VanValley Recipe Box

 Winter Update

Tomato Soup Reminder

Tomato Soup
First about the tomatoes:
1 can of tomatoes: 500ml home canned best, otherwise buy some tomatoes (you want good ones- not paste ie. roma or beefsteak – if you get a larger amount you can put your cooled leftovers in bags in freezer and you will almost have instant soup in future – best is to watch for deals and feel free to get tomatoes on their last leg – this is a great way to get heirlooms and their deliciousness for cheep), roughly chop them and stick them in the oven with just a bit of olive oil drizzled, salt and pepper optional.  Leave them there at 350 until they have deepened in colour and have softened dramatically. How long exactly will depend on the amount you are doing.
If non of this is possible you can of course use a good can of tomatoes(id go for chopped italian plum – you do not want already sauced).
Ingredients (based on using 500ml of tomatoes):
Onion, 1/2 large sweet onion – walla walla or the like (or 1 regular baking onion if you must)
Olive oil / butter, just a bit to soften those onions with.  Either or a bit of both will establish the richness of the soup.
Garlic, 1 clove finally chopped (I do not like a lot of garlic in this and will forgo it on occasion!)
Bay leaf, simple.
Honey, 1tsp – 1 tblsp depending on flavour of tomatoes.  I like to use truffle honey to really make it rich (a worthy spurge, that like truffle oil, a little will go a very long way to making the most modest meal feel decadent).
Salt and pepper to taste (the salt – i also have truffle salt and a really gorgeous garlic scape salt that is nice).
Simple:  dice onions.  Heat your pot (medium heat), add oil/butter, melt and add onions.  Cook onions until soft (I like to caramalize slightly – takes a little longer but worth it). Add garlic just before you think onions are ready (garlic cooks fast and you just want it to really get on with the onions) then add tomatoes (turn heat to a lower heat – simmer), add bay leaf and let simmer for 10 min minimum (more is better).  When you think that it is near your liking, get out that whiz tool and blend.  You still want to simmer longer after it is blended so make sure that there is enough liquid (this will depend on the type of tomato you have used (if you think that it is too paste like at this point – add water, enough to make medium thickness). Simmer for a few more minutes, this is when you reduce to the perfect consistency taste and add honey to “bring it all together”.  Cooking beyond this point is mainly about convenience and timing – again just keep an eye on the liquid so you do not dry it all out.
Now some bread to go with it:
From James Beard’s Classic, Beard on Bread.
There is a great intro should you be able to find the book.
1 package of active dry yeast
1 1/2 to 2 cups of warm water (100 – 115 degrees approximately)
2 tsp of granulated cugar
3 3/4 -4 c of all purpose flour (about 1lb)
1 tbsp of salt
1 1/2 – 2 tbsp of softened butter (for buttering bowl and pan)
I find this makes one loaf.
Proof the yeast: pour yeast onto 1/2 of the warm water, add sugar, stir well and set aside  (in a warm place).  After a few minutes the yeast will swell and small bubble will appear.
While the yeast is proofing measure 3 3/4 c of flour (saving the rest for kneading), add the tbsp of salt and blend well.  Pour approx 3/4 c of warm water into the flour and stir it in with a wooden spoon or your hands.   Add the yeast mixture. Mix until thoroughly blended and flour comes away from bowl in a ball.  If dough is too stiff add a small amount of water and put the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
Kneading (there are great ideas online if you need a little guidance – or in the book there are also drawings).  I am not including all the instruction in the book here as there is a lot.  But knead until the dough no longer feels sticky and it has a smooth, satiny, classic texture.  This should take 4-10 minutes and you may need to add a bit more flour.  Make into a ball.
Rub a bowl with some of the butter and then roll the dough around to prevent a crust forming.  Wrap tightly with saran wrap and place in a warm draft free location for the first rise: 1-2 hours.
When it is doubled in size and ready (when poked it DOES NOT spring back) then punch the loaf down and knead for about 3 minutes form into a round and then let rest for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile butter your breadpan.  Gently form into a loaf and place into pan and let it have its second rise (same as before, warm and draft free): 40-90 minutes.
The loaf should have risen slightly above the pans edges.  Now preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  If you like brush the loaf with water or an egg wash.  With a sharp knife make three cuts to the loaf about 1/2 ” deep (to prevent cracking).  Bake for 35-50 minutes.   Mine generally takes 35-40.  Test doneness by tapping the loaf on the bottom.  If it sounds hollow, it is done!
Let cool for the best slicing!

Week 17 (end of our summer season)

Remembering our Spring start...

Photo: remember this spring……well even the tractors had a tough time!
But at least we got potatoes (fingers crossed for Rondriso parsnips and onions next year!)

Pesto Potatoes

Caroline King (and friends) 

Makes 2 big or 4 medium servings
First, the potatoes.
  • 4 medium diced organic white potatoes
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • handful of cut green beans
  • several handfuls of washed and chopped organic greens, leave them damp after washing (I used a combo of chard and carrot tops)
  •  1 organic chopped bell pepper
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil or olive oil

In a non-stick skillet melt coconut oil over medium low heat.  Add potatoes.  Stir.  Add onions. Stir.  Cover.  Stir occasionally for about 10 minutes. Add chopped green beans and stir.  Once the potatoes are almost soft begin adding your damp greens a small handful at a time.

Stir until the greens begin to wilt and make room for another handful.  Continue until all the greens are incorporated into the potatoes.

Add peppers and garlic.  Stir and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.

Remove from heat.  Let the potato mixture cool and get started on your pesto.  Alternately, you could use a purchased pesto for this recipe.

Next, the pesto.

  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  •  1/4 cup plain organic yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon tasty, quality, extra virgin olive oil
  • zest from 1/4 lemon
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

Pack everything into the food processor and whirl away until finely chopped.

Now, combine:

Empty the contents of your skillet into a large bowl.  Add 4-5 ounces feta cheese, pesto from processor, a cup of cherry or chopped tomatoes, 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar,  and mix.  Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, garnish with a few tomato slices, and dig in!  Or let this salad sit in the fridge and get even more flavorful as the potatoes soak up the pesto.


A Bright tasting chutney of Carrot and Tomato

From Nigel Slater’s Tender Vol. 1

And I agree: “ I tend to sue this chutney as a relish, stirring it into the accompanying risce of a main course.  It is slightly sweet as you might expect but tantalizingly hot and sour too.  Scoop it up with a pomppadom or a doughy freckled paratha (I have been known to use pita bread in times of desperation).  On Monday’s I sometimes put a spoonful on the side of the plate with cold meats”.

I large jar

  •  2 tbls Tamarind pulp (usually available from the health food store or Indian grocers)
  • 4 good sized carrots (scrubbed or peeled and chopped to a desired thickness/shape)
  • 2 tbls of vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • ½ tsp of black mustard seeds (a surprisingly useful spice to have on hand, especially through the winter!)
  • 2 small hot red or green chilies (finely chopped – you can reduce the heat without too much consequence if you are feeding folks less inclined for spice).
  • 6 small—medium tomatoes (cut into quarters)
  • 2 tbls jaggary palm sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbls spirit vinegar
  • 6 green cardamoms

Cover the tamarind pulp with 100 ml of boiling water, smash the brown date-like goo with the water with a fork or spoon and leave it for twenty minutes.  Push the softened paste and its liquid through a small sieve (I use a tea strainer) with the back of a spoon.  Discard the seeds and solids.

Cut the carrots into thin, almost hair like strips.  The simplest way to do this is with and attachment disc of a food processor (the one you use for coleslaw).

Wam the vegetable oil in a saucepan, then add the garlic.  Add the mustard seeds and let them cook for a minute or two, until they pop (and the smell that usually accompanies this is glorious!)  Once the chilies have started to soften, a matter of a minute or two, stir in the carrots and continue to cook for three or four minutes.  Add the tomatoes, palm sugar, tamarind liquid, vinegar, cardamom (lightly crushed – you just want the pods to open and the seeds to be revealed) and a grinding of salt.  Continue cooking gently for about 10 inutes until the carrots are showing signs of tenderness; I think they should be still a little crunchy.  The chutney will keep in the fridge, sealed for a few days (actually more like a few weeks really).

More ideas:

In the A16 book there is a great recipe for Giardiniera (p240)

However I am resisting putting it in here as it is not totally seasonal but what it does do is offer some pairings that are:

Roast those carrots!  And this week a roast with carrot and fennel would be amazing.  These two are great friends especially when they are facilitated by a dressing of chilies.

I am including the dressing from the recipe as I think it is a great one to have on hand.   The original recipe adds ½ tsp of fennel seeds, I find that too much anise flavour…so I suggest this improvisation.  Oddly I am always a little lost when it comes to dressings…I tend to make them all taste the same and fortunately for me my household is more au natural and sauce oriented.

  •  2/3 c plus 2 tbls good olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 3 calabrian chilies
  • Kosher salt

If you do not have calabrian chilies (which I never do) just “sauté” ¼ tsp of red chili flakes in about ½ of the olive oil, then let it cool adding the vinegar and salt after it has cooled.

Use this to add to roasted carrots, fennel and red onion or you can blanch the same combination adding cauliflower should it be on hand.  This makes a wonderful hot side dish as well as GREAT left overs.

A Good Port to end the season...

Gonzalez Byass Nutty Solera Oloroso, Spain ($15.99 at BC Liquor Stores)

All good things come to a close, as it’s said, and it does seem bittersweet to reach the final week of Van Valley’s first seasonal newsletter. A Van Valley member myself, I’ll miss making the Thursday run to Le Marché to get my fill of fresh produce (and the occasional serendipitous recipe idea from fellow Van Valleyites!). So in the spirit of closure let’s sip on a digestif, which is the perfect way to reflect at the end of a meal (or spur on conversation into the night!). Port is a wonderful potable, but don’t overlook the fabulous fortifieds of Jerez. Spain’s Sherries run the gamut from sultry to sweet, from bone dry Finos to unctuous Pedro Ximenez (PX). The Nutty Solera Oloroso lands in between. Sweet but spirited, it’s a nice all around Sherry that offers a rich, tangy texture bolstered by aromas of Fig Newtons and walnuts. Sip it solo, with mixed nuts, or a hunk of sharp cheese.

Week 16

Sorry, no photos this week!

Jesse Veenstra:

My favourite creation this summer? That would have to be a late-summer corn chowder. The sweetness of this soup, balanced by a kick of chipotle was amazing (the sweet element a result of Ron’s phenomenal corn, augmented by a bumper crop of candy-like tomatoes grown on my own balcony). Making this recipe when all the veggies are in season is well worth it, as is the step of making your own corn stock. I also threw in some Rondriso Farm Italian sausage here. You could substitute thickly sliced bacon or leave out entirely for a veggie version.

Summer Corn Chowder

  •  4 cobs fresh corn
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 links (these guys are small) of Rondriso Farm beef sausage, sliced
  • (optional)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used Parson’s)
  • 1 small red pepper (Apple Barn of course)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 4-5 small potatoes (any variety from Rondriso would do), sliced
  • 1-2 tsp chipotle puree*
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chives and crème fraiche (or sour cream or plain yogurt) for garnish

Slice corn kernels, raw, from the cobs of corn and reserve. Place the bare cobs in a large pot with approximately 8 cups of water. Bring to simmer for about 45 minutes. Strain, and set them aside.

While the corn stock is simmering heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add sausage, if using, and allow to brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Add onion and red pepper and continue to cook until onion is translucent. Stir in garlic, tomatoes, chipotle puree, cumin, and oregano. Allow to cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 6-7 cups of stock, potatoes, and reserved corn. Bring to simmer and cover partially, cooking until potatoes are tender.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve garnished with sour cream or crème fraiche and chives, if desired. (You could use fresh basil, cilantro, or a combination here too.  And if you don’t eat dairy a little avocado would add a note of creaminess in place of the sour cream/crème fraiche).

*To make chipotle puree, empty one can of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce into a food processer or mini-chopper and puree until smooth.  Keeps for several weeks in a jar in the fridge (or freeze for longer and break of f frozen chunks as need).


By Caroline Manuel

This recipe is one of my favourite for a few reasons. I love eggplant parmesan and I love the way it is written. My dear friend Daniela, an Italian potter who regaled me with tales about her nona, taught me how to make this dish when I spent a winter living in Tofino. Everytime I make it, it conjures up  memories of cozy stormy nights and sharing food and stories fuelled by bottle upon bottle of red wine, stout and scotch. I once made this dish for an Italian themed dinner party and was complemented by the only Italian couple in attendance!


 melanzane parmeggiana

okay so you remember the first steps right??…first slice the eggplants in 1/4 inch widths, you can leave skin on or not, salt them and brush with olive oil, both sides….lots…don’t be shy. bake at about 350 until they are cooked(remember how cooked they were when you took them out that time)…pretty cooked…’cause although they will cook for a little longer once you layer them up with sauce and cheese you want them to melt in your mouth…nothing’s worst than under cooked eggplant…okay well there are a few worse things. Then, in a casserole dish(just made one today by the way…on the wheel with a lid) place sauce first, then eggplants, then parm cheese, then some mozzarella, and i always like to add capers and fresh basil if they’re available….continue layering like so.  Now about the sauce…use whatever you would use as a tomato sauce on pasta. some canned ones are good, but i don’t know the names of any…i only recognize them by the label, or select them by the ingredients. if it sounds wholesome i’ll give it a try…meaning nopreservatives. or if you have more time you can sautee onions and garlic, add fresh/dried basil and/or oregano, them add pureed tomatoes(easy and cheap to find….i bet you already know that though). Now cook for about a 1/2 hour or more depending on how cooked the eggplants the first time around. And voila…yum yum!!!

Lillet Blanc, France ($16.99 at B.C. Liquor Stores)

I yearn for an apéro renaissance! Of course, there are many modern forces working against the aperitif: 60-hour workweeks, fast food, Facebook. Who has the time to pour a little tipple pre-dinner for a stint of stomach priming contemplation? Actually, the proper question to ask is why have we allowed ourselves to lose time for an aperitif? Half an hour before dinner, pour a couple ounces of Lillet over a few rocks, twist a lemon peel, and kick off the shoes. This sultry sipper made with fortified Bordeaux wine and a secret blend of citrus and herb-infused liqueurs will certainly get the evening off to a lip-smacking start.

Week 15

roasted pumpkins

This is a traditional pumpkin soup with a little chipotle kick! I used coconut milk instead of cream as I was inspired by the use of coconut milk in the Spice-Kissed Pumpkin Pie recipe from

This soup can be made totally vegan with a few little adjustments and tastes equally as delicious.

One of Rondriso Farms pumpkins works beautifully with this recipe. Why not roast a few pumpkins and freeze the flesh for later use during the next big feasting holiday?

Another handy tip I’d love to pass on is to freeze the chipotle in adobo that you don’t use by placing in individually portioned sandwich bags or cling film. I never seem to be able to use up the contents of a whole can of chipotle and hate to through anything  away!

Roasted Pumpkin Soup With Chipotle


  •  1 medium pumpkin, about 4 pounds
  •  1 T. butter/olive oil
  •  2 slices bacon, diced (optional)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 6 c. vegetable or chicken stock
  • ½ c. coconut milk
  • 1/4 c. orange juice
  • Large pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Whole leaves flat-leaf parsley, as a garnish
  • 1 T. chipotle pepper in adobo sauce


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Halve the pumpkin from top to bottom and place it, cut side down, on an oiled baking sheet. Bake until the pumpkin can be easily skewered, about 1 hour. Cool until you can comfortably work with it.

With a spoon, remove the seeds and roast them if you are in the mood. Scrape the pulp and reserve. Discard the skin. Melt butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and the bacon is getting a little crisp. Add the pumpkin, stock and minced chipotle pepper, simmer until the pumpkin falls apart, about half and hour. Let cool.

In batches, puree the soup in a blender or with a hand blender, until very smooth. (Strain through a fine mesh sieve if you want to make a fancy restaurant-style soup). Add coconut milk, orange juice and nutmeg.

Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and parsley.


Winter Veg

Staying Healthy with Winter Veggies

 The time has finally come: the remaining late summer bounty is slowly slipping away as the cold, wet weather sets in for the months ahead. For those who have recently made the commitment to eating local and seasonal produce, this is the time where the training wheels come off and, for some, a fear of bland winter produce can set in.

If you are one of these individuals, fear not! There is a surprising amount of variety in winter produce available in the Lower Mainland and many crops to look forward to. A few of our favourites?

Pumpkins (and other winter squash)

Winter squash varieties pack a whole lot of flavour and nutrition, not to mention they are easy to store (whole or pre-cooked and frozen).

When the brightly coloured veggies of summer are scarce pumpkins, and other varieties of squash, are a great way to help ensure your family gets its required intake of carotene-type antioxidants, as well as vitamins A and C, fibre, and zinc (did you know zinc is required to maintain a healthy immune system? All the more reason to eat pumpkin/squash as cold and flu sets in).  And don’t forget about the pumpkin seeds! These little guys contain minerals and fibre and are great when added to salads.

Fun Pumpkin Facts!

-Pumpkins are a member of the Cucurbita family which includes squash and cucumbers.

-Pumpkins are a member of the Cucurbita family which includes squash and cucumbers.

-Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.

-The 2010 world record for largest pumpkin 1810.5 pounds, smashing the previous year’s record

-The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.

-Pumpkins are 90 percent water

-Pumpkins and squash are nutritious containing potassium and Vitamin A


  • Try adding pre-roasted and mashed pumpkin to stews and pasta sauces. This will add depth of flavour and bump up the nutritional value.
  • For an unusual breakfast treat try stirring a few tablespoons of left over roast pumpkin into your morning oatmeal. For an especially festive spin around Christmas time I also like to add chopped pecans, pomegranate seeds, and a dash of cinnamon and maple syrup to finish it off.
  • When toasting pumpkin seeds be sure to do it at a low heat (225 -250 F) for 45 – 60 minutes to protect their nutrients.
  • Stock up on pumpkins now by ordering through VanValley’s bulk purchasing division.


While VanValley is unfortunately not able to offer parsnips this season, many of you who have had the opportunity to try Rondriso Farms’ parsnips in the past and know that their sweet flavour has converted many previous parsnip skeptics. In addition to fibre, parsnips are a good source of folate, potassium, and calcium….and if you “don’t like them” we encourage you to give them a second chance.

The key to good tasting parsnips is to harvest them after a good frost (which helps to naturally convert starches to sugars, imparting a sweet, opposed to bitter, flavour) and choose those which are small to medium in size (larger ones can get a tough core). If you’re new to working with parsnips, try them in a soup with apples or pears and a little fresh thyme, or chopped and added to a hearty beef or vegetable stew. They are also great sliced in wedges and roasted with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper as an alternative to oven-baked “fries”.

Greens (spinach, kale, chard, cabbage, etc.)

There is no substitute in the diet for getting your greens, and no matter what the time of year we encourage getting lots of colour in your diet (colour includes white too, so don’t forget about cauliflower and parsnips!) Luckily, Vancouver’s moderate climate allows us to grow a variety of greens, including kale and chard, year round. Unfortunately, these aren’t so easy to find sourced locally by grocery stores so look for them at farmer’s markets…or better yet, try growing your own. In particular, chard and kale grow very well in garden plots or containers (I have chard and two types of kale in abundance on my tiny balcony!)

These are just a few of the locally available veggies to look forward to this winter. Be sure to check-out VanValley’s new website (coming end of October) and Facebook throughout the winter season for recipe ideas and tips on cooking comforting and nutritious winter meals.

bintje potato

The Bintje Potato

By Craig Allen Lindquist in “Vegetables of Interest”

The Dutch have more than 150 varieties of potatoes with some presence in their produce markets.  To my knowledge you have to go back to the original stomping ground of the potato in South America to find that many potato varieties (Peru has ~3,000).  Compare that with the United States where 90% of our potatoes come from fewer than twelve varieties.  And need we mention that Americans are producing far more little Americans than we need or who are welcome?

But this missive is about potatoes and specifically an heirloom Dutch variety called “Bintje” (Pronounced “ben-jee”).     “Bintje” or “Miss Bintje” as it was known at its introduction in 1910 was the work of a botanist schoolmaster named Kornelis Friesland.   Master Friesland used potatoes as a hands-on teaching tool in his classroom to illustrate the principles of plant genetics and cross breeding.  He named each resulting hybrid potato after one of his children of which he had nine.  But when he produced the tenth hybrid potato in ~1905 (a cross between Munstersen and Fransen) he found inspiration in his best pupil, Miss Bintje Jansma.  And one might say that the rest of the story is “potato history.”

Today Bintje potatoes are the most widely grown yellow-fleshed potato in the world.  Farmers appreciate Bintje’s productivity and its tolerance to a wide range of soils.   Commercial produce firms like Bintje for its storage ability and its good looks.  Even on close inspection a Bintje is smooth and well rounded.  Plus its skin has a silk-like finish.  But where Bintje truly excels is in the kitchen.  Its starch solid content of ~20% puts it in the middle of the ‘wax vs flour’ spectrum and thus they can play either role.  And most important is that the flavor of a Bintje is exceptional.  Some describe it as having a unique light, nut-like flavor.   I don’t taste that note but I agree that it is an exceptional spud.

Despite Bintje’s world-wide reputation it is largely unknown in America.  Much of that may be due to America’s long-standing “potato color barrier.”  Until a Canadian university invented the Yukon Gold in the 1970s the American public wouldn’t look twice at a spud unless it had snow-white flesh.  But Yukon got a toehold in our market when restaurant chefs were intrigued by its “unusual look.”  Growers liked Yukon because they were huge (Remember that Americans nearly always think “Big food is better food.”)  And Yukon’s ultra-short growing season allow them to be planted nearly all the way North to the permafrost.  But the thorn-in-the-side issue with Yukon Gold is the taste.  Yukon is a pretty average-tasting potato.  And that’s on a good day.

So why hasn’t the exceptional Bintje beaten the pants off of Yukon Gold here in America?   It might be the size/productivity issues.  Or perhaps it is the economic phenomena of market dominance. I don’t know the answer to that mystery but I do know what the outcome would be if anyone does a potato tasting throw down between that yellow thing from Vancouver and the delicate, delightful Miss Bintje.

Red Cherry Tomatoes APPLEBARN

Cherry Tomatoes

Also known as oven-roasted tomatoes, these are dynamic, flavor-packed little morsels. For a easy appetizer, I like to serve a bowl of them alongside a wedge of soft cheese and a plate of crackers. Guests can create their own canapés that are easy, delicious and, best of all, seasonal!

prepping the cherry tomatoes

How to make slow-roasted tomatoes in a nutshell?

Slice cherry tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil, season with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper, and top with a fresh herb. Then leave them in a slow oven for many hours, during which time they partially dry out, but not nearly so much as a sun-dried tomato. Yes, this method is easy to do, and as with most other drying techniques, the tomato flavors are concentrated into a tiny parcel that can be added to many other dishes for a punch of flavor.

Looking for more options on how to serve the slow-roasted tomato?

You can use them in place of their far more potent cousin, the sun-dried tomato, in almost any recipe, and here are a few of my favorites uses.

▪ Mound onto a wedge of crusty bread, top with mozzarella and broil to melted sandwich perfection.

▪ Toss them with crumbled feta and serve over fresh greens for a light lunch.

▪ Add to pizzas toppings; feel free to skip the tomato sauce and drizzle pizza with olive oil instead.

▪  Toss with hot pasta and chopped fresh herbs for a simple, yet elegant meal.

Recipe: Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

1. Cut the tomatoes in half end-to-end, and place cut side up on a pan.

2.Optional: Slice 4-5 cloves of garlic, and sprinkle over the tomatoes.

3. Strip several sprigs of fresh thyme, and sprinkle the leaves over the tomatoes.

4.  Season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper and drizzle extra-virgin olive oil liberally over all of the tomatoes.

5. Place in the oven at 200°F for 6-8 hours; the tomatoes will collapse, but not completely dry out. (since they’ll be in there a while, preheating is not necessary)

Cool and serve with crackers and soft cheese or package to preserve.


Curried Ketchup:

1 pint cherry tomatoes 
1/2 cup red wine vinegar 
1/4 cup sugar 
2 teaspoons curry powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon pepper 
Pinch ground cloves 
Put the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, curry powder, salt, pepper and cloves into a saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, stir to dissolve the sugar and cook until the tomatoes have broken down and the mixture is slightly thick, about 10 minutes. Pour the mix into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Place in a decorative bowl to serve.

Yield: 1 cup

Sauteed Chicken with Yellow Grape Tomatoes 

Makes 2 serving, easily doubled

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  •   2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup yellow grape tomatoes or 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  •  1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Heat olive oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; add to skillet. Sauté chicken until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to 2 plates. Add tomatoes and garlic to skillet; sauté 1 minute. Add balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon basil; sauté 30 seconds. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon basil and serve


Little Bloody Marys

Blanch the cherry tomatoes, peel them ( yes time consuming but must be done) pour vodka over them, a touch of Tabassco, a touch of Worshestershire sauce, cover and let them marinate at least 8 hours in the frig, roll them around every now and then. Serve with sea salt

Cherry Tomato Tart

(For a 14 x 4.5″ rectangular mold, serve 4 small portions)

  •  About 9 oz puff pastry
  •  14 oz cherry tomatoes
  •  3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon mustard à l’ancienne
  • 3.5 oz fresh goat cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves
  •  1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
  •  A few black olives
  •  1 teaspoon fine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts


1.    Roll the dough and place it in the mold. Make holes with a fork and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

2.    Preheat your oven at 420 F and precook your tart for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly.

3.    Slice your tomatoes in halves.

4.    Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and when hot, add the tomatoes and cook on high heat for 2 minutes.

5.    Then add the chopped garlic and sugar, and cook for 2 extra minutes, tossing them. Remove and set aside.

6.    Mix together the egg and the goat cheese. Work to get a homogeneous consistency.

7.    Add the chopped parsley and sage. Season with salt and pepper.

8.    Turn down the oven temperature to 350 F.

9.    Spread the mustard on top of the tart and then spread the egg/cheese mixture over.

10. Arrange the tomatoes on top and cook the tart in the oven for 30 minutes.

11. Remove and let cool before adding the sliced olives and the chopped mint.

12.Dry roast the pine nuts and sprinkle them on top. Eat the tart hot or warm.From :

Pate Brisee (Tart Dough)


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cold, cut into small cubes
  •  2 tablespoons ice-cold water


Cut the butter into small cubes and put in the freezer for 10 minutes.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt and pulse to combine.

Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

With machine running, add ice water through feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky.

Test by squeezing a small amount of dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn out dough onto a parchment paper, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Tomato and Feta Cheese Tart


  • Pate Brisee, chilled in the refrigerator for at least an hour
  • 1/4 cups feta cheese
  • 35-40 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  •  salt and pepper to taste


Preheat your oven at 450 F.

Butter and line a 9-inch tart pan with the dough.

Crumble the feta cheese and lay on the bottom. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Arrange the cherry tomatoes on top.

Decrease your oven temperature to 425 F.

Drizzle 1 tbsp of the olive oil on top and bake for 35-40 minutes until the edges of the tart dough are slightly browned.

Take the tart out of the oven, sprinkle the fresh thyme sprigs and continue baking for 10 more minutes.

Take the tart out of the oven, drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil on top and let stand at room temperature until serving.



Driftwood FatTug

Driftwood Brewing Fat Tug IPA, ($5.00 for a 650mL bottle at BC Liquor Stores)

It’s true, after a day of wining sometimes you just want a cleansing ale! So in honour of October officially being proclaimed B.C. Craft Beer Month, this week’s pick features a locally-brewed potable. Recently voted “Beer of the Year” at the Canadian Brewing Awards, there’s nothing shy about Driftwood’s bold and beautiful Fat Tug Imperial Pale Ale. The Victoria-based brewer explains on its label that this beer is made using only water, malt, yeast, and a “Shwack o’ hops.” The hops are definitely there providing grapefruit aromas and a lip-smacking bitterness, but this is balanced out by a rich, malty body and a crisp finish. It’s a great beer that nicely highlights the quality of B.C. craft brews!

Week 14


Spice-kissed Pumpkin Pie Recipe

(adapted from

I made this little number for Thanksgiving a few years back and was super- impressed with the flavour. I am surprised I haven’t made it since! I love the idea of using coconut milk instead of cream.

Freshly ground spices make all the difference in a recipe like this. If you are pinched for time you can also use canned pumpkin puree (but I really prefer the flavour that comes from roasting my own). If you used canned puree, be sure it is pure, non-spiced pumpkin puree. A piecrust made with whole wheat pastry flour works really nicely with the pumpkin as it lends a nice earthy flavour to this seasonal dessert.

Conveniently, pumpkins are available for order for pick-up on Thursday! Do yourself a favour and try roasting one.


  •     1 pie crust (of your choice)
  •     2 c. hazelnuts (divided), toasted
  •     1/2 c. brown sugar
  •     1 T. pumpkin pie spice blend* (1 tablespoon freshly ground cassia cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger (pre ground)

Use a coffee grinder to separately grind each of the following: cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Smash the cinnamon a bit before grinding it. The spices should be powder-fine, and sifted into a bowl together. Stir in the ground ginger, and use in any recipe calling for a pumpkin pie spice blend.

OR a pinch of cinnamon, allspice, ginger powder and ground cloves (or a combination of whatever you have!)

  •     1 t. salt
  •     1 T. arrowroot (or cornstarch)
  •     1 1/2 c.of roasted pumpkin puree*
  •     1 t. vanilla extract
  •     3 extra large eggs PLUS one for glaze, lightly beaten
  •     1 c. coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks in the middle.


Puree 1 1/2 cups of the toasted hazelnuts in a food processor until they turn into a hazelnut paste, past the ‘crumble’ stage. Set aside. Chop the remaining 1/2 cup of hazelnuts and set aside separately, these will be sprinkled on top after the pie is baked.

To make the pumpkin pie filling, whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice blend, salt, and arrowroot. Stir in the pumpkin puree, and vanilla. Now stir in the eggs and coconut milk until just combined. Set aside.

Before filling the pie crust, crumble the hazelnut paste on top of the pie dough into the pie plate, quickly and gently press it into a thin layer across the bottom creating a layer of hazelnuts that will sit between the dough and the filling. Using the last egg gently brush the decorative edges of the pie dough. Use a fork to prick the pie dough a few times to prevent air bubbles. Fill the pie crust with the filling and bake for about 50 minutes – the centre of the pie should just barely jiggle when you move the pie – the edges should be set.

Let the pie cool a bit, this makes slicing less messy. Serve naked or dressed up with a dollop of bourbon-spiked, sweetened whipped cream or creme fraiche, and a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts.

Makes one 9 or 10-inch pie.

 Roasted Pumpkin Puree

  • 1 3 lb. pumpkin
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Carefully cut the pumpkin into four big wedges – get rid of the stem. Scoop out the seeds and pulp (you can toast the seeds if you like), drizzle then rub the pumpkin wedges with olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt, and then bake on a baking sheet (middle rack) until tender throughout – about an hour. Scoop flesh out of the skins and puree with a hand blender or mash well by hand.

Roasted Plums

Cinnamon Plum Tart*

This recipe comes from Lucy Waverman, chef and food writer for The Globe and Mail as well as LCBO Food & Drink (for those Ontario natives out there). Lucy is of Scottish descent, and this dessert, as she tells us, is a classic Scottish treat.

Comforting and surprisingly easy to throw together, this tart has the perfect balance of fruit and custard, and is slightly reminiscent of crème brulée (but without the hassle of needing to be cooked in a water bath or crossing fingers that it will set).

