Monday, July 20, 2009

Newspaper column - Breakfast

Published in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix on 20 July 2009

You’ve all heard the advice: a healthy diet starts with a good breakfast. However, I contend that a healthy diet begins with a good Saskatchewan breakfast. So often when we talk about eating locally, we focus on the big meals—dinner with meat, veggies, salad and dessert. But it’s just as easy and just as fun to start each day with a taste of Saskatchewan.

A few years ago, my husband John and I decided to eat locally for a whole year. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. That year is up, but good habits are hard to break. We still stock our larder with locally-produced foods and breakfast is my favourite meal of the day.

This time of year, you may find me out early in the strawberry patch picking berries for a bowl of yogurt and homemade muesli. When the berries are this fresh and so delicious, breakfast is worth celebrating, so I often serve it in a martini glass. It looks as good as it tastes!

In the winter, I eat my muesli in a bowl with dried apples and cherries (that I dried myself) or with berries such as saskatoons and raspberries that I canned with a light honey syrup. Sometimes in winter, we get a warm start to the day with oatmeal porridge sweetened with honey or maple syrup.
Whether for porridge or muesli, I always try to buy a bag of oats that specifically states it is a product of Saskatchewan. My homemade muesli includes nuts and seeds (which aren’t necessarily from here), plus locally-grown flax and hemp seeds, mixed with canola oil and honey, then toasted in the oven. (I buy the flax at the Saskatoon Farmer’s Market; the hemp seeds come from The Good Seed farm at Birch Hills.)
Berry smoothies are also a great breakfast idea. We start with local Dairyland yogurt, add a banana, which isn’t local of course, and top it up with frozen blueberries, cranberries, saskatoons and/or strawberries, all locally picked, plus a dash of ground flax.
When we have a little extra time, or when company is coming, John heats up the griddle and makes wild blueberry pancakes. If I’m cooking, we might have clafoutis, a terrifically easy breakfast custard from France, where it’s traditionally made with cherries. I use a mix of Saskatchewan berries, including the local sour cherry.

Speaking of traditional, bacon and eggs in our house are always local. We get them at the farmers market, or, if we’re at a local meat shop, we pick up good Saskatchewan-made bacon and breakfast sausages. (Currently, our freezer is stocked with breakfast sausage from the Smokehaus in Martensville.)
As for toast and jam, it’s easy to be local. I make my own bread or buy it at a bakery such as Christie’s. My mom supplies the jam. While it might be hard to turn every breakfast into a local meal, here are some tips to get started:

1) Buy locally-made bacon and breakfast sausage. We have such good butchers in Saskatchewan, it’s easy to find quality products.
2) Pick extra strawberries, saskatoons and sour cherries this summer (available at u-picks) and freeze enough for a smoothie or clafoutis now and then. Wild blueberries may be found at the farmers market when they’re in season.
3) Reach labels and try to buy basic ingredients, such as eggs, oats, honey and flax, that are products of Saskatchewan.
Here's the recipe for my homemade muesli. And here's the clafoutis (pronounced cla-foo-tee), which will impress everyone at breakfast time, especially the cook!

Prairie Berry Clafoutis
2 tbsp butter
3 eggs
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups mixed Saskatchewan berries
(fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp flour

Heat the oven to 350F. In the oven, melt the butter in a cast iron skillet or large pie plate, making sure the butter doesn’t brown.
Put the eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla and salt into a blender and blend until smooth. With the blades running, gradually add 1 cup of flour and mix well. Remove the buttered pan from the oven and pour in the batter.
Toss the berries with the remaining tbsp of flour. Scatter the fruit over the top of the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the centre of the custard is set. Serve warm, perhaps with a sprinkling of icing sugar.


Anonymous said...

Hello Amy,

My comment is a little off the topic of breakfast but I still wanted to share it with u. The other day I shared a glass of rhubarb punch with some friends at their home. I am not certain how it is made but I thought that this is perhaps something that you would want to try.


fengshuifan said...

nice :)