Cooking Classes


Ladybug Crazy

Ladybugs always make me think of Dorothy.  We worked together for a few years and I was always so awed by the fact that she was a Master Gardener.... something I will never be.  Whether this is truth or lore, I remember one year she bought a thousand ladybugs to introduce to her garden.  Well, they had other plans and moved on!  I can only imagine how a Master Gardener would feel when her ladybugs chose a new home.

I have never seen so many ladybugs...ever!  Hundreds examining all the blades of grass in my back  yard.  I dried my bed linens on the line and the ladies came in with my sheets!  They are everywhere.  I love them.


Sunday Morning Eggs

One of my bread clients from the Farmer's Market brought me her special flavoured butter.  It looked so beautiful ... light green hued with pieces of herbs and wrapped in a parchment paper sausage.  I needed to taste it right away!  So even though it might not be best used with eggs, that is what I did.  I pan fried my Sunday morning eggs in this wonderful butter flavoured with herbs, garlic and blended with olive oil.  The result...amazing!


Farmer's Market Update

I have been so busy with baking bread and making healthy salads and dips for the Farmer's Market that I can hardly keep up.  I have not posted for ages and it seems I am not cooking up a storm like I used to either.  I am learning so much.

But, how do I bake all that bread!  I made 45 loaves for today's market and I am exhausted.  I have finally taken a few pictures.
My bread laying out on parchment paper for the second rising.
My improvised bread cooling rack.  I purchased a clothes drying rack and it works like a charm.  I have to label all my bread because it becomes a little difficult at times to distinguish a red fyfe from a rye from a whole wheat.
It is health regulations that all food have a sneeze guard or be covered.  In the beginning I put my bread in plastic bags but when it is still warm that interferes with a nice crispy crust.  Now I lay it all out in parchment lined drawers from an antique dresser and other rustic looking containers.
This vintage tablecloth works great to add a little charm.  I am using simple clipboards as labels for all the different breads.  I make 50% hard white with cheddar or with raisins, cinnamon & honey, cornbread with and without fresh sage, 7 grain with and without za'atar on the crust, rye with caraway, pumpernickel, red fyfe and a few others from time to time.
Clear cellophane is cheap and works well to cover the bread.  I don't even need tape.  I just tuck it under the front of the container and drape it back.  I can easily get in to serve the bread.
This is some of the other things I am selling.  I have ice in the tub to keep cold things cold.  All my packaging has my 'logo' of a splash of green.  I am also selling some local organic flours.


Geocaching Fun

The cache - in an old munitions box.
I know.   This is a food blog!  But with summer here, I get a little side tracked.  My sister and her husband visited this weekend and we went geocaching!  This is a high tech treasure hunt.  Use a GPS and find a cache.

Grasslands National Park is stunning.  This is a region of virgin soil.  It has never been tilled.  The grasses and vegetation are all natural.  A herd of buffalo has recently been located here and they live wild.  The sky is big.  The air is fresh.  It is heavenly.

Beautiful lichen on the rock.

Don't you just love the prairie grasses.

Examining our cache.

Farewell to Vancouver Island

Five days and five posts from Vancouver Island.  What a fabulous vacation.  Put this on your bucket list for sure.  Visit Vancouver Island with side trips to the Gulf Islands and you will have a very satisfying time.

For my last post on this great trip, I am featuring a couple of places to buy good food.  Wildfire Organic Bakery has an amazing selection of breads and baking.  It is a 'must see' place.  Nice to go to see the wood fired oven.

Another great place to buy fine food is Choux Choux.  They have a great selection of special ingredients, house made pates and condiments, and take out sandwiches to mention only a few of their wonderful foods.


Spot Prawns, Oysters and Mussels

No visit to Vancouver Island is complete until you have sampled the wonderful fresh seafood and fish.  These are Fanny Bay oysters.  They are quite large but still sweet.  Dressed with lemon juice and hot sauce and they taste great.

We also bought some spot prawns and made a saffron sauce and tossed with pasta.  This is a salad with the mache we bought on Salt Spring Island.  Lightly dressed, it was perfect with the prawns.

And we have no pictures of the mussels.  They were so fat and juicy, also from the Fanny Bay market.  We made mussels two ways - in a lemongrass and coconut milk sauce and the traditional white wine, tomato, fennel and shallot sauce.  We had lots of crusty bread to sop up the sauce.

