Weekend Getaway: Westcoast Food Tour

I was recently invited on a whirlwind food tour of the Fraser Valley, Surrey and White Rock, all of which are part of the Lower Mainland, sitting just north of the U.S. border and south of Vancouver. A hop, skip and jump from Seattle, particularly if you nab a train and make yourself some cocktails in a jar for the voyage (who me?), the American dollar is strong compared to the Canadian dollar making for a budget friendly adventure. The best! I grabbed a friend, hopped on the train and spent two days on a

Westcoast Food Tour

, eating a massive amount of food and learning. Here, a few highlights:

.The green goddess dressing (and entire menu) from Water Shed Arts Cafe in Langley. It was some of the best food I've had in a long time. Simple, healthy, delicious. Thank you to Tourism Langley for showing off your part of the world!

Water Shed Arts Cafe
Water Shed Arts Cafe

.A helicopter ride from

Sky Helicopters

in Pitt Meadows, who are currently running an AMAZING deal you should definitely, immediately take advantage of.

Sky Helicopters
Sky Helicopters


Chaberton Winery

who makes delicious, crisp, affordable and


white, rose and red wines. I fell in love with their wines and I lugged home so many bottles that I now can't bring myself to drink because they're SO good, I'm waiting for a special occasion. (You can also take a

helicopter to the winery

, btw!)

Chaberton Winery
Chaberton Winery

.Local Harvest Market in Chilliwack - a young farm run by a small, passionate family, they use earth-friendly growing techniques wherein they layer thick mulch (from local mushroom growers, and wood chippers) and minimize weeding, turn out amazing produce. Walking through the fields with the owner inspired me to get back into my gardens at home. This area is also home to several dairies and food producers, including Smits & Cow. Simply driving down a road will inevitably lead you to a tasting room or small store of food. Check out Tourism Chilliwack to learn more about this area and for maps to all the fab food finds.

Local Harvest
Local Harvest

.Tulip season is over, but I highly recommend a visit to Abbotsford Tulip Festival. Planted and managed by a young woman whose father owns the land, she did an AMAZING job laying out the fields and finding rare varieties. It was a fabulous visit! Stunning afternoon, even in the rain.



The Wooden Spoon

cafe in White Rock is perfect for a brunch for dudes, hungry people, anyone with a hangover, or anyone wanting to feel in with the in crowd. This modern, hip cafe is clearly a neighborhood favorite, offers hearty portions and makes delicious morning-appropriate cocktails.


The Honey Bee Centre

in Surrey - if you love honey, you must stop here. I collect honey on any adventure, as the flavors tend to be something you can't find at home. Here, they offer jars of local honey (I chose the Blueberry Honey and sent a jar home to my family in NY, and the Dandelion honey for it's strong medicinal taste) and some rare, international finds. EXCELLENT SELECTION.

 **This is not a sponsored post! My trip was hosted, but my blog, ideas and recommendations are 100% amyp**

HOW TO :: Homemade Nut Milks

With health consciousness on the rise, more people are turning to dietary alternatives with the aim of avoiding allergens in their food. Why? Because many of these foods create internal inflammation of our tissues and joints and chronic inflammation can lead to disease and illness. homemade almond milkCommon food triggers are wheat, dairy, peanuts, soy, refined sugar. If you're following a paleo diet these and many more are on the no-no list. If you're doing a detox cleanse, you need not be as strict. Many things have easy, healthy substitutes - instead of white sugar, opt for raw local honey. Instead of peanut butter, try sunflower seed butter.

Dairy gets a little tricky because many of the substitutes have OTHER allergens and ingredients to steer clear from. Most shelf-stable nut milks contain carrageenan, "a gum extracted from certain species of red algae (also known as Irish moss) has thickening, gelling, and binding properties. It is used to stabilize emulsions in dairy products; to improve the quality of foods such as soups, salad dressings, sauces, and fruit drinks; and to give a creamy thick texture to milk products," states Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal by Phyllis Balch.

For this reason, I like to make my own nut milks at home. The process is easy and the results are great, as long as you're not looking for a thick emulsified product that mimics the consistency of cream. Not going to happen, no matter what 'they' say! Will it be close? Most def, but for anyone just making the change or those who are not vehemently committed to eating healthy (and therefore willing to overlook small things like a change in consistency), there will likely be an acclimation period.

To make homemade nut milk, seeds are first soaked. This not only helps to soften the nut meat, it activates sprouting in the 'seed'. This process makes the vitamin content of nuts more available to us and also strips the seed of their enzyme inhibitors. These inhibitors allow seeds to remain dormant until ready to grow, but are considered difficult to digest. Once seeds are exposed to moisture, the enzymes are neutralized. This is why it's important to soak and drain the nuts, before adding more water to puree them.


Pressed nut milkThe same process is similar for all nuts, if you want to experiment making nut milks at home. I'm posting my method, along with one from Prescription for Dietary Wellness. I would soak my nuts first, otherwise I liked the additions to that recipe and it's a great version for moms looking for a daily alternative for the little ones.

