Food in the City – A food blogger explores Edmonton’s Food and Agriculture policy

On Friday and Saturday of last week, I attended the Edmonton Food and Agriculture policy conference at the Shaw Conference Center. It was great to be in the same room as so many foodies, and people who, in general, are concerned about where their food comes from.

The afternoon session on Friday started with Jim Hole as the MC. What a local Edmonton food hero!

Next up was Dr. Wayne Roberts as the keynote speaker to start the conference off. His had the intention of getting everyone in the room to think differently about their food, and boy did it ever spark my imagination. He started off by saying that Edmonton is at the tipping point to having a local food system (WOO HOO!) There were a few things that we needed to do before we could get there. One is to survive, and another is to think about food differently. He had a lot of interesting little tidbits that I’d like to share. Here are a handful:

  • We don’t let porn shops set up near schools, so why do we let Fast food outlets do the same? Interesting idea!
  • Rooftop gardens have a large number of benefits for a city: It cools the city in the summer months, naturally; and it keeps the rain out of city storm drains, reducing costs for the cities. Think about it, people!
  • Food is an enabling technology. It circulates money, product; and you cannot have a creative sector without a healthy food sector – He made the quip that MOST (if not all) servers are artists/vice versa. Not sure if this one is true, but it made us laugh.
  • Local Festivals should create food localities. For example, if we are having a pancake breakfast as part of a food festival, we should use HERITAGE flour and farmed eggs. Imagine the difference it would make to the local economy if just one food festival made the switch!
  • In order to work on a food policy in a city, you have to love that city. I love Edmonton. I am so ready to work on our food policy!

Next up were Dr. Marco Adria, Professor of Communications and Co-Chair of the Centre for Public Involvement at the University of Alberta and Fiona Cavanagh, Project Manager for the Centre for Public Involvement to talk about the citizen’s panel who are engaged in helping contribute to Edmonton Food and Ag. Policy. It was a pretty cool process. Here’s a video on how the panel operates. Super interesting stuff!

The next day, Valerie of acanadianfoodie (who is also the founder and president of Eat Alberta) was the MC. Her passion and knowledge of food is always inspiring. Great to see you again Valerie, and I look forward to Eat Alberta 2013!!

Next up, Janine de la Salle got up to the podium for her keynote speech to discuss the current status of Edmonton’s food and Ag. strategy. I found her discussion on the strategy very refreshing. When asked if the city was planning on waiting and and spending more time trying to figure out what to do with the Prime Agricultural land in NE Edmonton, Janine said – No. It’s time for a strategy.We cannot keep talking and waiting and talking. We need to take action and write the strategy. Way to go girl!

There was one point in her speech where she confused the crowd by using the “Horticulture.” I confess. I wiki’d it right then and there. Never haven used that word before, it baffled me, and I was so relieved when someone asked what she meant when she used that word. Janine used it in the context of mixed agriculture on private property – so in other words, a garden. She then pointed out that language is SO important in a strategy like this, so that everyone understands one another.

I liked how straight forward she was. I have great confidence in her. Edmonton’s Food and Ag. strategy is in good hands.

Next off, we broke off into sessions to discuss various topics of the food and ag policy. I went to “A Stronger, More Vibrant Local Economy” with Bill Reynolds, the Manager of Local Food Policy & Planning at Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. It was interesting; however, I felt that Mr. Reynold did not take the time to delve into any one topic for a long enough period of time, making his speech very disjointed and very confusing.

In the discussion, he brought up food hubs and the failure of Live Local Alberta‘s Good Food Box (AKA, Eat local first). I joined in the discussion by adding my 2 cents on why I thought it couldn’t survive, despite many attempts to better themselves as a business. – I loved what Live Local tried to do; however, they were trying to cater to the wrong population. They were trying to cater to foodies, specifically. In my mind, foodies do not want their food to be delivered to their door. They want to have a personal connection and relationship with their food by heading to the market or a specialty market, touching feeling and selecting their own food. Unfortunately, there are just not enough foodie stay-at-home-moms to warrant a home delivery service in Edmonton. Cool idea, wrong execution. Perhaps Eat Local First could re-incarnate themselves into something along the lines of meals on wheels (or even work with them to supply their food?) It’s a thought!


I had to run after that session, but I found the whole conference super interesting and a GREAT opportunity for all Edmontonians to learn and contribute to Edmonton’s Food and Ag. Policy! I cannot wait to read the strategy and policy once it’s up and running. I am so looking forward to continuing on Edmonton’s local food journey!


