Wednesday, November 30, 2011

dumping day

yesterday was 'dumping day'. it's officially the day that lobster fishermen on the south shore can set their baited traps so they can start hauling them today on the first day of lobster season.

i like lobster. i also like watching all the action from inside where it's warm.

yeah that's the view from inside my living room!

anyway, i live in a fishing village & i have prime real estate for watching all the 'goings on' of dumping day. there were a few helicopters out, the coast guard was there is full force inspecting permits, and as the day progressed i watched the number of traps on the docks dwindle.

as far as i'm concerned, lobster fishermen are some of the hardest workers out there. the seas are pretty dangerous at this time of year, the water is cold and the lobsters are unbelievably vicious before they have their bands on.

yesterday the fishermen were blessed with awesome weather.

calm seas & no wind make for a pretty amazing dumping day. but alas, the north atlantic is not always so forgiving & cooperative. today the wind had picked up, but at least it's not cold yet.

this is still pretty tame, but the lobster fishermen brave seas all winter that are completely ridiculous.

as a business owner, i'm always concerned with the bottom line, but at the same time i think people should be rewarded for risking their lives and harvesting one of the best local products around. it's such a shame that the lobster market has bottomed out - these folks deserve more for the work they are doing and the risks they are taking. 

buy local & buy direct whenever possible... & don't complain about the price of lobster - it's totally worth it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

weekend menu

sorry i'm a little late posting this today... but i was running around all morning & dropping off mini cupcakes to the festival of trees luncheon. i knew it was a big event but holy camoly that place was radical! the trees were all so 'blinged' out, the decor was amazing & there were tons and tons of cakes. my little mini cupcakes looked so cute and amateurish next to all the elaborate, fondant covered creations... but i'm sure that tasted awesome, and that's what really counts!

and the trees... the trees were so beautiful... and intense.

this one was my favourite colour scheme.

this one was mostly edible - those are cookie ornaments, super cute!

yeah that's right, shoes as ornaments!

and this one was my favourite of them all...

a candy creation from sweet jane's.

now i'm definitely in the christmas spirit, i wish i didn't have to bake all day & could start decorating instead. but alas, the cupcakes, cookies, tarts, squares, rolls & brownies won't bakes themselves.

cupcake flavours this week are chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, carrot & banana chocolate chip. i'll have the toffee, chocolate, nut squares, lemon meringues, snickers brownies & oatmeal, cranberry, white chocolate chip cookies as well.

the quinoa salad got a minor makeover from some whole grain mustard & dill, and the wild rice salad has all the usual suspects.

the fresh option this week is a curry. it's loaded up with braised shani's farm chicken, cauliflower, sweet potatoes & butternut squash, green beans, coriander and lime. this batch of basmati is kicked up with coconut milk, cardamom & kaffir lime and i don't think i'll ever cook just plain rice again.
small $10 large $20

from the freezer there's lots of tourtieres, shepherd's pies, lobster macs, braised brisket, vegan lasagna & fish cakes & beans. there's a few small chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies floating around but they are in very short supply - i'll make more for next week.

then for soups, etc:

curried butternut squash
pumpkin, ginger, cardamom
beet, parsnip & pear
vegan stew
vegan chilli
lentil veggie
roasted red pepper, tomato, sweet potato & chipotle
cream of cauliflower
potato, leek, celery root & parsnip
miso mushroom
baked beans
beef stew
seafood chowder

ps: the first 6 are vegan & gluten free.

there's a new batch of maple bourbon bbq sauce all packaged up & sesame ginger is in the works... but i'm waaayyyyy behind schedule so it remains to be seen if it makes it to the market tomorrow.

time to get crackin', see ya tomorrow.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

holiday meal planner

with the first snowfall under our belts, thoughts are quickly turning to christmas. i'm not gonna lie, yesterday i found myself humming carols around the kitchen. as of tomorrow, it's one month away. luckily for me, my christmas is pretty stress free. i don't have to cook anything for a single holiday meal & i can take care of most of my christmas shopping at the seaport market while i'm 'working'. i realize for most people this is not the case and that's why yesterday i started thinking about a holiday meal planner.

