Our valleys 2nd annual Canning & Preserving Festival is finally here! Tomorrow Sunday October 6th 10-2 @ Vallican Whole, Slocan BC. There will be canning contests for best preserves in 4 categories, a lively jar swap, experts demoing a number of preserving techniques, local farmers and producers selling their bounty. There will be food for the whole family and canning crafts for the kids! If your in the Kootenays and your keen to learn, stock up, or compete come on down and join us for this Canning Jamming Extravaganza! For more info go here.
Please excuse my absence over the past while, our friends equinox country wedding has taken over my culinary life for a time. I had the great pleasure of baking all of the desserts for their local harvest feast, along with the wedding cake, and some lovely condiments to go along with the exceptional charcuterie table, whole hog roast and the stunning seasonal dinner Chris Cho of Ayden Kitchan and Bar rolled.
We did it… a whole hog (or rather 2 hole hogs) broken down join by joint, cut by cut, by our fabulous group of 22 participants! Our Back Road Butcher Ben lead us all through a super informative and engaging hands on day of all things pig. Not only did the participants enjoy the headcheese and pate I slaved away on, but we also seared up some lovely bits of pig heart as well as a really great sweet & sour pork hock dish… I will post the recipes for the heart and the hocks early next week.
We turned nearly 400 pounds of pork into neat little bundles of sirloin butt and leg roasts, thick chops, tenderloin, ribs, and best of all the charcuterie: We rolled up the bacon sides and next weekend we will get smoking, and I am looking forward to sharing all that smokey goodness with you guys in the future. Our pigs legs have a fine destiny having been carefully packed in salt in a “meat coffin” destine for pruscuttio goodness next year, we also set aside the capicola strips from both pigs and will have our butcher do a dry cure of those! YUM. We also made dozens of sausage and learned to link and tie them off, which was really fun. I opted to season one batch with maple syrup and rosemary for our breakfast link (which we all enjoyed this morning), and the other batch was a hot chili (surprise surprise) pepper and sage sausage.
All and all we had a great day, learned a ton, shared some delicious odd bits with the group and helped propel local food resilience one step further.
Well I can say the pig ears were a HUGE success, in fact we were fighting over the last of the crunchy salty ribbons of ear. Weird right? But really nice and yes I would make those again and again, given the opportunity provided itself. It was also nice to have hard crunchy bits to contrast the soft and spreadable bits. As for the haedcheese and the pate, they looked lovely. But I must confess the pate smell was far too fresh in my mind to enjoy this experience as much as I had hoped to, and none of the diners of this charcuterie plate had ever eaten or enjoyed pate before, so it was a unique experience for all. Luckily I have lots of leftovers packed up nicely to share with pate enthusiasts and I will report back with more expert opinion (or in the least the opinions of folks who didn’t do the processing work)!
If I am totally honest this whole experience was still a little to close and fresh in our minds I think for anyone to really enjoy this pretty spread.
If you find yourself with a pigs head in future refer to my last post this little piggy for my recap of head cheese making, also I would recommend watching River Cottage Pig-in-a-Day for Hughes head cheese recipe, which is how I made my way through the process. Now if you find yourself with a fresh pig liver, and you want to try your hand at this recipes, hats off to you:
First off I need to say to my vegan and vegetarian readers the next 3 or so post are likely not going to sit well with you, the images that follow are graphic and this is the story of taking a life to nourish a family, a community and a million little critters along the way. A few months back we set out on a pork culinary adventure with the purchase of this cute fellow, and yesterday was the day that our “little piggy went to market” as they say.
The past 24 hours have been a whirl wind of processing and pushing through comfort zones and mental barriers, but let me step back a little. This little small holding adventure started a few years back with chickens and food in the ground, we have been through raising chicks, and setting hens, dispatching roosters and even raising and enjoying meat rabbits. Along the way we have helped friends with butchering cows and goats, we have been enjoying raw milk and cheese, foraging, fishing, smoking and canning, all with the intention of connecting to our food systems, all of them, even the unpleasant bits. This adventure is by far the most real, the most challenging, and for me as a cook the most humbling. When we first decided to get a pig my intention was to honor the entire animal, and to challenge myself to use every part of it, and reconnect to my humble roots where using all and wasting nothing wasn’t an ethical decision, it was simply the way of life.
So I sit here exhausted 24 hours after our pig departed his pasture, and this is how the snout of this nose-to-tail story begins…
Think about this for a minute… Gluten free chocolate quinoa cake laced with the deep dark flavors of coffee and masala spice, are you drooling yet? What about dreaming up winning $60 worth of the best organic hand-ground spices ever?! Maybe I have your attention now?!
