Cooking Classes


36 Hours in Swift Current - 2016 Ford World Women's Curling Championships

South Saskatchewan River Valley at dusk. Photo credit Sherri Grant, Val Marie, SK

In less than 3 weeks the eyes of the curling world will be trained on my small city in the prairieland of Saskatchewan. Teams, or rinks as they are called in this sport, will arrive from 11 countries. The town will be awash in visitors and this guide is for those who want to take some time away from the rink. Yes, rink is the word for the team and also the word for the arena where the game is played. Confused yet? Put on your slider and hurry hard as I take you with me for the next day and a half.
Ice on pond on a sunny day. Photo credit Sarah Galvin.
The cutbanks on Swift Current Creek on the south side of town. Photo credit Sarah Galvin.
Saturday, March 19
9:00 am
Rather than having a cuppa at the obvious choices of Urban Ground or Starbucks opt to join coffee row at the downtown Timmy's (Tim Hortons). Retired farmers and business men alike gather to shoot the breeze. Eavesdrop all you want. They won't care. And with any luck you can have a prairie specialty with your coffee, butter tarts.

Photo credit Sarah Galvin.

 10:00 am 
When I pulled into this dusty prairie town I was drawn in by the remnants of history. The Court House, Lyric Theatre and several other buildings gave this city a sense of place and time. It aroused my interest. Swift Current is no different than so many old Canadian cities and towns. Many historical gems have been razed. The Swift Current Museum has created walking and driving tours of historical Swift Current that help you to envision its previous glory.

The Healy Hotel immediately created a stir when I put out the word I was looking for little known facts about our town. Jacki MacDonald shared a little known bit of history. Her sister's first husband said when he was tagging along with his older brothers they found tunnels by the train tracks. The Healy is known for having more than one outlaw as a patron. Located a mere two blocks from the train station made it an ideal hideout. Even Al Capone spent time here during the Prohibition. Rumour has it these are long forgotten tunnels were used by gangsters. Swift Current has a convenient location close to the US border. The Soo Line Railway ran through here from the States providing access for those hiding from the law. The hotel was demolished only in 1989. 

From the words of the University of Alberta Library "The Healy Hotel stood at the corner of Cheadle and 1 Ave NE. confirmed reports of a tunnel leading from the railway station to the hotel to allow for safe dispatch".
Photo credit University of Alberta Libraries. Opened 1914.
The Lyric Theatre. Built 1912.
First United Church. Construction began in 1912.
Swift Current Court House. Completed in 1916.

Visit the current installation at the Art Gallery of Swift Current. Seeking Tranquility by Maple Creek photographer Al Hartley. It can be found at 411 Herbert St. E. in the downtown.
Photo credit Al Hartley

12:00 pm 
Still downtown? Stop for lunch at a local favourite Pizza sTOP

1:30 pm
Time to stretch your legs and get out of town. There are a number of Hutterite Colonies nearby. Go for a visit but call first. They are very busy. Don't call on a Sunday though.
Nothing better than Hutterite buns. They will be served at the Opening Banquet for the Games. Photo credit Sarah Galvin.
3:00 pm  
While you are driving north on Highway #4 look out for the Lonely Tree. Honk and make a wish. This is only 6 km north of the city. If you decide to drive out at night time, say around 10pm or later you might be lucky enough to see the Aurora Borealis, 'The Northern Lights'.
Lone Tree. Photo credit Prairie Fire Photography by Craig Hilts.

Drive a little farther to Lake Diefenbaker and Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park. The park is closed in the winter but driving down into the valley is simply breathtaking. You will most likely find people ice fishing on the lake.

5:00 pm 
Before dinner visit Black Bridge Brewery. Stop by to sample the beers and to purchase your growlers for take out!
The tasting room at Black Bridge Brewery. Photo credit Black Bridge Brewery
6:00 pm 
It's an early dinner tonight so we can catch a live concert later. There are so many choices and many of them Greek! I would opt for The Akropol Lounge Next Door. Not only do I love the name and the lounge is upscale but John Gannitsos is the world's best host. Ask for the Greek special. Plus he feeds every musician who comes to perform at the Lyric.

8:00 pm 
The Lyric Theatre was opened in 1912 and built at a cost of $50,000. It is one of the oldest running theatres in the province. It is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar refurbishment. Tonight they are presenting the talented  Jason Plumb, Danny Olliver, Megan Nash
There will be a display of photographs at the Lyric by members of Image West Photographic Association. More of their works are on display at the Art Gallery of Swift Current. These are a part of the Saskatchewan Prairie Light Photography Festival 2016

Jason Plumb. Photo credit Jason Plumb.

