Yesterday, I was lucky to be included on a Farm Media Tour sponsored by Farm & Food Care Ontario. Always a well organized day, this annual tour gives food writers an insight into where our food actually originates. This year’s tour featured two very different types of farming…a huge greenhouse venture in Flamborough and a goat farm in Caledon. Beverly Greenhouses Ltd. concentrates on 22 acres of seedless English cucumbers with a strong emphasis on environmental sustainability. The relatively new Escarpment’s Edge Dairy goat farm milks 300 goats with 300 kids born this spring alone. These two very different large-scale ventures had one thing in common….a farm that had been in the same family for generations, something that is not very usual these days.
Before the delicious lunch held at the Halton Region Museum, guest speaker Dr. Schwarcz from McGill University in Montreal reassured us that biotech products are safe and in fact, beneficial to Canadians in making our food more affordable. The general public needs to be more informed about the safe use of pesticides and the breeding of plants to improve quality, increase yields and reduce undesirable characteristics in crops. There is much unfounded fear generated from a lack of knowledge in these areas. This is the type of information food writers can convey to the public, proving that the day’s outing lived up to Farm & Food Care Ontario’s motto…Awareness, Appreciation, Information.
New Zealand Green Mussels are bigger, meatier and a bit milder than those we glean here on the East Coast. Mussel Fritters were on many restaurant menus of course, but very easy to make at home because most supermarkets and fish markets there sold cooked mussel meat. Fritters of various savoury kinds seemed to be the only distinctive Kiwi recipe I noticed, so of course, I had to make them. Try the delicious recipe on my Recipe Page.
We have patiently waited for the lovely warm days we are now experiencing. This is what we left in New Zealand at the beginning of April. It had been a perfect summer there….clear blue skies and lots of warm, dry air.
One of the best perks, however, was the fresh produce. Everything seemed to be in season at once….berries, rhubarb, plums, apricots, nectarines, tomatoes, apples. Of course, they obviously didn’t all burst forth simultaneously, but the seasons are longer for produce down there. When we left, there was a hint of fall in the morning air, and the apples were in fact still on the trees, hanging in huge numbers just waiting to be harvested.
Now, we can look forward to having our own fresh produce all summer now that our days are warmer and brighter.
I had the opportunity yesterday to taste some amazing olive oil in Vincenzo’s fine food store in Kitchener. Gerry Shikatani was sampling Luque Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Andalucia, Spain. It was peppery, but not as assertive as some and had the longest, smooth finish that seemed to last forever. It would be a wonderful finishing oil for cooked food or salads.
Gerry also let me in on another use for this peppery oil….soothing a sore throat. For more information on its health benefits, check out Gerry’s website http://www.gerryshikatani.com
Tomorrow on CTV Noon News, I will be talking about two very different types of sustainable seafood. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to taste an organically grown Canadian black caviar that was delicious, fresh and not overly assertive. Called Northern Divine, these large, plump eggs are harvested at Target Marine Hatcheries in British Columbia from farmed sturgeon making them eco-friendly, something we need to look for when buying seafood. Check out the website http://www.northerndivine.com for information about this new and exciting product.
I will also have some inexpensive mussels on hand ready to marinate and serve as appetizers. Turn to my recipe page for the easy recipe and some information about mussels.
Since students will be starting their Christmas vacation this week, I thought an easy recipe might appeal to them so that they could help with last-minute holiday baking. Children are so good in the kitchen, especially if you have them involved with something they might like to eat….like these simple thimble cookies, sometimes called thumbprint or Swedish tea rings.The batter isn’t too big and overwhelming for them, and they will love putting a thimble on one finger and pressing into the dough. Of course, kids are the best for forming little balls of dough…much more patient than adults. Check out my recipe page for this delicious cookie from “Canada’s Favourite Recipes” my most recent book written with my good friend Elizabeth Baird.