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Thank you Discovery Channel..

Without your often fine programming, it may never have wriggled into my consciousness.

It may never have hopped or jumped or flicked its way into my mind.

I may never have know that, pound for pound, grasshoppers provide more protein than chicken.

More protein, too, than beef. Than pork. Than duck, pheasant, venison and, presumably, also, buffalo, quail, ostrich, lamb or goat.

august23.foodpic.darcie    Certainly, I did already know, having grown up on the Canadian prairies, that grasshoppers are plentiful. They are inexhaustible. We could in fact sieve an entire plague off the land, even as it’s munching its way through a wheat or canola crop, and another yummy plague would simply grow up in its place.

And, because a grasshopper once flew into my mouth while I was trying to get to my grandmother in her devastated garden, I know, too, that grasshoppers come in handy bite-sized portions that are light-weight and easy for snacking. As they would be for shipping.

Given a change of consciousness on the part of Canadians, we could probably save our grasslands from grazing livestock, having taken to heart that grasshopper ranching is the future.

And for those lucky enough to have grasshoppers in their own yards, they can be eaten fresh from the garden, sizzled in oil as a popcorn substitute, dried for storage, or cooked up in thousands upon thousands of different, delectable ways, including dry roasted, tossed in a wok or (and this is my favourite idea, courtesy of one very odd blogger) hidden in Christmas fruitcake.

I know, I know. There’s the heebie jeebie effect that we in the West just can’t seem to overcome, no matter how much ketchup we splatter at the idea.

But! Let us consider that in much of Asia, grasshoppers are a symbol of good luck and abundance. Fancy varieties are even kept as cherished pets in intricate handmade cages, while the more ordinary sorts are enjoyed as street food, skewered on bamboo sticks.

And, since pestilences are scheduled to increase as we lunge towards a warmer world, Waste Not, Want Not is an concept we might as well adopt. Especially given that a wasted opportunity just so happens to be hopping around our feet.

Hopping.

Hopping and scrabbling.

Hopping, scrabbling and scratching.

And that, right there, Dear Discovery Channel, is my problem at this very moment: Roughly 0.54 grams of the ickiest creature that’s ever stood between me and my front door.

Now, with my social consciousness adjusted, do I stop and think to myself, “Oh look! An ingredient!”

Or, “There’s the garnish I was looking for?”

No, I do not.

The only thing I think is to slowly, stealthily, slip the flip flop from my foot and  SMACK!  that grasshopper into jam.

A few moments later, however, after my heart rate has knocked its way back to resting, and as I stoop to scrape crunchy-slimy, yellow-green thorax from my sole, I do feel the quickening of an idea.

Grasshopper jam.

Well, okay. Maybe I’m not quite there yet.

Peach and Grasshopper (Jalapeno) Jam

6 pounds fresh peaches (about 15)

2 fresh jalapenos, seeded and very finely diced or processed

6 cups granulated sugar

juice from 1 large lemon

1 Tbs butter

1 (1.75 oz.) package pectin

Twelve 8 ounce canning jars, lids and bands

In the bowl of a large food processor fitted with the blade attachment, puree five peaches at a time until slightly chunky. Transfer to a large pot, add jalapenos, and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.

When simmering, stir in sugar, lemon juice and pectin until sugar is thoroughly dissolved.

Continue to let the jam simmer for another 15 minutes to thicken. Add butter (to prevent foaming). If any foam does come to the surface, skim it off with a spoon and discard.

Boil jars and lids for ten minutes to sterilize. Use a funnel and ladle to fill each jar, leaving about 1/4 inch of room at the top of each jar.

Wipe each jar and top it with a lid and band.

Place jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes to process, making sure the simmering water covers the jars by at least an inch.

Remove jars and let them cool completely for 24 hours. If any jars are not sealed (lid still pops down when gently pressed), reprocess.

Store sealed jars in a cool dark pantry for up to one year.

