Tag Archives: local food

#TopTenRestaurants #Calgary via @AvenueMagazine – #Congrats to No1. @RougeCal


Rouge takes first place (for the second year in a row) in the Best Tried and True category in the Avenue Magazine’s 13th Annual Best Restaurants Awards. Rouge uses local ingredients and consistently serves sophisticated and creative dishes.

Here’s Dan Clapson’s write up as well as the complete Top Ten list from the source:

Congratulations – No 1. Rouge

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Happy St. Paddy’s and Happy World Happiness Day this Friday – I’ll be speaking @cgyfarmersmarkt to celebrate Food and Happiness – Come on out and say Hi!

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If you like #LocalFood #LocalFarms and #FarmersMarkets then you’ll love finding your #SoilMate

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.

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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 – My #EdibleLandscapes #Food Column @AlbertaatNoon podcast

Holly Preston, host of Alberta at Noon proves radio people are smart & look great!

Holly Preston, host of Alberta at Noon proves radio people are smart & look great!

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.

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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

  1. 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.
  2. Wash the apples and remove the stem and blossom ends.
  3. Cut the apples in half (do not core) and place them in a large stockpot and cover with cold water.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. You’ll need 4 cups of juice (if you don’t have enough you can top it up some regular apple juice).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve all the sugar.
  10. 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.
  11. Remove from heat and skim off the pink foam that has accumulated.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.

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Savour food – The Autumn “Turkey” Tootle Farm Tour – shopping for Thanksgiving dinner at the source

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This is the third time we’ve done this particular City Palate farm Tootle tour and it always resonates with people. They start out curious about where the food for their Canadian Thanksgiving dinner is coming from and they end up grateful to our local farmers for all that goes into growing their food.
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.


 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

3                      Eggs

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
    crushed pineapple. 
  • 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. 


 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

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