Friday, August 20, 2010

Slacker Update

This blog has been quiet lately... mostly because I've been busy promoting the Lunenburg Farmers' Market on facebook and keeping a local foods blog for the newspaper--visit it here! I'm also working on a book proposal about eating local in Nova Scotia to pitch at Word on the Street next month, so I'll be back soon with updates about that. Cross your fingers for me!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Extra Local Yum

Have I mentioned recently how much I love farmers' markets? There's just nothing that can compare with actually getting to know the people who produce your food. I recently began facebook groups for both markets in Lunenburg (summer and winter) and will be writing producer profiles for them soon. I'll be sharing them here, but in the meantime, enjoy this little piece of Canadiana:

Farmers make this country great!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Scape it Up

It's garlic scape season, and most folks here on the South Shore are eating them left, right, and centre before they turn tough on the stalk. Since we're growing all our own garlic for the year we have a loooooooot of scapes... I decided to come up with a way to save them for a rainy day. Or a snowy day. Or, in the case of this particular recipe, a snotty, sniffly, need-food-as-medicine day.

Scape and Ginger Bisque

2 cups garlic scapes, snipped into half-inch pieces
2 cups chicken stock (I used a homemade stock that was already made with ginger, but plain old stock from the can or box works just fine. For you local peeps, I recommend the convenient-yet-fresh stock made and sold at The Biscuit Eater.)
1/2 cup pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped into rough chunks
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine scapes, stock, and ginger in a stock pot. Heat on medium to a simmer, and simmer until scapes soften and just begin to turn drab green, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat and remove ginger chunks. Puree with an immersion blender (If you don't have an immersion blender--buy one! They're fabulous, save work and dishes, and cost about $15. OR simply pour into a stand blender, puree, and return to pot.) Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy immediately, or freeze until so moved by your palate.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Town and Gown and Field and Mountain

My new article on sustainability and university/community relationships is out! Having the conversations with the sustainability coordinators and professors at these schools is such an enjoyable part of the job.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gin Rhubarby

The rhubarb is bountiful in the garden again, and so we're breaking out the gin. This springtime treat is too easy to even write out as a formal recipe--simply dice about two cups of fresh, clean rhubarb, pour a bottle of gin (we always use Bombay Saphhire)over it, cover, and refrigerate for a week. At the end of the week, strain the gin and enjoy with tonic. It's pink perfection. It's the taste of earth in the morning of the year. It's the soul of spring.

(Note: do not get carried away with the beautiful simplicity of this cocktail and try to replicate it with strawberries or some other bossy fruit, unless you're particularly fond of Kool-Aid. In which case I'd recommend making Kool-Aid with vodka--no sense wasting the juniper delights of gin.)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dandelions Four Ways

Yellow blossoms are just starting to pop up in my yard and I'm determined to make the most of it this year. Nova Scotia is full of incredibly nutritious and tasty wild foods (I just realized that half the "weeds" in my garden last year were yummy lamb's quarters!) but I'm especially excited about dandelions--I can find and eat these virtually anywhere I go. We'll be making at least the first three preparations listed here in the coming weeks, as I already have a capper and bottlecaps. We'll see how much the wine-making equipment costs before committing to dandelion wine. If you try any of these, drop me a note and let me know how they turned out!

1. Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens are best eaten early in the spring before the plant flowers (in other words, NOW!) Once the plant starts to flower the greens become much more bitter, although they are still edible. Pick and rinse dandelion greens to enjoy on a salad, or saute them for 20 minutes in olive oil with garlic and/or onions, finishing with a splash of wine. Delicious and ridiculously nutritious!

