Monday, May 21, 2012


It is so nice to eat food that someone else has prepared.  Especially when that someone else is your mother who is a really, really talented cook.  The kids and I have abandoned our homestead down east and we've landed in Toronto to hang with my parents while my husband does some serious renovating on our home.  The beautifully warm and sunny warm weather has set the scene for lots of kiddie pool and sprinkler time, not to mention some great outdoor dining.  My mother wowed me last night with a really yummy fish dish.  The best description I can come up with is Broiled Haddock with Sauteed Onion and Fennel.  Simple, delicious, and a really nice change from the way food tastes when I prepare it.  
BROILED HADDOCK with Sauteed Onion and Fennel

2 pounds hook and line haddock fillets (about 4 pieces)
2 large organic onions
1 medium organic fennel bulb, fronds reserved
2 Tbsp organic butter, one of them melted
1/2 cup dry organic white wine
sea salt and pepper

Method:  Preheat the oven to 375*.  Place onion, 1 Tbsp of butter, fennel, wine, sea salt and pepper in a large cast iron skillet.  Stir to combine and place in the oven.  Roast, stirring occasionally until the mixture is lightly caramelized, about 45 minutes.  Remove from oven, keep warm.  Increase the temperature to 400*.  Place the fish in another cast iron skillet, drizzle with the other dab of butter which you have melted, and then season with sea salt and pepper.  Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until opaque.  Place the fish on a nice bed of the onions and fennel and serve.

Monday, May 14, 2012


We tiptoed barefoot in the grass amongst the dandelions on Mother's Day picking blossoms for wine.  It is difficult for me to comprehend why this so very lovely and useful plant receives such bad press when it magically (and prolifically) appears every spring.  I've noticed quite a few people out fervishly digging them out of their lives with these specially designed tools, which although very odd,  are definitely a better option than spraying with herbicides (poison....did you know anything with "cide" on the end means death?)
Well if you can't beat them, you might as well celebrate them.  And we do, in every way possible.  And what better way than by having a glass of wine that reminds us of Spring on the darkest night of the year?


4 litres boiled water
4 cups dandelion blossoms
2 organic oranges, zest peeled and then juiced
1 organic lemon, zest peeled and then juiced
2 pound local honey
1/4 tsp dry white wine or champagne yeast

Method:  Steep the blossoms in the boiling water, cover and let rest overnight (or up to 3 days) in an earthenware pot.  Then stir in the citrus peels and bring to a boil.  Strain into the earthenware crock again, stir in honey and let cool.  Add the raisins, lemon and orange juice and the the yeast.  Cover loosely and let sit in a dark room or cupboard for 2-3 weeks,  stirring every 2-3 days.  When fermentation is complete, strain with a cheesecloth, and pour into a 4 litre sterilized bottle fitted with a little gadget you buy at the wine making store that lets gas out but no air in.  Let this sit for 3 weeks and then pour into 500 ml bottles and cork.  Let age for 6-9 months.  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 6, 2012


I've planted nettles at every house I have ever owned in the hopes of one day being able to watch it grow into a large healthy plant for harvesting from each spring.  That has yet to happen.  I keep moving before it gets a chance to establish itself.  Luckily I find nettle for sale every year at the Farmer's Market.  I also keep me eyes peeled for wild stinging nettles but have yet to find that special spot where they grow. 
I had fantasies of making Nettle Spanakoptia but having neither the ingredients nor energy to go that route, I opted for my annual pot of Nettle Soup.  Now, I know I've already posted a recipe for making Nettle Soup on this blog, but this recipe is a bit different so worthy of sharing anyway.


150 g organic or wild stinging nettle leaves and tender stems
2 Tbsp organic butter
2 organic leek, cleaned and chopped thinly
1 organic onion
2 cloves organic garlic
2 organic celery stalks, sliced
2 Tbsp organic white or basmati rice
1 litre (4 cups) organic chicken stock
1 handful organic raw cashews, soaked for a few hours in water
1 cup filtered or spring water
sea salt and freshly ground organic black pepper
organic yogurt
fresh chives

Method:  Pick over the nettles, wash them thoroughly and discard the tougher stalks.  Melt the butter in a large pan over medium to low heat, add the onion, leek, celery and garlic, cover and sweat for 10 minutes, stirring a few times until soft.  Add the rice and stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the nettles, and simmer for 5 minutes or until the rice and nettles are tender.  Season with salt and pepper.  
     Drain the cashew and then place the cashew in a food processor along with the one cup of water.  Blend until completely  pureed into a milk.  Add the soup to blender and puree.  Pour back into the pot, check for saltiness.  Ladle into bowl, top with a dollop of yogurt and snipped chives.  Serve.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Welcoming spring with open mouths.
The earth is alive, and we have been grateful recipients of her bounty this week.  First it was the dandelions, then the asparagus we've waited three years to feast upon, and today, we relished the freshness of the little star lady, Chickweed.  Stellaria media can easily be overlooked as an unwanted common garden weed.  I myself am guilty of having haphazardly ripped her from the earth in an attempt to clear my garden of unwanted visitors.  
But that was before I realized who this lovely lady was, and there is no going back now.  Oh no, Stellaria media is a definite keeper.  Not only does chickweed taste so fresh and delicious in a salad, it is one of the supreme healers of the herbal queendom.
     Stellaria media is best identified by many small, starry white flowers with five petals than appear to be ten petals.  It grows in low, dense, vibrant-green mats.  Chickweed likes to grow in cultivated/disturbed soil in open but cool environments.  The only spot is grows on my land is in my garden because it's presence indicates fertile, mineral rich soil, and around here that only exists where we've imported or created it (unfortunately).  
Luckily my generous neighbour spotted a bounty of chickweed growing in her garden and invited me over for a little harvesting.

 In the kitchen I clean and prepare chickweed much the same way I do dandelion (check out the deets on my Dandelion Harvest post).  The simplest way to serve dandelion is mixed in with your salad greens and dressed with a simple vinaigrette.  If you want to get a little fancy, use equal parts basil and chickweed in your next pesto, or add a handful to your sandwiches in place of lettuce.  Don't forget, keep your eyes peeled for chickweed when you get out there to weed your garden, and for God's sake, don't throw it out!