The Adventures of a First Time Pasta Chef

Huzzah! I’ve busted out the pasta maker that I got for my bridal shower two weeks ago (from my lovely maid of honor- Thanks Spoony!) and boy let me tell you – It was quite the adventure. Before you even entertain the notion of making fresh pasta from scratch, set aside AT LEAST three hours to do so. Yes, it is quite the time commitment- but trust me! You will never have tasted such luscious, silky, delicate, incredible pasta in your life. If you are willing to spend the day in the kitchen, go out and get yourself one for these bad boys, right now!

I’ve made pasta once before – At Eat Alberta in 2011 with Kathryn Joel from Get Cooking. She ran a fantastic workshop on how to make pasta. I confess, I used a lot of her techniques today!

Here is my latest kitchen toy, right out of the box. Isn’t it a beaut?

For the pasta dough, I had considered cheaping out and using my bread maker to knead it for me. But would I have been able to brag about the kneading callouses I developed? No How. So, we begin. All it takes is all purpose flour and eggs. (I’m considering getting some fancy flour specifically for pasta. Apparently it’s easier to handle than all purpose. Does anyone know of any local pasta flour I can get out there?)

To begin, pile flour high on your work surface and dig out a well in the centre.

Next, crack eggs into the centre of the well.

With a fork, beat eggs until the walls of your well slowly begin to incorporate into the eggs in the centre.

The egg goop will slowly get larger and larger. Keep beating.

Once almost all of the eggs and flour are incorporated, start kneading.

When you can’t knead no more, call over your strong fiance to give it a go. 🙂

Knead until a uniform ball can be made.

Let rest under a moist cloth for 15 minutes. It needs a break and so do you.

After the break, set your pasta machine up on a surface and make sure the anchor it. The last thing you need is your machine sliding around while you’re turning the crank!

Chop off a manageable piece of the ball. Set the pasta machine to the highest setting (mine was 7), and lightly flour the surface. Pass the piece of pasta through the machine several times at this setting , folding in half and lightly flouring each time.

Here’s me passing through a folded over piece.

It’s pretty cool to watch it come out the bottom.

Once the piece is looking pretty uniform, you can switch the toggle to a lower setting. (This is the piece after it went through number 6 setting.)

This is number 5 setting.

This is number 4 setting.

This is number 3 setting.

This is number 2 setting.

The number 1 setting made the pasta so long, that I had to cut it in half before using the cutting tool.

Next, light flour the pasta again and pass it through the pasta cutter. I used the linguini function.

I laid it flat on the counter. Perhaps I should invest in a pasta dryer?

Now, since this was for only once piece of the dough ball, repeat all steps above until there is no more pasta left to press and cut!

And voila! Here is all of the pressed and cut pasta from the ball. It made quite a bit, eh?

I curled up all of the pasta into little nests. I heard that they dry better this way when you do not have a pasta rack.

Now, since I had made the pasta from scratch, I figured I may as well make the sauce from scratch too. (I know, I am such a glutton for punishment…)It was worth it! We had quite the Italian feast!

I diced up the peppers and onions and let them cook down for a bit.

Then, I added the can of tomatoes and brought it to a simmer.

I cooked the pasta very quickly (do NOT overcook fresh pasta! It tastes so much better al dente).

Toss the sauce and the pasta together.

Serve with a glass of red and enjoy. A LOT!

Jacquie’s Super Fantastic Italian Feast of Homemade Pasta and Quick Veggie Sauce

For the Pasta:

3 eggs

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour


For the sauce:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 sweet mini bell peppers

1 medium onion

1 large can of tomatoes

1 head of garlic, crushed

2 tbsp Italian seasoning

2 tbsp oregano

salt and pepper to taste

a few fresh basil leaves

For the pasta:

Pile flour high on work surface. Create “well” in centre and crack eggs into well. Using a fork, blend until eggs and flour are incorporated well. Knead until uniform ball can be formed. Let rest under a damp clean cloth for 15-20 minutes. Turn Pasta Press knob to it’s highest setting (7). Cut off a manageable chunk of the pasta ball, re-covering the remainder with damp cloth. Lightly flour chunk and pass through machine at highest setting several times, folding over and lightly flouring each time. Once you have a good piece to work with, switch setting to 6, and pass through. Continue to pass piece through, turning knob to a lower setting each time. The piece will get longer and longer, thinner and thinner. If it becomes too long to manage, cut in half. When ready to cut pasta, lightly flour again and pass through cutting extension. Be sure to feed piece evenly through the machine. Lay pieces out to dry on lightly floured surface. Repeat these steps until the entire dough ball has been pressed and cut. Form “birdcages” with fresh pasta to dry.