Today’s recipe is a tribute to my favorite masala maker; I baked a chocolate coffee cake to die for (gluten free especially for her), the recipe is posted below, but first lets talk about my eatingwithSOLE, first ever GIVE AWAY:
You all know how much I adore Chamela Giri’s hand-ground traditional organic masala spice blends, I always use them and can’t imagine going back to making my own sub-par blends again. Here are some of my favorite recipes I have shared over the years here that feature her premium masalas: masala hash, slow cooker vindaloo, kale + goat palak, my garden grown korma, cosmic chocolate chai cookies, roasted eggplant masala, cinnamon chai hemp twists, channa masala guyanna style, & chocolate chai pansy cake.
Well the exciting news is that Chamela Giri has offered up to one of my followers a masala gift package worth over $60! It features all of her spice blends ( a package each of her: winter chai, summer chai, chat masala, garam masala along with a package of her new and deeply divine masala coffee (which I am totally addicted to), AND 3 sample vials of her handmade all natural powdered perfumes!
A couple weeks ago I was talking to a friend about the word sustainable, and how it really isn’t something we should be striving for. Sustainable means to steady on the course, keep things going the same way, unchanged, constant. I realize that popular environmental culture has embraced the word as did I, but when I think about how permaculture effects my daily life… my goal as a permaculturist is to improve things, and have a net positive effect on my world, not to steady on the course! Things are a mess, especially in our industrialized food system. I realized that my very blog title was in conflict with how I actually cook, and grow and eat… and the word Seasonal really resonates much more with my food world than did Sustainable. Maybe you noticed already but I have created a new blog banner and some fresh winter colours that embraces the new S in SOLE food, even in these cold months: SEASONAL, ORGANIC, LOCAL, ETHICAL… S.O.L.E. Food.
The winter certainly is a challenging time of year to eat from ones land, or even locally in most parts of this country. More and more I am learning how to use and rotate my food supply, I am well stocked up but certain items need to be utilized and restocked regularly. This means knowing that all the food I put up, is food my family enjoys (in volume) and can be incorporated into meals on a regular basis.
I can’t tell you how reassuring it feels to not have to goto the store every day or every other day for meal items. Of course I miss my garden under it’s blanket of snow but I have stashed away so much of it’s bounty that I do get to enjoy it all winter long. Eating seasonally and from my communities food shed, means going without all sorts of things… fruit for example, I just don’t really eat fresh fruit in the winter… apples of course are kicking around still as are pears, but mostly I processed them all into chips, sauce and butter. And frankly I just don’t need a pineapple in Decmber … in fact I don’t really need to invest the travel miles into the purchase of a pineapple any time of year really. I prefer sun warmed and peak ripened fruit from my own trees to the bland global gallivanting fruits from the south.
But yes I do have some luxury imports like rice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, coffee, and chocolate, (all of which I buy as ethically as possible, looking for trusted brands who nourish workers and land), but my day to day meals come largely from gardens and pastures I have dug my hands into the soil of. And this feels so good, to eat and nourish my family with.
Right now I am making butter from the heavy layer of cream on my gallon jar of raw farm fresh milk, which I trade weekly for 2 dozen eggs from my heritage birds. These chickens survive this time of year on organic layers mash, but my gardening plans for next year include a huge push to grow more chicken and rabbit feed, so that our animals are feed from our land too, well after the snow covers their forage land.
The last of our kale has been dried and eaten, and while I still have some brussel sprouts and beets and carrots out in the snow, I am now heavily relying on what I have put up to feed us. This means we are eating a LOT more meat that I am used too, along with sauerkraut, squash, potatoes, garlic, onions, pumpkin, dried fruit and veggies. I am baking a lot with oats and whole grains I am grinding fresh. We eat rice or quinoa and beans and lentils many times a week. We have a zillion eggs right now as our flock has almost tripled since last year, and I am collecting nearly 1.5 dozen eggs a day. Many of our friends are hunting so we are enjoying venison as a nice treat when we can. My freezer is stocked with cow and pork our friends raised and again we traded our services for. My pantry is full of smoked fish, chutneys, pickles, sauces, and for fruit cravings there is no end of low sugar jams and jellies made from fruit my sweet sister in law or I picked at it’s peak.
We are not starving and nothing is stopping us from going to the local organic market for what ever our hearts desire but just having a surplus and knowing that all of my efforts this last year have amounted to a good supply of real food, makes the “lean” winter months even more tasty that I ever anticipated.
Our dear friends invited us to share a roast dinner with them tonight, from the cow they recently butchered, they are a French Canadian and German family who had ever heard of Yorkshire puddings!!! If you can imagine.
Well I insisted upon making my moms yorkies in a pop over style, along with the only other essential addition to any roast dinner… MINT SAUCE! This mint sauce was the only reason I would ever choke down brussel sprouts as a kid, and I have a hard time putting any roast meat into my mouth without a drizzle of it. Mmm on lamb and beef it’s divine.. but a really special thing happens to mashed potatoes and peas when topped with both gravy and mint sauce.
