Sunday, November 14, 2010

As the snow flies...

Out relaxing after a few meals of harvest

It has been a wonderful summer, a beautiful fall and now we are all ready for winter, the garden is all put away and the yard is tidy and ready for its winter blanket.  I was going through photos (looking for possible Christmas card pics) and I came across a few 2010 harvest pics and I just thought that you would enjoy seeing these!  This is just a small portion of the harvest.  This day we just harvested enough for a few meals.  

The potatoes this year were absolutely huge, not as many in quantity as last year but just as much if not more in weight.  We have eaten through them quite quickly this year but that is much more satisfying than having them stick around and begin to sprout.  We left many of the carrots in the garden until just a few weeks ago, they had a few good frosts and cool nights which as I have been told gives them a sweetness that store bought carrots never have.  And the carrots this year are as sweet as we have ever tasted.  This was the last of the beans, not a bad bean season, not quite as prolific as last year but still had a few good meals plus some to share with family.  Next year we want to grow a few more onions.  They were fairly small but very flavourful.  You'd better be prepared to shed a few tears while chopping onions or else invest in some onion goggles!  This was not the year for zucchini, (so different from last year where we had pounds of them) we only had a few small ones that got chopped into salad as they were so small and tender we thought... why cook them?  We planted spaghetti squash this year just for something fun to try. They didn't turn yellow though, we need a longer and hotter growing season for them to really turn yellow and develop all their flavour, but they were still edible.  Baked and served just like spaghetti with a home made tomato sauce and cheese.  A great fall treat.

Tomatoes gave us another interesting growing season.  The plants in the garden grew to new heights as you can see in the photo below and these plants have even been trimmed a bit too!  It was found that the garage reflected so much heat from the day that the tomatoes fluorished, plus a drip irrigation system gave them their much needed drink consitently. We snaked the drip irrigation hose through and around the beans, peas (when they were still there), carrots and into the zucchini as well. 

Over all this harvest was a success, an experiment I must say, but when dealing with Mother Nature what else can we expect?  We have already began talking about next year; what to try again, what to avoid and some new things to try and grow.  Gardening is meant to be exciting and rewarding, because why on earth would we do all that hard back breaking work day after day and always be worrying about the rain, the sun and the frost to not be able to enjoy a sweet crunchy carrot?  Especially while laying out in the sun on the cool grass!

That is what it is all about... and cooking with it too! 

See you next time, in the kitchen.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Good Food Sticks to Your Ribs!

We had a complete day at home and so a slow cooked dinner was on the menu.  Simple and hearty, perfect after a chilly day spent outside in the yard.  A whole rack of ribs, sliced onion, lots of garlic and bbq sauce (store bought this time - I wanted to spend the day outside!).  Slow cooked for about 6 hours and then transfered to the oven just to caramelize the sugars in the bbq sauce.  This last bit takes about the same amount of time that you will need to make mashed cheddar potatoes, steamed garden carrots and a crisp green salad.  Be sure to serve this one with lots of napkins as it is saucy finger food! The ribs are so tender that the meat actually falls off the bone, there is no need for barbaric bone gnawing at the dinner table.   D-lish

Not much else to tell you about this dinner, it was that simple.  But I am sure that a few photos would tell you a bit more.

Caramelizing in the oven.  All sticky and sweet.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Delightful, yet Frightful Hallowe'en Dinner

Great things take time and this dinner was no exception.  It all started back in the week before Halloween with the planning of our menu.  As those decisions were made the dinner began to take the shape of a fantastic Autumn feast.  And this is how it rounded out in the end.

Then came the research and prep work, shopping for just the right ingredients and preparing the garden vegetables (carrots and potatoes).  Parts of the meal were a complete experiment and for once it was truly successful even as an experiment.  

Starting from the top; 
The Sangria - well that is always a winner.  Fortified wine with fruit, simple and yet oh so d-lish.  It was a mixture of thinly sliced oranges, cranberries & pomegranates (we need our antioxidants!) and cloves for an Autumn twist all immersed in a deep dark red wine.  Fortified with a cranberry vodka and an apple cranberry sparkling juice added sparkle and sweetness.  
The Carrot Soup I started on Saturday night by cooking the carrots with onions, garlic (for vampires), bay leaf and garden tarragon (carrots best friend).  Then Sunday afternoon I reheated the carrots less the onions and garlic and blended till smooth and thick with home made chicken stock.  With a garnish of creme fraiche and the usual fresh parsley the soup had a wonderful warm Autumn flavour.  No chill on our bones now!  
Moving along to the Mushroom Trio Bruchetta, this was part of a Julia Child recipe and part of a Laura Caulder recipe.  Our trio was King Oyster mushrooms, Shiitaki and Crimini.  The only thing that I would change about this course was the King Oyster mushrooms were quite fibrous and challenging to bite through therefore next time I will cut them into more bite sized pieces.  Other than that, flavour was deep and intensely earthy.  
The Main Event was a wonderful combination of deep Autumn flavours and a palette cleansing brightness found in the salad.  The Tenderloin of Pork had a great herb and spice crust that held on tight all the way through the BBQ-ing.  There was a combination of garden herbs (sage, rosemary & thyme) and cayenne pepper for an earthy spice and cumin to add interest and complexity.  The Slow Roasted Tomatoes were bursting with flavour and sweetness that only home grown tomatoes seem to deliver.  Duchess Potatoes are a wonderful way to have potatoes; providing you have the time to fuss and have a trusty Kitchen Aid mixer to do your smashing and creaming.  The surprising ingredient in here were egg yolks, not really a healthy mashed potato but we like to believe all in moderation is a healthy choice!  I must admit that the presentation of the potatoes was particularly festive for Halloween as they looked much like ghosts popping out of jack o'lanterns.  For our palette cleansing course, the salad was made up of only green vegetables and the dressing was a lime and garlic vinaigrette, just to keep with the green theme.  Definitely a Garden of Evil Green Salad. 
The Dessert course I was so excited about.  There are a few people in this world who have a severe addiction to Rum Butter cake... (and yes, you know who you are - counselling will commence next week.)  So the best way to enjoy this Rum Butter cake is to tuck into our last layer of wedding cake, it was partially to satisfy an addiction as mentioned but it was also in celebration of an upcoming wedding and all the hard work and planning that is happening.  Plus we were mildly curious of just how good our cake would be after 2 years, and we were not disappointed at all.  To keep up with the Halloween and pumpkin theme we decided to top the cake with nothing less than... are you ready for it?... DQ Pumpkin blizzard!  It was fantastic!  A little different to pair something so formal with something so casual.  The flavours were so contrasting but perfectly complementing.  

If I were to do it all over again, there is not much I would change, everything was so perfect.  The kitchen was tidy & organized (for once!), all the food was ready on time (partially to do with the tidy kitchen), and most of all the company was warm and comforting.  These dinners will not last forever but our memories that we have created through all these dinners will stay with us forever.  

This is one to remember and just like the dessert course was named;
Till Death Do Us Part - Our friendship and our memories are here to stay.

So that was 2010 Halloween, I hope that my writing has given you a clear image of our dinner and just how much fun we have in the kitchen.  For that is what it is all about!

See you in the kitchen.