August 10, 2016

2 days left!

I know things have been a little quiet over here lately, especially on the recipe front. The truth is, there's not much cooking going on in my kitchen these days. Yesterday, I ate a tub of coffee ice cream for dinner while scrambling to finish last-minute notes for my film editor. The day before, it was a cucumber and a bag of tortilla chips, while sitting in my underwear (it's very, very hot in Toronto). Let's just say, things have not been too glamorous or wholesome around here as of late. Between the heat, and my superhuman attempt to complete my documentary, things have been downright crazy. Like pulling all-nighters and eating whole tubs of ice cream for dinner crazy. And not being able to maintain coherent conversations with other human beings crazy. (Though I did miraculously manage to (sort of) pull off this 45-minute radio interview about GMOs with the one and only Zane Caplansky). But I'm just going with it. Whatever needs to happen to get this thing done. The exciting thing that is keeping me going right now is... it actually IS getting done!! The end is in sight!!! Hallelujah.

Thank you so much to everyone who has so generously encouraged me on this endeavour and contributed to Indiegogo film finishing fund. If you'd still like to make a contribution, there's still time and I would be so so so grateful!! I only have 2 days left to my crowdfunding campaign and I'm at 70% of my minimum goal so far. So I'm hoping for a miraculous final push in these last 48 hours. This is where you go to do the deed:

And if you haven't seen my trailer yet, here it is! Thank you my friends, and I'll be back with recipes soon...

July 07, 2016

I'm about to give birth...

Not to a baby. To a film. (I made you look though right?)

There might be a few similarities: there's a lot of nurturing and care going on, a bit of anxiety, trepidation, ups and downs, exhaustion... It's painful, it's scary, it's a heck of a lot of work, but it's so exciting. By my best estimate, I'd say I'm in early labour right about now, things are starting to happen, the film is taking shape!

I've been working on this film for nine years and part of the reason it's taken me so long is that I've funded and produced it entirely on my own up until now. Crazy? Yup, quite probably. But it's been an all-out labour of love at every step. It's a film I'm dedicating to my mom, and to everyone who believes we have a right to know what's in the food we eat, that we need an agriculture that doesn't harm our planet, and that food tastes better when you know the story behind it.

After years of researching, shooting, travelling, interviewing, shooting some more, little by little, I've finally reached the final stage where a lot technical stuff now needs to happen (picture editing, sound editing, color correction, music composing, animations, final mix, subtitles, etc, etc). The expenses are far beyond anything I can afford on my own and that's why I'm asking for a bit of help to put this film into the world. Please watch my introduction to the campaign and film trailer below, and visit my Indiegogo campaign page to get the full story behind the film.

If you can, please consider making a contribution (no contribution is too small, every dollar gets me closer to completing the film). Another way to help me out is to spread the word by sharing my Indiegogo page with friends and family through email and social media. This is the short link to share:

Keep in mind that for any contribution $25 and over, you'll receive a digital link to view the film online when it is complete.

Thank you so much for your support and I can't wait to show you my film!

With my most heartfelt gratitude,

June 16, 2016

Fresh Mint and Chocolate Ice Cream: A Special Collaboration!

I am generally a bit of a hermit blogger, tucked away in my rural corner of the east coast doing my thing. So it’s not too often that I get to meet other food bloggers. But I’m in Toronto for a few months this summer and I decided it was time to get to know some fellow bloggers whose mouth-watering blogs I follow with a big appetite. My first “blind blogging date” was with Alanna of One Tough Cookie. Meeting up reminded me a bit of online dating... Would we recognize each other? Would she like me? But put two food lovers in front of each other and there’s no shortage of things to talk about. I instantly felt a kinship with Alanna and we slipped into easy banter about food photography, and wwoofing, and Italy... and cake. We also talked about more intimate things too, like losing our moms, and how profoundly that impacts your life, in ways you sometimes don't even realize.

