JUICING: HERE'S WHAT YOU SAY ABOUT IT

Last week, I participated in a lively and interesting conversation about juicing (and smoothies too!).

The UK Guardian hosted the live webchat and you responded. En masse. In fact, the organizers tell me that there were many many questions that we just didn't have time to get around to answering.

Take a look at the comments, the questions, my answers and the results of the three surveys that were taken during the one hour we were engaged.
Click HERE

If you have a juicing question, ask me in the comment section below and I will answer it.

Meantime, take a look at the book that 400,000+ people own:

Posted on September 13, 2013 and filed under BOOKS.

HERBAL TONICS HERALD ANCIENT RITE OF SPRING

Cleansing tonics are an ancient rite of spring that reflects the season's central theme of self-renewal. By definition, a tonic is an infusion of herbs that invigorates or strengthens the system. In addition, tonics often act as stimulants and alteratives as well. Taken either hot or cold, tonics restore tone, purify the blood, and act as nutritive builders.

Throughout history, and even as late as the 20th century, herbs and herbal spring tonics have been used by North Americans and Europeans to cleanse the system after a long winter of eating preserved meats with little or no fresh fruits or vegetables. The six-week fasting and abstinence period of Lent, apart from its spiritual significance, had a practical effect of helping the body prepare for the shock of astringent spring greens.

Read more about tonic herbs, click here...

Posted on April 2, 2013 and filed under ARTICLE.

ROASTING THE HARVEST

I’m very fond of roasted vegetables, and now that cooler weather is drifting into the kitchen from outdoors, I am happy to fire up the oven and enjoy them again. Harvest time provides an abundance of fruits and vegetables ripe and perfect for roasting – they’re heaped in baskets at markets and supermarkets everywhere.

Roasting is an oven technique that requires a higher heat than baking. It’s a fast-cooking method that draws out and caramelizes the natural sugars on the outside while concentrating and deepening the flavours on the inside. Thick, firm, and juicy-fleshed fruits such as plums, apricots, and cherries, and all kinds of vegetables such as beets, onions, squash, turnip, carrots, parsnips, eggplant, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, and asparagus, benefit from roasting. What follows is my basic recipe for roasting fruits or vegetables.

For more recipes on Roasting Vegetables and Fruits and my original recipe for Chicken with Roasted Black Plums and Greens, go here.
 

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ROASTED GARLIC

Fresh Ontario garlic is available now from any of the farmers who visit the city every week, and my advice is to buy it in bulk and use it all winter in robust dishes. One of my favourite ways to use garlic in cooking is to roast the whole head. Whole roasted garlic bulbs morph into a sweet and meltingly tender pulp with a deceptively mellow and nutty flavour that is versatile and delicious in fall dishes. Roasting garlic is easy. I like to roast two or three heads at a time because generally I substitute one whole head in place of one or two bulbs in a recipe. I use roasted garlic in spreads and dips and as a flavouring for sauce, soup, and stew.
 
For roasting garlic, I prefer to use a small heatproof baking dish with a lid instead of aluminum foil, and there are electric and terra cotta garlic roasting pots widely available online and in kitchen supply stores. The method is easy and my recipe follows: (Makes 1 head)

1 whole head garlic
1 tsp olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C)
  2. Remove the loose, papery skin from the garlic head and slice and discard 1/4 inch off the tips of the cloves across the top of the head. Place the garlic head, cut side up in a small heatproof baking dish*  and drizzle with oil. Cover with a lid or foil. 
  3. Bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until garlic is quite soft. Transfer to a cooling rack. 
  4. When garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves from their skins. It is now ready to use in any recipe that calls for roasted garlic.

* Note: If using a clay garlic roaster with a lid, roast at 375° F (190° C) for 35 to 40 minutes.

Posted on October 6, 2012 and filed under RECIPE, FALL, SEASONAL, ARTICLE.

SAUCY SPRING

It is officially spring and here in Bruce County, it has arrived with both warmth and a chill. I want to clean the herb beds and yet I keep looking over my shoulder for the blast of snow that always seems to sneak in before May 24th, our magic (read 'safe') planting date.
Has spring arrived where you are? How do you define spring?

Once the warm weather hits and stays, I will be cooking lighter and looking for light ways to flavour my meals and one of the best ways to do that is to add herbed sauces to vegetable and plant-based dishes.

And, of course, one of the finest herb sauces is Pesto. I make pesto from all of the herbs in my herb garden, but most people think only of basil when they think of pesto. The word for the green, nutmeg-spiked paste that I make so often actually comes from the word pestle, which is the tool used along with a mortar to grind the nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese and of course, the herbs and oil into the coarse or smooth paste we love on pasta, in soups and to slide under tomatoes. 

For more fresh, vegan sauce recipes, go here.

I do use a food processor, but every now and then, I use my porcelain, hand-made mortar and it is so satisfying.

Posted on May 2, 2012 and filed under HERB.

