Friday, April 17, 2015

French Vegetable Soup (Soup au pistou)

French Vegetable Soup (Soup au pistou)
This is a soup to pull you out of winter. It’s warming but has a light, fresh feel, unlike hearty winter soups.

My mom spent Easter in Paris, an 80th birthday gift from all of us kids and proof that you needn’t outgrow your sense of adventure.

For much of her life mom has considered France a spiritual home of sorts. Perhaps it’s a thread of ancestry - my grandfather’s roots are in the Poitou, a region in Western France. Whatever the pull, more than one French recipe has made its way onto our family favourites list.

Friday, April 3, 2015

How to Lower Your Family’s Exposure to Pesticides.

EWG shoppers's guide to pesticides
Shopping according to the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen is one way to reduce your pesticide exposure while still eating a good variety of fruits and vegetables.
I used to debate with myself in the produce section of the grocery store: Should I buy that bag of organic apples or the conventional apples? How about the cauliflower?

When you read that common pesticides are known neurotoxins, and that children are most at risk for health effects of pesticide exposure, produce shopping can feel like a mine field.

That’s why I love Environmental Working Group’s annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides. Each year the organization sifts through U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration data on pesticide residue found on the 50 most commonly-consumed fruits and vegetables. (All produce tested has been washed, and in some cases peeled, before being analyzed.)

Based on their findings they rank the produce so we know what food lands on our tables the most contaminated.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Maple Syrup Oatmeal Scones

maple syrup oatmeal scones
These rich, buttery scones are made with pure maple syrup and drizzled with a maple syrup glaze.
Hard to believe with all of this snow that maple sugar season is underway. The maple trees must be feeling more optimistic than the rest of us when it comes to the arrival of spring.

For the first time ever snow days have lost their magic and even my kids, who are the outdoorsy type, are feeling a little cabin fever.

It reminded me of when I was little and my twin brother and I would amuse ourselves by “walking on the ceiling” with mom’s sterling dresser mirror. We’d hold it in front of us with the mirror facing the ceiling and walk around the house, thrilled with the illusion of hopping over light fixtures and lintels.

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 of texture with all of those beans and vegetables.
Just when I thought a-minestrone-soup-is-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.
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