Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bowen Road Farmers Market

Hope you're all having a great spring! I just wanted to pass on the exciting news that the Bowen Road Farmer's Market begins this Wednesday. Have a great time everybody and congratulations to all the organizers!
Here's an email I got from Dirk the grandmaster farmer about the market:

The Bowen Road Farmers' Market
Beginning THIS Wednesday, May 21st, 2008
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM each week until Thanksgiving
Location: Mid Island Co-op Parking Lot on Bowen Road at Labieaux Road
Get it fresh from your local farmer! Get it freshly picked! Produce, meat, seafood & plants are all at the Bowen Road Farmer's Market along with a tasteful sprinkling of local arts and crafts.

A new farmer's market in central Nanaimo to give you a fabulous selection of local farm produce, seafood, meats, baking, preserves and nursery plants. Come taste the joy which local producers put into their offerings. Juried, local arts and crafts will also round out this primarily farmer's market.

This is Nanaimo's food-oriented market promoting the 100 mile diet and connecting the people of our community with the farmers in our region who grow and raise the food we eat, as well as small-scale food processors and unique artisans. Farmers markets throughout Canada find that true "farmers" markets flourish when the focus on food is 80%, and artisans 20% and that is what this market adheres to.

In 1960, Vancouver Island grew, raised and produced 60% of the food we consumed. Today, it has dropped to less than 6%... and that includes meat and dairy! This means 94% of our food is imported…. leaving us vulnerable to a myriad of outside factors affecting our food security and sustainability.

Farmers' Markets make it possible for farmers to make a living wage and offer our community members wholesome, nutritious food that keeps families healthy. Markets also create a sense of connection and foster community, allowing our children to learn where their food comes from.

Dirk Becker's summary: “…farmers = food = farmers showcase = farmers market = consumers = community = public lobby = socio- political, environmental, agri-"cultural" change!!”

Friday, May 02, 2008

Edge of the world

Igloo Church, Inuvik, NWT

So I've done my road trip and have decided to set up our home in Inuvik, NTW, pretty much the edge of the world.

It's been an amazing few weeks as I've been madly falling in love with this incredible part of the world.

Right now it's a balmy -7C and snowing. For this winter-starved kid, that's just fine.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of discoveries and meetings. Our first week here coincided with the Governor General's visit to this area. So being me, I basically crashed every event she attended and did my best to make ourselves known to the community.

I even got a chance to travel the ice highway to Tuktoyaktuk and Aklavik. It was gorgeous landscape and thrilling to be driving on a frozen river surrounded by seemingly never-ending plains of ice and snow.

(Catching a rare spring sunset)
I'm still adjusting to the 20 hours of sunshine. My circadian rhythms are out of whack so we always feel like I either sleep too much or not enough. I always seem to be a meal behind schedule. Most days we don't eat lunch until 4 or 5pm. Dinner has often been a midnight feast.

Here I am at the trapper cabin that was my home for the first week here. It's part of the Arctic Chalet B&B Resort. Judi and Olaf we run this place have been the most wonderful hosts. They run dog mushing tours from here and have a number of cabins on the property just on the outskirts of town.

The cabin was just big enough for a small bed, table and a oil heater. No running water but it did have electricity and wifi. Cozy until I needed to go to the washroom :P
Along with all the amazing scenery, I've also been enjoying some local foods.
I was invited to the Gwich'in Wellness Camp grand opening where I got a chance to feast on local caribou, wild goose, moose and arctic char.
At a local grocery store, I also found ground musk oxen from Banks Island. Right now it's the only available local meat at the stores so it's become my main meat source. It also happens to be the most affordable meat.
It's not as gamey as I expected it but still very rich and meaty.
The Dempster Highway is closing up for a month so food prices are expected to skyrocket until the ferries open up for the river crossings. I've filled my cupboards and fridge with food. Though I'm not eating as much locally sourced food as I usually do, I am looking forward to growing produce at the community greenhouse, going fishing, trapping and gathering wild foods.

Have a great May!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sustainable Seafood

I received this note in my comment box in response to the yummy crab entry last summer. We need to do our part in helping maintain a sustainable seafood industry.

Hello, I am the fisherman that supplies Andrew's (Evening Cove) crabs.
I am a small footprint local harvester and marketer. More and more of us are realizing for seemingly obvious reasons that this is the trend for primary food production. I harvest within 30 km and sell from Nanaimo to Campbell River. Well, DFO without any science, policy or vision is threatening to basically eliminate commercial crabbing from Victoria to Campbell River from March 15- Sept. 15. This is the viable portion of the year; the crab are abundant, the local market is in full swing and the weather is safe for the small boats that can do this viably without a lot of fuel.
I am looking for public support for sustainable seafood harvesting in our communities before it is all gone and we look back at how stupid we were. I have my dock customers and Thriftys Foods as well as the David Suzuki Foundation any many others coming onboard to help. If you like to help me encourage DFO to support responsible seafood harvesting please call Kim at:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Falling in love in Bozeman

After Devil's Tower, we headed up to Bozeman, Montana and proceed to fall madly in love with this town's land and people.
It's gorgeous valley ringed with great mountains and filled with the nicest people.

