Archive for ‘Food Safety Issues’

October 16, 2013

asian lake fish soup

asian fish soup

I have a huge backlog of recipes to get through, boy the harvest time is busy!

Last week my sweetie came home after a long day of fishing with the boys with 2 lovely and large fresh lake Dolly Vardens, which as I understand are land locked salmon, they are a little oilier than salmon and even yummier. I don’t buy fish ever, if you want to know why check this out. I miss eating fish a whole lot so when we go fishing and come home with fresh caught lake fish I sure try to make the most of all of it! I also decided to fillet these lovely fish myself, thankfully youtube guided me through the process and I can’t believe how much easier it was to do than I imagined. First night I oven roasted 1 fillet with a thick coat of grainy mustard, maple syrup and garlic, yum! The I started the fish stock. I boiled down the spines and tails and all the boney bits and fins with some onion and garlic all night and much of the next day. After straining the result was a deeply rich fish stock to build this aromatic Asian inspired soup with.

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October 5, 2013

pickle palooza

pickle-palooza-2013 vallican BC

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.

September 9, 2013

blue ribbon cabbage {kraut, kimchi, mu-shu, + borscht of course!}

photo

Look at these babies! Not one but two blue ribbon cabbages were grown right here at tricycle acres! Over 32 lbs of cabbage in fact and after taking home these first place prizes from the fall fair we spent much of the day using up every crisp sweet leaf of these high achievers! I favored the hearty and “biggest” cabbage, a green leaf variety that I have been calling Audry and singing little shop of horror ballots to for months now, Isis was taken with the stunning “best savoy” cabbage, who surprised us all with it’s beauty as it was hidden away behind a mountain of kale. Beauty and the Beast!

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August 29, 2013

canning 101- sept 15

101-canning-sq

Covet my canning? It might be time to learn how to ‘put up for yourself!

I am teaching a canning and preserving intensive workshop on September 15 at the Vallican Whole in the Slocan Valley of BC.

The cost is $45 for a day of chutney making, jam processing and pickle perfection. We’ll cover safe canning techniques, tips on perfecting your preserves, the basics, as well as discuss other great preservation techniques; fabulous freezing, solar and electric drying & fermenting! This will be hands on and you’ll leave with jars of everything you make in class. To register email vpg (at) rbrand (dot ca) and for more information visit tricycle acres

June 14, 2013

independence challenge here on the homestead

honey bee

I was inspired again by Independence Days by Sharon Astyk A great book I read and loved a few years back, and then I just discovered this great web ring and decided to ramble off this list and participatein the five little homesteaders Independence Challenge, so here is what we have been doing at the homestead in the last couple days to continue our food resilience efforts:

Plant Something:

Although the garden is fully planted we keep adding bits and bobs…  yesterday Isis planted: yarrow (for medicine and food) and chives both in our newest fruit tree guilds, marigold for dye and pest control, and lovage because it’s tasty and lovely.

Harvest Something:

We have been wild harvesting chick-weed for salads, wild pineapple camomile for tea, yarrow flowers for tea and medicine, red clover for tea, mint from our bog for everything, horsetail for stir fry, volunteer mustard greens which are everywhere in the garden along with, orach spinach, swiss chard and kale are all making their way into most every meal.

In fact we are challenging ourselves (and me the cook) to eat wild foraged food each day!

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April 14, 2013

our pork charcuterie

pork-platter

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:

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April 12, 2013

this little piggy

bacon

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…

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December 3, 2012

romeo rabbit

Rabbit Butchery
Vegetarians, you may not enjoy this post at all, so be forewarned!
But tomorrow I have a lovely tofu and bean recipe coming.

rabbit whole

This is the story of Romeo, our rabbit buck who was to propel our rabbit breading program forward. The idea of breeding rabbits has always been 3 fold for me: nice fur for crafting, great manure for soil building, and lovely lovely meat for enjoying. We did however has some issues trying to get the bunnies, to do what they are meant to do best. When we finally felt we had a pregnant Juliet and just as I was beginning to dream of rabbit dished for the winter, our doe made a dash one day while foraging with the chickens, out and under the fence, where a good race took flight but our playful guard dog won, and his reward, well he ate her and all the little bunnies to in utero too. It was a sad day for all of us, including her lover Romeo. The poor guy was heartbroken to loose his friend, and as the winter approached, I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep him in solitary confinment. Instead to celebrate my Birthday this week past, I requested that we butcher him and eat him, celebrating his life and time with use these past few months. And I wanted to be very very hands on for the whole process, I felt this dinner would be a great test to ensure we really do want to take another go at rabbit breading in the spring.

I was really thrilled to have a butcher friend walk us through the whole process, which compared to chicken processing, was a breeze. Way less smelly and messy and time consuming. The following day I broke down the rabbit, Which was unlike any process I was familiar with there were bones in places I least expected them and pockets of meat where I didn’t imagine, After some time I yielded a good 5+ lbs of lean meat. I left lots of bits on the bones, and today they will make a nice rabbit soup.

