Tag Archives: seasonal food

Seasonal Canning: Picklefest 2012!

Thanks to everyone who made it out to last month’s Picklefest editions of our seasonal canning workshops.  We learned the ways of hot water bath canning, as well as making a plethora of different pickles.  As always, it was great to hang out in the garden of the Compost Ed Centre at the end of a hot summer day to talk and make food together.  It feels even better to leave an evening like that with some jars of pickled beets, zucchini dill pickles and pickled blueberries to line the walls of your pantry and make you feel all stocked up for winter.  Click through for some recipes from the workshop as well as a round-up of tasty looking pickle recipes. Continue reading

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Seasonal Recipe Round-Up: Zucchini Edition

Photo by clayirving, used under Creative Commons license

At this point, it’s pretty much a dusty old cliche that every gardener is frantically trying to unload squash on friends and neighbours at this time of the year.  However, some stereotypes exist for a reason, and this is one of them!  If your zucchinis are busting out of the garden faster than you can eat them, if you’ve started resorting to leaving baskets of zucchini on strangers doorsteps, or if you’ve ever played a rollicking game of summer squash baseball (the zucchinis are bats and the overgrown pattypans are the balls, in case you were wondering), this recipe round-up should help you out!  Continue reading

Food Dehydration

Photo by alyssssyla, used under Creative Commons license

Big thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s Food Dehydration workshop!  There was a great group of folks with lots of expertise in growing and preserving food, and it was a lot of fun to hear about everyone’s projects, challenges and goals.  For those of you who missed the workshop, you I’ve put together some helpful information and tasty recipes to help you with your food dehydration adventures.  Continue reading

Seasonal Recipe Roundup: Cherries!

Photo by Wonderlane, used under Creative Commons license

As I type this, there is a huge bucket of cherries from one of the trees on-site here at the Compost Ed Centre sitting on the office floor.  We are all gorging ourselves on cherries, but I can still see tons more hanging off the branches of the tree outside the window.  I’m not telling you this to boast (honest!), but to mention that cherry season is here, and if you’re not taking advantage of it, I highly recommend doing so as soon as possible!  In case you get sick of just gobbling them down fresh (it seems impossible at first, I know, but I’m getting close to my saturation point and it’s only been two days), I’ve put together a seasonal recipe round-up with some rad and unusual looking cherry recipes.  You won’t find any jams or pies or cobblers, but there are some shrubs, pickles, and fruit leathers that look pretty damn fine. Continue reading

Seasonal recipe round-up: Peas!

One of my favourite parts of summer is eating fresh pod and sugar snap peas right from the garden.  Honestly, I don’t usually plant enough to actually have any left over to cook with after my snacking frenzy has abated (with the exception of my year farming when I was drowning in peas but lacking in time to cook them), but I made an effort to plant more this year and am hoping to try out some recipes.  I’ve collected some delicious looking options below — hope you dig them!

Minty Pea Pesto:  If you’re still only making the standard basil/parmesan/pine nut pesto, it’s time to start branching out.  Not just because pine nuts are now approximately the same price as gold, but because because there are so many other tasty flavour combinations to check out.  This minty pea pesto from The Cozy Herbivore is vegan (miso subs for parmesan to create a similar depth of flavour while cutting out the dairy) and looks incredibly flavourful.  Pesto freezes well, also, so this could be a good way to stock away your excess pea harvest.

Pickled Sugar Snap Peas:  This recipe for hot water bath canned pickled snap peas from Blazing Hot Wok would be pretty fast to make, and looks amazing (of course, that statement is coming from someone whose judgement is altered by a fairly serious pickle addiction, so keep that in mind).   The author suggests the pickles as a good companion to charcuterie, but I suspect they would be pretty totally great just fished out of the jar and eaten on their own as well.

Fresh Pea Salad:  Heidi of 101 Cookbooks describes this dish as a “jazzed up pea salad with a spicy mint-date dressing [with] some shredded romaine lettuce and a few toasted pumpkin seeds for added crunch and texture.”  I’ve long been a fan of Heidi’s simple but original recipes, and this one is no exception.  The mint-date dressing sounds like it could be pretty versatile as well — you could always make a double batch and try tossing it with grains or pasta as well.

Chilled Pea Pod Soup:  This soup recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini is most excellently frugal, as it makes use of your pea pods after you have already shelled and devoured their contents.  The author describes it as “the nose-to-tail philosophy applied to the vegetable kingdom,” which is a pretty fantastic idea.  I had never realized that I could do much of anything with my pea pods besides toss them into the compost, so I’m stoked to try this simple but delicious looking chilled soup.

Fresh Green Peas and Sugar Snap Peas in Sesame Dressing:  You can’t get much simpler and faster than this double-pea recipe from Epicurious — the peas are just-cooked and tossed with an easy but flavourful looking dressing.  It looks like a great summer side dish, and you could easily adapt the idea to any flavourful dressing or sauce.

Peas and Lettuce:  I have always, perhaps unfairly, been slightly suspicious of cooked lettuce.  Maybe it’s just a lack of imagination on my part, but it kind of weirds me out, frankly.  With that said, this recipe for peas and lettuce with its allusions to simplicity and adaptations of traditional French cooking techniques makes a reasonable case for lightly cooked lettuce.  Plus, it’s a good candidate for an all-garden meal, with the main ingredients being peas, mint and lettuce, all of which many of us can pluck straight out of our yards.  I should probably at least give it a try in the interests of not narrowing my culinary options:  if cooked lettuce proves to be amazing, I will feel like a bit of a jerk for neglecting it all these years.

Urban Wild Foods

Thanks to everyone who attended last week’s Urban Wild Foods workshop, and mega thanks to our great facilitator, Katy Harding!   Katy has kindly given me permission to reproduce some of her information here, so you can still get some great wild food info, even if you missed the workshop.  As well, Katy may do another wild foods workshop later in the summer, and will be teaching a wild e other chances to learn from her.

Katy started us off by emphasizing the importance of safety and research, and I thought that would be a good area for us to start by taking a look at as well.  Here are her criteria for the qualities you should be looking for in a plant before you eat it:

  • Plants you are 100% sure about:  It’s important to be quadruple sure about your plant identification before you start noshing.  Make sure you’re familiar with the plant at every stage of its life, aware of any poisonous doppelgangers it may have (i.e. the picture to the left is  poisonous Bindweed, not the similar looking delicious Sheep Sorrel!), and that there’s no doubt in your mind about the identification.  Don’t rely on an unclear memory, a friend’s guess, a blurry guidebook photo, or a dodgy website:  confirm your ID with numerous sources before you snack!
  • Plants found in an area you know is free of pesticides, other chemicals, or wastes:  If you’ve seen someone spraying pesticides on a garden (or aren’t sure of the organic status of it) or you’ve noticed that an awful lot of dogs walk by past a certain area, don’t harvest from there!
  • Healthy, disease-free plants:  The city is full of dandelions — don’t eat the droopy, blotchy ones you find first when there are perfectly delicious specimens half a block down the road!
  • Vigorous, well watered young plants:  Generally, eating an older plant or a less well nourished plant isn’t going to hurt you, but it will disappoint you and dampen your enthusiasm for snacking on wild foods.   Just like you wouldn’t eat a plant from your garden that had bolted and become bitter, be choosy about your wild edibles.

Sorry about the picture quality — our straw bale building is a great place to learn but a terrible one to photograph!

We covered a lot of ground in the workshop, learning about Dandelion, Hairy Cat’s Ear (best named plant ever!), English Daisy, Sheep Sorrel / Wood Sorrel, Dock, Chickweed, Pineapple Weed, Stinging Nettle, and Highland Cress.   For each, we learned about the appearance, characteristics, best recipes/uses, and common lookalikes.  Katy even brought in samples of each plant and its doppelgangers, so we got to see, touch, smell and sometimes taste them, which was a great way to learn.  It’s one thing to see a plant in a guidebook and quite another to get to manhandle it in person, and it really makes a difference for your confidence level in doing plant IDs.

While we don’t have space here to reproduce the full amount of information in the workshop, I thought it would be great to include a profile of one edible plant from Katy’s slides.  I chose Curly Dock, as it’s quite easy to find and doesn’t seem to be commonly known as an edible weed (I certainly had no idea you could eat it until the workshop).
Curly Dock (Rumex crispus) is a perennial herb ~1m tall
ID characteristics:
  • Long spoon shaped leaves with wavy/curly margins
  • Ocrea present
  • Large yellow/orange woody tap root
Edible areas:
  • Leaves
  • Young stems
  • Seeds
Uses:
  • Use in the same way you would spinach
  • Best results from boiling or sautéing
  • Use as cabbage to make dock rolls

Lookalikes:  Broadleafed Dock (Rumex obtusifolius)

  • Closely related to Curly Dock
  • Leaves usually flatter, shorter and broader
  • Edible, although the flavor is not as good as curly dock
I hope you enjoyed that peek at the workshop, and that you’ll feel intrigued enough to start researching wild edibles for yourself!  I found that in the days following the workshop I was checking out all the plants around me way more attentively, and I noticed lots of edible plants that I otherwise would have completely missed.

Seasonal Canning Workshop: Strawberry Rhubarb Butter, Tuesday June 19th, 6-8 pm

The weather’s warming up here on the Island, and that means the local strawberries are coming into their own! At this hands-on workshop,
we’ll celebrate these fruits by combining them with rhubarb and flavourings to make a batch of heavenly, spreadable Strawberry Rhubarb Butter.

As a change from the typical fast speed of cooking jam, this recipe is made in a slow-cooker, which is a neat tool to add to your home canning skill set. As we can the fruit butter in glass jars to preserve it, we’ll also cover the basics of modern hot-water bath canning techniques, equipment, safety issues, and resources for the home canner. Each participant will take home a small jar of fruit butter and the recipe.

Location:  The straw bale building at the Compost Education Centre, 1216 North Park St, Victoria, BC

Suggested donation:  $10 (no one turned away)

Please email slugs.coordinator@gmail.com to register!