Saturday, August 23, 2014

Podcasting and Other Pursuits

Hello friends and fellow food lovers! It has been a while, and I hope everyone has been having a glorious summer, spotty weather and all. I enjoyed a little staycation during which time I cooked a lot, swam a lot, and hung out with my main man Eddie a lot.



I also took a little trip to Burlington, Vermont to visit a friend, and thoroughly enjoyed the food, the vibe, the company, and the beautiful scenery. More on that trip soon!



Since I've been back to work, I've been spending my evenings working mainly on getting my websites ready and listening to A LOT of podcasts. Why am I listening to so many podcasts? Because I'm starting my own! Once I get a few things organized I'll be recruiting guests to talk about their favourite food memories and experiences, and of course, a little bit about themselves and their own creative pursuits.

Speaking of podcasts, in getting my new After the Harvest website ready and working on the "Press" page, I came across this little chat that I had with the good folks at Apartment 613; a chat in which I discuss my book, the blog to book process and my passion for food in general. In case you missed it last summer, have a listen:



One guest I already know I want to chat with is the lovely Mandi Lunan of Auntie Loo's Treats. I met Mandi when I had the opportunity to write a feature about her and her vegan bakery. The article, which also features the creative photography of Zara of Ottawa Velo Vogue is in the current issue of Herd Magazine which is a free arts and culture mag featuring the Ottawa scene. You can pick one up at many stores around the city - check the Herd website for stockists. If you don't live in Ottawa, the web article will be posted to the site soon.



I look forward to getting the podcast going and sharing it with all of you, as well as my other business and food-related pursuits! Thanks for reading and listening, and have a fabulous weekend!

Cheers,
Heather



Thursday, May 8, 2014

5 Questions with Royal Wood


Royal at Play Food & Wine. Photo by Dwayne Brown for loveOttawa 

The first time I heard Royal Wood's music was during Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe on CBC sometime in 2012. I think I was folding laundry at the time, but what I heard made me stop, put down the socks, and listen more closely. I heard a unique voice paired with a melodic piano sound and well-crafted lyrics. I was hooked. Since then I have continued to enjoy Royal's music, but I never thought that  I would eventually learn that music and lyrics are not the only things he knows how to pair.

Much like my own foray into pairing wine and music that is featured in my coffee table book, this Canadian troubadour also enjoys pairing wine notes and music notes - the main difference being that you can enjoy his pairings in person this Saturday at the NACDo you have your tickets yet?

I was curious to find out more about this wine-loving Canadian musician, so I decided to resurrect my 5 Questions feature. I couldn't quite stop at 5, but please read on as Royal shares his love of food and wine, his earliest food memory and his musical influences.

After the Harvest (ATH): Your show in May at the NAC is unique in that you have chosen to include Ontario wines you selected yourself to offer guests -- how did this idea come about and why was it important for you to do it?

Royal Wood (RW): The idea was quite natural. Most know by now how much of a wine lover I am and that I take my interests very passionately. So the idea just made sense. For me, both the creation of music, food and wine making are works of art in their own right.

ATH: When did you first start to develop an interest in/passion for wine? How far along are you in your journey to becoming a Sommelier?

RW: My interest in wine started at a very young age. My father had a small cellar and my mother kept a wine journal where they would paste the labels from bottles they had on special occasions. My mom would always write who was in attendance, what was served, and other highlights of the evening. It created a real family connection to wine for me. Later on, due to my career choice, I was able to have some of the greatest wines on the planet in France, California, Niagara and more. As a result, I wanted to truly understand fully what I was drinking and the process behind it. Eventually I enrolled into George Brown College to attend their WSET course when I had time. I am now in my third level of the Sommelier program there. Of course music is my driving vocation, so my wine studies are a long term hobby.


Photo by Vanessa Heins

ATH: I read on your blog that you are taking over your parents' farmland and you'll be growing food on the land. Tell me a little bit more about that and why growing your own food and living off the grid is important to you.

