Locovore’s Picnic – Food Day Canada 2016

Summer Picnic
Picnic at Fort Amherst, PEI

As I write this post on July 30th, I am celebrating Food Day Canada with a picnic featuring local Prince Edward Island food products.  Food Day Canada is a day set aside to celebrate all the wonderful foods that we, as Canadians, enjoy.

For today’s picnic location, I have chosen the iconic Fort Amherst site, just across the harbour from Charlottetown. The building in the background of the photo above is known as the Blockhouse Point Lighthouse. The beacon for sailors was established in 1851 and is the second oldest lighthouse on the Island. Automated in 1962, no one lives in the lighthouse anymore but it was built with a two-story dwelling attached for the lighthouse keeper and his family.

We like to travel the Island in the summer and often pack a picnic lunch.

Picnic
Picnic Lunch

I like to sometimes pack individual picnic boxes or baskets, as I have done today.  Each basket is like a personalized gift and it’s great fun to see picnic guests unpacking their baskets and discovering what surprises await them. It’s also a great way to customize the baskets to accommodate those with special dietary needs and food preferences since their lunch basket can be prepared especially for them. Nothing makes a guest feel more special than when the host/hostess plans and prepares for their special food needs!

The only downside to this style of picnic is that the baskets are obviously not insulated so, for travel purposes, I recommend they be transported inside a large insulated cooler with ice packs.

I have named this picnic the Locovore’s Picnic since I have selected Island products for the basket contents. Here’s the menu:

Locovore’s Picnic

Main

Sandwich – Larkin’s smoked chicken breast with Schurman Family Farm organic tomatoes and lettuce from the garden all on bread from Mary’s Bake Shoppe

Side

Tossed green salad with lettuce freshly picked from our garden and peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes from Schurman Family Farm

Beverage

Homemade Rhubarb Cordial

Sweet Ending

Anne of Green Gables Island-made chocolate

Here’s a closer peek into the lunch baskets, each of which is lined with a white cloth napkin.  I had just poured the lemon-lime soda into the rhubarb cordial (recipe here) before this photo was taken so it is still quite fizzy!

Picnic Basket Lunches
Individual Picnic Baskets

And, here’s a closer look….

Chicken Sandwich
Smoked Chicken Sandwich

I love packing the salads in these little glass jars. I have separate small containers for the vinaigrette which, of course, should only be added to the salad at the time of serving.

Salad
Salad in a Jar

Choosing a good quality bread will help the sandwich to hold together, especially if adding a number of ingredients as I have done here. Mary’s Bake Shoppe in Kensington, just outside Summerside, makes great bread and a number of different kinds. The one in the photograph below is oatbran bread, one of my all-time favorites.

Picnic Sandwich
Smoked Chicken Sandwich

I wrapped each sandwich in parchment paper secured with twine. This helps to keep it intact.

Sandwich Basket
Sandwich Basket Contents

I have used a turquoise color theme for today’s picnic – it has a real summery feel to it!

Color-themed Picnic
Turquoise Summer Time Picnic

The flowers were picked from our own garden. It’s the little touches that make the event more special!

Summer Bouquet
Summer Flower Picnic Bouquet

Time to stop photographing and eat lunch!

Picnic Lunch
Let’s Eat Lunch!

Curious to know what’s in that tiny white box with the pretty turquoise ribbon?

Chocolates
Anne of Green Gables Chocolates

These chocolates are hand-made right here on Prince Edward Island and they are quite divine!

Anne of Green Gables Chocolates
Handmade PEI Chocolates

So, there you have it! This is how I spent Food Day Canada 2016!

Picnic
The Locovore’s Picnic Basket

Great food with a lovely view! A perfect PEI summer day!

Prince Edward Island Picnic
Picnic at Fort Amherst PEI

Thanks for coming along on my picnic this afternoon!

PEI Picnic
Picnic at PEI’s Fort Amherst

Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles Recipe

Fruit Popsicles
Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles

One of the quintessential summertime treats would have to be popsicles!  They’re cool and refreshing and there are so many flavor combinations.

The one thing I find about homemade popsicles is that it is difficult to get them to freeze rock hard like the commercial varieties.  One method I use is to add unflavored gelatin to the mix. While it won’t freeze as hard as store-bought ones which probably have all kinds of stabilizers added to them, adding gelatin does extend the life of the popsicles a wee bit before they melt. It also helps to hold the ingredients together.

