May 26, 2016

Whole Grain Ginger Rhubarb Crisp

Whole Grain Ginger Rhubarb Crisp is just sweet enough.

Whole Grain Ginger Rhubarb Crisp is just sweet enough.

I love the old fashioned-ness of rhubarb, the way it was a staple in spring kitchens long ago and celebrated as one of the first edible signs of spring.

I love that in the back yard of old homes you can still find shed-sized patches of rhubarb with leaves the size of umbrellas. As kids we’d march around the yard, fanning one another with them and we’d try to eat the stalks raw, dipped in a little sugar.
Whole Grain Ginger Rhubarb Crisp is just sweet enough.

When I was growing up, mom had the rhubarb piled like wood in our kitchen, waiting to make jam, compote, pie and rhubarb crisp.

Rhubarb crisp (all fruit crisps, really) is about the easiest dessert going. It takes all of five minutes to throw together and that little effort yields a delicious dessert with an addictive combination of tart, soft, saucy fruit, and a crisp, buttery topping. Leftovers can be eaten for breakfast.
Whole Grain Ginger Rhubarb Crisp is just sweet enough.

If you want to get your kids cooking, start them with rhubarb crisp. They can pull the rhubarb, give it one tart bite (to understand the magical transformation of rhubarb cooked with sugar) and then get chopping. The topping doesn’t have to come together perfectly to make a great crust.

If you’d like to make gluten free rhubarb crisp substitute ground almonds or brown rice flour for the flour called for in the topping and to thicken the filling.

Green tip: Rhubarb freezes well so you can enjoy it year round.

If you love rhubarb try my Mom's Rhubarb Pie, a lattice-top pie with a custard base for the rhubarb. Enjoy fresh drinks all summer with tangy Rhubarb Juice, made by simmering rhubarb, straining it then adding a squeeze of lemon and your sweetener of choice. Strawberry Rhubarb Compote is perfect spooned over sponge cake or stirred into yogurt.

Whole Grain Ginger Rhubarb Crisp


Ingredients:Filling:
  • 5 cups chopped rhubarb
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup fancy molasses
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom
  • 2 Tbsp. flour

Topping:
  • 1 cup whole white or light spelt flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ cup cold butter, cut into cubes

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the rhubarb with sugar, molasses, spices and 2 Tbsp flour. Spoon into a 9” by 9” baking dish.
  3. In another bowl combine the flour, oats, sugar and ginger.
  4. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture forms pea-sized chunks.
  5. Sprinkle over rhubarb mixture and bake for 35-40 minutes, until fruit is bubbling and topping is starting to brown.
  6. Serve with a drizzle of fresh cream or scoop of ice cream. 



May 25, 2016

What Does Cage-Free Really Mean? Understanding Egg Terminology

What does cage-free really mean? Understanding Cage-Free, Free-Run & More Egg Terminology

When you’re grocery shopping, do you look for cage-free, free-run, organic or “just the regular” eggs?

It can get confusing, all of that terminology at the grocery store.

According to a recent article in the Globe and Mail, how laying hens are raised is becoming big business. Most of the major fast food chains in Canada have committed to sourcing cage-free eggs, driven by consumer demand and competitive pressure.

But what does cage-free mean and how does it compare to all of the other ways that laying hens are raised and housed?

Battery Cages (how most hens are housed):
Your regular eggs come from industrial egg operations where laying hens are housed in what are called battery cages. The more you learn about these cages the more you understand why the demand for an alternative is so important.  

Anywhere from four to eight hens are housed in a battery cage, each having space barely larger than the size of an 8” x 8” pan (67 square inches). They can’t walk around, spread their wings, dust bathe, nest or do anything else that comes naturally. All they can do is eat and lay eggs.

Furnished Cages:
Some industrial operations have moved to furnished cages which offer almost twice the space as battery cages, and have separate areas for nesting and perching. But at 116 square inches per hen, these cages still don’t offer a great amount of space.

Cage-Free/Free-Run Eggs:
Cage-free (or free-run), the housing method favoured by so many fast food restaurants, means that the hens are in open barns so are free to run around and do the sorts of things that come naturally to hens, although they don’t have access to the outside.