I have a different method from any recipe I've ever read for homemade nut milks in that I do a double soak. I feel like my how to method extracts a lot of the fats from the nut meat and adds to a richer milk, but that could be in my head. Try it both ways and see what you prefer.

Finally, if I'm using almond milk SOLELY for coffee or drinks, I roast the nuts for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, until fragrant. This lends the coffee a rich, nutty flavor that I LOVE. I don't miss 1/2 &  1/2 at all.


1 cup raw almonds, soaked over night or at least 8 hours 1 1/2 cups filtered water 1 1/2 cups warm filtered water

Drain the nuts and add to the bowl of a blender. Add half of the water and puree on high until the nuts are broken down and the milk is creamy. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain the nut meat from the milk, pressing down on the solids to release most of the liquid. Return nut meat to blender and add the warmed water. Let soak for until water is cool, about 30 minutes. Turn the blender on high and puree the nuts until milk is creamy, about 1 minutes. Using the same strainer, drain the nut meat from the milk, pressing down on the solids until all of the liquid is pressed out. Reserve nut meat for baked goods, or as a topping on a smoothie bowl, or dry out in the oven for later use.



This is an excellent addition to children’s and infant’s diets. It’s also good for adults as a milk substitute. Substitute almond milk for soymilk if you are allergic to soy. SOURCE: Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal

1 cup almonds 3 cups water ½ fresh papaya (optional; good for babies) 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (optional; a good mineral source) 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional) 1 tablespoon brewer’s yeast or wheat germ or both (optional)

1. In a grinder, food processor, or blender, grind the nuts into a powder. Gradually add the water and other ingredients while continuing to blend.

2. Store almond milk in the refrigerator and serve chilled. Note: Using molasses and papaya makes this a complete milk for infants, especially for those who are allergic to cow’s milk. If you plan to use this as a drink for adults, start by adding ½ teaspoon of brewer’s yeast to the recipe and gradually increase to 1 tablespoon over a couple of weeks’ time. Omit the wheat germ if you plan to use almond milk for cooking or on cereals.




Key Ingredient: SEAWEED

Sushi Kappo Tamura's owner and chef dishes about the edible sea plant that packs healthy nutrients................... Seaweed, long revered in Japanese culture, is available as close as Puget Sound. But can we simply stroll down to Golden Gardens and harvest some fresh kelp for eating? “Yes,” says Taichi Kitamura, owner and chef at Sushi Kappo Tamura in Eastlake. “All seaweed is edible; it is just a matter of tasting good or bad.”

1215eatanddrinkseaweedSeaweed comes in various shapes and forms—pressed and dried into sheets for sushi rolls, salted in jars, dried whole and other preparations. “I like them all, but my choice is wakame,” says Kitamura. Dark green wakame is sold in both dried and jarred forms. Sometimes labeled as sea vegetables, it has an almost indistinguishable, subtle taste. The texture is satisfying. “It’s something in between melt in your mouth and chewy,” he says.

Add wakame to soup for instant health benefits. “If I’m cooking instant ramen at home, I feel bad about it, but if I add wakame to it, I feel l ate something healthy,” says Kitamura. “If I prepare a green salad at home, I add wakame to the top and toss it with a soy-ginger dressing.”

At Sushi Kappo Tamura, he serves wakame with nattō (a preparation of fermented soybeans that “has an aroma similar to stinky cheese”), cucumber and seafood in a sweet, vinegary sauce.

While nori, the dried sheets of seaweed used in making sushi, is more commonly known, “Wakame can be utilized in a lot of different ways,” says Kitamura, “but…people don’t know about it yet.”

Why you should try it: Wakame is packed with antioxidants and nutrients, including calcium, iron and magnesium—and has a sweet, slightly salty flavor and thick texture. “It is unusual to an American palate, but it’s full of minerals and fiber, plus has zero calories,” says Kitamura.
How to use it: Don’t overcook it. “Melted seaweed is not pleasant—it’s like slime,” Kitamura says. Soak wakame for about 10 minutes before tossing it in a vinaigrette made from lemon juice, soy sauce and sugar, and folding it into a green salad. Minced ginger adds flavor.
Where to find it: Metropolitan Market (metropolitan-market.com) and PCC; Uwajimaya (multiple locations; uwajimaya.com). About $6 for an 8-ounce package. Salt-preserved wakame should be boiled and strained.

Why you should try it: Wakame is packed with antioxidants and nutrients, including calcium, iron and magnesium—and has a sweet, slightly salty flavor and thick texture. “It is unusual to an American palate, but it’s full of minerals and fiber, plus has zero calories,” says Kitamura.

How to use it: Don’t overcook it. “Melted seaweed is not pleasant—it’s like slime,” Kitamura says. Soak wakame for about 10 minutes before tossing it in a vinaigrette made from lemon juice, soy sauce and sugar, and folding it into a green salad. Minced ginger adds flavor.

