Monthly Archives May 2014

Simple Pleasures on the Farm

I try to contain myself but I just can’t help revelling in the gifts of every season: fireflies lighting up a summer’s night, the first crimson leaf to fall, the first snowfall, or the fragrant bouquets of lily-of-the-valley that my husband surprises me with every spring. He handpicks each stem from an abandoned garden.

Lily_of_the_Valley

I try to capture the right moment, when the trees are bursting with blossoms, to embrace my family underneath one so that we can be showered with petals. These are momentary pleasures that pass all too quickly. It’s important to me to slow down and breathe them in.

Photo contributed by Laura Kelly.

That’s why I love the blog simple pleasures on the farm. My friend, Laura Kelly, has an exceptional talent for capturing the simple but beautiful pleasures of the life she shares with her family on their picturesque farm, Carl Laidlaw Orchards. There’s always a captivating story to be told whether it’s the return of the bluebirds or Laura’s evening date with Mark strolling through the blossoming orchard, hunting for hidden treasures of wild asparagus. How romantic! Through stunning photography and honest, nostalgic writing that touches your heart, Laura shares the magic of the orchard with her readers.

carl_laidlaw_orchards

You may remember I featured Laura and Mark in my post Happy Under the Apple Boughs: Carl Laidlaw Orchards. She and Mark are fabulous cooks too. I have posted some of Laura’s recipes on my blog: Laura’s Farmhouse-Fusion Apple Squash Soup, Mark’s Apple Orchard Pie, and Easy Blender Hollandaise Sauce.

Laura is so creative. I am glad she is sharing her talents and treasures through a blog. I don’t want to miss one post, so I have signed up to receive them by e-mail (scroll down to the bottom of her blog).  I just had to share with you. Enjoy!

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Farm-To-Table Fresh Asparagus: Andrews Scenic Acres

Olive is happy to report that local field asparagus season has begun! Despite the looming storm clouds, I was determined to drive out to Andrews’ Scenic Acres yesterday morning to do something I’ve long wanted to do: pick my own asparagus. It turned out to be a beautiful morning.

Andrews_Scenic_Acres

It is early in the season and the asparagus has just begun to come up alongside the rhubarb. Farmer Bert Andrews says the asparagus season will run from now to about mid June; the first of June will likely be the ideal pick-your-own period. The pick-your-own rhubarb season will run from now to about the end of June.

Andrews_Rhubab_Asparagus

The asparagus field looks like a a little comical with single spears poking up up from the ground, here and there. In the photo above, you can barely see them poking up along the horizon.

Asparagus

To ensure the asparagus will grow back again next year, cut the asparagus about one inch below the surface of the earth; it’s easy and Andrews’ will supply you with a knife. Wear rubber boots and protect yourself from mosquitoes.

Harvested Asparagus

You can’t get farm-to-table fresher than picking your own. I couldn’t resist trying a spear raw: it tasted green and robust and sweeter than the raw spears I have tasted from the grocery store. If you are tempted to try one of the many raw asparagus salad recipes that are trending right now, I recommend picking your own asparagus and eating the salad as soon as possible the same day.

I decided to treat my Dad to a bundle of ready-picked asparagus that Farmer Bert Andrews (below left) brings in from Simcoe County while his asparagus is still so early in the season. Manager Stephanny (below right) helped me pick out a bundle of Andrews’ ready-picked rhubarb; I’ll turn it into stewed rhubarb to eat with my breakfast yogurt. Oh my, how Olive loves spring!

Bert_Andrews_and_Stephanny

Farmer Bert Andrews and Manager Stephanny

I prefer to eat my asparagus the day I buy it but it will keep in your fridge okay for a few days if you stand the stem ends in a jug of water or wrap them in a damp paper towel and cover the bunch in plastic wrap. I snap off the woody ends where they break naturally and wash each spear under cold, running water, paying special attention to the head where sand and grit get trapped. For tips on choosing, storing, and preparing asparagus visit Foodland Ontario.

My preferred method of cooking asparagus is oven-roasted. Oven-roasting caramelizes the asparagus and I find I don’t need to serve anything with it but a squirt of lemon juice. My Simple Oven-Roasted Asparagus recipe is here: http://olivetoeat.com/?p=858

But what better way to celebrate the start of the local asparagus season than with a splurge of hollandaise sauce? A dear friend (and fabulous cook) recently gave me a great recipe for an easy and delicious blender hollandaise sauce. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the recipe.

Asparagus_with_Hollandaise

Andrews’ Scenic Acres (established in 1980) and Scotch Block Country Winery (a fruit winery opened in 1999), is family operated and grows a wide variety of pick-your-own or fresh picked fruit, vegetables, and flowers. The barn market sells jams, jellies, pies, tarts, honey, maple syrup, juices and frozen fruit. House-made frozen yogurt and ice cream is made from farm-grown fruit. Family fun and harvest festivals.

Andrews’ Scenic Acres
9365 10th Sideroad
Halton Hills, Ontario

Telephone: 905-878-5807

Please call to confirm dates and time open.

Open daily: May 3rd to November 1st, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Open November 1st to December 31st, Saturday and Sunday plus the week before Christmas: 11am to 5pm.

