Beef Stir Fry with Asparagus, Snap Peas & Fiddleheads

This quick and easy Beef Stir Fry with Asparagus, Snap Peas & Fiddleheads is our celebration of spring.  Quick, easy and very versatile, this dish packs a flavor punch!

Why We Love Stir Fry Dishes

  • It’s quick, easy and a great way to add more vegetables to your children’s meals
  • It’s versatile – include your favorite veggies and use the opportunity to clean out the fridge!
  • Double the recipe for leftovers the next night
  • Add some rice and this recipe is perfect for meal prep
  • It’s a great way to stretch your food dollars

We had some exciting news this weekend!  Farmer Morris announced that you can now Pick Your Own Asparagus at the farm.  Barrie Hill Farms is the first farm in Ontario to do this and we are very excited to send hungry customers out on the wagons to the asparagus fields!

Tips for Cooking Stir Fry Recipes:

  • If you’re adding a lot of beef, cook it in batches.   Lay the strips down and let cook for 2 minutes undisturbed on high heat.  Turn over once golden brown and cook for 1 more minute.
  • If you want your dish super saucy because it’s going over rice, double the cornstarch/water mixture
  • I wanted to feature asparagus and fiddleheads so my dish is all green but this is a great recipe to include lots of colors.  Kids respond to bright colors on their plates and different textures as well.
  • Serve on wild rice rather than minute rice.  Wild rice is an excellent plant based protein and has a unique flavor.  Many gourmet blends are available and some can be cooked in just 20 minutes.
  • NOTE:  Fiddleheads cannot be eaten raw.  To learn more about these fun ferns, click HERE.

 

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Recipe courtesy of Simply Fresh Dinners,  A partner with Barrie Hill Farms in bringing fresh recipes to your table.

 

More Asparagus Recipes from Barrie Hill Farms

Lemon Butter Asparagus 

Asparagus Salsa

Shaved Asparagus Salad

A calendar showing when crops are available at Barrie Hills Farm.

Stir Fry Beef with Asparagus, Snap Peas & Fiddleheads

This quick and easy Beef Stir Fry with Asparagus, Snap Peas & Fiddleheads is our celebration of spring. Quick, easy and very versatile, this dish packs a flavor punch!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: stir fried asparagus
Servings: 4
Calories: 439kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 12-16 ounces Strip loin steak (or your favorite cut)
  • salt and pepper - for steak
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 8 ounces snap peas, washed and trimmed
  • 4 ounces fiddleheads, washed and trimmed
  • 1/4 cup beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon sherry
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water. (optional to add at the end. If you don't want a super saucy dish, skip this final step)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook rice according to package directions.  Fluff with a fork when done.  Set aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on high heat. Season beef generously with salt and pepper.  Add beef strips.  Cook on one side undisturbed for 2 minutes, turn off and cook for 1 more minutes.  Cook in batches if required.  Set aside on a plate.
  • Heat additional oil if required.  Add ginger and garlic and heat to medium high. Add asparagus, peas and fiddleheads with beef stock, sherry, tamari or soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper as required. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Return beef to wok and heat until warmed through. 
    Optional, add cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened.
  • Spoon over cooked rice and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 439kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 505mg | Potassium: 1069mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2490IU | Vitamin C: 48.6mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 6.4mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Apple

This simple and easy recipe contains the deliciousness of sprouts, apple and thyme tossed with olive oil and fresh apple cider!

  I topped it with a few pomegranate arils as well to add more colour.  Did you know they contain Vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants?

Barrie Hill Farms Brussels Sprouts Salad

Leave those stray leaves on your baking tray.  They cook up quickly and you may have to remove them when you toss them halfway through but they add a great crunch to the dish.

Barrie Hill Farms – Brussels sprouts and apples

I also added peeled garlic cloves to this but it seems I took this picture before I included them.  This is totally optional but it’s a wonderful addition for garlic addicts like myself.

This dish used the apples from the very first crop of apples from  Barrie Hill Farms.  They pressed their own apple cider right at the farm.  Can’t get any fresher than that!

Barrie Hill Farms, fresh apple cider

I need one of these machines.   Hmmm, I guess I better get myself an apple orchard first.   You can see why I get so crazy excited about working with the farm!

Barrie Hill Farms – Making Apple Cider

These Gala and Honey Crisp apples were the best I’ve tasted.

The Many Health Benefits to Apples!

