Life in a rural setting can get kind of weird sometimes. Like having to wrangle all your chickens one morning after they escape during the night, having spent the whole time staring into their yard trying to figure out how to get back in. Chickens are unbelievably brilliant you know.
All sarcasm aside, I truly appreciate their efforts every morning when I bound down to the little door and find presents inside. I’m not sure how the hens feel about this activity, but to me, it’s like Christmas every morning only there’s the somewhat unattractive ammonia/barnyard scent to overcome instead of gingerbread and peppermint.
I think the best part of all is teaching Cohen and Isla that food production can be something you control, and not simply left in the hands of aproned strangers standing behind deli counters and produce displays.
This year I’ve decided to actually put some effort into our produce growing. Our garden last year left me wanting as we just picked random seed packets without really researching whether or not those plants would grow well in our setting. This year, I plan to buy all our seeds from Salt Spring Seeds (a local company that grows and harvests all it’s own product) and am eagerly perusing their catalogue this week for strange but delicious sounding heirloom varieties. Of what? Whatever will grow in my neck of the woods. Corn? Not really doing so good in my shady garden. Pole beans? Take up too much room and we didn’t care for them enough. Lettuce? Of course, but this time no “mystery mixes” of terrible tasting bitter greens.
We plan on putting the emphasis on local this year and by producing as much as we can in our own garden, we’ll save ourselves money and time. Having the closest grocery store be at least 25 minutes away (by car) does not help keep driving down when you forget that that curry needs a touch of coconut milk and you have not a drop to be seen in the pantry.
I love our rural setting, and I want to help keep it as beautiful as possible. I can only do so much, so growing and eating our own produce will be one of those life lessons I gift to my children. I hope they can learn to appreciate food as much as I do. Though that task is easier said than done when you are just starting out. When Cohen was first starting solids, he was a champ, he’d eat anything in front of him and demand more. Well, this little lady prefers fruits and nothing but. Though sometimes she’s willing to gnaw on the thigh bone of a chicken, she rarely takes to eating the good bits. As fun as it is to see these faces every day when I plunge a tiny spoon in her mouth, what would make me happiest is not washing three quarters of it down the drain because she hated it after three bites.
Anyone with advice on how to turn my picky eaters into little gourmands is welcome to leave me a comment, or a novel. Please, help me. I’m desperate.
I know one day it won’t matter, and my kids will be happily slurping away on their steaming bowls of chicken pho at a local eatery, while I happily gaze upon them. Right now though, I just try to get through each day, because it’s the little things that we tend to not appreciate.
Like the setting sun shining down on my family’s faces and the giggle of a tiny baby.
So while I wallow in self pity at not having the “eat everything” kids I always wanted, at least I’m comforted in the fact that they’ll know where the food they hate comes from.
One thing I won’t be attempting to grow this year though is mushrooms. I think they may be slightly advanced for this not-so green thumbed gardener. So I will continue to forage for certain varieties but the rest will come from local growers.
For this soup, I used shiitake, oyster and white button mushrooms, but try using other varieties as well. Portobello, porcini, morel or even chanterelles in season, would also flesh out the flavours and make for an exotic bowl of comforting soup.
One Year Ago: Barley Risotto with Peas
Lightened Up Cream of Mushroom Soup
Yield: 3 litres of soup or 4-5 large servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 60 minutes
1 sweet onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
125g oyster mushrooms (or other fresh wild mushrooms)
350 grams white or brown mushrooms, diced or sliced
4 oz dried shiitake mushrooms soaked for 45 minutes in 3 cups water (reserve 2 cups)
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
kosher salt to taste
fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 tsp dried or 1 tbsp fresh thyme
3 cups 1% milk
1/4 cup heavy cream (33-35%)
1 litre chicken stock (or vegetable for vegetarian option)
2 tbsp cornstarch (optional)
4 tbsp water (optional)
1. In large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add all vegetables (onion, celery and all mushrooms). Sauté for 5-10 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. Stir in salt, pepper and thyme.
2. Sprinkle flour over and stir to combine, cook for 2-4 minutes.
3. Add small amount of stock, stir into flour. Gradually add more stock until it is all added (including mushroom stock).
4. Pour in milk and cream and bring up to just below simmering. Cook for 45 minutes but do not allow soup to boil. If it does boil, the milk and cream may separate from the stock. If this happens, you can still eat it, although it may look slightly unappetizing to some.
5. If you want a thicker consistency (more like a true cream soup) follow these instructions: About 5-10 minutes before you are ready to eat, mix the cornstarch and water together in a cup. Pour contents into soup and allow to cook for five minutes before serving.
6. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt if desired.
Similarly delicious recipes from other fabulous food blogs:
Garlic Mushroom Soup on eCurry
Mushroom Stroganoff Soup on The Perfect Pantry
Zuppa di Funghi (Mushroom Soup) on Bell’alimento
Bacon Polenta with Sauteed Crimini Mushrooms & Thyme on Cookin’ Canuck
Pancetta Wrapped Mushrooms on Recipe Girl