Stir Fry and Wild Rice (and a leaky roof!)

Good morning fellow Edmontonians!

I am finally on the mend, and am beginning to show life again. As is our wonderful city. It truly is spring! You wanna know how I know? My ceiling is leaking… A LOT! I came home to a shower in my dinning room one day this week, and I felt the need to share some photos.

Yes, this is my beautiful Garneau Home. I love the kitchen, and thank God it doesn’t leak in there! It’s enough to have fear that the roof will cave in in two rooms… Sheesh! Thank God it’s almost fully spring, and my Landlord will get the roof fixed once and for all!

Anyway, on to the recipe. Stir fry has been a staple food of mine for years. It’s such a versatile meal! You can add any protein, any vegetable, and any sauce. It’s the perfect meal for a “cleaning out the fridge” kind of evening. I love stir fry! This time, I decided to spice up my regular stir fry by adding curry paste and using wild rice from Eat Local First’s Good Food Box. This was good stir fry!!

I began by cooking up a bit of the curry paste with a teeny bit of cooking oil, to bring out the flavour.

Then I mixed the rest of the sauce, with equal parts teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce, peanut butter and soy sauce. Yum! I let it simmer a bit with the curry paste, before adding the beef.

Then I added the veggies. Hmm, I love veggies!

For the rice, I used Wild rice from MoNa foods, which I got from the good people at Eat Local First’s Good Food Box. This rice was awesome! It was hearty and filling. It added a lot to a regular stir fry. Warning though, it took a long time to cook. You should begin by making the rice (something that I didn’t think of until the end…)

Pretty Isn’t it?

Of course, we made too much. It is a curse of mine. I always make too much rice/pasta. Oh well! Leftovers!

 

Ta da! Delicious Stir fry! Enjoy!

Jacquie’s Tasty Stir Fry

For the sauce:

1 Tablespoon of curry paste

1 Tablespoon of peanut butter

1Tablespoon of Teriyaki Sauce

1 Tablespoon Low sodium soy sauce

1 Tablespoon Hoisin Sauce

For the stir fry filling:

1 steak, marinated overnight in soy sauce in the fridge

1 onion

1 orange bell pepper

8 small mushrooms

10 fresh green beans from the Farmer’s Market. (hmm)

1 cup wild rice

 

For the sauce, heat and cook the curry paste with a tiny bit of cooking oil, until you can smell the flavors being let loose. Then add the rest of the ingredients to make the sauce, cook together until well combined.

Slice up the steak and let brown (don’t forget to flip them), until cooked to desired tenderness. Add the veggies and cook until just crispy.

Cook wild rice as per instructions on the package. Make sure to give yourself extra time to cook rice! Takes almost an hour to cook fully!!

Enjoy!


Baked Bacon and Egg Cups

Another sick day gives me more time to post old entries on the ol’ blog. and watch a lot of TV. (I think I watched almost 6 hrs of TV today. Whoa!)

I made these on the weekend for Justin and I. They were a nice take on the classic breakfast staple of bacon and eggs.

First things first, cut out a toast circle using a cookie cutter (or in our case, a shot class), for the cup base.

Then place the toast bits in the bottom of a muffin tin.

Fry up some bacon in a pan until its still soft, then line the cups with the bacon strips.

Crack eggs into the middle of the cups. You can season with salt, pepper and whichever seasoning you like (we left it plain and it was still delicious!)

Tada!! These are a genius easy breakfast creation! Enjoy!

As you can tell, Justin liked them quite a bit as well! :)

Jacquie’s Tasty Bacon and Egg Cups (Courtesy of Kirbie’s Cravings)

Ingredients

  • 4 slices of bacon 2 slices of bread 4 eggs salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Using the top of a round glass that has an opening slightly bigger than a muffin mold, about 3.5 inches, cut circles from bread. You should be able to cut two circles per slice of bread.

Grease four muffin molds. Place the bread on the bottom of each muffin mold. Preheat the oven to 400F.

Cook bacon slices in a pan about 3 minutes or until halfway cooked. Place bacon slices around the edges of the muffin tin. To help them stay, you might want to tuck the ends underneath the slices of bread.

Crack an egg and put in the middle of each muffin mold. You may want to leave out some of the egg white so that the yolk doesn’t overcook while waiting for the egg white to cook.

Place muffin molds in the oven and cook for about 12-15 minutes until eggs are cooked to your liking and bacon is crisp. I like to leave the egg yolk a little runny.