My next blogging date was with Sofia of From The Land We Live On and since she is a fellow gardener, I thought it would be fun to collaborate on something together and feature her making a special recipe from her garden. 

We spent a glorious day together and I’m so grateful that she graciously let me follow her around with my camera. Filming in her kitchen was a dream come true because she had just finished renovations (which she and her husband took on all on their own which makes them my heroes! see the photos here). Their renos involved installing a stunning new Lacanche stove that had me swooning and dreaming... one day, perhaps. Every angle of the kitchen was beautiful to look at. And that stove, I could sit and gaze at it all day long. I forgot to take photos of it but you can see some here on Sofia's blogyou'll also see some sweet fleeting glimpses in the video! The brass knobs. Enough said.

Taking a filming break to lick the ice cream paddle, one of life's great joys.
Photo credit: Sofia Eydelman

We got so carried away with filming that we almost forgot to eat but Sofia quickly whipped up an elegant lunch of rice pasta salad with garden pesto, peaches, and slivered almonds. She paired that with some beet crackers and the silkiest homemade hummus I've ever had, beautifully presented with za'atar and olive oil. The girl has style.

At the end of it all, we enjoyed her delicious homemade ice cream in the garden, where the whole adventure started. As you can see in the video, we had a very earnest, tiny helper. My latest heart throb. 

You know it's good when ALL the tongues are sticking out

Get Sofia's recipe and read all about what makes this ice cream so extra-special in my post on PBS Food (ok fine, I'll give you a few clues in case you don't have time: two types of chocolates! tapioca instead of egg yolks! and fresh garden mint instead of mint extract!)

Happy mid-June my friends xoxo.

Photo Credit: Sofia Eydelman

April 14, 2016

Candied Lilacs and spring delights!

For those of us in the great white north, it's still a little early for lilacs, but they really are just around the corner. 

My latest video recipe for Lilac Coconut Cream Tarts is truly an unabashed lilac fiesta, and if you want to go all out with it, then I'm afraid you'll need to make some candied lilacs to plop on top for a fancy flourish! 

But first, here's the video of the tart-making in its full spring glory (I filmed it last year so I could release it just a little ahead of lilac season this year):

For the Coconut Lilac Cream Tart recipe, go to my post on PBS Food.

As for the candied lilac, they're really quite simple to make and there are two main techniques I'd like to share with you. One age-old method involves dipping the blooms in an egg white wash and then then dipping the flowers in sugar. But I know some people feel a bit squeamish about raw egg whites, so the other option is to make a basic sugar syrup instead of using egg whites. (Alternately, you can use powdered egg whites mixed with water). I've used both methods and either one is fine. As an aside, this will work for violets as well as most edible flowers.

Fresh, unsprayed lilac blossoms (stems removed)
1 egg white
2 tsp water
1/4 cup fine granulated sugar (not powdered sugar)

Be sure to use freshly-picked, unsprayed flowers and remove any green bits as they will give an off-taste. Whisk the egg white and water together. Using tweezers, dip the flowers in the egg wash (or for more control, paint the egg wash on with a small paintbrush) and then sprinkle the sugar on top of the flower, making sure you cover every side of the flower. Allow the flowers to dry for around 12 hours. You can use them right away or store them in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Fresh, unsprayed lilac blossoms (stems removed)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fine granulated sugar (not powdered sugar)

Be sure to use freshly-picked, unsprayed flowers and remove any green bits as they will give an off-taste. Cook the sugar and water until it reaches 220F on a candy thermometer. Allow mixture to cool fully before dipping in the lilac blossoms. Sprinkle the sugar on top of the flower, making sure you cover every side of the flower. Allow the flowers to dry for around 12 hours. You can use them right away or store them in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

In other news, spring seems to have FINALLY arrived in Toronto where I'm based for the next couple of months, madly scrambling to finish a documentary film and graduate research. (More about that very soon!) And yesterday, I had the great privilege of interviewing the one and only Dr. Jane Goodall who is just simply one of the most delightful human beings to walk this earth. She is so full of love and wisdom that you can't help but come away feeling a renewed sense of hope and determination to make the world a better place. Here is a snapshot after our interview (I think I might be professing my undying love here):

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” 
                                                                                                                           ― Dr. Jane Goodall

March 31, 2016

KoMo Flour Mill Giveaway!

