Author Archives: candrina

Goodbye Summer Markets, Hello Winter Markets!

If you frequent the Tri-Cities Farmers’ Markets, then you know that this is the last week.

I felt like weeping. Really. Where did the summer go? Even with the drizzly days we’ve been having recently, I was holding out hope that my calendar was wrong.Well, it’s not.

But, I happily realized, winter doesn’t mean an end to the Farmers’ Markets! There will be a Winter Market starting up at the Port Moody Recreation Centre on November 8 and running every other Sunday from 10am to 2pm. Sweet!

The Vancouver Farmers Markets are running a Winter Market as well at WISE Hall, 1882 Adanac Street at Victoria Drive on alternate Saturdays, starting November 7.

Ahh, no need to weep. Thank goodness.

A Fresh Perspective on the Coquitlam Farmers Market

Now, I genuinely love the Coquitlam Farmers Market — the energy, the fresh vegetables that smell the way that vegetables should, the people walking around with their green cloth bags. It just makes me happy.

My brother and sister-in-law just moved into their new Coquitlam house a few weeks ago. To celebrate, I took my sister-in-law to the market. To my great surprise, she had never been to a Farmers Market. What a treat! For me as much as for her.

It was a great experience. She couldn’t believe all the vegetables (I know!) and the line up for fresh bread. We combed through perfect looking organic heirloom tomatoes to get the right combination of green, red, and striped fruit. We picked up the largest, funniest shaped carrots either of us had ever seen. We purchased all-natural sprays for our homes (and bug spray for my crazy bootcamp-obsessed friend). We bought beef from the people who actually owned and cared for the herd. And finally, we lugged over-filled bags, with green peeking out over the edges, back to the car.

The next day, I received an email from her. She had to tell me how fantastic the apple was that she just ate and how great the nectarine she had earlier was. I believe the phrase “best ever” was used.

It just makes me happy.

Local Wine: Madeleine Sylvaner

Okay, I’m not a wine drinker so it gives me nothing but happiness to actually be able to write a post about wine!

My future sister-in-law was chatting about a new white she and a friend had tried the other day when my brain picked up a catch phrase, “100% local wine”. Hmmm, was this my chance to sound all sophisticated with my wine information? You bet!

Domaine de Chaberton is a Langley winery (this I knew) that actually grows some of their grapes in South Langley (this I did not know). Some of those local beauties are used to make Madeleine Sylvaner, a white wine with three awards to its credit.

The Madeleine Sylvaner web page says that the wine pairs well with “oysters, fresh seafood, lemony chicken dishes and citrusy summer salads”. I’m pretty sure my future sister-in-law paired it with a nice evening on the deck and good conversation with a friend.

Her comments? “Refreshing, flavourful, and perfect for summer!”

Give it a try and please let me know how it goes by leaving a comment. I may not drink the stuff but, now as a full-fledged wine blogger, I’m curious about what you think.

Guilt-Free Fridge Cleaning

I’ll admit that, as a single gal, I quite often purchase the vegetables I plan to eat and then, a week or so later, clean out the fridge, removing the vegetables that never made it to the table. I realize that it’s a waste. Really I do, but what am I going to do with mushy, expired vegetables?

A sign at the Coquitlam Farmers’ Market a while ago has ended all that:

“Hand-weeded fields”

What? Somebody has spent hours on their hands and knees weeding their field so I can have quality produce?? I now rarely chuck produce (and save some dough in the process), even the bits that don’t work in soup.

Here are some clever ways to end the waste and save those people’s knees!

  • Wiggly carrots: clean them up, wrap them in foil, adding butter (or olive oil for the vegans among us), salt and pepper, and place them on the BBQ. Ten minutes later, beautiful, sweet carrots emerge.
  • Wilty spinach: Heat up your favourite soup, place the spinach at the bottom of the bowl and ladle over the soup. The spinach adds zillions of nutrients to your soup, and you won’t care that they’re not at their most crisp!
  • Mushy berries: I cannot handle the mouth feel of mushy berries (like a 5-year old, really) and often end up blending them up and adding them to toast (with a bit of sugar), cake, or ice cream.

Do you have any veggie-savers to share? Leave a comment below.

Waste Not

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned, but I quite enjoy the magazine edible Vancouver. The last few issues have offered a column called “Waste Not”, which offers fantastic tips on reducing waste. Of course, waste is — well — wasteful, but it’s also something to definitely avoid when you’re either a) spending the time, energy, sweat growing your own food or b) spending the extra it may cost for local, hand-grown and/or organic food.

The tips in this column are great. Here are a few of my favourite:

  • If you can’t use up all of your fresh herbs, chop them fine, place in ice cube trays, cover with a bit of water and freeze them. Add to soups, stews and sauces
  • Save peelings and trimmings from scrubbed carrots, potatoes, celery, parsley stems, etc. (Don’t include cabbage, broccoli or other brassicas.) Keep in a freezer bag, frozen. When the bag is full, make vegetable stock by adding water, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, etc. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour and strain (Note: this is especially helpful for us condo-dwellers who are both not allowed outdoor composters and not thrilled to have worms under the sink!)
  • Leftover wine can be frozen in ice cube trays for later use  in sauces, soups, etc.
  • Discover what is already lurking in your fridge/freezer and pantry. Challenge yourself to use an ingredient for dinner and save it from the waste bin

Taking the last point one step further,, offers an ingredient list where you simply tell the database what you have to cook with and what you dislike, and it brings up a selection of recipes for your culinary pleasure!

Bon appetit!

Great Info Source: Ecoholic

When I first started looking in to possible  environmental triggers for a few health issues I was experiencing, I came across a fab little book called Ecoholic. It has become an indispensable tool in my arsenal.

