Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble with Whipped Cream

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Crisps, Cobblers, Buckles. These are my favorite desserts to make. They are quick, adaptable to whichever fruit or berry is in season, and given a healthy dollop of whipped cream, make a very satisfying end to a meal.

In case you are wondering about the technical differences between them; here you go. 

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I ordered local rhubarb from Wendy’s Mobile Market a few weeks ago and chopped it up and tossed it in the freezer. It was waiting for that special berry, the one that completes it, that balances out its mouth puckering flavor with its own sunny sweetness.

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I have resigned myself to the fact that I probably won’t be getting out to Fruition Berry Farm in time for strawberry picking this year. Sad as I am about the fact, I was more than happy to trot up to the Memorial Center Farmer’s Market with my husband and girls this Sunday and pick up a large basket of strawberries instead.

We also treated ourselves to some of the amazing Ukrainian food offered by Natasha. It made for a great picnic sitting by the splash pad and park on the other side of the Memorial Center. I am still dreaming of the periogies. SONY DSC

If you can ever get ahold of the Whipping Cream from Limestone Organic Creamery run straight to your kitchen and arm yourself with a whisk.

Did I mention they deliver right to your door? Also try their chocolate milk. When we found our porch box filled last Thursday morning my three year old started screaming ‘YAY! Chocolate milk! Chocolate milk!’. A liter doesn’t last a day in our house.

Whipped cream (or creme chantilly… if you know, you’re French and EVERYTHING must sound fancy) is one of the most indulgent of pleasures. Splash a generous amount of cream into a bowl, sprinkle in some icing sugar, a drop or two of vanilla extract and a bit of whisking and you have a great topping for any dessert. SONY DSC

The whipping cream from Limestone Organic Creamery comes together quickly, my arm barely has time to start complaining when I whisk it by hand. If you are using store bought be sure to get 35% and you might want to opt for an electric power source, it takes a bit longer to build up volume.

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The basics behind a crumble are pretty straightforward. Berries/Fruit mixed with flour/cornstarch (to thicken sauce), and sugar to sweeten if needed. Sometimes a spice like cinnamon is sprinkled in. The topping is a mix of oats, flour, sugar and cold butter. Making sure the butter is cold and chopped into the dry ingredients ensures a crisp topping. SONY DSC

 Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble with Whipped Cream

Filling

  • 3 Cups Strawberries (slice or quarter)
  • 3 Cups Chopped Rhubarb (if using frozen allow to thaw and drain off liquid)
  • 3/4 Cups White Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch

Mix all together, allow to sit.

Topping

  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 3/4 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Oats
  • 2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 3/4 Cups Butter-cubed

Mix flour sugar, oats and cinnamon. Toss in butter cubes, using either a pastry cutter or your fingers break the butter into small piece (about pea sized). Mix well.

Fill the bottom of an 8×8 sized pan (or something similar) with fruit mixture top with the oat mixture. Place in 375f oven for 30-40 minutes until bubbling and top is browned.

Whipped Cream

  • 1 Cup Cream
  • 3 Tablespoons Icing Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Whip all together. Play around with the ratios until you find the balance you like. If you have a very sweet dessert cut back on the sugar in the icing.

 

 

CSA: July 5th

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Another lovely bunch of produce from Salt of the Earth Farm this weekend.

Kale, Chard and Spinach were there this week again…. At this point I was willing to chop up almost all of the kale and throw into a freezer bag to use in soups during the winter. I’ve had enough kale at the moment. Maybe knee deep in snow in January I’ll appreciate it a little more. Absence make the palette grow fonder?

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There were a few more new items this time ’round. Scallions replaced the garlic scapes. I’ve seen enough of those for the season too (25lbs+, more on that in another post). I was happy to see the scallions, they add a nice bright green flavour to almost any dish.

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Some lively looking hungarian hot wax peppers came this week. A quick google search came up with recommendations for pickling and stuffing. 

We also got a hearty amount of sugar snap peas. I had these for the first time last year and was excited to see them again.

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I am in LOVE with the beautiful lettuce I’ve been getting.

I made a quick salad to bring to the in-laws and tossed together the one head of the butter head lettuce with some beet greens from last week (they kept great in the fridge), some spinach, radish, and scallions and tossed it with a quick vinaigrette made from garlic scape pesto (that recipe will be coming soon, it’s where most of those 25lbs went to).  It was delicious.

I also added some shredded raw milk gouda…. Which I wish I had never bought, the stuff has forever changed what I consider a good cheese. It’s EXPENSIVE. Now I’m going to have expensive cheese cravings… greeeaaattt.

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A couple of small heads of broccoli made a modest presence in our basket. Local broccoli is much less sturdy than conventional stuff, it also wont last as long in your fridge, so eat it quickly if you can. A quick steam, some butter, salt and pepper and I’ve got a green veggie that my kid would eat endless amounts of.

It’s excited watching the produce rev up now that summer is really in full swing.

 

How to Store, Cook, and Eat Kale

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KALE

Too Good to Taste Good?

Kale is good for us, I’m sure by now we’ve all managed to pick up that much about the dark leafy green. It’s really good for us.

Like most things healthy, Kale doesn’t rank high on the tasty index. Raw it tends to be tough and bitter. Pretty much it taste exactly as you would expect so damned good for us to taste.

Mary Poppins had it right, a spoonful of sugar helps anything bitter go down. And a teaspoon of salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice. (Every time I’m forced to watch Mary Poppins-again- I am amused about the fact that her favorite flavor the magical personalizing medicine turns into is Rum Punch).

