Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Recipes for ShawTV

This is a great holiday appetizer that takes no time at all to prepare! I've written it with a Southwest flavour, but I have included Greek & Thai variations below. Happy Holidays!

Baked Garlic Lime Shrimp with Chipotle Dipping Sauce

1 pound shrimp, peeled & deveined, thawed
1/3 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 TSP smoked bittersweet paprika (available at Sous Chef)
juice and zest of one lime
salt, pepper to taste
chopped fresh parsely, for garnish, if desired

Preheat oven to 425F.

Place the shrimp on layers of paper towel to absorb as much water as possible; if there is excess water, the shrimp will poach, rather than bake. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the shrimp, stirring well to combine. Add the shrimp, tossing to coat. Set aside while preparing the dipping sauce. Do not allow the shrimp to marinate more than 30 minutes or they will begin to toughen.

Chipotle Dipping Sauce:

equal parts mayonnaise & sour cream, roughly 1/3 to 1/2 cup each
1 TBSP honey
juice of half a lime
2 TSP pureed chipotles in adobo sauce (chipotles are ripened jalapenos that have been smoked & dried; adobo sauce is a spicy tomato sauce. These are found in small cans in the Mexican section of stores including Safeway & Walmart)
salt, pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together & set aside.

Place the shrimp on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, or until the tails have turned pink & the shrimp are slightly pink and just beginning to brown.

Garnish with parsley & serve immediately.

Greek - substitute lemons for limes in the recipe; omit paprika and subst. with oregano. For the dip, omit chipotles in adobo and add one clove minced garlic, the juice and zest of one lemon.

Thai - omit the smoked paprika and add a tablespoon of minced fresh ginger to the marinade. Serve with a spicy peanut dipping sauce. I've included a recipe, but you could always use a commercially prepared sauce:

3/4 cruncy peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)
2 to 4 TBSP hot water
~ 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 to 2 TSP Asian Chili sauce (Sambal Oelek)
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP dark brown sugar
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 TSP chili flakes
1 TSP fresh grated ginger
1 TSP fish sauce (optional)
optional: fresh Thai basil, for garnish (avail. at the Eastern market on Ave B south)

Mix together & set aside.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sushi Demo at the Farmer's Market!

Come on by the Saskatoon Farmer's Market on Wednesday, December 2nd at 1pm for a free Sushi Demonstration done by yours truly!
We've recently started incorporating a demo of some sort during the Wednesday market, & this week, I'm up.
I'll be demo'ing california rolls & vegetarian sushi. Everyone there will be eating what I make, as well :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas - NOT!!

Over the years I spent living on the West Coast, we treasured these 'Fall-ish" weeks leading up to Christmas. We loved it - thought we were the luckiest people in Canada not having to endure the scraping, shivering and layers of clothing just to leave the house. I recall one Christmas in Victoria, walking along Oak Bay and observing a youth string ensemble playing Christmas carols on the sidewalk, store-fronts and streetlights decorated elaborately with live greenery. (think Charles Dickens played out in real life) I thought to myself, 'this is how Christmas should be!'.

Now, about to experience yet another Fall-ish day here in Saskatoon, on the 24th of November.......well, the feeling is shifting from enjoyment and 'lucky', to downright bizarre. No one here is in Christmas mode yet. Yes, there are a growing number of houses lit up in decoration, but it almost collectively feels forced. As if we're all looking at the calendar & thinking, "Whoa, it's the XX day of November - we should have our lights/wreath/tree/anything-to-do-with-Christmas up!!!"

I was at Costco yesterday, where a typical Monday morning at opening, a month before Christmas, could only be described as hell on earth. But wait, there were parking spots, many of them, in fact. I was able to leisurely make my way through the aisles, which were strangely less busy than just a few weeks ago. Unsettling, it was.

In my Holiday Cheer appetizer classes, I normally have Christmas carols playing in the background. I have still been making my mulled cider, so it at smells a lot like Christmas, but I haven't been able to make myself put the carols on. It just doesn't feel right. So, nu-jazz is what is on - reasonably fitting, but more for New Years than Christmas.

Snow. It's what we need, & secretly want (even those of you who claim you don't). Not a blizzard - we're not that greedy for it. Just a sprinkle, a light dusting, if you will. Something that gently announces "It IS beginning to look a lot like Christmas!"

Well, being that it's now the 24th of November, when that moment comes, and come it will.........we will have that joyful feeling for a few minutes, before widespread panic sets in. There will be ladders and lights, full parking lots with people, stores bursting at their seams......people, people everywhere, in lineups, ATMs, on sidewalks and ladders. First happy, then irritated, then just plain old irate.

With that, I'm now going to head out - in my warm car, light clothing and winterboot-less. Blissfully enjoying this unexpected, and inevitably doomed, extended Fall.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Yoghurt Guy

This is not a happy post.

We learned today Bernie Hounjet, a.k.a. the Yoghurt Guy at the Saskatoon Farmer's Market (and also the president of the Board of Directors), has passed.

My heart goes out to his family, especially Celine, whom I have watched grow up at the Market.

Rest in Peace, Bernie. You will be missed.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Oh What Fools These Mortals Be..............

Spoken from yours truly, the Autumn Fairy (for the day). The costume was a few months in the planning (in my head, anyway), and a wee bit of work last week. Despite the snow, it was a fun market. You can see on my stand a little sign that says "bits of glitter are free! (today only)". I opted to post that once I noticed little clouds of glitter falling from me whenever I moved, as my arms were also covered in it. Going towards the costume cost recovery fund, I took in 1st prize at the market for best costume - dinner for the family at Boston Pizza :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

French-Inspired Fall Flavours

Tonight's dinner was one of those meals that somehow came together with things I already had in the pantry (a rare occurence in my house). I still had some ultra-thick boneless pork chops from Costco in the freezer - the only protein other than eggs, in the house - so I started out by thawing them.

