Archive for the 'Recipes' Category

Harvest Season Begins – Dilled Zucchini Anyone?

Dilled Zucchini Sticks

It’s a beautiful September week and the perfect time to focus on veggies. We’ve already been snacking on carrots and potatoes from the garden. Then there are all the tomatoes that [I thought] I over-planted in the spring. Even though we ended up with 15 plants, I’ve been thrilled to have an over-abundance of tomatoes for salads, snacking and turning into salsa. And we’ve also had pounds of cucumbers which we’ve been turning into pickles.

Then we visited the downtown farmer’s market on the weekend with some friends. Kuhlmann’s Greenhouse was selling their cauliflower for $1 and their giant zucchini for $3. (MJ weighed the zucchini when we got home and we realized that we had 11 ½ pounds of zucchini!)

Banana holding only half of the zucchini that we purchased.

Needless to say, MJ and I did a little bit of canning on the weekend. Here is a recipe for dilled zucchini.

Dilled Zucchini

Who says you can’t pickle zucchini? It makes a great pickle and easily picks up the flavour of the dill. We made the mistake of slicing the zucchini a bit too thickly. And we also should have measured better – the sticks should be cut to the size of the canning jars. We ended up having to cut sticks in half in order to fit them in the jars.

4 ½ lbs zucchini
3 tbsp pickling salt
5 cups white vinegar
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp fresh dill weed, chopped
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp mustard seed
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Sprigs of dill weed

Chop zucchini into sticks and layer with pickling salt in large bowl. Let it stand for an hour.

Prepare your canning jars – place in boiling water canner (just a really big pot of water!) and let boil for 10 minutes. Set aside screw bands and lids in hot water until ready to use.

In a large pot, combine vinegar, sugar, turmeric, chopped dill, celery seed and mustard seed. Bring to a boil.

Rinse the zucchini in cold water; drain thoroughly; pat dry. Add zucchini, chopped garlic and onions to liquid and bring to a boil. Let it boil for five minutes or more.

Time to fill the jars. Place 1 large sprig of dill weed in a hot jar. Place the zucchini and onions into the hot jar and add liquid to within 1 cm of the top of the jar. Place a lid and screw band on the jar and return the jar to the canner. Repeat until all the jars are full.

Boil the jars for at least 10 minutes in the canner. Carefully remove them from the hot water so that the contents doesn’t touch the lid. Leave them to cool for 24 hours. Be sure to check that the seals have decompressed.


Strawberry Days

Banana 'helping' pick strawberries

I just want to say that I have had the yummiest week! The girls and I went strawberry picking on Tuesday to ELKS Farm. It is so close to Edmonton (just north of St. Albert), the owners were kind and the farm was very child-friendly. The Bear and Banana snacked their way through the rows of strawberries while I picked. We purchased $25 worth of strawberries – a price that I have no problem paying since the girls ate up so many berries.

Then it was jam-making time. We had enough strawberries to do three batches. I did a conventional strawberry jam and one that combined the raspberries from our backyard with the strawberries. Then we got creative by adding mint from our garden with lemon zest and pepper. The recipe is listed below.

If this is slow parenting, I’m in my element. The farm was beautiful and it was so great to get out of the city. We even caught a frog among the strawberry bushes. The girls were exposed to that all-important element of slow food – know where your food comes from. And there is so much satisfaction in creating from scratch. As I gobbled up warm leftover jam on homemade bread last night (one of the many reasons I will never be skinny!), I was moved by the fact that I was eating something completely pure, local and all of my creation. And the taste, well, it is indescribable.

Strawberry Jam with Mint, Pepper and Lemon Zest

2 pounds sliced strawberries (approximately 6 cups sliced)
lemon zest from one lemon
2/3 cup lemon juice (I squeezed juice from the lemon and then topped it up)
1 box (57 grams) of pectin
4 3/4 cups sugar
8 large mint leaves, hand shredded (or about ¼ cup shredded leaves)
2 tsp ground pepper

1. Prepare canning jars. Directions are here.
2. Bring strawberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, and pectin to a boil in thick-bottomed pot until pectin is dissolved.
3. Add sugar and stir constantly. Jam should get to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil hard for 1 minute.
4. Skim off foam.
5. Add mint and pepper
6. Ladle into jars and secure seals and rings. Place jars back into water bath and boil for 10 minutes. Take jam from water bath without tilting (use canning tongs) and let rest for 24 hours.

