Monday, September 20, 2010

BASIL BONANZA: Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce and Basil Vinaigrette

I wait all year for the fresh local tomatoes and basil.  We all know how bland and tasteless out of season imported tomatoes are, so why bother eating them?  
This week at the market I bought a huge, HUGE bouquet of fresh basil.  It has been sitting on my counter in a cup of water until I felt inspired to make something beautiful with it.  Normally I just make my favorite Hempseed Miso Pesto and freeze it in glass jars in the fridge so we can enjoy it all winter.  Seeing as I've already made about four jars of that, I decided to try something different - Fresh Basil Vinaigrette.  I found this recipe in my favorite cookbook "REbar" so decided to try it out.  Why did I wait so long?  It's amazing!  So good in fact, I made a double batch and intend to enjoy it all week long.  For tonight though, it is going to be featured on a fresh salad next to a huge plate of pasta with my Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce.  Norbert Kungl was selling organic paste tomatoes (those are the little tomatoes that are just a wee bit bigger than grape tomatoes) and I've been wanting to make some sauce from fresh tomatoes for a while.  What a difference fresh tomatoes make!  So sweet and delicious, it makes you so glad you waited all year.

adapted from "Rebar Modern Food Cookbook" by Audrey Alsterberg and Wanda Urbanowicz

Yields 1 1/4 cups (300 ml)

2 cloves organic garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp grainy organic mustard
2 Tbsp local honey
1/4 cup local apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp organic balsamic vinaigrette
45 g fresh organic basil leaves
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cracked organic pepper
1 cup e.v olive oil

Method:  Combine all ingredients except oil in the blender.  Slowly add olive oil in a slow, thin stream until thick and creamy.  Season to taste and refrigerate up to 3 days.

Yields 6 cups

2 Tbsp e.v olive oil
5-6 clove organic garlic, minced
12-15 fresh organic tomatoes or 30-40 small paste tomatoes, diced
sea salt and pepper
20 g fresh organic basil

Method:  Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic, stir and then add the tomatoes and basil.  Season with a few pinches of sea salt and pepper.  Cook covered for 5 minutes, then remove lid, reduce heat to medium low, stir and let liquid reduce until sauce reaches desired consistency. Adjust seasoning as required.  Serve over pasta or on pizza.
This can also be made with 2 cans of organic tomatoes.

Sunday, September 19, 2010



Fall is the time to get your veg on!  All the crops are being harvested and so there is no better time to eat lots of raw veggies and fruits.  This week at the market I stocked up on cucumbers, beets, fennel, carrots, apples, and lots of other fresh produce so I could make delicious fresh juices.  This morning I decided to pour the juice into a wine glass thinking it would make my husband more likely to drink it if it reminded him of his favorite beverage.  It took a little encouragement, but he drank it.  

2 organic apples, seeded
2 small organic pickling cucumbers or 1/2 of an english cucumber
3 leaves organic kale (great way to use up the kale in the garden that the slugs have been munching on)
1/4 -1/2 small organic fennel bulb

Method:  Juice all the vegetables and drink up!

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Every now and then I like to flip through one of the many cookbooks on my shelf for inspiration and ideas.    Over the years I've dabbled in raw cuisine, testing out recipes from books now and then.  For the most part I've really enjoyed the recipes I've tried, especially the desserts!  A really lovely raw "un"cook book that I bought a while ago called "I am Grateful" by Teres Engelhart has some really yummy desserts.  Today, I decided I had to make the cashew lemon cheesecake.  It is so simple to make and incredibly delicious.  I ate two pieces and can't wait to go back for more tomorrow.  (By the time I got around to photographing this the light wasn't so great, so I apologize for the crappy photo!)
adapted from "I am Grateful" by Teres Englehart

makes a 9 1/2 cheesecake

For the crust:
2 cups organic almonds
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup organic dates (I used about 16)

For the filling:
3 cups soaked organic raw cashews (soaked 8 hours in water)
1 1/2 cups homemade organic almond milk
1 cup organic lemon juice
1/2 cup local honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 pinches sea salt
3 Tbsp organic non-gmo lecithin granules
3/4 cup raw unscented coconut oil

Top with organic lemon zest and/or slice and wild blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Method:  Make the crust first by finely chopping the almonds, vanilla and sea salt in the bowl of your food processor fitted with the "S" blade until finely crumbled.  Continue to process while adding the dates in small amounts until the crust sticks together.  Press crust into the bottom of a 9 1/2" spring form pan.
     To make the filling, blend all the ingredients except the lecithin and coconut oil until smooth.  Add the lecithin and coconut oil and blend until well incorporated.  Pour onto the crust and sprinkle with the blueberries.  Set in the fridge or freezer until firm (about an hour).  