Written by Canadian author Adria Vasil, Ecoholic covers a wide variety of topics from personal health products to household cleaners to kids toys. It also includes a comprehensive section on food which explores:

  • food labels (I constantly refer to this section)
  • industrial agriculture, pesticides, and the environmental benefit of a local diet
  • food packaging and gives tips on its safety (for you and for Earth)
  • the working conditions in some of the world’s most popular crops such as coffee and chocolate — yes, child slavery is in full force at many chocolate plantations
  • the growing prevalence of organic wines

What I truly appreciate in this book is that it isn’t just a “what not to do” manual — although there is A LOT to not do — but Adria gives specific suggestions for better, more healthy options. Yes, she names brands!

So, if you’re looking for a good, all around reference for a greener, more responsible lifestyle, I recommend starting with Ecoholic.

Did You Know?
Coffee is actually supposed to be grown under the thick rainforest canopy, not in squished rows out in the blazing sun? Imagine how fantastic the first coffee tasted?

An Adventure in Your Own Neighbourhood

Interested in exploring local food producers at their own locations? Yes, but where to begin, you might be thinking.

Why not start with a Circle Farm Tour? What is that? A Circle Farm Tour is basically a road map that directs you to a variety of specialty farm-gate vendors, open air markets, charming eateries, heritage sites, fairs, and other special events. In the Greater Vancouver area, there’s a brochure and map for each participating community – six in total.

Simply go to the Circle Farm Tour website, download the tour, choose your destinations and go! Abbotsford, Agassiz-Harrison Mills, Chilliwack, Langley, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, Mission all participate and all offer unique destinations for every member of the family.

Abbotsford offers such destinations as:

  • Birchwood Dairy offering gourmet ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, milk products & Feta cheese
  • Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery offers self-guided and guided tours, educational programming, birthday parties, fishing instruction & summer camps
  • Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm & Meadery offers a variety of flavoured & natural honeys, as well as beeswax candles, tasty honey comb, soothing ointments & salves, honey soaps, and hand creams

A little closer to Vancouver, Langley offers great locations such as:

  • Vista D-Oro, a culinary agri-tourism operation featuring culinary herbs, heirloom tomatoes & orchard fruits grown on the farm, as well as fresh pastries, preserves, local cheeses, hard to source ingredients, kitchen tools & more
  • The Fort Wine Co. offers an old fashioned saloon bar to sample a delicious selection of multi award-winning table & dessert fruit wines. Tours are also offered of the state-of-the-art winemaking facilities
  • JD Farms features specialty turkeys that are certified free of antibiotics & animal by-products. Visit the farmgate store to sample fresh & smoked sausages & ready-to-eat meals or order a turkey for your next special event.

So, what are you waiting for? Download your adventure today, pack up friends or the family, and enjoy!

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

In my attempt to purchase organic produce whenever possible, I often come up against two things: produce flown in from Mexico (not exactly environmentally sensitive) or prices that necessitate re-mortgaging the condo to afford it (not tempting). Finding a good-quality, consistent source of organic produce can be a challenge.

I was very interested, therefore, to learn of a new-to-me concept in produce: Community Supported Agriculture. Instead of a small farm only selling their harvest through farmers markets or retail outlets, they divide the harvest into manageable parcels (for example, 60 shares) and pre-sell the parcels to the local community. Harvest shares are often delivered to a pick-up point each week.

Many of these farms are family-owned and several are certified organic. Harvests usually begin in May, run through October (18-20 weeks), and shares are approximately $500-600 for the entire season. Some farms even offer egg shares, as well, for an additional fee.

So, if this concept is as attractive to you as I found it, take a look at the following farms and see if CSA is for you:

Nathan Creek Organic Farm is in Langley and offers many drop off locations throughout Metro Vancouver. The farm expanded last year and now offers 100 shares.

Klippers Organics Farm is in the Okanagan but offers four pick up locations around Vancouver. This is the farm’s first year with a CSA program.

UBC Farm also offers organic produce and is entering its fifth season. Pick up is at the farm.

100-Mile Diet Challenge: Week One

I wrote last week about the Food Network Canada’s new series “The 100-Mile Challenge“, based on the local book and food blog “100-Mile Diet”. In a nutshell, participants from Mission, BC take on the sometimes overwhelming challenge of consuming only foods and beverages grown and produced within 100-miles.

In the first week, which takes a look at the lead up time and the first three days of the challenge, participants must go through their pantry and purge everything that does not meet the 100-mile requirement. How much do you think they had left in their fridges/pantries? Not much. One family had yogurt and another had only dairy and some honey. Things they thought would be a shoe-in, like cans of salmon, were more often than not produced in Toronto — far exceeding the 100-mile limit.

The show’s hosts, James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith, the authors of “The 100-Mile Diet”, later took the TV participants to a local farmers’ market to investigate what would and would not be acceptable during the challenge. Many of the participants could not identify some of the food — leeks were a mystery to some.

My biggest surprise while watching the first episode? How little the families prepared for their first day of the challenge. Many had not done any research into what they could eat. One family only ate yogurt and berries for breakfast when they were used to bacon and eggs. Let’s face it, bacon and eggs are local and they absolutely could have indulged had they thought ahead a little.

Missed the episode but want to catch up? Episode one is available for viewing on the web.

Are you interested in trying the 100-Mile Diet but could never give up olive oil (confession: my big two are olive oil and chocolate)? I came across this article in “edible Vancouver” a while back about a 10-mile diet: A 10-Mile Diet Becomes a 10-Mile Banquet. I thought it was a good approach to eating local food while still holding onto a very few “necessities”.

Did anyone else see the show this week? Thoughts?