Make, Jane, make!: July 2012


Small Share

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rhubarb and Fennel Hand Pies

We received some cute little fennel bulbs in our CSA box last week and although they were cute to look at, I wondered what I would use such small fennel bulbs for? Cooking them was out of the question since they reduce so much that these small bulbs would just disappear into nothingness. Sliced up raw in a salad was another possibility. But sorting the veggies that night made me look at the fennel and rhubarb together and think, "Why not?"

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Salmon and Fennel Fronds en Papillote

Fennel stalks are so fragrant that it seems a waste to trim and throw them into the compost. We got some very small fennel bulbs in our CSA box this week and after saving the tiny bulbs for a dessert (will post later) I wondered what I should do with the stalks. Quite a few voices on the internet seemed to agree that cooking fish over the fennel stalks was the way to go and since wild salmon season is on, it seemed the perfect combination for dinner.

Friday, July 27, 2012


I do have more posts coming, really, I do... They are all half-finished awaiting their accompanying pictures which need to be transferred from our camera. But I've been busy been potty-training and gardening (oh man... just realized that I should upload some pics of the crazy heatwave-induced growth in the sun-loving veggies) and getting the embarrassing amount of cavities in my mouth filled.

So I promise more posts are on their way... just as soon as I watch the opening ceremonies and get sucked into the Olympics for the next two weeks :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Frozen Mac and Cheese: Individual and Al Dente

I love the idea of making extra food and freezing it for those crazy days when eating mustard for dinner seems like a perfectly viable option. My only problem is that pasta dishes (a kid favourite) are soggy upon reheating. And we are pasta snobs at this house... in fact, even the kids prefer pasta (De Cecco if possible) that it is perfectly al dente and has been freshly tossed with sauce. Give them day old pasta from the fridge that has absorbed too much bechamel or bolognese and they'll turn their noses up at it.

You can always freeze just the sauce and cook the pasta when needed, but I wanted something to compete with the simplicity of KD in the microwave, all the while tasting like the best homemade mac and cheese. And here's my solution:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Beach Towel Poncho-Pack

(2014/10: Check out my updated tutorial here!)

Summer has definitely arrived and the meteorologists on t.v. keep telling me that we are in a heat wave here in Southern Ontario. We are very lucky to have a splash pad just at the end of the street and it's been a godsend when the kids have wanted to play outside. But since my kids are still young, they often rely on mommy for many things; and getting ready for waterplay is definitely a multi-step, multi-accessory activity that they need help with.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Beet Ice Cream and Strawberry-Lychee Sorbet

My darling husband eats (and loves to eat!) many things - tendon, stinky tofu, chicken feet, strong blue cheeses... and the list goes on. How else would we have survived seven years together if we didn't share a mutual love of all things food? The funny thing is the foods that turn him off the most seem so innocuous - cauliflower, brussels sprouts, radishes, beets. (Doesn't it sound like someone wasn't taught to appreciate his veggies when he was young? ;)

So what to do when our CSA box contains so many of these goodies? Let's see, the cruciferous vegetables are generally mixed with bacon or pureed into soup. The radishes are mostly pickled and eaten with pho (still don't understand why he likes pickled daikon but is not into pickled radish?!?). But the beets, the beautiful beets, how do I get him to like those?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Garlic Scape, Asparagus and Dried Tofu Stir-Fry

So I left my garlic scapes in the fridge a bit too long because I really wanted to stir fry them with dried tofu and I didn't get a chance to buy some until just recently. So unfortunately some of the scapes withered and dried, but fortunately the enjoyment my kids got out of this dish more than made up for the wait and wastage.

Garlic scapes are both the hardest and the easiest CSA item to use. Easiest because they can basically be used anywhere you would use garlic. Hardest because I don't want to waste them in a dish where their delicate flavour, milder than garlic bulbs and similar to garlic chives, is lost.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lemon Pudding and Red Currant Jelly Ice Pops

We were lucky to receive some red currants in our farmshare last week, but due to the tiny quantity, I left them in the fridge for more than a week pondering the best way to use them.

But since I've been on a bit of a run exploring ice pop flavours, I figured there was a good chance that they would end up reduced into syrup and incorporated into a popsicle of some sort. The answer occurred to me as I was grating some lemon zest for a quinoa salad... lemon and currant popsicles!

First, I reduced the currants into a sauce with some water and sugar and pureed them in the magic bullet.