  • Improves neurological health
  • Helps in preventing dementia
  • Reduces the risk of stroke
  • Lowering levels of bad cholestrol
  • Reduces your risk of diabetes
Barrie Hill Farms – Making Apple Cider

The result?  A healthy, vegan dish that is super tasty, colorful and the perfect side dish any day of the week.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Apples

This simple and easy recipe contains the deliciousness of sprouts, apple and thyme tossed with olive oil and fresh apple cider!
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: brussels sprouts and apples
Servings: 4
Calories: 154kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 apple, diced. I used Gala apples. Leave skin on if organic.
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed, halved
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • small handful of sprigs of thyme
  • 1/4 cup apple cider (Zieglars Apple Cider is gluten free, as are many others)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate arils

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Place apples, sprouts and garlic in medium sized bowl.
  • Combine cider, olive oil and pepper in a small bowl, mixing well. Pour mixture over apple combo and stir gently until well coated.
  • Spread mixture on baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes and toss. Remove any stray leaves that are getting crunchy. Return to oven for an additional 10 minutes or until sprouts are slightly browned. Remove.
  • Place in serving bowl and top with pomegranate arils if desired and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 154kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 30mg | Potassium: 540mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 880IU | Vitamin C: 100.7mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 1.7mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Follow us on Facebook for more delicious farm-fresh recipes, and updates on our growing seasons!

Recipe courtesy of Simply Fresh Dinners,  A partner with Barrie Hill Farms in bringing fresh recipes to your table.

 

More Apple Recipes from Barrie Hill Farms

Goat Cheese Bruschetta with Honey Crisp Apple

Oven Roast Chicken Breast with Apples and Grapes

A calendar showing when crops are available at Barrie Hills Farm.

Making the Most of Your Fresh Ontario Produce: Use Your Clean Kitchen Scraps

Kitchen produce scraps

Are you trying to make the most of your local Ontario produce, to reduce your food waste, or to save a few dollars? There are many reasons to try and cut down on kitchen waste, but whatever your reason there are many ways to get the job done. From repurposing kitchen scraps into meals, regrowing vegetables or even using those scraps as compost materials – it’s not difficult to find a method that you can easily work into your lifestyle.

Recipes using Kitchen Scraps

It’s easy to throw out those little scraps of food that don’t seem to have much value like potato peels, parmesan rinds, and old berries. We even throw away vegetable pieces like broccoli stems, onion peels or cauliflower leaves that we don’t usually eat because most people don’t know all the different ways you can use them. Once you start reusing those little kitchen scraps, you’ll be amazed at how much you were throwing away before.

Some of the easier ways to use up those kitchen scraps include: flavoured salts (use leftover lemon peels, or herb stems), stock (can use up almost any scraps), pasta sauce (can use scraps, or even the pulp from juicing), and bone broth (you can use frozen or fresh bones).

There are many parts of vegetables that we usually discard that we can make use in some unexpected ways. Cauliflower leaves or the outer leaves of brussel sprouts can be crisp roasted and salted for a nutty healthy snack. Broccoli stems can be spiralized into noodles, potato peels make crispy thin fries, apple peels can be dried for snacks, and swiss chard stems can be pickled.

If you want to put a little more effort in, you can make jams from too-soft berries, or bread from old zucchini, squash or bananas. You can even make some tasty limoncello using leftover lemon peels, or a fruit shrub to be sipped in the hot summer months.

Grow Your Own Local Food

There are quite a few fruits and vegetables that you can use the ends of to replant and grow yourself, either indoors during the winter months or outside in your garden. This helps reduce your kitchen waste, continues the local food cycle, reduces your grocery cost and helps keep them on hand when you need them.

Depending on your garden set-up you may only be able to regrow window herbs, but even this small step can be rewarding. Another unexpected food you can grow indoors are mushrooms, they love dark, cool and moist environments like your basement or under your sink. If you have a larger outdoor space you’re able to set your sights higher and get a little more ambitious. Vegetables with a base are usually the easiest to try and regrow such as lettuce, celery, and onions. Simply leave a good base on it and stick it into water, after some time you’ll notice tiny white roots starting to grow and you can carefully transfer it into a pot or the ground.

Another way to continue the local food cycle at home is to collect seeds from vegetables like pumpkins, peppers, bean sprouts, apples, peaches, lemons or chestnuts. Germinating them is the first step, then plant them in your outdoor space!

Compost your Local Food Scraps

If you have kitchen scraps that you can’t repurpose, a great alternative to throwing them away is to create a home composter. Placing your composter in a sunny location with good drainage that is easily accessible year round.

