Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy 100 Mile New Year

Hope you all are recovering from the big feast. We certainly ate our fill.
I brought over a cranberry-apple-walnut-hazelnut cake made with island grown fruit, nuts, eggs, milk, butter and flour.

Unlike all the nightmares X'mas family dinners that I hear about, these family feasts are wonderfully soap opera-free. Pretty freaky, eh?

If your still looking for some local bubbly to start off the new year, my in-laws started off their X'mas feast with a bottle of Zanatta's Brut which was quite lovely and festive and all locally grown!
DH's idea of sweeping me off my feet.

So to everybody, have a great new year's. Be careful and party safe. I wish you all a new year filled joy and look forward to sharing my next year of great adventure, great food and great love with you all!

Happy eating!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Slow cooker medicine

I've piled up all my vacation time to the end of the year. Daydreams of wonderful winter climbing adventures dancing through my head as I worked, counting down the days until my winter vacation came closer and closer. I poured over climbing guide books and fell asleep with the "Freedom of the Hills".
On the first day of vacation, last Monday, I got sick. Stupid, snot-filled head, coughing up a lung and spleen, achy-breaky, why does the universe hate me sort of sick. Bleh!!
After a hazy week of coughing and body aches, I'm coughing up the last of the residual lung sludge and my wonderful dear husband is now nursing the beginning the of the same stupid cold! ACK!!!!!!!
Hopefully he'll race through this cold faster than I did. He's a veteran of colds and is very experienced in having them. I, on the other hand, am one of those freaks that rarely ever gets sick. In fact, I spent the first two days of my cold in shock, wondering, where the heck did all this mucus come from and why, oh why, is it being stockpiled in my head?

And to add insult to injury, I didn't feel like eating all week! Double ACK!!!! Everything tasted like gamy cardboard and so I've been living off of toast and mandarin oranges.

This morning, I finally felt the beginning twinges of an appetite start to regain strength in me. I made chicken soup. Actually chicken and garlic slow cooker soup. I consider it part aromatherapy, part mother medicine.
Of course, I used local chicken and veggies. In the crock pot went a pair of skinless chicken breasts from the Shady Mile Farm Mart, a couple of Saanich onions, a couple of carrots from Gary Argyle's farm, and from my garden a whole head of garlic and 2 fistfuls of parsley, and a bit of diluted chicken stock. Here's how it's looking so far...

Don't bother peeling the garlic, keep it in the skin. You can remove the papery skin though. The garlic stew and braises into a lovely, sweet aromatic soft pate of heaven that can be squished onto bread when it's done.

Hope you all are doing well as we slip and slide into that holiday season. Remember to get your local turkeys from Shady Mile farm mart and Piper's Meats. For all those that are opening their homes for holiday parties, consider asking your guests to bring non-perishable foods for the Food Bank or gently used outer clothing, socks and toques for the shelters instead of a hostess gift. Or for $60 you can sponsor a local family to receive a monthly Good Food Box of fresh veggies and fruit for 6 months. For more information, contact Crystal Petersen at Nanaimo Foodshare at 250-753-9393.

Take care, be careful , don't drink and drive and watch out for elves!

Happy Holidays!


Sunday, December 09, 2007

100 Mile Diet in the news

I'm in Victoria with DH for the weekend. It's 8am and snowing so I cuddled up with a cup of coffee and the Times Colonist which is carrying a front page story plus a whole section on the 100 Mile Diet!!! Get this, I'm mentioned as a source of info for the diet!

I learned that B.C. Hothouse veggies are grown in Mexico in the winter!?! YIKES! Again, a reminder that beyond the 'Product of Canada' label is often imported food. You don't need to eat cucumbers 365 days in the year. There's sprouts, there's kale, there's locally grown salad greens, there's jerusalem artichokes and more winter squashes than you can shake a stick at.

Many of the articles look at the challenges that local farmers and 100MD followers face. Though I really am thrilled that the paper is looking at the merits of a 100 mile diet at this time of the year, there's an underlying sense of pessimism. The headline "The Island Diet" is followed with "Buying only locally grown food sounds like a good idea, but it's hard than it looks." Yes, I concur that farmers and 100 MD followers face challenges in this present food system and that there isn't enough food production to feed the island. I don't think that any of the local food advocates expect everybody to switch over to eating only locally grown foods overnight. I certainly don't. It's not reasonable to expect the average person to eat only locally grown foods. But just because you can't do everything, don't do nothing. Do something.

