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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Crazy for Cranberry

Cranberry Sauce – Meat & Fowl, Pg. 132 – Boscawen Manor (Frances M. Campbell)

Cranberry sauce – often considered the best supporting condiment at the holiday dinner table – is often underrated. Cranberry sauce is actually much more versatile then it gets credit for. Sure – when it comes to the Thanksgiving turkey dinner, cranberry sauce is kind of like the unassuming, less talented, underappreciated little sister to the overrated, spotlight hogging turkey showcased at the centre of the table. Let’s face it though – the turkey is often easily replaced by a ham, chicken or some other slab of meat. Cranberry sauce however maintains its coveted place at the table - irreplaceable.

Although some will argue that cranberry sauce should be served as a jiggly gelatinous mass in the shape of a can, we’re here to tell you otherwise. Step away from the can!! Cranberry sauce is simple to make – and the flavor of using fresh local cranberries can’t be beat. Cranberries are cultivated throughout Nova Scotia and readily available at your local farmers’ market.

You may not be able to slide it out of a can, but we guarantee that you won’t be disappointed with the homemade version. So kick the can to the curb and give these recipes a try. The Dutch Oven recipe is very simple, with few ingredients; however, it produces a nice thick sauce with a clean cranberry flavor.

Cranberry Sauce (Dutch Oven)

4 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups white sugar
1 cup water

In a medium sauce pan bring water to a boil, add cranberries and cook until cranberries have burst and are soft (10-15 minutes). Add sugar and bring to boil. Once boiling, remove from heat immediately. Bottle immediately. Refrigerate for up to two weeks or process bottles for storage. Yields 3-4 250 ml bottles.

As an alternative, here is a great recipe from Peter’s cranberry culinary class days. A few extra steps, but well worth the extra effort and the extra kick.

Petah’s Cranberry Orange Sauce

8 cups fresh cranberries
4 cups sugar
Zest of 4 oranges
Orange segments (4 oranges)- check out the below video on how to segment your oranges
1 cinnamon stick
4 oz Grand Marnier
4 oz orange juice
4 oz water


Combine sugar, juice and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add cranberries and cinnamon stick and simmer uncovered until the cranberries begin to burst (about 15 minutes). Add Grand Marnier and zest and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and remove cinnamon stick. Add orange segments, stir. Bottle immediately and refrigerate for up to two weeks or process bottles for storage. Yields 7-8 250 ml bottles.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Petah ♥'s Le Creuset!

Last year Peter entered Le Creuset's True Memories Contest. A contest based around the true memories of the many foodies who use and love this french manufactured cookware. Thanks in part to many of your votes - Peter's blog enrty took one of the runner-up prizes - the above beautiful 5.5 Quart Round French Oven. Thanks to all who voted! This pot is sure to see many Dutch Oven recipes in it's future! Read Peter's prize winning blog entry below and visit Le Creuset to read the many other great prize winning entries.

A Hodgepodge of Memories

Hodge Podge, a traditional Nova Scotia Recipe, is a vegetable stew made with fresh new vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, peas and green and wax beans. Many prepare this recipe in a large dutch oven to accomodate the large quantities of fresh vegetables. The vegetables are boiled until tender and then a sauce of heavy cream, butter, onions and salt and pepper is added. Meat is rarely added and considered by some to be blasphemy! This recipe is steeped in tradition that dates back over two centuries and was surely developed by some of Nova Scotia‘s first settlers (or original foodies) to take advantage of the land’s abundant harvest. Those who like this recipe – usually LOVE IT! It is pure Nova Scotia comfort food at its best!

I attribute much of my love for food to the traditional food and recipes I was exposed to growing up in Lunenburg Nova Scotia. Hodge Podge is one of many traditional coveted Nova Scotia recipes - but one that is so unique to our history and culture that most Nova Scotian’s have fond memories related to it. I have such great memories of my grandmother preparing this recipe on her coal stove (which she used until the late 1980’s believe it or not), always in her heavy cast iron Dutch Oven. Today, I think of that memory often and take great comfort in carrying her tradition forward. Just like my grandmother, I always prepare Hodge Podge using my Le Creuset French Oven (minus the coal stove) and I look forward to sharing this time honored tradition with my friends and family for many years...and centuries to come!