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp

The Bear chopping rhubarb for the crisp.

We went to the downtown farmer’s market today and I watched people walking around with giant sticks of rhubarb. Yup, it’s rhubarb season. This ‘weed’ is probably the easiest plant to grow in an edible garden. And our little patch has given us some lovely, tender, red sticks for making yummy things like rhubarb strawberry crisp.

Here’s the recipe we used. It’s from the book, Animal Vegetable Miracle – one of my favourite books for getting in touch with the world of slow food and eating seasonly. I really like that the recipie uses honey as a sweetener. (Although I admit that I doubled the crust because, well, who doesn’t like lots of ‘crisp’ in a crisp?)

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp

3 cups strawberries, halved
3 cups rhubarb, chopped
1⁄2 cup honey

Mix together thoroughly and place in an 8”x8” ungreased pan

1⁄2 cup flour
1⁄2 cup rolled oats
1⁄2 cup brown sugar (or a bit more, to taste)
3⁄4 tsp. cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp allspice
1/3 cup butter

Mix until crumbly, sprinkle over fruit mixture and bake at 350° for 40 to 50 minutes, until golden.

Roasted Cauliflower and Bacon Soup

I had to share this recipe since both the Bear and Banana gobbled it up tonight. It’s hard to find dinners that we will all [happily] eat, so this one is definitely a winner. It’s also an inexpensive and hardy meal. Finally, it didn’t take all that long to prepare.

1 small head of cauliflower
1 large onion
2-3 potatoes
4-6 strips bacon (optional for the vegetarians!)
1 litre stock (vegetable or chicken)
olive oil
salt and pepper (to taste)

– Pre-heat oven to 450˚F. Chop up cauliflower and onion. Coat pieces in olive oil, put on cookie sheet and roast in oven.

While the cauliflower and onion is roasting…

– Peel and chop the potatoes. Put pieces in a pot of water and boil on stove until cooked and tender.
– Cook the bacon until crispy in a frying pan and place pieces on a paper towel when cooked (to soak up the grease).

When the cauliflower and onion is cooked (about 15-20 minutes), pop them into a blender and puree. Add stock to thin out the mixture. Put mixture into soup pot on stove.

– Add cooked potatoes to blender with stock and puree. Add the potato mixture to the soup.
– Chop bacon and add to soup. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add stock to create your desired consistency.

Serve with warm rolls or garlic bread. Yum.

Maple Cranberry Granola

The ingredients for homemade granola can be picked up for a couple of dollars from the bulk section of the supermarket. And the taste of homemade granola is so much yummier! We’ve stopped buying other breakfast cereals in favour of granola. Even one-year-old Banana eats it!

This recipe is not rocket science. Every ingredient can be increased or decreased according to taste or what you have in the cupboard. We’ve experimented with pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, ground ginger and dried apple. However, this basic recipe is the tried and true favourite. I make it in large quantities – some goes into a canister for the breakfast table and the rest is stored in a well-sealed bag in the pantry.

2 cups large flake oats (not instant!)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup coconut
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp salted butter (melted)
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/3 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)

– Pre-heat oven to 400 ˚F.
– In large bowl, mix together the oats, seeds, almonds, coconut and cinnamon.
– In separate bowl, add together the melted butter, brown sugar and syrup. Pour over the dry ingredients. Stir together until the oat mixture is lightly coated with the syrup mixture.
– Spread granola onto a large cookie sheet. You may need two cookie sheets to avoid having it spread too thickly.
– Put in oven for ten minutes. Remove and stir after 10 minutes so that it can be roasted evenly. Put back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes.

When it is done, let it cool on the cookie sheet. Add the cranberries to the cooled granola and put in a well-sealed canister or bag. The granola should be eaten within two to three weeks.

Enjoy with milk or yogurt!

Of Curds and Whey

I think it was a scene in The Little House on the Prairie. A man spends all day fishing at a nearby lake. A boy asks him, “why do you spend all day fishing when you could just go into town and buy a fish?” The man replies, “I like to know that I can feed myself.”

I was thinking of this scene when I tried to make cheese for the first time. There is an incredible amount of satisfaction and empowerment in understanding and creating your own food. Call me crazy, but this was the most delicious experiment to date. It was so simple and tasted wonderful. This will not be the last time we make cheese!