Where to find it: Metropolitan Market and PCC; Uwajimaya (multiple locations). About $6 for an 8-ounce package. Salt-preserved wakame should be boiled and strained.

Wakame and Shrimp Salad with Dijon Mustard Dressing Serves 4

  • 1 ounce dried wakame
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 ounces English cucumber, sliced thin
  • 4 ounces cooked salad shrimp

1. Put the dried seaweed into a large bowl, fill it with cold water and soak it for 5 minutes. For more tender seaweed, soak it for 10 minutes. 2. To make the dressing, combine the rice vinegar, lemon juice, oil, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk together. 3. Drain the seaweed and use your hands to squeeze out excess water. Wipe out any excess water in the bowl, and then return the seaweed along with the cucumber and the dressing. 4. Toss thoroughly to combine. 5. Plate the salad and place the shrimp on top.




Homemade Aged Eggnog

More nuanced then just-made ‘nog, aging mellows the boozy nose of this super spiked beverage and makes for a harmonious, blended flavor. aged eggnog recieHow & Why to Make Aged Eggnog

Eggnog is made with eggs, sugar, a blend of spirits and milk or cream (or both). In a typical iteration, eggs are blended with sugar and booze creating a thick and sweet beverage, not unlike Baileys. From there, portions of milk and cream are added before serving. Some recipes call for whipped cream, while others fold in whipped egg whites. I took another route entirely and went for an aged eggnog recipe.

Alcohol is a natural preservative, killing off bacteria. I had heard of aged eggnog before—the process seemed so much easier than the last minute preparation required with other recipes. With aged eggnog, eggs and spirits (like rum, brandy, cognac, whisky, or bourbon) are blended and mixed with sugar, the alcohol killing any potential of bacteria from the raw eggs over the course of time. (In fact, some think aged eggnog is safer to drink.)

The real benefit to aging the eggnog, however, can be tasted with each sip. More nuanced then just-made ‘nog, aging mellows the boozy nose of this super spiked beverage and makes for a harmonious, blended flavor. Smoother-tasting than fresh eggnog, aging the drink also turns the consistency thin, a nice break from the thick and cloying versions we’ve all come to expect from the store.

To serve, you can of course fold in whipped cream, if you’re a frothy eggnog lover; just as you can use reduced fat milk if you prefer a lighter version. I add toasted star anise to the jar a few days before I plan to serve it—the warming spices embody all that is symbolic of the holidays in one.

Aged Vanilla Eggnog Makes 8 lowball glasses | start to finish: 20 to 30 minutes

1 1/2 cups bourbon or whiskey 1/2 cup dark rum 1/2cup brandy 12 eggs 1 1/2 cup sugar 1 vanilla bean pod 2 star anise, dry roasted (optional)

To serve: 1 1/4 cup whole milk 1/4 cup heavy cream Ice Whole nutmeg, for grating

Combine all of the spirits and set aside. In a large bowl or standing mixer, add the eggs and sugar. Beat on low speed until all of the sugar has dissolved, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to the lowest setting and slowly add the spirits, drop by drop at first to temper the eggs. When all of the liquid has been added, strain into a clean glass jar (using a strainer will catch any solid bits of egg), cover and store in a cool dark place. Invert the jar occasionally, or at least every three days, for at minimum of nine days and up to three weeks total. Five days before serving, add the vanilla bean pod and star anise, if using.

aged eggnog recipe

To serve: strain out the spices and place the eggnog mixture into a large bowl or container. Add the milk and heavy cream and stir to combine. To serve, shake a ladle-full (about ½ cup) of eggnog with ice until frothy. Serve immediately, over a lowball filled with ice and top with some freshly grated nutmeg.

Rosehip Recipes :: Homemade Rosehip Granola Recipe

baking granolaRosehips are bright red ‘berries’ that form on the stems of rose bushes and trees after the blooms die back. These fleshy globes encase seeds for the roses and can be eaten raw or dried. Rosehips form in mid-autumn and are best harvested after the first frost. This homemade rosehip granola is best served over yogurt with a spoonful of honey. To learn how to harvest rosehips (November is a perfect month for it!), check out this post. For more rose hip recipes and inspiration, check out this post for Rosehip Sherry.

Rose Hip Granola

makes about 3 pints | start to finish: about 30 minutes active time

2 cups rolled oats 2 cups sliced almonds 2 cups raw, unsweetened coconut flakes 2 tablespoon untoasted sesame seeds 1⁄4 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup dried rosehips 1/3 cup crystallized ginger, chopped

rose hips for harvestingPreheat the oven to 350°F. Place the oats and almonds on a sheet pan and stir to combine. Put the pan in the oven and toast for 5 minutes. Add the coconut flakes and sesame seeds. Toss to redistribute, and spread out into a single layer. Toast until the coconut flakes are golden brown and sesame seeds are fragrant, another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle on the salt. Add the rosehips and ginger and stir well to combine. Let cool completely before filling pint jars. washed jars • pantry storage


