More Rhubarb

18 07 2011

Might be Monday, but it’s warm. Although the start to another work week, the traffic is light and a jacket is optional. Summer. Gotta love it.

I continued my rhubarb recipe round-up on the weekend. I cut another bunch of rhubarb and had a bit of time to experiment (one can only eat so many crumbles right? ;)). This time I made two very simple recipes. As I said last post, this seasons City Palate magazine is full of ideas, rhubarb being one of them. I made the Rhubarb Vinaigrette. It was a synch to make, i’d actually use two stalks of rhubarb next time. It went perfect on that Miracle Lettuce we have been eating! Here’s the link: Rhubarb Vinaigrette.

Rhubarb Vinaigrette

The second recipe I found on Epicurious.com, a Rhubarb Chutney. I adapted it with ingredients I had. There are a great deal of rhubarb chutney recipes on line, and it is a great way to use rhubarb. It preserves well if you use enough sugar. I don’t use sugar so I don’t bother preserving, I just freeze it, like ‘freezer jams’.

  • 4 cups chopped Rhubarb
  • 1 cup Raisins
  • 1 cup chopped dried Apricots (or cherries)
  • 1 cup Cointreau Liqueur (orange liqueur, or use orange juice)
  • 1 tsp Aniseed
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • Juice of one Lime

The recipe said to cook the dried fruit in the Cointreau first, I of course didn’t follow instructions and threw the rhubarb in at the same time. No difference. Cook it all together for about 5-7 minutes until the rhubarb starts to soften and some of the liquid absorbs, over medium heat. In the meantime, toast the aniseed and mustard seeds in a small skillet over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes. You’ll start to smell the aroma and they might make a popping sound. Add to the softened fruit / rhubarb mixture, add the lime juice, cook for a few more minutes until most of the liquid absorbs. If it doesn’t, no big deal. Let it cool before putting the lid on. Enjoy with lots of things. We had it with the stack of grilled veggies we had with dinner last night (we tried grilling fennel bulb, yum). I am going to eat it with veggie samosa’s I picked up at the market with a quinoa salad for lunch this week.

Rhubarb Chutney

Eat well, Bell Well

Nat





Grillin’ Corn

12 07 2011

I love Calgary’s City Palate magazine. It comes out every two months and I read it cover to cover. It is always seasonally scripted, linking restaurants, foodie tips and tricks, notes from chefs and this and that of kitchen love. This summer’s issue was full of great stuff and one that we used immediately this weekend after picking up a copy at our weekend haunt, the Kingsland Farmers Market. On page 48 laid the simplest grilled corn quickie. You might all know this tip but I have never grilled corn, shucked, naked on the BBQ (well let’s be honest I don’t personally grill anything on the BBQ, Tony does :)). In the little note, it says nah, you don’t have to soak the corn in the husks for a while before BBQ’ing (although, if you remember and have the time, I highly recommend this way to steam it in the husks), or cooking it a bit before finishing it off on the BBQ. You just brush it with olive oil and grill over low heat turning it over so there is a bit of charring all around. Huh. So we tried it. It was divine. The kernels actually come off the cob much easier. You really only need a bit of salt and pepper (although, I added butter, yummy).

We {heart} grilled veggies, the more the better. Zucchini is a favourite and recently we tried cauliflower.

What is your favourite grilled veggie?

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Goddess Dressing

6 07 2011

So I planned on just doing a quick post on a simple salad I made…nothing ever turns out simple though AND I learned something of course :). Most nights after work we eat a big salad. I think I have mentioned before that I eat lots through the day and wind it down at night. I sleep better when I don’t eat complex carbs after 4PM (complex carbs = flour, potatoes, grains etc). This is important when you are going to bed early and getting up early for physical activity, in my case ashtanga yoga. Eating lightly at night lets the system rest and not spend the night with a slow metabolism trying to crank through a big bowl of pasta. If you are one of those that can do that (aka my husband) good on you, I can’t. I eat my whole grains, the more the better, veggies and such through the day and finish the day with a bit of protein and a salad.