The rabbit meat got a good 4 hour marinade in chili, onions, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, our dried garden parsley, and some sweet paprika.

Rabbit Marinate

I wanted to cook the rabbit with as much of our own garden fair as I could, following no particular recipe, but inspired but a creamy tomatoes Cacciatore (hunter) style stew. I busted open the first jar of my precious canned red peppers, and unfroze about a dozen plump red tomatoes, used up the last of our tiny red onion bulbs, and spiced it up with our dried oregano, thyme and parsley all still hanging in the drying rack. In addition to all of that garden goodness the stew was filled also with  yellow onions and mushrooms, thickened with yogurt and garnished with fresh parsley. I quickly seared the meat for only 3 minutes of so, before adding it to the pressure cooking “Instapot” along with the deglazed pan liquids and some S+P. I set the pressure cooker to stew and let it cook for about 3 hours. The result was a tasty thick rosa sauce that we ladled over potatoes from the garden roasted golden brown, and everyone at the table enjoyed the feast, and gave thanks for Romeos huge contribution to the meal.

Rabbit Stew

The following day I cooked some Italian semolina noodles and used the rest of the stew as a lovely pasta sauce. There way even enough left overs for my daughter to get lunch out of that stew today. All that and the soup today, made for a good amount of feeding the family and friends from one rabbit.

Rabbit Cacciatore

So the end of this story is just that this is only  the begining, as we certainly plan to continue with more rabbits in the coming season, this lean healthy easy to process meat is divine, and our farm is the perfect little place for some more furry additions.
November 3, 2012

s is for seasonal

As the temperature cools down the kitchen calls for root veggies, squash, meat, mushrooms, dried herbs, the first of the early summer canning to be enjoyed, and as the tomatoes ripen and turn from green to red, they too called to be enjoyed as the last of the summers sweet jewels. Things want to be stewed and simmered slowly to help keep the cook cozy and warm these days. Breads want to be baked, and fruits sitting idle in the freezer are longing to be jammed and baked into tarts and muffins.

The other day I bought a plastic package of organic spring greens and it broke my heart. I love salad, but not like this! Not like this at all. I miss my lush bar of salad greens, which are now standing stiff and seedy, long since enjoyed. But this is not the season of fresh spring greens, it’s time for kale and cabbage salads with bits of locally crafted cheese.

Throughout the summer and spring I cook meat on occasion mainly to appease the family once in a while, but as the cold settles in my desire to braise and sear and roast some beast grows. After all our freezer is full of happy meat, lovingly raised by our friends and neighbors over the summer. I start to crave stews thick with hearty root crops, and chunky pasta sauce made with the mountains of tomatoes I ‘put up week after week this year.

On occasion a pineapple in the grocery store calls to me, or I succumb to the leafy greens in their shinny cello bags, but for the most part my meals come from the abundance of food sitting at my door step, literally! I still have pounds of Seckel pears waiting for a run through the dehydrator, and a million squash that need a winter home. I have a bucket of beets I dragged into the house today to finally pickle. The potatoes are also looking for a home, as are the sun chokes, and some lingering carrots. Most of the carrots are staying in the ground for the winter, except the ones I am transforming this week into the Burwell General Store recipe swap, watch for this on Monday, you’ll never believe what I am doing with them!

My garden beds are topped with compost and a thick layer of straw mulch waiting for a cozy snowy blanket, and the chickens are foraging and scratching up a huge additional section of garden right now depositing little nitrogen parcels all over the place, waiting for me to sculpt new growing beds next year.  Finally things are slowing down out there, and with that comes the slower, heartier food of the season.

So what I am saying is that it’s time to cozy into some seasonal warming meals. Expect more squash and potatoes, meats and other root veggies, along with the grains and beans I have hoarded away in mass. And watch for recipes that use up all the creative canned sauces, salsa’s, and chutneys I have squirreled away … ‘Oh the season of rest.

October 17, 2012

pickle palooza

I have been swamped these days not only with canning, but with putting on a celebration of putting up!

After a few years of wishing I would find time to organize a canning swap, I decided to just jump in and organize the Kootenay’s 1st Annual PICKLE PALOOZA: A Canning + Jamming+ Preserving + Prepping Festival of Local Harvest!

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September 22, 2012

storing the harvest in jars: 2012

So here it is all of my 2012 harvest canning thus far… most of which is all savory stuff aside from some elderberry cough syrup and apple butter and sauce, the jams are still to come but the fruit is all prepped and cozied into the freezer waiting for some cool fall days. WOW.

I just had to haul it all outside to really appreciate the beauty of all of this food in jars, and to take a second to take in my efforts neatly stored in glass; right from seed sowing way back in February through to this day of hauling 10 cases of jars outside for a single picture, it all makes for a HUGE amount of captured energies and satisfaction. Our cedar slab picnic table (that seats 20) is the only thing I could imagine fitting these 120 some jars.