Homemade Popsicles
Strawberry and Rhubarb Summertime Treats

One of my favorite flavor combos is strawberry and rhubarb. I use rhubarb juice (made from cooking the rhubarb and extracting its juice) in a lot of recipes, including this one.

To make this an adult treat, try serving the popsicle in a wine glass and adding a sparkling or rosé wine such as pinot noir rosé.

Rosé Wine with Popsicles
Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles

Combining two great summer flavors, these are the perfect treat to cool off with this season.

Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles
Homemade Popsicles

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles

Ingredients:
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water

4½ cups rhubarb, chopped into ½” pieces (apx. 1 lb. 2 oz)
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup water

4½ oz strawberries
2 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tbsp strawberry balsamic vinegar
Dash salt
½ tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Epicure Summer Berry Dip Mix (optional)

1 tbsp unflavored gelatin dissolved in 3 tbsp of the rhubarb juice
¼ cup boiling water

1/3-cup popsicle molds (enough for 9-10 popsicles)

Method:

In small saucepan, combine the first amount of sugar and water to make a simple syrup.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and boil gently for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool completely.

After simple syrup has cooled, cook the rhubarb and second amount of sugar in 1 cup water for about 7-10 minutes or until rhubarb is soft and mushy.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Discard the pulp. This should yield approximately 1½ cups rhubarb juice.

Purée the strawberries and stir in 2 tbsp sugar.

Dissolve the gelatin in 3 tbsp of the rhubarb juice.  Add ¼ cup boiling water.  Stir 1-2 minutes until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

In large measuring cup, combine the simple syrup, rhubarb juice, puréed strawberries, strawberry balsamic vinegar, salt, lemon juice, Summer Berry Dip Mix (optional), and gelatin.  Stir well.  Distribute mixture evenly between 9-10 popsicle molds.  Insert popsicle sticks and covers that came with the popsicle molds and place in freezer to freeze completely.  If using wooden popsicle sticks, freeze the mixture for approximately 1 hours until thick and slushy, then insert the wooden sticks and return popsicles to freezer to freeze completely.

Yield:  Apx. 9-10 popsicles

Popsicles in Wine
Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles in Wine

Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles

Yield: 9-10 popsicles

Serving Size: 1/3 cup

Blend of strawberries and rhubarb combine to make flavorful and refreshing popsicles, the perfect summertime treat for hot summer days.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 4½ cups rhubarb, chopped into ½” pieces (apx. 1 lb. 2 oz)
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4½ oz strawberries
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ½ tbsp strawberry balsamic vinegar
  • Dash salt
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Epicure Summer Berry Dip Mix (optional)
  • 1 tbsp unflavored gelatin dissolved in 3 tbsp of the rhubarb juice
  • ¼ cup boiling water

Instructions

  1. In small saucepan, combine the first amount of sugar and water to make a simple syrup. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and boil gently for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  2. After simple syrup has cooled, cook the rhubarb and second amount of sugar in 1 cup water for about 7-10 minutes or until rhubarb is soft and mushy. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Discard the pulp. This should yield approximately 1½ cups rhubarb juice.
  3. Purée the strawberries and stir in 2 tbsp sugar.
  4. Dissolve the gelatin in 3 tbsp of the rhubarb juice. Add ¼ cup boiling water. Stir 1-2 minutes until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  5. In large measuring cup, combine the simple syrup, rhubarb juice, puréed strawberries, strawberry balsamic vinegar, salt, lemon juice, Summer Berry Dip Mix (optional), and gelatin. Stir well. Distribute mixture evenly between 9-10 popsicle molds. Insert popsicle sticks and covers that came with the popsicle molds and place in freezer to freeze completely. If using wooden popsicle sticks, freeze the mixture for approximately 1 hours until thick and slushy, then insert the wooden sticks and return popsicles to freezer to freeze completely.
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Fruit Popsicles
Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles

Lavender Tablesetting

Harvesting my small lavender crop is one of my most favorite parts of summer.  Working among the colorful and beautifully-scented flowers is a rite of summer for me.

Lavender Harvesting
Lavender Ready for Harvesting

I picked the crop this weekend and, since it was such a lovely evening, I used it for the inspiration for my al fresco dining. And, of course, my menu drew its inspiration from these edible flowers as well.