Use a knife around the edges to help lift cups from the muffin mold. Season with salt and pepper and serve while hot.


Aussie Chicken

I’m taking a sick day today because my throat is all scratchy and I feel like I will soon loose my voice. Blah, stupid March… But it’s ok because it gives me a chance to catch up on my blogging!

Oh Aussie Chicken… I think I’ve found another one of those recipes that I will add to my repertoire of awesome, delicious recipes! It’s basically honey mustard chicken, with some tasty extras…

I used local Alberta honey. Now I have to say this about honey: I normally have an intense hatred for the substance. It’s sticky, sickeningly sweet, it’s got a goopy texture. All around, I’ve never found honey appealing. This may also have stemmed from working in a tea house for two years, where, if you drop a teaspoon of honey on any work surface, a half hour later its in your hair and on the bottom of your shoe… I digress… This honey is worth the sticky goopy mess! It’s tasty and sweet, but not too sweet. Its also not pasteurized, leaving tasty little honey kernels in the silky liquid. I like this honey, enough so to get over my intense dislike for the stuff, and to use it in this delicious recipe!

This is what the base looked like before I whisked it. It’s equal parts mustard and honey, to 1/2 a part mayonnaise. I also sprinkled a bit of garlic in there for added flavor. hmm, garlic…

Tada! Whisked, perfect sauce. Make sure to make a lot. You’ll want leftovers.

We embellished on the recipe a bit, and added bacon and mushrooms to the chicken. Trust me, the extra effort is worth it.

First things first! Spray your chicken pan. Then lay the chicken down in thin strips, and add a layer of sauce.

Then cover it with strips of Bacon.

Then cover it with mushrooms.

Then sprinkle it with cheese.

Then add even more sauce! hmm!

Bake for a half hour – 45 mins on 350. Serve right away!

Hmm, was this ever good? Wow. I think I’ll make it again this week!

Jacquie’s Aussie Chicken (Courtesy of Frugal Girl)

Chicken
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – pounded to 1/2 inch thickness (I just sliced mine in half to make cutlets)
2 teaspoons seasoning salt

Sauce (I halve the sauce, but if you really love honey mustard, you might not want to halve it!)
1/2 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes

Toppings
6 slices bacon, cut in half
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cups shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese

Directions
1. Rub the chicken breasts with the seasoning salt, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the mustard, honey, corn syrup, mayonnaise and dried onion flakes. Remove half of sauce, cover and refrigerate to serve later.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until crisp. Set aside. Saute the mushrooms in the same skillet until tender; set aside.

4. Place the breasts in the skillet and saute for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until browned. Remove from skillet and place the breasts into a 9×13 inch baking dish. Apply the honey mustard sauce to each breast, then layer each breast with mushrooms and bacon. Sprinkle top with shredded cheese.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and chicken juices run clear (if you use thin cutlets, they’ll already be cooked through, so you just need to bake them for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted). Serve with the reserved honey mustard sauce.

We used the leftover sauce as salad dressing. Whoa. I think I need to go and make some more right about now…


French Canadian Crock Pot Baked Beans

In honor of sugar month (Les temps des sucres au Quebec), I decided to make one of the most traditional French Canadian dishes, to celebrate my heritage. Live local Alberta’s Eat Local First initiative were very generous to my endeavor and provided almost all of the local ingredients for this meal.
Local and sustainable, Irvings Farm Fresh’s Back Bacon slices are dry-cured and un-smoked. They were such tasty, thick pieces of bacon that it was very hard for Justin and I not to eat them right out of the pan, without giving them a chance to go into the recipe. Wow. This is high quality bacon. If you’re a bacon lover, you’ll find it hard to go back to the thin pieces from the grocery store…
Did you know that you can get locally grown and dried beans in Alberta? Yea, I didn’t know that either! Eat Local First sells beans and seeds from Columbia Seed Company, where you can purchase chickpeas, as well as black, red, and white beans!
The recipe was actually really simple, and didn’t take much more than the beans, the bacon and this onion.
I let the beans soak overnight in the crockpot. Warning! They will double in size when left soaking. Strangely, some of the beans didn’t expand in the first soak. This was because the larger ones choked out the smaller ones, not letting them expand. You may want to put all the beans in a larger bowl (or two separate bowls) and add double the amount of water, so that all the beans are able to absorb it!
I let the beans cook on low for 10 hrs while I was at work, and ta da! Don’t they look amazing?
We served the beans with a locally made, scrumptious organic whole wheat pita from Happy Camel (one of these days, I will do an entire post just for Happy Camel. I have the biggest Happy Camel addiction!!)
They went from freezer to toaster and ready to eat in 2 minutes. Hmm… Happy Camel…
Enjoy! This dish reminded me of the community league Cabanne a Sucres from my childhood. Delicious!
Jacquie’s French Canadian Crock Pot Baked Beans
  • 2 cups red and white beans (measured prior to soaking)
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 3/4 lb bacon (sliced small)
  • 1 medium onions (chopped) or 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (chopped or sliced)
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Soak 2 cups of bean in water over night, or in the morning. The beans must have soaked a minimum of 6 hours. For those who have never soaked beans, pour the beans in to a bowl and cover beans with water. Water should be at lease 1/2 inch to 3/4 of an inch above beans. This allows beans to absorb enough water with out getting dry.
  • Strain and pour the beans in the crockpot. Slice your bacon I use scissors if it is completely unthawed medium to thin slices. Chop onions to your preferred size I like Medium, and chop garlic. Add to the beans.
  • Pour water into a bowl and mix remaining ingredients in the water and stir. Pour over beans and mix well.
  • Cover turn on LOW and cook 8 to 10 hours. DO NOT LIFT THE LID, only when it is close to the end of cooking time. Take a test and see if you like the texture, if not cook for remainder time.