All of this canning was done in the last 2 months (except the garlic pickled scapes those 4 jars were done mid summer).

So when I say I have been busy canning, I mean I have really been busy canning! Just wanted to take a moment this stunning equinox day to share my putting up for the cold seasons to come.

July 13, 2012

dangerous waters

I had the great pleasure of fishing last weekend with a master fisherman on my favorite lake in the world. We had a great day with lots of bites and we came home with 10 fine fish; 2 Dolly Vardens, 5 Rainbows, and 3 Kokanee’s. We invited some friends for dinner and enjoyed a great amount of fresh fish, cooked in the oven with great pads of butter, fresh dill from the garden, lemon wedges, garlic scapes, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Mmm what a perfect way to end a day in the boat, after soaking up the sun and swimming in crystal clear waters.

Fish is a real celebration in our house, a meal which we rarely eat, and *never buy. Why? because the oceans are a total mess!

Commercially prepared seafood is laden with scandal, toxins, mis-information, environmental catastrophe, species collapsechem farming and now even radiation. So I use my fork to vote that these methods of bringing fish to the table are NOT for my  family. I am sure some of you think me radical, but why on earth would I serve my family un-safe un-healthy food that is ruining my childs future planet?  I love fish, but we are sticking to eating it only on the rare occasion that we catch it ourselves (or does someone we know) right here in our very clear lakes.

I have ranted about this here in the past (back in 2010): Fishy Business, but feel this issue is important and everyone ought to be aware of what they are eating, always. Now with the onset of radioactive fish and garbage crashing into our coastline it might be a good time to get a little more informed and make some educated decisions for the health of your family.

The world isn’t a safe place, and frankly folks your local grocery store is among the most scary places around. We the consumers are expected to blindly believe that all of the endless-harvest all-seasonal all-animal abundance is packaged and safely managed using sophisticated technologies and ethical practices to bring to the shelves of these mega chain grocers everything our hearts desire everyday of the year at no cost to our planet, our bodies or our future! Geez, I am not buying it (literally).

Come on folks, time to wake up and start making relationships with your food. Grow it, Raise it, Name it,  or at least go and get to know the folks who are doing that all for you, because food is our medicine and our bodies are our temples, time to get smart. Stop trusting these multinational food chain mega corps to keep you nourished and safe, because all they care about is their bottom line.

Like this rant? Here are some others you might enjoy: Rant about Safe Food, Whats going on here?, The Corn Conspiracy, Or check out my FOOD SAFETY + SUSTAINABILITY ISSUES Category.

This blog entry is part of Fight Back Fridays at FoodRenegade

June 17, 2012

eating the koot’s

Here it is folks, my S.O.L.E.Foodie guild to eating in the Kootenay’s, why? Because so many people ask me where they should recommend their visiting friends go for a meal, and I am always going on about where to eat (and where to avoid) so I decided to make a quick reference guide for visitors and locals on my favorite foods spots in and around this area. This certainly isn’t all inclusive of the good and bad food around, just my favorite food stomping grounds!

Winlaw: Sleep is for Sissie’s, this is my top pick of the two restaurants in Winlaw. Sissies offers fresh food that is mostly organic and local, which means a lot! Plus the bakers are cute and they pump out the “good-est” goodies around ;). There is live music often and the timber framed building offers great views and atmosphere, excellent for weekend breakfasts, healthy lunches and amazing dinners.

New Denver: Sandrella is my pick for summer time food. They make crepes and delicious gelato, and while most of it is conventional fare how can you go wrong with a nutella, PB and banana crepe? Also if you can manage to make your visit to New Denver on a Friday morning / early afternoon, you can take a wonder through the farmers market, and there is always some great baked goodies to be had there.

Sandon: Pack a picnic! If you are exploring this historic ghost town there are ZERO services here not even a vending machine, but it is a lovely stop, with great photo ops, exploration and hiking trails! Some smart food truck operator should make note and set up here for the summer season!

Nakusp: Slim picking for really good food here but we were lucky enough to stumbled into Karl’s Woodfire Pizza N’More on the “main” street only to discover they offered a GREAT selection of German beers on tap, which paired perfectly with a fresh woodfired thin crusted pizza.

Now I do have one other food item I must mention for the sake of my sweetie… there is a European bakery deli (no idea what it is called but it is on the east most end of the main drag on the south side of the road) they makes a crazy pork 3 ways breakfast sandwich (frankly the very thought of makes me sick) It’s called the boss hoss and if you are a tried and true meat eater and you aren’t afraid of conventional meat or heart failure you may just love this as much as my guy does. It’s a ham and cheese bun (freshly baked in house) stuffed with bacon, eggs, cheese and sausage, then slathered in a gooey white sauce. Seriously he says it’s pork-a-lishious.

