Friday, 30 October 2009

Cranberry, Orange & Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

Look at all those luscious ingredients and ask yourself how these could be anything but delicious. And so they are...

This is a honkin' big pile o' brownies. You may wish to cut the recipe in half which it will do very nicely, although you will then have leftover ricotta cheese, since it comes about 2 cups to the tub generally. There are other uses for it, after all. I was hauling these off to a pot-luck, so I actually wanted a honkin' big pile. They are not wildly sweet in spite of being rich and chocolatey; if you like a sweeter brownie you should use fully sweetened chocolate.

I forgot to put the cranberries in the middle, so I ended up putting them on top. Much better to have a good memory and put them in the middle.

32 to 40 brownies
1 hour 15 minutes - 30 minutes prep time - and you will also need to cool them...

Cranberry Chocolate and Orange Cheesecake Brownies
Make the Cheesecake:
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
2 extra-large eggs
the finely grated zest of 1 orange

Mix the sugar and arrowroot into the cheese, then beat in the eggs one at a time, and the grated orange zest. Set aside.

Make the Brownie Base:
2 cups soft whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 ounces semisweet dark chocolate
1/2 cup orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Put the butter and chocolate into a dish, and microwave on medium heat until melted; about 2 minutes but it will vary. Or, you can melt them in the top of a double boiler.

Crack the eggs into the dry ingredients, then mix briefly. Add the melted butter and chocolate and continue mixing. Mix in the orange juice, and continue mixing until the batter is smooth and well-blended, but don't overmix.

Finish the Cheesecake Brownies:
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

Put about two-thirds of the brownie batter into a 9" x 13" baking pan, either non-stick or well greased. Spread it out evenly in the pan.

Spoon out the cheesecake mixture evenly over the brownie batter, and spread it out as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the cranberries evenly over the cheesecake mixture.

Take the remaining brownie batter and spoon it over the top of the cheesecake. Don't worry about spreading it out too evenly, but take a knife or spoon, and swirl and spread it around so that the top, overall, is smooth and there are streaks of chocolate and cheesecake visible.

Bake the brownies at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes, until just firm on top. Don't overbake!

If you cut this recipe in half, bake it in an 8" or 9" square pan. Expect it to take about 35 to 40 minutes to bake.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Braised White Beans & Root Vegetables

For some reason, I don't make this very often. Then I make it, and realize I'm missing out. Sure, it seems rather plain and basic, but it's so very, very good in its plain and basic way, like Shaker furniture. Mild - at least as mild as something with that much garlic can be - but richly and subtly flavoured by the Jerusalem artichokes, and it sits easily on the stomach. You could serve it with any kind of roast or chops, but it is perfectly capable of holding its own as a vegetarian main dish, which is how I generally serve it. Leftovers reheat very nicely, should you actually manage to have any. I always think it should make two meals, but we always both go back for seconds and what is left is more of a snack.

I'm pretty sure I got this recipe, or at least its progenitor, from The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, by Nancy Harmon Jenkins.

4 to 6 servings
1 1/2 to 2 hours - 30 minutes prep time;
overnight if including preparing the beans.

Braised White Beans and Root Vegetables
Prepare the Beans:
2 cups white pea (navy) beans
OR white kidney beans

Put the beans in a pot with water to cover, and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let them soak overnight (best) or 3 or 4 hours at least. Change the water, and bring them to a boil. Simmer until barely tender. This can be done in advance and the beans kept in the fridge for up to three days before finishing the dish.

Prepare the Vegetables and Bake:
6 to 8 large Jerusalem artichokes
1 fist-sized piece of celeriac,
OR 2 or 3 stalks of celery
1 large carrot
1 large potato
1 medium kohlrabi (optional)
1 large onion OR leek
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
2 or 3 tablespoons sunflower seed oil
the juice of 1 large lemon
salt & pepper; plenty of both

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Put the beans and their cooking water in a large baking dish with a cover. Add the Jerusalem artichokes, peeled (if you like) and cut into largish bean-sized dice, the celeriac, peeled (definitely) and cut into bean-sized dice, the carrot, peeled and cut into bean-sized dice, the potato, scrubbed and ditto, the kohlrabi, peeled and diced, the onion or leek, peeled and chopped. Just for a change, peel and mince the garlic. All these go into the pot.

Drizzle over the oil and lemon juice, and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Give it a stir, and put on the cover. Bake for an hour, or a bit longer if necessary, until the vegetables are tender.




Last year at this time I made Tea-Poached Pears with Honey.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes
Not from Jerusalem, nor are they artichokes. These are in fact the roots of helianthus tuberosus, which translates as the tuber-rooted sunflower. It is believed that the "Jerusalem" part of the name derives from "girasol", meaning to turn with the sun; as many flowers do. The artichoke part comes from a perceived similarity of flavour.

These are a very interesting vegetable, although not widely known. They are one of only two garden vegetables known to have originated in the Great Lakes region (the other is acorn squash) , so they are truly local in a way nothing else is. Also, because they store carbohydrates as inulin, they have a very unusual nutritional profile, and are often considered very appropriate for people with diabetes. However, the same inulin content makes them very prone to cause flatulence; they should be introduced to the diet fairly slowly if you are not accustomed to them.

If you look closely at the picture, you can see that there are two different colours of Jerusalem artichokes on the plate. Jerusalem artichokes, like potatoes, are grown from tubers which are clones, although in the Jerusalem artichokes the differences are very subtle and more of interest to the gardener than the chef. Once they are peeled, the remaining pale, creamy flesh is pretty much indistinguishable between varieties. Some varieties may be a bit rounder and smoother than others, making them easier to peel. I had a choice of two colours and I noticed that the darker red ones seemed more popular than the gold ones; there weren't many left for me to choose from when I bought them.

Unlike potatoes, they can be eaten raw, although I find them a tad starchy. They are crisp and juicy though, and would be a good source of crunch in salads or crudité plates. Quickly stir-fried, they make a good substitute for water chestnuts. In Victorian England, they became the basis of a popular soup called, inevitably, Palestine soup. They can be be steamed, boiled, fried or baked. Their flavour is subtle, but appealing. My mom says they remind her of jicama, and I can see the resemblance although they are not as delicately scented, I don't believe (it's been a good while since I've had a jicama!) Most people do peel them, but it isn't necessary; a good scrub will do.