Peaking through the refrigerator, I saw that I still had a couple of local apples, and a few local baby cabbages (so cute!). I remembered I had a couple of cans of Gaymers apple cider, and there it was.......dinner. This dish is representative of the Northern (Normandy) region of France.

Apple Cider Braised Pork Loin with Cabbage

~ 6 boneless pork loin chops (I sliced my ultra-thick ones in half)
2 TBSP butter
salt, pepper
~ 12 ounces hard apple cider (such as Gaymers, Strongbow), or about 1 1/4 cups apple juice plus 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (drink the remaining cider while you continue with the recipe)
4 to 6 cups of finely shredded cabbage (young, if possible), without cores
2 apples, cored & sliced - I leave the peel on
2 TSP cornstarch
1/2 cup light or heavy cream

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Season the pork with salt & pepper; brown, both sides, in pan. Remove the browned meat and set aside. Deglaze the pan with roughly 1/2 cup of the apple cider, scraping up bits from the bottom.

Add the cabbage and apples, tossing to coat. Season generously with salt & pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes, then return pork to pot. I placed the pork on top of the cabbage, and then heaped some of the cabbage on top, so that the pork was in the middle. Add the remaining apple cider.

Bring to a boil, then cover & simmer for ~25 minutes. The meat will be cooked through and the cabbage should be completely tender. Cook a bit longer if the cabbage is not tender enough. Check for seasoning; adjust if necessary. Remove the pork and set aside. Sprinkle the cornstarch over; stir to combine. I like the sauce to be a bit thickish - if you'd rather not add the cornstarch, skip this step.

Add the cream. Return to a boil and cook until the cabbage mixture has thickened. Place the cabbage apple mixture on a platter & top with the pork. Drizzle some of the sauce over top of the pork to serve.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Adding MAJOR Flavour

I always mention these products in my cooking classes, so I thought I'd talk about them here. These oils/extract are produced my a company called Boyajian. I started off with the lime oil, which I use in many of my southeast-asian soups, my ginger lime wasabi mustar, and now my ginger lime coconut scones. Just a drop or two adds a HUGE amount of pure, powerful lime flavour. I have since bought the orange oil, and most recently, the pure maple extract. The maple extract adds a big boost of flavour to my maple oatmeal scones. Even though they have a good amount of maple syrup, this greatly heightens the flavour - since, you can never have too much maple flavour. I highly recommend trying out these products!
I have smelled the other products, which are all available at Sous Chef in Erindale. If you have never checked out the store, and you're into interesting & exotic food items, you simply must go. You'll find an vast array of gourmet salts, vinegars, mustards, peppercorns........too much to describe, really. ie. go there, soon.........

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Birthplace of Scones (and Bannock)

During this past Saturday's market, as I was talking to a customer about the scones I tried in Scotland, I realized I had neglected to mention them in my blog.
Scotland is the birthplace of scones, and yes, the "correct" pronunciation is 'skon', not 'scone'. The original Gaelic word sounds more like "schkon". I, however, have been saying 'scone' forever, & I don't think I could change it now. (btw, the Queen of England says 'scone'..........)
The scone pictured above was from a lovely little cafe in Elie. They had several varieties to choose from, & I chose this one - a cherry scone. Of course, I was envisioning something along the lines of the sour cherry toffee scones that I make...........and was sadly disappointed. The cherries were, in fact, chopped up candied cherries. Eeww. Dismissing my unhappiness with the cherry flavour, I focused on the scone, itself. Now, anyone that knows me, knows that I am extremely humble when it comes to my own culinary creations. My scones, as popular as they are, don't strike me as anything particularly noteworthy. I am now thinking my faithfull & enthusiastic customers may, in fact, be drawn to more than my sunny disposition (and may actually be buying my scones in spite of it :) . The scone in question............pretty much sucked. The texture was somewhat dry & cakey, the flavour was lacking, well, flavour. Echos of 'these really are the best scones I ever had' from my happy customers came to mind.
I did have an opportunity to try another scone in Pittinweem, at the Cocoa Tree, which I previously talked about. There, I had what I know to be a cream scone, flavoured with chocolate chips. This scone was actually really good, albeit messy, as the scone was served warm........hence, I looked like a 3yr old with my fingers covered in melted chocolate. It was comparable to mine, definitely, although slightly more cakey in texture.
After doing a bit of research when I came home, it turns out that in North America, the base of our scones evolved into containing siginificantly more sugar and butter than the original version. Are we surprised?? Of course ours (well, mine in particular ;) taste could they not?
So there you have it. In the end, I was comparing apples to oranges.........well, maybe apples to crabapples. Similar, but essentially a different beast altogether.
Now, about bannock. I noticed on the menus something called 'bannock'. As it turns out, it is exactly was we associate with the Indigenous food. I had never before heard of a link between the two, and had always assumed that the origins were in North Amercia. After researching the topic, it turns out the opposite is true. Bannock, or bread, has its origins in Scotland, first reference in the year 1000. It is leavened with baking powder & typically cooked in a greased pan, What I found even more interesting was that when the bannock is cut into wedges, the wedges were called 'scones'. The circle is complete.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Things I Learned in Scotland

To sum up:
The Scottish really do say 'aye', for yes.
  • Pretty much everyone does eat Haggis, either on occasion, or frequently. And, it's not as gross as its infamy would suggest.

  • "Pub grub" is, by far, the best bargain for eating out. The food is not just all fried fare - great from-scratch fare at good prices.

  • Get the breakfast sausages whenever possible, they are wonderful!

  • Do not look at the direction cars are parked in to determine which way to look when trying to cross the street (they are parked every which way). If possible, look every which way, & then again, quickly, before venturing off the curb...........then utter a prayer & run.

  • I think there are more varities of scotch in Scotland than wine.......I'd wager on it.

  • Fruit ciders (apple or pear) from the UK kick ass; I will be looking for them back home.

  • Bagpipes can be more cool than you can imagine.

  • The Scots really do look for a bargain. (but then again, who doesn't?)

  • You don't have to search very far to hear Gaelic spoken.