Salad dressings around here are quite simple. The kind you throw many ingredients into a jar and shake. We use a lot of olive oil and different vinegar’s, apple cider being a favourite. Piri Piri olive oil, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper is a staple too. Sometimes I make blended dressings, made with cucumbers, avocados and a variety of nuts. For a treat and a quick go to dressing I grab Simply Natural’s Goddess Dressing. In writing this blog entry, I of course googled it to find a picture and fell upon a gaggle of goddess type dressings. Apparently ‘green goddess dressing’ was a big trend in the late 70’s. It is a mayo, anchovy and herb dressing. Some include avocado, others have dropped the anchovy and all of them include a different variety of herbs, giving it a green hue. Huh.

Anyhow, in a snap, Simply Organic’s Goddess Dressing makes any salad a big yum. The other day I threw together a bunch of veggies I had in the refrigerator like shredded red cabbage, chopped cucumber, shredded carrot, diced red pepper, sliced avocado, a radish from the garden and a diced tomato. I warmed up some falafel’s and threw them on there with some Goddess Dressing. The dressing has tahini in it so it is perfect with falafel’s. I get mine at Planet Organic, and I am sure you can find it near you in an organic section.

Eat Well, Be Well,

Nat





French Kiss

2 07 2011

I hope all you Canadians had a nice Canada Day. I worked in the garden, seeded more spinach, picked peonies (and weeds) and made a rhubarb-strawberry crumble. Summer has truly arrived.

Tony and I spent a few days last week at the Vegas house. It is more than summer there. The hottest it got was 42 degrees celsius. There was a lot of lounging by the pool and swimming going on. We were celebrating our third wedding anniversary and Tony’s 40th birthday. In doing so we hit up a favourite eating spot on Friday night, The Oyster Bar at Harrah’s Casino. An old but iconic casino. I, unlike most people I know, love fresh shucked oysters. For someone who has sworn off most meat for 20+  years, I still eat seafood. I am very conscious of the sort of seafood I eat though, and checked on my Seafood Watch iPhone app we were being responsible gluttons that night. In the research that I have done, a lot of high quality oysters are farmed  very responsibly. Farmed oysters are a ‘Best Choice’ according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

That night they had five varieties of oysters on the menu, which is an interesting sign of the economy in Vegas. When we were there last February they only had one variety, Malpeque. Sad but true, more money = more gambling and trips to Vegas. I digress. We had the always good Bluepoints off the East Coast US, French Kiss from New Brunswick (on the left in the image above) and Shigoku, a Japanese variety farmed in the Pacific North West (on the right above). They threw in a fourth for us to try, but I didn’t catch the name, they said they were ‘really special’ and we had to try them (the two small ones in the middle). They were good. Our favourite was the French Kiss. They were meaty and sweet.

Other information on oysters Canadian Aquaculture and David Suzuki’s site for eating for a healthy planet.

We got home in time to have 20 people for dinner. Thank goodness for friends and family that bring food and help cook. I had a cake made for Tony at Cakeworks here in town. They do wonderful cakes and if you’d like, with caricatures on them. Here is Tony driving our 1967 Beaumont.

Argh, just posted, but here’s an after thought: I have to share this with you too. Tony made the sweetest little table for our hallway as an anniversary gift. It is a joint effort actually. My brother Tim made the metal base and Tony did the woodwork. There is even a little drawer at one end, he is so talented. I also got a great big bread board, a man you knows my heart :). Can’t wait to blog about that one day too.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend and if you are in the US, happy Fourth of July.

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Peonies, Dad, Lettuce and Asparagus

19 06 2011

June is slipping past us and a sign that the weather is different is in the peonies. Our wedding anniversary is on Tuesday, June 21 and peonies were the flower of the day. At our wedding in 2008 I was able to cut one to bring with me, placing it on a chair as a symbol of those who were no longer with us. White peonies are my favourite. Big white flowers with their enveloping scent. A sign summer has arrived. We have three beautiful peony plants in our yard, and they are tall with big flower buds, but no sign of blooming, maybe by Tuesday? We’ll see. The sun is peeking out from the clouds and the rain has stopped (sort of) today, crossing fingers we’ll dry up a bit.

Memorable Peony

June is also the month for Fathers Day. Wishing the fathers out there a wonderful day. Here’s one of my dad and I from the archives…food related of course. 🙂 Love you dad.

