Before boarding our small ship for a week off the coast of Costa Rica, we found a coffee plantation tour that we could just squeeze in during our one free morning.
Britt Coffee has a small plantation at their roasting facility that was about 45 minutes from our hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica. The hotel arranged a taxi for us, we paid for the tour and lunch and we were on our way.
The tour was very entertaining with two hosts who must have a background in theatre! Throughout the plantation there were coffee stations so by the end of the tour we had tasted most of their blends, and had a caffeine buzz!
I wanted to buy some coffee but didn’t really want to carry it with me all week on a boat. Clearly I wasn’t the only one who thought this way since they made it very easy to ship coffee home. I placed my order, it arrived last night and this morning I ground my Costa Rican beans and drank my coffee watching the snow fall!
I bought a beautiful pair of new mittens over the holidays. It was a cold day, and I was a personal shopper guide for a friend or relative looking for Christmas gifts. Which meant that I saw something I wanted, in between recommending a gift for someone else.
I stumbled on beautiful, handcrafted mittens by SLO. The tag told me they were made out of up to four carefully selected wool and wool blend sweaters, and that the were locally sourced and manufactured.
A quick visit to their website filled in the rest — “…use extra, unwanted and second-hand fabrics to make functional, useful, everyday products and accessories. Each item is made by hand using reclaimed fabrics when possible.”
I love wearing functional art.
Apparently, I love all things lavender. Judging by all the great stuff I bought at a recent tour to this gorgeous local farm – Bonnieheath Estate Lavender and Winery. It didn’t even all fit in the photo – lavender infused Epson salts, lavender infused maple syrup, lavender soy candle…and then the lavender soap, dessert wine, salt mix and the other wine.
Sigh. I feel more relaxed and refreshed just looking at all this Friday favourite stuff.
It might have been the freshly served preserves on our recent mini vacation that got me in the mood to get into a hot, muggy kitchen…and make jam!
Raspberries are in season and they make a beautiful jam. I found a recipe for “old-fashioned raspberry jam”. Not sure what qualifies it as that – maybe the simplicity of just fruit and good old fashioned sugar!
This was such an easy recipe, I’m going to make more while the raspberries ripen. It’s my Friday Favourite – to make and eat.
Old-Fashioned Raspberry Jam, The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving
- 4 c granulated sugar
- 4 c fresh raspberries
- Place sugar in a shallow, ovenproof pan and warm in a 250F over for 15 minutes. Warm sugar dissolves better.
- Place berries in large stainless or enamel saucepan. Bring to full boil of high heat, mashing berries with a potato masher as they heat. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
- Add warm sugar, return to boil and boil til mixture forms a gel – about 5 minutes. (I put a few spoons in the freezer, and then dip the cold spoon into the jam and hold it up on its side. The jam has gelled when the slow, gooey drips off the spoon run together and drip off slowly. Read more about testing for the gel stage.
- Ladle into hot jars and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Watch this short video on the water-bath method of sealing.
Makes 4 cups.
This was fast and simple. Here’s what it looked like in the process.
mashing up the fresh berries
boiling into a gel
admiring the view
Before we learned to cook, we baked. We’d bake for our brothers who could gobble up a pan of brownies before the pan cooled. And endless batches of chocolate chip cookies placed in alternating rows of 3s and 2s to maximize space on the baking sheet.
Then we dreamed, like so many others, about having our own bakery/coffee shop. But wise folks have reminded us over the years about the delusional allure of rising at the crack of dawn every day to make the same muffin recipe. So….we are good and loyal patrons to many bakeries. Here are a list of some of the ones we love:
Guelph – Polestar Hearth Bread and The Bakery
Worcester – Birch Tree Bread, On the Rise and Crust
Boston – Tatte
New York City – The City Bakery and Levain
I can’t help myself when I stand in front of the vegetable stand at my local farmers’ market. There are so many delicious things in season that I want to buy one of each. The idea would then be to remember to eat them throughout the week, before the next Saturday comes.
Last week, I cleared out the crisper and made a fresh, colourful chopped salad. It’s an easy way to eat your veggies, use up what’s in the fridge (like our fridge frittata and empty-the-vegetable-drawer soup) and get ready for a new installment of what’s in season.
This version had chopped tomatoes, grated carrot, green onion, orange peppers, cucumber, fresh sweet corn, chopped parsley and feta. I didn’t make my sister’s salad dressing, but used the next best option – a local apple cider Dijon dressing from Fraberts Fresh Food.
There’s still lots of barbeque season left. Chop up whatever you have and dress it up with some feta or chopped olives for a great side salad. Add in some leftover grilled meat to make a second and third meal out of it.
I love supporting local, independent businesses wherever I possibly can. I don’t have anything against large corporations – we need all kinds of enterprises for a healthy economy.
But there’s something about local that gives me the kind of connection I love as part of a community. So when I saw a local Indiegogo campaign for Polestar Hearth bakery, I jumped right in. I love their bread and they do a great job of marketing.
The t-shirt and cloth bread bag I’m going to get with their woodcut logo is definitely going to be a Friday favourite.
I’m trying to get back into summer salads. I love to eat them. Just need a little nudge every year about this time to find a recipe, do the shopping and mixing…for a bowl of crunchy, tasty goodness.
With fresh, local baby kale in hand, I found this Kale, Carrot and Apple Salad recipe. I always improvise and for this recipe, I grated the carrot and added feta at the end. Always a great idea for any salad.
And this Raw Kale Slaw is delicious too.
Trim centre rib from one bunch of kale, stack leaves and cut into this strips. Place in large bowl and toss with 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 clove garlic (chopped), 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 pine nuts (toasted) and 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (chopped).
Let salad stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to allow flavours time to blend and kale to soften. Finish with freshly grated parmesan cheese (or feta).