HOW TO :: Preserving & Canning Pears

Seckel pears are diminutive, with muddy, olive green skin and a firm texture. Their tiny proportions make them impossible to resist, and the perfect size for a light dessert after a rich meal. They ripen toward the end of September, so be on the lookout as the season is short. Pears are poached in a light caramel syrup - you can determine how dark you'd like to burn the sugar. I prefer mine deeply amber, imparting an almost burnt quality to the fruit. Of course, you can also infuse the syrup with any number of aromatics. Here, we use vanilla, but lavender buds, fresh thyme or even a bag of your favorite tea. When you crack open the jars, the pears’ exterior will have a gorgeous caramel hue, whereas the centers stay creamy. I like to serve the pears whole, with a dollop of cream and a drizzle of the syrup. Make sure to use wide-mouth pint jars here, so the pears fit without bruising. Caramel Vanilla Seckel Pears makes 6-8 pints | start to finish: about 1 hour active time

2 1/4 cups sugar 5 1/2 cups warm water 1 vanilla bean, cut in half, beans scraped and reserved 5 pounds Seckel pears

In a large, completely dry, saucepan, add the sugar and shake the pan gently to level it out. Place the saucepan over medium heat. Without touching it, leave the sugar to melt and brown; do not stir it. The sugar will begin to brown at the edges. Once starting to brown, gently swirl the pan slightly, making sure to keep the sugar level, so it does not coat the sides of the pan. The sugar will caramelize, becoming dark brown at edges. Stir the melted sugar slowly, incorporating the dry sugar, until all of the sugar is melted and amber colored. Wearing an oven mitt and long sleeves (molten sugar will spit and pop) carefully pour in the warm water while simultaneously stirring. Any sugar crystals that form will melt in the water. Add the vanilla bean pods and the reserved seeds, and set the pot aside. (This is also when you when add other aromatics, as pictured below.**)

caramel infusions

Peel the pears, leaving a small piece of the stem intact. Immediately drop them into the syrup. When all of the pears have been added, return the pot to medium-high heat. Bring the syrup to a low boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Cook the pears for 10 to 15 minutes, until they are just beginning to soften, but are not cooked through all the way. The exterior flesh will be easily pierced, but the core of the pear will be firm.

Remove the pears from the heat and, using a soup spoon, immediately add them to the clean jars, lowering each pear in gently to prevent bruising. Pack the jars as densely as you’re able, leaving 1” of space. Once the jars are packed, pour the caramel-vanilla syrup over the pears so they are submerged, leaving 1/2” of headspace in the jars. Cut the vanilla pod into even pieces and add a small piece of it to each jar. Gently tap the jars on the counter to release any air bubbles. Wipe the jar rims and seal the jars. Place the jarred pears in a prepared water bath and process for 20 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs and let them cool on the counter overnight. Store in a cool, dark cupboard for up to 1 year.

washed jars • water bath

**You can infuse the caramel water with many an array of aromatics. Try fresh thyme, lavender, ginger, cardamom, cloves, etc. I always recommend doing a small batch on the side first, so you can judge the potency and see if you like the flavor. From there, add aromatics to the pot and steep as you like. As I tell all of my students, the potency of the flavor will grow in strength over time, so keep it a little softer then you'd ideally like. A little clove goes a long way - trust me.

HOW TO :: Apple Pie Filling Canning Recipe

This simple recipe guarantees you’ll always have the best apples on hand for pie baking. bowl of applesApples are available all year long, but they are certainly not in season all year long. New crop apples, those that are harvested and sold in the same season, are the best tasting—their juice just contained under firm, naturally shiny skins. Ditto for pears, which are best eaten soon after harvesting. To preserve the natural, raw integrity of fresh fruit, buy both in bulk when they come into the markets. Boxes of apples are infinitely less expensive than buying a pound at a time, so choose a favorite variety (most farmers offer samples) and load up. As for the little pears, keep your eyes open and buy the lot when you have a chance.

Apple Pie Filling makes about 4 pints | start to finish: about 1 hour active time

This simple recipe guarantees you’ll always have the best apples on hand for pie baking. Blanching the fruit before canning them will preserve their crispness, ensuring that they won’t break down to mush when they’re baked. Choose a firm, crisp apple, and mix something tart (Bramley) with a sweeter bite (Spitzenberg). When it comes to baking time, simply pour the apples into a prepared shell and bake, or slice them thin for layering in a tart. Either way, expect to use two pints of filling per 9” pie.

6 pounds apples, cored and sliced 1 cup water 1 cup apple cider 1 cup sugar 1/4 cup apple pectin (available online or in health food stores) 1/4 cup lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Fill a large stockpot half full with water and bring to a boil. Drop in half of the sliced apples and cover, returning to a boil. Once the water returns to a boil (about 8 to 10 minutes), use a slotted spoon to strain out the apples. Add the slices directly to clean pint jars, leaving a small amount of room at the top. Repeat the process with the remaining apple slices. On a folded-over dish towel (for padding), strongly tap the bottom of each jar on the counter, to help pack down the apples. If necessary, redistribute apples so each jar is full, with 1” of headspace.

