Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Shop! and a bit of a rant...

While cruising 50th Street here in E-town I discovered a new shop...

Dutch Treats, Farm Fresh Meats

They carry a wide range of meats, including organic, and because most of their meat products are from their farms in TwoHills and Vegreville they're 100mile friendly!

In addition to imported Dutch treats and the butcher mart, they have a cheese and deli meat case to select from.

The farm in Vegreville also processes farm and wild game. Useful for all the hunters out there.

There prices are comparable to those at the famers markets, a little more expensive than that of major grocery chains and supermarts.

But we all know what that is, right? It costs more to raise food ethically. It costs more when it's farmer direct and free-range and organic because it takes more time and effort.
But it is very important that we support our local farmers. When we buy from them direct, or from their store front, then more money goes back to them and thus back into our economy.
They have a better standard of living (both the animals and the farmers) and we get better food and nutrition.

Sure, we pay a little more. But if you shop smart, but bulk more often and freeze or preserve for year round supply then you can bring those costs down.

Of course, if you follow the Canadian Food Guide then you also realize how much we as a culture over eat.

Think in terms of Quality over Quantity. Smaller substantial meals over empty caloric over-indulgent binges.

Which kinda ties into my rant...

I'm currently 32wks preggo and have been at home on medical leave since the beginning of May. Let's just say i watch a LOT more tv now than I have in a very long time!

There are currently 2 commercials running, both for fast-food chains, that state, "If you order from us you get good food and are able to spend more time doing things with your family!"


How about you COOK good food WITH and FOR your family, thus giving them proper nutrition and teaching them valuable life skills.

What those commercials really mean is, "You're so busy with your over scheduled life that you know you don't have time or energy to prepare and eat real food so just call us instead!"

With the huge boom in foodies and culinary enrollment through the roof you'd figure that more people would be interested in slowing down and enjoying life rather than just racing through it trying to "be the best" or "get the most out of life by DOING the most and HAVING the most "stuff" "????


as we prepare for our first born both my partner and I have a clear vision of how we want to raise our children and WHERE we want to raise our children. And what do you know, it's VERY similar to how our parents raised us!

What does that say for the majority of the future?? I cry a little inside thinking about it...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Farmer's Market Season!

Zachary and I went to our first farmer's market of the year last week. We usually go to the Beverly Market (118ave 40st) on Tuesday evening and then hit up the Baseline and Festival Place Markets (Sherwood Park) on Wednesday.
They all share a couple of common vendors, Beverly is the smallest of the 3 and Festival Place is definitely the largest and most crowded.

One of our favorite farmers, Nelson of Rose Ridge Land and Cattle, is at the Beverly Market and Baseline Market. We try to stop by and say hi and chit-chat at least once a week. He has the BEST smokies and he offers a variety of beef products as well as grains. They even mill their own flour on the farm :)

I enjoy stopping to chat with Nelson, not only because he's a Thorhild native like myself, but also because he is VERY aware of living a local lifestyle. Most of his business comes from people who support local farmers and in these "hard economic" times I'm amazed that he says business is booming more than ever right now!
Why is that strange?
It costs more, up front, to live a local lifestyle. You buy a whole beef in the spring to be delivered in the fall and that's the beef you have all year. Our purchase from Nelson last year was $2.90/lb (if i remember correctly) coming to a a total of just over $1600.
You have to purchase/grow all your fruits, berries and veggies in the summer and then can, freeze, dry, etc to have all year round.

It's a lot more work and cash in the spring and summer months.
But it really does save money and effort during the rest of the year, as long as you plan to continue the rotation and SAVE up the money to make your big purchases.

Kristy (my oldest sister and fellow poster on this blog :) ) is raising chickens this year. You have to go out every morning and water and feed them, and then either pay to take them to a butcher or do it yourself.
Our Baba and Gido (Grandma and Grandpa for non-Ukrainians) used to have chickens every summer and I remember us all getting together to butcher, pluck, clean and freeze probably 100 chickens every fall. We would all help, the younger kids chasing the chickens, Baba boiling them to loosen the feathers, Uncles plucking them on the wheelie machine (it was quite the contraption), Aunts pin-feathering, singeing, cutting off the feet, and then cleaning the inners out (gross, but necessary).
Yes, it was quite the family bonding experience :)

And now Kristy is continuing the tradition. Teaching her son, and my child one day as well, where our food comes from and how to prepare it for storage. And then, of course, how to COOK IT! :D lol

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thought on the Boreal Forest...

I found myself yesterday afternoon walking through one of our beautiful Boreal areas close to home.
It had just finished raining, everything smells wonderful, and seems to have turned everything really green in a matter of hours. The leaves are out and the wild saskatoons are in full bloom....
I can't wait to see if the morels have started popping up yet! I love morels. I love the time it takes to find them. And I love to eat them!
Our (my young son and our dog) little afternoon trek didn't lead us to any bounty today. We stop to examine bugs, leaves and animal tracks. And of course to pick up fallen spruce cones, that is Ty's favorite thing to collect. He always enjoys our little adventures, to fill his pockets with whatever he can find. It's a wonderful learning experience for him, as I couldn't have offered him these things in the city.
As for the beautiful morels...I'll have to check again tomorrow :)
Happy mushroom hunting!

A few recipies and tips to go with your mushrooms!

Once cleaned - presoak in salted water (preferably over night) this helps neutralize the acid to avoid "digestive" issues. It also helps to get any dirt out that you may have missed. Rinse well before cooking.

Fried Morels

Clean mushrooms, slice lengthwise in half
-heat oil in skillet
- dip mushroom in an egg wash and dredge through on of the following combinations:

- crushed saltine crackers, mix with flour, seasoning salt and salt and pepper
- corn flake crumbs
- equal parts crushed ritz crackers and parmesan cheese
- bread crumbs, salt and pepper and parmesan cheese

once dipped in egg and covered in a coating, place into the heated skillet. Cool until lightly golden and flip to cook other side. Place to drain on papertowels. Enjoy!

Morels and cream.....Mmmmmmm my favorite

Serve over pasta, chicken, steak, potatoes and fish

- morels
- 1 shallot, chopped fine
- 1 large clove of garlic, chopped fine
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup heavey cream
- salt and pepper
- chopped fresh dill

Put olive oil in heated pan over med. heat. Add garlic and shallots, stir and saute until softened but not brown. Add butter until melted then add morels. Stir and cook until mushrooms start to brown. Add chicken stock and cook 2-3 minutes. Add heavey cream and cook on low until reduced and thick.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A World Without...

A World Without Oil

My partner and I actually watched this documentary on the History Channel and couldn't take our eyes off the screen.
It's amazing to see the consequences of our "high tech" lifestyle come crashing in.
Cities tumbling, people panicking, too many dieing and even more left in the dark to suffer alone.

Human's are social creatures. There is no denying it. We have always gathered together to share the work and the rewards of the group efforts. Our groups kept getting bigger and bigger and then suddenly the mentality that brought us together left us isolated while surrounded by others.
We live in cities because of the conveniences. Grocery stores, entertainment, hospitals, and other services. It costs more to live in a city due to those conveniences.
When you live in a smaller town, with less conveniences, or on a farm or acreage a far distance away from cities or moderate sizes towns, then you pay less in the way of property but generally more for food that is shipped in. You have to plan your trips into the city to make sure you got everything in one shot. If there is an injury or a vehicle breaks down, you have to travel to the nearest hospital or service station, which could be anywhere from 20min to 2hrs away, if not further.

But generally if you're living in a more isolated area you have "more time" to create a sustainable lifestyle. Where this magical "more time" comes from I'm not sure, but that's generally the attitude.
It's easier for the farmer to garden, bake his own bread, raise his own meat, take care of chickens, etc because that's their lifestyle and their "job".

So, because the farmer chooses to farm and provide the city folk with flour, meat and eggs, he has more time to do all these things for himself as well??
Many farmers don't.
Quite frankly, unless he's an industrial farmer, you're not seeing his labour of love on your grocery store shelves. Your farmer's market, more than likely. But those free range chickens and organic beef don't come cheap, do they.
In order for the price of bread, milk, eggs, canola oil, beef, poultry, etc to stay "affordable" it has to be massed produced as quickly as possible. This means genetically altered birds to grow faster, high calorie feed to put on weight faster, cramped barns to fit more animals in. Jamie Oliver did a special called "Fowl Dinners". Here's a video. It's worth seeing... Yes, it's based in the UK, but if you don't think it happens in North American, you live in quite the ignorant paradise.

Does that sound healthy for any of the animals involved?
How about the farmers who are forced to choose between making enough money to support his farm and family and raising cattle or chickens in a manner in which is natural and healthiest?

I've become distracted.

Back to A World Without Oil.

In this not-so-imaginary world it takes 40yrs for societies and cultures all over the world to recover to a point where people had food, bio-diesel vehicles, electricity, etc.
40yrs of heartache, poverty, death, starvation.
Sounds like a 3rd world country... it was every major city around the globe.

People flocked out of the cities to country homes, relatives who lived on farms, etc. In the beginning that is.

By the end of the show people were still living in cities. Commuting to work on bicycles, now the norm instead of the backup plan. Yards were used as gardens instead of just patches of green grass living on pesticides and filtered water. Every yard had a windmill to generate power. There were no microwaves, cell phones, internet, etc because it either cost too much to make (no more plastics!) OR there was NO way to get satellites into orbit to provide signals for wireless communications.

But why wait until there's a globe meltdown?
Why not start doing small things now to stop it from happening?
Eat local, support farmers, live an active life, don't let your electronics and your vehicles control your lifestyle.

It's not about Saving the Planet.

The Earth will always be here (unless we happen to make it explode).

It's about saving the human race. Even though most days I think the Earth would be better off without us...

Freezing Your Summer Bounty!

Let's face it, some of us are no good at canning... but we have a FREEZER and know how to use it!

Here are some awesome tips and recipes from my lovely sister :)

Blanch before freezing:
*Basil - Use the blanched basil to make pesto and freeze the pesto, blanching helps the basil not to oxidize

Course salt and ground pepper
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3 cups packed, fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 freshly grated parmesan cheese

Slide skin off the blanched tomatoes, freeze whole, halved or quatered on a sheet pan.
Use for making sauces, soups through out the winter

No Blanching Required:
Freeze these items in a single layer on a cookie sheet for easy use:
Smoothies, pies, baking. Fruit holds their shape and juices

Peaches (sliced)

Much less work involved and they'll keep you satisfied all winter! :D

Friday, May 14, 2010

Alberta's Boreal, Part1

Images of Alberta's Great Forest

I have this book :)

A quick overview of The Boreal Forest

This is where being a JFW comes in handy... A rich background in everything Boreal.
It's said that a properly trained JFW can out live Macgyver in the Boreal with only their trusty Mora Knife.

As one who has (and will bet money that she still can) started a fire with only a couple of sticks, I can buy that :)

So, before you think that agriculture is the only way to eat local, go a little deeper into the wild of Alberta and see what treasures await you... My next step is to go into my forestry kit and review my foliage knowledge of our great forest... Local "spices" are out there, I just know it!

100 Mile Challenge, Mission BC

When I caught the "100 Mile Challenge: Mission BC" on the Food Network I was constantly surprised at how (I don't want to use the word stupid... or uneducated... maybe this one...) BLIND they were to the bounty they have near the coast!

One family didn't know that citrus fruit grew within their 100miles... really.
Only one or 2 families of the 6 bothered to research and create a sour for making bread. Some of the others tried and failed...
If you're craving tea so badly, why don't you go harvest some wild mint and dew berries, dry them and then steep them?? A wonderful mint berry tea! Right there! In Alberta, I would use mint and rose hips :)
None of them realized that there's TONS of old French pastry techniques when it comes to making cakes WITHOUT chemical leaveners! Whipped Egg Whites!! The simplest solution is often the best. And I'm not talking about just Angel Food. No no... ANY cake! One mother used local carbonated soda water to try and leaven a cake... I can't say it was anything I wanted to try...
They have direct access to the ocean, which gave them an abundance of fresh seafoods and salt. AND ocean plant life! Some of the most nutrient rich plants come from the ocean, and not one of them asked a single question about it...

Local eating is not some new and crazy phenomenon... How do you think people lived before the spice trade route?? Or the "discovery" of strange cultures and their native fruits, vegetables, and cooking methods??

Anyways, I can tell you right now that if I had been able to do that challenge, it would have been a mighty different experience.
Of course, I've been a foodie for many years now and working in the baking industry has definitely given me a foot up when it comes to "alternative" cooking methods... but nothing that a quick Google search or library book couldn't have provided them.

Of course there are things I would miss... the BIG ones being Dark Chocolate and Spices. More so spices than anything...
I LOVE spices!!! I love everything about them... the taste, the smells, the comforting feeling you get from a hot cup of Chai Tea, the bite of a spiced cookie... that would be my downfall.
I suppose I would be relearning how to use herbs and perhaps create some new local spices...

Hmmmmmmmmmm, local spices... Boreal Forest, what secrets do you hold?? ;)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Every blog has to start somewhere...

My partner and I have been thinking of doing the "100 Mile Diet" for quite some time now. We've always been conscious of where our food comes from, meat and produce especially, so going even more "locavore" seemed like the next logical step.

We've been living in Edmonton for about 4 years now and are just about to move back to our home county of Thorhild (about an hour north of Edmonton). The big move is not only for our personal lifestyle but also because we didn't want to be raising our family in a large city.

September 1st is the due date for our first child, a baby girl! :D

My oldest sister recently moved back to our hometown as well and we're hoping to become more "stay-at-home"ish moms. There's a couple of business plans we've been working on and, of course, they all have to do with... Good, Fresh, Local, Food!

Through this blog I'm hoping to keep other Edmonton-area Localvores informed of what suppliers we've discovered, perhaps arrange Local Markets, Food Exchanges, and who knows what else!