Many of you who follow this blog and my Instagram feed have inquired about the beautiful wooden flour mill that I use to freshly mill my grains into flour. 

In fact, there has been so much interest in the mill that the wonderful folks at Pleasant Hill Grain - the American distributor of the KoMo grain mills and flakers - have offered to give a gorgeous KoMo Classic mill to a very lucky Kitchen Vignettes reader. I'm beyond excited that one of you will get to have your very own flour mill and experience the pure joy of fresh-milled flour because there really is nothing like it!!

When we were looking around for a portable flour mill to mill our homegrown grains, we shopped for quite a while and the KoMo mill stood out for many reasons. Aside from being impeccably crafted, it has a powerful and solid motor that quickly turns whole grains into flour of any texture. By simply rotating the hopper, you can adjust for the texture of flour you want, achieving everything from roughly cracked grains, to very coarse flour, to ultra-fine flour. So not only do you have a great degree of control over the milling process, but the mill is also incredibly simple to operate: you just pour the grains into the hopper and out comes the most fragrant, sweet-smelling, fresh flour.

Unbeknownst to a lot of people, much of the whole grain flour we buy has been shipped long distances and left on store shelves for far too long. Many packaged flours have gone rancid even before we purchase them! I'm always surprised how often friends and family don't notice when their flour has gone rancid. I think it's because we've actually become accustomed to the taste of rancid flour and we don't consider flour as a living product with a shelf life. While whole, unmilled grains have a shelf life of many years, as soon as they are milled into flour, the flour becomes perishable and can go rancid within just a few months' time. In fact, some of the vitamin content begins to diminish within just days of the flour being milled. The most important reason I use freshly-milled flour though, is because it makes the best-tasting bread and baked goods. So I'm a huge advocate for home-milling (or sourcing) fresh flour whenever possible. The milling only takes a few minutes and it's incredibly satisfying.

If you’re new to the KoMo Classic mill, here’s the low-down: the mill is built in Austria and beautifully handcrafted out of native beechwood or new American Walnut with finger-jointed corners. All dry grains can be ground in it, including soft or hard wheat, oat groats (dehulled oats), rice, triticale, kamut, spelt, buckwheat, barley, rye, millet, teff, quinoa, amaranth, sorghum and dent (field) corn. It will also grind lentils, dry beans (pinto, red, garbanzo, kidney & more), and dried, non-oily spices. (It isn't suitable for herbs, oilseeds like flax or sesame, popcorn, or fibrous materials). 

For people who wish to mill gluten-free flours, Pleasant Hill Grain sells an interchangeable insert that allows the mill to grind different materials without cross-contamination. Using this accessory, your KoMo mill can be used with gluten-containing grains (such as wheat) as well as gluten-free grains (such as teff), without the risk of getting any gluten into your gluten-free flour. The insert is not included in this giveaway, but it can purchased separately here.

Having access to a grain mill really makes you fall in love with the magnificent world of whole grains and the incredible diversity of nutritious and tasty flours that can take your cooking and baking to a whole other level.

You can see the KoMo mill at work in several of my Kitchen Vignettes videos, including the one for Roasted Squash Cornbread where I mill fresh cornmeal from whole field corn kernels and this one for Whole Wheat Groaning Cake. And here's my latest, featuring Rye Crepes:

The KoMo giveaway will run all through the month of April and Rafflecopter will randomly choose a winner on May 1st - just in time for Mother’s Day (hint hint! this would make a wonderful present for any bakers in your life!) The model that Pleasant Hill Grain is giving away is the KoMo Classic grain mill and the winner may choose between the American Walnut or native beechwood housing. 