  •  12 Italian prune plums pitted and sliced in half (or 8 regular plums, in quarters)
  • 1 partially baked 9-inch pie crust (see VanValley Tip below)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp natural cane sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon (or more if you like)
  •  Preheat oven to 350 F

Arrange plums in pie crust, skin side up

Whisk cream, eggs, lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon in a bowl. Pour over plums.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until plums are soft.

Combine remaining 3 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle over tart. Bake for 10-15 minutes longer, or until tart is puffed and crusty. Serve warm or at room temperature.
VanValley Tip:

For partially baked pie crust, use your favourite homemade or store-bought shell. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork a few times, line with parchment paper, and fill with pie weights (to prevent the crust from shrinking too much). Bake at 325 F for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden, but not crisp. If you do not own pie weights, dried lentils or grain, such as barley, make a great substitute (and can be stored and re-used for this purpose in the future).

Also, be sure to use a pie dish for this, and not a tart pan, as the amount of custard filling will overflow a standard 9-inch tart shell.

*Recipe from Lucy’s Kitchen, by Lucy Waverman

 Slow-Roasted Plums

Looking for additional ways to use plums this Thanksgiving weekend? Try roasting them!

When roasted, plums become a gooey, sweet treat with natural spice that complements a variety of sweet and savoury dishes, alike. You will be amazed at the number of ways you find to use them. A few ideas are:

  •  Stirred into plain yogurt or folded into whipped cream to create a plum fool (layer with some granola or crumbled shortbread cookies for instant parfait)
  • Added to morning oatmeal
  • Served warm with baked brie for an impressive appetizer
  • As an accompaniment to pork (or even alternative to cranberry sauce along side turkey

Simply slice in half, remove pit and toss in the oven at 350 F with a bit of spice (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, etc.), sweetener (brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.), and few dabs of butter.

Leave to roast for about 30 minutes, or until they lose their shape and create a deep red sauce from their juices.

Remove from oven and enjoy warm or at room temperature.

potato bread

Tatties or Fadge (a.k.a Potato Bread)

If you should be so lucky as to have any leftovers in your household from a Thanksgiving feast this coming weekend, consider using any extra mashed potatoes to whip up some simple and satisfying potato bread (in truth, this is actually a bit more like a cross between a scone and a hash brown).  Of course, you could always just make some mashed potatoes for the soul intention of creating this treat.

Potato bread is a traditional accompaniment to both Scottish and Irish breakfasts (known as “tatties” by the Scotts and “fadge” by the Irish). Both are very similar in their ingredients and preparation and would be great served alongside a Thanksgiving Day brunch, or even as an accompaniment to turkey (or vegetarian) soup made from leftover meat and/or veggies.

Potato Bread Recipe

Recipe from Foodland Ontario


  • 2 cups (500 mL) warm mashed cooked potatoes (about 3)*
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) butter, melted
  • 3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt, preferably Kosher or sea
  • 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour (approx)

*VanValley Notes:

  •  This bread is best if made with warm potatoes, which will result in a more consistent, and lighter final product. In addition, be sure to mash the potatoes as thoroughly as possible to remove any lumps (feel free to use a food mill/potato ricer, if you’ve got one in your repertoire of kitchen gadgets).
  • If you happen to be using leftover mashed potatoes that have added milk, butter, or both this recipe will still work.


Place potatoes in large bowl and mix in melted butter and salt; mix in enough flour to make pliable dough, lightly kneading in remaining. (The less flour you use, the lighter the bread.) Divide into 4 portions. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and roll into four 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick circles. Cut each into quarters (4 triangles); bake on hot lightly greased griddle or cast-iron skillet until lightly browned on both sides, about 5 minutes, turning once. (For best results, sear in pan on stove-top until lightly brown, flip, and place in 375 F – 400 F oven for 5 minutes to finish baking).

Kiwi Grapes

The Kiwi Grape resembles a grape in its size and skinw texture.  It is a fruit that is easy to handle and quite resilient to splitting and bruising.  The taste is a cross between a plum and a kiwi, although some claim it also resembles grapes and gooseberries, but the flavour is sweeter and more delicious than a fuzzy kiwi.

Season:  August 30 – November 1
Peak Season:  September 15 – October 15

Origin – Kiwi Grapes are a species of the Actinidia family kiwi, commonly known as the “Hardy Kiwi”.  It is native to China and was more than likely referred to as the Chinese Gooseberry many years ago.

Description – The product is varied in size from 3 to 9 grams, the skin is edible and can be light to dark green, some can even have a reddish colour due to pigmentation change from the sun exposure.  The flesh will be soft when ripe and when cut in half will resemble the look of the fuzzy kiwi.

Nutritional Claims:
per 85 g serving

•  High in Vitamin C (136% RDI)

•  Folacin (10% RDI)

•   Iron (3% RDI)

•  Magnesium (6% RDI)

Care and Handling –

•  Firm when harvested and soft when ripe, this process takes place when in cold storage over 1-2 weeks (0-4’C).

•  Once ripe, the fruit will remain good from 1-2 weeks in refrigeration.

•   The fruit is very sensitive to ethylene gas and should not be stored with apples.

•   The fruit will dehydrate if not wrapped while in storage.

2009 Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages


Louis Jadot 2009 “Combes aux Jacques” Beaujolais-Villages, France ($19.99 at BC Liquor Stores)

It’s Thanksgiving time, which means for many turkey is top of mind. To be honest, it’s easy to over-analyze pairing wine with turkey. When it comes to taste and flavours, the turkey itself is quite neutral, a blank canvas surrounded by a plated palette of fixings! It’s the side dishes that really direct the wine match. Candied yams and other rich flavours warrant a wine with crisp acidity to cut through the dishes’ heaviness. Earthy flavours such as Brussels sprouts can handle earthy reds. The sweet-and-tart tang of cranberry sauce can be tamed with off-dry sparkling wine. Generally speaking, keep the wine fruit forward and steer clear of heavy oak to maximize the fixings match. For reds, I’m always drawn to Gamay as a versatile turkey wine, and Beaujolais represents the grape well with its ample fruit and bright acidity. Jadot’s Combes aux Jacques shows fantastic raspberry and cherry aromas and a punchy intensity in the mouth. A lighter red wine with impeccable balance, it’s a great all around option for the Thanksgiving table.

Week  13

apple butter

All I have to say is yee-um!

Apple Butter


  • 10 crisp apples, such as Spartans, Macs or Granny Smiths, cored and cut into quarters
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of apple juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of nutmeg, cloves, allspice and cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Place all ingredients into a large saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until apples break down and become very soft. Continue to reduce until 80% of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is very thick and dark brown.

Puree with an immersion blender, a standard blender or in a food processor.

Raw Apple Bread

From Beard on Bread, by James Beard

“A rather unusual baking powder bread that you will find delightfully textured and interesting in colour and flavour.  It keeps very well and as a matter of fact, will be better if left to mature for at least 24 hrs.  It is a fine bread to give as a gift.

½ Cup of butter

1 cup of granulated sugar

2 Eggs

½ tsp of salt

½ tsp of baking soda

1tsp of baking powder

2 tablespoons of buttermilk

1 cup of coarsely chopped apples (unpeeled if you like).

½ cup of coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

1 tsp of vanilla


Cream the butter, add the sugar slowly and continue to beat until lemon coloured.  Add eggs and beat.  Sift the flour with salt, soda and baking powder.  Add to creamed mixture alternatively with buttermilk (beginning and ending with dry ingredients).  Stir in apples, nuts and vanilla.

Butter a 9 or 10 x 5×3 loaf tin.  Spoon the batter into the tin and bake in a preheated oven.  350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until the loaf pulls away slightly from the sides of the tin or until a straw or cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 5 minutes then loosen from pan and turn out on a rack to cool completely before slicing.


Growing up in Nova Scotia meant that spring and fall were defined by apples: The Apple Blossom Festival in the gorgeous Annapolis Valley in the spring followed by apple picking in the fall. My family would make our annual pilgrimage to stock up on endless varieties come October, loading up suitcases, yes suitcases, with the bounty we plucked. Coming from a family of six kids meant that we could pick enough apples in one afternoon to feast on for an entire winter. After a day of picking we would arrive home to then carefully wrap each apple in newspaper and stack in boxes in the basement just like little squirrels gathering our nuts!

The coming weeks boxes will features three of the four apple varieties, two of which were developed right here in BC!   The Sunrise we have sampled earlier in the summer.

Spartan-An all-purpose medium sized apple that is a cross between the McIntosh and the Newtown apple. It is dark red in colour over a greenish yellow background and has a crisp, white flesh providing a uniquely sweet flavour. Spartan apples cook up quite soft making them excellent for applesauce.

Gala – A crisp, sweet apple with a mild flavour, Galas have yellow-orange skin with red striping. Gala apples are excellent for both eating and baking. Native to New Zealand, grown extensively in the United States since it’s introduction in the 1970s. Great for salads, applesauce and baking, as they hold their shape nicely.

Sunrise-Sunrise is a modern apple variety, developed in the late 20th century at the Summerland Research Station here in BC (home of the Spartan apple), and it is one of the best early-season apple varieties. The parentage of Sunrise is Golden Delicious, McIntosh and another un-named cultivar. Sunrise, as the name suggests, is an early apple variety – unlike Golden Delicious and McIntosh – so perhaps the other cultivar is responsible for the early ripening of Sunrise.

There are actually two different apple varieties called “Sunrise”, since the name was first applied to an English variety from the Victorian era which is now little known.  The variety described here is the modern Canadian-developed variety, and the one most widely available from tree nurseries and farm shops.

Honeycrisp – Developed by the University of Minnesota, the Honeycrisp Apple was created to grow well in cooler northern climates. It is a variety that stores well, so it can be kept refrigerated in proper temperatures for up to 8 months after being picked. As the name indicates, they are crisp and juicy, with a honey-sweet and tart flavour.

Roasted Squash with Pancetta and Chiles

Serves 6

From the A16 cookbook

Sweet squash and hot chiles make a happy match with salty pancetta.  Ask you butcher to cut the pancetta into thick slices, which will render their fat better than thin slices for this recipe.  If you like more heat, add more chile.

1 (3lb) squash (butternut, spaghetti, acorn are all great options)

Kosher salt

3 tbls of extra virgin olive oil

4 oz of pancetta (diced) about 1 cup

2 Calabrian chiles stemmed and chopped


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds.  Peel the squash and slice into ½ inch thick pieces.  You should have about 8 cups.  In a large bowl toss the squash with a few generous pinches of salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Divide the squash between 2 rimmed baking sheets, spreading the pieces evenly over the pans.  Roast the squash, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking, for about 15 minutes or until cooked through and golden.

Meanwhile heat the remaining 1 tbls of olive oil in a small pot over low heat.  Stir in the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes or until crispy.  Stir in the chiles, remove from heat and set aside.

When squash is ready, remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, add the pancetta mixture and toss to mix.  Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt (and pepper) if needed.  Transfer to serving bowl and serve immediately.


Illuminati Riparosso 2009 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy ($16.99 at local BC Liquor Stores)

Fall has officially arrived; farewell short-lived Summer! But it’s not all grey skies ahead, the change in weather always seems to bring a natural transition to more robust food and wine, and these seem to soothe the soul in a way the spritely bottles of fast-action Summer simply can’t. Though the red wine quotient naturally ratchets up this time of year, I like to ease the palate into Autumn by avoiding heavily oaky and tannic reds. Enter Riparosso. Made from 100% Montepulciano grapes from Italy’s Abruzzo region, this lively red does age eight months in Slovenian oak, but the barrels are massive 2500-litre affairs that impart little wood flavour. Highlighted by lush black cherry fruit, earth, and anise, the Riparosso is smooth throughout with a nicely balanced finish. It pairs up wonderfully with one-pot wonders like chili or stew.

heirloom tomato

Week 12

Heirlooms, by Caroline

A pricey little fruit the heirloom tomato is (yes, scientifically speaking, a tomato is definitely a fruit. The tomato is a berry of an herb, belonging to the nightshade family, and is native to South America. Just in case you have always wondered…) The last time I purchased one of these little gems from Drive Organics, back in July, it set me back $4.54. $4.54! I almost put it back, but had already committed to making and photographing the marinated tomato recipe as seen in this very newsletter.

The tomato (worth it’s weight in gold!) was not only very pretty all yellowy-orange, but it was incredibly juicy and tasted, well, like I imagine the Platonic idea of a tomato would.

Heirloom Tomato Quick Facts:

– the tomato variety must grow from seed saved from the fruit

– the seed must be one that has been available for more than 50 years

– it must have its own folklore or history

-the heirloom tomato variety is genetically unique because it has evolved with a natural resistance to diseases and pests.

-it has been adapted for hundreds of years to specific growing conditions in various climates.

– many heirloom tomato seeds have been handed down from former generations and will continue to be a favourite for each generation to follow.

– they have been carefully nurtured and cared for to provide many more years of good quality tomatoes.

– the size of an heirloom tomato can range from that of a cherry tomato to over 2 pounds in weight!

– A few heirloom tomato names: “Mortgage Lifter”, “Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate”, “Plum Lemon ”, “Roman Candle”, “ Lollipop”, “Egg Yolk”, “Big Yellow Zebra”, “Black Icicle”, “Crème Brulee”, and “Ferris Wheel” to name a few!

What folks are up to on our other coast…

and here at home…

 There are 4 different classifications of heirlooms:

  • Family heirlooms, the most common and well known. These are seeds that have been passed down from generation to generation.
  • Commercial heirlooms – the open pollinated varieties that were offered commercially until approximately the 1940’s.
  • Created heirlooms – the result of deliberate crossing of 2 known hybrids or an heirloom and a hybrid.
  • Mystery heirlooms – the result of the natural crossing between 2 heirlooms where only 1 parent is known.

EASY peasy Tomato Soup, by Alanna

Well, this is from us at VanValley, next week Taphouse will present their recipe (which they recently showcased at the Feast of Fields).  You will have to tell us which is your favourite.


  • I can of tomatoes 28 oz. (or 5 medium sized fresh tomatoes roughly chopped).
  • 2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt (Parsons garlic salt here is awesome) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • I medium carrot (diced)
  • 1 tsp of honey (a mild honey – lighter in colour)

Options to add:

  • 1/8 tsp of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/3c of cannellini beans for an extra protein kick (optional) I highly suggest this (especially instead of cream, makes it creamy and protein rich!)
  • 1/3 c heavy cream (optional)
  • 1 tbls of chopped fresh basil and/or parsley
  • Croutons (optional)


  1. Preheat oven – ready to broil.
  2. Place tomatoes (if canned, drain and save juice, if fresh just roughly chop) in a relatively deep baking pan.  Drizzle with ½ of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Broil until tomatoes are caramelized, about 10 minutes.
  3. In a large pot add remaining olive oil, butter and melt over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and carrot and cook until soft (about 7-10 minutes).  Add tomatoes, reserved juice (if using canned tomatoes) and red pepper (if heat is desired) and simmer for 15 minutes on low to medium heat.
  4. Remove from heat and add cream here if using and blend the mixture either with a hand blender or if using a conventional blender, let the mixture cool and then puree.
  5. Return blended mixture to heat and stir in honey and season to taste.
  6. Garnish.  Using optional herbs and/or croutons.



  • Stale Bread  – cubed in chucks.
  • Garlic 3-5 cloves crushed
  • Salt to taste
  • Butter and/or olive oil enough to coat the amount of bread you wish to crouton.
  • Parmesean Cheese (optional)

Directions:  Preheat the oven to 350.

Heat olive oil (and butter if you are mixing).  Take the pan off the heat and add crushed garlic – do not fry (you are just infuse the oil with the garlic). After about 3-5minute remove the garlic and add bread cubes and return to heat, tossing frequently until coated.  Salt the mixture (add some grated cheese here if you choose) and then pop in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until golden, toss at least once during the process, after about 2 – 3 min (do keep an eye on there browning process as some ovens differ in temp).

