Category Archives: General

General information and musings

Autumn Harvest Comfort Foods

There’s something wonderful about autumn, the crispness in the air, the brilliant colours on the trees, and for me, the vibrant colours at the local vegetable market. Switching to the comfort foods of roasted veggies, soups, stews and chilis has a wonderful warming effect. Here’s what inspired me at the market this week…

I’m a fan of squash in all shapes and sizes. Butternut is excellent mashed with butter or cubed, roasted and tossed in a salad. Spaghetti squash is versatile as well. I often use it in place of pasta smothered in a hearty tomato meat sauce with added broccoli florettes and shredded zucchini, which is a great way to sneak in additional vegetables without the family being any the wiser.
more squash

If you’re like me you spent most of your life thinking a pumpkin was something you carved and then tossed when Halloween was over. In the past few years, however, I have discovered the joy of eating pumpkin so carving it up to leave on the doorsteps seems such a waste. Baking is a no brainer, from muffins to loaves to pie, but I’ve also found it’s a wonderful addition to soup. It acts as a thickener, giving it a heartier feel without having to add cream or flour. And because it’s pureed, it’s also a “hidden” vegetable you can sneak past the veggie-phobes. I’ve added it to stews and chilis as well and its mild flavour just blends right in.

Kale. Aaaaah, kale. One of the longest growing greens because it’s so impervious to the cooling weather, kale is delicious in the fall, even when the tender stalks suitable for salad have given way to crunchier leaves. Steamed, stir fried or, you guessed it, added to soup, chilis or stew, autumn kale loses it’s tougher texture without losing all the vitamin goodness it offers.

I love experimenting with food and this is my next adventure, raw fermented sauerkraut made with savoy cabbage. I might even try kimchi, too. Cabbage is highly underrated as a vegetable. Did you know it has scads of Vitamin C?! It’s also high in fibre which seems surprising when you compare it to bran–they have nothing like the same texture. (Ok, it has WAY less fibre than bran, but still.) Prettier than it’s more commonly known cousin, the cannonball cabbage, savoy cabbage has a mild, earthy flavour. Steam it up it with some butter or sauté lightly in a stir fry and feel the goodness warming you from the inside. Oh yeah.
savoy cabbage

Be sure to check out your own local market for all of the autumn harvest comfort foods available and don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never tried before. You might just discover as I did with pumpkin, it’s delicious as well as attractive.

Deciphering Food Labels

Deciphering Food LabelsI’m a big fan of my local health food store/grocer. Nature’s Fare Market has a great selection of products and is staffed by well-informed staff, especially in their vitamins and supplements department. In addition, they are involved in the community and regularly offer educational seminars. Another of their great educational tools is their newsletter, The Good Life. In an issue this past summer they included a great explanation of food labels that was so clear and thorough I am reprinting here, with permission.  Continue reading

How to Beat the Worldwide Food Shortage

Overpopulated_EarthWhen I talk with people about accessibility to food (a key element in food security) I’m often reminded by them that there are too many people on this planet and not enough food and THAT is the problem. This is “common knowledge” after all. Right? Well actually it’s a more a common misconception. The problem isn’t that we don’t have enough food, it’s that what we have isn’t used very wisely. Continue reading

Edible Vancouver, Yum

Edible Vancouver MagazineI’ve often joked with friends, including here on my blog, that the West Coast Seeds annual catalogue is gardener’s porn. If you are a gardener in Canada and perhaps even farther afield, you have heard of and eagerly await the arrival of your copy.

On a similar vein, Edible Vancouver Magazine is porn for local foodies. Oh yes, yes, yes it is! The best part is, you get a fresh issue every 2 months rather than once a year. Continue reading

More Homemade Jam Deliciousness

I seriously have the bug. And “We be jammin'” is my new theme song. Or at least the part of the song that keeps running through my head and won’t come out.

Strawberry JamMy first ever jam (I’m still ridiculously pleased with myself) was strawberry rhubarb made with Certo Light so I could use less sugar than a typical recipe calls for. Call me crazy but I prefer to taste the fruit, not just the sugar. That batch was still quite sweet, so clearly I’d have to try again.

After the first batch of jam I used some of the rhubarb I’d gathered from a neighbours yard to make a rhubarb concentrate (a.k.a. a rhubarb ribena, ergo christened rhubina). Don’t worry, I asked the neighbour first, about taking the rhubarb. Turns out she and her husband hate rhubarb so she told me to take as much as I wanted. Oh yeah, baby! Continue reading

Doing My Part to Eat Local

I’ve been writing a lot about diary cows and animal welfare lately, but what I’ve actually been DOING is making sure to do my part when it comes to eating local. I have the good fortune to live in an area with lots of agriculture and food production, especially during the summer. That means great finds at the local farmers markets and some of the nearby farms.

strawberry pickingYesterday I went and picked the last of the first round of strawberries from one of two local u-pick farms that are both within a 5 minute drive of my house. Oh yeah, baby!

Driediger Farms is a local institution and offers all manner of u-pick berries throughout the summer season. If you’d rather skip the back-breaking task of picking them yourself, you can of course pick them up from the farm market instead. (I wanted to get the full experience, and yes, it was a little hard on the back.)

KlausBerryFarmThe next variety of strawberries will be ready in a couple of weeks, so I’ll need to make these berries last. Which of course means…more jam! I may also go back in a few weeks and get some raspberries, my all-time favourite berry. EVER. (Better than candy fresh, also delightful as a raspberry liqueur. Mmmm.)



Don’t Forget the Cows

glass milk bottlesHave you thought about the milk you’ve been drinking this week and where it came from? 

It’s so easy to let yesterweek’s news of animal cruelty in the dairy industry slip between the cracks of things you care about and want to change, and things you just need to get done to survive the week. Life is busy, I get it.

I get it and I still think it’s worth not letting this issue slip back into obscurity. Because the lives and welfare of these kind, gentle animals is at stake. And if we don’t care enough to do something, there’s no guarantee someone else will. Continue reading

Low Sugar Jammin’ (Homemade Jam, That is)

Strawberry JamAfter my recent success with homemade strawberry rhubarb jam, I started eyeing mangos at the local independent grocer with a whole new level of interest. Hmmm, I’d like to try me some strawberry mango jam…

I typically don’t eat a lot of jam, mostly because when I do I often find it too sweet, usually to the point where the sugar overwhelms any taste of the actual fruit. Such a waste. I prefer less sugar in my diet and want to make jam in a way that most enhances the fruit’s flavour. But making jam is truly a scientific endeavour, where the chemical reaction of the ingredients completely influences the finished product, so adjusting the amount of sugar in regular recipes simply does not work.

In my quest for low sugar jam options, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way about the natural chemistry behind homemade preserves. Continue reading