Saturday, September 30, 2006


Today was the BIG day! The day I finally got around to making antipasto. Okay, this wasn't a venture I took on by myself. No, I know much better than that. My Mom and I decided that it was something we'd make together and then split the spoils. I'd tried making it on my own once before, but it's a huge amount of prep. If you're doing it on your own, I would estimate at least 4 hours of prep and then processing time (read pretty much the whole day).

The most important thing when making antipasto is the recipe. There is just way too much prep and expense in ingredients to waste on a bad recipe. Lucky for us, years ago my Mom was given this particular recipe from an Italian neighbour. The end result is as good as any you might find in a fancy gourmet food store.


3 jars (32 oz) dill pickles fine cut
4 lbs pickling onions
4 lbs cauliflower
4 tins mushrooms
2 lbs of green beans
3 lbs green peppers
4 lbs red peppers
7 - 16 oz tins ripe (black) olives
6 - 8 oz tins tuna
4 - 11 oz bottles ketchup
3 - 16 oz jars stuffed green olives
2 - 13 oz tins anchovies - optional (I personally have never added the anchovies)

Boil cauliflower 3 min. Drain, set aside. Peel pickling onions, cut dills fine. Boil green beans (cut fine) until tender. Set all aside. Fry sliced muchrooms in oil. Add ketchup and cut green and red peppers. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Add all vegies, olives and remaining ingredients. Break up tuna (drained) and add to everything. Put into mason jars (pressure to seal).

Makes about 30 pints. Enjoy!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Pear Coffee Cake

There's nothing like fall fruits cooked into desserts, so I decided to alter a Purity coffee cake recipe and add the mellow flavour of pears. A true comfort food that's not too sweet and feels good at any time of the day!

Pear Coffee Cake
Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a 9" square cake pan.
Cream together:
1/3 C butter
3/4C granulated sugar

Beat in:
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Beat until light and fluffy.
Sift together:
1 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Add sifted dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with:
1C milk
Combining lightly.
Turn into prepared pan.

Peel 3 pears and slice into thin strips.
Insert wedges into the batter.

Mix together:
1/3 C lightly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C chopped almonds
3 Tbsp melted butter

Sprinkle over batter.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

More Wildlife

Most the action these days happens in and around the hazelnut tree. For obvious reasons this tree is a great favorite among the wildlife that frequents the area at this time of year.

A Steller's Jay looking...well, very stellar. However, despite his noble pose, he's quick to give a variety of raucous calls and scolds to anyone who ventures too close to the tree while he's collecting the nuts.

Here he is again trying to crack open a nut. He's quite persistant. I find many empty shells when I'm out collecting some of the nuts for myself.

The squirrel is new to the area but he has been chatting up quite a storm. He's very vocal!

Somewhat curious too...just as long as you don't get too close or make any sudden movements.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Canning Frenzy

My parents arrived home from vacation yesterday bearing gifts of....tomatoes. So today I got busy and started canning, because really, what else is one going to do with 60 plus lbs of tomatoes. The timing was really great because I have not done much in the way of canning tomatoes this year and have pretty much used up my supply from last year. That usually happens, I use a ton of tomatoes in just about everything from spaghetti sauce or chillis to soup.

My bowls of scalded tomatoes above: we're just getting started ;)

And finally...the finished product. I think I completed about 50 quarts this afternoon. Whew! I think I'll wait until the weekend to get started on the Antipasto.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Book Meme

Cheryl tagged me with this book meme the other day and I'm only just getting around to responding.
1. One book that changed your life - hardest question first.
I’m figuring this would have to be something health related as there are many books that have inspired and encouraged me on my journey towards better health, improved nutrition and environmental activism. At this moment, I don’t think I can narrow it down to just one. Perhaps I’ll have to do a post on all my favorites at some point.
2. One book that you've read more than once.
Hmm…not something I usually do unless it’s related to health and then it’s usually just as a reference.
3. One book that you'd want on a desert island.