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Autumn is definitely here, the days are cooler and the kitchen is warming up.  Pot roast is the ultimate comfort food, especially when you serve it with mashed potatoes.  The great thing too is that you have to make this meal early because it takes 4 hours to cook in the oven.  That way you can cozy up with a book or finish little projects you have going on.  I took the time to finish sewing up the diapers I am making for the baby.  Sigh.....loving the season.
POT ROAST with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

2 Tbsp organic vegetable oil
1 5-6 pound organic and/or pasture raised beef chuck roast or any other cut suitable for pot roast
sea salt and pepper
1 cup organic beef or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups organic red wine
3 organic onions, cut into wedges
4 cloves organic garlic, chopped
2 organic bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh organic thyme
2 Tbsp organic tomato paste
2 pounds organic carrots, cut into chunks
1 organic parsnip, cut into chunks
2 celery stalks, chopped

Method:  Preheat oven to 350*.  Heat the oil over medium high heat.  Season the roast with sea salt and pepper.  Brown the meat on all sides and then add the stock, wine, herbs, onion, garlic and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer, cover and place in the oven and roast for 3 hours.  Then add the carrots, parsnip and celery.  Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 1 more hour.  Serve on garlic mashed potatoes.

Just add chopped raw garlic to your mashed potatoes.....


Most commercially prepared mayonnaise is made with non-organic eggs and genetically modified organisms.  I did find an organic mayo from Spectrum, but I wasn't so impressed with their use of soya oil or with the price ($12-$13/jar!)  I always used to buy it until I realized how easy it was to make my own.


3 organic eggs
1 1/4 tsp organic dry mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup organic lemon juice
1 cup organic vegetable oil
1/2 cup e.v olive oil
1/4 cup organic flax seed oil

Method:  (Please note I have only made this in my Vita-Mix blender so I am not sure how it will turn out in your own should be fine though).
     Place the eggs, mustard, salt and lemon juice in the blender.  Turn machine on low and slowly build it up to high.  While machine is running, slowly pour in oil in a thin, steady stream until you use it all up and the mixture thickens.  Stop machine and stir in any oil sitting on top.  Refrigerate up to 4 weeks.


I used to think the whole joke about pregnant women craving pickles was something that would never occur to me.  In a sense it is true that I don't crave them, but I do really enjoy them now more than ever.  So, I decided to make some dill pickles with the fresh cucumbers that are in season right now.
 In an effort to use a more local product, I tried using Boate's Apple Cider Vinegar to make dill pickles last year.  They turned out, only I wasn't very keen on the appley taste.  I was really tempted to just cave and buy good old white vinegar, but realized I couldn't find any that was in a glass bottle, so I decided to try out white wine vinegar.  I'll let you know how it goes.

8 lbs organic pickling cucumbers
14 heads fresh organic dill
7-10 cloves organic garlic, chopped
7 Tbsp coarse celtic sea salt
7 tsp organic pickling spice
3 1/2 dried organic red hot peppers
8 cups vinegar (your choice)
8 cups water

