Monday, December 2, 2013


The day we went to pick up my sister-in-laws puppy we ran into a lynx.

A LYNX!!!!!

photos by my sister-in-law Amy Murray!

Munching on some must have been pretty hungry.

Of course I didn't bring my camera that day. Therefore only mediocre iphone photos and videos...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Steak Tartare

I admit Steak Tartare may not be something you associate with winter food.
It's cold, it's fresh and would fit much better into a light summer dish.

However, after lots of braised meat, we felt like having something lighter for dinner.

When younger I used to be absolutely disgusted by the idea of eating raw meat.
Sushi kind of paved the way at the turn of the millennium for me to be more open-minded and willing to experiment with raw fish and meat.
But it certainly took me a while and an incredibly good Steak Tartare hors d'oeuvre I was served in a restaurant once, to get used to the idea.

Most important with dishes like this is definitely the freshness of the ingredients.
Therefore get your meat from a butcher you trust and fresh (organic) eggs.

Here is what you need for two servings (large portions) or 4 servings (appetizer size):

400g of beef tenderloin/filet
2 shallots finely chopped
2 tsp parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp chive, finely chopped
1 tsp of capers, finely chopped
2 small pickles/cornichons finely chopped
1 tsp (hot) mustard
6 splashes of Tabasco
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

two egg yolks (4 small egg yolks, if it is for 4 servings)
good balsamic vinegar or crema di balsamico


Remove fat and connective tissue from the meat if necessary.
Chop the meat very finely with a sharp knife (NOT in the meat grinder)
Mix together with all the other ingredients.
Form 2-4 patties and create a little crater on the top surface of each of them.
Carefully place an egg yolk in each crater.

Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar or crema di balsamcio.

Serve immediately with salad and (toasted) bread.

All the measurements for the ingredients are approximately. Feel free to adjust and season to taste.
I used more mustard, worcestershire sauce and capers then asked in the recipe for example.

Oh yeah, and the birds are happy about their never ending winter food supply as well!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fennel, Potato and White Bean Soup

I admit, when we started planting our garden in the spring we may have been a little over ambitious.
Now of some vegetables we have more than we can ever eat.

Fennel is one of those vegetables.
Don't get me wrong, I love fennel! But we have like kilos of it.

So I desperately needed to find a recipe with lots and lots of fennel in it.

That is just one of the probably 5-7 baskets of this year's fennel harvest...
And I found this wonderful summery soup in "Casa Moro - The Second Cookbook" by Sam & Sam Clark of restaurant Moro in London.
Yes, another one from this book. You should get it. It's a fantastic cook book with soo many delicous recipes!

What you need:

170g dried white beans
4 tbsp olive oil
4-5 fennel bulbs (approx. 500g total), finely diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
3 medium waxy potatoes (approx. 350g), peeled, diced and lightly salted
1 litre bean liquid and/or water or chicken stock
about 40 threads of saffron, infused in 2 tbsp boiling water
2 tbsp chopped fresh fennel leaves
sea salt and pepper

the fennel, potato and bean soup with homemade flatbread and hummus.


Soak the white beans overnight, then drain, cover with generously with fresh water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 1-1.5 hours, until soft, then drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

In another pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

Add the diced fennel with a pinch of salt, stir well, lower the heat and fry for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fennel becomes soft and caramelizes.

Add garlic, fennel seeds and potato cubes and fry for another 5 minutes.

Pour in the bean liquid and/or water/stock and the saffron infused water.

Stir well and bring to a gentle simmer.

Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are soft, then add the drained beans.

Season with salt and pepper and simmer for a few more minutes before stirring in chopped fennel leaves.


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  • If you don't have fennel tops, chopped parsley or chervil will work as well!
  • I served mine with flatbread and homemade hummus (both recipes from the Moro cookbook, as well!), but I can image it being really, really good with fish, served almost like a sauce or stew.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Party Brisket

Just to get you all in the right mood.

Saturday is our summer party, and we have a little piece of meat to throw on the barbecue...

Beer bottle for scale.

See you on Saturday!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Work Morning Moose

On my daily way to work, I met Mrs. Moose (again).

She just crossed "Eagle Road" while I was being hysterically excited, trying to get a good shot...

I love where we live!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Potato Cakes With Ground Beef And Pine Nuts

While Wil is ripping the kitchen apart in order to install our dishwasher (finally), I decided it's time to sit down and write a new blogpost.

It's been too long again...

I have been cooking a lot lately, mainly from my new favorite cookbook "Casa Moro - The second cookbook".
You can find more information about the restaurant and published books here:

No, I don't have their first cookbook. But I will probably get it very soon, given that their Spanish and Middle Eastern recipes are sooo delicious.

This one here is going to be part of our summer party next Saturday.
It's a bit of work, but it's totally worth it.

There is (almost) nothing better than cinnamon spiced ground meat.

The original recipe which is assumed to have originated from Iran, or Lebanon, or Syria called for lamb, but we used beef instead, simply because we didn't have lamb at home.

Here is what you need:

Potato Dough

700g potatoes, skins on
sea salt
1 rounded tablespoon plain flour (plus extra for dusting)

Meat Filling

25g butter
2tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 pinches freshly ground pepper
2 pinches freshly grated nutmeg
3 cardamom pods, black seeds only ground to a fine powder
3 cloves, ground with a pinch of salt to a fine powder (together with the cardamom seeds)
200g finely ground beef (or lamb)
50g pine nuts, lightly toasted
1tbsp tomato purrée
3tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
sea salt and black pepper


To make the dough, boil the potatoes in salt water (with skin on!) until cooked, but not mealy and mushy.
Drain well in colander for about 10 minutes.
While they are still warm, peel, then mash thoroughly.
Stir in the flour and season to taste with a little salt.
The dough is now ready.

While the potatoes are boiling, make the filling.
Melt butter with olive oil over medium to high heat.
Add the onions and soften until it is translucent and lightly browned.
Now add all the spices and cook for another minute.
Add the ground beef, stirring and breaking it up.
Stop stirring and let it stick for a minute or so. That way it can stick to the pan and brown a little, which adds more flavor to the meat.
Cook for about 5-8 minutes, until the meat is nicely browned.
Finally stir in pine nuts, tomato purée and parsley.
Season with salt and pepper.

Now to prepare the potato cakes.
Make sure your hands are dry.
Then flour them, as well as the working surface.
Divide the dough into four balls.
Flatten one ball to a disc of about 1cm thickness.
Place two tablespoons of filling in the center, then bring up the sides of the dough-disc, in order to enclose the meat filling.
Neaten the shape and patch up any cracks and gaps.
The result should look like a round patty, 10cm across and about 3-4cm thick.
Repeat with the other dough balls, always making sure that wherever you place the dough/patties the working surface is well-floured, to prevent the dough from sticking.

Generously cover the bottom of a frying pan with oil, about 3-4mm deep.
Place over medium to high heat, until hot and nearly smoking.
Gently lift up the cakes with a spatula and carefully lower into the oil, one by one.
Do not disturb until they are a dark golden color and crispy on the bottom, then carefully turn the cakes with the spatula, in order to brown the other side, as well.

When done, take out and using kitchen paper gently dab off any excess oil.
Keep warm in a low oven, or serve immediately.

We served our potato cakes with:

200 g Greek yoghurt, thinned with 2tbsp of milk and seasoned with one garlic clove crushed to a paste with salt using mortar and pestle.


For the party I will try to turn the cakes  more into bite-sized balls...We'll see how that goes.

You have to be quite careful not to make the potato dough tear apart.

Also, make sure the potatoes don't cook too long.
If they get too mushy the dough will be much more difficult to handle.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Long Weekend Result - excess turnips and lettuce!

That's not bad at all!

As you can see, we have lots of turnips and lettuce at this point.

Organic, small production, seasonal and local!

If you live nearby and want some, make us an offer, and I am sure together we can figure out how to get it to you.

You can write us here:

There will also be more of the following soon: zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes etc. ... we'll keep you updated!

Also...if you need thyme or chive, we have lots of those, as well!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Oyster mushroom grove

Last weekend Wil an I originally planned on going fishing. 
On the way to the lake we spotted people with baskets, obviously mushroom pickers.

We pulled over immediately, grabbed our basket and knives and ran into the forest. Wil found some boletus mushrooms right away, and later we found an oyster mushroom grove.

It's almost ridiculous how happy mushroom picking makes me. 
It's both exciting and relaxing at the same time.

That is if you don't run into a bear mama and her cubs or a hungry cougar....

Back home we made homemade pasta with mushroom whisky sauce, a Murray-classic at this point.

I never had wild oyster mushrooms before. They are much milder and less earthy tasting then chanterelles and porcini. Maybe that is because they grow on trees rather than on the ground.

What was very interesting was the slight anis flavor and smell that added a new twist to the dish.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

First Potato harvest!

Yesterday we harvested our first potatoes.

After the harvest of our balcony potatoes in Berlin had been rather "modest" (100g total...), we actually picked more potatoes yesterday than we were able to eat. And that was only our first pick!
They were absolutely delicious!