RW: Though I am living in T.O., I decided that I needed to help take over my parents' farmland and partly moved to the countryside near Peterborough. I missed being connected to the land, and most of all I did it because I felt a very strong desire to "be the change". To do that I partnered with an organic collective called Castanea. They will begin planting organic crops and running their collective on the land this spring. I am also in the early stages of building my recording studio now dubbed “The Farm” on the property. It should be up and running by the end of the year. Eventually I would like to move the property to off grid, but that is a long term dream.

ATH: What is your earliest food memory?

RW: My earliest food memory would have to be my Mom's buckwheat pancakes. We've had them every Sunday morning of my life and that's truly not an exaggeration. Every Sunday morning, like clockwork, pancakes are served at my parents home. It's comforting to know they'll be there when I am.

ATH: Why did you go to Ireland to write this new record, "The Burning Bright"? What was your experience like in Ireland and how did it affect your writing?

RW: I left for Ireland to find peace. To be still and quiet again and in order to truly feel what I was feeling, and create without filters. My experience was life changing. Every day I awoke to silence. I had no T.V., phone or internet, and simply forced myself to be. I also visited ancestral locations like Rathkenny to reconnect with my family roots.

 

ATH: Who are/were your musical influences?

RW: I was a sponge as a child. I truly listened to anything and everything I could get my hands on. From rock, to pop, to folk, jazz, blues, classical. You name it. I listened. Genius exists in every style. I would say that the Beatles and Dylan were my Messiahs though.

ATH: What is your favourite thing to cook at home for dinner?

RW: If I were to have a "last meal" on earth it would most likely be a plain marinara tomato sauce, a tossed green salad, fresh baked bread and a glass of a good red Bordeaux from St. Emilion.


ATH: What are some of your favourite wine and food pairings? Have you been surprised by any?

RW: Well the classic is a red pasta sauce with a good Chianti or Amarone. But I also am a sucker for a red Burgundy with lamb chops and loads of steamed greens and mashed potatoes. I'd say the biggest surprise pairing for me wine-wise has been dessert wines from France like Sauternes with a strong cheese at the end of a meal. I don't do it often, but every once in a while I'll indulge. Basically I run 5-10 km most days so that I can have wine with dinner.

ATH: If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you eat and drink?

RW: Well I'd have to say John Lennon for sure. And frankly, I'd let him pick the meal.

Many thanks to Royal, and to Charlotte at Red Umbrella PR. You can catch Royal's show this Saturday at the NAC, where he will share his wine picks and his music, including songs from his new release, "The Burning Bright".

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bar Snacks: Roasted Chickpeas


I love me some tasty, salty bar snacks. The only problem is, I need to fit into my bathing suit in a few months. So...I decided to split the difference and roast up some healthy, fibre-packed chickpeas! Yes! These will keep in an airtight container for a week or two, but they are best enjoyed straight away.

Roasted Chickpeas

Soak and cook chickpeas in advance (or use canned chickpeas). I used the quick-cook method, boiling the dried chickpeas for five minutes and then soaking them in the hot water for one hour. I cooked 2 cups of chickpeas with 8 cups of water. Drain and rinse when you're done and you have cooked chickpeas ready for salads, soups and homemade hummus!

Back to the roasted chickpeas. I had already eaten some of them so this quantity is less than 2 cups. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a roasting pan with parchment paper. Spread your chickpeas evenly throughout the roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and add spices. I added turmeric, chili powder, mild curry powder, coriander seeds, smoked paprika, rosemary, sea salt and pepper. Move the chickpeas around to make sure they are coated well with the spices and the olive oil. Use any spices you like! A friend of mine uses cinnamon and honey to make sweet chickpea snacks!

Roast for approximately 30 minutes, depending on the strength of your oven. Make sure to check them a few times throughout and move the chickpeas around to prevent burning and ensure even roasting.