Lavender
Lavender Harvesting

I wanted to keep the tablesetting simple since the table is a small square.  So, I simply gathered together a lot of the flowers into a single stuke shape and tied it with a complimentary shade of wired burlap ribbon.

Lavender
Lavender Bouquet

A simple trim on the ends of the stems formed an even base for the bouquet to stand upright in the center of the table.

Lavender Bouquet
Centerpiece

I carried the floral and color theme through by tying small bunches of the colorful stems with an airy ribbon. These gave a pop of color and  definition to the white napkins.

Lavender
Seasonal Tablesetting

I like the clean, crisp backdrop of a white tablecloth. I often tend to  use plain white dishes because food really shows well on them. However, an all white table can be a challenge because it can sometimes look flat and lack definition.  I acquired these white dishes with a double dark rim this summer. They work well in these kinds of situations because they lend some depth and definition to a table.

Tablesetting
Placesetting
Tablesettings
Summer Tablesetting

I used my antique stemmed water glasses to add a bit of height and nostalgia to the setting.

Purple Lavender
Al Fresco Tablesetting

This was my summery Saturday evening  dining table.

Four years ago, I wrote a story on the Five Sisters of Lavender Lane in Kelly’s Cross, PEI. These ladies had a small farm and sold edible lavender.  Unfortunately, they are no longer in business but, by following this link, you can get my recipe for Lavender Honey Ice Cream which was the finale for my dinner last evening.

Ice Cream
Lavender Honey Ice Cream on a Chocolate Brownie and Drizzled with Raspberry Coulis

Is al fresco dining part of your summer?

Lavender Tablesetting
Al fresco Tablesetting

Strawberry Slush

Slush
Strawberry Slush

Strawberry Slush is my newest summer drink creation and it has quickly become a favorite!  Strawberries take center stage in this beverage but there is also a mix of other fruit juices that include rhubarb, pineapple, lemon and orange juices, and some pink lemonade.  The addition of Epicure’s “Summer Berry” sweet dip mix deepens the flavor and adds some interesting speckles throughout the slush. Because I know Epicure products may not be available everywhere, I have included this as an optional addition as the slush will still taste quite fine without it. My recipe calls for gin and any brand may be used.

Slush
Strawberry Slush

Slush takes 2-3 days to reach the desired consistency. Be sure to store it in the coldest part of the deep freeze and stir it once or twice each day while it is freezing.  This helps to ensure that all the ingredients continue to be mixed. For other tips on making slush, visit my posting on making Rhubarb Slush by clicking here.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Slush
Strawberry Slush

Mix this slush with your favorite clear soda. There is no set ratio of how much slush to serve to the amount of soda. I use the slush to fill between 1/3 and 1/2 the glass and top up the remainder with soda. I prefer lemon-lime soda with this slush but seven up or gingerale also work well, too.

This is a lovely, colorful, and refreshing drink on a hot summer afternoon.

Slush
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Strawberry Slush

(Printable recipe follows at end of post)

Strawberry Slush

Ingredients:

1½ cups water
1½ cups granulated sugar

7 oz rhubarb, chopped into ½” pieces
Scant ½ cup water

1/3 cup pineapple juice
¼ cup freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice (1 small lemon)
5 oz (apx. ½ can) frozen pink lemonade, slightly thawed
5 oz (apx. ½ can) frozen orange juice, slightly thawed
10 oz strawberries puréed to equal approximately 1 1/3 cups purée, mixed with 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1½ tbsp Epicure’s “Summer Berry” sweet dip mix (optional)
1½ cups gin

Strawberries, lemon slices, or pineapple chunks for garnish, if desired

Method:

In medium-sized saucepan, combine the water and granulated sugar to make a traditional simple syrup. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to medium-low heat and boil gently for approximately 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar has completely dissolved and liquid is clear.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then chill.

In separate medium-sized saucepan, combine the rhubarb and scant half cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to medium low and cook gently for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until rhubarb has broken down into a soft sauce-like consistency.

Pour rhubarb and its liquid into a fine sieve/strainer placed over a bowl or large measuring cup.  Let juice drip from rhubarb, periodically pressing the rhubarb pulp with the back of a large spoon to extract as much juice as possible.  This should yield approximately ½ cup of rhubarb juice. Chill.  Discard rhubarb pulp.

