All I Want

Meandering through the Gaspereau Valley, memories of France and falling in love with food for the first time mingle with the uncertainty of starting a new chapter. Everything is unknown and new again, that’s how it goes. New chapters stimulate growth, a larger capacity for tenderness and a different lens for perceiving life. I circle back around to what seems like the same passage repeating, yet each time just a little further up the mountain path. Even though the scenery is strikingly similar, I’m still the same. I still want the same things; connection with nature, internal stillness, pure food, a simple spacious life, rich relationships and a community to share it with.

Radish & Apple Salad
1 bunch of purple mild radish
1 bunch long red mild radish
1 bunch regular red mild radish
1 bunch white hakurai turnip
2 med sized crunchy sweet apples (jonagold are nice)

* Various radish colors, shapes and flavors are available at The Hutten Family Farm stand at the Historic Farmers Market in Halifax.

3 tbsp olive oil (or other good quality cold pressed oil)
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp honey
dash of sea salt

1 tsp chopped fresh mint (I happened to have some coming up in the garden)
a handful of pea shoots ( I happened to have a small forest of them growing on my kitchen table)

  1. Chop the radishes and turnips into quarters
  2. Chop the apples into bite sized chunks.
  3. Mix the dressing ingredients together and toss everything except for the pea shoots together. Top with the pea shoots and serve.

That’s Just How I Roll

No matter how many cooks and farmers have come before me, I will always discover something new based on the season, my region, my health and the song I happen to be listening to at the time. We need to eat and we need to create, so there will never be an end. The more we create the more we want to create and explore and expand our minds to all the possibilities for beauty. If feeding yourself healthy, delicious food seems like a chore, I suggest you give your head a shake and reflect on how very privileged you are that you can even have that thought. Rather then feeling guilty about it, rouse your inner child, cancel ridiculous obligations that you don’t give a damn about, smash your TV, call in well, turn up the music and get messy in your kitchen.

Spring Salad Rolls with Tahini Dip

Rice papers
Green or purple cabbage cut into fine strands
Carrots shredded or in match sticks
Apples cut into match sticks and tossed with lemon juice
Spinach or any greens cut into long strands
Chinese radishes
Chopped basil, mint or cilantro
Basically any seasonal vegetable that strike your fancy, cut into ribbons or match sticks.

Optional ingredients to add UMPH:
Cooked tofu or tempeh
Slices of an omlette
Soaked sunflower seeds

  1. Instructions for rice paper rolls are usually on the package. They are found in the imported or Asian food section of the grocery store.  (Avoid rice products from the US of A as they have been known to dump lots of arsenic in their water).
  2. Stack up all the yummy pre-cut vegetables, roll them up in the rice paper, slice in half and then double dip them in the tahini sauce. If anyone says anything about double dipping give them the stink eye and say “suck it” yup that’s right “suck it”. It’s purely culinary.

Tahini Dip
Yields about 1 cup

4 tbsp Tahini
2 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp Tamari (or to taste. I was using homemade tamari which is more mild then the store bought kind)
½ tsp Minced garlic
1 tsp Lemon juice

  1. Mix all the ingredients together with a fork until smooth.
  2. That’s it.
  3. Eat it.
  4. Or suck it….off the salad roll.

Crepes and Castaneda

A little food for thought…

“Impeccability begins with a single act that has to be deliberate, precise, and sustained. If that act is repeated long enough, one acquires a sense of unbendable intent, which can be applied to anything else. If that is accomplished the road is clear. One thing will lead to another until the warrior realizes his full potential”.
-Carlos Castaneda

What if we were to start the journey by simply peeling the carrots, washing the dishes or wiping off the table with our full attention and care?  Every day I hear someone say that they don’t have time to prepare wholesome food for themselves, yet it’s a fact that we need nutrients from real food to live. If we neglect ourselves in this way, is the opposite of the above quote also true? When we repeatedly neglect our basic need for sustenance are we blocking the road to our full potential? Something to chew on anyway.

OK back to the food box recipe for the week. I slacked off last week, as I was busy with my colleagues at Conscious Catering preparing three meals a day for fifty people over six days. What a blast and what an opportunity to peel carrots and wash the dishes!

Winter Root Crepes
with Lemon Tarragon & Coconut Cream
Yields 4-5 servings

The Crepes:
Prepare in advance and freeze or refrigerate, or make fresh.

Follow this link ( ) to find out how to make gluten and flour free fermented buckwheat batter. Then simply dilute the batter by mixing 2.25 cup of batter with ¾ cup of water.  (When I’m making my weekly batch of buckwheat bread I just make a little extra for pancakes or crepes).

