Monday, September 28, 2009

Charming Chanterelle Pasta

Oh, Chanterelle mushrooms!  The thought of chanterelle mushrooms evokes a smile from all serious food lovers.  They are actually quite abundant in forests, but are considered almost a rarity in American cuisine and their prices reflect that.  Their flavor is less pungent than other mushrooms and subtly warm and savory.  I can't exactly describe what makes chanterelles magical, but they hold their own with so little dressing up.  This is a simple dish, created to showcase the chanterelles' talent.

Sautee in a pan:

olive oil
pinch salt
pinch of pepper
minced clove of garlic

Toss over cooked pasta.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Peaceful Pie

Well, in the spirit of using local ingredients and eating down, I concocted this strange and tasty pie. This crust is a great use of leftover rice. We picked up some grapes at the farmers market in nanaimo and apples from the family's orchard.

Combine and mash in a food processor:

3 cups cooked rice
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup vanilla soymilk

Press 2/3 of mixture into pie pan. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until firm.

Combine in the pie pan:

1 pound seedless grapes
2 to 3 chopped apples
1/4 cup sugar

Cover with remaining rice mixture (like a crumble).

Bake in the oven until all fruit is soft. You may need to cover it initially to prevent burning of the crumble. Remove when crumble is golden and fruit is soft, approximately 25 to 35 minutes.

Nice served with yogurt, ice cream or fresh cream.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Eating Locally in Nanaimo BC

So, this vacation has been very nourishing as we have been eating loads of fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmers markets and the garden.  We have enjoyed beets, leeks, garlic, potatoes, chanterelle mushrooms, brussel sprouts, apples, grapes, pears, currants, raspberries, strawberries, herbs and more herbs.  Check out the pics of our local fruits and vegetables and for more information on local eating, go to

Recipes to follow this week with local ingredients.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bountiful Borscht

Borscht is a wonderful hot or cold soup:  refreshing in the summer or comforting in the winter.  People often ask me what is in borscht and the answer is, "besides beets, anything really."  It's a staple soup in Russia, Poland, Ukraine and most of Eastern Europe.  It is sort of a grabbag soup- just add in what you have and go from there.  I've never made two borschts alike.  Here's today's version:

Saute in a large soup pot until soft:

1/2 large onion
1 handful chopped leeks
1 tablespoon olive oil

Then add and bring to a boil:

6 cups water
2 handfuls chopped beets
1 handful chopped carrots
2 large potatoes
2 handfuls beet tops

Lower to a simmer and season with:

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon parsley

Serve with sour cream or any desired garnishes.  Other versions include:  cabbage, apples, orange juice, tomatoes.

Borscht on Foodista

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Garlic Chocolate

So, about 9 years ago I discovered the most delicious gourmet confection: garlic chocolate.  Garlic Ken, previously known by me as "that crazy garlic guy," is a true garlic romantic.  He has a garlic farm on Gabriola Island, BC and loves to make garlic delicacies:  pickled garlic, garlic chutney, cured garlic, minced garlic and soy and sherry marinated garlic.  And of course, his most famous and exotic creation is the garlic chocolate.  The first time I tried it, I put a little piece in my mouth to be nice.  Wow!  The hidden secret about Ken is that he is a superb chocolate maker:  no wax, no artificial fillers, all organic ingredients and high quality dark belgian chocolate.  Now I have to refrain from gobbling up a whole bar in less than a minute.

If you'd like to try Ken's Original Gabriola Bar, contact him at:

Ken Stefanson
1925 Horseshoe Road
Gabriola Island, BC V0R 1X3
1-866-GARLIC4U (toll-free)

If you want to know more about Ken, check out this article: Improving The Taste of Chocolate.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Zesty Zucchini Zoup

This is a guest blog from my mother's home in Nanaimo BC, Canada.  There are massive amounts of fresh zucchini and soups are her specialty, so here's one of her best creations.

Sautee in a large soup pot:

2 tablespoons butter
one medium onion chopped
one small potato peeled and chopped
2 medium or 1 large zucchini sliced

Add vegetable stock or water to cover and season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Simmer until vegetables are soft.  Place in a blender with 2-3 oz. cream cheese and blend until smooth.  You may need to blend in two batches.  Serve hot with croutons.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Believe It Basil Sorbet

Well, this invention was a nice surprise!  Basil is so versatile and is a delicious flavoring for a light dessert sorbet.