  • If you don't like the weather, you only have to wait about 2 or 3 minutes (never mind the usual 15). You can actually get an aerobic workout doing the following: 1: put jacket on 2:Take jacket off: 3:Put sunglasses on. 4:Take sunglasses off. 5:Open umbrella. 6: Close & shake off umbrella. Repeat, in no particuar order, as necessary.

  • I observed children (from all over the UK), in public, to be much whinier than I expected. I thought North American kids were bad - holy Moses!

  • Finding traditional celtic music in a pub was not so common as I thought it would be. In fact, I never heard any, other than in the dining room of our B&B in Edinburgh. I did, however, hear live blues & bluegrass.

  • I was disappointed to see that, like our grocery stores, local produce is generally extinct. I was happy to have found The Farm Shop, outside Elie.

  • Hospitality/service staff are infinitely more professional & friendly than back home. Your presence doesn't actually seem to be a source of aggravation to them - go figure!

  • Showers can be tricky, tricky things. That's all I'll say.

  • Unlike our toilet stalls that have spaces below & above, theirs go all the way to the floor/ceiling. Privacy is nice!

  • Further to the toilets, the public (including portable ones at the Gathering, and ones out in the middle of nowhere) are identical, and often cleaner/better, than private washrooms. Truly a pleasant surprise. No need to test the resilience of your bladder for fear of what you might find!

The Fife Coast

We left Edinburgh on the Monday following the Gathering, and headed northeast towards the Fife Coast. My father had rented a vehicle to be picked up at the airport. He has driven in the UK before, and although it took a bit for him to become re-accustomed, I immediately knew there was NO way I would ever be able to drive on the left (without killing someone, anyway). I've always had troubles with spatial ability, & wonder now if this is somehow related?

Anyway, on we went. After a few wrong turns at roundabouts, which are everywhere, and inconsistently signed, we finally made it to Elie, on the Fife Coast. The body of water in this area is called the Firth of Forth, or was it Fourth of Fifth, Fifth of Sixth......? Firth, as I found out, means 'bay'. Elie is a lovely coastal town, very cute & picturesque. We had a self-contained townhouse there, with lots of room & a fully-equipped kitchen (yeah!).

The morning after we arrived in Elie, we set out to get groceries. I had seen an ad for The Farm Shop. This place was about 5 minutes outside Elie, also along the coast. It was a small building, housing a farm-to-market produce shop and high-end food items. It was immediately inviting, with the metal ducks leading to the front door. As you entered, this was the display - those are real veggies, not fake display models. The way the product was displayed there was how you bought it, out of the display baskets & into a shopping (woven) basket. I loved this store!

When I went to pay, I noticed that there were huge pots of fresh herbs outside, & asked how I might purchase them. The girl said I just had to say what I wanted & she would cut them. So, I asked for some rosemary, chives & parsley. She cut a few stems of each & charged me accordingly; I know she would likely not be happy with this picture, but here she is, cutting the herbs for me.

After spending a few relaxing days in & around Elie, hiking along the coast, hanging around cafes, eating crab & lobster hauled from the ocean just moments before, my last weekend was quickly approaching.

This last photo was taken in Pittenweem, during the Arts Festival. This was a really unique festival, where local artists open up their homes, converting a portion of it into an art gallery, displaying their wares. Visiting artists were also housed in many locations around the town; there were around 89 artists in total. I bought a few prints, and some jewellery - it was great fun talking to the artists in person. An amazing fireworks display was held on the Saturday evening - it was quite the display, one the the best I've ever seen (and we lived in Vancouver & saw a few of the fireworks competitions), for such a small town.
One of the more interesting artists was Derek Collins (Flaming Art), who actually ignites the paintings, yielding a lacquered effect. The art itself was really interesting, & then I saw an article he had on disply. He actually uses loved one's ashes & incorporates them into paintings - a permanent, tangible memory. I really was drawn to this idea.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sunday, the Gathering, day 2

We had set aside Sunday as the day to check out the musical acts. The first band we saw was the Red Hot Chilli Pipers . I was expecting a somewhat comical, more or less traditional celtic band. Wrong. The show was introduced with the music by Strauss from 2001: The Space Odyssey, which quickly drew everyone to the stage. The show immediately went into their first song; the guitarist had a flourescent pink mohawk, the group (about 5 main musicians, plus brass) leader played pipes; the music was fast & full of energy. They have defined their invention of this type of music as "Bag Rock" . Check out this video on youtube for a sampling.

Later, we saw another great act, Capercaille, a unique blend of traditional celtic music (mostly in Gaelic) with a contemporary beat, with vocals sung by Karen Matheson . Really lovely - picked up their new CD entitled Roses & Tears. Check out this video on youtube for a sampling.

The rest of our day was spent catching the events at the Highland Games, wandering, eating............a great day all around.

That evening we had our formal clan dinner at the University of Edinburgh. Lord Strathnaver gave a small speech, which included a story that my father told him about our family's history. My great grandfather settled in Canada, ahead of his wife. Once settled, he sent her a ticket to come over.........on the Titanic. She had to make quite the journey to get to the port, apparently, & was furious when she found out she had been bumped by someone from higher class. Anger would have quickly turned to relief, obviously, with the demise of the unsinkable ship. Our immediate family history almost immediately snuffed out.

Clan Parade up the Royal Mile

OK - back to blogging about the trip, before all the details completely fad from memory.......... (naughty, naughty me)

Saturday evening, refreshed from our nap and another fabulous meal (beef & guinness pie for me) at the Reverie pub, we took a taxi to the bottom of the palace gates to await the parade. At first we couldn't find our clan, & they were supposed to alphabetical, yet, there were A's mixed with T's, pretty much a big clan snafu. Eventually we all found our Sutherland sign sitting up against a trailer - no one had bothered to take it out yet. So, our little group became the beacon. Lord Strathnaver, the Earl of Sutherland (our clan still has a castle, Dunrobin), was there. I didn't know until that weekend that we still had a castle, which is uncommon for existing clans. Most have clan chiefs, who were marked by wearing 3 tall feathers in their caps. The parade finally began, but of course, we were S, followed only by Taits & Unruhs, so we had a bit of a wait.