Method:  Fill boiling water canner with water.  Place 7 clean 1 litre mason jars in the canner over high heat.  Wash cucumbers, slicing off blossom ends, leaving a 1/4 inch of stem attached.  Place snap lids in boiling water and boil for 5 minutes.
     Combine vinegar and water in a large stainless steel saucepan.  Bring to a boil, boiling gently while you pack jars.  In a hot jar, place 1 head of dill, 1 clove of the chopped garlic, 1 Tbsp salt, 1 tsp spice and 1/2 of a hot pepper.  Pack cucumbers into a hot jar to within 2 cm of top rim.  Place one head of dill on top.  Add boiling pickling liquid to cover cucumbers to within 1 cm of top rim.  Remove air bubbles by sliding a rubber spatula between glass and food, readjust head space.  Wipe rim, then centre, snap lid on and apply screw band until just fingertip tight  Place jar in canner.  Repeat.  Cover canner, return water to boil and process 15 minutes.  Remove jars, cool 24 hours, check jar seals.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Living life with less plastic isn't the easiest thing to do sometimes, but for the most part, once you get used to shopping and living differently, it ain't so bad!  For instance, I've sewn a whole bunch of cloth produce bags with drawstrings and take them with me to the market instead of using the plastic bags provided.  I also bring along paper bags and vegetable wax paper for bulk items, meats and seafood, as well as an (old) plastic tub so nothing leaks out.  
     Today, instead of buying the (unfortunately plastic packaged) PC Organic Shrimp that I was once so excited about, I got some wild caught ones from Mike's Fish Shop at the Farmer's Market.  Sometimes it is inconvenient when you are looking for something specific and it is only available wrapped in useless plastic.  If you're strategic though, another store probably sells what you are looking for.  For example, Atlantic Superstore has a nasty policy of selling most of it's organic produce in plastic.  So I choose to shop at the Farmer's Market and Planet Organic.  The market is your best choice for finding plastic free food by far.  Some vendors do use a lot of plastic, but there is always someone around the corner who doesn't, so be discriminating!
     Today was a great reminder that living a life plastic free requires not only diligence in the market, but regular activism!  The last couple of times I've shopped at Bulk Barn, the checkout staff got all flustered when they saw my paper bags.  They then tell me that I am not allowed to use my own bags because of health regulations.  Not only was I hassled by the staff, but then a customer in line was impatient and told  me this wasn't the time for political activism.  I strongly disagreed which then held him up even longer.  So sad.  Anyway, so I will be calling Bulk Barn head office on Monday to voice my objection to their policy and to request that they offer paper bags in their stores for customers who prefer them.  If you are so inclined, please join me by calling (905)886-6756.

10 wild caught shrimp, sliced in half lengthwise if huge
3 Tbsp fresh organic ginger, grated and the juice squeezed out with the palm of your hand
3 Tbsp organic tamari soy sauce
1 Tbsp brown rice vinegar
2 tsp organic sugar or honey
1-2 Tbsp organic cornstarch
1 cup water
organic black pepper
4 Tbsp organic vegetable oil
1 organic red bell pepper
1 stalk organic broccoli, peeled and chopped into florets
1 large handful organic snow peas or sugar snap peas
8 organic green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 organic zucchini, cut into half moons
1 large handful roasted organic cashews

Method:  In a small bowl, whisk together the tamari, ginger juice, vinegar, sugar, cornstarch, some black pepper and the water.  Set aside.
     Heat half the oil in a large cast iron wok over medium high heat.  Cook the shrimp until just opaque, set aside.  
     Add the other half of the oil and stir fry the vegetables until crisp yet tender, about 3 minutes.
     Whisk the sauce, and pour it into pan, cook stirring until thickened.  Add the shrimp and stir until coated.  Serve over rice or noodles with some cashews.

Monday, September 6, 2010


I woke up yesterday morning really wanting to bake the very ripe bananas that were sitting on my counter into banana bread.  Then the power company decided to do some repair work on some hurricane related damage, and we were left without power again for the whole day.  So I woke up this morning and went right to it.
I love it that this recipe only uses bananas and brown rice syrup for sweetness.  Lightly spiced with cinnamon and spices, it's the perfect snack anytime of day.  Sometimes I like to bake these in mini serving size pans, like a personal pan pizza, only banana bread!  If you're feeling a bit naughty, you can add some chocolate chips too.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 50-60 minutes
Makes 1 loaf

3-4 ripe organic bananas
1/3 cup organic vegetable oil
1/2 cup organic brown rice syrup
1 cup organic whole wheat flour
1 cup organic unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp GMO free baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground organic allspice
1/2 tsp ground organic cinnamon
pinch of ground organic ground cardamom
1/2 - 1 cup organic walnuts, crushed
1/2 - 1 cup organic chocolate chips (optional)

Method:  Preheat oven to 375*.  Oil a 9 X 5 inch loaf pan.  With a potato masher, blend together the bananas and oil until combined.  Stir in the syrup .
     In a separate bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients, except the nuts and chocolate chips.  Then add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and mix together.  Stir in walnuts and chips.
     Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


A dear friend of mine nominated me for Best Mommy Food Blogger on  I'd love it if you checked it out and cast a vote!

I'm listed under Anastasia, so the best way to find it is to pick the alphabetical option............