with so many holiday gatherings and special meals, wouldn't it be nice to just go to the freezer and grab a little red kitsch'n concoction to alleviate some of the pressure? i think so... but i guess i'm a little biased! i'll also be putting together some little holiday packages of sauces & rubs, sweets & hors d'oeuvres for gifts and cocktail parties.

not everything is ready just yet, but over the next couple of weeks i'll be making it all, so just check the weekly menus for availability. if you'd like to reserve something just shoot me an e-mail at

so here's what i was thinking yesterday:

christmas eve: my family always eats acadian rappi pie & seafood chowder. but a tourtiere or lobster mac & cheese would be nice as well.

christmas morning: after all the insanity it's nice to have a hearty, no-brainer breakfast. how about a roasted butternut squash, maple & pecan strata or a quiche: lorraine, smoked salmon or florentine?

christmas dinner: i don't want to mess with tradition, but it could be nice to bring a side of festive wild rice salad or quinoa salad. and for all the vegans out there, having a vegan lasagna on hand would ensure your choices aren't limited to steamed veggies (i'm also thinking of a 'christmas-y' vegan main, but it's not finalized yet...).

boxing day: growing up, boxing day was always considered a day of rest. maybe fry up some fish cakes & baked beans for breakfast or pop in a chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pie or a shepherd's pie for an easy supper. or maybe just have some healthy soup for a bit of a cleanse.

potluck supper: curried chicken & chickpeas, braised pork & sweet potato pie, or creamy british seafood pies are always crowd pleasers & a nice change from turkey.

cocktail party: these can be the most overwhelming and stressful of all. hors d'oeuvres i've always been successful with are mushroom & goat cheese triangles, savoury southwestern sweet potato pies, thai inspired mini crab cakes, individual smoked salmon & dill quiches and asian chicken dumplings. 

desserts: mini cupcakes, lemon meringues, peppermint meringue kisses, bite-sized brownies, chocolate truffles & individual cheesecakes round out any spread... or become the spread themselves. if you'd like to order these by the dozen i need at least 48 hours notice - thanks!

new year's eve: some years we'd just have a big pot of chilli or seafood chowder on the stove, but for a more substantial meal a creamy british fish pie, tourtiere, or lobster mac & cheese would do the trick. or if it's just a quiet dinner for two, a braised beef brisket with mushrooms, shallots, kale & blue cheese polenta would definitely do the trick - with a big glass of red wine.

new year's day: probably another day where fish cakes & baked beans would be handy to have in the freezer or a hearty strata to start the new year off right.

january: vegan soup!

also fitting with the holiday theme - don't forget to check out my mini cupcakes at the festival of trees luncheon being held at the world trade & convention centre tomorrow. all proceeds support the mental health foundation of nova scotia.

ps: this weekend i will also be accepting donations of incredibly gawdy, tacky & kitschy christmas decorations from the 70s and 80s that are too embarrassing to be hung in your own home & would otherwise be headed for the trash... there's a little competition at the market & i want to have the most eye catching table around!

ok, time to cook.

Friday, November 18, 2011

weekend menu

it's official - i'll be all alone at the market this weekend... she said while quietly sobbing... maternity leave & the demands of a full-time job, have stripped me of my helpers. please be patient... i'm scared.

so on the menu this weekend i have a fresh batch of shepherd's pies - getaway farm ground beef, peas, corn, cheddar-green onion mashed potatoes.
small $9 large $18

i also have tourtieres - shani's farm ground pork, herbed pastry, warm spices.
$20 - 9 inch pie

there's a new batch of chipotle lime bbq sauce and maple bourbon as well.

