13 Ways to Connect With Your Food

Do you ever wonder about the story behind the food you put in your grocery cart? Do you imagine where it was grown and by whom it was picked? Would it surprise you to learn that many imported fruits and vegetables are picked by children, paid pennies a day? According to a new Ipsos Reid poll commissioned by World Vision, the majority of Canadians have no idea about the origins of the food they eat. More than half of Canadians polled do not believe they consume any products made by children. Yet much of what they eat, drink, wear and use are made by children, from blueberries to running shoes.

13 Ways to connect with your food | www.pickytoplenty.com

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Some thoughts on homestead chickens (and a recipe for apple butter roasted chicken)

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Chicken slathered in homemade apple butter and slow roasted in the oven until crispy and juicy | www.pickytoplenty.com

 

Back in June we added 17 Plymouth Barred Rocks to our homestead, a gift from a friend who  has been keeping chickens for years. It has been neat to watch them grow from fluffy, little grey chicks into majestic creatures. They really are beautiful birds, much prettier than the white rocks we originally considered raising. Yep, I admit it. We considered raising Franken-chickens because they are the most cost efficient. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t contribute to the problem that has led this breed to become what it is today.

Half a century ago these chickens weighed a little more than 2 pounds at seven weeks of age. In 2009, the average bird weighed in at 6.8 pounds (statistics taken from Frey’s Hatchery). Do the math, that’s a big difference in just 50 years. This breed is highly efficient at turning feed into weight. They typically take 8-10 weeks from start to finish, though I have heard they can die on their own from heart failure or they will break their legs from too much weight. I don’t judge those who raise these birds — I know that even the organic chicken that I buy is likely white rock meat — I just won’t raise them myself.

So we got Plymouth Barred Rocks, mostly because of our friend Caitlyn who donated a batch of hatched eggs to our little venture. They are a dual-purposed breed which means they are good for both egg production and meat. In the beginning I was more interested in meat and wanted to raise strictly meat birds but changed my mind after reading more into chickens.

We have lost two roosters to natural causes and are left with eight roosters and seven hens. We have likely missed the ideal time to slaughter the roosters (with the exception of one so we can have a sustainable flock). Because they free range the meat will likely be pretty tough. It would have been done sooner, but life gets in the way sometime. I was in a car accident a few months ago and it has put a lot of things on hold — like the chicken butchering. So this batch might be for the dogs. Do I consider it a failure? No. I consider it a learning experience and part of the journey to self sufficiency.

I found my first two eggs today. Even though they were frozen solid and inedible, it made me smile to look down and see two brown ovals poking up from the snow.

first egg

The first eggs to come from our backyard chickens. They were frozen solid but a sign of future breakfasts | www.pickytoplenty.com

 

 

Next time, I plan to pen the roosters after four months of free ranging so that they will not be as tough. I have read that this is one way to keep the roosters tender.

While I don’t have a home-raised chicken to roast, I did splurge on a whole, organic chicken. I roasted it in my beer can roaster which I filled with Tippsy Toppers Apple Cider Syrup and brushed it with Tippsy Toppers Apple Butter.

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Apple Butter Roasted Chicken

  • whole, organic chicken
  • Tippsy Toppers Apple Butter
  • Organic barbecue sauce
  • Tippsy Toppers Apple Cider Syrup
  • 2 organic yellow onions, small
  • 4 cloves organic garlic
  • salt and pepper

Heat chicken to 375.

Prepare chicken. Cut one of the onions in half and put it in the cavity of the chicken with some slices of garlic. Fill cup on beer roaster with cider syrup, place chicken over cup. Place the rest of the onion and garlic in the bottom of the roasting pan, cover with water.

Brush chicken liberally with apple butter mixed with the organic barbecue sauce of your choice. Salt and pepper the chicken.

Roast 1.5-2 hours until done.

I served this with some basmati rice and a baby romaine salad.

This recipe fits in with my mission to cut down on food costs as I have made stromboli, chicken broth and am in the process of making buffalo chicken soup with the leftovers.

 

Vintage Banana Cake and why I am not so fond of baking

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There’s no better way to warm up the home than by baking. It warms the air and fills it with a heavenly scent. Yesterday, that heavenly scent was from a vintage banana cake baking in my oven. It’s a recipe I found on Pinterest (follow me here) that dates back to the 1940s. It is simple, made with whole ingredients and is loaded with yummy bananas.

If I am in the kitchen it’s usually to cook. There is something freeing about creating a meal from an idea, taking ingredients and turning them into something wonderful. I am constantly thinking about food. Just ask my  husband. I have thousands of recipes pinned on Pinterest and dozens of cookbooks I’ve poured through too many times.

For me, recipes are ideas to base my own creations on. I rarely follow a recipe to a T, at least not since my early days of cooking. Either I don’t have an ingredient or don’t like an ingredient and I swap it out, or the recipe calls for an onion dice when my picky palette prefers a mince. But that’s the great part about cooking, it’s pretty hard to get wrong. I mean sure, we’ve all made mistakes in the kitchen, over-cooked (ok fine, burnt), over-seasoned, under-seasoned. Regardless of any bad outcomes, I am always ready to go back into the kitchen and try again.

While I enjoy baking, I don’t love it like I do cooking. It’s more of a love-hate thing. I love it when everything goes as planned, I hate it when it doesn’t. Like yesterday’s frosting experience.

Caramel: 4, Amanda: 0

Well, I guess technically I should get a one because I did eventually make caramel, but I gave up on the original recipe and made a cheater one.

The first two times I screwed up the caramel part. I stirred the sugar and water as they simmered on the stove. Big no-no in caramel making. Of course with baking I follow a recipe — another part of my hate, there isn’t as much freedom in baking as there is in cooking. Baking is more of a science, cooking is more of an art. The recipe said to constantly swirl the sugar and water as it heats. I thought the writer was using “swirl” as a fancy way to say “stir”. Nope. She meant swirl the pot. Oops.

So after two lumpy, clumps of sugar I finally had that part mastered. It should be easy from here right?

Wrong.

Once it reaches an amber colour you remove it from the burner and slowly, while constantly stirring, add the cream. I stirred, I poured. I watched it foam up and gently fall back down and what I saw did not look like creamy, gooey caramel. It looked more like natural peanut butter when you first open the jar, a brown sort of gritty mixture with a clear oily substance. My cream had curdled and the caramel separated. Drat. This time not only am I wasting more sugar, but organic cream.

I turn to Google for help. I read a few more caramel sauce recipes and find that recommends to heat up the cream first. Duh! That should fix it. I repeat the steps from above and as the foam starts to settle it looks like I have success, I see a creamy, golden mixture. But then, as I keep stirring, it separates. Boo.

That’s it. I give up.

Back to Google searching for a new caramel sauce recipe and I find one that doesn’t involve boiling sugar and water. And I cheat. Finally, caramel.

Originally, I was not going to share the buttercream recipe because I was unsatisfied with the results. However on trying it on the cake I have changed my mind — with some convincing from my test audience.

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Vintage Banana Cake — inspired by Bake this Cake

  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 1 Cup mashed ripe bananas (about three large-sized ones covered in brown spots but not black)
  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 2 1?2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 C buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375. Grease two, 9-inch cake pans with butter.
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and stir a few times until fully incorporated. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar in a mixer until light and creamy, two to three minutes. Beat eggs together in a bowl and add to running mixer. Mix until it becomes nice and creamy, slightly yellow. Add the vanilla.
Add buttermilk to mashed bananas and incorporate. Alternate adding banana mixture and dry ingredients until you have a smooth golden batter. There will be a few lumps from the bananas, don’t worry about the batter being completely smooth.
Pour into pans and bake for 30-40 minutes. It took 40 in mine, recipe suggested 30.
Bourbon Brown Sugar Caramel Buttercream
  • 1 Cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 Cups powdered sugar
  • Bourbon Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce (recipe below)
  • Cream

Cream butter until fluffy, add sugar one cup at a time. Beat until fluffy and combined. Slowly add bourbon caramel sauce. Add cream if the frosting is too thick, I had to thin mine out just a touch.

Bourbon Brown Sugar Caramel

  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 Cup butter
  • 1/4 Cup cream
  • 2 Tbsp Bourbon

Combine first three ingredients and bring to a boil for two minutes. Lower temperature, add Bourbon, cook a few minutes longer.

