Cooking Classes


Pasta alla Norcina

It isn't often that I find a recipe using only ground pork. Usually it is mixed with beef and/or veal. Perhaps that and the simplicity of this recipe attracted me. Orchiette, fondly called little ears, pasta is suggested but I had none. Penne worked fine.

Rather than transcribe the recipe, just go to the source. Click here and you can find it on Cooks Illustrated in resplendent detail.


Stock Tips for the Turkey Carcass

Rather than stow the carcass away in the freezer just put it back into the oven and make the turkey stock right now. There is no time like the present to convert the Christmas turkey carcass into a tasty golden stock for making soups, sauces and stews. There are a myriad of ways to make stock but simply put, a long simmer produces more flavour and a clearer stock. Fat makes it cloudy. 
Start the roasted bones in cold water. As fat rises to the surface skim it off every ten minutes for the first half hour and then every half hour for the next two hours.  Chill the completed stock and scrape off the fat that sets on the surface.
An easy way to get a crystal clear stock is to freeze it first. Then defrost it in a sieve over a bowl in the refrigerator. As it melts a gelatinous blob is formed that strains all impurities. Discard the blob.
Long simmer on the stovetop, in the oven or in a crockpot. A quick stock can be made in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes after full pressure is reached. Allow it to cool naturally.
Stock will keep in the refrigerator up to 6 days or in the freezer up to 6 months. Freeze in resealable plastic bags by laying them flat until frozen and then they can be conveniently stacked in the freezer to save space.
The only safe method to preserve stock by canning is to use a pressure canner. At sea level pints are processed at 10 pounds (5 kg) pressure for 75 minutes and quarts at 10 pounds (5 kg) pressure for 90 minutes. At altitudes over 1,000 feet (305 m) use 15 pounds (7.5 kg) pressure. Stocks preserved by pressure canning have the benefit of a longer simmer time and become very rich and flavourful. After properly cooling and checking that lids have sealed they can keep on the shelf for a year. (Source: National Presto Industries Inc.)

Roasted Turkey Stock
Pull off all the meat and reserve. Place the bones in a roasting pan along with aromatic vegetables. Roasting imparts a more intense and complex flavour. Feeling adventurous? Add a cinnamon stick. This is a tip from a Mennonite friend.
 leftover turkey carcass, including neck, wing and leg bones
4 onions, quartered
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 large celery ribs, cut into chunks
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns 5 mL
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 whole star anise
6 oz. can of tomato paste 200 mL
Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C). Tear turkey carcass into large pieces and arrange in a single layer in a roasting pan. Fit vegetables around the carcass. If they won’t fit around the carcass then roast the vegetables in the same pan after the bones are done. Roast until brown and sizzling, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and transfer everything to a stockpot. Be sure to deglaze the roasting pan with a little water and scrape up all the flavourful brown bits. Add to stockpot.
Add thyme, bay leaves, black peppercorns, star anise and tomato paste to stockpot.
Fill with cold water to cover and place over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer. Simmer for a minimum of 5 hours but better if simmered for 12-24 hours. Skim the fat off the top regularly to prevent clouding of the stock.
Cool and strain through a sieve. Discard all the solid parts. Refrigerate and use within 6 days or freeze up to 6 months. 

Turkey Demi-Glace
Velvety textured demi-glace is typically made from veal bones because they contain the most gelatin. The roasted turkey stock is reduced until it is very thick and then gels with cooling.  With a demi-glace an intense flavour is imparted without excess liquid. If you do not like the flavour of celery it can be omitted when making the stock.
Continue to simmer prepared turkey stock for another 3 or 4 hours. Skim the fat from time to time. The stock will be reduced to a syrupy thickness. Keeps in the refrigerator for 6 days or frozen 6 months.

