Make, Jane, make!

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Garlic Scape and Pea Pesto


Am I late to the party? I only just discovered that you can make pesto with fresh peas and I love the result. Fresh... and sweet... and the colour! The colour is even better than regular basil pesto because it stays beautifully pale green through refrigeration or heating.

I originally set out to make a garlic scape pesto but wasn't sure if I could ever get the kids to eat it since scape pesto tends to be so spicy. Then I remembered seeing pictures of pea pesto and figured that if anything could tone down the super concentrated garlicky flavour that results from grinding up a bagful of scapes, it would be fresh peas from the pod.


No special recipe here. Just the paper bag of scapes and peas from the pod (both from our CSA box), some parmesan and some salt into the food processor, finished off with a touch of olive oil to make it all come together. I didn't add a lot of oil because I wanted it to keep some of the crispness of the fresh peas and I didn't want it to turn into pea soup.


I have to admit that the ratio of scapes to peas was a little high and my pesto still had a bit of bite to it. I would recommend that the ratio of peas to scapes be about 2:1 for a milder tasting pesto. That being said, the pesto was still much tastier than if I'd made the pesto with scapes alone and the flavour mellowed out significantly after being tossed with some warm pasta, pasta water and cream.


Hubby enjoyed his pasta with a little extra shaved parmesan and freshly torn basil. He declared that it had some good "gar-parm" flavour, which is actually the best way to describe it. And it's kid-approved as well -  child #1 and #3 had two servings each.

Unfortunately, I didn't have time to write this post in the early summer when peas and scapes were plentiful, but if you do come across peas at your farmer's market, try this recipe out and join the pea pesto party :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Beach Towel Poncho-Pack, Revisited with a Tutorial!


A couple of years ago, I blogged about my first beach towel poncho-packs. Those original poncho-packs have since been to multiple swim lessons, splash pads and beaches and are still going strong. Of course there are now two additional people in our family, one of which has been requesting her own "backpack towel" since last summer. In addition to that, my older son started summer camp this year and he needs at least two sets of swim stuff so that I have time to wash the stinky, wet ones on alternate days. And as fate would have it, we were discussing the poncho-packs at the park a couple of weeks ago and one of my mommy friends asked for instructions on how to make her own. So here is a return visit to the beach towel poncho-packs, complete with photos and a tutorial.

p.s. This is a great scrap buster project. So never you mind if you notice that the pieces in my pictures are not quite the right measurements or seem a bit skewed. I am crazy about using up scraps, even if they are only barely big enough for my project.

p.p.s. In case you want to know, I used some scrap flannel pieces for this project. I think any soft and absorbent fabric would work great.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Zucchini Crumb Cake Muffins


If you've ever tried to leave zucchini on a neighbour's front porch under the cover of darkness, devised methods of handing out zucchini instead of candy at Hallowe'en or considered including zucchini as part of your taxable income calculations, then you've obviously experienced firsthand the awesome productive powers of the zucchini plant. However, despite its bad rap as an unwelcome vegetable gift, I feel indebted to the over-achieving zucchini plant because if it did not bear fruit so copiously, no one may have ever felt compelled to create the wonderfully moist delight that is zucchini bread.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Eat your greens!

So now you know how much lettuce we've been lucky enough to receive in our farmshare due this nice cool summer. Not to mention that there's also chard, beets, kale, radish/beet/kohlrabi greens, zucchini, carrots, potatoes and so much more that comes with each weekly CSA box.

Veggies at every meal have become the order of the day and I have been pleasantly surprised at how relatively well my kids have received this. That's not to say that they sit down and eat the super-sized salads that mommy and daddy eat. Ha! But they do accept their daily side salad at dinner and have taken to having the rest of their daily allotment in some unexpected ways.

For instance, we all sat down and enjoyed eating a version of Cobb salad for dinner last week.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Where to put all that lettuce?

This is the first year that we've joined Round the Bend Farm for their summer CSA program. It is also the first year that we've decided to go for the full monty and book ourselves to receive a full share of local veggies every week. My bestest girlfriend who is receiving a half share from the same farm asked us how we managed a full box?

