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Gardening

Peppers in the Oven

On the continuum of slow cooking drying and slow-roasting are pretty near the end of the tail.  In arid, sunny regions an oven isn’t even necessary and the sun stands in. But with an oven at hand and the recurring problem of what to do with its residual heat (see my post on making Chardonnay Apple Butter) I used it to roast/dry sweet and hot red peppers.

I went to Highland Farms the week after Labour Day in search of a bushel of tomatoes for tomato sauce.  They were all sold out but had sweet red bell peppers by the bushel–that’s 36.36875L to be absolutely exact.  I bought one of these, took it to the cottage and divided the peppers between six pans that went into the oven after a pizza session.  The fire had died down but there were still hot coals near the back of the oven. (more…)

Mushrooms and Pea Soup

The pizza oven we built tops out above 1,000°F.  That is with a very hot fire and sniper-like manipulation of the IR thermometer’s red laser target pointer to measure the floor’s temperature.  This is both amazing and useful for cooking pizza but its a fairly easy characteristic to understand and use.  It basically just means that this oven has twice as many little hashes around its (theoretical) temperature dial.

What I’m still getting used to is how long the oven holds heat and has it available to be used for cooking.  Even without an insulated door the floor and dome of our oven are still above 200°F the day after a moderate fire.  Right now I’m looking for ways to use this heat.

I’m approaching this technique with caution but it seems to me that as long as the temperature does not drop below 140°F and into the so-called danger zone food will be just as safe in the oven for extended periods of time as it would be in the refrigerator.  Safety is one thing but there are a limited number of dishes that are more delicious after an extended period of cooking.  But, I guess it’s really “limited” only in the strictest sense of the word. (more…)

French Cornichons

I think I have finally entered the secret brotherhood of homemade cornichon and gherkin makers. My specific goal was not sweet gherkins (which are the right size but way too sweet) or just small versions of a dill pickle but what I wanted is the intensely sour french cornichon that graces my favourite protein delivery system: the charcuterie plate.

The hardcore, pure acid required recipe that I started looking for back in February is, not surprisingly, from Fergus Henderson’s Nose to Tail cookbook.  It doesn’t explicitly call for them the idea of needing black, elbow-length laboratory gloves to make pickles appealed to my  inner Alton Brown.  Problem is that I don’t have the first idea where I could find pure acetic acid and also, after some quick math, I’m not sure there’s any point. (more…)

June Garden Update

May was probably drier than is strictly optimal for my vegetable garden but June has brought even hotter temperatures (particularly warm nighttime temperatures) and a more optimal amount of rain.

In my vegetable garden at the cottage I have even been lucky with weeds.  I learned to identify the edible lambs’ quarters and the runner up for most prevalent “weed” is an unruly (though fragrant) crop of dill.  My selection of vegetables has also been fortuitous because I have temporarily abandoned spinach and radishes–both lovers of cool weather–for more beans, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Witkiem beans with their black spotted, white flowers

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Manic Organic Salad

The Saturday before last I had the great pleasure of touring Stratford’s culinary treasures with a group food-blogging friends.  I’ll put up a post summarising what we saw, did, and most importantly ate but first I want to write a bit about the application; demonstrate how I brought back ideas and product and used them with delicious results.

Our second stop was the Soiled Reputation organic farm run by Antony John (of the Manic Organic show on the Food Network) and his family. Half of their eighty acres are certified organic and it became clear as he took us on a tour of the farm’s fields that Antony really believes in what he’s doing.  A great trick that I picked up from Antony is the practice of picking greens directly into a bucket filled with water.  A lot of the dirt and grit will sink to the bottom of the water and the greens will remain vibrant for a lot longer.

Floating row cover is one of the most important tools of the organic farming trade

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