Archive for ‘Cooking’

September 10, 2013

Squash blossoms: delicious with cheese.

This summer I took a Maya Cooking workshop at UBC farm where we walked into the farm kitchen, took a seat and the Maya gardeners cooked us at least 6 meals accompanied by family chatter and the most delicious corn tortillas I’ve ever tasted.

The table setting had delicate greens and squash blooms, baby sunburst squashes and mystery herbs like Zapote and Yerba Mora.
Mayan Cooking UBC

We were cooking with Faviana, Francesca, Maximo, Nattie, Martina, Juanita, and Leche. Martina showed us a handful of greens, Amaranth/”bledo” and served us our mystery greens, blanched, sauteed with onion and served with pinto beans.
Nattie showed us Yerba Mora, “Very good in soup” and used as medicine, teas and poultices. She had also created her very own Yerba Mora juice- mixed with blueberries, acai, and pomegranate, and taken as a shot.
Slowly the wine from the night before faded away.

We ate a salad of Purslane, Macuy, Yerba Mora. The dressing: sea salt and lime juice. The mix of every single ingredient was magic. It didn’t need a coverup. All cooking techniques used minimal oil. No broth, just water. A pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime.

We had a harvest of squash blooms for our soup, complete with baby sunbursts and even the squash stems. I learned how to differentiate a male and female blossom. To leave some male flowers in the garden to pollinate the females. A female blossom has a small bulb under her bloom that will be a baby squash. Sex education for gardeners. A family tip to never remove the stamens from the bloom- “that is where the flavour is!”.

And this was summer.
This soup.

UBC: Squash Blossom Soup

Squash Blossom Harvest

I left the class and spent the next couple of weeks studying my sunburst squash plant. A few blooms. A boy. A girl here and there. Harvest, zero. I wanted a big bowl of squash blossom soup.
A bit of powdery mildew set in the leaves. I babysat my plant with a rescue remedy.
September rolled around and bloomless, with a harvest of one sunburst and a few babies, I considered chopping the stem and making a soup out of the whole plant.
Then last weekend I wandered up to the garden early enough on Saturday, and there were two beautiful blooms and a baby. Enough to make breakfast for two.

Saturdays Harvest: Squash blossoms, a baby squash, a handful of juliet romas and yellow pear tomatoes, a lemon cucumber.
garden harvest: squash blossoms
Our last meal with the Maya cooks was sauteed baby squash and blossoms. I remember the tastes and flavours of every single dish but with my prized two blossoms all I could hear was the clever and often repeated wise words from Nattie: Squash blossoms “delicious with cheese”.

Squash blossom scrambled eggs "delicious with cheese"

Squash blossom scrambled eggs “delicious with cheese”

Credit to my husband for piling the breakfast bounty on a bagel. I present to you: Breakfast bagel with Squash, blossoms, and cheese:

sh Blossom Breakfast Bagel

Squash Blossom Breakfast Bagel


-Thanks to my dad for documenting the class with beautiful photos, while I ate.
-And a very special thank you to the Maya families who cooked the most incredible dishes of my summer.

Maya cooking workshops are held at UBC farm:Three Sisters in the Kitchen- A Traditional Maya Cooking Class
The Mayan Garden is an initiative of the Vancouver Native Health Society, the VNHS Garden project has been growing and preparing food at the UBC Farm since 2005. The garden project runs a weekly community kitchen with urban Aboriginal participants who grow, prepare, and eat food while sharing knowledge and skills with members of the UBC community and beyond. Ceremonies and celebrations throughout the year mark important seasonal shifts in traditional food ways, such as harvest feasts and the use of the cedar smokehouse for fish (part of the project’s work to bridge land and sea).

June 24, 2013

A wild rice bowl

I was up on the BBQ deck visiting the BBQ gurus of the building. They are masters. They even BBQ in the winter . . . and then, they threw on some marinated tofu.

What then proceeded was a conversation on kale ‘slaw’, where we debated whether or not the kale “cooked” in the lemon dressing and therefore got rid of the goitrogens – usually the barrier to eating kale raw.

I wondered, if perhaps I am rubbing off on people. And after this recipe, I wonder if they are rubbing off on me.

To her new love of bbq tofu and brown rice, I present:

Wild rice bowl with citrus beluga lentils
A wild rice bowl

If you’ve ever made citrus french lentils, you might remember how good they were. And how you might have thought, “wow I never knew lentils could taste that way”.
The cook who taught me citrus lentils herself says- “You may be just as un-enthused about lentils as I was, but this recipe has converted me”

Wild Rice:

  • 1C Wild rice blend: I used Lundberg (long grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, wild rice, Whole grain Wahani rice, Whole grain Black Japonica rice.)
  • 1 3/4 C Water
  • Bring water to a boil, add rice, simmer covered for 45 min. Take off heat, keep covered, and lest rest 10 min.
  • The lentils:

  • 1/2 Carrot, 1/4 onion, Garlic Clove, Bay leaf
  • 1 C Beluga lentils
  • 4 C Stock
  • Bring the stock to a boil, add veg and lentils, simmer uncovered 30-45 min, until belugas are softened and the liquid is absorbed. (I used 2 C stock/2 C water, I was short and stock…).
  • Make the dressing

  • 1 1/2 carrots
  • Rest of the onion
  • Olive Oil
  • Sweat the carrots and onions in a bit of olive oil (maybe a tsp, enough to very lightly coat the veggies). When they are soft, add to the bowl of:

  • juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 lime, 1/2 red grapefruit, olive oil, sprinkle of salt.
  • When your lentils are done, add them to the dressing. Let them sit for, at least 5-10min.

    When you are ready to serve, add some rice to a bowl. Add some nice hardy greens- I used mizuna, other options: arugula, spinach (really, any heat hardy green). Add your citrus lentils.

    Stir it up a bit.

    eat. it is, delicious.

    Cooks notes:
    *Keeps very well in the fridge over night all mixed up. The rice does not get soggy! It makes a really good cold salad for lunch the next day.
    *This recipe times out perfectly.

    April 10, 2013

    Homemade Pear Sorbet (and a ginger cookie): 3 ingredients, no ice cream maker required!

    Pear Sorbet homemade

    Yes I made that! and you can too.

    Homemade Pear Sorbet
    (15 minute prep, 8+ hours freezing time).

    *4 pears (I used Anjou)
    *1/2 C apple juice (or pear juice… or another juice)
    *1 t Chai Spice

    That’s it!

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