Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Flaming Chartreuse Tomato Soup

This post is a big tease. I know I've been promising another Chartreuse recipe for some time. I've tried several. They were all bad. Chartreuse takes a back seat to no flavor. It's great for making beef taste gamy, if you like that.

I have discovered, however, that a splash of Chartreuse in my gin and tonic is delightful. And I recently found this recipe for Flaming Gin and Tomato Soup and thought, "Great Scot! A couple tablespoons of Chartreuse would work beautifully here! How did I never think to set it on fire before?" (Note: I blame the "Great Scot!" on my son's superhero addiction.)

I will try it some time when I am brave and sober, and report back here. And when tomatoes are in season--I wouldn't waste my precious green (by which I mostly mean Chartreuse) on tomato juice.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Ha Ha

There's no better way to fire the imagination about what I might grown than to write a blog post about what I will grow. One that left out the herb spiral and the rhubarb, no less. As you can see, we're reconsidering our options.

And Charlie's doing his part to mke it a big garden. Today at the supermarket he pulled a "Hey, Mom, look at that!" on me as he snatched several seed packets from a display and tossed them into the cart. Gosh, he reminds me of... me.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Plan

Okay, I know I said we'd have a smaller garden this year. But that was before I:

A) rediscovered a sexy heap of gardening supplies in the corner of the basement;
B) started reading The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler; and
C) asked my four year old what he wanted to grow in the garden this year. Turns out he has plenty of ideas.

So here's the new plan. We just put in an order at Salt Spring Seeds for three kinds of tomatoes (Costoluto Genovese, Tibet, and Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter), Winter Party onions, and Royal Chantenay carrots. Charlie's also hell-bent on having broccoli and "salad" in the garden, so I'll buy those seeds locally. We'll have to replace the apple tree in the front yard (@#$% deer; we'll fence it like Gitmo next year). We'll add some berry bushes in the front, expand the squash patch in the back, and probably add some bean climbers at the end of what used to be the driveway, along with the hops.

Is this the final blueprint? Probably not. It's still February. And if last year's experience has any predictive value, we'll end up with an entirely different garden than we plant, anyway. (Spinach self-seeded last year, for instance; who knows what it'll look like in the spring?) The point isn't so much to have a successful garden, though, as to develop the skills necessary for having one in the future. We're just learning as we go along.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dream Home #5

This is an off-grid, highly efficient, green designed home that is also, technically, an RV. That I could afford.

And It's made in Canada, no less. Go Canucks!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Market Baby

Valerie Tanner, president of the Lunenburg Farmer's Market Association, gave me some pictures this morning of my son at the market in his stroller. She took them a couple years ago, but they're just too cute not to share here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Soupy Sue

As mentioned previously, I interviewed Sue LeBlanc of Chester Organics over the weekend. I suggested meeting at one. "Great!" she replied. "I'll make lunch." My four year old in tow, I trekked over to icy Otter Point Road outside of the village of Chester to visit her at home.

While our children played together (albeit slightly maniacally), Sue and I had a lovely chat. Our topics ranged from childcare to property values to government grants, but mostly we talked about food. Who's growing it, where to get it, and how to foster the development of a local and sustainable foods market. Her business acumen and focus bowled me over--Sue's the kind of woman who can soothe a child with one hand, balance the books with another, and provide nutritional counseling to her customers all the while.

As we talked, Sue cut onions, ripped kale, broke up some tempeh burgers, sauteed the whole shebang, then added goat's milk to make soup. Then she served it to us. Now, I'm fairly pleased with my kid's diet--he eats more whole foods and "good stuff" than most of his peers--but this seemed like a stretch, even for us.

Charlie stood in front of me and opened his mouth like a baby bird. I spooned in the soup. He swallowed. He contemplated. "Yum," he said, eyes widening. And opened up for more.

I, of course, ran home and bought some kale so I could strike while the iron was hot. It's close to the only green vegetable that's both fresh and local this time of year. Ted Hutten of Hutten Family Farm supplies it (and my carrots, and my potatoes, and my onions...) We made this easy bisque yesterday--not quite as wholesome as Sue's, but equally yummy.