In a medium saucepan, add the water, apple cider, sugar, apple pectin, lemon juice, and spices; bring to a boil. Simmer the liquid for 15 minutes, reducing it slightly. Using a ladle or a liquid measuring cup for ease, pour hot juice over the jarred apples, leaving 1/2” of headspace. Gently tap the jars on the counter to release any air bubbles. Wipe the jar rims and seal the jars. Place them in a prepared water bath and process for 20 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs and let them cool on the counter overnight. Store in a cool, dark cupboard for up to 1 year.

washed jars • water bath

HOW TO :: Grow Your Own Fig Tree | Propagating Figs

This is a great fall project as we move into winter. Be sure to position the cutting in a sunny spot so it can put on growth before winter really sets in. It will go dormant over winter (keep the soil moisture consistently JUST damp) and pick up growth as we turn into the new year.figs_food52 copy I think you'll be surprised at how simple this is, but for anyone interested, here are the instructions if you want to DIY it:

  1. Find a fig tree! Maybe your neighbor has one or maybe you're in a local park.
  2. Using pruning shears, cut a 4- to 10-inch long piece of soft wood new growth, just above a plant node.
  3. Fill a large pot with potting soil (a simple plastic pot that shrubs come in is perfect) and stick the fig cutting in, cut side down. Don't worry about stripping the bark, spacing or anything. You just need to place the cutting in a well-drained medium with space to grow.
  4. Water, water, water! Moisture is key. Eventually, your cutting will grow smaller little leaves and develop a root system. You know it is ready for replanting or repotting when you give the plant a slight tug and it resists.

Five Container Plants For Fall

It's hard to believe, but fall is on its way. Here, a quick guide on what to plant now for the perfect patio harvest come cold weather. plantingIt doesn’t necessarily feel like it, but sadly summer is waning. Our days are shorter and while temperatures may remain hot (you lucky ducks!), shorter days means less light for growing plants. In many states across the country this means it’s time to get the winter garden going, if you haven’t already. Late summer begs for cool loving crops that are quick to grow. For anyone starting now, smaller leafy greens are your friend.

By nature, leafy greens require less direct sunlight, prefer it when it’s a bit cooler, and can be grown in both a proper garden bed and a smaller container. Most greens germinate quickly and many can be found as starts. Following is a list of five plants to grow right now – some can be harvested before winter sets in, and others can be left to overwinter in regions with mild temperatures. Be sure to get planting straight away though. Mother Nature is moving fast and I can tell you from experience...she usually wins the race.

Getting Started You’ll need a pot filled to the brim with potting soil. Feel free to use an old pot; just refresh the soil and make sure you remove all old root hairs. If you’re using seed, you can direct sow, which is a method in which you sow a seed directly into the soil.

You can also broadcast sow seeds for loose leaves: you do this by taking a handful of seeds and scattering them evenly over a designated area, sort of like salting meat. These seeds fall on the soil haphazardly and lack any spacing. (I'm showing the technique in a garden bed here, but it also works for containers!)

Of course, you can also use a start when planting this fall. Plant starts are a bit easier as they give you a jump on the season and don’t require you to nurture seeds through germination. When transplanting a plant start into a pot, you need only provide enough space for the plant to grow. Loosen up the transplants root system and be sure to separate out individual plants so you allow them room to come to full maturity.

raddichio copy

1. Lettuce Many lettuces will grow and mature in less than two months. These are wonderful immediate gratification kind of plants, as they germinate and grow quickly and are easily harvested. Lettuces come in assorted sizes and colors, allowing for a nice salad bowl mix, but be sure to choose varieties that will do well late in the season – I really love Green Deer Tongue lettuce for winter and have heard great things about Arctic King, a butterhead for anyone wanting a traditional green lettuce leaf.

Where and When to Plant • Sow lettuce seed or plant starts through the month of September.

Pot Size • Sow seeds in a long, shallow, pale-colored plastic container -- lettuces are shallow-rooted, and plastic containers hold water a bit longer than clay ones. • If using seeds, be sure to keep the seedbed moist until seeds germinate, which typically happens in five to seven days.

How to Harvest • To harvest lettuce, try to remove the larger outer leaves first. Using a small pair of scissors, cut the individual leaf stems as close to the base of the main stem as possible, leaving some interior leaves behind.

planting2. Chervil Chervil has tender fernlike leaves, it is extremely dainty and delicate. The flavor is not unlike dill, but it is sharper and more crisp. It doesn’t linger on your palate as dill can, and it won’t overpower a dish. Chervil is a great match for eggs, light broths, and with white fish of any kind. (Editor's Note: The chervil hasn't popped up in Amy's garden yet, so you get a photo of sowing in action! Chervil looks like this.)

Where and When to Plant • Sow in late summer.

Pot Size • Chervil can be grown in a medium-depth pot, about eight to twelve inches deep. The wider the pot, the more thickly the plant will fill in, so keep that in mind when choosing.

