Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Father's Day Celebration Strawberry Shortcakes

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Is there any dessert more wonderful than the classic Strawberry Shortcake?

I know what you are thinking ..... what about 'healthy food'?

Let me explain:
Today is Father's Day; a day to celebrate our Dad's.

Side Story: A group of researchers, when studying attitudes towards food, asked a group of Americans what was the first word that came to their mind when they thought of chocolate cake.  They most often replied: guilt
When a group of french people were asked the same question, they replied: celebration!
Let's think about what we would respond to the word chocolate about YUM!

So my point is this: This dessert IS  real food, we make it from scratch with lots of love and attention...and dirty dishes!

I make strawberry shortcake at least 3 or 4 times a year when the local strawberries come out in all of their sweet, red glory. Mike is not a 'cake man', so I make it for Father's Day and his birthday in July.

The strawberries are from a roadside stand operated by a little old lady called Myrtle.
Myrtle gets up before dawn, PICKS the strawberries in the rich soils of Annapolis valley, then DRIVES 45 minutes to our area to sell them all day!

I have attempted to make healthier sorts of strawberry shortcake - whole grain biscuits instead of white, yogurt in place of whipped cream - but alas, the traditional buttery white flour biscuit and the whipped mountain of cream win out in the flavour, texture and taste department every time.

Father's Day Celebration Strawberry Shortcake:

The Biscuit:
Oven: 425

1 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
5 tbsp cold unsalted butter
3/4 cup buttermilk

Whisk the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and baking powder together.
If desired, you could add a little lemon zest to the flour mixture.

TIP: grate the cold butter into the flour mixture instead of cutting it up into little pieces. Then work it into a mealy consistency with your fingers.

Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and stir in the buttermilk. Stir gently, and only until the dough is moistened.

Flatten out gently with your hands and cut into shapes.

Put the biscuits onto a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.

The Strawberries:
Clean, hull and slice strawberries into a bowl. Add a couple of tbsp of sugar and let them 'macerate' - I know that sounds sexy, but it just means let them sit and get juicy in the sugar! Gosh, that sounds sexy too...or is it just me?? Luckily Mike comes home from a business trip tonight!

The Whipped Cream:
Whip the whipping cream until soft folds occur. Add a tablespoon of confectioners sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Do not over beat.

TIP: Have the bowl and whipping cream very cold before whipping.

The Assembly:
With great abandon, fill the biscuits with the strawberries and whipped cream and top with a good dollop of more whipped cream! it  with great abandon!!!



God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle's flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so,

He called it ... Dad

~~Author Unknown

Friday, June 11, 2010

Landlord in a Stew about Rhubarb Coloured Apartment

The pink and green of rhubarb brings back wonderful memories of my first apartment.
I shared this apartment with two great girls - all three of us -  20 years old and fresh St. Francis Xavier University graduates. I had lived at home during university, so I was over the top excited about the new pad!

The connection to pink and green comes in when we asked the landlord to flip for the paint so we could 'freshen up the place'. Mr. Hayman said 'sure - just keep it neutral'.
Well...neutral to a middle aged businessman is not the same as neutral to three 20 year olds .

We skipped off to the paint store and picked up cans of bubblegum pink, pistachio green and passionate purple. Pink walls, green cupboards, pink living room, purple bedroom.......neutral, right?
Wow, it was great! And what fun we had that year!
I don't believe we got our damage deposit back though -

                            The Three Roommates - circa 1986, Halifax

Neutral .... one thing we should never be neutral about is our health!
Without good health - we have nothing. We need to take great care of our bodies with unprocessed, real food, physical activity, good rest, and balance.

Most people are not neutral about rhubarb - either they really like it or they can't stand it.
Rhubarb is a great vegetable - yes, botanically it is a vegetable! It is known to be a cleanser, a stimulant for the liver and digestive system, and a good source of Vitamin A, Potassium and Calcium.

Rhubarb crisps, pies, muffins - love them all - but most of all good old fashioned stewed rhubarb.


Wash and cut the rhubarb stems into 1 inch pieces -
Put 6 cups of diced rhubarb into a medium saucepan.

TIP: Put the rest of the diced rhubarb into freezer bags and freeze for up to 6 months.

Add about 2 tbsp of water and about 3 tbsp of sugar to the saucepan.
(Now, I like my stewed rhubarb to be tart so that my lips pucker a little when I take a bite - you may want it a little sweeter...but wait till it has stewed, then taste it and adjust sweetening at that time.)

