Blueberries and Books

Right now I’m being inspired by my surroundings which includes fresh local produce, meats and cheeses. Within my home I look around my kitchen and instantly think to make a quick stir fry when I see a certain skillet or when I poke in my cupboard I glance at my rice cooker and can’t wait to try a new grain to cook in it. Walking out on the deck I dream about the next thing I’m going to grill. This happens to many people that are thinking about food most of the day, well maybe not many but for certain me! I also go into my reference cookbooks and flip through pages and read about recipes and ingredients that inspire other cooks. Right now there are a couple of books I’ve been flipping through and using often.

As a Professional Home Economist I embrace the theory of having children and adults know how to cook and understand healthy eating to better their future. A supportive friend and colleague Mairlyn Smith P.H.Ec. feels the same way and she proves her point in her new cookbook “Healthy Starts Here! 140 Recipes that will make you feel great” (Whitecap 2011). Mairlyn takes ingredients and uses her humour to get the information across and draws you in and inspires you to cook with them. She offers up valuable health information that we all need and the best part-the recipes work and taste scrumptious!
With blueberry season in high gear and being an avid blueberry eater, I have been enjoying Mairlyn’s Blueberry-Quinoa Salad. It is a delicious combination of protein rich quinoa and antioxidant filled blueberries! With a fresh citrus cinnamon dressing its a surefire winner for these summer evenings. And not to worry you can make this delicious salad out of blueberry season, because if you are like me you have been sneaking some of those delicious Ontario berries into the freezer to enjoy come January and February!

Another book that I have been using and recommending is one that I was honoured to be a part of “Child Care Cooks”, a fundraising effort for local child care facilities in Guelph and Wellington County. Collaborating with local child care cooks to bring the delicious recipes that the children enjoy in the child care to parents and families of the community. They really do eat well and enjoy the good food they are given. As I continue to flip through the pages and look at what recipe to create or try I am reminded of when I was in child care and the very vivid food memories that still come to pass. I don’t remember eating quinoa or couscous but healthy food was truely a part of every day activities with special treats for a favourite dessert or cookie to share as well. My children love fruit so at this time of year sharing special crisps, cobblers or muffins with fresh local fruit is really important. Blueberries take a role in this crumble as does a current apple favourite right now-Red Prince apples from Martin’s Farm. Always a staple after a trip out to the market.

Its simple ingredients and time to share delicious recipes with family and friends that is big part of my life and enjoying the fruits of labour together makes it all worth it. So take the time to remember what you made in that casserole dish last year or flip through some old cookbooks, pick up some new ones and start those delicious dreams all over again.

Blueberry Quinoa Salad from Mairlyn Smith’s Healthy Starts Here
The combination of whole-grain, protein-rich quinoa and amazing blueberries makes this dish a gift for your brain and your heart.
Prep the quinoa the night before and store it in the fridge so it’s fresh and really cold when you make the salad the next day.

1/2 cup (125 mL) whole-grain quinoa
2 cups (500 mL) fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped green onions
1/4 cup (60 mL) dried blueberries (optional)
4 large piemento-stuffed green olives, diced

Orange Dressing:
1 tsp (5 mL) orange zest
2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh orange juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp (1 mL) cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) finely grated fresh ginger (optional)

1. For the blueberry-quinoa salad, the night before you plan to serve it, rinse the quinoa in a fine wire-mesh strainer under cold running water to get rid of any bitter resins.

2. Place the quinoa in a medium saucepan, add 1 cup (250 mL) water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered , until the quinoa is translucent and all the water has been absorbed, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, fluff the quinoa with a fork, and let stand for 10 minutes. Let cook, then place in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

3. The next day, tip the quinoa into a large salad bowl. Add the fresh blueberries, parsley, green onions, dried blueberries (if using), and olives.

4. For the orange dressing, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, oil, vinegar, cinnamon, and ginger (if using) in a small bowl.

Add the dressing to the salad and toss well.

Makes about 4 cups (1 L).

Maple Apple Berry Crumble by Emily Richards from Child Care Cooks
Older kids can help chopping the apples and working the ingredients together for the crumble topping. Serve with ice cream or frozen yogurt.

5 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped, about 1 ½ lb (750 g)
2 cups (500 mL) fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup (125 mL) maple syrup
2 tbsp. (30 ml) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla

Crumble Topping:
1 cup (250 mL) large flake rolled oats
3/4 cup (175 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 mL) finely chopped walnut halves (optional)
1/4 cup (50 mL) butter, softened
1/4 cup (50 mL) maple syrup

1. In large bowl, toss together apples, blueberries and flour. Drizzle with maple syrup and vanilla; toss well. Arrange in even layer in 8-inch (2 L) square baking dish or cake pan;

2. Crumble Topping: In same bowl, toss together rolled oats, flour and chopped walnuts, if using. Work in butter with fork or pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Drizzle maple syrup over crumbs; toss well.

3. Evenly sprinkle oat mixture over fruit. Bake in centre of preheated 375°F (190°C) oven until apples are tender and bubbling and crumble is crisp and burnished. Serve warm or cool.

Makes 8 servings.

Cook’s Tip: Make smaller individual crumbles with the kids as part of a craft or special occasion. Fill small foil shells or ramekins about 3/4 full with fruit mixture. Sprinkle with topping and bake on rimmed baking sheet.


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