  • Chewy Granola Bars

    I’ve finally decided that it was high time that I make my own granola bars. I love the idea of having a ready-to-go bar packed with energy boosting proteins and grains, but I really don’t like the cardboard processed taste of store bought granola bars. So, when I stumbled across this recipe featuring Julie Van Rosendaal’s (From dinner with Julie) thick and chewy granola bars. They just looked so good that I had to make them! And what a better activity to do when you’re two-year-old niece comes over on a Saturday afternoon? (I apologize in advance for the dis-coordinated photo sequence. It’s a little tough to snap photos while a little monkey is running around! :)

    Roxie was my little helper. She also got to lick a lot of spoons…

    As the base that held the granola bars together, I used two local ingredients: pure, unpasturized unfiltered, locally produced raw honey, and Mighty Trio Organic‘s locally produced organic canola oil. I also used peanut butter. Really, these are truly amazing bars.

    I know, the base doesn’t look too pretty, but trust me, it tasted amazing!!

    By the end, all the ingredients looked golden and crisp and amazing!

    This makes for a perfect grab-and-go snack, without all the cradboardy taste.

    Jacquie’s Tasty Thick and Chewy Granola Bars (Courtesy of Julie Van Rosendaal and SwerveCalgary)

    Homemade granola bars can be customized to suit your taste with any kind of nuts, seeds and dried fruit (chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips can also be added). If you’re sending the bars to a nut-free school, replace the nuts with more seeds or dried fruit. If you don’t have oat flour, make some by pulsing oats in a food processor until powdery, or try substituting brown rice or quinoa flour. Wrap cooled bars individually and stash them in a jar on the countertop to grab and go.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 3/4 cups oats (quick-cooking or old-fashioned), barley flakes, or a combination
    • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup oat flour (I used whole wheat flour)
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 cup chopped nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, almonds and cashews
    • 1 cup chopped dried fruit, such as apricots, raisins and dried cranberries (I used local dried fruit from Steve and Dan’s)
    • 1/2 cup seeds, such as sesame, sunflower, green pumpkin and flax
    • 1/3 cup canola oil
    • 1/3 cup peanut butter, golden pea butter or another nut butter (try almond or cashew)
    • 1/3 cup liquid honey, maple syrup or golden syrup
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 tsp vanilla

    Procedure:

    1) Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray an 8” x 8” pan with non-stick spray.

    2) In a large bowl, stir together the oats, brown sugar, oat flour, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the nuts, dried fruit and seeds.

    3) In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil, peanut butter, honey, egg and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until well blended and crumbly. Press firmly into the prepared pan.

    4) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until set and golden around the edges. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into squares or bars.


    Eat Alberta Conference – AKA: an epic day of local foodie awesomeness!

    Have you heard? Slow Food Edmonton is hosting a conference to Celebrate Local Food Heroes!

    Whoa. This is epic.

    The minute I read my emails on Monday morning, I signed my mom and I up. A whole day of hands-on local foodieness? Yes PLEASE! I am excited beyond words, and really think you should all take the chance to participate in this awesome experience!

