Friday, March 20, 2015

Tuscan Minestrone Soup with Kale and Cabbage

Tuscan Minestrone Soup James Peterson
Tuscan Minestrone Soup is full of kale and cabbage along with beans and carrots.

Don’t you just love minestrone soup?

It’s substantial and full if texture with all of those beans and vegetables.
Just when I thought a minestrone soup was a minestrone soup I came across this recipe for Tuscan Minestrone Soup.  (Different regions of Italy have their different versions of the soup. Makes sense.)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mediterranean Thickening Sauce for Soup

Mediterranean thickening sauce for soups
This thickening sauce made from sun dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers adds flavour and depth to soups.
We are a soup family.
Through the fall and winter hearty soups are on the menu at our house more than any other dish. Many of the soups I make are tomato based (making use of all the roasted tomato sauce I put up each fall) and all except for one are vegetarian.  
Sometimes soup can use a little help. If it's feeling too thin or the flavour seems a little watery or undefined it's handy to have a trick to liven it up.
This Mediterranean thickening sauce is just the thing.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Roasted Red Pepper Walnut Dip + Spread (Muhammara)

Mediterranean roasted red pepper and walnut dip
Roasted red pepper and walnut dip is delicious on its own, dolloped over chevre, tossed with pasta or spread as a base on pizza
One day, shortly after I was first married, I spied a cookbook in the sale bin at our local grocery store called Mediterranean Cooking by Paula Wolfert. I grabbed it in a flash. She’s my favourite Mediterranean cooking writer so it was a lucky find.

I have many favourite recipes from the book but the recipe I have made most often over the years has been Muhammara, a classic roasted red pepper walnut dip.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Wholesome Irish Soda Bread

wholesome Irish soda bread
This wholesome Irish Soda Bread is made with whole white flour, buttermilk and a generous amount of currants.

St. Patrick’s Day was always a celebration in our house. We didn’t have big parties but we had Irish food and mom would pin a little boutonniere of Shamrocks to my sweater before I left for school.
St. Patrick’s Day was the only day of the year we ate Irish soda bread so it was always a treat. It even looks special. Baked in lovely boule shapes the bread has an artisan look with the ease of a quick bread.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Three Easy Ways to Avoid Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs)

South of the border there is a debate raging that impacts all of us. It has to do with food labels and whether or not genetically modified foods (GMOs) should be labeled as such.

This isn’t avant gard stuff – more than 60 countries already have GMO labelling laws.

The jury is still out on whether genetically modified foods are even safe for human consumption. There are studies that say they aren’t, and industry-funded studies that say they are, although there are no independent studies that prove GMOs ae safe for people or the planet.

Instead of getting caught up in a dispute over research that can be complicated to begin with, there are two undisputable facts about GMOs that should give us all cause for concern:
The quantity of herbicides and insecticides required to grow GMO crops:

GMO seeds and plants are engineered to be dependent on patented herbicides that are known to be carcinogenic. The major crops in North America, corn, cotton and soy beans, are grown almost exclusively using genetically engineered seeds and are doused with Roundup and other proprietary chemicals. Some seeds are engineered to release insecticides as they grow. This chemical dependence has created super-weeds and super bugs.

All of these chemicals make their way to our tables either directly in the GMOs we eat, or indirectly in the meat we consume from cows and other livestock fed genetically engineered corn.

The lack of species diversification and the fact that globally about seven companies are in complete control of major food crops:
Through history civilization has learned the hard way the dangers of single crop farming and lack of species diversification within various crops. If you only grow one variety of potato and that variety is infected with blight then you have nothing to fall back on. GMOs are the opposite of diversification and put our food supply at risk, making it more susceptible to pests, extreme weather and disease.

As well, genetically engineered seeds contaminate wild and other non-engineered plants through crop drift. Biotech company patents then extend to all contaminated crops.

Because GMO labelling isn’t mandatory in Canada or the U.S. there are other steps we can all take to reduce our exposure to genetically modified organisms.
  1. Buy certified organic version of the most common genetically modified crops: corn, canola, soy products and sugar made from sugar beets (not labeled cane sugar). Products like honey are also suspect in areas where bees gather pollen from genetically engineered crops. GMOs are not permitted in certified organic foods.
  2. Look for the label “Project Non GMO verified”, a voluntary certification program.
  3. Buy fewer processed foods. It is estimated that GMOs are in 80% of processed foods. Soy and corn are common ingredients in many processed foods (soy lecithin, glucose/fructose and high fructose corn syrup) so by cooking more from scratch you’ll avoid GMO additives. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Lemony Ukrainian Poppy Seed Cake

Lemony Ukrainian Poppy Seed Cake
This poppy seed cake has a full 3/4 cup of poppy seeds & lots of lemon juice & lemon zest.
I love how recipes can often remind you of things long forgotten.

This is one of those recipes. It takes me back to when I was about four and my twin brother and I went to junior high school for a day with our neighbour, Valerie. We were part of her Home Ec class where I suppose they were learning about childcare.
I have vivid memories of that day. Not the school bit, surprisingly, but of getting ready to go in the early morning, and walking to the bus stop in the dark. (Mom said I thought it was the middle of the night).
It was exciting too…my first time on a school bus.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Chocolate Beet Cake from Brown Eggs and Jam Jars {giveaway}

Chocolate beet cake from Brown Eggs and Jam Jars

I was one of those little kids who loved beets. Mashed winter squash I couldn’t stomach as a child but I’d have second helpings of boiled beets with supper. That’s why I couldn’t resist the Chocolate Beet Sheet Cake recipe in the new cookbook, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars.

Written by the author of the popular food blog, Simple Bites, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars is part cookbook, part food journal, with recipes punctuated by “Homesteading” essays about the author’s backyard sugar bush, laying hens and kitchen gardens. It’s about how you can get back to the land in suburbia, with young kids firmly in tow.
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