Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Flavours of Hanoi - VIETNAMESE SALAD SASKATCHEWAN STYLE

Angel hair pasta for two or three
Dipping sauce (see below)
1/2 cup carrots, shaved with a vegetable peeler
1/2 cup English cucumber, cut in thin matchsticks
1/2 cup cabbage, thinly sliced
1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced and chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp fish sauce
Fresh cilantro for garnish, chopped

Dipping Sauce – Mix together:
1 large garlic, minced
1 hot pepper, chopped
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
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Cook pasta in salted water. Drain, rinse and cool. Make dipping sauce.

Boil two cups of water with a dash of salt. Drop in the cabbage and cook one minute. Add carrots and cucumber and cook another minute. Drain and cool in cold water. Add vegetables to the dipping sauce.

Mix together the ground meat, red onion, cilantro, sugar and fish sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Mix very well, until the meat begins to break down and get sticky. Form into ten patties. Cook patties until browned on both sides and cooked through. Add the warm patties to the dipping sauce and vegetables. Cool.

To serve, place the noodles on a platter. Scoop vegetables on top. Place meat patties around the sides. Pour on dipping sauce. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

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.
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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.)
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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.
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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.)
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Brad Wall likes chickpeas

Brad Wall has publically divulged his passion for chickpeas. And so he should, seeing as he hails from prime chickpea growing country. In the latest issue of PulsePoint magazine, the premier of Saskatchewan divulges his family's favourite chickpea recipe: Mediterranean Chickpea Salad. I made it and it's delicious (although, given the season, I substituted fresh herbs for dried). Read all about it here.

"Saskatchewan chickpeas are Number 1," declared the Premier (at least, that's what I think he was saying at the moment this image was shot).
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The same issue of PulsePoint included an article about my love affair with pulses, including sample menues. You can read it here.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Chicken x 4 and counting

Here we are, the fourth meal from one big farm chicken. (Well, more than four if you count leftovers!) Today, I boiled the carcass with herbs and vegetables to make a nice chicken stock, which I used to make Mushroom Orzotto. Recipe here. There's more stock, so tune in for Meal #5.

Check out the other meals here:

Meal 1, Meal 2, Meal 3

The chicken is from a CSA operation (community supported agriculture) near Saskatoon: Susan 343-7990.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Strawberry martini for breakfast

In winter, I eat my breakfast muesli in an ordinary bowl with preserved local fruit (saskatoons, raspberries, rhubarb, etc.). But in summer, when the strawberries are just-picked and soooo delicious, breakfast is worth celebrating martini style!

Muesli recipe here.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Chicken x 4 and counting

Meal #3 with my lovely free-range 10 pound farm chicken: Blackened Chicken Breasts on Caesar Salad. Blackened chicken recipe here. Caesar salad recipe here.

Other meals here:
Meal 1
Meal 2
Meal 4

Friday, July 03, 2009

Hanson Buck Potato Head

Funny what you find while sprouting potatoes!

(For more on the the Hanson Buck, and a picture for compar- ison, see here.)