Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sustainable Gourmet (& other speaking engagements)

Here's a great way to eat for a great cause. It's the 3rd annual Sustainable Gourmet Dinner sponsored by the Saskatchewan Environmental Society. (Click here for more info.) I'm going to be a guest speaker at the dinner, but really, you should come for the food! It's Oct. 4 in Saskatoon. Tickets are $65 (partial tax receipt) from Rochelle 665-1915. Hope to see you there!

Other speaking engagements on my calendar:
Champagne -
Premier Festival - Saskatoon - Sept. 26, 8 pm.
Eat Locally, Think Globally - Moose Jaw Public Library - Sept. 30, 7 pm.
Eat Locally, Think Globally - Carlyle King Library - Saskatoon - Oct 21, 7 pm.
Eat Locally, Think Globally - Grosvenor Park United Church, Cumberland and 14th, Oct. 19, 10 am.
Learn to Make Pasta - City Park Collegiate - Saskatoon - Oct 22, 7 pm. (Call Suzanna to register at 665-9002)

Eat Locally, Think Globally - Bethel United Church - Saskatoon (5th St & Munroe) - Oct 26, supper 6:00, talk 7 pm.
Eat Locally, Think Globally -
SaskInDemand - Saskatoon - Nov. 15, 11 am, Nov. 16, 1:30 pm.
Saskatchewan Fruit Growers Association conference - Saskatoon - Jan. 17, 2009

World Food Day in Saskatchewan

Here's a great event in Saskatoon to celebrate World Food Day.

Take a Bite out of Climate Change: Local communities lead the way!

When: Sat., 18 Oct., 6:00 to 9:30 pm
Where: Third Avenue United Church, 304 3rd Ave N.

Come for good local appetizers, healthy eating information, community displays and inspiring presentations about climate change solutions and building resilient local food systems.

"From Hunger to Health: Food production and environmental sustainablity in Ethiopia" - Muktar Abduke Ahmed - SOS Sahel, Ethiopia

"Reclaiming Indigenous Food Culture: the Muskoday First Nation vision" - Harvey Knight, Muskoday Organic Workers Coop, Muskoday First Nation

"Feeding the Heart of the City: the core neighbourhoods build good food alternatives" - Karen Archibald, CHEP, Saskatoon

Sponsored by The Saskatoon Food Coalition, Oxfam Prairie Region and Beyond Factory Farming. For more information contact 242-4097 or sask@oxfam.ca

Friday, September 26, 2008

CBC Radio calling - Potatoes

I love potatoes any which way but mashed. But the most unusual way I've ever eaten potatoes is when they're dessert. Here's a great recipe for Italian potato cake.

My other potato favourites include: Nice Salad, Potato Fish Cakes and my sister-in-law Sherrie's twice baked potatos. (I don't have the recipe but I promise to post it asap.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fruity enough for ya?

My friend Marlene is not shy. So when she saw a tree laden with plums, she knocked on the homeowner's door and asked if she could pick them. He was amenable and Marlene invited me along. Don't we all need friends like that! Come to think of it, wouldn't it be nice to have a registry in Saskatoon so that people with unused fruit could hook up with a willing picker?

This weekend, we picked pears at Dick and Verna's house on Temperance Street. They have a big old pear tree that produces oodles of fruit. We canned them on Sunday and Tuesday evenings (12 jars in all). John helped peel and chop the pears while I sterilized the jars and made a light sugar syrup.

The recipe for the sugar syrup comes from the canning Bible "Stocking Up" --- 1 cup sugar, 1 cup honey and 4 cups water. Heat the syrup so the sugar and honey disolve. Simmer the chopped pears in the syrup until they are just soft. Scoop the pears into the jars and top up with the syrup, tapping to release air bubbles. Boil the sealed jars in water for 20 minutes.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Published in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, 15 September 2008.