Me and Dad

How’s the miracle lettuce you ask? Well it is a miracle. Growing and should be ready to eat in a few weeks (you can see the little spinach sprouts on the left and more lettuce on the right in the picture below). Can you believe it? I am going to leave the plants in this fall and see if we can have an early harvest again next year. Must have been all that snow that insulated it, it’s good for something!

Growing 'Miracle' Lettuce

Nothing says spring like asparagus. In Alberta we are seeing local crops at the farmers market. Asparagus is a flowering perennial that is picked before it flowers. Only in the spring is asparagus in season and lucky for us in Alberta we see asparagus from April through July because of all the ‘springs’ we can take advantage of! I picked up some local asparagus at the Kingsland Farmers Market on Friday and roasted it last night. It is so nice to grill asparagus, but it was pouring rain outside. If you are in Calgary enjoy the local harvest, it is good for you. Asparagus is full of vitamins and minerals.

  • A bundle or two of Asparagus, snap the ends off
  • Olive Oil
  • Course sea salt
  • Course cracked pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Creme Balsamic Vinegar
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place asparagus on a cookie sheet, in one row. Drizzle with olive oil. I used my Piri Piri Olive Oil, I use it on EVERYTHING. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Roast in oven for 15 min, turning over half way. Don’t over cook, I like them bright green and a bit firm. Take out of the oven, place in a dish, shave or sprinkle with parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar. If you don’t have creme balsamic, use regular, but I highly recommend getting a bottle of the creme, it’s so good on fresh tomatoes and basil in the summer. (and check out my attempt to use the photo app Hipstamatic to capture the asparagus)
June 21 marks the first day of Summer, the Summer Solstice. Wishing you a lovely and bountiful season.
Eat well, Be Well,
Nat




Lunch at Work v.5 – Rice Salad Bowl

6 06 2011

How has your week started off? Soggy if you’re in Calgary. I was going to blog again about the miracle lettuce yesterday. I took a picture of the little greens yesterday morning and was convinced they hadn’t grown since the first picture was taken almost two weeks ago. Well after a day in the sun low and behold I swear the miracle lettuce grew (and everything else around me). So, I’ll give it another soggy week and see what happens. I sowed some lettuce seeds right beside it though so I have a control group and something to compare. 🙂

Lots going on in the food world these days. An important debate we must pay attention to is the conservative governments work to end the Wheat Board in Canada. Listen to a podcast on CBC about it here. There are two very different sides to this story and although it didn’t make much press prior to the federal election, it sure is now. I continue to research this issue – it and the GMO challenges companies like Monsanto create makes for the business of food something to stay alert to. See my last post on the geopolitics of food.

Recently I heard a great story on CBC Calgary on how to truly buy community supported and wild sourced salmon. Karen Anderson, a CBC regular and city ‘food finder’, brings us Skipper Otto’s Wild BC Salmon in this podcast. I know I don’t talk meat on this blog often, but renewable, local sourced foods are important, especially if you eat meat (for articles about this read Mark Bittman in the NYTimes here). I will think about signing up with the Skipper. You can follow the fishing season on his blog.

Well, I couldn’t just give away a recipe without directing you to a few bigger issues, so there you have it and now here’s a recipe for work. I am a bit notorious when it comes to eating this. I hadn’t blogged about it because it seemed lame, but I am sharing it because it is healthy, lasts a week, packs well and in a pinch fills the belly and keeps you satisfied. I have said that I am a mono-dieter at times, this is a good example of a lunch I don’t think much about and when I am busy, comes in very handy, over and over again. Use your imagination on this one, the options are endless (hence why I eat it so regularly).

Rice Salad Bowl

  • 4 cups Cooked Brown Rice of your choice (or half quinoa or grain of your choice; try soaking the rice for a day, makes the cooking time way quicker)
  • 1 can Organic Beans of your choice (garbanzo, black, pinto, butter, kidney, etc, etc)
  • 1/2 cup Carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup Celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup Red or Green Bell Peppers, diced
  • Add any kind of veggies you like, fennel, broccoli, radishes, sprouts, cauliflower, cucumber, mushrooms, cooked yams, zucchini, etc, etc.
  • Season with something simple like Olive Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar, Salt and Pepper or chop up Parsley, Basil, Cilantro, what ever you have. Add your favourite salad dressing, but keep it natural.
I mix the rice, veggies and spices/herbs together in a big bowl and refrigerate that. I scoop it into my lunch container each night and add the dressing. It packs well so no need to refrigerate. I sometimes saute or steam some of the veggies first and then mix things up. Recently I sautéed almond meal (from making almond butter) with some veggies and added it to the rice. Make it your own, whatever you like. If you keep the dressing simple you are adding a very clean, healthy and whole food meal to your day that fills you up and feels good.
Eat well, Be well
Nat




Miracle Lettuce?