Here’s the play-by-play of our cheesemaking adventure. It was inspired by the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. For more detailed instructions, I borrowed a book from the library: Home Cheese Making, by Ricki Carroll. This is one of her recipes.

Lemon Cheese
(I choose this recipe because it seemed easy and had minimal ingredients. It looked like a good recipe for a first-time cheesemaker.)

2 liters of milk (I simply bought a carton of the usual 1% milk from the supermarket)
¼ cup lemon juice
cooking thermometer
cheese cloth


1. Add milk to large pot. Put on the stove at medium heat. Be careful not to scald or boil.

2. Heat the milk to 185-200 ˚F

3. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Stir well.

4. Cover for 15 minutes. The heat and acid in the lemon juice separate the milk into curds (the beginning of cheese) and whey (the liquid).

5. Ladle the curds into a colander lined with cheese cloth.

6. Tie the corners of the cheese cloth together and hang the bag to drain for 1-2 hours.

7. Cut the cheese out of the cloth.

8. Add salt or herbs if you like. (Don’t use iodinated salt. We used sea salt because it was on hand)

9. The cheese can be refrigerated in a covered bowl for up to two weeks. We put some in the fridge and ate the rest for lunch. Yum!

Lemon Cranberry Scones

Original recipe from Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads (2009) but it has been slightly modified here.

I thought that I would start to share some of my favourite recipes. Here is one for cranberry lemon scones. If you would rather savoury than sweet, it is easy to modify this recipe with other flavours by replacing the cranberries, lemon zest, and sugar topping. Here are some suggestions:
– caramelized onions and cooked bacon with shredded gruyere cheese on top
– caramelized onions and blue cheese with toasted pecans on top

These scones freeze really well. They can be a little labour intensive, so if I’m going to all the trouble, I always double the recipe.


Scone batter:
– 3 ¼ cup (400 grams) all purpose flour
– ¼ cup (56 grams) sugar
– 2 tbsp (24 grams) baking powder
– 2/3 cup (148 grams) salted butter – take the butter out of the fridge ahead of time, the softer it is, the easier it will be to work with
– 1 egg plus 1 egg white (save the 1 egg yolk for the topping)
– 1 cup (230 grams) buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, just take 1 cup regular milk and add 1 tbsp of lemon juice and let it sit for 10 minutes)

Tasty bits (easily replaced with savoury suggestions listed above):
– 1 cup dried cranberries
– zest from 1 lemon

– egg wash made from beating 1 egg yolk and 2 tbsp milk
– granulated sugar to sprinkle on top of scones

1. In large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder
2. Slice the butter into cubes
3. Add butter to the flour mixture and use your fingers to rub the butter cubes into the flour. The butter should be no larger than the size of a pea.
4. In separate bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk
5. Make a depression in the flour and butter mixture and pour the liquid mixture into the hole.
6. Fold the two mixtures together slowly with a rubber spatula. This is the first trick to fluffy scones – don’t beat the mixture hard, you don’t want to toughen the dough by activating all the gluten in the flour.
7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
8. Add in your tasty bits – cranberries and lemon zest (or savoury ingredients) – and blend into the dough by hand by lightly kneading the dough. Do not overwork the dough!
9. When ready, roll out the dough with a rolling pin. The dough should be at least 1 ½ to 2 centimeters thick. Trick number two – only roll out the dough once. The more you handle the dough, the more it will toughen up.
10. Cut the dough with a butter knife into triangles. I cut it like a pizza – into large triangle pizza slices and then into smaller triangles. This way, you will use all the dough and not have any waste. I also think that the triangle shape is quite attractive for scones.
11. Place the cut scones onto a greased cookie sheet.
12. Let the scones sit for 20 minutes on the cookie sheet before baking. Trick number three – by letting the dough rest, the scones will turn out light.
13. Just before baking, brush the scones with the egg wash.
14. Sprinkle sugar (or cheese or pecans if you’re doing the savoury version) on top of the scones.
15. Bake in oven at 350˚F for 18 to 20 minutes. If they are slow to brown on top, I turn on the broil setting on my oven for a minute just to turn the tops a golden brown.
16. Let scones cool on a wire rack.

Enter your email address to subscribe to Tortoise on the Loose and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 42 other followers



Inspiration for free-range parenting or simple living

2011 Canadian Weblog Awards