Sunday, June 28, 2015

Farmers' Market Love and a Potato Sorrel Salad

Summer brings me out of my cold, dark days of winter funk. It is not only the warmth and sunshine but our bustling Farmers' Market that makes the difference for me.

I am amused by a person's first bite into one of my Saskatoon Berry and White Chocolate scones. The eyes roll into the back of their head and a generous nature turns to greed. "Go buy your own! I'm not sharing!"

Or Susan, who told me yesterday how she loves my hand pies, whether saskatoon, strawberry rhubarb or peach.

Or Derrick from Black Bridge Brewery admiring my artisan breads. And he offered me spent grains from the brewery. I will be experimenting with those grains in my breads.

Summer brings out our innate cheer and generosity. I love it when people at the market are free with their appreciation, comments and ideas. Fellow vendors gift me snap peas, baby carrots and microgreens with the biggest smiles. A much appreciated cup of iced water arrives from another vendor on the 30 C day.

In return I walk around sharing my closing time cinnamon buns to thank those cheery people that "made my day".

Potato Sorrel Salad

I remind myself, especially in market season, that there is no excuse big enough to eat fast food. If you keep a few boiled eggs in the fridge there is no end to the healthy meals you can create. This took me 15 minutes. Don't worry if the potatoes aren't chilled. When they are warm they absord the vinaigrette more easily.

2 boiled eggs
4 cooked medium potatoes, boiled with kosher salt
small bunch of sorrel leaves
small handful of fresh chives
6 snap peas
1 tbsp. Gravelbourg Mustard grainy mustard
4 tbsp. Three Farmers camelina oil
2 tbsp. Petrofka Bridge Orchard apple cider vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Peel and roughly chop the boiled eggs. Add roughly chopped cooked potatoes.

In a jar add mustard, oil and vinegar. Shake well to mix.

Steam sorrel leaves and roughly chop. Slice raw snap peas, pod and all, on the diagonal in smallish pieces. These will add crunch to the salad. Snip chives. Add to the potato egg mixture.

Toss with vinaigrette and top with microgreens. Serve immediately. Serves 2 - 4.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Unplugged in a Plugged in World

"All the goodwill you bank over a lifetime is poof, gone, when you retire and move to a new community. That's a hard pill to swallow and one I hadn't considered in my plan. I have expectations. I am accustomed to a certain level of treatment. But how would these people know I am a marketing genius and well learned in life's lessons. Too often they simply treat me like an old lady."     Sarah

It all started when one day I mentioned in the staff room that I don't text.

No, that is not true actually. Shortly after I moved into my house I began planning the renovation. This dear old soul of a home was a total fixer upper and needed everything. The story starts when I hired a neighbourhood man to take out my half dead crabapple tree.

As all conversations begin with small talk I eventually mentioned my plan to paint the exterior of my 1960's stucco and wood sided home. "You can't do that. The paint won't stick. It'll all peel off," a man about my age avowed. In my mind, I said, "Really? I sold real estate for 30 years and have seen hundreds of renovations. Of course stucco can be painted." I really did say this to myself in my mind. I'm new in town and also a woman in the wild west. There was no point in challenging the wisdom of the locals. Especially a local man.

"It's just an age thing,"  says a teacher at the high school. Pardon me? Are you talking down to me because I appear to be older than you? You know nothing about me. If you have a few hours let me tell you a little bit about myself. This was about texting.   

I spent 30 years of my life selling real estate in a city of a million people. I was at my client's beckoned call 24/7 for 7,950 days or 190,800 hours. You all might think texting is necessary but actually, it isn't. Very few of us are so important that we need to be in constant touch with the outside world. Children will survive, friends will get back to you, the world really does not need your two cents with your every breathing thought.

Slow Food Saskatoon Porchetta

I have been a member of Slow Food International for a full two years now. I heard about the Slow Food organization while I lived in Calgary. It felt rather elitist. The Canadian National Conference was in Osoyoos and I had been coveting a food tour in the Okanagan. That was the clencher to make me a member, elitist or otherwise.

I have no regrets. Slow Food is all about fair... fair prices for the farmers and farm workers, clean ... real food without complications of excessive chemicals, genetic modifying and good ... yes, it is okay to enjoy food. Slow Food encourages the pure enjoyment of clean, fair food.

The Slow Food movement began in Rome at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. McDonalds was opening their first European restaurant, in Italy of all places. Italy is renowned for its food.

I know this because my former neighbour's girlfriend's young children told me so. They love their nonna and quite unapologetically told me one day that Italian food is the best food in the world.  I have held Italian food in high regard since I heard those sage words from the mouths of a babes.

There is more to it than enjoyment of real food. There is the Ark of Taste. It is a throw back to Noah when every species boarded the ark in pairs. This Ark is a depository of unique regional food. For example, saskatoon berries and red fife wheat are on board from the prairies. This Ark brings attention to historical and indigenous foods. Foods that should not be lost.

You might not think that foods can be lost but just take a look at rhinos. Their numbers are dangerously low. Think, if no one buys the Berkshire pig would anyone be able to afford to raise them? If no one raises them, they will be lost. So you don't think it matters if we lose 30 varieties of apples. Biodiversity is more important than ever. It is a fact that we are experiencing climate change. If the five varieties of apples that are the current favourites cannot survive the changing weather, then what? I can't imagine a world without apples.

Recently I volunteered at the Saskatoon convivium's annual fundraiser dinner. Porchetta was the entree and it was absolutely, without a doubt delicious. This is my rendition of their recipe.

Slow Food Saskatoon Porchetta

1 whole pork butt, boneless
 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons fresh ground fennel seed
2 tablespoons fresh zest of lemon and orange
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a sharp knife, slice open the butt, following the fat cap, until you are able to roll it flat.

Make a paste with the olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, fennel seeds and zest. Take half of the salt and sprinkle the exposed inside of the butt. Do the same with half of the black pepper. Pour the herb paste onto the butt. Spread evenly into the meat. Roll the meat up back onto itself creating a large pinwheel of pork and herbs. Secure the roast together using butchers twine. Sprinkle the outside of the roast with the remaining salt and pepper.

Place the butt onto a roasting rack inside of a roasting pan. Place the butt into the oven and cook for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, or until the inside is 140 degrees F. Let cool and slice. Serve with jus.

1 tbsp. olive oil
pan drippings
2 c. beef stock
1 tbsp. each dried thyme, rosemary, sage
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, coarsely chopped

Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a medium sized pot. Saute onion and add garlic. Saute for a minute. Add rest of herbs. After a minute or two add beef stock. Simmer and reduce stock by one half. Pass through a sieve.