Compostable Items

  • All vegetable and fruit wastes
  • Coffee grounds and paper filters, tea bags
  • Crushed egg shells
  • Grains
  • Corn cobs and outer husks
  • Anything made from flour (bread, noodles, pizza crusts etc)

Non-Compostable Items

(These items will attract rodents and maggots, will cause your compost to smell, and will create an imbalance in the breakdown process.)

  • Any kind of meat or bones etc
  • Any part of a fish
  • All dairy products (cheese, butter, yogurt etc)
  • Grease or oils

Thinking Local is Good for the Environment

According to a report from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, every Canadian on average throws away 170 kilograms of food a year. That makes Canada one of the biggest food wasters on the planet, higher than both United States and Mexico. Buying local at farmers markets, picking your own and repurposing food scraps are all ways to reduce food waste, while at the same time helping yourself and your family. We hope to see you back here at the farm soon to enjoy more delicious local Ontario produce.

5 Ways to Preserve your Local Ontario Produce

Preserving fresh fruits

Many of us are doing our best to eat local Ontario produce, but one of the major difficulties in the Canadian climate is how to continue this throughout the year. Whether you’re buying your fruits and vegetables from farmers markets in Ontario or you’re growing your own, preserving the nutrient-rich produce is a concern. Try your hand at food preserving this year, and read on to find out our top five ways to preserve your food.

Fresh Food Storage

The easiest way to store you local produce is by fresh storage. All that this straightforward option requires is a cool, dark space such as a root cellar, basement or garage. Produce such as onions, garlic, root vegetables and apples last a long time in conditions like this.

Fridge Food Storage

Using your fridge is a similar storage option to fresh storage, but the temperature and moisture levels are lowered. Food items like carrots and beets do very well in this manner of storage. You can place them into large freezer bags and eat them as you need.

Freezer Food Storage

Freezing your local produce is a great option that will preserve the closest flavour and texture to fresh. If you are planning on using this option often, it is recommended that you use a chest freezer because it doesn’t have the usual defrost cycle of a kitchen freezer.

Some vegetables will require you to blanched or steamed first to stop the enzyme action (which will cause loss of flavour, colour and nutrients), but others can be stored raw. Foods such as peppers and kale store great in freezer bags or containers.

Pickling or Fermentation Storage

This is a little more of an involved storage option, but one that can help foods last for over a year in fridge storage. Fermented foods retain a lot of their nutrients in storage, more than canned foods, and has the added benefit of bacteria that is excellent for your gut health. Pickling options that work the best are cabbage, onions, carrots, eggs, and cucumbers.  

Canning Storage

The final, but most complex storage option is canning. Using a large stockpot with a lid you’ll cover your jars with water to sterilize them. You can use this method to preserve your fermented foods longer, as well as jams and jellies, or tomatoes. You can use a pressure canner for lower acid foods such as carrots, beans, sauces, broths and soups but you will need to purchase one specifically for this.

Local Produce is the Best Reward

Keeping your fresh foods as delicious as the day you brought them doesn’t have to be a difficult as you might think. Choosing which storage option appeals to you most can make this process easier and thus more likely for you to continue. Being able to eat your home grown foods in the depths of winter will be a satisfying reward for your hard work. We’re looking forward to seeing you back on the farm in the spring.

What is Farm Fresh Produce, and Why Does it Matter?

Farm Fresh Produce & Why it Matters

What comes to mind when you think of farm fresh produce? Does it bring to mind the simple pleasure of choosing a pint of local strawberries to take home, of deciding which pumpkin most clearly says ‘pick me!’ Or is it the knowledge that you’re choosing something deliciously good for your health, your hometown and your neighbours?

Local food is commonly defined as produce sold within 50 kilometers of where it was grown, but for some it also means food grown by people they know and can talk to at the farm market; food that supports small-scale values and a community-based focus.

The emphasis on what is in our foods, on where it is grown, how it is grown, and how that impacts the environment has become more mainstream in recent years. This is a change for the better, because our food has the power to improve our health and well-being as well as the our environment.

Health Benefits of Eating Farm Fresh Produce

It’s called farm fresh produce for a reason! Locally grown foods have a leg up on the competition when it comes to both nutritional value and taste. Once picked, fruits and vegetables begin to lose that nutritional value and so the longer they wait in storage the less rich in vitamin C, E, A and B they will become – so while that produce sits inside trucks and warehouses it’s losing that magic green power.