I have not tried growing them, but I gather that they are both easy and difficult to grow, or rather, the difficulty lies in getting them to stop growing. They benefit from being dug and moved to new, enriched ground each year - they will produce larger, less knobby tubers this way - but if any bit of root is left behind in the old bed it will sprout and soon replace itself, so care must be taken when harvesting them. Even with care, you are likely to end up with permanent Jerusalem artichoke beds, so while I am interested in growing them I am going to think twice about where to put them. People describe them using words like "thug" and "bully", so be warned.

They should be planted in the spring, according to William Woys Weaver, and in mid-summer pruned to 18" in height then earthed up with rotted manure and mulch. I imagine this must delay the lovely golden blooms, but it should ensure good, big tubers. (Relatively speaking. Jerusalem artichokes are not so large as your average potato; golf ball size is typical, I would say.) Once the plant has been nipped by frost, the tubers can be dug up and enjoyed, or stored for later use.




Jerusalem Artichokes on Foodista

Monday, 26 October 2009

Duck Schnitzel with Green Peppercorn Sauce

This is an elegant dish, but extremely simple to cook, and so would be good to serve at a dinner party. It has to be cooked at the last minute, but everything can be prepared in advance. You then just have to find 10 minutes to do the cooking. Serve with roasted potatoes and a steamed green vegetable or a salad which can also be prepared ahead of time and you have a fairly stress-free menu.

I put toooo many green peppercorns in and we ended up fishing most of them out; I am calling for far fewer in the recipe than I used! However, they can be easily adjusted up or down according to how much you like them.

Makes 4 servings
20 minutes prep time

Duck Schnitzel with Green Peppercorn Sauce
Prepare the Sauce:
1 teaspoon arrowroot starch
2 tablespoon sweet sherry
3 tablespoons cream
1 or 2 teaspoons green peppercorns in brine
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
any juices from the duck
1/4 cup chicken broth or water

Dissolve the starch in the sherry and cream, in a small bowl. Add the drained peppercorns, the mustard and any juices which have accumulated in the duck package, and the broth or water. Set aside.

Prepare the Duck:
4 small skinless, boneless duck breasts
1 extra-large egg
1/2 cup flour (I used rice flour)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Cut the duck breasts in half, crosswise so as to form two flat scallops or if you prefer, leave them joined (butterflied). Beat them with a meat mallet until evenly thin, about 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch.

Beat the egg in a shallow plate, and mix the flour and salt in a similar plate. Dip each chicken breast piece in the egg so it is well coated, then dredge them in the flour until well coated, and set them aside.

About 8 minutes before you wish to serve the duck, heat the butter and oil in a large skillet, over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, lay the prepared schnitzels in the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. (If you get them even thinner than described above, more power to your left elbow, but cook them for even less time. Do not overcook them! They should just be in long enough to be browned.)

When they are done, lay them on a serving plate. Drain any excess oil from the pan and return it to the burner, but reduce the heat to medium-low. Give the bowl of sauce ingredients a stir, then pour into the skillet. Cook for about a minute, stirring constantly, until thickened. Drizzle the sauce over the duck breast schnitzels, and serve.




Last year at this time I made Broccoli, Cauliflower & Lentil Salad.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Score One For The Milk Marketing Board.

"WTF is "Dairy Drink"?"

- Question at "BoingBoing"


I'm not a big fan of marketing boards, or perhaps it would be better to say that I have reservations about them. I have a lot of sympathy for their original rationale; a union for farmers. But it seems to me they have gone from being a union for farmers, to being an exclusive club for certain farmers, to being damn near farming mafia*. They've been (and still are) a blight and a fungus on the development of organic foods in Ontario, that seems quite clear.

But every so often I'm reminded that it's an ill wind that blows no good. At least we don't have to deal with the abominable abortion that is "Dairy Drink" in Ontario, and I'm pretty sure that's due to the nature of the Milk Marketing Board, and not because our various governments are so much dedicated to the quality and healthfulness of our food, given the evidence in other areas of food production. "Dairy Drink", in case you didn't click through, consists of skim milk, sugar and water, and it sells for half the price of regular milk. Yay! Just what the North American diet needs; more sugar. In particular the diet of poor people who are already inundated with crappy sugary, starchy, fatty CRAP.

I was reminded by this product that when I lived in the U.S., none of the pizzerias I went to had real cheese on their pizzas; it was all oily, plasticky soy-crap. It was a shock, because I was used to pizzas in Ontario which weren't necessarily great, but which at least had actual cheese on them. Of course you could get excellent pizzas in the U.S. - far better than any Canadian pizzas I've had - but not in the small towns and poor neighbourhoods that I was living in and not on my budget.

The most accurate way to describe food in the U.S. is to say that it is not homogenized, if you will excuse the pun. It has separated into two layers: a rich creamy layer of some of the best food in the world, made by small farmers and artisanal manufacturers dedicated to their craft and with prices to match, and the lowest common denominator of highly processed food-like substances made by humongous, manufacturers - who also own frequently own the "farms" - engaged in selling the least possible product for what appears to be a low price, but which is in fact gross and obscene price gouging when the actual costs of the goods are considered. I think this process has probably been exacerbated by the disappearance of the American middle class; as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, food follows the same pattern.

What I want for a food system is one where I can choose between good, better and best, not between superb and crap. If you don't have a lot of money to spend on food you should still be able to get food that is reasonably priced, inspected for safety, of decent quality and truthfully and completely labelled. The marketing boards have - in their own self-interest - prevented the bottom from falling out so far as quality is concerned to the degree that has happened in the U.S. But they've also created a situation in which there is little room for the small, the unique, or the lovingly crafted. They've managed to put the lid on the best, muscling out those would-be dedicated small farmers and artisanal manufacturers to a truely depressing degree.

