Thursday, May 28, 2015

Strawberry Rhubarb Oat Crumble

Okay, so this is a little embarrassing. I have been blogging long enough that I didn't even remember I had already shared a recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble. Yeah, that's kind of classic Amy right there, but I can see five main reasons how this happened:

1. I grow a lot of strawberries and rhubarb in my garden, and each year there's a rush on to make the most of these two delicious garden goodies.

2. Like flip flops and funny tan lines, strawberries and rhubarb just go together. It's natural that I would be using them together in my kitchen around this time each year.

3. I have a terrible memory.

4. Crumble is usually the first thing I make when there's fruit around that needs to be used up.

5. I have a terrible memory.

Not that already having a recipe for strawberry rhubarb crumble is going to stop me from sharing another one. Heck no! There's always room for more crumble. The thing I like most about this one is that the sugar is low enough that you can really taste the naturally sweet strawberries against the tart rhubarb. And the oat topping is like crumbled cookies over the warm baked fruit. I mean, really, is there anything better?

Scroll down for the recipe.

Prefer pie? I also have this recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.

Strawberry Rhubarb Oat Crumble
Makes 6-8 servings

3 cups (750 mL) hulled and quartered strawberries
5 cups (1.25 L) chopped rhubarb
1/3 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup (75 mL) packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) rolled oats
1/4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

To make the filling, add the strawberries and rhubarb to a 9-inch (2.5 L) square baking dish. In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the flour. Pour over the strawberries and rhubarb and toss gently with two spoons to coat.

To make the topping, cream the butter and brown sugar with a fork in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the oats (I like to keep using a fork here so that the mixture doesn't bind together too much). Then stir in the flour and salt. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm, at room temperature or even chilled.

Are you making the most of spring's rhubarb and early strawberries? What are you making? Leave a comment and tell me all about what's happening in your kitchen!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Book Tour Announcement!

I am so excited to be announcing the dates for my upcoming book tour! I'll be hitting the road to bring my book The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes to communities big and small throughout the 2015 canning season.

Come out and say hello, bring your canning questions with you and pick up a copy of the book. I look forward to chatting with you about canning, recipes, the weather or whatever!

New dates are being added, so check back soon...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015
6-8 p.m.
The London Chef, 953 Fort Street

Thursday, June 11, 2015
5:30-7 p.m.
All The Best Fine Foods, 1101 Yonge Street

Saturday, June 13, 2015
10 a.m-noon
Creemore Farmers Market, Station on the Green, Caroline Street East

Sunday, June 14, 2015
1-3 p.m.
The Bookshelf, 41 Quebec Street

Tuesday, June 16, 2015
6-8 p.m.
Chapters Kingston, 2376 Princess Street

Thursday, June 18, 2015
noon-3 p.m.
Chapters Rideau, 47 Rideau Street

Thursday, July 9, 2015
7 p.m.
McNally Robinson, 3130-8th Street East

Saturday, August 1, 2015
10-11 a.m.
Book Larder, 4252 Fremont Ave North

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Evolution of a Food Blogger

Over the last six months or so I have settled into a comfy rhythm with blogging. The sweet spot.

When I started this blog in 2011, my oldest was 3 years old and his baby brother was just 6 weeks old. With few commitments outside the home and frequent naps inside the home, I was able to post pretty frequently. There was no pressure, no expectations and next to no audience. Just bad photos and a passion for food. It was great. I'd had a successful career and was happy to be at home with my kiddies. The blog was just pure, unstructured extra fun.

Then blogging got a little tricky for a while. When my youngest turned 2 and decided he would never nap (or go in the stroller) again, it was all hands on deck. It felt like every moment of my day was wrapped up in toddler kisses and diaper changes and keeping him from hurling himself off of someplace very high. My older boy, aged 5 by then, was going through his own, sometimes tough, adjustment to school. Somehow I was still blogging. I felt like my recipes were better, my photos were definitely better, and yet I was struggling to post as often as the social media gurus said I should. I was overwhelmed. Life was at an all-time level of busy. Then I signed a book deal.

