Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Winter Garden Harvest

This was my third year growing Lennox Organic Cabbage, needless to say I'm thrilled with the quality of this variety and would highly recommend it. I start seedlings for both summer and winter cabbage harvest and this is the second year that I've made my Garlic and Dill Pickle Sauerkraut in January before the weather turns cold. For the full story and process check out my post from January 2019, 'January Harvest and Sauerkraut Hack'.  
Second day of snow ~ Jan. 16th, 2020
This year our crazy cold snap and 22" of snow came early. I didn't mind the first few days with -8C temps, the snow was fluffy and light. By the third day we were looking at clearing heavy, wet, BC snow that was about a foot deep!! I picked my winter cabbage on the 12th of January and unfortunately the core was already frozen. 
Frozen core and cabbage tip burn
I also found a new problem called 'cabbage tip burn'. This is new to me and my research shows it is the result of mineral uptake, watering and high temperatures. Which explains why the cabbage isn't fully affected, it seems only on the summer growth. A whole new learning curve for me... Interesting, the smaller cabbages were not affected.

Lennox Cabbage harvest ~ January 12th, 2020
I had 23 pounds of cabbage to start with, and all the waste and trim was left out for the hungry resident deer. It was a very time consuming process to clean the cabbage and remove as much of the black tips as possible. It isn't harmful, I just did not want it to affect my kraut fermentation and storage in any way!

When all was said and done, I had over 6 quarts for the first ferment with dill weed and minced garlic added. After 8 days I dumped all the kraut into a very large, sterilized stainless steel bowl and mixed in 2 quarts of thinly sliced, fermented dill pickles I made last summer. Then the mixture was packed again into jars and topped up with a new brine ... a mixture of the original kraut brine and dill pickle brine. 
These jars were then left to ferment
8 Quarts of finished Garlic & Dill Pickle Kraut
for another 4-5 days. After that time the flavor and texture were right, so the fermenting lids removed, storage lids put on and the jars stored in the fridge.
I had just finished eating last years batch so timing was good. This is a long and time consuming process but always worth the effort.
1st winter carrot harvest ~ January 25th, 2020
The cabbage was brought in before the snowfall and cold temps. The rest of the garden (kale, carrots, beets, strawberries and garlic) were covered with straw and maple leaf mulch to protect from the cold and snow. 
Just 3 days ago I removed the mulch from a small section of the first planted carrot bed and pulled the first winter carrots ... amazing!! Not sure if you recall, I had stopped growing carrots and parsnips because of the problems with carrot rust fly. Last summer I was determined to experiment and go through the arduous process of keeping the carrot beds covered with remay until late October. I'm thrilled to announce it worked! The carrots are clean, insect free, sweet, juicy, crunchy goodness!

After growing up in Alberta, I'm always so amazed and grateful for the food we can grow and harvest 12 months of the year here on the West Coast. The kale is small but so sweet after the cold weather and the garlic has poked through the mulch with shoots about 3" tall now. I've still got lots of carrots and some beets in another bed that were planted the end of June 2019. If the weather warms up too much, they will start to get 'hairy' and tough so they'll have to be pulled, washed and stored in the fridge. Not a problem, these carrots are worth the effort ... I love my winter garden harvest!

Until next time... Happy Winter Gardening and Bon Appétit!

Photos by Sally Rae
Garlic and Dill Pickle Sauerkraut by Sally Rae 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

'Grain-no-la' Bark

Translation ... "Grain-no-la" is my grain-free, nut based granola that after baking can be broken into chunks like bark or crumbled to resemble traditional granola. 

Avoiding grain can be a difficult task. Most people try to replace or reinvent their favorite grain based recipes with huge disappointment and usually costly experiments. I'm thrilled to report, this grain-free granola got high marks from both Paleo and non-Paleo diet friends and family! I used to like my granola chunky so either way this recipe fits the bill!
Activated nuts and seeds for 'Grain-no-la' recipe
Why use Activated Nuts and Seeds?
Nuts and seeds contain 'phytic acid' and enzyme inhibitors which forces the human digestive system to work overtime causing indigestion and a heavy, bloated feeling in the gut.