It also has some great ice!
This is a gorgeous weep of ice in the Hyalite Canyon, the central hub of ice-climbing in Southern Montana.
Beyond the incredible climbing, this town is so 100 Mile Diet friendly.
A few blocks from our motel was their Community Food Co-op, a delicious treasure!
They not only have a great selection of fresh, local produce, they also had a great hot and cold deli, a bakery and a coffee shop. The prices are comparable, if not lower than grocery store prices.
They proudly advertise the local farms that source their products and the employees are knowledgeable and passionate about food but not at the expense of the enviroment,
Our motel didn't have a fridge or any cooking devices so I picked up a small kettle/hot pot. Every day, we'd make a trip down to the Co-op and pick up our food for that day.

For dinners, I picked up a bunch of local winter veggies, organic kamut salad, some asian roasted chicken and marinated tofu from the deli and bring it all back to the motel for some on the road cooking.
The kettle/hot pot allows me a range of heat from simmer to boil for an extended period of time, making it perfect for soups, steaming veggies, boiling noodles and even eggs. Together, we lived off of $10 a day for groceries, including some really yummy vegan chocolate cake:)

Ta-dah! Dinner a la motel room.

And to top it off, they make a really nice baguette with local, organic flour! Yippee!!

We also discovered this great Mexican restaurant called La Tinga that makes their own corn tortillas, salsas and the best chicken and green salsa taco I have ever had. On our last day there, we went the La Tinga and proceed to pretty much eat through the whole menu.
Here's their breakfast tortilla. This helped fuel those brisk, ice-climbing days.
We loved it all so much that I picked up a dozen tortillas and a couple containers of salsa for the road.
Thanks Bozeman for such a wonderful week! We'll be back soon!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

On the road

For the last couple of weeks I've been in the Rockies feeding my soul.
(Lake Louise, Alberta).

I've been romping on some ice...

Hanging out with the locals...

We started out in Waterton Lakes outside of Lethbridge. There the ice was gorgeous. The village around the lakes was mostly closed for the winter except for a few lodges.

The Kilmorey Lodge was opened and they have some yummy local foods and even sell their own Saskatoon Berry jam that they gather from the park and make right on premises!

We then went north up the Lake Louise on the next leg of our Rockies adventure. Since we were staying at the hostel and the last time I checked, there wasn't much for local farming in the Rockies , I had packed a huge cooler bag of veggies and fruit from home. It's a great way to minimize my food footprint and keep my costs down.
On our way to Lake Louise, I also found out that Calgary has a year-round farmer's market. Unfortunately, I didn't have much time to explore and we weren't there on the right day. Oh well, maybe next time.
After Lake Louise, we headed down to Wyoming for Devil's Tower. This climb has been on our and most other climber's list of climbs we most want to do. It's a powerful and beautiful place.
As we traveled through Montana and into Wyoming, all I saw were huge grasslands peppered with cows grazing happily, roaming free and being cows. I even saw the odd herd of buffalo. I couldn't wait to get a taste of the region's meat.
Most of the businesses and campgrounds around Devil's Tower is closed this time of year. Fortunately for us, the folks as Tower View Restaurant and Campgrounds were opened. The new owners, the Cages, just bought the place last September and are planning to expand the campground, RV park and even cabins. They are a few minutes outside the park and were happy to rent us a car camping spot for a few nights. That was a huge help since the nearest winter campground was over 20 miles away. They also have free wifi. I've been working online during this road trip so have internet access has been a determining factor about where we stay. So far we haven't had too much trouble finding at least a library or a coffee shop with wifi. We've even found gas stations and laundromats with it!
Linda, Larry, Patty and Billy Cage are the warmest and nicest folks and made our stay in Devils Tower that much more special.
To top it off, they make a mean buffalo burger!

Do you see those chips? Those were made right on the premises and are the best chips I've ever had.
This is good, honest home-cooking with no frills, bells or whistle, just good food. Linda does all the baking from scratch. We enjoyed homemade muffins and pies and huge breakfasts. They're getting ready for their first season at Devil's Tower and I hope them all the best.
The folks at Tower View were the epitome of great hospitality and we're looking forward to visiting them again.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hiding out in the mountains

I've been hiding out in the mountains for these past few weeks. These last number of years, a battle has raged behind the scenes that has prevent me and my beloved from pursuing our true journey. That battle has come to an end finally and we are free to continue our path. The mountains have been calling us and finally we are able to call back.