It sounds like a good alternative but there is more to the story. The mortality rate for hens in cage-free systems is higher than in caged systems (overcrowding can still be a problem).  Hens can get nasty, and cannibalism and pecking one another become more of a problem in a cage-free environment.

Free-Range Eggs:
Free-range is something altogether different. These hens are in open barns or huts and have access to the outside.

Certified Organic Eggs:
Certified organic eggs are a like free-range plus: they are fed certified organic feed, given nest boxes,  perches and dust bathing materials and have more space to roam, inside and out.

Free-range eggs are an easier-to-find option now that seasonal markets are starting to open again. Some farmers have photos of their hens so you can see that they’re scratching around the barnyard doing what hens love to do.

Of course, there is always the option to have a few ofyour own backyard laying hens.

Whatever option you choose, at the very least we should all know the difference among all of the labels, and how our food is raised.

May 10, 2016

Gluten Free Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini and Moroccan Spices

Gluten free turkey meatballs, mixed with zucchini, new chives from the garden and a good amount of lemon. They’re a fresh-tasting main dish that feels light after a long winter of heavy meals.

Gluten Free Turkey Meatballs, a fresh-tasting main dish that feels light after a long winter of heavy meals. Made with grated zucchini and fresh chives from the garden.

When you can hang a wash on the line without your fingers freezing – that says “spring” to me.

When I was growing up we had a dog that used to yank things off the clothesline. As sheets blew in the wind she’d launch herself at them and tug until the clothes pins popped. We never figured out if she was playing or protecting since she never destroyed anything she pulled down. We just learned to keep her inside when bedding and other blowy stuff was put out to dry.

May 2, 2016

How to Decide When to Buy Organic

How to decide when to buy organic: Environmental Working Group Shoppers Guide to Pesticides helps you navigate the produce section of the grocery store with your sanity intact and a little more money in your pocket.
Environmental Working Group Shoppers Guide to Pesticides helps you navigate the produce section of the grocery store with your sanity intact and a little more money in your pocket. 
Have you noticed that the availability of organic produce is getting better and better? I just returned from a major food tradeshow and organic certified foods were everywhere, from organic black garlic to dried blueberries. And even Costco has said they can't keep up with the demand for organic produce. 

April 28, 2016

Super Healthy Granola for Everyday Snacking

Super Healthy Granola for Everyday Snacking; includes nuts, seeds, coconut, dried fruit and old fashioned rolled oats. Naturally sweetened with molasses and maple syrup. Very little added fat.

Super Healthy Granola includes nuts, seeds, coconut, dried fruit, old fashioned rolled oats and more. It is naturally sweetened with molasses and maple syrup.

When I was expecting my first child, my mom gave me a Martha Steward Baby magazine. It was lovely and full of perfect pictures of nurseries and all sorts of ideas of how to have a very tidy, organized house with a newborn. What ended up catching my eye in the magazine were the recipes, and in particular a recipe for granola.

April 10, 2016

Yellow Split Pea Dip

Yellow split pea dip has a lovely flavour and works as a sandwich spread too. The vinegar keeps the taste bright and cooking an onion with the split peas ads some depth and body to the flavour.

Yellow split pea dip has a lively flavour and makes a great substitute for hummus. 

I have always been a fan of hummus and enjoy it as a dip and sandwich spread. But, my husband can't eat tahini and my kids dislike hummus so I'm always left eating a batch on my own.

Years ago (2006) I pulled the original version of this yellow split pea dip recipe out of a Food & Wine magazine and tucked it in a recipe folder. There it remained for a decade. The recipe resurfaced conveniently last year around the time my husband switched to a low-oxalate diet.

April 9, 2016

Whole Wheat Double Chocolate Cookies Three Ways

Whole Wheat Double Chocolate Cookies Three Ways. These deliciously soft cookies are good as is, and are extra delicious with candied ginger or orange zest added.

Double Chocolate cookies with the option to add the grown up flavours of orange zest or candied ginger.

When we first moved into our current house we met the neighbourhood rabbit, Charles. He was a pet rabbit that belonged to the family that lived behind us and they let him run free through the summer. The whole neighbourhood knew Charles, although I don’t think any of us saw him very often.

The idea of a friendly rabbit running freely in the neighbourhood delighted my son and when he was three or four he could coax Charles to him using tender green dandelion leaves. He would sit and pet him while Charles nibbled away.
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