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Monthly Archives: November 2010

So today I only have a link for you.  The ideas/initiatives are great. Here in Toronto, only #1 is in effect, but all City of Toronto functions do not use bottled water (although I’m not sure how long that initiative will stick around with our new mayor) which is a step in the right direction.

Anywho, onto the link… I actually saw it retweeted from @Inhabitat on twitter. It’s a list of Good magazine’s 10 favourite innovations for reducing plastic consumer waste.

I love all of the ideas, with the exception maybe of #9, which reeks of dioxin at first glance, but I haven’t read the details of Plastofuel, so don’t quote me on that.

I especially like #5: “Try take-out, without.” I still use the tiffin boxes that I bought in at the beginning of July 2007 and without fail, every time I use them at least one person comes up and starts asking about them and what they’re all about and, eventually, where to get them. I have no idea whether anyone else has bought them for take-out use (some friends have bought the nesting ones for lunches and snacks) but at least people are talking and thinking about it. It’s a start.

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So I ended up making a soup with the remaining celeriac/celery root. A friend in Holland sent me a simple recipe for a “Knolselderij Soep” (onion, celeriac/knolselderij, chicken stock, chicken, salt, pepper) but I jazzed it up a little because… well, I’m like that. Truly the best foods I’ve eaten have the least ingredients in them but I couldn’t resist. Besides, I feel like if there’s one thing that can be meat-free, it’s soup. It was pretty darn good for a first go. Here’s the first-try recipe:

1-2 tbsp butter, 1/2 onion, 1 leek, 1 celeriac, 1 potato, 5 or 6 cups stock (I used the frozen turkey stock from Thanksgiving), bay leaf, 1/2 cup white wine, salt, pepper, 1/2 cup cream, fresh tarragon

Sauté diced onion and leek in butter until soft, add peeled and diced celeriac, potato, stock, bay leaf. Boil, then simmer (add wine now) until veggies are soft, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaf, add cream, and blend with a stick blender (or pour into blender). Serve with chopped fresh tarragon. Yum.

Also, I was thinking tonight as I prepared a seemingly humdrum dinner of burgers and chips about how well we eat and how dinners out and take-out are always a disappointment. The buns were homemade (thanks to a husband who bakes bread regularly and takes our requests for other delicious baked goods as well). The burger meat is lean (and I do mean lean. While we were away this summer I had to buy meat from the grocery store and I bought “lean” ground beef once and it was seriously fatty, and extremely disappointing to the palate), naturally raised, and comes locally from Beef Connections, farmers from whom we buy directly. The garnishes of tomato and lettuce are fresh, organic and local from our CSA Plan B Organic Farm. The chips (fries) were oven baked from fresh local Plan B organic potatoes. It was delicious, and so much better quality food than what we were eating 5 or 10 years ago.

It’s a blessing and a curse. Whenever we eat out (when I just can’t face the kitchen again) it’s nearly always a disappointment. Actually, one of the places that we sometimes go to is our local pub (I seem to be more forgiving with pub grub), where they serve Kerr Farms beef (naturally/traditionally raised) and I noticed that they have a large bin out back where they collect their used chip fat for use by a poultry farm. Excellent!

This week in our local fall CSA share we got:

Potatoes, onions, butternut squash, garlic,  tomatoes, boston lettuce, apples, collards, shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, and a couple of celery roots (celeriac).

To be honest, my husband and I looked at these two strange looking root veggies and blanked. Happily, I had noticed an email from Plan B Organics (our CSA) in my inbox earlier that day and I quickly looked it up. (Phew.)

That’s actually one of the things that I like about doing the CSA (Community Supported/Shared Agriculture): you are forced to try new things. I would likely never go out and buy celeriac at the market or grocery store, and I never would have tried tomatillos (Plan B introduced me to the wonderful world of salsa verde!), nor the variety of dark green leafy (the healthiest thing out there for you!) veggies (collards, chard, kale, baby bok choy, etc), green garlic (pesto!), and I know I wouldn’t have bothered to make pumpkin pie from scratch.