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Besides giving kale a light saute, or a long braise to temper the bitterness, we can also balance it out with other flavors. When combined properly the bitterness kale offers can contrast nicely to other sweet, sour, and salty ingredients.

Oh and if using it raw in a salad, it likes a little rub down first. Seriously.. it expects to be wined before you dine.

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You Don’t Need Recipes to Cook

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One of the hardest parts about cooking and eating local food is the need for flexibility. Like the general in an army you need to be prepared with a counter move for anything thrown at you.

Recipes string you along a set of directions. They rely on a specific scenario with a predetermined list of ingredients being at hand. They just aren’t enough for practical local cooking.SONY DSC

With basic tactics for braising meat, throwing together a spread for pitas or sandwiches, and roasting leafy greens you can use to create dozens of different flavor combinations, freely changing in whatever local goodies you have filling your fridge.

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Tips for Keeping Your CSA Goodies Fresh

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I’m trying to think of a name for this post series. CSA:WTF has crossed my mind, or maybe a little less crass; CSA:Q&A?

One of the major hurdles to buying and eating local/real food is not knowing what to do with it. Recipes are easy enough to find, but kitchen and food skills go beyond a simple recipe. Knowing how to choose, store, prepare AND eat food are all essential skills. SONY DSC

I received my first CSA veg share today from Salt of the Earth Farm here in Kingston. Included in my local food goodie box were; kale, spinach, chard, cilantro, radishes, lettuce and garlic scapes.

I’m going to show you how to store the early summer produce to get the longest fridge life out of them.

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Keeping Cool in the Kitchen- Quinoa and Asparagus Salad

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I do not like the heat.

Previous summers I had taken to throwing something in the oven and running to hunker besides the AC unit. I live in a small house and in the winter the oven is a lovely way to warm up the rooms and fill it with the smell of home baking.

In the summer it turns the house into a raging inferno. Oftentimes its hotter inside than out.

Rather than subject my family to such torture we ended up ordering take-out far too often.

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This year I’m determined to find a way to cook while generating minimal heat. I’m also holding off as long as possible before putting the AC unit in.

There is always the bbq, but honestly it kind of intimidates me. Which makes no sense, considering I handle monstrous commercial gas ovens like a beloved oversized lap dog.

I think it goes back to the time my father left me in charge of the hamburgers and I dropped one between the grills. Looking over my shoulder I frantically rinsed it off in the pool before throwing it back with the (presumably) chlorine free patties. Needless to say the distinctly different flavour gave me away.

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Cooked by Michael Pollan

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I’m a reader. Books have been both life changing and life saving for me.

Reading is the only way I’ve managed to stay sane during these early years of mommy-hood. Being able to lay down in bed and escape into the written word while my little ones literally crawl over top of me is the only way I make it through some days.

Back in my pre-mommy days I discovered a book called The Omnivore’s Dilemia. I had previously taken Museum Studies and I found the history of food a particularly captivating subject.

I wasn’t prepared to have the author, Michael Pollan, spin my perspective towards the future of food. This book, and the others it pointed me towards, propelled me into the culinary world.

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I couldn’t knowingly be part of the modern food system they were describing and opted for the only solution I could find; becoming a vegan.

Which highlighted my drastic lack of skills in the kitchen.

I knew I didn’t want to be eating endless processed foods, even if they were free of animal products. So I enrolled in culinary school, determined to get something out of it even if I would be horribly out of my element.

In culinary school I was introduced to the local food movement here in Kingston. I began to learn about things like organic, pasture raised, and free range.

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How Local Food Makes Life Easier- Cherry Tomatoes Salad with Chives

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There are a myriad of reasons to eat local. Local food tastes better. Local food is better for the environment. Local food supports your economy. Local food will make you part of the cool crowd.

What I never expected from local food was that it makes things easier. I like cooking, but I do not like meal planning. There are too many possibilities. With aisles and aisles of groceries including dozens of different ethnic ingredients available I just don’t even know where to start.

Too many choices actually causes more stress for people. It’s one of the reasons I ask my preschooler ‘Do you want to wear your purple dress or your blue dress?’ instead of watching her tear every piece of clothing out of her dresser and throw them on the floor. At the very least it’s less stress for me.

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Local food does the same for me; do you want to eat the cherry tomatoes or the asparagus? Or in the fall; the pumpkin or the sweet potato?

All I have to do is check out what’s available, either at the farmer’s market or from Wendy’s Mobile Market and fill my fridge. When it comes time to cook I just work with what I’ve got. Cherry tomatoes or asparagus? Last night, cherry tomatoes.

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How to Fry an Egg

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It was just myself and the youngest here this weekend so dinner was simple; fried eggs and toast. You can not overstate the tastiness of a buttered piece of toast dipped into egg yolk. It’s a great emergency empty-fridge, low on energy, avoiding takeout, meal.

None of us are born knowing how to cook, and for a lot of us we don’t get a chance to pick up the skills while we are young. I once tried to boil an egg in the microwave. FYI, they explode when you try to take the shell off…and they smell… like rotten eggs.

Frying an egg is almost as simple as it gets in the kitchen. The simplest things are usually the trickiest to get right.SONY DSC

Heat up a pan on medium-low to medium. Eggs shouldn’t be cooked on a high heat. You want to avoiding browning the egg too much, which makes it tough and rubbery.

Be sure to coat the pan with a modest amount of oil. I usually use olive oil, butter works well too. Julia Child was famous for her love of bacon fat.

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