When we were finally passed the gates & began our jaunt up the Royal Mile, I was shocked to see so many spectators watching the parade & cheering the clans on. Apparently, this was THE thing to do in Edinburgh that evening. As people saw the clan names, they would yell out the name & was pretty cool. I even had the opportunity to carry the sign for a while!

At the top of the Royal Mile, we all entered the stadium set up in front of Edinburgh Castle to watch the pageant, which was the finale of the parade. It must have been an amazing spectacle to see from the city - there were spotlights waving up into the sky from the castle, and the castle itself was lit up with both lights & torches. The pageant consisted of a theatrical history of Scotland, and ended, of course, with a huge pipe band. Always goosebump raising........

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Gathering

We headed out for the Gathering Saturday morning. We were there well before the big crowds began to arrive, so we beelined for our clan (Sutherland tent).
I then suggested that we check out the merchandise tent, since things tend to start selling out later in the day. I thought we were standing in a LONG line for the merchandise, which did not seem to be moving. Suddenly, there was a lot of movement, and people turning to our right. There appeared Prince Charcles & Camila Parker Bowles (!!). I had no idea he was there to open the games. This was the best shot I got.
I was also able to record the audio of his opening speech for the Games.
The beginning of the Games was marked by a LARGE pipe band that was marched in. Hearing & seeing Pipe bands became de rigeur throughout the Gathering, but I never tired of them. I was fascinated by the unfettered displays of strength that comprised the game events. I had a thought that the cost of sports in our own country could be greatly reduced by integrating these type of events. Whoever can lift/throw/pull the item of choice, usually logs, people or rocks, the farthest/longest wins. As simple as that!
At the Taste of Scotland venue I purchased some lovely wildflower honey to bring home and huge bag of Walker's various shortbread cookies for gift-giving. I then enjoyed the cutest little tub (picture a tub of Haagen-Dasz about 4 inches tall) of honey ice cream. Yum!!!!!
We then headed back to the B&B to take in a nap before the big event, the Clan Parade up the Royal Mile, later that evening.

Scotland - the Orientation Phase

I had wanted to write this immediately upon my return, but, as with all holidays, 5 minutes after your return.............the realities of everyday life come crashing down around you :)

Two weeks later, I'm finally sitting down to write about my trip!

My father & I arrived in Edinburgh in the early afternoon - thanks to being able to sleep on the overnight/over water portion of the flight, neither of us felt any jetlag. Immediately you are struck with being surrounded by the charming Scottish accents, which quickly become 'normal', but how I miss them now that I am home :) When we told our cab driver (a woman, surprisingly enough) that we were there for the Gathering, she replied "Oh, that's right...........I forgot that was on." Since that was the entire reason for us going, we were both surprised. My memories of the Spirit of the West Song "The Old Sod" popped into my head......"There's none more Scots than the Scots abroad..........." I get the meaning now. We experienced this quite a bit, but at the same time, there were plenty of locals that knew all about it & were also participating.

Our first meal was had at what became our favourite pub, The Reverie . Excellent food (we did end up going traditional & ordered the recommended fish & chips), great price, quaint & lively atmosphere. They were setting up for a band & was all ready to hear some form of celtic music. The band, good as they were, was blues (!). Thought it a bit odd, but enjoyed them nonetheless.

The breakfast routine at our B&B was good - you chose your hot items from a list the night before. You came down to the dining room, table number the same as your room number. A continental breakfast was set up, with cereals, yoghurt, fruit, milk, juice & coffee. I had gone with traditional breakfast items (excellent sausages........I ended up having them nearly everyday we were in Edinburgh), while my father had chosen Haggis. I squeamishly gave it a try, quivering only slightly while raising a tiny forkful to my mouth. Surprisingly, my immediate reaction was that it tasted just like crumbled up, good quality pate. Strong in flavour, but not all.

Coffee, however, was somewhat unbearable for me...........panic started to set in. The coffee itself was fine, but I unfortunately have never been able to take it black, despite many attempts to do so. I tend to make a meal of my coffee...........lots of cream & lots of demerara sugar. They are tea drinkers in Scotland.............the dairy brought to me was skim milk. Skim.........I would actually prefer no coffee, however desperately I needed it. The sugar packets contained white sugar, something which I no longer prefer. I drank a scant cup & feared about the impending caffeine withdrawl.

We spent Friday strolling up the Royal Mile, the location for the big Clan Parade the following evening. Bought lots of trinkets (including the new love of my life, one I'll have for the rest of my days........the alpaca cardigan in my visions). One of my favourite momentos is a silver pocketwatch with a celtic pattern on the front - I haven't worn a watch in years & always rely on my cellphone for the time. To my surprise, I had no cell coverage there.......thanks SaskTel Mobility! In the end it was quicker to just ask my father for the time than fishing it out of my pocket & popping it open. I continue to wear it now that I'm at home, & back with my cellphone ways, just for show :)

Still suffering from caffeine withdrawl, & the fear of when it might end.......there it was, a Starbucks. I know, I's like going to McDonalds in Paris (which I also did, but I was 17......forgive me), but the siren was beckoning (ok, screaming). Outside the Starbucks I witnessed an unlikely couple of buskers - 2 pipers!

Once sufficiently replenished with caffeine upon consuming my Caramel Macchiatto, we continued on. Spending lots, eating & drinking lots. Over a lunch of bangers & mash, I enjoyed a lovely Bulmers Pear cider. The fruit (mostly apple) ciders immediately became my beverage of choice. Just a little bit bubbly, sweet, but not overly so, & light. You don't end up with that full belly feeling after drinking mugfuls of Guinness.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Well, after nearly a year of looking forward to it, tomorrow I leave for Scotland, for the The Gathering 2009 in Edinburgh. This is the international gathering of the clans (I will be a representative of clan Sutherland) & all its festivities, including the Highland Games, which you've likely heard of. I will be going with my father, who has generously given me the opportunity to accompany him on this ancestral voyage.
We will be participating in a parade, in groups of clans, up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle. The photo I've posted is now making me very afraid. Each clan (there are roughly 125 in total that will be represented) will have a tent set up during the weekend. People have been asking me if I have relatives still in Scotland. I have replied "Yes, & apparently I will be meeting all of them!" :)
After the Gathering weekend, we will be travelling for a week around towns where my father has been before, including some of ancestral significance.
Looking forward to posting details of the trip! I'll let you know how the Haggis was.........

