Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Summer on a Stick

Woohoo! The article on the Nanaimo 100 Mile Diet campaign showed up in today's Nanaimo News Bulletin. Thanks Chris for writing it up and helping spread the word.

For those looking for more information about our Nanaimo 100 Mile Diet campaign, check out our website or explore this blog for information on where to buy local foods, recipe ideas and more info about the 100 Mile Diet and local farming issues.

Well, it seems that summer is taking the long way around to get to us. On Sunday, I popped down to the Cedar Farmer's Market at the Old Crow & Gate Pub to grab some veggies to see me through until I get my Nanoose Edibles produce box. ( I can't wait to get my first box for this season tomorrow). I called up some friends to make it a group outing. However, nobody answered their phones :(

However, once I arrived at the market, I ran into those same friends I had called up to join me on my farmer's market outing! We wandered about filling our bags with locally grown goodies and chatting with the vendors. It's such a friendly market and everyone is happy to share information and talk about their products. As we shopped, dark, foreboding clouds rolled in and finally the electric release of lightning and it's subsequent rumbling filled the sky. We quickly finished up our shopping and by the time I drove out of the parking lot the skies opened up.

It continued to storm all afternoon. Over and over again. Well, there went my afternoon plans for a paddle about Nanoose Bay. Instead, I spent the day at my friends' place, checking out their gorgeous garden and helping them process strawberries they had picked at Dudink's Garden before hitting the farmers' market. I though I was hard core. 16 kilograms of strawberries got washed, hulled and either throw into the freezer whole or made into sorbet or jam. That evening, we enjoyed a feast of local bounty, complete with chicken from Cedar Valley Poultry, oysters from Fanny Bay Oysters, green salad from my friends garden, bread from Flour, Water, Salt and cheese from Hilary's Cheese Shop.

I wish I had brought my camera. You're going to have to take my word. I looked and tasted fabulous ;)

Yesterday after work, friends and I popped over the Dudink's Garden to get another batch of strawberries. Again, Dudink's is at 2219 Gomerich Rd (740-0302). Talk about easy pickings!

Here's my berry bounty:

I had about 15 kilograms of strawberries to do something with. After giving them a quick rinse, which is all they really need, I took the ripest ones and turned them into sorbet and popsicles.

Yum! Summer on a stick.

2 scoops of summer, please !

I now have only a mere 12 kilograms of strawberries to contend with. I think I may do a couple more batches of sorbet, dehydrate a batch or 2, freeze some and the rest are going to be gobbled up fresh.
We're huge sorbet and popsicle fans and we consume a heck of a lot of it in this house so I've learned how to make them at home. Much cheaper and healthier than store bought ones. One thing I don't like about commercial products is the amount of added sugar and high fructose corn syrup in them. Since I'm making them from scratch, I can dictate how much or how little added sugar is in them. I can also avoid all the other weird and unpronounceable chemicals and additives in my sweet, cool treats. The best thing is that they're made with locally grown real fruit! Both the fruit sorbet and popsicles have the same basic recipe. The recipe below can be used for berries and other fruits like peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, apples, grapes, pears, melons...well, you get the idea.

Here's my basic Fast & Dirty Fruit Sorbet/Popsicles:

1 kilogram of fresh fruit - washed, seeded, hulled, peeled or whatever you need to do to it.
1/2 to 1 cup of simple syrup*
juice and zest of 1 lemon or 1 lime or both if you feel like it.
1-2 tablespoons of liquor (optional) - vodka, rum, limoncello, tequila - the booze is mostly to help keep the sorbet from freezing into a solid block. And for a bit of a kick.

*Simple Syrup is nothing more than equal amounts of water & sugar boiled until the sugar is completely dissolved. I usually do enough for a couple of batches of sorbet and keep the extra in a bottle in the fridge.

Simply blend all the ingredients together. If you want big chunks of fruit in your sorbet or popscicle then don't blend it so much. If you want a smoother texture then blend it more. See how that works? ;)

For sorbet: Pour into ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Without an ice cream maker, you can pour it into a large shallow pan/tupperware container and put it into the freezer. Every 15-20 minutes, stir the mixture and return it to the freezer. Repeat until you get a sorbet.

For popscicles - Pour into popscicle mould. I would also leave out the booze or else the mixture might not freeze solid enough.

You can also freeze the mixture in ice cube trays and use them in a daiquiri, smoothie or any other fruity blender drink. You'll have the fruit and the ice cube in one. This way you'll get a more intense fruity flavour instead of a watered down concoction.
Make sure you use ripe, flavorful fruit. This will involve you having to actually sacrifice a few piece of fruit for a tasting ;)
The amount of simple syrup is dependent on your own tastes. Be careful not to add too much or else you'll lose the intrinstic fruity sweetest and flavour of your fruit.
Now, you could omit the simply syrup completely if your fruit is sweet enough on its own or replace it with unsweetened apple juice, honey or some other sweetener.
Don't be tied down to this recipe. Experiment! Try it with some fresh mint, a mixture of fruit, throw in some local wine or local apple juice for a PG version. Keep in mind that the flavours will be a bit muted by the cold temperature of these treats. If they're not sweet enough or too chunky or too sweet, simply melt down the mixture and add whatever needs to be added and refreeze! It's that easy peasy.

Also, I like to store a few ziploc freezer baggies of strawberry mush in the freezer for last minute dessert sauces or to be used later in a mixed fruit jam. Blended up berries take up much less room than whole strawberries and I'm working with limited freezer real estate.

After getting a backseat full of strawberries, we headed out to Hazelwood Herb Farms. My basil plants have not been liking this cooler weather and I wanted to pick up a few more. Here's what I ended up bringing home:

That place is dangerous for a belly-driven gardener like me. I ended up with a few more mints, some Egyptian onions, a rose bergamot, lemon verbana, oregano, chinese licorce, bay leaf plant, more parsly and cilantro. Oh yeah and a couple of basil plants.

Many of these are fine in containers and are a great garden plants for those that are just beginning to garden or lack space for a large garden. There's nothing better than fresh herbs to liven up a dish. It's just absurd to buy herbs that are wrapped in packaging that weighs more and takes more energy to make than the herbs itself. Don't get me started on all the food miles involved in bringing a sprig of parsley up from Mexico.

To end off today's blog I just wanted to share some lovely surprises I found in my garden:
My bathroom sink garden is blooming!

I see pea pods! I know what we're having for dinner.

Thanks for visiting! For more information about the 100 Mile Diet, check out Nanaimo's 100 Mile Diet website.

Take care,



AnnaMarie said...

Thanks for the sorbet Recipe. I had an "ah ha" moment when you mentioned putting in liquor for the not so bricklike quality. I'm hoping to put up Cherries this weekend and I think Cherry sorbet will be on the to do list!

Karl said...

Great blog! Thanks for all the links to local farms and food. Keep up the good work.

Princess in Hiking Boots said...

Yea! I don't feel like such an herb loser now 'cept mine just aren't liking the 100+ temps. I went out this morning and found some new herbs, which is kind of lucky this time of year. I also found some more mache seeds!

Thanks, as always, for all the inspiration!