I went to the Comox Valley Farmer’s Market on Saturday with a friend, her twin boys and my son….all in the same vehicle. Car seats galore. It was an action packed ride that included a lost apple and a foot stuck in the door handle, but we made it. Once there it was great. I love seeing what people actually grow (I try not to compare it to my first-timer veggie garden). The boys enjoyed the musical entertainment, snacks and helium balloons.
I came home with some rhubarb and cheese. I love rhubarb, probably because I like tart things. I don’t eat it that often, but have been thinking about it a lot because of the road-side signs advertising its availability. When I got home I did a quick Google search for recipes. I came across one for rhubarb chutney, sounded good but must involve some kind of processing or canning. Not so! It was actually quite easy and a way I have never used rhubarb.
Spiced Rhubarb Chutney
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon ground garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
4 cups 1/2-inch cubes fresh rhubarb
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup raisins
Combine first 8 ingredients in heavy large pot. Bring to simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb, onion and dried raisins; increase heat to medium-high and cook until rhubarb is tender and mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.) Adapted from Bon Appetit.
I served it over barbequed pork medallions that I seasoned with a pinch of salt. The chutney had a very rich, spiced flavour that was very complex. The different spices would pop up in each bite. I reduced the amount of sugar because I like the tartness. I think it would also be good over chicken or on a multigrain baguette with a soft cheese.
I still had some left over rhubarb, so I decided to make the classic strawberry rhubarb crisp. Trying new things is good, but enjoying classics is still great too. My Mom used to make it for us. It always seemed close to my birthday (the end of May) maybe that’s why I have such good memories. Rhubarb also always reminds me of my mom warning us 1000 times that the leaves were poisonous (when she saw the rhubarb in my fridge from the market she thankfully reminded me again, for real).
Preheat the oven to 375°
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
2 cups sliced strawberries
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup oats
Combine white sugar, 1 tbsp flour and fruit in an 8x8 glass baking dish. Combine the rest of ingredients in a bowl. Use a fork to cut in the margarine. Top fruit with the mixture and bake for 45 min.
Serve alone or with vanilla frozen yogurt. I don’t need to tell you how good this was. To see the original recipe look here. I reduced both the brown and white sugar, the margarine, switched to whole wheat flour and increased the fruit.
Who wouldn't want their house to smell this good and who wouldn't want car seats three deep for a little adventure?
I think it might be the best thing ever when something really simple turns out really delicious.
As I mentioned in an earlier post I am not a big fan of eggs, but I do like lightly "egged" French toast. I also like breakfast for dinner. It just seems fun, bucking convention. Breakfast at the dinner hour provides an excuse to have something sweet. If you are like our house we only have a breakfast that includes things like French toast, pancakes and waffles once a week....not enough! It also reminds me of how excited I would get when my mom would declare it was breakfast for dinner night when I was a kid, it was usually accompanied by a rush to get PJs on for authenticity.
On my drive home from work the other day I was thinking something like this: "yes breakfast for dinner tonight, I have a big bag of coconut that hasn't seen the light of day in a while, hmmm coconut French toast....yes please". So I invented a recipe. Ha....pretty much made my usual French toast but added a coconut dredging step, in my mind invention all the same.
8 slices 100% whole grain bread
1/4 cup skim milk
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
Wisk together eggs and milk. Dip both sides of bread in egg mixture then dredge both sides in coconut. Cook in frying pan on medium heat until coconut is browned and egg is cooked.
Turned out devine. Is there many things that are better in life than toasted coconut flavour? You don't need a lot of syrup for these as the coconut brings some sweetness. I think another great topper would be pineapple and vanilla yogurt, taking the tropical approach a bit further. I served it up with a side of turkey bacon and a fruit salad. The leftovers were great popped in the toaster the next morning.
Simple but perfect, like so many things in life.
Artificial sweeteners, a bit of a hot topic. The rumors are rampant. I had a friend ask if she should feel guilty every time she uses Splenda in her tea. I get this question all the time.
I am going to discuss Aspartame (AKA Equal, NutraSweet, Sugar Twin, Sweet'N Low) and Sucralose (AKA Splenda) because they are the sweeteners that are used most and are found in a lot of products at the grocery store. What do they have in common? Well they are both sweet, come in packets or granulated form and are added to foods like yogurt, cereal, low calorie desserts, chewing gum as well as beverages.
