Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Conquering Culinary Conundrums

So pretty much anytime that I brag to our customers about our lamb, I'm lying through my teeth.  Not that our lamb isn't amazing, but as I've admitted here before it's not my favorite food.  Until now.  I roasted my first leg of lamb for Easter supper and it was some of the best meat I've eaten.  My parents surprised me with a great visit for the day and as Mom watched me prepping it, I think she was more than skeptical as to my methods.  I was following a recipe that used the classic garlic and rosemary combo and Mom couldn't resist questioning the use of 'all those trees'.  It did look rather green in the end, but roasted down nicely and flavored the lamb just right.  And best of all, all those 'trees' scented the air so that I couldn't smell the lamb cooking, which is the key to really enjoying it I think (but don't tell my customers that). 
Anyway, a year late, I made my 2010 New Year's resolution come true (Learn to Love Lamb).  Better late than never!

Speaking of lamb, I dropped off my biggest lamb to a new restaurant in Charlottetown (so new in fact that it doesn't even have a website yet).  It's going to be called Daniel B Brickhouse with Chef Ilona Daniel at the helm.  She's a gorgeous and vibrant chef who creates food that makes you melt.  Anyway, we can't wait to see the new place and taste some of her newest creations.  It was such a great treat to ship an ENTIRE lamb to a customer and not have to worry about cuts and details.  She even took the head, which is a first time for me.  We are so fortunate to have some great chefs on the Island who source local, organic product and create a real culinary experience for everyone and anyone. Thanks Ilona!!!!

When I went to pick up the lamb from our local butcher, the other two that he was cutting were not ready, so I finally got my chance to watch them being cut up and learn a bit more about what it is that I'm offering.  Since I had my inquisitive little girl with me I decided this was a perfect opportunity to make sure she was really making the connection between livestock and food.  I am so concerned about the disconnect that just seems to be growing between people and food, let alone kids and food.  A neighbour who keeps free-range pigs tells her kids that they simply TRADE their pigs for bacon.  It makes me wince to hear some of the questions I get from people that I'm more than happy to answer, but disappointed that I have to.  Anyway, I had nothing to fear as she watched them bring the whole carcass from the cooler and kept a close and rapt eye on the different parts as they went through the band saw.  As he was cutting the shank from the leg, she said, "Is that the lamb heel?"  I was a very proud mother at that moment.  The men milling around the shop didn't quite know what to think, but I was so glad to be able to give her such an important education.  As I believe, the most important and perhaps best part of living on a farm is the appreciation of life and death. 

Lastly, I have been perfecting my pizza skills for the past few years and it's now a staple in this house. It seems that we have it once a week, although somehow it's always a treat.  It's definitely one of my best dishes and this week it got even better.  I start with a homemade, 20 minute dough (you can get away with 10 minutes if you're in a rush) made with 100% Speerville organic flour (probably from PEI wheat).  Then I have pizza-sized servings of my home made sauce in the freezer, ready to go.  On top of that I throw whatever I have on hand in a frying pan.  Mostly it's Nova Scotia onions, Freetown mushrooms, frozen green peppers from my garden, (and occasionally some organic baby spinach if the kids have been low on greens that day).  This week I got pepperoni from our local free-range pig guy and some PEI organic 3 yr old cheddar at the Summerside Farmer's Market.  Once all the veggies and meat sizzle for a few minutes to soften them up just a touch, they go on the pie, are topped with the cheese, dashed with dried oregano and hit the oven.  20 minutes later, we're hoeing in and the way the kids are eating lately, there's none left for breakfast the next morning anymore.    

So there's my culinary connections for the week.  From lamb heads to organic cheddar, it's been a great past week.  With the sun that was here yesterday, there's only more great food to come!  My garlic is poking out of its straw and the weeds are spreading nicely, so it must soon be garden time!

One last culinary adventure was this birthday cake for Wilson's big #2.  I LOVE the Bulk Barn.  They have great little chocolate candies that look like pebbles, and black sugar that looks like asphalt.  Secretly this cake is also making a statement about urban sprawl.  haha.

And just like our chubby Islander Senator, Mike Duffy (under dead shark eye's command of course), here's a wink for the end, for Mama.
 Hope you're spending some of these glorious evenings sitting on the front porch listening to the spring peepers.  Did you know they're only as big as a thumbnail?  Quite a racket for such a wee thing.  Enjoy!


  1. hello islanders
    the pizza sounds great sal, your boy is sure growing and i don,t remember catching frogs that small in the branch and YES i did sit and listen to the chirpers the other night and it always takes me back home!!

  2. We sure enjoy your posts, Sally
    Takes us back to when the Wilson kids were
    the age of your kids

    Ed and Norma

  3. Oh Sal, I'm so glad you posted. Great job on the cake: soooo boy!! Glad to hear you're finally enjoying lamb, and I can vouch for your pizza!! It's delicious...and what I've been honoured to have may not have been the perfected pizza even!!

    The peepers in the pond next door, are just the greatest sound. LOVE THEM! (and you!)