Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A year of food by the season - spring garden 2009

The snow has melted off of the raised beds and I have a great surprise!! The Siberian kale over-wintered and is growing. Some sprigs are even 5-10 cm. The turnips that froze in the ground before I could finish picking them are still there. Not sure if they will be good eating or not. Soups or stews? And, the 7 top mustard greens are coming in too. I am really surprised after the cold and treacherous winter we had. You will have to come back to my blog to see what kind of first garden recipe comes out of this!

For many years I have been exploring and cooking from the farms and food producers in and around North Bay and the Almaguin Highlands region of northern Ontario. I have been inspired by spring chives and asparagus, summer's sweet strawberries, and fall's crisp apples and winter squash. I have met a lot of colourful personalities as I tasted and searched out local foods.

Did you know that AgOn says there are only 282 farms left in northeastern Ontario? I think we need to work harder to support local agriculture and stop this trend. The garlic many of you bought in the supermarket last winter was from China and it wasn't very good - papery and lacking the intense, sticky oil of Ontario garlic. I hope it leads you to question how foreign produce is raised and if there are other more pleasing options? I bought organic Ontario garlic last fall (about 75 heads) and hung them in my basement in bags the air could flow through (aerated? like onion bags). They did great and tasted wonderful and I still have some left.

In 2009 I will continue to teach people how to buy and prepare local and organic produce and meats. My menus feature local foods and change throughout the season. There is always dessert but they are healthy and contain real food. I provide a lot of ethnic cooking workshops as they add variety and interest to meals and allow people to use more vegetables, grains and legumes with less meat and fat. Try Indian, Italian, Mexican and even Peruvian cooking.

Every year I do more wild crafting or collecting edible fruits, vegetables and herbs from the wild. You have to love free food! Last year one of my students from Canadore College's food and nutrition management program, Julie Dudgeon, pressed a lot of choke cherry and high bush cranberry juices for the freezer. I used it in punches and in dessert sauces over the winter. Very flexible and good for us as we don't eat a lot of jam or jelly.

I will also be interviewing some of our food heroes and hope to share some of their collecting, growing, gardening and cooking tips! And, most of all, I am interested in your comments. Do you have a good place to buy a local food product you want to tell people about? A certain recipe you need or want to share?

Please tell your friends about Chapman's Landing Cooking Studio and my blog. We continue to expand our classes and have a steady stream of traffic coming our way. See you in 2009!


Caryn Colman said...

Hi Nancy. Nice work! Even though you're one hour south of us, we still have lots of snow in Temagami. I'll be out for a ski today. But I can't wait to see if my Siberian kale has survived.
Touche on the Chinese garlic. We have lots of good growers up north. Do you know Wayne Davey, garlic king of Northern Ontario?
Bye for now, Caryn Colman
p.s. I'm looking for a sous chef this summer. Do you have any leads?

Guppy Gourmet said...

Hi Caryn, thanks for coming to my blog. Always nice to speak to our neighbourly fellow foodies. My Siberian Kale became evident last week so soon for Temagami! I ate a 7 top turnip last week and it was crunchy still and I cooked it in a stew and quality was good. If I remember correctly they are called 7 top as you can eat the tops 7 times before the root is ready to harvest.

No, I don't know Wayne Davey so it would be great if you could leave a post to tell us a bit more about him and how to get in touch.

I can pass the word around at Canadore that you have a job opening for a sous chef this summer. Maybe you can send me something to post?

Thanks again.

Guppy Gourmet said...

Following comment was posted for Vicki Schlosser, Schlosser Farm near Powassan, Ontario.

I wanted to comment on the Chinese garlic...I try to stay away from Chinese and Mexican produce, they don’t have the same limitations with regards to chemicals. I’m a little fussy, have to admit.

Eva Couchie (Guppy) said...

Good job on your site Nancy. I loved the idea of using the slow cooker instead of the oven to make the granola.
Another idea on the frozen berries is to take the rose hips (after the first frost, boil them until they are soft, use one of those apple sauce makers to extract the seeds, then freeze the puree into a ice cube trays. Add a couple of cubes of rose hip puree to your jug of orange juice. Apparently, 4 rose hips have as much vitamin C as a dozen oranges, so it adds lots of natural vitamin C to the orange juice.

Guppy Gourmet said...

That is a really great suggestion Eva. I will try it. I am not much on rose hip tea so I always wondered what to do with them. A lot of wild roses around these parts.