The way to reduce phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors is to soak, sprout and/or ferment the nut or seed. Sprouting is the basis of all plant life, concentrating nutrients and unlocking the germ of the seed to reveal its inner life. Soaking and dehydrating nuts and seeds at low temperatures provides superior nutrition and digestibility. 
This bark is a bit delicate, any chunks that crumble can be set aside to have with fruit and yogurt or just eat it out of the bag!!

'GRAIN-NO-LA' BARK   ~(Grain free, Gluten free, Paleo)   Yield: 2 trays bark
This recipe gives instructions to split the mixture into 2 small batches, then once chopped, mix them thoroughly together in a large bowl. You may need to split the mixture into more small batches, depending on the size of your food processor.

Allow to cool completely on the parchment lined pan
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. water
2 cups activated walnuts
1 cup activated cashews
1 cup activated almonds
1 cup activated pumpkin seeds, pepitas
1 cup activated sunflower seeds
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil, cooled
1/2 cup organic pure maple syrup 
1-1/2 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. fine Celtic sea salt 

  1. Preheat the oven to 300F and line 2 half sheet (13"x18") bake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg white with water until bubbly and slightly foamy. Add the cooled melted coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir to combine.
  3. Into a large bowl, measure 2 cups walnuts, 1 cup cashews, 1 cup almonds, 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, 1 cup coconut, cinnamon and salt. Mix and put half of the nut and seed mixture plus half of the liquid into a food processor. Pulse until well chopped and combined, but leave the mixture nice and chunky. Dump into a large bowl. Repeat with the other half of the nut and seed mixture and liquid mixture, pulse until chunky. Add to the already processed mixture in large bowl.
  4. To this mixture add the remaining 1/2 cup each whole pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Mix thoroughly using a wooden spoon or your hands with disposable gloves. 
  5. Divide the mixture on the parchment lined bake sheets, spread into an even layer and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Keep an eye on it while baking as it can go from done to burned quickly.
  6.  Remove pans from the oven and allow to sit at least 20 minutes to cool completely. DO NOT stir or break it up until completely cooled.
  7. Use your hands to gently break the bark into chunks
  8. When completely cool, gently break into chunks
  9. Once cool, store the Grain-no-la Bark in a zip type bag in the fridge for up to 2 weeks... if it lasts that long!! 
If you try this recipe, please share your comments below ... Thank you!
Until next time ... Bon Appétit!

Recipe by Sally Rae
Photos by Sally Rae

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Thank You and Happy New Year!

I would like to personally thank you for spending time with me here every month. Your kind words, comments, support and feedback encourage me to continue sharing my lifetime food journey and gardening experience.

From our household to yours, I wish you a Happy New Year as we enter a new decade ... with all the best 2020 will bring!

Billie and Portia 2019

So, until next year ... Happy New Year, Joyful Cooking and Bon Appétit!
... Sally Rae

Photo by Sally Rae

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Last Denman Market of the Year

The sun came out this morning for a crisp, beautiful day at the final Denman Island Farmer's Market of 2019. I was in search of fresh, organic vegetables, both for meals and to stock my freezer with soups. I came home beaming, with so much more than I imagined!!

I have written previous posts about our incredible Denman Island Market and the dedicated local Farmers. Through sunshine, rain and yes... even snow, the tents and tables are set up, ready to 'feed Denman'! We do live in a very special place on Earth!

The Denman Island Market ~ December 21st, 2019
Naomi of Orkney Farms had some crazy huge parsnips that are destined for an amazing Curried Parsnip soup for the freezer. Also from Naomi, a package of Orkney Farms ground beef and a small, perfect red cabbage. The next stop was to visit Kate at Denman Island Heritage Apples for her Traditional and Blackberry infused Apple Cider Vinegar. I'm going to compare them both separately in my previous recipe for Marinated Vegetable Salad
Paleo Veg Marinade 
 with Blackberry infused
Apple Cider Vinegar
Then moving on... to stand in the (always long) line for Two Roads Farm. According to Sam, the last of the carrots and the Farm Stand will be open until Christmas Eve, then closed for the season. Also from Sam; fresh Brussels sprouts, a rutabaga, a few small white onions (I only grew red this year), a bunch of each red and golden beets. Jenny was there with beautiful jars of ready to heat-and-eat soups, her assortment of pepper condiments and soaps too.
Incredible Denman Market shopping spree in December! 
Tracy from Ruby Slipper Ranch had fresh turkey parts again. I'm not a fan of white meat and a turkey is just too big for two. Last year we really enjoyed the fresh turkey legs, so this Christmas we'll have that again... cooked in the Romertopf clay baker in the oven. Fresh eggs came from Pat of Corlan Vineyard and Farm... and don't forget to try her warm baked blueberry coffee cake and fabulous coffee to warm you up!! Cheryl was also at the Market with her organic chocolate delights, unfortunately the 'turtles' were no where in sight... long sold out! 
Fluorite, Rose Quartz and Black Tourmaline