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Life and death on the farm

Life and death on the farm. I knew it would happen but I didn’t think we would say goodbye so soon | www.pickytoplenty.com

I’ve known since starting this venture that death on the farm was inevitable. The chickens and rabbits we are raising are sources of meat for both our kitchen table and our dog’s bowls. Raising our own meat comes with the hardship of knowing at some point we are going to take a life.

What I wasn’t expecting was that it would happen so soon.

Thumper, our first animal here on the farm, has crossed the rainbow bridge. I went out to toss the bunnies their usual greens and the normally energetic rabbit was not there to greet me. Concerned, I checked around his hutch. He was lifeless in his house, it hadn’t been long since he had passed.

As much as he was a farm animal, Thumper had personality. I remember when we put him in the hutch for the first time. Up until he came here, Thumper spent much of his life living in a dog crate in a garage, so moving to the great outdoors was an adventure for him. At first, he was a little scared of the ramp but after a day or two he could bound up and down that ramp at full speed. He even figured out a way to get into the roof area of the hutch and hang out there. He was a happy bunny and he will be missed.

On a farm, life has a way of being cyclical. Just as Thumper’s life came to an end, new life entered the world. Life he created.

We have six baby bunnies, four dark and two white. We discovered them a week after Thumper’s death when the mound of fur one of the girls had made started moving around. We suspected she may have been pregnant and sure enough, she was. Now we have six baby bunnies to watch grow up.

Our first bunny kittlings | www.pickytoplenty.com

Our first bunny kittlings | www.pickytoplenty.com

With new life on the farm comes the likelihood that there will be more death on the farm…. and soon. Everything I have read suggests that eight weeks is optimal slaughter time for rabbits — however some backyard farmers wait 12 weeks. This is the part that scares me. It’s going to be hard. Right now they are sweet and tiny, I can’t imagine taking their lives. Luckily, I think most of this litter will be kept, the females anyway, to build up our breeding stock. So we may have a brief reprieve.

Six bunny kittlings | www.pickytoplenty.com

Six bunny kittlings | www.pickytoplenty.com

Hopefully by the time we do have to process the rabbits we have already gone through a chicken butchering. Even though I know that will be difficult as well I have no attachment to the flock of miniature velociraptors. I don’t find the chickens cute as I do the rabbits. I keep telling myself it will be easier with the chickens, but deep down I know it will be just as hard. As much as I say they are freeloaders and slightly terrifying they are pretty cool to watch as they peck around the property. I just try to watch the females more since they will find a permanent home in the coop.

That’s life on the farm I suppose. I never for a minute thought that the farm life would be easy and it sure isn’t. But the benefit of all of this is knowing where our food comes from and that to me, is worth all of it, even the hard parts.

Momma watching over her babies | www.pickytoplenty.com

Momma watching over her babies | www.pickytoplenty.com

 

 

Pickles take two

Classic Dill Pickles | www.pickytoplenty.com

Classic Dill Pickles

If you read my first blog post on canning, you might remember there being a slight worry that my beautiful dills would end up tasting like metal. Rest assured, we popped open a jar and no metal there, just yummy, tangy dill. In the meantime, I tried my hand at another canning recipe for dill pickles, this time from Ball.

The trouble with pickling recipes is that unless you have tried them in the past, you have no idea if they are replicating until the season is over. Next year I will have a better handle on which recipes to keep and which ones to trash.

Just a short post today as I am about to head to the kitchen to can some crushed tomatoes to have on hand for the upcoming cold seasons. Already, with the help of my awesome friend Shandra, my cold cellar (a work in progress) is stocked with tomato soup concentrate, peach and raspberry jam, ground cherry, watermelon and peach jalapeno jellies, dill pickles (two kinds), pickled pepperoncinis, cowboy candy, carrot cake jam, roasted garlic tomato sauce, roasted jalapeno salsa and spicy dilly beans. I will be sharing those recipes soon and more. Still ahead are the crushed tomatoes, fire and ice pepper jelly (using ice wine), tequilla pepper jelly (a recipe from Shandra’s family), apple pepper jelly, apple butter, more ground cherry preserves including a jam and pie filling… and plenty more. We are running out of canning days but I plan to make the most of them.

Summer harvest is coming to an end and I am anxious to get into my gardens and plant for fall and winter. A gardening post will be up soon,

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Classic Dill Pickles | www.pickytoplenty.com

Classic Dill Pickles

Makes 6 Pints

  • 4 pounds of pickling cucumbers
  • 3 C sugar
  • 2 Tbsp pickling salt
  • 6 C pickling vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp pickling spice
  • Dill
  • Garlic, crushed

Combine sugar, salt and vinegar in a non-reactive pot (stainless steel). Add spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Prepare jars by washing in soapy water and then sterilizing in the water bath canner.

Remove jars from canner and put dill and garlic in bottoms. Stuff with cucumbers. Add a little more garlic and dill before filling jars with hot liquid.

Leave 1/2 inch head space and process in water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Wait a few months before popping those lids and digging in for a deeper flavour to develop.

 

Addicted to canning

 

Peach Pepper Jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

Peach Pepper Jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

There is no greater sound when canning than the popping of a lid. This signals a successful jar of preserves that can last up to a year, or in some cases longer. Ever since I popped my canning cherry a few weeks ago, I have been addicted.

This weekend, with the help of my amazing friend Shandra, we canned six different things: spicy dilly beans, dill pickles, pickled pepperoncini peppers, roasted jalapeno salsa, ground cherry pepper jelly and the recipe I am going to share with you tonight (don’t worry, I will share the rest too) peach jalapeno pepper jelly.

Sweet peach and spicy jalapeno come together in this delicious canning recipe | www.pickytoplenty.com

Sweet peach and spicy jalapeno come together in this delicious canning recipe | www.pickytoplenty.com

With peaches still in season, I thought what better way to break into the world of making jelly than with a peach pepper variety.

I love pepper jelly. Over a warm, gooey wheel of creamy brie, spread over cream cheese or just on a cracker, pepper jelly is a sweet and spicy bit of heaven.

The peach flavour sweetens up the heat from the garden-fresh jalapeno peppers.

One sad thing about making pepper jelly from scratch is seeing the amount of sugar that goes into it. If anyone has a sugarless or low sugar recipe for pepper jelly, please feel free to share it in the comments below. I plan on whipping up a few different versions of pepper jelly before the season is through.

Sweet juicy peaches meet spicy jalapeno in this yummy canning recipe | www.pickytoplenty.com

Sweet juicy peaches meet spicy jalapeno in this yummy canning recipe | www.pickytoplenty.com

Peach Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

Adapted from How to Have It All

  • 6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 6 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 pouches Certo liquid pectin
  • 1 C peaches, finely diced

In a large stainless steel pot (do not use a coated pot for this, see my Popping My Canning Cherry for more information on non-reactive cookware in canning) combine peppers, sugar and vinegar over high heat.

Bring to a rolling boil. Maintain a rolling boil, stirring constantly for five minutes.

Add pectin and peaches. Return to a rolling boil and stir for three minutes.

Remove pot from heat and let cool for a minute. Skim off any foam with a spoon.

Pour into hot jars leaving a half-inch of head space. Process in water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Remove from canner and place jars somewhere they can sit undisturbed for 24 hours.

Listen for the pop and rejoice in the fact that you just made your own pepper jelly.

We doubled the recipe and ended up with 13 jam-sized jars (250 ml) of this delicious jelly.

After we made the jelly I did read a few posts from other bloggers regarding the doubling of canning recipes. Many warned against while others said the consistency changes when doing larger batches.

Peach Jalapeno Pepper Jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

Peach Jalapeno Pepper Jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

Where this all began

Late planted tomatoes, hopefully they produce

Late planted tomatoes, hopefully they produce

I came home after a long day at work, plopped my self on the couch and grabbed the remote to turn on the TV. Click. Nothing.

“The TV doesn’t work,” I say to the husband.

“I unplugged it,” he replies.

“Oh. Why?” I ask.

The answer is this. We were spending far too much time hypnotized by the 42″ flat screen picture box mounted to the wall and not enough time living. We were eating the crappy, engineered foods that advertisers told us were healthy. I was duped by the low fat, healthy and every other key word businesses use to distract you from the fact that most of those products, the ones that come boxes, bags and cans, are not really food.

This one gesture started a path towards happiness and hopefully, sustainability.

I am tired of anxiously watching the total rise with each purchase I make at the grocery store. Our food bills are out of control and I am tired of it. Instead of putting money in someone else’s pocket I am hoping to keep more in my own and maybe even make a little more along the way.

