When I was a kid my Mom, as most moms do, drove me crazy. As soon as tomato season started every time she would bite into a tomato, and I mean every time, she would swoon. Really. Not just get a bit excited, but the “do you need smelling salts’ kind of swoon. She would take one bite and in a fit of slight rapture she would exclaim “oh….. this is sooooooo good”. “Yes Mom, we know. They are good.” we would say. “No.” she would say, ” but these are SOOOOOOO good”. Sigh. As a teenager it was mortifying.
Eating local. What does that mean? The 100 mile diet, only food from your own garden, city, province or country? To everyone it means a different thing. And if you ask me (I know you didn’t) I would say it doesn’t matter. My personal belief is that if you have even bothered to think the phrase you are probably doing more for the planet, your environment and your health than a lot of people.
Now most of you know I can get a bit on my high horse about avoiding prepackaged food and chemicals. But trust me, even I fall of the wagon sometimes (no comments from the peanut gallery please). So when I saw an email from Growing Chefs BC talking about a fundraising drive called the Growing Chefs Eat Local Challenge I thought, perfect. What a great way to remind myself and (hopefully) inspire others to “eat local”.
For those of you who don’t know Growing Chefs, it is a wonderful organization that goes into classrooms and teaches them about urban food gardening. This past spring I was lucky enough to get to volunteer in one of their grade three/four growing classrooms. Kids learned how to grow peas, lettuces, radishes and beans. They got to learn about composting, knife skills and recipe reading. Throughout the program we had snacks and meals we made from the food we had grown.
Now I have a garden and live in Vancouver so it is pretty easy for me to eat locally. My downfalls are things like lemons, salt, pepper, olive oil, fancy vinegars, cheese and booze. So for one week I am committing to eating local. For me this means I will be eating food produced locally, sustainably and ethically. Fruits, vegetables, fish and meat will all come from my garden and various local BC producers. I do have two confessions … first that on day one of the challenge I’m at a wedding, I can’t predict that meal and number two, I will be using salt, olive oil, vinegar, lemons and drinking coffee. They aren’t local. I know… but a girl has to have her vices.
I admit I had a bit of a question of conscience, wondering if it was weird to have my first blog post in ages a request for support and donations. But, after a bit of conversation with others I realized no. Eating healthy food close to the source and teaching young people about growing and eating real food is important to me. I’m making the assumption that if you read my blog it is probably important to you too. If you would like to make a small donation you can go here. If you can’t spare a penny or two I totally understand (especially if it’s because you spent them at your local farmers market!), but even $5 helps. Donation or not, I challenge you to see if for a week you and your families can be inspired to eat, if not totally local, a little closer to the source.
We’ve all heard of the actor who is an overnight success despite the fact that in reality they have been slaving away in summer stock, movies of the week, and children’s theatre for decades. Kale is kind of like that. Relegated for years as one of those vegetables that the “healthy” types eat, over the last few years it has been making a resurgence and, dare I say it, become rather trendy.
Hmmm….there’s a lesson in there. Just keep doing your thing, work hard, keep your head down, be honest and genuine and it will happen for you. Like the actress. And kale.
I love kale (which is a good thing since it seems to be the one thing I can reliably grow in my garden) and eat it quite frequently. I steam it, make chips and add it to soups and stews. Lately though I’ve been eating it raw. My favourite variation to date is in a simple chopped salad with beans and a spicy peanut dressing. It has shown up so frequently at meal times lately I might even be tempted to call it an overnight success.
How do you eat kale?
For the dressing:
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 4 Tbsp. crunchy peanut butter
- juice of 1 lemon
- 4 tsp. Braggs (or low sodium tamari)
- 4tsp dried ginger (or grated 1″ piece of fresh)
- red pepper flakes to taste
- Optional: splash of fish sauce
Simply mix all ingredients together in a mason jar (or other sealable container). Refrigerate. Remove from fridge at least one hour prior to use to allow peanut butter and coconut milk to liquify. The dressing will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
For the Salad:
- 1 bunch of mixed kale, cored and chopped
- Gado gado dressing
- Sprouted chick peas
- toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds
Wash, rinse and finely chop kale.
