Monday, November 26, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 26, 2012

Christmas Shopping Goes Local
LocalSask has made it easy for us to shop locally this Christmas. Their online catalogue includes everything from children's toys to alpaca socks and gourmet food baskets. And it's all local!

Two Gun Quiche House
My sister in law, Shelley, had lunch at Two Gun Quiche House on 20th Street last week and gave it a good review. None of the sandwiches were vegetarian, but she thought they sounded good. And at least 4 of the 8 to 10 quiche options were vegetarian, and there was a chick pea salad that sounded interesting. Shelley says that the spinach feta quiche was excellent, and the vegetarian carrot-ginger soup was awesome with a little crème fraîche drizzled on top.

They were serving loose leaf teas (including vanilla earl grey) – a sign, according to Shelley (and I agree), of better quality. The restaurant is bright and colourful, and there’s lots of room between the tables so it didn’t feel crowded.

Two Gun Quiche House will be expanding its hours in the new year and offering a dinner menu as well as some breakfast items.

Job Opp
SaskMade Marketplace is looking for a full-time Assistant Manager. For more information, contact Ken Neuman at 955-1832 during business hours.

Eaux de Vie
LB Distillers has taken the fruit pressings from their yummy liqueurs (saskatoon berry, seabuckthorn, carmine jewel cherry, crème de cassis) and turned them into Eaux de Vie. They also have locally distilled vodka and gin. It’s definitely worth stopping by the distillery (1925 Avenue B North) to pick up a bottle or two.

Saskatoon’s Persian Store
One of these weekends, I am determined to visit Saskatoon’s Persian Store to pick up some of their ready-made products. I’ve been following their Facebook page and over the past few weeks they’ve had asheh reshteh (herbs and bean soup) and sholeh zard (rice pudding with rosewater, pistachio and saffron).

Ingredients Artisan Market
According to Twitter, Ingredients Artisan Market (next door to Earl’s on 2nd Avenue) opened on November 23. I haven’t had a chance to visit yet, but, in addition to wine and spirits, they are selling local, organic produce from Fresh n Local. (via @curtisj_coleman)

Land Access and Affordability
Little Swan is a proposed small-farm community near Sylvan Lake, AB. It's designed to promote local food, small farms and new farmers. As dee Hobsbawn-Smith says, it's an interesting take on increasing land access and affordability.

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

Follow me on Twitter, like the Wanderlust Facebook page, or subscribe to Wanderlust and Words by email (top right-hand corner) to stay on top of Saskatoon’s evolving food culture.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 19, 2012

Wild Cuisine Catering, Nov. 20
 Wild Cuisine Catering opens for breakfast and lunch at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on November 20. The menu is fairly meaty with a boar sausage sandwich and a maple bourbon barbecue burger, but there are also soups and pizzas that will include some vegetarian options. Be sure to support this new, local business.

Wine Tasting, Nov. 30 
Souleio’s wine tasting on November 30 features three wines: Kuyen, a biodynamic wine from Chile; Mitolo Jester Vermentino from Australia; and Terra d'Orro Zinfandel Port from California. The musical accompaniment will be from Percussion Syndicate.

Mediterranean Breeze

Be sure to visit Mediterranean Breeze, one of the newest vendors at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. I’m particularly enjoying their spinach rolls, but they have a variety of other options as well, including a Persian Salad.

Paddockwood’s Sour Red 

I had supper at The Woods Alehouse last week. I tried Sour Red, one of Paddock Wood’s newest beers, and really enjoyed the fruity flavour, similar to a lambic beer, with a dark coffee undernote. I’m looking forward to trying their Winter Ale. The hummus plate is beautifully laid out.

Mexican Flavour
I picked up a container of Tajin at Las Palapas Mercado yesterday. It’s a fruity Mexican seasoning made of chile peppers, salt and dehydrated lime juice. I sprinkled it on cubes of sweet potato that I’d coated with oil and then roasted them for a quick side dish – very tasty. (Thanks for the tip, Shelley!)

