Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Easy Peach Pie

Last week I bought a couple boxes of peaches to make the peach butter and then decided we needed some peach pie too.  I wanted to make it quickly because it was almost dinner time so I decided to try using the same dough that I use for tomato pie (minus the cheese and with a spoonful of brown sugar added instead) since I can make that up so quickly.
The peaches were very juicy and ripe so I put some bread crumbs and some ground almonds on the bottom of the crust to help soak up the juice.
Then sliced the peaches and mixed in two more spoonfuls of brown sugar and put them on the crust with some cinnamon sprinkled on top.
Folded in the edges.
And baked until done.
It was very quick to put together and went down a treat.  Now we need to get more peaches so we can have it again.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Our weekends have been incredibly full this summer and we've not been home much at all.  Last week we changed our weekend plans to even better weekend plans which included 4 days with friends - friends we haven't seen for two whole years!  What a treat to have so much time to catch up, although it did seem to go by awfully quickly.  Happily we were able to include some hiking and biking time in the weekend and that is also more fun with friends.
E was our spotter during the hike and he managed to find us all kinds of goodies.
Delicious wild strawberries - we were up high enough that they were still available.
And, even more exciting - huckleberries.
A mountainside full of them.
And then when we went to the pond to see the tadpoles I'd heard were in abundance this year...
we found hundreds of tiny frogs instead - clusters of them huddled together.  It was quite a sight.
Weekends are good!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tomato Time

I mentioned that we've been gorging on tomatoes but now we've just gotten to the point where my plants are producing more than we can eat.  That means it is time to start putting them by for wintertime.  So for the next month I'll be spending some time canning, freezing and drying tomatoes.  The other day I did a small batch of stewed cherry tomatoes for the freezer.  I like to have some small containers (1 cup size) frozen for using in pea soup - I find 1 cup worth gives just enough flavour to our pea soup without being so much that the boys think it is too tomatoey for pea soup.  Bet you didn't know there was such a fine balance with pea soup...neither did I until my boys informed me. ;-)
Next up on my to do list is my favourite salsa - made with peaches and tomatoes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Worth Watching Wednesday

Last week we made time to watch Dirt! The Movie.  I'm so pleased that people are making movies like this.  Sometimes I find it difficult to watch these sorts of documentaries because they do show the damage that we are doing to this earth but they also show many, many inspiring, motivated people doing their part to help as best as they can so I always come away inspired to do more and glad to have learned even more.

We also watched Fresh - such an interesting film.  I was so pleased to see an interview with Joel Salatin.  I read his book Family Friendly Farming this summer and enjoyed it so much so it was a treat to see his farm and him in action.
Also loved seeing  more about the Edible Schoolyard program in Alice Waters' interview as well.  Anytime we go by a school the gardener in me can't help but look at the land around it and see potential garden and potential food.  Such a beautiful idea.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summertime Feasting

