Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Taste: Seasonal Dishes from a Prairie Table, CJ Katz

Start turning the pages of Taste: Seasonal Dishes from a Prairie Table by CJ Katz and you’ll be seized by a desire to head to the kitchen and start cooking. But you’ll also be filled with pride because you live in Saskatchewan, a province that produces such a wide variety of healthy, tasty food products.

CJ Katz is a food writer and photographer based in Regina and culinary host of The Wheatland Café on CTV. Taste is her first book, and it’s a treasure trove of seasonal recipes highlighting Saskatchewan ingredients.

Spring features asparagus, fiddleheads, rhubarb and strawberries. Summer brings barbecued burgers, wild mushrooms and cherry pie. The Autumn feast includes wild rice, squash, apple dumplings and spelt cookies. Winter warms the stomach with split pea soup, braised lentils and bread pudding with brandied fruit. (Disclosure: As a vegetarian, I’m not highlighting the meat recipes!)

I’m longing to make the Dark Chocolate Cherry Brownies (a rich batter with both cocoa and chopped dark chocolate sprinkled with sour cherries), Stuffed Mini Pumpkins (they’re so cute and the wild rice stuffing sounds delicious) and the Wholesome Pancakes (whole wheat flour, flax, chopped almonds and apple).

I was pleased to see that the recipes were simple enough for home cooks to make on week nights or on special occasions, taking advantage of CJ’s knowledge and experience to really stand out.

But Taste is much more than a good recipe book. It’s also a celebration of Saskatchewan products and producers. Each chapter is accompanied by photographs of local farms, farmers and their crops, and the recipes are punctuated by pages featuring Saskatchewan products.

I thought I was relatively familiar with Saskatchewan food products, but I learned so much. Did you know?
  • Saskatchewan has 86,000 bee colonies tended by 965 beekeepers, and Tisdale is the Honey Capital of Saskatchewan. 
  • Wild rice is native to the Great Lakes, but northern Saskatchewan is now the “rice bowl” of Canada, producing more than half of the country’s wild rice crop. 
  • Western Canada, primarily Saskatchewan, has two major spice crops – caraway and coriander – but we also grow anise, cumin, dill and fenugreek. 
  • Barley is the second most widely grown cereal crop in Saskatchewan. 

Be sure to buy a copy of Taste: Seasonal Dishes from a Prairie Table by CJ Katz. It would make a perfect gift for yourself or your best friend. The book is available at many locations around Saskatoon – the Little Market Store at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, SaskMade Marketplace, Indigo and McNally Robinson.

CJ Katz will be reading and signing her book at 1 pm on Sunday, October 28, at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Saskatoon.

My thanks to Canadian Plains Research Centre Press for providing me with a review copy of the book.

See also: CJ Katz: Savour Life

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