My April column for CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon was all about a new website called Soil Mate.
The Soil Mate website acts like a match making service between consumers and farmers. Just as internet matchmaking services helps people find their soul mate, this site will help you find your “soil mate”. But, it’s all brand new and Soil Mate needs help building a directory of farmers, farmer’s markets and wineries that will span North America. We can all help. Here’s a bit more information and my podcast.
Voila – Chutney Stuffed Alberta Lamb for Easter
photo – Karen Anderson
Half the lamb we eat in Alberta is imported but, the superior taste of our local product means demand for it is on the rise. Lamb producers in the province are responding with a strategy to increase yields by 40% over the next 6 years. A recent Edmonton Journal article chronicled what life on Tangled Ridge lamb farm is like this time of year.
Taste Alberta: Local food movement fuels growing support for Tangle Ridge Ranch (with recipes and video).
Here’s a link to my visit to Ewe-nique lamb farm and a whole menu of delicious things to make for Easter, spring and beyond.
These are just two farms out of hundreds that need our support if we are to have a strong and secure local system filled with our dream farms. Supporting and finding the farms of our dreams and cravings – our Soil Mates – was the main focus of my Alberta at Noon column today. I hope you’ll help build this potential treasure trove of “local” by asking your favourite farms, farmer’s markets and wineries to register.
Spread the word, like you’d spread manure and we’ll all watch Soilmate dot com grow into a fabulous and powerful consumer and farmer resource. That will truly be something to help us savour it all.
Read on for the recipe for the delicious lamb roast pictured above.
Watch the video above to learn about this new agri-enterprise that has the potential to change the way we source our food.
Recommend your favourite farms, farmer’s markets and wineries/meaderies. Spread the word, like farmer’s spread manure.
Let’s see all our soil mates get listed and help get this great seed of an idea growing at the same time.
Local food, farms and farmer’s markets help us savour it all.
Chef Duncan Ly’s Vietnamese Pork Salad Rolls made with Spragg’s pork
photo – Karen Anderson
Humanely raised pork is a great ingredient. Yesterday, I wrote about a few Alberta Pork Producers that are raising their animals humanely. Today, I’d like to share the recipe for the beautiful pork salad rolls pictured above. Consider them an added incentive to go out and find some of these products. You can nourish a new direction for the pork industry as you nourish yourself.
This recipe was created by a wonderful cook that I know; chef Duncan Ly of the Hotel Arts in Calgary. Ly shared this recipe for a PBS television show called Off the Beaten Palate. I was the production assistant for that show when they visited Alberta and one of my jobs was to line up chefs and farms to highlight Alberta’s culture and cuisine. Ly’s food is so beautiful in both taste and style that I was thrilled when he agreed to participate. I had previously guided chef Ly on a visit to Spragg’s Meats pork farm and I knew he loved the taste of their product. We were all thrilled with the beauty of the dish he presented.
This post will share chef Ly’s recipe in both a written and video format.
My friend Greg Spragg of Spragg’s Meats – I call him the Pig Whisperer – he is kind & will only raise pastured, hormone and antibiotic free pigs
Deadly pig virus spurs Alberta Pork to organize farmer meetings.
The United States has an epidemic of porcine diarrhea that has killed approximately three million piglets and cost that country $240 million dollars. I just finished reading this news in the article above by Amanda Stephenson. Stephenson’s piece also reports that Ontario has just seen its first outbreak of the virus and a spokesperson for Alberta Pork says that “the real question is, can we keep it out of the Prairies?”.
I think that question misses the point. I think the real question is not “can we keep it out of the Prairies?”; I think the real question is why did these animals get so devastatingly ill in the first place?
I suspect it has something to do with the industrialization of the hog industry but I’m not a farmer or a veterinarian. This crisis is just one more factor that has me and many consumers asking questions and wishing for greater transparency in our food systems. This post describes what I know about the current systems of how pork is raised and goes on to look at some small trends and ideas that might lead the way back to a healthier pork industry with hopefully healthier animals within that industry.
Corrine Dahm and Darrel Winter
photo – Karen Anderson
I’ve known Darrel Winter and his wife Corrine Dahm since about 2005 when I started doing volunteer work for Slow Food Calgary. I met a lot of Alberta farmers in the six years I worked actively on the board of that organization. Winter and Dahm stood out. Anyone who meets them appreciates the honest and earnest way they conduct themselves and how that translates to the animal husbandry practices of their turkey farm.
In 2007 I first visited their farm and started calling it “the turkey spa”. Beyond a wholesome farm smell, the air is crisp and clean. There is fresh straw bedding laid daily for the turkeys. They have access to the great outdoors, food and water at all times. They are calm. Their life is calm. The only thing missing is a bit of Bach playing softly in the background.
Winter’s father converted the farm from chickens to turkeys in 1958 and Winter still feeds the turkeys the same program his father devised. We’ll talk a bit about that here, share some photos and I’ll share my favourite way to cook a turkey.
Freshly harvested organic barley field at Highwood Crossing Farm
photo – Karen Anderson
Highwood Crossing Farm has been in Tony Marshall’s family for almost 120 years now. The farm is in Aldersyde, Alberta and hugs a curve in the Highwood River. It’s as though the land of the farm and the flow of the river are two lovers spooning. Most of the time, life is that peaceful and serene there.
In June of this year that was definitely not the case. That’s when we Albertans dealt with The Great Alberta Flood of 2013 and Tony and Penny Marshall of Highwood Crossing saw their Highwood Crossing Foods Ltd. processing plant in High River swallowed up by the river. To add insult to injury the basement of their beloved and beautiful home on the family homestead was also devastated. As always, they looked around and thought – things could be worse. They regrouped and are slowly rebuilding as they can. Before long Tony was making a joke that with all that flour and water in High River it was a good thing they did not also make yeast. High River would have had another mess on their hands the likes of a Ghostbusters movie.
This blog will talk about the Highwood Crossing organic grain farm, the products they produce and what’s involved in that process and then finish with a few of Penny Marshall’s delectable recipes. I’ve had the delight of trying these good things and enjoyed them so much I’m confident you will too.
Alberta harvest time land and skyscape
photo from a moving bus – Karen Anderson
I just spent the better part of the last week planning, shopping, cooking, packing up, catering and leading a Foodie Tootle tour to four farms in one day for 43 guests. I’m pooped out but proud of the amazing farmers we visited yesterday and all the goodies my guests were able to gather for their Thanksgiving dinners next weekend.
I’m going to blog a little bit about each of the four farmers we visited this week. Those farms include the following:
Poplar Bluff Organics
Highwood Crossing and the
The Saskatoon Farm.
All through this week, I’ll share some of the recipes these farms have inspired along with some of my family’s favourites.
Meanwhile, if you are wondering what a Foodie Tootle is, I hope you will enjoy this piece I wrote for City Palate describing the origin of the Foodie Tootle farm tours, their goals and what that typical experience looks and feels like.
Did you read the article? Here’s a sample of one of my Bad Turkey Jokes.
Why did the turkey cross the road? It was the chicken’s day off.
Here’s a better punch line to make up for that.
Apple Jack Frost Nipping at your Nose Punch
4 liters apple cider
1 bottle sparkling wine
2 cups Calvados
2 t. Fee Brothers whiskey barrel-aged bitters
Iced apple ring
Combine all of the above in a punch bowl and serve promptly upon guests arrival for a smooth opening to your holiday party. Make the ice ring by slicing 6 apples thinly, overlap them on the bottom of a ring mold, add just enough water so they’ll freeze in position, freeze, then fill the mold with water and freeze again until needed.
It’s never too soon to learn where food comes from
photo – Karen Anderson
Sunday, August 11, 2013 was the kind of Alberta summer day one dreams about.
We have big sky in Alberta. When our big sky is nothing but blue as far as the eye can see and there is not a breath of wind and I have a farm tour booked for my company Calgary Food Tours Inc. – well, that is a sure sign that all is right in the cosmos and my guests are going to have a day they remember their whole lives. I care for that.
I take it as a sign that Alberta and I are working together to help my guests savour their lives. The big Alberta blue sky serves as the perfect backdrop for some deep emotional bonding between city folk and farm folk over the common thread of caring about our food and where it comes from.
The mission for this farm tour was to take thirty people to five farms in one day.
This blog post will describe the day and I’ll throw in some fun recipes as we tour the farms together here. I hope this post will encourage you to take a country drive and visit these farms yourself sometime or at least take a drive as far as the Calgary Farmer’s Market where you can get their truly local produce year round.
I’m so happy to share this lovely blog about the tours my company Calgary Food Tours Inc is doing at The Calgary Farmer’s Market. I am fortunate to have lots of talented chef friends and two of my favourites, Pierre Lamielle and Judy Wood agreed to work with me and lead the weekend tours. Check out this great video Telus TV made with Judy talking about our goals. You can just see her passion and I hope people will see how much fun it is to go to the market with a great chef.
I hope we have a wonderful year of connecting Calgary and all the visitors to our city with the Taste of Alberta our food growers can offer them.
Alberta Tastes Great.
See you at the Market
Originally posted on Calgary Farmers' Market:
Last winter, in an effort to provide a new experience to our guests, we tried our hands at offering tours of the market. They were a hit and so, Karen Anderson of Calgary Food Tours will be offering a whole new round this year, starting Saturday, May 25th. If you’re an adventurous person, if you’re new to Calgary or just visiting, if you and your friends are looking for a new way to explore the city and spend time together, or even if you’re looking for a unique gift, then you will love these tours. The tours of the market are usually limited to 12 to 15 guests so that the atmosphere remains intimate and the chefs can provide an one-on-one experience.
Guests will join either chef Judy Wood, Pierre Lamielle, or a SAIT Culinary Instructor on a guided tour of the backbone of the Calgary Farmer’s Market: its farmers…
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