Summer Bean Salad

IMG_0410We recently held our island’s annual fundraising event. Starting sometime in the early spring, I designed a menu that would happily feed most. Any one dish could be omitted, and the rest would still be a great meal. This was the easiest and most economical way to feed over 130 people regardless of most food allergies or concerns. As well, we have very limited cold storage, and as this was being held in early August, that was a key concern for the amount of food we’d be preparing. What I came up with was a menu that included five different salads, all to be served family style to tables of eight. Each was made of components that could be mixed just before service. As well as the salads, we served small appetizer plates, BBQ chicken with fresh peach salsa, fresh rolls, and Peach-Blueberry Crisp with ice cream.   It was a great meal, with a lovely mix of textures, colours and flavours. I have promised to post the recipes, so here’s the first of five. Continue reading

Fried Rice ~ Basic Recipe

IMG_9565_2For several months one year, we had two young women staying with us through the Canada World Youth Program; one was a Canadian university student from Sherbrooke, Quebec, and the other, an economics student from Jakarta, Indonesia. Language was one of the key components to their stay here, as well as volunteering in the community. While I struggled with Indonesian, finding it difficult to separate the words, as the language is so fluid, I did find my high school French coming back to me so quickly. The three of us would laugh, quite often pointing, or drawing pictures to communicate. But slowly it all started to happen. Often just a quick sentence, but the intent was picked up on.

Besides language, food was a huge part of us getting to know each other and our cultures. Our household became used to the scent of rice in all its cooked forms. During Ramadan, the two of them would get up before dawn, and start cooking the early meal. Usually it was a simple assembly of fried rice. A few pieces of garlic, onions, and hot peppers, fried with leftover rice from the evening meal. Other bits of vegetables or meats would be added, and served with sambal oelek and ketjap bentang. This meal would last them right through until the late meal. Our Quebec guest found it very hard to manage the long days of fasting, but did it to experience her counterpart’s religion. Our tiny, Indonesian friend explained to me, that if you eat less, it is far easier to make it through the day, as she watched with glee as our young Canadian friend wolfed down a bagel with cream cheese following her fried rice.

Frying the rice before cooking it (instead of frying leftover rice) gives it a nuttier flavour. The recipe still uses small amounts of vegetable, meats, and egg to make it a complete meal. Be creative with this, as it is a very simple meal, using what is at hand. It can easily be fully vegetarian, or just use the egg if you like. Continue reading

Cheddar Cumin Scones

IMG_6283Picture this, the temperature is wavering between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius (35 – 46 degrees Fahrenheit ~ see how inclusive I am?) and the clouds are rolling over the hill that cuts off the sun too early in the winter months. You know it’s going to rain, you know that daylight hours are just about done, time to feed the stock and get them settled in for the night.

Walking down to the house, with it weirdly lit from a dark-purply-clouded northwestern sky, all you want to do is be inside, for the duration of the long night ahead. It isn’t teatime, but too early for dinner. How about a cheese & cumin scone to warm you from the inside out? These are so good, with the earthy warm tones of cumin settling over the always-wonderful flavour of aged cheddar. Make a batch, have one with a late afternoon “beverage”, and hold yourself until that late dinner that is somehow going to appear miraculously. If it doesn’t appear, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. You can always have another scone, and another glass of…. 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