Monday, November 06, 2006

The Yin & Yang of Kiwi

Before I fill you all in my tasty weekend, I have a few things to take care of.

First off, I take back what I said about the rain in the last entry. From the sounds of it, I’d better book my spot with Noah. The rain is getting so bad that DH has decided to cut his big climbing trip short and head home.

Secondly, (Jen pulls her soapbox from underneath her chair), I’m sick and tired of the Kiddie Candy Cartel. Less than a week after we were held hostage by the annual Candy Begging holiday, I have a young girl knocking on my door begging for me to buy crappy candy for more than I spend on real chocolate. The girl was selling stuff that couldn’t even be called chocolate since the chalky crap that covers the questionable fillings are so low in cocoa content that they aren’t allowed to be labeled ‘chocolate’. According to her, this is part of her a youth job initiative to teach students responsibility, how to count money and how to interact with the public. Right.

I wonder what sort lesson we’re really teaching these kids considering the levels of obesity and diabetes are rising steadily amongst that demographic and here we are encouraging children to hawk the same things that will make them unhealthy. What’s even more absurd is that it’s the same freaking candy that all the other schools are using for fundraising. Does Hershey's Canada have some sort of monopoly on school fundraisers? Or is this simply the fault of a bunch of imaginatively-challenged adults that can’t think of a better way to fund school programs other than using kids as sugar-pushers?

Schools are completely missing the boat here. There are plenty of local farms and food producers that would be perfect for school fundraisers.

So did I buy a box of candy? Well kinda no and kinda yes. I gave her money for a box and asked her to drop it off at a Food Bank box. I know, folks who use that service don’t need any more high fructose corn syrup, trans fat and other nutritional sludge in their system either. I just kinda felt bad for the girl which is partly the reason why they keep sending those kids out to sell this horrid stuff. Grrrr.

Now onto the rest of the show…

I spent the weekend giving a couple a friends a crash course on that is good and tasty on this crust of the island. Since they lived the Jinglepot Rd. area, we started off Saturday with a quick stop at Gary Argyle’s farm where we found beautiful tomatoes going for 75cents! Gary says that he’ll have one, maybe two more weeks of tomatoes. I stocked up with about 15lb to see us for the next few months. I also grabbed a couple pounds of green tomatoes and some really, really sweet carrots.

Amongst our other stops were Yellowpoint Cranberries to grab several pounds of cranberries and Kiwi Cove Lodge where Peggy had a case of arguta kiwi fruits waiting for us. They are the last of the season the frost did in the ones left on the vine. With our bounty we headed back to their place where we canned, froze and feasted in celebration of bounty.

Canning, freezing and preserving can be a bit intimidating for the uninitiated and stressful even for practiced preserve pros. Doing it with a couple of friends is a great way to get around all that. Take advantage of local produce when the price is right. Get a couple of friends together and work out a production line. In a few hours you will all have a bounty of preserved food to see you through the leaner months of the winter when a tomato is scarcer than a tan line. There are several websites and books to teach you how to preserve food. Nanaimo Community Gardens also offers courses on it.

Tonight, I’m dining solo. In preparation for the week ahead, I roasted up a bunch of veggies to draw from for my meals. I did up the carrots I got from Gary’s farm, onions, red peppers, butternut squash, parsnips, potatoes and several cloves of garlic. I simply chopped everything up into bite size cubes (1-2 cms) and popped them onto lightly oiled pans. I didn’t even bother peeling the squash or the carrots. Butternut squash skin is so thin it doesn’t really matter. Carrots don’t really need to be peeled if their under 1 inch in diameter. Every culinary student and chef out there is gasping in horror right now. I know, we’re supposed to peel everything naked. We’re such veggie perverts. Some veggies need to be peeled because their skin imparts a bitter taste. Other times it’s simply an esthetic thing. Peeled carrots make for a more refined dish. Well, I’m about as refined as rusty chainsaw so no peeled carrots or squashes for me tonight.

I placed them on the middle 2 racks at 325F for 20-30 mins depending on the density of the vegetable. I kept them all segregated with the denser vegetables (carrots and squash) together in one pan and the others in another pan. For about 20 mins of chopping and 20-30 mins of letting the oven do it’s thing, I have enough roasted veggies to see me through to next week.

Now, onto today’s food experiment, the arguta kiwis. I had about 5lbs that needed to be used ASAP. My friend made a gorgeous, yummy kiwi-ginger jam with her lot. Since the arguta kiwis are so naturally sweet, we only had to use 1/6th of the sugar called for in the recipe. We used No-sugar pectin. Since I had cased of jams and jellies already, I opted to pass on jamming them. Instead I went the yin-yang route and made a kiwi-lime sorbet and a kiwi hot sauce.

Since the arguta kiwis are non-fuzzy and only need their stems plucked off, they're easy to prep. Here are my Fast & Dirty kiwi recipes:

First the Yin of the Kiwi - Kiwi-Lime Sorbet

4 cups of kiwi puree

zest and juice of one lime or lemon (optional)

1/3 cup of simple syrup

Again, due to the sweetness of the fruit, I opted to play it conservative with the simple syrup which is nothing more than 1 part water with 1.5 parts sugar boiled together until clear.

Basically mix all the ingredients together, chill in the fridge for a couple and hours. Prepare in your ice-cream maker as directed. Or freeze in a baking pan, stirring every twenty minutes until it’s sorbet-like. Peggy at Kiwi Cove lodge also suggested freezing this in ice cube trays to be used for smoothies or daquiris.

And now for the Yang of the Kiwi – Kiwi Hot Sauce

I made this largely because I was out of hot sauce. I actually was looking out for a good hot sauce these last few weeks and today realized, ‘Duh, I could just make some.’ I still had some lantern pepper from a Providence farms in the fridge and some local jalapenos in the freezer so I used those for my spice. Use what peppers you like. Jalapenos, scotch bonnets, little red thai, lanterns or habaneros. This recipe is for a medium spicy hot sauce. I prefer hot sauces that actually aren’t all heat and allow you to savor the flavour of the sauce and them have a delayed kick.

2 cups of kiwi puree

1/3 cup apple juice – I used unsweetened apple juice from Westwood Orchards

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar – I used one from Fruit First Farms in the Cowichan Valley

5 lantern peppers and 2 jalapenos – I use scissors to cut and dice the peppers right into the pot.

1 tablespoon honey (optional)– I used a local dark fir honey. It’s much more flavorful.

With a hand blender, I pureed it all in a pot and them simmered the sauce over medium heat for 10 mins. I poured it into a sterilized bottle. This will keep in the fridge for a couple of months if it doesn't get eaten up first.

For dinner tonight I prepared a simple open omelet with roasted veggies, fromage frais from Little Qualicum cheeseworks and some of my kiwi hot sauce. The roasted veggies offered a nice bit of flavour and texture and the fromage frais helped richen it up. I really like the way my sauce brought a touch of sweetness with a slow mellow burn to the whole dish. Definitely a keeper.

And for dessert:

I love the popping of the kiwi seeds. I guess you could strain it through a fine sieve if you want a smoother, more refined sorbet. But, you know, rusty chainsaw, yadda yadda. It is the skin and bones that give most things their character.



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