2. Dandelion Root Beer


  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 1/2 cups molasses
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 4 ounces clean, peeled dandelion root


Mash the dandelion roots with a potato masher (alternatively, put them in a plastic baggie, give your five-year-old a hammer, and stand back). Put the mashed roots and the water in a pot, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain into a large container, add molasses, and cool to lukewarm. Once it is lukewarm, add the yeast and stir. Cover the container with a cloth and put it in a warm, draft-free spot. After two hours, pour the mixture into clean bottles to within 1/2 inch of the tops. Cap with capper and metal caps (available at any of these beer-and-wine shops that have popped up all over the place). Place the capped bottles on their sides in a warm, draft-free spot for 5 days, then set upright in a cool place. Root beer will be ready to drink in 10 days. Enjoy all summer long!

3. Dandelion Jelly


  • 2 cups dandelion blossoms, separated from leaves and bracts (essentially all the green stuff) Pick midday when the blossoms are full.
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons pectin


Boil flowers in water on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Strain petals from liquid and return liquid to a clean pot to boil. Add sugar, lemon juice, and pectin as per the instructions on your box of pectin. Boil and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, skimming the foam, until the top surface becomes blobby and glasslike (2 or more minutes). If you know how to can, you can put this jelly in sterilized jars for year-long storage. If not, simply pour the jelly into containers and store in the fridge. This also freezes well, so feel free to stock some in your freezer for anytime! Dandelion jelly is dandy on toast and also as a condiment for meats.

4. Dandelion Wine


  • 1 quart dandelion petals
  • 3/4 pound chopped golden raisins
  • 2 pounds sugar
  • 3 lemons
  • 3 oranges
  • 1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
  • 7 1/2 pints water
  • wine yeast

Combine dandelion petals and water, bring to a boil, and simmer for two hours. Strain the liquid to remove the solids, return the liquid to the heat, and bring to a low boil. Zest the oranges and lemons and set aside. Juice the oranges and lemons and add the juice and the sugar to the boiling liquid, stirring well to dissolve. Add the zest and raisins, then remove from heat and set aside to cool. When the mixture reaches room temperature, stir in the yeast nutrient and activated yeast. Cover the mixture and put in a warm, draft-free spot. Stir 3 times daily for two weeks. After two weeks, strain the liquid again to remove solids and pour into a fermentation vessel (such as a bottle or jug) with a fitted airlock. After three weeks, remove airlock, skim any foam from the top of the liquid, and put the airlock back on. Repeat until fermentation is clearly finished, then store for a year before drinking. Worth the wait!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A tweet tweet

Here's my new article on sustainability and social media on campus. Any excuse to mess around on twitter...

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Now that I have a nanny here on weekdays, I have regained something resembling a weekend. And when I have a weekend, I can spend a good chunk of a day cooking meals ahead for the week. This weekend I made: 20 servings of a turkey, spinach, mushroom, onion, carrot, and green bean stew (about half local/organic and half conventional); 12 servings of pancakes fully loaded with last year's local organic strawberries and wild blueberries; and 2 family dinners worth of local, organic pork tenderloin with a Jack Daniel's, maple syrup, and Sriracha marinade.

Now it's that last item that I really want to talk about, see. I recently researched Tennessee whiskey for a work project. When I learned that it is A) filtered through maple sugar charcoal, then B) aged in oak casks that have been charred internally to caramelize the wood sugars, I thought, "Aha! Perfect affinity with maple syrup!" I've been playing around with sauces that balance maple syrup against Sriracha, and even trying to drum up a good liquor to throw in the mix. This did the trick in spades. Possibly the best damn pork I've had in my life--and the recipe couldn't be easier. Here ya go, folks:

Happy Jack Pork

1 -2 pounds of pork tenderloin

1/2 cup Jack Daniel's
1/2 cup Sriracha
1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup Jack Daniel's
1/3 cup Sriracha
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream

Mix the ingredients for the marinade thoroughly, then submerge the tenderloin in the marinade and refrigerate for 5-8 hours. Prehat oven to 375 F/190 C. Place pork with marinade in a baking pan and bake until no pink remains in the center (depending on the size/shape of your tenderloin, likely 45-80 minutes--if you aren't tenderloin-experienced begin checking at 45 minutes.) Remove pork from oven and prepare sauce by thoroughly combining the whiskey, maple syrup, and Sriracha in a saucepan and bringing to a boil. Boil for 4-5 minutes, remove from heat, and whisk in cream. Plate the pork, drizzle with sauce, and serve immediately. Enjoy!