Halcyon Hotspring: Now this is a hot spring resort with a killer restaurant; Kingfisher! We love this place… I would pick this for a fancy night out time and time again, even though it’s 2 hours away! The chef is ace and the menu is local fresh and exciting. The lunch menu is really reasonably priced for high quality food, while the dinner menu is a little more dear, but they are putting out great meals, perfectly executed, with local seasonal ingredients. Enough said. They have won my heart a few times. 2013> UPDATE since writing this the chef we loved has come and gone, we have twice been back with lack luster results. Not sure I will return for a great meal, but it’s also the only thing around. Not sooo bad, but not the glorious experience we had in past.

Nelson: As Nelson is a big place I have a number of recommendations…

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February 7, 2012

smoked salmon pasta perefection

I made this dish a few weeks back, and totally spaced on posting the recipe. This is yet another easy creamy pasta recipe but this one features my own home made smoked canned salmon! The pasta I used is a beautiful shape which really holds the sauce and looks so pretty… no idea what it is called, but it was made in Italy and is a semolina egg noodle variety.

Start by cooking enough pasta to serve 4 to your liking.

Mean while in a small cast iron  pan fry:

1 tbsp butter

4 strips of lean happy local organic smoked bacon cut into 1/2 ” pieces

2 cloves of garlic finely minced

Once the bacon is crisp, add:

3-4 tbsp of organic cream cheese

S+P

1 tsp course mustard

1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Stirring often slowly add about 1/2 cup of cream then and add 1 can (pint jar) of smoked canned salmon.

Once the pasta is finished cooking reserve about 1/2 cup of the water, before straining.

Gently toss cream sauce with pasta and add some of the pasta water (just enough to keep the sauce silky and coat the noodles). Try not to break up the salmon too much, you want nice chunks… not cream of salmon.

Finish with a handful of chopped fresh Italian parsley and more fresh ground pepper.

What a great way to enjoy an indulgent pantry item like canned salmon!

* Anytime I eat fish (which is EXTREMELY) rare these days, I want to be certain of it’s origin, and how it was caught. The canning I did this fall made it easy as I caught half of it, and the local natives caught the other half, so having safe sustainable fish on hand is a real treat for our house. I never buy farmed salmon, and I never order fish when eating out. I don’t actually buy fish or meat at all in the grocery store, because frankly I just don’t trust the industrialized food industry  with the health of my family or my planet. If your still buying sole fillets from the grocery store, or bags of frozen prawns I would urge you to get informed on the current state of the seas and the food coming from it, you’ll likely be surprised and even horrified. Here is a post I did way way way back on the topic of seafood, which is full of some really great video and books to help you be a more informed consumer.

January 26, 2012

fresh off the press

Hey fellow foodies and food advocates here is some really exciting news!

The makers of Fresh the movie, are offering free online viewings of their movie for 1 week only! (Today – Feb 1)

Just click below, sign up and start streaming!

Watch Fresh the Movie 

I truly believe that everyone, everyone, everyone who shops at groceries stores for their food needs to watch this movie!

I have been really keyed into what the makers of Fresh have been doing over the past 3 years, as when it was first released I bought the rights, and hosted a 20+person movie screening in my basement, we served local food, donated by my many great farmer and organic grocer friends, and the night ended with lively conversation and inspiration.

The best this about Fresh, is that it didn’t end at the launch of this great documentary, they are very active at keeping folks up to date on the latest legislation around GMO food / fisheries / and failures in the industrial food system. They have created many petition and letter writing campaigns to fight the likes of Monsantos, and are and all round super SOLE food advocates!

I LOVE THIS MOVIE.. you will too!

December 11, 2011

pretty pickled eggs … at long last!

I can’t tell you how long I have been wanting to make pickled eggs.. but it seems no one will share in their delight with me. On this cloudy sunday morning after peaking through the mountain of eggs we have on hand, I thought… this is it! Today I will pickle up some eggs, if only for me to enjoy.

I can understand the weirdness around the idea of pickled eggs, if one has never tried them before. But frankly if you like pickles and you like hard boiled eggs… then you are certain to enjoy pickled eggs. And if you have ever been to England or a british pub in the west you are very likely to find two jars on the bar top.. one containing pickled eggs and the other likely pickle sausage or at the least big dill pickles, and aside from a pack of crisps if your hungry in the UK at a pub, your not to likely to come a cross a menu of much other than those snackables. So best get used to them!

I grew up loving both of those aforementioned pickled oditties and though it has been year and year and years since I have eaten either, it seemed high time to preserve up some of the surplus off winter food we have right now, and get back to one of my earliest childhood food memories.

In a large pot:

hard boil 18 small and medium eggs for 13 minutes (or until hard in your area based on sea level, just ensure the yoke is just cooked fully… but not overcooked and dry!)

Once cooked immediately remove eggs from the hot water and let them cool in cold water until they are easy to handle and peel.

