Saturday, March 27, 2010

Is local food "ethnocentric"

Star Phoenix columnist Sarath Peiris says local food advocates are "ethnocentric" because they advocate against buying imported foods that are so essential to the cuisines of other cultures. He specifically mentions coconut, rice and mangosteen. He writes:

"I raise all of this to make a point that seems to elude a growing band of "eat local" advocates, who sound so smugly "green" and earnest in making their case. Not for one minute does it seem to occur to many of these do-gooders the degree of ethnocentrism behind their agenda." Read the full text from the Star Phoenix.
This accusation hurts. For five years, I've written a column about local food for this same newspaper. I often write about cooking international cuisine with Saskatchewan ingredients, and who cares if I buy an imported ingredient or two? (For instance, my kitchen is never without lemons and olive oil.) While I support local food systems, there's no point in pretending we aren't tapped into the global marketplace. Read my response letter to the editor.

What do you think? Is the local food movement "ethnocentric?"

Pictured: Locally grown ingredients for salsa verde.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eggs on CBC Radio

Obviously I've been an egg lover from a very early age! Here I am gathering eggs on the farm where I grew up at Craik.
Check out more chicken images on the Facebook page for The Canadian Table, a radio program that I'm producing for Good Friday, between noon and 1 pm, on CBC Radio One. You can even post your own chicken photos and egg recipes. Check it out!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Foodie movie at the Broadway

Don't miss Fresh at the Broadway Theatre.

"FRESH is more than a movie, it’s a gateway to action. Our aim is to help grow FRESH food, ideas, and become active participants in an exciting, vibrant, and fast-growing movement.
When: Sunday, March 28, 2 pm and 7 pm
Where: Broadway Theatre, Saskatoon
Bonus #1: the 2 pm show is followed by a panel discussion on local food initiatives in Saskatoon.
Bonus #2: the 7 pm show is preceded by a locally inspired fixed price menu next door at Calories, with seating at 5 pm that includes a movie pass. Call Calories at 665-7991 for menu details and reservations; space is limited.

Sponsored by Pine View Farms.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Soup Week 11 - Chicken noodle

I roasted one of those big meaty chickens I got from Susan Chalmers, then boiled up the bones with vegetables and herbs, then used the stock to make a delicious chicken noodle soup. It felt so good I almost wished I had a cold to cure. But John reminded me, chicken soup is "an essential part of maintaining your immune system." Thank you Dr. John.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Food on Good Friday

Tune into CBC Radio 1, between noon and 1 pm on Good Friday for a holiday food special called The Canadian Table.

I am producing the show with my colleague Don Genova in Vancouver. Keeping with the theme of Easter, the show is all about eggs! From Humpty-Dumpty to Canadian caviar, we cross the country through the airwaves to delve into egg-citing facts and lore of a food that's been around since the chicken came first...or was it the egg?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Newspaper - Lemons for the Prairies

This article appeared in the Star Phoenix on March 15.

It was a sight to sooth my winter soul: lemon trees in bloom and laden with fruit. No, I was not on vacation in the tropical south. I was in Saskatchewan on a cold and snowy day, surrounded by lemon trees painstakingly bred to grow indoors even during the short days of a prairie winter.
These lemons are the conception and passion of master gardener M.P.M Nair, a retired engineer who grows lemons on his acreage south of Saskatoon. After thirty years of breeding and growing lemons, he has almost achieved his goal: an indoor bush-type lemon that blooms four times per year and produces fruit in the low-light conditions of a northern winter.

“Someday soon, when I’m fully satisfied, some of these lemons will be made available to the general public,” he told me, picking a plump lemon and plunking it into my hand.

Nair says he began his lemon project almost on a dare: “A friend told me I couldn’t grow lemons in low light. I’m a stubborn man and when somebody says you can’t do something I have to do it.”

He remembered his mother’s abundant garden in India where lemons grew in the shade. He brought a couple of cuttings back to Saskatoon and cross-bred them with some lemon and lime plants from the United States. He grew the fruit and planted the seeds, then selected the offspring based on his desired characteristics. The result is several different varieties of lemons—small and large, with and without seeds, thick or thin skin and varying degrees of tartness—that grow in pots and bloom at least four times per year.

What a boon! During my year of eating locally, when my husband and I tried to eat only foods produced in Saskatchewan, I had to make an exception for lemons, the one exotic fruit I could not do without. Lemons are essential for a lovely salad dressing and a key ingredient in the cuisines of Greece, Morocco and the Middle East, which lend themselves so well to foods produced in Saskatchewan. I can’t imagine my refrigerator without lemons.

Nair is not the only one successfully growing lemons in the Saskatoon area. Susan Chalmers, who grows and markets vegetables from her acreage in Furdale, has a Meyer lemon growing in a sunny window. “I’ve had it for two years now,” says Susan. “When I got it, it was seriously infested with whitefly—all the leaves fell off. It then went on to give me three lemons about ten months later.”

She made lemon chicken, lemonade and Greek lemon salad dressing, and even threw the rinds into the dishwater to give a sparkle to glassware. “The smell of the blossoms on a cold snowy day are reason enough to have one!” she says.

Nair is convinced that, in the future, we’ll all be growing more food inside our homes, both to augment local food supplies and to clean polluted air: plants use harmful carbon dioxide gas in the production of chlorophyll and emit healthy oxygen. He predicts that homes will be constructed with sunny solariums and other adaptations that support indoor gardening. “We have to relook the way that we live,” he says. “We have no choice, it’s a must.”

Nair gave me four lemons. I squeezed some into my tea and made lemon biscuits, Greek lemon soup and a salad dressing. Then I preserved some of the rind in salt for use in Moroccan dishes.
Which ensures that I’ll be eating my Saskatchewan lemons for several months to come!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My book is coming!

Prairie Feast will be on the book shelves in May. Join us for these events:

Sat., May 8, 7 pm, Souleio, Saskatoon: Food, wine and readings from the book. ($24 in advance at Souleio). Special guests include some local folks who are featured in the book!

Tues., May 11, 7 pm, The Waterford Showhome, Munro Homes in Harbour Landing Subdivision, Regina: An evening of food and drink, reading from the book, plus remarks from CJ Katz of Savour Life e-Zine. ($24 in advance; tickets available at Body Fuel Organics and at Coteau Books.)

Wed., May 12, 6 pm, Regina Eco-Network, Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre, potluck and book chat.

Wed., May 19, 7:30 pm, McNally Robinson Booksellers, Saskatoon. Local dinner in the Priaire Ink Bistro.

Sun., May 30, 4-6 pm, Gilead Cafe, Toronto. Serving Jamie Kennedy's famous french fries!

Sat., June 19, 7 pm, Craik Solar Fair, at the Eco-Centre: Local food, wine, entertainment and reading from Prairie Feast. Sponsored by the Craik Sustainable Living Project.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Soup Week 10 - Venison and rutabaga

Well, it was more like a stew -- which is just a soup thickened with a bit of flour. With homemade baking powder biscuits. Courtesy my hubby.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Soup Week 9 - Ground beef and pinto beans

Oops, we ate this soup so quickly I didn't get a picture of it. I started with a lot of chopped onion and celery cooked soft in canola oil, added some dried mixed herbs and a sprinkling of cumin, fried up 1 lb of that Texas Longorn ground beef, added some cooked pinto beans (between 2 and 3 cups), a few tbsp of tomato paste plus half a jar of my homemade corn salsa. Covered it all with water and a good simmer later, it was delicious.