Saturday, June 24, 2006

Summer, summer, summer (it's like a merry-go-round...oh oh oh)!

The herb garden that needed replenishing and the fact that there are STILL no strawberries to be had locally drove me to a culinary pilgrimage across the border along the Circuit du Paysan yesterday. We almost turned back in fear when we arrived at our closest, usually traffic-less border (Hemmingford), and saw that the lines were backed up for days like it often is at the main Champlain border. But since we would have had to wait in the eternal line even if we did a U-turn, we decided just to press on. We were convinced that it had to be increased security due to the recent threat against the Sears Tower. But the nice Canadian border guard said no, that it was just holiday traffic. (I had forgotten that today is the Fete Nationale du Quebec, aka Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day--the national holiday of Quebec, celebrated with much more enthusiasm and fanfare than Canada Day in July.) Once we made it through Checkpoint Charlie (more like Checkpoint Charles, if one pronounced it SHARL), we happily poked into not one, not two, but three different nurseries (all owned by members of the same family, the Dauphinois-es?) and found many delightful plants for the porch, the window boxes, and of course, the herb garden. Then we stopped by our favorite butcher, the Boucherie Viau, and because that damn George Bush still won't let us buy beef (or prescription drugs) in Canada, we acquired two boneless pork roasts and two pounds of their bacon, smoked on the premises. Finally, we arrived at our main destination, the farmers' market at St. Chrysostome, held every Friday and Monday throughout the summer. Well, it was immediately clear that we had lumbered into STRAWBERRY HEAVEN! Each vegetable vendor had flats and flats of the local beauties, and the people were carting them off at an astonishing rate. I quickly muscled my way in among the Quebecois to claim my own flat of gorgeous, fragrant gems. At $10 CDN (that's nine Americanos) for about six quarts, I would have taken another flat, had I not spent most of my Canadian cash at the nurseries. Boo hiss. (I'm feeling a return trip coming on, maybe even on Monday!) As we had run out of money, and I was scheduled to meet friends in town for dinner, we headed back to the Etats-Unis, cleverly taking the Cannon Corners route to Mooers Forks where we were the only car in line when we arrived at the border. And the only thing that gave me more delight was landing in driveway and opening my trunk to see THIS--a veritable farmers' market in my trunk! WOW! Take a moment and soak in the glory of it...and of summer's bounty.

What you are looking at includes many herb plants (curly parsley, flat-leaf parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (stop that singing!), lemon thyme, dill, Greek oregano, and lemon basil. There is also some rainbow chard and a spaghetti squash plant. There are some pretty pink fibrous begonias and lobelia in shades of purple, blue, and white. You can see the package of pork products (dig that alliteration--and the cute pig in their logo!) There is also a gorgeous, fresh lettuce behind those wonderful strawberries. And in the front row, from left to right, is some cauliflower in both orange and green hues, broccoli, blueberries, a couple of hothouse tomatoes, and some truly stunning purple spring onions. Doesn't it just make you want to weep with joy? (Maybe I'm just weird that way!)

In celebration of our haul of goodies from Quebec, I decided to create a fabulous brunch today based on the recommendation of my beloved friends, John and Keith. Despite the fact that they now live in Oregon, they still cook like Californians, meaning they try to use fresh, seasonal, organic items in everything that they make. And as Keith is mostly vegetarian (just fish), their menus are usually meatless, too (not that even the most passionate carnivore would miss the meat if invited to a meal prepared by Keith and John!). In fact, I believe that I will quote Keith here, with his kind permission--my first guest blogger! I will add my commentary in brackets...

Hello my dear friends. This is only going out to the people who I know love good food. Sad, only 4 people... It is just too delicious and simple to keep it all to ourselves. You may already be doing it, or perhaps you could share a recipe, too.

We use a larger ramekin
[I used two Buffalo china/diner bowls because we wanted three eggs apiece], crack a couple of eggs from the girls [they have chickens, too!], throw in some heavy cream [I maybe used two tablespoons?], sun-dried tomatoes [I used some of the ones that John and Keith gave me on my visit in April!], an herb [I used the newly-replanted lemon thyme], and top it with cheese [I used a jack blend and some parmesan as well], salt and pepper, put it in a water bath and throw it in the oven on 400 while you are getting ready for the day. About 20-30 minutes later [next time, I'll try 25 minutes--as they didn't look done on top at 20 minutes, but the yolks were too firm at 30], yum! yum! It's a kind of clean-out-the-fridge kind of thing, and we make it the night before while cooking dinner and refrigerate it until the morning when the first early bird arises and throws it in the oven (usually John. But hey, I make it). We have been known to throw in the leftover mashed potatoes in the bottom, too. I cannot take full credit for this as I first read a recipe from Michelle Anna Jordan's California Cooking, except we call it "ramekins gone wild". --Keith and Senor Juan.

Not being food bloggers, John and Keith do not photograph their food as often as I do. (They also probably don't have cold meals because they have to be photographed before being eaten! tee hee) I'm sure that their baked/shirred eggs look prettier than mine, but here's a shot of our brunch today. Also featured is the delicious bacon from the butcher in Covey Hill, QC and the yummy herb walnut bread that I made the other day--remember, the one that imploded on top due to overproofing? Tasted great, though! And then the plate was garnished with a few purloined cherry tomatoes that we pocketed at one of the nurseries. ;-) Now, doesn't that look good enough to eat?

1 comment:

Randi said...

I do the same thing, but I'm going to MI from Ontario. The US customs are so freaking picky about what you can bring into the US from Ontario. I'm surprised you dont get a hard time coming back in with all the produce.