Missing the Farm

It has been almost two months since the Farmhouse Retreat.

I'm starting to think about my next weekend retreat and I can't help but miss the Farmhouse and the retreat-ladies deeply.

I miss the cloud of creativity where we completely lost track of time.

I was wowed by racerback tank tops, zippered pouches, a gorgeous digital wedding album, cookbook organizers, infinity scarves, pinwheel quilts, the list goes on.

My best friend, Priscilla, travelled all the way from Montreal to resurrect her high-school sewing skills and whip out a custom fit racerback tank top. We had a little snag at the end trying to learn how to use the fancy Bernina rolled hem foot, but the end result was fantastic.

The weekend peaked with an Ontario surf and turf dinner: sausages from Sanagan's Meat Locker with apple braised purple cabbage, salt baked trout with wilted fennel salad, an apple cake with Ontario honeycrisp apples.

How I miss the Autumn.

Winter will be almost as good.

A new location, a new season of frosty beauty; the next retreat will be planned soon. I promise.

Wilted Fennel Salad

I'm not even sure you can call this a salad, but it is truly one of my favourite things to eat. I have entranced many fennel virgins with this side dish. It makes a great accompaniment to most anything, especially dishes needing a little crunch or acid, like a perfectly baked rainbow trout.

1 fennel bulb
olive oil
lemon (optional)

Trim the fennel tops and cut about 1cm off the bottom to peel off the outer layer or two. You could be less wasteful and use the outer leaves, but I find them a little too tough when eating the fennel raw.

Cut the fennel bulb in half and cut out the core with a little V-cut.

Using a mandolin or a sharp knife (my sontoku knife is perfect for this job) very finely slice the fennel lengthwise (vertically). If you missed part of the core then the layers may be stuck together. If it bothers you, cut them loose.

Mix the fennel in a bowl with pepper, 1/2 tsp of salt, a good drizzle of olive oil.

Let rest for 5 minutes. The salt will wilt the fennel and release some of the stronger licorice juices.

Toss and taste; add more salt if needed. Squeeze a little lemon at the end if you want a more acidic salad.