Kale Bisque

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (I just use my mandoline for this)
1 large bunch kale
1 tsp salt (I like fleur de sel, but any salt will do)
pepper to taste
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon paste (We use Better Than Bouillon from the Lunenburg Country Store
21/2 cups whole milk (We used cow's milk, but goat's milk is a fine substitute)

Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add salt and onions. While the onions begin to sauté, rip the green leaves off the kale in shreds, leaving the ribbing for the compost. Add the shredded kale to the onions and sauté for about ten minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients and turn the heat to high. Simmer for about half an hour, until kale is tender. Turn off the heat and puree with an immersible blender (or, if you don't have one, pour the hot soup into a blender or food processor to puree). Add pepper to taste.

I had planned to add some grated parmesan at this point, but upon tasting I decided the soup was already perfect. Charlie gobbled it right up, and so will you.

Monday, February 9, 2009

February Fresh Food

One of my favorite things about Nova Scotia is the neverending stream of spanky fresh fish. Jimmy, my dealer, meets the boats coming in late at night on Wednesdays. He chums around with the fishermen and honeys away the last haul they brought in before quitting time (and therefore the freshest). Thursday mornings I buy whatever he recommends and make it for lunch.

It's been a couple months since he offered me scallops. In season, they're $7 a pound. This week they were $12 a pound--still a bargain, given their size and quality. This dish, which is both easy and posh, received resounding praise. I serve mine in scallop shells, but they would be delicious in a dixie cup--any container with a rounded edge will do the trick.

The secret ingredient is Sriracha, my favorite condiment. Although Gourmet magazine recently recommended buying Sriracha (also known as "Rooster Sauce" after the graphic on the bottle) from an import company, I recommend checking at your local grocery store--it's actually produced in California, and is widely available in the United States and Canada.

Rooster Scallops

1 pound fresh scallops, rinsed and dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cup white wine
2-3 tablespoons Sriracha, depending on how spicy you think you can take it


Heat a cast-iron skillet on a burner set to the highest setting. While the pan is heating up, toss the scallops with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. When the pan is sizzling hot, carefully and quickly introduce the scallops. Pan fry for 2-5 minutes (depending on size). Cut a scallop in half to test for doneness--the interior should be slighly rare but not raw.

Remove scallops from the pan and turn heat to low. Deglaze the pan with wine, then reduce the sauce by about half. Add Sriracha and spoon the sauce over the scallops immediately before serving.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

J'ai besoin de Super Marie

A departure from the usual fare of this blog, but I couldn't resist. This is just so us.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Life Is Not All Cupcakes

As much fun as it is to sugar up for Valentine's Day, I'm even more excited about Easter carrots.

Things are falling into place beautifully for Brine, my own local and organic food magazine, which is set to debut this summer. Tomorrow I'll be interviewing Sue LeBlanc of Chester Organics. I'll also be speaking with sustainable beef, lamb, and chicken farmer Kevin Veinotte, permaculture activist and Sustenance Gardens farmer BW, heritage breeds farmer Faye Labelle of Silverlane Farm, and--well, the list goes on.

Everyone at the market is excited to develop a resource that will list what's in season when here on the south shore of Nova Scotia, who's selling and where to buy it, easy ways to preserve your produce, and recipes for both the fresh product and the stuff you throw in your freezer. It will practically write itself.

Now... who wants to help me with advertising? ;-)

Happy Sugar Love

Okay... not local, not organic, and you definitely can't substitute honey in the recipe. But very, very yum. And see how nicely they match my Formica?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Warm My Toes and Think of Spring

Imbolc's come and gone. The ground is thick with snow, but there's a slender thread of warmth in the breeze off the sea. It's time to start planning the garden.

Thanks to last year's foibles, there's plenty of garlic in the ground already. The hops will dominate the end of the driveway. Deer have made a feast of my beloved Honeycrisp apple sapling, so we'll have to see if it survives and replace it if it doesn't. I want to put in an herb spiral, a little squash in the back corner of the yard, and more raspberry bushes under the front windows. And...

that's it.

A much less ambitious plan than last year, or the year before that, I admit. As I've gotten to know my farmers and developed a sense of what's available locally (happily, just about everything) my DIY ardor has cooled significantly. I'm busy writing about food, perserving food, and cooking food. I want to keep one finger in the dirt, but that's about all I can spare. I'm tempted to rip out the whole lawn and replace it with indigenous wildflowers, but I somehow doubt I'll get around to it.

My neighbor's pesticide-treated lawn on the other hand, is crying out for some guerilla gardening. Better sleep with one eye open, Chuck and Judy Tanner!

(I'm kidding. Really. Maybe.)