Friday, December 19, 2008
So here's the issue: The European Union has banned beef from Canada and the U.S. because most of the cattle are fed growth hormones (i.e. steroids). The ban is based on fears the hormones are bad for our health. More specifically, that the hormones can affect the male reproductive system and contribute to the rates of colon, prostate and breast cancer.
The World Trade Organization ruled the ban is illegal because there is insufficient scientific evidence to back up the claim that growth hormones in cattle are harmful to people who eat the meat. The WTO ruled that Canada and the U.S. can retaliate against the E.U. by slapping tarrifs on imported foods such as Dijon mustard and Roquefort cheese. (Read more about it here.)
This ban affects Saskatchewan farmers, who produce about 30% of Canada's beef cattle. The U.S. and Canada argue the ban is not really about health, but about protecting the European cattle industry from competition. The Food and Drug Administration has set "accpetable daily intakes" for these hormones at which level it considers them safe for human consumption.
In a newspaper column, Kevin Hursh, a farmer who writes about agricultural issues, sides with Canadian farmers in this dispute but asks: "why can't we produce beef without hormones specifically for the European market?"
Personally, I'd rather not eat meat treated with growth hormones, even at "acceptable" levels. What about you?
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Here are some facts about the recent travels of Canadian pulse crops, most of which were grown in Saskatchewan:
- Pulse crops include peas, dry beans, lentils and chickpeas. (Pictured: product from Diefenbaker Seeds)
- About 25% are used here at home. Brand names for processed beans, lentils and chickpeas include Primo, Unico, Clic and Heinz.
- The remaining 75% of pulse crops travel to more than 170 countires.
- 90% of split peas go to India. Top countires for the remaining 10% are China, Cuba, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, U.S., South Africa, Pakistan, Columbia and Belgium.
- 50% of dry beans go to the U.S. and U.K. The remaining top ten customers are Angola, Italy, Dominican Republic, Japan, Portugal, Greece, Chile and Mexico.
- 50% of chickpeas go to the U.S., U.K., Italy, Pakistan and Spain. The next top five are Jordan, India, Columbia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Chickpeas go to about 60 countires.
- 45% of lentils go to Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Egypt and Columbia. The rest go to 92 other countires.
- In 2007, this export was valued at more than $1.3 billion.
These stats come from the January 2009 edition of Pulse Point, magazine of the Saskatchewan pulse industry. Read the full article here.
I also have an article in this edition of Pulse Point on the fabulous cherry chickpea chocolate. Read it here. There's also a page of recipes -- I'll definately be trying the mixed slaw with apples and lentils.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
I have way too many cookbooks but that doesn’t mean I don’t want a cookbook for Christmas. Cookbooks make great gifts for anyone who loves to cook. And if, like me, you love to cook with Saskatchewan flavours, there are a few special cookbooks that would be right at home in your kitchen.
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Cream butter and sugar. Separate one egg. Add yolk and second egg to the creamed mixture. Stir in vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, blending thoroughly. Chill 1 hour. Roll out dough and cut into shapes. Place on baking sheet. Using a fork, whisk the remaining egg white. Brush cookies with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. (To make coloured sugar, shake in a container with one drop of food colouring.) Bake 10 min. at 350F.
Friday, December 12, 2008
As for special dinners, here are a few recipes I seem to serve over and over:Scalloped Corn
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
2 cups creamed corn
1/4 cup onion, grated
1/4 cup red pepper, finely diced
1 cup fine bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp butter, melted
Heat oven to 350F. Mix everything in a bowl with 2/3rds of the bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a casserole dish. Toss remaining bread crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle evenly over top. Bake 1 hour. To brown and crisp the top, turn on broiler for a few minutes.
Wild Rice and Dried Cherry Salad
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 cups small broccoli florets
2 cups small cauliflower florets
3 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup dried berries (such as cherry, blueberry or cranberry)
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup thinly sliced almonds (opt.)
Mix everything together in a serving bowl. Dress with a homemade fruity vinaigrette or use a purchased raspberry vinaigrette.
2 beets, cooked
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tbsp fruit syrup
3 tbsp olive oil (or canola)
2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese
Cut cooked beets into a bite-sized dice. Heat 1 tbsp of water in a non-stick skillet. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the walnuts, cooking and stirring until the water has evaporated and the sugar has caramelized on the nuts. Remove from heat.
Make the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, fruit syrup, oil and salt to taste. Toss half the dressing with the salad greens and the other half with the beets. To serve, divide the salad greens onto four plates. Scoop the beets into the middle of the greens, scatter each with walnuts and cheese
Friday, December 05, 2008
This is good news for Saskatchewan. From some reason* honeybees in Saskatchewan produce more honey than bees anywhere else in North America, so we should have no trouble getting our 3 tablespoons a day.
*The reasons include the long hours of summer sunlight, cold winters that kill bee diseases and all those vast fields of flowering canola and alfalfa. It's a bee heaven.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Venison Stew with Apricots and Prunes
3 lbs venison cut in 1” pieces
Salt and pepper
6 tbsp canola oil
6 carrots, peeled and sliced crosswise
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup pitted prunes
1 lb (about 5) onions
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Flour for thickening (optional)
For the best results, start the stew on the morning or even the day before you plan to eat it.
Heat 3 tbsp of the canola oil in a heavy pot on medium-high heat. Season the venison with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides, about 5 minutes. Stir in the carrots and cook until slightly tender. Add the tomato paste, apricots and 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 2-3 hours. Add the prunes.
Test the meat for tenderness. If the venison is not yet tender, simmer longer. At this point, you can turn off the heat and let the stew rest until mealtime.
Before serving, peel and cut the onions into wedges. Heat the remaining 3 tbsp of canola oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they soften. Sprinkle on the balsamic vinegar. Continue cooking until the onions are caramelized and browned. Stir the onions into the hot stew.
If you like a thicker stew, scoop some of the hot liquid into a cup. Briskly stir in 2 tbsp flour until there are no lumps. Stir into the stew and simmer until thickened.
Serve with boiled potatoes or hardy bread.