Not completely, thank goodness. If the production of cows milk is so regulated that none but the wealthy or the heirs of dairy farmers can take up dairy farming - and it is; Ontario practically has a dairy farming caste system - small farmers and cheese makers in Onario have taken to raising, milking and cheesemaking with alternative diary animals: goats, sheep and even water buffalo. Enthusiastic consumer response shows that there is room for the better and the best in this province, and I'd like to see a lot more encouragement for it from the government and the marketing boards.

But today, a great big THANK YOU to the Milk Marketing Board for saving us from "Dairy Drink".




*And I'm lumping them all together, which is not really fair. They do vary quite a bit.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Multicultural Roasted Potatoes

Well these are not really multicultural - they were all just stuck in the ground to grow. If they were really multicultural, some would have been tissue-cultured, and some would be hydroponic, and some would have been grown in a greenhouse.

Okay, bad joke. Actually, I used 4 different kinds of baby potatoes in these; blue, pink, yellow and white. All were potatoes we grew this summer ourselves. They were a lot more colourful going into the pan than when they came out, I'm afraid. Oh well. They were still delicious. I do love roasted potatoes, crisp and spicy on the outside, light and steamy in the middle.

1 hour 15 minutes - 15 minutes prep time
4 servings

Multicultural Roast Potatoes
Make the Spice Blend:
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon rubbed savory

Grind the cumin and fennel seeds, and mix with the remaining ingredients. Set aside.

Prepare the Potatoes:
500 grams (1 pound and a 1/4) mixed small potatoes
2 or 3 tablespoons sunflower seed oil

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Scrub the potatoes well, and cut them in halves or quarters if they are not bite-sized. Put them in a pot with water to cover, and boil for 10 minutes. Drain well.

Put the potatoes in a roasting pan where they can be in a single layer. Toss them with the oil, then the spice mixture. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until well browned. Stir once, in the middle of the cooking time.




Last year at this time I made Beet & Apricot Salad with Sunflower Seeds.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Simple Celery Soup

I grew celery in the garden this year, and it was somewhat successful, if you overlook the fact that it was exceedingly tough. It was also about half the size of any celery I've ever seen on the market. Our poor soil, of course, was a factor but also the fact that it did not get watered nearly as much as it should have been, even given how rainy it was this year. It was a very dark green, since it was out in the full sun.

When we cleaned up the garden, I was determined to see if it could be made edible in soup. I discarded the toughest half - if I could not put my thumbnail through a stem, into the compost it went - stewed the rest in turkey stock from our Thanksgiving turkey, and puréed it. Hurray, success! It was very tasty as soup.

I've suggested an hour, but just stew your celery until it is soft, which may be less time with tender commercial celery. Also when I do this with commercial celery, I think I will put in a bay leaf or two, to be removed of course before puréeing.

8 to 10 servings
about 1 1/2 hours - 15 minutes prep time

Simple Celery Soup
1 large bunch of celery
OR 2 smaller bunches
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil or chicken fat
8 cups turkey or chicken stock
1 or 2 bay leaves (optional)
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
salt and pepper to taste

Wash and trim the celery, then chop it, fairly coarsely. Include any leaves it may have. Sauté it in the oil or fat until fairly soft but not browned. Put it in a large pot with the stock and crushed or bruised celery seed and simmer, covered, until the celery is very soft; about 1 hour.

Purée the soup in a blender or food processor until very smooth. If you can't get it completely smooth, you may wish to run it through a sieve. Adjust the seasonings (salt and pepper), and serve hot.

This can be made ahead, and also freezes well.






Last year at this time I made Gingerbread Pear Pudding.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Green Tomato Chow Chow

Okay, I am probably done with the green tomatoes for this year. There are still a good few rather small ones left, but at this point the compost calls. Enough is enough.

Chow-chow is a very old-fashioned sort of relish, although it is still very popular on the east coast, especially in Nova Scotia. It seems to have died out to some degree in Ontario, although it was once ubiquitous here too. Old cook books are full of recipes for it. The vegetables in it varied somewhat and it went by a huge number of names; Chopped Pickle, French Pickle, East India Pickle, German Pickles, Queen of Pickles, Green Tomato Salad, Green Tomato Pickle, Spanish Pickle, Variety Pickle, Chow Chow, Jim Jam, Picalli* (sic), English Relish, Indian Relish, Queen's Relish, Bordeaux Sauce, Baltimore Sauce, Deacon Sauce, Governor Sauce, Indian Sauce, Novelty Sauce, Priscilla Sauce, Green Tomato Sauce, and Winter Sauce. I found all these recipes in the Canadian Farm Cook Book (1911) . Now, they were not all identical. Some of them called for cauliflower, cabbage or cucumbers, but if it consisted substantially of green tomatoes and onions in a turmeric and mustard based sauce, more or less spiced, I listed it above.

As you see there was no agreement on where it came from. My own suspicion is it developed out of tradition British pickling methods, with a good whack of Indian influence and a whole lot of ending the harvest with a sad but fairly substantial pile of under-ripe produce. Into the pickle it went... waste not, want not, as they used to say before we had an economy pretty much entirely based on wastage and obsolescence.

Edited Oct 9, 2011 because it needed more turmeric.

7 250-ml jars
1 1/2 hours - 1 hour prep time, does not include draining time

Chow Chow Relish
Start the Chow-Chow:
8 cups chopped green tomatoes
4 cups chopped onions (3 to 4 large)
pickling salt

Wash and chop the tomatoes, peel and chop the onion. Layer them in a strainer with salt scattered amongst them; about 2 or 3 tablespoons but don't worry about it too much, most of it will drain out. Cover and let drain for 3 or 4 hours to overnight.

Finish the Chow-Chow:
2 cups chopped celery
1 or 2 cups chopped green peppers
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons celery seed
4 tablespoons mustard seed
4 teaspoons ground turmeric

Wash and chop the celery. Wash, de-stem and de-seed the peppers, and chop them fairly finely. You can use whatever kind you like, although I would avoid anything too crazily hot. I used Jalapeños. Use the larger amount if your peppers are very mild, the smaller amount if use something rather hottish, like the Jalapeños.