Wil made rosemary garlic potatoes, and the best part was, that except for the sour cream, olive oil, salt and pepper, all the ingredients were from our garden.

Originally we had planted four different kinds: Yukon Gold, Warba, Pink Fir Apple and Russet Burbank.

the lighter ones with the sometimes pinkish skin are Warba, the other ones are Yukon Gold, with maybe one or two Russet Burbank hiding....

We mainly had Yukon Gold and Warba yesterday, since the Pink Fir Apple and Russet Burbank weren't ready yet.

Yukon Gold which seems to be a very popular potato among Canadians, was a great firm potato with a nice classic potato flavor and golden yellow flesh -  a very good allround potato.

The Warba really surprised me. Softer, but not mealy, with pretty white flesh, at times reddish-pink skin tone it was much more flavorful than the Yukon Gold, almost spicy.

Homemade ice tea and rosemary garlic potatoes with sour cream and lots of other herbs.

For now the Warba wins the contest of best tasting potato in our garden. Let's see how the others compete, once they are out of the ground. I only heard good things about the Pink Fir Apple...

Friday, July 19, 2013

Our first egg!

So after all that slaughter and rooster culling on Saturday, something much less gruesome:


Our little Maran Hen, layed this beautiful and tiny dark brown egg.

We are incredibly proud!

Yes, we ate it right away, and it was, of course, delicious!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Saturday. SlaughterDay.

Saturday was the day.
We woke up with the goal to slaughter four of our roosters.
When we bought our baby chicks a couple of months ago, we knew the day would come where we would have to get rid of some surplus roosters and "make coq au vin". Even though we got chickens mainly for eggs, we fantasized about how we would eat our own "homegrown" meat. Back then it seemed so far away, and we didn't waste too much time thinking about the actual slaughtering process. And if we did, we usually were lighthearted about it and certain that it will be just fine...

20 weeks later,  and we'd been pushing the date for the rooster cull further and further. By then they'd become quite cagy and aggressive, especially towards their girlfriends. There were too many roosters in the coop. So something had to be done.
On Saturday both Wil and I woke up with a terrible hangover, and our motivation was at zero. Luckily Wil was much more disciplined than I, and after some pep-talk we got everything ready. We made some space in the barn, covered everything with black garbage bags, set up a slaughtering station, four places to hang the chickens to bleed out, and prepared a hot and a cold waterbath for plucking.

We felt like Hollywood serial killers. Hell, I still feel like some Chicken Ted Bundy in a way while I am writing these lines. I mean, a killing room! Designed for efficient and quick killing. I never thought I would ever build something like this.
First we tried using a chicken culling cone, a metal apparatus that allows you to place the chicken upside down, while restraining it, with the head sticking out for and easier time. But unfortunately the one Wil and his dad built didn't work as planned, so we quickly found a solution that would be quick and humane. Wil was the one to take on this job

We were nervous and quite tensed up while we worked together. Neither of us spoke, unless it was necessary. But it went quickly, almost mechanically. There were, thankfully, not many unnecessary emotions or hesitations from either of us, as this would have prolonged the suffering of the animals. Neither of us wanted that.

After we bled and plucked them in the barn we brought them over to our house to remove the inner organs and intestines. While I wasn't able to do the slaughter of the chickens, Wil had problems taking care of the gutting. So I took the lead in this task and he assisted.

Removing the inner organs seemed much harder than it was described in the books and online forums. You need to be careful and forceful at the same time, to not make a giant mess. But even this gets better with practice.

We saved the neck and feet, as well as heart, liver and gizzards for stock, and discarded the rest.

By the end of the whole process, both Wil and I were incredibly exhausted, but proud that we had managed this challenging task.

I can't say it was enjoyable, but it was satisfying.
First of all WE DID IT!
We didn't just talk about how wonderful it would be to raise your own meat and eat it in the end but bought raised, fed and cared for our chickens. We build them a coop, cleaned the coop, nursed injured chickens, fed them treats, kept them warm and watched them grow. We watched the roosters and selected the ones that weren't contributing to the flock. We planned the slaughter precisely to make it as easy and quick for everyone involved, both the chickens and us. Last but not least: we didn't waste anything, not time or efforts, and not one piece of the chickens.
We are proud of that and happy that it was in a way far easier, and at the same time more exhausting than we would have ever thought. We may have to do it again, soon. 
Do I look forward to it? No. But I now know that we can do it.

We did make chicken soup using one of the chickens and most of the organs, necks and feet.
And surprise: It tasted like chicken!

Friday, July 12, 2013

June Harvest No 2: Radishes!

We planted our radishes and carrots together.

