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Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's a New Year!

Welcome back, everyone! As I write this, the snow is accumulating outside on one of the most wintry days we have had this season. I spent an hour working inside the greenhouse, pulling some old plants, and visualizing this year's crops. When I came outside, my tracks to the house had completely filled in with snow.

I love this time of the year, because it is when I spend alot of time poring over the seed catalogues, reviewing last year's hits and misses in the gardens, and trying to decide what new things I would like to try this year. I already have a list of "new" things, and will be sharing those in a future article.

I have been keeping busy most Saturdays at the Elora Farmer's Market, which is held at the Grand River Raceway, from 9 - 1 pm, every Saturday, until mid-March. On February 4, our mushrooms and I will be the feature at the market. In preparation for that, I have been trying out new recipes, so that I can hand out samples, and recipe cards, to our shoppers.

One recipe that I just tried today is a definite "keeper". When I mentioned it on Facebook, there was alot of interest, so I thought I'd share it right away. For those of you who aren't familiar with quinoa, it is a protein powerhouse, that I learned about from my ultra trail-running sister. It provides the heartiness to this delicious soup. Here goes:

"Mystic Mushroom and Quinoa Chowder"

1/2 cup quinoa
2 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 lb. oyster mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp. maple syrup
3 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 cup heavy cream (I used milk)
Salt and pepper to taste

* Optional: 2-3 shiitake caps, slivered and sauteed in 1 tbsp. butter
chopped fresh chives

1. Toast quinoa in a dry, heavy skillet over medium heat, until fragrant.

2. In a large saucepan, or stockpot, melt 2 tbsp.butter over med.high heat. Stir in onions and cook until caramelized, about 6 - 8 minutes. Stir in quinoa, mushrooms, and maple syrup. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add chicken (or vegetable) stock, and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 18-20 minutes, or until quinoa is cooked.

3. Meanwhile, melt 1 tbsp. butter in a skillet over med.high heat. Cook shiitakes until softened, set aside.

4. Puree soup in a food processor or using hand-blender, and return to saucepan. Stir in cream (or milk) - do NOT boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with shiitake mushrooms, and chives, if desired.

Bon Appetit!