Put the canning jars on to boil in a large canner, covered with water to at least an inch above their tops.

Put the vinegar, sugar and spices in a preserving kettle or very large pot. Bring to a boil, and add the celery and pepper, and the drained tomatoes and onions. Bring to a boil, and simmer until the jars in a canner come to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.

Fill the jars, wipe the rims with a bit of paper towel dampened in the boiling water, and seal them with lids and rings prepared as usual; boiled for 5 minutes. Back into the boiling water bath the closed jars go for 20 minutes. Let cool, check for seals, and label them.

Refrigerate once open. Traditionally served with fish, especially fish cakes, and with baked beans, but also good with chicken, eggs or pork.





Last year at this time I made Potato & Feta Cheese Bake, and Raw Beets with Sour Cream.


*Piccalilli is the more usual term.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A Visit to Creemore Meat Market

Creemore Meat Market
As part of our outing on Friday we went to Creemore, which has a lot of interesting things to see and do. On a whim, we decided to pop into the Creemore Meat Market, which has a particularly nice old front.

Creemore Meat Market
They're also advertising local meats and cheeses, including smoked cheddar.

Creemore Meat Market
The front is set up as a small deli/variety store, the meat is all at the back.

Creemore Meat Market
Noel, the butcher cuts all the meat himself, and can name pretty much all the farms where the animals were raised, or in the case of things like sausages, the makers. We bought some lovely kielbassa that was made in Wasaga Beach, apparently. It was thinner than usual, with a rich and garlicky flavour.

Creemore Meat Market
Butcher Noel Van Walleghem is only the fourth owner of this shop, which was built in 1881. He's a very knowledgeable, friendly and helpful guy. His father took it over in 1947, when the family came over from Belgium, so he's been around the meat business for a long, long time. Here he is standing in front of a photo I would guess was taken in the 1920's, with the 2nd owner out front.

Giffen's Country Market

Giffen's Country Market in Glen Huron
I've written about Giffen's Country Market before, but since then they have moved. They used to be on Highway 124, just outside of Nottawa. Now they are in the village of Glen Huron, off of Highway 124, about halfway between Singhampton and Creemore.


Giffen's Country Market in Glen Huron
I was a bit confused when I stopped there, as the most obvious sign out front reads "Glen Huron Village Market". They do have a sign that says "Giffen's", but it faces the road directly and is low, easily hidden by parked cars.

Giffen's Country Market in Glen Huron
In spite of their new location, they seem to have changed very little; it's the same mix of a sit-down café area, general store with an emphasis on local foods, and many of their own fruits and vegetables, including 17 types of apples, pears and plums. Now there's even a small post-office. Monday to Friday 7 am to 5 pm, Saturday 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday 10 am to 5 pm.

Monday, 19 October 2009

A Visit to Haisai Bakery in Singhampton

Haisai Bakery
One of the side-effects of trying to use our car less this summer is that, well, we've been successful. That means I haven't been getting around to check out as many farms, markets and shops as I would have liked. However, with winter starting to look imminent, we decided to go for a short road-trip on Friday. Our first stop was Haisai Bakery, in Singhampton.

Do I even need to tell you about this place? A new restaurant and bakery opened by Michael Stadtländer, in Singhampton, not far from his farm-restaurant Eigensinn Farm which was listed as one of the top 10 restaurants in the world at one point? I'm not reviewing the restaurant - I don't do restaurant reviews, and if I want to eat there in the next 5 years (which admittedly I do, desperately) I need to start saving now. But we figured we could set foot in the bakery without breaking the bank.

Haisai Bakery Solar Panels
After a little trouble finding the place - it's before Mylar & Loretta's, if you are coming from the south, on the other side of the road. The signage is not great, although there is some. There is a small parking lot along the side and back. We were fascinated by these great-looking solar panels in the back yard. Pretty wild; literally. I have to admit that though I like a rustic look in a garden, my hands itched for a spade.

Haisai Bakery Patio
On the other hand the front patio was lovely. It was a small space on the southwest corner, tucked into the "L" shape of the building, with limestone floor and tables, rustic wooden seats and canvas sail awnings.

Haisai Bakery Patio
I asked if I could take pictures inside, and the answer was "no", so you get another picture of the patio instead. The bakery (salesroom) was quite a small room, charmingly decorated with peeled wood poles and mostly brightly coloured china, more or less whole and in bits.

The selection as small but fairly comprehensive. There were three variations on the theme of sour-dough bread, as well as little herb and dried tomato baguette-shaped loaves. There was one each of a poppyseed and hazelnut strudel (not called such) on display, as well as some buns and an assortment of small pastries. There was also a shelf of attractive pickles in quite large jars, but at over $20 each I would not have been buying those even if I didn't make my own pickles. We had heard they took cash and debit, so I didn't worry about going to the bank before we went there. It turned out they don't take debit under $20.00, so I ended up buying more than I intended.


Baked Goods from Haisai Bakery
Here's what we bought: a sour-dough rye loaf, a sour-dough whole wheat loaf, the hazelnut strudel, ($8.50) and a prune pastry, ($3.50). Since my total bill was $22, that means I must have been charged $5 each for the loaves of bread, although I'm pretty sure that when I asked, I was told they were $7 each. Oops?

I asked the apprentice who was selling where the flours came from, and he said they were organic from Grain Process, which surprised me a bit. I was expecting something a little more recherché, given Michael Stadtländer's reputation for using local ingredients. Likewise, my over-all impression was that everything was considerably more refined and less whole-grainy than I was expecting, for the same reason.

The best of the lot was the prune pastry. Two of the largest, most succulent prunes we have ever encountered, encased in a pastry that started out firm but flexible on the outside, and ended up rich and almost custardy on the inside. The pastry was not the Danish type I was expecting, but an apparently simpler yeast dough. Not too sweet, not too plain; perfection. Superb. Worth every penny.