Second Day Brodo 
Brodo is Italian for broth. This is a long simmered bone broth detoxifying cleanse.  Bone broths are a popular trend and touted to be very healthful. Although there is no definitive research to prove they are a super food they are hydrating, contain collagen that is a protein that may help with bone, joint and skin health and contain vegetable and herb anti-inflammatories. The lighter meal after a period of over indulgence brings your digestion back into balance.
carcass and extra meat from the turkey
8 c. water 2 L
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar 30 mL
1 c. onion, diced 250 mL
1/2 c. carrot, rough chopped into 1/2-inch lengths 125 mL/ 1.2 cm
1/2 c. celery, rough chopped into 1/2-inch lengths 125 mL/ 1.2 cm
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp. salt 15 mL
1/2 c. whole garlic cloves 125 mL
1 tbsp. olive oil 15 mL
fresh ginger
coconut oil
Break the turkey carcass into small pieces and place in a large stockpot with cold water and vinegar. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. During the boiling, a frothy layer will rise to the top. Skim regularly to remove.
Simmer 6 hours over gentle heat. If the level of the water drops below the bones during simmering, add water to bring the level back up.
After 6 hours, add the remaining ingredients and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
Strain through a fine strainer discarding all solids. Return the liquid to the stove. Bring to a moderate boil and cook until the volume has been reduced to 4 cups (1 L). This step will intensify the flavors of the broth.
Then heat oven to 325 F (160 C). Toss garlic in oil and salt and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in oven for 20 minutes until the garlic cloves are lightly browned and softened.
Finish the dish by cutting the peeled, fresh ginger into matchsticks. Use about 12 per serving. Add about 1 teaspoon (5 mL) coconut oil and three cloves of roasted garlic per serving.
Place the ginger, coconut oil and garlic in the bottom of a soup bowl and pour in 6 ounces (200 mL) of the hot brodo. Let the ginger and garlic steep for 2 minutes and serve. (Source: Chef Zeb Stevenson)


My Cooking Classes are Back on the Plate

Please use this link to find the latest details on all my classes.

After a two year hiatus I am starting up my cooking classes again. These are small groups of 12 or fewer. It is more demonstration than hands-on cooking classes. Although there is always a time to get your hands into the action, too.

Am I qualified to teach cooking classes, you ask? I have a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics and Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan. I have been a food and lifestyle columnist for the Western Producer for the past three years. But more importantly, I am a passionate food lover. I have researched and bought everything I can get my hands on and still on a mission to find more.

Expect to be introduced to local products, Saskatchewan products and Canadian food products. We have a bounty of amazing food in this country. Expect to be introduced to cooking methods that may include and not limited to how to use a pressure cooker, making your own spice blends, preserving foods and make-ahead dinner party ideas.

Expect to taste everything that is made. Expect to learn how to source food products whilst living in a small centre. Expect to be presented with food products that are difficult to find locally. Expect to receive all the recipes. Expect to have a lot of fun and meet new people.

Expect the best in quality. Free ranged meats from Cool Springs Ranch or similar are used.

These are tentative ideas and will depend upon availability of foods. There will also be surprises every night. If anyone would like to book the entire evening it can be presented in your home.

All classes to be booked at least 9 days in advance and paid in full. I reserve the right to cancel if enrollment does not cover the cost to present the class. Cost is $50 per person per class. Maximum 12 persons per class unless you have a home large enough to accommodate more.

Bonus - just announcing. Sign up and attend all four classes and receive a 10% discount that will be applied to your last class.

Gift certificates available.

You can make reservations now by email  or  306-773-2890. Book the classes you want and pay for the first one now. Check back often because I am always updating the menus.

Please note a couple of date changes in April due to Easter and World Women's Curling Championships. I overlooked that big weekend. So I pushed it ahead a week and subsequently pushed my April class ahead a week, also.

Disclosure: The exact menu may change due to availability of ingredients. For example, I have just learned that I can get my hands on heirloom Jacob lamb but not until after February 13. I will keep the Persian theme for February 13 but will be changing up the meat so we can enjoy this heritage lamb at a later date. I have a lovely organic free range duck and will use that instead.