My first impulse would be to choose something long and entertaining such as Cheryl’s choice of the Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, but I think that ultimately a book on edible plants would be more practical.
4. One book that made you laugh.
Gilbert de la Frogponde: A Swamp Story by Jennifer Rae. It’s especially funny if read out loud with a French accent.
5. One book that made you cry.
The Good Women of China by Xinran Xue. This is one of those books you just can’t put down. It’s part memoir, part history, part tragedy and part social documentary. It’s an amazing read.

6. One book that you wish you had written.
I wish I’d written a ton of them…but one specifically? Perhaps the Life of Pi.
7. One book you wish had never been written.
This is a tough one. I don’t usually linger long reading books I wish had never been written. Perhaps I’ll come back to this one.
8. One book that you are reading at the moment.
Stiff – The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. As Entertainment Weekly’s review says, “One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year….Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting.”
9. One book that you've been meaning to read.
The Kite Runner. I have it here, I just haven’t started it yet.

10. Tag five others that you'd like to do this meme.
Okay, I’m leaving this wide open. If you feel like responding, please do. I’d love to know what you’re reading.

In a Pickle

I didn't get around to posting on my blog yesterday. I ended up being too tired in the evening and then ended up going to bed late anyways. Go figure. In any case, all I intended was to share this picture of pickled beets that I finally got around to making. Whew! What a time consuming endeavor. That took far more time with far less to show than say canning tomatoes. I took the recipe from the "Bernadin Guide to Home Preserving." This isn't something that I've made often enough to have one favorite recipe, but I think this one might just be a keeper. I really like the combination of spices they used.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.
Hippocrates, 400 BC

What is a tonic?

A tonic is something that improves your well being. It helps restore balance to the body, and it nourishes. Rather than rectifying a specific problem, as a remedy does, a tonic supports health. It doesn't make you feel bad in the process.

I suppose that there are many definitions of a tonic. In traditional Chinese medicine, a tonic enhances immunity and supports normal functioning, as opposed to a remedy designed to attack the root cause of a specific illness or medical problem.

In European traditional medicine, tonics are generally bitter substances that improve digestion (think Swedish bitters). Thus they too generally improve one's energy and sense of well being.

For me, I tend to go with the definition of foods / drinks that support health and nourish our cells. Because of summer's abondance of fresh fruits, at this time of year, my favorite is the "fruit smoothie."

When making one of these smoothies, I usually just go with what I they are never the same, but always delicious. Today I've included fresh peaches (the last of the season), concord grapes, frozen blackberries and raspberries, soymilk, and a little flax oil for my daily EFA's. Blend together and you have happiness in a glass.

For any of you interested in some of the benefits of some of the ingredients included in todays smoothie, here you have it:

Grape. Rich in antioxidant compounds. Red grapes (but not white or green grapes) are high in the antioxidant quercetin. Grape skins contain resveratrol, shown to inhibit blood-platelet clumping (and consequently, blood clot formation) and boost good-type HDL cholesterol. Red grapes are antibacterial and antiviral in test tubes. Grape seed oil also raises good-type cholesterol.

Raspberry. Anti-viral, anti-cancer activity. High in natural aspirin

Soybean. Rich in hormones, it boosts estrogen levels in post-menopausal women. Has anti-cancer activity and is thought to be especially antagonistic to breast cancer, possibly one reason rates of breast and prostate cancers are low among the Japanese. Soybeans are the richest source of potent protease inhibitors which are anti-cancer, anti-viral agents. Soybeans lower blood cholesterol substantially. In animals, soybeans seem to deter and help dissolve kidney stones.

Flax seeds and oil. Used for constipation, cases of gastritis, colitis or other inflammations of the digestive tract. Lowers blood fat levels often associated with heart attacks and strokes. Reduces harmful blood cholesterol levels with its soluble fibers. Prevents colon and breast cancer through its rich source of lignins, a documented anti-cancer agent. Improves moods, diminishes allergies and produces healthier skin.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Best Fast Food

One of the joys of summer is the variety and availability of fresh ingredients. It is always with a bit of sorrow that I welcome the fall as I know my time to have truly flavourful ingredients is limited. Today I raided the garden of what was left to make this salad. Here's what I found: lettuce, tomatoes and white radishes. I threw in some pickled banana peppers and some of the raisins that I had made earlier this week.