*when using farm fresh eggs, you really need to let them sit for 3+ days before hard boiling, otherwise peeling a super fresh eggs can be a nightmare, as the oxygen barrier around the thin skin, won’t have formed yet, and you’ll end up with a mess of swiss cheese like hard boiled eggs 😦

Mean while bring brine to boil:

1/2 L water

1/2 L vinegar (I used half white vinegar half apple cider vinegar)

1/4 cup honey

2 Tbsp course sea salt

Assemble in a clean 1 L wide mouth canning jar:

6 juniper berries (dried)

10 pepper corns

2 bay leafs

plop your peeled and cooked eggs into the jar

pour boiling brine over top to cover completely, allow to cool a little before capping and refrigerating.

Let them sit in fridge at least 24 hours before eating, and then try to eat them all within a month.

* You can hot water bath process pickled eggs into smaller canning jars, for 12 minutes, if you want to give them away as gifts or store them in the pantry.

So this is a pretty easy entrance to the world of pickled eggs… who knows you night love them as much as I do!?

December 10, 2011

putting a new S in S.O.L.E. food

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.

November 8, 2011

dan dan noodles in a firey sichuan sauce

Wow this dish burned the mouths of my loved ones… while I enjoyed every spicy morsel…  and as my world got doused in snow today the idea of peppery warmth with new Chinese flavours rolled over and over in my mind, and seemed like the perfect solution for a frustrating start to the wintery season. It’s all down to a great new book I started reading “Sharks Fin and Sichuan Pepper, a sweet-sour memoir of eating in China” by Fushsia Dunlop. The book it self is a bit of a conflict for me, as I never read in the day time, and I am not usually a late night snacker… but reading before bed about mysterious Sichuan dishes in mouth-watering detail is leaving me dreaming about pepper and meat and noodles and smoke, even wondering about the texture and taste of things like rabbit head and pig ear, and even jellied chicken blood!

Dan Dan noodles mean shoulder pole noodles, which come from tradition of Chinese street vendors who carried noodles over their shoulders on bamboo poles. The storey of eating these noodles, steeped in Sichuan peppers was instantly appealing to me, and when I found a recipe to follow the chapter I was delighted. Not only did I get to play with entirely new spices and fermented flavours, but I realized just how much I can relate to wanting to eat foods that warm you from the inside when you live in a humid climate (which is still pretty new to me, coming from the dry prairies).

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November 7, 2011

cheese making 101

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I was really thrilled to go and make feta cheese with my back road buddy and goat herder / milk maid extrodonare.  The process was pretty straight forward and involved lots of sterilizing and waiting around.. luckily we had wine and lots to gab about while we were waiting for the cheese to do it’s thing.

I have made paneer and lemon / vinegar cheeses in past with some success but I had never used rennet or attempted a hard cheese before last week, and I think these feta’s are just darling, and darn tasty.

We used 6 L of goat milk courtesy of miss daisy the lovely white Nubian goat you see above. We warmed the milk then added culture, then rennet and cold water, then I giggled like a little boy as my friend showed me how to “cut the cheese”, she was a pro at it ;). There was a lot of stirring in gentle figure 8’s (the same way I stir my risotto) then we portioned the beautiful curds which magically appeared into little baskets and flipped them often to allow them to drain and set. Her chooks got the whey and we were left with 4 lovely rounds (about 1.2 kg of feta cheese). After a night of draining she made a salt water brine, and the rounds have been steeping in that salty bath for a week. I just cut into my wheel as I shot this final picture and am enjoying a big ‘ol slice right now! YUM.

Having goats is soooooooooo on my future agenda, seeing as I moved to the country to have goats and make cheese. I feel one tiny step closer to realizing that dream after my first feta lesson. And I am so grateful that their are so many charming goat keepers close by, all to eager to share some goat husbandry wisdom with me! I see feta recipes in my future… stay tuned.

October 9, 2011

giving thanks for abundance

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Along with the abundant joy and abundant fulfillment that comes with living and building our little farmstead on this stunning mountain side, in this magical valley… comes the abundance of harvest time. What a wonderful thing it is to be exhausted with putting up food. Good food, grown with love in my very own dutifully built soil… or from the overflow of abundance our friends are also sharing in. We are thankful to be in this place, in this pinnacle time, drowning in food that needs putting up.

In the last 3 days alone I have:

Shucked a mountain of dry beans, harvested nearly 1lb of dill seeds, harvested and passively dried dozens of kung pow hot peppers, in fear of the tomato blight I harvested everyone of my pounds and pounds of green tomatoes many of which are destine for a spicy green tomato salsa type relish to be canned today, we picked 3 enormous baskets of apples and pears which are drying into sweet snacking chips in a borrowed electric cadillac dryer, tonight I do both pear and apple butter batches too, I pulled blanched and froze a good little supply of purple carrots, I stowed away the last of the ancient Peruvian fingerling potato’s, I have bagged up the last of the passively dried bee balm leaves for earl grey tea, and the ancho chillies a precious few are also passively drying. I have fruit leather to make still at my daughters request (this will be shocking news to those of you who know her), and I want to dry a bunch more kale and some onion flakes from some of my wee little onions while I have the big food dryer here.

