Friday, August 21, 2009

High Time for Garlic Time!

The high summer season in August marks one of the most anticipated harvests of all the flavour vegetables -- GARLIC! Heck, it flavours so many of our dishes I dare say we couldn't or shouldn't live without it.
At Ferme Tourne-sol, they celebrate the garlic harvest with a festival they have worked up with their local town market and got many other vendors on board.. in Ste Anne de Bellevue. This year marks the 3rd annual Garlic Festival.

So, like usual on every Saturday, there are all the food and specialty vendors selling their wares, but on this coming weekend there are garlic-themed displays, products and even little presentation workshops. To be sure Dan Brisbois or someone from Ferme Tourne-sol will conduct a garlic braiding workshop. And it goes on from there.

Last year it was on print:
The Second Annual Garlic Festival is on today (Saturday) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ste. Anne de Bellevue farmers’ market on the boardwalk by the bridge, near city hall at 109 Ste. Anne St. Four garlic producers will be on hand with varieties of garlic bulbs for sale along with braids. Other market merchants will have garlic bread, garlic cheese, garlic sausage and garlic chocolate-chip cookies for sale. Three informal, bilingual and free workshops take place in the morning: 9:30 – Know your garlic varieties, with Daniel Brisebois; 10:30 – A garlic braiding demonstration with Alison Hackney in which people will be able to make their own braids and buy them; 11:30 – garlic growing Q&A with Brisebois.

This year... go check it out.

Garlic Festival
Ste Anne de Bellevue, boardwalk by the lake
9am - 2 pm.

For the fourth summer in a row, the Marché Sainte Anne will offer to the public the opportunity to purchase fresh products in an outdoor farmer’s market setting starting June 12th. Visitors will find organic and conventionally grown produce from local farms, as well as “artisanal” products, such as soaps, candles and pots. The market will be held every Saturday, from 9 a.m. to, on the boardwalk, opposite the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue point of service.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

...Starring Broccoli!

It's high summer in Montreal and the broccoli is showing up in large firm heads from local producers, in abundance.
Dinner calls and this time, you can make a thoroughly rich and satisfying dinner with just broccoli, roasted garlic, some spaghetti and a little parmesan cheese. The garlic sweetens with roasting and gives the whole dish an almost meaty richness.
It's an Italian basic, and one I learned from a London friend (with her fabulous, handsome, Italian, then- husband Sylvio) who held these languid all day "Sunday Lunches" in her backyard.
We began with glasses of chilled amber Dubonnet, and finished with several rounds of Bocci ball. That is, for those who could still stand up.

Jane's Broccoli Garlic Spaghetti

1 box of spaghetti

1 full head broccoli (ends trimmed and florets on long stems seperated)

1 - 2 heads garlic

olive oil

S & P

1/2 -1 cup grated parmagianno cheese

1/2 cup slightly toasted pine nuts (optional)

Prepare garlic by slicing about 1/4 inch off the top of the heads. Place on a square piece of tin foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper. Fold up and roast in a 375 degree oven for about 45 min. It will be golden, sweet.

Put large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. As it comes to a boil, add salt, and immerse the broccoli pieces in it for about 30 seconds to blanche. Remove broccoli. Add pasta and cook following directions on the box. For best results I like Barilla and DeCecco brands.

Drain spaghetti, reserving about a cup of the pasta water for the sauce.

In the same pot add a couple of tablesp0ons (or more to your taste) of good olive oil. Squeeze roasted garlic cloves out of their sheathes and into pot. Add broccoli and toss for a couple of minutes. If you like it saucier, add some pasta water but Jane liked hers dry and it was delicious.

Add some cheese and the pine nuts if you choose. Give a little toss and serve up in a big pasta bowl for folks to help themselves. Pass extra cheese separately.

Makes a great main dish meal served with a little salad of some kind on the side. no meat required. You can also do this without the pasta and use the broccoli as a side dish when making a delicious roast of meat. You can also substitute rapini for the broccoli for a little bitter contrast to the rich sweet garlic.

Bueno appetito!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Farm Day at a CSA

At their most fundamental level, CSA farms provide a weekly delivery of organically grown produce to consumers during the growing season (June to October). Those consumers, in turn, pay a subscription fee. But CSA consumers don't simply "buy" foodstuffs from particular farms as become "members" of those farms. CSA operations provide more than just food; they offer ways for eaters to become involved in the ecological and human community that supports the farm. They get connected with their food.

What does CSA membership involve? Arrangements vary. Some CSA operations deliver their baskets to the neighborhoods where members live, while others arrange for members to pick up their vegetables at the farm. Some CSA farms expect members to work on the farm at least once during the season while others only expect members to support the farm with their membership dollars.

Being involved with a CSA operation always means sharing the rewards as well as the risks of farming: enjoying the freshest produce available, often harvested the same day you receive it; knowing where, how and by whom your food is being produced; having a direct connection with the people who produce your food; and supporting the kind of stewardship that is good for the land as well as its people.

