Mushrooms! Mushrooms! Mushrooms! (and Mushroom Risotto)

There’s no hiding it, we love mushrooms around here.  I guess our passion for them got picked up along the way as we were asked to guest blog for Mushrooms Canada

Check out our guest post for them here.

We hope you like the recipe for Mushroom Risotto too. 

Eat drink and be merry.

The At Home Organic


Composter Dos and Don’ts

Our swanky new composter

Image by binarydreams via Flickr

Our clients, friends and family often ask us, what can I put in my composter? Well here’s a quick list to help you out, starting with what you can put in it:

  • Organic materials:
    • for sure: this includes all types of food and drink, tea bags, coffee filters, flowers and plants (leaves, grass clippings)
    • with caution: corn cobs, pine needles (take a long time to decompose), milk (in small amounts), soap scraps (Ivory and Dove only)
    • avoid: raw meat scraps, bones and carnivore manure (unless you can heat your composter up to a very high temperature and cook out any bacteria)
  • Paper materials:
    • Paper napkins/towels, post-it notes, shredded newspaper , kleenex tissues, unpaid bills (this is my favourite!), movie tickets stubs, shredded cereal boxes, grocery receipts and greeting card envelopes.  Remember to shred paper/cardboard before adding to your composter
  • Other Miscellaneous:
    • Who knew? Q-tips (cotton swabs: cardboard, not plastic sticks), old leather gardening gloves. straw, leather wallets, lint from clothes dryer, fingernail and toenail clippings, wooden toothpicks, pencil shavings, wool socks, leather watch bands, vacuum cleaner bag contents, dead bees and flies and urine (it’s sterile, really)
  • Do compost as often or as seldom as you like
  • Do put your composter in the sun for at least part of the day (the sun helps cook down what’s inside)
  • Do roll your composter to help mix the contents if you can
  • Don’t compost only organic materials or only paper materials.  A good compost includes a good mix of both.

We use two large recycled olive barrels for our composters.  They’re light weight and easy to roll (mix) and blend into our foliage.  But if you’re looking for a more commerical style composter we’re happy to tell you we’re in the process of sourcing a composter supplier.  Check our site soon for details on which composters you can choose from. 

If you live in Toronto we invite you take the Free Me From the Green Bin Challenge where you try to compost everything for a full month thereby eliminating the need for your green bin.  Your garbage man will thank you.

Eat drink and be merry.

The At Home Organic

Is Your Produce Genetically Modified?

These apples have PLU stickers with the number...

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever stopped to wonder what those stickers on all the fruits and veggies you buy mean?
Until recently I assumed it was the simply a PLU (product look up number) so the cashier can quickly scan the produce.

Turns out there’s a whole lot more info in those tiny little stickers. And understanding what to look for can mean the difference between healthy organic fruits and veggies and genetically modified junk! Here’s what you need to know about

  1. What is it?
    While most of us can tell an apple from an orange, identifying the variety of fruit or vegetable in your hands can be a little trickier.  With nearly 2,000 varities out there it’s sometimes helpful to know you’re holding a Fuji Apple versus a Pink Lady.  The sticker will often list the variety of fruit or vegetable so you don’t have to guess.
  2. Where is your food from? 
    The sticker will usually tell you where the produce is from. If the produce is Canadian or American it will list the country or the province/state. If from outside North America it will simply list the country. Knowing where your food is from not only helps you support local agriculture but helps you pick from fresher options when produce is in season.
  3. How is your food grown? 
    How your produce is grown is displayed right on the sticker as well.  The 4 or 5 digit code will tell you if the food you’re about to eat is grown conventionally (i.e. with chemicals or fertilizers) organically, or genetically modified (how did this make it past the FDA anyway).  Here’s how to read the label:
    • 4 – digits codes: ranging from 3000 to 4961, represent your average run-of-the-mill conventionally grown food.  These are not organic or have not been certified organic (some small farms may not have the capacity or capital to get certified but may in fact grown chemical and pesticide free food)
    • 5 – digit codes beginning with 9:  This sequence is reserved for organically grown produce.  For example a banana may carry PLU4011, whereas an organically grown banana of the same variety would be labelled PLU 94011. Where ever possible, this is what I look for when filling my grocery basket
    • 5 – digit codes beginning with 8:  This sequence represent food that has been genetically modified or genetically engineered.  In other words, it’s a lab experiment.  I avoid these at pretty much all costs.

If you’re interested in what PLU stands for which fruits and veggies there’s a handy resource at

If you’d rather take back control of the fruits and veggies you eat may we be so bold as to suggest growing your own? Our backyard harvest is sticker free.

Was this post helpful? Will it help you the next time you go to the market?

Eat drink and be merry.

The At Home Organic

Recipe: Yumminess Bread

What’s In It?


What you do with it

  1. Sauté the apples in butter until soft then mash up with a potato masher – leave a little chunky for texture in the bread
  2. Mix up the eggs in a bowl, add the apples mixture and vanilla
  3. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients – flour, powder, salt, soda
  4. Add the wet to the dry and mix – once combined add the chopped nuts and cranberries
  5. Bake in a loaf pan at 350 until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean


You can substitute any fruit you want – then tell us how it worked out!

I have also substituted whole wheat flour and the results were tasty!

Eat drink and be merry.

The At Home Organic

This Week’s Poll: Fresh, Local or Organic

If you had to choose which produce to eat, what would it be?

Recipe: Pasta Putanesca with Basil

I know that purists will dismiss this as non traditional but my wife isn’t an oregano fan so that’s life I suppose

What’s In It

  • 1L preserved tomatoes OR 796 canned tomatoes (I like the no salt ones)
  • 1 cup chopped black olives
  • 5 anchovies chopped (a light rinse will take some of the saltiness off)
  • Handful of chopped basil
  • 3 tsp capers chopped (a light rinse will take some of the saltiness off here too)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 clove garlic chopped


What You Do With It

  1. Get a pot on the stove at medium heat with a splash of olive oil – add onions – don’t add salt now because you’re going to be adding 3 more ingredients that are salty
  2. Cook onions for about 10 min – don’t let them burn – you’re looking for a light caramel colour
  3. In the meantime add olives, capers (drained), anchovies (lightly rinsed), basil and garlic to your chopping board and chop until a rough dice
  4. Add to pot with onions
  5. Add tomatoes
  6. Simmer for 15 min and check seasoning (might need some pepper)


A note on cheese: go for it, but be careful, parmesan and grano padano are salty cheeses and they can throw off the flavour. 

Now it’s up to you, the longer you simmer the thicker the sauce will become. 

Cook up your favourite pasta, grab a glass of Chianti and some crusty bread and enjoy.

Eat drink and be merry.

The At Home Organic

6 Reasons to Grow your Own Food

I just read a fantastic post about why you should grow your own food.

Even with all the compelling reasons, many of us are victim to the wonderful world of convenience, and it’s sometimes hard to take the time (or find the time) to garden your own veggies (even if they are fresher, more local and more organic than anything you can buy).

We understand that sometimes you need a little push, or a helping hand and we’d like to be both the push and the hand for you.

At Home Organic Farms operates in Toronto and will build, install and maintain an organic vegetable garden for you, right in your backyard.  Now there is no excuse not to get growing yourself.  Contact us to learn more.

Want to help inspire someone else? Share your story with us.

Eat drink and be merry.

The At Home Organic

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