Monthly Archives: June 2013

Summertime Vegetable Soup


Gather all your ingredients

Summertime Vegetable Soup

Even though it’s early summer, we have had some cold, damp days lately and I felt like I wanted a nice, light summertime vegetable soup. This one is really easy, only takes an hour and a half or so and feeds a crowd.


Use whatever vegetables you have on hand – anything works as long as you have something tomato-ey to lift the flavour.

Here’s what I used:

Chicken carcase wrapped in cheesecloth (or 2 bouillon cubes)

1 onion

leftover wilted celery centre (really good for soup!)

2 carrots

1 zucchini

1/2 a green pepper

2-3 cloves garlic

one large or two small potatoes

1/2 cup orzo pasta (I used kamut orzo)

3/4 cup frozen peas

3/4 cup frozen corn

1/2 cup frozen baby lima beans

1 1/2 cups of tinned tomatoes

1 cup clamato juice

a couple of handfuls of greens (baby spinach, kohlrabi greens, swiss chard, beet greens)

1 Tablespoon dried oregano (or 1/4 cup chopped fresh)

1 Tablespoon paprika

A couple of bay leaves

Salt and Pepper to taste

3″ piece of parmesan or asiago cheese rind (optional)




Cover wrapped chicken carcase with water and bring to the boil



chop all the vegetables



cook carcase for an hour



add all the other ingredients except the greens, bring to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes



in the meantime chop the greens



then lift out wrapped carcase using tongs



add all the chopped greens



and serve with some shredded parmesan or asiago cheese (optional)



Gotta love marigolds!

20130618-212607.jpgMarigolds and Basil are perfect companions for tomatoes – even in a pot!



Thai basil is an excellent companion plant

The theory behind companion planting is that certain plants such as marigolds, and nasturtiums are so pungent and produce an odour which many insects absolutely loathe. Tomatoes are particularly susceptible to aphids, whitefly and root nematodes. Marigolds work well to repel these harmful pests. When you plant basil with tomatoes both plants will grow stronger and better. Even if you just have a tomato in a pot you can plant some flowers and herbs around it. You just have to make sure you provide enough water for all the plants that are in the pot, and fertilize more frequently as well.

Sally’s Potato Salad

20130525-150221.jpgSally’s Delicious Potato Salad

There are many potato salad recipes out there, but none compares with my Mother-in-Law, Sally’s, version. There’s just something about the combination of sweet peas and carrots that balances the potatoes very well. She was a wonderful cook and infused everything she made with lots of love, and you could really taste it. She taught me to cook when I was just a teenager and could barely boil water to make tea, for which I am eternally grateful.


2 or 3 lbs small red potatoes, skins left on if desired. (I was planning on leaving the skins on but then realized they were a bit green underneath so I peeled them)

salt and pepper to taste

drizzle of olive oil

3/4 cup frozen peas

3 thin carrots, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

3 green onions, finely diced

3 pickles, diced

3 hard boiled eggs, diced

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon dijon mustard


Quarter the peeled or unpeeled small red potatoes and place into a 2 quart glass casserole Cover and microwave on high for 5-10 minutes until potatoes are easily pierced.

Meanwhile dice the carrots, celery, green onions and pickles.

When potatoes are done, put them in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle them with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and several grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.

Place the diced carrots into the same casserole dish and microwave for just 2 minutes, to blanch them. They should be crisp-tender.

Add the frozen peas to the potatoes in the mixing bowl, then all the other vegetables and eggs. Mix to combine.

Add in the mayonnaise and mustard, folding in gently. Taste and adjust salt and pepper seasoning.

Pour into a serving dish and refrigerate until cold. Keep refrigerated at all times until ready to serve.




Quarter the red potatoes, peeled or unpeeled



microwave, covered, for 5-10 minutes until potatoes can be easily pierced. The time will depend on your microwave.



in the meantime, gather the rest of the ingredients



when the potatoes are done, remove them to a large mixing bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.



then add in the frozen peas



put diced carrots into the same casserole and microwave 2 minutes, until blanched but crisp-tender



dice the celery and green onion



the pickles and eggs




combine the potatoes, peas, blanched carrots, celery, green onions, eggs and pickles




with the mayonnaise, mustard and more freshly ground pepper and salt to taste, if desired



fold everything together until well combined and chill well before serving. Keep refrigerated at all times.


Happy Father’s Day!