But on the 100 mile diet front:
- Start planning your gardens for the year. Seedy Sundays/Saturdays are near. Keep an eye open for them in the local papers.
- Prepare your soil for your new plantings.

I received this reminder from Dirk Becker of Compassion Farms regarding the
new Farmers Market at the Bowen Road location.!!!!!:
hello again folks
just a friendly reminder!

this fri feb 29th at 7pm is the Bowen Road Farmers Market Inaugural planning meeting

we are:

forming a farmers market society

creating a board of 7 directors

and we are asking for input into the creation of the constitution and for the rules and guidelines of the market

please come early (before 7) to allow time to socialize
those of you who have not indicated you are coming
please let us know now so we bring enough coffee, wine, cheese, etc.
also please send this invitation to anyone else that you would like to see at your market

In October we had a very successful Farmers Showcase that attracted more than 3,000 people! We were able to showcase products from local producers and gauge the public's interest for a Farmers Market in central Nanaimo.
The Mid-Island Co-op is happy to host our new Farmers Market at the Bowen Road location.
The Bowen Road Farmers Market will commence after Mother's Day, on Wednesday May 21rst from 4 - 7pm.
This gives farmers more time since many of them will already be doing two markets in Cedar, Duncan, Qualicum, etc.
It also gives us a few more days for it to be warmer and for there to be more produce.
A group of dedicated people are in the process of creating an official association and we would like to invite you to the inaugural meeting on Friday, February 29th at 7pm to kick off your new market. We want and need your input!
Please let us know either way whether you are able to attend (especially in consideration of refreshments).
Please let us know how many weeks of the market you would like to sign up for.
Please send us your input if you cannot attend.
At the meeting, we will all vote in a board of directors, ratify the constitution and establish market rules.
some of the items we have considered so far :
- market times? 4 to 7 pm
- successful markets generally have 80% farmers and value added, the remainder being 20% artisans (make it, bake it, grow it)
- no dumping (low prices) or "distress sales" (such as having an extra 100 cabbages and selling them too cheaply)
- end of the year surplus monies from fees can go towards a project that supports agriculture, like the purchase of land for community gardens or McSeeds
memberships $20 per year
weekly fees: (prepaid)
12 weeks $12 per week
24 weeks $10 per week
drop in:
members $15 non members $20
Date: The inaugural meeting is Friday, February 29th
Time: 7pm
Location: Bowen park (not Beban) in the clubhouse at the end of the bowling green.
To confirm your participation in this meeting, the market, give input or for more information, please respond to this email or call
390- 5199
We look forward to your participation in this inaugural meeting of your farmers market!
Yours in service,
Dirk Becker

I'll be back in a few weeks with stories and pictures and tales of my 100 mile diet on the road.


Friday, January 11, 2008

R.I.P. Sir Edmund Hillary

Good night, sweet hero.
You're on belay,
Climb on.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Finding comfort in a winter storm

The whole west coast is getting a big old wallop of winter, complete with a bit of shake, rattle and rolling up in the Haida Gwaii. So my wonderful DH and I hunkered down and enjoyed a warm, cozy romantic, lazy Saturday.
We started the day with a big plate of Danish pancakes, known otherwise as crepes. My wonderful DH insists that the only way to eat them is rolled up with raspberry jam. Luckily we had some of that in the house. It was even locally made. Yippee!

I spent most of the day knitting up a Healing Shawl for a cousin who's recovering from a car accident and daydreaming about all the projects for this coming year.
For my wonderful DH, I have a pair of Gaston Socks, a Bog Jacket and a Tree of Gondor sweater to do. For myself, I'm brainstorming a few ideas for my Tolkien Yarn project.
I've also had my heart set on knitting a corset. It's been on the back burner for years but I think it's time.
Annie Modesitt's gorgeous knitted corset.

