Thursday, September 18, 2014

Childhood Places

I’ve been reading Microadventures by Alastair Humphries in which he advocates for taking tiny little adventures close to home. Now, most of the adventures in the book involve hiking or camping out overnight, and that’s never been my choice of activities. However, I do like the idea of breaking out of your routine, getting outdoors and doing things that you don’t normally do.

When I read Humphries’ account of visiting and cycling between his father’s birthplace in Leeds and his mother’s in Liverpool, it made me think. Now, I’m not going to walk or cycle between Ottawa where my mother was born and Southampton where my father was born. But I could take a look at the house where I grew up in Saskatoon, have lunch in the park where I played as a child, and retrace the routes I took when walking to elementary and high schools.

The park is much fancier than it was when I was a child. I was so happy to see all the trees. There were none when I was a child. My old house looks very different with a new front porch and landscaping, but some of the trees are the same, including the evergreen I planted in public school. It’s so tall now!

Everything seemed smaller and the distances seemed shorter, but the different places brought back memories of people and events. I feel sorry for kids who no longer walk to school. I loved walking and visiting with my friends. We even stopped to talk to some of the neighbours, particularly one old gentleman with a wonderful garden. And I remember walking down the back alleys and picking poppies that were growing wild.

Microadventures are fun.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, September 15, 2014

Nestor’s Bakery Anniversary Sale, Sept. 17-19 
Three Sisters /Nestor’s Bakery is celebrating their fourth anniversary September 17 to 19. Specialty doughnuts will be two for the price of one.

Forestry Farm Fall Supper, Oct. 5
The Friends of the Forestry Farm House are hosting a 3-course meal at 5 and 7 pm on October 5. Tickets are $25 and must be purchased in advance (373-1787,

Herbal Time Tea House 
My Saskatoon had an article about a tea house in Willowgrove (111 – 412 Willowgrove Square). Herbal Time Tea House appears to serve primarily herbal and bubble teas. You can also come for afternoon tea with cake, cookies, finger sandwiches and seasonal fruit.

Fresh Produce at Riversdale Deli 
Riversdale Delicatessen is stocking a new cooler with local vegetables from Floating Gardens and Wally’s Urban Market.

Sobeys Liquor Store 
Sobeys Liquor Store opened this week in Stonebridge (3130 Preston Avenue). I’m looking forward to visiting and seeing how it compares to Co-op’s specialty liquor store.

Photo credit: Riverlot Facebook page

Riverlot Orchards Winery 
I just learned that there is a fruit winery and restaurant just west of St. Louis called Riverlot Orchards Winery. I’m eager to visit, have a meal – or a piece of pie – and maybe buy a bottle of wine. They are open from 1-8 pm, Thursdays to Sundays, until Thanksgiving. Their products are also available at the Prince Albert Farmers’ Market.

Waste at Summer Festivals 
Many, many cities promote and assist in recycling the waste from their summer festivals. For unknown reasons, the City of Saskatoon felt that first they should determine if there was any waste that could be recycled.

The answer, obviously, was yes. 71% of the waste sent to the landfill from four of the city’s summer festivals could have been recycled, according to a report by the city’s environmental advisory committee.

Let’s get up to speed, Saskatoon. We know that protected bike lanes are good for cyclists, drivers and businesses. And we know that there are ways that we could reduce the waste from our summer festivals (Folk Fest, Regina; Greening Your Event, City of Vancouver). Let’s stop talking and reporting and have some action.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products. 

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Corn, Pumpkins & Blueberries: A Market Celebration of Local Abundance

From Shield to Field Dinner with Chef Jenni, Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, September 20, 2014

As Saskatoon Farmers’ Market Chef in Residence, Jenni Willems has an opportunity to share her enjoyment of local food with fellow enthusiasts. In addition to Cook and Learn sessions at the Night Markets, Jenni will be preparing four seasonal meals to coincide with the solstice.

“There’s something special about having a meal in the place the food was sourced,” Jenni says. “It’s a different vibe to be right in the Market and to celebrate that space. You can feel the camaraderie as diners enjoy the fruits of a lot of people’s labours.”

Jenni’s appreciation for local and foraged food dates back to her childhood. “When I was six months old, my parents set me in a clearing in the woods and let me pick the blueberries all around me,” she says. “We left my baby bottle behind and were never able to recover it, so my family likes to believe that a mama bear took it to feed her baby.”