Whew!  To think this season alone (with the help of many many people I adore) I have :

canned and added to the pantry:

grape jelly, hibiscus jelly, strawberry jam, kung pow crab apple pepper jelly, smoked salmon, HP sauce, pickled carrots, dilly beans, dill pickles, & drunken apricot jam.

dried and stowed:

bushels of peppermint (or mosquito mint as I like to call it), bee balm, mullen, comfry, oregano, coriander, dill, basil, kale, peppers, peas and beans beans and more beans.

harvested and frozen:

fried chanterelle and shaggy main mushrooms, blanched carrots, beans beans and more beans, salmon steaks, dill, some roosters, strawberries, saskatoon berries, and huckleberries.

That my friends is a good amount of foraged and grown food all ready for the cold winter ahead.

no recipe today… just gratitude for the bounty of mother earth and the lessons we are learning in utilizing healing foods and giving back.

 

 

 

October 6, 2011

no flour almond butter cookies

The best thing about this recipe is it uses only 5 ingredients and takes less than 15 minutes before you can put a cookie into your mouth. These are wheat free and lactose free, super simple and pretty darn good considering they are missing nearly all of the very building blocks of good cookies requirements.

Almond butter is the key, and I find it amazing how often you can sub it for both butter and flour in baking! It’s a super protein rich energy food, that is pretty readily accessible, and way better for you than that nasty processed peanut butter spread I grew up eating. It is important however to buy organic almond butter from a reputable source… as almonds farming practises are pretty abusive to our poor little bee kingdom, trucking them across america feeding them GMO corn syrup, exhausting and killing off populations with a stressful pollination production existence. I do my best to avoid buying cheap almonds, or trail mix … but I do prefer almond butter to any other nut butter. In any case caring for the bee’s and having a future with bee’s is a good food issue to get informed on, that is if you like to eat food! maybe while your baking these cookies you can read about the bees here or do your own search google

Start with a large bowl and combine all of the following in no particular order:

1 cup almond butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp baking soda

mix well, and portion into 1 oz balls, they are lovely straight up into the oven just like this… at 350 for 9 minutes

but you could try: rolling the dough balls in a cinnamon sugar mix or top each one with a lovely little chocolate round or roll them in coconut or roll them in icing sugar (for a cracked snowy mountain effect) or add a dollop of jam to each for amazing AB+J treats!

anyway you make them, I am sure you will enjoy these little almond darlings!

 

February 15, 2011

Storing Solar Energy, in Mason Jars!

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Store & Capture Energy : A Permaculture Principle

It dawned on me the other day, as I was digging around my pantry for some yellow pickled beets, that my pantry is full of stored solar energy. The foods in those jars are a harvest of sun power delivered to my veggies and herb, stored and waiting to deliver their vital nutrients to us on a cloudy winter day. A taste of the summer sunshine and abundant harvest.

Back in the summer I made the following commitment in an earlier blog and I am still striving to follow it each day;

read more »

February 10, 2011

The whole bird, and everything from the bird.

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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.

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January 29, 2011

Rant about safe food

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.

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August 9, 2010

FoodShed: early August hot and rainy

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Another exciting week of food adventures to report! This week I am playing with lactic acid fermentation, I know it sounds scary but it is super exciting! Also I am flush with squash and zuc’s from the garden… thus the final inspiration to get me fermenting: spicy kimchi here I come! I have a huge jar of kombucha on the go right now, which Dylan’s mom started for me last weekend with one of her mother mushrooms. Talk about a daunting entrance to the world of fermenting. I have a massive Costco size pickle jar on my shelf full of pink fluid with what looks like a piece of pig skin floating in it; kinda like a science lab jar with a baby something in formaldehyde! Fortunately our family has experienced the benefits of kombucha already; both Dylan’s grandparents, his mom, and him have all reported an easing of stomach ailments upon using commercially purchased kombucha in a jar, and thanks to Helens efforts to buck the system we are now brewing our own! So let me take this all back a step and get you thinking about more commonly used fermented foods: yogurt, sauerkraut, kosher pickles, & Korean kimchi… not too scary right? Well all of these are made using a super simple, old world method of preserving foods which doesn’t require heat, which in turn doesn’t diminish the health benefits of the food being stored, and in fact in most cases the natural bacteria within the process are extremely beneficial, does PRO BIOTICS ring a bell? So not too long ago the universe seemed to be hitting me over the head with the idea of fermenting foods; A truly talented and inspiring chef from back home and fellow Permie Valerie Andrews, did a demo of sauerkraut making simply using salt and water for our PDC class in Nelson, this happened only weeks after meeting with yet another Permie who was racing home to Vancouver Island and his bucket of fermenting cabbage, I then read an earlier mentioned book “Independance Days”, where the author raved to no end about her adventures in kimchi making, right around this time Helen got her first starter kombucha mushroom, and now that I am diving deeply into any and all methods of putting up food that don’t require heat other than the sun for drying (namely because I still don’t have a stove top),  my current drowning in squash situation was really the straw that broke the camels back, enough encouragement for me to get on the fermenting band wagon. I am thrilled to share my adventures thus far!