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Special Happy Birthday Greeting for my Son

Last night we had a special event at the Farmer's Market. Members & delegates of the Agricultural Producer's Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) were there, sampling our fare and enjoying an evening on the square, along with music & entertainment.

In attendance was Dwain Lingenfelter, the newly elected leader of the NDP party for Saskatchewan. Towards the end of the evening, he and 3 others were sitting outside the Market, near my stall. I watched as my youngest son, who turned 5 today, went up to them & must have told him about his upcoming special day. I know this because we could hear Dwain and his group singing "Happy Birthday" to him :)

Something to jot down for him to remember.

Happy 5th Birthday, Joshua!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Upcoming Fall Cooking Classes

I have set up an email group for the upcoming fall cooking classes. I will send out notification of the new class schedule to this group. If you are on the list, you will have an opportunity to register for the classes you would like prior to me posting the new schedule on my website.

If you would like to be added to the list, please send me an email :)

It's nice to see that we finally have some seasonal weather! It's too hot for me, personally. I know, I know, one shouldn't complain (but hey, one can ALWAYS complain! ;)

Michelle Zimmer
Wild Serendipity Foods

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ravi Shankar (& Anoushka), Caffe Artigiano & Chicken Shwarma

These were the 3 highlights of this past weekend's Vancouver trip. The purpose of the trip was the Ravi & Anoushka Shankar concert on May 16th at the Orpheum. More about that later.....

Chicken shwarma (I got the plate, this time, not the sandwich) is always a mandatory meal whenever we go back to Vancouver (which was home for about 9 years). The restaurant is called the Falafel King - there's one on Davie (@ Thurlow) & one on Denman. The portions are generous, to say the least - the plate pictured here, which included about 2/3 lb of grilled chicken with sauce, hummus, parsley salad & bread, was less than $7. Beyond highly recommended, if you're ever in the neighbourhood.

Caffe Artigiano is a relatively new, Vancouver coffee chain that has probably the best coffee in the world. I discovered it a couple years ago, while walking up Hornby one morning to the nearest Starbucks from the Hotel Vancouver. I walked by this coffee shop that was lined up out the door - I wondered, "what the...?" and kept walking. When i got to Starbucks, it was virtually empty. I realized that something was amiss - what was with this new coffee shop? So, of course, I set out to investigate.

When I walked in to the store, it actually looked like some little cafe you'd stumble upon in Italy, complete with arches & ornate finishes. As I made my way up in line, it was obvious that the bustle was de rigueur here. I ordered a cappuccino & grabbed an available seat. The first thing you notice is the latte art atop the foam - this was one of the first cafes to do this on regular basis. There are beautifully framed pictures on the wall of all the designs they have created. At last, I took a sip. Now, for those of you that know me, I have been a dedicated Starbucks advocate for some fifteen odd years - the location of my condo in Vancouver was not so coincidentally located 1/2 a block from a Starbucks.

I digress - back to the was pure heaven. Rich, smooth, with a lovely caramel-like finish. Honestly, it put Starbucks to shame (I'm sorry Howard Schultz - I still love you & all you've done, but I must speak the truth) shame!! I was instantly in love, quickly dismissing the initial guilt I felt about even walking into a non-Starbucks establishment.

If you talk to people in Vancouver, Caffe Artigiano is now seen as the 'mecca' for coffee. Their little local chain is quickly growing, even across provinces now. With Starbucks cancelling their lease for the location on Stonebridge Blvd (a few blocks from where I live), I am hoping, praying........even considering bribing them to come to Saskatoon. It's not out of the realm of possibility - this is 'Saska-Boom' after all! We will see.

Onto the true purpose of the trip, the concert (and yes, George, we came to Vancouver to see Ravi, not Raffi :). The evening began with a lovely meal at the Sitar restaurant (I know, how fitting........I think everyone in there was also going to the concert afterwards). Once we entered the Orpheum (one of the last ornate theatres of its kind, by the way - you are in awe of it) a frenzy of anxious concert-goers were everywhere, many (both white & brown) sporting traditional Indian attire. When you walked into the concert hall, the aroma of incense filled the air.

The first half of the concert (the first 1/3rd, actually) was Anoushka, the tabla player (the famous Tanmoy Bose) and flutist Ravichandra Kular. You were immediately drawn in by Anoushka's skill on the sitar & her beauty. At one point, she admitted that she 'loves to play fast', which drew laughter from the crowd. After about 30 minutes, there was an intermission.

When we went back in, they were setting up the center podium for 'the old guy', I heard someone from behind jokingly say. When Ravi came out, he was greeted with a huge round of applause & a standing ovation. He comes across as so humble, he quickly beckoned the crowd to be seated. He is definitely old - he is 89, in fact. I wonder how many 89 year olds could sit down & perform like that for about an hour & a half (!), let alone stand up without assistance, no less. At this point, there was only Ravi, Anoushka & Tanmoy, the tabla player. As good as the first 3rd of the concert was, it immediately rose to a whole new level. Ravi & Anoushka playing together was absolutely captivating, & tabla was like nothing I've ever heard. Ravi completely controlled, in conductor-like fashion, the performance, and the audience. At one point, the tabla player went off on a solo that rose to a furious tempo. The audience couldn't help but burst into applause, but was quickly quieted by Ravi, who motioned for them to listen, not applaud.