Place kale and chickpeas in bowl and lightly toss with dressing.
Sprinkle with seeds. Add salt, pepper and chili’s to taste.
I think I can, without jinxing myself, say spring has officially arrived in Vancouver. The morning air is still a bit cool, and there will still be monsoon rains to come, but the sun has a warmth to it that we have been missing for a long, long while. Trees and flowers are blooming, the birds are devouring the seed from the feeder daily and neighbours are stopping to say hello as I dig in the dirt. Yes. Hooray for spring.
When I’m in the kitchen I almost always have music on. Usually it is CBC Radio, but often, especially if I have the house to myself, it is showtunes. I love musical theatre. I love being in it and I love listening to it. I have so many great memories attached to different shows and the reminders they bring of friends and different times in my life. Now, I’m sure many of you have had the experience where you press that funny little genius button on your computer and you get a playlist of songs, some of which you don’t even remember owning. So the other day it was no surprise when, in the midst of cooking, a showtune started playing on my computer. As I was slicing up a pumpkin on came songs from the Broadway musical The Lion King (yes, the stage version not the movie). Singing along at the top of my voice about life and the circles it has I looked down at the pumpkin and thought yes it’s true. Life is a circle. So let me tell you a little bit about the circle of one pumpkins life.
I have a confession. I’m in love. My new love is green, small and occasionally a bit spicy. No, not a leprechaun, wrong season and country, but the padron pepper from Spain.
It boggles my mind that not only have I never really eaten them before, but that I haven’t been growing them myself. Don’t worry, I’ve already made a note to plant some next year. Thankfully, this year, my local farmers market has had lots for me to try. And try them I have. Continue reading
I’m a summer girl. There is no way around it. Summer is my season.
The other day I realized that I get more done in one hot afternoon than I do in a week of cold weather. Heck, if I lived somewhere that was warm full time I would probably be unbearable because I’d be the most insufferable achieving optimist.
Summer just makes being happy so simple.
Zucchini, it is kind of an odd vegetable. Okay, maybe not that odd, but kind of odd.
Think about it. It often looks like a cucumber but is in actual fact a member of the squash family. It can be eaten cooked or raw and while it is most definitely a summer vegetable it is just as comfortable on a winter table. I don’t quite get it. I mean seriously? You can even eat the flowers. Now, it’s not as if the zucchini is some sort of “out there” esoteric vegetable. Quite the opposite. It is actually pretty common. It’s just that other than zucchini bread, for years it didn’t figure that high on my radar. And even then only if someone else made it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always eaten it and known it was good for me. It’s high in potassium, vitamin A and antioxidants. I have never disliked it, I have never quite understood how to use it so it’s not just one of those boring, good-for-you kind of vegetables.
Until last summer.
That was when thanks to the magic of a summer holiday, a recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks and a friend more well versed in the subtleties of squash than I, it happened. I fell in love with this humble little vegetable.
Spring is here. Well, theoretically.
It is said that what we think, say and do manifests itself in our life. If that is true (and I believe it is), it is warm, the sun is shining, there are fresh vegetables growing in the garden and I can eat pasta twice a day and be the size of a competitor again (without working out!). Hmmm….. didn’t work…. okay time to get proactive, make a plan and take action. Accepting that I can’t control the weather the rest is fairly simple. First on the list? Simple. Plant some cold weather vegetables.
So that’s what I did. I started to plant. Kale, arugula and swiss chard outside, and with optimism on my side, four varieties of tomatoes inside.
The past several days haven’t been much about cooking. I’ve been having too much fun enjoying the fall weather out in my garden. As I watched literally hundreds of people wander my street to enjoy the beautiful fall leaves I was reminded that feeding oneself is as much about the spirit as the stomach. The rains will be here soon enough beckoning me back to the kitchen, but in the meantime these are some of the things feeding my soul.
Fall leaves outside my window…
Discovering cartoon cute (but posionous!) mushrooms in my yard…