Darcie Friesen Hossack: food columnist, author

Mennonites Don’t Dance, Thistledown Press Sept. 2010

shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize (first book, Canada and Caribbean)

Danuta Gleed Award runner-up

stories and recipes from this blog are previously published in the Okanagan Sunday, Kamloops This Week and Prairie Post

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Breakfast:

Brioche Sticky Buns

March 1, 2012 by darcie friesen hossack | Edit

 
4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm milk
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 pound butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in milk. Set aside in a warm place, 10 minutes, until creamy.
In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer, whisk together flour and sugar. Fit mixer with dough hook. Add yeast mixture and eggs to flour. Mix on low until liquids are completely incorporated; 3 minutes.
With mixer on high, add butter, several pieces at a time. When all the butter is added, knead for 8 minutes. Transfer dough to a very large, buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Roll out to 15×20-inches.
Filling:
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tbs cinnamon
1 cup light brown sugar
Spread sour cream over surface of dough, leaving a boarder of 1/2-inch. Combine cinnamon and brown sugar. Sprinkle over sour cream. Roll up lengthwise.
Sticky:
1 1/2 cups golden brown sugar
1/2 pound butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1/4 cup golden corn syrup
Cream together butter and sugar. Add syrups and beat until well combined. Spread mixture into the bottom and sides of two 8x11x2-inch glass baking dishes. Cut roll into 12 equal slices. Arrange into pans.
Bake, with a cookie sheet below to catch drips, at 350F for 40-45 minutes, until deep golden. Serve warm.

Second Breakfast:

Prairie Berry Clafoutis

December 1, 2010 by darcie friesen hossack | Edit

I have a new favourite recipe and this is it!
by Amy Jo Ehman, author of Prairie Feast, a writer’s journey home for dinner
2 tbs butter
2 cups mixed Saskatchewan berries, fresh or frozen
(raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, sour cherries and, of course, saskatoons)
1 tbsp flour
3 eggs
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
Heat the oven to 350F. In the oven, melt the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or large pie plate. Do not brown. Meanwhile, toss the berries with 1 tbsp of flour. In a blender or food processor, mix the eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla and salt. With the blades running, gradually add the cup of flour and blend well. Pour the batter into the pan. Scatter the berries overtop. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the centre is set. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with icing sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup.
Cook’s note: Clafoutis is a French custard cake, much like a thick crepe, and makes a perfect brunch or dessert.

Elevensies:

BLT Bread Salad

4 slices bacon, crumbled

3 slices day-old bread, cubed

(or equivalent artisan bread, cubed or sliced into thin fingers, as shown)

2 medium tomatoes

2 cups salad greens

2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

DRESSING:

2 Tbs light mayonnaise

1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

dash hot sauce

3 Tbs milk

flaked kosher salt/freshly ground pepper

Fry bacon until crisp, then remove with tongs to a paper towel. Add sliced garlic to bacon fat and distribute evenly around pan. Add bread and fry until golden on one side. Flip and fry on other (or all) side. Remove from pan.

Roughly chop the tomatoes. Place in a large salad bowl and squeeze lightly to release some of the juices.

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over tomatoes and stir. Adjust seasoning. Just before serving, toss in bread.

Arrange salad greens on two large plates. Top with the tomato/bread mixture. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Luncheon:

Baked Potato Soup
flesh from 4 large baked potatoes
4 Tbs butter
2 medium leeks, finely sliced, (white and light green parts only)
5-6 cups chicken stock
2 cups grated cheddar
6 green onions, finely sliced, (white and light green parts only)
5 strips bacon, cooked crisp, drained, chopped
flaked kosher salt/freshly ground pepper
sour cream
Scoop flesh from well-baked potatoes.
Melt butter in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks; sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add potatoes and 5 cups stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmering for 10 minutes
Puree using an immersion blender. Thin with additional stock if needed.
Bring back to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with grated cheddar, green onions, bacon and sour cream.

Afternoon Tea:

London Fog for one

3/4 cup hot water
2 Earl Grey tea bags
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tbs vanilla syrup
Steep both tea bags in water for very strong tea. Meanwhile, froth milk with the steam attachment of an espresso machine (or heat and use a latte whip). Remove tea bags from tea. Add vanilla syrup and steamed milk, reserving froth for the top. Serve immediately, with crumb cake (next recipe).

Susanne Klassen’s Crumb cake recipe!

(contributed by Elsie K. Neufeld)

2 cups brown sugar
3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup margarine (or butter, I suppose), softened.

Mix the above and reserve 3/4 -1 cup for “crumbs.”

Add 2 tsp BAKING SODA to 1 1/2 cups sour milk (or buttermilk). Whisk with a fork.
Pour into the dry mixture. Then beat 2 eggs and add. Turn on mixer. Beat until your intuition tells you to stop.

Pour into a 9×13 inch pan. Top with reserved crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 or so minutes.

Bakers’ notes: I wanted to keep Elsie’s mom’s recipe worded just the way it was. I used a different method, so include these few notes:

Whisk together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside 3/4 cup crumbs. Whisk baking soda into remaining crumbs.