In our house the entire plate of a Sunday roast dinner gets drenched in gravy and mint sauce equally and generously by everyone at the table. I think it only fair to share this glorious gluttony with my friends tonight… as well as you all.
2 tbsp dried mint crumbled (I used wild crafted “mosquitto mint” harvested from our bog in the peak of mosquito season this summer)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp organic cane sugar
1/2 cup of boiling water
1/2 cup malt vinegar
combine and serve with most anything you want to smother in deliciousness! You can keep this brew in the fridge for quite some time, no problem!
To celebrate thanksgiving last weekend, we went fishing up at Arrow Lake, and thanks to our skilful friend and guide we came home with a whack of beautiful Dolly Varden’s (a type of lovely silvery trout), and our holiday meal was a tail gate party of smoked salmon, crackers, cheese, cured meats, dried fruit and local beers followed by a soak in a mineral hot spring! Certainly this Thanksgiving will be a memorable one.
I caught a 7.5 lb fish (the second biggest of the day), as well as a smaller 4.5 lb one, these fish also happened to be the only fish I have caught since I was about 12, so it was a pretty remarkable experience! We decided that we would smoke the whole 30 lbs of fish we brought home together, so our friend filleted the lot and brined them for 5 days in a brown sugar, salt, garlic and pepper bath, which I smoked yesterday for 8 hours, mopping the filets regularly with maple syrup.
The result: a deeply smoked candy cured dry fish to die for. Well at least the fish died for the cause.
Part of my candied dolly was bound for greater things, and with half a package of egg roll wrappers in the fridge, I blended some smoked fish with cream cheese and leek, and baked off some crispy “bouche to amuse” ourselves with:)
If you find yourself in the company of candy smoked fish give this recipe a try for lovely appy:
1 cup of candied smoked fish (bone and skin removed)
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup aged cheddar cheese grated
1 small leek chopped fine
1 Tbsp grainy mustard
squeeze lemon juice
1 small bunch of fresh finely minced parsley
combine filling ingredients in a bowl
Add about 2 tbsp of filing to each spring roll, brush edges with a 1 egg wash then roll: staring by folding the bottom up, then the sides in, followed by rolling the bindle up towards the top flap, to create a neat and pretty standard egg roll wrap.
brush with oil and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes OR you can fry them oil for 2 minutes
serve warm with a hoisin sauce or a sweet chili dip.
It was a real hunter gatherer kind of day which started in the wee dark hours of the morning, as my partner set off for his first ever bow hunt, I was in bed dreaming of venison meals to come. Mid morning the hunters came back empty handed, but luckily our mushroom hunting afternoon was totally successful!
Today was our local fall mushroom class and forest foraging, and just like last year it was wonderful! There is so much about mycology to learn and taste! Last year we were flush with pine mushrooms, and this year we came home with a huge basket of chanterelles. At the end of the foraging session we enjoyed a tail gate mushroom and wine tasting… which got my taste buds fired up! I came home and cleaned and trimmed a whack of these beautiful shrooms, while deciding what kind of meals to build around them. For tonight I settled on cream of chanterelle soup, and it turned out divine and rich, and meaty with mounds of thick cut mushrooms throughout. After sharing some fungi and making this big old pot of soup we still have enough mushrooms for a few more meals!
It is one thing to forage through your garden and pick your dinner, one of my favourite things in fact to do, but the hunt of forest walking and foraging is a whole different level of rewarding and deliciousness!
Cream of Chanterelle Soup:
In a large soup pot start by frying in olive oil (about 1/4 cup of it):
I large yellow onion diced fine
3 cloves of garlic minced
about 8 cups of sliced chanterelles
Cook these all down for about 15 minutes at which time they will be golden brown and have reduced by nearly half and your house will smell divine.
Season with S+P
1 bay leaf
heavy pinch of fresh minced herbs; thyme, rosemary, and parsley
mix and add:
3 cups boiling water
2 cups of milk
2 tbsp soy sauce or Braggs
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
reduce heat and let slowly simmer for about an hour
In a small bowl put 2 tbsp potato flour and stir/ wisk really well into about 2 cups of boiling water, remove lumps and add thickener into soup.
Allow soup to cook for another 15 minutes, then remove bay leaf, finish with a sprinkle of more fresh herbs and serve.
perfect atop a divine locavore chef salad..
Seeing as I still have a mountain of smoked ham left overs, and abundant eggs from my lovely little hens along with a garden ripe with greens (and yellows and reds and purples) I decided to make the chef-iest of chef salads. Complete with red artisan lettuce, shisho leafs, escarole, lemon cucumber, sun warmed tomato, + fresh chives all from the land. The smoked ham slices are naturally raised and smoked just up the road, the croutons toasted with local organic bread, and pickles from my friends pantry. In addition to all of those lovely local goodies I toppped this salad with chia seeds and this perfect dressing:
In a re-sealable glass jar mix equal parts
balsalmic vinegar +
apple cider vinegar
mix with 2 parts hemp oil
and finely diced fresh herbs: chives, oregano, and thyme.
shake shake shake, and drizzle!