Cannellini Beans Facts:

  • Cannellini beans are related to kidney beans
  • Cannellini beans are also called “white kidney beans”
  • They have a firm texture and skin
  • Popular in Tuscan and other Italian cuisine
  • Basic ingredient of minestrone
  • High in protein and fiber and low in fat
  • Cannellini beans are most commonly found dried
  • These beans are meant to be with Garlic and good olive oil!

Irish Soda Bread Sliced

A Staple Recipe for Irish Soda Bread Accompanied by a Brief History

With September now upon us we savor the last few treasures of summer’s fresh bounty (like tomatoes!) and begin to get ready for the more hearty, comfort foods. This recipe for traditional Irish Soda Bread is a delicious and healthy accompaniment to a fresh tomato soup, but can also stand up to the many stick-to-your-ribs stews that will carry us through the cool, rainy days of fall and winter.

Whether you simply want to treat yourself and indulge in fresh, warm bread on a weeknight, or are looking for an impressive loaf that can be served to dinner guests, this bread fits the bill. It comes together remarkably quick, and something about being baked free-form, rather than in a loaf pan, makes it especially rustic and satisfying.

Noreen Kinney’s Irish Soda Bread

Taken from, however, original recipe is from A Baker’s Odyssey, by Greg Patent. Be sure to check out Greg and Noreen’s notes following recipe.*

Quality of the flours and grains here makes all the difference – if you are lucky enough to be part of a local grain CSA, or have the opportunity to purchase heritage grain flour from a local source, like the Flour Peddler ([JV1] ), do give it a try in this recipe. You won’t be disappointed.


  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour or graham flour, plus more for shaping
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 cup untoasted wheat germ
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 large egg
  • About 1 3/4 cups buttermilk


Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 425°F. Coat a heavy baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray or line it with a silicone baking pan liner or aluminum foil.

In a large bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the fat particles are very fine. Stir in the baking soda, salt, sugar, wheat bran, oat bran, wheat germ, flaxseed, and sunflower seeds.

Beat the egg lightly with a fork in a 2-cup glass measure. Add enough buttermilk to come to the 2-cup line and stir with the fork to combine well. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the dough gathers into a thick, wet-looking mass.

Sprinkle your work surface with whole-wheat flour and scrape the dough onto it. Dust the dough with a bit more whole-wheat flour. Pat the dough into a circular shape about 7 inches across and 2 inches high and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet. Don’t be concerned about evenness—the loaf should look rustic. Make a cross-shaped indentation on top of the loaf going right to the edges. I use a plastic bench scraper and press it into the dough very gently; don’t actually cut the dough. During baking the indentation expands, giving the top of the loaf an attractive pattern.

Bake the bread for about 40 minutes, until it is well browned and sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf should register 195° to 200°F. Cool the loaf on a wire cooling rack, and serve warm or at room temperature. Cut into quarters and slice each quarter with a sharp serrated knife. Delicious with butter.

The loaf keeps well at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap, for 2 to 3 days. The entire loaf or quarters of it can also be frozen when completely cool. Wrap in plastic wrap, place in heavy-duty re-sealable plastic bags, and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Thaw completely before unwrapping. If desired, refresh the bread in a preheated 300°F oven for 10 minutes.

*Excerpt from A Baker’s Odyssey, by Greg Patent:

“I am indebted to Irish food expert and cookbook author Noreen Kinney, for sharing her family’s Irish soda bread recipe. This bread is meant to be eaten plain with meals, or with cheese or with butter and jam, or used to sop up gravy. According to Noreen:

Strictly speaking, there is no white Irish soda bread with raisins. Traditional Irish soda bread is brown, with a coarse texture and no fruit. It can also contain seeds and flax and bran, depending on the baker’s desires. That is the reason I was shocked to see the white item passed off as Irish soda bread when I arrived in the States. However, in Ireland there is a famous old bread that was very popular with the poorer people in times past, and considered quite a treat for a special occasion or on Sundays. It is still popular today. Depending on which part of the country one is in, it is known as spotted dick or spotted dog. Basically it is derived from Irish soda bread, but it uses white flour in place of the traditional flours and other ingredients that go into the true Irish soda bread. To enrich the recipe, people added raisins when they became available, and they might add a full egg beaten into the milk, plus some white sugar. So it is the old Irish spotted dick that folks here call Irish Soda Bread.

Everyone who makes Irish soda bread adds her or his own personal touches to the bread. To the mixture of whole-wheat flour and white flour, Noreen, on any given day, might add wheat bran, oat bran, wheat germ, oats, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, or poppy seeds. She varies proportions and grains depending on how she wants the bread to turn out. Think of the following proportions as guidelines, and feel free to vary the grain additions according to your tastes, adding from 4 to 5 ounces total by weight for each loaf.

The bread’s crust is coarse and firm, while the inside is rather dense but moist. A cross indented (not cut) on top of the bread allows the bread to be easily separated into quarters. Oddly, the sunflower seeds change color during baking, flecking the bread with an emerald green. The unexpected appearance of flecks of green in the bread the first time I made it surprised me. I could tell the color came from the sunflower seeds, but why did this happen? Food chemist Shirley Corriher, author of the classic Cookwise, had the answer. “Sunflower seeds are chock-full of good-for-you things,” Shirley said, and by that she meant they’re loaded with antioxidants. Among these are flavonoids, which turn yellow when they come into contact with an alkali (baking soda in the recipe). Other antioxidants, anthocyanins, react by turning blue. Put blue and yellow together, and you get green. Nifty.”




Frescobaldi Rèmole 2009 Toscana, Italy ($14.99 at BC Liquor Stores)

The back label helpfully explains that this bottle is pronounced “Reh-moe-leh,” but I simply call it fantastic tomato wine. Made mostly from Sangiovese, the grape that reigns in Italy’s Tuscany region, and blended with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, this bright red offers sweet cherry fruit and a freshness that match marvelously with the sweetness, acidity and high umami of vine-ripened tomatoes. So whip up that passata and pasta while the local crop is at its peak and open a bottle of this quenching red.

Local option: Garry Oaks Salt Spring Island Estate Pinot Noir (about $23.00 at BC VQA Wine Stores)

Week 11

garlic jam

Garlic when roasted is like candy to me. The first time I made the Rebar Appetizer-ages ago- I felt very fancy indeed. I think my guests felt pretty fancy as well. Since that first roasted bulb I make a point of roasting a few bulbs of garlic about once when I have something else in the oven. The sticky mellow, bitter-sweet goodness ends up in dips, bread, on sandwiches and in condiments like the Roast Garlic Jam below.

I save the raw stuff for adding to soups, stews, roast chicken and curries.

Roast Garlic Balsamic Jam Serves 4

  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 3¼ balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ sugar
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 4-5 cloves roasted garlic (see Rebar appetizer for roasting garlic)

In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in ¼ balsamic vinegar. Whisk in sugar.

In a small saucepan, on medium heat, reduce remaining balsamic vinegar by half. Add cornstarch and sugar mixture and cook, whisking continuously, until jam is slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes. To finish, stir in butter and roasted garlic.

Delicious with cheese and crackers as an appetizer or as an accompaniment to your favourite meat or veg dish-fancy!

From Tongue Twisters:Sexy Food From Bin 941 and 942salt

roasted garlic

The Rebar Appetizer-with tomato-ginger chutney, roasted garlic and Cambozola cheese Serves 4

Whole Roasted Garlic

  • 4 bulbs of garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice the top off the garlic bulb (where the root part ISN’T) to expose the garlic flesh. (just a little). Place each bulb on a little square of foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap bulbs in foil and place them in the oven for 45 minutes.

Check one bulb to make sure the garlic flesh squishes out of the skin effortlessly. If this is the case they are ready to serve. Count on one bulb per person!

Tomato-Ginger Chutney

  • 4 Roma tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes (not oil packed)
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • 1 t cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • ½  chile flakes
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in two
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ t salt
  • 4 whole garlic bulbs
  • 6 oz Cambozola cheese
  • crostini/ toasted pita/ some kind of crisp bread

Preheat oven to 325 F. Arrange tomato halves cut side up on a baking tray. Lightly brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for about 45 minutes. Cool. Meanwhile, cover the sundried tomatoes with boiling water and soak for 10 minutes. Strain and reserve tomato water.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add minced garlic, ginger, cumin, chile flakes and cinnamon sticks. Saute 5 minutes; remove from heat, remove cinnamon sticks and set aside to cool.

Place roasted tomatoes, soaked tomatoes, onion mixture and all remaining ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine, trying to maintain some texture. Thin with reserved sundried tomato water if necessary. Season to taste and let sit for 30 minutes before serving. Store in the refigerator for up to one week.


Allow one bulb of garlic per person. If you choose to make everything ahead of time you can reheat the garlic in the microwave for 45 seconds before serving. Serve everything on a platter at room temperature-the means the cheese too!

parsons pickled garlic

Pickled Garlic

  • 4.5 pounds of peeled garlic (or however much you would like to pickle)
  •  3 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pickling or kosher salt
  • Crushed red chili flakes
  • Dill seed
  • Celery seed
  • Pepper corns
  • Dried hot red peppers

Prepare your water bath canner, jars and lids. Bring the vinegar sugar and salt to a boil, dissolve sugar and salt, keep solution hot on a low simmer.

Bring a separate pot of water to a simmer and blanch your peeled garlic for one minute.

Put a sprinkling of the spices in the bottom of each jar. Fill jars with blanched garlic and pour over hot pickling brine leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace by adding more pickling brine if necessary.

Clean rims of jars with a clean damp cloth.

Centre lids on jars and apply screw bands to finger tight.

Place jars in the boiling water bath making sure to cover by 2 inches of water, bring back to the boil and start timing.

Boil jars for 10 minutes, turn off heat. Leave jars in hot water for five minutes, then remove from pot with tongs or jar lifter and set on a tea towel on your counter to cool & seal.

Once cool, check jars for a good seal (lids will be concave with no movement). Any jars which haven’t sealed a can be put in the refrigerator to use, do not store unrefrigerated.

Do not adjust the brine measurements for this recipe as garlic is a low acid food which needs lots of acidity from the vinegar to be safely preserved when using the water bath canning method.


bottle of red!

Telmo Rodriguez Basa 2009 Rueda, Spain ($18.99 at BC Liquor Stores)

Garlic and wine have a healthy relationship. Literally of course, but the figurative benefits are ample as well. For garlic, like salt and pepper, is a key flavour enhancer that adds depth and dimension to dishes, and allows wine’s complexity to step up to the table and shine through. I mean, prawns are fantastic grilled on their own. But pan-seared in some olive oil and a small mountain of fresh garlic (in the classic tapas dish gambas al ajillo) and prawns become transcendent. Particularly when served with a wine like the Basa Rueda, an elegant Spanish white made from Verdejo with a splash of Sauvignon Blanc. The wine’s citrus flavours and crisp acidity cut through the unctuous oil and sharp garlic, while its rich texture and evident fruitiness complement the sweet, succulent prawns.

Local option: Road 13 2010 Honest John’s White ($16.99 at BC Liquor Stores)

Parsons Garlic

Garlic and your health: folklore and modern applications.

We’ve all heard that old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but this may bee a new one: “eat leeks in March and garlic in May, then the rest of the year, your doctor can play” (Welsh saying).

Humans’ affair with garlic is a long one, with its medicinal applications dating back thousands of years, appearing in both Sanskrit and ancient Chinese medicines.

Garlic contains hundreds of compounds intended to protect the plant in the same way that our immune systems protect us from disease. Overtime we have learned and widely accepted that, in turn, these compounds that protect the plant have several applications in protecting our own health, including potential anti-inflammatory, action widespread antimicrobial applications, and even anti-carcinogenic potential.

Here are a few fun facts and folklore, both old and new, about the powers of garlic:

§            Roman soldiers planted fields of garlic and ate it before battle, as they believed it gave them courage to fight their enemies.

§            One of the first individuals to scientifically note garlic’s antimicrobial activity was Louis Pasteur (famous 19th century scientist, one of the founders of microbiology, and whom the process of pasteurization was named after).

§            In Auryvedic Medicine, garlic is viewed as an aphrodisiac and is even thought to improve fertility by increasing sperm count. Gentlemen, just be sure to also pack some breath mints if you’re going to try this tactic.

§            Despite the invention of penicillin as an antibiotic, it was not widely available during WWI and the physicians for the Russian army relied on garlic as an antibacterial agent on the battlefield so much that it became known as “Russian Penicillin”.

§            Many of the active compounds in garlic contain sulfur, explaining its characteristic strong smell and flavour in its raw state. It is only when the plant experiences stress or damage (such as by crushing or chopping) that these compounds are released.

While the compounds in garlic have been extensively studied, it is not fully understood which ones are responsible for health benefits. Some have been shown to be more bioavailable (i.e. the body is able to absorb them) while others may not be absorbed at all. It is likely that a combination of the compounds that is responsible for observed health benefits.

§            Whether you love or hate garlic may not be genetic per se, but could have been significantly impacted by how much your mother consumed when pregnant and breastfeeding.

Recent research indicates that flavour preferences are shaped in the very early stages of childhood, and may even begin in the womb. Strong flavours like garlic will have a presence in amniotic fluid and breast milk, therefore exposing infants to their flavour profiles, which may make them more accepted when introducing baby to solid foods (Beauchamp and Manella, 2011). This research also reaffirms having a healthy diet during pregnancy and nursing in general – not only will this keep mom healthy and help baby to grow, but could mean getting the little one to eat his or her veggies (especially the more bitter cruciferous ones) may not be as difficult as one might think!

§            Anti-inflammatory garlic supplements are taken as a CAM (complimentary and alternative medicine) for relief of joint pain by many who suffer from arthritis*

§            Diallyl sulfide (DAS), one of the active components in garlic, has been shown to inhibit growth and increase apoptosis (programmed cell death) of cervical cancer cells (Wu et al, 2011). Such results may indicate potential for development of anticancer pharmaceuticals using the isolated DAS compound found in garlic.

*Always consult a physician before taking supplements. Similarly, when asked if taking medication, remember to report any herbal or natural health products, as these may have potential interactions with some pharmaceuticals; or other physiological effects, such as thinning of the blood (which can interfere with blood clotting).

Week Nine

Parsons nectarine and habanero chutney


We could not resist to send another recipe from the kitchen of Yvonne at Parsons:  (made just for you lot!)

Grilled nectarine habenero chutney

  • Starting with 5 nectarines, halved and stoned
  • 5 nectarines, halved and stoned
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large red onion, halved and diced into medium chunks
  • 1 habanero chile finely diced (wear gloves and do not touch face, milder Serrano chile may be substituted)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp whole mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden raisins
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened coconut
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • Vegetable oil for brushing

1) For the chutney: Heat the barbecue to high. Brush the nectarines with a little oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill cut side down until lightly golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn the nectarines over and grill until just cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Remove from the grill and coarsely chop. Set aside.

2)Heat 2 tbsps of oil in a medium saucepan on the grates of the grill or stovetop. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the sliced habanero, red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger and mustard seeds and cook for 1 minute. Add the vinegar and sugar and cook until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly. Stir in the nectarines and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a bowl to cool. Stir in  the raisins, coconut and mint. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Excellent with grilled meats, especially lamb & spring rolls.


Bring your toonies…this week a reprise of last weeks surprise will be our pickup special.

A number of people have asked me about the herbaceous bundle.  What were they? Thai Basil, Lemon Basil, Genovese Basil,  Dill (a head & feathery bits).

Funny thing is now, I can not imagine of cooking without herbs.  Even if it is just for the basil on the window sill, the bay plant or my garden of green. But as a kid, I remember the herbal palate of my household was much more war time: salt, pepper, dried garlic (salt usually and snuck in), cinnamon (likely years old), dill seed, dried ginger and clove…times have changed!  But if you have not experimented yet, sometimes these fragrant greens can seem a little mysterious and daunting.  Someone told me once – trust your nose and go with the smells that compliment each other, the other trick is to stay simple.  Fresh herbs are often such delicate and definite flavours, so try not to overload the senses.