For the sauce, heat oil and garlic in a large pot. Dice peppers and onion and add to oil and garlic. Cook down for 5 minutes on low-med heat. Add can of tomatoes and seasoning and spices. Bring to a simmer while cooking pasta. In the last 2 minutes before serving, chop basil leaves and add.

Cook pasta by bringing a full pot of water to a full rolling boil before adding pasta. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to prevent sticking. Cook for 2-3 minutes before checking and only cook to al dente. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Incorporate both sauce and pasta in same pot and toss well.

Serve with a glass of wine and enjoy! You deserve it after all of that hard work. 🙂

Curried Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango

This is sooooo cool! I got interviewed today for my blog! Karen from thingamajig came over today to interview me while I made a recipe. She is creating a online blog-azine that features interesting local people and showcases their talents. First off, COOL idea Karen. Also, thank you for asking to feature me! I feel pretty honored :).

Since I let Karen do all the picture taking today, I thought I would just post a simple one-picture entry, which includes the recipe I made for Karen.

Here it is! The curried quinoa salad from none other than the mother of whole grains and beans herself: Julie Van Rosendaal. I’ve raved about this genius before, when she taught me the beauty of adding squash to chili. Here is another featured recipe of hers, straight from her fabulous cookbook: Spilling the Beans. If you have not yet had the opportunity to pick up with book, I highly recommend you do so (Although I hear that it’s very hard to get a hold of, considering it’s popularity – My mother in law had to hunt one down for me. I love her so much!). I have acquired a new-found appreciation for beans and whole grains, and all of the fantastic health benefits their combination brings. Also. this salad is just plain delicious.

Jacquie’s Tasty Curried Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mangoes (Courtesy of Julie Van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan’s cookbook, Spilling the Beans)

You will need:

1 cup Quinoa

2 ripe mangoes

1-2 mini sweet peppers

1/2 Long English cucumber

1 small sweet onion

a few fresh basil leaves

1 can of black beans

For the dressing:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin

Cook quinoa according to package’s instructions. Fluff with fork and place in fridge to cool while you prepare other ingredients. Chop up mangoes, peppers, cucumber, and onions into small cubes and place them in a large bowl. Shred basil leaves and add. Open can of black beans and rinse in a strainer until clean. Add to bowl as well. Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients and mixing rigorously with a fork. When quinoa is cooled, add to veggie bowl. Next add dressing and toss until well coated. Serve garnished with a fresh basil leaf and enjoy, a lot!

Garden, 2012 – Adventures of a second-time gardener

Let the garden 2012 adventure begin! Justin and I were SO excited to plant our garden plot this year. We wanted to try a whole bunch of new things, based on how well some things went last year. We decided to focus on root veggies that’ll last us throughout the winter, as well as some tasty greens that we had a lot of success with last year, and that we loved growing very much!

We went all out this year, buying mostly starter plants so that we can make the most of our short growing season.

We also decided to go all out and plant half of the garden with potatoes! They were such a success last year that we decided to go with two different kinds – Shepody and Banana. I’m so excited to see the results! Here is my brave potato digger, digging up big hills for our potatoes.

Seeded potatoes look so creepy!

Justin’s very good at hilling those potatoes!

Another prominent feature in the garden this year will be squash! We planted 3 different kinds of winter squash, and one summer squash. Ever since we’ve discovered the amazingness of putting squash in the crockpot, we just cant get enough! Here is a shot of the butternut plant.

Here’s the zucchini plant! (let’s just hope it doesn’t take over like it did last year…)

Here’s the acorn squash plant.

Here’s the buttercup plant! (hmmmm…. buttercup!)

We decided to try our hands at planting a red pepper plant. Never having harvested red peppers before, this should be interesting!

Here’s the cherry tomato plant!

And one last shot of our field of potatoes.

We also planted rows of red onions, garlic, green beans, romaine lettuce, carrots (for Justin) and corn. I’m very excited to see what turns out! I’ll be updating you throughout the summer! Happy gardening!

White Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream

Summer, when the livings easy! I am LOVING the weather we have been blessed with over the past few days. Cloudless, warm and sunny days. We couldn’t ask for a better spring. To celebrate, I decided to bust out the old ice cream maker!

My Ice Cream Maker is one of my favorite kitchen tools. I love experimenting with different recipes with different ingredients. Since I am constantly craving Ice Cream in warm weather, I thought it would be a fantastic investment. I’ve never regretted picking one up!

