When somebody puts themselves out there – taking a risk, seeing an opportunity to start a little business…I love supporting them. I admit that when I go to my local farmers’ market I feel a little tinge of guilt because I can’t buy something from everyone. I don’t need that much food in a week and really am working at curbing food waste to do my little part.
I’m lucky that my town seems to be a magnet for opportunities to buy from little local startups. And I love to hear the backstories. When I don’t know them, I sometimes just imagine what aligned the business plan, prototypes and marketing ideas to bring something to market.
I don’t have to drive or walk for more than 15 minutes to get clothes, shoes, local food groceries, amazing sourdough bread, locally-grown flowers, beeswax candles, rustic signs on barnboard and now…pizza.
I’ve been in marketing and advertising for decades, and I love watching these startups use simple, smart and free social media tools to spread the word to attract consumers that will hopefully take them to success – however they measure it.
Completely by accident (not really if you are Instagram) I heard about @piebynightguelph. They describe themselves as four young cooks making great pizza in the heart of Guelph. They are using the local bakery’s space on a Sunday to whip together amazing pizza pies.
I hope Sunday night’s pizza pies get this startup where they want to be. It’s deliciousness and hard work that I’m happy to pay for.
There’s a heat warning outside but that’s not stopping me from steaming up the kitchen with my third batch of gingered rhubarb jam with honey. It’s canning season.
I couldn’t wait to get started. And rhubarb is the first harvest of the season that was calling my name. I love that the rhubarb and honey are both local. This recipe has a lemon and a tart apple to give it a little hint of a marmalade-style jam.
The recipe is from my one and only canning book that seems to have it all – The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving
Here’s the full recipe from an earlier blog.
And to top off the new canning season, cool new dissolvable jar labels. Have you ever stood in front of the sink with a scratch pad, hot water and old canning jars trying to get the old label gum off? Me too! I’m hoping my new find will live up to its name.
I have been in a cooking slump. I can’t think of anything to make for dinner. I asked a friend of mine what she had made for dinner last week and boom, I had two new ideas! I’m only going to share one of them today…you’ll have to wait another week or two for the second idea!
Last night I made spicy shrimp tacos from the Food Network website. Don’t let the word spicy in the title scare you, it has some sriracha sauce in the dressing but you can decide how much to put in. The marinade for the shrimp is the same thing you dress the coleslaw with so it’s really easy.
Here’s the recipe:
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 3/4 cup fresh cilantro (I used parsley)
- 3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and halved crosswise
- 1 14-ounce package coleslaw mix
- 1 mango, peeled and sliced into thin strips
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 12 hard taco shells
- Mix the mayo, Sriracha, lime juice, sugar, 1/4 cup chopped parlsey and 1 tablespoon water until smooth. Place the shrimp in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the dressing; set aside. Roughly chop the remaining 1/2 cup cilantro. Toss with the coleslaw mix, mango, red onion and the remaining dressing. Season with salt. Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque, about 3 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate. Warm the taco shells as the label directs. Fill the shells with the shrimp and some slaw. Enjoy!
After a week of vacation, I always come home with (albeit brief) renewed energy and new ideas. I was looking for some salad inspiration after returning from a great week of birdwatching and kayaking in Florida. The weather at home is still not really even close to spring like…but I need some roughage and colour in my daily diet.
I tried to remember what I had seen in recipes for bowls – all the parts nicely partitioned in a bowl – waiting to be mixed up into a great salad.
I started with a pile of brown rice, added sweet corn I had frozen last season, a grated carrot and a chopped English cucumber. I felt healthy just looking at it! I added in some feta and dressing and it made a great kickstart to getting more of my 5 to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables every day.
Yesterday was the third snow day in less than two weeks. It’s getting old. The weather forecasters do a pretty decent job of predicting the timing of the storm and amount of snow so I did what everyone else does and stopped at the grocery store in the unlikely event that I would be snowbound for weeks…
…and then spent the day in the kitchen or shoveling!
I sauted onions and garlic for the carrot soup, then bundled up and went outside to shovel a path for the dog. I chopped celery for the curried chicken salad, then cleared another path for the dog. I placed my sourdough bread in the pan for the second rise, then went back outside to fight the losing battle of clearing blowing snow.
The snow is still coming down but we have carrot soup with cumin, curried chicken salad, sourdough spelt bread and a roaring fire. Let it snow!
Every spring, it gets me. When the snow starts to melt, and there’s a hint of warmer weather, I stick my noise in the air like the dog because I can smell maple syrup season coming.
We had a great family operation way back when. And the fillings that take up every one of our molars are no surprise given the amount of syrup and maple sugar we would consume during the six or so week season every spring. We had agro-tourism before it was even a thing, selling maple syrup direct from the farm, offering tours of our operation and serving up an impressive menu of pancakes, tea biscuits and johnny cake – as the carrier for some variation of our homemade maple products. Here are a few shots — from the Maplewood archives.
And maple, well, you know it goes with everything and with every meal. Maple sugar goes in my coffee every morning. Maple syrup is the only thing that ever tops pancakes or maple syrup in our houses. And maple butter is often just eaten off the spoon, or sometimes it makes it onto toast. I might just have an entire shelf in my frig dedicated to maple.
It’s not a new idea, but I’ve been enjoying the benefits of somebody else chopping up all the veggies for my salad, lately. If I waited until I bought the lettuce, shredded the carrots, cabbage and kale…well, I’d eat salad about once a month. Or only in the summer after a trip to the local farmers’ market.
This week, I stockpiled my 7 to 10 servings with a pre-shredded mixture of kale, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage and probably some other good stuff. I added in some delicious salmon that someone had kindly baked for me already (the store) and tossed it all in a delicious apple Dijon dressing that was expertly mixed and made by someone else.
There are definitely times when I want to make it all from scratch. And for all those other times, thanks to the choppers and mixers in the backrooms of local grocery stores.