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Just Add Wine Cocktail – Yields One Chichi Summer Outdoor Experience

20 Jul

Dear Jess,
Thank you and Shannon so so much for coming all the way down to Canada (down, technically, right? when you’re coming
from Minnesota to South-Western Ontario…) in order to celebrate the 4th with us!  Your  patriotic cynicism and Shannon’s grill-mastery made the evening.
After this excellent string of BBQ’s, which you anticipated in April with your Portobello Mushroom grillers, I am starting to feel, well, thirsty.  And while Coors Light and Molson Canadian may have been appropriate for an All-American, er, Canadian cook-out, our subsequent ‘cues have lacked a certain classy, refreshing, thirst-quenching element.
Thus, I dedicate this post to summer, to sparklers, and to you, dear sister, who always bring the culinary class!
Love, Bec

happy plants from the Spring enterprise

Earlier this summer Nina requested permission from our landlord to plant a garden in our back yard.  Three days of dedicated digging and fertilizing and hoeing (bow chicka bow…oh nevermind) and deliberating about how much space tomato plants really need and how deep the holes need be (no bow-chicka intended) we finally had 1/2 of the plants we’d bought in the ground.  The other half has remained in their seedling pots on our front porch until today which, for anyone keeping track, is JULY! Continue reading

Wild Fruits, Tame Table: Jellies and Jams

27 Jan

Howdy Gals — So, before we came to London I had these deluded hopes of finding the place covered with blackberries like Seattle – don’t ask me why, maybe because of the great lakes? When we got here there weren’t any blackberries, but milkweed, mint, chicory, and black walnuts grow everywhere in London. Best of all there’s wild grapes – tiny sweet clusters on their sprawling vines that choke out the trees like bittersweet. It turns out that those same wild grapes were good news for the medieval Norsemen that came and settled along the North East Coast of Canada a thousand years ago. According to one of the Old Icelandic Sagas I’m reading in class, they found so many grapes here that they named the country Vinland. I’m pretty psyched about that, as you might imagine.

Wild Cherries from Prospect Park

People v Picket Fence is all about taking the restaurant out of brunch, poaching your eggs at home and sitting as long as you please with your friends in your living room, with the bill already paid. When it comes to one essential component of the breakfast table, I find you can cut out the grocery store too, with more pleasure than trouble.

I’m talking about jams, jellies, marmalades and spreads. I love jam. Toast to my mind is a jam vehicle, and I tend to notice whether the diner’s little jam dispensers with the specially-sized pockets that fit exactly so many of those square jam packets with the peel-off-tops contain raspberry, grape, or if I’m really unlucky – nothing but apple jelly. Spreads tend to be  expensive items Continue reading

That’s how we roll: Freedom Cakes

9 Jan

Dear Zoe,
So, it’s no longer autumn.  There’s a foot of snow on the ground here and we finally composted what was left of the pick-your-own-apples.  I looked at those sun-filled pictures of Cider Day in Iowa and was filled with longing.  But, the days are getting longer and, while we’re waiting for Spring, there’s no better excuse than the cold to eat hibernation food like these ridiculous pancakes!

In brainstorming what to make for Sunday brunch this week, Nina and I wanted to make something healthy.  Thus, I rejected out of hand the idea of making bismarcs, which get baked in a pan with 1/4″ of butter.  We decided that we should try to make healthy pancakes.  Whether or not this feat is even possible, we failed miserably.  The result was, nonetheless, delicious (although now I feel a little sick).

Freedom Cakes

Here was the Healthy Pancake plan:

We would make stuffed pancakes!  Nina had heard of this from her fellow grad student Megan, so we started looking through our cookbooks for advice and found a recipe (predictably) in the Joy of Cooking for creamed seafood-stuffed pancakes.  This sounded gross to me, but I thought we could probably substitute other fillings for the seafood.

This is where everything went horribly, and deliciously, wrong.

Nina had some whipped cream left over from a post-holiday party for to truss up some minted pears she had preserved.  Nina being Nina, she was looking for a way to use what was left of the whipped cream, and suggested a beach plum jam/whipped cream filling.

Okay, so not really healthy, but fruit and cream…it could be worse.

And then, suddenly, it was.  Much worse.  Continue reading

Ginger Golden Apple Muffins

10 Oct

Dear Bec, I know that we said that the purpose of this blog is to build community and friendship through sharing brunch with friends and strangers alike.  Lucky for me, that the sharing goes both ways because my contributions would be image-less without the help of my friends.

Brooklyn has bagels and artfully decorated brunch joints where hipsters in skinny jeans and serious glasses serve up adjective heavy plates of locally produced eggs and toast.  I do miss the atmosphere but I don’t really miss waiting for a table, and shelling out lots of money for a simple meal.  I’m sure that DC has comparable weekend spots, but I haven’t figured them out yet, so what to do on a sunny Sunday morning in October when a New Yorker friend pops in for a visit?  Impress her with muffins, of course!

Continue reading

Pomme Profusion Part II: Apple Bread

17 Sep

117 apples

In my last, I mentioned that my partner, Nina, and I had procured three large canvas totes full of the first apples.  If you’ve been keeping up, you may have started to notice a theme.  August, 2007, Nina came home from the farmer’s market with three garbage bags full of tomatoes from a farmer who had had a really really good year.  At the time, I was outraged.  What were we going to do with that many tomatoes?!  Three years later we’re still eating the preserves.

Seeing Nina’s food masses find their homes in sauces, salsas, jams, and jars, my scruples have been mollified, even if not wholly erased.  Indeed, I have watched myself these past weeks using food – shopping, price-comparison, farm stand visiting, cooking, baking – as a way of making myself comfortable here in Canada.

Which brings us to the ten-dozen apples we picked on Sunday: Continue reading

I just ate a worm, and it was delicious

30 Aug

First off, let me apologize for not providing you with photography to go with this image.  I am on vacation still, and my inherited 1997 point and shoot digital camera is MIA, and in any case refuses to do close ups.  So let’s dig deep into our imaginations and stand together in my parent’s orchard.

The air was chilly for the past couple of days, allowing the fall pears and apples to ripen and causing a few to drop off the loaded branches.  They are rotting on the ground currently, mixed in with parading daddy long legs, feasting ants, and deer poop.  Not a pretty sight, really, but I am picking up ones that are still all or half good for this afternoon’s cider pressing.  Continue reading