ELDER

ELDERBERRY TREES

Some very early translations of the Bible mention a small, stringed musical instrument named sambuke. The frame of this instrument was made from the hollow branches of the Sambucus or elder tree. There are many different varieties of Sambucus, most being more shrub than tree. The variety that grows wild here in Bruce County is Sambucus canadensis, which bears dark purple, almost black berries. This variety has naturalized here, the elder tree being native to Europe, North Africa and Western Asia.
I have used both the flowers and the fruit in recipes and there are many recipes for elderflower or elderberry wine. The flowers form in large, creamy-white flat-topped clusters and their taste is somewhat bitter when nibbled right off the tree. (DON'T try eating any wild plant until you have verified it as edible. There is a dwarf elder that bears poisonous berries!). The fragrance and pleasant taste of the flowers is developed with the syrup or wine-making process, or in cooking them. I have made elderflower fritters by dipping the flowerheads in a light batter and frying them in olive oil.
The berries, which you see just forming in the shot below, taste a bit like blackcurrants and are made into conserves and jam. As the berries form and ripen, the stems that once bore the flowers turns from green (top picture) to dark red (picture below). You can substitute elderberries for currants or gooseberries in preserving recipes.

ELDERBERRY SYRUP

In anticipation of the elderberries, which won't be ready to pick here until late August, early September, this is my recipe for a smooth-finished, rich and fruity, sweet-tart syrup. Splash it into white wine or champagne, sparkling mineral water, smoothies, milkshakes and all sorts of cocktails and mocktails.

1 lb elderberries or red or black currants
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
1 cups water
1 cups granulated sugar

  1. In a saucepan, combine elderberries with orange rind, juice and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Boil for 2 or 3 minutes, crushing the berries with the back of a wooden spoon. Strain the juice through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a non-reactive bowl. Press the pulp to release as much of the juice as possible.
  2. Meanwhile, sterilize a 1-pint (2 cups/500 mL) jar in hard boiling water for 15 minutes. 
  3. Return the juice to the saucepan and stir in the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil hard for 1 minute. Skim and discard any foam. Pour hot syrup into hot jar. Cover with flat lid and metal screw band. Allow to cool completely. Label and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Posted on July 20, 2009 and filed under RECIPE, ARTICLE.

The Gertrude B. Foster Award - Thank You

It was with profound joy that I met new and longtime friends in Grand Rapids last week for the annual Herb Society of America Conference.
Where I received the Gertrude B. Foster Award for Excellence in Herbal Literature. Thank you to my Herbal Friends.

THE GERTRUDE B. FOSTER AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN HERBAL LITERATURE

The Gertrude Bates Foster Award is intended to encourage the dissemination of accurate herbal information and to recognize outstanding researchers, educators, and authors who exhibit exceptional scholarship in a published non-fiction book, which serves to inspire the “use and delight” of herbs. This award, established and funded in 1998 by the Connecticut Unit, honors Bunny (as she was known) and herpioneering role in the renaissance of herbal interest. She was known and respected in this country and abroad for her extensive contributions to the knowledge and interest in herbs and horticulture and for her generosity in sharing plant material, research, lecturing, and editorial leadership.

Selection of this recipient is done with the botany and horticulture chair, the communications chair, and the curator of The National Herb Garden serving in an advisory role.  

Posted on June 9, 2009 .

Almond-Orange Cake - Sweet Cicely is the Star of this Flour-less Cake

Gerarde (The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes, 1597) writes about Sweet Cicely, "It hath leaves of a very good and pleasant smell and taste like unto Chervil and something hairy, which as caused us to call it Sweet Chervil. The leaves of the Sweet Chervil are exceedingly good, wholesome, and pleasant among other sallad herbs, giving he taste of anise seed unto the rest. The seeds, eaten as a salad while they are yet green, with oyle, vinegar and pepper exceed all other sallads by many degrees, both in pleasantness of taste and sweetness of smell and wholesomeness for the cold and feeble stomachs. The roots are likewise most excellent in a salad with oil and vinegar, being first boiled, which is very good for old people that are dull and without courage."
For more information on both the cultivated Sweet Cicely (M. odorata) and the native plant (O. chilensis), visit my guest blog on Cuisine Canada.

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ALMOND-ORANGE CAKE:

8-inch springform pan, lined with parchment paper and lightly buttered
preheat oven to 375° F
Serves 6

1-1/4 cups blanched almonds
4 eggs, separated
1 cup caster sugar, divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sweet cicely
grated rind and juice of 3 oranges (about 1-1/4 cups juice and 3 tablespoons rind)
1 tablespoon Anisette or other anise-flavored liqueur, optional

1. Using a food processor, chop the almonds until they are coarse. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with ½ cup of the sugar until thick. With the motor running, add the yolk mixture through the opening in the lid, processing until the mixture is thick and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the orange rind. If the mixture is too thick, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the orange juice, until it is of batter consistency.

2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar over and beat until the peaks hold their shape. Fold half of the meringue into the almond mixture until just evenly mixed. Fold the other half into the almond mixture, being careful not to over mix in order to keep the air in the whites.

3. Spoon the almond mixture into the prepared springform pan. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until set in the center and a light golden color. Cool and transfer to a serving plate.

4. Make orange sauce: In a saucepan, combine orange juice and remaining sugar. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Adjust heat and lightly boil for 10 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the liqueur if using. Drizzle the orange sauce over the top of the cake and let sit for 20 minutes or longer before serving.

5. To garnish, lay fresh sweet cicely leaves over the cake and sprinkle icing sugar or cocoa over the leaves to impart a leaf pattern. Garnish the serving plate with fresh sweet cicely leaves.

Posted on May 16, 2009 and filed under RECIPE, SEASONAL, HERB, ARTICLE.