The solstice is a timely opportunity to reflect on the season that has past as well as the season ahead. Although Jenni has prepared a tentative menu, it’s still a work in progress and diners can expect a few wild cards.

But you can be guaranteed that there will be pumpkin on the menu. “Pumpkin is one of my favorite vegetables. I love the colour, the smell, and the sound when you cut into it,” Jenni says. She will also be taking advantage of the last of the fresh herbs, so you can expect touches of dill, thyme and nasturtium flowers.

“I like to under-promise and over-deliver,” Jenni says. One of the highlights of any meal she prepares is her creative, quirky touches. You may be familiar with adding beets to chocolate cake, but there will be chunks of beet in the chocolate cookies. Jenni is also musing about a tarragon corn sweet at the close of the meal, and the appetizer will be served in a corn husk.

When asked what dishes will be the most challenging to prepare, Jenni has to pause and consider: “I never think about difficulty until I start making the food. The stuffed green tomato could be tricky. It should be al dente, not mushy, but you want to make sure it’s sweetened a bit. The corn dessert could be a little tricky as well.”

One of the highlights of the market dinners is watching the chef assemble the food and talk about it. Jenni says that she will also be sending the recipes home with the diners.

If you love good local food, enjoy surprises and support the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, be sure to attend the From Shield to Field Dinner on September 20. Chef Jenni will accommodate special dietary needs as long as she has received advance notification.

My thanks to the Saskatoon Farmers' Market for inviting me to attend the Spring Solstice Supper as their guest.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, September 8, 2014

It was a pleasure to meet a Wanderlust and Words reader at the Saskatoon Farmers' Market on Sunday. It made me really happy to know that she enjoys reading my blog. Don't hesitate to introduce yourself - and let me know if there are particular topics you'd like me to cover.

Prairie Sun Brewery 
It’s hard to keep up with all the events at Prairie Sun Brewery. They’re launching their Saskatoon Berry Saison over brunch on September 13.

#yxe Oktoberfest, complete with local beer, games and food trucks, is on October 4.

Street Food Fest 2014, Sept. 13 
Don’t forget that Saskatoon’s first street food and music festival takes place from 11:30 am – 10 pm, Saturday, September 13, on Spadina between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. There will be 14 mobile food vendors.

Needs and Yields: A Community Exchange
Some of you may be interested in joining Needs and Yields, a Facebook group that is designed to provide a forum for sharing skills, seeds, plants, etc. with the local permaculture community. If you need something or have something to share, post it.

Sofie’s Solitaires
Helen Woodhouse was my best friend in high school. I can remember long hours listening to music (Cat Stevens and Gordon Lightfoot come to mind) and enjoying her mother’s Mennonite food. Helen remembers that we both wrote poetry (one of mine was even published in the yearbook!).

Helen has just had her first book published. Sofie’s Solitaires is a delightful account of a little girl who is bored and wants a pet. She quickly learns a great deal about freedom versus captivity and the responsibilities that come with owning a pet. The story is set in Costa Rica, where Helen and her husband now live, and offers an intriguing glimpse of Costa Rica, its scenery and wildlife. I love the monkeys who reappear in almost every illustration.

Sofie’s Solitaires is available as an ebook from Amazon. You can order paper copies either online from the publisher or by request at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Bring Your Own Container: Lose All of that Packaging 
I’ve started writing a column about reducing waste and greening our lives for the bi-monthly flow magazine. Here’s my first article from page 45 of the September/October 2014 issue. 

Have you ever looked in the cupboard and wondered how on earth you could have accumulated so many take-out containers? Or maybe you threw them out but felt guilty about creating unnecessary waste.

Here’s one solution: provide your own container.

I try and remember to stash a reusable container in my car or office drawer so that if I pick up soup for lunch or have leftovers after a restaurant meal, I can use my own container. Reusable containers are sturdier so I’m less likely to dribble sauce all over my desk, and I’ve avoided adding to my Styrofoam stash.

There’s a side benefit to providing your own container as it prevents impulse purchases. You’ll be less likely to buy a piece of that decadent chocolate cake if you only purchase it when you have your own container.

