Friday, October 21, 2005

Weeks 27 & 28 - PEAR AND BUTTERNUT SOUP

Saskatchewan Menu of the Week -- 27 October 2005

Breakfast – Yogurt and rhubarb.
Lunch – Chicken salad sandwhich with lettuce.
Dinner – Curried pear and butternut soup.

CURRIED PEAR AND BUTTERNUT SOUP
I used Calcutta Curry Powder, produced in Saskatoon by Chatty’s Indian Foods. It’s available in many local stores and the farmers’ market. If you can’t get that, use any curry powder that you prefer. (But it won't be as good!) The butternut squash came from my garden. And, believe it or not, the pears were also grown in Saskatchewan. Our friends Verna and Dick have a big old pear tree in their back yard. I picked and canned several jars of pears.

1 medium butternut squash
2 tbsp butter
1 large onion in thin slices
1 tbsp curry powder
Salt & white pepper
4 cup water
1 cup chopped canned pears and their juice (about 1/2 cup juice)
1 cup cream

Peel, seed and chop the butternut squash into small chunks. You should have 4-5 cups of squash.
Melt the butter in a soup pot and sauté the onions. When the onions have softened, stir in the curry powder and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking until the onions are quite soft.

Add the water and the squash. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, until the squash can be pierced with a fork (about 30 minutes). Add the chopped pears and juice. Cook another 15 minutes. Taste and add more curry powder if you like it spicy.

Remove from heat and allow to cool. Purée the soup in a blender. Return to a clean pot and add the cream. If it looks too thick, add more water until reaching a desired consistency. Reheat (but don’t boil) and serve.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Newspaper - BEET&WALNUT SALAD

This column first appeared in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix on 17 October 2005.

I have turned into a food packrat. If someone says to me, would you like some garden carrots? I say yes without thinking. If someone offers me a handful of beets, I don’t say, No thank you, I have beets in my garden. I say emphatically yes. If friends offer me fruit of any kind from their own trees, I don’t care what it is. I just say okay.

I have become like an anxious squirrel who puts away enough food for three winters. Why? Because I am trying to eat nothing but Saskatchewan foods in my own home, and I’m a tad worried how I’ll manage through the winter months.

It has been easy up ‘til now. I began my Saskatchewan diet in April, just as the rhubarb and herbs were poking through the garden and greenhouse produce was arriving at the farmers’ market. Thanks to the market, my own garden and the generosity of friends and family, I have enjoyed plenty of fruits and vegetables up to now. But what about February? If I can’t go to the store for an apple or a carrot or a head of lettuce, how will I survive?

I take comfort in the fact that the pioneers managed to live through the winter without getting scurvy. They knew how to preserve the bounty of the harvest for the lean months. If they could do it, surely I could, too, with my freezer and canning pot and other modern kitchen conveniences.
My primary goal is not to emulate the pioneers, but to support local agriculture and the health of the environment by eating locally as much as possible for one full year – just to prove it can be done!

To that end, I have been canning and freezing just about everything I get my hands on. My preserves include pears, apples, cherries, saskatoons, strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus and even grapes grown in Saskatchewan. My freezer is full of meat and vegetables. I have buckets of beans, lentils, rolled oats and pearl barley. Should Saskatoon be cut off from the rest of the world by a freak glacier this winter, no one will starve at my house.

My last outdoor dinner party of the summer was, you might say, a real washout. There was a water main break on my street and the taps were turned off for more than a day. Since I was just starting to cook (and hadn’t even cleaned the house yet), I called my guests and we went out to eat instead. As a result, I do not have a wonderful harvest meal to write about here today.
But, had the meal proceeded, this is what we were going to have: cherry tomatoes stuffed with pesto, beet and walnut salad, pasta primavera and for dessert, Black Forest cake made with local cherries.

Just about everything in this meal is from Saskatchewan with a few exceptions, such as the walnuts in the beet salad and the chocolate in the Black Forest cake (and I’m not giving up chocolate!). For all the recipes in this fantasy dinner, go to homefordinner.blogspot.com.


Roasted Beet and Walnut Salad
2 medium beets (or 4 small)
1/3 cup walnut pieces
1T brown sugar
salad greens for two
a nob of goat’s cheese
1/2T sherry or balsamic vinegar
1/2T fruit syrup
3T canola oil
salt

Roast the beets in the oven or cook in the microwave until they can be pierced through with a paring knife. Cool and peel. Heat 1T of water and the brown sugar in a non-stick skillet. Stir in the walnuts. Cook stirring until the liquid evaporates and the nuts are glazed. Place the greens on two salad plates, top with sliced beets, sprinkle on the walnuts and dot with goat’s cheese. (You can use a different cheese such as ricotta or feta.) Combine the vinegar, the fruit syrup (I used a chokecherry syrup made by my friend Laureen) with the oil and a bit of salt. Drizzle over the salad and serve.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Week 26 - EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA

Saskatchcewan Menu of the Week -- 8 October 2005

Breakfast – Yogurt with fresh pear.
Lunch – Egg salad sandwich.
Dinner – Eggplant Parmigiana.

MELANZANA alla PARMIGIANA
(Eggplant Parmigiana adapted from Saveur magazine)

This Italian classic takes some time to make, but it’s well worth the effort. I usually grow eggplant in my garden, but this year they were a complete bust. I bought these at the Farmers' Market.

Take two medium eggplants (or lots of little ones of that’s what you find at the farmers’ market) and slice about 1/4 inch thick. Deep-fry the slices of eggplant in hot canola oil until they are browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, make a tomato sauce: sauté 2 chopped cloves of garlic in 3T of olive oil. Add 10-or-so chopped Roma tomatoes (or one can of tomatoes with juice) and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a good boil over medium high heat, then turn down the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Add 1T dried basil near the end of cooking.

Assembly: In a 10-inch baking dish, spread half the tomato sauce. Cover with half the eggplant slices. Scatter in 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella cheese. Repeat with the rest of the tomato sauce, eggplant and another 1/2 cup of mozzarella. Top with some fresh basil leaves (if you have them) and 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until the top is bubbly and golden.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Week 25 - DEVILED EGGS

Saskatchewan Menu of the Week -- 2 October 2005

Brunch – Sausages. Pancakes with pears.
Dinner – Toasted cheese and tomato sandwich. Devilled eggs.

DEVILLED EGGS
We usually make devilled eggs with mayonnaise, but this lighter version turned out just great.

Boil 6 eggs. Half lengthwise and scoop out the yolks. To the yolks add: 2 minced cloves of garlic, 3T finely chopped parsley, 2T French mustard, 2T Worcestershire sauce, 3T milk or cream, salt and pepper. Mix together, fill the egg halves and eat!