Short answer: We eat a lot of salad.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

"Where do you get the time?"

"Where do you get the time?" is a question I get a lot. Where do I get the time to bake? Where do I get the time to sew? Where do I get the time to blog? The answer is always twofold - "after the kids go to sleep" and "you just gotta make time".


So right now it's quarter to twelve on Friday night and instead of heading out to a bar or club (which would be so 1999 anyway :), I'm sitting in my kitchen writing a blog post on my tiny smartphone screen and waiting for a couple of pies to finish baking. This is a particularly late "after the kids go to sleep" scenario as the bedtime has gotten later now that school's out and my youngest is very unpredictable in her feeding habits.


Now often my hubby and I would spend this precious time between the kids' bedtime and us passing out watching some late night TV and talking about our days. We'd probably crack open a bag of chips, maybe some beers, possibly a Dairy Queen Blizzard that we had stashed in the freezer...  Oh yes my children, you were right all along to suspect mommy and daddy telling you to "just go to sleep, we're not doing anything fun, we're just sleeping too"... But I digress...


Anyway, today instead of dulling my mind with unnecessary reality shows and indulging my own waistline with unneeded calories, I'm baking up enough butter pastry goodness to indulge our ten or so dinner guests coming over tomorrow. Of course, I could always just buy dessert but this is where the "you just gotta make time" comes into play, "gotta" being the operative word. Believe me, making time extra time at the end of the night to pursue leisure activities was, and is still not, easy for someone who would consider themselves a morning person and who would prefer to up at the crack of dawn rather than the stroke of midnight. However, it's easier to count on the children staying asleep than relying on them not waking up, so the making of time has "gotta" be at night.


But I guess the bigger question, bigger than "Where do you get the time?" is "Why?" And my only answer is that despite the four kids, or perhaps for their sakes, I don't want to let myself drown in the drudgery that comes with the title "mother of four".  I want to think that I don't have to give up Jane, the baker or Jane, the knitter or Jane, the runner just because I became Jane, the woman who couldn't stop getting pregnant. ;) I want the kids to know that you can become a parent and still have other identities too - that I'm their mom but I could also be their powder hound buddy or their fellow foodie or their nerdy mmorpg partner. I want them to know it and I want myself to believe it.

I stay up late to nourish and maintain some interests of my own in the hope that I don't forget who I am while I love and care for four little people who are slowly discovering who they are.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Farmshare 2014 - Round the Bend Farm


Summer at our house is now synonymous with receiving a weekly surprise of veggies in our CSA box. This year we've decided to switch to Round the Bend Farm whose box looks to have more variety and fruit than our previous farm. We've also upped the ante by booking a full share (versus half-shares in previous years) and adding on some fresh brown eggs every week. Other than eating a lot of fresh green salads (we got SIX! huge heads of lettuce last week), I'll try to post about what we do with the abundance of lovely, local vegetables we receive every week.


One of the things I love best about getting food that goes from farm to table is that we'll receive items that are rare, or at least harder to find, at your average supermarket. Like garlic scapes or tasty spring onions. We've already gone through our share of the fresh onions and I'm a little sad that we'll probably not be receiving any more of these fragrant beauties. We made good use of the ones we did get though: Russian dressing, Chinese green onion pancakes, ginger and spring onion noodle bowls and lion's head meatballs (which also used an entire head of napa cabbage!).


Another thing that I love about getting food straight from the farm is that nothing is wasted. Like these beet greens, where do things like this go when the supermarket sells jus the beet bottoms? We used ours recently in some crusty calzones.


Calzones are one of my go-to freezer foods because I can size them to perfectly fit in a lunchbox, they reheat in a flash in the toaster oven, they can be eaten warm or at room temperature and the kids will eat a surprising amount of veggies when they are stuffed into a pocket with some cheese.


So there's my first farmshare post and I'm officially blogging again. Maybe a recipe next time? Or a sewing post? Perhaps kids crafts (and antics)? I'll have to see what inspiration strikes...