Festive Vegetarian 
People always seem to be at a loss as to what to make for a festive vegetarian meal. I love the looks of these vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes from Herbivoracious – Saffron Chickpea Stew with Grilled Porcini Mushroom, Crisp Polenta Cakes with Braised Cabbage and Beans, Summer Squash and Portobello Mushroom Lasagna, Delicata Squash Stuffed with Orzo in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce, Persimmon Carpaccio with Fennel Salad, Baby Turnip Salad Tip-To-Tail Style, and more!

Our Global Kitchen

I wish I could go see the Our Global Kitchen exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. It covers the full spectrum from growing food to cooking it, as described in this Ecocentric blog post. There are some excellent online resources for teachers and parents, but the link seems to work better on some browsers than others (I got it to work on Google Chrome).

Coconut Water – All It’s Cracked Up To Be? 
Coconut water – you can buy it everywhere at the moment. It contains natural sugars and some important vitamins and minerals, but it may not be a “wonder tonic.”

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

Follow me on Twitter, like the Wanderlust Facebook page, or subscribe to Wanderlust and Words by email (top right-hand corner) to stay on top of Saskatoon’s evolving food culture.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Heifer International Canada

Images of starving children are heartbreaking. Their immediate need is food, but that’s a very short-term solution as Dan West, an Indiana farmer, realized as he ladled out powdered milk for Spanish Civil War refugees. If he could give hungry people a cow, rather than just milk, they could feed themselves.

Heifer International was formed in 1944, and West and his neighbours began distributing cows throughout Europe following World War II. Heifer International’s scope has expanded enormously over the past 65 years. “Livestock is just a tool for community development,” Gord Enns, Executive Director for Heifer International Canada, explains. “You can’t just come in with solutions. The challenge is to build social, economic and environmental sustainability.”

Nowadays, the tools are changing. Instead of a cow, it may be a bike trailer for a young woman starting up an urban farm in Toronto or an internship program to help young people who want to take up farming. But Heifer’s goal remains the same: to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth.

Setting up Heifer Canada
Gord Enns grew up in Saskatoon and now lives on a farm near Osler, Saskatchewan. After working with the Mennonite Central Committee in Zimbabwe and teaching in India, Gord and his family spent some time volunteering at the Heifer Ranch in Arkansas. Heifer International offered Gord a job, but the family decided they needed to go home to Canada.

Gord started volunteering on Heifer projects in Saskatchewan and in 2002 he was hired as the Canadian Prairies Program Manager.

Under Gord’s leadership, Heifer continued to expand its Canadian operations. In 2012, Heifer International Canada became an official independent entity with charitable status, a head office in Saskatoon and projects in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

One World
Hunger and poverty are not just third-world problems. Over three million Canadians don’t get enough to eat.

For each dollar of farm income earned, Canadian farmers carry $23 in debt – not much incentive for young people to become farmers. Food futures speculation in the developed world triggers high prices and food shortages in countries around the world.

“The issues are very interconnected,” Gord says. “By talking about problems internationally and locally, we can engage people and show the links between the two.”

Passing on the Gift
When a family received a cow, they were expected to pass on the gift by giving the first offspring to another person in need. The idea of sharing what you’ve gained is still at the heart of Heifer’s activities although the gift they share now takes many forms.

In Ontario, the Farmers Growing Farmers program pairs experienced farmers with young ones who are just getting started. The established farmers mentor the young farmers, helping them to develop their business plan and start up their operation. Through a Heifer project in Saskatchewan, new farmers share ideas with other members of their community. They hope to establish a cooperative to connect producers to consumer markets.

Food is Medicine
Nutrition-related disease is a disproportionate problem for First Nations people. Heifer Canada has partnered with two communities to establish community gardens where people on social assistance could learn how to grow healthy food and gain employment skills and training. “Food as medicine is a reality,” Gord says. “It was the foundation for the success of these community growing projects.” Training in connection with the gardens also helped some people to move off social assistance, into job training programs and eventually employment.

Full Participation
Rainbow Gardens is a large community garden in Winnipeg where over 65 immigrant and refugee families grow food for sale and personal consumption.

