Portobello Mushroom Burgers

I'm going to be honest: I am kind of on a roll with cooking these last couple of days.  CSAs are not for the faint of heart. We are learning very quickly that the food you get is a mixed bag, and despite us thinking ourselves creative cooks, we get a lot of veggies that we don't really know what to do with.  In order to use all of them, we have to come up with a lot of new recipes.  Luckily I had an old recipe from my vegan days and knew exactly what do do with portobello mushrooms: burgers!  This recipe is easy and really tasty. The burgers turn out nice and juicy - I would even go so far as to say that they are even tastier than home made beef burgers, and surprisingly, Dave agrees.

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), cut into 4 equal pieces
4-8 portobello mushrooms (depending on how big you like your burger - we just used 1 mushroom per bun and it was fine), stems removed
4 hamburger buns
Cheese (we used gruyere last night and it was perfect)
Caramelized onions (watch this video to see how)
Anything else you might like on a burger

In a shallow dish, whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add bell pepper and mushrooms; toss gently to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes (or refrigerate, up to overnight). I like to use a Ziploc bag instead of a bowl – it’s great for marinating and helps get the juices all over whatever you are marinating.

Heat grill to medium; lightly oil grates. Grill bell pepper, skin side down, until blackened, about 10 minutes; remove from grill. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin (only if you want - they are fine with skins on); set bell pepper aside. Grill mushrooms, covered, until lightly charred and tender, 3 to 4 minutes per side. If you are using cheese, grill the top of the mushroom first.  When you flip them to grill the bottom, put the cheese slices on the mushroom tops.  When the mushrooms are done they are ready to be served.


Jerusalem Artichokes

We got Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) in our farm share last week. I had no idea what to do with them, so I googled ‘the best way to eat Jerusalem artichokes’. Lo and behold, the Globe and Mail had a little blurb by almost the same name.

This recipe is delicious.  I wanted to use someone else's pictures because there is just no way anyone other than a professional photographer can make this food look good, but I couldn't find any!  You'll just have to trust me, the recipe is fast and tasty.  I must admit though, it really does make sunchokes delicious by turning them into a vessel for garlicky mayonnaise, which might be cheating a little.  My quest for good sunchoke recipes will continue, but you should give this one a shot.

From Karen Barnaby, executive chef at Vancouver’s Fish House in Stanley Park speaking to the Globe and Mail:

"To cook them, don’t peel them, but scrub them well. Then steam them whole for about 15 minutes and refresh in cold water. They are best eaten at room temperature, and I'd serve them with a garlic mayonnaise. Take a half cup of mayonnaise, stir in a clove of minced garlic, about 2 teaspoons of honey and 2 teaspoons of whole capers. Cut the cooked Jerusalem artichokes in half-inch slices and serve them with a nice piece of roasted Pacific halibut, with the mayonnaise on the side.”



Last week, we received our first delivery from out CSA / farm share.  We received so many rutabagas and carrots that we didn't know what to do with them.  Last night I decided to experiment with two soup recipes: one vegan and healthy, one creamy, buttery bacony. Both were really easy to make and delicious.

Rutabaga Soup with Bacon and Sage

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium-large onion, diced
1 medium-large rutabaga, 6 to 7 ounces, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
White pepper
3 tablespoons maple syrup
4 ounces smoked slab bacon, diced fine
20 fresh sage leaves

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan on low. Add onion, sprinkle with salt, cover and cook until onion is soft but not brown. Add rutabaga and garlic and cook, covered, about 20 minutes, until rutabaga can be pierced with a knife. Meanwhile, in a 3-quart saucepan, bring cream, milk and stock to a simmer.
2. Season rutabaga with pepper and stir in maple syrup. Cook for a few minutes, then add to cream mixture. Simmer uncovered until rutabaga is soft, another 15 minutes or so. Purée with a hand blender, and turn heat all the way down. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Cook bacon in a small skillet until lightly browned. Remove to a couple of sheets of paper towel. Add sage leaves to bacon fat and cook on high heat a minute or so, until crisp. Drain on paper towel.
4. Serve soup with bacon and fried sage scattered on top.
YIELD 6 to 8 servings

Ugh. I look tired.  Also: I really won't miss that back splash.
Rutabaga, Carrot and Turnip soup:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled turnips
2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled rutabagas
2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled russet potatoes
2 cups sliced carrots
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
~ 58 ounces of vegetable broth (chicken is ok too, but then it won't be vegan)

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Add leek, celery and garlic and sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add turnips, rutabagas, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes with juices and 2 cans broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 45 minutes.
Transfer 4 cups soup to processor. Puree until almost smooth. Return puree to pot. Add remaining 2 cans broth; bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and serve.



Is it wrong to chose a paint color because of its name?  

The second that I read that it was named Tundra I was in love with the color. I have had planting on the brain lately and the word Tundra brings back many planting memories for me.  Every once in a white I get nostalgic about about the 8 summers that I spent in the bush, sleeping in a tent, seeing moose on my way to work. When mornings in May and June felt like the dead of winter we use to joke about working in the tundra.  Of course we were not even close to being that far north, but it certainly felt like we were. Somehow so far removed, the bugs, the backache, sleepless nights, trucks stuck in mud holes, and the sometimes incessant rain (I'm looking at you Swan River) seem to fade away, even seem pleasant.

So Tundra it is.

Tundra painted walls from Material Girl's Blog


In Praise of Paper Lanterns

So now that our electrician has begun working, we have to start thinking about lighting.  Our lighting plan includes a mix of: sconces in the bathroom, kitchen and in some halls; pot-lights in the kitchen and some halls; pendants in the kitchen and chandeliers in the living room, dining room and main entrance. More lighting options will follow, but today I want to talk paper lanterns.

As always, we are looking for interesting lighting that is easy on the wallet. Paper lanterns are some of my favorites and their value just can't be beat. These lights range from $2 - $40 -unless you go designer- but why would you do that?.
from Remodelista
from Remodelista

from A Happy Habitat
Julianne Moore's parlor floor. From Apartment Therapy


Thinking about Haiti

Just reading this article by on cholera in Haiti by Victoria Fan at the Center for Global Development.  If you want to learn more about how Cholera spreads and what the UN and donor community can do about it, you should take a look. These pictures are from a road flooded by Hurricane Sandy in les Nippes, Haiti.


I'm sorry I couldn't resist posting this. Via Miss Moss.

3/4 bath inspiration - fun white bathrooms, bargains and Ikea sinks

In line with my remarks yesterday about keeping our finishes simple, I thought I would show you some bathrooms of the style we are looking at, and the products that we would use for these looks.

This is possibly my favorite use of white tiles. Yellow Grout! This could be really fun in a powder room or family bathroom.  Also, this cute little Ikea Ann sink is a bargain at $79.99. Image from Ideas to Steal.

Subway tiles like this can be found at Home Depot for $2 a square foot! Image from Ideas to Steal.

Here's another one from the Design Files with a very similar style.  The glass shower door is also great.

This bathroom is from Mark and Raina's farmhouse makeover on Apartment Therapy. This is an Ikea Lillangen sink and cabinet.  Both for $349!

 Here an ikea double sink was put on a bright green table.  I am not sure which sink - maybe this one?  Or two of these Talleviken sinks could also do the trick. Of course we probably couldn't afford marble, but maybe we could fake the look with Corian or Quartz.

This is not an Ikea sink, and I am not sure we could fake it, but I love the mirror and the rim of black tiles around the top. Image from Ideas to Steal.

Finally, while this may not be the most exciting bathroom - it is very similar in layout to what we will be doing with our 3/4 bath. It also shows how far a dog and some plants can go towards punching up a room. From Rock and Rock Problems.


Hidden gem

Here it is! The kitchen of our dreams!

OK, so we're not quite there yet, but today was a pretty awesome day.  We got rid of that awful, random powder room that was sitting in the middle of our future kitchen.  What was left behind (besides dust) was this beautiful, old, almost-intact archway.  If you use your imagination, can you picture our stove and hood in there, flanked by two giant pantries?