Monday, December 12, 2011

Winter Roots

Underground Eating

Dig deep and you will find that from beets and burdock to turnips, turmeric and yams, plant roots are some of the most humble and unassuming – and at the same time underrated – foods we can eat. Economical, healthy, and tasty, roots have been important to humans since the dawn of time.

Now cooks and chefs are rediscovering what early peoples and herbalists of all eras have always known: underground roots, tubers and bulbs of many plants are not only nutritious and satisfying as a food, but they often carry concentrated healing components.

By their very nature as producers and storehouses of energy for the entire plant, roots are full of fibre, vitamins, minerals, proteins and other tremendously important nutrients. Potatoes, for example, provide "per land unit, more energy and more protein for the human body in a shorter time than any other crop (five times more than soybeans, corn or wheat)." (From The Essential Root Vegetable Cookbook, Sally and Martin Stone; Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., NY, 1991.)

Read the rest of the article as it appeared in Vitality magazine here, and download Root Slaw and other root recipes.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Candied Citrus Peel

Candied Citrus Peel

Simmering citrus peel in a simple syrup made from granulated sugar and water is one of the oldest forms of preserving the unique fragrance and taste of citrons, oranges and lemons. This method may be used for any thick-rind citrus fruit or for fresh ginger but oranges are the best for eating as a candy or dipping in chocolate.

Makes about 2 cups (500 mL)

2 Navel oranges

1-1/4 cups (300 mL) granulated sugar

1-1/4 cups (300 mL) water

about ¼ cup (50 mL) extra granulated sugar for coating

1. Wash oranges by scrubbing them with warm, soapy water. Rinse well and trim away the ends of the oranges.

Cut the oranges into quarters and remove the inner flesh sections, leaving the rind and pith intact. Set the inner flesh aside

Cut the peel into strips that are roughly 1/4-inch by 2-inches .

2. In a saucepan, combine peel strips with 2 cups (500 mL) of cold water (the strips should be generously covered). Add ½ tsp (2 mL) salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil gently for 2 minutes. Strain, discarding the water. Repeat this step 2 more times. Rinse well with cold water.

3. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. Add drained peel strips, reduce heat and simmer gently for 1 hour. Stir the strips once to distribute them evenly in the sugar water but after that, leave them to simmer without stirring. Check on the pan occasionally to make sure that the syrup is simmering gently and not scorching. A heavy bottomed pan is essential. After 1 hour, check on the pan every few moments. The water should be almost evaporated and the strips should be translucent and soft but not mushy.

4. Meanwhile, prepare parchment or waxed paper by sprinkling it with 3 tablespoons (45 mL) granulated sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and using tongs, transfer the candied strips from the syrup to the sugared paper. Toss well to coat the strips and sprinkle with more sugar if needed to evenly coat them. Use a fork to separate the strips. Let cool and dry overnight on the paper over a wire rack. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for 1 week or pack into freezer containers, seal, label and store for up to 9 months.

Use: Dip the candied peel in chocolate and use as a sweet confection; use to decorate cakes, muffins or chop and add to the batter of baked goods. I have used them as swizzle sticks for cocktails and they are especially nice with rich chocolate mousse or brownies.

Winter Preserving

Winter Preserving

While Thursday December 22 is the actual date of winter solstice this year, where I live in Bruce County Ontario, we have snow on the ground. The Santa Clause parade comes to town today and I have a new ice scraper for the car windshield–all signs that winter has arrived.

Helen Hatton asks, "What's more perfect than a homemade holiday gift, especially when it's absolutely, delightfully edible and delicious? When it comes to holiday food gifts, just can it!"

Read the entire article or download it and the recipes in PDF format HERE.

Happy Holiday Preserving!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

BookSigning Event in Toronto

Join Pat and Nettie at All the Best Fine Foods, 1101 Yonge Street, Toronto on
Friday, December 9, 2011. We will be signing Everyday Flexitarian books.
See you there!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Canning Video

Global Morning Cans!
Last week I went to the home of Morning Show co-host Daru and together, we made Scarlet Mango Chutney. In less than one hour, we made the pickling spice, cooked the chutney and filled the jars. Watch the results by clicking on the screen to the right-

Scarlet Mango Chutney

While this chutney is piquant enough to stand up to the spiciest of dishes, it is not the color one would expect: it is flaming red. I love the beet/mango combination and the cider vinegar, candied ginger, turmeric and pickling spice combine to transport one back to Bombay and turn of the century England, with its curries and chutneys.

I challenge you to try this scarlet version before going back to the traditional, glowing orange mixture, but if you really must have yellow chutney, simply substitute grated butternut or acorn squash for the beets.

Makes 8+ cups (2+ L)

4 to 6 mangoes (about 4 lbs/2 kg)

1 cup (250 mL) raisins

½ cup (125 mL) freshly squeezed lime juice

1-1/4 cups (300 mL) apple cider vinegar

¼ cup (50 mL) apple juice

¾ cup (175 mL) packed brown sugar

2 tbsp (25 mL) Classic Pickling Spice Blend (page xx) or commercial pickling spice, wrapped in cheesecloth

1 tbsp (15 mL) ground turmeric

1 tbsp (15 mL) pickling salt

4 cups (1 L) shredded beets

2 cups (500 mL) chopped onions

½ cup (125 mL) chopped candied gingerroot

1. Dice mangoes following. You should have about 6 cups (1.5 L). Transfer mango to a large bowl and combine with raisins and lime juice.

2. Heat 5 1-pint (500 mL) jars in boiling water and scald the lids, lifter, funnel and tongs.

3. In a Maslin pan or canning kettle, combine vinegar, apple juice and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add turmeric and salt. Stir well and hang the pickling spice bag so that it is immersed in the boiling mixture. Add mango mixture, beets, onions and gingerroot. Stir and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally for 30 to 45 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.

4. Fill hot jars, leaving a 1/4-inch (0.5 cm) headspace. Remove air bubbles and add more hot chutney if necessary, to leave a 1/4-inch (0.5 cm) headspace. Wipe rims, top with flat lids and screw on metal rings. Return jars to the hot water bath, topping up with hot water if necessary. Bring to a full rolling boil and process jars for 10 minutes.

5. Remove canner lid and wait 5 minutes before removing jars to a towel or rack to cool completely. Check seals, label and store in a cool place for up to 1 year

Use: The beets in this chutney make it more savory than traditional mango chutney, so it may be liberally used with grilled and roasted meats and hearty winter casseroles and stir-fried dishes.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Judy Creighton, Canada Press

Stunning book on preserving local harvest is a guide for all seasons

Preserving: The Canning And Freezing Guide For All Seasons (HarperCollins, $29.95)
book Preserving: The Canning And Freezing Guide For All Seasons (HarperCollins, $29.95)
The Canadian Press

Just because the harvest season for locally grown fruits and vegetables is waning is no reason not to keep on canning and freezing what is on hand.

In fact, following the seasons and “putting down” the bounty of local produce can be a year-round activity for anyone who has decided to catch the trend and make it their own, says Pat Crocker, home economist, herbalist and an award-winning author of eight cookbooks.

Her latest endeavour is Preserving: The Canning And Freezing Guide For All Seasons (HarperCollins, $29.95).

“What if you froze a lot of last summer’s strawberry harvest and want to make it into jam for Christmas gifts?” she asks. Well, it is really a no-brainer and it frees up the freezer for other items.

Most of all, Crocker wants to catch the wave of newly minted fans of getting back to basics, especially those who are interested in preserving foods for year-round consumption.

click here to read the rest of the story.

Thanks Judy, as a long time food journalist, you know what Canadians want and need. I appreciate your comments on Preserving.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Mennonite Market

Basia took me to the Mennonite market on the road to Wingham.
We found squash, gourds, corn, Indian corn and other root fall crops there.

I will be testing recipes and generally having fun in the kitchen in the next few days leading up to our Thanksgiving.
Meantime, I urge you to get out and find the variety of squash you love.

This is either Heart 'O Gold or Sweet Dumbling, if you know the Latin name for this squash, please let me know. Names aside, try it. I'm sure you will love it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Radio Interview

Listen UP!
Tune in tomorrow, Saturday September 3 for Pat's interview on Good Day with Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert.

Pat will be discussing her new book, Tagine with Phil.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

tagine cooking

Some of the early responses to my new book, 150 Best Tagine Recipes are great. You can see my Pomegranate Molasses recipe at What's Cooking in Your World.

What about you? Do you own a tagine? Do you like the flavours of North Africa?

More Praise for Pat's Tagine Cookbook

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pat's Preserving Book

Coming Soon...
Preserving by Pat Crocker

You have to see this book to believe it! My newest book (HarperCollins, Publisher) is all about how to preserve fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Following the seasons, Preserving has information on varieties and gives hands-on tips for beginners and long-time preservers.
But what is so special about this book is that it shows you what you can do with the incredible chutneys, jams, jellies and conserves you will want to make.

...Look for this incredible, 527-page, full-colour book in stores mid-August.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Making Comfrey Oil

Do you know this plant?
It is sometimes called 'knitbone'
and the most common name is
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
has a long history of healing
wounds and I have used it to
heal the top of a finger that got
caught on the wrong side of a
French knife.
So when The Big Guy had severe
skin problems on his face–a
nasty red rash that was itchy and
got worse every time he was
stressed–he used comfrey oil
as a salve.

The Big Guy digs!

You will likely not be able to get the entire root. Much of this root snapped off, but we were still left with a significant amount of root with which to make the comfrey oil.

It is this strong taproot that makes it so difficult to completely remove comfrey from the garden once it has taken a hold. Wherever the root snaps off, a new shoot will appear!

The root is about ten times stronger than the leaves, but I have used the leaves as a poultice on cuts and scrapes.

Using a hose, preferably outside, wash off as much dirt as you can from the root before bringing it inside. Scrub the root using a brush and warm soapy water.
There will be some dirt that clings to the inside of the hollow parts of the root, but it will settle to the bottom of the jar and can be strained out with the chopped root after the oil is infused.

Chop the root into rough pieces that are about 1/2-inch in size.

Fill a mason jar about 2/3 full with the chopped comfrey root. Pour oil over and leave about a 1-inch headspace. I am using sweet almond oil for this comfrey because it will be used on the face. I like sweet almond oil for salves and oils that will be made into creams for the face. For oils and creams that will be used on the hands or feet, olive oil or other vegetable oil is fine.

Cap the jar and leave in a sunny window or in the sun in the garden to steep. The active and healing components from the root will infuse the oil in about 1 or 2 weeks. After that, you can strain off and discard the root parts and store the comfrey oil in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Book by Pat Crocker and Nettie Cronish

Everyday Flexitarian Available in Stores- First Canadian flexitarian cookbook hits the shelves.

Feed vegetarians and meat-eaters with one recipe, master new ingredients and techniques, learn how to reduce your meat intake without suffering. Engage in tolerance in the kitchen. The Everyday Flexitarian cookbook by Nettie Cronish and Pat Crocker shows you how to do all that and start enjoying mealtime again.

Try the Buddha Dragon Bowl (with lemongrass and rice noodles or add broiled shrimps) and the Lentil Mushroom Moussaka (with baked salmon) and finish the meal with Ancho Chile Cranberry Brownies. The book is a must-have for families choosing to embrace a healthier and more sustainable diet.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lester Brown: The Planet's Scarcest Resource Is Time
Analyst, author and founder of the Earth Policy Institute Lester Brown discusses how unprepared the world really is for the growing effects of climate change. According to Lester Brown says "food is going to be the weak link for our civilization as it was for so many earlier civilizations."
The average North American city is about 3 days away from totally losing its food reserves if there were to be a crisis.

Watch the video on the Organic Consumers Association site, here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bunnies at Bumble Tee

check out bunnies and all the great original animal designs by Shannon Alexandra here!

Ears also available in blue.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Toronto Bakes for Japan – April 10, 2011

Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. (Howard Zinn)

What: A simple concept – a bake sale to raise money for Japan.

When & Where:

Saturday, April 9, 2011, 9 am to 1 pm (New!)

Sunday, April 10, 2011, 11 am to 3 pm

(We are hoping to add more venues across Toronto to the list. We want to make this BIG! So if you have any pointers or would like to help us with a venue, please use our Contact page to get in touch or drop us an email at

Who: Kind and committed people from across Toronto coming together and using their talents for a great cause.

To Whom: 100% of all proceeds from this initiative will be donated directly to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

Why: Because we can; we must.
I woke up on a day that appeared to be like any other. I remember I was out of milk and could not find my keys anywhere, and this was really ruining my morning. Distracted, I turned on the television and then stood dumbstruck for the next ten minutes as visions of horror unfurled on the screen. Japan had been hit by a massive 8.9 earthquake. Over the next few days, I watched as the country was hit by one disaster after another. My heart broke a little each time I saw the images of death and destruction, of kids being scanned for signs of radiation, of rescue workers searching for the bodies of victims, of survivors trying desperately to find their loved ones. I sent up a silent prayer each time, but I wanted to do more. And then I read about the The Great Kiwi Bake-Off, which raised $16,420 for clean-up in the Christchurch earthquake, and Samin’s BakeSale project, which raised $23,000 for Haiti last year! I bake almost every week, and I know so do hundreds of passionate food lovers all over Toronto. If we all put our efforts together, can we make a difference? I really believe we can.

How: Right now, this event is just an idea, words on a page. I am going to do everything I can to make it a reality. But I can’t do it alone. I need your help This event is no longer just an idea; many kind and generous people are helping us make it a reality. But we still need your help – all you talented bakers, artists, event organizers, collaborators, volunteers and potential customers out there.

1. If you want to participate, use the Contact page or drop an email to and tell us how you would like to help. The sooner, the better because the event is only 3 weeks away. Many thanks!
2. RSVP: You can RSVP to the event on Facebook.
3. Spread the word: Today, if videos of funny cats can go viral, why not word of a good cause? Share the link with anyone you think would like to help. We can use all the hands we can get.
4. Check this site or Facebook or Twitter (hashtag #BakeForJapan) for more details.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Why is Balkan-Style Yogurt Thicker?
Eric Akis of the Victoria Times Colonist attempts to answer this question.
Read the theories put forth by leading experts including Pat Crocker. Click here for the story.


All photographs and recipes are original and copyrighted to Pat Crocker. Pat invites you to use her recipes and share with family and friends. Please contact Pat Crocker for express permission for commercial, internet, or other use of her photographs and recipes.