We've been eating straight from the garden and enjoying it so much.  I love eating at this time of year...well, I love eating all through the year but I love the freshness of this time of year.  Some meals we've been enjoying the last few days are breakfast burritos (for dinner, though).  We saute new potatoes with garlic and herbs until they are browned and cooked through. Then we put them in tortillas with eggs that we've scrambled with sauteed zucchini and red pepper.
We top that off with homemade salsa, tomatoes and cheese.  This cheese in one of my favourite ones from Gort's Gouda - they're all good and W would tell you that the Cumin gouda is the best. I like the smoked gouda with  Habanero peppers because the smokey taste is delicious on burritos or nachos.  This is VERY hot though so we just use a bit.  We learned a lesson about habaneros last year when W put some from the garden onto a batch of chilli cheese fries that he was making - let me just say there was nothing "chilly" about them. 
I've also been trying more zucchini recipes.  We made two Impossible Zucchini Pies from Simply in Season. 
I think next time I would halve the recipe and make one so that we wouldn't have leftovers.  We preferred it hot out of the oven.
We've been enjoying buckets of beans - so far mostly made my favourite way but last night I found a new recipe that we all loved so now we will be having that a lot as well.
And we've been gorging on tomatoes - greek salad, tomato pie, tomato sandwiches, cheese tomato buns under the broiler and we've been using these...
to make platefuls of this - slices of tomato, olive oil, salt and pepper, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil.  So good.  S ends up eating so many that he barely has room for the rest of dinner.
And we're eating buckets of cherry tomatoes...just as they are.
I feel very blessed every time I go to my garden.  Life is truly abundant and gardening is the perfect medium to remind me so each and every day.  The other day I was feeling very stretched with some aspects of our life just now, I knew that I needed to get into the garden and just be.  It only took an hour of working in the garden to have me back feeling peaceful and choosing joy over choosing frustration.  The garden is magical that way too - a place to feed soul and the senses as well as hungry tummies.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I only tried eating edamame for the first time a few  years ago.  I thought it was such a great snack.  This year I was given some soybean plants to grow in my garden and it was fun to try a new to me plant.
I've been picking them for the last few weeks and was pleased to have enought to freeze a few bags worth too.
They're such fun looking, furry little things.
All I did was pop them in boiling water for five minutes and then put them in cold water to cool.
Then put them whole (in pods) into freezer bags.  They look just like little candies to me although my boys don't think they taste like candy.  Ah well, all the more for S and I.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Blackberry Jam

Where I was grew up our property was surrounded by blackberry brambles.  They grew everywhere...with vigor.  I loved eating them - they are one of my favourite berries.  I've never found them growing wild near here so I had them planted (the thornless variety) in my old gardens.
I also like to pick them when I go to visit my folks and use those wild ones to make into jam.  The boys and I just spent some time with visiting parents (at one of my favourite lakes) and I spent some time one morning in the brambles picking berries. 
I kept an ear out for the young black bear that has been nosing around my parents' place - he surprised us (and us him) the day we arrived by coming around the garden right towards where we were sitting.  Our dog wasn't too pleased about this stranger and promptly chased him away.

Then I set to making some jam out of the two buckets of berries. 
I love to use Pomona's Pectin for jam making, it is very simple to use and you can use any amount of sweetener (or none at all).
Now we've got our supply of blackberry jam tucked away in the coldroom and there was enough to leave some with my parents too.
Delicious on oatcakes or scones.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Elderberry Syrup

Just before we went away last week I realized that if I didn't pick the elderberries I would be out of luck
 as they were drying up quickly in the heat.
I made time to pick them that day and then set about getting them off the stems.  This is a time consuming job - something I would normally rush through or try to find the fastest way to accomplish - but I found it very calming and peaceful this time.  I sat outside in the morning sun with my bowls full of berries and enjoyed the sound of the berries pattering into the bowl - a much needed slow down.
Once I had my largest bowl full of berries I decided to make syrup with them since I still have some elixir left from last year.  (If you want to see a gorgeous photo tutorial of one method of making elderberry syrup have a look here.)
I washed and measured them.  Put them in a large pot with some water and cooked them.
Then collected their juice with this strainer.  I heated the juice with some honey and then sealed it in canning jars. 
Now I have 10 jars tucked away in the coldroom to help maintain our good health in the winter months.  (That little red tool in the photo is one of my favourite canning tools - I used to burn my fingers a lot trying to fish lids out of hot water before I got that handy magnetic tool.)
And then I thought a sample of the syrup was in order so I poured some into my glass and added some club soda and ice.  Very refreshing.
PS - ever wondered how big a zucchini can get in the 5 days you go on a holiday?  This big!!  I picked all the plants clean before I left and came home to another box full.
And ever wondered how many cukes and zukes you can get in those 5 days? This many!! 
I picked all the plants clean before I left and came home to another box full of each.  Happily I was able to unload lots on my drive home from the garden (so the photo only shows what I ended up bringing home) - some at the library, some to a co-worker, some with friends...and some on someone's doorstep.  Boy, will they be surprised when they get home.   One year I will manage to reconcile my love of growing food with my love of going on trips in the summertime and figure out a way to not end up with such surpluses of produce.  Now...to get caught up on the rest of the produce.