    This is how the day is going to look like:

    Pick one from each of the following sessions:

    10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
    Smoky Valley Goat Cheese Tasting
    Artisan Sausage Making (hands on)
    Apple Pie and Pastry Making 101 (hands on)
    Honey Tasting

    11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    enSante Fruit Wine Tasting
    Top 10 Edible Plans with in the City Limits
    A World Tour of Coffee
    Pasta Making (hands on)

    1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
    Making Goat Cheese Brie (demonstration)
    Artisan Sausage Making (hands on)
    Apple Pie and Pastry Making 101 (hands on)
    Honey Tasting

    2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
    Eating and Drinking with Mary Bailey
    Making a Personal Connection to Your Food Source
    Home Brewing Coffee Techniques
    Slow Rise Pizza Dough

    There will also be opening and closing keynote sessions on urban gardening and urban homesteading, respectively.

    What the day looks like:
    · Saturday, April 30: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    · Continental Breakfast followed by the morning keynote speaker
    · Two morning break out sessions
    · A charcuterie and cheesetasting lunch with artisan breads
    · Two afternoon break out sessions
    · Closing session followed by a “wine” down

    When: Saturday, April 30, 2011, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    Where: Enterprise Square, 10230 Jasper Avenue
    Cost: $90 to $125

    Register at: http://www.eatalberta.ca/

    Seriously. You should go. I wouldn’t miss this for the world!


    A Celebration for Spring: Coconut Shrimp with Coconut Rice

    In honor of what seems to be SPRING outside, I made a delicious festive dinner last night. Coconut shrimp, which can seem like a lot of work, is a fun dish to make. It also tastes 100% better than the deep fried version you can order as an appetizer at a restaurant. There is also a very special element of awesome local to this post… Keep reading to find out…

    For the coconut shrimp, you will need an egg or two (one egg would have sufficed for how many shrimp I had), and a mixture of panko bread crumbs (or any other breadcrumbs you have around the house. Crushing up crackers will also work!), dried coconut, and salt and pepper.

    For frying, I invested in some local and organic canola oil (which came out to be huge value of my money, I think). Made with polish canola seeds, which are naturally free of GMOs, Mighty Trio Organics grows their canola seeds and produces their canola oil right outside of Edmonton. They sell their products at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market and through eat local first’s Good Food Box.

    There is a step by step process to making coconut shrimp, and I believe I have finally mastered the art. It’s a matter of making your assembly line efficient. First, dip the shrimpy in the  egg, and make sure that it is coated well.

    Next, dip it in the panko breadcrumb and coconut flake mixture. Again, make sure the shrimp is coated well.

    Place the shrimpies in a deep frying pan, after having let the oil heat up for a bit first.

    Flip them over when the shrimpie’s tails start to turn pink, and they start to curl up on their own.

    Local Alert!! I bought these at the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning! Ern’t they beautiful?! It is a sure sign of spring when green beans are back at the market. My GOD was I excited to see these little buggers! I hopped around and did a dance, then bought two bags. How wonderful it is to have seasonal deliciously fresh vegetables locally grown in your own city. Safeway: I have a feeling that we will be seeing less and less of each other as the season progresses…

    Tada! Now don’t those look delicious?! I served them with coconut Jasmine rice (sooo good). You can also serve the shrimp with dipping sauce, but I feel they stand well on their own. What a nummy dinner in celebration of the return of spring!!

    Jacquie’s Tasty Coconut Shrimp and Coconut Rice (Courtesy of Renee Julia)

    12 medium shrimp, shelled and rinsed
    1 cup of sweet, flaked coconut
    1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
    2 medium eggs
    1/2 teaspoon of salt
    1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
    Enough oil for deep frying or pan frying

    Directions

    In a large bowl, mix the coconut and panko bread crumbs together and and salt and pepper. Place, in a shallow bowl or small place, the bread crumb mixture. In a second bowl, whisk the eggs. Rinse shrimp and pat dry with paper towel and dip shrimp in the egg, holding each shrimp for a few seconds above the bowl to let excess egg drip. Next, coat the shrimp evenly with the bread crumbs.

    Place the shrimp on a plate until you’re ready to fry. If using a deep fryer, preheat to 350F. Fry for about  four minutes until golden brown. I used a deep frying pan with 1.5-2 Tablespoons of canola oil. It worked well, and it did not involve deep frying! Set the fried shrimp on paper towels for one to two minutes to drain off excess grease. Serve hot with coconut Jasmine rice.