So tonight I looked up celery root on the Williams-Sonoma recipe site and came up with a good looking salad for which we had the ingredients. It was pretty good (we added apple) but could be better (no cream? more mustard?). But I still have one left, so I’m still looking for ideas. If you’re curious, here are a couple of sites that talk about celeriac:

I love the intro to this epicurious.com article: “Also called celery root, this knobby, bulbous root vegetable will not win any awards for beauty. Perhaps that’s why, year after year, it languishes on supermarket shelves, another worthy but underappreciated vegetable.”

And there are some tips and related recipes on the Williams-Sonoma site: “Celery root tastes similar to common celery but has a more pronounced nutty, earthy flavor and a softer, denser texture. Boil it as you would a potato, then mash; add it to stews or soups; or chop or shred it raw and add it to salads.”

I’m not sure what we’ll do with the next one, but raw and julienned, it was delicious.

Speaking of seasonal recipes, I’ve done a couple with links to some of our favourite soups (roasted squash with apple and brie and indian carrot) and wrote a bit about making stock. What I forgot to mention was a tip that I got from a chef at a fun Calphalon cooking course (a friend’s husband couldn’t make it so she took me!) a couple of years ago. He said chefs are notoriously cheap, and he likes to save bits that usually get composted for soup stock. He keeps them in a container in the freezer until it’s time to make stock and then dumps them in. So I’ve been doing it ever since. It helps to make stock from scratch quick and easy and flavourful. (I never seemed to have all of the ingredients on hand when I was making stock but now I do since I collect them over a month or two.) I have a large bowl with a lid in the freezer with fresh parsley stalks, clean onion ends and skins, carrot bits, unused bits of celery (especially leaves), and mushroom stems. Then when we roast a chicken or I run out of stock (I freeze it in 2 cup amounts, either in freezable jars or ziploc bags) and make up some veggie stock I can just add a few extra veggies, roast them for half an hour or so and make delicious stock.

reusable gift wrapHaving kids puts the fun into birthdays again.

Tomorrow is my youngest son’s birthday and we bought and made gifts for him, but I didn’t really think about how they would be presented to him until tonight. I thought about bags, but there is something fun about unwrapping gifts, isn’t there?

Then I remembered that I have a bin of freecycled fabric scraps that come in handy for small projects and patching. So I rifled through the bin and found a bunch of scraps that would fit various gifts in them and used some ribbon (there is a dearth of ribbon in this house, I have found), brightly coloured string (from a game/toy) and yarn (there’s always lots of that around here) to tie them. They are “wrapped”, simply enough so that a young child can get in them easily but still gets that thrill of unwrapping, and the wrapping is completely reusable!

I’m eyeing the carrots in this week’s CSA share and thinking that it might be time to make our favourite carrot soup, which comes from a cookbook called Diabetic Cooking but is also posted online here on TLC’s website. It’s called Indian Carrot Soup and you can substitute squash for the carrot if that’s what you have around. Either is delicious but we always go back to the carrot. From the description:

“Vitamin-rich and inexpensive, carrots star in this rich and spicy soup without the addition of any cream. This soup can be made with winter squash, such as butternut, acorn or hubbard, in place of the carrots.”

Oh, and they use baby carrots. I don’t, because I don’t get them that way. I just weigh a pound of carrots, peel or scrub them, and cut them in 1cm or so rounds. Baby carrots is a nice shortcut if that’s the way you buy them. Also, there was rumour of baby carrots (or baby-cut carrots) being bad for you, but apparently that’s hogwash.

Bon appetit!

I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time and today I actually remembered before I put the produce away.

In case anyone was curious as to what a sample of a regular winter (fall) local only share from Plan B Organic Farms looks like, I thought I’d post a photo.

This week’s share includes local organic:

  • potatoes
  • garlic
  • carrots
  • kale
  • boston lettuce
  • mixed lettuce
  • flat-leaf parsley
  • shiitaki mushrooms
  • tomatoes
  • squash (spaghetti?)
  • leek
  • arugula
  • red onions
  • apples (empires – my favourite!)

It’s looking like a yummy week…