Upper level of The Lyric under renovation. Photo credit The Lyric Theatre.
Still not ready for bed? Drop by the Living Sky Casino and feed some slots.
 Photo credit Living Sky Casino.

Sunday, March 20

10:30 am
Parts of southern Saskatchewan are referred to as the Bible Belt. There could not be a better description for the Swift Current area. There are more churches than people, almost. You can find several Christian denominations including Greek and Ukrainian Orthodox. There is also a mosque but no synagogue or Hindu temple, to my knowledge.

Ukranian Orthodox Church. Photo credit Sarah Galvin.

11:30 am
Brunch time. Downtown check out the menu at Sinano Greek Resto or take in the brunch buffet at the Living Sky Casino.

Go skating. We have had a very mild winter so far and the outdoor skating rinks are not ready. Check out the ice at Fairview Arena. Located at 101 Hayes Drive. Or Northhill Indoor Ice at 4 Avenue NE & Ashford St.
Photo credit Sarah Galvin.
Photo credit Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame
Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame in the I-Plex where the curling events are taking place.

How to get here -

Fly into the Regina International Airport and rent a car. Drive 2 1/2 hours west from Regina on the Trans Canada Highway. 

Arrive by Greyhound Bus or STC (Saskatchewan Transit System). 

There is an airport to accommodate small private jets and planes. This is a century airport and trained pilots for World War II. In September the world famous Snowbirds of the RCAF will present an airshow.

Where to stay -
The hotels and motels are on the highway. Home Suites Inn, Holiday Inn, Best Western and Green Hectares Bed & Breakfast are a few choices.

And if you return to venture outside the city there is a world to explore.
Great Sandhills Park. All photos Sarah Galvin

Summer storm looming south of Swift Current.

Murraydale Rodeo, oldest in western Canada.

Great Sandhills Park.

Avonlea Badlands.

Driving up to the bench near Cypress Hills.

Dinosaur bone exposed in East Block of Grasslands National Park.


Taco Perogies

This is a hit with the younger crowd. I made it with a group of middle school students and they loved it so much some were going home and making it for the family.

This is fusion cooking like no other, Ukranian and Mexican, in one easy to make casserole. Supper is on the table in less than an hour. And do make the taco seasoning mix. You will never buy the packaged stuff again.

Just add a crisp green salad and dinner is ready.

Taco Perogy Casserole
Purchased or thick dough perogies work best in this recipe. Thin dough perogies may break apart.
1 35 oz. package of bacon flavoured perogies 1 kg
1 lb. lean ground beef 500 g
1 onion, finely diced
1 green or red pepper, chopped
2 tbsp. taco seasoning (recipe follows) 30 mL
1/2 c. beef stock 125 mL
1/2 c. sour cream 125 mL
2 – 3 ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 c. cheddar cheese, grated 250 mL
2 green onions, cut on the bias
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook perogies until warmed through. Drain and set aside.
While the perogies are cooking brown ground beef in a large pan that has been lightly oiled. After meat begins to brown add onions and peppers and cook until the beef is completely cooked. Stir in taco seasoning.  Add beef stock and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and tomatoes.
Assemble by lightly oiling a 9 inch x 9 inch (22 cm x 22 cm) baking dish. Put half of the perogies on the bottom and top with half of the beef mixture. Top with half of the grated cheese. Repeat with another layer of perogies, ground beef and grated cheese.
Broil until cheese melts. Garnish with green onions and serve.
Taco Seasoning
A well stocked spice cabinet does not require any seasoning mixes.
2 tbsp. chili powder 30 mL
1/2 tsp. garlic powder 2 mL
1/2 tsp. onion powder 2 mL
1/4 tsp. cayenne 1 mL
1/2 tsp. oregano 2 mL
1 tsp. paprika 5 mL
1 tbsp. ground cumin 15 mL
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. flour 30 mL
Mix thoroughly and store in a container with a tight fitting lid.


Wollaston Lake Pickerel

I grew up a stubble jumper in southeastern Saskatchewan. My father and his brothers loved fishing. In fact my uncle Wib, short for Wilbert, and also called Doc, because he was the only dentist for a hundred mile radius was the epitome of a fisherman.

I don't know for a fact but I can imagine he was in the boat daily from ice break up to freeze up. Every day, except for those days he drove the 800 km one way trip every second week all summer long for the pure joy of fishing in the crystal clear lakes of northern Saskatchewan.

A couple of days ago I did the drive but only two hours to pick up Diefenbaker Lake steelhead trout. It is a two drive over secondary highways from Swift Current to the shore of Diefenbaker Lake near a village by the name of Lucky Lake. There must be a story in that name.