I've sewed and constructed a number of corsets for myself and friends in the past. My fascination with corsets started about 15 years ago when I and a bunch of a guerilla feminist friends took part of an installation that looked at the politicization of the female body. I made a papier-mâché corset using strips of paper that had my rants and raves and general soapboxing about women's bodies. My entry was probably the most tame of all the installations. Well, from a well-meaning, albeit neophytish criticism of fashion, media and society's unrealistic expectations of women and their bodies, I took the corset the other direction. I began celebrating it.
Well, actually, more precisely, I started celebrating women's body of curves and reclaimed the corset as a symbol of a woman's tool to self-definition of her body and her life. You have to remember, this was during the whole Grunge era and everyone including me was dressed like a lumberjack. To peel away all that frumpy, cloaking fabric and to re-introduce myself to my silhouette was quite refreshing.
Corsets don't have to mean constriction and conformity. They can be a tool for a woman (and men) to underline and redefine themselves. They can be a way for a women to say " I want to accentuate all the things that make me who I am." Corsets can be made with paper, flowers, feathers, metal, wood, fabric, leather, latex, bark or anything else you can get your hands on. You tie all that together with my love for historical clothing and you have quite a fun hobby:).
Well, if anything, at least a corset does wonders for your posture.
For a bit more information on corset building, check out this general overview.

Back to dinner...
To help keep us warm during this weekend storm, I decided to make up a lamb curry with some lamb shanks from Heritage Horizon organic farm that I had in the freezer. In fact, most of the lamb is still in the freezer. It's amazing how much meat can come from one small lamb.
(some of our lamb order)

This is one those all day cooking affairs but it's mostly hands-off since most of the cooking time is letting the curry simmer and do it's magic. The recipe and summary of the curry is at end of this entry. Obviously, the curry paste itself can be used with wide range of meats, seafoods and veggies. It's a great sauce to make up and freeze for another time. You can also use the curry sauce, uncooked as a form of meat marinate/rub.
For the curry, I decided to make a curry paste based on a chermoula. Here's my chermoula, one red onion, 1 large bunch of cilantro, a couple of black hot peppers, 2 thumbs of ginger, a head of garlic. All except for the ginger were either from local farms or from my garden.

I then took the handblender to it made it a chunky sort of paste. You can also do this in the food processor.

To this I added my curry powder and threw it all into my wok with some veggie oil. I cooked up until it started taking on some colour and the whole house smelled like Little India.

Then I added about 4 cups of my tomato sauce. You can use chopped tomatoes, either frozen or canned. I used a homemade tomato sauce from my freezer stash that didn't have any seasoning, just veggies (red and golden tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, red peppers.)

My sauce came out more yellow due to the fact that most of my tomatoes were golden tomatoes from my garden. If you use red tomatoes or canned tomatoes, your sauce will end up red, of course. I tossed the curry sauce into a crockpot and let it simmer on high for about an hour and half. This will develop and bring together all the flavours.
Then I browned some gorgeous lamb shanks in some veggie oil on medium high heat. Be careful not the crowd the meat in the pan or else you'll up steaming it instead of browning it.
Then I dump the shanks into the crockpot and cover them with the curry sauce and let it simmer away for a few hours. The aromas will now start permeating through the walls and will waft through the neighbourhood.
DH considers having to smell this wonderful curry cooking away all day as a form of torture:) All evening, he kept asking when dinner was going to be done, groaning that he was so hungry and it was smelling so good. Ah well, it's about time his Id learns some patience :P

Once the meat is all cooked and tender, I simply pull the meat off the bone and cut it into bitesize chunks. I keep the bones in the curry for it continue releasing it's flavours. Here's the finished product:

It was sooooo good. I don't think we said a single word to each other while eating. It was that good. The best thing....leftovers!

Not so Fast but still Dirty Lamb Curry

Curry Paste:

1 medium red onion
1 large bunch of cilantro
2 thumbs of ginger, peeled and minced
1 head of garlic, peeled and minced
chili peppers (you can use whatever heat bombs. I used 3 small black hot peppers which are about the same heat as 3 thai red chilis for a bit of heat kick)
3-4 tablespoons of curry powder (I used a homemade curry powder but you can use store bought)

3-4 cups of chopped tomatoes (fresh, canned, frozen)
4 lamb shanks
3 tablespoons of veg oil or butter
salt & pepper to taste

1- Chop and combine all the ingredients of the curry paste except for the curry powder. Blend with a hand blender or food processor until it makes a chunky paste. Add curry powder.
2- Heat up a tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a wok or large pan/skillet. Toss the curry paste into the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes or until it takes on a bit of colour and the onions have softened.
3- Add the tomatoes. Stir and bring the sauce to a boil
4- Either continue simmering in the pot on the stove over low heat for an hour or transfer to a crockpot and continue cooking on high for an hour or more.
5- An hour later, heat up 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat in a skillet/frying pan. Add lamb shanks and let them sit and sear for 4 minutes on each side. Don't move the meat around when searing, just leave it alone!
6- When the lamb has been browned on all sides, add to the sauce.
7-Continue cooking until the meat starts falling off the bone, about 2 hours later.
8- Pull meat off the bone and cut into bite size pieces.
9- Serve with chopped cilantro, mint, yogurt and your favorite chutney!

Happy Eating!