My Ice Cream Maker came with 100s of different recipes to try out, but I’ve been branching out, trying even more complicated recipes.

This one was a custard based recipe. It was FANTASTIC! The first step was to melt the white chocolate into the warm milk and cream.

Next, you beat the eggs and sugar until they have the thickness of mayonnaise.

See the thickness? It took about 10 minutes on high to get to this consistency.

Next, I beat in the warm milk mixture.

Then, I transferred it back to the stove to cook until it was thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Into the fridge it went! I let it cool for about 5 hours.

When I was ready to make the ice cream, I pulled out this beautifully thick custard from the fridge. Amazing!

Here’s a shot of the custard-ice cream when it first went into the mixer.

The recipe I found suggested I make a raspberry syrup. Given that there was so much sugar in the recipe already, I decided to opt out of making a syrup, and just used straight up frozen raspberries instead.

I microwaved them for a few seconds, then mashed them up. Delicious!

Here’s the soft serve, ready for the final ingredients.

I plopped the raspberries in and watched them swirl. I added a few white chocolate chips for texture as well. I then transferred it all to a Tupperware and froze it overnight to let it firm up a bit.

Here’s the finished result. Beautiful, isn’t it? It was soso delicious too!

Jacquie’s Awesome White Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream (Courtesy of One Perfect Bite)

You will need:
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces white chocolate morsels/chips plus extra for mixing into ice cream
1-1/2 cups (6-oz.) frozen raspberries

To prepare ice cream: Combine whole milk and heavy cream in a medium pan set over moderate heat. Bring to a boil and pour into bowl containing white chocolate, stirring until smooth. Combine sugar, whole eggs, and egg yolk in a medium bowl; beat with a hand mixer until thickened like mayonnaise. Stir in vanilla extract. Beat 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg mixture. Mix in remainder of chocolate cream mixture. Transfer to a medium saucepan and cook mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to thicken and coats back of a spoon.

Transfer mixture to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cooled.

While custard is cooling, transfer raspberries to a microwave safe bowl and heat for 15-20 seconds. Once thawed, mash with a fork.

To make ice cream: Pour chilled ice cream mixture into freezer bowl and mix until thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes. In the last 2 minutes of mixing, add raspberries and a hand full of white chocolate chips. Transfer to a freezer safe tupperware and freeze until firm. Enjoy!

Homemade Bison Burgers

Hello blogosphere! I am back. My apologies for being AWOL for as long as I was. It’s nice to be back in my Garneau Home kitchen, cooking up tasty local creations.

Spring is back in earnest, and I am thrilled that I got to use my BBQ for the first time since last summer! I decided to go for something a little more challenging for my first blog post post hiatus, to make up for my absence :)… Enjoy!

I’ve always wanted to make bison burgers from scratch. Its a challenging ground meat to cook, because it is so lean, it can burn pretty quickly. The trick is to not cook it on high, and watch it closely on the grill.

I picked up some lean ground bison from (where else?) the Old Strathcona Farmer’s market. It was SO nice to be back at my old haunt. Man, did I ever miss my market mornings!

This ground bison was lean, but still had a nice marbling of fat. Perfect for burgers!

I added the spices and the egg and squished it with my fingers until it stuck together nicely.

Then I added bread crumbs to seal the deal. (hah!)

I formed pretty thick patties. Next time, I would have squished them a little more. They were hard to eat but SO GOOD!

I put the patties in the fridge for a about an hour, while I prepped the rest of the meal. Burgers are never complete without an array of tasty fixings!

What a GLORIOUS day for a double date BBQ! It was 25 Degrees out! What a treat!

We even ate outside on my newly spring cleaned patio furniture! What a great evening!

Those burgers definitely didn’t last long 🙂

Here is my extra tall tasty local bison burger. Seriously. Make this one as soon as you can. Your belly will thank you!

Jacquie’s Tasty local Bison Burgers

You will need:

2 pounds of locally sourced lean ground bison

3 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp ground dry mustard

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp seasoning salt

1 egg, beaten lightly

approx 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (depending on how lean the bison is)

6 whole wheat buns

all of your favorite burger fixins.

Place ground bison in a bowl. Add seasonings and egg and mix with your hands. Progressively add breadcrumbs until you feel the mixture sticking together nicely. Form patties. Place on wax papered surface and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove from fridge 10 minutes before cooking. Cook on Med-High, and check on them frequently. Enjoy on whole wheat bun with all of your favorite burger fixings. Enjoy, A lot!