*Please note that this giveaway is only open to residents of the United States. You may also enter the giveaway on my Facebook page. Once you log-in to enter the giveaway, you will see 5 different choices of actions you can take. For each one you do, you will get 5 points, for a potential total of 25 points, increasing your odds of winning. Some of the options can even be repeated each day throughout the giveaway, such as tweeting or visiting the Pleasant Hill Grain website, to increase your odds even more. Good luck everyone!

March 28, 2016

My mom's pea soup and the magic of seed saving...

When my family first moved to Nova Scotia from Québec 28 years ago, my mom had a hard time finding yellow dry peas to make her traditional soupe aux pois (Québec pea soup). It was at Salt Spring Seeds, all the way on the other side of the country, where she ended up finding the perfect yellow pea to grow in her garden for the beloved soupe aux pois.

She ordered a small packet from them and the humble handful grew enough peas for a nice pot of soup and for replanting an even larger amount the following spring. From then on, we always had a good supply of peas and she declared the Darlaine yellow pea to be the ideal soup pea. 

She delighted in growing the dry pea every bit as much as the tender green snap peas that she would eat like candy off the plant while listening to the birds in her garden. Because as any Québecois knows, soupe aux pois is a sacred thing: simple, filling, hearty. 

After my mom passed away, my stepdad continued growing out many of the peas and beans she had carefully grown and saved year after year. And I did the same with some of those varieties that I remember her praising: Ethiopian lentils, Salt Lake Beans, and especially the cherished Darlaine pea. Last year, I finally had a harvest large enough to make a hearty pot of soup, and it was an occasion worthy of capturing on video. A moment of celebration, a nod to my mom and the knowledge and treasures she has passed on. (I can always hear her giggling with delight and mischief when she was harvesting something that she was about to turn into a delicious dish). 

A couple weeks ago, I wrote to Dan Jason at Salt Spring Seeds and asked him for more information about the Darlaine pea. I was surprised when he said that after all these years, he remembered my mom's name very well from her seed orders, because he said that she had the most beautiful-sounding name. I found it moving that he remembered her even though he had never met her. If she had ordered her seeds from a larger seed company, that would have been unlikely to happen. 

I thanked Dan for bringing the Darlaine pea and so many other beautiful heirloom seeds into my mom's garden and into our lives, even years after she died. It has created a special sense of continuity and connection that repeats itself year after year, in each plant and pea pod and bowl of soup. 

You'll find my mom's recipe on my post over at PBS Food

February 24, 2016

Tahini Chocolate Mousse Pie (version 2.0 - vegan and gluten-free)

Any tahini lovers in the house?

I just posted a silky and decadent tahini chocolate mousse pie recipe over on PBS Food this week. But it does requires a small mountain of heavy cream and I know some of you are not into that (my tendency to overdo it in the cream and butter department has been pointed out a few times, haha)... So, if you prefer to opt out of all that cream, here's the vegan version of my pie. It doesn't quite compare to the rich cream-based version, but it's still a delicious pie with a smooth and velvety texture that somehow manages to be both rich and light at the same time. Avocado is the surprising ingredient that replaces the cream! 

I'll keep this short other than to say two things:

1. Thanks to all of you who entered the Nature's Path giveaway last week! I loved reading your comments about what changes you're making to get on a healthier path this year. I am thoroughly inspired by all your amazing commitments, you rock!! Congrats to Suzi MH, the lucky winner! And stay tuned for another exciting giveaway coming up soon... 

