My photo won a garden photo contest!

I was happily surprised to discover that my photo of vegetables grown in our front yard won a shared firts place in the people’s choice -best fall fair vegetable category of the “6th Annual Blooming Hall of Fame Photo Contest” at the Greenery garden center here in Kelowna.

I’m so excited to get to receive a $25 Gift Certificate and a Gardener’s Delight Gift Basket in the spring!

Check out the other winners here.

And here’s the winning photo I submitted :)

The harvest plate

Fungal feast!

Since David and I went to Revelstoke to pick mushrooms, I have been eating chanterelles almost every day for almost a month! I have not documented all the different recipies that I’ve used the mushrooms for, but in my opinion you can for example add them to creamy pasta sauces, quiche, beef stroganoff, pizza, soup, or simply just serve them on a piece of toast.

A large part of the harvest is also stored in our miniscule freezer. Before you freeze the mushrooms though, you want to fry them in a bunch of butter with some salt and white pepper (it enhances the flavour of the chanterelles). I freeze them in old philadelphia cheese containers, it makes a perfect portion to defrost and use all year round.

The variery that commonly grows here in BC, Canada is the White chanterelle (Cantharellus subalbidus). It is said to be even more flavourful than the golden one that I am used to from back home.

When the chanterelles are just picked they still have that creamy white colour, but as soon as they get a little bruised they get yellow stains. Nothing that you need to cut off though.

Here’s a picture of some really big golden ones (the shoe is size 10) to compare with that I picked home in Sweden.

Borscht with a tomato twist

Summer heat is gone, and it’s time to enjoy the last few dinners on the patio. I love to make some hearty soup at this time of year, and since I’m a huge fan of beats, the traditional borscht is a natural choice to make. This time though, I thought I should include some of our enormous tomato harvest in it, and what would fit better than some tomatoes of the variety “Black russians”.

Here’s what I put in the soup:

  • Pulp from ~20 black russian tomatoes
  • 2 large beets
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • a chunk of red cabbage
  • two spoons of vegetable stock mix
  • 2 bayleafs
  • ground black pepper
  • hungarian paprika powder
  • fresh cilantro (parsley works good too)
  • olive oil
  • 500 ml water
  • sour cream

I started by chopping onions, carrots and garlic finely and frying them in some olive oil in a large pot. To avoid getting the tomato peels in the soup, I grilled them in the oven for about 10 min and then pressed them through a sieve into the pot and threw out the peels. To make the beets cook faster, I peeled and grated them before putting them into the soup. Depending on how much juice you got out of the tomatoes, add water (I added another 500 ml). Add spices and let simmer until the beets and carrots are soft. Add some chopped cabbage and cilantro last to keep some crunch in the cabbage and the flavour of the cilantro.

Serve with a spoon of sour cream, some fresh ciabatta and fried chantarelles (if you have some :).

Moules marinières

One of my favourite foods all time is freshly boiled mussels. As a kid my family used to spend the summers in northern France, more precisely here:

As a consequence of this, I got spoiled eating really good mussels already as a kid. Living in Halifax for a year didn’t make me any less spoiled, and there I actually took a university course in aquaculture where we got to go out to a mussel farm to see how they grow them.

So, I guess the point I’m trying to make is that eating mussels is something very dear to my heart, and my favourite version of preparing them is the classic recipe for moule marinière.

This is how I make them:

  • 3.5 pounds of mussels
  • 1 bottle of white wine
  • 400ml cream
  • 4 chopped shallots
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 branches of fresh thyme
  • a fresh garden carrot
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • butter
  • salt & pepper
  • a big bunch of parsley

Wash the mussels. Chop the shallots and the garlic and fry them up in some butter in the bottom of a large pot. Add the herbs and the wine and the cream, pour the mussels in and let boil/steam with a closed lid until the mussels are opening.

Serve with some fresh baguette :)

Jammin’ in the okanagan

All jam-making normally starts with a nice little adventure of fruit picking. Here in Kelowna, BC, we harvest apricots from an abandoned tree by the university (if we get to them before the wasps) and heaps of raspberries from our backyard. Blueberries don’t really grow in the dry forests around here, but you can buy them for cheap from some farmers that cultivate them.

