Green Thumb

PlentyBecause my name is Rosemary, people automatically assume that I have a green thumb. I was thinking about this yesterday as I was tearing out flowers from the front balcony flower baskets. The flowers were wilted and mostly on the on their way out. I do this almost every year with my the flower baskets in the front- they never make it through August. I dream of having these lush, overflowing baskets and when people walk by our balcony they are like “ahhhh, so pretty.” Like these, or these, or these. Instead the flowers in the basket hardly grow and shrivel up and turn brown in the intense Montreal sun. I make the same mistakes every year. First, I overcrowd the plants putting up to eight, sometimes even ten plants per basket. Way too much! Of course they don’t grow, they don’t have any room. Second, I almost always choose plants that need partial shade and completely ignore the fact our balcony is in the full sun all day long with no shade. The lobelia that I buy every year hates the full sun, yet I buy it year after year (it’s so pretty!). Lastly I hardly ever fertilize the flowers. Considering that they are pumped full of gunk at the nursery I buy them from, bringing them home and feeding them nothing is like asking them to go on a crash diet. I need to get over that fact that I don’t like the smell of the seaweed fertilizer that I bought. I mean really.


Dirt PileSo I woke up early yesterday morning and started tearing out the front flower baskets. At some point I called my mother, who truly does have a true green thumb and she told me stories of how she cares for plants- soaking their roots in a natural fertilizer before planting them to give them nourishment, trimming the roots so they ‘take’ to their new environment better, slowly letting them get use to intense sunlight by putting them out for a few hours a day. She is basically a plant whisperer. So after a conversation with my mom, a few web searches I set off to the market to get some more plants. When I got the market I tried to convince myself to buy something practical, something a knew that I could keep alive like a combination of marigolds and basil (apparently really good companion plants and we can never have too much fresh basil in the house). But, I couldn’t bring myself to buy them, I love the smell of marigolds, but they look too much like an old persons flower. Nothing wrong with that, but not the current aesthetic that I am going for. I’m a lusty flower person and wanted to give my overflowing, lush and abundant flower baskets a try just one last time. So I spent more money then I was planning to on plants that I was told would sustain full day sunlight. Last night I prepared the soil by putting the smelly seaweed fertilizer in it and transplanted the plants into the basket (though totally forgot to the trim the roots though as per my mom’s suggestion!) We’ll see how they turn out towards the end of the summer. Here is how they look now.

New Flowers

newflowers3I did manage to salvage a few plants from my old flower baskets. I had a lot of verbena in the baskets, and though they look in pretty rough shape I think they’ll do well in a different location. I transplanted them into one basket and put them on the back balcony that gets more shade. I did grow them there last year with a lot of success, so I am hoping in a few weeks they will lush and beautiful. I really do love those flowers. I also transplanted some million bells into another pot. I soaked and trimmed their roots before I transplanted them. We’ll see about the millon bells, they should be by all accounts really easy to grow, but I have never had luck with these guys. They don’t seem to transplant well for me, or like being with other plants. I am curious to know peoples experience with them. Any suggestions on flowers baskets in general are most welcome!

Millon Bells


Categories: Weeds and words Tags: , , , , , , ,
Inspired (Feb 2015)

February was a funny month. After so optimistically writing about embracing the winter Montreal was hit with a major cold front. We had minus 20 degree Celsius weather or colder for most of February. And lots of wind chill. It was cold, and it was unforgiving and instead of embracing it I ran for my covers. This happens to me a lot: I develop a sunny and optimistic attitude towards things that can be perceived as hard or difficult and then the world decides to put my optimism to the test. Really put it to a test. Winter, you won on this one. I admit defeat. You were a tough hard winter this year. I am looking forward to the spring.


In addition to running for my covers this month, I also ran towards a warm kitchen. I did a lot of cooking, recipe development and photographing. I wrote up a few posts, but I never ended up publishing them. I didn’t feel like the recipes and photographs were quite complete. I am still getting my blog feet on and getting into the swing of formal recipe development and photographing. What I am learning is that it takes time to develop recipes. The biggest task for me is thinking ahead and allowing for time for the recipes to unfold. I am excited though. I started this blog to challenge both my culinary and creative skills and I already feel challenged on both fronts. Feels like a win to me.


(from a yummy chocolate mess that I made- recipe coming very, very soon!)

I thought I would take this post to share with you a few food things that have inspired me over the past month. Even though it has been cold and hard climate out there, not everything has been lackluster. There you go- there my my sunny optimism shinning through again.

I had this great moment a few days ago when I was making a strawberry pie  from some summer strawberries that were stored away in the freezer. It was after a busy day at work and I was standing at my kitchen island rolling out the crust that had been chilling in the fridge that day. I was so content doing such a simple task: standing there, working with my hands and allowing my senses to come alive. I have never been one for formal mediation instead moments like this are my mediation. My brain stops thinking and I just start being. It was an inspiring moment and one that I know I will come back and back to. This is only one of the many reasons why I love making food. And for the record the pie was pretty tasty. I just finished it for breakfast.

Here are a few things that have inspired me around this web this month.

-I love this post from Orangette. It puts a huge smile on my face. It is mainly the comfort of having a good mug and remembering what it was like as a kid to enjoy such treats. It has also encouraged me to up my hot chocolate consumption this month so thank-you. Much needed. Have I mentioned how cold it has been?

-I have been making Kimchi all winter. I am going to prepare my next batch using this recipe from from Nutrition Stripped. It has leeks in it, which makes me insanely excited.

-I recently bought Quench: Handcrafted Beverages to Satisfy Every Taste & Occasion . I am excited to dive into the summer drinks, but I so far enjoyed the hot beverages (mainly the Hot Toddies). The author, Ashley English, has a very sweet blog called Small Measure. She makes me want to pack up my bags and move to the North Carolina mountains.

-I simply love this post from Vegetarian Ventures. It reminds me of the many camping trips that I did this past summer and fall. I cooked a few really good pots of stew by putting the pot in the hot amber and allowing it to sit there all day. Camping food is always the tastiest. Any vacation I go on, I want there to be a tent. And I agree with Shelly- fall camping really is the best.

That is it for now. I will be back soon with actual recipes! Wishing you as always happy reading and happy eating!!


xoxo Rosemary

Categories: Uncategorized
Embracing the Cold

In Canada we talk a lot about weather. It is one of the first things I check on my smart phone when I wake up in the morning, my grandmother always asks about it when I call her and it takes up a good chunk of the nightly newscast. We also love to love to complain about the weather. Weather is a national pastime.

I like to be in the weather. Spring to me is synonymous with rubber boots, during the summer I try to soak in all the heat I can, fall is just an ideal time to be outside and during winter I try to embrace the cold.

When I moved to Montreal from Nova Scotia I was scared of winter. In my luggage was this huge, down-filled coat and I was planning on wrapping myself in it when winter came. It made me look like a sack and was an off-white color that basically looked like dirt, but I did not care. Winter in the Maritimes can be hard, temperatures fluctuate and there is a lot of snow, rain, slush, snow, rain (often in the same hour), but they are not as long and cold as the winters in Montreal. In Montreal most of January is minus 30 degrees celsius and February is no exception. It is cold and dry. Pipes freeze, cars don’t start and my skin starts to crack.

When I was home in the Nova Scotia over the holidays I went for a real glorious hike across the dykes in Wolfville. The weather was brilliant. And by brilliant I mean a mixture of really sunny, cloudy and windy: typical Maritime weather. I could have walked across the dykes until my body gave way to exhaustion. The wide open space, the sunshine and the wind. I love wind, I love it against my face, I love when it pushes me around and I especially love it when it is mixed with sea air. My body knows Maritime weather so well. It is in my bones and in my soul. It makes me feel strong and it makes me feel alive.

Living in Montreal has taught me how to live in winter. There are a few common-sense rules: get a good coat, wear layers and invest in a good moisturizer. But living well in winter is more than that. It is about knowing how to let the length of it energize you instead of exhaust you.

I have come to really love winter. I love the darkness in December as the solstice approaches. It draws me inwards and gives me a chance to reflect. And I love January. It is cold, but there is an explosion of light that happens. Each morning my kitchen has been illuminate by the most fantastic sun. And between those really cold days are these lovely, bright and cheerful days were the landscape comes alive and you get out and explore.




Like many people I drink a lot warm things in the winter. Hot chocolate, early grey and chai tea, hot toddy’s and of course tisane. Tisane is a french word that implies a beverage made from an infusion of herbs and spices. Nettle has long been a favorite herb of mine. It soothes me in many ways. If you have not tried nettles, and have a taste for herbs and such, I highly recommend them. Nettles are enjoyed throughout the world in a variety of different ways and have long been valued as food and medicine. In the recipe below I mix them with peppermint, a combination that I love.



Here is to embracing the cold! xoxo Rosemary

Nettle and Peppermint Tisane
Serves: 4 generous cups
I encourage you to play around with ratios in this recipe. I usually do a 1 ½ parts loose leaf dried nettle leaves and 1 part part dried peppermint. You can also use fresh herbs for this tisane, but take caution of any of the stinging hairs on the nettles and make sure to fully emerge them in the boiling water.
  • 1½ tablespoon dried nettle leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried peppermint leaves
  • 4 cups boiling water
  1. Add the dried nettles, peppermint and water into a teapot and allow to steep for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Pour into a teacup or mug using a fine mesh strainer to catch any of the leaves.


Categories: Tea and Thought
Simple Broccoli Soup

Broccoli SoupI almost feel guilty about posting this recipe. It is not much of a recipe. It contains a few ingredients and is super easy to make.

This recipe came about a few years ago when I was looking for a simple soup to make in a short amount of time and only had some broccoli in the fridge. The taste profile this soup is pretty straight-forward. It is tasty, but simple. However,  like my favorite pair jeans that I always want to wear, I keep coming back to this soup. It has been in regular rotation in my kitchen since I conceived of it. It is just a really nourishing soup: satisfying, simple and healthy. A large bowl with some nuts or feta cheese sprinkled on top easily makes a meal for me.

Broccoli Soup

Instead of adding cream to this soup (I do fine with butter and cheese, however milk and cream do a number on my stomach) I added in a handful of quinoa. I use this trick quite often. Quinoa works well with most vegetables, gives puréed soup a bit more substance and beefs up the nutrient and protein levels of the soup.

I have made many different versions of this soup. The recipe I provide below is the simplest version I have made. It is flavored with fresh parsley and lemon. If you wanted to play around with the flavor you could add some chili or cayenne pepper. A spoonful of miso swirled around also works wonders. And I think a smoked paprika version would be quite delicious. If you come up with a version that you especially like please let me know.

Broccoli Soup

As I said previously this soup is simple, good and nourishing. Enjoy!!


Easy Broccoli Soup

  •  8-10 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 large, or 2 medium sized onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/3 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • Pine nuts, or other nuts to garnish (optional)



  1. In a medium-sized soup pot bring 8 cups of vegetable broth to a boil. Clean the vegetables and quinoa if necessary. Peel and chop the onions and carrots into large chunks. Peel and dice the garlic cloves. Peel the stems of the broccoli. Chop the steams and florets into chunks. Add the chopped vegetables, garlic, quinoa and salt to the boiling vegetable broth. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. In the meantime wash the parsley. Put aside a few sprigs to garnish the soup.  Roughly chop the rest of the parsley and add to the soup pot once the vegetable and quinoa are finished cooking. Turn off the burner and allow to sit for a few minutes.
  3. Using a regular or immersion blender purée the soup. Add additional broth if needed.
  4. Before serving squeeze in the juice of the lemon to taste. Garnish the soup with the remaining parsley and pine nuts (optional). Enjoy!
Categories: Soups
Upside Down Honey-Rye Cake with Apricots

Upside Down Apricot CakeI have been playing around with rye flour lately. Waffles shared with friends, combinations of pumpkin and rye and some great muffins are a few things I have made.  I put all guesses that my recent experimentation with rye flour is a northern winter thing. Rye has a great flavour- a little goes a long way.

Rye Flour

I dreampt up this upside down cake after reading in Kim Boyce’s “Good the Grain” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2010) that rye is “particularly good with apricots”. I decided to try it out and I can now attest that indeed it is.

This cake is spiced for winter with a good kick of cardamom. I also wanted to add a hint of booze so I reached for the gin. It was the only alcohol that I had in the house, but also I knew it would pair nicely with the cardamom. Add honey to all of that and you have a delicious cake.

Upside Down Apricot Cake

Now, I know a lot of people in January are in cleansing routine and cake is contraire to that. I am not much of a January cleanser.  If I feel I have eaten a lot of junk over the holidays I will try to eat a bit cleaner in January to regulate my system, but I don’t do anything too radical. Firstly, I find that kind of thing never works for me. Moderation and enjoyment always work best as guiding principles for my health.  And secondly I find a typical cleansing diet and I just don’t get along in January. I live in Montreal and most Januarys are in the -30 C range. Juices and smoothies literally freeze on my way to work.

As for this cake, I would actually consider it pretty healthy. Rye flour has a good nutrient profile, apricots are packed full of carotene, cardamom is warming and gin, well, gin is just good for the soul. So, I say for this January, have your cake and eat it too.

Upside Down Apricot Cake


Upside Down Honey-Rye Cake with Apricots

I rehydrated dry apricots for this cake, because it is pretty hard for me find fresh apricots this time of the year. Any extras you have from this recipe you can store in the fridge to use in porridges and such. If you are in a time of year where apricots are in season, by all means use fresh ones. 


 For the fruit:

  • 2 cups dried apricots + water for soaking
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup gin
  • ¼ cup dried currents (optional)
  • 15 cardamom pods (around 1 teaspoon ground)

For the cake batter:

  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 cup spelt flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter + butter for greasing the pan
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • large eggs, at room temperature

Butter for greasing the pan

Instructions:Put the apricots in a medium sized bowl and submerge completely with water. Cover the bowl and allow them to soak for eight hours or overnight.

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 ºF/175° C.
  2. Drain the rehydrated apricots and put 1 cup aside to use later.
  3. Grease and flour a 8 inch non-fluted bundt pan. Start lining the bottom of the pan with the apricots by splitting them in half. When placing them in the pan, make sure their insides are facing you. Continue until the pan is completely covered.
  4. Remove the shells of 15 cardamom pods and coarsely grind.
  5. In a small saucepan add the water, honey and gin for the fruit layer. Mix well, dissolving the honey. Add the ground cardamom and currents, if using. Allow the mixture to simmer on the stove for ten minutes. When done pour over top of the apricots in the bundt pan. Fill in any of the spaces between the apricots with the currents, if using.
  6. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Remove the shells from the remaining 15 cardamom pods and grind a bit finer than the previous batch. Add to the flour, along with the cinnamon and ginger. Add the baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
  7. Using the same saucepan as before, melt the butter on a low heat and allow to cool a bit. In a blender mix the cup of apricots previously set aside and yogurt. Blend until well puréed. Mix the purée and butter together in a bowl. Add the honey and mix again. Beat the eggs in, one at time. Combine with the flour mixture, stirring until just combined.
  8. Add the batter over top of the apricots. Smooth down with a spatula to make the batter even. Bake the cake in the middle rack of the oven 50-60 minutes until golden and baked all the way through.
  9. After bringing out of the oven, allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Place a plate upside down on the bundt pan. Flip the plate right side up. The cake will fall onto the plate.
Categories: Cakes, Muffins and Loaves Tags: , ,
Bits and Pieces: Morden, Nova Scotia

I went to Nova Scotia over the holidays. Here are a few photos of the town that I grew up in. It is a small town on the Bay of Fundy.Morden, Nova Scotia
Morden, Nova ScotiaMorden, Nova Scotia Morden, Nova ScotiaMorden, Nova ScotiaMorden, Nova ScotiaMorden, Nova Scotia_MG_0056

Categories: Bits and Pieces
Colorful Millet Salad

Millet SaladGrowing up I was not the biggest fan of millet. In fact, I was not a fan of it at all. I thought everything about it was wrong- the taste, the texture and general mouth feel. My grain-loving mother naturally ate a lot of it. I would watch in pure wonder as she threw it in salads, fried it up with some onions or just eat in on it’s own (gahhh!). My mother never made me eat millet, but her enthusiasm for it was apparent. She loved the stuff.

As things often go, as I grew up, I grew out of my dislike of millet and started welcoming it as a grain in my pantry. A few times per year I find myself craving the grain. I mean really craving it. I can’t get the thought of it out of my head until I eat some of the stuff. I am not sure what the craving is about. It could be a nutritional need (it is a good source of iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium and B-vitamins) or maybe because it is beneficial to the stomach, spleen and pancreas (according to Chinese medicine). I find it particular. Cravings should be for fun stuff like chocolate, not something I could barely eat as a child.


Over the years I have developed a few tricks for cooking millet. The first is that I wash the grain well. I start by soaking it for a few minutes, swirl it around, massage it with my fingers and then rinse it twice. This takes away any grittiness. Next thing I do is toast it in a cast iron pan. This helps brings a deeper flavor to the millet. Millet generally is cooked in a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part grain. I cook my millet with 2 ¼ cups water to 1 cup grain. This consistently produces fluffier millet for me. Otherwise I find it to be a bit too dry. I suggest experimenting cooking millet with 2 – 2 1/2 cups water to see what you like. If you want a porridge or polenta-like dish you can up it to 3 cups water. If you have any particular tips or ways you like to cup millet, I would love to hear about them.

Millet SaladMillet SaladI was tempted to call this salad a rainbow-millet salad. It is a super colorful salad with grated beets and carrots and a mixture of herbs added to the millet. I topped it off with some radishes and apples for a bit of crunch. It has a very simple dressing to allow all these flavors to come together. I made this salad a few times- it is great for potlucks, to put in the fridge for an easy addition for lunches or can easily be bulked up some black beans, chickpeas or feta cheese for a complete meal. Enjoy!

Millet Salad


Colourful Millet Salad

 This recipe makes more millet than the salad needs. I tend to pop the extra millet in the freezer to add to a dish at a later time. For my herb mixture, I used mint, dill and parsley in this salad, but use any combination you like.


To make the millet:

  • 1 cup millet
  • 2 ¼ cups water

For the salad:

  • 3-4 medium or 6-7 small purple beets
  • 6 carrots
  • 2 cups chopped herbs
  • 2 cups cook millet
  • 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Wash the millet thoroughly. Put a cast iron-frying pan, or another frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the washed millet to the pan. Stir the millet often, allowing it to dry for 5-6 minutes. Continue stirring the millet as it toasts for an additional 5-6 minutes. Take caution to not burn the millet. Bring the 2 ¼ cups water to a boil in a small pot. Add the toasted millet and turn down the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and allow the millet to sit for an addition 10 minutes.

In the meantime wash your beets, carrots, herbs, radishes and apples. If necessary, peel your carrots and beets. Grate the beets and carrots using the large holes of a grater box. Set aside in a large bowl. Pat down the herbs with a cloth or paper towel to dry. De-steam if necessary. Loosely chop your herbs and add to the bowl with the beets and carrots. Cut the radishes in half and slice thinly. Cut your apple into quarters and remove the core. Cut into thin slices about one inch long. Add the radishes and apples to the bowl of carrots and beets. Add 2 cups of the cooked millet, making sure it is not too hot. Mix everything together well.

