Friday, August 31, 2007

PSA: Local farm help needed

Due to worker shortages and the new school term, Nanoose Edibles is in need of volunteers to help with the picking and putting together produce boxes this coming week.

If you're able lend a helping hand on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, please give them a call at (250) 468-2332 or email them at

Thanks and have a great Labour Day weekend everybody!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cedar Farmer's Market field trip

I kidnapped a friend and went off to the Cedar Farmer's Market on Sunday morning. The sky had managed to hold off looming clouds at bay for a few hours in the morning and we enjoyed a grand morning of local goodies. I love the Cedar Farmer's Market, largely because it's had what farmer's markets ought to have. Namely, farmers :P
At this time of year, the summer's bounty is spilling over and the market offers the best of the season. From a wide range of local veggies, fruits, meats, cheese and other local products, this 100 mile diet belly is enjoying island eating and living.
Here's some of the highlights of our day at the market.
George and Betty Benson from Cedar Valley Poultry. They're on their way to being certified organic! Their chickens, I mean, not them personally. Could you imagine the hoops and red tape and inspections you'd have to go through to be a certified organic human? More urine tests than the Tour de France!

This is Arata Tanaka, bread baker genius behind Flour, Water, Salt. He's the reason why I don't bake bread during the farmer's market season. He bakes his wonderful artisan bread the way it ought to be, in an outdoor wood fire brick oven at Merridale Cidery in the Cowichan Valley. If you want to get your hands on the best baguette on the island, get there early!

There was a lovely lady seling wild mushrooms including fresh yellow and white chantrelles, fresh lobster mushrooms and a variety of dried mushrooms, all foraged from local secret forest spots.

There's George again (he gets around). This time he's with Dirk Becker from Compassion Farms. Dirk offers an incredible range of fresh produce and rain barrels. He's crazy and passionate, apparently much needed ingredients for making a farmer in this day in age.

Here's some food porn shots of Dirk's produce:

At the market I also met Afton Halloran, a UBC Agriculture student. She's 1 of 2 students from Canada that have been invited to a student's conference in Tokyo. She will be presenting a paper on the 100 mile diet! Way to represent, girl!

The rest of the day was a hodgepodge of errands and events that simply found me. By late afternoon, I had managed to commit myself to whipping up large dinner party that evening. Well, it started out as a BBQ but then the sky was making some nasty threats. With a fridge full of veggies and little else, I wandered a few blocks down to Evening Cove Oysters processing plant at 1360 Stewart. They just opened up a storefront for the public and I figured this would be a great oppurtunity to see what local seaflesh they had.
They offer oysters, clams and crabs. All still in the shell and fresher than anything I've seen anywhere on this island. All their sea critters are harvested from local waters. With constant stream of fresh critters going through their plant, their storefront is always supplied with fresh goods. A neccesary element when looking for seafood.
I picked up a huge crab, which they humanely killed and cleaned for me. Within an couple of hours, it was on the table in the form of Stir-fried Crab in Black Bean Sauce.
So good. Easy peasy too!

I also made up a new batch of curry. Here it is being toasted, before grinding.

I used the curry with a mix of vegetables I got from the farmer's market, my garden and my Nanoose Edibles produce box.

Dig in everybody!

Happy Eating!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Seafood & Salad Week -Updated

Holy golden plums Batman! It's Friday again!

All of a sudden I had an overstuffed social calendar. Speaking of overstuffed, look what I did to a salmon last weekend:

I picked up 4 lb salmon from the local fish store. Wild, local salmon, of course. Pretty much any type of salmon works well for this dish. I cleaned and plopped it onto a bed of thinly sliced onions and lemons. Other bedding can include dill, fennel and/or fennel fronds.

I stuffed its cavity with herbs (oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, lemon verbana) from my garden. Tarragon, sage, rosemary are other herbs that can be stuffed into the salmon belly too. Thinly sliced onions and lemons were also packed into there.

With a sharp knife, I sliced 3 slashes into the side and stuffed the cuts with sliced garlic from my garden, and more herbs.
A few pinches of salt and pepper also went into the cavity and slashes.

