Monday, March 21, 2011

spring may have sprung

what a difference the weather makes! yesterday was my best day at the market yet...hooray and thanks!
people seemed to be in a much better mood and excited to be out of the house, enjoying the sun and exploring the market. so today is the first full day of spring and it certainly feels like it. time to plan the garden...
this year i'm attempting to grow as much of my own produce as possible. in the restaurants i worked for in ottawa, the cooks would always grow a garden to supply the restaurant with as many fresh veggies as possible. i also had an apartment (with a yard of course) garden where i grew 27 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, chillies, bell peppers and herbs to make my bbq sauces and salsas from scratch. i know the growing conditions are quite different in prospect village than in the ottawa valley but i am still going to try my best.
however, i may have bitten off a little more than i can chew...

this is my selection of seeds thus far. i'm also planning on hitting up the seedy saturday heirloom seed sale out in spryfield on april 2nd. i've heard there will be a lady there who is incredibly passionate about potatoes which i know grow well here, and i'd also like some chiogga beets, red carrots and some lettuces...i think my eyes may be bigger than my gardening ability.
i bought the four packets in the bottom row from a nice lady at the market on saturday and i also got these from her - 


my windowsill garden is coming along. herbs are so expensive so i'm going to try and grow them all myself.

so far i have oregano, rosemary and thyme but i need some mint, dill and basil to brighten up my summertime cooking.

this is micro arugula, it grows super fast and adds a sharp, peppery flavour to food and i like it. i'd like to transplant a bunch outside to grow for salads and keep some small indoors for garnish and last minute touches.

i had these little salads for sale yesterday. i bought the vine tomatoes from elmridge - they don't grow them but act as a distributor for the man who does (don't worry they're still local). the cucumber i bought at noggins and the greens are from hutten family farm. they don't sell at the seaport market but still have an awesome table at the historic market. their veggies all looked fantastic and they had a really wide selection - i didn't even know what a couple of the root veggies were! the greens are baby mache, arugula and a microgreen blend (like mesclun). add a red wine vinaigrette and it was a great bright and acidic salad to accompany the richness of the quiche it was served with.
as the summer months approach i'm definitely shifting into lighter fare. in the summer i like to eat a lot of sandwiches (well i like those all of the time actually), bright salads, bbq and lots of simply grilled veggies, fish and chicken. i'm used to farmers walking in the back door and being totally stoked on their veggies of the day so the menu might change a little to showcase the most awesome product. that's how i want to cook this summer - fly by the seat of my pants, walk out the back door and see what i can find. in march this all sounds great but i might need to hire a full time gardener for the summer months...

speaking of lighter fare - this is the vegan vegetable stew i made this week. it is loaded up with tons of veggies: multi-coloured carrots, fingerling potatoes, kale, swiss chard, zucchini, white turnips, parsnips, celery.... the list goes on and on and i think it's the new 'healthiest thing i ever made'. people sometimes freak out thinking vegan = bland. load it up with veggies and fresh herbs and it's rad and healthy.

but i can't forget the bacon either...

this is a slab of double smoked roselane farm bacon and it is good. i used it for my quiche lorraine yesterday along with some foxhill cheese aged gouda and caramelized onions. they sold out - i'll try to make some more for next week, but my prep list is slightly out of control!

this week was also crazy for cupcakes. i had three flavours with blueberry, raspberry and mint icing. along with massive cookies, lemon tarts, brownies, macaroons.

red velvet was the most popular and was sold out my about 2. i think it will be my signature flavour - especially with raspberry, cream cheese frosting.
this week i also made a great discovery - selwood green has a juicer and they can supply me with beet juice. red velvet normally relies on food colouring but lots of people are allergic, it's fake and organic beet juice does the same thing!

i froze it in ice cube portions and i'm going to just pop a cube into each batch - this is a bit of an experiment but i think/hope it'll work...

weekly menu to come - definitely fish pie for sunday (peter from the fish shop has some sustainable sea bass and arctic char coming in on friday) but i'm still trying to decide what else to make - in addition to another batch of the chicken, leek, broccoli and bacon pie, quiche lorraine, salt cod fish cakes, sausage and pepper baked penne, cream of broccoli soup, roasted red pepper and sweet potato soup, and 3 flavours of bbq sauce...


  1. Wow Jenna! Your lemon tartlets are soooooo good! I enjoyed both of them by the time I walked to my car! Good luck with your Prospect garden!

  2. Looks amazing, what a wonderful selection of local food!! Spring salads are the best!

  3. The vegan vegetable stew was delicious! Also...hooray for beet juice:)

  4. WOOHOO! More of the Chicken Broccoli pies, YAY!