Juice your lemon and add, along with the ¼ cup olive oil to your salad. Mix again. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Categories: Salad Tags: , , , , , ,
My Favourite Cranberry Sauce

CranberriesI have been making homemade cranberry sauce for years so I decided to branch out and started experimenting with making it other ways. I did one version with tarragon, another with lemon zest and yet another with orange and pepper. All the versions I made were good, but in the end of the day I prefer to make it the way I have been making it for years. Some things are just like that.

This cranberry sauce is quite tasty. When I take it somewhere I get so many compliments on it. I always find this surprising, because it is really easy to make. What I think makes this recipe different from others is that it is not deceptively sweet. It is only sweetened with a touch of maple syrup, which allows all the ingredients to speak for themselves. I balance the tartness of the cranberries with a generous amount of fresh ginger. It adds a nice punch.cranberry sauce

This sauce is, of course, great next to turkey during holiday meals, but it can also be enjoyed other ways too. I like it on a rye cracker topped with a thin slice of sharp cheddar. It goes great in on a veggie pate sandwich, with a bit of lettuce. Honestly though, I think my favourite way to enjoy this sauce is straight out of the jar, one spoon after another.cranberry sauce

 My Favourite Cranberry Sauce

I cook this sauce just long enough to allow all the flavors to blend and for the cranberries to cook through, but short enough so that some of the berries retain their shape. It gives the cranberry sauce a nice texture.


1-2 tablespoons water
4 cups cranberries
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup maple syrup


1. Add the cranberries and water to a saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the grated ginger, cinnamon and maple syrup. Cover the saucepan. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring the cranberries occasionally.
2. After the 15-20 minutes taste the cranberry sauce. Add an extra spoonful of maple syrup or extra ginger if need. Cook for an addition 5-10 minutes, or until the cranberries are cooked through.

Categories: Compotes, Jams and Spreads Tags: , , , , ,
Starting with Sourdough

SourdoughI just put a loaf of sourdough bread in the oven. I made it, including the starter, myself. I am not sure if this one is going to turn out. I made my first one a few weeks ago, and it was a total flop.

Like many cooks I am terrible at following directions. I read cookbooks before I go to bed as if they are stories. From there I generally close the book, and keep the recipes in my head. I call it cooking with my eyes closed. This type of cooking has allowed me to develop my cooking senses and instincts and to adjust recipes to my own tastes.

There are exceptions to this- when baking or cooking with meat I tend to look at the recipe more carefully as I am not as comfortable making these things. When starting out on this sourdough adventure I sought out some instructions. The instructions I found advised me the proper measurements for water and flour for my starter, what the sourdough starter should look like in a few days and some troubleshooting methods if the starter was not working out. I did these measurements for two days and I found my starter to be too dry, I increased my water by two tablespoons. I then found my starter to be too wet, so I decreased my water by one tablespoon. At the end of fives days everything seemed to look right: it was spongy, had some great bubbles in it and smelt sour.

To make my first loaf of sourdough I found a list of directions to follow: add the starter to water, add flour, stretch out the dough, allow to proof, stretch out again, allow to proof again, let it sit overnight, stretch, proof, bake. I have my suspicions why my first sourdough didn’t work. I am guessing that my stretching/kneading technique was a bit off and I needed to start with warmer water and a warmer kitchen.

Here is the thing about directions in regard to cooking: they don’t always work. Directions are a linear path- to get you from A to B, and cooking is hardly ever like that. Often we need more information. This is why I am attracted to cookbooks and recipes that are full of instruction and description to guide you through a recipe, so you can start a conversation with a food that you are making.

So we will see about this second sourdough that is about to come about of the oven. I found a bit more information about the process of sourdough making: what to look out for and what your dough should feel like. I am willing to accept that is loaf might be a total flop too- the art of sourdough bread making is called an art for a reason. It takes time to understand it. It is part of a new adventure. Welcome to my site.

Categories: Wondering Words Tags: , , , ,