scratch (and why would you?! they’d say).

    So, as a bit of an experiment, I thought I’d give it a try. Turns out it’s unexpectedly simple, delicious….but not about to replace the can of powdered birds in the cupboard that laced so many childhood crumbles (..plus it would go moldy in the cupboard).

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    I would happily make this recipe again… and would recommend it without hesitation if your family is not ridden with such custard angst. I followed the recipe directly from here, and as it was my first attempt, didn’t really make any modifications.

    To make:

    Pour 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of cream, and the seeds of 1 vanilla bean into a pot. Heat until hot but not boiling.

    Mix 4 egg yolks, 1 tbls cornstarch, and 1/3 cup sugar in a bowl.

    Pour hot milk mixture into egg mixture while continually stirring. Then dump the entire mix back into the pot, and heat until it thickens.

    DSC_0505-r-psDelicious accompanied with old favourites like crumble and stewed rhubarb, but has also been taste-tested and approved accompanying some particularly delightful liqorice-poached pears…


  6. How to Blanch Garden Greens

    August 18, 2014 by Sarah

    A little preservation refresher, before I tackle the giant jungle weed that has now taken over the garden. Sometimes, green things grow so fast and in such abundance it’s impossible to keep up with eating them fresh (not a bad problem to have). However before they go to seed or suffocate everything else you might be trying to grow, try taking this route instead. It’s incredibly easy to blanch and freeze greens, and then continue eating them all year round. In this case, the beets needed thinning out, and instead of throwing away their tops, we tried this instead.

    DSC_0459*First off: wash and remove any stray insects (unless you’re into the extra protein):

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    Next, in small batches, drop the greens into boiling water. Leave them for about 30 seconds, or until they start to wilt slightly and turn vibrant green:

    DSC_0304-rThen, drop them immediately into a bowl of ice water, so they will stop cooking:

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    Lastly, let them dry (I just squeeze out the water with my hands), and bag them up for the freezer (yes, even when you have this few):

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    In addition to beet greens, this method would work well with spinach, kale and swiss chard, amongst others. I’ve never tried, but I can’t imagine blanched lettuce to be too appetizing. Here’s a few ideas to try instead when you have too much lettuce.


  7. Low Sugar Jam

    August 12, 2014 by Sarah

    I’ve made some horrible jam. And jelly. They taste fine enough, if you ignore their soup-like consistency and tendency to grow mold after about a week. This is entirely preventable of course and mostly my fault, as I can never justify adding approximately 50 cups of sugar to 1 cup of fruit. Then I would try and adjust the pectin amounts, to no avail. And also not seal it properly. Things turned around when I was introduced to a different type of pectin- one specifically designed for low sugar jam. I’ve now made about 25 jars worth of jam with Pomona’s Pectin, and it couldn’t work better. It’s step-by-step instructions are easy enough for even former jam disappointments like myself. And while the first batch may have turned out a bit moldy (forgot about that whole sealing part), the rest have turned out perfect. Not a bad way to use up an abundance of raspberries from the garden and fruit from the Okanagan…

    DSC_0178First off, mix up some ‘calcium water’ according to instructions..

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    Mix in with the fruit, let it all dissolve and bring to a boil..

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    Mix the pectin with however much sugar you want to add, and add it to the fruit mixture..

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    I then let it cool down in the fridge (where it will thicken), then poured it into sanitized jars, and finished by boiling the filled sealed jars for 10 minutes (read the instructions for more details..)

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    In total I have now made 18 jars of raspberry, 5 jars of apricot, and 3 jars of apricot, peach and nectarine jam. And am set on the gift-giving front for awhile…

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