Let them cool and enjoy! Beverage-wise I would probably pair this snack with a Gewurtztraminer or a beer.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Michael Pollan's Food Rules

Check out this super creative video illustrating some of Michael Pollan's thoughts on food. If you don't yet know Michael Pollan, I highly recommend picking up one of his books. The first one I read was In Defense of Food, which I loved, but most people tend to prefer The Omnivore's Dilemma. I haven't picked up his newest, mammoth-sized publication, Cooked, but I look forward to reading it. He is a masterful researcher and participatory journalist, a writer who informs, educates and entertains flawlessly, and an engaging speaker. Keep up the great work, Mr. Pollan ;) Now check out this awesome video. My favourite are the orange segment wind turbines!

 
Michael Pollan's Food Rules from Marija Jacimovic on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Shameless Birthday Request...With a Perk for YOU!

Hello people who read this blog!

It's been a while since I've posted, but it's great to be back! Since my last post, I wrote a piece about classic cocktails for Herd Magazine, started doing some work for a really cool company, and added member to my family! I adopted Eddie from Sit With Me Rescue and he is a happy boy who loves walks and cuddles. I really should have named him Mr. Snuggles.


I have also been working on some new projects for After the Harvest: a wine tasting project, a podcast, and another book -- this time a children's book with my sister Wendy of Tiny Brushstrokes. I'm very excited to share all of it with you, along with my new website which will eventually be found here. Stay tuned as these projects develop!

This Friday is my birthday. To celebrate, I have a shameless request! All I want for my birthday is for the last 5 copies of my coffee table book to be sold! I have 7 left from the first printing (2 of which are promised to friends), which leaves 5 remaining! I can't believe it hasn't even been a year since I launched the book, and it has been so cool to hear peoples' responses to the photos, the travel stories and the wine pairings! It has really been a gift to me to be able to share this passion project with all of you.


So...what's in it for you besides owning my book? Well, you get to put an even bigger smile on my face, but also, I've come up with a perk for the five people who buy the book. If you buy the book by Friday at noon, you will get entered into a draw where you could win this perk!

  • I will help you come up with a theme, menu, drink pairings and decor ideas for your next dinner party or small gathering -- this works regardless of where you live!



I know this is a bit cheeky, but it really is all I want for my birthday. Thank you to everyone who has already bought a book -- I hope you are enjoying it!

Cheers! 
~Heather

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Garden Dinner



A seafood-inspired dinner out of doors with great wine and wonderful company -- I am so grateful to have attended The Garden Dinner. I believe it's never too late to tell a story, so, as the snow falls, journey along with me back to a rainy Sunday evening in September. (All photos by Christopher Schlesak). 


The brainchild of  Ms. Katie Worobeck of Tennessy Willems, and with the help of Whalesbone Sustainable Oyster & Fish Supply, Norman Hardie Winery, Chefs Jamie Stunt and Charlotte Langley, and a cast of other Ottawa food professionals, The Garden Dinner was an evening for the senses, and my amazing table-mates had me laughing all night. 

I was flying solo that evening and I believe now that it was by design, as I ended up sitting with five very fun, very interesting dinner guests including Oz of Oz Kafe,  Jamie and Vanessa of Flowers & Vintage, a charming French wine merchant (who taught me what a brandade was) and an international man of mystery who moonlights as a DJ (complete with flask and trenchcoat). 


After we were seated at our corner of the long, communal dining table, we immediately started to enjoy the lovely wine provided by Norman Hardie, who was himself in attendance. He began by introducing the wines we would be tasting with our courses, and he very graciously assured us all that, when it comes to wine, "there are no stupid questions".  This statement, although true in my opinion, was also the impetous of many a repeated joke over the course of the evening, as our corner of the table had decided that the only question we had about the wine was: "Where's my wine?" 



We enjoyed a multi-course meal all centred around fish and seafood, which was excellent for a non-meat eating gal like myself. Each dish was delicious and unique in its own way, and rather than list them all, I will focus on my favourites. 