Eating locally can cut the miles on the food we eat, but it certainly hasn’t cut the mileage on my car. There is no “one stop shopping” for local food, so filling the larder requires some creative logistics and more than one trip. For instance, for a couple of weeks in August, I was a regular at the STC bus depot in Saskatoon. I was there to pick up a relatively rare and coveted commodity: chanterelle mushrooms from the woods near Nipawin. About sixty pounds in all, most of which I resold to family and friends.

For a couple of years, I drove to La Ronge to search for wild mushrooms. Given that I wasn’t all that successful, the STC method provided a lot more mushrooms for a lot
less miles. In the past, I have driven into the country to pick sour cherries at a u-pick farm, but this year, my friend Judith went to France for a month and invited me to pick her cherry tree while she was gone.
However, I did get down Valley Road once to pick strawberries and twice for wild saskatoons. My family owns a piece of prairie on the Saskatchewan River where, after picking our fill of saskatoons, we shared a picnic on a high bluff with spectacular views.

In recent years, I’ve been to a fish farm, a spice farm, a salt mine, a bison ranch, a blueberry festival and a flour mill. I don’t mind driving all over God’s green acres in the pursuit of food. It’s a lot more fun and a lot more scenic than a trip to the grocery store, and it’s great to meet the people who produce the food I eat. There is a growing controversy about food miles and the assumption that closer is always better for the environment. Food that is shipped in large quantities in fuel-efficient trucks might emit less greenhouse gas than something produced locally and brought to the city once a week in an old gas-guzzling jalopy.

On top of that, the distance travelled is just one factor in the equation. Other processes can contribute to the carbon footprint such as whether the food is produced organically (less fossil fuels) or refrigerated for a long time (more fossil fuels). To illustrate this point, a study found that grass-fed lamb raised in New Zealand and shipped to England had a smaller carbon footprint than grain-fed lamb raised in England. Another researcher calculated that it takes less fossil fuel to fly beans from Kenya to England than to grow them in England, in part because Kenyan farmers work the land by hand, not big machines, and fertilize with natural manure (synthetic fertilizers are made with fossil fuels).

So, in terms of the environmental footprint, is it better to buy local greenhouse lettuce in winter or imported organic lettuce grown in warmer climes? I’m not sure, and frankly, I’m not counting.

There are other good reasons to eat locally. Local food is usually fresher, healthier and tastes better. I meet the people who produce my food and ask questions about how it was grown or raised, what’s been added to it, where it was butchered or when it was picked. Every dollar I spend stays in the local economy supporting farm families. It also encourages local processors, which creates jobs in the community, and it builds a sense of interest and pride in what Saskatchewan agriculture has to offer here at home and around the world. And every now and then, I have an excuse to jump in my car, get out of the city and go for a little drive.

If you’re interested in local food and environmental issues, check out the annual Sustainable Gourmet Dinner Oct. 4 in Saskatoon, where I’ll be a guest speaker. Details are available here.

Curried Mushroom and Lentil Soup
1 tbsp canola oil
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger root, minced
1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp dried thyme
2 cups Saskatchewan lentils
8 cups chicken stock or water
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Sauté the onion, garlic and ginger until soft. Add the mushrooms, curry powder and thyme. When the mushrooms begin to wilt stir in the lentils, coating them well with the oil and spices. Cook, stirring until all the moisture has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock (or water). Simmer until the lentils are cooked, about an hour. Add more liquid if the soup gets too thick. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Terra Firma dinner highlights

Jenni Willems served a fabulous Sask-Italian dinner at her restaurant, New Ground Cafe, in Birch Hills to celebrate her selection to attend the Slow Food "Terra Firma" congress in Turin this fall.
Here's Jenni serving appetizers al fresco

Blue potato salad

Palate cleanser - crab apple popsicle

Northern pike and new potato torta with green tomato aioli

Bison ragu with polenta

Yummy chocolate dessert (too busy eating to take a picture!)