If everything goes as planned, we should have plenty of food to keep us well fed throughout the fall and winter. A greenhouse or hoop house will enable us to grow fresh greens year round while food preservation methods such as canning, drying and freezing will provide our staples.

Our flock of Plymouth Barred Rocks will provide us with fresh eggs and meat. If we like it, our rabbit colony will also provide a sustainable food source.

My head is bursting with ideas on how we can grow our venture to not only feed ourselves, but feed others. My dream is to provide people with fresh and trustworthy food. Vegetables grown organically, meat raised on pasture without any hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified feeds. I want to bring pure food to your table.

It all starts with a dream. The dream is the platform from which great things develop. My dreams are big, but not far out of reach.

To add some art to the post, here are some updated photos from my garden progress. Note the lush green of the pepper plants thanks to the use of Epsom salt in the soil.

Enjoy.

A tasty, crunchy way to use up that garden kale

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The kale is taking over. Seriously, my eight winter blend kale plants that I started from seed in March is growing like mad. Not that I’m complaining, This means we have an endless supply of super nutritious kale to add to salads, sandwiches, eggs and even toss a few to Mr Thumper (I think Kale is the new dandelion for him).

For a while now I have seen kale tips touted as the new potato chip. But I was a skeptic. Potato chips are my biggest vice, there are few flavours that I won’t eat and I can never eat just one. So you can see why I would think a toasted leaf could never possibly be a good substitution for the irresistibly crunchy and salty potato chip.

I was right.

While the kale chips I am munching on as I right this are certainly tasty, they are not on par with the potato chip. They just aren’t. But they are a tasty, crunchy way to use up the bounty of kale in one of our gardens.

Garlic-Parm Kale Chips

(single serving)

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• 3 Large Kale Leaves

• Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

• Garlic Powder

• Salt + Pepper

• Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 300. Tear or cut kale from stems, breaking into 2-3 inch pieces. Toss in olive oil and massage it into the leaves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread leaves on a baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes. Sprinkle on desired amount of parm

 

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Pasty what? Lessons in chick rearing from a wannabe farmer

Sure, chicks are cute, but they are also disgusting little poop balls.

Sure, chicks are cute, but they are also disgusting little poop balls.

I have a confession: chickens freak me out. Scratch that, birds freak me out. I’m not sure what it is about birds, maybe it’s the feathers, maybe it’s the bony structure or maybe it’s the beaks. Regardless, I have had a lifelong aversion for feathered friends.

Raising chicks is a bit of a courage test for me. Oh right, I haven’t blogged about the 17 peepers keeping warm in my basement as we speak. So, now you know, now where was I?

One week old Plymouth barred rocks being raised dual purpose for meat and eggs.

One week old Plymouth barred rocks being raised dual purpose for meat and eggs.

The other night, I had to reach my hand into the brooder box and pull out a chick with a little dried poop on his butt. This condition is called pasty butt and it can be fatal. And it’s gross. Chicks are gross. Luckily, I had read all about pasty butt, though I had hoped I would never have to put that knowledge into use.

This little chick looked weaker than the rest as he plucked at his chick food and slowly moved around. When it bent over I had a look and my fear was confirmed: there was poop and it was stuck.

In nature, mother hen takes care of this but with her not around, it was up to me to save this little guy.

Although I’d had the chicks for almost a week at this point, I hadn’t done much handling (though I need to get on that or we will have problems when they grow up). Chickens freak me out, even teeny weeny baby ones. I mustered up my courage, reached my hand into the brooder and picked up the pasty-bummed bird. Instantly it began squeaking and squirming. I was terrified I was going to crush the little fella.

Now, there are a few ways you can treat pasty butt. The way that popped into my head first was to soak the little birdie bum in some warm water and then gently wipe away the fecal matter. Gross.

Still fearing I was going to crush my baby bird, I called the husband down for wiping duty (he was not impressed). It didn’t take long. A little soak in the water and a couple swipes and the vent was cleared up.

Success. Not only did I handle a baby chick, I saved its life. Think about a cork in a wine bottle, the pasty poop does the same job. So yes, I can say I did save the little guy’s life (or maybe Dave did, since he did the said wiping). Let’s go with we saved it.

Another way you can treat pasty butt is with a moistened Q-tip or by running their rears under warm water. I think next time I will try the Q-tip method as the chick won’t be so wet in the end. I feared for his life as I laid my head on the pillow that night. Would the chick be OK? Will it freeze?

When I woke up in the morning, I couldn’t tell which chick was the past butt. They were all happily chirping around the brooder box waiting for fresh feed.

These chicks will eventually provide for us. We are raising them for meat and eggs. The hens we will keep for laying and we will keep one rooster but the rest will be dinner. I know this offends some, but hey, I’m a meat lover and that’s not going to change. The great thing about raising chickens ourselves is knowing exactly what goes into the bird. In a world where labelling is only required on foods grown without pesticides or genetically modified ingredients, raising and growing your own food is one way to eat without worry. Even if it means having to pick up a few chickens here and there.

A few more gross details about baby chicks.

They poop in their water dish. All the time. I have to change it several times a day because these little peepers like to potty where they drink. They also like to potty everywhere and can carry e. coli so make sure to clean their brooder box frequently and always wash your hands after coming into contact with the little guys.

They are also pretty damn cute.

We are raising Plymouth barred rocks and they are mostly black unlike the traditional yellow chick. I do enjoy checking on them each day and seeing how much they have grown even if they are gross little poop balls. Another thing I’ve learned about chicks is they grow fast. Really fast.

The lucky thing about having an aversion to chickens… they won’t become pets and it might be easier come dinner time.

Wanted to thank my good friend Caitlyn Van Leeuwen again for the babies!

And one more picture of the peepers

And one more picture of the peepers

Chocolate Raspberry Pie Bars and dreams of a backyard farm

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It never seems to fail, the May 24 weekend is too cold to plant — again. At least we didn’t get hit with rain — or snow! After this winter, it could have been possible. Instead of planting, I am gazing at my seedlings dreaming of what our backyard gardens will look in just a few months.

Yesterday wasn’t totally unproductive in terms of gardening however. It’s the long weekend and there are plant sales every where. I chose two that I knew of that were selling organic, heirloom seedlings just a short drive away, Linda Crago’s Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm in Wellandport (the sale continues today until 3 p.m.) and The Sentimental Farm in Grimsby, which is operated by Rob and Chris Croley. Today I picked up a few new tomato varieties (one called Isis, how could I resist?), a hot pepper, some different kales, mint and the best raspberry jam that I have ever had. If you live near Grimsby, I suggest you head to the Sentimental Farm on Ridge Road and pick up a jar of Chris’ raspberry jam, it is amazing and this is coming from someone who rarely reaches for jam.

With two jars of this amazing jam now in my possession I was inspired to bake. Since I can’t plant food, I might as well cook it. I turned to Pinterest for some inspiration and came across these Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pie Bars from Deliciously Sprinkled that I had pinned a while back. While the original recipe calls for whole raspberries it suggests you can use jam if you don’t have fresh or frozen, so I subbed in the delicious jam with fair trade chocolate chips and organic ingredients. The only non “clean” ingredient I used was the condensed milk as there was no organic version available at my local grocery store. Anyone know of a good alternative to condensed milk?

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Here is my take on the recipe

For the crust and crumble

  • 1 Cup organic, unsalted butter
  • 2 Cups organic, all purpose flour
  • 1/2 Cup dark brown sugar
  • pinch of salt

For the layer of chocolate

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Cup organic, fair trade chocolate chips

For topping

  • Seedless Raspberry Jam from the Sentimental Farm
  • more chocolate chips
  • left over dough

Set oven to 350.

Cream butter in a mixer. Add flour, brown sugar and salt and mix until it forms a crumbly dough (make sure you add the whole 2 cups. I initially didn’t and could not figure out why it was so creamy not crumbly). Press the crumbly dough into the bottom of a greased baking pan. Mine was about an inch and a half thick. Bake 15 minutes.

While the bottom layer is baking, pour the can of condensed milk in a saucepan with a cup of chocolate chips, I used semi-sweet. Heat, stirring constantly until combined.

When crust is golden, remove it from the oven and top with the delicious, chocolate. Top this with left over crumb, blobs of jam and more chocolate chips.

Bake 30 minutes.

Let it cool, slice and indulge. These pie bars are a perfect combination of indulgent chocolate, buttery shortbread and tart raspberries. I will definitely be making these ones again. Picky to Plenty’s official taste tester approves. He says the edges are especially tasty. He says this is one of the best desserts I have ever made.

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