The bread and butter. A simple thing but so good. The bread was a seaweed and Old Bay baguette and the butter was infused with shellfish flavours, served with sea honey and piped into an empty oyster shell. 

The soup. A beautifully presented spiced fish soup, delicately garnished with yoghurt, prawn pickle, prawn salt and herbs. 


Sashimi. Ahi tuna with peach, mustard, tamari, amaranth and garden garnish. I am sucker for sashimi and this dish was perfectly balanced and heavenly to eat. 



The whole fish. Artic char presented on a gorgeous board designed specifically for the event by the lovely folks at N-Product. A delicious main in a series of delicious courses, served with a selection of  family style sides, of which the roasted broccoli was my favourite. 


The dessert. A light-as-air angel food cake with bourbon peach caramel, sea salt whip cream and edible flower garnish. 


The wines we enjoyed included Norman Hardie's 2012 Riesling, 2012 County Pinot Noir and 2012 County Chardonnay. My favourite was (and is) the Pinot. A lovely evening in a garden with newfound friends and delicious food and wine. The Garden Dinner.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Holiday Gift Idea for the Food Lover in Your Life!



With our first snowfall today, I am reminded that the holidays are almost upon us!

Leading up to the holidays, I love to decorate my apartment, watch cheesy Christmas movies, and pour over magazines and blogs to see the creative and delicious recipes people are cooking up.

I also love choosing gifts for my family and friends! Whether you've only just begun or you're almost finished with your shopping, my coffee table book is an affordable choice for any food, wine and travel lover in your life! Filled with colourful photography, it's the perfect little "snack" to flip through when you're relaxing with your family over the holidays.

Simply click the image above to be redirected to my store, and I can ship you a copy or deliver it in person if you're local!

Happy Holidays to you and yours :)

Here's what people are saying about the book: 

 "To me, After the Harvest: Eat. Drink. Connect. felt like a big hug. The kind of book that you curl up with on the couch along with your warmest blanket and favourite tea. I found the anecdotes in the book to be vivid and poetic; each one left me with a smile."
 Elaine L., Ottawa, ON 

 "It is beautiful and very professionally done. I can't wait to spend more time savoring it. Heather writes very well, and the photography is inviting."
 Sue S., Rochester, NY 

 "I loved the book and its recipes and photos! Absolutely gorgeous. The book is wonderful and is still on my coffee table. Can't wait for the next book!"
 Wendy R., Mississauga, ON 

 "After the Harvest is a beautiful piece of sweet and salty life; it awakens your sense of romance, beauty, family, taste, color, adventure, and most importantly, food you not only want to eat, but you almost want to marry it, it's so desirable! I love this beautiful book so much I bought extra copies to give as gifts! Once you get your hands on this fabulous living work of art, you'll see what I mean!"
Kathleen H., Springfield, VA

About the Book: 

After the Harvest: Eat. Drink. Connect. is a coffee table book that combines original photos, fiction, travel writing, recipes, wine pairings and entertaining tips. Self-published, this passion project was inspired by my travels, the people I've had the good fortune to eat and drink with, and my family dining experiences.

 From my heart to your coffee table, I hope you enjoy this book.

 Eat. Drink. Connect.

 Heather

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Recipe: Maple Orange Ginger Tofu Salad


Inspired by the fall season and a gluten-free, dairy-free lunch guest, I came up with this recipe for a Maple Orange Ginger Tofu Salad. A quick and easy recipe to prepare, it packs some flavour and uses healthy ingredients.

Please enjoy! 

Ingredients:

  • Mixed lettuces (I used red leaf, radicchio and kale)
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot
  • Orange segments
  • Juice from 1/2 an orange
  • Green onion
  • Raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)* 
  • Hemp hearts
  • Slivered almonds
  • Salt and pepper
  • Firm Tofu
  • Maple Syrup
  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil 
  • Fresh ginger

*If I had more time, I might have toasted the pumpkin seeds for a bit more earthiness.

