Sizzling Summer Markets – Summer Squash, Peas, Scallions, and More at the Leslieville Farmers’ Market

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Another summer weekend means another weekend market!  Between Evergreen Brick Works, The Stop at Wychwood Barns, the Junction market, and Liberty Village, there’s plenty of weekend market love to go around.  It’s been a little over a year since I started going to markets on a regular basis and it’s been amazing seeing how they transform between seasons and have they grow and evolve over time.  There are some markets I’ve only ever been to during the summer and some only during the winter so it’s a lot of fun seeing the differences and taking advantage of all the different food that comes along with these changes. 

In addition to visiting markets and seeing in seasonal lights, that are also a handful that I have yet to visit in general.  I have a list of Saturday and Sunday markets that I haven’t been to that I’m itching to scratch off including Withrow Park and most of the markets in Markham and York Region!  I know, I know – I live in Markham!  It was always easier for me to get around in Toronto though because of the day passes so that’s what I often opted for, but I have a strange way of getting around to things so I know I’ll get to them eventually.

For this particular market excursion, I made my way back to Leslieville!  I love the Riverside, Riverdale, Leslieville, and Beaches neighbourhoods along Queen East so planning  a trip to the Leslieville market is like planning an entire day trip because there’s so much to see and do!  It’s been months since my last visit – almost a year, actually, back in September when Jonathan Ashbridge Park was awash with fall colours and the air was chilly and crisp.  Not so much this time!  It was piping hot out, kiddies were running around screaming in the splash pool, and the market was busy and bustling with market goers and park enjoyers despite the sweltering heat.  It was so nice seeing the market so alive with activity.  Augie’s Gourmet Ice Pops had completely sold out (and for good reason!), Hooked Inc. was on site grilling up fish tacos in fresh corn tortillas, and people were snatching up summer vegetables like they were nuggets of gold.    

Even though I’m a self-proclaimed summer wuss, I’m so happy I sucked it up and made the effort to go.  Every season has its own unique beauty and personality and both are evidently manifested and embodied at the market: in the environment, in the atmosphere, and of course, in the gorgeous fruits, vegetables, and bounty of food.  There were mountains of scallions in vibrant greens and purples, beets in shades of plum and bright pink, baskets of beautiful green beans, snow peas, cabbage, and baby Shanghai bok choy, adorable yellow patty pan squashes, crusty baguettes, summer sauces, spreads, and salsas, sweet potato donut holes from LPK Culinary Groove, vegetarian and vegan Indian food from Tiffinday, fresh farm cheese, and spring roll wraps, nut burgers, macaroons, and pesto spreads from my beloved market favourite, Earth & City

My brother and I love condiments, spreads, and sauces (we go through hummus, spicy mustard, and tzatziki like crazy) so I always pay attention to the jarred goodies at the market.  They’re great for sandwiches, vegetables, and things like chicken tenders, sausages, and samosas so we always have a few rotating in our fridge.  I snatched up a sundried tomato pesto spread from Earth & City ($5) this time around, but trust that I’ll give in and take home some chutneys, salsas, and other yummies the next time around! 

*****

Leslieville Farmers’ Market is located at Jonathan Ashbridge Park on Queen Street East and Woodward Ave.  Jonathan Ashbridge Park is located in between Greenwood and Coxwell Ave., and can be accessed via public transit by way of the Queen Street 501 streetcar.  The market is new to the lineup of Toronto markets this year and is held every Sunday from 9am-2pm.  The last market of the year is on October 28, 2012.  Visit their website to sign up to their newsletter, to get involved, and to learn more.

The Keys to My Heart: One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four…My Homemade Mashed Potatoes!

