I stroll through my modest gardens as Thanksgiving approaches. I am grateful for the vegetables that continue to grace the garden and will make their way to my Thanksgiving table. We join many cultures around the world who give thanks to the harvest and to those who toiled to bring the harvest to fruition.
As much as I love turkey, this year, with only four of us, I am turning my sites to seared duck breast. The trick to great duck breast is scoring the fat, seasoning the breast, and starting it in a cold skillet. The cold allows the fat to gradually release. It takes about 15 minutes. Save the duck fat to roast potatoes later in the year. After all the fat has been released, remove the fat to a heat-proof container and place the skillet in a 350 oven for 10 – 12 minutes. Let the duck rest for 10 minutes and slice on the diagonal.
To accompany the duck, I am using a Cranberry-Port Conserve with Pecans and Raisins from Topp & Howard. It is a rich, tart-sweet condiment with the hint of Port in the background.
Cranberry-Port Conserve with Pecans & Raisins
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (thawed if frozen)
¾ cup Port wine
½ cup finely chopped peeled orange
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup raisins
¼ cup chopped pecans (or other nuts)
Combine cranberries, sugar, and port in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil uncovered and cook until berries pop. Add orange and raisins. Return to a boil, reduce heat and boil uncovered for about 15 minutes until a gel is reached. Remove from heat and stir in nuts.
Ladle into hot jars and process in a water-bath or steam canner for 10 minutes. Rest for five minutes. Yield is 4 cups.
From the garden will be the first course of an arugula and beat salad. For vegetables, I am adding the last of my green beans with sauteed red peppers. I have beautiful leeks so I will make scalloped leeks with butter and cream. And, mashed sweet potatoes with brown butter and chopped sage, with crispy fried whole sage leaves as a compliment. My daughter-in-law is bringing an apple tart!
Giving thanks to the harvest, to friends and to our families who share this special time of year.
Create Your Own Group
In December I did a workshop at home for a group of young people who work together. They came from across the GTA and drove up to the beautiful Beaver Valley for an afternoon of jam and pickle making. It was really fun. So, if you have a group of friends, colleagues, or family members who would like to organize a workshop, email me and we can set it up. Whatever you want to learn is fine with me. We create the workshop together. We cover the science of preservation and techniques for preserving safely. You get to do hands-on work and everyone goes away with something you’ve created.
Stay and Learn
Kimberley is in the heart of the Beaver Valley which is about 2 hours north of Toronto. It sits in the Niagara Escarpment and has a 300,000 year old history. There are many trail systems easily accessed, the Beaver River for kayaking, and lots of opportunity for skiing and snowshoeing. The Village has the lovely General Store and two very good restaurants. Any season, Kimberley is a super place to spend a couple of days or more. Sound appealing?
Why not come for a couple of days and enjoy the area and combine the visit with a workshop on food preservation! Next to the Kimberley General Store is the “Rock House” which is available for short stay rentals. Here’s the link:
There are also other homes for short-stay rental as well as small inns.
Agriculture Grey-Bruce Two Day Intensive Workshop
For several years, I have been teaching for Agriculture Grey-Bruce generally during their winter educational programs. This year, we are doing a full two-day, hands-on workshop that will include water-bath and atmospheric steam canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, fermenting, and freezing. Of course, we will begin with the science of food preservation. Food and drinks will be provided. This is a hands-on experience in a newly renovated commercial kitchen. The class will be limited to 20.
If you are interested, dates are April 28th and 29th. The location is the Rocklyn Hall. If you will be travelling from afar, there is a cute inn and B&B right around the corner called “The Rocklyn Inn”. Here’s the link: https://rocklyninn.ca/
Edith Sitwell, a British poet, wrote: “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food, and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home”.
Stay warm and enjoy the blessings of winter.