Directions: 

Finely dice an inch-sized piece of fresh ginger. Cut the tofu into cubes and place them and the ginger into a bowl. In a saucepan, add one tablespoon of coconut oil and one tablespoon of dark maple syrup. Heat the oil and syrup until they become one, like a sauce. Pour the 'sauce' over the tofu cubes and ginger, then squeeze the juice from half an orange on top. Make sure the tofu is coated with the marinade, then let it sit while you prepare the cold ingredients.

In a bowl, add mixed lettuces, chopped carrots, chopped cucumber, finely chopped green onion, orange segments and hemp hearts.

Make the dressing by combining equal parts olive oil and orange juice, and sweetening it with some dark maple syrup. Shake and taste to ensure the dressing is balanced to your liking.

In a saucepan, fry the marinated tofu cubes and bits of ginger until they are golden brown and crispy. The ginger bits will end up being like little pieces of 'ginger bacon'. Place them on a piece paper towel to remove excess oil, and then add them to the salad.

Top the salad with the pumpkin seeds and some salt and pepper to taste. Dress the salad and enjoy!

Beverage Pairings:

  • Kombucha or a Kombucha-based drink (We enjoyed the Rise Kombucha sparkling living tea with hibiscus and rosehips)
  • Cranberry and Soda with lime
  • Pinot Gris or Gewurtztraminer 
  • White Belgian beer with an orange slice

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Harvest Food & Drink: A Chance to Connect With Food Lovers



Last Saturday I had a great time as an exhibitor in my first food and drink show! Harvest Food & Drink is a first-time food show venture from craft show veterans Emily and Colleen, the ladies famous for Handmade Harvest, the popular craft show that brings crafters and d.i.y. aficionados to Almonte each year.


Most exhibitors sampled food and drink for the hungry masses, and since my book isn't edible, I decided to hand out free recipes! I reminded people that even though they can't eat it now, they could eat it later! People enjoyed my recipes for Four-Herb Bruschetta, Smoked Salmon Toasts and my newest cocktail, the Minty Gin Lemonade!



Two out of three of the recipes I handed out are featured in my coffee table book, and I was happy to sell some books to happy shoppers! Lucky shoppers Ryan and his wife Lisa were the winners of a draw for one of my original photos, framed and ready to hang at home. I hope they enjoy this photo, which was taken at Medlock Ames Winery in the Alexander Valley in California.


Harvest Food & Drink was a great experience, and I had a fantastic helper for the day in my lovely mom, who is always so supportive! The wine crates that were generously gifted to me by Clay, Beckta's Director of Operations, looked amazing after a nice coat of stain and they really improved the look of my table. I enjoyed meeting new food lovers and sharing space with my friendly show neighbours, Perth Brewing Company and Rockway Vineyards.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to chat and take a look at my book, and a big thank you to those who purchased a copy! 

A great gift for the food-lover in your family, 
my coffee table book is available for purchase online in my shop by clicking here: 


Thanks, Emily and Colleen for the opportunity to eat, drink and connect at Harvest Food & Drink :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Harvest Food & Drink Show!



Hey friends! On Saturday, September 7th from 12 pm to 4 pm at the Almonte Agricultural Hall, I'll be at the Harvest Food & Drink Show! I'll be selling my coffee table book, After the Harvest: Eat. Drink. Connect., I'll  have a little surprise for event guests, and you can enter a draw to win one of my favourite food-inspired photographs, framed and ready to take home!

From the same fabulous ladies who organize the Handmade Harvest Craft Show each year, this inaugural food and drink show will feature local food purveyors, wineries, breweries, and more food and drink people, including yours truly!

Here are some of the folks who will be in attendance:


Almonte is a super cute town with some great restaurants and shops, so you could make a day of it, or stay after the show to go out to dinner. I recently dined at the Heirloom Cafe Bistro and I definitely recommend you visit. Incidentally, they also happen to be the event sponsor, but I assure you that this is an honest recommendation as I truly enjoyed the food and drink there when I visited. Their fish tacos were killer!


