Saturday, July 28, 2012


Last week on The Weekend Gardener with NikiJabbour we talked about my hugelkultur. No, that’s not German for Culture of Hugs and Bagels (close, though!) Hugelkultur is a method of building a raised bed with a base of logs. I was too punk-ass lazy to photography my bed when I first built it out of the logs from the backyard spruces I trimmed last winter—and now it’s completely camouflaged with squash vines—but this picture gives you the basic idea.

The advantages of the method are manifold: first, it’s a fairly quick and easy way to make a large raised bed. If you have mobility issues or simply value comfort, a high-built hugelkulture can be a comfortable way to garden from a standing position (once it starts to decompose, you can just add more logs or other organic method on the top to maintain height). Second, the logs soak in moisture and then release it slowly over time, allowing the bed to become essentially self-watering in dry times. I have watered my hugelkultur this summer, but only about half as often as my “unenhanced” beds. Third, as the years pass, the logs will slowly decompose, releasing nutrients into the soil, maintaining the fertility and productivity of the bed.

Fun! Easy! (Okay, not easy easy, but easier than most other ways to build a big, raised bed). Permaculture-y! Amusing to pronounce!  Hugelkultur. A definite success so far. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Listen Up!

Haven't you ever thought, "Boy, the experience of knowing Elisabeth would just be that much better if I heard her on the RADIO?" Well, tomorrow's your big chance: My brief interview with Nick Yorston about the Growing Green Festival is airing on CKBW 98.1 around 8 and again around 9, then from 11:30 to 12 I'll be on The Weekend Gardener with Niki Jabbour on News 95.7 talking about my book, A Taste of the Maritimes, and various garden-to-kitchen adventures. Both stations stream live online on the internet, so you can listen in no matter where you are.

Raspberry Sour Cream Ice Cream with Hazelnut Croquant

My raspberry patch is busting out all over with berries. We eat lots of ours straight off the bush, but  the occasional lucky pint makes it inside to the kitchen. One of those met its delectable fate in this ice cream just the other day. I am so ruined for Haagen Dazs. Amateur punks.

Raspberry Sour Cream Ice Cream with Hazelnut Croquant

 This recipe is a modification of the Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream recipe in David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop


1 heaping pint fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla vodka (I make my own; simply immerse a split vanilla bean in a 750 mL bottle of vodka and let it sit for a couple weeks)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream (35%--also, if you live in Nova Scotia, "the purple one")
1 batch hazelnut croquant (recipe below)


Combine all ingredients and blend until evenly combined. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then process according to your ice cream maker's instructions. Add croquant during last minute of churning.

Hazelnut Croquant


1 cup sugar
1 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts


Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and set aside.
Melt sugar in a cast iron pan over medium heat until completely liquid, stirring carefully from time to time. Add toasted hazelnuts and stir to combine, then quickly transfer mixture to prepared baking dish, spreading it out as thinly as possible. 
Once croquant has cooled, seal it in a freezer bag and crush with a hammer into pieces small enough to work for the recipe above, according to taste.

Friday, July 20, 2012


You know I love a simple recipe, and it doesn't get much simpler or more rewarding than this five minute recipe for homemade kahlua. I make mine with Laughing Whale Seventh Wave Espresso. It's much less sweet than the commercial version--I think it's ideal for sipping straight.


1/4-1/2 cup sugar to taste
1 1/4 cup espresso or coffee brewed at 2 1/2 times regular strength,hot and fresh
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup vodka


Stir sugar into hot espresso and stir to dissolve. Add vanilla extract and vodka. Stir to combine, bottle, and enjoy at your leisure.

Notes: Vodka quality is not terrifically important for this recipe, so use what you can afford!
To make your own version of Tia Maria, simply substitute a favourite rum for the vodka.

Really. So. Easy. 

Next week: Cherry Bounce! 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Lemon-Pickled Scapes

  1.    I don't like pickles. Or at least I didn't until I realized that what I really dislike about them is A) vinegar and B) the bendy quality vegetables get after a pickle jar is immersed in hot water in order tobecome shelf stable. In fact, neither of those aspects is at all necessary to enjoy a pickle! In recent months I have been going pickle-crazy, immersing all my fave veggies in a lemon juice brine and putting them directly in the fridge. They won't keep longer than a couple months and they can't be kept on a shelf, but they're an easy, fantastic bit of something something to have on hand for anytime snacking. If you're simply not a scapes person, try this recipe with carrots, cucumbers, or any other vegetable you like.

    ·         1/2 pound garlic scapes 
    ·         2 hot chile peppers, sliced with seeds (jalapeno, serrano, or whatever crops up in your garden or farmers' market)
    ·         2 " cube of fresh ginger, sliced 
    ·         3/4 cup lemon juice
    ·         3/4 cup water
    ·         1 tablespoon salt

    Trim the heads and cut ends off the scapes and cut into short pieces so that they resemble green beans.
    Toss scape pieces with sliced peppers and ginger. Fill mason jars nearly full, packing mixture tightly.
    Combine lemon juice, water, and salt in a separate container, then pour over mixture in jars until full to the brim. Cover tightly and transfer to the refrigerator immediately. Allow pickles to flavour up for about a week before opening. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cranberry Apple Pickles

This is a perfect side dish for the holidays--all three main ingredients (apples, cranberries, and lemon juice) have a detoxifying effect to combat your holiday indulgences, and the taste is a lovely complement to roast turkey and ham alike.

Cranberry Apple Pickles

Ingredients (per 500 mL jar)

1/2 cup lemon juice (substitute rhubarb juice for a completely local choice)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 large or 3 small-medium apples, any varietal
1/2 cup fresh whole cranberries


Combine lemon or rhubarb juice, water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

While brine is heating, peel apples and slice into long strips or chunks, according to taste. Slice cranberries in half. Place half of cranberries at the bottom of jar, followed by a layer of apples, then topped with remaining cranberries.

Pour simmering brine over fruit mixture to a level 1/2 inch from the top of the jar. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then cover tightly, label, and store in the refrigerator.

This recipe will keep in the refrigerator for up to two months, so make it now, put it away, and forget it until Christmas! It even makes a lovely food gift for those of you who want to impress friends and family with your craftiness. They don't need to know how simple it was--I won't tell if you don't.

Watch the Author

All the publicity work I'm doing for A Taste of the Maritimes is a blast! I'll be on CTV Morning Live this Tuesday, the 13th, at 8:15 AM, so don't forget to tune in. Until then you can satisfy yourself with my author video from the Nimbus East Coast Reads series.