It’s important to have a nice big non-sticking (preferably cast iron) pan. Heat it to medium and oil it with coconut oil, being careful not to let it burn. Poor the batter over the pan very thinly. When it’s cooked on one side flip it with a large thin metal spatula without breaking the crêpe apart. I find it usually takes one to practice getting the heat and technique right.

The filling:
Peel and slice the following into rounds or sticks of the same thickness:

  • 3 carrots peeled
  • 1 white sweet potato (they taste like plantains, yuuumm)
  • 1 red sweet potato
  • 1 large parsnip
  • 1tsp. coconut oil
  • 1tsp sea salt
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2.5 cups mushrooms roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp dry French tarragon
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes (these are totally optional. I only added them because they were in the food box. They are not in season but Ted got them from a heated greenhouse near his farm)
  • 1 pkg. coconut cream
  • ½ tsp ground wild pepper
  • ½ lg clove garlic minced
  • ¾  cup water

I recently learned how to roast vegetable in such a way that they become sweet and rich yet moist. I use very little oil and It’s much faster then before. Amazing!

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°
  2. Brown both sides of all the root vegetables in a frying pan on medium heat, without cooking them through.
  3. Put the vegetables in a large oiled roasting pan with enough space to spread out thinly. Sprinkle with the sea salt.
  4. Add 1 cup of water to the pan and cover with tin foil. Bake in the oven till the vegetables are cooked through (about 15-20min).
  5. While the vegetables are roasting, sauté the onions, mushrooms and tarragon. Add the tomatoes at the end, cook them lightly and set aside.
  6. Break up the coconut cream and melt in a saucepan. Whisk in the water, garlic and pepper. Set aside on low heat.
  7. When the vegetables are cooked strain them from any remaining water and toss together with the mushrooms.  Roll them up in a crêpe and drizzle with the cream. Serve with extra cream on the side

Strictly Roots

Shiitake, burdock root, spinach, buckwheat…this recipe reminds me to dig deep.
Worlds colliding, crumbling and recreating, the humble burdock root offers potent purity to threadbare hearts, bursting at the seams.

Click here for the theme song of the week.

Ted asked me specifically to work with the burdock root this week because he had so much extra. I’ve been juicing burdock root daily for the last month and a half, but I hadn’t done much with it otherwise. It’s often used medicinally as a blood purifier and fortifier as well as in many Asian dishes. Looking around I found many simple, good recipes so I suggest just looking what others have written, this was my favorite. I did come up with a tapenade (which seems to be my thing lately with all kinds of root vegetables) and then today, was inspired by the darling of brunch menus everywhere, Eggs Benedict.

Burdock Benedict with Shiitake

Burdock Root Tapenade
These are the basic ingredients and the method. The proportions are completely up to your personal taste.

1-3 Burdock roots peeled and cut lengthwise into quarters
1-2 cloves garlic minced
2-4 tbsp. olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°
  2. In a large frying pan sauté the  burdock root on medium heat until they are slightly browned.
  3. Add 1 cup of water to the pan, and cover with a lid or tin foil.
  4. Put the pan in the oven and bake until they are very soft (about 25-45min).
  5. Put the burdock root in a food processor and process until pasty.  Add the remaining ingredients until the mixture is creamy, smooth and seasoned to your taste. You may need to stop the food processor occasionally and scrape the sides with a rubber spatula.
  6. You can eat it immediately or store it in the fridge for a firmer more butter like texture.  This can be made ahead of time and then used for many wonderful creations such as eggs benedict.

Assemble the Eggs Benedict as follows:

  1. One slice of buckwheat toast or other tasty gluten-free bun, bread, waffle or pancake.
  2. Spread a thick layer of burdock tapenade on the toast and then pile on the wilted spinach.
  3. Top with a poached egg and a generous dollop of burdock tapenade.
  4. Serve with the shiitake mushrooms on the side.

What’s Your Source?

The jonagold apples that Ted sent out this week are remarkably sweet, crunchy and juicy. They combine well with the earthy mild spice of the radishes.  The radishes are beautiful! Lime green inside, they almost resemble a kiwi when sliced into rounds.  We are able to eat so well in this climate, at this time of year, because of farmers like Ted who are passionate about growing a wide variety of vegetables. Also, they have engineered storage solutions for fruit and vegetables so we can just show up in March and have an incredible selection at our disposal. I’d love to live in a world where farmers were compensated generously for all they contribute to our lives, rather than living hand to mouth and acquiring enormous debt to keep their farms running.  If we were an intelligent society we may have the self-interest to realize that our well-being lies in the hands of our farmers. My hope is that as you start to slow down and prepare more delicious food for yourself and your loved ones, you will naturally want more connection to the source of your sustenance.  Maybe one day you will come to grow your own food too, as 95% of our population did only 100 years ago.