Many of them take advantage of the space to grow crops, such as amaranth, that were part of their diet in their home countries. This has a twofold advantage: the immigrants can enjoy familiar foods, but they are also increasing Canada’s biodiversity and local sustainability.

Heifer provides land and supplies, but, even more importantly, they provide a sense of belonging and community identity. The newcomers make friends and share ideas about adapting to life in Canada. Faur Agboyibar, a refugee from Togo, says: “We eat our supper at the garden and take the bus home around 10 pm. We are tired, we take showers, go to bed and sleep very well; unlike last year at this time of the year where we could not sleep because we felt very hot at home and thinking too much.”

Influencing Policies, Systems & Practices
Heifer tackles problems on a systemic as well as individual basis. Heifer Canada has provided funding and support for the People’s Food Policy Project, a pan-Canadian network of citizens and organizations that has developed Canada’s first food sovereignty project. Resetting the Table: A People’s Food Policy for Canada supports a healthy, fair and ecological food system and covers such topics as access to food in urban communities, sustainable fisheries, and environment and agriculture.

There are no simple solutions, but Heifer firmly believes that sustainable agriculture has the potential to lift low income and food insecure people out of poverty.

“30,000 kids die every day of hunger,” Gord says. “In a world where enough food is produced for all, children dying of hunger is unacceptable. There’s so much that we could do to eliminate hunger. I hope that in our lifetime we’ll be able to impact systems and impact local production so that people can feed themselves – both in Canada and around the world.”

Photo Credit: Heifer International Canada

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Telling Our Story - Communications Workshop

Telling Our Story: Helping Non-Profit Organizations to Get Their Message Across 
Penny McKinlay, Communications Consultant 
9 am – 3 pm, Wednesday, November 28, 2012 
Room 403, Galleria Building, Innovation Place, Saskatoon 

Advocacy organizations want to touch the hearts and change the behaviours of their public. That’s not easy, but effective communications can help you to get your message across.

I am offering Telling Our Story, a hands-on, interactive workshop, to assist the staff and volunteers of advocacy organizations to share their message. Small group discussions and activities will help you learn new skills and integrate them into your professional life.

The workshop is based on my study and practise of storytelling, effective writing, content design, and change management. Similar workshops for the League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents of Saskatchewan (LEADS) have been very well received.

“The workshop was amazing. It surpassed my expectations. We shared, we laughed, we learned from each other and from our excellent presenter. Penny pulled us together and facilitated the networking masterfully.” Vince Hill, Credenda (LEADS 2011) 

Workshop Schedule 
1. Storytelling: Delight your readers with heroes, action, and emotion 
“The structure and significance of stories transforms information from static and flat to dynamic and alive.”

Purpose: Every organization has a story to tell. Far too often, we bury it in technical language and jargon.

Hands-on Activity: Storyboarding: turn your report into a story.

2. Elegant Simplicity: Bridging the gap between the writer and the reader 
"Effective writing is simple and elegant. It invites readers to enter, to follow the story, to explore the ideas."

Purpose: Learn how to start a conversation, eliminate clutter, and highlight the important information.

Hands-on Activity: Identify and provide examples of effective communications.

3. Wading into Complexity: Who are we, and what is our message? 
“Products that are remarkable get talked about.”

Purpose: How we frame the question and how people view us has a major impact on our effectiveness.

Hands-on Activity: Find a beautiful solution for one of your gnarliest problems.

4. Switch: How to change things when change is hard
"Logic, emotions, environment: three paths to change" 

Purpose: Pick up some concrete, practical tips for changing behaviours and practices.

Hands-on Activity: Identify communications practices that you want to start/stop/continue and figure out how.

Workshop Fees
$125 (includes morning snack, lunch, and a resource booklet)

Payable to: Penny McKinlay, 106 – 1223 7th Avenue North, Saskatoon, SK S7K 2W1     306.978.2939

Let me know if you have any particular dietary requirements.