I covered the whole pan with tin foil and threw it into a 400F oven for 40 minutes and out came this:

We had a few friends over that evening and we barely made a dent into the salmon. We've been slowly picking away at it all week long. It's been great in salads, with quick stir fries, or simply topping a piece of baguette and a couple slices of cucumber.
The following night, we continued our seafood theme and had ourselves some Saltspring Island mussels in white wine sauce:

This is one of my favorite seafood dishes. It's also one of the easiest dishes to make. I can have it ready on the table in under 15 minutes.

Here's my Fast & Dirty Mussels in White Wine Sauce recipe:
2 lbs local fresh mussels (really, don't even bother with with frozen imports)
Olive oil
1 small onion or 2 shallots - diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 teaspoon sambal oelek or similar hot sauce
1 cup good white wine (I used Cherry Point's Ortega)

Options: Other veggies like brocolli, corn, green beans, carrots, potatoes. I usually just dump in leftover already cooked veggies. This time I threw in some corn, potatoes, green beans and fresh tomatoes that I had from the previous night's dinner. If you're using raw veggies, blanch them first if needed. There is only a short cooking time for this dish.

1- Clean and debeard the mussels. Pick out any mussels that won't close tightly.
2- In a big wide bottom pot, heat up a couple of glugs of olive oil over medium high heat.
3- Saute the onions and garlic until the onions are just translucent. Don't let the garlic brown.
4- Toss in the sambal oelek
5-Toss in the mussels and white wine sauce. Close the lid.
6- Let the mussels cook for 7-8 minutes or until they've opened.
7- If you're using leftover veggies, add them at the 5 minute mark so they'll have a chance to heat up.
8- Discard any mussels that haven't opened up.
9- Enjoy!

If you think they cook up fast, they get eaten almost as fast too!
These mussels shells get cleaned and tossed into the garden. They work partly as a mulch and ground cover. Over time, they also break down and feed the soil.

Then the following night, our friends Pete and Nat came prancing into town and we all headed out to the Longwood Pub for burgers and beer.
Longwood runs it's own brewery. They have wide selection of beers from light lagers to stouts. I found the stouts a bit too sweet for my taste but the IPA was a winner.
Also, for 100 mile diet minded eaters, according to the menu, the Longwood burger uses Vancouver Island beef. I didn't ask if anything else was 100 mile diet worthy. I was too busy drinking beer :P

The next night, we drove out to Port Alberni for Nat's going away potluck party. Little Miss Superstar is off to get work on her Masters degree in Superstarness in Sweden. I miss her already :(
It was grand to see all our old Port Alberni friends again.

For the potluck, I made a grilled veggie pasta salad. It's nothing more than a bunch of local veggies grilled on the BBQ tossed with some pasta and tossed in a lemon pesto dressing.

When I say lemon pesto dressing, I mean simply 2 parts pesto and 1 part freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed well. I used homemade pesto (recipe at bottom of entry) made with basil from my garden.

I used zucchinis, mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic all from either with weekly CSA produce box, farmers market or from my own garden.

For Nat the Superstar, I made a Chocolate Cake with Blueberry Filling made with locally milled flour, local eggs, butter and blueberries.

The going away potluck was hosted by the fabulous friends, Chris and Shar, at the Fat Salmon Backpackers hostel in Port Alberni.

Then Wednesday, my wonderful in-laws came by for an overnight visit. Armed with a bagful of goodies from True Grain bakery and Hilary's cheese shop, the proceeded to completely spoil us rotten by taking DH and I out for dinner at The Wesley Street Cafe.
My in-laws and I enjoyed some lovely local halibut that was prepared perfectly and DH is still swooning over their duck confit perogies which came with his free ranged chicken breast. They do make an effort to bring in local veggies and other items. However, I was a tad disappointed to hear that their lamb is from Australia. Oh, pooh!

Oh a brighter 100 Mile Diet note, I just got an email from the folks at Mermaid's Mug Cafe, a very cool coffee lounge, just down the street from Wesley Street cafe in the Old City Quarter. They've embarked on a 100 mile diet journey and also showcase lots of local musical talent!

Today, I managed to finish the last of the roasted salmon. We had it for lunch as part of a salad roll.
I love salad rolls. They are the perfect way to enjoy fresh greens and they're a great way to use up leftover chicken, pork, fish, prawns, shrimp or other seafood. I don't bother with the noodles, I just use more salad! With a big bag of ready-to-go organic salad greens in our produce box each week, we have plenty of salad.