The perfect winter pick me up for a crisp taste from the garden has got to be pickled carrots! These have always been my favourite preserved treat, and we are almost out of last years batch, so I restocked the cubbards yesterday.
I used honey and apple cider vinegar in this batch along with chilli flakes and dill (3 ways), to pickle a rainbow or carrot colours! I used mostly orange carrots but some lovely yellow and purple ones as well. This recipe makes a pretty big batch and yields 14 x 500g jars
I didn’t weigh the carrots I used , but essentially I used 6 small bundles so maybe 40 medium carrots total.
Sterilize jars, lids and rings in boiling water, then you can keep the jars hot and clean in your oven set to 225 while you prep everything else. It’s really important to have a open clean work area for canning, and it’s great to have everything you need ready to go.
In a large pot boil brine:
6 cups white vinegar
4 cups water
3 cups apple cider vinegar
4 cups honey
3 heaping tbsp course sea salt
2 tbsp dill seeds
Slice carrots into sticks that work with the size of mason jars you have, allowing for the tops to sit 1/2″ below the last jar thread.
Peel and half 28 cloves of garlic (2 cloves per jar)
In each clean hot jar place
2 garlic pieces
2 tsp chilli flake (good quality organic)
1 tsp dill seeds
1 small dill flower
a few small pieces of dill weed
add and arrange carrot sticks into jars so they are snug and neat
top each jar with 2 more garlic pieces
then pour hot brine into each jar to bring the fluid up so that everything sits 1/4″ below the last jar thread.
wipe the edge of the jars clean with a hot cloth and seal with lid and process (in hot water bath or steam canner) for 15 minutes
Ta Da! Now you have pickled carrots which will be divine come winter time
*** if you use purple carrots, be prepared for the brine to be HOT PINK ***
The best thing about this soup is that all the elements all came from my garden! It tasted divine and there wasn’t a drop left in the pot after everyone had seconds, thirds and even fourths! While I was away this week my family harvested a good portion of our potato patch, and my breezeway was overflowing with spuds.. so I put them to use here, and the fresh bright lightness of these little darlings made for a silky smooth soup texture… not chunky, not too thick, just perfect!
Start by browning in a heavy bottom pot:
a hearty amount of olive oil
2 dozen halved baby potatoes
1 large yellow onion
6 cloves of sweet red russian garlic
season with S+P (and garlic chili salt if you have it)
stir often and fry for about 10 minutes, before adding 6 cups of hot water.
reduce heat and simmer for about an hour along with the following herbs and flavors:
1 handful of fresh parsley
1 handful fresh oregano
1 handful of fresh dill
2 bay leafs
after an hour or two: remove bay leafs add:
3 tbsp grainy mustard
3 cups whole fresh milk (or almond milk for a vegan version)
2 tbsp miso
combine to a silky smooth consistency with a immersion blender.
garnish with fresh herbs and nasturtium for a peppery pretty finish.
I am so grateful to be surrounded by friends who make cheese of all sorts! From the experienced goat cheese makers up the valley, who bless us with lovely raw milk each week and have perfected the art of feta and herbed chèvre, to our dutch jersery farmer friends making picture perfect gouda, to my fellow urban transplant girlfriend who has just started making goat cheese.. and is well on her way in the art of fine cheese making… with stunning little wheels of chalk white chèvre. I adore them all… my friends and their cheese’s.
Did I mention cheese is my favourite food group? When I used to own my bakeries, people always said how can you have a cookie shop and not be fat? and I always answered because I don’t own a poutine shop. Simple truth.Though I am without cow or goat or sheep for that matter at this time, it has always been my agenda to move to the country, raise goats and make cheese. Usually I am happily 1/3 of the way there.. but yesterday I whipped up a quick and easy batch of farmers / paneer cheese, with my surplus of both cow and goat milk.
It was painfully simple to make and doesn’t amount to much when compared to any of my friends curds… but it took no time, purposed my surplus milks, and it was fun. Because this paneer recipe uses no rennet it doesn’t have much in the way of depth of flavor.. it is an incredibly mild soft cheese, but torn coarsely and mixed with fresh basil and a long sweet red pepper minced up, a pinch of sea salt + a touch of hot chili flakes… and all of the sudden it’s the perfect salad and taco topper which is precisely where these dainty little curds will end up as we camp and canoe along the lake this weekend.