Carrot Butter
Sweet, creamy, late winter deliciousness

8 carrots chopped into rounds (1 bag from Ted’s food box)
1 tbsp coconut oil for cooking
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp flavorful (organic extra virgin) coconut oil
1 tbsp lime juice
1tsp sea salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°
  2. In a large frying pan sauté the carrots on medium heat until they are slightly browned.
  3. Add 1 cup of water to the pan, and cover with a lid or tin foil.
  4. Put the pan in the oven and bake until the carrots are very soft (about 25 min).  Don’t add more liquid if it all evaporates, this will allow the carrots to caramelize.
  5. Put the carrots in a food processor with the remaining ingredients and process until creamy and smooth. You may need to stop the food processor occasionally and scrape the sides with a rubber spatula.
  6. You can eat it immediately or store it in the fridge for a firmer more butter like texture.

Click here to find out how my friends at Conscious Catering are making amazing gluten-free buckwheat bread.

Jonagold and Tae Baek Radish Marinade on Spinach

2 cups each of chopped, sliced or julienned jonagold apples and tae baek radish.

1tbsp each of olive oil, lime juice and honey
¼ tsp sea salt
Several handfuls of clean dry spinach

  1. Cover the apples and radish in the marinade and let sit for fifteen minutes or so.
  2. When you’re ready to serve, toss the marinade with the spinach or simply top a bed of spinach with a pile of the radish and apple mixture.

Sweet & Still

With nothing to cling to I rest in the community of my kitchen table.
Surrendering to the storm, I was dishes with silence.
Emptied of all understanding my only knowing is this;
Food is the sum of the earth’s urge to continually begin anew, fused with our compulsion to cultivate and carve into beautiful forms, morsels that will never be consumed again.
Over and over, we are nourished by these offerings, like prayers that lift into the air, molding love into momentary manifestations of all that is sacred and fleeting.
As long as I keep loving there will always be communion around my kitchen table, and every night dirty dishes will fill the sink.

Sweet Potato & Warm Spinach Salad
with fennel, chilli and rosemary
Yields 4 servings

2 medium sweet potatoes cut in half lengthwise
½ cup water
4 handfuls (or one bag from the CSA box) of clean spinach torn into pieces
1 apple finely diced

1 medium-large onion sliced into half moons
2 heaping tablespoons of minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dry rosemary
2 tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp chili flakes
½ tsp sea salt
3 tbsp balsamic style apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp olive oil

  • Preheat the oven to 400°.
  • Put the sweet potatoes in a baking dish facing down. Add the water and cover with a lid or foil. Bake for ½ hour or until tender.
  • In the meantime prepare the spinach and set it aside in a mixing bowl
  • In a large pan on low heat add 2 tbsp of olive oil, onions, garlic, spices and sea salt. Caramelize until the onions are soft, then add the apple cider vinegar and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the maple syrup and let simmer for another few minutes. Then add the olive oil and turn off the heat.
  • Drizzle the hot dressing over top of the spinach. Gently toss together as the spinach wilts.
  • Make a small trough in the cooked sweet potato, fill it with the spinach and top with chopped apples.
  • Serve as an appetizer or a side dish.

Walk In Beauty

“Only a person who has grasped the art of cooking, washing dishes, sweeping and chopping wood, someone who is able to laugh at the world’s weapons of money, fame, and power, can hope to descend the mountain as a hero. A hero like that will traverse the waves of success and failure without rising or sinking. In fact few people will recognize them as a hero at all. “
-Thich Nhat Hanh

Simple Salad

Cooked beets chopped into bite size chunks or match sticks
(The easiest way to prepare beets is to put them in a pot of boiling water. When they are cooked peel the skins off with your fingers or the edge of a spoon and rinse them with cold water).
Carrots grated or cut into match sticks
Apples chopped into bite sized chunks or match sticks
Baby field greens

This is a foolproof way to make a tasty dressing with what ever you have.

1 part oil (olive, sesame, sunflower, hemp, flax, pumpkin, avocado etc. or a mixture of various kinds)
1 part acidic (apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, ferment juice, lime, lemon or a mixture)
.5-1 part sweet depending on taste (honey, maple syrup, date paste, agave syrup, apricot purée or a mixture)

Combine everything in a blender, whisk in a bowl or shake in a jar.

The following are some optional seasonings that can be added to the basic recipe:

  • Blueberries & mint
  • Curry (use maple syrup as the sweetener)
  • Ginger & cilantro
  • Red or green Thai curry paste (use a little sesame oil in the oil part)
  • Orange juice and zest with rose-water (use honey as the sweetener)
  • Chopped basil (use some balsamic vinegar as the acidic part)
  • Caramelize onions (reduce balsamic vinegar and maple syrup while caramelizing onions)
  • Cranberries and ginger
  • Raspberries and lemon balm