I remember our family going through a tzatziki phase – thickened yogurt that you added raw garlic, a squeeze of lemon, a little olive oil and grated cucumber to. Sometimes we’d go crazy and add a bit of salt or fresh dill. We ate it with everything – chicken, grilled veggies, baked potatoes.
Many of our readers are not from the Toronto area. If you`re not, you may still be interested in reading more about the unique location of this event (it`s super cool and food related) here.
We attended Seedy Saturday last year – it`s a local seed exchange and sale that can`t be beat if you are planning a garden. It is hosted bt the Toronto Community Garden Network and is a $2 or pay what you can event. You can bring your own seeds to trade or purchase envelopes f them for as low as $0.25.
It`s a busy event and you can feel the anticipation of Spring in the air. We were shocked how jam packed the event was – both with attendees, seeds and offers of great information from groups related to gardening through the building.
The event has been moved to a Sunday this year – as in tomorrow. It lasts from 12..30-6:00pm and you can get more info here. Our friend Sarah lists more information on the event on her great blog, Toronto Tasting Notes.
Sarah also mentions an event this Wednesday evening to launch a new gardening book, Grow Great Grub. The author is a digital pal of ours as well (Gayla Trail, otherwise known as You Grow Girl) and this looks like a must-have for us. It’s focus is on growing organic food in small spaces.
Anyone looking to plant something soon? What’s are you going to grow?
We are fired up this week.
Jamie Oliver (British celebrity chef who is gaining ground in the US) spoke at TED this week. He passionately describes his mission to change how we eat and how our children do.
Set aside the 20 minutes to watch this video, it`s worth every moment. If you do, we`d love to get a discussion going in the comments section below.
We started this series of posts in response to many things – an undeniable motivator (as previously shared) was the focus on poverty and eating well and a particular scene in Food, Inc which spoke to the cost of good food vs. `filler`.
Michael Pollan shares that the cost of food on the outside of a store is dramatically more expensive than the inner aisles (see his 2007 article here). The article is a must-read and it`s fascinating food for thought to consider that a dollar yields 250 calories of carrots compared to 1,200 calories of potato chips. I find Pollans` writing fascinating and thought provoking. I also find it deeply troubling.
As our $6 dinner for 4 people roasts in the oven, I find myself deep in reflection.
According to Discover Magazine (here), 15-35% of North American food spoils in the field while 10-15% is lost in transport.
The Farmer`s I speak with (regularly), feel that the argument for cheaper food is dangerous – it threatens their livelihoods, could create shortcuts and threaten the future of farming. Cheaper can come with ethical issues as well – both of what goes into the product and how it is created.
There are enough voices fighting the virtues of all sides of the arguments. I`m not nearly enough of an expert in any of the above – though I`ll cheer for anyone trying to make a difference. There`s enough battling in the world of food – much of it is important – but we also need to findprovide solutions. A significant amount of food is rotting while people are starving or not being able to afford fresh, real food.
Cheap Tuesday Gourmet has been both easier than I thought and way more difficult than I could have imagined.
Making the cost work has been easy. Most meals have been less than $2 and focused on good food with solid technique. They have been healthy, satisfying and simple to make – even when balancing a 60 hour work week, writing 7 days a week, a young puppy and life at large.
What`s been tough? The meals could have been better, healthier and cheaper.
Recall our recipe for roasted red peppers in the fall. We bought a bushel (25-30 pounds) of red peppers for $14. Our freezer is full of $0.30-$0.40 bags of fire roasted peppers that take any soup to another universe.
Our canned peas taste like summer and cost about $0.70 each.
Our Romano beans were about $0.60 a can.
Fresh from the field beans were pressure canned for well under a dollar.
Our preserved turkey stock was practically free with the leftover carcass from Christmas.
We preserved 24 liters of peaches for around $19. 126 liters of tomato sauce cost us about $1 each.
Garlic scapes and wild leek chutes fill our freezer all waiting for sauces and soups. More than 60 units of these flavors fill our freezer – the total cost was $4.
There is certainly start-up costs and a learning curve. It`s not easy (though not difficult) and takes some time. It`s also the way that many families functioned for a long time from all around the world.
The results are stunning. When we opened our first can of peas last night we both started to laugh. We have 10 cans of summer peas left that taste like they just came from the field. They contain peas, water and a bit of salt and nothing else.
I haven`t been using our preserves in these posts because I thought that was cheating. It`s time to change that. Starting next week we`ll be using the pantry to raise the bar a little.