Maximum participants: 25     Register by November 20, 2012

Telling Our Story is sponsored by EcoFriendly Sask as part of its mission to inform, support, and encourage environmental initiatives in Saskatchewan.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 12, 2012

Souleio Christmas Open House, Nov. 22
Souleio is holding a pre-Christmas open house on November 22 from 5-8 pm. There will be samples, complimentary canapés, demos and gift wrapping. They promise to have plenty of holiday candies, chocolates and gift ideas.

Gluten-Free Food Fair, Nov. 25
The menu for the Gluten-Free Food Fair from 5-7 pm on November 25 at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market looks delicious – everything from lentil-stuffed mushrooms to quinoa and roasted beet salad, spicy polenta bites, chocolate bean cake and pina colada cream pie. Sample plates are $2 each. Gluten-free beer or wine will be available for $5.

Simon’s Sticky Toffee Pudding Christmas, Nov. 29
Chef Simon Reynolds will be hosting an open house from 3-8 pm on November 29. You can taste or purchase his sticky toffee puddings. Summer jams, hot pepper jelly, mango chutney and gift certificates for cooking classes will also be available for purchase.

Wild Serendipity Foods
Wild Serendipity Foods has a new product – buttermilk pancake mix. Michelle also sells a scone mix, Saskatchewan sea salts and flavoured mustards and chutney.

Prairie Harvest Café
Prairie Harvest Café is again selling ready-made meals from their restaurant. The weekly offerings will be posted on Facebook. I'm eagerly hoping for some of Mike's wonderful vegetarian options.

Saskatoon Farmers’ Market
The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market now has free wifi.

Recycle your Coffee
If you’ve ever wondered what to do with leftover coffee grounds, here’s your answer. Coffee grounds work well for fertilizing plants, keeping fleas off your dog, cleaning drains and so much more.

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

Follow me on Twitter, like the Wanderlust Facebook page or subscribe to Wanderlust and Words by email (top right-hand corner) to stay on top of Saskatoon’s evolving food culture.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Baja Blooms

On a very snowy Saskatchewan day, it's been such a pleasure to review my Baja flower photographs. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

BC Wineguys, Nelson: Promoting a Local Agricultural Product

Although Canada’s wine industry continues to grow in both numbers and quality, it’s poorly represented in our government-operated liquor stores, such as SLGA.

Twenty years ago, British Columbia was experiencing a similar problem. There were more and more wineries starting up in the Okanagan, but it was hard for them to compete for space in the liquor stores. The BC Wine Institute lobbied the government and was able to obtain licences for individual business people to operate VQA wine stores.

VQA wines are made from 100% BC grapes, so you know that you are supporting local agriculture. There are approximately 20 VQA wine stores in British Columbia – the majority are located in Vancouver, but there are three or four on Vancouver Island as well as in the Okanagan. And there is one in Nelson, BC. That was where I went to sample local wines while I was in BC this summer.

A real honest agricultural product 
Several local people told me that they never shopped at BC Wineguys, Nelson's VQA store, because it was too expensive. That’s a common misperception, but in fact I was purchasing high-quality local wines for $15 to $20. They were well within my price range.

BC Wineguys opened in November 2009 and Jon Langille, one of the owners, says that they are still growing their customer base. “Going to the LDB is a habit. We’re offering as low a price as you can get for these wines,” Jon says. “You’re paying local dollars for a local product rather than supporting large international corporations. We’re trying to push a real honest agricultural product.”

BC Wineguys carries wines from a large number of small wineries, which can’t afford or don’t have the quantity to place their product in the provincial liquor stores.

A percentage of the VQA Store sales goes to the BC Wine Institute and is used to promote BC wines.

I always had a problem finding my way around Cava Secreta, Saskatoon’s first specialty liquor store as there was minimal labelling. That certainly wasn’t the case at BC Wineguys.

The sections are clearly labelled and similar wines are grouped together. If you know that you have enjoyed a Shiraz or a Cabernet in the past, you can head straight to that section.

Welcoming your customers 
BC Wineguys provides amazing customer service. They didn’t hover and make me feel uncomfortable, but they were always helpful, providing lots of background information and suggestions. Jon says that he used to own a restaurant where he learnt the importance of providing friendly customer service from the minute people entered the door. “When people enter a restaurant, they don’t know the lay of the land and need to be guided,” Jon explains. “No guidance leaves a bad impression.”