Oh my, it is so difficult to finalize menus. Beautiful ingredients arriving weekly in my kitchen. Now I have wild foraged strawberrries, lingonberries and red blackberries coming. A sense of adventure is the best plan.

NEW NEW NEW   I have a pantry menu of items for purchase. Cooking class participants receive a 5 % discount.

Heirloom Jacob lamb coming in May. These are unique ingredients and I cannot just get them exactly when I want them. I am willing to wait. Hope you are. Bonus! The farmers' will join us for this evening.

February 13
A Night Celebrating the Flavours of Persia
Aromatics of saffron, cumin, rosewater. Dried fruits, pomegranates, pistachios and almonds.
Wine choices: pinot noir or semillon

Dolma (stuffed grape leaves), Lamb Stuffed Aubergine, Pickled Grapes

Free Range Organic Duck

Persian Jeweled Rice with Wild Picked SK Lingonberries

Oven Roasted Winter Squash with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette

 Chocolate Pomegranate Torte
Saffron & Honey House Churned Ice Cream with Candied Pistachios

April 2
Celebrating Italy
Wine choice: robust Italian red

Crostini Appetizers
Slow Roasted Cool Springs Pastured Porchetta with Foraged Red Blackberry Jus

Wild Morel Risotto   
SK Steamed Fiddleheads

April 23
Celebrating Mediterranean Cuisine
This is a Vegetarian Menu
Wine Choice: Almost anything will work.

Crudité Appetizers

Middle Eastern Style Platter

Cauliflower Croquets

Honey & Walnut Baklava

May 21
Special Tonight - Meet the Farmers that raised our heritage Jacob lamb. They will have product available for purchase.

Celebrating the Foods of Saskatchewan
Wine choice: robust red

Ribbon Asparagus Salad with Sea Buckthorn Vinaigrette
Heirloom Jacob Leg of Lamb
  Seasonal Vegetables en Papillote
Saskatchewan Orchard Berries Desserts


Classic Chanterelle and Shallot Quiche

Chanterelles have a sweet smokiness about them. They are strongly flavoured and a few go a long way. Good thing because they are dear. The best of all chanterelles come from the boreal forests of northern Saskatchewan.

They are small and rich in flavour because of the dry season punctuated by a few rainy spells that accelerate their growth. They grow on a bed of moss that enables them to be almost clean. They are favoured by chefs for these reasons.

I had a most intriguing summer of fine foods. I prescribed to a monthly basket of foraged foods from the boreal forests of Saskatchewan. I had mushrooms galore. Fresh exotic mushrooms.

Julia Child's recipes are not to be fiddled with. This is her classic mushroom quiche.

Quiche aux Champignons   from  Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

2 tbsp. minced shallots
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 c. sliced wild mushrooms
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon juice
3 eggs
 1 1/2 c. whipping cream
pinch nutmeg
1/8 tsp. pepper
An 8 inch partially cooked pastry shell
1/4 c. grated Swiss chese
1 tbsp. butter

Cook the shallots in a heavy bottomed saucepan with the butter until transparent. Stir in mushrooms, salt, lemon juice and wine. Cover pan and cook over moderately low heat for 8 minutes. Uncover. Raise heat and boil for several minutes until liquid is completely evaporated and mushrooms are beginning to brown in the butter.

Beat eggs, cream, nutmeg and pepper in a bowl to mix. Gradually stir mushrooms into this mixture. Pour into pastry shell and sprinkle with cheese. Dot with butter and bake for 25 to 30 minutes in a preheated 375 F oven.


Damn Fine Gluten-Free Crisps

I came by this recipe on David Lebovitz' blog Living the Sweet Life in Paris. David has written a few highly acclaimed sweets cookbooks, hence the title of his blog. This is a recipe he pocketed from a baker friend in San Francisco who also wrote a book entitled Josey Baker Bread. And his surname actually is Baker.