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Midnight Mustard Pickle

Mustard Pickle – Pickles & Preserves, Pg. 215 – Mildred Y. Potter (Mrs. W.P.)

Mustard pickle is a common condiment around many east coast dinner tables. Popular with Sunday ham or roast dinners, this medley of pickled vegetables is the perfect balance of sweet and sour, sure to tingle your taste buds. Pickling began as a way of preserving food for out of season use, and although we now have access to out of season food year-round, many Nova Scotians continue these traditions today to take advantage of the Fall’s fresh and abundant harvests.

To Jan – mustard pickle is to turkey what ying is to yang, what pepperoni is to pizza, what Sonny is to Cher. One just isn’t the same without the other. Fickle as a child (likely a result of only child syndrome), she wouldn’t go near this strange yellow chunky concoction that her mamma purchased by the box-load and pilfered onto their family dinners like taking communion. It wasn’t until her twenties that the clouds parted ways and the mustard pickle gods danced upon her tongue. Once bitten by the mustard pickle bug, there was no turning back. She’d eat it in the rain, she’d eat it on a plane, she’d eat it in a house, she’d eat it with a mouse, she’d eat it here or there, she eat it ANYWHERE! In fact, when invited to dinner - she’s been known to carry an emergency jar of mustard pickle in her handbag (Sophia Petrillo style). After desperately scanning the dinner table and noticing the absence of her favorite condiment crack, the mustard pickle is presented as a self serving host or hostess gift of sorts. Secrets out I guess – “My name is Jan Young, and I’m addicted to mustard pickle”.

The Dutch Oven's mustard pickle recipe is excellent. In fact unlike many pickle recipes – this recipe does not require that you soak your cucumbers in brine overnight. This was a good thing, as time is sometimes of the essence when it comes to cooking with Jan. “Jan-Land” as some of her friends affectionately refer to it, is the land where every minute has an hour and every hour a day. Otherwise known as the fictional land inside Jan’s head. Thus this blog entries title “Midnight Mustard Pickle” – we finished our first go through of this recipe near midnight. Jan-Land is also rumored to be home to a village of little creatures known as Janpa lampas (similar to Umpa lumpas). But enough about Jan-Land – Let’s get back to the mustard pickle.


1 Quart (4 cups) of cucumbers or cauliflower (we used half of each)
1 Quart of chopped celery (we used less celery, more cucumber and cauliflower)
1 Quart chopped sweet onions
2 sweet green peppers (chopped)
2 sweet red peppers (chopped)

Scald (simmer) for 10 minutes in 1 quart of vinegar, then reduce heat.


3 Cups white sugar
1 Tsp turmeric
3 Tsp mustard
¾ Cup flour
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tsp mustard seed

Blend with a little cold vinegar, stirring until a thick paste is formed. Add paste to vegetables, stir and bring to a boil. Bottle and process immediately.

Dutch Oven Tips & Tricks:

This is a relatively small recipe – we doubled it (was there any doubt given Jan’s little addiction). We chopped the veggies using a food processor – a huge time-saver. We were going for more of a relish consistency so we chopped them quite finely. Obviously the best time of year to make this recipe is late August into September – when the veggies are grown locally and available at seasonal prices$. The best deals are usually found at your local farmers’ market. This recipe is not explicit in its directions that you are to make a paste – we figured this out on our second run through of this recipe (it wasn’t midnight, which may be the reason we missed it the first time). It STINKS!! Crack a window or you'll smell like a jar of pickles for about a week.

Canning/Processing – this was our first real foray into canning/processing food – we’re not gonna lie, it’s a bit of a pain. Not that it’s difficult, just a multi-step process. For canning and processing tips and tricks visit Bernardin.ca. The fruits of your labour make it well worth it however, and the process of canning becomes a bit of a hazy memory once all your pretty jars of mustard pickle are lined up on the counter. A supply for all your family dinners throughout the year…and they make the perfect host/hostess “gift”.