TIP: You can also use honey, or other fruit such as apple or strawberries as a sweetener in stewed rhubarb.

Add a little grated ginger or some grated orange peel if desired.

Stir the rhubarb occasionally as it cooks, uncovered, over medium heat until it softens - oooohhh about 10 minutes. When it has softened, cover, lower heat and let it cook a few minutes longer.

Taste and adjust sweetening to suit your taste.
Can be enjoyed warm or cold. Store covered in the fridge.

I love stewed rhubarb with plain yogurt and homemade granola for breakfast! (I have come up with a great granola recipe - would you like me to blog on that?)

I wonder if Mr. Hayman likes rhubarb?? Or perhaps the pink and greenness makes him shudder.....

                                     Elaine and Edie 25 years later!
                            (Third roomie, Deirdre lives in Ontario)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Simple Saturday Supper starring Baby Bok Choy

When Saturdays start with a trip to the Hubbard's Market - you know it is going to be a wonderful day!

This market is such a special place - one meets old friends and makes new ones on every visit. The vendor behind the table grows, bakes, roasts or creates the product they are selling.

All of the usual marketer vendors were out - so nice to see they made it through the winter.
Music and laughter filled the air.  Happy customers lined up for coffee from The Laughing Whale Roaster and for artisanal breads at Julien's Boulangerie.

I told myself that I would stick to purchasing veggies and breads - and I did my best - HOWEVER,  it was not easy! I had to pass on adorable jewellery made from buttons and handmade lotions for my poor suffering gardening hands...oh, I almost forgot - I did buy some beeswax taper candles from Mike Bienstock - perfect hand dipped taper candles with the smell of honey wax. He looked at me with these innocent big blue eyes.... what could I do??
And one needs light, right?!

My bounty included a red lettuce, baby beet greens , baby bok choy, kale and basil to plant in my garden, a loaf of pumpernickel bread from Julien's , a roll for Will from Kirstens Kitchen - my bloggy buddy that I met for the first time face-to-face!

Ooooh, those button bracelets were so cute! The perfect gift for a friend or as a conversation starter on your wrist! Maybe she will be there next week! Restraint is not my middle name!

Lucky for me, restraint is not necessary regarding enjoying the gorgeous view on the way home!

The road home winds along the shore of beautiful St. Margaret's  Bay - we always stop at one of the many beaches.


Beach Baby Bella!

 Will and Bella

When we returned home I grabbed my wagon and ran up the street to my neighbour buddies perennial and heirloom vegetable sale!

 These ladies are incredible gardeners! I didn't realize, until Niki moved into the neighbourhood, how much we could grow in our rocky and sometimes wet St Margaret's Bay!  Niki is a horticulturist with a radio show, magazine articles and a book in the making.

When I saw her garden photos in a local newspaper I couldn't  .......actually didn't........ , believe that this was grown three homes away from mine until I saw it with my own eyes!
That was the end of any excuses I had for not being able to grow veggies in my backyard!!

I didn't realize how many plants I bought until I returned home and had to create a couple of new spots to plant tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. Restraint....not my middle name! Do you get overzealous when shopping for plants?

Finally, onto the raison d'etre for this blog....a recipe for Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy! ( Sounds like a good name for a rap star! )

Baby Bok Choy is rich in calcium, vitamins A and C. It is best cooked lightly to keep its nice crisp texture. Alternatively to this recipe, it is also delish stir-fried with sesame oil and tossed with a little soy sauce and sesame seeds!

Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy

Trim off the ends so that leaves separate for cleaning

Cut the stems from the leaves, keeping them separate, cut into bite- size pieces.

Heat a glug of EVOO in a pan, add minced garlic and grated fresh ginger. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

TIP: Tip the pan and pool the oil when you add the garlic and ginger...that way they will swim in the oil and release more of their gorgeous flavour.

TIP: keep a hand of ginger in the freezer. Peel off a little skin at a time and grate or slice off what you need - no more little shriveled hands of ginger at the bottom of your produce drawer!

Add the Bok Choy stems and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add the leaves and cook for about 2 minutes.

Sprinkle with a little apple cider vinegar and freshly ground salt and pepper.

We had the bok choy with a couple of hard boiled eggs and the great pumpernickel bread.

A simple saturday supper on the sun porch!!

Life is good!!!