A recipe to celebrate the Oct 16 – 2014 #WorldFoodDay theme of Family Farming #toastafarmer

Definitely homemade - Aunt Muriel's Farmhouse Carrot Cake - photo - Karen Anderson

Definitely homemade – Aunt Muriel’s Farmhouse Carrot Cake – photo – Karen Anderson

When I was a little girl I loved to visit my great Aunt Muriel.

She lived in a big old farmhouse high on a hill overlooking the St. Croix River near my hometown of St. Andrews, New Brunswick. I remember her huge vegetable garden and a tire swing hanging from the bowed branches of an old willow tree across the yard from the creaky screen door of her kitchen. She used to make this carrot cake for my cousin Debbie’s birthday party each year and when I moved away to college I asked her for the recipe as it was definitely my favourite cake growing up.

I’ve lived in Alberta 30 years now and I know many of the farmers that grow my food. Now when I make Aunty M’s cake I use as many things from their farms as I can. I know she would’ve loved the golden hue and rich flavour of the organic canola oil I can source here. She farmed organically because that’s just how you did things.

Once in awhile when I’m on a farm in Alberta, I’ll catch sight of a tire swing hanging from a tree and my mind will race back in time to meet a little girl swinging with all her heart – her cotton dress fluttering and flying up around her. She’s laughing and throwing her head back to catch the rays of the sun as a warm summer breeze rustles the soft leaves of the giant old willow above.

Twirling, twirling, twirling – today I iced my cake with swirls and twirls and remembered again the joy of time on a family farm.

Read on for my Aunt Muriel’s carrot cake recipe. I’ve noted all the farms I was able to support in the making of the beautiful cake. It’s my small way to toast a farmer – the social media theme for the World Food Day – and the International Year of the Family Farm. Enjoy.

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Let there be light! – Art installation #7 (cool thing #25) – A new central Calgary Public Library for @calgarylibrary

From the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation’s press release today…

“The New Central Library has been a long time coming, and moving forward with this project was a key part of my platform when I was first elected,” says Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “When City Council created the Community Investment Fund in 2011, we also created a mechanism to finalize the funding of a New Central Library that will serve the needs of a growing population now and into the future. I’m immensely proud of what we’ve achieved together—The City of Calgary, CMLC, Calgary Public Library, and all citizens. The New Central Library will be a new icon for Calgarians and a jewel of public space and opportunity for all.”

The prime design consultant team, Snøhetta + DIALOG, deeply understand that a library is far more than just a building with books – something that’s evident in every aspect of the final design.

“Since embarking on this project, one of the things we’ve kept reminding ourselves is that we don’t just want to build the best library in the world. We want to build the library that’s best for Calgary.” Craig Dykers of Snøhetta explains, “At this moment in time, with the city conditions that surround us, with the different needs of all of you in the community, we continue to ask ourselves, how we are going to make the right library?”

From me…

The City is laying a bridge with this architectural icon to connect the long neglected East Village to downtown Calgary. City Hall was built with its back to East Calgary. This new building brings the area back into the fold and celebrates it as a beacon for our bright future as a whole with no area left out. That’s Nenshi building a different legacy for the city.

When East Village is completed in 2027 there will be more than 11,000 residents. They will have the RiverWalk, St. Patrick’s Island Park, the National Music Centre and an urban shopping centre to enjoy along with this inspiring gathering place that will be our new Central Calgary Public Library. This isn’t the first time a new library has acted as a beacon of light for our city.

The first library in Calgary at Central Memorial Park was opened in 1912. The Women’s Literacy group of Alberta applied for a building grant from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. Carnegie had come from nothing in Scotland to become the wealthiest man in the world. He was a firm believer in the ability of learning, books and free libraries in inspiring and lifting humanity to its full potential. He funded over 2500 public libraries in the world and our first library was one of them. That building was built in a feminine Beaux Arts style and raised on a pedestal in honour of the women who got it built. It was Alberta’s first library and brought some balance to our “rough and ready” existence at the time. Central Memorial Library is set in a park, is still open and still very beautiful 100 years later.

It’ll be exciting for our children’s children to see what the next 100 years and this new library inspire. And isn’t it right that all this new light is rising from the East…Village.

I like these two libraries. They are beautiful bookends in our city’s history. Libraries truly shed light and help us savour it all.

Central Memorial Library

Central Memorial Library

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My latest @AlbertaatNoon column podcast – #pintxos #tapas #paella and a trip to #Spain

Lots of fun talking about Spain and “what I ate on my summer vacation” today on CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon with host Donna McElligot.

Here’s the podcast in case you missed it. I’m on at the 10:05 mark in the show.

paella on my plate photo - Karen Anderson

paella on my plate
photo – Karen Anderson

You can find the recipe for this delicious paella here. Watch for posts on pintxos and tapas coming soon.

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Making Paella in Basque country – San Sebastian, Spain – my @AlbertaatNoon column for September

paella on my plate photo - Karen Anderson

paella on my plate
photo – Karen Anderson

I’m just back from Spain. It was my first time there and the whole time I explored my new surroundings Elton John’s song Daniel kept playing in my mind. I’d find myself humming it or singing a few lines…

Daniel is flying tonight on a plane
I can see the red tail lights heading to Spain
(and a bit further on)
They say Spain is pretty though I’ve never been
Daniel says it’s the best place he’s ever seen
and he should know he’s been there enough…

Spain is pretty and its filled with justifiably proud people and that very wonderfully (when it’s done right) ubiquitous dish called paella.

This post will tell the story of my chance to cook paella in San Sebastian with a Basque country native. Keep reading and I’ll share his great recipe with you.

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An #Apricot Awakening – thanks to my friend Gail Norton of @cookbookcooks

Inspiration  photo - Karen Anderson

Inspiration
photo – Karen Anderson

I don’t know how it came up. I think I asked my friend Gail Norton for a new recipe for a summer dessert. I was bored with my usual repertoire.

Apricots, she said.

Make a Tatin. I’ll send you a recipe.

She did and that’s where this story starts.

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Cool thing #24 – Watch this @calgaryfoodtour video and then join us for some local food, fun and adventure

Thanks to Telus TV and their OptikLocal branch for the brilliant video profile of my company Calgary Food Tours Inc.

We made this video on a rainy day in May 2014 and it captures the essence of the food tours we offer here in Calgary. They are all about food, fun and adventure and you can see my guests enjoying delicious food prepared by great local cooks, having fun exploring and sharing the adventure of a day out of the ordinary.

It’s one thing to watch the video – that’s fantastic – but the best thing of all is to come on out and enjoy a tour.

Calgary Food Tours Inc. is one of the best things that helps me savour it all. I hope you’ll come and share in the food, fun and adventures we’ve designed for our guests.

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Back on Joy Road – an alfresco dinner with @joyroadcatering and @LaStellaWinery

the setting for Joy Road Catering's al fresco "cuisine de terroir" Okanagan dinners  photo - Karen Anderson

the setting for Joy Road Catering’s al fresco “cuisine de terroir” Okanagan dinners
photo – Karen Anderson

Last week I made my annual summer pilgrimage to Penticton in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. It’s year 15 and each year gets better and brings more joy.

We have rituals that make this place a haven for our family.

Early morning cycling with friends, time for a coffee and chat, a dip in the lake when the notion strikes or if it is really hot – a chance to float lazily down the channel that cuts through this isthmus; this city lodged like a too tight belt between two very curvy lakes.

We shop at farmers’ markets, lunch at vineyards and dine on the patio. The air is soft and caresses the skin. Lavender, roses, Ponderosa pine and the smell of fresh fruit drift to the brain’s memory bank of scents and deliver a sigh and a smile in recognition. Blue sky meets blue water with pale faced clay banks lined with grapevines sloping to their steep cliffs. Life is grand and then it gets even better.

We go to an alfresco dinner with Joy Road Catering at a retreat called God’s Mountain and life feels quite complete. I’ve written about the very talented owners Dana Ewart and Cameron Smith and you can learn more about why I’m a fan of theirs here.

Read on to see what was on the menu this year, who the winery was and what it all looked like with the few photos I thought to snap here and there as the dinner progressed. I’m sorry there aren’t more. I was enchanted by the evening.

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