I followed the recipe to a T. It was okay straight from the oven. Then I froze it slightly to enable getting nice thin slices. Second day it was too wet. I decided to take all these too-wet thin slices of bread and slow bake them at 325 F until they began to turn brown on the edges. That took about 20 minutes or so.

The result is a crispy flavourful crisp ideal to serve with a soft unripened cheese. I love them but one has to be careful. They are packed with seeds and nuts and ... calories. Hop on over to David's blog for the recipe. I used hazelnuts rather than almonds because that is what I had on hand. Dee-lish-us!


Barbecue Duck Fried Rice

Back a few years ago it was all the rage to take a supermarket roasted chicken and find a multitude of ways to turn it into a tasty meal. I don't know who came up with that idea but how can you make a tasteless, over-salted bird into something you actually want to serve to guests.

I say, move over supermarket roast chicken, and instead head right down to Chinatown. I haven't had a barbecue duck that wasn't absolutely delicious. With its crispy skin and five spice flavours it is one of my favourite meats to pick up when I am in the city.

Of course, you can make a meal of it but for a change and to make it stretch a little farther try this easy fried rice. It's simple with only a few ingredients and can be a meal in itself.

If the skin loses its crispness just put the meat, skin side down, in a cast iron skillet or wok and re-crisp. Leave the fat in the pan and use it in the stir fry. Be sure to make the rice ahead of time so it can cool. Warm rice does not brown in the pan.

Barbecue Duck Fried Rice

1 Chinese style barbecue duck
3 teaspoons sesame oil
2 eggs, beaten
6 green onions, shredded
1 cup snow peas, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 orange, segmented
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 cups cooked and cooled Jasmine rice
1 tablespoon light soy sauce

Remove the duck meat from the bones keeping the skin in tact. Save the bones to make stock.

Using a wok or cast iron skillet re-crisp the duck skin, if necessary. Set aside. If you are not crisping the skin put the duck meat in a pan to heat it before adding to the fried rice.

Add sesame oil to pan and heat until almost smoking. Pour the beaten eggs into the skillet or wok and move it around so it coats the bottom. Cook only until done making a very thin omelet. When fully cooked remove it to a cutting board and cut into thin strips. Set aside.

Stir fry green onions, snow peas and garlic for one minute. Add cold rice and heat through. Add chopped omelet, orange segments and zest. Stir fry for one minute. Add soy sauce and duck meat.  Serve immediately.


Community Supported Foraging is not for the Faint of Heart

Boreal Pestle    Clavariadelphus borealis
Every month this summer I received a box of foraged foods. August was particularly heavy with wild mushrooms. Some varieties were new to me. These are all from the boreal forests of Saskatchewan.

The boreal pestle had a sweetness to them. They didn't appeal to me so I dried them and will make a tea this winter. It will be a slightly sweet tea rich in protein and nutrients.

I understand where my food comes from and how it doesn't look like it came from a grocery store. However, I am still squeamish about worms. Some mushrooms are more loved than others by these little white worms or perhaps they are maggots. Elisabeth, my forager, said I should just dry them. "You would be surprised how much protein is in dried mushrooms." That is certainly food for thought. Well, I didn't think on it very long. Into the composter they went. Can't stomach little white worms.

The little white worms had a mind of their own, if that makes any sense at all. I have a composting pail in my kitchen. The morning after putting the wormy mushrooms into the pail, with a lid that simply sits upon it, they had attempted their escape. Little white worms laid dead and dried in a radius around my pail. I cannot imagine the energy expended to crawl up and out and down onto the countertop. A very quick wipe with a wet dishcloth was necessary and done with an attempt not to think about it too much.

Pig's Ear Gomphus clavatus
The Pig's Ear are richly flavourful. I sauteed them and put them in the freezer. I had such a variety of mushrooms that I couldn't possibly eat them all fresh.
Bellybutton Hedgehog  Dentinum repandum
These bellybuttons sauteed nicely. Very versatile.
Comb Tooth  Hericium ramosum
Combtooth was another mushroom that I dried. Not quite sure yet how I will use it. Perhaps a tea or in a ragout.


Rainbow of Beets and Chevre Salad

Lovely heirloom beets grilled over charcoal. Cool a bit and peel. Roughly chop. Arrange on a plate. Garnish with chevre and edible flowers. Drizzle with camelina oil and a little bit of balsamic vinegar or birch syrup. Shower with coarse sea salt. Serve.


Making Tomato Powder at Home

I have had a busy summer and now ready to share what I have been up to. I have been intrigued with tomato powder and decided it was time to attempt to make some. These two bottles represent the dried tomato skins from about 20 pounds. You can imagine how the flavour is condensed.

My plan is to use this flavour rich tomato powder in soups and stews to add flavour. I plan to make fresh pasta that will have this added. That should offer me a red coloured pasta with flavour. Won't that be fun!

I peeled 20 pounds of roma tomatoes for salsa making and decided to use these skins for tomato powder.
I laid out the tomato skins on racks to dry. They took so much time. Much more time that I imagined. The skins would stick together and every day I would toss them up to separate. After about 10 days I thought they were ready for grinding.

I did grind them in my Vitamix but the mixture still had moisture. I laid out this first grind on a baking sheet and dried it again. This time for 3 or 4 days. Then I put it back in my blender and the result was exactly as I had hoped. It was fine and dry. It was ready to bottle and save.


Farmers' Market Vendor Trivia by the Numbers

For anyone who watches Dragon's Den or Shark Tank you know how obsessed Kevin O'Leary is with SKU's, Stock Keeping Unit numbers. If you have only one SKU to sell you are less likely to have your product placed in a big store chain.

Today out of interest I thought I would count how many SKU's I purchase to fit out my farmers' market menu.

Keep in mind that these numbers DO NOT include such items as my printer and ink cartridges, housecleaning, travel to purchase ingredients and arrive at the market, my cooking utensils and baking sheets, my bread oven and commercial mixer, the tubs to hold bread dough or all my measuring utensils and spatulas. This does not include any display items and tablecloths, paper and signage. No handwipes. No miscellaneous baking ingredients. This is my basic 'go to' that I need week in and week out.

And by the way, our market this season is a total of 16 weeks.

Here it is.

Packaging - 21
This includes all final packaging, labelling, securing, coverings and support for the food.

Flavours - 18
Here I have to list them. I am so thrilled to have such diversity and most are natural, organic and local. Saffron, rose petals, almond, vanilla, saskatoon, peach, BC and sour cherry, white chocolate, cinnamon, rhubarb, strawberry, honey, herbs & spices, garlic, tomato, raspberry and passion fruit.

Flours and baking -31
This includes my 10 varieties of flours, mostly organic and local. It includes additions to my breads such as local organic lentils, cracked grains and Canadian sea salt.

If my adding is correct that amounts to 70 SKU's or ordering and purchasing 70 unique products for my one little market table. Maintaining my stock and not over purchasing is integral. Failure in both reduces my profit.

So perhaps now you understand better why, although I do appreciate and consider all suggestions, there are very few I can act upon. Changes to my menu, such as adding gluten-free selections, creates a proportionate number of new products that I must keep in stock. Maintaining stock impacts my bottom line.


Preserving the Harvest for a Brighter Winter Season

I have been eating pretty high on the hog since I picked up my CSA box from Meadowlark Farms and a CSF (Community Supported Foraging) box from Prairie Infusions.

A rainbow of beets, carrots and beans deserve more than to be devoured hungrily. As much as I know I would enjoy that I want to partake of their beauty for a bit longer. Preserving the bounty has been my agenda these past few days.

I have been learning how to use fermentation as a preservation method. My lovely red, yellow and orange carrots are in a sea salt brine. I have added fresh ginger to one jar and a Thai chili in the other. Did you know that you can add carrot tops for added complexity and flavour?

Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gatherer Cook fame is my reliable source of recipes using wild and foraged foods. I made his pickled chanterelles. I can hardly wait to open this jar. I look forward to fishing out the mushrooms and anointing them with camelina oil to serve with a charcuterie platter or salad.

Once you have a brine figured out you can pretty well ferment any vegetable. I have a giardiniera going in my gallon crock. I put together a medley of yellow beans, onions, zucchini, green tomatoes, carrots and hot and sweet peppers.

Pickled Chanterelle Mushrooms   from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

I followed this recipe to a T. Dry saute chanterelles first. Clean and put them into a hot dry frying pan. Small mushrooms whole and larger ones cut into large pieces.

1 lb. chanterelles
2 c. white wine vinegar
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. sugar
2 tbsp. sea salt
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. black peppercorns

Clean mushrooms and cut into pieces, if necessary.

Dry saute in a large pan. When they give up their water sprinkle with one tablespoon of salt and the thyme. Add remainder of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and simmer for five minutes. Turn off heat.

Remove mushrooms with a slotted spoon and pack into jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Be sure each jar has a bay leaf and some peppercorns.

Add cooking liquid to cover the mushrooms. Wipe rims of jars and seal. Process in boiling water bath for 20 minute

Fermented Giardiniera

2 c. thinly sliced carrots
2 c. sliced red bell peppers
1 1/2 c. thinly sliced onions
3 c. coarsely chopped zucchini
a few thickly sliced green roma tomatoes
3 peeled and sliced garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
sprig of fresh thyme
3 tbsp. unrefined salt such as kosher or sea salt
6 c. filtered water

Prepare brine by dissolving the salt in water.
Mix all the ingredients except the brine in a large crock or jar.
Fill jar with the brine, leaving 1½ -2 inches of headroom—the space at the top, between the rim of the jar and the top of the vegetables. Weight the vegetables so they are completely submerged in the brine.
Cover the top of the vessel with a lid, coffee filter, paper towel, cheese cloth, or tea towel to keep bugs out.
Be sure to secure towels with a very tight rubber band or the ring from the canning jars. 
Place the jar out of direct light.
Ferment at room temperature 4 days before checking the flavor. If you prefer the flavor more sour, continue fermenting. Any foam that accumulates on the top of the brine can be skimmed off.
Transfer the jars to the refrigerator when the flavour is to your taste. 


In Case You Have Missed Me

My blogging has all been put aside by the farmers' market. It is crazy busy keeping up with the schedule. I promise to get back soon and share some great food.
Mixed berry hand pies

Multigrain bread with sprouted lentils proofing.

Pumpernickel ready to come out of the oven.


Wild Foraged Morels and Bacon Marmalade

June was morel season in the boreal forests of Saskatchewan. My forager friend, Elisabeth sends a box of her best once a month. This time I had an insane amount of wild picked burn morels. This recipe nicely took care of them.  To say this is addictive is an understatement. I kept a tub of it in the refrigerator for random snacking. 
Morel and Bacon Marmalade
Wild picked morels will have some grit if not washed before use. But be careful not to soak them. Wash quickly in two changes of water and use immediately.
8 oz. fresh morel mushrooms 250 g
4 slices bacon or pancetta
5 tbsp. butter, divided 75 mL
fresh thyme
1/2 c. beef, veal or mushroom stock 125 mL
1 c. carrots, diced 250 mL
1 c. shallots, diced 250 mL
1/2 c. Marsala or red port wine 125 mL
1/4 c. red wine vinegar 60 mL
1 tbsp. brown sugar 15 mL
1 tsp. black pepper 5 mL
kosher or sea salt to taste
Cook bacon until lightly crisp. Remove and add morels, two tablespoons (30 mL) butter and a pinch of salt to the pan. Cook mushrooms until soft, have released all their water and are nicely browned. Add stock and two sprigs of thyme. Simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated but the mushrooms are still moist. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside. Discard thyme.
Add three tablespoons (45 mL) of butter. Saute shallots and carrots with a pinch of salt until softened, about eight minutes. Add sugar, vinegar, pepper and wine. Cook over medium heat until the liquid is reduced to a very small amount. Scrape up all the bits on the bottom of the pan
Chop mushrooms and bacon and add to sauce. Reduce further if necessary. You want it to be moist but not runny. Taste to adjust salt and pepper. It should taste peppery.
Serve warm with toasted thinly sliced baguette. Garnish with Labrador Tea.


Foraged Dandelion Green Salad

As I continue  on with my foraging recipe spree we find ourselves with dandelion greens. Yes, you can go out to your front lawn and pick them but more likely than not they will be tough and bitter. Take the time to go to a forest or coulee in early summer for some nice tender greens. The bitterness is offset with the vinegars. And bacon can make anything fit for the dining room table.

Dandelion Green Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
4 c. dandelion greens 1 L
4 slices bacon
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar 30 mL
1 1/2 tbsp. cider vinegar 22 mL
1 tsp. grainy mustard 5 mL
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
Cook bacon in a heavy skillet until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.
Discard all but about two tablespoons of bacon fat.
Add vinegars and mustard to the hot skillet and scrape up all the tasty brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. This dressing is now ready to use.
Toss the dandelion greens with the warm bacon vinaigrette and arrange in a bowl or on a platter. Top with quartered boiled eggs and crumbled bacon. Serve immediately.


Labrador Tea, Morels and Bacon

Foraging is hot at the moment. I live in a semi-arid region and the pickings are slim. To compensate I have ordered a Community Supported Foraging box from northern Saskatchewan. It arrives monthly and is better than Christmas. I feel so spoiled.

This month the box contained an inordinate amount of burn morels. I splurged with this recipe for morel and bacon jam.

I am compelled to give a plug to my professional forager. I haven't met Elisabeth in person but I feel we are kindred souls. One day I will make the trek north and visit. You can find all her products on her website Prairie Infusions. She ships these delicacies all over North America. Give her a call.

However, if you are interested in foraging take the time to learn how to do it properly.

Learn the Latin name of plants rather than using common names. Common names vary from region to region. Learn habitat and companion plants. Where do you expect to find berries? What plants tend to grow in proximity to each other?
Plants can be picked throughout the year. Learn what is available in each season. Learn which parts of the plant are safe to eat and when to harvest. For example, stinging nettle should not be eaten after it has gone to seed.
Responsible foraging should be top of mind. Do not pick more than 10% even in a large patch. And definitely do not pick what you won’t use. Harvest only the part of the plant you intend to use. A guide is to only harvest 25% of the plant unless of course you are intending to use the root, such as cattails or wild onions.
Be aware of endangered plants, such as ramps. Ramps are illegal to pick in the wild due to diminishing numbers caused by over-harvesting.
Safety is another important concern. When harvesting water plants be aware of the source of the water. Any toxins in the water will be in the plant. Cattails in a slough may be contaminated with farm chemicals. Or plants in ditches may be contaminated with road maintenance products and automobile exhaust. 

Morel and Bacon Marmalade
Wild picked morels will have some grit if not washed before use. But be careful not to soak them. Wash quickly in two changes of water and use immediately.
8 oz. fresh morel mushrooms 250 g
4 slices bacon or pancetta
5 tbsp. butter, divided 75 mL
fresh thyme
1/2 c. beef, veal or mushroom stock 125 mL
1 c. carrots, diced 250 mL
1 c. shallots, diced 250 mL
1/2 c. Marsala or red port wine 125 mL
1/4 c. red wine vinegar 60 mL
1 tbsp. brown sugar 15 mL
1 tsp. black pepper 5 mL
kosher or sea salt to taste
Cook bacon until lightly crisp. Remove and add morels, two tablespoons (30 mL) butter and a pinch of salt to the pan. Cook mushrooms until soft, have released all their water and are nicely browned. Add stock and two sprigs of thyme. Simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated but the mushrooms are still moist. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside. Discard thyme.
Add three tablespoons (45 mL) of butter. Saute shallots and carrots with a pinch of salt until softened, about eight minutes. Add sugar, vinegar, pepper and wine. Cook over medium heat until the liquid is reduced to a very small amount. Scrape up all the bits on the bottom of the pan
Chop mushrooms and bacon and add to sauce. Reduce further if necessary. You want it to be moist but not runny. Taste to adjust salt and pepper. It should taste peppery.
Serve warm with toasted thinly sliced baguette. Garnish with Labrador Tea.


Food Photography Motivates Me

Every now and again procrastination creeps in. I have an article due but just can't begin. This time my excuse was somewhat legit. I was waiting on my foraged food box from northern Saskatchewan. Then life gets in the way and it was down to the wire. I had one day to phtograph four or five recipes. Only daylight will suffice.
Cooking is the first step. Then comes plating and shot after shot until I am happy with an image.
Extra plates and bowls are helpful in carefully plating for the photo. A few extra slices of bread, just to be sure. Lots of dishes to do.

Playing with the right plate, the right background, the right light, the right props. All these dishes for a simple picture of bacon morel crostini.
All this just to get the right photo.


Lake Diefenbaker Steelhead Trout baked on a Plank

Last week I prepared a meal for 35 people. To say I was feeling a bit of pressure is to state the obvious. Guest of honour was dee Hobsbawn-Smith. I have followed dee since we both lived in Calgary. I clipped her columns from the Calgary Herald. And I enjoyed food at her restaurant Foodsmith back in the early 1990's.

Today she lives west of Saskatoon on the family farm and I live in Swift Current, SK. Pure coincidence that we both moved back around the same time. The only difference is that dee didn't know me from a hole in the ground. Meanwhile, I am stalking her and knowing she moved to the province I didn't exactly know where.

She is an artist, an artist with words and food, and it fitted that she may have chosen Eastend. I also checked out that ranching area.

Fast forward and serendipity has brought us together. Dee is the Saskatoon convivium leader for Slow Food. After inviting her to speak in my town about Slow Food I drove to Saskatoon and volunteered at their annual Slow Food fundraiser dining experience.

I would have thought I might have been nervous and shy but dee has a gentle and kind manner about her. She makes one feel comfortable and is genuinely interested in you.

So back to the dinner for 35. On the Wednesday before her Sunday reading here in town we had only four people signed up. I considered cancelling or at least moving it to my dining room table. Within two days 35 people signed up for a locavore Slow Food style meal.

This steelhead is one of the dishes I made for that dinner. Lucky me, my Community Supported Foraging box had just arrived from northern Saskatchewan and I had some splendid wild foraged ingredients.

Planked Steelhead Trout

spruce tips
camelina oil
baby rhubarb
sea salt
spruce tip syrup
cedar or alder plank
side of steelhead trout, skin on

Make a simple syrup by boiling one cup of water with one cup of sugar. Add 1/4 cup of spruce tips and continue to simmer until the syrup thickens. Cool and strain.

Finely chop a tablespoon of young spruce tips. Finely chop red baby rhubarb. Add both to the syrup.

Preheat plank in a 475 F oven until you can smell the wood. Rub with oil. Lay a side of trout on the hot board, skin side down. Rub the fish with oil and the syrup mixture. Place in the hot oven and bake for about ten minutes, or done.


A Drive in the Country - Grasslands National Park

On top of 70 Mile Butte. This is more than an historical landmark to anyone who makes the journey.

The evening primrose has a heavenly scent.

This is an authentic dinosaur bone that lays exposed and untouched. Why? That's what I love about Canada. Respect.


Quicksand is just as we have learned. No way I would step beyond that sign. No way.

The East Block is so very different from the West Block. No buffalo. No prairie dogs.