And earlier this evening we enjoyed Homemade Oven-roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup.
It’s so simple you’ll be asking yourself why you didn’t make it before. Cook longer in the oven or heat it up afterwards in a pot and you’ve got sauce good enough for pastas and pizza. The only difference is the thickness of the liquid.
1. Pop a bunch of tomatoes in a pan with some fresh basil, salt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Apply a little balsamic vinegar or throw in a few garlic cloves if you think you can handle it.
2. Roast on a high temperature (around 400 F) until the tomatoes are cooked and swimming in their own juices (about 30-40 minutes).
3. Work those delicious, juicy tomatoes through a food mill to separate the seeds and skins from the good stuff. Take advantage of the fact that no one seems to want these awesome, old-school contraptions anymore what with all the new-fangled electric gadgets available. I got mine for 5 bucks at a yard sale. I got my friend one too.
4. Add some salt and pepper to taste. I sprinkled some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top and served with a piece of toasted rosemary bread from the market. Take that Campbell’s!
The heat has been oppressive around here over the past few days but since I am such a glass half-full person (uh huh) I choose to overlook the stink of my fellow bus passengers and the inability to breath air, and instead turn towards the bright side of intense heat: rapid plant growth and sun tea.
In theory, sun tea is supposed to be better than tea made using boiled water because the sun slowly, and gently infuses the water with all the goodness of the herbs instead of the bitter oils that are brought out with rapid brewing. But when the temperatures reach into the 30s and 40s C I could care less about all that jazz. Give me lazy! All the accomplishment with none of the effort. Sun tea is ridiculously easy to make, about as easy as making tea without the difficult chore of filling the kettle, turning the kettle on, waiting for the boil, pouring water. That is all much too HARD and who wants to be around boiling water at a time like this? Just get a glass jar, stuff it full of plant parts (I chose assorted mints), fill with water, and stick it in the sun. Go lay down with a wet towel on your head for a few hours. Pour and enjoy. Or add some ice and drink it cold.
It’s a scorcher out there today so I thought I’d share my recipe for a favourite summer refresher. I just came indoors after a full day out in the garden and this drink was exactly the right cool down treat.
- 1 frozen banana, chopped
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 2-3 cups chocolate rice milk (less milk makes a thicker shake)
- 1/2 cup plain yoghurt (this is optional but makes a smoother drink)
- Optional: 1 tbsp cocoa powder (makes an extra chocolatey drink)
1. Place all ingredients into a blender and blend.
2. Pour into a chilled glass.
In the spirit of Be Nice to Nettles Week, we tried our hand at a batch of nettle soup using the site recipe as a basis. Let me tell you that a half pound of nettles is a whole lot more than you’d expect. I harvested enough young nettles (stems included) to fill a small plastic bag however once the stems and not so great parts were removed it came out to just slightly over 1/4 pound. Here’s what that looks like:
Just a reminder to protect your hands with gloves at any point in the process that involves touching any part of the fresh nettles including leaves and stems. The plant will lose its sting once cooked, but can get you at anytime when fresh, even when soaking under water.
The recipe seemed a little too bland so I chopped and added half a small onion before adding the nettles. We did not have sour cream or yoghurt on hand so I garnished mine with bits of smoked trout bought at my local farmer’s market. The soup was really good, tasting very much like vichyssoise. In fact I ate the leftovers cold. The geek in me was very satisfied that a portion of this meal was collected/foraged from the out-of-doors. Over the last year I’ve come back full circle to an early interest in wild foods and edible weeds that I haven’t really indulged since I was a teenager foraging for plants with “Edible Weeds of Canada” tucked under my arm.
Next up: Garlic Mustard.
I first discovered stinging nettle one day while book shopping on Harbord Street, a popular used book area of Toronto. One of the stores had a selection of herbs sitting out front. Anyone who knows me knows I am a sucker for herbs and am impulsive about touching them. You should see me at the end of our yearly Herb Fair meet-ups. All of those smells in one place! I am a maniac!
So there I am happily rubbing each plant and lifting my fingers to my face repeatedly soaking in a variety of delicious herbal scents. And then I rub the stinging nettle. Let’s just say the experience has taught me to be patient and observe with my eyes BEFORE making contact with my fingers or god forbid my nose! It has also taught me a new level of respect for plants. That initial shock prompted me to look into this unassuming yet powerful plant, and I have since come to appreciate it as a very valuable and fantastic herb.
May 16-27 is “Be Nice to Nettles Week.” The site has a lot of interesting facts and tid bits from a recipe for nettle soup to information about the wildlife the plant sustains. Learning about stinging nettle might not win you over completely but perhaps warm you up just a little to this painful herb.