Sunday, April 13, 2008

Why I Never Kept a Diary...........

Here's a lovely pic of the very first green pepper available for sale by Grandora Gardens at yesterday's Market - Spring really IS here!

Well, it's been nearly 9 months to the day since I've posted (no, I'm not pregnant), and childhood memories of my attempts at keeping an updated diary come flooding back. I don't know why it's so difficult to keep up updating, it's not that there's been no news to tell! ;)

A brief synopsis:

The overwhelming success of the new home of the Saskatoon Farmer's Market has allowed me to take a reprieve from catering, and focus only on the market and my cooking classes. Even the winter market was good this year, & for the past month, it has already started to feel as bustling as last summer did. I am so thrilled to be a part of our Market - so thrilled, that I put my name in for consideration to be elected to the Board of Directors (which I applause, please). So I now have a 3 year term on the Board, and my position for this year will be Vice President.

Last summer I was invited to participate in the 1st annual Saskatchewan Mustard Festival, spearheaded by Exec Chef Moe Matthieu (of Willows on the Wascana). If you've never heard of the Napa Valley Mustard Festival, it's a 2 month long festival showcasing agriculture and the fine arts. The festival is held when mustard is in bloom, and mustard plays a key role throughout the 2 month event. Chef Mattieu has had the opportunity to work in the region and participate in the festival, and was keen to start a grassroots festival in Saskatchewan. Perfect place, since we are such a major player in world mustard production.
Last fall I was asked by Harden & Huyse Chocolates in Saskatoon to provide baked goods for their newly-installed coffee bar, featuring Eurpope's Illy coffee. My quick-to-disappear scones can now by enjoyed there, in addition to several other delectables. If you're craving one on a non-Market day, be sure to check them out!
This year I started scheduling Oyako cooking classes (Oyako means parent & child in Japanese); I do them on Sunday afternoons (about one a month). I thought it was a great way for a parent & child (or children) to connect, and maybe spark/kindle an interest in cooking. They've been a lot of fun. In my adult classes, we eat what we have made at the end of the class, but for the Oyako classes, I put together dishes that are taken home, so that the rest of the family can sample their creations.
I also ran a few 100 Mile Diet classes this year - over the past year, interest in this movement has really piqued in Saskatchewan. The menus were great fun to put togeher - generally I came up with them in my head while attending the Saturday's Market just before the class. The dishes were chosen based on what was available that day at the Market. In introduced several people to flat iron steaks, which have now become hard-to-find at Benlock Farms (even I'm having trouble getting them now!) I was clever enough to stock up on a few herb blends by Fran's House of Herbs before they left the Market for the winter - that made easy to add lots of flavour, produced locally. As a substitute for pepper, I had stocked up on chipotle peppers from Grandora (chipotle peppers are ripened, smoked & dried Jalapeno peppers), which I then ground up in a coffee grinder. Salt used was from Sifto in Unity. Pea shoots from Wally's Urban Market Garden added a burst of colour to salads. That's just handful of the the local products we used - really, it's amazing how bountiful Saskatchewan is, even in the darkest parts of winter!
This past January, I was invited to speak by the Mustard Development Commission at Crop Production Week. I shared a bit about myself and the mustards I make for the Farmer's Market, some fascinating facts about mustard properties & its history, and the Saskatchewan Mustard Festival. I was really honoured to be asked to speak........and I think I gave the audience a bit of a light-hearted break in the midst of all the more 'serious' crop stats, forecasts, etc. :)

Leading to.......I was recently able to double my scone production capacity by purchasing a 2nd double oven. I'm quickly building up my arm muscles trying to keep you all in scones ;)
We're off to see the pelicans today - they returned a week ago, which is the earliest return ever recorded, from what I understand. If you're not from Saskatoon, you can read all about the pelicans.

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