Local farms are able to allow produce to ripen much longer than imported, which adds to the nutrition value immediately. Also, how produce is handled after being picked also plays a part in its nutritional value; rough handling, mechanical harvesters or long transport can combine to reduce the quality, taste and nutritional value of fruits and vegetables.

Environmental Positives of Local Farming

Of the pick-your-own farms in Ontario, Barrie Hill Farms is a leader in sustainable farming practices which help protect our environment. It is one of the first to have earned the designation of LFP Certified. This certification from The Land Food People Foundation signifies that we follow these guidelines in our focus to create sustainable agriculture for the future:

  1. To reduce or eliminate synthetic pesticides and fertilizers
  2. Avoid the use of hormones, antibiotics, and genetic engineering
  3. Conserve soil and water
  4. Ensure safe and fair working conditions
  5. Provide healthy and humane care for livestock
  6. Protect and enhance wildlife habitat and biodiversity
  7. Reduce on-farm energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions

Water usage is a major environmental topic that many Canadian farms focus on. The use of drip irrigation allows us to deposit water directly to the plant’s root, thus minimizing the amount of water required. In addition, keeping the plants dry aboveground reduces leaf disease and fruit mold which helps us in our quest to reduce pesticides.

Choosing food grown from farms in Barrie also helps to reduce your carbon footprint in two main ways. The fewer kilometers your food has to travel from the field to your plate, the fewer transportation emissions are in our air! Local farming also helps to promote the preservation of our green spaces by encouraging youth to continue farming traditions, or even start their own local farming operation.

 

Local farming is just as important today as it was hundreds of years ago and though many of the reasons are different, many of them remain the same: our health, a connection to one another and our land. There’s no better feeling than biting into a strawberry pie made with fruit you picked from the soil yourself, or buying a pumpkin from someone who you know grew it locally.

There’s a lot of disconnection from our food sources in this day and age, and choosing farm fresh produce means making healthier choice for our bodies and the environment. Make Barrie Hill Farms a regular part of your meal planning for your own health and the health of our community.

 

 

Five Wintertime Tips for Making the Most of Ontario Farmers’ Markets

Health conscious Barrie dwellers who like to visit Ontario farmers’ markets in summer tend to lose enthusiasm for buying local foods once temperatures drop. It’s as though the first snow blanket over those pick-your-own strawberry fields tries to cover up all our good intentions for making eating local Ontario produce a priority. But eating local is easier than you think…even in winter months.

In fact, eating farm fresh foods after the growing season is not only possible—it can be economical and enjoyable, too.  By planning and preparing during summer months and applying these tips in winter, you can make the most of the many farmers’ markets Ontario has to offer and strengthen your community in the process.

Find a Year-Round Farmers’ Market Near You

If you’re wondering where to buy Ontario produce in winter, visiting a farmers’ market where local farmers bring their choice produce is a great place to start. You may be surprised to learn that Ontario has many year-round farmers’ markets taking place on Saturday mornings as well as other days of the week.

Here local farmers continue to offer healthy and tasty farm fresh produce and greenhouse goods at prices on par with big grocery store chains.  If you’ve never visited one in winter you will likely find it to be a different experience from the hustling hub you visited in summer.

Come November, farmers markets typically move indoors and take on a whole new vibe. New smells of fill the air—sometimes wood smoke, simmering soup, or fresh breads. The pace slows and people seem to linger longer and chat more. Local artisans share their woolly and winter wares. Comfort foods in the form of local meats, cheeses, honey, breads, jams and other prepared foods take centre stage. And the cozy and pleasant atmosphere creates an experience that is so much more than a trip to the grocery store could ever give.

Barrie has a year-round farmers market that takes place inside city hall on Saturday mornings. Orillia, Innisfil, and Elmvale-Springwater have winter markets as well. Although it may be a little out of the way, taking time on Saturday morning to visit a farmers market near you can offer you local seasonal produce while offering a very enjoyable shopping experience.

Do a Little Homework to Get the Real Bargains on Farm Fresh Produce

There are bargains to be had when purchasing fresh produce at farmers markets, even in winter. Barrels of potatoes. Bags of winter greens. Bins of squash. Vendors will often discount produce when selling in greater quantities and sometimes at the end of the market day. Knowing when to buy and what types of foods to look for can provide real savings.

However, if you don’t like the smell of rotting potatoes or finding half composted salads at the bottom of the fridge drawer you’ll want to be sure you are likely to use the food you purchase.

Knowing how long various types of produce stay fresh can provide some sense of certainty. Here is a list of common foods and the typical shelf life for each whether refrigerated, frozen, or stored at room temperature.

