Monday, March 30, 2009

Local 101

Still coming down from a great event on Saturday that gave me hope for a raised consciousness in Calgary.
Wade Sirois of Forage and Infuse Catering organized the gathering, which brought together interested eaters (..or co-producers, as they are known in locavore/slow food circles..) and producers to talk about the state of food production in Alberta.
It was a great event in so many ways. For one thing, people cried. Sounds crazy, but several of the speakers, tough AB farmers no less, got choked up talking about their experiences. It just goes to show how personal food is to our experience of the world. And for them it is about livelihood and a mission of sorts as well.
Some of the speakers were born to be advocates for this work -- Wade and Chris Vester from Blue Mountain Biodynamic Farm had the crowd hooting and applauding as they waded into some of the difficult issues no one wants to talk about (such as the government subsidization of cash crops that push out small producers, and the fact that most of Calgary's 'farmer's markets' make it very hard for actual farmers to sell food..).
Peter Haase of Buffalo Horn Ranch explained to the crowd of city folk how hard it is to be a farmer in Alberta, giving people a sense of the challenges farmers face. For me this was the most important part of the event. I think the farmers were in shock up at the front as a room of 200 people beamed appreciation and admiration toward them. For the last 50 years there has been an antagonistic relationship between the city and the rural areas in this province, and the hard work farmers do has been ignored.
Here is a short speech on the subject by Roger Epp, Dean of the University of Alberta's Augustana campus, entitled "The Need of a Beloved Country".

Another highlight.. at the end we got to eat, huzzah.. and sample local booze. I sampled (and then re-sampled..) mead from Chinook Arch Meadery. I HAD NO IDEA. It was gorgeous. I had tried European mead in the past and it is rather, er, medieval. Thick and strong. This mead was light and smooth, it tasted like a sweet white wine. Evan and I decided we'll be serving it at the wedding.

The photo above is Wade Sirois preachin' it to the masses.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Another book for the reading list..

How cool, a book on how to store bulk foods. How crazy is it that we have completely lost this knowledge in one generation. Thank goodness for authors like this.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Brussels Sprouts Pasta??

I am slowly slowly learning how to avoid waste in the kitchen and use what I have on hand instead of choosing a recipe and then buying more ingredients to make it. Thanks to the internets, I have found so many good things just googling what I have on hand.

Today I am trying Pasta with Hashed Brussels Sprouts and Pine Nuts courtesy of Orangette. It would never occur to me that brussels would work in a pasta.. but it is really tasty. Comfort food for sure.

Check out the pic, I had no idea they looked so bizarre on the plant... it's from

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Local(ish) Hoisin sauce replacement

It has started to bother me that the only things left in the fridge with either high fructose corn syrup or other unpronounceable chemicals in them are sauces. I can make my own vinaigrette etc., but what about some of the things I can't duplicate (no local source of lemongrass or tamarind as far as I know..)?
I just recently got some amazing miso from The Light Cellar. It is out of this world, and I don't care if admitting that makes me a total veggie geek. It is non-soy.. rice and garbanzo beans, produced in Canada although I'm not sure where.
I found a recipe for a stirfry sauce that was really nice:
2 t. green thai curry paste
1/4 c. maple syrup
2 T miso.
It was fabulous, and very reminiscent of hoisin. So from now on, maple syrup and miso will replace hoisin in my recipes. I won't be able to avoid buying some pastes if I want to make asian food.. but I'm happy to find a cheap alternative to buying a sauce shipped from China. Sometimes you gotta start with local continent and work from there..

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How cool..

Check out this design student's idea for a fridge of the future.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Food storage on the go

I've been looking all over for these, and have finally found some Canadian suppliers. My goal has been to find food containers that are portable, can bang around at the bottom of my bag without leaking, and allow me to heat up food without nuking in plastic.

Ashton Green has Lock and Lock Glass Containers.

... and the very cool Loomm bowl.. not that I can justify $35.00 for something I might lose. It has a ceramic bowl with a silicone outer shell and a lid that seals the top.