From now on we will also price all of our preserving posts (based on ingredients). Not all of our preserves will be considered cheap (wild blueberries with maple syrup is an adorable jam but not for the most cost conscious), but I want to help get the message out that preserving can help make a significant difference – in the amount of food that rots, the cost of what you eat and the quality and taste of what appears on your plate.
I`m also asking for those of you who preserve to share the word with your own communities (online and organic). Together we can make a difference. There are so many problems in our food system – we have part of the solution and we need to continue to inspire those around us with it.
Last night`s dinner plan was simple, yet special. Two small moose steaks, pickled wild leeks and crab were the focus – our family had harvested all 3 ingredients. We were going to match that with peas and pickled beets that we preserved. It would also be the first test of our own canned peas.
Once the small package of steak defrosted, I opened the package. The butcher butchered the cut of meat. It was a single cut, folded in two and the width varied from less than half an inch to more than 2 inches. There was no question – the plan for dinner had to change fast.
It`s times like this that having more than 100 flavors of preserves of different types is an absolute joy (we`ve made about 60 of the current flavors). We didn`t have a lot of other ingredients in the fridge so a bit of creativity and a lot of options help out.
I resigned myself to a stir fry of sorts – the only fresh veggie we had was an onion. I recalled that we had a comment (from Ferdzy of Seasonal Ontario Food) on our blog suggesting that we could use our dehydrated oranges for a chinese recipe called orange beef. Most of the recipes I found called for deep frying the meat; I varied a fair distance from the suggested technique but decided that orange moose was the way to go.
The beets and leeks went back into the pantry and out came the dehydrated mandarin slices from Christmas.
Our stiry fry was served on fried rice which featured Ontario pressure canned peas. For those new to pressure canning, it is simply a way to presserve low acid foods (pickles and fruits are high acid) such as most vegetables. I hadn`t tried our peas before and almost melted when I did – though they are soft (they were cooked for 15 minutes at high heat in the jar), they taste like a summer pea.
The meal was fabulous – a combination of so many flavors that came together from the great wall of preserves.
Winter is a great time to learn how to preserved and to discover that it`s not complicated and that it`s easier than you may think. It`s a great time to practice and hone your technique and experiment with ingredients from further away (marmalade is great to make in winter).
Soon we will have an abundant crop of options (more than 30 fresh and local ingredients can be preserved in the Spring of Ontario). The work that we did last year feels so little in comparison to our options and flavors now.
I shared a lot of great conversation around food and what is happening in our city this week. It`s a fascinating time in food and there`s a lot of great support for local and (or) sustainable foods across our city.
The Royal York Hotel made news over the last few years with their apiary. They have an entire colony of bees on their roof which are tended for honey. There are more than 40,000 of natures farmers working the roof to provide a sweet taste for guests in the hotel (which also features a high tea).
Vertical Restaurant announced (last summer) that they would begin to grow many of their own ingredients in Stouffville. Chef Tawfik Shehata tends his garden and fuses many of the ingredients into the daily menu.
Chef Martin Kouprie of Pangea is an active scuba diver who is an active supporter of sustainable food. Their website features a list of local partnerships (check these out here). The list includes many food heroes in our province (foragers, cheese makers, farmers) and their products frequently appear on the menu. Chef had also supported local wine by implementing a no-corkage policy on Ontario Wine (I believe this is still in place as a permanent policy).
Mark Cutrara (Cowbell) features farmers and artists on his website and specializes in nose-to-tail preparation of local harvest. Much (of not all) of their food is butchered in-house and offers courses in the art of butchery and their approach to food.
It`s an exciting time to be involved in food across this city – any favourite gems out there?
There`s a lot of great stuff happening around our city – these are 3 powerful examples of how exciting is becoming with it`s approaches and connections to local food and it`s producers.
Every once in a while you witness something that your brain can`t process.
Bitchin` Kitchen is a web-based cooking show and channel. You can find them here – including a tonne of their videos. I`ve watched several – they are not conservative, perhaps not for the entire family but mostly tongue-in-cheek humour and some cooking undertones (that was also tongue-in-cheek – there is actually some serious cooking advice here as well).
Although there is an affiliation with the Food Network I haven`t seen any sign of this show on it – perhaps it`s still on it`s way to our Northern Clime. Then again, the bios do seem to point me to the fact that these dudes are actually Canadian (they are based out of Montreal) and the more I read, the more I wonder if I`m actually the last person on the Internet to discover them.
I really like that they are doing something different – I also love the branding of the entire thing. A skull pierced with a fork and knife, pink kitchen and sketch humour that they bring into each episode is a lot of fun and something different.
You can follow them on Twitter here.