Gumboot Adventures

gowing and growing green

August 17, 2011

Pesto Pre-Presto

Pesto Pre-Presto

The garden is in full swing and we’re enjoying its goodness at least every day and often at every meal! One of the ubiquitous family favorites at our house is fresh pesto. When the bright flavours hit our pallet, we know that summer has really, truly arrived.

Our pesto recipe is simple and traditional, with a little health zing: kale! A handful of garden fresh kale disappears into the strong flavours of garlic and basil. Around here, only the grown ups actually enjoy kale but since it’s a super food – packed full of nutrients and vitamins – so we sneak it into the kids every chance we get.

Italien Soup w/ Pesto

Italien Soup w/ Pesto

Pesto is great as a pasta sauce. For a quick, healthy, kid-pleasing meal we like to sautee the pesto with cubed tofu for a few minutes, before adding cooked pasta, olives and cherry tomatoes. It’s also perfect dolluped on top of a tomato based vegetable soup like minestrone or Italian Bean soup. At snack time, try pesto spread on rye crackers with fresh sliced tomatoes.

Basil & Kale Pesto Recipe


1 cup fresh basil (leaves, stems, flowers – it’s all good)
¾ cup of olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts (it’s nice to roast these in the pan with a little olive oil first)
1/3 cup parmesean cheese
2 large cloves of garlic
5 kale leaves, off the stem

Strip the leafy greens off of the kale stem. Disgard the stem. If desired, pan-roast the pine nuts in a bit of olive oil for a nice nutty flavour.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor.

Puree. Eat. Enjoy.


The Best Salad Dressing July 28, 2011

The Best Salad Dressing in the World

The Best Salad Dressing in the World

We’ve been eating a lot of greens this cool summer.  Which is fine by us, we have the yummiest salad dressing in the “whole-entire world,” courtesy of the magazine Edible Vancouver and the incredible Hollyhock Institute.

Edible printed Hollyhock’s famous dressing in their almost-spring 2011 edition, and it’s been a game changer at our house.  Here it is.  The best salad dressing in the “Whole-Entire World”

Hollyhock Yeast Dressing

As printed in Edible, from Hollyhock Cooks, with Linda Solomon and Moreka Jolar.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

1/2 cup (125 ml) nutritional yeast flakes

1/3 cup (75 ml) water

1/3 cup (75 ml) soy sauce or tamari

1/3 cup (75 ml) apple cider vinegar

2 Tbsp crushed garlic

1 1/2 cups (375 ml) Sunflower Oil

Combine the first 5 ing unredients in a blender until they are thoroughly mixed. While still mixing on high, pour the oil in a slow, steady stream. Add  all the oil or r when a desired consistency is achieved. (Honestly, we put everything in the glass mason jar we keep the dressing in, and shake. It’s delicious). When refrigerated, this keeps for 2 weeks.


Eat ALL the food – it costs less! November 16, 2009

Making Pumpkins

Making Pumpkins - first to look good, then to eat!

Over the last two years we, like so many others, have made the shift from occasionally organic to almost entirely organic.  And while this definitely requires that a larger portion of our monthly budget be attributed to food, it’s “not as bad” as we feared. Yes, it costs more to eat well.  But not as much more as we were worried that it might.

While there are a number of factors that have mitigated the potential food cost crises that plagued our fears during this transition, they all stem from a common factor – we appreciate our food more!  So we waste less.  We eat out less.  We cook from scratch more.  And we eat more directly sourced foods.  Although all of these changes are without question, monumental, I think the single most important commitment has been to waste less food.   I won’t lie – it’s a constant challenge and requires continuous thought.  But everyday is a little easier as waste-free choices become habitual.

Now to really get you all pumped on this exciting lifestyle change, here’s a super glamorous truth. Reducing waste starts with good planning. Meal planners are the super heroes of smooth running kitchens and virtually eliminate “oops I didn’t use that and now it’s a rotten pile of mush on the bottom of the veggie drawer” or “the milk has chunks” waste.  And it’s not as dull, or as tedious, as it sounds.  Actually, I love having meal planners.  I update our five-day planner before placing our grocery delivery order and before picking up groceries.  This ensures that the brocolli’s cheese sauce has a definite repurpose in tomorrow’s mac-n-cheese casserole and that the leftover brocolli makes it’s way into the following day’s frittatta.  Leftovers magically and seamlessly become new meals while saving prep time and money!  As if this weren’t enough benefit for a 10-minutes-twice-a-week task, it also virtually eliminates the what-to-make-for dinner-tonight anxiety (that is annoying at best and leads to nutritionally inferior and costly impulse buys/orders at worst) and encourages the opportunity for the kids to look at cookbook with me and to participate in the meal choices.