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March 11, 2010

In Celebration of Earth Day: Food4Thought

An evening you don’t want to miss!

Being the accredited Earth Day Canada Co-ordinator for Calgary, I felt we needed a spirited celebration of Food for our city’s Earth Day Festivities. REAP quickly jumped on board and Food 4 Thought was born. This event will wrap up Down to Earth Week, REAP’s Annual education series .

Our evening will host farmers and chefs teamed up together to bring you not only amazing bites of celebrated local food, but a wealth of information and ideas on why susuatiable farming is best. This is your chance to meet your local farmers and ask them about their practises, then talk to some of the cities finest chef’s about why they go to the lengths they go to, to serve the fruits of our farmers labour.

From 6 pm- 7:30 you will Meet, and Eat, mingle and enjoy tasty conversations, then we are pround to be screening (for the first time in Calgary)

Food Fight : A documentary by Chris Taylor on the state of our food industry today, and the new revolution of sustainable food. An inspiration film about our future with real food!

More info here

March 1, 2010

WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? (rant time)

So I was sitting down to post a recipe for a really lovely venison and stout stew I made last night, when I decided I had had enough of seeing all of these new developments in over packaged microwavable processed “foods”! I just have to rant! With the common awareness seemingly increasing of our limited resources and huge waste disposal problems I  find myself in a horrified state of shock and awe upon seeing endless new products hit the market that throw this awareness to the side and continue to push the limits of health and safety, gross over consumption and waste, to a brave new marketable place.

What a sad world we live in when the newest celebrated achievement in convenience food, also provides consumers with exposure to Dioxins, DEHA + PVC’s (know carcinogens) through their breakthrough steam in plastic trays, while promoting there ultra processed,  GMO, corn filled “meals” as HEALTHY CHOICES!!! How can this be real?  Seriously, didn’t we already learn along time ago  how dangerous micro-waving food in plastic is? Why are consumers so trusting of the producers guidelines for what makes a plastic microwave “safe” Who is buying this stuff? and why?

More on Micro-waving Food and the dangers of micro-waving plastic:

http://www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Packaging-Chemicals-Food-Dec93.htm

http://www.toxicnation.ca/node/165

What about the simple over packaging of these products? Why are producers creating so much single use plastic? I think this is alarmingly clear when you look at the newest product line by Dr. Oetker … a magic rigid plastic tube, you simply add liquid to a pre measured, stabilized, preserved, artificially flavoured muffin mix, then shake, bake ‘oh and toss the now single use garbage container away! Wow.

http://www.overpackaging.com/

http://www.greenlivingonline.com/article/overpackaged

All of this is just really really sad, this isn’t food, it is garbage, toxic waste in a pretty package, and in the case of Uncle Ben’s Bistro meals, their marketing team is also reliant on half naked women to encourage sales, of this obviously unnecessary 90 second product.

February 9, 2010

Urban Chickens

Having chickens is like having a magic little production system in your yard…. where kitchen waste gets turned into fresh eggs, and nitrogen rich compost. And what could be a better step towards being more self sufficient that adding some lovely ladies to your yard to help with the work? It just doesn’t get much more local than your own backyard!

As we are only a few short months away from moving to the mountains, I think one of the many things I am looking forward to most is having chickens! If I wasn’t moving this spring I would defiantly be building a little chicken coop to house a few urban chickens, in my backyard. Instead we will be houses a couple dozen hens in a rolling coop for most of the season and our chickens will winter in a passive solar greenhouse.

As you re probably aware there is certainly some controversy across Canada and the US about home owners keeping chickens, and there is no end of regulation and bylaws which community groups are fighting, to allow folks to get one step closer to their food source.

A backyard garden along with backyard chickens just makes so much sense for so many reasons: you reduce your dependency on external food systems, you reduce your carbon imprint substantially, you increase your vitamin and mineral intake, you take control of what is in the food you are eating, you learn valuable skills, and you are reconnecting to the cycle of food.

I just finished reading a really inspiring story of an Australian family of 3 who go on a 6 month journey to sustain their family on only what they grow and barter from their backyard. It was a great read and it has helped make our future plans seem all the more doable. Also the volume of CHEESE this family made from one goat was really exciting!

Living the Good Life by Linda Cockburn

There are lots of wonderful resources out there about chicken keeping and urban farming, and here are a few of my favourites:

Resources:

http://urbanchickens.org/

http://www.backyardchickens.com/

http://www.naturallifemagazine.com/9806/chickens.htm

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCPEBM5ol0Q&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVwVbmtTyME&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsP-MljU84o&feature=fvw

For more info on CLUCK Calgary Liberated Urban Chicken Klub

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=68948494632

http://cluckurbanchickens.blogspot.com/2009_08_01_archive.html

February 3, 2010

Take a Minute to Act…

The below link will take you to Fresh the Movie’s, action petition against Monsanton’s newest product…. GM alfalfa, which is on the table to be approved this month by the USDA.