Future directions 
Jon says that he would like to see the VQA Stores broaden their product potential to include BC beer and liquors. “Some of the wineries are resisting the idea,” Jon says, “but I think that increased exposure for BC products would increase sales. BC’s craft breweries are struggling for outlets.”

Recent legislation should break down the barriers to cross-border distribution, and Jon hopes that this will lead to greater wholesale distribution that is not funneled through government-run liquor boards.

“Washington State has just got out of the distribution/retail business,” Jon says. “The wine costs are slightly higher, but there’s no stiff rules, lacklustre appearance and retail costs.”

As I leave, Jon points out one more advantage of buying local wine. Each bottle of wine that is shipped from overseas generates 3.5 kilos of CO2 emissions, the equivalent of a bag of briquettes.

But I don’t need convincing. I discovered so many fantastic BC wines this summer. I just wish that more of them were available in Saskatchewan.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 5, 2012

Carrot Tasting 

Ask a group of university students if they know what a carrot tastes like, and you'll get some pretty funny looks. But once they taste 4 different carrots (purple, white, light orange and spherical), it's a different story - because they're all different.

My thanks to Dan Clapson and Tom Brown of Start From Scratch, a university cooking program, for inviting me to attend one of their classes and talk about Slow Food Saskatoon. And my thanks to Wally Satzewich, Wally’s Urban Market Garden, for growing a rainbow of carrots.

The Prairie Pantry
The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market has a new tenant. The Prairie Pantry, an offshoot of Riverbend Plantation, offers gourmet Canadian and international products. A few of the items really caught my eye, and I’ll be going back to make some purchases.

First of all, I’m itching to try Loriva Toasted Sesame Oil.

Then there are Milsean’s chocolate and toffee marvels – they are SOOOO good – and they’re made in BC. I will definitely be treating myself to a jar of the Demerara Carmel Rich Belgian Chocolate Sauce. I was interested to discover that Milsean also produces various mixes: the Snickerdoodle Cupcakes are made with spelt.

Bottlegreen’s sparkling drinks are delicious with subtle, natural flavours. Bottlegreen is a UK company that prides itself on using next-to-no sugar or preservatives and operating in as environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient way as possible.

Grace Whittington tells me they’ll have lots more products over the next few weeks. I’m looking forward to checking out the six varieties of dried mushrooms and the Black and White Mexican Orzo made with ground black beans and seasonings.

Grace is offering cooking classes during November and December that will employ many of the ingredients being sold at Prairie Pantry.

The Prairie Pantry also offers party platters and catering services.

Communications Workshop 
I’m facilitating a day-long communications workshop for non-profit organizations on November 28. Telling Our Story: Helping Non-Profit Organizations to Get Their Message Across will be hands-on and interactive. The workshop will cover storytelling, effective writing techniques, defining our message and change management.

The workshop is sponsored by EcoFriendly Sask; bursaries are available for volunteers and employees of environmental organizations.

Entrepreneurs Support Food Artisans
It started out as a flea market but has turned into a fashionable food fair supporting a wide range of food artisans. The Brooklyn entrepreneurs are now renovating a former service station to include a food incubator with kitchen, offices and educational space for emerging food businesses and a beer hall featuring local food producers.

The entrepreneurs are making money by providing food producers with what they need to succeed. It would be great to see a food incubator facility in Saskatoon that combined business advice, a commercial kitchen and a storefront.

Small Farms Are Sustainable
Smallholder producers are the backbone of rural economies, help ensure crop diversity and are adaptable to local needs and changing climate. Sustainable smallholder agriculture, a report from the International Fund for Agricultural Development, outlines what is needed so that smallholders can play an even greater role in feeding the world and protecting the planet.

Food That Is Fair
How do we treat our food workers in North America? Not very well, although there are some bright spots.

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

Follow me on Twitter, like the Wanderlust Facebook page, or subscribe to Wanderlust and Words by email (top right-hand corner) to stay on top of Saskatoon’s evolving food culture.