A few simple things to do with fresh herbs:

1. Herb butter- add your herbs to softened butter. If you want to get really fancy and Martha Stewart-like, you can spread said herby butter onto to wax paper making a long loaf type shape, roll it up and freeze. Once frozen you can then cut the butter into little pats, just like a restaurant!

2. Herb cream cheese-this works especially well with dill. Add chopped dill and a bit of lemon juice and zest to cream cheese and whir in your food processor or mash together with a fork. Delicious on a bagel or added to pasta for a simple creamy dish.

3. Infuse vinegar or oil–  Vinegar- all you need is a jar, some vinegar (I like white wine vinegar), maybe some garlic, and your herbs.  Gently heat the vinegar and pour it into your jar over the herbs. Store in a cool dark place.

Oil- warm oil (olive oil works best) and herbs. Cool, strain and store in refrigerator and use within three weeks.

4. Marinated feta cheese-store cubes of feta in a jar with your favourite herbs and olive oil (or, your special fancy herbed olive oil!).

Storage tips:

Wrapped in wet paper towel, fresh herbs will last in the refrigerator about a week.

If you can’t figure out what to do with your herbs while they are fresh freeze them!

Have a large pot of boiling, salted water ready. Drop the fresh herbs into the water for five seconds, or only as long as it takes them to develop a more intense green. Quickly remove the herbs from the hot water and douse them in a bowl filled with cold water and ice cubes. This quick chill stops the cooking in time to preserve the best flavour of the herb.

Next, drain the softened greenery and spread on paper or cloth towels to dry as quickly as possible. Gentle blotting with more towels is recommended.

Use a food processor to turn your blanched herbs into a purée, which will happen in mere seconds. Spoon the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze.

Once the herbs are solidly frozen, turn out the cubes into plastic bags, and return to the freezer. When you need the seasoning for cooking, it’s easy to take a cube from the bag and add it to your sauce or stew.

Infusions: Alanna's Cassis

Herbal Infusions

Yet another way to  use those beautiful bundles of fresh herbs as well as your fruit.  Consider making your very own herbal infusions. Weather you’re interested in creating herbal infusions from a culinary or health perspective (or perhaps even both) they will preserve the herbs freshness, are surprisingly easy to whip up, and you may be surprised just how many uses you will find for them.

Infusions of herbs, roots, bark, and just about any other plant parts you can think of, have been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Most basically, these infusions are either in the form of teas or tinctures, which use water and alcohol, respectively, to extract health-promoting constituents. At VanValley, we also love making our own herbal infused oils for cooking.

Herbal Infused Alcohol (tinctures)

Vancouver’s cocktail culture is booming now more than ever with restaurants and bars like the Keefer, Bao Bei, Pourhouse, and Chambar to name a few, making their own infused spirits (such as black pepper infused tequila) and even house-made bitters. Admittedly, we’re using the term “tincture” a bit loosely here, but herbs, and even fruit (think cassis), can be used to flavour your spirit of choice and the will wow your friends at your next cocktail party. Just be sure to use neutral spirits, or ones that will complement the flavors of the ingredients being used for infusion.


Blackberry Vodka

So simple. Pour a bottle of decent vodka, Stoli will do, over a cup of blackberries and store in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Store in a dark place and give the jar a gentle shake about once a week for a month. When the month is up strain the berries (use a cheesecloth in a strainer for a less murky liquid) and pour the blackberry vodka back into your jar. Et voila, blackberry vodka! (If you want to make more of a liquer add about 1 cup of sugar)

You can do this same thing with just about any fruit. Last fall I grated about four quince, packed them into a litre mason jar, poured a 750 ml bottle of vodka over top and squeezed a cinnamon stick down the centre. I let the concoction sit for about 2 months, turning it over once a week. I then strained out the fruit and added 1 ½ cups of sugar to the liquid. The result was a lovely Christmassy quince liquer!

Herbal Infused Oil

Impressive and versatile – not to mention extremely affordable when compared to fancy store-bought gourmet oils – a personal favourite infusion is plain and simple extra virgin olive oil with one or two herbs/spices.

This is all about showcasing the best flavour of the oil in combination with the herb, so high quality, fresh ingredients are a must. If you prefer not to have the olive flavour, choose a neutral oil, such as safflower or canola (see Tip).

To infuse oil:

Roughly chop or bruise (i.e. bend or gently crumple in your hands) fresh herbs of choice to release their natural oils. For leafy herbs (like basil) use a good handful per 1-2 cups of oil. For stronger herbs (like rosemary) use a 2-3 sprigs.  Place in a sealed glass container (bottle with spout, mason jar, or whatever you have on hand) and fill with oil. Seal tightly and leave to infuse in a cool, dark place for at least 12 hours, or up to a few days. Strain herbs, or leave in the oil to continue developing flavour – it’s your choice.

Now you’re ready to use this oil as a base for salad dressing, marinades, dipping bread, drizzled on pizza, to finish meat and fish dishes….the list goes on.

Keep stored in a cool dark cupboard (light and heat will oxidize both the oil, and the herbs) for up to 2 weeks.

Tip: In any case, be sure to use high-quality oil – look for “first cold pressed” or “expeller pressed” on the label. These labels indicate that the oil extraction process was done in such a way that preserves the integrity of the oils.

Herbal Infused Teas

This type of infusion is best made using dried herbs, which maximizes the volume of herb and, therefore, health benefit as well. Try steeping mixtures of dried herbs and/or whole spices with hot water (not quite boiling) in mason jars for 12-24 hours before consuming. Use about 1 part dried herb to 2 parts water. Store in the refrigerator and use within 2-3 days.

Drink these mixtures on their own as refreshing and soothing teas; or use to add a subtle aroma and flavour to fruit-packed smoothies, fresh squeezed juices, or even as the base of a simple syrup which can be added to cocktails, or used to poach summertime fruit.

Summer Libations

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes Brut ($24.95 at VQA wine stores)

Sparkling wine is always fine. But sparkling wine with a splash of blackcurrant liqueur is divine. Better known as a Kir Royal—after Félix Kir, the popular post World War II mayor of Dijon—it’s the sparkling wine cocktail that’s simple to make and impresses with ease. The original recipe calls for one part crème de cassis to five parts Champagne, but there’s no reason why we can’t update a classic, and pouring B.C. bubbly with home-brewed cassis creates a delicious locavore rendition which shall henceforth be referred to as a Kir Mountie!

Week Eight

Corn and Potato Salad

The photo is from the facebook and for more potato fair.  However I did not get a photo with this recipe and used all my corn or I would have sampled.
If you click on the photo you will go to the potato corn recipe.  However I really encourage you all to check outwhole living for some amazing corn photos and ideas as well as the recipe below:

Quinoa Corn Salad with Cilantro, Chives, and Lemon-Lime Dressing
Source: Rebar Modern Food Cookbook
Serves 6

From Caroline Manuel: I have made this salad too many times to count. It is delicious on it’s own or as the perfect accompaniment to tacos or grilled anything. I like to add a can of black beans to bump up the already high protein factor AND apparently when corn and beans are eaten together they make a complete protein.

And another thing… quinoa was one of the ancient staple foods of the Inca civilization and is now being cultivated in the U.S. It has the highest protein content of all the grains and is also a very good source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, B vitamins, and vitamin E. Quinoa is quick and easy to cook.

In short this dish not only taste fresh and tasty, but it is really good for you!

Serves 6

1 cup (240 ml) quinoa
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) water
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) salt
2 1/2 cups (600 ml) corn, fresh or frozen
1 small red onion, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
3 tbsp (45 ml) lemon juice
3 tbsp (45 ml) lime juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped cilantro
3 scallions, minced
2 tbsp (30 ml) finely minced chives
1 tsp (5 ml ) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) Tobasco sauce, or to taste

Step 1:
Place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly with cold, running water. Bring water to boil in a small pot, add the quinoa and salt and bring to a boil again. Cover and reduce heat to low for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep the pot covered for an additional 5 minutes. Strain off any excess liquid and spread the quinoa out to cool on a tray while preparing the remaining ingredients.

Step 2:
Steam or lightly saute corn until just tender and cool to room temperature. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss. Season with additional salt, pepper or hot sauce to taste. Serve with fresh lime wedges.

For some more wonderful corn ideas scroll through these…the photos are tantalizing too.

Rons Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash

Don’t waste the seeds!  That is the first thing I have to say.  Dig them out, put them in a sieve, wash, toss with oil (and a little tobasco if you dare) and then on a cookie sheet, put them in the oven when you roast the squash (rind side up).  With that we start.  Like the Zucchini – this Winter squash is a great substitute for pasta and other carbs…great roasted then with a gentle stir fry or saucy veg or in soups.

½ cup cooked spaghetti squash: 4 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 1 gram fiber and 21 calories

Spaghetti Squash Storage Tip

Like pumpkin and other winter squashes, whole uncooked spaghetti squash is best stored between 50 to 60 degrees, and will last up to six months this way. If you have a room in your home that isn’t well-heated, maybe you can use some space in it as a “root cellar” to store onions, squash, apples, and the like. Spaghetti squash will keep several weeks at room temperature.

Health Benefits of Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese. It is a fair source of niacin, pantothenic acid, and potassium.

Not really soup season – you might still be inspired (I am including some links below).  I also like the simple roast and mashup served – yes, with more BBQ.

Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash

Serves 4 – 6.
Acorn squash is suggested here, but you can experiment with other types of squash if you like. And if aniseed and scallions aren’t your thing, you might try do a version swapping in coconut milk and a bit of curry paste – and perhaps a cilantro drizzle?

Also, (important!) depending on the size of your squash you might have quite a bit of filling leftover – I ended up with double the amount I needed. That being said, I kept Karen’s original milk/egg ratio intact here. I poured my leftovers into a buttered ramekin and baked that alongside the squash for a nice, light corn-flecked pudding. Or alternately, you might use a second squash.

  • 1 small (2 lb.) acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon clarified butter or olive oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg plus
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (or more if you like)
  • 1/4 teaspoon anise seed,
  • chopped
1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • a tiny pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/3 cup grated white cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees with a rack in the middle.

Rub the orange flesh of the squash with the butter/oil. Place cut side up on a baking sheet. You will want it to sit flat (and not tip), if you are having trouble just level out the bottom using a knife. If the squash is tilting on the pan, the filling will run out – bad news. Cover the squash with foil and bake for 40 minutes or until the squash starts to get tender.

In a bowl combine the milk, eggs, corn, anise seed, half of the scallions, nutmeg, and salt. Fill each of the squash bowls 3/4 full (see head notes about using leftovers). Carefully transfer the squash back to the oven without spilling (tricky!). Continue baking uncovered for another 30 – 50 minutes, or until the squash is fully cooked through, and the pudding has set. The amount of time it takes can vary wildly depending on the squash and oven. At the last minute sprinkle with cheese and finish with a flash under the broiler to brown the cheese. Keep and eye on things, you can go from melted cheese to burnt and inedible in a flash. Serve hot sprinkled with the remaining scallions.

Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 45 min

For some preparation ideas and recipes:

Peppers and their foliage

Hungarian Peppers

I absolutely could not decide here…Gazpacho is undeniably a brilliant way to utilize your box this week (and I love the surprise of pineapple in this recipe but replacing with the more traditional tomato is just fine too)…but then there is Peperonata (unbeatable as a condiment! and we know how I like planning for later…) and then why not baked!


I love this and it is a super simple thing to make.  Even better, you can make it in advance and use it over a few days for a light supper or lunch.  It is great to have on hand to max. time in the sun and playing outside.

Adapted From Edible A Celebration of Local Foods, Ryder & Topalian  (p.233)

1 ripe pineapple peeled, cored and cut into chunks (I make this recipe without pineapple as welll – with tomatoes and adding a handful of chervil and parsley chopped.  Substitute with a juicy and sweet tomato – heirloom or compari for example –  I have done this with cherry tomatoes and it is fun-  but fussy and you can use roma but make sure they are very ripe.)


  • ½ c finely chopped yellow bell pepper
  • ¼ c of finely chopped red onion
  • ¼ c of peeled, seeded and finely chopped cucumber (I personally like the seeds…)
  • 2 tsp of rice wine vinegar (plus more to taste if needed)
  • ½ tsp of hot sauce (again plus more to taste if needed)
  • ¼ tsp of kosher salt (good unprocessed salt here is important)
  • 1/8 tsp of white pepper (black is fine too)
  • 1 tsp of light brown sugar (optional)
  • ¼ c of pineapple juice or water (if needed)

Pepper Garnish:

  • ¼ c very finely chopped red bell pepper (or other sweet pepper like Hungarian)
  • ¼ c very finely chopped green bell pepper
  • ¼ cu seeded and very finely chopped cucumber
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded and VERY finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped cilantro (optional)

Make the Gazpacho: In the work bowl of a food processor, add the pine apple, yellow bell pepper, onlon, cucumber, vinegar, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and brown sugar (if using0.  Process until the ingredients are pureed (I like it to be still textured – not too liquefied).  Pour the Gazpacho into a glass or stainless steel container.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs or up to 24 hrs.

Make the pepper garnish:  In a small bowl, stir together the red bell pepper, cucumber, jalapeno and cilantro and set aside.

Prior to serving: stire the gazpacho.  If it seems too thick (and this is a matter of taste) stir in the pineapple juice/water.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed (ie. Salt, pepper, hot sauce)  To serve, ladle the gazpacho into small bowls or cups.  Sprinkle some of the pepper garnish on top of the gazpacho.


From A16 Food and Wine, Appleman and Lindgren (I love this cookbook! Alanna)

Although they are not as sweet as Red or Yellow Bells peppers, Gypsy peppers are great for making this bright versatile condiment.  ( I have had great results with Hungarians!)

Particularly in the late summer when this medium sized, tapered variety has turned from green to red.

This recipe yields plenty of peppers and is recommended to serve with Bruchetta (pg 97) or chicken meatballs (pg 185).

Makes about 6 cups

▪                8 Gypsy peppers (about 2 ½ pounds)
▪                ½ c extra virgin olive oil (plus more for roasting the peppers)
▪                Kosher salt
▪                2 tbls of salt-packed capers (soaked: salt packed capers are the ideal, if using salt packed the soaking is especially important. Soak in several changes of water for at least 30 minutes and drain well.  Dry them well after as in this recipe you are adding them to oil.  If using vinegar pickled, drain and soak as well, however a few minutes is generally fine).

▪                1 tbls of tomato paste
▪                ½ red onion – diced (about 1 cup)
▪                ½ fennel bulb – cored and diced
▪                ½ tsp dried chile flakes
▪                2 tbls red wine vinegar
▪                Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, toss the peppers with a dash of olive and a pinch of salt, coating them evenly and then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast the peppers, turning them once about halfway through cooking, for 20-30 minutes or until the skins have started to blister and pull away from the flesh.  Remove form the oven, place in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap – this creates steam with will loosen the skins – until cooled enough to handle.

Remove the plastic wrap from the bowl and peel the peppers.  The skins should slide right off.  Tear the peppers into roughly equal pieces about ½ inch wide, discarding the stems, seeds and membranes.

In a large pot heat the ½ cup of olive oil over medium heat.  Dab the capers dry with a paper towel and add them to the hot oil.  Fry the capers for about 1 minute or until they bloom and become crispy.  Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes or until the paste turns from bright red to brick red.  Stir in the onion, fennel, chile flakes, and ½ tsp of salt and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes or until the onion and fennel are tender.

Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, dislodging any browned bits from the pan bottom, and stir in the peppers.  Cook for a few minutes, taste for seasoning, and adjust with more salt or vinegar if needed.  At this point the peppers can be served warm or at room temperature.  Or, let cool completely and store in a tightly covered container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Baked Peppers for a summer lunch

From Nigel Slaters Tender vol. 1 p 421  Enough for 4

4 Large Peppers
12-16 Small or Cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Basil leave (a couple of handfuls)

Set the oven at 325-375.  Cut the peppers in half lengthways and discard the seeds and with core.  Put the halved peppers cut side up in a roasting pan.  Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters depending on the size and season with black pepper and salt.  Divide between the peppers.  Pour a little olive oil into each pepper and bake until tomatoes and peppers are lusciously soft, about 45 minutes to an hour.  Blitz the basil leaves and about 7o mls of olive oil (in a blender – or a mortar and pestle works) then pour into the peppers.  The basil dressing will mingle with the warm tomato juices.


Blackberry Limeade, from Jesse Veenstra

Fond childhood memories of ice cream on a hot summer’s day are common for most, but for me it’s blackberry frozen yogurt that is truly nostalgic.

Don’t get me wrong, I love ice cream, but every summer growing up when I would visit my family’s cottage in northern Ontario I couldn’t wait for that first taste of blackberry frozen yogurt, made with local berries (what I maintain to this day to be the world’s best frozen yogurt).

While I still love the yogurt, I’ve since broadened my culinary horizons, and with this week’s berries I can’t wait to try this recipe for Blackberry Limeade from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks. Sophisticated and aromatic, while still tart and refreshing, this is sure to be a hit non-alcoholic beverage (though you could also add some neutral gin or vodka, or even replace the soda water with a nice sparkling wine).

  • 4 cups fresh blackberries, or unsweetened frozen blackberries, thawed, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar, natural cane sugar, or grated palm sugar
1 kaffir lime leaf, crushed, or 1 tablespoon grated lime zest
  • 1 green cardamom pod, lightly crushed
1/2 cup fresh Key lime juice (about 8 -12 limes)
  • Thin lime slices, for garnish
  • sparkling water (original recipe calls for ginger ale)
Ice cubes

Lay a doubled piece of cheesecloth on a nonporous work area. (As the berries will stain a wide array of cutting surfaces and clothes, this may be best done outside or over newspaper and wearing an apron or smock.) Place the blackberries on top of the cheesecloth and gather into a bundle like a hobo sack. Hold the sack of berries over a glass, stainless steel, plastic, or ceramic bowl. Twist the top of the sack to squeeze the juice from the berries into the receptacle. (This will yield about 1 cup very strong, tart, dark juice.) Refrigerate the juice until needed; discard the purple mash.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, 1 cup water, the lime leaf, and cardamom pod. Bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced to a thin syrup. Remove the lime leaf and cardamom. Allow the sugar syrup to cool and then chill it.

In a 1-quart pitcher, combine the blackberry juice, sugar syrup, and lime juice. Stir to combine and then refrigerate until cold.

To serve, stir the ginger ale (or water) into the pitcher, fill glasses with ice, and pour in the blackberry limeade. Garnish with slices of lime.

Serves 8.

Original recipe credit: Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, Martha Halls Foose

Blackberry seeds

Many avoid the blackberry because of its somewhat bigger and more abundant seeds than those found in other berries; however, I find they add a welcomed crunch. Of course, depending on what you’re making, they can always be strained out too. If you do strain the seeds, be forewarned that you’ll be missing out on some added fibre, protein, and even some healthy omega-3 oils as a result.

Other classic recipe ideas for the blackberry

▪                Syrup (for both sweet and savory applications)
▪                Vinaigrettes
▪                Compote (try with game meats or wild salmon)
▪                Smoky blackberry barbeque sauce
▪                Pies or crumbles (with some VanValley peaches perhaps?)
▪                Eaten out of hand, all on their own!


Summer Libations

Averill Creek 2010 Cowichan Black ($18.00 for 375mL, available at private liquor stores)

It’s blackberry season! Which actually has me thinking about blackberry wine. (As well as Gordon Lightfoot, but that’s just background noise.) Though “wine” wine is made only using grapes, “fruit” wine is an altogether enjoyable wine category itself, and with our abundant local crop there’s plenty opportunity to produce fantastic fruit wine. Now you can always have a hand at creating your own blackberry wine (particularly if, like Mr. Lightfoot, you’ve been passed on Blackberry John’s recipe!). But if you don’t have time to pick and ferment, Vancouver Island winery Averill Creek has the answer. Their Cowichan Black is made from island-grown blackberries and it’s chockablock with sumptuous blackberry aromas and flavours. A lush and sweet mid-palate is balanced by a fresh tang on the lingering blackberry finish.  So crank on the hi-fi, break out the dark chocolate or salty cheese, and get pouring that blackberry wine!

Week Seven

Springtime protection of the corn (and it paid off!)

Processing Part 3: Freezing and Drying

Freezing Corn

So easy and money saving! With the incredible bounty of corn in our province there’s almost no reason NOT to freeze your own corn.

Freezing Tips:

  • It is important to use air tight packaging when freezing corn and other vegetables because air and moisture are the main culprits of freezer burn and spoilage
  •  Moisture loss occurs when ice crystals evaporate from the surface of frozen food, resulting in freezer burn.
  •  Although, freezer burn is not harmful, it dries out and toughens food, and adversely affects appearance and the flavour.
  •  Using moisture proof wrapping and appropriate freezer storage containers prevents food spoilage.
  •  When freezing corn, it is packed without adding liquid.
  •  There is no headroom required when food is put into plastic freezer bags.


  •  Cut corn. Try a corn “zipper” or “stripper” if you are into gadgets and want to save a little time!
  • Process as soon as possible after harvesting.
  •  Ideally, the corn goes straight from the garden, is husked immediately, and goes to the kitchen for processing.
  •  Kernels should be full, yellow, and spurt thin milk when pressed with your fingernail.
  •  Remove all bits of husk and silk.
  •  Follow the standard freezing procedures: Blanch for 5 minutes.
  •  Chill thoroughly in ice cold water.
  •  Use a sharp knife to remove the top two-thirds of the kernels. Seal in freezer bags.
  •  After freezing corn, it can be stored frozen for 10-12 months. To serve, cook for 2-4 minutes.

Try with tomatoes as well (they hold up wonderfully – but try to use only firm yet ripe tomatoes).  Applying the same principles – blanch your tomatoes and you can either leave the skins on or remove them.  Putting them into freezers bags (also without liquid).  A great way to make winter sauce and soups.

apricots drying

Food Preservation – Dehydration

 When we think of summertime food preservation, canning is often first to come to mind but, whether you are new to do-it-yourself preserves, or a seasoned veteran you may find dehydrating is a great way to add variety to your diet and ensure none of your summer bounty goes to waste.

Because microorganisms that can cause food spoilage thrive in moisture, properly dehydrating food is a very effective (and arguably more approachable than canning) method to storing fresh produce for those rainy days that will be upon us before we know it.

Reasons we love food dehydration

It takes very little time out of your day

Just place your food in the dehydrator and leave it to work its magic while you go about your day (the food dehydrator is to preserving, as the slow-cooker is to the weeknight family dinner).


Unlike canning, which can require the addition of liquid, removing the water content from any food results in significant reduction in the space it will take up (especially true when it comes to fruits and veggies). This is a great advantage if you have limited space for storing food (bonus for those apartment dwellers among us!) Reduce the space required by your dehydrated foods even more by using a vacuum sealing food-saver to store them. At the same time the vacuum seal will also extend the shelf-life.

Dehydrate almost anything

Dehydrating can be applied to any whole food (with the exception of uncooked eggs and milk). You can even dehydrate entire recipes (soups, stews, pasta, etc.)

Optimal nutrient retention

Because food dehydrators operate at very low temperatures (depending on what you’re drying you can expect to be between 90°F and 145°F) the molecular structures of nutrients and antioxidants are preserved. This is why food dehydrators are extremely popular among raw food enthusiasts.

 Sugar and preservative free

This is especially true for dried fruit and fruit leathers. Most commercially available dried fruits contain sulfites, added sugar, and in some cases oil (such as in some varieties of banana chips).

 Makes delicious low-fat vegetable chips

Dehydrating almost any vegetable can result in delicious and guilt-free snacks. Try thinly sliced potatoes, yams, beets, parsnips, zucchini, or even greens like kale and beet tops. Toss with a little olive oil and sprinkle with herbs and sea salt. No deep frying means low in fat, and the mild temperature ensures the healthy fats in any oil you do use will be preserved.

 Make your own non-irradiated herbs and spices

Most non-organic, commercially dried spices go through a process called irradiation (note, organic spices will not be irradiated). This is a food-safety procedure intended to kill any microorganisms, however many people argue that it also depletes any health benefits available. Drying your own fresh herbs, and even hot peppers, is quick, easy, and you will definitely notice the superior flavor to those which are store bought.

 Great for outdoor enthusiasts

If you’re someone who enjoys the outdoors a food dehydrator can be your best friend when it comes to staying well-fueled on excursions. With a dehydrator you can dry your favourite meals and take them with you hiking, skiing, kayaking, cycling – you name it. Dehydration not only preserves in this case, but makes for extremely light packing when on long treks. When compared to pre-made meals available at outdoor/adventure stores, dehydrating your own allows you to control portion size, ensure your meals are preservative free, and add lots of veggies (store-bought trail meals tend to be very light in this department).

Tips for successful dehydration

  •  Thoroughly wash all produce and dehydrator equipment. Remove any soft or bad spots.
  • Store dehydrated foods in air-tight containers or plastic Ziploc bags in a cool, dark place for maximum preservation (this will prevent spoilage, and nutrient loss).
  • When preparing full meals, package into individual serving sizes and label with rehydration instructions (most dehydration cookbooks will provide instructions for rehydrating).
  • Invest in a good dehydrator with temperature control. Excalibur brand is the Cadillac of dehydrators, while Nesco American Harvest makes high-quality, more affordable versions.
  • Purchase a dehydrator with square trays, which provide more drying surface area than round ones.
  • Avoid drying foods and recipes with high fat content (for instance, if you’re making curry for the trail, use a couple of tablespoons of oil or ghee vs. 1/3 – ½ cup usually called for).

Easy Homemade Fruit Leathers

Fruit leathers are great on the go for adults and kids alike. Whether you’re headed into the back country for a few days, or just need something fast and nutritious to put in the kids’ lunch boxes, these are easy to whip up.

  • 10 cups any fresh fruit, or a combination (see Tip below)
  • ½ cup honey, or natural cane sugar (optional)
  • Dash of cinnamon, cardamom, or ground ginger to taste (optional)

Tip: Since large amounts of fresh fruit can be expensive, and you’re going to puree it anyway, look for grade-2 produce (still good, but maybe not as appealing to eat right out of hand). Just be sure to remove any bad spots. Watch the VanValley weekly updates for these deals!

Place fruit in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth*. Add honey or sugar and any spices (if using) and puree another few seconds.

Pour evenly to a ¼ inch thickness into 4-6 dehydrator trays lined with fruit leather sheets (these will come with your dehydrator, or can be purchases separately. They are also great for drying stews, soups, and sauces).

Turn dehydrator to 135°F and leave to dry for 8-10 hours. Drying time will vary depending on the moisture content of the fruit and the dehydrator. Rolls are done when pliable and slightly sticky, but not wet. Don’t worry if you need to dehydrate longer than the time specified.

*Depending on the moisture content of your fruit you may need to add a little water or fruit juice. Alternatively, if you are using very juicy fruits (like peaches) draining excess moisture will allow for faster drying.

Golden Plums early on the tree

Plum Sauce

Not just for egg rolls! Try this tasty, tart (dare I say tangy) sauce on everything from prawns to duck to grilled chicken. You can make a big batch and can, as suggested in the recipe below, or just make enough to pop in your frigde and dollop on your BBQ-ables for a week or so.


  • 30 or so plums halved and pitted (half or quarter the recipe if you don’t want to can)
  •     1 cup diced onions
  •     1 cup water
  •     1 tsp minced ginger
  •     1 clove garlic, minced
  •     3/4 cup granulated sugar
  •     1/2 cup rice vinegar
  •     1 tsp ground coriander
  •     1/2 tsp salt
  •     1 stick cinnamon
  •     1/8 tsp. chilli flakes pepper
  •     grated orange zest (optional)


In large heavy saucepan, bring plums, onions, water, ginger and garlic to boil over medium heat; cover, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until plums and onions are very tender, about 30 minutes.

Press through food mill or sieve and return to clean pan; stir in sugar, vinegar, coriander, salt, cinnamon, pepper and cloves. Bring to boil, stirring; reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture reaches consistency of applesauce, about 45 minutes. Fill and seal jars; process in boiling water bath for 30 minutes.

Summer Sipping

Cabin wine: Cono Sur 2010 Gewürztraminer, Chile ($10.99 at BC Liquor Stores)

With summer in full swing here’s hoping that August affords at least a brief respite, perhaps even a chance to hit the great outdoors and clear the mind. For those lucky enough to get away, there’s nothing like enjoying a glass of wine cabin-side (or around the campsite). When selecting cabin wines, my general rule is keep it fun, fruity, and reasonably priced. Sure, on occasion it’s all well and good to lug a fancy bottle into the backcountry, but who wants to pontificate a wine’s aromatic nuances while singing Kumbayah around the campfire? Cono Sur’s Gewürz is a superb value bottle, and served well-chilled on the deck as an aperitif this rose petal, orange peel, and lychee-perfumed white makes smiles appear (and cares disappear).

Local Option: Sumac Ridge 2010 Gewürztraminer ($14.99 at BC Liquor Stores)


Featured Produce: Zucchini

Zucchini Sweet Treats

Blond Brownies & Upside-Down Ginger Bread
Alanna here, I am going to indulge in a personal story here…as a kid we had a huge garden that was the pride of my grandfather and at times the bain of my grandmother’s existence.  Zucchini harvesting was one of those trying times…presenting itself as the “rabbit” of vegetables my grandmother had to find creative ways to deal with the incredible production.  She was soon to discover the Zucchini Cookbook by Paula Simmons circa 1974 .  As a child, I found the book itself so completely odd but what is most memorable was that when the book came out of the cupboard – it was a sign  – of the arrival of the much dreaded vegetable and what was to come – meals with zucchini at every turn!  The book itself became kind of a family novelty.  Truth was that there were really only a hand-full of family “approved” recipes.   Eventually my grandfather was “inspired ” to retire his zucchini crop but the book has remained a family treasure.  Years later – I have learned to love the zucchini for its versatility (using mostly as a pasta alternative, in stir fry’s, lasagna and occasional baking projects).  This week, I could not resist including the three recipes from my childhood that were marked “good” (two in my grandma’s hand and one by an 8yr old me – not one to be left out!)  Care to guess which was which?

Blond Brownies


  • Margarine or Butter – 1/3 c
  • Water – 1 tbl – hot
  • Brown Sugar – 1c firmly packed
  • Egg – 1 whole
  • Vanilla – 1 tsp
  • Baking Powder-  1 tsp
  • Baking Soda – 1/8 tsp
  • Salt 1/2 tsp
  • Zucchini – 3/4 c peeled and diced (not shredded) can be firm flesh of a very large one.
  • Nuts (we like walnuts or almonds) – 1/2c chopped
  • Butterscotch Chips – 1/4 c


In a large pan melt margarine/butter with the hot water; add brown sugar and beat well.  Cool. Add egg and vanilla; beat. Mix dry ingredients together and add to sugar mixture.  Stir in zucchini and nuts.  Pour mixture into greased and floured 9 x 9 inch pan; sprinkle with butterscotch chips.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Cool in pan and cut into bars.

