Yam Oven Fries

IMG_5722There are certain foods that we know are treats, and should be eaten rarely. French Fries are the ubiquitous side that comes with so many meals.  Fast food restaurants started to give us more choices, but fries still hit the plate more often than not.   Fries with gravy stepped up the not–good–for–you quotient even more!   We had a small rule in our household that the only time we could eat fries with gravy was if we were on one of BC Ferries’ main routes.  Then came yam fries.

These tender, delicious morsels were what apparently I had been waiting my whole life for.  They’re better for you just because of what they’re made from!  Now they are my food choice when on one of the “big” ferries.

At home, I rarely deep–fry foods, however these fries are excellent done in the oven.  Squeeze on a bit of limejuice, a dash of salt & pepper with a drizzle of oil, and you have an incredible, colourful side.  Oh heck, let them stand on their own.   Continue reading

Crab Cakes

IMG_5721About 15 years ago, we had an epic snowfall over the Christmas holidays.  Not that it takes too much for us to be excited, as in this area more than a foot is remarkable.  This storm brought us about 3½’ of snow over a couple of days.  Just when we thought it was over, it would start again.  We have walkout horse stalls, and I can remember the snow sliding off the barn roof towards the snow in the paddocks, until there was only about a 3’ opening.  The horses got in their stalls and then stayed for a few days, while I mucked out religiously, fetched water and food.

During this time, we also lost our power, not a huge concern for us with a great woodstove, back up generator, and gravity fed water.  However, our friends started dropping by to our warm home “for just a quick shower” or a dinner of things that needed to be used up, as their fridges needed to be emptied.  We put the extensions in our kitchen table, and had weird meals of things like perogies & sole, while we played cards and visited.

By the time New Year’s rolled in, we were all pretty tired of the snow, and its inconveniences.  We were invited to a friend’s home for dinner, where she was holed up with a couple of B&B guests.  After hiking out our driveway, and driving over to her place on the water’s edge, we were greeted with lots of candles, and a cheerful fire burning.  We gathered round a big table and demolished a huge crab feast!  It was fabulous! Just what we needed after a weird week of just getting by, and having most of our Christmas plans cancelled.

As the evening unfolded, the weather outside was changing.  The temperature was rising, and rain started falling.  Really falling.  By the time we were trekking back down our driveway, we could hear the water rushing under the icy bottom crust of the snow.

Whenever I eat crab now, I look back at that evening, regardless of the season.  Crabmeat is easily available, either fresh packed or frozen, and makes great crab cakes.

The trick with crab cakes is not to overburden them with unnecessary flavours, and to add just enough binding ingredients to keep them together.   Continue reading

Butternut Squash Gratin with Baby Kale & Pecans

IMG_5686Back in the beginnings of our life on the farm, we used to grow squash in places where we’d had a burn pit.  We’d turn over all the ash, add some compost, and plant a few seeds.  Sometimes they were seeds that a friend had from the last year’s crop.  The biggest were Hubbards, and they grew to be huge, grey-green, miss formed globes.  If we had excess milk from the dairy that needed to be thrown out, it would go on the squash mounds to feed them even more.  I suppose seeing how big we could grow them was part of the charm, until we wanted to use them.  As we didn’t have a frost-free storage area to store them, we would cook, and then freeze them.

Cutting into a Hubbard squash is not easy.  I can remember swinging the splitting maul, just hoping to pierce it enough to pry it open.  When we finally did get it open, then we’d need to cut it into chunks that would fit into our trailer’s oven, to be roasted, and then frozen for use later on in the winter.  It would take about 3 roastings just to get it all done, from just one squash!

It’s been awhile since we’ve done any major squash growing.  It’s just so easy to go to the farmer’s market and buy lovely Butternuts, Acorns, Delicatas, and so many more.  They’re a manageable size, and I don’t have to worry about storing them in a frost-free space!

This is a wonderful gratin that really shows off the great flavour that Butternut Squash has.  It’s teamed with garlic and kale, with a yummy gratin topping.  Even though it is meant as a side, it could easily be served as a main.  You’ll just need more! Continue reading

Caramel Sauce

IMG_5667Sometimes a recipe’s ingredients aren’t readily available.  Usually caramel sauce is made with sugar, water, cream, and a bit of vanilla.   Three of those ingredients are usually in the house.  Cream: not always.   However, eggs are usually on hand.

This recipe uses the richness of egg yolks to help set the sauce, and give it a lovely sheen when serving.  Don’t cook over too high a heat, or the yolks will separate a bit.  It will come to a boil, just give it a bit more time.  Just be sure to strain the sauce before using.

This is great with apple cake, ginger cake, bread puddings, ice cream etc.  Continue reading