How to Harvest • Cut the entire stem of chervil and use both leaves and stem. • The plant will quickly fill back in, so harvest often!

greenonion copy3. Green Onions Scallions, chives, green onions – they are all in the same family of allium and are quick producing. You can grow for greens or the whole plant.

Where and When to Plant • Green onions can be sown in late summer for a fall harvest.

Pot Size • A shallow container works well. Try these in a gutter garden!

How to Harvest • Pull the entire scallion from the soil, if you’d like to use the white. • For greens only, trim the stems leaving a few inches of the green onion behind so it can re-grow.

arugula_sprouts copy4. Arugula Arugula is a leafy green that produces long flat leaves with a distinct peppery flavor. Each seed produces one thin stem, which leaves grow out from. You can further your harvest by cutting them back often.

Where and When to Plant • Sow arugula seeds in the top layer of potting soil from late August through October.

Pot Size • If given the room, arugula plants may grow to well over two feet! In a small to medium container, however, leaves grow the perfect size for salad.

How to Harvest • Cut arugula at the base of each leaf off the main stem. • You can decide for yourself when the leaf is big enough, but larger leaves are much more peppery.

escaroleinbed copy5. Chicories Chicories are essentially bitter salad greens that can be eaten raw or take well to grilling. Chicories such as escaroles and endives are good choices for fall.

Where and When to Plant • Sow seed or plant starts now through the first week of September.

Pot Size • Sow seeds in a long, shallow, pale-colored plastic container, as chicories are also shallow rooted plants.

How to Harvest • To harvest, remove the larger outer leaves first. Like for lettuce, using a small pair of scissors, cut the individual leaf stems as close to the base of the main stem as possible, leaving some interior leaves behind.

Cooking with Fish Sauce

 Ma‘ono’s Mark Fuller dishes on his go-to ingredient

To the uninitiated, the mention of fish sauce might well result in wrinkled noses. However, the oft-misunderstood ingredient brings a welcome punch to a variety of dishes. Because fish sauce falls outside the flavor categories typically recognized by the American palate, the savory-salty taste is hard to define. The Japanese describe it as “umami”—roughly translated as “deliciousness.” At Ma‘ono, the mystery works.


“People won’t know why the food tastes great, but it does and that’s what matters,” says Mark Fuller, chef and owner of Ma‘ono Fried Chicken & Whisky (West Seattle, 4437 California Ave. SW; 206.935.1075; maono.springhillnorthwest.com), a Hawaiian-influenced restaurant that also serves now-famous fried chicken dinners. “I’m looking for flavor in all of my dishes and fish sauce is a fermented product that’s a bit funky and offers subliminal and compelling flavor.”

Fuller relies on fish sauce for his kimchi, adding it during the beginning stages of a three-day maceration, along with raw oysters, to give the cabbage a kick-start. This fiery relish is served with the fried chicken as an aromatic, fresh-tasting side. Fuller also opts for fish sauce—instead of the more traditional anchovies—in a version of Caesar salad. “I use it as a flavor like I would use salt,” he says.

Why you should try it: A versatile pantry staple, fish sauce imparts a noticeable difference in recipes—and not just in the usual Asian fare. Use it in place of soy sauce or other pungent foods, like cheese. A splash can be added to sauces and broths for body.

Where to find it: Fuller uses Three Crabs fish sauce at Ma‘ono. “It’s the best fish sauce we can get here. It’s high quality and it’s readily available,” he says. At home, he opts for Red Boat artisanal fish sauce, which is more of a splurge. Both are available at Uwajimaya stores (Bellevue, Chinatown–International District, Renton; uwajimaya.com). Three Crabs and other brands can be found at H Mart locations (Bellevue, 100 108th Ave. NE; 425.990.8000; hmartus.com).

How to use it: A little goes a long way. “In moderation, it can elevate just about anything,” Fuller says. Try adding a spoonful to marinades and vinaigrettes. Combine lemon juice, olive oil and fish sauce and brush it over your veggie kebabs right as they come off the grill. Try a splash in your mac and cheese or risotto, in place of Parmesan. But, Fuller says, “Start with a few drops and taste as you go.


Why Tomatoes Crack & Split

split tomatoesIn late summer, I'm bound to receive texts from my friends and clients showcasing cracked and split tomatoes asking me what went wrong. In short, you can blame it on the rain. When tomatoes (and all ripening fruits) have a sudden fluctuation in their water levels, they are bound to react. After a somewhat dry summer (and with a consistent watering schedule), a sudden downpour allows plants to drink up way more water than usual. As they take up water, the fruits expand, causing the skins of tomatoes to crack and split. This is particularly offensive in the case of almost-ripe tomatoes; They are already super moist and so have a greater tendency to split right before harvest - a total bummer.

The good news is, if you get out in the garden and harvest almost-ripe tomatoes BEFORE forecasted rain, you can save them. Just keep them on a windowsill or countertop to continue ripening. (Any time you can ripen fruit in the sun, hence a windowsill, it will produce better-tasting fruit.) If you miss the window and rain comes, harvest cracked and split tomatoes asap and ripen them in the same fashion. While ugly, the cracks don't do a lot to alter the flavor, and for any purist, you can cut around the tough skin and compost that portion.


