December 31, 2013

My 2013 recipe round-up

It's been one helluva year. 

2013 was the year I officially left the big city lights and the fulfilling job I had there, in a leap of faith to move back to the east coast, closer to the ocean, my family, my sweetheart, and my dream of growing as much of my own food as possible. 

It hasn't been an easy leap that's for sure. I dove into it all a bit starry-eyed and it took a particularly grumpy and uncompromising border guard last February to make me realize cross-border romance is not always a walk in the park. But despite a rather unsettled year with a lot of back-and-forths across the border, I managed to finally find a resting place on a magical farm on the northern shore of Nova Scotia. Through it all, I cooked, ate, discovered new recipes, and shared the worthy ones with all you wonderful friends and fellow food lovers. Where would I have been without you and the enthusiasm and encouragement you shared with me? In some ways, this blog became my home, the place I came back to again and again, wherever I happened to be throughout this nomadic year. 

From finding new ways to sneak furry creature cameos in my videos, to starting to blog for PBS Food to interviewing my favorite GMO activist, to starting a monthly giveaway, it's been an adventurous year and I've learned so much along the way. I can't thank you enough for your kind-hearted words, your stories, your recipe ideas, and your feedback on my videos, posts, and recipes. To all the new readers, a warm welcome to you! Here's to another year exploring food together. May this new year bring you joy, adventure, and everything you most deeply wish for.

Here's a look back and a little round-up of this year's most popular recipes.

The ultimate brunch: ginger broccoli fritters topped with poached egg and green tea-poached wild salmon smothered in miso hollandaise

Sesame Chocolate Buckwheat Shortbread

Lemon Poppyseed "Larabars"

Honey Lemon Polenta Cake

Banana Cajeta Pudding Chomeur

Semolina Gnocchi Stuffed with Asparagus

Nettle Fettuccine Alfredo

Lentils with Roasted Beets and Carrots

Cherry Tomato Galette

Zucchini "No Noodle" Lasagna

Teff Porridge with Dates, Apples, and Pecans

Delicata Squash and Sage Biscuits

Kale Salad with Caramelized Parsnips, Pomegranate, and Hazelnuts

Classic Tourtière

A most joyful food-filled 2014 and my very best wishes to you all!

December 19, 2013

A Merry Christmas Tourtière!

This year's Christmas video was such pleasure to work on. Partly because I got to film it with my dear friends at Waldegrave Farm. And eat tons of tourtière in the process. And also because the lovely UK-based musical duo, Rue Royale, allowed me to use one of their beautiful songs again. (Some of you may remember their song Snow on Snow which I used in my Baba au Rhum video, two years ago). If you haven't yet heard Rue Royale's music, it's exquisite. Do yourself a favour and take a listen

In the meantime, here is my video greeting of the season to you all:

I've always been a shameless, over-the-top lover of Christmas. But the thing is, Christmas has not been the same since my mom and my grammie passed away. They both, in their own ways, "made" Christmas. They just made it happen, the magic, the good feeling in the air, the amazing smells coming out of the kitchen. And maybe that's one of the biggest lessons they both taught me about this time of year. Christmas is whatever you make of it. For each person, it means something different. The important thing is that you make Christmas be what you want it to be.

Some of my closest friends claim they don't like this time of year. And whenever I ask them, eagerly (desperately) "but but but what about the egg nog by the fire, and the roasted chestnuts, and being around the people you love (even if they sometimes drive you to insanity), and the snow, and the lights, and and and..." They usually respond "oh yeah, I like all that stuff, it's just the other stuff I don't like". So then I sit back, satisfied (self-congratulating yes, perhaps a little), and say "AHA! So you don't really hate Christmas, you just hate the Christmas muck." You know the muck. We all know the muck. The shopping, the plastic stuff, the traffic jams, the running around, the endless commercials and overplayed tunes, the pressure we put on ourselves. I guess I never really considered all that stuff part of Christmas, because we somehow just managed to tune it out, and to skip to the essence of this time of year. Which is really just about being together and enjoying special moments, whatever they may be. It's different for everyone. But I think the Danish word "hygge" best describes the feeling of what I want Christmas to be. "Hygge" has no direct English translation, but it apparently involves a combination of the words "coziness," "togetherness" and "well-being", among other things.

For my family, these moments of togetherness usually involve food. And there are two recipes that my mom used to make that have become annual traditions for me. One is her Baba au Rhum, and the other is her tourtière, a Québec meat pie that I've loved ever since I was little. For me, making these recipes is a way to feel my mom's presence and to feel connected to all the things that I want Christmas to be: pleasure, magic, delight, coziness.

So here's wishing you all a most delicious and delightful holiday season. And that you make Christmas, or whichever holiday you celebrate, be exactly what you most want it to be this year.

If you'd like to try my mom's Christmas tourtière, the recipe can be found on my post at PBS Food. Bon appétit and my warmest holiday greetings to you and yours.

December 18, 2013

Pistachio Cardamom Cookies and a goodbye

It was a sad week.