Andrews’ Scenic Acres also sells their farm fresh produce at several local farmers’ markets. Click here for a list: http://www.andrewsscenicacres.com/farmmarket.php

Website: www.andrewsscenicacres.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewsScenic
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AndrewsScenicAcres

 

Easy Blender Hollandaise Sauce

Makes 1/2 cup

This recipe was passed on to me by a dear friend and fabulous cook. Use a blender or food processor for best results.

Ingredients:

3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon of water
3/4 cup unsalted butter
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground white pepper, freshly ground black pepper, or ground cayenne pepper.

Directions:

  1. Place butter in a small saucepan over low heat to melt.
  2. Plop water and egg yolks in a blender or food processor; blend for about 90 seconds.
  3. Turn the heat under the melted butter up to medium high, just until the butter starts to bubble.
  4. With the blender motor running, slowly pour the hot melted butter through the feeder tube in a thin, steady stream (don’t include the milky, foamy bits); sauce will thicken at this point.
  5. Again with the motor running, add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper through the feeder tube. Unplug the machine and taste to adjust seasonings, if necessary.
  6. Serve immediately with steamed asparagus, steamed artichokes, steamed new potatoes, poached eggs, or roasted fish.

Though the eggs are lightly cooked by the hot butter, as a safety precaution follow all food safety guidelines concerning the consumption of raw eggs.

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How Will Your Garden Grow?

Olive Charky, full of malarkey, how will your garden grow?

With chocolate mint and orange mint…

Sheridan_Mint

…and pretty lavender all in a row?

Sheridan_Lavender

Flavoured mint and gorgeous lavender found at Sheridan Nurseries.

 With Elephant garlic and French shallots…

Terra_Garlic_Onion

…and Russian Blue potatoes all in a row?

Terra_Seed_Potatoes

Gourmet seed potatoes, garlic, and onion found at Terra Greenhouses.

With locally-grown, heirloom tomato seedlings all in a row?

Heatherlea_Tomato

About twenty varieties of beautiful, heirloom tomato seedlings available at Heatherlea Farm Market.

I’d love to hear how YOUR garden will grow!

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Farm / Farmers Market Directory

Pinch me! After this winter’s relentless polar vortex, it’s hard to believe the local growing season has finally arrived. The seasonal markets are starting to open up! I can’t wait to grab my basket and head over to my local market for fresh, locally-grown produce. Or grab a friend and head out on an adventure to the many wonderful markets across our region, stopping at whim along the way to antique or discover new foodie gems.

I’ve updated my Farm / Farmers’ Market Directory for the 2014 season with current hours, locations, links, and maps; a few of the farmers’ markets have changed locations and dates this year. You’ll find my Farm / Farmers’ Market Directory at the top of my site, in the green top menu bar. Hover your mouse over it and a drop down list will appear:

  1. Click on Farms / On-Farm Markets for a list of my favourite farms in Halton, Peel, Simcoe, and Wellington Regions. Check back here occasionally; I’ll add more as I discover them. If you have a local farm market favourite that you don’t see on my list, please let me know. I’ll add it to my directory and share it with everyone.
  2. Hover your mouse over Farmers Markets for a drop-down list of farmers’ markets in the Greater Toronto West area, by region. Click on a region for a list of markets: Halton, Peel, Toronto, Waterloo, and Wellington County / Guelph. It’s a growing list; if I’ve missed your favourite, please let me know. The Toronto list only includes a few that I would drive to, including the fabulous St. Lawrence Market, ranked number one of the world’s top ten food markets by National Geographic. I love that I can slip down to the St. Lawrence Market at the crack of dawn and be back before traffic; it’s open at 5:00 a.m. on Saturdays.

I am gradually building a Grocery / Gourmet Store Directory on the top menu bar too. Check back often and watch it grow.

Happy Market Season everyone! Hope to see you at the markets.

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Mother’s Day Gift: Butter Baked Goods Cookbook

Here is a sweet idea for a Mother’s Day gift: a cookbook written by a Canadian interior designerButter_Baked_Goods_Cookbookwho had dreamed of owning her own bakery since she was six years old and finally took the leap. In 2007, Rosie Daykin opened up a nostalgic neighborhood bakery, Butter Baked Goods, in Vancouver.

Butter_Baked_Goods_Bakery

Next thing Rosie knew, her gourmet marshmallows became famous. Now they are sold throughout North America and Japan. I found the cookbook and the marshmallows at Indigo.

Butter_Baked_Goods_Marshmallows

The artwork in the cookbook is inspired by the bakery – pistachio and pink and so very pretty.

The recipes awaken childhood memories of sweeter times when favourite recipes were time-tested and baked from scratch. Rhubarb Almond Muffins, Graham Crackers, Butterscotch Walnut Bar, and Butter’s Classic White Cake with Butter’s Famous Butter Cream Frosting (tinted a pretty shade of pink) are on the top of my to-try list.

There are plenty of beautiful photos and step-by-step instructions, including the recipe and photo instructions for Butter’s Famous Marshmallows in flavours such as mint, raspberry, coffee, and cinnamon.

Butter_Baked_Goods_ Marshmallows

Butter Baked Goods is as delicious to look at as it will be to bake from. Maybe it will inspire Mom to follow her own dreams and do what she really loves; or at least bake up something really yummy. Happy Mother’s Day.

Butter Baked Goods by Rosie Daykin. Published by Appetite by Random House, 2013.

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