2-3 cups fresh basil leaves
4 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups sugar

Leave to cool and steep, recommend at least 12 hours.

Grate in zest from 1/2 lemon.  Pour into ice cream maker and churn until frozen.  Serve with fresh fruit.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bank On It Basil Millet Cakes

Well, the abundant basil harvest and the Eat Down have generated all kinds of creative recipes.  Since millet is a great grain that is way too overlooked, I decided to give make it a star entree.  Millet is rich in vitamins, especially niacin, B6 and folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc.  It is gluten free and can be found in the bulk section of the grocery store.


3 cups cooked millet (1 cup dry with 3 cups water)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 grated onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 grated summer squash
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 handful chopped fresh basil leaves

Make into 3 inch patties and bake on a greased baking sheet at 340F. Bake 40 minutes or until crisp on both sides.  Delicious dressed with honey mustard and served with greens.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bold Basil Lemonade

So, in my quest to use basil creatively, I decided to branch out into beverages. This lemonade has the lovely basil flavor and its uniqueness makes it well worth making.

Boil 4 cups of water with 2 cups fresh basil leaves. Seal into glass mason jar and let infuse for an hour or more.

In a glass, combine to taste:

fresh lemon juice
strained basil water infusion
agave nectar

Enjoy over ice. Also delicious as a cocktail with vodka or rum.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Top Dog Tomato Basil Soup

I've made A LOT of tomato basil soup over the years, but I think this is my best.

Heat in a soup pot:

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large tomatoes
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic


2 cups water
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup fresh basil leaves

Bring to a boil and simmer until all ingredients are soft.

Puree in blend. Serve hot or cold. Garnish with goat cheese.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Brazen Basil Foccacia

You can use a breadmaker or your own hands to make this bread.


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup wheat flour
2 tablespoons milk powder
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup fresh basil leaves

Mix ingredients until combined. Knead about 10 minutes. Let sit 30 minutes. Knead again. Allow to rise double in height. Shape into a flat circle and place on greased baking pan. Let rest in a warm place for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F. Top with your choice (basil, tomatoes, salt, pepper).

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until fully cooked and golden.

Basil Basil Basil!

Wow! Basil was by far the most successful crop in my garden. Basil has been called "L'herbe Royale" and it's earned that title. It's sweet, spicy and goes well in almost every dish. It dries well and even works well in a sachet to scent your clothing. So, with all this fresh basil around, I begin the basil series of recipes for the next week. I hope these recipes inspire you to do some experimenting with this wonderful herb.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It's Hunger Action Month

What are you doing to help end hunger in your town, city, state, country, world? Check out the Feeding America website to get started in the movement to end hunger. Here's the press release from Feeding America concerning Hunger Action Month. Click on Feeding America's website to find out what you can do and also about great deals that corporations are offering YOU as part of their efforts to end hunger.

Hunger Action Month (September), led by Feeding America, is the nationwide effort to mobilize the public in the fight against hunger in America. Hunger Action Month, formed to help those in need, bloomed from a day of service into a month-long campaign as the economy has taken a turn for the worse and the demand for food assistance has increased. Through collaboration between Feeding America's national office, their network of 205 food banks, corporate sponsors and engagement of celebrities, Feeding America aims to raise awareness this September to help the 36 million Americans who struggle with hunger through the universal message "Give a Little, Feed a Lot."

"The demand for food assistance nationwide has increased 30 percent throughout the last year and in many communities the increase is much higher," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. "The effects of the economic recession are being felt by more and more households each day. Hunger Action Month spearheads our ongoing campaign to raise awareness and to help the 36 million people who are at risk of hunger in America. We are thankful to the corporations who have stepped up to the plate and are helping shine a spotlight on this solvable problem."

Throughout Hunger Action Month, Feeding America's nationwide network of 205 food banks are calling upon their communities to take action by giving up something small through the "Give A Little, Feed a Lot" campaign. By identifying small things in life, a person can see what the value of that item would translate into meals and can then donate the value to their local food bank. Americans are encouraged to participate in the month by attending local food banks events, donating time, money or their voice, participating in one of many corporate promotions and getting children involved as "Hunger Helpers."