***April 29, 2010: I hear from my aunt Sallea that you can substitute soy milk for the heavy cream in this recipe with good results. Thanks a bunch, Sallea! I love hearing from folks who try my recipes.***

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Seedy Saturday

It's ridiculously nice out right now--perfect weather for working in the garden, which I've been doing all morning. Yesterday I went to the local seed sale and exchange run by Rosemarie Bradley of Helping Nature Heal, "just to look". Here's (part) of what I came home with:

I was tickled pink to meet Owen Bridge of Annapolis Seeds there--he's a new seed seller here in Nova Scotia and a great asset to the local food scene. The newest gardener from Windhorse Farm was right next to him with a huge display of tantalizing offerings. I picked up a free compost poster for my office, too.

Spring has sprung! Have a wonderful growing season, everyone.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Tale of Ginger Cardamom, aka the Best Ice Cream of my Life

...and I made it without an ice cream maker. Colossal win.

One caveat: Start it at least 24 hours before you want to eat it. (Or rather, 24 hours before you plan to eat it; you'll want to eat it after you lick the first beater.)

Green Betty's Ginger Cardamom Ice Cream

1 1/3 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 square inches of peeled fresh ginger (can be any dimensions, but roughly equivalent to this)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
1/3 cup minced candied ginger (Quality is important here--there's a lot of variation among candied gingers! Look for a tender interior with a powerful ginger taste and aroma. I get an excellent one, mildly suprisingly, from Bulk Barn here in Nova Scotia.)

The evening before, put the unopened can of sweetened condensed milk and the beaters in the refrigerator. Slice the fresh ginger thinly, place in a mixing bowl, and cover with the heavy cream. Add the ground cardamom, stir gently, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, remove the sweetened condensed milk, beaters, and mixing bowl from the refrigerator. Using a slotted spoon, strain the ginger slices out of the cream. Whip the cream until it begins to thicken, then add vanilla. Continue to whip until soft peaks form, then slowly add the sweetened condensed mik while continuing to beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in minced candied ginger until just combined. Transfer to a freezer-safe container, cover, and freeze for at least six hours before giving in.

Blueberries with Whipped Creme Fraiche and Honey

So here's the recipe for the dessert we enjoyed at our potluck (adults, anyway; the kids enjoyed the monkey cookies!) Next time I might try adding just a touch of Grand Marnier.

Blueberries with Whipped Creme Fraiche and Honey

2 cups creme fraiche (see instructions below)
honey to taste
3 cups blueberries (lots of other fruits work well here; I can't wait to try it with grated apple and cinnamon!)

Beat the creme fraiche to soft peaks, then whip in honey for two minutes more. Softly fold in blueberries just as much as needed to combine thoroughly. Serve with a spring of mint if you've got it, or a smile if you don't.

To Make Creme Fraiche

Mix four tablespoons of buttermilk into two cups of heavy cream in a glass or pryex container and stir until thoroughly blended. (It is best to make creme fraiche in the morning, and wise to do so the day before you'll need it.) Cover and leave sitting in a warm spot in your kitchen for 4-12 hours. Stir every two hour or when you think of it. When you notice that the mixture has started to thicken, transfer it to the refrigerator, where it will thicken further.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Yesterday we got together with a group of friends for a local foods potluck. We brought blueberries that I picked last fall at the Lunenburg County Winery--really just down the road from us--served with whipped creme fraiche and honey (recipe in the next post!) Here are a few highlights of the day:

Charlie learning from his favorite person in the world.

Playing pass the baby

Our gracious hosts!

Mama, poet, and culinary genius Alice Burdick.

