Yearly Archives: 2013

  • The Canadian Food Experience Project: An ode to my favourite harvest, the Kieffer pear

    Some people might call me fickle or a fairweather foodie.

    Whatever is being harvested at any given moment is my favourite thing to eat and convinces me that particular season is the most wonderful time of year.
    I gush about asparagus in spring. Strawberries soon after. Cherries to start summer. Peaches, oh yes peaches, to make me swoon for most of hot weather. And wait, there are grapes to make late summer fantastic, even if it’s the segue into fall. And how about blackberries in late August? Or those early arrivals among apples and the first squash that make me pout just a little less when summer bids adieu for another year?

    Then there’s cabbage. And kale, which, lucky for me, comes just about all year in my CSA baskets. Thank you hardy green — and yes, you, too, leafy mustards. You make the most awful depths of winter bearable, if not quite my favourite time of year.

    Really, I think my serial monogamy with every harvest is a sign of gratitude more than me being unfaithful to the fruit or veggie of yester-jour.
    Through it all, though, there is one harvest that remains my sentimental favourite. It wouldn’t be fall on this blog without me showing some love for the Kieffer pear, that much-maligned, misunderstood urban fruit that makes longtime farmers cringe and chuckle all at once.
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  • Peach Tree
  • The Canadian Food Experience Project: Preserving summer’s heat in hot sauce

    Under pressure of a deadline and filled with hunger pangs six years ago, I set out to can something.

    I had been abiding by the restrictive rules of the 100-mile diet for work and I had a column to write to update readers about my latest local food discoveries. I was in need of new material and preserving seemed the logical next step after my dismal failure trying to make yogurt.

    I also had a hankering for pickled beans, though I’d never preserved anything before. I didn’t even own a mason jar and never used one for anything more than a drinking glass.

    Still, I set about to make me some pickled beans, doing what any canning virgin would do in my circumstances. I turned to the great Google gods for help. They didn’t let me down, turning up an easy-to-follow recipe with seemingly simple steps for creating some briny beauties.

    I won’t lie. I was scared of canning anything. The fear of botulism or some other food-borne illness stayed with me as I worked in my tiny apartment kitchen like an annoying editor hovering over me as I toil at my computer.
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  • Peach Tree
  • Boat bench snacks: a recipe for fall fruit leather

    My dad has never eaten at McDonald’s.

    I don’t think his German sensibilities would allow him to do it.

    My mom never bought us Count Chocula or FrankenBerry cereal, on account of her own German sensibilities, no doubt, though once a year, she caved to a chorus of pretty pleases from my sister and me and bought us a box of Froot Loops.

    She did it reluctantly. We loved her all the more for it.

    There was one treat that defied the odds, though, in our home. My mom’s best friend from high school, now living in Florida as the wife of an American soldier, came to visit one early 1980s March Break.

    She brought the best junk food with her — every sugary, marshmallow-filled, fibre-free cereal that we only wished as Cheerios-eating children we could get in Canada. And she brought Fruit Roll-Ups before they made their trek to grocery store shelves north of the border.
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  • Peach Tree
  • Rose hip cordial reflections

    Rose Hip Cordial

    A good friend of mine once joked that she’d never worry about me going hungry should I ever find myself homeless.

    She was spurred on by my boasting of finding more wild purslane spreading over someone’s lawn or crawling out of a sidewalk crack. It’s no secret I love to forage and though I’m still learning a lot about wild edibles, I do love being able to go for a walk anywhere in this city and spotting something to eat that others pass over or write off as pesky weeds.

    Still, while the mean trails and sidewalks of St. Catharines might be no match for my stomach, homelessness is a fate that scares the hell out of me.

    I have the security of a regular pay cheque and a home that I own. I have a husband with a regular pay cheque, too. And family nearby if need be. But this week, I came face to face with dozens of people who aren’t so lucky.

    Long on my list of places to visit, San Francisco was our holiday destination this year. I have dreamed about seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, standing among the redwoods, riding a cable car and eating Rice-A-Roni, where it’s apparently a treat, since I was a child. And last week was finally my chance to do it all.
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