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Summer is here… and so is the Gooseberry Maple Freezer Jam

By Tracy MacMaster

Gooseberries are a charmingly old-fashioned fruit.  Gooseberry season is brief – pints appear in the market for a few short weeks and then they are gone.  To celebrate gooseberries and hold some of their pleasures over to winter, I like to make an annual jar or two of gooseberry jam.  Gooseberries contain high levels of the setting agent pectin, so are terrific for inexperienced jam makers.  Freezing keeps it simple.  Tailing and topping of gooseberries is a meditative task - create your jam on a lazy Sunday morning, coffee in hand.

Equipment required:

Medium sized non-reactive pot

Wooden spoon

2 pint jars with snap lids

Paper towels for wiping the jar rims

Ingredients:

2 pints of gooseberries, tails and tops removed

3/4 cup of brown sugar - this can be adjusted to taste, since the jam is being stored in the freezer

2 tablespoons of maple liqueur  - optional but delicious – or water

Method:

Wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water, and rinse well.  Leave to rack dry.

Place topped and tailed gooseberries in a pot over low-medium heat with the brown sugar and maple liqueur, if using, or water.  Stir carefully until the gooseberries begin to pop and release their juices, approximately 5 minutes, and then lower the heat until a slow simmer can be maintained.  Cook the mixture until it reaches a jam-like consistency, approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

When the jam is thickened to your liking, pour it carefully into the pint jars, leaving a larger than usual space at the head to allow for expansion in the freezer – about 1 inch of headroom.  Carefully wipe the rim of the jar with a clean paper towel to remove any drips, and cover with the lid, tightening the screw-top to fingertip tightness.  Freeze for up to 6 months.  The jam lasts approximately 7-10 days in the refrigerator, and is especially wonderful with fresh biscuits, on whole wheat sourdough toast or mixed with plain Greek yoghurt.

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Herbed Sliced Steak Salad with Lime Vinaigrette & Fingerling Potatoes

by Tracy MacMaster

Photo credit: Paul Christensen

We had a long, cool spring, perfect weather for local lettuce and herbs.  Now that it’s hot, salad is the perfect solution to ‘what’s for dinner?”  Don’t heat up the kitchen, take your market produce outside to the grill. 

For the salad:

1 head leaf lettuce, washed and torn

Small bunches of mint, cilantro, and basil, torn

1 Flank steak, generously seasoned with salt and pepper

For the vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

Pinch of coarse salt, fresh pepper

 Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

1 pound fingerling potatoes

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Coarse salt, fresh pepper to taste

1 head of garlic, separated into cloves

To prepare the potatoes:  Preheat BBQ to medium high.  Parboil the potatoes until just tender.  Place potatoes in a foil plate, add unpeeled garlic cloves and drizzle with olive oil.  Season the potatoes and garlic with coarse salt and ground pepper, and place on the highest rack for approximately 20 minutes, shaking occasionally.

For the salad: Toss the lettuce and most of the torn herbs in a large bowl, reserving a handful of herbs.  Season the steak with salt and pepper and grill over a medium hot flame until medium rare.  Rest the steak on a heaped bed of the reserved herbs on a wooden cutting board for 5 minutes, and then slice the steak thin against the grain.

Place the warm sliced steak on top of the greens, pour the olive oil and lime juice over the salad and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve the potatoes on the side with the broken open cloves of garlic.

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Red, White and Celebration

By Claire Lukka

Growing up in Ottawa, Canada Day was always a special day crammed full of red, white and celebration.  Since early July also screams fresh strawberries, it stands to reason that fresh, bright red strawberries topped with white powdered sugar seem like the perfect ingredients for a special breakfast on Canada’s birthday.

When I was a kid, we ate “strawberry puff” as often as we could during strawberry season.  My Mom couldn’t pull them out of the oven fast enough and my siblings and I would fight over the last piece.  As I blended up my puff this morning, I thought about the pure enjoyment of going to markets in my community to get fresh produce, which made me feel a great pride for the country I am so fortunate to live in.  Of course, I also recalled fond memories of sharing this meal with my family on Canada Days of the past.

On a day where red and white is a fun cooking challenge, I wanted to share my recipe for “strawberry puff”.  Serves two for breakfast, or a few more for dessert (maybe with dollops of ice cream or whipped cream!). 

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Strawberry Puffed Pancake

3 eggs

½ cup flour

½ cup milk

2 tbsp melted butter

1 tbsp sugar

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp cinnamon

Strawberries

Combine everything but the berries in a blender for about 30 seconds (or whisk by hand) until smooth.  Pour into a well-greased 9 inch round baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes at 450° or until puffed and golden brown.  Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with strawberries.

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Withrow Market In June

This June we encourage you to eat locally. This is a great time to celebrate and indulge in the incredible quality and variety of food produced right here in Ontario.

Withrow Market In June

This June we encourage you to eat locally. This is a great time to celebrate and indulge in the incredible quality and variety of food produced right here in Ontario.

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A Fresh New Garden - The Old Fashioned Way

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- by John Zeus

The Three Sisters - A Native American Garden

With the late arrival of planting season in Riverdale, many of us “urban farmers” are anxious to finish planting our fresh new gardens this week.

Using Companion Planting, where one plant helps the other, a Three Sisters garden is an old fashioned, but very effective farming technique. Unlike modern agribusiness which is based on yields extracted from the land regardless of environmental cost, Native American gardening which was a form of small-scale farming, made the land richer.

A Three Sisters garden can be planted on a smaller scale. Plant the corn first. When the corn reaches 12 centimetres in height, plant the beans. About a week later, plant your squash seeds. The corn supports the beans, the beans provide nitrogen, and the squash keeps moisture in and shades out the weeds. Urban garden harmony!

Please purchase seeds from a retailer or company that carries GMO free seeds. We have expert seed vendors at Withrow Market who sell GMO free seeds and are always happy to give you some good planting advice.

Photo: My Three Sisters garden in early June, 2013. The corn was planted by mid-May. Planting season arrived early last year. 


Original sources: Mother Earth News and GMO Free USA | Adapted by/Photo credit: John Zeus