Homemade Plum Fruit Roll Ups

Plum Fruit Roll UpDehydrating fruit is an excellent preservation technique if you don't have time to make jam and jar up whole fruits. Simply toss sliced or pureed fruit into the dehydrator of low oven and leave it be for hours. Dehyrdrating fruit is an awesome overnight project! To make fruit puree, cut fruit of your choice into small pieces and add to a pot set over low heat. Depending on how juicy the fruit is, you may or may not need to add some water to the pot. Start small, adding only 1/2 cup of water at a time. As the fruit warms, it will release natural juices.

Cook the fruit down slowly until soft and pulpy. Add sugar to taste. I use about 1/2 cup for every 4 pounds of fruit and increase in small increments until the flavor tastes right to me. (I always opt for low-sugar snacks, so my fruit leathers are not super sweet.) Once completely soft, add to the bowl of a blender and puree, working in batches for a large pot of fruit. Pour fruit puree into a fine mesh strainer, and push through using a rubber spatula. This fine strainer will hold out seeds, skins and any tough fruit fibers.

Line a sheet pan or dehydrator tray with parchment. You may want to lightly oil the parchment first, which helps the leathers from getting stuck to the parchment once dry. Pour sieved fruit puree over the parchment, spreading to a thin, even layer - like icing a cake!

Put in your food dehydrator for 3 to 4 hours or turn your oven on the lowest heat setting and bake for 2 hours. If using a dehydrator, check every hour after the initial run to see if fruit leather is dry. If using an oven, turn the oven off after 2 hours, and without opening the door, turn the light on and leave the fruit in overnight. Check in the morning to see if the fruit leather is dry. Repeat process, as needed until fruit leathers are 100% dry or allow to finish drying at room temp should any moist spots on the leather remain.

Cut dried leather into strips, and roll. The parchment acts as an insulator and protects against further drying out. Store in your cupboard.

Lemon & Olive Oil Preserved Asparagus Recipe

It's full on asparagus season. Those verdant stalks are a dime a dozen these days, so while I full encourage GORGING on them any chance you get (morning omelet, shaved raw in salad, in my awesome lettuce + pasta dinner & of course grilled) I also highly encourage you to do some preserving this spring! True confession: before I moved to Washington as a 20-something, I had never eaten asparagus. I grew up in New York and while we ate vegetables at every meal, asparagus was never one of them. It wasn’t until I started working in the Seattle restaurant industry in the late ‘90s that I got into the swing of things and started looking forward to our local asparagus season. With such a versatile vegetable, the chefs would grill, sauté, steam and bake asparagus, creating a two-month parade of verdant and fresh-tasting dishes.

Luckily for us, Washington is a major producer of the country’s asparagus supply, producing over 22 million pounds annually, making it that much easier for locals to gorge. Sadly, these snappy green stalks are gone too soon—the season never lasts as long as I like.

The solution to this, of course, lies in preservation. While it’s difficult to keep the crisp in an asparagus spear, the flavors are easy to preserve. Here, a delicious way to put up a spring glut - a preserved asparagus recipe wherein the spears are submerged in flavorful oil. Of course, it’s never a bad idea to quick-blanch and freeze a bag or two. Between jars in the cupboard, containers in the fridge and a handful of freezer bags, you can stock up enough to last nearly until next spring.

Lemon & Olive Oil Preserved Asparagus makes 4 pints | start to finish: about 30 to 45 minutes active time

Asparagus is a low-acid food and therefore needs special care when preserving. Here, olive oil preserves by inhibiting oxygen from touching and spoiling the asparagus. It will not, however, ward off bacteria. To insure you do not introduce bacteria, you briefly pickle the asparagus before the oil bath. The final product is stored in the fridge, as a cool refrigerator will also retard bacterial growth.

To eat this, simply strain from the oil (reserve the infused oil for sautés or salads) and use the spears in salads, soups or as a light snack. I love it for breakfast, underneath an over-easy egg and alongside buttery toast.

5 pounds asparagus, woody bits trimmed 1 ½ cups white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon peppercorns 2 cloves garlic, cut in half 1 cup fresh lemon juice 4 wide strips lemon zest 2 sprigs rosemary, cut in half 2 cups olive oil

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, add pint jars (you may need to work in batches) and let sit for 10 minutes to sterilize. Using tongs, remove jars from water and set aside until ready to use.

Measure the asparagus to match the depth of the canning jar, leaving a 1” gap at the top for headspace. For pint jars, the spears should be about 4” long.  Rinse the trimmed spears and set aside in a shallow baking dish.

Add the vinegar to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Pour over asparagus spears, letting them marinate for 10 minutes.
While the asparagus is brining, add the aromatics to the jars. To each pint jar, add equal parts salt and peppercorn, one half a garlic clove, 2 ounces of lemon juice and 1 strip of lemon zest. Set aside.

