Category Archives: Foody events

banishing november

We’ve got two days left in this hellcat of a month and I’ll be happy to say ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’ once it’s over.  I think this may have been the worst November I’ve experienced since I was 16 years old, which is saying alot as that was a horrible November.

Here are a few heartwarming things which I’m counting on to get me through the next couple of days:

– I just watched Wall*E.  I know I’m a little late jumping on that bandwagon but I’m glad I finally did.  It’s life-affirming on the same level as the Flaming Lips album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is.  Go watch it…again.

– I’ve got some employment prospects coming up which are promising.  I’m crossing my fingers and toes.

– Sunday will be decorating and tree-trimming day.  The sprogs have finally won out and I’m happy to give in.

– I’ve had a crazy amount of ideas lately and have been able to see a lot of them through to fruition.  Teasers to come.

– the Free People Boutique has an amazingly cute holidays ’08 card available for downloading and printing.  You can check it out here.

– I get to come home to a great family everyday.  Can’t really beat that.

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the magical compost pumpkin

That is the composter between our house and the house next door and it’s progeny, a happy, accidental pumpkin which beat the odds in an environment set against it and climbed those Maslowian rungs to self-actualisation.

Now we just need to decide on a recipe by which to honour its achievement.  Any ideas?

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roasted capon with perfect fall stuffing

We have a lovely organic poultry vendor at our local farmer’s market from whom I (and the rest) get tremendously good deals on his capons (2 for $40 – can’t beat that) so I’ve usually got a couple in the freezer at any given time.  I was feeling like we needed a toasty, warm, autumnal meal this weekend so here’s what I made:

I tend to prefer dryer bread for stuffing than the fresh sesame bread I ended up using just because it keeps it from getting soggy.  To it I added 2 diced macintosh apples, which are about two weeks out of season here and are getting a little softer as a result.  This makes them perfect for cooking in this manner and add a little moisture to the stuffing.  I also tossed in some chopped proscuitto, ground sage (can’t WAIT until the stuff my Megan provided is ready for rubbing), ground nutmeg,  oregano and lemon juice.  Capons don’t need a lot of help in the flavour, fat or moisture department so I wanted a lot of that to come infused through the stuffing, rather than treating the meat itself but I did pour the better parts of the remnants of a bottle of white zinfandel from last night’s wine night (donated by a well-meaning guest rather tragically to a group of red snobs) into the pan to help it out a little.  The results were great.  The proscuitto gave it a low smokey flavour, the sage came through in a subtle tone, that apples lent their juices to getting everyone to make friends and the lemon juice and wine perked things up nicely.  We ate our chicken and stuffing with mashed potatoes and yams, fresh green beans, & beats in horseradish butter.  It was lovely.

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verdict is: the sauce does NOT suck!

I hadn’t attempted to make spaghetti & meatball sauce using the patented family secret recipe in about 7 years.  It was one of those things that I attempted and failed miserably at each time, possibly out of contempt for the stuff as I saw it growing up.  A huge pot would be made at the weekends then part of it eaten as a meal and the rest put into the fridge to be used in various and sundry meals through the week.  We literally ate the stuff in one way, shape or form 4 nights out of a week.  Being the variety loving creature I am I just stopped eating it.  Instead I would eat my pasta with olive oil and garlic and a little romano cheese with a couple meatballs on the side and all of the vegies I could fit on my plate after that.  I boycotted the sauce.  After moving out I learned to make a wicked napolitano sauce & kickass greek meatballs (not to be eaten together) while my sister mastered the family sauce & the meatballs to go with it.  I never refused an offer to partake in her mastery when she lived 2 and a half blocks away from me.  Now she lives an hour and a half away and I had a hankering so I gave it another shot…and it didn’t suck.  It was actually quite good if a little less thick than I wanted it to be.  That being said, I didn’t exactly follow the family recipe to a T, either.  And I made bison meatballs.  And served it with zucchini.  But for all of my improvisations, it did not suck and I’m quite happy with that.

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ch-ch-ch-changes

Enough politics.  Let’s examine some cute for a moment, shall we?

‘Zzini’s all like, ‘it’s ok, Matt.  I will not let the scary, hairy woman interrupt your beauty sleep.’

The mister is so going to kill me for posting that.  Well, maybe not ‘kill’ me.  Perhaps just maim me a little.

So I finally bit the bullet and imported the food blog into this one.  I thought it might entice me to update with more foody posts if I came at it with a less formal stance than what I have been.  Weird how internal pressures cause us to not do things, eh?  Plus it’s sort of more fitting with my here and there and everywhere content anyway.  I’ll keep the original food blog up for a bit until I’ve decided to commit to the change, but I think I’m hip to this jive so it will likely go down soon enough.

Alright.  Back to politics.

It was brought to my attention via Ann’s blog that local teacher, author, ornithologist and environmental activist, Drew Monkman has had a rather compelling letter to the editor published in today’s Examiner.  With his message, I couldn not agree more…and I’m not just saying that because he was my grade 4 teacher, or because he was my son’s grades 4,5 & 6 teacher, not even because he’s been my daughter’s teacher for the last two years.  His letter is passionate and expresses all of the embarassment I feel at our government’s lack of commitment to reducing emmissions & my hopes for the future of our stance on that globally and he does it as a real guy with real concerns for the generations of Canadians he has helped educate and engage with the natural world as he sees it.  He’s paying attention.  Are we?

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umamification of the utility bird

I know – ‘umamification’ is totally a made up word but, as always, I feel I’ve a firm enough grasp on the English language to indulge myself in bastardizing it here and there.  Plus I figure if you can get past that, dear readers, you’re probably at least a little masochistic and look forward to being inflicted with the soap-boxing to come.

The second and third sections of The Omnivore’s Dilemma have done very little to quell the fears about the organic food industry I cited in my first post about the book, though I’m not left with the feeling that all hope is lost, either.  Like Pollan, I want my organic food dollars to go to the pastoral ideal of the fertile, self-sufficient, organic farm I hold in my imagination, one like the farm my maternal grandparents have worked for an eternity with chickens running amongst the raspberry bushes, happy pigs slumbering in shade of a shed, cows blocking highway traffic so they can make their trek from one grassy range to another.  A farm which, for all intents and purposes, would not qualify for the ‘organic’ label, but follows a small-scale, animal-lead production methodology which allows pigs to be pigs and chickens to be chickens and beef to be beef…and that’s probably the message which resonates most profoundly about this section of the book; recognizing the term ‘organic’ as part of the industrial food chain’s rhetoric, contradictory outside of that context and then being called to either re-appropriate it or drop it altogether…which certainly appeals to my quasi-Marxist sensibilities and my desire for passive resistance through stepping around the industrial food machine, but gives me butterflies in practice as it promises to be a fairly large commitment.  I’ll actually have to talk to people, question their practices, let them know when they don’t meet my expectations, let them know what my expectations are…become part of the negotiation and actually seek out chickenier chickens and beefier bovines.

Alright, perhaps that’s a bit dramatic.  I already do a lot of that stuff; I’m hardly a label-dependent consumer, and I’ve never really fully developed an apathy bone, but remember my corn-fed cow freak-out from my first post?  There’s obviously some room for improvement.  It’s understood this section of the book is very much about gaining a more intimate understanding of our food’s life cycle, an appreciation for the alchemy of pastoral farming and setting standards for a food chain which emphasises quality over quantity.  This really set the little businessy portion of my brain to ticking; it’s not enough for me to rest on the laurels of ‘buying right.’  If I want that ideal pastoral farm to be the producer of my food stuffs then I need to take a vested interest in its health and welfare, go out of my way to invest in it and promote it, and ultimately to make it part of the business that is me because the cost-benefit analysis of the alternative already looks grim and is terrifying when plugged into a spreadsheet.  Now I’m wondering about all of the ways one might adopt a farm and am committed to stretching my political muscles a little further.

All that said, I’m really excited for the next section.  It’s all about foods from the forest which is a topic near and dear to my little hunter’s daughter heart.

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eco justice challenge

As is the way of the interwebs, my post regarding The Omnivore’s Dilemma produced a response which lead to an affinity which, in turn, led to a challenge…or something like that. I took the lot of it to the dinner table Thursday night and the mister, the sprogs and myself agreed to rise to the challenge on the basis that there’s always room for improvement. We got over giving ourselves a pat on the back for the things we already have in place and decided to start the challenge with a weekly, one hour blackout (which will be Mondays from 8pmish to 9pmish) and reading/brainstorming session. At 11 & almost 13 I think they’re ready to wrap their minds around the likes of Diet for a Small Planet so I can probe their young, pliable minds for ideas on which steps to take next.

For more information on Emily’s EcoJustice challenge click here.

Wish us luck!

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