2. The DARK Act is back! Yuck. Just when we thought it had gone away, it's back from the dead, like the zombie that it is. It's amazing that some American politicians (heavily backed by corporate big food & biotech money) seem hellbent on preventing people from knowing what's in their food. 64 countries around the world already label GMOs. Why does it have to be such a huge battle in the US when poll after poll clearly shows that 90% of Americans want GMO labelling. Vermont's GMO labelling law is set to go into effect this July (in less than 5 months!). It would be the first US state to have GMO labelling, unless this new bill gets in the way. We need all hands on deck to protect Vermont's law and American's right to know. Click here to take action. Or you can call the Senate switchboard to be directly connected to your Senator and ask them to vote against the DARK Act and support mandatory GMO labelling in America: (202) 224-3121. Also, Senator Debbie Stabenow is a ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee and she could be key in stopping this bill. I just called her office, as I've been told many times that a phone call carries a lot more weight than just signing a petition. It only takes a minute, click here to find out how to reach her office. We've gotta fight for our right to know what's in our food, honeybuns!

Now, here's that mousse pie:

NO-BAKE TAHINI CHOCOLATE MOUSSE PIE (vegan, no-bake & gluten-free)

No-Bake Crust:
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant oats)
1/2 cup toasted unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup melted coconut oil (I use refined since it's neutral-tasting)
5 mejdool dates
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp freshly grated organic orange zest (optional)
1/8 tsp salt

100 grams (3.5 oz) dark chocolate
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
3 ripe avocados, mashed (about 1 1/2 cup)
1 Tbsp maple syrup (if needed, depends on sweetness of chocolate)
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier (optional)
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Optional Garnish:
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
Coconut whipped cream (click here for recipe)

To begin, make the crust. Pour a cup of boiling water over the 5 dates. Let them absorb the water and soften for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place the pecans, toasted coconut, rolled oats, and salt into a food processor and pulse several times, until a crumbly mixture is obtained. There can still be small bits of oats and coconut. Add the drained, softened dates, melted coconut oil, grated orange zest, and 1 Tbsp maple syrup. Pulse until the mixture turns into a dough that comes together when you squeeze it between your fingers. Pour into an 8-inch pie plate and press into the bottom and sides of the plate. You pie crust is now ready for the filling.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl placed on top of a pot of simmering water. Allow it to cool (lukewarm is fine but it shouldn’t be hot). Whip the avocados and, tahini, and salt until smooth. Next, fold in the cooled, melted chocolate. Add the vanilla, and Grand Marnier, and mix well. When the mixture is smooth and uniform, taste it. If needed, add one tablespoon of maple syrup and a pinch more salt. Once you are happy with the flavour, pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Smooth the top with a spatula and place the pie in the fridge for at least 3 hours to cool and set.  

It's best eaten cold. Serve it with coconut whipped cream and sesame seeds. Enjoy!

February 14, 2016

A Valentine's Day video and a giveaway!

Hey, happy Valentine's Day, YOU! 
Here's a little beet tart video and my way of saying... may your day be full of love:

You can find the recipe for these beet tarts with goat cheese and caramelized onion on my PBS Food post.

To spread the love around today, Nature's Path has kindly offered to give away one of their beautiful organic granola gift packs to a Kitchen Vignettes reader. Hurrah! Here's me receiving my own gift pack in the mail, and not wasting a second to dive right into their new coconut chia seed granola:

I often get asked by food companies if I will feature their product or do a giveaway on this blog and most of the time, I say no because I don't agree with how they produce their food. Plus, did you know that over 80% of health food brands are owned by big multinational parent companies? Here's what I love about Nature's Path, on their package it says: "Run by parents, not by a parent company". I love that! Nature's Path is independent, family-owned, and they are huge advocates for GMO labelling and organic farming. Here's a video they put together, that beautifully tells their philosophy:

So be sure to enter the giveaway - I'll notify the lucky winner one week from today! The winner will receive a gift box with a whole assortment of granolas to sample, free vouchers, and a healthy recipe ebook. As well, you get a chance to enter the grand prize giveaway (see how to qualify for that below). Both giveaways are open to residents of Canada and the US only.

