Tag Archives: Alberta

D-I-Y farm tours – Here’s a pitchfork full of opportunities for city folk to connect with farm folk this summer in Alberta

Me and one of my closest farming friends - Penny Marshal of Highwood Crossing Farms presenting at The Calgary Stampede Calgary Coop Showcase Kitchen in 2011 - I've learned so much about farming and cooking from Penny! photo credit - Adam Chiasson

Me and one of my closest farming friends – Penny Marshal of Highwood Crossing Farms presenting at The Calgary Stampede Calgary Coop Showcase Kitchen in 2011 – I’ve learned so much about farming and cooking from Penny!
photo credit – Adam Chiasson

Visiting Alberta’s farms and farmers – whether urban or rural – has always been a big part of my life in Alberta and summer is the prime time to make a visit. If you’d like to meet some farmers here’s some ideas I’ve collected to help you be “Outstanding in a field” this summer.

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Savour food – Great ingredients – Two Alberta cheesemakers make Canadian Cheese Grand Prix finals and here’s a dozen more to celebrate while we’re at it.

John Schalkwijk and his Award winning Sylvan Star Cheeses

John Schalkwijk and his Award winning Sylvan Star Cheeses – photo credit Karen Anderson

Taste Alberta: Two Alberta cheesemakers in Canadian Cheese Grand Prix finals.

The Taste Alberta feature above by Lisa Montorton celebrates the fact that two Alberta cheese makers, Sylvan Star and Latin Cheese Co., have both made the Canadian Grand Prix finals. When I read this piece it reminded me that I did a lot of research into Alberta cheese makers last year for an assignment I received from City Palate magazine. I don’t know who was more suprised by how many cheese makers I found in this province, me or my editor. It was a delight to discover 14 different artisans and to know we have this great ingredient to add to our larder of local.

What follows are the two pieces I wrote on this topic City Palate magazine in 2012 (updated). I hope they will be of use to my fellow Albertan cheese lovers. It turns out, we have a lots of this great ingredient to help us savour our food.

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Savour Food Savour Life – great ingredient – mustard with a side of humour

This is funny. And it’s a great ingredient too. It’s mustard; Grey Poupon, in this instance.

When I have a great ingredient I am always inspired to cook. In fact that is usually the genesis of all my cooking. Shopping for great ingredients is where it all begins for me. I have enough cooking know-how that I don’t need to start with a recipe (though I can be inspired that way too). I usually just go out to my favourite market or to my fridge, pantry or garden (well, to be honest the latter has a pretty brief window around here) and see what looks good.

Here in Calgary we have a great mustard expert, the very talented chef Desmond Johnston. When he found out that Alberta actually grows a lot of the world’s mustard seeds (see Canada Harvest mustard seeds story here)and then promptly ships them to Dijon, France to be turned into things like Grey Poupon, he thought, why don’t we make our own? He and his wife Karen Davis started doing just that in 1995 and in 2001 they started their company Brassica Mustard . Des is one of my favourite chefs to work with. He brings incredible passion, fun and energy to everything he does and that translates to Brassica mustard bursting with flavour. I’m proud to be friends with Karen and Des. They’re lovely.

Here’s a few photos of some fun times we’ve enjoyed together.

Des with Paul Rogalski at Slow Food Calgary's Feast of Fields 2008

Des with Paul Rogalski at Slow Food Calgary’s Feast of Fields 2008

When I used to run Feast of Fields for Slow Food Calgary, I could always count on Des to be there to help with set up (he's only pretending to pout)

When I used to run Feast of Fields for Slow Food Calgary, I could always count on Des to be there to help with set up (he’s only pretending to pout)

Des is a great outdoorsman & frequently forages & hunts

Des is a great outdoorsman & frequently forages & hunts

Here are some fun things to do with mustard, whether it is Grey Poupon, Alberta’s homegrown brand Brassica or otherwise.

1. Easy and Elegant Honey Mustard salad dressing - Put 1 tsp of mustard in a bowl, add 1 Tbsp of your local honey and 1 Tbsp of champagne vinegar and then gradually drizzle in 1/3 cup of organic canola oil or camelina oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Herb Crust - Put 1/4 cup of mustard in a bowl and add 1 Tbsp chopped garlic, 1 tsp each chopped rosemary, sage and cracked black peppercorns. Stir and then coat a pork tenderloin with this mix. Put in oven for 45 minutes at 375F. Juices will be slightly pink but let it rest tented in foil for 10 minutes and then slice it and it will be tender and juicy.

3. Always Perfect Beef Tenderloin - Put 1/2 cup of mustard in a bowl and add 2 Tbsps olive oil, 1 Tbsp of minced garlic, a handful of your favourite chopped fresh herbs and about 1 Tbsp of cracker black pepper and 1/2 tsp of salt and stir. Coat the outside of a 3 – 4 lb beef tenderloin roast with this mix, set it on a rack in a roasting pan and place it in an oven preheated to 450F. Immediately lower the oven to 400F and cook it for 35 minutes. Remove, tent with foil, let rest for 10 minutes then carve for medium rare always perfect beef tenderloin.

4. Mustard Meltdown - Add mustard to your next grilled cheese sandwich with a few thinly sliced pears, some prosciutto and either gouda or Gruyère.

5. Bold Balsamic Dressing - Put 1 tsp of mustard in a bowl and add 1 Tbsp of aged Balsamic from Modena (should be over 12 years old to be called aged), 1 Tbsp of Canadian Maple Syrup, and then gradually drizzle in about 1/3 cup of the very best Extra Virgin Olive Oil you own. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now your good to go with another great ingredient to help you savour food and savour life.

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Savour food – Honey – or how Valentine’s just got a whole lot sweeter

Where are the honey bees

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I love my honey and I love honey. This year I decided to bake my honey a honey-baked treat. And that got me thinking more and more about honey and where it comes from and what I really know about it anyway? I decided to do some research on it for my Alberta at Noon Food Column for CBC Radio One and so now I know considerably more and have lots of bee facts and figures buzzing around my head. But back to my love of honey. Continue reading

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Savour Food – Alberta Christmas Gift Ideas for Food Lovers

I have such a fun job. I own my own company called Calgary Food Tours and I’m a food and travel writer.  I get to explore the food of my city, province, country and the world each year and  I always meet the most incredible food artisans, chefs and small business owners.  I can’t help but fall in love with the food products I taste and sample each year because so many of them are outstanding (Let’s say I’ve also become quite good at selecting where I go and what I taste to start with).  I love to share the good news about these finds and so each year I write about them for City Palate Magazine in Calgary and today, I got to present some of my favourites on CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon in hopes of helping my fellow Albertans prepare for the Christmas holidays.

Christmas means a lot to me because it is a wonderful opportunity to savour our food and savour our lives and loved ones.  These are definately a few of my favourite things..

cue Julie Andrews

Here’s a link to the CBC podcast of my discussion with lovely host and dear friend Donna McElligott Alberta @ Noon podcast with Karen’s Alberta-made gifts for Food Lovers

and here’s my list of gift ideas and suggestions for you in case you don’t have time to listen.

Karen Anderson’s 2012 Alberta Food Lover’s Gift Giving Guide

  1. Alberta Whisky Cake – moist, fragrant, delicious whisky cakes delivered to your door
  2. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sammys-Pies/130209043721202  or call 403-931-3572 for (vegetarian) mince meat tarts made with love
  3. Field Stone Fruit Wines – yes, they’ll deliver 10 fantastic fruit wines right to your door and all the fruit is grown on their property in Strathmore, Alberta
  4. Spice Sanctuary – book a cooking retreat in Canmore
  5. Silk Road Spice Merchants – a full on-line store with beautiful gift sets
  6. Maple Leaf Spices – I love their “Nice & Easy” pouches with a recipe and all the spices you need to make it – great for travel
  7. The Salt Cellar – elegant salts from around the world blended by a world class chef
  8. On Our Table – buy a gorgeous Alberta designed cutting board or kitchen accessory for timeless kitchen beauty
  9. Stoked Oats- for the athlete on your list
  10. Food on your Shirt – fun t-shirts for the fashionable food lover
  11. Make Cheese – Kits for home cheese making – for kits and caboodles of cheese making fun
  12. The Eat Canada app - for the techie who travels and eat, the new Cross-Canada guide to great downtown restaurants

My cookbook shortlist – all Alberta Authors of course!

12. The Soup Sister’s Cookbook– the cookbook to make everyone feel good

13. Winner of Best Food Literature (Canada) at the 2012 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards FOODSHED: AN EDIBLE ALBERTA ALPHABET by Dee Hobsbawn-Smith (Touchwood, 2012)

14. Uncorked! The Definitive Guide to Alberta’s Best Wines under $25 by Shelley Boettcher (Whitecap, 2012)

15. Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution. Jennifer Cockrall-King (Prometheus, 2012)

16. Taste Canada Food Writing Awards SINGLE-SUBJECT COOKBOOKS: Spilling the Beans. Julie Van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan. (Whitecap Books, 2012)

Finally, if you are tired of the same old turkey, same old family jokes and same old punch lines, here’s a new punch line to add a little sparkle to your family’s holiday gathering.

From my home to yours please accept my wishes for peace and prosperity and may you always savour your food and savour your life.  Cheers, Karen

Karen’s Cracker Jack Apple Punch

1 – 1.89L      bottle soft apple cider (I love the organic one made by Blush Lane)

1 ½ c             Calvados – apple brandy

1 bottle        sparkling wine

10 dashes     Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged or Angostura bitters

Dash            grated nutmeg and a few cinnamon sticks for decoration

1                 iced ring of apple slices – water and one green and one red apple.

Combine all of the above in a punch bowl.

Note: Make the apple ice ring ahead by cutting a green and red apple in slices and laying them in a circle in the bottom of a Bundt cake pan.  Add enough water so they stay in place but don’t float.  Freeze them in place and then add more water to make a nice sized ring. Pour hot water over the outside of the pan and release the ring into the punch bowl when it is time for your guests to arrive.

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