Basically I boiled 12 cups of milk (blended goat and cow.. which is likly is a cheese making sin.. but hey I am a newbie and don’t like to play by the rules much anyway)
Once the milk came to a boil (in a deep bottomed stainless pot) I slowly stirred and added 3/4 cup of organic lemon juice mixed into 1/2 cup of water. After about 3 minutes of stirring gently I removed the lot from the heat and continued to move the curds around for about 5 minutes.
I then strained everything into a tiny mesh cotton produce bag inside a colander, and let the curd drain. After about 30 minutes I added a weighted bowl and left the cheese for about 3 hours, then crumbled it and set it in a covered bowl in the fridge.. ready for herbs and eating. Surprisingly the texture was really really nice, not at all rubbery, it actually reminded me of nice cheddar curd (without the cheddary aged kick of course)
So the moral of my storey is, you don’t have to be a milk maid to make cheese, it’s not as scary as it sounds, and for the whole 15 minutes of effort it takes it is well worth your time. give it a try! and now I must bid you ado as the lake is to calling me…
I have added this post to a FIGHT BACK FRIDAY : FOOD RENEGADE blog circle, to read more article like this from folks fearlessly eating raw milk, SOLE food, and connecting with their food source just like me check it out here! Us Renegades should stick together!
Hockey night in chilliwak and I am staying with my wonderful sister in law this week just outside of vancouver and we are enjoying the local organic abundance of the fraiser valley… but also enjoying the canuk’s run for the cup, and their big win tonight! Friday night hockey night meant we needed to feed the crew a serious stanley cup worthy meaty man meal. The burgers I threw together were among the best I have ever had and I think I heard that repeated by a number of full mouths…
In a large bowl mix by hand all of the following:
2 lbs local organic ground beef
1 small onion grated fine
5 toes of garlic minced finely
3 slices of toasted bread (I used sprouted wheat bread) ground fine in a processor
a small handful each of fresh chopped oregano & parsley
2 tsp tequila sunrise chili blend
a generous squeeze of each: ketchup and grainy mustard
a splash of soy sauce
mix and form the above into 8 massive burger patties. Grill each side for about 5 minutes on the BBQ or until desired doneness
we made these burgers and served them with a buffet of fixings including;
maple caramelized onions (fried with butter, parsley, garlic, S+P and finished with maple syrup)
pan fried mushrooms (cooked in butter, with a splash of soy sauce and kiss of fresh ginger)
local organic arugula (nice and peppery)
oven baked local thick cut organic bacon,
sliced tomatoes, homemade pickles, and some other local CSA lettuce mix
So once all these topping were piled onto a massive toasted bun, it was really difficult to get my mouth around the bun, but certainly enjoyed the challenge of eating it… to the point of excess.
Mmm my whole house smelled fabulous as these veggies and pineapple chunks roasted away in sweet juice sending wafts of garlic, cumin, cardamon and ginger throughout my home. I think I could happily sustain myself on a diet of grilled pineapple alone…. provided I lived in a climate where it was sustainable to grow my own pineapple that is! Until then it is a guilty pleasure with a heavy carbon footprint indeed. One I indulge in very rarely but do so enjoy, especially with a spicy chilli kicker.
A savory and warm split pea soup with smoky cumin and masala spices: vegan, vegetarian, gluten and wheat free.
Why is it I always forget how much I adore pea soup until it reaches my mouth? I fall in love all over again every time I taste it. I think I have only made pea soup once before but today was the day for batch number 2.
Truly nothing grosses me out more that seeing yellowy pink chicken breasts in a foam tray wrapped in plastic film on the grocery store shelf. Nothing, well aside from mayo, but that stems from a lifelong issue I have yet to uncover, and no desire to get into at this time. From this I am sure you can assume you will not find a “super chicken salad sandwich” recipe here, ever!
But lets get back to the bird. I can’t tell you when the last time I ate conventional chicken was. The thought of beakless caged, medicated almost translucent ghost birds eating old battery house hens, cows and often times mercury and lead rich fishmeal, had all driven me to vegetarianism for years. But in the past 5 or so years I met a number of really stand up poultry farmers, who’s farms I toured and who’s birds I came to enjoy. Now I always laugh (sickly to myself) when I see pictures of a quant little farm on the packaging of any conventional meat & dairy products, as if the food in those containers comes from anything but industrialized processing compounds. Compounds where animal health and the impact on the health of the humans who eats those animals, is never calculated in to profit projections.
Well now I have my own little farm and a lovely flock of chooks which I have raised from 2 day old chicks through the slaughter, and the plucking, and the cleaning right to the fryer (as was the case for many of our roosters). We enjoy the chicken-ness of the chickens fluffing away in the garden, and we cherish the warm fresh multi-coloured eggs we collect each morning from our little feathered friends. I have learned a thing or two about chicken keeping and eating this year, but more than anything, all of this chicken-ness has given me cause to celebrate the full life cycle and all the bits of a whole bird.
It has been a while since I had a good blog rant and it’s about time…
My day today started as I read a through a number of awfully sad reports on the state of GMO and the misguided USDA partnership with my favorite Goliath company Monsanto’s, seems that Whole Food Market (the leading Natural Food Store in the US) is also in bed with the monster, and somewhere along the way this trusted brand representing organic clean and safe foods gave into profits and has made a fortune duping it’s consumers selling GMO conventional crops under their all natural banner.
GMO food is terrifying for so many reasons: it is having detrimental effects on humans, water, soil, animals, air and ozone. Simply put allowing multinational companies like Monsantos and Dow to decide that their profits are more important than our lives is criminal, and furthermore these multinational’s have gone so far as to create legislation to protect their profits. Both the Canadian and the US government have been bought and they have turned a blind eye to human welfare for the mighty buck.
If I were still in Cowtown I would soooo be here with bells on! Go Eat! Learn! Talk! Dance! Celebrate Local Food and the people bringing it to your plate! These events are so important in connecting people to their food sources. I am really so very thrilled to see all the thriving events focused on sustainable living in Calgary. Tell your friends…
Slow Stewed Goat Tacos; I was trying to come up with a witty title for this recipe; bah bah black beans, goat-ita’s, chimichangoat… you get the picture, and while I realize that it may be unlikely you have goat meat in your freezer, I wanted to share this easy, meaty Mexican dish which is great for strong and gamey meats; ground lamb, venison, or elk would all be nice slowly stewed in this blend of beer and chillis. Goat is one of my favorite meats, I adore a good Caribbean goat curry with roti, and would maybe give a toe for a firy Indian goat vindalo, seriously. This was my first time cooking goat and I was really thrilled to be given a few bundles of goat meat from some new and lovely friends who are in their first year of goat keeping and very recently they learned how to pack the gents neatly into brown paper. They now have two Nubian girls left who are sweet as pie (with another hopefully on the way) and of course milk and cheese to follow…
Sheepishly I am writing, it has been ages since my last post. I am swamped with settling in to Kootenay time, but I have lots of exciting food in the ground I can’t wait to cook and share with all of you! For now it will be at least a week before I get back to recipe posting as I am taking a 2 week course at the beautiful Mountain Water Retreat in Nelson, being served wonderful fresh whole food each day, so I am enjoying being catered to right now, and will get back to catering to my family next week! The above picture is of the new buds on my grape vines! I think there will be grape jellies and wine in my future!
In addition to the grape vines and the huge garden I have planted I am looking forward to harvesting: cherries, plumbs, saskatoons, thimble berries, elderberries, and chestnut trees, also we have found wild ginger, morel & lobster mushrooms on our land. Can’t wait to enjoy!
I am posting regularly on the building blog about the garden and progress if your interested!
If you know me, likely you know I don’t / can’t / won’t eat anything that resembles mayo, sour cream, yogurt, and the like. After avoiding cheesecake for some 18 years of my life, I realized that not all white stuff is bad, but I still have never tasted artichoke or spinach dip, although It seems to be at every bridal shower / pot luck I have ever attended. I guess the idea of never indulging in said dips inspired me to create this dish… that and the HUGE bag of baby spinach I took home from the market the other day. I also stopped by the Italian market for some divine homemade tortellini stuffed with a cheese blend, thus the no dip artichoke spinach dish.
I started this sauce with a simple roux equal parts whole wheat flour and butter (about 2 tbsp each) in a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a metal whisk this roux should start to brown, then add about 1 cup of milk or cream, along with 1 tsp grainy mustard, and fresh grated nutmeg, 1 minced garlic clove, S+P, and some dried organic lemon peel. Stir until the sauce is nice and thick, and then add ribbons of artichokes (from 1 small jar or the other half of a large can after making the below tofu dish) and a handful of a grated firm earthy cheese, parm would be fine, but I have just discovered Nostrala made in the Kootenys and aged in caves, it is FABULOUS this is what I used for this dish.
Cook fresh pasta for 5 minutes or so. In a large strainer place 4 handfuls of baby spinach, and strain your pasta water right over the fresh spinach, and quickly add the cheese and artichoke sauce, toss and serve! This has got to be better than some mayo dip at a pot luck!
On a recent trip out to the Kootenays I was served Organic Silverking Tofu made in Nelson, BC, Hands down this is THE BEST tofu I have ever had in my life! It has real substance and rich flavor. I can’t express enough how much better than anything I have tried it is! This dish is one of many I am sure will come from this new inspirational discovery.
This is a really satisfying soul warming meal that takes only minutes to assemble.
You’ll need 1 cup of Quinoa (or rice, or bulgar, or barley) cooked with a splash of olive oil and sea salt. In a cast Iron skillet bring a good amount of olive oil up to temp, and sear both sides of 4x 1 cm thick slices of medium or firm tofu, simply seasoned with S+P. Once the tofu is nicely browned set aside and slice into 1/2” ribbons. Add 2 heaping tbsp of pesto to the quinoa along with chopped artichoke hearts (2 of them) and about 2 tbsp of toasted pumpkin seeds. Toss in tofu and serve warm, with a garnish of cracked black pepper. enjoy!
What an amazing night!
I am so thrilled to have hosted a sold out group of 340 food lovers, who enjoyed fabulous food and a great amount of valuable information!
I just want to THANK again all of our amazing farmers, chefs, bakers, community activists, entrepreneurs and my fabulous tiny crew of volunteers who participated in making last night such a huge success!
Here is a summary of participants so you can track them down and support their endeavours.
Our Farmers & Producers: Winters Turkeys, Poplar Bluff Farm, Spragg Meats, Chinook Honey, Saskatoon Farm, Second to None Meats, Broek Acres Pork, Wild Rose Brewery, Alberta Greens, Verde Tea, Our Chefs and Bakers: A Lady Bug Cafe, Holy Grill, Light Cellar, Tasty Life, Route 40 Soup Company, Rouge, Fresh Kitchen, the District, Our Community Groups: SPUD, CLUCK, City Chicks, Calgary Food Policy Council, A.B.C., Big Sky Permaculture, Permaculture Calgary, Slow Food Calgary, Leaf & Lyre, Jade Ecology, Our sponsors: Bullfrog Power, Community Natural Foods, The Calgary Herald, The Calgary Public Library, Our Entertainment: Food Fight the movie, Chris Velan the musician, and Us: REAP and Earth Day Canada!
* And now that that is behind me I’ll start wading through my back load of recipes and get posting… Also we are starting to get active on our building blog again this week, as we begin making regular trips out the Koot’s to get that big ‘ol garden going, our workshops will be posted soon, for those of you who want to sling cob, mud and straw and help build our chicken heated greenhouse. Our farming adventure starts here! stay tuned.
All of the below photos were taken at amazing Alberta farms this week. I was thrilled to participate in the Galimax Trading: Chef’s Tour where I ate my way across southern Alberta one farm at a time! Thanks to Rudy for arranging such a wonderful day out, and thanks to all the farmers who welcomed, educated and fed 300 Calgary chefs! * more about this tour in a later post (likely after Food 4 Thought wraps up)
FOOD 4 THOUGHT: The big event is only days away and I am happy to announce the exciting line up of participating Farmers, Producers and Chefs who will be providing us with a “taste” of sustainable farming and eating!
Rouge Poplar Bluff Farms & Wild Rose Brewery
Fresh Kitchen Broek Pork Acres & Poplar Bluff Farms
Route 40 Soup Co. Wild Rose Brewery & Winters Turkeys
The District Spragg Meats
Holy Grill Canadian Celtic Cattle Co & Second to None Meats
And for all you gasping vegetarians just wait…
Tasty Life Saskatoon Berry Farm
The Light Cellar Chinook Honey
SPUD * offering abundant veggies and fruits
Lady Bug Cafe
* Community Natural Foods has sponsored the Uptown Concession, so we will be serving Non GMO, Organic Popcorn + all organic fixins’
There will also be multiple Community Groups present who are working in all areas of food security and backyard sustainability, Including:
Calgary Permaculture Group, CLUCK, A.B.C Backyard Bees, & Slow Food Calgary.
Food 4 Thought tickets are now one sale at both Community Natural Foods Locations and at the REAP Calgary site
Gooey Gluten Free Gouda Mac n Cheese
In this classic comfort food recipe I love using organic corn elbows, mainly because they hold up well to being re-baked, and they are yellow-orange, which makes the dish look even cheesier!
Boil to el dante 3 cups of corn elbow macaroni (or what ever you like) drain and set aside reserve about 2 tbsp of pasta water.
2 tbsp butter + 2.5 tbsp brown rice flour bubble and brown and stir constantly. grate fresh nutmeg and garlic into rue, and slowly add about 1 cup of milk or cream. season with a little squeeze of mustard and S+P (I use white pepper in this to keep the sauce all white)
When this is nice a thick (you can add extra milk if needed) add about 3/4 cup of semi soft cheese rind removed (I used a yummy French camembert) stir and them add slowly 1 cup of shredded aged gouda (SYLVAN STAR is my favorite local cheese maker) Shred an additional 1 cup of aged white cheddar, add 1/4 to this sauce, lower temp and your ready to assemble.
Add 1/2 the pasta to a cassorole dish and sprinkle with 1/4 c of the cheddar and 1/2 of the sauce, mix, and add the balance of the pasta and another 1/4 cup of cheddar. Top with white rice cheddar bread crumb and the rest of the cheese.
I didn’t have any gluten free bread crumbs on hand so I just slowly pan toasted 2 slices of bread and then smashed them all up.
Broil on high uncovered for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Dig in!