Whisk together buttermilk and eggs. Add to crumb mixture and bring together with a fork, until the consistency of muffin batter.

Pour into a buttered pan. Top with reserved crumbs. Bake until a tester comes out clean.

Dinner:

Chefhusband’s Ultimate Fried Egg Sandwich

March 30, 2012 by darcie friesen hossack | Edit

 

(makes 2)

4 slices artisan bread

4 fresh eggs

8 slices bacon, cooked, drippings reserved

1 tomato, sliced

4 slices sharp cheddar

2 tbs mayonnaise

herb salad

kosher salt, fresh ground pepper

butter

Preheat oven to 350F. Place a pan over med-high heat.

For each sandwich, butter one side of two slices of bread. Spread insides with mayo and place tomato slices on one side, cheese on the other. Season tomato with salt and pepper. Place bread, buttered side down, in skillet. After 30 seconds, transfer to oven to melt cheese.

Meanwhile, heat 2-3 tsp bacon drippings in a small pan. Crack in 2 eggs and fry over-easy, leaving the yolks runny.

Remove pan from oven. Transfer bread to a cutting board. Add eggs, bacon and a few greens. Assemble and slice in half. Serve immediately.

 

Supper:

This is an old Mennonite recipe. Though I didn’t learn it from my Grandma Friesen, it still reminds me of her kitchen in Schoenfeld, Saskatchewan.
 
2 cups milk
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbs active dry yeast
1 tbs granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
4-5 cups flour
12 oz Farmers sausage (about 1 1/2 large)
Grease an 11 by 11 by 3-inch baking pan.
In a  small pot, scald milk by warming it over med-high heat until barely simmering. Allow to cool until it is warm but no longer hot (baby bottle temperature).
Meanwhile, proof yeast in water with sugar.
In a large bowl, beat eggs well. Stir in milk and yeast mixture.
Whisk salt into flour and add, one cup at a time into the wet mixture (whisking at first, then changing to a wooden spoon), until mixture is thick and slightly elastic. (It should be like a very heavy muffin batter, but not so thick or overworked that it becomes a dough).
Chop sausage into bite-sized pieces. Fold into batter.
Scrape batter into prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 hours, until nearly doubled.
Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

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5.5 cup rolled oats
4.5 cup nuts (selection of almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts)
3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup coconut oil
scant ½ cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
Combine well. Spread onto two large baking sheets and bake at 325F for 20-25 mins.
Sprinkle with Maldon salt.
Fold in 2 cups dried cranberries or cherries. Cool completely before storing, refrigerated, in an airtight container.
Brined Walnuts
1 lb raw walnut halves
4 cups warm water
1/2 cup kosher salt
In a large bowl, dissolve salt in water. Add walnuts. Let soak for three hours: drain.
Spread walnuts into a single layer on a baking sheet. Allow to dry in a 170F oven for 5-6 hours, stirring periodically to encourage even drying. The nuts will have a crispy, somewhat crackly texture when thoroughly dried. (Under-drying will result in the nuts being vulnerable to mold.)
Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

 

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The last time I made granola, it was hard to tell the difference between the pebbly clusters of seeds and oats, and the bits of broken teeth that were later replaced with a crown.
Today, however, when I wake to my first morning in Waterloo, where I’ve come to speak to audiences at Conrad Grebel Univeristy College, I find Hildi in the Breakfast Room off her 1950’s kitchen. She’s been up for hours already, busy with the work of a retiring-but-still-busy scholar.
I, on the other hand, am still on Pacific Time, and have never been a morning person. So it’s noon — a little past — when Hildi asks whether I’d like breakfast or lunch.
Breakfast, definitely.
“Granola, yogurt and fresh mangos?” Hildi asks, adding a query about how I slept.
Now, it has to be noted that I am no-talent, a pretender and a hack when it comes to sleeping.
Others lay their heads upon their pillows and set their consciousnesses adrift on a lake of dreams.
I take half a blue pill and hope for oblivion to pull up over my head like a sodden blanket, then later wake with a mouthful of taste like dirty coins.
However, how I slept is less important this morning than where.
“Well enough,” I say. And it’s the truth.
Considering a three hour time change, chronic insomnia, and nerves that should be stripped down to their wires by the reading and lecture I’m to present tonight, I did sleep rather well enough.
“It’s a lovely guest room,” I add. It’s also the truth.
Graciously windowed and flooded with airy light, the room, the house, is a testament to better builders from a more accountable time. And here, in this same room where I last night unpacked my pillow from home, I know, have also slept some of the greatest living writers whose books I have ever trembled before.
Rudy Wiebe, father of Mennonite literature and Order of Canada recipient.
Patrick Friesen, Governor General finalist. And David Bergen, Giller winner.
Miriam Toews’ accomplishments are too many to count, and my fangirl status too embarrassing to note. And Sandra Birdsell is not only a Giller finalist, but my teacher from the Humber School for Writers, whose work I return to whenever I need to feel completely inadequate as a writer.
Altogether, they are writers of such loft that I get dizzy just looking up.
And yet, even though Hildi, a scholar of English, and Peace and Conflict Studies, has spent her career ensuring writers of Mennonite heritage are heard in a crowded room, there are no airs here.
There is easy conversation, warmth of spirit, and generosity of self. And there is Hildi’s granola.
“I brine my walnuts,” she says when I ask why this reduced-fat granola is better than any other. Better than cookies.
A few minutes later, Hildi’s husband Paul joins us for mid-day espresso, as Hildi writes down her granola secrets for me to take home and share with all of you.
Already, this trip has been worth the flight from West to East, and I begin to wonder what other kitchen secrets I might yet glean before I head home.