Lemongrass Coconut Mussels

1 pound fresh mussels
2 tablespoons finely diced shallots
extra virgin olive oil
stick of lemongrass
1/4 cup coconut milk

Saute the shallots in the olive oil.  Add the lemongrass (bruised) and coconut milk.  Bring to a boil.  Add the mussels, cover and steam until all the mussels open.  Serve immediately with crusty bread.


Tuscan Kale Salad for French Beach Picnic

What is nicer than a picnic on an ocean beach.  The food!  It was amazing! 

Meredith made wonderful crostini smeared with soft goat cheese drizzled with white truffle oil and garnished with fresh thyme.  Divine.  They were so nicely presented with a sprig of fresh thyme atop.  And, more truffle oil to drizzle at our pleasure!  We all loved them.

Scott made a wonderful Tuscan Kale Salad.  I am now calling it Scott's Kale Salad.  So simple and amazing.  I will be making this every time I find fresh kale at the market.  I loved it.  The kale was so nice and tender and delicately flavoured with the vinaigrette.  You can see it in the middle bowl of the picture above.

Scott's Kale Salad
4 - 6 cups kale, julienned
juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, mashed
3 - 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes
2/3 cup grated pecorino, asiago or parmesan cheese
1/2 cup toasted panko bread crumbs

Make a vinaigrette with the lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes.  Toss with the julienned kale.  Top with grated cheese and panko.  Serve.  (This can be made up to an hour in advance with great success).

So this is our plate.  Beautiful fresh green beans marinated in a tarragon vinaigrette, Scott's Kale Salad, fingerling potato salad with fresh garden peas and Salt Spring Island mustard sauce dressing, and tandoori chicken.  What is not showing is the wonderful lamb sausage with carmelized onion chutney.
Meredith, Scott and Jack deep in conversation.  You can only catch a glimpse of the lovely wicker picnic basket.  We had china plates, stainless cutlery and cloth napkins.  Perfect picnic.  And such a civilized Jack, the dog.  Can you see the truffle oil?
What is a picnic without a fire?  It was a cold and windy day.  The fire kept us at the beach for at least three hours.

The rugged French Beach on the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Vancouver Island.


Sunny Days on the Islands

From the ferry to Denman Island

Waiting for the ferry.

May as well enjoy the ferry wait.

Beautiful sea air while we wait for the ferry.

The beach at Tribune Bay on Hornby Island

Beach massage ... $1 per minute

Yes, this man does have a gun.  His T-shirt says RCMP.  This weekend the beach has become a bit of party place.  Just keeping things happy for everyone.

Oldest beach game on the books...let's bury him!

Adieu, adios, farewell....


Salt Spring Island Market

Young beet greens.

Rainbow of beets

Summer squash


Beautiful carrots.

Myriad of mushrooms
I had a fabulous few days on Vancouver Island.  I was whisked away from the airport to the ferry immediately upon my arrival at 8:30am in to Victoria.  It is a relatively short, but lovely, ferry ride to Salt Spring Island and then an equally short and lovely drive to the market in the town of Ganges.

You enter a sort of time warp on the Gulf Islands.  Channel the 60's and 70's and you will be right in step.  I felt as though I was obsessed with taking pictures but in the end, there are so many I missed.

Like at a little outdoor cafe.  There it was on the chalkboard, Valdy, performing tomorrow night.  I am a flower child of the 70's and Valdy was big.  Really big.  Check out his tour here.  This must have been one night of his Mystery Tour.  Imagine, Valdy in such an intimate venue.  I am impressed.  He now lives on Salt Spring Island.  As does Robert Bateman and Randy Bachman.  Reportedly Barbra Streisand and Kevin Costner have homes there, also.

Enjoy the market.....

 Ulrieke Benner makes the most beautiful and artistic felted wool and silk scarves, shawls and jackets.  Wearable art, she says.  I agree!

Don't ya love it... Traffic Jam!

This was a market with young children participating with their baking and goods.  There were interesting places to buy lunch and snacks, artwork and such.  And entertainment.

Now if this isn't the oddest thing you have ever encountered!  This man had a diggeridoo and was somehow balancing your energy?  I don't know!