Archive | August, 2011

Blueberry Strawberry Smoothie

25 Aug

Blueberry strawberry smoothie.

  • 2 cups of frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 3 tbsps of honey (a little more if you like your drinks on the sweeter side)
  • 1/2 cup of strawberry or vanilla yogurt
  • 3 cups of skim milk (add less if you like a thicker consistency for your smoothie)
  • a blender

Frozen blueberries and strawberries in a blender.

Place the strawberries and blueberries into the blender first.  They are the hardest items to breakdown and should be closest to the blade.  Add in the honey, yogurt and milk, then pop the lid on and  blend until the mixture is smooth. Open the blender lid, give the mixture a good stir with a long spoon and blend once more for a few seconds.  Serve immediately with a straw.

For alternatives, try different combinations and/or additions of frozen fruits such as mango, peaches and raspberries.


Banana French Toast

18 Aug

Two slices of banana french toast using sourdough bread.

  • 4 thick slices of bread; I used sourdough which, not surprisingly, makes a slightly sour french toast.  It’s a bit of an acquired taste but what’s good about the sourdough is that it is a dense bread and soaks the french toast batter really well.  If sourdough does not sound appealing, I suggest experimenting with a dense sweet bread such as brioche or egg bread.
  • 1 ripe banana, peeled
  • 1/4 cup of skim milk
  • a blender
  • 1 tbsp of real vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp of honey; more if banana is under ripe
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • unsalted butter, enough to coat a large frying pan (about 2 tbsps)

Banana french toast batter.

In a blender, combine the banana and milk until it has a watery consistency.  Pour the banana milk mixture into a large shallow dish.  Add in the egg, cinnamon, honey and vanilla.  Combine well and you now have the banana french toast batter.

A slice of sourdough bread soaking in banana french toast batter.

Heat a large pan on high with enough butter to generously coat the entire pan. Soak a slice of bread into the batter, flip over and ensure the slice is completely saturated before removing from the batter and placing into the hot pan. Repeat with the remaining three slices of bread.

Four slices of bread cooking in a large fry pan. Two of the slices have been flipped.

Flip the bread slices over after about two minutes and cook for another two minutes. A golden brown should have formed on both sides of the toast.  If not, cook a little longer. Keep a careful watch on the bread as they burn easily. If needed, turn down the heat and adjust the cooking time appropriately.

Banana french toast with syrup.

Serve the banana french toast immediately and if desired, with syrup.

Herrle’s Country Farm Market

12 Aug

Herrle's Country Farm Market is located at 1243 Erb's Road, St. Agatha, Ontario

The inside of Herrle's Country Farm Market.

Herrle’s is a beautiful farm and rustic market.  It is opened to the general public from mid-June to the end of October.  Many of the produce sold at the store comes straight from the market’s backyard which is the farm part of Herrle’s. There is fresh picked strawberries, corn, zucchini, peas, spinach and many more vibrant vegetables. There are also items that aren’t readily available at a regular grocery store such as yellow watermelon and fresh peas.

Peaches, $3.50 per quart.

Green Peppers, $1 each.

A variety of healthy fresh green veggies.

Near the entrance, there is a small gelato and sorbet counter.  Next to the frozen treats counter is the bakery section which sells cookies, breads, scones and pies. I had the raspberry and white chocolate scones which were phenomenal. Perhaps the best scones I’ve ever had the pleasure of devouring.  They had a crunchy crumbly crust and a soft light interior.  The raspberries were perfectly balanced with hints of sweet chocolate scattered throughout the scone.

Raspberry white chocolate scone, $4.99 for a pack of 4.

Herrle’s also has a variety of pickled vegetables, honeys, jams, flowers, maple syrup, ciders, unique pastas and frozen ready-to-eat foods such as chicken wings and sausages.

Giant gorgeous sunflowers.

Outside there’s a pick your own strawberry field, which is only opened for a short period starting in mid-June, and a lush corn maze to walk through.

Corn maze facing the farm.

Corn maze facing the market.

The prices at Herrle’s are marginally higher than a regular grocery store but the quality and cozy charm inside and outside the market easily makes up for this.

Kabli Rice

7 Aug

A traditional Arabic chicken dish called Kabli rice.

I was recently invited to a friend’s home for a traditional Arabic meal.  When I first arrived, I was treated to Arabic coffee which was very refreshing. The taste of the coffee reminds me more of tea than North American coffee and I especially enjoyed the hint of cardamom in the coffee.

Arabic tea served with a dried date. It is often served with a sweet dried date to counter the slightly bitter taste of the coffee.

For lunch, we had a flavourful and healthy chicken and rice dish infused with exotic spices called Kabli rice.  The recipe is below.

  • five skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 4 cups of basmati rice
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup of rose water
  • 1 tsp dry ground coriander + a few dry coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cardamom + a few whole cardamom pods
  • zest of one large orange
  • a pinch of saffron, soak in 1/4 cup of hot water, cover for approximately 30 minutes
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • a few dried cloves
  • canola oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

A few slivers of saffron soaked in hot water.

In a large pot on medium heat, add in 2 tbsps of oil and sauté the garlic, onions and chicken for three to five minutes.  Add in the spices (cumin, ground cardamom, dry ground coriander, cinnamon, salt and pepper) and orange zest.  Mix well and cook for another five minutes, then add in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and potatoes.  Simmer for approximately 30 minutes.

Chicken with the spices, garlic, orange zest and onions added in.

To make the rice: first rinse the rice thoroughly, then in a separate pot, add in the rice and enough water so that it covers about  one inch from the surface of the rice. Also add in a sprinkle of salt, cardamon pods, cloves, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks and a tbsp of oil. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.

Simmering basmati rice with coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and sea salt.

Drain the rice and add 3/4 of the rice to the chicken.  Stir but not well to leave the rice half white and half red from the tomato paste. Pour in the remaining rice, rose water and saffron infused water. Mix sparingly, do not over mix.  Cover the pot and cook the rice and chicken on low heat for another 30 minutes or until the rice is soft. Garnish with parsley leaves if desired and serve immediately.

Kabli rice with a side of garden salad dressed in a traditional Arabic sauce.

A HUGE thank you  to Laila for inviting me into her home and sharing her family traditions and recipes.


3 Aug

The thick crack along the teapot was caused unintentionally from leaving the teapot filled with water in a freezer overnight.

After thawing the ice, the teapot was now in two separate pieces. It's very curious that the teapot split almost exactly in half.

It’s been very hot weather where I live (southern Ontario in Canada) so I’ve taken to cooling jugs of water in my fridge.  Sometimes I’m too impatient and I place the water in my freezer for about two hours and voilà I have icy refreshing water to drink. On one such occasion, in the later evening I filled a ceramic teapot (my only teapot) with water and placed it in the freezer.  I forgot all about it and went to bed.  The next morning, I found it completely frozen with a thick crack down the entire length of the teapot. When the water froze, it expanded and caused the pot to crack.  Poor teapot.  If you are ever in need of splitting a teapot in half, this is one option.  If you never want to spilt a teapot, remember to take it out of the freezer before the liquid inside of it turns into solid ice.