29 05 2011

So last year I seeded a second row of lettuce in August (I write these things down in my garden journey). It sprouted and I realized it was way to late for it to grow enough to be edible, and noted that next year I would think to do that MUCH earlier.

Where the garden is use to be a 5 foot pile of snow 🙂 Well under that pile of snow emerged these little lettuce sprouts and leaves, green, looking alive. I left them and I am not really sure if they have grown since the snow melted, but then again that was just a few weeks ago. 😉 I tilled the garden last week and couldn’t resist just leaving that little row of miracle lettuce to see what would happen. Grandma says it’s possible….well it rained all week so nothing yet (and no sprouts yet from everything else I planted) but the sun was out today so this week I am sure I’ll be able to tell if it is growing lettuce or if it froze and defrosted in the exact state it was in!

I’ll keep you posted.

How does your garden grow?

Eat Well, Be Well,

Nat





Food Geopolitics, NFB and Piikani

21 05 2011

Finally a long weekend. The last few weeks have been so busy with work and extracurricular activities I have been hard pressed to stay connected. Now the sun is out and it’s time to get some stuff around the yard done. We have big plans today, starting with taking down a gazebo, trimming a very out of control pine tree, clearing the flower beds, tilling the garden, planting seeds and putting together our new patio furniture. When it is done, the yard will be a new oasis. Speaking of oasis, last night I got home late, it was dark, but when I walked into the yard the smell from the newly blooming plum-tree filled the air. I love this time of year and I {heart} that tree.

This morning I was able to get to some articles and surfing done I have missed. Found this very good article on the geopolitics of food (besides giggling my way through rapture articles, argh). This article goes beyond the symptoms of food prices but the building global scarcity of food, food production and secure sources of food. Linking political, agricultural and ecological systems. It reminded me how important understanding where our food comes from, how it is produced and the context of what we choose to put in our mouths requires more than a nanosecond of attention.

“The world now needs to focus not only on agricultural policy, but on a structure that integrates it with energy, population, and water policies, each of which directly affects food security. But that is not happening. Instead, as land and water become scarcer, as the Earth’s temperature rises, and as world food security deteriorates, a dangerous geopolitics of food scarcity is emerging. Land grabbing, water grabbing, and buying grain directly from farmers in exporting countries are now integral parts of a global power struggle for food security.”

My extracurricular activities this past month have included a recording session for the National Film Board with grandma Anne. The Bread Project (see previous posts) has been proposed as a digital archive that could be shared online. My good friend Mariette is behind this. Anne was interviewed about her life experience, her family immigrating from Hungry, growing up in Canada, her baking, cooking and what she had learned about life. I listened from another room, sitting in grandpa’s chair learning, laughing and crying as she opened up about her life. I wish I had that opportunity with each of my grandparents. Hopefully I’ll be able to share a finished product with you all one day.

Anne, the Bread Project group and I also set out on a field trip to the Piikani Nation this past month, south of Calgary near Pitcher Creek. Visiting the Peigan Indian Reserve was a special honour, as it is not something that you can easily do as well as have a tour. Charlotte’s family, one of the group members, is from the Piikani Nation. This picture is of her childhood home, in which our government felt it appropriate for two adults and eleven children to live in growing up in the 50’s-70’s. The residential school some of her siblings attended was a kilometre way, in site of the house, but the children weren’t allowed to come home for the holidays. Her mother would hang red cloth on the fence at Christmas so the children could see Christmas at home from the school windows. How did we possibly think we were doing any good and how can we continue to judge when we are so culpable? We took the group to Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump museum and park afterwards. A very important and moving day for all of us.

