summer's bounty

Corn Chowder

Ah...the summer farmers market...fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, crafts, baked goods, locally made cheese. I LOVE going to my local weekend market. Not only is it an abundant offering of so many wonderful culinary treasures, but also a weekly event where community can come together. Growers and producers, friends and neighbours, bicycles and dogs all mingle happily, enjoying the best of the season.

My booty of ingredients from yesterday’s visit is enough to keep me blissfully occupied in my kitchen for at least half a day. Everything tastes like….summer. The fresh ‘peaches and cream’ corn, new baby potatoes and fresh basil inspired me to create this recipe for corn chowder. I think it would also be great with some fish added, such as the wild smoked albacore tuna I purchased that same day from Iron Maiden. My friend, Tony had a hot tip to share; after trimming the corn from the cobs, put the cobs in to the pot to boil with the stock. This step will contribute loads of extra corn flavour.

Corn Chowder (with tomato basil salsa & sour cream)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion,
1/2 diced red pepper, diced
3 ears of corn, shucked- with kernels trimmed from cobs, reserving the cobs
3 garlic cloves

1 cup milk
1/4 cup basil, finely chopped
1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
3 bay leaves
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup water
salt & pepper

½ tomato, diced
1 green onion, finely sliced
salt & pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
sour cream

Put oil in soup pot, at medium heat. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add peppers and sauté another 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add corn kernels. Saute 3 minutes. Add potatoes and sauté another 3 minutes. Add stock, water, trimmed corn cobs, bay leaves and salt & pepper to taste. Simmer at low to medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (cook until potatoes are nice and tender). Add basil and parsley. Simmer another 10 minutes. Remove trimmed corn cobs and add in the milk.

To make salsa, combine tomato, green onion, basil, oil, vinegar, salt & pepper in a small bowl. Serve soup in bowls, garnishing with a dollop of sour cream and a spoonful of salsa. Serves 4.


edamame salad

Diane Thompson's edamame salad

I’m really really loving edamame these days; as much for the colour as the flavour, texture and nutritional value. This salad is my latest ingredient inspired creation. I think it would be fantastic served with grilled chicken or sausage, though it also stands alone beautifully....great picnic food.

Edamame Salad (with toasted hazelnuts)

2 cups edamame beans, freshly steamed (the shelled, frozen kind)
1 large tomato, diced
2 green onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp finely chopped, fresh basil
1 cup roughly chopped, fresh watercress
1/2 cup roughly diced goat feta
1 cup thinly sliced spinach, kale OR swiss chard
½ cup roasted, chopped hazelnuts (for garnish)

1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper (to taste)

Combine everything except for the hazelnuts, while the edamame is still warm. Garnish with the nuts. Serves 4 starters or 2 entrées.


my hat in the ring

My Photo Submission

Although my blog is barely 6 weeks old, I felt it was time to bust out a bit and start to mingle with my blogging community. Figuratively speaking, I could stand around demurely in the corner, waiting for someone to ask me to dance....forever. Then along came an opportunity in the form of a photography competition called 'Does My Blog Look Good In This?' (I'm Group 7/ #69); graciously hosted by Sarah Miller @ Food and Paper. I decided to submit. Though I certainly do not expect to win, I am SO pleased to be out there on that dance floor, in my home made dress and shakin' my groove thing with all those fabulously elegant dishes. Good luck to everyone!


30 day challenge update

Caught Without My Marketbag (Photo: Tony Peneff)

I thought it was about time for an update regarding my 30 day challenge.You may remember….can I last 30 days without accepting plastic bags with any purchases I make during the month of July? Well, so far so good. Easy peasy. No problemo. It is simply a matter of habit, like brushing one's teeth or walking the dog. I have been caught without my market bag a few times, but it's really no big deal. I carry my purchases in my arms.....sin plástico.

My friend, Sue is living in Nairobi these days. When she read my blog entry, here is what she had to share......."Kenya has outlawed plastic bags - it's a 2,000 KSh fine ($35) if you are using one, so we are all walking around the streets of Nairobi carrying this ugly bright blue one someone made like we just got off a Carnival Cruise line tour. The handles are too short so you can't get it over your jumper and it's covered with white silk screened ads for computer stores and paint companies. Needless to say, I have sent a note to the Mayor." Sue is a firecracker, and a fashionable one, at that.