Growing up we lived next door to an Iranian family.  My mother fell in love with the cuisine, and encouraged our neighbours to show her how to make Iranian food.  One of the lovely rice dishes she still makes to this day is laced with green onions and herbs.  It was the perfect accompaniment to the organic salmon we broiled.


1 cup basmati rice
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup organic fresh dill, minced
1/4 cup organic fresh parsley, chopped
3 organic green onions, sliced
1 Tbsp organic salted butter
1 tsp sea salt

Method:  Rinse the rice in a sieve until it runs clear.  Let the rice soak in the water for at least 30 minutes in the pot you will be cooking it in.  Then bring the water to a boil, add herbs, salt and butter, cover with a lid, lower the heat to very low and let steam for about 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Friday, September 3, 2010


My mother has been visiting for the last two weeks, so there has been a flurry of activity in the kitchen.  The farmer's market is overflowing with seasonal vegetables we don't see around these parts most of the year, so I've been very excited to bring home treats to make all my summertime favorites with.  Luckily mom is here to help with all the work.  
Her willing hands were also very useful when I had the hugest urge to go wild blueberry picking last week.  A couple of years ago there was a big forest fire alongside the highway not too far away from where we live.  I was sad to see all the trees burn away, but a part of me was looking forward to the idea of prime blueberry growing conditions that are subsequently created as a result of a big burn.  So there we were, out early in the morning, me with my big baby belly, and mom with her allergy congestion.  We weren't there for very long, just enough to pick blueberries to make two lovely pies.  That same day we made sweet and sour pickles, and Spanakopita.  We were tired by the end of the day, but well fed.  
To take a break from all the cooking, we've been busy sewing baby stuff.  And going to the beach to cool off during this heat wave we've been having.  When we get tired of that, we haul ourselves back into the kitchen to make other delicious treats like homemade pasta, which my son helped us make, and stuffed peppers.  Wow, I'm getting tired just writing about it all.  By the way, sorry I haven't posted in a while, but I find myself low on patience and energy during this pregnancy.  Thankfully, mom took these pictures of supper tonight, and so here I am sharing it with you.

1 medium organic eggplant, sliced in half and hollowed out, reserve the meat and chop
6 organic peppers, any colour, tops cut off and hollowed out
2 cups partially cooked organic brown rice
1/4 cup e.v olive oil
1/2-3/4 pound organic or pasture raised ground beef
1 can organic whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 organic onion, diced
1 organic leek, thinly sliced
2 large cloves organic garlic, chopped
1/4 cup Bulgarian feta, crumbled (I bought this type because it comes in bulk from a metal can instead of a plastic pail!  woo hoo)
1/4 cup organic parsley, chopped
1/4 cup organic mint, chopped
sea salt and pepper to taste
1/8 cup grated romano or parmesan 
1/4 cup organic breadcrumbs
2-4 organic potatoes, cut into large wedges (to hold all the peppers upright in the pan)

Method:  In a large saute pan, cook onion, reserved eggplant, and ground beef over medium heat with half the olive oil until onion is soft and beef is browned slightly.  Stir in the tomatoes and let simmer for a couple of minutes.  Remove from heat, add cooked rice, feta, herbs and seasonings.
     Preheat oven to 350*.  Fill peppers and eggplant.  Cover the peppers with their lids.  Brush olive oil over the peppers and any of the exposed eggplant.  Combine the romano and bread crumbs together in a bowl and then sprinkle on top of the peppers and eggplant.  Place the peppers and eggplants in a baking dish, and use the potatoes to keep the peppers upright in the pan, wedging them between the vegetables.  Bake in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours or until nicely browned and cooked through.  If peppers brown too quickly, cover with parchment paper.

Faegan insisted on being the official pasta machine cranker.  He had a lot of fun helping, but eventually he decided he'd rather cut the pasta into little bits which inspired us to make a quick lunch of leftover pasta bits boiled in water and then smothered in salty butter and freshly grated romano cheese.
The grand finale was this delicious lasagna made from the fresh pasta noodles, grilled eggplant and zucchini.

One of the blueberry pies.
The lovely leeks we used in the pita.  I was glad to find a use for all the chard and dandelions in the garden too.

And the delicious sandwich pickles.
I promise I will get to posting all these recipes eventually.  Just as soon as beach days are gone.........