AKA middle eastern pesto (or skoug or zchoug – there are about 15 different names and spellings for it because it’s eaten in so many different places throughout the middle east). It’s often slathered all over falafel, or sandwiches with eggplant and tahini sauce. In the summertime, I like to make it just to have in the fridge (it’s good for 5-6 days) – so I can put it on sandwiches (great with tomatoes and peppers), or toss with any kind of grilled vegetable or steak. If you like to take it easy on the spicy side, substitute a green pepper for the hot ones. You can also add a chopped tomato at the end of blending (keep it chunky). Enjoy!

2 C cilantro

1 C flat leaf parsley

2 hot green peppers (jalapeno, serrano or Hungarian wax, seeds removed)

1 tsp coriander seeds, ground

1 tsp cumin seed – whole or ground

¼ tsp cardamom (optional)

¼ tsp ground cloves (optional)

½ tsp salt

2 cloves garlic

½ C olive oil

2 Tbsp water

2 Tbsp lemon juice


Toss in food processor or blender and blend until smooth! You’ll want to scrape down the sides of the machine a few times to make sure it’s evenly blended.

Eggplant Dip (Babaganoush)

Great alternative to dairy-based dips – delicious with bread, pita or vegetables. Or make it into a salad by adding a handful of cherry tomatoes and some chopped cucumber!

1 large eggplant (or 2 small)

1/3 C tahini

2 Tbsp water

1-2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed (or more if you like)

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

First you need to blacken the eggplant- leave it whole and you can do it in the oven at 450˚, on the grill, or even on a gas burner on top of the stove. Blackening the skin on the outside really imparts a lovely smoky flavor to the dish, so don’t be afraid to really go for it. Another key element is getting the flesh inside the eggplant totally cooked and collapsed. So if you blacken the outside and it still seems as though the inside is raw, throw it in the oven to completely cook it. When the eggplant is totally soft and collapsed, cut a slit in the skin and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh. Mix it with the rest of the ingredients. If it seems too lumpy and goopy for your tastes, put it in a food processor and give it a blitz.

Options –

  • Add 3 Tbsp chopped parsley or cilantro (or both!)
  • substitute yogurt or sour cream for the tahini
  • add 1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses (sweet-sour flavor)

IMG_9963If I’m being honest, I know that it’s August if I’ve had ratatouille and a good cry. Most of my resilience is used up by August and I don’t have much in reserve. I’m ready for a season change. It’s time to harvest so many things – which I love – no one who cooks or preserves can say that they don’t love a good bounty. But at the same time – it’s hot, everything needs to be picked and pickled, plucked and preserved all at the same time, and you’re trying to make sure that you have enough of everything else still growing to get through till frost. Oh, and there’s usually irrigation pipe to move, hay to cut (do I want it to rain or not to rain?) and 2 or 3 years of your life and fields to plan and prep for cover crops. So I usually have a good cry and get it all done and then in February look at photos and think how beautiful it all is!

However – there are so many wonderful things that I love about this time of year – the peppers (the red ones are just coming on now), eggplant, melons and tomatoes! Hot days and cool nights. Lots of pasture for the animals. Starting to clean the slate by taking out crops that are done and tucking in cover crops to grow before the end of the sunlight – keeping roots in the soil so that all the microbes will be happy and help us produce beautiful veg next year. Also – so many events!!

FRESH FEST – This Thursday, Seed Confections in St Thomas (a one woman shop, really gorgeous and tasty chocolates and macarons) will be using our beets, sumac and raspberries in her offering for Fresh Fest, the local food event in St Thomas – get tickets ahead or at the door, and then sample from local food vendors (and the farms behind them!).

VEGAN FARM DINNER AT WILDFLOWERS – On Saturday, September 16th, Wildflowers Farm (just down the road on Fruit Ridge – the owners of the bee hives on our farm) will be having a plant-based dinner on their farm – $50 per ticket. I will be making the soup course, and Seth of La Houlette de Vie will be supplying bread. There will also be wine and live music!

ORCHARD HILL FARM DINNER – Our farm dinner will be on Saturday, September 23rd 5:30-8 – four courses and wine pairing by Quai du Vin for $75 per ticket. We will be featuring lots of vegetables from the farm and pastured duck from Three Ridges Farm. There are only a few tickets left, and I will be publishing a menu soon.

RECIPES – There’s a wealth of recipes in the archives of this blog, and most of them are well labelled, so if you search ‘zucchini’ you’ll come up with a bunch of recipes! Here are a few of the hits for this season:

Kale Chips
Ok – so it’s not very seasonal (there are so many other things to eat this time of year, anyway), but I heard someone talking about them last week and they’re so good!
Flavour Paste:
1 red bell pepper, roasted and skin removed.

1 cup unsalted cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour

1 lemon, juiced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste.

Blend until consistency of yogurt. Massage onto kale leaves that have had the stem removed and ripped into chip-sized pieces.  It should be covered like a light salad dressing.  Bake at 175 degrees for approx 3 hours, until crispy.

When cool, keep in an airtight container for up to a few days.

The paste recipe is easily doubled, and can keep in the fridge for a few days. It also freezes well. It is a great idea to double the batch and freeze the leftovers so that the next time you have kale, you have the paste easily available – just defrost and spread.

Panzanella (aka Bread Salad)

1 baguette, a dense artisan style loaf works best – Seth’s would be great

1/2 cup olive oil

3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar

salt and pepper to taste

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, peeled, halved (seeded if necessary) and cut into bite sized pieces.

3 cups tomato, chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped.

Whisk oil, vinegar, sugar salt and pepper together in a large salad bowl.

Add onion to dressing and let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad. … it softens the bite of onion and adds a nice taste to the dressing.

Slice baguette lengthwise into quarters (you should have 4 long pieces), brush with oil an grill until toasted on all sides.  Remove, cool, cut into bite-sized chunks.

Add tomato, cucumber, basil and bread.  Toss and serve.

* can be served with grilled boneless skinless chicken breast that have marinated for about 2 hours  in …. 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 white wine, 2 Tbsp each fresh rosemary and thyme, 1 minced clove of garlic, 2 tsp mustard, 2 tsp sugar.

Baby Zucchini Pasta

This is a light, fragrant and very quickly made pasta dish using very firm baby zucchini, which hardly needs to be cooked at all.  The idea is to slice them as thinly as possible in an irregular fashion.  The big fat zucchini that are fluffy inside, won’t do for this recipe.

Serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil

1 clove finely chopped garlic

8-10 small very firm zucchini

juice of 1 lemon

1 good handful of fresh basil leaves, torn

1 pound of pasta

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 1/2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated.

Put the olive oil and garlic into a thick bottomed pan and set over medium-high heat and fry for about 30 seconds without colouring, then add your baby zucchini and toss gently.  After about 2 minutes squeeze in the juice of the lemon, add the basil and cook a little longer.

Meanwhile cook the past in boiling salted water until al dente.  Toss it with the zucchini to mix the flavours, season to taste and add the Parmesan to round all the flavours together- you may need a little extra olive oil to loosen it.  Serve with some torn basil and a sprinkling of Parmesan on top.IMG_0002


0P5A9289-edit When I was a kid I thought everyone knew that the first line of defense for a toad is to pee. Toad pee was a part of my life, because I loved to catch toads. Just like I knew that you can’t eat rhubarb leaves because they’re poisonous (but toads love the moist mulch and cool shade of their leaves), and that if you had a bee sting and were out in the field, you could chew the leaf of a plantain and put the pulp on the welt to take the sting away. These are the lessons that I see my children learning on the farm, from people and from nature – the same lessons that I learned as a child here. I tried to explain to my husband recently that although I was open to talk of moving to another place, or to travel, and although we lived together in Portland, Oregon for 12 years – there would never be another place that was home because this land – the taste of the last tiny ripe strawberry, the smell of hay drying, the weight of the wind in August, the itch of peach fuzz – it has been such a tangible part of me that I can’t imagine having that relationship with any other place in the world.

For two years, I’ve been anticipating having a farm dinner – a semi formal affair, hosted on a part of the farm that’s romantic, relatively fly-free, away from the barn, slightly tarnished mostly matching vintage silver plated flatware (I feel like it’s an analogy for the farm), and extremely localized food. The kind of food, that as a chef, I think about making when I’m harvesting at 8am – it’s the most inspiring thing, to walk around a garden, thinking about what I could make with these tiny perfect leeks that you can never buy in the store because they’re usually harvested 2 months later. Or how much more elegant I could make a plate of pasta with this purple basil.

But I’m a farmer! We have a 100 member CSA, which means that we’re growing the vegetables for 100 families. They come to the farm to pick up the vegetables, and we have relationships with all of these people that are passionate enough about farm life, or fresh food, or organic vegetables, that they drive sometimes 45 minutes once a week to see us. So I have crops to plant and harvest and weed – and not a lot of time to plan a party. But I designed the CSA pick ups and schedule this year so that I would have time to have 2 dinners – one in July, and one in September (one before and one after the flies). I collected vintage silver plated flatware. I scoured the local Bibles for Missions for vintage stemware. I made a light fixture out of wild grape wines to hang in the tree above the single long table. I borrowed 3 tablecloths from my grandmother and 3 from my mother.

And I made hay and honey panna cotta – to capture for the diners that intoxicating aroma of a freshly cut field of hay. I steeped together alfalfa, clover and pineapple weed with milk, sweetened with honey (from hives beside the hay field), and served it with wild mulberries, blackcaps, raspberries and whipped cream. Because I want people to taste this place like I do.