Posts tagged ‘local food in Calgary’
Caprese (ka-pree-see) salad, aka the delightful combination of fresh tomatoes, basil and buffalo mozzarella. The latter is pricey (about $10 for a chunk that will serve 4 people), but worth it, especially in the summer when basil and tomatoes are at their most delicious. The salad pictured above was made with tomatoes and mozza from our local farmer’s market, and basil grown on our back deck.
Not sure this is even worth calling a recipe – here’s how to make: Place a few tomato slices on a plate. A combination of different coloured tomatoes is nice, as are the funky shapes and colours of some heirloom tomatoes. Use a serrated knife to gently saw off a few slices from a round of buffalo mozzarella and place the cheese on top of the tomatoes. Scatter some fresh basil leaves on top. Drizzle each plate with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and dust with freshly ground pepper. Eat!
Dead simple to make, but incredibly tasty.
Caselot season has begun at the farmer’s market. Big beautiful boxes of tomatoes, peaches, nectarines, apricots, blueberries and raspberries were all on display when we made our weekly shopping trip. As part of our quest to be more conscious about the transportation footprint of our food, I am making a point of stocking up while local produce is abundant. Already I have a couple of pounds of spinach from our very own garden and half a case of blueberries packaged and stored in our freezer. Next up is tomatoes! We purchased a 25lb case of pesticide-free BC roma tomatoes at the market today. This is obviously a huge amount of tomatoes, as you can see from the photo. It’s a long winter, though, and I make a lot of tomato-based dishes like lasagna, pizza sauce and chili, especially in the winter. I’m sure we’ll have no trouble eating our way through them.
Up until now, I’ve relied on crushed canned tomatoes, organic and delicious, but shipped in from California. Plus, that infamous chemical BPA is found in the top of tin can liners, so I’ve mostly given up buying food in cans. So the case of tomatoes is good – we’ll be eating local and doing away with tinned food almost altogether.
My plan for our case of tomatoes is to eat some this week in salads and salsa, to make a huge vat of the tomato sauce recipe from the Rebar cookbook to freeze, and then to chop and freeze the rest. There’s a character in The Stone Diaries, one of my favourite Carol Shields novels, who accidentally poisons her mother-in-law to death with some improperly canned runner beans (botulism). So although I’ve thought about learning how to can food several times, freezing seems safest. I’m quite fond of my mother-in-law and just can’t shake that story out of my head!
Wish me luck with the tomato preparations over the next few days. Have already sliced a finger with my lovely (but sharp!) tomato knife making caprese salad for this evening’s dinner. Hopefully I’ll fare better with the remaining 24.5lb.
Life has been especially full over the past few weeks. My interesting but very busy job has been taking up more time than usual, and we’ve also been spending lots of weekend time enjoying local festivals. All this means less time at home. I’m sure it also makes your blog readers feel like you’ve dropped off the face of the planet (sorry!). Things are starting to equalize back to a more normal pace now, I think. At the very least a period of calm has settled in for the long weekend.
I’ve been harvesting the English peas growing along the side of our deck all during these past few weeks. Nothing says summer like the taste of garden fresh peas. What we have planted is equivalent to two or three rows in a standard vegetable garden. It yields a small bowl of peas to munch on as a snack everyday. The daily harvest has meant a few quiet minutes in the garden, even on the busiest days, plucking fresh peas from their vines in the evening when the day has cooled off. It’s been wonderful to sit for a few minutes on the deck and enjoy eating them while I water the tomatoes and the dog crunches on the empty pea pods. The tomatoes on our deck are growing in giant terracotta pots, which dry out quickly and demand near-daily watering. I’ve been nurturing those tomatoes since I planted them as seeds in late March, so I made time for that chore – there’s no way I’m going to let them dry up when we’re on the brink of enjoying a delicious tomato crop.
10 or 15 minutes spent in garden tending the plants and enjoying a couple of handfuls of freshly picked vegetables doesn’t seem like much, but it’s made a world of difference – my vegetable patch is the perfect antidote to frenzied days that are otherwise racing by way too quickly.
Highwood Crossing produces some great organic local stuff that Calgarians need to get behind. We’ve switched over to their cold-pressed organic canola oil as an alternative to extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil, as you can imagine, is not a product native to Canada, and it usually ships in from a long, long way away. Why generate such a big carbon footprint when there’s a better quality local product available. Highwood’s canola oil tastes a million times better than the standard extra virgin olive oil you’d find at the grocery store and it’s not that much more – about $14 for a large bottle. It’s getting trendy and rightly so – I’ve seen it used in several high end local restaurants in salads, on grilled asparagus and similar things. Good choice!
Also at Highwood Crossing is the tastiest granola I’ve ever purchased. It tastes like homemade. What more do you need?
Over the past year we’ve made a conscious choice to shift our purchasing patterns and lifestyle choices to align with the very intelligent movement around food that is unprocessed, ethical, local, organic and seasonal. In other words, real food. It’s sad and crazy that our North American culture has leaned so far in the wrong direction when it comes to industrial, unsustainable food production practices, not to mention the fact that we as consumers continue to put these products into our bodies and then wonder why health care costs, cancer rates, obesity, fatigue, stress and many other diseases and symptoms plague our society.
The main thing we changed was to drastically reduce our use of traditional grocery stores like Safeway, Sobeys, Superstore etc. Our routine now includes a weekly trip to the Calgary Farmer’s Market, a weekly order from Spud and occasional visits to Planet Organic for staples we can’t find at those other locations. Sunnyside Market is also conveniently located for picking up last minute items and fresh produce. We still make a trip to Safeway once in a while, but it’s less than once a month and it’s starting to seem more and more unnecessary. We’re also growing some of our own food. We have a tiny yard, so it’s not much, but every handful of fresh herbs and plate of salad that we harvest from the deck brings huge satisfaction – it tastes amazing and reinforces what we’re trying to do.
Slowly but surely we’re filling our cupboards and fridge with local foods instead of products that are shipped from thousands of miles away. I’m sure we’ve never been healthier. We’re eating better and we’re cooking better, inspired by more interesting ingredients. I’m thrilled to part with an extra dollar or two knowing that more of my money is going into the local economy and into the hands of a producer who actually cares about the quality of the food we’re eating and is also investing their time, money and effort into creating a more sustainable food system.