Monday, June 29, 2009

Chicken x 4 and counting

Here we are, night #2 with a 10 pound chicken. First night was Chicken Cacciatore. Tonight, I sauteed the liver with onions. See the other meals:

Sunday, June 28, 2009


This summer, I have good intentions of trying rhubarb in savoury dishes, but I still seem to be stuck on desserts, like this one. It's a matrimonal date cake without the dates -- rhubarb instead. The recipe is from "Mrs. Marr's Rhubarb Recipes," the cookbook of the historic Marr Residence in Saskatoon. Rhubarb is apropos for a pioneer house since it was one of the easiest, quickest, most versatile vegetables in the prairie garden. Be sure to check out the annual Rhubarb Festival at the Marr Residence on the August long weekend.

Nat's Rhubarb Dessert
8 cups rhubarb
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup tapioca (I used flour)
pinch salt

Crumb mixture:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (I used 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (I used 1 cup only)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup butter, melted

Mix the first four ingredients and let set for 1 hour. Mix remaining ingredients together until crumbly. Place half the crumbs in 9"x13" pan. Cover with rhubarb. Top with remaining crumbs. Bake at 350F for about 40 min., until the crumb is lightly browned.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Chicken x 4 and counting

I bought a lovely free-range chicken from Susan Chalmers' CSA at Furdale, outisde Saskatoon. A CSA is a farm/garden where consumers pay up-front for their food, which is delivered to them through the season as it becomes ready to eat. (CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.)

I'm totally hooked on old-fashioned run-around-the-farm chickens. They've got so much more flavour and good chicken fat than factory-farm birds, which makes them, in my opinion, much better for stews and soups. The chicken breasts were thick and juicy without the addition of water, which is often pressed into grocery store chicken meat.

Here's what Susan says about her chickens: "I'm so glad you liked them. They were a huge undertaking, but I am so glad I did them. It was good for my kids to see the process of raising them to table (as well as for me), and I feel good in the fact that they were able to lead a "normal" chicken life (albeit not a long one)." If you're interested in Susan's CSA, you can call her at 343-7990.

It's a big chicken -- more than two people could eat at one sitting -- so I've stretched it into several meals, the first of which was Chicken Cacciatore. I cut the meat off the bones, saving the breast, liver and carcass for another day.

Friday, June 26, 2009

It was a shock to learn of the sudden death of Paul Beingessner in a farm accident this week. I met Paul last summer in Regina when we sat side-by-side on a panel discussion of sustainable local food production. He was a passionate and innovative activist for the rural way of life. His death at 55 reminds us the end may come at any moment, and if we are to leave our mark on the planet, we must start now. Paul's work was not done, but I do hope others will fill the void and speak as loudly and passionately as he has done. Read the newspaper acticle here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Souleio opens its doors

Souleio, Saskatoon's newest bistro, opened this week at 265 3rd Ave. S. It's a funky cafe, take-away, grocery, deli and bakery, all within a restored heritage building. With its high ceiling and bistro tables, it's remniscent of the early 19th century cafes of Paris and Vienna.

Co-owners, Janis and Remi Cousyn (of Calories Restaurant) have a passion for local, regional and artisinal food, and they've stocked plenty of items you won't find in other stores or cafes in the city.

Hours are 7 am to 7 pm, with groups renting space for private functions in the evening. Click here for the Souleio website.

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's morel season - MOREL & TOMATO PASTA

Aren't they lovely! They were picked up at Jan Lake, Saskatchewan, and shipped to me on the STC bus. I kept what I needed and resold the rest to my friends (at $10 a pound).

Morel and Tomato Pasta
First, I made a rue: Melt 1 tbsp butter in a pot on low. When melted, quickly stir in 1/4 cup flour. Stir until all the liquid is absorbed by the butter. Add 1 cup milk and whisk vigorously until the flour/butter mixture dissolves in the liquid, with no lumps. (You really do need a whisk; a spoon won't do it.)

Keep warm on a low burner, stirring now and then to prevent sticking. It will thicken. Add more milk, whisking well to incorporate. If the sauce becomes too thick, add more milk until you have a desired consistency. Season with salt.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain the pasta.

Melt 1 tbsp butted in the pasta pot. Add a handful of chopped morels. Saute until soft. Add two tomatoes, chopped. Cook until they get soft and juicy. Stir in 1/2 tsp dried thyme. When the mushrooms and tomatoes are gently cooked, stir the mixture into the rou. Heat through. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Place the cooked pasta back into the pot and heat, stirring now and then, until the pasta is hot again. Scoop noodles into a bowl and top with morel sauce. Like many pasta sauces, this one is even better the next day!