To eat, drink and connect at the Harvest Food & Drink Show, just head on over to the link below to purchase tickets. Hope to see you there! 

Buy Tickets Here: http://handmadeharvest.com/tickets/

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A New York Story


Most people who live in New York are not actually from New York. Or so I've heard. Maybe that's why it reminded me so much of Toronto on my recent trip there. I love a big city with many different ethnicities represented -- it makes me miss my Carlton streetcar rides through little Vietnam and little India in Toronto. The sounds of four or five languages spoken at once on a streetcar can be like hearing a song for the first time. An eclectic mix of words and laughs and intonations, it's almost like a track that you're not sure you like yet, but as you hear it over and over, it grows on you. 

Aside from different ethnic groups, tourist attractions, theatre, art, music, fashion, etc. etc....a big city like Manhattan also boasts many amazing places to eat and drink -- everything from the acclaimed Le Bernardin to a lesser known but quite tasty Mexican food truck in Brooklyn. I was only able to sample a small taste of this massive food scene, but I had some pretty great experiences, more of which I will share on the blog soon!  For now I want to tell you a little story about a tourist, a bar and a couple of Canadians. 

A New York Story

It was my first journey to the Big Apple, and I had plans to see the sights, visit friends and family, and, let's get serious: eat my way through the city. Traveling solo can be very fun and freeing, and at times lonely, but for the most part I love it. One of the best bits about traveling alone is that you can decide at any moment if you want to do something new without having to consult anyone. The spontenaitey of it all really reminds me that I'm living in the moment when I'm on a trip.

One day after touring around the Lower East Side, I walked by a very cute little restaurant and bar in the East Village and thought, 'How cute!' My feet were tired, my throat was parched and I was on vacation, so I said to myself, 'Why not?' I walked through the patio by the white picket fence, the brightly coloured tables and the Provence-like window boxes filled with flowers, and entered the restaurant. I had a seat at the bar and was welcomed by a handsome bartender with model-worthy looks and rockstar edge who poured me a refreshing glass of Italian white wine.

As I sipped my well-deserved glass of vino, I engaged in one of my favourite pastimes: people watching. To my left were two elegant young ladies in summer outfits, telling stories and laughing over Negronis; to my right were two guy friends hanging out, drinking red wine and eating big, hearty bowls of spaghetti and meatballs. Just between myself and the pretty ladies was an attractive guy with a big personality. I was instantly entertained just listening to him talk. As I channelled my inner voyeur and soaked up the atmosphere in this restaurant and bar, it dawned on me that most of these people knew each other by name. I, a Canadian tourist in New York, had found myself in a local neighbourhood bar. I was loving it. 

Mr. Personality's cute, quiet friend showed up and they proceeded to order the pasta special, preparing their stomachs with beer and shots of whisky while they caught up with each other. Eventually we struck up a conversation about music, certain embarrassing Canadian politicians, Italy, food, and everything else in between.

While we were chatting, a young guy came in to a chorus of hellos, almost as if his name was Norm, and he made his way to a back table with another guy to set up their rained-out chess lesson. As I looked around me, I thought, 'this is the good stuff.' People eating, drinking and connecting. Friends meeting up for bowls of pasta, girlfriends chatting over cocktails, games being played, people on dates, bartenders and chefs sharing jokes behind the bar -- this was way better than any planned outing or attraction I would visit in this famous city.

While chatting with my new Italian-American pal, I mentioned that I was from Ottawa. "Excuse me -- did you just say you're from Ottawa? I'm from Ottawa!" Suddenly the strawberry blond beauty was calling over to me. We played the 'do you know Bob from Canada' game and this time we actually did know Bob, except that his name was Adam. The pasta guys could not believe it. What a small world! Turns out the Jessica Chastain-esque New York model was actually a Canadian, and she was dating the dark and stormy bartender. A very handsome couple indeed.

