Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cherry Red

I'm not sure which is lovelier -- my Saskatchewan cherry pie or my Lee Valley watering can. (Considering that the creator of Lee Valley Tools grew up in Saskatchewan, I consider them both to be local commodities!) Thanks for the Evans cherries, Judith!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

CBC Radio calling - A harvest dinner

During harvest, my dad's supper was packed into a lunchbox and included nothing that couldn't be eaten with one hand (because he wanted to eat while he drove the combine). Other farmers go to the other extreme, stopping to eat a hot picnic supper delivered to the field with the whole family. My ideal harvest supper would be somewhere in between -- a cold meal that I would stop to eat in the shade of the grain truck or a grove of trees. Of course, it would be a Saskatchewan meal...

Cold chicken
Homemade canned pears
Zucchini cookies (below)

(from the cookbook Zucchini: You Can Never Have Enough by John Butler)
1/2 cup soft butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
pinch baking soda
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup raisins
1 cup rolled oats

Note: If the zucchini is young and fresh, I leave the skin on for a nice green fleck in the cookies. However, if the skin is thick I would peel the zucchini first.

Cream together the butter, egg and vanilla. Mix the baking soda into the honey, and stir into the creamed butter. Sift the flours, baking powder and salt over the creamed mixture and blend well. Add the zucchini, raisins and oats and blend until mixed. Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. (I prefer to use a silicon mat rather than grease the pan.) Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Local substitution - SOUR CHERRY BBQ MARINADE

The August issue of Food & Wine has a recipe for barbecue sauce made with tamarind because it "keeps the honey...from becoming too sweet..." Well, I thought, Saskatchewan cherries are tart. Why not a substitution? And so was born this sour cherry BBQ marinade. I first used it for baked pork ribs and today, I used it to marinate moose t-bone steaks. While the steaks were grilling, I boiled down the marinade to make a sauce. (Thank you Sue and Vance for the steaks. They were delicious!)

Sour Cherry BBQ Marinade
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup frozen tart cherries, thawed
2 cloves garlic, thinly slices

Mix together the ingredients, pressing on the cherries to release their juice.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Newspaper Column - ANNE'S APPLE CAKE

Published in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 18 August 2008.

Call me a sour puss, but I love crab apples. Growing up on the farm, I ate buckets of crab apples. I wasn’t permitted to touch the apples on the “pie” tree, which were larger and sweeter with yellow skin, but I could eat all the crab apples I could stomach. Now, I get my fill of crab apples from my neighbour’s tree which hangs over my back fence in Saskatoon.

While crab apples would make a nice pie, they are awfully small to peel and chop enough for a filling. So, I’m looking for a good source of Saskatchewan-grown apples for fresh eating and pies.
Apples have a long history in Saskatchewan, and it’s not always a happy one. The pioneers planted apples and several farms, such as that of Seager Wheeler at Rosthern, had enough apples to sell to the public. With the growing popularity of automobiles “a drive to pick fruit at a local orchard was seen as a good fall outing for the family,” according to a history of apple production published on the University of Saskatchewan website.

However, these apples were not bred for our climate and many orchards were decimated by the harsh winter of 1942. Plant scientists began work to breed new varieties of apples that could withstand the prairie cold. One of the early results, called Norland, helped to revive apple orchards in the 1980s. Since then, other new varieties have been released by the U of S, such as Prairie Sun and Prairie Sensation.

In a happy twist of fate, the cold climate is now seen as a benefit—winter kills many of the bugs that plague apples, so fewer pesticides if any are needed in the orchards, making Saskatchewan one of the best places in Canada to grow organic and pesticide-free apples. However, while the Saskatchewan apple industry shows potential, it is not yet ready to hit the commercial market. It will be very hard to break into the grocery stores, which require large quantities of perfect uniform apples with a long shelf life, but hopefully, within a few years we’ll see more u-pick orchards, farmers’ markets and family farms selling bushels of their homegrown apples.

According to Mike Noel, owner of the Petrofka Bridge Orchard north of Saskatoon, many local orchards were hit this spring with cold, hail and high winds, seriously reducing their harvest. Still, he’ll have enough apples to make and sell his Petrofka Bridge Orchard apple cidre. The Saskatchewan Fruit Growers Association lists several apple u-pick orchards on its website. Perhaps a drive to an apple orchard is still a good fall outing for the family.

Last week, I picked “pie” apples from my friend Judith’s tree and have already made this cake twice. The recipe comes from Anne Daeger of Muenster, who I met at the Humboldt Oktoberfest. She’s had the recipe for so long she can’t remember where it originated. Thanks for sharing, Anne!

Anne’s Apple Cake
For the cake:
5 large apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup soft butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cup flour

For the topping:
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup cake dough
2/3 cup flour

For the cake: Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in vanilla, salt, baking powder and flour. Remove 2/3 cup of cake dough and reserve for the topping. Press the remaining dough into a greased 9x12 inch pan. (I use a 9x9 inch pan for a thicker cake.) Cover with sliced apples.

For the topping: Sprinkle the apples evenly with sugar and cinnamon. Mix the reserved cake dough with the flour until it resembles crumbs. Spread over the apples. Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes or until the top is light brown. Anne suggests serving it with cream.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Mushroom Bus

Yea for provincial buses, which this week brought me 50 pounds of chanterelle mushrooms from the forest near Nipawin. Well, I didn't eat all 50 pounds myself, but resold them to my foodie friends. It would be nice to be able to buy Saskatchewan mushrooms in the grocery store (so why aren't there any?) but failing that, thank goodenss for the bus.

Tonight I made pasta with mushroom sauce. On the side, that's a couple of deep fried zucchini flowers, baby zucchini still attached. Yummy...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Saskatchewan menus

I would eat on the patio every evening in summer, and I would make every meal a Saskatchewan meal. Here are two recent examples:

Grilled lamb chops with chanterelle mushroom and mint sauce, new potatoes and garden beans, carrots and peas with a mustard mayonnaise. Strawberry shortcake.

Meatloaf made with beef and elk, glazed with Droolin' Devil hot mustard sauce, panfried potatoes and a baby beet and beet green salad with feta and candided walnuts. (close up of beet salad)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Prelude to Terra Madre: A Slow Feast

Exciting news! Jennifer Willems, chef and proprietor of the New Ground Cafe in Birch Hills, Saskatchewan, has been chosen to represent Canada at the Slow Food "Terra Madre" conference in Turin, Italy. Jenni has developed quite a following for her daily chalkboard menus that blend local ingredients, world flavours and her Metis heritage.

As a prelude to the trip in October, Jenni is staging a special five-course dinner on Sunday, August 24, 4-9 pm. It starts with appetizers on the lawn, soup in the kitchen garden, then into the cafe for the rest of the Sask-Italian meal. She'll compile a scrapbook of the event to take with her to Italy. It's $75 per ticket and selling quickly. For tickets, call Jenni at her restaurant at 306-749-2529.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Blue chicken eggs

My little freinds Ada and Emma asked if I dyed these eggs. No, they're naturally blue. They were given to me by my friend Eva, who got them from a local farmer. I'm not sure what kind of chickens give blue eggs, but I'm sure they're not blue.