Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fresh greens - GROW YOUR OWN LENTIL SPROUTS

Is it -30 again?!#%? I might go crazy if not for that spot of green growing in my kitchen window. Sprouts are an excellent way to get fresh greens in the dead of a Saskatchewan winter. It takes about 5 days to grow a batch of sprouts. Here's a batch of lentils on Day 1: Soak for a couple hours in a jar of water. These are ordinary brown lentils purchased from the grocery store.


Day 2: Sprouts are rinsed and drained twice a day.

Day 4: nicely sprouted
Day 5: Eat!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A pheasant dinner - PHEASANT CACCIATORE

Before --------------------------------------------After


Of course, this pheasant has story: Sue and Vance bagged it down by Grasslands National Park. They gave it to me on New Year's Day, which was so bloody cold that I left the bird in the back of my car for a few days. One evening I met some friends (Sue and Vance among them) at Boffins for a drink and a skate, and I told them there was a pheasant in the back of my car. Later, when I came out to my car, the pheasant was gone.

Who on earth would steal a dead bird from the back of a car? No one, as it seems. We found Mr. Pheasant behind the steering wheel buckled in as if he were the chauffer! Quite a sight, I tell you. The funny thing is, we'd been making pecker jokes all evening -- as in Keep Your Pecker Up -- which in England means Keep Your Chin Up -- the pecker being a beak. So, in my best fake English accent (apologies to Tina), may I say that The pecker was in the driver's seat!


All that aside, it was quite tasty in the slow cooked Italian dish called cacciatore. You'll find the recipe at this post.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Local chefs in the Star Phoenix

Two local restauranteurs were singing the praises of local food yesterday at the annual gathering of farmers during Crop Production Week. They are Jenni Willems of the New Ground Cafe in Birch Hills and Moe Mathieu of Willow on Wascana in Regina. As Chef Mathieu puts it, the combination of great local food and great chefs has "made Saskatchewan a non-joke in the culinary world." Read it here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Check your pulse - CHICKPEA CHOCOLATE COOKIES

This column appeared in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix on 20 Jan. 2008

The farmers of Saskatchewan want you to eat more lentils, beans, dried peas and chickpeas. Why? Because they want to grow more lentils, beans, dried peas and chickpeas. In the past 25 years, Saskatchewan has become one of the world’s largest producers of these foods, second only to India.

The problem is, the market is saturated. World consumption has actually dropped from nine kilograms per person in the 1960s to about six kilograms per person today. Just think, our farmers went from zero to 25% of the world market in 25 years, even as that market was shrinking. That says a lot about the hard work and superior product coming out of Saskatchewan. So what’s up for the next 25 years?
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That was the topic last week at the annual Pulse Days in Saskatoon. (Pulse is the name given to this class of edible seeds of the legume family.) The goal is to double production of pulse crops in Saskatchewan from about five million acres per year to 10 million acres or more. Once that mark is reached, one-quarter of all crops in the fields will be pulses.
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But if pulse farmers are going to increase production, they need to convince more people to eat their lentils, beans, dried peas and chickpeas. To aid their effort, I’ve compiled a list of reasons why we should do just that:

1) Pulses are good for you. They’re chock full of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals such as iron. They have a low glycemic index, which makes them good for people with diabetes.

2) Pulses are good for the environment. Pulses take nitrogen from the air and put it into the soil. Nitrogen is a natural fertilizer which all plants need to grow. Most farmers use an artificial fertilizer created from natural gas. With concern over greenhouse gas emissions, growing more pulses is a natural way to cut the carbon footprint of farming and the food we eat.

3) It’s easy to sneak pulses into the diet. Pulses can be ground to a flour and used in baking and other processed foods, so you get the health benefits without a single “bean” in sight. With consumer demand for healthier foods, processing companies such as General Mills are looking at the possibility of including more pulses such as pea fibre. It’s easy to include pulses in home baking, too.
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4) Pulses are diet food. Low in fat and calories, high in nutrients and good carbs. Pulses make you feel fuller so you eat less.

5) Few people are allergic to pulses. People who cannot eat wheat flour do not suffer the same ill effects when eating pulse flour. Also, toasted chickpeas are a nice alternative to nuts. For instance, the University of Saskatchewan has created a fabulous chocolate full of crunchy bits of chickpea. You’d never know!
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Try the chickpea-chocolate combination in this recipe from Saskatchewan Pulse Growers. You'll find more desserts with pulses here and here.

Chocolate Chickpea Cookies
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup soft butter or margarine
2 large egg whites
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Beat the sugar and butter until smooth. Mix in the egg whites, vanilla, chickpeas and chocolate chips. Add the flour, oats, baking soda and salt, mixing on low speed to form a thick dough.
Line two baking sheet with parchment. Drop dough by the tablespoonful, spacing cookies 1 inch apart. Flatten slightly with fork. Bake at 350F for 11-13 minutes.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Going to Press

Just got word today from Coteau Books. They're going to publish my book! It's a quirky, humerous look at our year of eating locally with lots of stories about growing up on the farm and musings on the future of food. Watch for further details.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Got a pulse?

Here's Chef Simon Reynolds cooking up a hill of beans at the annual Pulse Days in Saskatoon.
(Pulse is the name for a class of edible legumes including beans, chickpeas, lentils and dried peas.)

Can you guess these muffins are full of beans?

What did I learn at Pulse Days?
▪ Saskatchewan is the world's second largest producer of pulse crops.
▪ India is the only country that grows more pulse crops than Canada.
▪ India is also Canada's biggest pulse customer.
▪ Indians are eating fewer pulses than before.
▪ Canada is looking for new markets for our pulses.
▪ Have you had your pulse lately?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Food Resolution

I resolve in 2009 to eat more potatoes. I know, I know, potatoes get a bad rap as a weight-gaining carbo. But the truth is, they're very good for you. Besides, the potato is the only vegetable for which Saskatchewan (and my family) is self-sufficient. That's reason enough to eat more.

I just read a history of the potato by John Reader in which he says the potato eaten with a dairy product is more nutritious than a slice of whole wheat bread. Even so, when it arrived in Europe from South America (with the Spanish in the mid 1500s) people refused to eat it. Doctors said it caused leprosy and preachers said it caused lust. It was adopted by the aristocracy (who staged dinners with potatoes in every course) and eventually trickled down to the masses. And who today can imagine a world without shepherd's pie, latkes and potato perogies?

To kick off my New Year's Resolution, I seved an all-potato dinner. It began with latkes and pakoras, then a roast chicken with tartiflette and a potato & red pepper pie, wrapping up with potato cookies and chocolate martinis with potato vodka. Okay, the cookies were wierd, but the chocolate vodka was great! (Thanks Sarah and Curt!!)