Twyla at Wild West Steelhead Trout farm welcomed us with opened arms and a hearty laugh. One can feel her passion for fish. How else could I say that? I mean raising fish, harvesting fish and selling fish is her life. And she is good at it.

In addition to her full time job at the steelhead farm she helped a group get their fishing business off the ground at Wollaston Lake. I know that lake from the numerous fishing trips of my father and uncle. It is in the pristine boreal forest of the Canadian Shield. Pickerel is the premium white fleshed catch. Sweet and mild. Begging to be bathed in butter and slowly sauteed in a cast iron pan. Twyla just happened to have a few fresh five and ten pound boxes of pickerel fillets.

Simply seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. And that is exactly how I prepared it tonight.


Calendar of Cooking Classes with Sarah

Flavour 101

 I am often asked how to use spice and herbs. How can I make my meat and potatoes dinner more flavourful. What is umami?

Five years ago I arrived in Swift Current already a full fledged foodie. But little did I realize that my journey had only just begun. In the ensuing years I have done nothing but make good food. And I am still learning so much every day.

This cooking class is all about adding flavour to food. Spices and herbs are only one ingredient. The fat you choose, the stock you select, the vegetables and perhaps meats all work together to create a party in your mouth. Then learn how to add edible essential oils and custom bitters to really take your food to the next level.

Join me for an evening of exploring all these components to a wonderful dish. It is a lecture style class with food tasting.

Only $25 per person. March 8.  6:30pm.  Location to be announced.
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. Send payment to 1149 Bothwell Dr, S9H 1Z8 or e-transfer to

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.

Basic Knife Skills & Sharpening

There will be a brief demonstration on basic knife skills. How to purchase a knife. How to care for a knife. Then we will use stones to sharpen knives. Feel free to bring any non-serrated, non-dimpled knives and try sharpening them on the stone.

$25 per person. April 12 at 6:30 pm.
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. Mail a cheque to 1149 Bothwell Drive, S9H 1Z8 or an e-transfer to

Kids' Cooking Camp - Easter Break
Maximum of 6 children for this hands on intensive cooking experience. We will be baking and cooking my creations and theirs. Click here to see previous cooking camp experiences.
March 29, 30, 31 from 9:30am - 1:30pm. $100 per child. Ages 7 - 11.

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. Send payment to 1149 Bothwell Dr, S9H 1Z8 or e-transfer to

Dinner Club Series - all begin at 5:30pm

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)

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 Berry Jus

Wild Mushroom Risotto
Baked Fennel with Parmesan
Cream Cheese Crostata with Orange Marmalade

April 23
Celebrating Mediterranean Cuisine
This is a Vegetarian Menu 

(would anyone mind if we poach a side of steelhead trout, please let me know)

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


The Lazy Cook's Hasselback Potatoes

Hasselback potatoes have been making their rounds on the foodie blogs and recipe websites. They originate from a restaurant that opened in 1748 in Hasselbacken, Sweden.  In the 1940's this restaurant introduced a crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside potato to their menu.

Usually a whole baking potato is laid on its side and then thinly sliced leaving about a quarter of an inch at the base unsliced. This holds the whole potato together. Then a buttery herbed mixture is slathered all over it and in between all the slices.

We swoon over the crispy edges and tender centres but the downside for me is that I can't eat a whole potato. And I don't like making those thin slices and fear for slipping and cutting right through.

This lazy cooks method is so easy. My potatoes are from the cold room and need to be peeled. Otherwise I would skip that step and go straight to slicing. A mandoline makes slicing failproof. Slice up the potatoes and slather in herby oil. You are good to go.

You will notice that I am using vintage muffin tins. These darker tins are better because, of course, they are well seasoned. Food doesn't stick so easily. But also because they are darker the food in them browns better.

Lazy Cook's Hasselback Potatoes

3-4 medium sized potatoes
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, roasted and pureed
1 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375F.

Mix melted butter, olive oil and seasonings in a medium sized bowl.

Wash and peel potatoes. New potatoes or ones with relatively fresh skins do not need to be peeled. Slice thinly, about 2 mm thick. A mandoline is the easiest way to accomplish this.

Immediately place in the bowl of herbed oil and toss to coat.

Coat a muffin pan with non-stick spray. Carefully make a pile of potato slices to fill each muffin spot. You can also use parchment paper muffin papers to line the pan for easy cleaning and serving.

Sprinkle with more thyme and black pepper, if desired. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until edges of potatoes are very crispy. Serve immediately.