I feel sorry for restaurants and other food businesses as there really aren’t any environmentally friendly take-out containers. Recycled paper is one of the better options and some vendors, like Floating Gardens, are paying extra to use clamshells made out of recycled plastic.

But the best option of all is your own container that you can use over and over again.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products.

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Flavourful Nelson, BC

I was housesitting and shopping in Nelson, BC, this summer, and it was interesting to identify what was the same and what was different from Saskatoon. Here are just a few of the things I noticed.

Mobile, wood-fired pizza oven

Local Food
The West Kootenay Eco Society hosts two weekly markets during the summer months. Every Wednesday, they close off two blocks of Baker Street (Nelson’s main thoroughfare) and on Saturdays, they host a market at Cottonwood Falls.

Compared to the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, these are much smaller affairs almost equally divided between food and crafts. There are a number of local organic farmers selling their fruit and vegetables, but the range is much more limited.

However, the Kootenay Co-op – and a number of other stores and coffee shops – sells a wide variety of locally prepared foods. For example, I ate Rosemary Rye Wild Onion Nutburgers from Salmo and Ariah’s Chili-Lime Burritos from Glade. And be sure to try Little Miss Gelato ice cream - the chocolate hazelnut flavour consists of layers of rich, dark chocolate and chopped hazelnuts.

The Kootenay Co-op has a large deli section, but they do not make the food themselves. Instead, they act as a go-between, providing a space for small local producers to sell their wares.

The local products really celebrate local culture. This is Doukhobour country, so you find lots of borscht and pirahi.

Tea & Coffee
Shock and horrors! There are no Starbucks or Tim Horton’s in Nelson. Instead, there are some excellent independent coffee shops. I recommend John Ward Fine Coffee (hot chocolate made from dark Callebaut chocolate and fresh baking) and Grounded Café.

You can also purchase locally roasted coffee, including Seven Summits from Warfield.

I was super excited to discover Cloud Mountain Tea House. The owner sources a wide variety of loose-leaf teas (black, oolong, green). I purchased several and was really happy with the quality of the teas. I would love to see a tea store in Saskatoon (Sorry. David’s Tea doesn’t count. I’m not interested in flavoured teas and franchises.)

Wine & Spirits
BC Wine Guys stocks over 500 of BC’s VQA wines, and they’re always happy to provide suggestions. I wish we got even half the selection in Saskatchewan.

Micro distilleries are a trend that is sweeping the country. There’s even one in the Slocan Valley – Kootenay Country Craft Distillery.

There are two excellent bakeries in Nelson. I particularly love Au Soleil Levant, a French-Canadian bakery. Tucked away in the alley behind the Bank of Montreal, they make excellent bread with daily specials. The Friday challah with raisins and poppy seeds is excellent, and the brioches are truly decadent (pineapple, apricots, white or dark chocolate, etc.).

The Kootenay Bakery & Café is a worker-run, organic bakery. If you’re looking for a picnic lunch, do try the spelt bun with tofu scrambler and Antoinette’s dip – yum!

I purchased organic milk in returnable glass jugs from Creston, BC (the other side of the mountains). How I wish that a Saskatoon dairy would offer a similar product.

Kootenay Co-op
The Kootenay Co-op is the largest independent, member-owned, natural food store in Canada; they’ve been in business for 40 years. The range of products that they sell is outstanding, and they pay close attention to quality and business ethics before stocking a product.

A couple of years ago, they purchased the grocery store at the end of Baker Street. They are planning to turn it into a commercial/residential development with condominiums. BC Wine Guys and the Co-op will be key tenants on the ground floor. It’s really exciting to see what they’ve achieved and I love shopping at the Co-op.

Another good place to shop for healthy foods is Ellison’s Market in a one-hundred year-old heritage building.

Baker Street
As many of you know, I was using a walker last summer, so I’m very aware of how cities are laid out and how easy – or not so easy – they are to get around. Nelson has to be one of the best.

There are handicapped parking stalls on every block of Baker Street, so you’re not competing with the whole population for a parking place that is close to where you want to go. In addition, there seems to be a lot more time allotted for crossing the street – you don’t have to run to make it across the street before the lights change – hallelujah!

The parking meters are for varying amounts of time, depending on the location. So on the outskirts of downtown, you can park for 4 hours, whereas prime spots on Baker Street are for anything from 15 minutes to one hour.