Hunger Action Month has attracted the attention of many corporate sponsors and entertainment partners to help continue the dialogue and spread the "Give a Little, Feed a Lot" message.

As You Wish Asparagus Soup

It's close to the end of asparagus season and I have been buying it in large amounts to enjoy. I like asparagus so much because it is the perfect example of the wonder of summer vegetables. This soup is easy to make and can easily be added to or adapted. It is nice served hot or cold, so enjoy!

Combine in a large soup pot:

1 pound fresh asparagus
4 cups water
1/2 medium onion
1 teaspoon tarragon
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
black pepper to taste

Bring to a boil, then simmer until asparagus is soft. Puree mixture. Stir in one cup of plain yogurt.

Optional: tomatoes, cauliflower, celery

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Let the Eat Down Begin

A couple of years ago, I started a tradition called "The Eat Down." About every three or four months, I eat down the pantry. I abstain from buying any foodstuff except fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy and I eat down all those non-perishables. I think I do it just to clean out the clutter, but I've also discovered that it forces me to get creative with what I have. What do I do with cranberry chutney, pumpkin butter, 6 kinds of vinegar, millet, lentils (and more lentils), pickled beets, etc? Over the years, the results have been pretty interesting and delicious. At the end of the eat down, grocery shopping is rewarding and interesting. So, the eat down starts today. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Blue Corn Meal

So, I've long enjoyed blue corn tortilla chips, mostly because they are a novelty. Little did I know, that Blue Corn is the "Southwestern Beauty." For Native Americans, blue corn represents the Eastern rising sun, the beginning of life, wisdom and understanding. For me, it represents something new and a healthy alternative to yellow or white corn, as blue corn contains 20% more protein.

Brilliant Blue Corn Cakes

Enjoy these blue corn cakes as breakfast or dinner entree.


1/2 cup blue cornmeal
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon water

Pour batter unto hot pan or griddle. Cook like pancakes.

Relish This Resource

So, I noticed that about once a month, enclosed in the freebie neighborhood newspaper is this really wonderful food magazine called Relish. Who knew that such a nice little publication existed? Well, I have been reading it with great interest the last few months and have been impressed. Its content is a nice combination of food tips, recipes, local and sustainable food resources, cooking gadgets and people who celebrate food.

Check out the web version of Relish ( and be inspired!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Remarkable Red Pepper Dip

Thanks Relish mag for this recipe!

Preheat oven to 450F

Combine in a glass baking pan:

3 red peppers
3 tomatoes
3 garlic gloves
1 cup fresh basil leaves
sea salt
black pepper

Cook until all vegetables are soft with crisp skins.

Puree in food processor. Add 1/2 cup ground/crumbled/grated Pagano (or parmesan) cheese. Blend.

Serve with crackers, baked tortillas, chips. It's even delicious served on pasta as a sauce.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Perfect Peach Crisp

We had an abundance of overripe peaches, so I whipped up this scrumptious peach crisp. It's super easy to make, reminding me that sometimes simple is underrated. Sorry, there are no pics of the finished product- it was gobbled up too quickly!


5 large peaches chopped
1/3 cup sugar


1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons walnut oil
1/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons wheat germ

Chop the peaches and place in a large mixing bowl. Cover with sugar, mix and let stand.

Thoroughly mix all crumble ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

In a 9in glass pie dish, place and level filling. Cover filling with crumble. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, depending upon ripeness of peaches.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I planted a Mexican Lime tree in our backyard in March and it has yielded some tasty fruit. Please enjoy these lime recipes.

Limey Lime Cooler

Tangy summer drink, good to sip on while reading a book.

Juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon honey

Combine lime juice and honey in a jar. Shake until honey is dissolved.
Pour over crushed ice and top with club soda. Enjoy!

Hooray for Honey Lime Mustard Dressing

This dressing is an excellent marinade for fish or a salad seasoner.

Combine in a jar:

1 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 stalk chopped green onion
1 1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4- 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder or fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon black pepper

Shake and serve.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food

Wow!! This article is an eye-opener. I don't even know what to say other than, personally, I can do better to support responsible and sustainable food production. Maybe if every person made one permanent change we'd be on the road to something good.

Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food