(Most of) The Gang

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Monkey Cookies Redux, Fair Trade Coffee, and all that Jazz

Hey folks,

I've been working on a Big Important Post explaining why I stopped being a minister and started writing about food. It'll be up soon. In the meantime, however, amuse yourself with this eye candy:

These are the same monkey cookies we made last year, this time photographed pre-baking. (You can see that one smart monkey has figured out that they're heading for the oven.) The licorice defied me as usual--so while most of 'em were smiling going in, at least half looked fairly disconcerted coming out.

I've been doing some social media work for Laughing Whale Coffee, one of my many wonderful clients. Here's a shot I took in their roasting facility at last week's farmer's market (in addition to producing a fabulous suite of fair trade, organic, ultra-low emissions roasted coffees, they also host the winter market here in Lunenburg!)

Last but not least, here's my sous-chef mugging for the camera. I know. I'm lucky.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Green Cuisine

My new article on the sustainability movement in culinary education came out today. This was a fun job from (local, sustainable) soup to (organic, homegrown) nuts.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Green Dreams

Ho hum, another year, another garden. A snowy day in late February feels like the perfect time to start planning.

This year I'm going to be strict about growing in complementary relationship to the farmer's market. In other words, if I can buy the produce locally and affordably (and organically, of course) then I'm better off supporting the farmers than growing it myself. That means crossing off several plants we've grown in the past: beans, peas, lettuce, kale, tomatoes, corn, squash... the list goes on.

Instead, I'd like to grow more of what we do well and use completely (garlic, herbs, rhubarb, and berries) with a couple unusual additions. I've written before about my desire to grow saffron crocus, and now we have concrete plans to put in the corms this summer. John still wants to grow hops for beer, but those will probably still wait a bit.

The big news is that we're seriously considering a beehive for the backyard. We have the great good fortune to have an experienced beekeeper, Perry Brandt, down the street who has offered to take me to visit his hives and help me get a feel for things. I have my eye on a top bar hive. If everything goes according to plan, in 2-3 years I'll be producing my own saffron honey. Who says I don't have a Martha Stewart complex?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Macadamia Chocolate Bliss

These cookies are more delicious than love itself. And given the protein in the nut butter, far more nourishing. Happy Valentine's Day, y'all.


2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla (yes, that is a whompload of vanilla)
1 cup macadamia nut butter (hazelnut also works well here)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
6 1/2 to 7 ounces dark chocolate, broken into small chunks (I whack up a couple bars of Scharffen Berger with a hammer--very satisfying!)


Put a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter cookie sheets. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In a separate bowl, beat together the nut butter, butter, and brown sugar. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, and beat until thoroughly combined.

Stir the flour mixure into the nut butter mixture until well integrated. Add chocolate chunks and blend until evenly mixed. Using your hands, form balls of about 1 inch each, flatten slightly, and put on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 13-15 minutes or until just browned. Makes about 3 dozen.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


A couple foodie friends and I are putting together a Mexican potluck tomorrow, and I volunteered to make horchata. Which I've never done before. (But has that ever stopped me?) Horchata is the perfect drink to quench the fires of a spicy salsa--the starchy rice soaks heat off your tongue just like a tortilla, and the sweet, bland, milky liquid washes the oils right down your throat.

To my dismay, however, I quickly discovered that's there's no real consensus on how to make horchata or even what the ingredients are--although nearly every recipe I looked at included rice, cinnamon, vanilla, and some sort of sugar.

So what's a cook to do? Experiment, experiment, experiment, I say. And sure enough, after a couple of spectacular failures (pretty sure you're supposed to drink it, not eat it!) I hit upon a winning hybrid of the many recipes that tempted me. In the end it was really pretty easy--provided you have a spice grinder, which I do. Here's what I came up with:

Green Betty's Gringa Horchata


1 C rice (You're going to grind it anyway, so does it really matter what kind? I think not. I used basmati.)
1 cinnamon stick, hammered into shards
8 C water
1 can (300 mL) sweetened condensed milk
1 t vanilla
1 t ground cinnamon


Grind your rice in a spice grinder or food processor to cornmeal consistency, cover with water, add your cinnamon stick shards, and let sit for about 12 hours. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth and add sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and ground cinnamon. Serve cold over ice. Add rum if the situation calls for it. ;-)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Soup Tales

Here at Green Betty's house we’ve been cooking and baking our way through children’s literature—recent incarnations have included lemon meringue pie (ours sported a walnut/brown butter/fleur de sel crust), carrot soup, and morning cake, to name a few.

I realized recently that my five year old's delight in making the stuff of stories could be turned to my advantage. So the other day, after deciding to make a saag for dinner, I told him a gnome tale.

Rinky, Dinky, and Sly Go to Goa

Every gnome loves a mermaid-laden, white sand beach, not to mention buffets that feature vindaloos. So one day, the gnomes of Lunenburg decided to pack up and head to Goa. (That's in India, y'all.)

They couldn't afford the plane fare, so they packed themselves up in a box and had their Uncle Googly mail it to a classy resort. It took a couple weeks to arrive, but they were comfortable in their crate--Rinky'd had the foresight to stock up on historical fiction (every gnome's favorite read) for the trip, and jerky treats were abundant.

After a few days of spicy shrimp, spicy fish, spicy pork, spicy fruit, and spicy rice, the gnomes were ready for something a little milder. They sampled some north Indian saag--a delightful concotion of spinach, yogurt, broth, and tasty-but-not-incendiary spices.

As an added bonus, when gnomes eat saag it gives them a burst of Popeye-like strength! Rinky, Dinky, and Sly used theirs to pick up an elephant. (They had to ask the elephant to hold one of her feet up, since there were only three of them.) Unfortunately, the saag wore off mid-trick and the elephant came crashing down. That's the last time she does a favour for gnomes.

This incident was the first in what eventually developed into an epic tale of the gnomes' culinary adventures overseas--but the rest, as they say, is a story for another time.

There is nothing Charlie would like better than to pick up an elephant, of course, so he begged me to make saag. I modified the recipe to make a soup of it, and now he’s guaranteed to slurp it with gusto every time. If only I'd caught on sooner.

Saag Soup (aka Swamp Soup)

2 T butter
1 onion, finely minced
6 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
2 t ginger powder
2 t ground coriander
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t cayenne
1 lb baby spinach leaves
2 1/2 C chicken stock (see recipe below)
1 1/2 t salt
1 C yogurt

Heat the butter in a large saucepan on medium. Add minced onions and salt and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and spices and sauté for another two minutes.

Stir in the stock and spinach and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and simmer for ten minutes or until spinach is thoroughly cooked but still a springy shade of green (if it reminds you of the military, you've gone too far). Remove from heat and blend, either with an immersion blender (my fave) or by processing into a stand blender or food processor then returning to the pan. Simmer the pureé another couple minutes, then add yogurt, adjust seasonings if warranted, and serve.

Hint: For good quality spices at a reasonable price, try an Indian grocery store. Mine come from Indian Groceries in Halifax. Great place.

Chicken Stock

To make chicken stock, first roast a chicken (organic and local if you can get/afford it). After you've stripped the meat from the carcass, put the entire carcass in a crock pot or stock pot and fill in the empty spaces with vegetables--to make stock for this dish, I recommend keeping it simple with just roughly chopped onion (2 cups) and peeled, whole garlic cloves (2 bulbs). Throw in a healthy pinch of salt and just cover with water. Add half a cup of white vinegar (this will leach the calcium from the bones, making for a more nutritious stock.) Bring the whole mess to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 3 hours (stock pot) to 5 hours (crock pot). Remove the bones and big chunks, then strain the broth through cheesecloth (I get mine at the dollar store). Chill in the fridge for a few hours, strain off the fat that rises to the top, and you're good to go.

Sunday, January 10, 2010