A very Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads, Step-Dads, Expecting Dads and Potential Dads out there!
What does it take to be a good Dad? Well, speaking from my own experience, (but not of my own Father), a good Dad is there for his children – present, available, supportive, kind, playful, and disciplinary when called for.
My Father was very harsh at times, and just detached most of the time. I always say that he was just a product of the times, that all Dads were like that back then, that he didn’t know any better, etc. etc.
But if I stop to think about it, I had a couple of really good Father figures in my life who were very important to me – my maternal Grandfather and my Uncle John, my Mother’s eldest brother, who is still alive and kicking in Wales. He was always so much fun, and played with all us “cousins” for hours. And I have such fond memories of spending time with my Granddad, often just observing his bees in the hive, and of course tasting the honey! He taught me a lot about patience and being kind.
When I was a young girl and dating I think I must have very subconsciously been looking for qualities such as these in a potential husband, and very luckily for myself and my children – I landed a great one, a crackerjack, in fact! Of the pair of us he is definitely the more nurturing one, and if they had had paternity leave 30 years ago, he would have been home with our babies for sure.
When I look at his parents, however, I believe he would have learned these traits from his Mom, not his Dad, as she was basically love – personified.
So make sure you honour all the Dads and Father-figures in your life this coming weekend. It’s a hard job to be a good Dad, and often goes unrecognized and unrewarded. Perhaps a nicely prepared meal – barbequed ribs and Sally’s potato salad???

Allotment Heaven!

For the 2nd year in a row, Burlington Green, working together with the City of Burlington, has offered garden allotments to the public via a lottery process.
29 8’X12′ garden beds plus 2 raised, accessible beds were offered in this years’ lottery, and, luckily, my daughter was able to get one.
This is such a marvelous opportunity for people to be able to grow their own, local produce if they don’t have the space for a garden where they live. In early Spring the beds are all ready to go – soil turned over, beds clean and tidy. There are rain barrels for every couple of plots as well as a hose hooked up to City water. Thanks to donations from community partners there are garden tools, gloves and even hats available for the budding gardeners.
If you have the space to grow a garden you should definitely do so. There’s nothing quite like the freshness and tastiness of something you have just plucked out of the ground. It’s also a lot easier than you think.
All you need are a few packets of seed or some bedding plants. Thanks to the potential energy contained in the seeds, all you really need to do is either broadcast the seeds directly over the soil, if the seeds are small, or push them down into the soil about 1/8″ if the seeds are larger. Mother Nature, the Sun and some diligent watering will take care of the rest.
If using bedding plants, dig a small hole, add a tablespoon or so of compost and bury your plant into the hole, making sure to tamp the soil around the plant firmly, to try to minimize air holes (air is the enemy of roots!).
If you have broadcast lettuce seeds then you will need to thin out the plants every couple of days to make sure they don’t get overcrowded, otherwise they will just perish. This is such a good method for having fresh salad greens every day, at least until the weather gets very hot, when the lettuce plants will hurriedly flower (called bolting), after which you can’t eat the lettuce as it’s too bitter.
Even if you just experiment with a few packets of lettuce and spinach seeds and maybe a tomato plant or two, your health and well-being are bound to improve. You get outside every day, plus you get to eat the fruits of your labour – how good is that?


Burlington Green garden allotments at Central Park. Growing like mad!



this is what happens when you broadcast lettuce seeds: mega salad!



Lamb’s Quarters (Chenopodium album). A weed which is actually quite tasty!


Spring Salad

Ahh! Spring! Such a  lovely time of year. The birds are singing like mad, every tree and blade of grass is an impossible shade of green – it’s so amazing. What’s not so amazing is the lack of quality and general lack of produce at the grocery stores. The Fall produce is coming to an end and we don’t have much local produce available. Add to that late Spring frosts in Florida and California and it’s slim pickins’ at the store. What to do? Well, luckily for me, I have ready access to a Family member’s lettuce garden which really needs thinning at this time of the year. Time to raid the pantry and fridge to make a delicious salad.  To the baby lettuce leaves I added some pear and avocado slices, toasted walnuts, dried tart cherries and creamy delicious brie cheese. A simple dressing with a hint of sweetness from maple syrup brings out the flavours and makes this salad sing like the birds!

Spring Salad


3 – 4 cups lettuce thinnings, or store bought spring mix salad

1/2 bosc pear, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado, sliced

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted 2 minutes in the microwave

2 oz. brie cheese, cut into chunks

2 Tablespoons dried tart cherries


2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

scant 1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon maple syrup (or honey or agave)

freshly ground pepper to taste

wash the baby lettuce leaves very well in at least 3 changes of water


arrange in a presentation dish



toast walnuts in the microwave for 2 minutes



add avocado slices. Yes! I do use my avocado slicer every day!



add the toasted walnuts, sliced pears, brie cheese chunks and dried tart cherries



For the dressing you will need olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper



To 2 tablespoons olive oil add a scant 1/4 teaspoon of salt (which means just less than that)



and 1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard



add 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar



1/2 teaspoon lemon juice



and 1/4 teaspoon maple syrup




mix well with a fork until emulsified



and drizzle evenly over the salad



and enjoy! This salad is so yummy!