As many of my regular readers may have gathered, I’ve been away from home or otherwise occupied with arranging a house concert and entertaining a friend from Louisiana for the past few weeks and have been somewhat lax in my focus on home life. This was definitely remedied this weekend!
I am lucky to live and work in a city that has not one but two sizable farmer’s markets, which give me access to fresh, locally sourced foods. One is mere blocks from my home (and less than a block from my favourite café, the Cannon Coffee Co.) and the other (which houses Red Hill Coffee Trade where CG, my favourite barista works) is literally right under my office at the day job. I am lucky to be able to wander through the Hamilton Farmer’s Market and see what is fresh and good on a weekly basis.
I noted that the first of the local kale was hitting the stalls, so I picked up a bunch last Friday, dreaming of crispy, salty (albeit controlled amounts), iron-rich snacks throughout this week. I also noted that one of the orchards had a new batch of Mutsu apples at their stall, so I picked up a basket. There were also local green onions, ramps, local asparagus, fiddleheads and some nice looking corn and limes (both not local, but good looking). It certainly looked like the dehydrator was to be getting a lot of use on the weekend!
On Saturday morning, I hooked up with DM2 to head to the Ottawa St. Farmer’s Market, where I picked up some hothouse peppers and jalapeno, zucchini, carrots and the first of the local strawberries. I also picked up a fresh (still warm) bag of Hero Coffee’s Mexican coffee beans, before heading to the Cannon Coffee Co for a latte and conversation with DM2.
I finished off Saturday morning, at various grocery stores, filling the gaps in my grocery list (including some amazing organic romaine lettuce) and buying myself a new pair of shoes (required, as my current work shoes are getting a little worn). I came home to “rest” and proceed to prepare my purchases for consumption throughout the week.
I started with grinding three batches of the coffee to prepare my slow brewed cold processed coffee for the morning walk/ride into work. This takes 12 hours to brew so I could set this aside and forget about it until Sunday morning. Next were the strawberries, which were cleaned, hulled, sliced and yes, snacked on – glad I bought two quarts!
The kale was next, stems trimmed, leaves torn into bite sized pieces and cleaned. The kale bits were left to drip dry while I prepared the spice blend for the kale crisp recipe (a mixture of chilli, garlic and onion powder, pepper, sea salt and nutritional yeast – kind of a vegan nacho seasoning – the yeast gives it a cheesy texture with a savoury umami mouth feel), a splash of olive oil, some good massaging of the oil and spices into the leaves and then three hours in the dehydrator.
While the kale was processing, I fired up the barbecue and cleaned the asparagus, peppers, jalapeno, green onions and corn. The veggies were all to be grilled for various salads, including my protein-laden quinoa salad (loosely based on Earth to Table’s quinoa salad, it’s spicy, with a slight Mexican flare). While the veggies were on the barbecue, grilling, I prepared three salad dressings: a ceasar salad dressing from the “Looneyspoons” cookbooks, an orange garlic dressing for the asparagus and the spicy lime vinaigrette for the quinoa salad.
Once the veggies were suitably grilled, the asparagus was packaged up for Saturday night’s dinner (served with the orange garlic dressing and shaved parmesan cheese) and the others were peeled, sliced and mixed with the dressing to marinate. All I have to do is cook the quinoa and add crumbled feta cheese for a healthy protein-rich salad!
By this time, the kale crisps were ready for packaging (air tight container) and the trays of the dehydrator were cleaned to prepare to dry apple slices. I cleaned and removed the stems from the apples and used a mandolin to slice them into consistent rings. These are dipped in acidulated water (water with citrus juice squeezed into it to prevent the apples from browning) and then placed upon the dehydrator racks and began drying the apple slices (again, these will take some time so I could set and forget them).
By this time, the dogs were getting antsy, so we went out for a walk, coming home just before DH returned from his sojourn to a memorial gathering for a father of a friend. He had not eaten lunch and was bombarded with the smells of my busy afternoon, so he wanted dinner. Thankfully I had the barbecue still fired up and hot, so a tilapia filet was grilled for him along with a marinated tofu cutlet for myself.
Meanwhile the coffee and apples continued in their processing while we dined, chatted and slept.
Sunday morning was a flurry of activity as the dogs got me up early to go for their walks, however balked when they discovered it was raining. I was not impressed, but understood and was able to capitalize on the time before singing at church to filter and store the cold-process coffee and package up the dehydrated apple slices. I then prepared hard boiled eggs for my early morning protein hit during the week and settled in for my breakfast.
A lovely walk to the newest café in Hamilton for a little pre-church caffeine boost and then a long service as it was Communion Sunday and the minister was rather long winded and repetitive during his sermon <sigh>. A couple invited DH and I to their home in Toronto’s west end for coffee, conversation and dinner and also for us to go through some of their surplus belongings as they are decluttering, much like I am, so I rushed into Toronto and enjoyed their companionship – DH was not feeling up to it so I flew solo.
I had a lovely time and picked up some wonderful reading materials (vintage Vonnegut) and some philosophy and art books for DH. I was also able to pick up the last two Sookie Stackhouse books (the companion book and the short story collection) so DH can now say he has read everything about Ms. Stackhouse and has a reading queue ahead of him. So above all it was a successful weekend. Monday is now time to relax in the orifice, and enjoy the fruits of this past weekend’s labours.