If you’re looking for something that’s not on this list do a little homework before you head out. Buying but not using produce is a waste and an inconvenience. Arming yourself with shelf-life knowledge will help you choose those foods you’re most likely to consume and save you money in the long run.

Be Spontaneous and Embrace What Local Ontario Produce that Winter Has to Offer

Some say you should make a list and buy only what’s on that list when you shop for groceries. But when it comes to sourcing foods locally, it’s good to go to market with an open mind, too.

Seeing, smelling, and touching the local produce in person is often the best determinant for what your body needs. Sometimes it’s not until you see that vibrant veggie that you realize what you and your family are craving.  And since winter produce such as squash, apples, potatoes, cabbage, onions, turnips, beets, and collard greens are incredibly versatile, it makes sense to wait and make those final choices in person.

You can also receive inspiration for delicious winter menus from those who grow the food you’re buying. Often, farmers will provide unique recipes for the ingredients they’re offering or provide special preparation tips for the produce on hand that week.

Slower-paced winter markets offer great opportunities to collect ideas from growers, vendors and information booths. Visiting them with an open mind for trying new or different things can help you enjoy local foods in a whole new way.

Plan Ahead and Stock Up at the Summer Farm Market

Although the above tips target the colder months, produce is obviously tastiest and least expensive at season’s peak. What foods do you miss most come winter? With a little forethought you can enjoy those and other locally grown food year round, too.

If you don’t know much about how to freeze produce or prepare preserves, winter may be just the time get started in your reading and gather your supplies.

You can also take this time to research and note when that produce in your area becomes available so you can buy in bulk at the most opportune times for flavors and savings.  This harvest schedule shows when the crops of Barrie Hill Farms are most likely to be in season.

Plan a Visit to Barrie Hill Farms

Making the extra effort to visit a local farmer’s market and buy local Ontario produce can be financially beneficial and personally satisfying. It can also help build community, protect our environment, and strengthen our local economy. We hope you will come see us at Barrie Hill Farms in the spring, summer and fall when our own farm market is open!

Savour the Taste of Fresh Ontario Produce – Making Dill Pickles

Yummy-Dill-Pickles-from-Fresh-Ontario-Produce

Preserve your favourite fresh Ontario produce with pickling. This long-forgotten tradition originated in India, but has found roots globally. Before refrigeration was possible in Canada, most people pickled and canned their produce to ensure that nothing went to waste.

Now that we have freezers and refrigerators and virtually any food you want can be purchased at the grocery store, this practice has gone by the wayside. But perhaps it should be revived.

While store-bought pickles will do in a pinch, the homemade version is even better. In addition to using local farm fresh produce, you can also control the ingredients, making a healthier version without extra salt, sugar or preservatives. That makes this one guilt-free, low fat, low-calorie snack.

Pickling cucumbers are a favourite fresh Ontario crop, and for good reason. They are refreshing and cool to eat during the summer months.  But when paired with dill and vinegar, the cucumber is transformed into a crunchy, salty, delicious addition to your pantry or refrigerator.

Pickled Fresh Ontario Produce is Good for You

Thanks to pickling, the goodness of your food is preserved. You can still get essential vitamins, as well as electrolytes.  In fact, pickle juice is touted as the perfect post-marathon drink for runners, as it quickly replaces salt and minerals lost in sweat, reduces muscle cramping and speeds recovery.

How to Make Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Refrigerated dill pickles will last several weeks in your fridge, and because they aren’t processed in a hot water bath, they won’t lose their crunch. You can experiment with flavours, although traditionally dill pickles are flavoured with garlic, dill, and salt.

  • Bring water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil in a pot until salt and sugar are fully dissolved. Cool completely.
  • In a large glass container, add cucumber spears, garlic cloves, and fresh dill, and pour over the vinegar mixture.
  • Seal the container, refrigerate for a minimum of 3 days, and then enjoy!

Your dill pickles should last about 4-6 weeks in the fridge.

You can find the full recipe here.

Once you discover how easy it is to make pickles, you can experiment with other veggies, including beans, carrots, pearl onions, beets, asparagus. You can also try making pickles from around the world, like spicy Korean Kimchi, which is made of cabbage.  

Whether you love the salty tang of pickles or not… there’s one thing you can love about the process of preserving Ontario’s fresh produce.  That’s the experience you get from eating farm to table: buying from local farms in Barrie and preparing healthy and delicious food with your family at home.