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Okay, so if you know me, you know what my favourite foods are: sweets (especially cake and cupcakes), sushi (bring on the salmon and avocado!), cream cheese (and any cheese for that matter), pasta, and a plethora of veggies including bell peppers, baby spinach, arugula, avocado, mushrooms, and broccoli among many others.  I am also a passionate potato lover!  Let it be known that I have never met a potato I didn’t like.  Baked, roasted, scalloped, mashed, I love them all and I go crazy with toppings and seasonings!  My mum and I sprinkle dry basil flakes on our roasted spuds, I love me some peas and gravy in and on my mashed, and hand me some sour cream with my baked potato and I am a happy girl 😀  My mum and I made a hot, steaming, fresh bowl of mashed potatoes last Friday and I am loving how they turned out! 

We used yummy Yukon gold ones for our homemade mashed potatoes.  For 6-8 potatoes, peeled and quartered, boiling them for about 20 minutes did the job.  After the potatoes came out of the hot tub, we added some margarine (about 3 tablespoons) and a very generous splash of milk.  And I mean generous.  We wanted our mashed potatoes nice and soft and whippy, so we added enough milk to the bowl so that we could see the milk around the edges of the potatoes.  Drowning them would make them soppy and gross, but we added just enough so that the milk peeked through. 

Then came the fun part: mashing!  I’m sure everyone has their favourite kitchen activity (and a not-so-favourite to go along with it.  Chopping onions, anyone?) and mine is using the potato masher, haha.  I had a very fun time mashing my black beans for my black bean burrito filling and I was quite happy to go at it with the masher again.  I guess I find it satisfying mushing things!  *laughs*  We added lots of black pepper, dried basil and parsley flakes, a sprinkling of bacon bits, and a heaping handful of chopped green onions/scallions which gave it some fresh colour and crunch.  The potatoes were delicious and at just the right consistency!

I can’t wait to make another batch sometime and try out some different seasonings and add-ons, maybe some red pepper chili flakes for a little heat, or maybe some corn and beans.  Making potatoes totally reminds me of the episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S in the first season where they’re celebrating Thanksgiving and everyone wants and likes their mashed potatoes in a different way and everyone is bickering because nobody can agree on anything, ha!  So, how does everyone like their potatoes? 😀

“Egg Sheet” Pancakes

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It drives me bananas when everyone in my family can’t agree on what they want to eat; my dad is anti-pasta (that’s just crazy talk to me!), my brother wrinkles his nose at most vegetables (that makes me have a sad face), and if it was up to my mum, she’d eat bread for every meal for the rest of her life.  And me?  I’ll eat anything they eat.  Pushover?  Maybe a little.  But loves food?  Damn straight.  Thankfully, eggs are one of the few things my whole family can agree on liking. 

The same way you would flip pancake batter with a spatula, we flip “egg sheets”! 🙂  There are two ways you can do this.  You can either crack each egg, on its own, into a bowl, whip it up with a fork and add your diced veggies to the mixture as well as any seasoning (we use black pepper), and pour the mixture into your pan to cook.  Once it starts to sizzle and you see the egdes browning, you flip!  Or you can whip up as many eggs as you plan on making in a large bowl with said veggies, and dividing it into separate “sheets” with your spatula in the actual pan. 

Depending on how big your pan is, you can do about 2 or 3 eggs at a time.  You can add a little bit of olive oil to your pan while the stove is heating if you want to prevent any excessive sticking, and just make sure you set your stove to medium-high heat as high/maximum heat will burn the eggs and that is just not sexy.  It differs slightly from an omelette as omelettes are made my folding over the egg mixture as opposed to literally scooping the pancake-like egg and flipping it on its backside. 

We use a bunch of diced vegetables: red, orange, and green bell pepper, shallots or cooking onions, and scallions.  Surprisingly we didn’t add mushrooms this time around; we eat mushrooms with everything, ha!  You can go all nutty and add shredded cheese to it, hot sauce, or kethcup!  Good lordy do I ever have a hoopla of friends who love ketchup with their eggs (and you know who you are!).  It’s one of those nice “breakfast for dinner” kind of foods that’s really simple and very customizable depending on what you have on hand.  I hope everyone is having a good weekend so far and I’ll see you all again tomorrow!