i'm going to make the rice salad the same as last week - pears, pecans, walnuts, cranberries, red onion, maple, pumpkin, seeds.

the quinoa salad will also look the same.

last weekend i also noticed that the thai chicken & rice soup wasn't selling as well as usual... then i also noticed that i had forgotten to write it on the list. so here's a complete list of what flavours i have:

thai chicken & rice
beef stew
seafood chowder
roasted red pepper, tomato & sweet potato
vegan vegetable stew
curried butternut squash
pumpkin, ginger & cardamom
potato, leek, celery root & parsnip
cream of cauliflower
baked beans

there's a lentil soup in the works & vegan chilli as well. i'm having some space issues so it remains to be seen if i'll have them finished for tomorrow...

from the freezer i also have:

chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies  small $10 large $20

fish cakes & baked beans  $15

lobster mac & cheese  small $12.5 large $25

braised brisket with blue cheese polenta, kale, mushrooms, shallots  $23

curried chicken & chickpeas with basmati rice  $20

sausage & cheese curd penne  $7.5

today is baking day.

oatmeal, white chocolate chip & dried cranberry cookies
chocolate, coconut macaroons
cupcakes galore - chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, carrot & brown sugar/cinnamon
lemon meringues
sweet rolls (milk rolls)
mint oreo cheesecakes

i'm also donating lots of cookies to a charity event tomorrow so the oven will be working overtime today...

and i'm off to the races.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


this weekend some customers paid me some very nice compliments & gave me that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. it's one thing to receive compliments from family & friends, but it's a whole 'nother story to receive them from people i don't even know.

over the past fews weeks, i've noticed a few faces coming back time & time again - my newest regulars. this weekend they made me very happy. they told me how they had replaced ordering in or picking up takeout, with my food. or that, my product may be a teensy bit out of their price range but they still buy it every week to have delicious food to look forward to.

when hammering out the details of this business and figuring out the positioning of the brand, i wanted it to be a replacement for restaurants or the dreaded frozen food aisle. the value is added by not dealing with the hassle of shopping, cooking or cleaning up and coupled with all of the time that saves. also, by sourcing many ingredients locally and preparing them with care, hopefully (fingers crossed), the end product is something that people wouldn't typically whip up on a thursday night.

one customer told me that the food she purchased from me wasn't something that she could even find in a restaurant in halifax... yay! that was exactly what i was going for. and when you think about it, it's cheaper as well. my main courses range from $7.50 - $12.50 per person. that's much less than i would expect to pay when eating out, compounded by saving on tip & marked up wine.

don't get me wrong, i love eating out - not having to do any work, enjoying the ambience & being looked after. and i understand that the restaurant industry is brutal - there is an 80% failure rate. the margins on food are slim, the overheard is steep and the industry is extremely competitive. i wish them well and i would love to see the restaurant industry in halifax prosper & grow, but i also realize that not everyone has the time or the disposable income to eat out every night and that is where i tried to position my product.

i love to cook, i love to bake & i love dreaming up new concoctions. the compliments i received this weekend reaffirmed that i'm doing an ok job at it and filling a need within the local market.


Friday, November 11, 2011

weekend menu

i'm no vegan, but it's sort of fun experimenting, concocting & coming up with new vegan main courses. this week's dish is a vegan lasagna. the tomato sauce is chock full o' stuff: onions, garlic, peppers, mushrooms, celery, carrots, zucchini, eggplant, olives, and tomatoes of course. it will be layered with noodles, and a tofu/ nutritional yeast/ swiss chard & kale mixture to replicate the spinach & cheese layer. 
assembly takes place today, but the components are done & i'm quite pleased thus far. perhaps i should become a vegan... yeah right ;)
small $8 large $16

i also made a fresh batch of chowder this week. this one is super hearty and loaded up with mussels, salmon, smoked & regular haddock, potatoes, celery, onions, leeks, celery root & dill. this batch turned out extra stick to your ribs - perfect for abominable days like today!