I've always advocated a gradual move to a more locally based diet. Start with the obvious and easiest local food choices. Right now, there's still lots of local kale, chard, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, various winter squash, onions, apples, cranberries for fresh produce. There's local dairy, meat and eggs, as well. Buy what you can locally. Continue to look for more local options. When you know better, do better

Ask your grocer for local options. Do the same at the restaurants. This is an important step. They might not have local option today but if enough people voice themselves, maybe they'll have it next time. Part of being on the 100 MD is being plugged into your food culture and being pro-active. It requires you to take some time, energy and thought into doing your part to help facilitate a sustainable local agriculture that supports both the consumer and the producer. Food is a long-term issue, we have to stop treating it as a short-term option.

Have your orange and eat it too! The 100MD for me isn't about zealously excluding everything that isn't locally grown from my plate. There are many products that can't be locally grown at the moment. Choose options that are going to provide benefits and a livelihood for a farmer elsewhere. Choose direct fair trade for coffee, sugar and chocolate. Perhaps reconsider how much of these items you really need on a regular basis. Some things I buy them as treats and not as a regular part of my core diet. I buy one box of mandarin oranges as part of my holiday treat. I relish the bright, citrus punch of aroma as I peel the thin skin away. I take my time enjoying each sweet and juicy section with a big grin and I let the good memories of the holiday seasons past fill my mind.

This leads me to talking about pleasure. I can talk until the 100 mile diet cows come home about why we should be supporting a local diet. In the end, it's really all about pleasure of good real food and the sastisfaction of having an authentic and deep relationship with the food that I put into my body. Take pleasure in a freshly picked local apple and let it's juices run down your chin!

Thank you the Times Colonist for your look at the Island Diet. I hope this discussion will evolve beyond the debate of whether or not we can do the 100 mile diet here on Vancouver Island and start providing information and meaningful dialogue about a deep-rooted local food system.

For more on 100 Mile Diet strategies, check out my blog entry on "Making 100 Mile Diet Work for You"
Also please check out the Nanaimo 100 Mile Diet Challenge website for more info on where you can get your locally grown food.

Oh yeah, remember to reserve your locally grown turkey for Christmas. Piper's Meats in Nanaimo is taking orders. Here in Victoria is the Village Butcher who brings in a wide selection of locally raised critters. Beyond turkey, there's also other local critters and local produce and drink for your 100 mile diet holiday feast.


Monday, December 03, 2007

One last pot of soup

James Barber passed away quietly last week in his home in the Cowichan Valley. He left a pot of soup simmering on the stove. I wonder what sort of soup...

Good night James. Thanks for all the years of keeping it real in the kitchen for all these years.

So it did this all weekend:

Snow! Snow! Snow!!!!! Supposedly that's what it looked like across the whole country. Now it's raining and apparently, it's never going to stop raining.

Ironically all the snow prevent DH and I from getting up to the mountains for a much needed snow play. Oh well, instead we stayed in and drank lots of mulled Merridale cider and hot buttered rum.

For dinner, I cracked open a spaghetti squash from my garden.

It's amazing how much more colour and flavor my garden grown squash had over those pale yellow spaghetti squashes. The flesh was a deep saffron yellow. I toss it with some pesto made with my own basil and garlic and island grown hazelnuts and cheese. Along side the squash, I also roasted up a pan of local sausages to see us through the weekend.
With it I served a homemade plum-rhubarb chutney.

For Sunday's dinner, I took some of leftover sausages, some local turnip, carrot, mushrooms and green cabbage and made a Fast & Dirty soup. I think James would have approved.
You'd think with a weekend at home that I would be whipping up a storm in the kitchen. Normally I would. But instead I spent the time working on some charity knitting. Here's one of the EZ inspired baby jacket that I'm donating as shown by my wonderful DH. It's not quite his size :P
Have a great week!