As I left the bar after my second glass of wine and allowed my tourist-weary legs to carry me home to my East Village rental, I smiled, and thought of the people I had met and how they reminded me that, even in a big city like Manhattan, there really are places you can go where everyone knows your name.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

CSA Basket Meals: Garlic Scape, Basil, Green Onion and Arugula Pesto!


Let me tell you, it is slightly challenging to make pesto in a run-of-the-mill standard blender. Having said that, I, like many food bloggers and food enthusiasts right now, am obsessed with using the seasonal bounty of local farms to make tasty treats. One such trend in this farm to table gastronomy, is the beauty that is: the pesto. Once you break out of the basil-only box, ideas for different pestos can almost drive you mad (in a good way), but this time I knew I at least wanted to stick with a green pesto.

Thanks to the yummy goodies from my Notre Petite Ferme CSA basket, I was able to make this beautiful, organic pesto that has quite a zip to it and is highly addictive when paired with crusty bread.

Garlic Scape, Basil, Green Onion & Arugula Pesto

I made a small batch due to the quantity of scapes I had on hand, so I will leave amounts out, but trust me, just eyeball it. Add in slightly less pine nuts than greens, and add olive oil as you go when emulsifying. 

  • garlic scapes, chopped
  • arugula
  • basil leaves
  • green onions, chopped
  • pine nuts
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • food processor (or blender if you are ill-equipped like me!)

Start by pulsing all of the greens and the nuts until they are finely chopped and almost paste-like. Then add the olive oil slowly, bit by bit until it is beautifully emulsified. Let the pesto sit at room temperature for a few minutes and then spread it on some crusty bread and enjoy! I'm tomato-obsessed so I had to add a few of those too. Enjoy! 

P.S. Pesto freezes well and also keeps in the fridge for a while :) 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

CSA Basket Meals: Roasted Carrot and Tomato Soup with Arugula Salad


Summer is here and we are visiting farmers' markets, picking our own berries, and picking up our CSA baskets. This is the first year I have signed up for a CSA basket, and being a single-dweller, I am sharing with my neighbour. I love veggies, but each basket boasts a bevy of magical greens and other lovely treasures from the earth, so in order not to waste, sharing has been the best decision.

The charming farm I chose to receive my vegetable bounty from is called Notre Petite Ferme (Our Little Farm), and although I have not yet met the family and their team, they have been wonderful with communication and so far I'm quite pleased with my share of the crop!

This week's basket contained:

  • romaine lettuce
  • arugula
  • pac choi (similar to bok choy)
  • cilantro/coriander
  • green onions
  • cabbage
  • basil
  • broccoli
  • garlic scapes
  • radishes
  • kale
  • rabioles (white turnips)

I had some baby carrots on hand and, and quite honestly, I am not a huge fan of baby carrots but I had them and did not want to waste them. What do you do when you don't really like baby carrots? You roast them for soup! I decided to make a roasted carrot and tomato soup, using as many ingredients from the basket as possible. As I was roasting my veg, I made a salad to tide me over. A simple arugula salad with tomato, green onion, hemp hearts, raw pumpkin seeds and sliced almonds with a drizzle of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon, seasoned with salt and pepper was just the thing to get my dinner started. 


Here is what you will need to make the soup: 
(Makes roughly 5 portions)
  • 1 hour of your time (I did other things as the roasting and simmering happened)
  • a blender, a stock pot and a cookie sheet
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes or crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 can of tomato paste
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • a small knob of ginger
  • 3 large handfuls of baby carrots
  • 2 rabioles
  • 3 handfuls of greens (I used the tops to the rabioles and the pac choi)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
To start the soup, I pre-heated my oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper. When the oven was ready, I roasted the baby carrots with the red onion (rough-chopped), the whole cloves of garlic, sliced ginger and sliced rabioles, a liberal drizzle of olive oil, and a bit of salt and pepper. While you are roasting, check periodically and turn the veggies over, messing  them around a bit to ensure optimal browning and roasted awesomeness. 