Nearly every coffee shop or restaurant has an outdoor patio. And they close off at least part of the main street once or twice a week for markets and other festivals.

In addition, Baker Street is lined with beautifully restored heritage buildings. This is my kind of town!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, September 1, 2014

Saskatoon Co-op Liquor – Sept. Tastings
Saskatoon Co-op Wine, Spirits, Beer has posted their September tasting events. I’m interested in attending the Rhȏne wine tasting on September 27 that will be led by Anthony Taylor, sommelier for Gabriel Meffre. But there are also sessions on terroir, weird whiskies and mead.

Milling in Saskatchewan, Sept. 19
Bryn Rawlyk, Night Oven Bakery, will talk about his experience building and operating a small grain mill and the history of milling in Saskatchewan at the Frances Morrison Library, Friday, September 19, at 2 pm. There will be samples!

Out of Old Saskatchewan Kitchens 
Amy Jo Ehman’s new book, Out of Old Saskatchewan Kitchens, will be out the second week in September. Here are three upcoming readings:
Word on the Street festival, 11 am, September 21
Rusty Macdonald Library, 2-3 pm, October 8
McNally Robinson Booksellers, 7:30 pm, October 9

New Products – Dad’s Organic Market 
Two new products caught my eye when I was shopping at Dad’s Organic Market on Saturday.

JusTea is a small Canadian company that is working directly with tea farmers in northern Kenya to import tea rolled by hand and purchased directly from the farmers. Their goal is to ensure higher wages for the tea farmers and their families. I love the packaging with its colourful cloth wrappers and a wooden spoon decorated with beads.

Fermented food is supposed to be very good for your health and is becoming increasingly popular, so I was curious to discover a fermented salsa from Wildbrine. The salsas must be brand new as they aren’t even mentioned on Wildbrine’s website.

Interprovincial Wine Sales
 It’s about time! Soon we’ll be able to legally bring BC wine into Saskatchewan – and vice versa.

Spinning Plates
I watched Spinning Plates on the weekend. On the surface, it's a foodie movie about three restaurants and their owners. But it's really about how we choose to face adversity, the strength we gain from family and community, and the legacy we hope we will leave behind when we're gone. The film is available on Netflix.

Grown in the USA
I was fascinated to read about a young man who hopes to revitalize Detroit’s economy by making it the “tea capital” of the United States by growing, producing and selling tea.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products.

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Monday, August 25, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, August 25, 2014

Herbal Drinks & Elixirs, Sept. 5, 6, 7 
Yarrow Willard, Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary, will lead a session on making herbal drinks to increase energy and address health imbalances on Sept. 5. On Sept. 6, he will lead a walk to look at some of the common plants that grow in the Saskatoon area and how they can be used as medicine and food. On Sept. 7, he will lead a session on preparing herbal medicines (sponsored by Intuitive Path Superfoods).

Solstice Celebration, Sept. 20
As the days get shorter, we’re reminded that the seasons are changing. Join Chef Jenni at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market dinner on Sept. 20 as she celebrates the abundant summer harvest from the fields and shield.

Healthy Food for Saskatoon Food Bank 
Good food helps keep us healthy, but sometimes we forget that when we make donations to a food bank. The Saskatoon Food Bank is working hard to provide nutritious food – over the past 4 years, the Garden Patch has produced over 70,000 pounds of fresh produce. The Food Bank also encourages donations of good food, such as whole grain pastas and cereals. They publish a list of their most-wanted items and happily welcome fresh garden produce.

Food Nutrition Labels 
The federal government is asking for feedback, by September 11, to the proposed changes to food nutrition labels.

Ontario Wines
I have a bias towards BC wines, but Ontario is challenging the climate and producing some pretty great wine too – here are some suggestions.

Urban Agriculture 
Lufa Farms, Montreal, is leading the way in commercializing urban agriculture. In addition to its high-tech hydroponics system, an online marketplace links up with other local producers to provide consumers with a weekly delivery of a wide range of local products.

Seven Layers of Tea
I was intrigued to read about a seven-layer tea that is a Bangladeshi specialty: “Mr. Gour mixes different types of locally grown tea—three black teas and one green tea— from four types of bushes, with milk and various spices. Each mixture has a distinct color and taste, and he pours one on top of another to create seven distinct bands.” 

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products.

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).