The hazelnut strudel was very good, but just not in the same class. It looked beautiful, and of all the things we tried this had the most appealing texture to me, being full of what seemed to be whole grains and ground nuts. At least, it looked nutty, and it crunched like it was full of nuts, but the flavour of the hazelnuts was much weaker than we expected. The pastry was also studded with nice plump raisins, which supplied practically the only sweetness in it, which I found a bit disconcerting and disappointing. I don't like things too sweet, but I admit I was expecting a bit more. There was also a faintly bitter aftertaste; the nuts?

The rye bread was much lighter than I expected, in colour, texture and flavour. The rye was subtle, and the texture was light and chewy (although not excessively so) and the sour dough flavour was intense and sprightly. It would make an excellent sandwich, but it lacked that quality of grain that makes me want to sit down with a knife and some butter, and eat slice after slice after slice; I guess I'm just not very excited by refined flours anymore, no matter how skillfully handled (and this was plainly very skillfully handled.)

The same went for the "whole wheat". I would have to say it wasn't. It was, like the rye bread, a good light bread with a great texture and the same tangy sour-dough flavour (although not as strong as the rye bread), and just the slightest tint of off-white to it. Not a bad bread by any means - in fact a very nice bread - but definitely not what I expect from something sold as whole wheat.

If we're going through Singhampton again - and we're not that far away so we will - we will definitely stop in at the bakery for the pastries. I'm looking forward to trying more of them.




Last year at this time I made Lamb Stew with Shiitakes & Shallots.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Green Tomato Mincemeat

We continue to work our way through our heap of green tomatoes. Green tomato mincemeat sounds strange, but it is actually really very good.

Once upon a time mincemeat actually was made with meat, seasoned with sweet spices and fruit. By the 19th century the meat had been reduced to suet. And by the time my generation came along and started cooking, I was not the only one wondering why it should be added at all. Mincemeat is traditionally described as "rich". The other word traditionally associated with it is "indigestible". Leaving out the fat helps with that enormously. Cutting all those raisins with apples and tomatoes also make it less indigestibly intense. I still generally cut up a fresh apple or pear to thin it out a little more when I open a jar to make pie.

These make a nice present, provided the giftee likes to bake.

7 or 8 500 ml jars
2 hours 20 minutes - 2 hours prep time

Green Tomato Mincemeat
14 to 16 cups diced green tomatoes
8 cups peeled, cored and diced apples
1 cup preserved ginger, chopped
3 cups raisins
1 cup mixed preserved peels
1 1/2 cups Sucanat or dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 finely grated medium-small nutmegs
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon allspice berries, ground
2 teaspoons pickling salt

1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup dark rum or fruit juice
3 tablespoons tapioca or arrowroot starch

Wash the tomatoes, and cut off any bad spots, as well as removing any tough cores. cut them in fairly small dice, and put them in a large canning kettle. You can use tomatoes that have a faint blush to them, but they should be quite firm.

Put the jars into the canner and add water to cover them by at least an inch. Turn them on to come to a boil. When they boil, let them boil for 10 minutes.

Peel and core the apples, and add them to the tomatoes. Chop the ginger, and add it with the remaining ingredients up to and including the salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about half an hour, or until the jars are ready. Stir frequently. We put the timer on and stir it every 5 minutes.

Cover the lids and rings with water and put them on to boil for 5 minutes.

Dissolve the starch in the rum and lemon juice, and mix into the mincemeat until it turns thick and glossy, just a minute or so.

Fill the jars to within a centimetre of the top, wipe the rims, and top with the rims and rings. Put them back into the canner full of boiling water, and boil for 20 minutes.

Remove and let them cool. Check seals, label, and store in a cool, dark place.

One jar will make one pie. As I mentioned, I like to add another large apple or pear, peeled, cored and chopped, when I bake the pie. (Another little slosh of rum will not go amiss either.) Put them in unbaked crusts, and bake at 350°F until they appear done, particularly the crust. The filling is essentially cooked already, after all. Time will depend, but you can expect about 45 minutes for a pie, maybe less if it is single-crust or 10 to 20 minutes for small tarts, depending on their size. If you don't use a full jar, the rest should go into the fridge.




Last year at this time I made Cauliflower & Leek Soup.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Hot, Garlicky, Cheesy Broccoli or Cauliflower

Or both; why not?

This is not quite substantial enough to be a main dish, unless you want a very light meal, but since it is rather rich I would serve it with simply broiled fish or chicken pieces. When I say hot, I mean it should have a bit of a bite to it (although it should also be served steaming). This is really pretty simple, in spite of how detailed I've gotten with the instructions.

15 minutes prep time
2 servings

Hot, Garlicky, Cheesy Broccoli or Cauliflower
2 to 3 cups broccoli or cauliflower florets (what you will eat)
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon hot chile flakes (to taste)
1 - 2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper & salt

Prepare the broccoli or cauliflower florets, and put them in a steamer.

Put the butter and olive oil in a very small skillet or small saucepan, and add the hot chile flakes. Peel and finely mince the garlic, and add it to the butter and oil.

Start the broccoli or cauliflower cooking.

Turn the heat on under the skillet, and let the garlic simmer in the butter and oil until it is just golden. If you have it at the right temperatures, this should be done at the same time as the vegetables. Keep it rather low; it's better to turn it up at the end if needed rather than trying to keep it from getting too brown while the vegetables finish cooking.

Meanwhile, grate the Parmesan.

When the vegetables are cooked to your liking, be sure they are very well drained - let them sit out for a minute or two in a colander if you are not sure - then toss them with the garlic and chile infused butter and oil, season generously with black pepper and judiciously with salt, and half the cheese. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, and so serve it forth.*




*I've always wanted to say that, ever since I read it in an old cook book.


Last year at this time I made Spicy Apple-Butter Baked Acorn Squash Rings.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Green Tomato & Turkey Chili

Well, two things have happened in the last few days that made this dish feasible. One was, of course, Thanksgiving; from whence came the cooked turkey and the broth. The other was a good hard frost in the garden, which left us with about half a bushel of green tomatoes. You can expect to hear more about them, as we try to find ways to use them.

This is an adaptation of a traditional Mexican dish, usually made with pork and tomatillos. To adapt it back, replace the turkey with finely cubed stewing pork, which should be browned with the diced green chile at the start of the cooking process, and left in to continue cooking. If you have tomatillos, use an equal quantity as of the green tomatoes. They need to have the husks removed and be washed, as they are rather sticky, but otherwise the recipe is the same.

Note the emphasis on stirring. For some reason, this really wanted to stick and scorch, and I just caught it a couple of time. Keep it at a good simmer, but over medium heat. All these quantities are pretty approximate, especially once you've made the salsa; adjust them as you like.

4 servings
45 minutes prep time

Green Tomato and Turkey Chili
Make the Salsa Verde:
4 cups chopped green tomatoes (or husked tomatillos)
1 or 2 Jalapeño chiles
1 medium onion
OR 4-5 shallots
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon rubbed oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seed, ground

Wash, core and chop the tomatoes and Jalapeños. Peel and chop the onions and garlic. These can all be chopped fairly coarsely, as they are going into the food processor.

Process everything listed above, divided in two batches lest the food processor overflow, until all the vegetables are reduced to fairly small chips.

Make the Chili:
1 or 2 mild chiles; cubanelles, banana peppers or bell peppers
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil
3 cups cooked white beans
2 cups diced cooked turkey
1 cup turkey broth

De-stem and de-seed the mild chiles, and cut them neatly into dice. Sauté them in the oil, in a large stewing pot, until soft and lightly browned. Add the salsa verde, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the drained, cooked beans, the diced turkey and the broth. Taste and check the seasonings. Simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, again stirring frequently. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped raw cilantro, to liven up the colour a bit, and a dollop of sour cream or yogurt is nice too.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Sweet Potatoes Roasted with Plums & Ginger

I had intended to roast these sweet potatoes with pears and ginger, but when I started in on the pears, I discovered they had all gone mushy. Oops, expensive compost. I knew I really should have eaten them last week. The only other fruit I had around was some plums, and I figured that after all, they too go well with ginger, and should be fine with the sweet potatoes. I'll have to try it with the pears sometime.

1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes - 15 minutes prep time
6 servings

Sweet Potatoes Roasted with Plums and Ginger
3 large sweet potatoes
18 to 24 Italian or German purple plums
2 or 3 tablespoons finely minced preserved ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seed, ground
1 teaspoon coriander seed, ground
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, ground
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 or 3 tablespoons sunflower seed oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Wash the sweet potatoes, and trim off any bad spots. Cut them into bite-sized chunks, and put them in a large, shallow roasting pan.

Wash the plums, and cut them in half, discarding the pits. Add them to the sweet potatoes. Mince the ginger and grind the spices, and add them with the salt, to the pan. Drizzle the oil over, and toss everything to make sure they are coated in the oil.

Bake for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, until the sweet potatoes are tender and lightly browned.





Last year at this time I made Roast Prime Rib.

Monday, 12 October 2009

New Blogroll

You may have - or, I dunno, you may not have - noticed that I have completely overhauled my blog roll. Check it out, it's down there somewhere on the right hand side, under the index and archives. I've only been meaning to do this for the better part of a year.

Originally I was mostly trying to list other local bloggers, who do seasonally based cooking without an excessive quantity of sweets, and this is still an object. I've divided the blogger lists into two; those who are actually more-or-less local (I've included Ontario, and somewhat arbitrarily, Quebec bloggers in this list) and people who are following the local food spirit, but are doing it somewhere else. Some of those places will actually coincide very reasonably with Ontario seasons, some of them won't, but they're all blogs I really enjoy reading and hope you will find interesting too.

I decided not to try linking to food producers and farmers directly any more. That could have gotten crazy, if I had followed my original intention of adding sites as I found them. Instead, I am linking to other sites that work on collecting and disseminating information on finding farmers, producers and vendors.

In particular I would like to draw your attention to Local Ontario Food, which is a project Mr. Ferdzy has been working on for a while, in conjunction with the Peace and Social Action Committee of Kitchener Area Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. (The local Quakers, in other words.) The idea is that other people - you, for instance - can add local farmers, producers, and vendors using the handy-dandy form he has devised for that purpose. Please check it out, he would love to get some contributors and some feed-back. This is also very newly launched, so if you find problems or have suggestions, pass them on to him.

I've always tried to be a bit political with this blog, and have not succeeded nearly as much as I would like. Unfortunately, tracking down and analyzing what's happening in Ontario and world food politics is a lot more work than just shopping, cooking, eating, and writing about it, since the only part I don't actually have to do is the writing about it. I'm hoping I'll do better, and I've made an explicitly political set of links to help encourage me.

And finally, I think it's important to consider the health and nutrition aspects of food, and have put in a couple of links that do that.

I hope you'll check out and enjoy these new links

Chai Pumpkin Pie

Here you see the evolution of an idea. Last week I made Pumpkin Gingerbread, and speculated about how good it would be with chai ice-cream. When it came time to make pumpkin pie for our Thanksgiving dinner I thought, why not put the chai flavour right in the pie? So I did, and very good it was too. The lack of cream or milk in the pie made the pumpkin and spice flavours deep and intense.

If you used shortening instead of butter for the crust, you would have a dairy-free pumpkin pie. Just sayin', in case that is something you would like to have.

2 pies - 16 servings
2 1/2 hours, plus time to cool - 45 minutes prep time

Chai Pumpkin Pie
Make the Crust:
2 1/2 cups of soft whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil
3 - 5 tablespoons ice water

Mix the flour and the salt, and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter. It should be just soft enough to work a little.

When the butter is mostly the size of small peas, mix in the oil with a fork. Mix in the water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture begins to come together. Use your hands to form it into a ball. Cover the dough and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Divide the dough in half. Roll out each half on a sheet of floured parchment paper, using extra flour to keep the dough from sticking. Fit it into a 10" pie plate. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Prick both crusts all over with a fork. Bake the crusts for 12 to 14 minutes, until just lightly browned at the edges. I check them half way through, and burst any bubbles that are forming with the aformentioned fork.

Make the Chai Sludge:
1/2 teaspoon allspice, ground
3 - 4 pods of cardamom
2 teaspoons loose black tea
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup boiling water

Grind the allspice and cardamom. Mix with the remaining ingredients. Pour the boiling water over them, and let steep for 5 minutes. Give it a stir, if it's clumpy. Strain and set aside until needed.

Make the Filling:
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons arrowroot
4 extra-large eggs
3 1/2 cups pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon molasses

Set the oven to 350°F.

Mix the arrowroot into the sugar, in a mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the pumpkin, the vanilla extract, molasses, and the strained chai mixture. Divide the filling between the two pie crusts.

Bake the pies for approximately 1 hour, until just set in the middle. Let cool. Pumpkin pie will keep nicely for a day or two. Keep refrigerated, but bring up to room temperature to serve. Whipped cream? Yes, please!




Last year at this time I made Pasta with Fennel & Sausage.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Turkeys

Dear Turkey Farmers of Ontario:

You know, I really like turkey. I used to have one every Thanksgiving, and was very happy to have another at Christmas. In addition, I used to like to buy a thigh or two at various times throughout the year. (We're a dark-meat family.) Ground turkey was very useful for meatloaf, burgers and other such dishes.

Note the past tense. Apparently the remains of my last turkey are presently residing in my fridge. It was a lovely turkey; lean but juicy, flavourful and moist but with a robust texture. It was an organic, pastured turkey.

And there's the problem.

Thanks to your short-sighted protectionism of the status-quo, I understand the organic, pastured turkey may be a thing of the past, at least in Ontario. Please do not suppose I will be going back to mushy, bland industrially farmed turkey if I can't get a pastured turkey because I won't. I will eat something else altogether.

It is also of no use to suppose that organic standards can be changed to allow organic turkeys to be raised in confined circumstances. I don't buy - nobody buys - organic turkeys because they are labelled organic. We buy them because the fact that they are organic is supposed to mean something. One of the things it's supposed to mean is that these turkeys were raised on pasture, and have seen the light of day during their reasonably turkey-like lives. Changing the standards will simply mean that the word organic becomes meaningless. It won't change what more and more consumers are looking for in their poultry, today and in the future.

We're looking for decency and safety in farming practices, and flavour and quality in our food - and I don't believe for a second that packing birds into a warehouse to stand shoulder to shoulder in their own shit, and dosing them with antibiotics is the way to achieve either of those.

I've tasted the difference in flavour and quality in pastured poultry.

It's too late. You've lost me as a customer. There is only one way to get me back. And that's to allow - nay, encourage - Ontario farmers to raise pastured, preferably organic, turkeys.


Regards, Ferdzy

p.s. I encourage my readers to contact the Turkey Farmers of Ontario, and Ontario Minister of Agriculture Leona Dombrowski to express your views on this tribunal ruling.

c.c. Leona Dombrowsky

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Pork Ribs Cooked with Sauerkraut

Inevitably, when a person makes 4 1/2 large jars of sauerkraut, something then has to be done with it. Especially if a person thinks Mr. Ferdzy ought to be eating some of it, because I'm darned well not eating it all myself. This was actually quite warmly received. The apples sweeten it up a little, and there's plenty of other good things in there to keep him distracted.

This is a very easy dish which can just sit on the stove and simmer, until about an hour before you want to serve it. Start it early in the day, in other words. If you have a crockpot, this would work well there.

An amusing note about the sauerkraut - well it amuses me anyway - my litre jars (i.e they should hold about 4 cups) took in 12 cups of raw cabbage. It looks like I will get about 6 cups of sauerkraut out.

3 or 4 servings
3 hours or more, but only about 15 minutes of actual work

Ribs Cooked with Sauerkraut
1 to 1.5 kilos (2 or 3 pounds) pork ribs
2 tablespoons bacon fat or lard
2 cups water or broth
1 large onion
2 large apples
4 cups sauerkraut
salt & pepper
1 teaspoon dill seed
1 teaspoon caraway seed

Cut the ribs into sections of one or two rib bones. Brown them on both sides in the oil, and put them in a pot with the water or broth. Simmer until tender to falling off the bone, 2 hours at the least, or rather longer is fine.

Peel and chop the onion, and sauté it in the same pan the ribs were browned in. (Drain off any excess fat first.) Add them to the ribs. Peel, core and slice the apples, and add them. Add the sauerkraut and the seasonings. Continue to simmer for another 45 minutes to an hour.

Serve over mashed potatoes.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Pumpkin Gingerbread

My first impression of this cake was that it was just a tad dull. However, it improved after sitting overnight and it kept well for several days. The flavours became a little more settled and developed. It's a bit like pumpkin pie in a moist cake form I would say, and nothing wrong with that. I can see serving it with a little ice-cream if you want something more decadent. I, on the other hand, ate it plain for breakfast. Excellent with tea. In fact, if I was going to serve it with ice-cream, the ice-cream would be Mapleton's chai flavoured ice-cream. Oh yeah.

12 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 20 minutes prep time

Pumpkin Gingerbread
3 1/2 cups soft whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon allspice berries, finely ground
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup Sucanat, or dark brown sugar
1/3 cup mild vegetable oil
3 extra-large eggs
2 cups puréed pumpkin
1 1/2 cups applesauce
1/4 cup light molasses

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 10" springform pan with parchment paper. Mix the dry ingredients, and set them aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat (by hand) the Sucanat and the oil, until the Sucanat is pretty much dissolved. You may wish to let it sit for 10 minutes or so, to encourage this. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the pumpkin, applesauce and molasses.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, until well blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth it out. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.





Last year at this time I was pretty darn busy too, and I didn't make anything.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Squash & Pepper Soup

Okay, I'm going to try to get back in the saddle again, and get posting. The manure heap is still there in the driveway, taunting us. Maybe if it would stop raining we could get at it. On the other hand I did get another big project done. I am going to hold a party for my father who turns 75 in November, and his partner - they have been together for 30 years. I can't believe it took almost 2 full days just to get the invitations ready to mail out, but it did. I dropped them off at the post office yesterday afternoon. Hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew!