After about 40 minutes or so, the awareness that you were in a concert hall, attending a performance, slipped away into a dreamlike state. I will never forget that feeling - a calm euphoria, that you knew would eventually come to an end, but a moment you wished go on forever.......... But, of course, it did, and after a couple of standing ovations & seeing Anoushka cry (I can only imagine over the reality that this would be one of their last performances together), we left the theatre with a sense that we had witnessed something of immense importance. I feel so blessed to have experienced it.

All in all, it was a memorable trip. Vancouver is still the city that makes my heart ache for it whenever I return. I'll make it back out that way eventually............

Wild Serendipity Foods

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another Season of Cooking Classes Comes to an End

This week marked the end of my scheduled classes for the season, although I'm still booked up for a couple months for custom cooking classes. This past week I ran the African class, where we prepared a dish from North, East, South & West Africa. We also attempted a 'replica' injera, the sour-ish, crepelike thin pancake bread used as the eating vessel for the wonderful curries. It is a replica recipe because true injera is made from 'teff' flour.

Teff is a tiny, millet-like (or maybe just a tiny millet grain?) grain, not grown in North Amercia. It is mixed into a batter & allowed to ferment, thus, giving it its characteristic sour flavour. It is cooked up like a crepe, yielding a soft, spongy thin pancake. The replica, although similar in appearance, tasted nothing like the true injera (surprised?); we used whole wheat/rye flour mixed with unbleached flour, with baking soda as the leavening. I had previously made a Nalysnyky recipe where the texture of the crepe was very similar to injera, & it had used baking powder as the leavening. So, for the 2nd class, I thought it would better to use b. powder, & use a little buttermilk in place of the liquid (club soda). Baking is truly chemistry - it turns out the presence of eggs was critical in the Nalysnyky recipe, which I did not use for the Injera. Let's just say...........culinary disaster. I quickly whipped up the original version & we finally had some injera to eat!

Anyway, the injera moment, & the 1st occurence of a married couple each cutting themselves (& bleeding) within about 10 minutes of each other, marked the highlights of the last class.

I've already got the Fall's class listings sketched out (sorry, no hints!). Because the classes have been filling up so rapidly, I will be offering less types of classes, but with more sessions of each class to sign up for.

The other difference you will see is that the classes will be prepaid electronically upon registration. If people are unable to attend a class that they've registered for, an alternate person could be sent in their place, or they could place their name on another class list.

So, with that, thank you to everyone who attended my classes this past year - I truly enjoy doing them, & your feedback and many repeated attendances always reassure me that I have chosen the right path in my life! :) I look forward to seeing you all again in the Fall. Come by my stall & say 'hi' if you're at the Market over the summer!

Michelle Zimmer
Wild SerendipityFoods

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leonard Cohen




That is how I would sum up the Leonard Cohen performance last night at TCU Centre. I have never heard an audience so silent (except for the thunderous applause after each song), taking in every word of his heady, honey-dripped poetry. The piercing wisdom in his lyrics is so halting, that it's almost impossible to comprehend anyone could pen these thoughts.

I feel honoured, and humbled, to have taken in his performance.

"Everything has a crack.............that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Watch Me on ShawTV

The segment I recently did for Shaw TV, making Baked Apple Oatmeal, is now available online.

For your viewing pleasure, click here and then select the "In the Kitchen" link, & you'll find me in there :)

Wild Serendipity Foods

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Little Seed That Could

Yesterday I had the opportunity to give a presenation on mustard & mustard making at SIAST, for the 3rd year culinary students. I gave both a verbal presentation and a demonstration on how to make mustard (we made a Spicy German Mustard).

I thought I would share some of the more interesting facts about mustard :)

  • Saskatchewan produces the most mustard seed in Canada, & Canada is the world's largest exporter of mustard in the world.
  • There is evidence which shows that humans chewed mustard seeds 10's of 1,000's of years ago.
  • Mustard was used medicinally in Chine 5,000 yrs before the birth of Christ.
  • Mustard is mentioned 5 times in the Bible (as well as in other sacred writings of different faiths). It is described as 'the least of all seeds'. Because mustard seeds are so tiny, it is almost a miracle that they can become a tree. What can be learned from the mustard seeds is that from something tiny & almost insignificant, the outcome can be staggering.
  • In North American, mustard is the 2nd most used spice, behind only black pepper.
  • The mustard plant is from the Brassica family, and is a cruciferous plant. The term cruciferous comes from the flowers having 4 petals, two long & two short, thereby resembling a cross.
  • The word mustard comes from 2 words: 'mouste (or 'must'), derived from the Early Middle English word 'moutard', and 'ardens', meaning 'burning'.
  • There are 3 basic seed varieties: yellow (or white), which is used for what we call 'ballpark mustard'; brown, which is most associated with Dijon-style mustard; and black (actually a reddish-brown), which is smaller than the yellow or brown seeds, but pack the most pungency. Black mustard seeds are used in East Indian cooking and for medicinal purposes.
  • The heat of mustard is produced by a chemical reaction which occurs when the cracked mustard seed is exposed to cold water; the reaction occurs between an enzyme & a substance called glycoside. The peak heat produced occurs around 15 minutes after the reaction begins. To halt, or retard, the heat, the mixture can be left at room temperature, where it will start to lose it's heat; placing it in the fridge will hold it at whatever heat level it is at; adding hot water will inhibit the reaction; adding salt or an acidic liquid will also inhibit the reaction. These methods are all used, sometimes in combination, to control the heat produced in the resulting mustard.
  • The controls surrounding the making of French mustard are as strict as controls over wine production.
  • The recipe for Dijon mustard has been kept secret for more than 200 years.
  • The mustard seed used to produce Dijon mustard comes almost exclusively from Saskatchewan.
  • In Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, a man by the name of Barry Levenson founded The Mustard Museum, which contains more than 4,400 varieties of mustard. It is his aim to have a sample of every mustard created in the world. Some people REALLY love mustard!
  • There is truth to the 'old wive's tale' of using a mustard plaster (where the mustard is not in direct contact with the skin, but applied to a cloth, which then sits on the skin). The reason that mustard, applied externally, relieves chest congestion and joint pain, is that the area becomes irritated by the the mustard's heat, thereby increasing circulation to the area. Mustard applied directly to the skin can produce burns & blisters.