Radishes grow faster than carrots and loosen up the soil, which helps the carrots to grow better.
While the radishes are ready to be harvested our carrots are still tiny, and look more like regular roots, rather than actual carrots.

Unfortunately worms ate quite a few of our radishes. Therefore we weren't able to use them all.
But I guess, that's what happens when you try to become a gardener. Live and learn.

We will know better next time!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

June Harvest No 1: Rhubarb!

I know Calgary probably has one of the shortest growing season, and I am sure a lot of you harvested their first vegetables and herbs in April/May already.
We are still waiting for most things to be ready for harvest. Mostly what we planted and what is ready now is greens, such as fennel greens, dill, kale or spinach.

Therefore it just fills me with pride and joy to walk into our garden and pick something more substantial that I can actually cook with rather than just using it for salad, such as rhubarb.

Don't get me wrong, salad is great.
But rhubarb? That's about child hood memories of grandma's rhubarb crumble or rhubarb compote with vanilla ice cream.

Wil is already thinking about making rhubarb wine (as well as saskatoon berry wine, dandelion wine, elderflower wine etc.).

We'll see how that works out.

I'll go for the compote and cake for now!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Red beets salad with caramelized pecans and dill

After travelling and extreme floods, here is finally a new blog post with a fantastic summer salad.

This red beets salad is super refreshing and a perfect way of getting all the raw vegetables and nuts you need.
It's a nice addition to all that meat at your barbecue party and can also be served as a nice and healthy appetizer or as a light lunch or dinner.

I cannot wait to use the beets from our garden for it! Still have to wait a little on those ones...

What you need:

4-5 red beets (fresh)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 spring onions, chopped into fine rings
300-350 g (approx.) 1-1.5 cups of yogurt (around 3.2-3.5% fat)
150-200ml (approx 0,25-0.5 cup) heavy cream
150g pecans chopped
1 bunch of dill, roughly chopped
1 bunch of chives, roughly chopped
salt, pepper, honey/sugar
olive or carmelina oil


Peel the red beets.
You may want to use gloves for that because of the red dye. I didn't and it washed off my hands quite easily.
With the grating attachement on a food processor (ideally) roughly grate the beets.

In a pan slowly roast the chopped pecans.
When browned, add some honey or sugar and caramelize the pecans with it.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool down.

In a pan heat up some olive/carmelina oil at medium heat.
Add the garlic and spring onions and sautée for a few minutes, until soft (do not fry them!).
Set aside and let cool down.

In a big salad bowl mix together grated red beets, yoghurt and cream.
Add dill and chive, as well as garlic, spring onions and roasted pecans.

Mix well.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and maybe a tiny bit of sugar.

The salad tastes even better a day later, after it has been sitting in the fridge for a while.


All the measurements especially for the yogurt and cream are pretty much measured by eye.
I don't follow a recipe when doing it.
It always depends on how big the beets are. The beets should be nicely coated with the yoghurt-cream mix.
And regarding the dill and chive: Be generous! You cannot really screw anything up by adding 'too many' fresh herbs.

You could use sour cream instead of yoghurt, as well.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

100% Sourdough Rye Bread

I have been working on baking sourdough rye bread for the past months and today I baked the best loaf so far.
I worked the recipe up from Michael Ruhlman's Ratio book, and used Highwood Crossing's really nice dark rye flour.

275g Sourdough Starter
150g Water
250g Rye Flour
1 tsp Salt
1Tbsp Molasses
1.5 Teaspoon Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Caraway
5g Yeast

1 Egg, beaten
Red River Cereal

Mix starter, water, salt, molasses brown sugar, caraway and yeast and let sit for 2 hours. Add in flour slowly until all wet, knead for 5 minutes(not easy, this dough is soft). Sit in a bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 24 hours. Knead for a few minutes, form loaf, sit on cornmeal and proof for 2.5 hours. Heat oven to 500 with water bowl and baking stone. Brush loaf with egg and coat with red river cereal. Mist oven with water before putting loaf in. Bake for 15 minutes at 450, then 30 minutes at 160.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Meet Welsummer, our first rooster.

Our chickens are growing quickly, and it's stil hard to tell which one of them is a rooster and which one will be a hen.
But some chicken's sex can already be clearly identified.

The only Welsummer chick we got, which was supposedly a hen, is now a proud rooster with a beautiful call. Well, he is still practicing. But it already sounds pretty cool.

A very proud rooster he is...

...and this is how he looked like when we got him.
There is also "friendly hen", the nicest one of them all:

And weird looking hawk-chicken:

In the end we can say, out of 20 chicken 17 made it so far, looking healthy happy and more bad-ass than ever.