My time to recharge is not only about getting chores done and relaxing, but staying connected to what is happening in the world , in food and society. I appreciate the downtime to expand my horizons a little further as it is so easy to get caught up in our own narrow worlds.

Hope you enjoy the long weekend. What are your plans?

Eat well, Be Well,

Nat





Early Garden Tips

5 05 2011

Gardening season is coming and I have started to plan what changes I am going to make based on what I learned from last year. You can reminisce with me by clicking here. It is so tempting to get out there on the first nice day, but we know here in Calgary we will get frost or snow yet. What I have learned though, is that you can plant some seeds now! Lettuce, carrots, beets, kale, radishes, spinach and peas are hardy enough. Now, with harsh weather, you might lose little seedlings, but I think the risk is worth it.  If you plant lettuce now, you’ll probably get two harvests from it.

I was chatting with a gardener tonight, she is a long time student at the yoga studio and we chat about landscaping and gardening all year-long. She taught a gardening class this year at the Calgary Zoo.  I wasn’t able to take it in this year, but it sounds perfect. She reviews the planning process, staggered germination timing, soil prep and planting. She does this in real-time so that the gardeners’ homework is their own garden.

Jane told me the BEST tip today, besides convincing me to plant seeds early to extend my harvest time, she said to plant the radishes with the carrots together in the same row. The radishes come up fast, and naturally help to thin out the carrots. I love this. I didn’t thin my carrots well last year and this helps PLUS it saves me a row in my modest garden for planting another row of greens, staggered from the other rows so everything doesn’t come to harvest at the same time. Jane buys seeds with different germination times and charts everything. That sounds fun (for analytics like me).

We’ve been looking at converting our garden space into a green house. I love this idea and my grandma has me convinced. She had this huge green house when I was growing up. With hale and such in Calgary, you can really benefit from a green house, and for busy urban gardeners like myself, it makes for less fuss and longer growing seasons. If not this year, then next. We’ll let you know.

Are you getting ready to plant a garden? How about a community garden?

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





KFM: Southwest Coleslaw

24 04 2011

Well spring is finally starting to bloom in Calgary, although we have about 2 feet of snow piled up in our back yard that still has to melt. Not sure how the gardening is gonna go this year, although I have my sights on a greenhouse this year, hope to share that with ya’ll.

What to make for dinner this week? How about coleslaw. It sits well in the fridge for a day or two and is a bright and healthy addition to any meal. We love cabbage and have been buying some great red and green cabbage from the KF Market lately. I found a few recipes on-line, the best one was from Vegetarian Times, but I thought it was a bit bland so I spiced it up (do I ever follow a recipe?).

I used Piri Piri sauce in this recipe. Piri Piri is a Portuguese chili. They are very flavourful and some hotter than others. I have been cooking with piri piri a long time with our family travels to Portugal. I bought whole peppers this last time and put them into some Portuguese olive oil to flavour the oil. I saw this a lot over there. Piri Piri is becoming more popular here, I have bumped into once in a while, if you see it, try it out. If you don’t, use Tabasco or Franks Hot or any other tangy chili sauce you like. You could use fresh grated horseradish in this recipe instead of the piri piri, would be delicious. That’s an idea from my bro, who was over for dinner last night.

  • 4 cups Shredded Green Cabbage (I used half red and half green)
  • 1 cup Shredded Carrots
  • 1 Red Pepper, sliced thin

Dressing

  • 3 tbsp Mayonnaise (use what you prefer, I buy Organic Spectrum brands, use a vegan version if you like)
  • 1 tbsp Light Sour Creme or Plain Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 2 tbsp Whole Grain Mustard
  • 1 tsp Piri Piri Sauce, Tabasco, Horseradish
  • 1/2 tsp Dill (dry is fine)
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
Shred the cabbage and carrots using a food processor if you have it, so easy. If not a mandoline works. Whisk the dressing ingredients together. Add to the salad and mix well. Chill in the fridge at least an hour before serving (or not, and dig in). The chilling will allow the flavours to set, and a bit of the cabbage to soften a little as it releases water, adding to the dressing. Enjoy!
I hope you enjoyed the long weekend…did you know it was Earth Day on April 22? Might have been overshadowed by all those Easter Bunnies running around (remember last year, click here).
Eat well, Be well,
Nat