So there you go - some fun facts about mustard, one of Saskatchewan's greatest products!

Michelle Zimmer


Wild Serendipity Foods

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Asparagus with Orange Sauce - Because it's Spring...........

Aaahhh, asparagus. Always a welcome sight in Spring. Although available, imported of course, in the grocery stores nearly all winter long, the sudden drop in price signals that Spring is here. Well, officially here........just don't look out your window.

I recently did this recipe for a Spanish Cocina class. Thought I would share :) I thought the orange made for a nice change from the usual lemon that usually accompanies asparagus, at least in our house. Of course, this would also be lovely with lemon substituted for the orange.

Asparagus with Orange Sauce

1 pound (give or take) asparagus, tough ends trimmed

1 TSP butter

1 TBSP water


1 TBSP butter

1 TBSP brown sugar

juice of 1 orange

1 TSP finely shredded orange zest

pinch salt

In a small pot, heat the 1 TBSP butter over med/low heat. Add the brown sugar, stirring to dissolve. Add the orange juice, zest & salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has turned slightly syrupy. Set aside while the asparagus is cooking.

Using a large frying pan, that has a lid (or use tinfoil if you have no lid), heat the butter over medium heat until bubbly. Add the asparagus & 1 TBSP water. Cover & allow to cook for a few minutes. The amount of time will depend on how thick your asparagus is. Check it after a couple of minutes, & keep checking until it's almost at the tenderness you prefer. Uncover, & allow the remaining water to pretty much boil off.

Drizzle the prepared orange sauce over top, tossing to combine (with tongs, or by flipping mid-air in the pan, if you are feeling especially daring). Serve immediately.



Wild Serendipity Foods

Monday, March 16, 2009

Disregard the Post Below :(

If it makes us feel any better (& it is a small comfort), it snowed in Vancouver on Friday..............
it will come eventually........won't it??!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Well, I do declare.............

.............that Spring is finally here!!
It just feels like it, doesn't it? After the rather brutal weather we've had over the past 4 months, hopefully this really is it!
Yesterday was our "It's Your Lucky Day" at the Saskatoon Farmer's Market, in honour of St. Patrick's day on the 17th. As I started doing for last year's St. Patrick's Day, I made my Matcha Green Tea White Chocolate scones. If you haven't seen them, they are a pale green - I always feel like I should mark on the label "don't be afraid" because they look so......well, odd. But for those that love green tea, they are always a hit.
Since I am adamant that Spring has arrived, I did a couple of seasonal things - my flatbread pizza with asparagus (& feta, pesto.......) and Greek Avgolemono soup. There's something about Greek food, in general, that seems to shout out "Spring".
We moved into a new house a little over a year ago, & the sod was laid quite late in the summer. Now that there are flower beds & a bit of shrubbery, surrounded by a fence, no less, I am looking forward to planning out a bit of landscaping. It's kind of exciting starting with a blank slate. The general theme will be low maintenance; evergreen trees/shrubs, some perennials. We'll see if my blue hydrangea survived this winter. And of course, lots & lots of sunflowers :) Now that most people around us also have sod & fencing, the dustbowl (& subsequent constantly dirty children) that we endured last summer will have passed, thankfully.
So, Happy Spring (may it truly be)!!!
Michelle Zimmer
Wild Serendipity Foods

Sunday, March 01, 2009

New Recipes, as seen on ShawTV

I recently filmed two more episodes with ShawTV - they'll be airing in a week or two. Here they are:

Strawberry Salad with Chocolate Balsamic Dressing:
I did this dish for my "Chocolate Lovers" class just before Valentine's Day - it's really refreshing, a great salad for Spring or especially Summer, when you can get local, vine-ripened strawberries.

4 to 6 cups mixed baby greens
2 cups strawberries, halved
1/2 English cucumber, sliced into half moons
1/2 cup crumbled cheese (chevre, blue cheese, pear, or other fruited blue cheese, Boursin with pepper)
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup balsamic dressing
1/2 cup sugar
25 grams dark chocolate, chopped (1 square, if using Baker's chocolate)

To make dressing, heat the balsamic vinegar & the sugar in a small pot, stirring frequently. Continue to cook until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat & add the chocolate. The residual heat will melt the chocolate. Set aside to cool.

Rinse & dry the greens. Arrange on plates. Top each salad plate with sliced cucumber & strawberries. Garnish with the sliced almonds & crumbled cheese.

Whisk the cooled chocolate balsamic dressing until smooth; drizzle over the salad just before serving. Top with freshly cracked black pepper.

Baked Apple Oatmeal
I love this dish - it's great on its own, or served along with other brunch dishes. Any leftovers can be eaten cold, or reheated.

1 1/4 cups oats (quick cooking or minute - do not use quick oats)
1/2 cup raisins or cranraisins (omit if you have picky cooked fruit eaters in your household)
2 cups milk - homogenized, preferably, but use any kind you like
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 TSP (or more) cinnamon
1/2 TSP vanilla
pinch salt
1 TBSP melted butter
2 cooking apples (Granny Smith), peeled, cored & chopped
sliced almonds, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon & salt. Add the milk, vanilla & melted butter. Stir to combine. Allow to stand for 10 minutes. (prepare the apples while waiting).

Lightly oil or grease a 2 quart baking dish. Mix the apples into the oat mixture & pour into the baking dish. Top with sliced almonds. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Allow to stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve with additional milk, if desired.