Upside-Down Ginger Bread

Ingredients (first layer)

  • Margarine – 1/4 c
  • Brown Sugar – 3/4 c firmly packed
  • Zucchini – 1 1/2 c diced (can be firm flesh of very large one, peeled and centre pulp removed).
  • Unsweetened coconut – 1 c shredded or grated

Gingerbread batter:

  • Vegetable oil – 1/3 c
  • Egg – 1 whole
  • Molasses – 1/2 c
  • Honey – 1/2 c
  • Sour milk or Buttermilk – 1c
  • Flour – 2 1/2 c unsifted
  • Ginger – 2 tsp (dried or 4 tsp candied or 3 tsp fresh grated)
  • Cinnamon 1/2 tsp
  • Baking Soda – 1 3/4 tsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Zucchini – 1/2 c finely diced

Directions (first layer):

Grease sides of 9 x 13 x2 inch pan (or two  8 x8 pans).  Melt margarine in bottom of a pan or divide for 2 pans.   Spread brown sugar over.  Mix zucchini and coconut together , layer over brown sugar and pat down gently with your hands.

Gingerbread batter:  Mix together the oil, egg, molasses and honey; beat.  Add sour milk and beat (if you are using fresh ginger add here).  Add dry ingredients; beat well.  Stir in Zucchini .  Pour batter over initial zucchini and coconut layer and spread carefully.   Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25-35 minutes or until it tests done (tooth pick comes out clean when pricked).  Turn out on platter while hot.  This is a moist cake with a frosting like topping.

Zucchini Marmalade

This one is a keeper: Complete with grandma’s notations (in italics) this recipe is one that I remember to be surprisingly tasty.

  • Orange – 1 seeded
  • Cherries – 1 8 oz can or jar in syrup(maraschino substituted by grandma with home canned bing cherries).
  • Yellow or Green Zucchini – 5lbs seeded and peeled (large ones are easiest to work with)
  • Crushed pineapple and Juice – 1 20 oz can (grandma used grapefruit)
  • Lemons – juice of 2 (use whole lemons)
  • Sugar – 5 lbs
  • (2 pkgs of certo crystals)

Slice Orange and peeling: chop in blender (or grind).  Put in large cooking kettle (or pot).  Chop Cherries in blender (or grind): add to orange mix in pot.  Chop Zucchini in blender – 2 1/2lbs coarsely chopped and 2 1/2 lbs blended quite fine – add to cooking pot.  Add rest of ingredients: mix together and cook until desired thickness is obtained.  Pour into sterilized jars and seal (using water bath or pressure canning methods).

Zucchini Pasta

Fresh Zucchini: With so much attention paid to reducing carbs what better a way than to substitute with Zucchini.  For the shoe-string or linguini like consistency a julienne tool is the easiest route, however a potato peeler or a good knife and incredible patience will stand in simply take a zucchini (the large is almost the better) and cut into strips.  As you get closer to the centre it will become more difficult to get the desired linguini affect and it is ultimately best to chop up the remaining bits and put them in the sauce that is standing by.  I like with a tomato sauce, with or without meat.  To cook the “noodles” I either have a pot of boiling water ready and place the zucchini in a strainer and submerge in the water until warmed (or blanched).  You can also just put the zucchini in a large bowl and pour boiling water over it and cover for 3-5 minutes, drain and serve immediately.

Also Featuring Preserving Part Two:

Processing Tomatoes

by Caroline Manuel:

Lycopersicon lycppersicum or pomme d’amour the beautiful tomatoes of summer seem like such a wonderful luxury come January. There is nothing like opening a bottle of these sweet plump gems in the deep dark winter months. This summer why not jump in and process your very own Van Valley tomatoes? It’s not as daunting a task as it may seem.

While plum tomatoes are the norm for processing (due to elevated levels of sugar, acid and pectin and less cooking time than globe varieties) any tomato will do with adjustments made to cooking time.

Preparation and Handling

  • Wash tomatoes thoroughly under cool running water.
  • Peel if desired. A vegetable peeler can be used, although blanching is the best way to remove skins from large numbers of tomatoes. To blanch, fill a deep stainless steel saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Score tomatoes with an ”X” at the base. Working with small batches, dip the tomatoes into boiling water for 30-60 seconds until the skins loosen or begin to curl. Remove and immediately plunge in cold water. Ice water works best. Slip off skins.

Tomato Canning Essentials

  • Because tomatoes have pH values that fall close to 4.6 ( the dividing line between high acid and low acid foods) precautions must be taken to can them safely.
  • Tomatoes preserved in boiling water canner must have acid-citric acid, lemon juice or 5% vinegar-added to each jar.
  • Citric acid, when added to tomatoes, elevates acidity with little change to colour or taste of the final product.
  • Always use glass or stainless steel utensils and saucepans. Avoid wooden utensils that absorb flavours as it carries flavours and colours to other foods.


This is one of many recipes for preserving your tomatoes! Try making a tomato sauce, paste or crushed tomatoes to have on hand for the winter months.

Whole or Halved Tomatoes—

HOT PACK with water


  • Tomatoes
  • Tomato Juice (optional)
  • Bottled lemon juice or citric acid
  • Salt (optional)
  1. Place required number of clean 500ml, 1L or 1.5 L mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water and heat to a simmer. Set screw bands aside; heat lids in hot water until ready to use.
  2. Wash and blanch tomatoes. Slip skins off; remove cores and any bruised or discoloured portions. Leave whole or halve.
  3. Place tomatoes in a large stainless steel sauce pan. Add enough water to cover; bring to a boil; boil gently for 5 minutes
  4. Pack tomatoes into a jar within ¾ inch (2 cm) of the top rim. Add hot cooking liquid to cover tomatoes within ½ inch (1 cm) of top rim.
  5. Add quantity of lemon juice or citric acid specified to each hot mason jar BEFORE packing tomatoes. If using, add salt to jar prior to filling.
Jar Size Lemon Juice or Citric Acid Salt
500 ml 1 T. (15 ml) or ¼ t. (1ml) ½ t. (2ml)
1 L 2 T. (30 ml) or ½ t. (2 ml) 1 t. (2ml)
1.5 L 3 T. (45 ml) or ¾ t. (4 ml) 1 ¼ t. (7ml)
  • Remove jars without tilting. Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands. After cooling check jar seals. Sealed lids curve downward. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands or replace loosely on jars. Label and store in a cool dark place.

Simple Tomato Sauce

Follow steps 1. & 2. Above but for step 3. Chop your tomatoes roughly and place in an non-reactive oven friendly pan.  Add a small amount of oil and simple seasoning of salt, pepper, and basil.  Roast in the oven (at 350degrees) for about 20-30 minutes or until soft and bubbling.  Follow steps 4. & 5.

Then in the winter (or later next week), take one of these delicious jars and simple pop the contents in a pot and add a little more seasoning to make a wonderful homemade Tomato Soup (I add a touch of honey or truffle oil).  Or add to a pan of carmalized onions, garlic and braised ground beef (optional) for a quick and yummy tomato sauce (great on that Zucchini “pasta”).


Santo Cristo 2009 Garnacha, Spain ($14.99 at BC Liquor Stores)
I’m commonly asked what wine matches well with vegetables, legumes, and other “non-meaty” cuisine. It’s a fair question. Most traditional food and wine pairings are based around meat, and while there’s no doubt that the tannins often found in red wine nicely complement by protein, there are wines for vegetarians too! Indeed the lip-smacking acidity of Chianti (made predominantly from the Sangiovese grape) is tailor made for tomato-based sauces, and when it comes to roasted or grilled veggies, I’m a fan of fruity, unoaked Grenache (A.K.A Garnacha in Spanish). New to our shelves, Santo Cristo’s Garnacha bursts out of the glass with juicy berry fruit and a short, spicy finish—a great contrast to grilled summer vegetable salad topped with fresh herbs and goat cheese.
Local option: Nichol 2008 ‘9 Mile’ Red
Another cracking, vivacious veggie red blended from St. Laurent and Pinot Noir.

Week Five 

Featuring Processing  – Part 1

Pickled Beets

Pickled Beets


A sandwich without a pickle is like a kiss without a hug.  The perfect accompaniment to your favourite summer BBQ dish!

A few pickling pointers:

Vinegar-acts as a preservative and gives pickles their tart taste Unless a recipe indicates otherwise use only vinegar (rice, balsamic, white cider) with 5% acidity. Never decrease the proportion of vinegar in recipe.

Salt- an essential preservative component in pickling. Use ONLY pickling salt although KOSHER salt may also be used for pickles.

Sugar-tempers pickle recipes’ tartness. Granulated white sugar is the most common choice for pickles.

Spices and Herbs-transform ordinary fruits and veggies into tasty pickled specialties. FRESH is BEST!

Equipment-due to pickles’ acidic components, use only nonreactive utensils and cookware. Crocks, stainless steal and food-grade plastic containers work well for pickles that require salting, icing and fermentation.

Pickled Beets

10 c. of prepared beets
21/2 c. white vinegar
1 c. water
1 c. granulated sugar
3 T pickling spice

Scrub beets, leaving root and 2” of stem intact to prevent bleeding. Sort beets by size and place in saucepan; cover with water. Boil similar sized beets until tender. Drain, discard liquid and slip off the skins removing tap root and stems. Leave baby beets whole, slice or quarter larger beets.

Place required number of clean 500 ml mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water and heat to a simmer. Set screw bands aside; heat lids in hot water, NOT boiling. Keep jars and lids hot until ready to use.

Tie pickling spice mixture in a square piece of cheesecloth, creating a bag. Combine with vinegar, water and sugar in a stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil; cover and boil gently 15 minutes. Discard bag.

Pack prepared beets into a hot jar within ¾ “ of top of rim. Add hot pickling liquid to cover beets to within ½” of the top rim. Remove bubbles with a non-metallic utensil. Wipe jar rim removing any stickiness. Centre lid on jar; apply screw band securely and firmly until resistance is met-fingertip tight.

DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN. Place jar on canner; repeat for remaining jars.

Cove canner; bring water to a boil for 30min. Remove jars without tilting. Cool upright and undisturbed 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands. After cooling check jar seals. Sealed lids curve DOWNWARD. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars as desired. Store in a cool, dark place.

YIELD-about 6 x 500 ml jars.

Preserving Beets

If you would like to save some of your Rondriso Farm beets for the colder months, but don’t like the flavour of pickled beets (or prefer not to preserve using added sugar) freezing is a great alternative.

To freeze beets:

Wash beets and trim tops, leaving about one inch intact to prevent bleeding of colour during cooking.

Place in a pot of boiling water and cook until tender (25-45 minutes, depending on size).

Once finished cooking, place beets in a bath of ice water to stop the cooking process.

With your bare hands, or wearing gloves if you don’t like pink-hued fingers, gently peel away the stem and outer skin.

Remove from water, slice or dice and store in a well-sealed container or bag in the freezer.

 FRESH PACK pickles are the quickest and easiest pickles to make. Sometimes called “quick process” pickles, ingredients are preserved in a spicy vinegar solution without prior fermentation. Recipes for fresh pack pickles may require that veggies be slated or iced and left for several hours or overnight but no fermentation takes place prior to canning. After processing and before serving, store all FRESH PACK pickles 4-6 weeks to allow flavours time to mellow and blend

Fresh Pack Cucumber Pickles-

Thoroughly wash cucumbers, scrubbing lightly with a soft veggie brush and removing all sand and dirt. Discard blossom ends.

Jar preparation: place 5 jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water and heat to a simmer. Set screw bands aside; heat SNAP Lids in hot water, NOT boiling. Keep jars and SNAP Lids hot until ready to use.


Dill Slices

4 lb medium pickling cucumbers
4 c. cider vinegar
4 c. water
¾ c. granulated sugar
½ c. pickling salt
3 T fresh mixed pickling spices
5 bay leaves
5 garlic cloves
2 ½ t. mustard seed
5 heads of fresh dill or 5 t. dried dill seed

Cut cukes lengthwise into ¼” slices. Combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a large stainless steel saucepan. Tie pickling spices in cheesecloth creating a spice bag;add spice bag to vinegar mixture and simmer 15 min.

In each hot jar, place 1 bay leaf, 1 garlic clove, ½ t. mustard seed and one head of fresh dill or 1 tsp. dried dill seed. Pack cucumber slices into hot jars within ¾” of top rim. Using a non-metallic utensil, remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim removing any stickiness. Centre lid on jar; apply screw band securely and firmly until resistance is met-fingertip tight.

DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN. Place jar on canner; repeat for remaining jars.

Cover canner; bring water to a boil for 10 min. Remove jars without tilting. Cool upright and undisturbed 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands. After cooling check jar seals. Sealed lids curve DOWNWARD. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars as desired. Store in a cool, dark place.

Yield-about 5 x 500ml jars

 Pickling recipes adapted from Bernardin


Simplicity Potatoes!

I asked Pam at Rondriso for some potato Love and really, you know what she said, I do not really do to much to them they are so good on their own, just toss in olive oil maybe a little garlic…

So this week we are including a sampling of Quentin Parsons Garlic Scapes Salt (which you can also pickup from us during the pickup or at the Marche).  We are simply suggesting a quick boil or steam and then a toss with oil or a pat of butter and a little of this glorious salt.   A childhood favorite was always the addition of some mint (both in the cooking water and a little fresh chopped, added to a potato salad).

Make lots, they are wonderful cold and converted into a salad or used for a breakfast fry up.  We will save the cream and cheese infused concoctions until a cold winters night calls for the heavy richness of our imaginations.   For now, think light, simple, fresh and be inspired by the apple-like crunch as you prepare these delicious gems.


Quails’ Gate 2010 Rosé ($14.99 at BC Liquor Stores)

I love the smell of charcoal in the air, and as grills get fired up thoughts naturally

quails gate rose

quails gate rose

turn to BBQ wines. This tends to mean a focus on bold, fruit-forward reds, an understandable strategy given the protein quotient of many a grilled meal. There’s nothing wrong with a juicy Merlot or Malbec to tame the char from cranked BTUs, but for my money—especially as temperatures heat up—the best grilling companion is a bottle of BBQ rosé. Rosé brings the best of both white and red wine worlds. Served well-chilled it’s plenty fresh enough to quench on summer evenings, yet rosé is typically nice and rich as it’s made from the same grapes that go into robust rouge. Quails’ Gate Rosé is a 90/10 blend of estate grown Gamay and Pinot Noir that tempts the eyes with its fetching shade of bright salmon, and tempts the tastebuds with zippy raspberry fruit and floral aromas. Bring on burgers, kebabs, or even grilled salmon.

Week Four  Featured Box Item  – Cherries

Parsons Cherry Tree

Parsons Cherry Tree

Cherry Facts

There are two main types of cherries: sweet and sour. In your boxes over the past few weeks we have been featuring sweet cherries, which tend to be firm, heart-shaped, and delicious eaten right out of hand. Sour cherries are smaller and softer to the touch, and are most often processed into jams, jellies, juices, and pies.

Here in BC both types are grown in abundance. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, BC’s cherries account for 60% of Canada’s cherry crops, with a total of 5.5 million pounds of sweet and 1.5 million pounds of sour cherries produced in the province annually.

If you ask us, this makes BC one lucky province. Not only are cherries darn tasty in a variety of preparations, they’re also an excellent superfood that we don’t need to trek to the Amazon to get. Cherries deep red colour is courtesy of the same group of health-promoting phytochemicals that have made blueberries popular, the anthocyanins.

Cherries are also rich in another class of phytochemical, the carotenes, which include lutein and zeaxanthin. These are beneficial in helping to keep our eyesight sharp and, in particular lutein and zeaxanthin are praised for their role in helping to prevent age-related macular degeneration.

This week’s cherries crop are those ever-delicious Bing cherries – which will be showcased as our pickup special this week.  To help stir the cherry juices we have included some favorites from Parsons farm – Yvonne was kind enough to send some ideas and photos to inspire.

Cherry Preserve

Cherry Preserve

Balsamic Cherry Preserves Yields about  10 ounces, excellent on your favourite bread or with duck and pork.

Preheat oven to 225 F and place clean jars in oven (three 125ml jars are ideal) for 10 minutes to sterilize. Place jar lids in hot water to soften the sealing compound. Have a pot of simmering water ready to bring up to the boil that will accommodate your jars to cover with an inch or so of water.