Anya Hindmarch Bag

Yesterday I happeneded upon a story at serious eats, talking about these $15 Anya Hindmarch cloth market bags that have completely sold out at Whole Foods in New York City. People had lined up all night to get their mitts on these super sought after fashion statements. Apparently, these bags have completely sold out in the U.S. (and are going for big bucks on Ebay) and nearly caused a riot in Hong Kong. This statement appears on Anya Hindmarch's site....."Due to the unprecedented demand for 'I’m Not A Plastic Bag' in South East Asia and our concerns for our customers safety we will be cancelling the launches at the following stores: Anya Hindmarch Beijing, On Pedder in Shanghai and On Pedder in Jakarta" I SO don't get it! Oh well......if all those whacked fashion sheep actually USE them in place of plastic and awareness is raised regarding this issue, then I guess it's progress.

salt spring seeds

Salt Spring Seeds

No one would ever accuse Dan Jason, founder and operator of Salt Spring Seeds, of being a lazy man. When he’s not busy tending to the immediate demands of his farm, he can often be found writing another book or article, giving lectures at environmental and horticulture events around the province, or fulfilling his duties as a director of Canada's Heritage Seed Program, "a national network of organic growers dedicated to preserving our heirloom seeds". His mail order seed company, which he began in 1988, sells heirloom varieties of vegetables and high protein plants to countries all over the world; with the exception of the U.S., as they forbid his seeds from entering their country, claiming that they could ‘contaminate’ domestic crops.

Poppies @ Salt Spring Seeds

Located on Blackburn Road, right next door to the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga, his farm truly is a place of beauty. On the hot July day we stopped by for a visit, Dan was too busy to play tour guide, but kindly allowed us to walk the land ourselves. How fortunate we were to spend a blissful hour mingling amongst the countless plant species and varieties which have put down their roots there.

I am grateful to people like Dan Jason, whose dedication and commitment today will surely make the world of tomorrow a much better place to live (and eat).


lavender loveliness

Diane Thompson's (Mighty Fine) Lavender Lemonade

Do you ever have one of those holidays where everything just flows effortlessly, as though the vacation gods have decided to pull out all the stops, in order to make each experience more delightful and flawless than the last? Our visit to Sacred Island Lavender was the only visit that didn’t quite work out (timing-wise), during an otherwise idyllic road trip. Located just outside of Fulford Harbour, they were closed on the days we could come, and we missed their annual Lavender Festival by only one week. Imagine…..eating lavender ice cream…. getting a shiatsu massage out in the lavender fields…..though I’m pretty o.k. with having missed the visit by ‘Tammy the Lavender Donkey’. Oh well. We did manage to stop by long enough for a pic, a whiff and enough inspiration for me to experiment with this recipe for lavender lemonade. It’s mighty fine lemonade, if I do say so myself.

(Mighty Fine) Lavender Lemonade

2/3 cup sugar
5 cups water
1/4 cup fresh or 1 tbsp dried lavender
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
bottled mineral water
ice cubes
lavender sprigs and lemon wedges for garnish

In medium sized pot combine sugar and 2 ½ cups water. Bring to boil over a medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add lavender, then cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 1 hour. Strain mixture and discard lavender. Pour infusion into a glass pitcher. Add lemon juice and the other 2 ½ cups water. Cover and chill. Serve in glasses with ice, saving a little space and top with mineral water. Stir gently. Garnish with lavender sprigs and lemon wedges.


bloom breads

Bloom Loaves

I am always amazed to see how every baker brings his or her own personal style to the art; from the recipes and techniques they develop, to the diversity and uniqueness of their finished products.

Tony DePasquale of Bloom Breads produces baking that is as hearty and satisfying as his is repertoire is diverse. Keep in mind that he is making all of these products from his home:

Cracked rye-wheat, onion rye-wheat, Italian style white, walnut white, raisin white, olive white, spelt, roasted olive & garlic fougasse, bread sticks, focaccias, biscotti (dark belgian chocolate with walnuts, black pepper with ground espresso, apricot with hazlenut, cornmeal and orange blossom water, classic almond).........does this man ever sleep?

All of his breads are made from organic flour and naturally levined from his sourdough starter, which he nurtures with as much loving care and attention as though it were a first born child. Its rustic, dense and sour qualities inspired me to create this white bean dip, perfect served with his Italian style white bread, lightly grilled.

Italian Style White Bean Dip

1 garlic clove
1 tbsp fresh chopped oregano leaves, plus 1 sprig for garnish
1 can rinsed and drained white kidney beans
3 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt
fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ load good artisan-style fresh bread, sliced

In mortar and pestle mash garlic and oregano, then mash in beans, olive oil, salt and pepper. Then mash in vinegar (you could substitute with 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice). Lightly grill the bread slices and cut in halves. Put bean dip on a serving dish. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and the sprig of oregano. Serve with hot grilled bread.

Diane Thompson's Italian Style Bean Dip

Tony and his baking can be found at Salt Spring Island Market....but be warned.... he sells out early!

wet my whistle

Salt Spring Vineyards

Who doesn't enjoy the odd little-summer-island-hopping-road-trip, with a spontaneous wine tasting thrown in for good measure? Salt Spring Vineyards, located 9 km south of Ganges, is the perfect visit. Wine tastings here are friendly and informative, as well as complimentary.