 

Hildi’s Granola
5.5 c rolled oats
4.5 c nuts (selection of almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts)
3/4 c unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 coconut oil
scant ½ c brown sugar
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine well. Spread onto two large baking sheets and bake at 325F for 20-25 mins.
Sprinkle with Maldon salt.
Fold in 2 cups dried cranberries or cherries. Cool completely before storing, refrigerated, in an airtight container.
Brined Walnuts
1 lb raw walnut halves
4 cups warm water
1/2 cup kosher salt
In a large bowl, dissolve salt in water. Add walnuts. Let soak for three hours: drain.
Spread walnuts into a single layer on a baking sheet. Allow to dry in a 170F oven for 5-6 hours, stirring periodically to encourage even drying. The nuts will have a crispy, somewhat crackly texture when thoroughly dried. (Under-drying will result in the nuts being vulnerable to mold.)
Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

 


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For the streusel:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup ground pecans
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup cold butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Drizzle with maple syrup and combine with a fork.
 
For the batter:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in maple syrup and vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, until well combined.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and combine, followed by 1/3 of the sour cream. Alternate additions, finishing with the flour mixture. Do not overmix.
Spoon half the batter into a buttered tube pan (Angel Food pan). Sprinkle half the streusel over top, then spread with remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining streusel.
Bake at 350F for 50 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes, then remove from the pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

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2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbs plus 1 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
 
for the filling:
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 tbs butter, melted

Proof yeast in water and milk with 1 tsp sugar.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour and sugar.

Add yeast mixture, melted butter and vanilla to flour mixture and combine using dough hook, on low speed. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each is combined. Knead on medium for 8 minutes.

Transfer dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled; about 1 1/2 hours.

Butter and lightly flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan.

Whisk together sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Dust workspace with flour and turn out dough. Roll into a 16 x 16-inch square. Brush, edge to edge, with butter. Sprinkle with sugar and spice.

Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 4 equal strips, then cut in the other direction to make 16 squares. Carefully stack on top of each other, and then cut stack in half.

Fit the slices, cut side down, into the loaf pan like a deck of cards on its side. Cover with a lint-free towel and allow to rise until nearly doubled.

Bake at 350F for 40 minutes, until golden brown and baked in centre.

Allow to cool for a few minutes, then turn out onto a rack. Serve warm.

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2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbs plus 1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
12 oz sharp cheddar, grated
1/4 cups melted butter for brushing dough
 

Proof yeast in water and milk with 1 tsp sugar.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, whisk together flour with sugar and salt.

Add yeast mixture and melted butter to flour mixture and combine on low speed. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each is combined. Add half of the grated cheddar and mix until incorporated. Knead on medium speed for 8 minutes.

Transfer dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled; about 1 1/2 hours.

Butter and lightly flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Dust your workspace with flour and turn out dough. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 16 x 16-inch square. Brush with melted butter and cover with remaining cheese.

Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 4 equal strips, then cut in the other direction to make 16 squares. Carefully stack on top of each other, and then cut stack in half.

Fit the slices, cut side down, into the loaf pan like a deck of cards on its side. Cover with a lint-free towel and allow to rise until nearly doubled.

Bake in a 350F oven for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and centre is baked.

Allow to cool in pan for a few minutes, then turn out onto a rack. Serve warm.

Baker’s note: For an even more tender loaf, after the first rising, refrigerate dough for several hours or overnight, before rolling out and continuing recipe.

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