Obviously, there are still the occasional items that pass that best before date (and I don’t mean the one typed on the yogurt, I mean the one that is evident because now the food is gross).  If you aren’t lucky enough to have backyard chickens, then this is where the compost bin becomes essential!

Suprisingly, making a sincere effort to minimize scraps on plates at the end of meals has also significantly decreased food waste.  It’s easy to overlook the scraps here and there, but we would be remiss to do so. Plus, it’s ridiculously simple to all but eliminate scraps. The solution – dish smaller portions and encourage seconds.  We like our kids to try a few bites of everything, so generally portion a small serving of each dish and allow seconds of choice foods when the plate is clear.  In so doing, I’d say we save approximately one “lunch”‘s worth of leftovers.  If that saves me buying lunch when I’m at work, we’re up $8.

Finally, we don’t intentionally waste anything. This is best illustrated using an example. Whole chickens are one of the most economical ways to purchase organic poultry, but they are a long shot from cheap! We roast chickens about twice a month.  When we do, we enjoy a yummy dinner.  Then I cut all the left over meat off the chicken and use that either for sandwiches, chicken pot pies or chicken curry. Then I boil the carcasses, and pull the final bits of chicken off the bones for chicken soup.  Lastly, I devide the broth, half for chicken soup right away, half for broth to be frozen for future use in any number of recipes. Or taking a recent example, we roasted and ate the Halloween pumpkins (mostly as soup).

pumkins - good soup when they're done being "spooky"

pumkins - good soup when they're done being "spooky"

In addition to bolstering the pocket book, reducing the amount of food we waste works with our overall green philosophy.  For example, returning to the roasted chicken illustration, we no longer purchase icky deli meat, bouillon/stock, packaged chicken parts (like breasts) or prefab soups.  All of these choices reduce the amount of energy (be it processing, packaging, transport, or product display) that our food requires.

This isn’t novel.  My grandmas all did it.  But somehow, meal planning skipped a generation and it’s a skill that we are learning anew. It’s a good skill, and I’m glad that the monetary incentive associated with eating organic has encouraged us to revist our wasteful food habits!


Pick Your Radishes and Eat Them Too June 12, 2009

Filed under: Food,garden — gumbootgarden @ 8:26 am
Tags: , , , , ,
Early Harvest - Radishes

Early Harvest - Radishes

Until recently, I’d thought of radishes as sort of dried up little nugget things – bland in flavour and full of nasty bite. But all that has changed.  This year, inspired by a neighbour, I planted radishes.  I planted radishes not because I wanted to eat the radishes – a thought which actually filled me with a certain sense of dread. I planted radishes because I realized that if I planted radishes I could harvest them in June.  And that was exciting!

It’s June.  And we’ve been harvesting radishes en masse.  Eating them.  Handing them out the neighbours.  Chopping them into salad. Loving the colour and the sense of really harvesting something so early in the season.  But having now started to exhaust the novelty of fresh radishes-in-salad and raw-radishes-with-homemade-hummus it’s time to branch out.  A little research has revealed that while radishes aren’t known as the bell of the garden ball, these early temptations are much more versatile than we give them credit for.

With my darling husbnd away,  I’m  juggling the kiddos, and work, and the garden and volunteering  single parent style, so my recipe mandate was healthy, delicious, mostly local and the priority of the day – fast or prepare-ahead-able.

Pickled Radishes.

A bit of sugar, but worth it –

Baked Radish Chips.

My kids love home made veggie fries.  But I’d never thought to bake radishes.  Steam instead of putting them in the microwave to maintain maximum nutritional value.

Radish Relish.

Yes, it’s pink. And it’s a great way to use the end of the radishes when you tire of them.  This recipe does require citrus, which isn’t available locally.  I can’t seem to give up lemon.  It’s just too good!

And though I haven’t had a chance to try this one, I’m yet to be dissapointed by any of Alanna’s fabulous recipes.  So from A Veggie Venture (Kitchen Parade), try Creamed Radishes with Pimenton

My four year old is admitedly more excited about the pod peas.  And the one year old is all about the snap peas.  But I have to say, I’m a little over the moon about radishes.  Who knew!


%d bloggers like this: