Tag Archives: local food
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.
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.
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.
You can find the podcast from my Alberta at Noon food column on CBC Radio One today here.
I love feeding my CBC colleagues. They all have great palates and enjoy eating Alberta produce very much. I hope you enjoy the podcast. I’m at the 10:45 mark. Until next time…savour your food.
Savour food – Don’t be Jell-ous – Anyone can make Crab Apple Jelly – you just need a little mentoring
Crab apple jelly is so pretty. It makes a perfect hostess gift or stocking stuffer. People are always so touched by the care it takes to make something from scratch and with love, especially if it also happens to taste really good. I’m always surprised by the reaction the gift of one of these little jars of clear red jelly elicits. Friends “oh and ah” and act like they’ve just been given a rare red ruby gem. They groan and say they wish they knew how to make it but they’re just to scared to try. Scared to try? I inwardly scratch my head and think about this for awhile. I realize several things.
I grew up in a home where jam and pickle making were the norm and so smells of vinegar and bags of dripping juices do not intimidate me. I’m at home in a steamy kitchen with counters stacked with jars and bundles of fruits or vegetables. I am reasonably confident that my efforts will turn out and I’ll be rewarded with those glorious little jars to savour and share. I’ve come to realize through past efforts to organize canning bees for my local chapter of Slow Food International that this is not the case for all.
These canning and preserving the season skills that I take for granted have become known as “heritage skills”. They are rare. Without realizing it, I was mentored by my mother, father, grandmother and great-grandmother (she lived until I was 14). Most people today, are on the third generation of households where cooking consists of re-heating a prepared meal, microwaving something frozen, or taking something out of a package, plastic bag or can. Home makers were told after WWII that cooking was a chore and food needed to be convenient and cheap. In a perfect storm, the women’s rights movement reinforced this by propagating the belief that the practical art and science of homemaking was a ball and chain (I believe they should have stuck with philosophical and political ideals that were suffocating women’s abilities and rights and not taken aim at such essential life skills). So here we are in the new millenium with a few generations of people that like to watch people cook on TV but don’t know how to do so themselves. I think we were sold a bill of goods and it was not a fair trade. We lost a vital life skill.
Here’s the thing. It’s never too late and we need not be so all or nothing in our approach. We can have it all. Rights for all and life skills for all. Being able to cook for oneself from scratch with whole food is a vital part of nutrition and health. People who cook their own food eat better and weigh less. They save money. Cooking is also a great creative outlet and promotes optimal brain function because of all the executive skills it requires – planning, timing, manual dexterity, taste, tactile, olfactory, visual stimulation and use of memory. It is also a major social connector and social connection not only increases our longevity but also the success and happiness of families.
So, yes, I’m presenting you with a simple recipe for Crab Apple Jelly but I’m also encouraging you to reclaim our heritage. Learn how to cook again. Find a mentor. We are out there and happy to share. Our recipes and techniques are our gems and we’ll gladly give you our riches. The true value of cooking skills as life skill is being recognized again and though these skills are scarce, there is no need to be jell-ous. By sharing them we increase the amount of culinary and life treasure to be had by all.
Crab Apple Jelly
- Gather 4 lbs of crabapples from your tree or a neighbour’s – let’s face it, it would be hard to use all the crab apples on any tree and they’d love to give you theirs for some jelly in return.
- Wash the apples and remove the stem and blossom ends.
- Cut the apples in half (do not core) and place them in a large stockpot and cover with cold water.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently and then reduce the heat and boil gently stirring and crushing the apples until soft – about a half hour.
- Transfer the apple mixture to a large sieve lined with cheesecloth set over a large bowl and let the juice drip (without aiding or abetting it) at least 2 hours or overnight.
- You’ll need 4 cups of juice (if you don’t have enough you can top it up some regular apple juice).
- Prepare your canner, lids & jars. I put my jars in the dishwasher and run them through. When they are done, I put them on a cookie sheet in a 150 degree oven to keep them warm. I put my lids and rings in a pot of freshly boiled water and lift them out with a magnet lifter (available anywhere canning supplies are). I inherited a large canning bath from a friend who was downsizing – they aren’t expensive if you need to buy one. I fill it about two-thirds as the jars will displace volume as you set them in.
