Eat Alberta 2015Posted: May 3, 2015
I was so very fortunate to be able to attend Eat Alberta again this year. I attended in 2011, the inaugural year, and then I volunteered in 2013. Eat Alberta teaches participants all about local food, how to cook it, where to source it and how to enjoy it, through practical, hands-on workshops, sit-down learning or tasting sessions, as well as keynote and plenary sessions. (Sounds right up my alley, no?)
This year, the sessions were organized into streams, including two hands-on sessions and two learning/tasting sessions: the perfect mix of hands-on application and knowledge gathering.
After a wicked keynote session all about permaculture and sustainable farming from Takota Coen from Grassroots Family Farm, we started off the day with a hands-on session on corn tortilla-making with the great Elaine Wilson. I’ve always been a huge fan of Elaine’s work and spices (as you’ve seen throughout my recipes on the blog), so it was great to get the opportunity to cook with her again!
Then, pop about three into your pan at a time (depending on how big it is!). Elaine mentioned that you will know its time to flip your tortillas once they begin to stream and the edges begin to lift slightly off the pan.
She had generously made us a whole bunch the day before, so that we could enjoy them at the end of the session. She brought a wonderful assortment of black beans, queso, and an array of condiments to fill our tortillas with. I have no idea why I didn’t take a picture of the assortment. I must have been way too distracted by the eating to remember the picture taking… sorry all!
Next, Elaine showed us how to make pupusas. Using the same dough, she made a patty with a small pocket in the inside. She then filled the pocket with re-fried beans, topped it off with another patty and sealed it up.
Here’s a picture of one cut in half. It was absolutely scrumptious!!
Next up, my sister and I got to learn how to make authentic Chinese green onion cakes with Slow Food Edmonton‘s lovely King Franks. We were originally signed up to take a cocktail tasting class at the time, but seeing I would be unable to enjoy it to its full extent, I asked it if would be possible to shift over to another session. The Eat Alberta Team was so incredibly accommodating in my request. I thank them whole hardheartedly!
Ming told us the story behind her family’s authentic green onion cake recipe: Her and her mom would use leftover dumpling dough to create these tasty cakes. They became a neighbourhood favourite and they began making them more frequently. For our hands-on session, Ming showed us how to create a hot water dough, for easy of cooking. First, take a pair of chopsticks to mix the flour and water together.
Have you ever noticed that with green onion cakes, there are tasty little layers of deliciousness as you bite into each wedge? Well, here’s how you make those layers: roll the dough up like a cinnamon bun.
The cakes will come out crispy-brown on each size. Hmm!!
Ming made us a variety of dipping sauces to eat our green onion cakes with, but again – I must have been too fascinated by the concept of eating to even remember to take a photo! (Sorry about that…)
After an incredible lunch made by the wonderful chefs at NAIT (complete with desert!), it was time to learn all about egg cookery with Allan Suddaby. Allan is the Chef at Elm Cafe, and he also writes and awesome blog called Button Soup. He was extremely knowledgeable about all things eggs, and it was a great experience to be able to learn about the versatility of such an essential ingredient.
Now, I have to admit, the reason why I was so extremely excited about taking this class is because, where I have a lot of other skills in the kitchen, I have not yet mastered the art of making a egg (I know, I am still a little baffled by this as well… I mean, I can cook a pilaf from scratch, but I can’t properly fry an egg without breaking the yolk! I was so happy Eat Alberta Helped me remedy this!).
I managed it in this class, and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself!! (I think what had really helped was the amount of butter that we melted into the pan before cracking the egg in there!)
I also poached my first egg (also in a low rolling simmer, this time for exactly three minutes.) It didn’t look as nice, so I didn’t take a picture… sorry!
Allan also taught us how to make a tasty homemade mayo. Separate one egg yolk into a bowl. Add salt and vinegar and whisk away. Next, begin drizzling oil into the bowl as you whisk. Allan estimates 1 yolk for approximately 1 cup of oil, but, because he was eyeballing it, it looked to me more like 1/2 or 3/4 of a cup than a full cup.
Allan’s session was really great! It really put eggs into a whole new light for me. I was so happy to finally add properly cooked eggs to my repertoire!
Next session, we got to learn all about cooking with wild roses with Debra Krause (Deb the Locavore) and Molly MacDougall. The class was so interesting! We learned where to forage for local wild rose petals and hips and how to use them, once harvested. We got to taste incredible rose hip teas, a jelly, syrup and puree, and learn about where to get them, if you’re unable to go foraging yourself this summer… (Blush lane for bulk dried rose hips!)I took a picture of the syrup recipe for future, when I have a moment to hunt down the dried rose hips.
After that session, there was a wonderful afternoon plenary session with Jennifer Cockrail-King and Marlo Moo, all about food writing. In Jennifer’s care, it was really interesting to hear a real food writer talk about her career as food writer (confession: that would totally be my dream job!!).
Next, we had our wine down session and tasting boards. Again – for some reason – I missed taking a picture before devouring my plate (My pregnancy is turning me into a terrible food blogger!). It was choker-bock full of delicious local food.
This year’s Eat Alberta was a blast!! Thanks to the organizers for their incredible hard work and for the wonderful day of local foodie awesomeness.