So, first things first, here's how you enter the gift box giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, if you wish to also enter Nature's Path grand prize giveaway of a year's supply of organic granola and breakfast foods, here's how to do it

Getting back on a healthy path? Running your first marathon? Trying a plant-based diet? We want to know! Tell us what’s on your path for 2016 by posting on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using both hashtags: #OnMyPath and #GranolaForAYear.

Prize includes everything you need to get back on a healthy path including:

  • Nature’s Path granola and organic breakfast foods for a year
  • DIY Vegan, by Nicole Axworthy & Lisa Pitman – recipe book including more than 100 ways to create an awesome plant-based pantry
  • Un-Junk Your Diet by Desiree Nielsen, R.D. – how to shop, cook and eat to feel better forever
  • Prize will ship on or after March 1, 2016
  • Grand prize contest closes February 28, 2016

*This prize is open to all blogs participating and their audiences. Must be resident of the US or Canada. There will be one grand prize total.

Happy trails my friends, and have a lovely day!

January 28, 2016

My most recent recipes and videos

It's already the end of January and for me, that usually means coming to terms with my less than ideal performance on new year's resolutions. So far, I've managed to make only the most minute amount of progress. Go to bed earlier? Barely. Begin each day with a jog or yoga? It happened, but oh ever so fleetingly. I hope you're faring better with yours. But if not, don't be too hard on yourself, it is January after all and sometimes you have to pat yourself on the back for just showing up every day. I loved this piece in The Guardian about how to be a moderately successful person. In other words, give yourself some slack. But also, give yourself a pep talk every now and then. Just because things didn't get off to a great start or you slipped off the wagon is no reason to abandon your precious resolutions. Also, this Mark Manson piece about habits versus goals is a great read.

One of my resolutions is to keep this blog more up-to-date. Ahem. And I've got so many new recipes to share with you this year, it's hard to know where to begin! It's also been a while since I've done a giveaway and I've got 2 very exciting ones coming up for you soon, so do stay tuned.

In the meantime, there is a whole slew of recipes I recently posted over on PBS Food which I forgot to tell you about. Not a very good start to my resolution, but let's get caught up, shall we?

First up, these rye crepes were a revelation this fall. My crepe of choice has long been the mighty buckwheat variety, but since we have our own homegrown rye (coming out of our ears!) I decided to try it out in crepes and lo and behold, a wonderfully nutty yet much lighter than expected crepe emerged. A new favorite. Rather lovely with pears and cheddar. And this video contains a good hint as to one of my upcoming giveaways... (think fresh-milled flour!!) Here's the video and the recipe:

Then, over the holidays, I made about a gazillion of these Salted Honey Cranberry Pumpkin Seeds Bars and gifted the ones I managed not to devour. Made with coconut oil and using only honey to sweeten, they're a relatively guilt-free treat and pretty addictive. Recipe here.

Then there was the breakfast pie to end all breakfast pies. Oh epic pie. Oh pie to dream about. Turns out, it makes a perfect Christmas breakfast. I'm adopting it as a yearly Christmas morning tradition. But really, it is quite suitable for any day of the year. Whatever you do in 2016, be sure to make this pie. Recipe here.

Then there's this veggie pâté which is a Québec classic and a long-time family favorite. Do you know how hard it is to make brown pâté look good in a photo? It's very hard. But don't let the drab appearance fool you, it's a tasty little pâté. And it makes a fabulous vegetarian Banh Mi sandwich, in case you were wondering. Recipe here.

And then, most recently, there was my beloved Leekchi, queen of ferments (at least in my books, though it's hard to beat ginger carrot kraut). If you are into fermenting, do try this one. You won't be disappointed. I eat it on everything. Also, I have a hunch this might be a seriously good-for-you superfood. Recipe here. 

And finally, there's this bright Savoy cabbage salad with blood oranges and avocado that will splash some color into the greyest of winter days. Recipe here.

So that brings us up to date my friends. Until very soon, I promise! xox