I also always make my own salad dressing. I can't remember the last time I actually purchased a store variety, but when I do, it is almost always Little Creek. Today I went for an oriental flavour. I used flax oil (for my daily dose of EFA's), rice vinegar, some crushed ginger, tamari sauce, a pinch of djon mustard and a little honey and then I sprinkled the whole thing with sesame seeds. It was delicious.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


This is my lovely cat, Sage, who has been my companion for almost 10 years. Yes, I know, she looks pretty good for her age. Below is a picture of her walking very tentively on the grass.

I picked her up from the SPCA, apparently a stray...but I just don't believe it. You see, she is VERY domestic, and your classic "scaredy cat," a quivering puss who will run at the slightest noise. But as you can see from the pictures, I can occasionally get her outside. She never goes very far, and I've never had to worry about her leaving the yard. However, if I'm outside gardening, she'll act brave and do some exploring in the bushes.

Other things to know about Sage: as her name suggests, she is the gentlest cat that you will meet. Even if she is annoyed with you, although she might swat at you, she'll never use her claws. She has such a tiny little mew, that initially I thought she had something wrong with her voice. But I have since learned that she can be pretty persistant if she wants something...namely food.

Things she likes best: eating, sleeping, having her belly rubbed and a good cuddle. Who wouldn't like that?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


What does one do on a rainy afternoon with a box full of more grapes than she can eat in a month? Make raisins, of course.

Cambridge International Dictionary of English: Raisin - noun - a dried black grape.

Okay, so these aren't black grapes. Do they still count? As far as I can tell, they are actually "Sultanas."

This is about half way through the process. You can see that they are starting to shrivel nicely. I've never actually made raisins's always been dried cherries (very yummy), occasionally blueberries, and, of course, fruit leather. I really have no idea how long this is going to take, so I'm just winging it. So far, it's been about a day.

Voila! The finished product. Quite scrumptious and "sans sulphites." They'll be delicious in cookies and bars.

Monday, September 18, 2006

For the Birds

I couldn't resist sharing the quick snap I took of this beautiful bird. I'm assuming that it's a hawk, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. In any case, he looked rather hawkish. He watched me very carefully as I inched forward enough to get a good shot. He was very brave and stood his ground. For a moment I thought he might be injured as I didn't expect him to let me get so close, but eventually he proved me wrong and soared off.

Isn't he lovely?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Autumn Bounty

I am presently house sitting for my parents and my father has an extremely green thumb, so I thought I'd include some pictures of his vegetable garden, of which I, quite fortunately am reaping the benefit.

This is a picture inside the greenhouse. I think the tomatoes must be the most babied plant my father grows. They are so fleshy and tasty...just the perfect variety for salsa. You'll probably also notice the basil. Pesto is a great favorite of our family. For the first time this year, he also tried eggplant, which lightly sauted is very delicious.

Here is a close up of the tomatoes. These plants actually grow to over six feet tall and are of course strung up so that they can support their weight. As of last year, I quit eating fresh tomatoes in the winter months because I just can't stand what the grocery stores try to pass off as good tomatoes. I'm most content to wait for these or use those that I have canned throughout the summer.

The beets have done very well this year. I'm actually thinking of pickling some of them later this week.

Despite the fact that it feels like fall is well on its way, the eggplants are still flowering like crazy. I love the bright purple flowers on these plants, quite lovely.

Chard grows very well in this region, much better than spinach because of our latitude. It can be used in many of the same dishes. It is also very nice lightly steamed with a bit of butter and vinegar.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Nature and Things

After living in the city for a number of years, I'm amazed at the wildlife in this area. This little humming bird totally amazed me. He was so tame. He just sat in this apple tree on my parents deck for a good 15 minutes while I took pictures and got gradually closer and closer.

Just the other day, I saw a blackbear crossing the highway a few miles outside the city to make its way to the lake for a drink. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera.