Tag Archives: Karen Anderson

Mr. Abraham’s Spice Garden – cooking with coconut in the Cardamom Hills of Kerala

Mr. Abraham's cheery home - photo - Karen Anderson

Mr. Abraham’s cheery home – photo – Karen Anderson

Coconut is a great ingredient and though I love coconut, I think spices are perhaps the greatest ingredient ever given to a cook.

This post allows me to share another savoury coconut recipe but it also satisfies my longing to share my journey to a very special place in Kerala, South India.

When I planned my first trip to India, I planned it around two equally passionate quests; I wanted to meet India’s people and I wanted to go to where the spices grow.

Both of these desires were fulfilled when I found myself at Mr. Abraham’s Spice Garden in a quiet, lush corner in the Cardamom Hills near Periyar. I fell in love with the garden and of course with the garden’s caretakers.

Mr. Abraham’s garden was included in a BBC TV show and book by Monty Don called Around the World in 80 Gardens. I think it’s as close to the Garden of Eden as I’ll ever get. Read on, for the recipe and a virtual tour of the garden and you’ll see why I’ve been back and will keep going back as long as I’m able.

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Filed under Recipes, Farm Tours, Travel, Great ingredients, Time in Nature, India, food tours

CocoLoco – why coconut intake continues to snowball – my @AlbertaatNoon column for December


Today on CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon I talked about why the world’s gone loco for coconut and some ideas for using coconut in your holiday baking. The recipes can be found here and the podcast here. I’m on at the 17:44 mark in the show.

Read on for a little more background on coconut’s popularity around the globe.

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Filed under Alberta at Noon, Great ingredients, Health, Savour food

#Coconut goodies for #Christmas – recipes for my December @AlbertaatNoon column

A little while ago an invitation to meet the executive pastry chef at Calgary’s Hyatt Regency hotel crossed my desk. I had to delay that meeting until after my annual trip to India and since I knew I would be jet-lagged on my return and that I would have a column for CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon due shortly after my return, I thought it would be a great idea to have this profession chef help me with a recipe to share with Albertans this Christmas.

I knew that in the two weeks I would spend in South India I would see coconuts everywhere so I asked if chef might be willing to create a great Christmas inspired coconut dessert.

I specifically mentioned that the recipe should be fairly easy.

Here’s something I learned from this experience; what a classically trained executive pastry chef from Austria whose lived and worked all over the world thinks of as easy, might not be as easy for you and me.

Ah well, it was a delight to meet chef Sabine Gradauer and if you read on you’ll see how I fared in translating her professional chef’s notes on this recipe for Coconut Snowball Cake-pops into something you can make at home. Hopefully all was not lost in translation.

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Filed under Alberta at Noon, Cooks I know, Great ingredients, Recipes

Clear skies on first @WestJet flight to #Penticton – from Penticton Western News

Clear skies on first WestJet flight to Penticton – Penticton Western News.

This is a follow-up to my last post on the inaugural WestJet flight to Penticton that I got to be a guest for on October 26. I had a lot of fun and met a lot of very excited people. Mark Brett of the Penticton Western News took a few fun photos of me and interviewed me for the article above. I met some of the WestJet brass and representatives from Hester Creek winery. That last meeting was very handy indeed because, as it turns out, less than an hour’s flight in beautiful clear skies give a person room to dream big joy-filled dreams.

One of my winter projects this year is to follow-up on the wonderful dreams I so clearly envisioned in the highlighted article above. The photos gallery you’ve just scrolled through, might give you an idea of a future expansion for my company Calgary Food Tours Inc. I’ll keep you posted when that happens but until then, I think you’ll have a pretty good idea of where the inspiration for my dreams of food and wine tours in the South Okanagan came from. This is one of my favourite places in the world to savour it all.

For me, great food and wine – like I find when I travel in the South Okanagan of British Columbia – will always lead to joy.

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Filed under food tours, Joy, Travel, Wine

Today is a great day! @Westjet begins service to one of my favourite places in Canada – @VisitPenticton (cool thing #28)

Apricot sunset on Lake Okanagan, Penticton, B.C. - photo - Karen Anderson

Apricot sunset on Lake Okanagan, Penticton, B.C. – photo – Karen Anderson


At last there is a direct flight from Calgary to Penticton.

You can read all about it in this press release.

Thank you WestJet.

I live in Calgary so it’s obviously my favourite place in Canada.
It’s where I met my husband and we’re happy to be raising our son here. I’ve loved growing my beautiful business Calgary Food Tours Inc. in this progressive, open-minded and supportive community.

My hometown of St. Andrews, New Brunswick is my second favourite place in Canada because of its spectacular setting on the Atlantic ocean and for my deeply sentimental Maritimer roots (there’s a giant tide that pulls us back).

Canada is a huge country and I’ve explored almost every corner but after my hometown and the place I live and work, Penticton is my favourite place in Canada because…

Penticton is where I go to play, play, play!

Today’s inaugural direct flight connecting Calgary and Penticton will be a game changer for me and my family. Instead of contemplating an eight to nine hour drive through sometimes harrowing mountain passes we’ll be able to access our fun times in Penticton in less than an hour. It also has me thinking as the owner of a food and wine appreciation kind of business of all sorts of growth possibilities and partnerships. I never realized that watching Penticton develop over 15 years of family vacations might lead to this place but these are all fun thoughts indeed. They are thoughts that help me savour it all.

Penticton – I know you are ready with golf, skiing, hiking, cycling, triathlons, water, water, water, farmer’s markets, fruit stands, coffee shops, fun and funky main street shops, hidden gem eateries, micro-breweries, Elvis impersonators, hockey schools, live music, art galleries and a laid back vintage vibe that’s all too hard to find in this fast paced world.

Calgary will be coming to you. I’m filled with JOY to be coming to you today as a guest of WestJet on their inaugural flight.

Off to the airport I go!

Capt. Jaren Belrose and first officer Shauna Epp on the flight deck of the WestJet Q400 look over a map of Penticton on the ground at Kelowna International Airport Thursday while waiting for passengers to start boarding. The same type of aircraft will be used in the direct service between Penticton and Calgary, Alta. which begins Sunday -  photo credit  - Mark Brett/Western News

Capt. Jaren Belrose and first officer Shauna Epp on the flight deck of the WestJet Q400 look over a map of Penticton on the ground at Kelowna International Airport Thursday while waiting for passengers to start boarding. The same type of aircraft will be used in the direct service between Penticton and Calgary, Alta. which begins Sunday – photo credit – Mark Brett/Western News

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Filed under Cool things, food tours, Joy, Travel, Wine

a #pintxos primer for San Sebastian, #Spain

Spain's green coast - costa verde - near San Sebastian - photo - Karen Anderson

Spain’s green coast – costa verde – near San Sebastian – photo – Karen Anderson

Pintxos are small appetizers pierced with a toothpick and served from large plates on bar tops. You take what you’d like, order some drinks, take a few more goodies if you have a hankering to do so and pay before you leave. The bartender simply counts up your toothpicks, remembers what you drank and charges you accordingly. Everything is on the honour system. Everything – drinks and food – is priced from one to a few euros. The atmosphere is chilled, relaxed; easy.

This post isn’t about naming names of places you “must try” for pintxos when you go to San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque Country. It’s more about priming your palette and your mind to maximally enjoy the experience. The ritual of enjoying pintxos is a bit about food and a lot about visiting and relaxing.

Read on to see how my family got along on our recent trip to Basque country’s culinary capital.

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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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Filed under Alberta at Noon, Recipes