I first made this amazing tart this Christmas in a double size batch and I used cherries my boyfriends sister picked off her neighbors tree in BC and I used honey goat cheese rather than cream cheese as I did today. The cherry cheese tart was a whopping hit, and we enjoyed it into the new year (the tart pan I used was 20” so it was really big!
Today I found lovely fresh organic BC apples that cried to be turned into a tart, Also I decided to glaze it this time around, and I reached for a jar of EDIBLE GARDENS Coastal Cranberry preserve. Michael the owner of Edible Garden had done a wonderful job combining tart fruits with great quality balsamic vinegars to make stunning cheese toppers. I would have used my own fig balsamic jam made this year… but I am running dangerously low, and it will be a long time before I get to pick figs fresh off a tree again to restock!
Wholewheat Apple Cheese tart with cranberry balsamic glaze
1/2 cup soft butter, blended by hand in a large bowl with 1/3 organic cane sugar, a splash of vanilla, and 1 cup of organic whole wheat flour. Bring together until you can form a ball. Press dough into a tart pan and bake at 400º for 15-20 minutes, set aside and make cheese mixture.
1 cup cream cheese (or half and half goat cheese, mascarpone would be lovely too)blend with 1 egg and a pinch of cane sugar. Spread mix onto cooling tart crust.
Toss fruit (thinly sliced if using apple strawberries or pear) into a bowl with a little cane sugar and coat. Place the fruit neatly into the cheese, and bake for another 30-40 minutes (remove at 30 minutes if you are adding the following glaze)
In a small saucepan warm 2 tbsp of cranberry balsamic preserve, add 1/3 cup of water and a little pad of butter, bring to a low boil and allow to thicken just slightly. I used a submersion blender to get rid of the whole cranberry pieces, and make a nice bright syrup. Neatly spoon over the browned tart (not too much, just a even thin coating) and continue to bake for another 5-10 minutes. At this point my edges were already as brown as I wanted them so I placed a tart pan ring one size larger over the edge before popping back in for the final minutes.
Cool and enjoy!
This open face egg on toast is incredibly simple to make, but has both rich and satisfying flavors and textures. It is also great for the day after you have make the yummy tacos below… as I you’ll have everything on hand.
Sunny open face sandwich
fry 1 farm fresh free range egg over easy, season with S+P
slice and toast your favorite artisan bread and butter lightly (one of my favourite loafs of bread in town is from Peasent Bread, My friend Aviv is doing something really special with his business: making great bread, supporting local business, giving back to charity, and delivering his bread by bike each week) So when ever I can I track down his amazing creations!
top toast with egg:
1/2 diced avocado
crumbled aged cheddar cheese
a dollop of good quality organic salsa from a jar or your own homemade one
and garnish with a sprig of green onion or cilantro.
This past weekend we decided to make a quick little trip out to Candian Rocky Mountain Ranch (CRMR) to pick up some naturally grass raised bison, and take a walk through the buffalo and elk yards. While we really don’t eat much meat at all, the meat we do eat MUST meet very specific criteria before I consider exercising my vote as a consumer and make a purchase… It must be naturally + humanely raised, free of hormones and antibiotics, it must be local, and most importantly I really like to meet the farmers and just talk with them about their farming practice, and when possible I like to go and see their operation for myself, And that is exactly what we did on Saturday. I have purchased from CRMR before through the Millarville Market, after playing 101 questions with the super knowledgeable and very helpful team, and enjoying some tempting tastes! We went direct to the Ranch, and found the prices were a little better (as your not paying for the premium 17th ave overhead like at their retail store) Seeing the animals was really great for all of us. This is the part of the cycle of food we most often overlook, or aren’t allowed to look into. After reading only a zillion books on the subject of CAFO’s (confined animal feed operations) It was a really refreshing visit, and a reminder to me (ever the pessimist) that some people are really raising animals in environments which are contusive to healthy living, for both the end consumer and the creature who is turning solar energy into food energy for us to enjoy + be nourished by.
I think that meat is over-consumed more than just about anything in our western world, right up there next to water and petroleum, and I don’t believe it is sustainable to eat at the pace we are eating today (we being the majority of fat Westerners). So it only makes sense to ensure that when you are purchasing this product that you are mindful of the impact your purchase makes, choosing local and naturally raised animals make a HUGE and positive impact on the environment, animal welfare, the local economy, water, chemical and petroleum use. I think there are many misconceptions out there, that organic and naturally raised meats are just too hard to come by and too expensive, or that we live in Alberta and we have the best meat in the world! I challenge you to seek out some of these great businesses and see for yourself just how much better these meats taste, and consider the impact your dollars spent have made towards a brighter future.
To make this easier I have put together a list of my favorite local meat producers and lots of them have great direct pricing and bulk packages, as well most of these are easily found at local natural foods stores or at Farmers Markets: