Friday, September 28, 2012

Taste of the Week at ManoRun Farm: Green Beans

It's green bean season on ManoRun Organic farm, or so it feels like it these days! We have so many amazing green beans to harvest and not enough time to eat them or people to sell them too.  So what does one do?  Run a green bean eating contest? Perhaps, but I thought it was high time I learn the fine art of food preservation, starting with, green beans.  After all, preserving truly is the only way to eat locally and still enjoy your favourite foods throughout the Winter.

Now, I consulted a few people, checked some cook books and scoured the internet for tips, how-tos and instructions on freezing green beans.  I learned that before freezing green beans or any other vegetables alike, you must first blanch them.  Essentially I went online to find out how to do this and in the simplest steps possible, here is what I did:

Blanching Green Beans for Canning or Freezing

Step 1: Trim the ends of your green beans.

Step 2: Wash them well.

Step 3: In boiling water, boil for them about 3 minutes and no longer.

Step 4: Remove from boiling water after 3 minutes.

 Step 5: Immediately douse them in freezing cold water for about 3 minutes.

 Step 6: After 3 minutes remove from cold water.

 Step 7: Lay your beans out on a tea towel to dry for a few minutes. I think this part is optional but I did it.

 Step 8: Fill your labelled freezer bag and seal trying to release as much air as possible.

Enjoy ... for Winter!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Welcome Fall! I Offer Comfort Food: Chili

When I am in the kitchen sometimes my best learning experience is through experimenting.  I try my best to find great recipes online or in my many cook books that will use up the ingredients I have at hand, but more often then not, I am missing one or two things.  I am usually missing those one or two things that are unfortunately, key to the recipe.  Those kitchen staples that I just haven't gotten around to buying or stocking up on.

So, some days, it is just more fun and easier to take what you have on hand and make something out of it.  This is what happened when I only had kale, canned beans, left over tomato sauce, and a few other farm fresh produce left to use for a dinner party, which I didn't know what to do with.  What happened?  A recipe was born!

Kale & White Bean Chili

1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 tbsp coconut oil
1-2 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp fresh or dry parsley
1-2 tsp fresh or dry oregano
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1/2 large zucchini (or 1 whole small-med one), chopped
1.5 cups of tomato sauce (store-bought or homemade is fine, any will do)
2 cans white kidney beans, rinsed and well drained
1/2 to 1 whole bunch of kale, broken apart in big pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a large pot over med-high heat.  Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft.

2. Add spices, cook for about a minute.

3. Add peppers and zucchini, mixing well and cooking for about 3 minutes.  At this point turn heat down to medium.

4. Add tomato sauce and beans, stirring together well for about a minute or so.

5. Add kale and cover for at least 5 minutes to soften.

6. Stir everything together well once.  Add salt and pepper to taste and thenleave, covered for about 10-14 minutes cooking on med-low heat.

7. Turn heat off, mix together one last time and let sit a few minutes before serving.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Farm Roasted Vegetables: Welcome Fall Comfort Food!

My newest and possibly most delicious way of making roasted vegetables is this:

Step 1 - Gather together the most farm fresh produce you possibly can find or buy such as, red and yellow potatoes, carrots, onion, sweet potato, beets, garlic, etc.  All of my amazing produce these days comes from ManoRun Organic Farm.

Step 2 - Preheat the oven to about 425F. 

Step 3 - Chop all vegetables to the size of your liking (the smaller the size the quicker it will cook).

Step 4 - Season those vegetables with olive oil, a few dashes of sea salt and pepper, a handful of freshly chopped rosemary, oregano, and thyme.  I sometimes add a few dashs of garlic powder if I don't have fresh garlic on hand.  I eyeball how much I put in of everything so you can do the same, to your liking.

Step 5 - Roast in the oven for about 35-50 minutes.  The amount of time will depend on the size of the vegetables and on how crispy and golden you like them.

Wow, five easy steps, I didn't realize how simple this recipe really was and you will love it! It's a wonderful addition to your meal and a perfect comfort food to welcome in Fall this weekend!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Time for a Cookie Fix!

Need a cookie/chocolate/banana fix? This recipe from Vegan Baking will certainly do the trick, it did for me and my friends ... and now I want more!  They are amazingly delicious, oouy and goouy awesome!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
This recipe originally from Vegan Baking, slightly altered.

1 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup cashew butter
1/4 cup almond butter
1 over ripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup almond milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 325F.

2. In a large bowl mix together the sugar, cashew butter, almond butter, banana, canola oil, almond milk, vanilla extract, and salt.

3. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. In another large bowl, whisk together the rolled oats, whole wheat flour and baking powder.

5. Pour half of the dry ingredients into the bowl containing the wet ingredients and mix with a spoon until well incorporated.  Add the remaining dry ingredients to the bowl containing the wet ingredients and mix as much as you can with the spoon.

6. At this point the dough will be so thick you'll probably need to mix it with your hands.  Do this until the dough is well mixed.

7. Form into spoon sized balls and place on a lightly oiled or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. 

8. Squish cookies down to 1 inch height and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  Do not over bake.  Remove and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

9. Store the cookies in a covered container at room temperature for up to 1 week or in a freezer bag in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Makes about 18 cookies.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Where I've Been, Where I am ...

My parents think I'm crazy, while others have said it is admirable and adventurous! For me, I think it was just inevitable to quit my job of 5.5 years and use the next couple of months to work on a farm. Yeah, maybe it's a little crazy, but it has been such an amazing experience so far and I have never felt happier!

I've been working at ManoRun Organic Farm for the last couple of weeks with a lovely couple, Chris and Denise.  It's been everything I imagined but so much more.  I've been doing everything from hand-milking their beautiful cow Trish to working in the fields, hoeing, harvesting, planting, working at markets and meeting some great people along the way.  Every day is different, often presenting new challenges.  I spend my days outdoors in the glorious fields, surrounded by nature.

I have never felt happier and healthier, and have been doing my best to enjoy the journey and not worry about what happens next.  That however, has been my greatest challenge - living in the moment, living in each day and enjoying what each day brings.  But isn't that a challenge for most people? Isn't that the reason why some people wake up one day and ask themselves, 'is this all there is?'

I simply decided to go one step further and say, 'no, there is waaaaay more to life than our 9-5 jobs, our overpriced lifestyles, fancy cars, and stress-filled lives. I want to experience life to it's fullest, to find and do what makes me happy and to enjoy every moment of it, now!'

Step one, quit your job, do something different and shake things up a little and hopefully, once the dust settles, things will become much clearer.

Milking Trish at ManoRun Farm.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mike's Vegan Mac 'n' Cheeze

Growing up, I loooooooved mac and cheese as a kid. But with everything I know now about food and the industry, I just can't bring myself to ever buy, prepare or eat one of those out of the box meals ever again.  So I also loooooove it when my wonderful and amazing boyfriend makes me vegan mac 'n' cheeze from scratch!

Mike's Vegan Mac 'n' Cheeze

More or less, in his words ...

I don't know exact measurements.  I just do it.  So here goes:
Cook 454g package of organic macaroni according to package directions
Preheat oven for 350F

To make the sauce:

Melt 2 Tablespoons of Earth Balance vegan butter in a pan.
Add 1.5 Tablespoons of organic flour.
Simmer and stir on low heat until creamy.
Stir in 1 cup almond milk until smooth.
Add about 1 teaspoon of yellow mustard (from the bottle, not powder).
Add your own spices such as paprika, garlic, whatever you like.
Add 1 Cup Daiya Cheddar cheeze and stir until melted and well combined.

Fry about 1/2 cup of bread crumbs in butter until browned.

Add Macaroni and Sauce to (forget what this dish is called, you know the one, big dish, goes in oven) ... I am pretty sure he means a casserole dish.

Top with Bread Crumbs.
Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Allow to cool before serving but best served hot or warm.  He likes it with ketchup!

Good luck!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Food Filled Long Weekend

This was the last of my Summer lettuce and it was just so gorgeous I had to share it.  I grew three of these beauties and enjoyed them over the long weekend.

Also, more Summer BBQ salads I made for the long weekend ...

A delicious vegan Black Sesame, Avocado and Soba Noodle Salad, a recipe I got from Maple Spice ... and all vegan things nice! website.  Check out their website for more great vegan recipes!

And my own invention, Quinoa Tomato Salad, a delicious vegetarian dish I made for friends this past long weekend.

Quinoa Tomato Salad

2-3 cups cooked quinoa
1 pint of golden cherry tomatoes, sliced once
1 can of sliced black kalamata olives
1 pkg of goat feta cheese
3-4 tbsp of vinaigrette dressing

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve hot, room temperature or cool ... it's great any way!

This amazing brunch (pictured above) that my friend Kathryn made this weekend (I helped, only a little) definitely deserves honorable mention.  It was absolutely AMAZING! All vegan, all delicious, it included roasted mixed potatoes, tofu scramble with Daiya, spinach salad, and sauteed vegan sausage with tomato, mushrooms, spinach, and lots of spices.

It was a fabulous long weekend indeed!

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