Alfalfa is a HUGE and essential seed stock in the grass fed and organic beef and pork industry, with the introduction of GM alfalfa to the western market, it won’t be long before the majority of these locally grown crops will be the patented property of Monsanto’s, as has happened already with soy (95%) and corn (80%).

We have enough GMO food in this world which we are only now beginning to see the effects of, this approval by the USDA will make eating organic meat safely all the more difficult. This is a huge step backwards and just another shinning example of the USDA protecting the interest of big business not the people. Although this is a US decision, our Canadian Food system is so reliant on the US and it’s protocol, that it is REALLY VERY IMPORTANT to take action, take a minute and let the USDA know that this is not OK!

TAKE ACTION NOW : VISIT THE FRESH PETITION

More on Monsanto’s and GM corn see an earlier blog

January 20, 2010

My two bits on buying local natural meat

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:

CRMR

Sunworks Farm

Buffalo Horn Ranch

Spragg Meats

Valalta Bison

January 11, 2010

corn

Truly you will find corn in just about every processed food item and conventional meat product you eat.

This is because corn = cheap sugar, filler and feed. Corn is cheap simply because it is subsidized by the US government to be grown on a massive scale as a monoculture in a chemical dependent militarized industry. Corn production in the US represents a backwards and petroleum greedy way of getting food to the masses: rather than growing food for humans to eat, a genetically modified commercial grade of corn is grown which cannot be consumed by humans until it is transported, refined and then transported again only to be added into foods as a non nutritional additive in everything from soda to gravy mix. Not only is this way of growing and feeding humans unsustainable it is horribly dependant on gas and petrochemical fertilizers, well those and cattle too, as feedlots are the number one consumer of this commercial corn. Except cattle are ruminants (which means they eat grass, and there bellies are made to digest grass, not corn!) But this subsidized “cheap” corn is a more cost effective and transportable way to feed unimaginably huge feed lots full of hungry cows (CAFO’s). These cows must meet the needs of the consumers who want beef to be fat and huge and marbled! Because of this cheap food, cattle are fed a constant stream of meds and antibiotics to keep them alive and there stomachs tolerating corn just long enough to get them to slaughter. So now the consumer can then buy cheap beef, which is about 8 times fatter than meat from grass fed cattle, making the burgers 8x higher in saturated fats…mmmm.

There is something seriously wrong with this picture! All of these costly inputs (gas, chemicals, energy, pollution, animal welfare, pharmaceuticals, and tax payers hard earned cash) go into making foods which are really low quality causing dangerous health concerns (diabetes, heart disease, and obesity to name a few)

The industrialized food system is a scary place, Here are some of the eye opening books and movies on this subject you should look into:

Recommended Docs: most of these you can watch as streaming video by going to rbrand.ca/watch

King Corn

Food Inc

The world according to Monsantos

Frankensteer

Books:

Omnivores Dilemma

The End of Food

January 9, 2010

fishy business

So once upon a time I was a happy Pescatarian (vegetarian that ate fish and seafood) and then I stumbled on the book bottomfeeder by Taras Grescoe and it really shook my entire principals of eating! I am however a pretty easy convert I will admit! I don’t need meat, I don’t need sugars, I don’t really miss eating junk food or fast food, and once I get an idea in my head from any reasonable source about a corrupt system, company, or a chemical process I really can walk away from ever eating the guilty food again, that goes with cosmetics, cleaners, anything!

That said this book really changed my understanding of the seas and I delved deeper into the subject of depleting seafood, toxic seas, black market fish, farmed fish, even shark and whale welfare and I found myself drowning in despair. Last night we watched end of the line a documentary which neatly summed up bottomfeeder essentially. It is a horrible story yet wonderfully impact-full to see this made into a documentary which has such a broader audience than a book does… especially for a subject matter we really don’t spend to much time thinking about. Well as a prarie dweller at least I hadn’t. I mean I knew that tuna had mercury concerns and that dolphin were often caught in tuna nets, and I did know that not so long ago the cod fisheries out east collapsed… but I didn’t really change the way I ate because of any of that knowledge (aside from my pregnancy without sushi) Fish seemed to be a food topic I just overlooked! Well that has all changed over the past 7 months…

I can’t begin to summarize what I have learned  over this time but I will recommend some docs + reading and I will not be posting any depleted or endangered fish recipes ever, likely you will not find salmon or shrimp recipes here either. Truthfully I haven’t eaten a piece of fish in forever…but I am challenging myself to cook for the first time; sardines, as they are really the most sustainable fish I can eat. I will post on the results! any who knows it might just be wonderful tasting.

In the mean time download a seachoice app or wallet  guide, and use it to help you vote with your dollars and consume with a conscious.

MUST SEE DOCS:

end of the line

shark water

addicted to plastic (you can watch this whole movie online here)

RESOURCES:

http://www.seachoice.org/

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/08/plasticoceans/

BOOKS:

bottomfeeder