The risks include weather and pests. Though formidable for small, self-sustaining farmers, these risks are bearable when shared by a group of shareholders. By linking together through CSA operations, farmers and consumers can both benefit from an agriculture that provides beautiful and bountiful food while preserving the ecological and social basis necessary for coming generations to be so blessed.

A key component of the equation is education. If the members know what the farmers are doing –with the whys and the hows – it makes the whole experience more meaningful.

That's where FARM DAY at Ferme Cooperative Tourne-sol comes in. Just west of Montreal, the 5 partner farmers hold an annual July Field Day welcoming members, and curiosity seekers a chance to walk the fields, the barn, the greenhouses and learn all about the whys and hows of growing vegetables and herbs organically. Things like: why using handtools for weeding and seeding is the choice of these farmers. Why it's important to give some of the land over to cover crops each year to rebuild the soil and keep weeds down. What are the newest methods for dealing with pests. All strategies for ensuring a succession of bountiful vegetables all season long.

More and more families on getting on board the CSA train, since exposing kids to where their food comes from helps them develop their palettes and a taste for fresh and healthy stuff. At Ferme Cooperative Tourne-Sol, there's a 'pick your own' garden section - a bonus for the families who opt to come out for their weekly baskets. Kids can harvest their own peas, beans and cherry tomatoes and pick lovely bouquets of flowers to take home, too.

Coming up... how to make broccoli sexy!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Strawberries = Love

It's the end of June and in Montreal Quebec, and that means strawberries are ripe for the pickin'.

Nothing like berries in season and there are lots of things you can do with them. I like them simply as a dessert made with fresh biscuits and some lightly sweetened whipped cream.

My version of Strawberry Shortcake: Cut the biscuits in half, lay on a layer of strawbs, a layer of cream and then put the top biscuit on top.

When I was in France working at a B&B for a couple of weeks, i made this dessert for the gang one night who had NEVER had it, if you can imagine such a thing. My host Michel was over the moon.

Flakey Biscuits
1 cp wholewheat flour
1 cp white flour
1/2 t salt
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cold butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in the butter till it's mealy. Make a hole and add beaten eggs and milk. Gradually incorporate all the dry ingredients and knead just enough to hold together. Roll out and fold into thirds. Repeat. Repeat again. Cut into 2 - 3 inch rounds. Lay on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes.

For the shortcakes, cut in half, layer with fresh strawbs and some lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Happy June!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Food, Inc

Did you know that the average food product travels about 1,500 miles to get to your grocery store? And that transporting food accounts for 30,800 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year?

And with all the brouhaha in the media, about food and environmental concerns, many important food issues have been politicized and turned into buzz words, like: organic, genetically engineered, cloning, global warming, eco - anything. Heck, the terms are bandied about so readily I wonder if we truly understand what we are talking about?

“In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on America’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of their government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA.

Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won't go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.

Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield's Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms' Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it's produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.” (excerpted from the website)

Food, Inc has opened in theatres across North America recently. Go see it. Also fabulous website info and a companion book will hopefully demystify the language and politics around food.

On the fresh food front, local asparagus is abundant so time to dig out your favourite vinaigrette, boil some eggs, steam that asparagus and have a full on asparagus experience.

Asparagus Vinaigrette

1 # asparagus

4 eggs

3 T good olive oil

2 T lemon juice (+ 1 T grated rind, opt.)

2 tsp Dijon style mustard

After removing the tough ends off the asparagus, place in water in a pot large enough to lay them down, barely cover with water and put on a lid. Bring to a boil. Cook about 2 min (or longer if thick). A knife inserted should be with just a little resistance. Don’t overcook or they’ll be mushy.

Hard boil 1 egg per person (5 min) and immediately drain water and cover with cold cold water. This will help with shell removal. Remove egg shells and slice in slices or wedges.

To make vinaigrette: Whisk together lemon juice, oil, S&P to taste. Grate in lemon zest, if desired. Set aside.

Drain asparagus, rinse quickly under cold water to stop the cooking. Lay out on dishes, top with egg and pour vinaigrette over.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


It's easy to get dislocated from our food. We go to the grocery store or the local corner store and we buy what we need. Just like that, off the shelf, out of the fridge.

But if we think about connecting with our food -where it comes from and who is raising it- it's an eye-opening and inspiring experience.

Think about it. There are farmers like the one's pictured here at Ferme Tourne-sol Cooperative, where 5 young farmer partners are dedicated to growing food for 250 families. More on these folks in upcoming posts.

It's hopeful to know that while many of us are still immune to where our food comes from, there is a new awakening afoot on why it makes sense to eat local farmed food and organic whenever possible. And it's gaining attention for good reason.

I am not purporting that we all give up our favourites and induct ourselves into the "100 mile Diet" challenge (although it would be a great learning experience if we would),

but I am putting forth that we can easily become ever more mindful of what we eat with a view to that.  Ease ourselves into it. The world is changing and it will be easier to be "WITH" the program than to be 'out of touch' with it. 

Stay tuned for some stories from the fields and the recipes to go with them.

[ 659imbdnfy Claiming my blog.]