I serve them with a homemade peanut dipping sauce which is nothing more than a tablespoon of peanut butter and a tablespoon of "Thai it up" sauce (recipe at middle of entry).

So, now I'm going to chill out with a glass of iced mint tea and finish up my socks. Have a great weekend everybody!
ETA: The socks are finished. Check out my the back story and the finished project on my knitting blog.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

What a sick joke!

You're kidding right? I spent all week, all sunny hot summery week cooped up in my tiny, little living room wonky and puke-drunk from the stomach flu. I spent all week thinking about how I can't wait to get back outside and play in the garden, play on the water, play in the mountains, play anywhere but inside this tiny, little living room. Finally, this morning I wake up feeling pretty swell with a spring in my step rains?!?!?!

Not just rain, but thunder and lightning too? Are you freaking kidding me?

Fine! Then I'll just stay home like a good, little goddess, eat fresh local figs and chocolate and finish knitting up my socks :P

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wonky belly and sock fever

Well, it's been an very unpredictable summer, to say the least. The weather has been flippant, to say the least. Work has been a deluge of out of the blue deadlines and last minute project changes. My top secret superhero work have been steady all summer long. We've also been running up and down the island and across the water for family stuff from both side of the family and to see friends from Japan.
Wouldn't you know it, just when the weather finally starts looking like summer, I got sick over the weekend. Not just 'meh' sick but puking my guts out for a whole ferry ride stomach flu sick. The fact that the ferries were running late didn't help either. There was a frightening moment when the packed waiting room was queuing up to board the ferry and my wonky belly my I had to decide whether I ought to get in the front of the line and risk puking while waiting in line so as to ensure a seat by the washroom or to stay in the waiting room washroom, hovering over the toilet and wait for all the other passengers to file in before boarding and hope that there was a seat by the washroom. The ferry ride was a blur of stomach flu bleariness. I managed to crawl home by midnight with my throat bruised from dry heaving and flop my queasy body into my bed.
I'm not very good at being sick. I can't stand just sitting on the couch all day waiting to get better. With the stomach flu, there is no other option. I could barely sit up on Monday without my head and belly doing backflips. Yesterday, I managed to get some ginger ale and a few water crackers into me. Today, the backflipping belly has quieted down to a wonky belly but a killer headache has moved in. It feels like someone has plunged an ice axe into my left frontal lobe.

Needless to say, I don't really have an appetite. In fact, I still get a bit queasy watching food commercials, especially fast food commercials. But for the rest of you who still have a healthy appetite, eat up! The summer bounty is rolling in. I hear that blackberries are in full glory out there!

DH has been a perfect darling, bringing me ginger ale, making sympathetic soothing sounds whenever I start whining about my wonky belly and migraine crushed head and making sure that I'm comfortable. I guess I'd better get working on his next sock project.

He finally took the handknit socks I made for him for a test hike. He loves them and can't stop raving about them. He's been asking for a pair of mountaineering socks like the ones that the old school alpinists use to wear. So I figured since the LYS was having a sale, I'd go pick up a couple balls of yarn in manly black and light grey and do up what I figured would be a relatively simple sock for a second pair. When I returned home, he gleefully brought out an old school mountaineering book and point to a picture and said, "These. These are the socks I want! I want Gaston socks"

Here is the picture he showed me:

A close up of the 'Gaston Socks':

My man definitely believes in the adage : Go big or go home :)
So after a spell of me asking, "These?!? You want me to knit you these? Are you sure? You will wear these if I knit them for you? Are you certain? Really? You want these? These are what you've been wanting all this time?"
Obviously, I needed more yarn than I had bought. I returned to the LYS with the book in hand to give the ladies at the yarn store a giggle or two. Believe me, when they say that picture, they had a few giggles at my expense. Oh well, I'm just thrilled that he wants something more exciting than just another ribbed sock. Now I've just gotta draw up that pattern...

Ok. That's it for now. My head is getting woozy again. Hope everyone else is doing better than I am out there. Hope to be back in the swing of things next week.

Take care,