    Coconut Jasmine Rice (Courtesy of About.com)

    2 cups Thai jasmine-scented white rice
    2 cups good-quality coconut milk
    1 3/4 cups water
    2 heaping Tbsp. dry shredded unsweetened coconut (baking type)
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. coconut oil, OR vegetable oil
    Rub oil over the bottom of a deep-sided pot. You will also need a tight-fitting lid.
    Place rice, coconut milk, water, shredded coconut, and salt in the pot and set over medium-high to high heat. Stir occasionally to keep rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.
    Once the coconut-water has begun to gently bubble, stop stirring and reduce heat to low (just above minimum). Cover tightly with a lid and let simmer 15-20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. To check, pull rice aside with a fork. If most of the coconut milk-water is gone, go on to the next step.
    Replace the lid and turn off the heat, but leave the covered pot on the burner to steam another 5-10 minutes, or until you’re ready to eat. Tip: Your Coconut Rice will stay warm this way for up to 1 hour or more, great for when you’re expecting company!
    When ready to serve, remove the lid and fluff rice with a fork or chopsticks. Taste-test the rice for salt, adding a little more if needed. Serve right out of the pot, or transfer to a serving bowl. This rice is excellent served with a variety of both Thai and Indian dishes, such as curries or seafood recipes. If desired, top your rice with a sprinkling of toasted coconut and ENJOY!

     


    Whole Wheat Pancakes

    Pancakes… Who doesn’t love pancakes? They always invoke a sense of lazy morning awesomeness, where you get to basically eat a hot cake in a pan smothered with maple syrup, because its the weekend, and what else do you really have to do anyway? Sigh, with these crazy weeks I’ve been having, I wish that I could just sleep in and make pancakes every day.

    This recipe post is from last weekend, by the way. Ha! Don’t I wish I had time to make pancakes on weekdays?

    I served these tasty whole wheatie pancakes with local pears from Steve and Dan’s at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market. (FYI, they also sell their amazing fruit through eat local’s good food box, which is delivered straight to your door! Living local made easy? Yes please!!)

    Hmm sirop d’érable! Canada’s gift to the world. Delicious. In recognition of les temps des sucres (sugar month) in Quebec, I will be doing a few more maple inspired posts, which will be as local as possible! Enjoy!

    Jacquie’s tasty whole wheat pancakes (courtesy of allrecipes.com)

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon white sugar
    • 1 1/4 cups milk
    • 1 egg
    • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

    Directions

    1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth.
    2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

    Cold weather food: Chicken Fajitas and Guacamole

    Hello dear Edmonton readers! I know. You’re sick of winter already. I am too. And so, I am keeping upbeat and optimistic with some recipes that will make you feel like its tropical and warm all around you, even when its not.  Today’s selection: Home-made Chicken Fajitas and Guacamole. It will warm your soul and your toes until the earth finally decides to rotate enough for us to get a little tiny bit of warm weather up in this frozen tundra.

    Unfortunately, this recipe is not very local (I apologize, my localista readers. Wait until May and you can make this recipe using 100% local ingredients! I promise!)

    Full disclosure: I like Old El Paso. I know what your thinking: Who features a recipe online when they are not prepared to use their own original spice mix?… Me, unfortunately. I actually don’t have a special blend of spices that I use when I cook Mexican food (which I should, considering how much I cook it and love to eat it.) If anyone has any suggestions for a blend of seasoning that they love to use while cooking Mexican, please share!! So I use Old El Paso seasonings for tacos and fajitas. They are actually really tasty, and go a long way. This one has reduced sodium, SCORE!

    I followed the instructions on the package, and sauteed veggies and chicken together in my wok (I know, I’m probably the only one who uses a wok while cooking Mexican, but hey, it worked.)

    For the Guacamole, start by slicing the avocados in two, removing the nut by stabbing it, and discarding it, then slice it like this! (It helps with the mashing and smashing part of the recipe.)

    Place the delicious avocado bits in a bowl…

    Add some finely chopped red onion, dried cilantro, salt and pepper and lime juice, and squash, squish and mash it all together!

    Serve the Fajitas in whole wheat flour tortillas, with some shredded cheese and a side of guacamole (and sour cream and salsa if you want to go all out!) It made for the perfect Friday night meal. Delicious!!

     

    Jacquie’s Cold Weather Chicken Fajitas and Guacamole

    One large red onion

    Two bell peppers (whatever colors you want!)

    Two chicken breast

    One package of Old El Paso Fajita or Taco seasoning

    Whole wheat tortillas

    2 ripe avocados

    A pinch of cilantro

    Salt and pepper

    A tablespoon of lime juice

     

    For the Fajitas, julienne (as in slice into thin strips) the bell peppers, half of the red onion and chicken. Cook chicken with a tablespoon of cooking oil before adding the veggies. Add Old El Paso seasoning mix and follow the instructions (I always use only half a package for a meal, so not to over-power it.) Serve with whole wheat tortillas and shredded cheddar cheese.

    For the guacamole, slice the ripe avocados in half, remove the pit and cut the avocado meat in squares (as shown), prior to removing it from the skin. Throw it into a bowl. Slice and dice the rest of the red onion and add it to the avocado. Add cilantro, salt and pepper and lime juice. Mash, mix and squash it all together. Serve as a side to fajitas!

    Enjoy! And stay warm!!


    Thinking about food a little differently…

    My apologies folks, this post will not be a recipe post. Rather it will contain my rambling thoughts about, well… food!

    I am going to put forward a question to you, dear readers: Do you ever sit down with your morning cereal, or your afternoon banana snack, and think about the food you are eating? I don’t mean thinking about the food in terms of tasty factor (although that is always important too), but I mean really think about the food you’re eating. Do you every ask yourself where exactly the food came from, how it was processed, how many people it took to make the finished product of cereal, and what truly is the cost (environmentally, nutritionally, ecologically, geographically…etc) of the food you’re eating? No? You don’t think about those things? Unfortunately, I tend to forget about these things as well, as I’m running out the door to work in the morning, or scarfing down a snack in the afternoon between events. These questions are very important though, and here’s what got me thinking about them:

    I attended a lecture last night at the U of A called “Taking Charge of Dinner: Growing, Knowing and Loving Food” (I find the title so inspiring that I just had to head to my alma mater after working a 10 hr day.) There were two wonderful and inspiring guest speakers: Nettie Wiebe and Jessie Radies, that challenged the audience to think a little differently about their relationships with food.

    Nettie Wiebe, a international food activist, eloquently painted a picture about our personal relationships to food that I will not soon forget – She spoke  about how our individual relationships to food, here in North America and in the Canadian Prairies, should not be one of just eating to eat, or food as a commodity that is marketed and bought and sold, but rather, food is about a personal relationship that you have with others and with yourself. Food is about so much more than just sustenance; it is the cultural construct of our lives, and (just to embellish a teeny bit), it feeds our creative souls. I loved the image that this created for me, as this is how I feel about food. Sure, I am persuaded once in a while by a beautiful commodity food item, however, it is the relationship I feel to my food, and my desire to share it with those around me, that I cherish when eating.

    Nettie painted another picture for me that I wanted to share with you all: Currently, the way most people think about food is a linear food chain, that goes from growing a product, harvesting it, processing it, distributing it and finally, having it land on your table after you purchase it from the grocery store. Instead of this image, Nettie got us to think of a more interconnected world where our relationships to food are much integrated, and rather it being a linear chain, it is viewed as an interconnected web, where customers have personal relationships with producers and farmers, and who are conscientious about the food they produce and consume and how it benefits the local food economy and their individual health. Beautiful thought, no?

    Jessie Radies, founder of live local Alberta and Original Fare, was able to paint an entirely different picture of food for me, that, after being engrossed in Nettie’s beautiful picture, was much more tangible and accessible to me as a local food consumer. She started off my illustrating to the audience how, if we as Edmontonians, were to dedicate only 20% of our food spending to the local food economy, it would generate 1.5 BILLION dollars within the local food system. (*Note, these numbers are from Seatle, but can you imagine the impact that it would have here?!) These dollars directly come back to you, as the consumer, in original local products (you’ll never find a product like happy camel anywhere else, would you). This can happen simply by eliminating the middle part of the linear chain Nettie previously discussed. This is honestly done so easily, and the benefits to the local economy are enormous!- Make yourself a deal to go to the farmer’s market once a week to get local fruit and a loaf of bread. Done. That’s 20% right there.

    As a volunteer for live local Alberta, I appreciated Jessie’s shameless plug of live local’s good food box, because they have honestly made it so simple for you to support the local food system by buying local products through them, and they will deliver it to your door!!

    Needless to say, I was inspired last night to continue to live as local as possible, and to encourage those dear to me to really think about the food that they are eating (try it, it’s fun!). Stay tunes for more locally inspired recipes, and more ramblings about food thoughts.

    Yours in food solidarity,

    Jacquie


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