I have brought home rocks, stones and pretty pebbles since I was a kid. I couldn't resist browsing the table of beautiful colored rocks and amethyst geodes. Yup, I came home with two incredible specimens to add to my collection and adorn my window sills. The 'Fluorite' slice, with its multi colored layers almost looks edible! The photo does not do it justice... When I picked up the chunk of 'Black Tourmaline' it just felt right in my hand, and the beautiful 'Rose Quartz' is eye candy. 

To top off the shopping, it was a relaxed, social day of visiting and chatting with friends and clients. I'm sorry for anyone who missed this amazing day at the Market on Denman. Mark your calendars for next year, it is an event you won't want to miss! We are so fortunate to have the incredible variety of fresh, local, organic food available into December! 

I extend deep gratitude and a huge Thank You to all the vendors and farmers today ... thank you for your hard work, long hours and dedication to feeding Denman throughout the year, allowing us to shop local and eat fresh!!

Until next time... Season's Greetings, Happy Holidays and Bon Appétit!
Happy Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year ...

Photos by Sally Rae

Monday, December 16, 2019

Paleo Marinade for Vegetables

A basic guideline for Paleo style, clean eating is ... "eat whole foods, organic as much as possible and avoid processed foods ... if it looks like it was made in a factory, don't eat it!" 

Before changing to the Paleo diet, a bottle of my 'Bean Salad Marinade' (from For the Love of Food, page 156) was a staple in my fridge. Any leftover vegetables from meals became a quick marinated salad for the next day... whether it was stir fried zucchini, mushrooms and onions, roasted asparagus or steamed broccoli, carrots, even Brussels sprouts were tossed in a bowl with some thinly sliced fresh onion and the marinade.

Most of the Bean Salad Marinade ingredients from my original recipe are no longer allowed on my diet so I have been searching for a Paleo version. Last month I found a recipe that I have been adapting to my taste. I have used this marinade on raw vegetables, steamed vegetables and even with cooked sweet potatoes!
Fast and simple ~ Mixed Vegetables or Sweet Potato Salad

It is fast, simple and has numerous flavor variations. Warning this is addictive ... and healthy!! I use red onions because I love the color, but after marinating for 2 days it will turn the cauliflower pink. If that's a game changer for you, add the red onions just hours before serving or use sweet white onions instead. 
This is a make ahead salad. For the best flavor, allow the salad to marinate at least overnight, stirring occasionally... I let it marinade for two days before serving. You can use any variety of vegetables.

Here are a few suggestions for variety and whether to pre-cook or use them raw...
 ~raw florets of broccoli and cauliflower
 ~raw celery, sliced on the diagonal
 ~raw small zucchini, cut into coins
 ~raw red or sweet white onions, julienne, sliced thin 
 ~raw Sugar Snap peas, tips removed and cut diagonally into 2-3 pieces
 ~raw bell peppers in every color **only if you can tolerate nightshades
 ~raw or lightly steamed carrot slices
 ~steamed Brussels sprouts, cut in halves or quarters
 ~roasted asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
 ~cooked golden beets, skin removed and diced 

Remember, always try to eat in season and choose organic when possible. Your local Farmer's Market is the ideal place to shop!