Monday, June 15, 2009


Published in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix on 15 June, 2009

I love “free” food. By free, I don’t mean no money down. I am referring to food that grows locally, year after year, with no help from human hands. Last month, I wrote about rhubarb, that favourite perennial vegetable that grows so prolifically on the prairies. Rhubarb is a “free” food because it comes back every year with no fuss and bother. Once it’s in the ground, it’s unstoppable.
This month, I’d like to pay homage to two other “free” vegetables that come up from one year to the next with no human intervention—asparagus and fiddleheads. In my garden, rhubarb really is free, but asparagus and fiddleheads are two “free” foods for which I am willing to pay, not having a source of my own.

Fiddleheads are the small tight curls of wild baby ferns before they unfurl in the spring. The name, I am told, refers to the decorative scroll at the end of a fiddle, which it resembles. Two weeks ago, I received a shipment of fiddleheads on the bus at $8 a pound. Not exactly free to me, but free for the picking to anyone inclined to go out in nature and get them. In this case, it was the folks at White Fox Gold, from an area north of Nipawin.
Given the distance, it is considerably cheaper for me to buy these “free” fiddleheads than to go out and pick them myself.
When I arrived at the bus station to pick up my fiddleheads, I discovered a dozen boxes on their way to various restaurants in Saskatoon, so it’s apparent that many local folks have been able to enjoy this “free” spring vegetable, too. Another favourite “free” spring food is asparagus. Once you plant asparagus, and get the bed going, there’s not much left to do but reap the harvest year after year. I don’t have my own asparagus patch, so I buy it at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. I saw fiddleheads for sale at the market, too.

One of my favourite “free” foods is the wild saskatoon berry. In fact, I love just about any “free” fruit. Last year, my friend Marlene knocked on a stranger’s door and asked if she could pick his plums, which she could see hanging thick in his back yard. He graciously invited her, and therefore me, to help ourselves. Later in the summer, I may go out and pick wild morel and chanterelle mushrooms. Or, I may opt to buy them. Whether I decide to pay for the gas, or pay for the mushrooms, I am excited about the prospect of procuring these “free” summer foods. I’m a big proponent of eating locally, which for me, includes the “free” food that Mother Nature so generously offers. All the better when it really is free.

Incidentally, the historic Marr Residence in Saskatoon holds a Rhubarb Festival on the long weekend of August (Sun. & Mon.), so we can all pay homage to this hardy “free” food planted by the pioneers. You’ll find more Saskatchewan summer food festivals listed here.

This pasta recipe is made with fresh vegetables as they become available in season (primavera is Italian for first green), also made with asparagus, peas, zucchini, red pepper, eggplant, broccoli, etc. In this version, I precooked the fiddleheads because it is recommended to neutralize the bitterness and mild toxins in raw fiddleheads.

Pasta Primavera
12 fiddleheads
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 chopped onion
2 chopped garlic cloves
12 asparagus, chopped
2 medium carrots, shaved with a vegetable peeler
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
salt and pepper to taste
500g bowtie pasta

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add the fiddleheads and cook five minutes. Drain.
Melt butter with 1/4 cup olive oil on medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Sauté, stirring, until soft. Add the fiddleheads, asparagus and carrots (or other vegetables of the season). Cook until vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.
Season vegetables with salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked pasta along with the tomatoes, herbs, pasta water and 1/4 cup olive oil. Toss and heat until tomatoes are soft. Serve hot straight from the pot.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Finally, herbs from the garden - CHICKPEA TOMATO SALAD

Supper was a mix of fresh and dried herbs. I picked the tiniest handful of mint, parsley and cilantro in my garden. However, I marinated the lamb with a blend of dried Greek herbs from Deb's of La Ronge. It's a flavourful mixture that comes in regular and law-salt. It was a gift, so I don't know where to buy it. If you're interested, you'll find Deb's contact info here.

Chickpea Tomato Salad

1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
3 green onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped finely
2 tomatoes, chopped
8 slices of cucumber, quartered
2 tbsp herbs (parsley, mint, cilantro)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbso fresh-squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything well before dinner so the flavours blend.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

My neighbour's mom's SCHLUPFKUCHEL

Andrea wrote: "This is the recipe for my mom's "Schlupfküchel", which some people call "Grebbel". It's a German-Russian recipe that both of my grandmothers made."

Since I am also of German-Russian heritage, I love fried bread! Here it is pictured with a hearty bowl of split pea and ham soup.

2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugardash salt

In bowl, beat:
2 eggs
3 tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup milk

Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients (add more milk if needed). Knead. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into squares (2"x 2"), cut a slit in the middle, and pull dough through slit to twist.

Heat oil in a pot, and put in a few pieces. Brown on both sides and remove onto paper towel to drain.