Monday, February 02, 2009

You Really Do Learn Something Every Day

Maybe everyone already knew this, but today I just discovered that linseed oil is actually flaxseed oil. I recall in art class in high school, we used linseed oil as a carrier oil for oil-based paint. I just always assumed this was some specialty thing only used by artists.
Today I noticed the French translation for 'flax' on the bag of bread I have in my pantry - 'lin' . Somehow I managed to keep this in my curious (little) mind until I had time to look it up later, & sure enough, linseed oil is just plain old flaxseed oil :) Something we grow right here in Saskatchewan, no less!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kerala Mist

At least that's what I've named my newest favourite beverage from Starbucks :) They have finally started calling their tea lattes, London Fogs, like everyone else. I never could remember what they called them - I just asked for 'whatever you call your London Fog' when I ordered.
London Fogs on their own are lovely - Earl Grey tea & vanilla syrup latte. If you know me, you'll know I love using spices in, well, everything. So, to take the London Fog up a notch, I ask for (& I recommend you do the same, if you love the seductive flavours of Chai) the Tazo Chai Tea bags instead of the Earl Grey. It gets spicier the longer you take to drink take your time! This is much better than the usual Chai Tea Latte offered by Starbucks, in my opinion - I find the premade mix a bit icky - too sweet, not enough spice. Try ordering it as a 'Kerala Mist' - maybe we'll start something :)
Today was a bustling day at the Market - the busiest since before Christmas. The Spring-like weather factored into it, I am sure. If you didn't make it to Market this weekend, try to make it next Saturday for our Snowflake Festival - there will be snowflake-making & face painting for the little ones, assisted by the Saskatoon Blades, busking..........all part of the Winter Shines festivities. Hope to see you there!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Starstruck in Saskatoon

We went to the Fiddle & the Drum ballet tonight, performed by the Alberta Ballet Company. I have been a huge (HUGE) Joni Mitchell fan since around the age of 7, so I was really looking forward to this performance.
Just before the ballet began, an elderly gentleman was seated next to me. A younger man who accompanied him was talking about 'when joni arrives, she can sit here........' It didn't occur to me that he could be referring to 'The' Joni.........and he was. It turns out that was Joni Mitchell's father sitting next to me, & Joni sat on his other side throughout the performance! What a thrill................
I helped her father up from his seat for the 2 standing ovations at the end of the show, as she left briefly to go backstage (ie. to stand with the dancers for the standing ovation).
The performance itself, never mind my brush with greatness, was absolutely visually stunning - I have never seen a dance performance this captivating, and I'm not normally attracted to modern ballet. If you get a chance to see this ballet, please do!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Winter Fest, coming our way!

This Saturday, January 24th marks the beginning of the 16th day Winter Festival in Saskatoon, with its headquarters at the Farmer's Market for the 1st time.

Reported By Gerald BaumanPosted January 20, 2009 - 11:41am
It's easy to let winter get you down, but a new event announced Tuesday promises to add some fun to the cold. The Winter Shines festival begins January 24. The event will feature 16 days of winter activities, artwork and wine tasting, headquartered at the farmer's market.. 16 days may seem like a long time, but organizers say it's an insurance policy for potentially bitter winter weather.
There will be several market vendors & tenants present Saturday evening, showcasing their wares (including me, & my warm Rosemary Spiced Nuts).
Hope you'll come & check it out! :)
Wild Serendipity Foods

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Look for my Website

I recently & quite suddenly felt compelled to update the look of my website - Shannon, from Whole Wheat Web Design was patient with me, as I kept changing my mind on the background colour (which you will notice looks rather similar to the background on this page) :)

Hope you like it!

I will be absent from the Market this weekend, however, several of my products are available at the Little Market Store, located between Park Cafe & Petal Pushers, in the southeast corner of the Market. This will be my last planned Saturday off for quite some time - I'm taking in the Symphony, something I don't normally get to do after my usual scone-baking frenzied Saturday mornings. I shall savour every moment - & it's even warmed up outside as an added bonus.

Next Saturday marks the day before the Chinese New Year, & the day of Robert Burn's birthday - look for festive items celebrating both events!


Wild Serendipity Foods

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Try "Spicy Bite" to Warm You Up Through This Cold Spell

Last night we finally tried the dinner buffet at Spicy Bite, located at #4-340 8th Street East (in the little strip mall at the northeast corner of 8th & Acadia). We had ordered takeout several times in the past, & were really happy with the quality of the food - it is more like home cooking than mass-produced restaurant fare.

This was definitely the best Indian buffet we've had since living in Vancouver - we'll be back again, for sure. Afzai Rana, the owner, was sweet enough to give us a dish of heavily-sauced butter chicken for our two young boys, who have, regretfully, not yet acquired a taste/tolerance for spicy food. My favourite item in the buffet was the Channa Masala - although I both cook & teach Indian cuisine, I have yet to figure out how to get such tender Channa (chickpeas). They make Naan to order once you've settled on the buffet, so it's lovely & soft. The price for the dinner buffet (which is Halal, incidentally) was $14.99, I believe. They also have a lunch buffet, which was a couple of dollars less.

They are open 6 days a week (closed Mondays) - I hope you'll try them out!!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Little Market Store

Happy New Year!!

Just thought I'd pass on information about "The Little Market Store", at the Saskatoon Farmer's Market. It is located across from the office (between the Park Cafe & the Flower Shop), & is open Wednesdays through Fridays, 11 am until 7pm, and then during regular market Saturday hours (8 am until 2 pm).

The purpose of the Little Market Store is to provide a sampling of Market products during non-Market days. Also, it provides selling space for newer vendors who do not yet have a permanent stall.

I now have a variety of my products available at the store, including:

  • Frozen Scone Dough Trays - trays of 6, with mixed varieties - enjoy them fresh, from your oven!! :)

  • Granola, made with Saskatchewan-produced honey

  • my European-style pizzas

  • Soups

  • Hummus

  • my Gourmet mustards (currently Honey Lime Chipotle, Maple Brown Sugar Plum & the newest variety (a hot one), Spiced German)

  • Flavoured Salts, made with Saskatchewan-mined ancient sea salt (currently Lemon Rosemary, Chili Lime, Cranberry Orange, & Szechwan Peppercorn)

So I hope you will check out my products, as well as the many other fabulous products that are now always available at The Little Market Store!!



Wild Serendipity Foods