While I was roasting the root veg, I brought to a boil the tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable broth, lemon juice and water and then reduced it to a simmer. When the veggies were done (roughly 30 minutes in my 1970s oven), I added them to the stock pot and then added the greens, cilantro and salt and pepper. I brought it to a boil again and then back down to a simmer. 



When you are at this step, remove the lid and let the soup cool a bit. Then transfer the soup into a blender and liquefy. If I had a food processor I might have used that instead, and it is important to note that I had to blend in 3 batches. Have some empty vessels on hand to hold the blended soup while you are still working on what's in the stock pot. 

Once the soup is blended throughout, return it to the stock pot and bring it to your desired soup-slurping temperature. The result was a fresh-tasting soup with the primary flavours of tomato, cilantro and "roasted awesomeness" coming through. 


This would be an easy soup to add coconut milk to, or yogurt or even curry to boost the flavours. You could also simmer it for a longer time period if your schedule permits. For now, I am quite happy with the result of this fresh soup that was super easy to make! I simply wanted to taste the vegetables, get some use out of the baby carrots and the rabiole greens, and make a healthy dinner that I can enjoy again tomorrow at lunch. 


Let me know if you try this recipe or a variation of it in the comments below and please share your thoughts! 

I guess it would be safe to say I am pretty excited for the weeks and months to come to see what my "little farm" will bring me to play with next! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Chia Chai Breakfast Popsicles!


Hello Summer! Even though we are getting our fair share of rain these days, this hot weather demands a refreshing breakfast. If you're like me, breakfast on a weekday morning is usually a grab-and-go meal: a banana, a muffin, granola with yogurt and berries, or sometimes just a coffee. (I know, not such a nutritious breakfast but sometimes there are days where you just need one!)

On those sticky, humid mornings, why not reach for a popsicle to start your day? A popsicle? Yes — you can dare to be a kid again and enjoy a healthy treat as you hop in your car, board the bus or take the heel-toe express to your place of business.

Last summer I came up with a few different popsicle flavours for a family gathering, so I decided to add a few more healthy ingredients to one of my recipes to create this breakfast popsicle.

Chia Chai Breakfast Popsicles

You will need: 
  • Chai tea (or any spiced black tea) -- 2 bags' worth
  • Chia seeds
  • Almond Milk (or any milk to your liking)
  • 1/2 a banana
  • A splash of vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Blender
  • French Press or Teapot
Brew the tea and let it steep until it is a rich brown colour. Stir in the honey while the tea is steeping. In a blender, pour the milk so the blender is just under half full. Add the banana, a splash of vanilla extract, and a small handful of chia seeds. Let the tea cool down, then add the tea to the blender. Blend well. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze. Make ahead and enjoy! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Book Launch!

I had a book party! It was pretty surreal :) 




THANK YOU to everyone who came to my book launch! I was so honoured and humbled to share my book with all of you and to provide you with a little eating, drinking and connecting! We were also treated to the soulful sounds of Keturah Johnson. You can hear her gorgeous voice by clicking here!

 I wish I could have invited more people but when you self-publish you have to work with a budget and keep it small! I am so glad that the book is now available for sale online so anyone who wishes to pick up a copy can do so. I will be sharing some excerpts and photos soon on the blog so you can get a taste!

Special thanks to the following people for helping to make this event possible: 

My family
Maija & Emanuel 
Harvest Loaf Bakery

And so much gratitude to everyone who bought a book, and to those who have ordered online since the launch! It is so amazing to share this passion project with all of you :) 

Please enjoy some photos from the event taken by the lovely and talented Jennifer Baguss, and a few Instagram shots from my pal Jenn M. 










If you're interested, you can pick up a copy of the book by visiting my online store here: 


Please share and tell your food and travel-loving friends!