Yearly Archives: 2012

  • Food folks who inspired in 2012

    With the year waning, I can’t help but reflect on the 12 months that were.

    I contemplate all aspects of life as Dec. 31 nears, career especially. My finances are always a close second. I’m one of those geeks who has been fretting about retirement since I was 19.

    As I look ahead to the opportunity that seems to come with the changing of the calendar, I have all these ideas about what I hope to achieve. I find myself pondering what’s worth pursuing, what’s worth taking the risk, what’s better left to brew for a while.

    Fortunately, I always have this website as a diversion. And reflecting on the year that was in food is a welcome distraction from the other heavies.

    In 2011, I had a long list of experiences to whittle down to my absolute favourite and most memorable moments in food. This year, however, was decidedly more low-key for me when it came to dining excursions. A big reason for it was focusing more of my time on the Garden of Eating — Niagara, the residential fruit picking program I run that harvests unwanted fruit and donates it to local social organizations.

    Sometimes I also had the sinking feeling that some food-focused events were getting away from being moments to build community, share knowledge and nourishment, and merely becoming places to be seen. And, well, that’s not my scene.

    At times, it felt more like competitive eating and left me longing to get back to what food really means to me. Nourishment for the soul, body and community.

    So rather than particular moments, this year I’m reflecting on the people who inspired me in 2012 — many have inspired me for much longer — and helped keep me grounded, brought me great joy with their company, generosity and kindness, and fed me well.

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    Category Food Finds


  • Peach Tree
  • Vinegar Vitae: Listen to your mother — Rose hip vinegar Part 2

    Rose hip vinegar with a mother |

    My mom is about to fall off her chair if she’s reading this.

    I believe you should always listen to your mother.

    My mom is now about to be disappointed because I don’t mean her. I mean a vinegar mother.

    Five weeks ago, I threw some foraged rose hips into a mason jar with a bottle of wine and a gelatinous glob, and called it vinegar in the making.

    The gooey substance (aka the glob) was really quite beautiful. It was the mother from an unpasteurized cider vinegar, that stayed suspended in the wine, like a jelly fish frozen in time. Despite its sedentary ways, it was meant to move my concoction along nicely from wine and rose hips to the fermentation finish line where it would become vinegar.

    Three weeks passed. That’s the minimum time my research led me to believe I’d have to wait for the mixture to go from boozy to biting. I started to think my mother would need months to work her magic. The fruity liquid still tasted like wine, albeit really, really bad wine.

    So I ignored her. Stopped peeking every few days into the dark, warm cupboard where I had set my mother to work with the wine and rose hips. And then I cracked the cupboard door while going stir crazy while sick last week. Shocked by what I saw, I pulled it back all the way and stared at my experiment with a furrowed brow.

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    Category In the Wild, Recipes


  • Peach Tree
  • An odoriferous elixir: Sopa de Ajo

    A head of German white garlic. 

    All chances at a social life have been kyboshed for me for the next while.

    It doesn’t help that I’m a vector of illness thanks to a bug roosting quite comfortably in my sinuses and chest. But the real reason I’m doubtful that even my co-workers will want to sit with me at lunch this week is because of where I’ve turned for comfort and, I hope, a cure for what ails me.

    I get lazy when I’m sick and my work in the kitchen usually amounts to little more than cracking an egg into some vegetable broth and sipping. Sounds effortless but when all you want to do is curl up in the fetal position and pull the covers over your head, egg drop soup may as well be Christmas dinner. It still feels like work.

    I was just about to resort to my usual get-well-soon concoction when I got inspired by a bowl sitting on my counter, full of garlic from my garden, CSA baskets and impulse buys from the Niagara Local Food Co-op. With quirky names like music, Susan Delafield, Leningrad and German white, the papery heads are also natural muses in the kitchen. Mostly, it was garlic’s healing, anti-microbial properties that really piqued my interest in that moment.

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    Category Recipes, Uncategorized


  • Peach Tree
  • Making the acquaintance of the quince

    The quince. A knobby fruit that appears to be part apple, part pear but is
    a member of the rose family. 

    No quince will ever win a beauty contest.

    But I bet if this most unusual of fruits could, it would shrug its shoulders. The quince doesn’t care because it’s the honey badger of fruit.

    Though it looks like it’s having an identity crisis — is it a pear or an apple or both? And how is it part of the rose family? — what the quince lacks in visual appeal, it makes up for elsewhere.

    The quince is all about substance, not flash, with its perfume of overripe tropical fruit — a gorgeous smell that demands you inhale deeply in its presence. That alone convinces me the quince should join the pawpaw and Kieffer pear on my list of fruit trees I will one day plant in my dream backyard.

    Mind you, I’d never want to sink my teeth into one without cooking it and adding sugar first but I appreciate how the tart quince’s real magic is worked when its cream-coloured flesh enigmatically transforms into a sweet, pink jelly that pairs as perfectly with toast and butter as it does with a strong cheese.

    While I was certain I was the last person to have ever heard of quince when a local farmer told me three years ago about how she planted lavender between her rows of her quince trees to test the herb’s potential as a natural pesticide, I learned this week that I wasn’t.

    I also learned that the quince needs a new marketing strategy.

    Heck, it just needs a marketing strategy. Fewer people know about this unusual fruit than I thought.

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