- Combine the 4 cups of crabapple juice with 4 cups of sugar (this much is needed for the fruit to gel properly) and 1 tbsp of lemon juice (I use bottled Santa Cruz organic lemon juice because it has a set pH– avoid using fresh lemons because you won’t know what the pH is & your batch may not turn out if it is too low or too high) in a deep stockpot.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve all the sugar.
- Boil hard, stirring frequently until the jelly starts to “sheet” (a cold metal spoon is used to pick up some jelly and then turned sideways – if the jelly falls off in drops, it’s not done – if it falls off in a single sheet it is done) This should take about 25 minutes.
- Remove from heat and skim off the pink foam that has accumulated.
- Pour the hot jelly into the waiting jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. I use a glass 1 cup measuring cup with handle to do this. Wipe the rims. Apply lids and screw bands on until they are fingertip tight.
- Place the jars in the canning water bath all at once, ensuring they are completely covered, bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove the canner lid, wait 5 minutes and remove jars to a counter lined with tea towels. Wrap the jars in the tea towels and they’ll cool more slowly and have more chance of sealing properly. Cool completely, admire appropriately and store.
This year we visited http://www.poplarblufforganics.com first and were thrilled to see Rosemary Wotske and Cam Beard harvesting a bumper crop including 17 kinds of potatoes, 8 kinds of carrots, 4 beets, parsnips, and cortland onions from their friend at Busy Bea farm in Monarch. We enjoyed hot from the oven Agria baked potatoes with Sylvan Star gouda, Valbella bacon bits, Broxburn broccoli, Vital Greens sour cream and butter and washed it all down with Blush Lane Organic Apple Cider.
We love to go to http://www.wintersturkeys.ca because the turkeys are so calm and well-cared for. I tell everyone we are visiting a “turkey spa” and after they listen to Darrel Winter’s passion for raising the turkeys they believe me. Darrel and his wife Corrine Dahm had a few birds smoked in nearby Langdon and we enjoyed the meat on fresh buns with Brassica mustard, crudite and brownies and http://www.wildrosebrewery.com beer.
Down to Nanton we went, to visit http://www.paradisehillfarm.ca and the Legault family who have been growing beefsteak tomatoes exclusively for Calgary Coop and their own farmgate store since 2000. We tasted Tony’s tomato salad and rockin’ salsa on Tres Marias organic blue corn chips and then it was time to head back to Okotoks for dinner.
Dinner this year was a huge treat as it was lovingly prepared by the staff at Heartland Cafe in Okotoks. Bev Pell and her team including her parents Ron and Cecile Swartz welcomed us with Bison Borcht, followed by a chiogga beet and Paradise Hill salad, rounded out with Roasted Winter’s Turkey, stuffing, roasted Poplar Bluff root veggies and maple spiced cranberry sauce. The piece de resistance was a huge slice of Poplar Bluff Bolero Carrot Cake with Praline encrusted cream cheese frosting.
Happily Bev and her Mom Cecile (who originated the carrot cake recipe) have shared this bit of sheer bliss with us. This icing and cake was the perfect end to our day and being able to share it here tops off another great year of Tootles. We’re looking forward to the 2012 season and plans are already underway. The new series will be announced in City Palate March April 2012 edition. See you on the bus.
HEARTLAND CAFÉ’S CARROT CAKE WITH
CREAM CHEESE ICING
Notes to the cook – This recipe comes from the owners of Heartland Ron and
Cecile Swartz and their daughter Bev Pell and has been in use in the café for
over twenty years. Everyone loves it and
I feel very honoured that they shared it with me.
1 Cup Canola Oil
1 Cup Brown Sugar – packed
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Nutmeg
½ tsp Ginger
1½ Cups Grated Carrot
1 Can Crushed Pineapple – drained but not dry (14 oz can)
- Preheat oven to 325ºF.
- Cream the oil and brown sugar
together with an electric mixer until well combined and fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, to sugar
mixture. Scrape down the sides and make
sure it is creamy and blended well.
- Combine the flour, baking powder,
soda, salt, and spices together in a separate bowl and blend well with a fork.
- Pour the dry mixture into the whipped
egg/sugar mixture and blend slowly until combined but do not over mix.
- Fold in grated carrot and drained
- Spray the sides of an 8 inch
springform pan or a square pan with cooking spray and bake at 325ºF for 80
minutes. Test with a toothpick first before
removing from oven – it should come out clean when the cake is done. This cake must spring back in the center or
it will fall. Adding 5 or 10 minutes
more doesn’t hurt this recipe.
CREAM CHEESE ICING
8 oz Cream Cheese
½ Cup Butter – salted or unsalted and room temperature
3 Cups Icing Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Cream the cheese and butter together
until smooth and lump free.
- Add icing sugar and vanilla
extract. Blend well spread on top of a
completely cooled carrot cake.
- Top cake with pecan pieces if
Our first stop was http://www.aspencrossing.com where owners Donna Biggar and Jason Thornhill showed us their Pullman Dining Car, kitchen garden, greenhouse and gift shop. They also treated the group to fresh coffee and homemade field berry muffins and cinnamon buns. Aspen Crossing’s dinner theatre offerings for the fall season interested many Tootlers and we all found the plans for expansion which include renovating a 100 year old prairie homesteaders “mansion” into a coffee house very exciting.
Next up was http://www.broekporkacres.com where we found Berkshire hogs happily rooting in pastures under the hot midday sun. We dined al fresco in the shade on Joanne Vanden Broek’s Pulled Pork on crusty buns along with the Bronco Buckin’ Coleslaw (it kicks Pork Butt), fresh fruit, lemon and blueberry slice, http://www.wildrosebrewery.com beer and Zora’s lemonade.
The final stop was http://www.broxburn-vegetables.com just outside of Lethbridge, AB. Paul de Jonge showed the guests around his impressive 8 acres of greenhouses and fields. Everyone loved eating strawberries in the field as they were still warm and juicy from the sun. Hilda de Jonge and the staff of Broxburn Cafe were busy cooking up a huge array of vegetable goodness for us. We started with the cafe’s signature Red pepper soup and crudite, and had a potatoe trio with fixings, broccoli salad, bean salad and fresh green salad. This all went wonderfully with the Big D’s smoked side Broek Pork ribs we brought along (Derek Davies of Big D’s in the Calgary Farmer’s Market kindly smoked the ribs for us). Wines were provided by The Organic Wine Connection and we topped off the day with Broxberry Pie and coffee for the busride back home.
What follows are a couple of the recipes that made our food so enjoyable. Recipes, like the good times we had, are for sharing.
Ingrid’s Blueberry Squares
Notes to the cook
I have substituted other berries and even peaches and this still turns out well.
2 cups flour
Pinch of salt
½ cup sugar
Enough berries to cover the crust in a single layer (about 2 cups)
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp flour
2 eggs (beaten)
2 T melted butter
1 cup coconut
Mix the first 4 ingredients and spread evenly in 13 by 9” pan, pressing down to form a crust.
Cover the crust with the blueberries or fruit of your choice.
Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over the berries and crust.
Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Karen’s Bronco Bucking Coleslaw – It Kicks Pork Butt
2 heads green cabbage, roughly chopped
3 heads red cabbage, roughly chopped
1 bag carrots, diced in food processor
2 red peppers, julienned
2 bunches green onions, sliced on diagonal
2 red onions, chopped and soaked in white vinegar
2 English cucumbers, julienned
1 bunch of cilantro chopped
1 jar Hellman’s mayo
1 cup Thai Kitchen sweet chili sauce
1 – 2 jalapenos
some of the vinegar after the red onions were drained
Do all your chopping and put everything in a huge bowl
Drain the red onions and save the
Place the 2 jalapenos, jar of Hellman’s, chili sauce and about 1/4 c of the vinegar in a food processor and process until smooth adding more vinegar as necessary to achieve the consistency of dressing.
Fold into the vegetables.
Joanne Vanden Broek’s Pulled Pork
Notes to the cook – makes a lot but freezes well
12 lbs pork shoulder or butt
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c paprika
3 Tbsp black pepper
3 Tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp cayenne
Mix the dry ingredients and rub over pork. Place in Slow cooker for 8 hours. Let sit for 15 minutes and either shred with a fork or slice thinly.