Once you’ve got the berries all you need is two large pots, some old jars and a bunch of sugar (and spices if you want to mix things up a bit).

The amount of sugar you need to add depends on if the fruit is sour or sweet. I normally just fill up with sugar so that it looks like the fruit/berries are somewhat covered. In most cases you don’t need to add water, the sugar will dissolve the fruit into nice a juicy jam.

When the jam is boiling (on low heat so that it doesn’t burn) foam will form on the surface. Remove the foam by scooping it off with a spoon since you don’t want it to end up in the jars.

Once the jam has boiled for a while and reached a nice consistency (it will be rinnier hot than once it’s cooled down), put the empty jars and their lids in a boiling water bath to kill potential pathogens and then while the jam and the jars are still hot, fill the jars with jam and seal the lids. Let the jars rest until they cool down, then the lids will pop down and seal. A lot of people buy new jars or lids, but I’ve always just used old olive jars or jam jars with their lids and it has worked just fine, as long as you make sure to boil everything.

The end result might look something like this:

Here are some of the flavour-mixes for this year’s harvest:

From the left: Apricot-ginger-cinnamon (made with fresh chopped ginger and cinnamon sticks), Raspberry-lime and Blueberry-vanilla (made with a dried vanilla pod that I cut open).

My favourite out of the bunch is the blueberry-vanilla one. It has a perfectly balanced sweetness and the hint of vanilla coats your mouth in a smooth and comforting way. I actually got the idea to combine bluberry and vanilla from a jam I got from my friend Amanda that she had bought in a cheese store in Umeå where they make cheese and jam pairings. It is considered a good complement to soft cheeses like a brie or a cambozola and I can guarantee that it sure is!

Harvest times

We’re just harvesting more and more from our little garden. Here’s a taste of what we have to cook with right now:

  • Rainbow carrots (unfortunately we got very few red ones…)
  • Yellow zucchini
  • Green beans
  • Dry pinto beans
  • Yellow onions
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Oaxacan tomatoes (the first ones are just starting to ripen)
  • Black russian tomatoes (awsome deep tomato flavour)
  • Oregano (that has started to flower in pink)

A freshly cut sun ripened black russian tomato

 

My own little red lentil lasagna

When it’s really hot outside, warm meals can feel a little too much, but I feel a good pasta dish still tastes great under the gazing sun, and here’s my recipe for a lighter version of lasagna  – without any meat!

All you need is:

Filling

  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbs vegetable stock
  • ~ 200 ml red lentils
  • corn kernels from a fresh corn cob
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • A handfull of kalamata olives.
  • fresh oregano
  • fresh basil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek

Fry the onions in some oil and then add the chopped tomatoes, lentils and stock. Let simmer until the lentils are soft, then add the rest of the vegetables and spices.

Bechamèl sauce

  • 100 g butter
  • 500 ml milk
  • 3 tbs flour
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Melt the butter in a pot with a thick bottom, stir in the flour little by little. Then add the milk and wait for it to come to a boil while stirring continuously. Be creful so it doesn’t burn. Keep it at a low heat and once the sauce has thickened, take it off the element.

Once you have the filling and the sauce, layer it in a glass pan with lasagna plates. Finish with a layer of bechamèl sauce and some grated cheese.

Bake in the oven at 200°C for about 20-30 min. Take out when the lasagna has a nice colour and the plates are softened.

Fantastic foraging

Two weeks ago I had to go out on a field trip to collect some seeds for my experiments, and on our way, we found some delicious treats: Aspen boletes (mushrooms) and wild red gooseberries which turned into a delicious meal :)

With the boletes, I made a nice quiche. First I fried the mushrooms in some butter and then I used this recipie to make the quiche dough and egg-filling. I stuffed the quiche with onion, zucchini and mushrooms and used regular cheddar cheese.

 

With the gooseberries I decided to make a crumble, and since the harvest wasn’t quite enough for the glass baking pan, I added some frozen blueberries. For the crumble I mixed:

  • 125 g butter
  • 200 ml sugar (pour half on the berries and use half for the crumbles)
  • flour (add until the butter forms non-sticky crumbles
  • cinnamon
  • cardamom

Then I poured the crumbles on top of the berries and baked in the oven (200°C) for about 30 min (until it turns golden on top). Here’s the result: