Thursday, September 3, 2009

In a few days I will be moving away from Southern Alberta for the school year again. I had really high hopes for this project over the summer, but my days quickly became too full of work to think about other things. Though I only made a few posts, I did become much more concious of food and its origins, and all of the resources around this area.

While I won't be Southern Alberta based in a few days, I still might continue the exploration and a documentation of it. Or maybe not. We'll see!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sour Cherry Slab Pie

There are two sour cherry trees in the garden and right now their branches are just full of cherries. They are the prettiest things and I love when the trees are full, but I've never actually used them for anything before (although my Dad has made a few pies in the past). This post last week about slab pie and an afternoon off work yesterday motivated me to pick and pit two buckets of cherries (with the help of my Mom!) and attempt a pie. 

Sour Cherry Slab Pie (from Smitten Kitchen)

1 1/2 All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Doughs, divided, patted into thick rectangles, wrapped in plastic and chilled for at least an hour in the fridge

6 cups sour cherries, pitted (fresh or frozen will work; if frozen, defrost and drain first)
3/4 to 1 1/4 cups of sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch or two of salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream or one egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk or water 
or 1 tablespoon water plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Stir to combine; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough into an 18-by-12-inch rectangle. I won’t lie: this can be kind of a pain because it is so large. Do your best to work quickly, keeping the dough as cold as possible (and tossing it in the freezer for a couple minutes if it softens too quickly; it is summer afterall) and using enough flour that it doesn’t stick to the counter.

Transfer to a 15-by-10-by-1-inch rimmed baking sheet, (pastry will hang over sides of pan). I went ahead and lined mine with parchment, just to ensure I’d be able to easily lift it out. Pour cherry mixture into lined baking sheet; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out remaining piece of dough into a 16-by-11-inch rectangle. Drape over filling. Bring bottom pastry up and over top pastry. Pinch edges to seal. Using a fork, prick top crust all over. Brush with heavy cream or egg wash.

Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 40 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes.

In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk, water or lemon juice (or combination thereof) until desired glaze consistency is achieved. Use a spoon to drizzle over top. Serve warm or room temperature.

I haven't made a pie before because I've always just been intimidated by the whole process, but it wasn't nearly as much work as I had imagined. Even making the crust was so simple! I used the smallest portion of sugar of the increment listed so it wasn't too syrupy and still tart. Unfortunately, even though it tasted delicious, it wasn't much to see once it was done baking so I only have a photo of it pre-bake!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vegetable Dumplings

I was skimming through some blogs to try and find the perfect recipe to use the vegetables we bought at the Lethbridge Farmer's Market - and I'm not being dramatic when I say perfect, because the carrots and peas were so delicious on their own, I was having second thoughts about cooking them up!

Then I saw the Vegetable Dumpling recipe at Smitten Kitchen  and had to try it out. I changed the recipe a little bit, omitting the tofu, red peppers and cilantro(uggh) and adding fresh green peas. I wasn't sure how to fold the wonton wrapper, so I found some youtube videos that gave me a good enough idea. I was so impressed with the outcome - they were absolutely delicious! I froze half of them, hoping to eat them throughout the summer, but the are already gone. 


Vegetable Dumplings 

(Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1/2 cup fresh green peas
1/2 cup coarsely grated carrots
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
2 minced cloves garlic 
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
35 to 40 small wonton wrappers
1/3 cup water

Add the peas, carrots, cabbage, scallions, ginger, soy sauce, hoisin, sesame oil, egg, salt, and pepper. Lightly stir to combine.

To form the dumplings, remove 1 wonton wrapper from the package, covering the others with a damp cloth. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with water. Place 1/2 rounded teaspoon of the tofu mixture in the center of the wrapper. Shape as desired. Set on a sheet pan and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat procedure until all of the filling is gone.

Heat a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat. Brush with vegetable oil once hot. Add 8 to 10 potstickers at a time to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, without touching. Once the 2 minutes are up, gently add 1/3 cup chicken stock to the pan, turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for another 2 minutes.

Lethbridge Farmer's Market

Lethbridge Farmer's Market
Where:  Exhibition Park, 3401 Parkside Drive South, Lethbridge
Contact: Phone: 403 328-4491
Dates of Operation: Saturdays, May 16 to October 30, 2009
Hours of Operation:  8 am to 12:30 pm
Website:  - Includes vegetable availability chart and vendor list.

After a few impatient weeks of anticipating the slow-coming growth of fruits and vegetables, a few things are finally ready to be picked/sold. My mother and I took advantage of my afternoon of last Saturday and headed to the Lethbridge Farmer's Market. As soon as we got in to Lethbridge and saw all of the fancy cars driving around, we remembered it was "Street Wheelers" weekend. Street Wheelers is when... well I don't fully know what takes place, but what I do know is that the Farmers Market shares a parking lot with some kind of track that was absolutely packed with people watching cars do impressive things - like screeching their tires into clouds of disgusting smelling smoke. 

REGARDLESS, the market was lots of fun. We showed up a bit late, so some booths were packed up and we didn't see fruit of any kind (we aren't sure if this is because it was sold out or because it's not quite ready yet?), but there was lots of carrots, cabbage, peas, onions, beets and little carrots. And gooseberries! I have never seen gooseberries before but I wanted to buy a bundle because they were so pretty! I didn't really know what could be done with gooseberries though, so I decided not to get any yet and research them a bit first. 

After wandering around for a bit, we ended up getting some delicious looking peas, little tiny carrots, rhubarb and a loaf of multi-seed bread that was super tasty!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Harvest Haven Health

This spring has been so slow, and things are taking forever to grow. I am getting so antsy - I want to explore Farmer's Markets and buy fresh fruit and vegetables and cook delicious things! 

Even though it might be a little while before local produce is ready to buy, I decided to make the short trip to Harvest Haven Health (just outside of Lethbridge) to check out their store that is open year-round. I came across the website during the winter and was both surprised that I had never heard of it before, and excited that an organic store was such a short drive away! I know you city kids probably don't see what the big deal is, but having an organic store where you can find products that you won't find in your average grocery store is quite a treat here in the middle of the prairies. 

Harvest Haven is a whole lot of wonderful things in one place. It's an organic farm with a variety of livestock, grain, vegetables and fruits, and an on-farm store that sells the produce raised/grown at the farm, with a huge variety of organic products imported from as locally as possible. Plus the lady that helped me was suuuper nice. And let me take pictures, and answered all of my annoying questions. I'm excited to make a few trips there this summer, especially when the strawberries and raspberries are ready to pick

The Harvest Haven website is full of information, including a map with detailed directions and a full product list for the store. Take a look!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dad's Garden

For as long as I can remember (and even longer than that) my Dad has planted a garden every spring. I used to help him when I was really little and lost interest when I was a too-cool-teenager, but helped him again this year. We planted some vegetables that get planted every year (tomatoes, potatoes, beans, peas, carrots, onions, cucumbers, peppers), and tried out some new ones (leeks, garlic, asparagus).

This photo is from the day we planted most of the garden, with brand new rows and a new little tree to replace one that had to be taken out.

A couple weeks later, things are growing like crazy! The asparagus is getting so tall!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Herbed Crepes with Asparagus, Salmon and Hollandaise Sauce

I've been wanting to make crêpes since I saw this post a few months ago and decided the time had finally come, since I had such a beautiful bundle of asparagus from Halma's and no ideas about what to do with yet!

I always use this recipe from Epicurious for my crêpes (just the crêpes, not the filling) because it makes the most gorgeous crêpes. If I am making dessert crêpes, I just omit the chives and dill and add a bit of vanilla extract. When I used this recipe for the first time, I was being lazy and didn't want to to blend the batter, but I did it and it makes such a difference! Totally worth the effort!

Herbed Crêpes with Asparagus, Salmon and Hollandaise Sauce

Herbed Crêpes (from Epicurious)
This recipe is for two servings only. Double (or triple!) the amounts if necessary!
1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil plus additional for cooking crêpes
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

Blend milk, flour, egg, and 2 teaspoons oil in a blender until smooth. Add chives and dill and pulse 1 or 2 times to just combine. Chill batter, covered, 30 minutes.

Stir batter to redistribute herbs. Lightly brush a 10-inch nonstick skillet with oil, then heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Holding skillet off heat, pour in half of batter (1/4 cup), immediately tilting and rotating skillet to coat bottom. (If batter sets before skillet is coated, reduce heat slightly for next crêpe.) Return skillet to heat and cook until crêpe is just set and pale golden around edges, 10 to 15 seconds. Loosen edge of crêpe with a heatproof plastic spatula, then flip crêpe over carefully with your fingertips. Cook until underside is set, about20 seconds more. Transfer crêpe to a plate. Make another crêpe in same manner, brushing skillet again with oil. 

Hollandaise Sauce (from Vegan YumYum)

1/2 Cup Sliced Raw Almonds
1/2 Cup Hot Water
2 Tbs Earth Balance
2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Tbs Nutritional Yeast, optional (or 1/4 tsp turmeric for color)
1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard, optional

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until extremely smooth. 

Asparagus and Salmon Filling

Salmon Filet
Olive Oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Trim ends of asparagus, and cut in 1 inch pieces. Add both salmon and cut asparagus to lined baking sheet. Drizzle asparagus and salmon with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until salmon and asparagus are cooked. Don't over cook the asparagus - it may be necessary to pull them from the sheet before the salmon is done.

Lay a crêpe flat and add salmon and asparagus to the center. Drizzle with hollandaise sauce, and fold over sides of crêpe. Enjoy!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Halma's Vegetables.

A couple days ago, I had a day off work and  had been looking forward to using the free time to cook some delicious food! I remembered seeing a sign for fresh asparagus on the highway earlier in the week at Halma's Vegetables, and decided to make the short trip to pick up a bundle for supper.

Halma's Vegetable Farm
Where: Cranford, Alberta
Contact: Phone (403) 223-8264 
Products: Fresh Produce
Season of Operation: Year Round
Hours of Operation: July-September: 8:00am - 6:00pm  
Winter Hours: 9:00am - 5:00pm   
(Monday - Saturday)

Every time I drive past Halma's (more times than I could even guess!) I think about stopping in but never have. I was instantly charmed as I pulled up - it's the most adorable place! There's a little red barn in the middle of the yard that serves as the store, and the property is surrounded by beautiful, living prairie landscape. At the moment they only have a few varieties of potatoes, onions and asparagus, but will have more selection as the season progresses. I'm especially excited about Halma's because it's such a short drive from home!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Farmers Market Schedule

Now that a few Farmer's Markets are starting to open for the season, I thought I would post a schedule for Southern Alberta. I didn't include Calgary's markets because there are so many that it kind of requires its own post!
Most of the information came from the Alberta Farmers' Market Association webstite, where you can find a full listing of markets in every area of Alberta.

Bow Island Farmer's Market
When: Fridays, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
July 10 - September 18, 2009
Where: Golden Age Centre, 206 - 5th Avenue E

Brooks Farmer's Market
When: Thursdays, 3:00pm - 6:00pm
May 7 - October 8, 2009
Where: Kinsmen Rodeo Grounds, 7St SE

Cardston Farmers' Market
When: Thursdays, 11:00am - 2:00pm
June 25 - Sep 3, 2009
Where: Charlie Cheesman Ice Centre, 339 Main A Street

Clarasholm Farmer's Market
When: Wednesdays, 3:00pm - 6:00pm
July 2 - September 10, 2009
Where: Claresholm Arena

Cochrane Farmer's Market
When: Saturdays, 9:00am - 1:00pm
June 6 - September 26, 2009
Where: Cochrane Ranche, Highway 1A near Highway 22 intersection

Drumheller Farmer's Market
When: Saturdays, 9:30am - 1:00pm
May 9 - September 26, 2009
Where: Drumheller Coop (Greentree Mall), 555 Highway 10 E

Fort Macleod Farmer's Market
When: Thursdays, 3:00pm - 6:00pm
July 16 - September 17, 2009
Where: Curling Rink, 235-21 Street

Hanna Farmer's Market
When: Fridays, 10:30am - 2:30pm
June 5 - September 25, 2009
Where: 400 Pioneer Trail - Round Up Centre

Medicine Hat Farmer's Market
When: Saturdays, 9:00am - 1:00pm
May 23 - October 3, 2009
Where: Cypress Centre, 2055 21 Ave SE

Milk River Farmer's Market
When: Fridays, 1:00pm - 4:00pm
June 9 - September 8, 2009
Where: Heritage Hall, Main Street

Okotoks Farmer's Market
When: Fridays, 4:00pm - 7:00pm
July 3 - September 25, 2009
Where: Okotoks Country Living

Strathmore Farmer's Market
When: Fridays, 3:00pm - 6:00pm
June 19 - September 11, 2009
Where: Strathmore Ag Exhibition Grounds

Taber Farmer's Market
When: Thursdays, 6:30pm - 8:00pm
July 10 - September 25, 2009
Where: Taber Agri-plex

Vauxhall Farmer's Market
When: Tuesdays, 7:00pm - 9:00pm
August 11 - September 22, 2009
Where: Community Complex

Sometime during the long, long winter, I was walking to school on ice-covered sidewalks, trying my hardest not to fall on my face and daydreaming about the times when I didn't have to shuffle my way along sidewalks that apparently never get cleared. On this particular day, I was listening to one of CBC's Q Podcasts which featured an interview with the creators of the 100 Mile Diet. I was completely surprised at both how obvious the idea seemed and at how, despite being completely obvious, it was not something I had ever considered before. After doing a bit of research on Southern Alberta to see what kind of resources I would have for locally grown and produced foods when I moved back for the summer, I found that this area is full of Famers' Markets, U-Picks, and fresh fruit/vegetable/meat producers. It was decided. While I'm not going to try to eat a strictly local diet, I am going to dedicate this summer to supporting local producers and growers while exploring the huge variety of fresh produce and locally made products that are so abundant in Southern Alberta. I hope to spark an interest in others to participate as well - and ask that if you have any tips or suggestions to share them with me!