The smell of spring is in the air and everyone has a little bounce in their step. We have enjoyed some sunny, warm days, and according to the forecast, there are more of those to come. We all know from experience that winter will rear it’s head a few more times before we see tulips, but we can really sense that it’s not far off.
Our business follows the seasons very closely. In summer, we enjoy vegetables grown close to home. We see our farmers like Rideau Pines, Roots & Shoots, and Ferme Pleine Lune on a daily basis. We cook using fresh local ingredients, and we modify our menus to focus on meals that don’t require heating, side dishes to accompany the BBQ, and easy entertaining items that you can take to to the cottage, or host in your own backyard.
In the fall we are in full harvest and gearing up for the big holidays – Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are stocking our cellars with pumpkins from Ferme Chapeau Melon and apples from Hall’s Apple Market, and flash freezing tomatoes and late fall berries. We are in full production all the time, working hard to keep up with the volume of business, while ‘putting up’ some vegetables for later use. We are cooking more root vegetables, stews, and heartier dishes to keep you warm as the weather changes.
In the winter we see a real scarcity of local vegetables, other than our few greenhouse growers, and the farmers that are able to overwinter beets, potatoes, apples, etc. The cost of ingredients skyrockets, and those ingredients are coming from much farther away. We continue to be able to source our meats locally from farmers like Pickle Patch Farm (seen here featured in Edible Ottawa), and things like mushrooms grown year round by Le Coprin, eggs from Bekings, and herbs & lettuces from Burt’s Greenhouse, which we sell weekly in our retail store.
The spring is a mixture of excited anticipation, and depleted inventory. There is almost nothing left in the ‘cellars’ and nothing available yet from our growers. We rely on those climates that see spring earlier than us to supply us with those early spring vegetables. We wait with excitement for those first signs. Asparagus is usually the first herald of Ottawa spring, followed quickly by leafy greens, rhubarb, and other vegetables that the farmer has started early in the greenhouse. This Foodland Ontario guide is very helpful when planning seasonal meals using local ingredients.
So as we dream about tulips, asparagus and green grass, and reflect on how the seasons change, and we change with them, let’s share a recipe that makes us think about spring.
Ham and Asparagus Quiche
1 10 inch pie shell
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
10 ounces asparagus spears, cut on the diagonal into 1-inch long pieces
1/2 pound ham, cut into 1/4-inch cubes *
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs *
6 ounces Aged Cheddar, grated (1 1/2 cups) *
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add shallots, and cook, stirring, until translucent. Add asparagus. Cook, stirring frequently, until asparagus are just cooked but still crisp (not mushy). Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Place pie pan on a baking sheet to catch any overflow. Sprinkle half the cheese evenly over the bottom of the crust. Spread asparagus and ham over the cheese and then top with remaining cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, cream, and eggs. Season with fresh ground pepper. Pour over cheese. Transfer to oven, and bake until just set in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before slicing.
*We like to use St. Albert’s. Cheddar, Beking’s Eggs & Ontario Berkshire Ham
Sautéed Mushrooms in warm Balsamic on Organic Greens
1 pound of Mushrooms diced *
1 small onion diced
1 clove of garlic diced
½ cup of good quality olive oil
1 tbs of butter
¼ cup of good quality balsamic vinegar
1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary and thyme
4 handfuls of mixed greens
Salt and Pepper to taste
*White Button Mushrooms will work well for this recipe but you can also use oyster mushrooms or King Eryngii mushrooms from Le Coprin.
Sauté onion and garlic in butter and 1 tbs of olive oil until onions are clear.Add mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms are golden brown (add more oil if necessary). Season with Salt and Pepper.
- In a medium sized bowl whisk balsamic, a pinch of salt, freshly ground pepper and remaining olive oil.Add to mushroom mixture in pan and heat through until the vinaigrette is warm.
- Toss warm Balsamic & Mushroom mixture gently with Greens and serve immediately.