Our thoughts go out to Limpie, sickish baby chick and docile white chicken... I bet they are having a great time in chicken heaven.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Spring onions, first harvest.

There you go.

They are quite fragrant and very flavorful.
Wil and I are proud spring onion parents.

And here is a photo of some prairie spring sky.

And a picture of our panting cat.
We wore her out completely.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Spring on the Prairie

Finally spring has arrived on our Little Haus On The Prairie!
Let's hope there won't be any more snow storm surprises...

While Wil is being my jet-setting artist husband and showing his work in New York, I'm enjoying 23°C, sun and blue sky on our patio with a glass of iced tea in my hand.

It's so beautiful outside, it feels like I'm on vacation.

As mentioned in my previous post, everything is growing fast, now that it is warm and sunny outside.

As for our rhubarb, Wil read that it grows quicker when you cover it up with a bucket.
It stays warmer, especially during the cold nights on the prairies, and it keeps the moisture.

We covered up half of the rhubarb, and the difference is significant!

Rhubarb to the right is non-bucket rhubarb. The one on the top left is the one we covered up. It's hard to tell in the picture, but it is definitely bigger!

Have a great start of the week, everyone!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Chocolate-Juniper Cake with Milk Jam Crème Fraîche

I made this a while ago because I thought spicing chocolate cake with juniper would make quite an interesting combination.
I found the recipe on "Bon Appetit"-blog, and yes, their photos are much nicer than mine, I know.

However, as predicted it tasted very unique (lots of gin/juniper flavor going on) and/but really good.

Original recipe found here!

Aside from the fact that I learned that chocolate and juniper are indeed a good match, this recipe also taught me something else, which is:


Just cut it up, throw it in the freezer. Then pull it out, roll it in sugar, place it in a hot frying pan and sear it from each side until the sugar has caramelized. 

Et voilá: dry cake turns into moist cake with a little bit of a crunch from the caramelized sugar.
It's fantastic!

I will definitely do this from now on!

Anyway, here is the recipe:

For the cake


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 teaspoons (heaping) juniper berries
  • 225g or 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 335 or 1 2/3 cups sugar plus more for coating
  • 75g or 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 175ml or 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 165ml or 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs

Special equipment:
A spice mill - I just used mortar and pestel and crushed the juniper berries with some sugar


Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Coat a 33x23x6cm/13x9x2" glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Line bottom with parchment paper; spray parchment and set aside. Toast juniper berries in a small skillet over medium heat until aromatic, 2–3 minutes. Let cool. Finely grind in spice mill (or mortar and pestel)

Sift flour, 1 2/3 cups sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and ground juniper berries into a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, oil, eggs, and 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. water in a medium bowl. 

Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Pour batter into prepared baking dish; smooth top.

Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35–40 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cover and chill in freezer until frozen, about 2 hours. 

DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 weeks ahead. Wrap in 2 layers of plastic; keep frozen.

Unwrap cake and invert onto a work surface; discard parchment. Using a long serrated knife, trim cake to form clean edges. Cut cake in half lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise into 3-3,5cm/1 1/4-inch–wide bars.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour a layer of sugar onto a plate. Roll each bar in sugar, coating completely. Working in batches, caramelize cake in skillet, turning with tongs to brown evenly, about 30 seconds per side per batch (be careful; the sugar burns quickly). Serve warm, with Milk Jam Crème Fraîche.

For the Milk Jam Crème Fraîche


  • 475ml or 2 cups whole milk
  • 130g or 1 cup sugar
  • 240g or 1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream


Bring milk and sugar to a boil in a medium pot over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar (take care that milk doesn’t boil over). Reduce heat to low. Simmer gently, whisking occasionally, until milk is thick, turns light reddish-brown, and measures scant 1 cup, 40–45 minutes. Transfer jam to a heatproof jar; let cool. 

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover; chill. 

Or you could also simply use sweetened condensed milk.

Whisk together 1 Tbsp. milk jam and crème fraiche in a small bowl. Add more milk jam to taste to sweeten, if desired.


As mentioned earlier, the cake turned out a little dry. Don't know if it was my fault and I baked it too long, or that's just the way this one is supposed to be...maybe in order o not fall apart when searing (?). 
But, yeah, freezing it, rolling it in sugar and searing it certainly did the trick.

This can probably be done with any other cake that's too dry, and it even gives it a little bit of a wow-factor.
I mean...fried and caramelized cake...could be worse.

On an unrelated side-note:

Wil and I spent our Sunday in the garden today and prepared it for the upcoming growing season.
Our onions, garlic and chive bed is going to be quite impressive, and the rhubarb is on it's way, as well.

And we found our first violet. Looks a little rough...but hey.