the wild rice salad has even more treats in it this week: pears, roasted pumpkin & butternut squash, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cranberries, sage, red onion & maple - i may have gotten a little carried away.

and the quinoa salad is courtesy of lynne. you may remember lynne from the summer - avid baker, food blogger, volunteer extraordinaire... well she's back for the long weekend and diligently chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes & roasted peppers for the salad yesterday. today it will be dressed with herbs, lemon & kicked up with handfuls of baby arugula.

her return also means there will be extra baked goods on my table this weekend. perhaps some lemon squares and an oreo/toffee/coconut/creamy/chocolatey slice of decadence... i'm also in the midst of battling with some peppermint meringues - baked meringues and humidity are not a match made in heaven. if i come out on top, i'll have these cute little gems tomorrow;

but no promises, i'm at the mercy of mother nature & this epic storm...

 and i guess it's been awhile since i posted a thorough list of freezer contents, so here goes:

lobster mac & cheese - leeks, tomatoes, panko, foxhill curds, parmesan bechamel
small $12.5 large $25

broccoli mac & cheese - leeks, garlic, foxhill curds, old growler, panko
small $8 large $16 (very few left!)

braised beef brisket - blue cheese polenta, kale, roasted shallots, mushrooms, beef demi
large $23

chicken, leek, broccoli, bacon pies - shani's farm, puff pastry lid, herbs, rich gravy
small $10 large $20

shepherd's pie - getaway beef, peas, corn, cheddar-green onion mashed potatoes
small $9 large $18

curried chicken & chickpeas - steamed basmati rice, coconut, cilantro, butternut squash
large $20

fish cakes & baked beans - salt cod, savoury, molasses, maple syrup
4 fish cakes & 500 ml beans $15
ps: i've had lots of questions about the fish cakes. so, when cooking:
- heat up 1cm vegetable oil in the pan
- panfry the fish cakes from frozen
- it should only take about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side until the panko is golden brown
- transfer to a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 15 mins or until hot inside
- good luck

sausage & cheese curd baked penne - shani's farm italian sausages, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, kale, parmesan marinara
small $7.5 large $15

there may also be one small vegan moroccan pumpkin stew with almond/sumac quinoa in the freezer at the market but i'm not 100% - i burned through that one pretty quick!

for soups there's:
seafood chowder
beef stew
thai chicken & rice
baked beans
vegan chili
curried butternut squash
pumpkin, ginger & cardamom
beet, parsnip & pear
roasted pepper, tomato & sweet potato
miso, mushroom, udon & choy
potato, leek, celery root & parsnip
cream of cauliflower

jeepers - i've got a lot of stuff! thanks to my new freezer at the market, i can produce to my heart's content! next week i'm already planning a bean extravaganza - new batch of chili, lentil/bean/veggie soup & a braised pork dish with a hearty bean ragout side... and maybe a vegan version too... oh & maybe my first batch of tourtieres to kick off the holiday season...

this week i've also escaped the kitchen a few times - dinner party of phad thai & homemade rice wraps, dinner @ the wooden monkey, and then dinner @ brooklyn warehouse last night. thus far everything has been fab & i'm kicking myself for not taking pictures so i could blog about it all. tomorrow should see a trip to obladee for cheese & charcuterie after the market so i'll try to be on top of it for that one.

hopefully the weather clears & everyone comes out to the market in droves this weekend - see you there!
saturday 7am-4pm
sunday 8am-4pm
under the stairs, behind the line up for le vendeenne :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

weekend update

it's been a busy, busy week thus far & my countdown to monday is on!
yesterday involved a lot of running around but it was worth it. i provided some super cute goodies to a charity event & i was really happy with how they turned out.

yay! i'll definitely be making these again, and i think they would make excellent wedding favours, just sayin'...

so, the menu this week features some serious comfort food - i've been cooking like i'm about to head into hibernation.

there are two new main courses.
one features red wine braised, getaway farm beef brisket. it's in a rich sauce with lots of garlic, herbs & homemade beef stock. the veggies are poached shallots, mushrooms & kale and it's served on a bed of soft polenta with some hits of creamy, blue cheese. this one serves two & is $23.

the second main is an oldie but a goodie - chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies. the chicken is from shani's farm. it's braised until super tender, then shredded and mixed in with melted leeks, garlic, celery, broccoli & a rich gravy. then the whole dish is topped off with a puff pastry lid. there are two sizes, small (individual) $10 and large (for 2) $20

i also made a fresh batch of roasted red pepper, sweet potato, and tomato soup. it has a lot of southwestern flavours - chipotle, lime, cilantro, cumin and has a fair bit of heat. this one is vegetarian but not vegan.

there's also a new batch of curried butternut squash soup. this one has lots of lime leaves, lemongrass, ginger & coconut milk. it's done, but not pureed & packaged yet. whether or not i have it at the market tomorrow depends on how the day goes today...

on the prep list today is a fresh batch of baked beans, finishing up the quinoa & wild rice salads and, of course, all of my baking. throw in catering a lunch and you understand the insanity that i can look forward to for the rest of the day...

better get started... womp, womp, womp.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

midweek market

yesterday i headed down to the seaport market to take care of my shopping for the week.

it was completely dead - i think the slowest i've ever seen it.

i just don't understand why. i do a fair bit of food shopping and the grocery stores are always packed, the big boxes are all extremely packed & the product just doesn't compare.

i for one, would never in a million years buy fresh fish from the supermarket - it gives me the willies. and it really irks me when i get to the checkout and the teenage cashier has to ask me what half the produce items are. and call me crazy, but it's sort of nice to have steaks custom cut for me.

maybe i don't shop like most people, but i like to buy things from people who know what they're talking about and are passionate about their product. you can develop relationships, talk cooking & recipes, and trust the product that you're purchasing.

even if i wasn't selling at the market on saturdays, i still wouldn't buy my product that day. sure there are more vendors, but there are also more crowds to battle, crowded parking lots and a certain level of anxiety & stress about the market. don't get me wrong, it's still a fun vibe & a great social outing but not the environment where i want to get my errands done.

parking sometimes gives me a panic attack, but there was ample parking right in front of the door yesterday. later on i had to venture out to bayer's lake as well. en route i battled way more traffic & the parking lots were filled with really bad drivers. with parking right outside the doors i was able to shop to my hearts content and run it out as i needed - something that's not really possible on the weekends.

i bought so much product that i had to make three trips out to my car just to drop things off. i really should have taken a picture of the trunk of my car. from noggins i bought loads of broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, kale, butternut squash and apples. from foxhill i bought some different blue cheeses and was able to chat about their characteristics in cooking. from getaway farm meat mongers i got hot italian sausages (sooo good!) and beef bones to make a stock. and from seablooms i got a really interesting bouquet of flowers for a friend who just opened a new business.

the fish shop, selwood green, steve-o-renos, cheelin, wrap so d, etc.... were all open. so there were lots of options for coffee, lunch, veggies, fish, meat, cheese & sweets. i just don't get it. the product is much nicer, the parking is less stressful, the staff is more knowledgeable yet there's no one there...

ok enough ranting for one day. 

today i am channeling julia child & doing a take on her famous boeuf bourgignon. i'm using brisket from getaway farm & adding kale from noggins to add some more nutrients and serving it with blue cheese polenta instead of mashed potatoes. i'll also be whipping up a fresh batch of chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies.

i need to get a jump on the week so i have time to deliver sweets to the handsmade for helping charity event tomorrow, cater a lunch on friday and prep some nibblies for a friend's baby shower on sunday - oh & get ready for the market of course!

and don't forget that the market is open during the week & there is always lots of beautiful product to be found there.