The outdoor bistro tables and chairs provide a spectacular setting, complete with a view overlooking the vineyard itself; a great place to sip their wines, which are available for purchase by both the glass and the bottle.

I decided on a bottle of the unoaked chardonnay, which didn’t last long; served that same night back at Neil and Gintari’s house, with grilled lemon rosemary chicken, fresh green salad from their garden and fresh, local corn on the cob.

Cheers to summer.


daily bread

Salt Spring Island Bread Co.

Though I’ve never been particulary interested in mastering the art of baking (I’m more of a stove top gal), I certainly have an enormous appreciation for it. Heather Campbell of Salt Spring Island Bread Co. is a fine example of what one purveyor can produce by combining the best of ingredients, technique and creativity.

Salt Spring Island Bread Co.

Her work studio, perched on the top of a hill on Forest Ridge Road, is quite possibly the most beautiful kitchen I have ever seen. Surrounded by views and opening walls on two sides, I can’t imagine a more inspiring place to spend a work day. But what makes her space (and her baking) truly special is its wood-fired brick oven, where all her organic artisan breads and baked goods are done to perfection.

Salt Spring Island Bread Co.

The day of our visit we tried a loaf of the fruit bread, which was chock-full of apricots, dates, raisins, cranberries, figs and hazelnuts……fantastic with Salt Spring Island chevre. 'Salt Spring Island Bread Co.' sells at the Salt Spring Island Market every Saturday from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm (April 1 - October 27, 2007), but always sells out early.

cheese please

Salt Spring Island Cheese

If there really is a heaven, it surely serves Salt spring Island Cheese. Their handmade chevre is subtle in flavour, with just a hint of sour. Its texture is blissfully smooth, light and creamy. If pressed, I would have great difficulty choosing just one favourite variation….truffle, basil, lemon, peppercorn, garlic, chili….each one is to die for.

Salt Spring Island Cheese

We visited their Farm Shop and cheese making facility (which one can view from behind large glass windows) just as the first hunger pangs of lunchtime were making themselves known. They offer free tastings of the above mentioned varieties, as well as a few sheep cheeses. These beauties are all available for sale, alongside olives, locally made breads, tapenade, chocolate, and cold beverages. Peter, Neil and I purchased a fine selection to share. The shop's beautifully shaded courtyard made for a charming 'euro-esque' spot to nosh; they even provided us with the use of a wooden cutting board, locally made ceramic plates, good olive oil and cutlery. The only element sadly lacking was the availability of wine to accompany our picnic (B.C. liquor laws can really suck!). If they are ever able to overcome this obstacle, I would know then that I'd found heaven right here on earth.


salt spring bound

Blooming fox gloves

Summer landed suddenly on B.C.’s west coast last week; sunny, sexy, hot and very LATE! I decided to take full advantage, and hopped on a ferry with friends to visit Salt Spring Island, located just of the southeast tip of Vancouver Island….and what a blissful, abundant week it has been. I have returned home tanned, relaxed, inspired (and about 5 lbs heavier)……with lots to share.


sweet inspiration

Jack's cornmeal pancakes

As promised at the end of my bees, beards and bob blumerposting, here is my first ‘Honey Bee Festival’ inspired recipe to share. For this creation, I chose to use the earlier mentioned ‘burnt fireweed honey’. The carmelized flavour was perfection....

....When it comes to cooking, my dad is a purist. He has a small culinary repertoire, and he doesn’t mess with it. He does two things very well; three kinds of bread and two kinds of pancakes. When my sister and I were kids, he used to make our family his ‘cornmeal pancakes’ on Sunday mornings, but less all the fancy add-ons.

Jack’s Cornmeal Pancakes with Fresh Fruit & Honey

1 cup flour
½ cup cornmeal
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking powder
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 banana, thinly sliced

3 tbsp melted butter
1 ¼ cup milk
1 egg

In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients, plus the sliced banana. Then add milk, then the egg, then the melted butter. Combine all. Heat up fry pan at low-medium. Add 1 tbsp oil. Put pancake batter into hot pan, in whatever shapes and sizes you like. Cook about 4 minutes. Flip. Cook until bottom is slightly golden brown. (about 2 minutes)


2 cups fresh, sliced strawberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp fresh lemon rind
2 cups yogurt, any kind
½ cup chopped, toasted almonds
1 cup good honey

Combine fruit, juice and lemon rind. Put a generous spoon of yogurt on each pancake. Top with a scoop of the fruit, then a good drizzle of honey, then a sprinkle of the nuts. Serves 4.