Why would a person want to use them? Both Aspartame and Sucralose do not increase blood sugars so they are popular with diabetics. They also don't have any or very few calories so when they replace sugar the calorie content is decreased (i.e. 140 calories in a can of Coke vs. 1 calorie in a can of Diet Coke). This makes them popular with those people who are trying to lose weight or watch their weight. Neither tastes just like sugar, I tend to think Sucralose tastes better, less bitter. The nice thing about Sucralose is that you can bake with it, Aspartame's flavour changes when heated. The Sucralose bag says it measures cup for cup like sugar, but in my experience it is sweeter than sugar. I have used 2/3 of a cup of Sucralose to replace 1 cup of sugar with good results.
Are they safe? Well this is where the crazed Internet warnings come in....MS, lupus, Parkinson's disease, brain tumors, bladder cancer, the Vancouver riots all caused by sweeteners! Both Health Canada and the FDA have deemed Aspartame and Sucralose as safe, even in pregnancy. I know that some people would still like to believe that Health Canada and the FDA are embroiled in some sort of conspiracy with the makers of these sweeteners to somehow poison us all, but I just don't buy it. The scientific evidence just isn't there.
The acceptable daily intake (ADI) for Aspartame is 40 mg/kg/d of body weight, so a 110 lb person (there are 2.2 lbs in a kg) could safely have 2000 mg of Aspartame per day, which is equivalent to about 10 cans of diet pop. The ADI for Sucralose is 9 mg/kg/d of body weight so the same 110 lb person could have 450 mg of Sucralose per day or 37 packages.
So a package of Splenda in your tea, no big deal. Well, as long as you don't have more than 37 cups.
Still not convinced they are safe then don't use them, but please stop forwarding the crazy Aspartame = death emails to me.
On Saturday night we got an invite to go fishing with friends the next morning...6:00 am morning. The invite was also extended to my 16 month old son...hmmm. The idea of a six hour boat trip with a busy, curious, very mobile boy, sounded a little like crazy. On the other hand we might be crazy to turn down an opportunity to head out with a knowledgeable guide, his fabulous wife and their super smiley little boy on a very sunny day. Before we knew it we were buying fishing licenses online, confirming life jacket weight limits and throwing food, drink and sunscreen into a bag.
Did we make the right decision? 100% yes. Our little boy was mesmerized by the boat, water, motor and birds (not to mention our friend's dog) and we caught a ling cod to take home. Hudson even got a lesson in fish bonking, he has been bonking everything since.
So what to do with fresh ling cod? Since I have some herbs in my garden they were going in, plus I bought some Panko crumbs a while ago that I have been wanting to use. Panko bread crumbs are Japanese and are more crisp and light than regular bread crumbs.
Preheat the oven to 400° F
6 pieces of ling cod around 4 oz (or other white fish)
1 cup Panko crumbs
2 tbsp each fresh chopped thyme, parsley and basil
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 cup 5% sour cream
1/2 cup light mayo
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Mix sour cream and mayo together. Stir together dry ingredients. Coat each piece of fish with mayo mixture. Dredge in bread crumbs. Bake for 15 min or until fish flakes.
This ling cod was sumptuous, no tears here for not catching a salmon. It was very moist and light. The Panko added a satisfying crunch. Ling cod may not look pretty (at all, scary teeth as an added bonus) but they have a place on my plate any day.
Ling cod is on the list of fish that can be higher in mercury, risk is minimized by keeping smaller fish. Mercury builds up over time in a fish's body, so the younger and smaller the fish the lower the mercury. As our guide Curt tells me: it also makes sense from a conservation point of view as the spawning female ling cod are the larger ones.
Baking fish on parchment paper does not require any added fat for cooking. Mixing the light mayo with light sour cream helps to cut down the saturated fat without losing any flavor. Fresh herbs increase flavour without adding salt.
What's better than a morning spent fishing the beautiful waters off of Campbell River? Maybe eating mouth watering fish on my sun soaked deck with my family. Thank you Coastal Wilderness Adventures!
Tiffany McFadden, RD