Last week was one of those weeks where all manner of sad things seem to collide on your doorstep in one big puddle of sorrow. 

It started off with a bang and a rager of a party here at the old farmstead, to celebrate the farm's 10-year anniversary. So much dancing, so much fun.

Then after a night of feasting and dancing, after everyone had scattered and gone their separate ways, I found myself all alone in this big old farm house, staring at my computer screen in the dark, facing the sudden news that on the other side of the country, a dear friend had passed away. A friend who was too young to die. And whose indescribable passion and love of life touched so many people's hearts, all of us suddenly struggling to make sense of his unexpected departure. 

So I've been feeling rather raw and tender all week, like my heart has got a big gaping widening crack down its side. But as Sasha was fond of pointing out, the thing about cracks in the heart is that they let everything in. They let the sorrow in, but they let all kinds of other good stuff in too. And I'm so grateful to have crossed paths with someone who had the courage to embrace the full palate of emotions that life presents us with: the delights, the fears, the laughter, the grief. It's all part of this adventure.

One of his close friends worded it so well:
Sasha lived with outrageous authenticity. He did things because he wanted to find out what would happen if he tried. He wasn’t concerned about making mistakes or the discomfort of others – if it was something fun, or loving or freeing, he wouldn’t hesitate to charge at it!  
In his passing, I feel he is asking of each of us to really feel our creative desires, to feel what makes us come alive and to stop allowing ourselves to accept anything less than a rich and exciting and creative and deeply meaningful life.
As he did in his life, Sasha continues to inspire me to live more fully, to have more fun, and to feel more deeply. Rest in peace Sasha, and safe journey to the stars my friend.

And what the heck does all this have to do with pistachio cardamom cookies? I don't have a clue. But I made these. In spite of, or maybe because of, my achy heart. And they were good. So damn good I ate half the pan in one sitting while listening to that song up there over and over again. I had to give the last half of the batch to my neighbours for fear I would gobble up the whole panful.

Actually, I had set off to make my grandmother's whipped shortbread, but the pistachios were sitting there and all I had in the house was spelt flour. So these are what happened instead. One of those fortuitous baking accidents. I like to think there was a little bit of Sasha magic in them.

The recipe can be found on my post at PBS Food. Now please tell me, what marvellous cookies are on your holiday rotation this year? 

December 04, 2013

Kale Salad with Caramelized Parsnips and Pomegranate

The amount of kale salad consumed in this household is kind of insane. 

It's become a bit of a joke actually since it pains us to go for more than a couple days without having kale salad, in some form or other. So we're starting to have a pretty wide kale repertoire under our belts. You may remember some of my other variations such as this Kale Caesar and this "massaged" kale salad. Well this is kale salad, "the holiday edition"! 

Our kale obsession is very convenient these days, given that kale is the last plant standing in the garden. Still tall and proud and bright green against the grey December sky. It's nice when your grocery store is right outside your doorstep. I hope it will keep feeding us for as long as possible.

And when it has gone by, or is buried under too much snow to dig out, I'll be growing these trusty micro-greens on my window sill for the rest of the winter.

This incarnation is a festive Christmassy way to prepare and present the mighty green leaf. Shredded and tossed with maple caramelized parsnips and pomegranate seeds, then topped with toasted hazelnuts and freshly shaved parmesan, it's a good-lookin' salad on for a wintery December night. Enjoy!

For the recipe, please visit my post at PBS Food.

December 01, 2013

December Giveaway!

Happy December you all!

I'm not a big fan of November. Its main redeeming factor is that it's cozily sandwiched between what are, in my mind, the two unrivalled months of the year: October and December. But now that we've kissed November goodbye, I am ready to get into full-on, no holds barred, crafty, bakey, warm & fuzzy, sipping egg nog by the fire mode. Bring. It. On.

This month I have two rather lovely giveaways for you. Since one sponsor could only ship to Canada, and the other to the US, I decided to have both giveaways side-by-side. So at the end of the month, there will be a Canadian winner and an American winner.

So for the Americans in the house, this month's giveaway is a set of 3 certified organic micro-green sprouting kits (arugula, radish, and curly cress) from Hooks & Lattice.

These darn cute terracotta kits contain everything you need to grow your own salad through the colder winter months! Who needs lettuce shipped from a gazillion miles away when you can grow your very own baby greens right on your window sill? 

I wrote a post about growing your own winter salad micro-greens a couple winters ago, and this was the video that went with it (to give you a little taste of how these kits work):

Here's how to enter the sprouting kit giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As for my fellow Canadians, the giveaway is a hot-off-the-presses copy of the über sleek and sexy Kinfolk cookbook! Can I get a wooooot? This is an exquisite book full of dreamy photos. It will take you into the homes of Kinfolk friends who share their favourite recipes. My recent squash and sage biscuits were inspired by the sweet potato biscuit recipe in this book. 

Here's how you enter the draw:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bonne chance everyone!