Into a freezable container that can hold at least 8 cups of liquid, pour in the simple syrup, chilled rhubarb juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, pink lemonade, orange juice, strawberry purée, Epicure Summer Berry mix, and gin.  Stir well.

Place airtight cover on container.  Freeze in the coldest part of the deep freeze, stirring 2-3 times during the freezing process.  Be patient as this will take 2-3 days for it to reach the desired slush consistency.

To serve, fill glass between one-third and one-half full of slush and top up with a clear soda such as lemon-lime.  Garnish with a lemon wheel, strawberry, or pineapple chunk and serve immediately.
Keep remainder of slush stored in the coldest part of the freezer so it will maintain its consistency.

Yield:
  Apx. 7½ cups of slush

Strawberry and Rhubarb Slush
Strawberry Slush

Strawberry Slush

Yield: Apx. 7 1/2 cups

A delightfully refreshing drink made with strawberries, rhubarb, fruit juices, and gin.

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 7 oz rhubarb, chopped into ½” pieces
  • Scant ½ cup water
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice (1 small lemon)
  • 5 oz (apx. ½ can) frozen pink lemonade, slightly thawed
  • 5 oz (apx. ½ can) frozen orange juice, slightly thawed
  • 10 oz strawberries puréed to equal approximately 1 1/3 cups purée, mixed with 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ tbsp Epicure’s “Summer Berry” sweet dip mix (optional)
  • 1½ cups gin
  • Strawberries, lemon slices, or pineapple chunks for garnish, if desired

Instructions

  1. In medium-sized saucepan, combine the water and granulated sugar to make a traditional simple syrup. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to medium-low heat and boil gently for approximately 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar has completely dissolved and liquid is clear. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then chill.
  2. In separate medium-sized saucepan, combine the rhubarb and scant half cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to medium low and cook gently for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until rhubarb has broken down into a soft sauce-like consistency.
  3. Pour rhubarb and its liquid into a fine sieve/strainer placed over a bowl or large measuring cup. Let juice drip from rhubarb, periodically pressing the rhubarb pulp with the back of a large spoon to extract as much juice as possible. This should yield approximately ½ cup of rhubarb juice. Chill. Discard rhubarb pulp.
  4. Into a freezable container that can hold at least 8 cups of liquid, pour in the simple syrup, chilled rhubarb juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, pink lemonade, orange juice, strawberry purée, Epicure Summer Berry mix, and gin. Stir well.
  5. Place airtight cover on container. Freeze in the coldest part of the deep freeze, stirring 2-3 times during the freezing process. Be patient as this will take 2-3 days for it to reach the desired slush consistency.
  6. To serve, fill glass between one-third and one-half full of slush and top up with a clear soda such as lemon-lime. Garnish with a lemon wheel, strawberry, or pineapple chunk and serve immediately.
  7. Keep remainder of slush stored in the coldest part of the freezer so it will maintain its consistency.
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Slush
Strawberry Slush

 

Seafood Chowder from the Cavendish Beach Area of PEI

Seafood chowder is a very popular dish in Prince Edward Island and many Island restaurants include it on their menus.  I just completed reviews of five (5) fabulous seafood chowders from restaurants in the Green Gables Resort Region (Cavendish, Prince Edward Island).  Head on over to the Cavendish Beach website to read my guest post about these mouth-watering chowders from North Rustico, Stanley Bridge, Cavendish, and New Glasgow.

To whet your appetite, here are photos of each chowder:

From the Blue Mussel Café in North Rustico, PEI

Blue Mussel's Seafood Chowder
Seafood Chowder from the Blue Mussel Café in North Rustico, PEI

From Chez Yvonne Restaurant in Cavendish, PEI

Chez Yvonne Restaurant's Seafood Chowder
Seafood Chowder from Chez Yvonne Restaurant, Cavendish, PEI

From Carr’s Oyster Bar in Stanley Bridge, PEI

Carr's Seafood Chowder
Seafood Chowder from Carr’s Oyster Bar in Stanley Bridge, PEI

From the PEI Preserve Company in New Glasgow, PEI

PEI Preserve Company's Seafood Chowder
Seafood Chowder from the PEI Preserve Company in New Glasgow, PEI

From the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers in New Glasgow, PEI

New Glasgow Lobster Suppers' Seafood Chowder
Seafood Chowder from the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers in New Glasgow, PEI

Are you drooling yet?