PALEO VEGETABLE SALAD MARINADE        Yield: about 2 cups
Marinated Raw Mixed Vegetables
    Keep a bottle of this basic marinade as a staple in your fridge!
The Basic Marinade:
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup avocado oil
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt
Flavor Options:
**Season the above Basic Marinade with your choice of the following;
   1 Tbsp. finely minced fresh dill weed 
   or 1/2 Tbsp. dried dill weed
   or 2 tsp. crushed dried thyme + 1 tsp. crushed dried sweet marjoram
   or 2 Tbsp. sulfate free grainy mustard + 1 tsp. dried dill weed 

In a 2 cup jar or shaker bottle, measure and add all the 'Basic Marinade' ingredients. Add your desired 'Flavor Options', shake well, label with the date and store in the fridge. 

For a 'Marinated Vegetable Salad': prepare 8-10 cups of vegetables and toss with a full recipe of Marinade. Serves 8-10

For a 'Sweet Potato Salad': Cook, cool, peel and dice 2 jumbo, orange sweet potatoes. Finely dice 1/4 cup each celery and red onions. Gently mix sweet potatoes, onion and celery with 1/2 cup or more of the Marinade. **Note: the grainy mustard option is fabulous with this one! Serves 6-8 

For a 'Red Beet Salad': Cook, cool, peel and julienne or slice red beets, toss with red or green thinly sliced cabbage and thinly sliced red onions. This one is messy but delicious!!

Any of these salad ideas are a welcome addition to a potluck any time of the year. With the busy holiday season approaching, take advantage of a make ahead, healthy dish to share with friends and family. 

Until next time... Happy Holidays and Bon Appétit! 

Recipe Ideas by Sally Rae
Photos by Sally Rae
Inspiration from Lichen Paleo, Loving AIP 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Homemade Gifts From Your Kitchen

The thought, time and effort involved in homemade gifts from your kitchen show you care, and are gifted with love. 

One of my favorite standby gifts any time of year, is Caramel Nut Popcorn... it is a much appreciated treat at my house compared to the store bought versions! It can be made with or without nuts... if using nuts try; peanuts, a fancy nut mix or specific nuts that are favorites.
Caramel Nut Popcorn
Cellophane food grade bags can be found at Craft Supply Stores and sometimes Dollar Stores. With the addition of a personalized label and fancy twist tie or ribbon, it makes a thoughtful parting gift to dinner guests, stocking stuffer or ... package the whole recipe in a one gallon fancy container for that 'big kid' in your household! (No names mentioned!!) With 14 cups of popcorn and nuts, this recipe makes quite a few small gift bags, so it goes a long way.

At the other end of the homemade 'foodie gift' spectrum is the elegant French Macaron. Make these sweet little gems for a very special gift. They are time consuming and a bit fussy but oh so elegant! 
Elegant French Macarons

Hand dipped Chocolate Truffles
Gingerbread Boys, Girls and Reindeer
For a quick, easy and decadent gift try Chocolate Nut Bark for the chocoholics on your list. Chocolate Bark satisfies the cravings without the time and labor intensity involved in making hand dipped Chocolate Truffles.

If you are an avid baker, a fancy assortment of festive cookies and squares packaged in a pretty tin make a tasty, caring gift. 

Asst. Pickles and Pickled Quail Eggs
On the savory side, small jars of homemade fermented pickles, pickled eggs (think tiny quail or Bantam hen eggs) or even sauerkraut are great gifts but please be sure the recipient knows these gifts must be kept in the fridge at all times!! 

If you are a gardener, gift a small braid of your home grown garlic adorned with dried herbs or flowers and a pretty ribbon. Or an assortment of fruit jams, vinaigrette or condiments prepared from your garden produce.
How about a fancy bottle of Homemade Liqueur ... or my cookbook 'For the Love of Food'? There are links to my Blog recipes offered on most of these suggestions above, just hover over them and click.

I hope these suggestions have your creative juices flowing. To get you started, a recipe from my cookbook 'For the Love of Food', enjoy my Caramel Nut Popcorn!

CARAMEL NUT POPCORN           Yield:  About 14 cups
Fill colorful tins or cellophane bags with this treat for an inexpensive holiday gift that both kids and adults will enjoy receiving.

12 cups popped popcorn
2 cups mixed nuts or peanuts
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup corn syrup
½ cup butter
½ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. baking soda
Without stirring, boil 5 minutes

Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine popcorn and nuts in pan; place in a 250°F oven while preparing the glaze. In a saucepan combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt. Stirring constantly bring to a boil over medium heat. Without stirring, boil 5 minutes.

Break apart and cool on bake sheets
Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and baking soda. Pour over popcorn and nuts; stir to coat well. Place in pre-heated oven 60 minutes, stirring occasionally (every 20 minutes works well).

When done, remove from the oven and divide the mixture onto 2 non-stick bake sheets with sides. Quickly break apart or into chunks while warm. Allow to cool. Store in tightly covered container. 

Until next time... Have fun in your kitchen ... and Bon Appétit! 

Photos by Sally Rae 
Recipes by Sally Rae

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Low-Carb 'Seedy Crackers'

Changing to a Low-Carb, Keto or Paleo Diet presents plenty of food omissions, challenges and a lifestyle overhaul. Bread and crackers are difficult to replicate without the use of grains. Confronted with avoiding nuts and nut meal creates another difficulty, besides the fact that nut meal and flours produce a buttery, rich flavor to baked breads, crackers, pancakes, cookies etc.

Finding a crispy, delicious cracker is solved with these egg free, nut free, grain free, gluten free, crunchy, 'Low-Carb 'Seedy Crackers'. They are a bit delicate, not suitable for heavy dips but give them a try in softer dips and enjoy the crunch and flavor! They are fast and super easy to prepare and will be gobbled up quickly. The crunch factor is very satisfying and they are tasty. What more can one ask for?

The great benefit of making your food from scratch is to adjust recipes for your dietary needs. *Instead of ground flax meal you can substitute flax seeds or pulse the whole flax seed in a blender or coffee grinder. Ground flax provides a higher level of nutritional value than the whole seed. You can also adjust the salt to your taste. I use 1 tsp. of Celtic Sea Salt because I like the salty flavor. The salt can be reduced to 1/2 tsp. or no salt at all.

Low-Carb 'Seedy Crackers'
Completely cool and break into pieces

1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup hemp hearts
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
*1/4 cup flax seeds
*1/4 cup ground flax meal
1+1/2 Tbsp. psyllium husk powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. avocado oil
1+1/2 cups boiling water

Heat oven to 350F. Line two 18"x13" jelly roll sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone mats to prevent the mixture from sticking.

Into a large mixing bowl, pour all the seeds, psyllium husk powder and salt. Gently mix well with a whisk. Add the oil and boiling water. Stir gently with a whisk until well combined and the mixture starts to thicken. Let it rest for a few minutes in the bowl, this gives the psyllium a chance to gel.

Divide mixture and spread thinly
Once the mixture has gelled, divide it between the two prepared pans and spread it as thinly and evenly as you can on the parchment. I use a silicone spatula to spread it in a back and forth motion, almost like icing a cake. If using your hands, have a small bowl of water to dip your fingers into from time to time to reduce the sticky factor.

Place in the oven and set the timer to 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove the pans and using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, score the mixture into cracker shapes, if desired. Put them back in the oven and set the timer for another 10-15 minutes. Your crackers will likely take between 45 mins – 60 minutes to crisp up depending on the thickness. Seeds burn easily so you will have to watch them after the timer goes off. You can remove outer edges if they are done and return the center, uncooked parts to the oven. You’re aiming for crisp crackers but keep in mind they continue to cook a little when you get them out of the oven.

Store in a 2-quart sealer
Once they’re done and completely cooled, remove from the parchment and break along the scored lines or just break into pieces. Gently put them in a sealed container and enjoy!

  • It’s important that you have the right amount of psyllium husk powder. This is what forms the gel and that is what allows it to turn into a nice cracker.
  • Make sure to pat out the mixture as thin as you can. Not only will it speed up the cooking process, but it also makes it more likely to get crispy, which is exactly what we want.
  • Make sure to give it plenty of time to crisp up after it is done baking. No gobbling it while it’s still hot!
  • Though you can use whatever seeds you like, it’s important that you use seeds are on the small side, like sesame seeds, hemp seeds, and things like that.
  • These will keep for about a week or two (if they last that long!) when stored in a 2-quart sealer.
Soup and Low-Carb Seedy Crackers

Until next time... Bon Appétit!

Recipe by Sally Rae
Photos by Sally Rae