Anyway, the soup. My mom made this, and I acquired the recipe from her. She thinks she got it out of a magazine, but now she can't find it. At any rate, it's a nice, straightforward soup. It makes a lot so you may wish to freeze some. It does freeze very well.

10 servings
2 hours - 45 minutes prep time

Squash Soup
3 medium sized squash, of different varieties:
- butternut
- acorn
- potato

5 or 6 cups chicken stock
1 red shepard (or other red) pepper
the juice of 1/2 lemon
salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Cut the squashes in halves or quarters, and clean out the seeds. Brush them with oil, season with salt and pepper, and place them on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, at 400°F, until tender.

Scoop the cooked squash from the shells and add the flesh to the chicken stock, in a large soup pot. Stem and seed the pepper, chop it, and add it to the soup. Season with the nutmeg and lemon juice. (Actually, if I'd been making this, I'd have been tempted to put in a bit of thyme as well.) Simmer the soup for about 30 minutes, and let it cool a bit. Purée until fairly smooth, although a few bits of the red pepper should still be visible. Serve some hot, and freeze the rest, unless you are feeding a mob, or don't mind eating squash soup for a week.





Last year at this time I was Canning Tomato Sauce. Kind of late, really. We were all done with that 2 weeks ago this year.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Still In The Garden Excuses


Look, I haven't been posting because we still have a mountainous pile of shit to move. And when we haven't been chipping away at that, there were tomatoes and applesauce to can - now done, I'm happy to report. Meanwhile, Mr. Ferdzy is not very happy to see the gardening season come to an end, so he built these cold-frames. He made them out of windows left in the shed by the previous owners, and bits of lumber likewise left around the place. They still cost $45 for the hardware; hinges, handles and latches. Amazing. But he's having fun, and checking his min-max thermometer every morning. So far they aren't making any difference that we can see.


Our lettuce and spinach is still going along. We've had several salads lately, and we had better have some more if we expect to put a dent in this before frost.


We have a cauliflower! We have a cauliflower! I'm pretty sure we spent $6 on seeds, and that's the only one that's produced, so ounce for ounce this is probably the worlds most expensive cauliflower. But it's still very exciting.



This bed is doing nicely, in spite of how blank it looks. A few onions at the back; the rest is planted with garlic and shallots for next spring.


We transplanted this rutabaga out of the next-door bed into one that had some compost added to it, and it went from near-dead to big and leafy, or at least leafy. Okay, they're small, but they are actually rutabagas! Hurray, our one and only successful root crop. We've eaten one already (in the Lancashire Hot-Pot).


And finally, here's the chard. It should be lovely, big and leafy right now, but the deer ate it. I'm pretty sure that chard is their very favourite thing, ever. Although they didn't disdain the tops of the few carrots that sprouted.

That's it for the moment. I've got a couple recipes I could post, but they'll wait until next week, and I'm feeling a bit stretched in too many directions at the moment. I'm going to take a couple of days off. See you soon.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Lancashire Hot-Pot

Brrr. What happened to October? We seem to have headed straight into November. I hope this is temporary...

In the mean time, here's a nice peasanty dish to keep you warm. This is a traditional dish from, you guessed it, Lancashire. It's basically a baked stew. Mill workers would make it in the morning, put it in a slow oven, and come back to a hot cooked dinner at night. If you want it a bit faster, bake it at 325°F for 3 or 4 hours.

Other customary additions were oysters (!) back in the days when they were cheap (no time recently, alas) or sliced lamb's kidney. If you have one or two of those to add, up the rosemary a little. A lot of the modern recipes I looked at before I made this called for butter as the fat, and wine as the liquid, neither of which sounded quite right to me. I had some lovely, smoky bacon fat which seemed more authentic somehow, and if you are going to put in alcohol, beer strikes me as more in keeping with the time and place, and I would probably use a mix of broth and beer if I could.

I have to say, the bacon fat really added to the flavour; I think I would have rated this as distinctly dull without it. As it was, definitely more in the hot ballast for workers than the gourmet category. Something to keep in mind. We enjoyed it, though.

4 servings
30 minutes prep time - hours and hours to bake

Lancashire Hot Pot
2 or 3 medium leeks
1 large onion
2 medium carrots
1 to 1 1/2 cups sliced rutabaga
6 medium potatoes
2 or 3 tablespoons bacon fat, much divided
500 grams (1 pound) lean stewing lamb
2 tablespoons flour
salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon savory
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 cup water, broth or beer

Trim and slice the leeks, and rinse them well. Drain them. Peel and chop the onion. Heat a couple teaspoons or so of the bacon fat in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the leeks and onions until soft, stirring regularly. They should not brown much.

Meanwhile, peel and slice the carrots, moderately thin. Peel and slice the rutabaga and potatoes likewise.

Turn the leeks and onions out of the pan onto a plate. Add another couple teaspoons of bacon fat to the pan, and turn up the heat a bit. Toss the lamb with the flour, salt and pepper, savory and rosemary, and brown it in the bacon fat.

Meanwhile, take a teaspoon of the remaining bacon fat, and use it to grease a deep, preferably round casserole dish. Cover the bottom with a layer of about a quarter of the potatoes. Cover it with a third of the leeks and onions, a third of the carrots and a third of the rutabaga. When the lamb is ready, spread a third of the lamb over the vegetables. Add another layer of potatoes - a third of the remainder, and half each of the leeks, carrots and rutabaga and lamb as above. Finish with another layer of potatoes, the remainder of the other vegetables and lamb, and finish with a final layer of potatoes.

Deglaze the skillet with the water or broth, and pour it over the casserole. Heat the oven to 300°F and cover the casserole. Bake it for 5 to 7 hours. Remove the lid, dab the final teaspoon of bacon fat over the top and put the casserole back in a hotter oven (375°F) to brown a little, for about 20 minutes or half an hour, if you want. Not really necessary.




Last year at this time I was working on Canned (Bottled) Tomato Sauce, and would be for several days. This year we're all done already! Might can a few more plain chopped tomatoes, if we can still get them. Been a terrible year for tomatoes.