  • 1 quart cherries pitted and stems removed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pinch salt


1.             Place a splash of water in a medium nonreactive saucepan and add the cherries. Slowly bring them to a boil, stirring and crushing the cherries with the back of a wooden spoon, breaking them up and releasing the juices.

2.             Once boiling, add the sugar, balsamic vinegar and salt. Adjust the heat to medium high and cook at a lively simmer stirring and crushing the cherries for 15-20 minutes.

3.             Remove from the heat and let your pot rest for five minutes. Stir one final time and ladle into hot sterilized jars leaving 1/4″ headspace, wipe rims with a clean damp cloth, place on lids and screw bands on finger tight

4.             Process in boiling water for 5 minutes, or refrigerate for immediate consumption (will keep for several weeks refrigerator if you choose to skip the hot water bath processing)

 The second recipe is for the classic french desert Cherry Clafouti. It’s a nice, easy accessible dessert that anyone can make and a lovely way to use fresh cherries. I have provided Julia Child’s recipe below, since in my experience it’s the best version and whips up in a blender; so easy.

Please note that removing the pits from the cherries is optional for this recipe and can be left in as the French do, as it does add a lovely almondy note to the dish, but you do have to spit them out as you go!

Should you be interested in larger batches of preserves Yvonne likes this link for wonderful cherry jam (great photos):



Julia Child’s Clafouti Serves 6-8

  •  1 -1/4 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 cups cherries, pitted (optional to pit cherries, left in they add lovely almond note to dish)
  • powdered sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 cup baking dish.

  1. Using a blender, combine the milk, 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour, and blend.
  2. Pour a 1/4-inch layer of the blended mixture over the bottom of the buttered dish. Set remaining batter aside.
  3. Place dish into the oven for about 7-10 minutes, until a film of batter sets in the pan but the mixture is not baked through. Remove from oven (but don’t turn the oven off, yet).
  4. Distribute the pitted cherries over the set batter in the pan, then sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Pour the remaining batter over the cherries and sugar.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until the clafouti is puffed and brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.




 Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education” Mark Twain

Well, if Mr. Twain is right, I suppose it’s only fitting that after last week’s cabbage feature we move onto cauliflower, and it just so happens that it’s ripe for the pickin’ this week.

This veggie unfortunately has many skeptics, but at VanValley we can think of a number of reasons to love it.  Well known in its most common colour, white (cheddar orange, lime green, and violet varieties also available), many might think that cauliflower doesn’t carry much nutritional value, but don’t let its pale colour fool you – it packs some serious nutritional punch. As a cruciferous vegetable cauliflower contains the same disease fighting compounds found in cabbage, broccoli, mustard greens, and kale; not to mention it is a great source of vitamin C, folate, and fibre.

For a spin off the traditional cheese sauce, try this simple, but delicious, recipe in which cauliflower is the star, dressed with a light vinaigrette. This is excellent on its own, along side a variety of other summer salads, or as an accompaniment to grilled salmon or lake trout.

Steamed Cauliflower with Thyme Vinaigrette

  • 1-2 heads cauliflower, depending on size
  • 3 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp grainy dijon
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste*

Steam cauliflower until tender, but still crisp (about 5-10 minutes)

Whisk remaining ingredients together and pour over cauliflower. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Tip: when making any vinaigrette season with salt prior to adding the oil. The oil makes it more difficult to dissolve, meaning the salt won’t distribute as well in the finished product.

Other cauliflower recipe ideas? Another way we like to enjoy cauliflower is tossed with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in the oven. The natural sugars caramelize beautifully. And if you’re feeling adventurous, throw in a bit of turmeric and sprinkling of cumin seeds for a delicious and fragrant snack. What’s you’re favourite way to enjoy cauliflower?

The Wine

 Neck of the Woods 2009 Paradiso ($15.99 at select VQA wine stores and private liquor stores)

Seems fitting to celebrate the BC Day Long Weekend with a homegrown bottle,



and while the Okanagan Valley may be the most celebrated of BC wine regions, it’s certainly not the only local area sporting vineyards. Sourcing a wine grown closer to our box of crops, we toast our paradise province with Neck of the Wood’s 2009 Paradiso. The Langley winery uses Fraser Valley Zweigelt—a hearty grape with Austrian origins—to create this light, fresh red that bursts with cherry and strawberry fruit and finishes with a refreshing tartness. Bottom line: it’s a great BBQ wine!

Week Three Featured Box Item – Cabbage

This week our featured produce item is cabbage from Rondriso Farm. Cabbage, whether red or green, is a hardy, versatile veggie and can be found lending it’s distinct flavour to salads and slaws and soups and stews. It’s also perfect for pickling. A few seasonings that partner well with cabbage are juniper berries, dill, oregano, caraway and celery seeds, mustard, nutmeg and tarragon.

Use stainless steel knives and cookware when preparing red cabbage to prevent color changes. To store, wrap in plastic; refrigerate in crisper drawer and it will keep up to 2 or 3 weeks, buying you a bit of time to figure out what amazing recipe you are going to try!

 Cabbage facts

-Cabbage is a rich source of vitamin C, fiber, iron, calcium and potassium.

– Cabbage is a member of the Brassica family, which includes kale, broccoli, collards, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kohlrabi.

Cabbage-Carrot Slaw with Blue Cheese and Walnuts*  Makes 4-6 Servings

This recipe is a great for summer barbeques, and it uses several vegetables featured in the VanValley boxes over the last few weeks – green and red cabbages, carrots, and peppers.


  • 2 oz.  blue cheese,
  • ½ cup mayonnaise,
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar,
  • 1 tsp


  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup coarsely grated carrot
  • ¼ cup finely sliced red pepper (or whatever colour you get in your box!)
  • ¼ cup finely sliced red onion
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh walnuts
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped walnuts for garnish
  • Blue cheese for garnish

 To make dressing: Place blue cheese, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and sugar in a blender or food processor and purée.

 Salad: Place green cabbage, red cabbage, carrot, red pepper, red onion and walnuts in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat vegetables evenly. Season lightly with salt. Cover and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. To serve, mount onto salad places, then garnish with chopped walnuts and chunks of blue cheese.

*Recipe from Simply Bishops, Easy Seasonal Recipes by Vancouver chef, John Bishop

Cabbage Soup Enough for 4

Sadly, the weather outside is perfect for a nice hearty soup…

  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (or some of those scapes should you have any left)
  • olive oil
  • 4-6 potatoes (the lovely early potatoes from your box will do nicely!)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200 grams of chorizo or another tasty meat
  • 3 or 4 handfuls cabbage and beet greens
  • 1 litre of stock

Peel the onion and garlic and slice them thinly. Warm some olive oil in a large, deep saucepan, add onion and garlic to soften over low heat.

Scrub potatoes and cut into medium sized pieces. Combine with the onion and leave to cook for 5 minutes before adding stock. Season with salt, black pepper and bay leaves. Leave to simmer for 25 minutes, until the potatoes are ready to collapse.

With a fork or potato masher, crush the potatoes so that they thicken the soup but remain quite lumpy here and there. Cut the chorizo into thick chunks and fry in a non-stick pan till the fat runs.

Shred the cabbage finely, then stir it into the soup and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes until tender. Stir in fried chorizo.

*Recipe adapted from Tender Volume 1, A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater.

Suggested Wine Week 3

Drink Recommendation:

Intrigue Wines 2010 Focus Riesling ($20 at select private wine stores)

What wine pairs with cabbage? Admittedly, not a common concern. But let’s give it some thought. It’s not really about the cabbage, it’s more a question of how the cabbage is prepared. Braised with lardons? Well anything goes with bacon! Pickled as in sauerkraut?

Honestly it’s safer to stick with beer (vinegar is sour wine after all). This week’s mouth-watering slaw recipe features blue cheese and walnuts, two foods that work remarkably well with Riesling—the wine providing a fantastic fruity, off-dry contrast to the bold, salty cheese and rich nuts. B.C. grows great Riesling, and a recent bottle that impressed was the 2010 Focus Riesling from upstart Lake Country winery Intrigue Wines. Great citrus, green apple, and wet stone aromas abound in this well balanced, intensely-flavoured white that finishes with a tangy apple Jolly Rancher bite. A little harder to find, but worth the hunt (there’s an enjoyable “regular” label Riesling for a few dollars less as well).

Parsons Cherry Tree

White Chocolate Cherry Scones

  • 1 cup (250mL) cold butter, cubed
  • 2 cups (500mL) flour
  • 4 tsp (20mL) baking powder
  • ½ tsp (2mL) salt
  • ¾ cup (175mL) white chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup (250mL) halved, pitted cherries
  • ½ cup (125mL) milk (plus a bit more if needed)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sift dry ingredients and add to the butter. Mix with your hands or a pastry cutter until the mixture is mealy or grainy. Stir in the chocolate and cherries until they are evenly distributed. Add the milk and stir just until the dough comes together. Depending on the temperature and humidity, you may need a bit more, so add milk gradually. Once the dough comes together, roll out to a 1-inch thick round and cut into triangles. Bake until golden on top.

From Edible Vancouver.

Week Two Featured Box Item – Gooseberries

Green-Pink Gooseberries

VanValley Recipe – Week 2 (July 14, 2010)

This week we feature gooseberries from The Applebarn, where Loren grows three European varieties, Invicta, Xenia, and Tixia. Ranging in colour from a pale green with a slight pink hue, to a deep plum red, gooseberries are translucent and similar in appearance to a grape or giant currant.

Gooseberries are very tart, making them unpalatable to most in their uncooked state, however, when cooked they impart a lovely sweet tang to a variety of dishes (if you’re a fan of rhubarb, you’re almost sure to love them). On the savory side the acidity of gooseberries is particularly complimentary to meats and fish with a high fat content (they are traditionally paired with mackerel). In the sweet corner, they can be incorporated alone – or in combination with other seasonal fruits – into your favourite fruit pie or crumble recipes…just remember, if you like things on the sweeter side you may need to adjust the sugar content of the recipe.

Did you know?

  • Native to Northern Africa, Europe, and parts of Asia gooseberries grow well in cool regions, and are especially popular in the UK where they are commonly used to make jams*, curds, crumbles, and fools.
  • Gooseberries attract and provide nectar for bees and other beneficial insects.

Cape Gooseberries, which are of a completely different genus than the fruit we are offering, are native to South America and are in the same family as tamatillos. You may have seen these creamy-yellow coloured berries and their husks used as a garnish to restaurant desserts.

*Gooseberries lend themselves particularly well to canning, so if you like this week’s taster and are interested in a bulk order please contact Alanna at

Basic Gooseberry Compote

Makes about 1 ½ cups

This recipe is quick, easy, and extremely adaptable. Try it alongside Polderside duck or your favourite Farmhouse Cheese, both available at this week’s featured pick-up location, Le Marché St. George.


2 cups gooseberries

2 tbsp sugar (or more to taste)

Few splashes of water (or juice or wine) as needed

Salt and pepper to taste (optional, if using for savory accompaniment)


Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the gooseberries lose their shape and release their juices. Stir occasionally, adding more liquid as necessary to form a sauce consistency to your liking (this should take about 30 minutes).  You could also do this in a small roasting pan in the oven for extra caramelization of the sugars.

As is, this compote will serve as a great addition to both sweet and savory dishes, but don’t be afraid to add your own spin. Try using a mixture of seasonal fruits, or substitute the water with port wine to accompany stronger meats and cheeses or a crisp white wine (like this week’s featured Sauvignon Blanc pairings) with mild fish or poultry.

Alternatively, if you prefer more of a chutney-style sauce, you could make this with some sautéed onion and ginger. The possibilities are almost endless – so give it a try and feel free share your favourite variation or accompaniment with us! (Suggestions and/or photos can be sent to or posted directly on our facebook page).

Ned Marlborough SB

Featured Wines

2010 Ned Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand ($14.99 at local BC Liquor Stores)

Not only is New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Primo patio-sipping wine, this week it lends itself to a firsthand taste association test thanks to our current box of crops. I’m specifically referring to the gooseberries (though if you have any bell peppers you’ll catch a whiff of those in the wine too), a fruit commonly used to describe the aromas and/or flavours of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. They’re there in the pungent Ned, which sucker punches the palate with a tart, fruity tanginess and is most enjoyable served ice cold right out of the fridge.

Local option: Mission Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, BC ($18.99 at local BC Liquor Stores) An Okanagan SB made by a transplanted Kiwi

Heirloom Tomatoes

Marinated Tomatoes

Marinated Tomatoes

Marinated Tomatoes

Simple and Fresh!

3 T. vinegar (use your favourite here)
1 T. maple syrup, honey, or other sweetener
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t mustard seeds
1/2 t ground turmeric
1 1/2 lb heirloom tomatoes
2-3 green onions or chives, chopped
handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Stir vinegar and sweetener of choice together until combined.

Warm the olive oil adding garlic, mustard seeds and turmeric. Chop tomatoes into wedges or half depending on size. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss together with spiced olive oil mixture. Pour everything into a jar and add chopped basil and green onions. Let stand until flavours are married. These tasty tomatoes can be added to greens or eaten all on their own. It’s best to eat them within a day or two!

Featured Box Item Week 1

Garlic Scapes

garlic scapes

Garlic Scapes

What the heck are they and what to do with them?

Scapes are the wild, curly shoots that grow from the tops of garlic plants. Cutting the scapes strengthens the garlic bulbs growing underground, and is done as soon as the little teardrop near the top of the shoot develops.

Garlic scapes have a distinctive mild fragrance and mellow flavour, adding a brightness to any dish lucky to have them.

GARLIC SCAPE PESTO  Makes about 1 cup

This pesto is delicious on its own as a dipping sauce for bread, tossed with pasta, added to mashed cannellini beans to make a tasty dip, dolloped on grilled scallops, or even added to potatoes for a quick and easy potato salad. Use your imagination!

10 or so garlic scapes, finely chopped

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

1/3  cup walnuts or almonds (option: toast lightly)

About 1/2 cup olive oil

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Put the scapes, cheese, nuts and half the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle. Pulse to chop and blend all ingredients. If you like it chunky, stop; if you’d like a finer more liquid pesto add a little more oil and continue to process. Alternatively, if making pasta you may also add a little of the pasta water to thin it out.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

TIP: If you’re not going to use the pesto immdediately, press a piece of plastic against the surface to keep it from oxidizing. The pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days or poured into an ice cube tray and frozen into individual cubes and stored for up to 3 months.


(suggestions from James Nevison, noted wine writer and VanValley member –

Codorníu Clasico Brut Cava, Spain ($14.99 at local BC Liquor Stores)


To celebrate the launch of VanValley’s Box Program, this week we uncork a bottle of bubbly. Sparkling wine not only helps set a celebratory mood, it’s great with food. Spain’s national bubbly offers versatile value, and Codorníu’s Clasico is a great introduction to classic Cava. Made from the three mainstay Cava grapes—Xarel.lo, Macabeo, and Parellada—using the traditional, bottle-ferment method, it’s fresh, fruity, toasty, and finishes with a crisp, citrusy twang, not to mention the perfect foil for this week’s cheesy, nutty garlic scape pesto!


1 medium sized head of broccoli

3 T olive oil

1 lb sausage meat

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

A pinch (or more if ya like it spicy!)  dried crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 lb of penne pasta

Cook the broccoli in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender (about 1 or 2 minute) Transfer broccoli to large bowl of ice water to cool but SAVE the cooking water. Bring the reserved cooking water back to a boil (add extra if you need to, you’re cooking the pasta in this). Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add sausage breaking into pieces until browned and juices form (about 12 minutes). Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the broccoli water. Strain the broccoli and add it to the sausage mixture and toss to coat. Add the pasta and stir in the Parmesan and serve immediately


Alma and the mini cuke

Alma and the mini cuke

I can’t seem to get enough of these crunchy little guys!

These are summertime candy eaten all on their own, as far as I’m concerned.

The best application I have yet to discover for mini cukes this season is to freeze or chill, cut in half and give to my teething baby girl to soothe her little gums.


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