The kids didn't understand what was happening at first. Mr. Feedbag parented solo on many weekends for 10 months so I could cook and shoot and write my face off. It was dizzying, and I missed a lot of fun family adventures while toiling away in my steamy kitchen. It was a lot of work, but it was fun work. I loved the creativity of developing recipes, picking out props and shooting every page. One recipe at a time, I got it done. The feeling upon turning in the manuscript was euphoric. It felt like I had thrown mySELF off of someplace very high and had managed to land on my feet. Somehow I was still blogging.

Along the way my blog had grown up a little. I had started working with brands, writing recipes for clients and getting invited on cool trips to learn about how food is grown. I'm not even sure how that all happened, but very good things had come into my life all because I had started this little food blog.

My manuscript was finalized last fall. With just a few weeks now until my book comes out, I feel like I'm in a good place with my life and my blog. My kids are happy and well-adjusted, and they sometimes even let their mom cook dinner uninterrupted. Now that they're a little older - ages 4 and 7 - I can be alone with my thoughts for longer periods of time, writing at my desk while they play downstairs. I don't need to check on the youngest one every few minutes anymore. They grab snacks and cuddles whenever they need them and they're good. I'm good. Everyone is happy.

I've gotten a little older too, and my attitude about blogging has mellowed. These days my focus is on quality posts over quantity. While I love hitting the 'publish' button every time, I'm fine if I don't have anything to post for a week or more. My feeling is I'll share when I have something worth sharing. And I'm getting better at saying no to things that don't suit what I love to blog about.

This summer will be a busy one for me as an author and a blogger. I have a book tour planned, plus three farm tour trips to learn how canola, lentils and other Canadian crops are grown. I'm excited about it all.

And somehow I know I'll keep blogging.

This post was inspired by a conversation over drinks with fellow Victoria food writers Elizabeth Nyland, Chef Heidi Fink and Rebecca Baugniet. Join us in a panel discussion about food blogging this Wednesday, May 20th at 7 p.m. at the Greater Victoria Public Library. You can register here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dilly Buttered Green Beans

I'm having a love affair with dill over here in my little west coast kitchen.

Maybe it's something to do with this lush, green time of year, and the scent of fresh growing things drifting in through my kitchen window on the breeze. Perhaps it's because I have been eating a lot of fish lately. Whatever the reason, I have been filling the crisper with fragrant bunches of feathery dill and taking big sniffs of it whenever I open the fridge door. Like, closing my eyes and nuzzling right in there for that one-of-a-kind herby scent that is childhood and picnics and summer all at once. Sure, that might be a little bit loopy. But, hey, you're reading my food blog so I figure you're kind of in it with me now. You're practically an enabler.

A famous kitchen master once said (totally making this up) that you should,"Use herbs wisely, grasshopper." It's one thing to possess fresh herbs and another thing altogether to snip them off the plant or retrieve them from the crisper and use them to their best advantage. I like my dill with fish, eggs, picnic salads like potato and pasta salads, and veggie side dishes. My latest dill obsession - fresh green beans cooked just until tender and tossed with lots of chopped fresh dill and melted butter. Such simple, wonderful food, and I could seriously eat the whole pile of them myself.

Get the recipe below...

Dilly Buttered Green Beans
Makes 3-4 side servings

1 lb (450 g) fresh green beans
1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp (30 mL) salted butter, divided

Rinse the green beans under cool running water. Using a small knife, trim off and discard the stem ends.

Add about 1-inch of water to a medium saucepan. Add the green beans to the saucepan (the water will not cover the beans). Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and continue cooking the beans until fork tender (8 to 10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Drain well.

Return the beans to the saucepan. Stir in the dill and 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the butter until the butter melts. Serve immediately, topped with the remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) of butter.

What would you make with a bunch of fresh dill?