After 10 minutes, drain the vinegar and pack the pickled spears tightly into the jars. It helps to turn the jar on its side while adding the asparagus. When the jar is nearly full, add one rosemary sprig. Press asparagus together as firmly as possible and pack the jar completely.

Pour the olive oil over the asparagus, tapping the jar lightly on the countertop to release any bubbles. Cover the asparagus by 1/2”, creating an olive oil seal, and leaving about 1/2” of headspace. Place in the fridge to macerate for at least two weeks before eating. Asparagus will last about 3 months.

sterilized jars • store in fridge

Chia vs Hemp :: A Health Lovers Guide

Nutritious eating has always been my game – I like getting the proper proportion of fats, protein and healthy carbs in on a daily basis. Like most people, I’m also following food trends and hoping to anticipate them. Flax meal? On it – you can catch a recipe or two in Urban Pantry. Fermented foods? Eat them – I have several jars in my fridge and eat them with a soft-boiled eggs as a quick lunch when I’m in the gardens. chia vs hemp Lately, it seems everyone is going ga-ga over hemp seeds and chia – me included. I wrote about hemp seeds in the February issue of Seattle Magazine and received a bag of 'cereal' at IFBC 2014 that included chia with hemp and buckwheat (and was delicious). Experimenting with healthy foods is fun, but I can’t help but wonder……why the fuss? What ARE these proclaimed super foods actually adding to our diet and do we need them? I had a vague understanding that both would add healthy fats and protein to my daily intake, but why choose them over my regular smoothie addition of a nut butter?

Here, I did a little investigative reporting, hoping to suss out the low down after I received a bag of seeds from Manitoba Harvest. While sources and packing information vary across brands, oddly, here is the essential caloric breakdown for both hulled/shelled hemp seeds and chia, based on a 1 ounce portion:

CHIA : 137 calories, 9g of fat (a significant portion of which are omega-3 fatty acids), 12g of carbohydrates (the bulk of which is dietary fiber) and 4g of protein

HEMP : 174 calories, 14g of fat (half of which are omega-6s), 2g of carbohydrates and 11g of protein.

From this, it’s clear that hemp has way more protein and chia has way more fiber. They both contain a decent amount of healthy fats, but chia is higher in omega-3 (like you find in salmon) and hemp is higher in omega-6, which is also found in poultry, nuts and whole grains. A healthy diet needs to balance the two, so increasing our intake of omega-3s is typically recommended. Not to get too heady, but these omegas are both essential fatty acids – we don’t produce these fats naturally so we must get them from our diet. They are used as an energy source, help to regulate inflammation and are thought to protect against diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Additionally, both have the ability to level out blood sugar, working to avoid spikes and valleys of energy while evening out our metabolic rate. Good stuff!

So why choose one over another? Well, our diets do include a decent amount of omega-6  already (whole grains, nuts & poultry, remember?), so we’re not missing that fat as much as the omega-3s. That’s a +1 for chia! Fiber is filling and sustaining – that’s another +1 for chia, as carbohydrates keep us feeling satiated longer. Hemp, on the other hand, has way more protein - +1 for hemp if you’re a vegetarian or looking for an alternative protein source. Hemp is also a bit higher in calories - another plus for anyone hoping to gain weight. (Hey, it happens.)

seed table

Flavor-wise, the two don't really compare. The flavor of chia seeds is not strong - it’s more about the texture. Through absorption of an added liquid, chia seeds create a gelatinous exterior, similar to that of tapioca pudding or bubble tea. If you like this toothsome, custard-like quality, chia is a win. People like adding chia seeds to their morning smoothies, which makes for a pleasantly thick shake. Hemp, as you might expect, has a nutty flavor that is similar to pine nuts. When added to a smoothie, there is a distinct undertone of a nutty quality, though the seeds are soft and therefore blend well without leaving chunky bits behind.

Hemp seeds can also be soaked and pulverized with liquid to create a savory sauce or sprinkled over salads for a bit of crunch – a great option for anyone with nut allergies. Chia makes for a healthy snack by way of pudding. Cover the seeds in milk, coconut milk or nut milk and you wind up with a pudding-like treat. Adding cocoa powder and honey sweetens the bowl for a dessert, whereas adding cinnamon and maple syrup makes for a more breakfast-friendly meal.

So maybe the real trick is in adding both on a more regular basis? Instead of using only almond butter, try pureed hemp seeds. Or skip them both and opt for the fiber-rich chia a couple of times a week. That's definitely my plan, as well as stocking the fridge occasionally with a chia-coconut milk-cocoa 'pudding'.

And lest you get too carried away with all these fad-forward foods, don’t forget about good ol’ flax seeds, which are another wonderful plant source for carbs, fat and protein. (More on that here, from Nutritionist Monica Reinagel) Having had their day in the sun, they may not be as trendy just now, but pound per pound they’re less expensive than chia or hemp – a budget-conscious health-lovers dream.