Currants, like raspberries, have tons of seeds and little stems that are tough to remove. So I strained out the seeds/stems and ended up with a thick red currant coulis of sorts. This already tasted so good that I had a hard time resisting eating it as a red currant fool.

I'm glad I waited though because the ice pops turned out even better than I expected. I was a little unsure what the texture or taste would be like since I was a bit like a mad scientist in the kitchen while I was concocting them... but they were everything I wanted them to be.

Light, lemony, a little bit icy, and very refreshing with bursts of tangy, sweet red currant jelly. The adults enjoyed them and the kids loved them. They definitely give me encouragement to experiment a bit more with my popsicle mold. Don't be surprised to see a whole lot of ice pop recipes through the summer.


Lemon Pudding and Red Currant Jelly Ice Pops 
Yield: 300ml (=9 Onyx pops or 6 full-size and 6 kid-sized pops)

Red Currant Jelly
150g red currants, washed
1/8 - 1/4 cup sugar, (sweeten according to your taste)
1 - 2 tablespoons water

  1. Add currants and sugar to a small saucepan. Add enough water to get the mixture bubbling and prevent burning. Heat gently over medium heat until mixture is bubbling and the currants have mostly broken down.
  2. Let cool. Strain to remove seeds and pulp.

Lemon Pudding
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1 egg yolk
1-1/2 cups milk (I used 2% but I think whole milk would have been heavenly)
1-1/2 cups half and half cream (what I had on hand, but I'm sure 35% cream would be richer and delish too)
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, egg yolk and a small amount of the milk until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and heat over medium-high heat until mixture begins to boil.
  2. Continue heating until mixture is boiling fairly uniformly (i.e. bubbles are appearing on the edges and in the centre). 
  3. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  4. Pour lemon pudding into molds. Reserve leftover mixture by covering with cellophane (let the plastic wrap touch the surface of the liquid) and refrigerate until you're ready to freeze a second batch* (1-2 days).
  5. Add a heaping teaspoonful of red currant jelly to each ice pop, and using a chopstick/skewer swirl the jelly into the pudding.
  6. Freeze 5 hours or until frozen. Enjoy!

*I always unmold my ice pops and wrap them in parchment paper as soon as they are frozen. This way I can use the mold again to make more ice pops to create a freezer stockpile of hot weather treats.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Typical CSA/Farmshare Box Evening

For anyone who has asked me about it in the past or who is curious about the whole farmshare/CSA thing... This is our second year supporting Zephyr Organics and we've loved receiving wholesome, fresh produce straight from our local grower. Earlier this summer, we even managed to visit the farm before the season started and got a sneak peak at the farm's operations.

This year, we've opted to receive a larger order on a bi-weekly basis (versus last year's half-order that came every week). So far this has worked out great since "farmshare day" is a bit of a production around here and I find it easier to do twice the work at half the frequency.

So what happens on farmshare day/night? A lot of washing, sorting, prepping, cutting, shelling, blanching, freezing and meal planning. For instance, last night's duties included:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Shirring that finally worked! Cheesy matching dresses.

I've tried high tension. I've tried low tension. I've tried various stitch lengths. I've tried winding the bobbin manually. I've tried winding the bobbin on the machine. I've tried threading the bobbin by hand. Somehow nothing worked; even though I've successfully shirred in the ancient past on my mother's less sophisticated, but much better quality, vintage Singer machine.

So after giving my Brother sewing machine many, many chances to shirr properly of its own accord, I eventually gave in and took Amber's advice at Creative Heart and adjusted the bobbin tension. I broke out the tiny screwdriver and chipped away the protective paint that Brother (suspiciously) feels is necessary on the bobbin tension screw. And two turns of the screw later...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mango Lassi Ice Pops

I have to confide something... I'm not a huge fan of Atafulo mangoes. I know they are generally sweet and less stringy, but for me they lack a certain taste and smell that I associate with mangoes. I know why they are popular though... it's because good red mangoes are hard to find and impossible to tell apart from the bad ones. (There are different types of red mangoes and I find that some are better and sweeter than others. Here is a great resource if you're a mango lover.)

When red mangoes go on sale though, that's usually the cue that good mangoes have come in during their season from Mexico or elsewhere. So when there's a sale, I'll buy a couple to see how they ripen and then buy a bunch if I am satisfied. This was the case recently and I got some great tasting red mangoes.