I also found Kids Konserve, in the US, that sells stainless steel containers and lunch kits.

Spring is sproinging

I have pussy willows in the back yard which I take as a good sign of things to come! Here is a pic of the good times to hold me through the delirious highs and soul crushing lows of the next month, which is sure to be full of gorgeous sun and mud followed by snow and frost.. As my friend Karen said, in Calgary you learn to hold the current conditions lightly and not get too attached, because they are sure to change..

The growing interest in local issues and connecting with one's food supply is starting to gain traction in the mainstream, even in Cowtown, AB, "The Texas of Canada" as Wonkette so aptly put it.

This week's Fast Forward Magazine, the local entertainment paper which, interestingly, has become the best source of critical local journalism around town (aside from the vaunted Alberta Views of course..), features an 'Activist Guide' with a focus on local food and sustainability issues.

The Rise of the Locavore

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Green mashed potatoes

I have tried, really tried to like dandelion greens. They are pretty bitter though, and anytime I have tried to cook with them I've ended up with something gag-inducing. This recipe for Green Potatoes looks pretty appealing however, maybe I'll give them another shot. I'm guessing the potatoes mellow out the bite of the dandelion. Bittman says that potatoes mashed with olive oil are a wonderful thing, and I have to agree. At the Cookbook Co. demonstration meal with Scott Pohorelic we had mashed potatoes with canola oil. The recipe called for 1/2 c. of canola oil for 5 lbs. of potatoes, which I initially thought was a lot.. but the taste wonderful. I think I will try Bittman's recipe with local canola instead of olive oil and see how it goes. Here's the video demonstration. Image from the NYTimes.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Which Milk Container Has the Lowest Carbon Emissions?

Which Milk Container Has the Lowest Carbon Emissions?

These are the kinds of calculations one does at the grocery store.. I have stopped getting glass even though the milk tastes better and keeps a week longer. Maybe one day I'll be able to get Vital Greens milk delivered to my door..

Split Pea Soup

Another soup recipe. I cannot believe how good this is.. I made this at 10 pm, as I am wont to do, but it was too good to pass up so I had my first bowl of it at 11.30 at night. Ridiculous. I took suggestions from several recipes and hacked it all together. Some vegetarian recipes suggest using veggie bacon, but I skipped that (have you seen the ingredient list on premade fake meat? scary..) in favor of a bit of liquid smoke. The smoke plus the cloves and mustard give this an unnervingly convincing ham flavor.

Embedded Recipe Image (Unsupported on IE 7 and earlier)
Split Pea Soup



  1. 2 cups dry split peas
  2. 7 cups of water
  3. 2 bay leaves
  4. 2 Tsp salt
  5. 1 Tsp dry mustard
  6. 2 medium onions, chopped
  7. 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  8. 3 stalks celery, chopped
  9. 1 small potato, sliced
  10. 5 whole cloves
  11. 2 shakes of liquid smoke
  12. 1 Tbs canola oil


  1. Put split peas, water, salt, bay leaves, and dry mustard in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for about 30 minutes.
  2. Add vegetables, garlic, and cloves and simmer for an hour. Add water if necessary.
  3. Stir in two shakes of liquid smoke and the canola oil and serve.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Choose Recycled Content Toilet Paper: Save Ancient Forests

Choose Recycled Content Toilet Paper: Save Ancient Forests

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Seedy Saturday

This will be my first year going to Seedy Saturday.. a seed exchange meant to encourage seed collection by local gardeners. One of the reasons community seed banks are necessary is because most of the seeds one buys at the store create plants that produce infertile seeds. This is in suppliers' self interest, because it means you will buy seeds every year. Even seed distributors that appear environmentally friendly can partake in some questionable practices, for example Seeds of Change (which I bought last year thinking they were a good thing..) See Homegrown Evolution's post on the subject. Canada has a national seed bank called The Seed Sanctuary.