local

Savour Ottawa – Eat local and let someone else cook!

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Mmmm… fresh food. Visit www.savourottawa.ca for more pictures, videos and links.

Rafting the Ottawa River.

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Edible Action – Sally Miller

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Book Cover : Edible Action

Good Book

Wow. This book is a solid compendium of research quite relevant to anyone interested in developing Canadian food policy and to those interested in attempting to relocalize a global economy.

A few things made clear to me in this book:

  • The whole “vote with your fork”/”vote with your dollar” concept is certainly not the most democratic way of determining what we eat.    Many have few dollars to vote with and should we really be letting those with the most dollars cast the most votes?

  • In the 1990’s a municipality in Brazil (Belo Horizonte) delared food a human right [ref: Wikipedia] and Brazil later followed suit.

  • Read Miller’s chapters on Fair Trade certification & Starbucks. Then read The Rebel Sell. Then realize that if the fair trade certification really wants to make the world a better place, it better shy away from certifying large plantations  and stick to supporting small, local farmers.

Finally, I found this paragraph about paying farmers a fair share rather eloquent:

…the corporate messages claim that [they won’t do something] due to consumer demand (which is said to be insufficent — we don’t “want” it). We just aren’t “willing to pay” for a better deal for farmers. If the company instead posed the real question — are we willing to trade Starbucks’ obscene profits for a better deal for the farmers? — most of us would probably say “yes”

Talk about hitting the nail on the head. That’s exactly what bothers me about bank “service” fees too: “Sorry sir, we could wave the $1.50 transaction fee for this withdrawal but have decided not to since it we would prefer to add it to our $12 billion dollar profit so we can make $12,000,000,001.50 this fiscal year.”

Wild Edibles Course, Day 2

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An after work hike in the woods near Pakenham gave Martha and opportunity to show us several new plants and cook us up a meal along the shoreline.

We were all lucky enough to have an opportunity to hike through some beautiful property that was COVERED with white & red trillium.   There were a few spots where the ground was too swampy so the trillium  gave way to fields of fiddle head and other treats.

Dandelion Fritters

Dandelion Fritters

O.K., these fritters tasted FAR better than you would think and were so quick & easy to make.    Pick the yellow flower (best when it’s open during the day) / dip in batter (pancake batter or whatever suits you) / deep fry in oil / dip in a tiny bit of cinnamon & sugar / eat.

Burdock Root

Burdock Root

Burdock  (that plant with purple burrs) has a long edible root that won’t  leave the ground easily.   Cutting it in thin diagonal slices brings out an interesting pattern, and while the taste is quite bland it certainly would be good for soaking up and bringing out other flavours in a dish (eg. wild ginger).

Second serving.

Dandelion Fritters

A bit of what we enjoyed tonight: Steamed fiddle head s in a tasty leek oil, mixed green salad with edible flowers and cooked Jerusalem artichoke root.

Wild Horseradish… …or Ode to Crinkleroot

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The bush in front of the house has a plethora of Crinkleroot. It is not the easiest to grow or harvest or clean BUT if you like horseradish you definitively need to give this root a taste! Think strong horseradish with a bright,minty kick and a small (almost unnoticeable) hint of black licorice — all that flavour packed into a tiny, crinkly root.

After cleaning the handful of roots which I brought back from the bush and throwing them the blender with a bit of vinegar all that was left was hardly enough to fill a small jar:

Prepared Crinkleroot

So now the dilemma: What does one do with such a tiny amount of wild edible gold?!? I’m guessing it’s about half a cup of delicious condiment that I’m likely going to use ever so sparingly until I’m confident that I’ve hunted up enough for the next small batch.

Bring out the BBQ!

Wolfe Grove Spring Walk – Almonte, Ontario

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Yesterday I finally made it to one of Martha’s Edible Wild tours. We spent 6 hours walking through the bush learning of (and sampling) edible plants which grow in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.

Martha is in her mid Eighties and I learned SOOO much I can’t list it all here; however, here are some of my favorites which she pointed out to us in the bush:

Crinkleroot: Wild horseradish
Indian Potato: About the size of a thimble, tastes a bit like a starchy raw pea.
Yellow Birch: Buds, sap and young branches have a wintergreen flavour.
Garlic Mustard: Leafs are great for salads.
Wild Ginger: Um, wild Ginger. Strong. (Only eat the root, not the leaves)

Crinkleroot:
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Crinkleroot (dark strawberry-like leaves) and Leeks (tall tulip-like leaves):
UPDATE — as the plant matures the leaves turn pale green and grow
to be quite a bit larger than strawberry leaves.

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Yellow Birch (they grow best in dead stumps of other trees):
wolfe-grove-almonte-2009-012-yellow-birtch-large

Indian Potato:
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Martha shows us an Indian Potato (right-click on the box below and choose “play” to see the low quality flash video):
Link to video here.

Local Lasagna – Ottawa, ON

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This was made and consumed a few weeks ago. Ingredients we used were sourced as local as possible. Si came over and helped make the pasta a few days before. Pasta Dough: Local flour from Mountain Path Organics, local eggs (Spencerville), and some dried basil from a friend’s garden (last year’s harvest).

Here’s the end result:
local-lasagna-012-large

Layer 1: Pasta
Layer 2: Sauce

  • Local Beef (Greencrest Farm)
  • Tomato Sauce (product of Ontario and not likely local)
  • Mushrooms (continental)

Layer 3: Pasta

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Layer 4: Cottage Cheese (product of Ontario, likely Winchester)
Layer 5: Spinach (Quebec)
Layer 6: Alfalfa Sprouts (grown locally from seed)
Layer 7: More Pasta

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Layer 8: More Sauce
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Layer 9: Cheese! (St. Albert)
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Lasagna was very good but the sprouts didn’t hold up well to the cooking or re-heating. Next time I should likely hold off on the sprouts. Lots of left over pasta too, so it wouldn’t have hurt to have used a deeper pan and piled on a few more layers!

A delicious first attempt = success.

SALT

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Perhaps it’s because I hate leeches, but I really like having salt around the house. Much to the chagrin of Ottawa area locavores, the closest salt deposits are in New York State and Southwestern Ontario. Salt deposits also touch Quebec and three of the maritime provinces up around around Rivière-Du-Loup [Ottawa “area” salt mines]

I have yet to find any recorded salt deposits within a 400+ KM radius of Ottawa, and if anyone knows of some unmapped source of salt deposits local to Ottawa then please let me know!

Recently, however, I’ve stumbled upon the notion of Green Chemistry after reading this editorial from one of their old publications: Green Chemistry Editorial – February 2000 (PDF) (via rsc.org) Note: the publisher has opened their archive of digital publications for the month of April — Great idea & thank you!

Then it dawned on me — “HEY!”, I thought — are there local source of Na (Sodium) and Cl (Chlorine) ? With all the industries and research labs around here there must be SOME sort of process which produces Na, Cl, or even better NaCl as a waste product…

So I’ve done a few searches on the internet and not much luck as of yet. Alas, I turn to you — the avid reader — in a plea for aid & ideas: could you please talk to any chemists you know (which may mean consulting your friends and/or family) to try to help me figure out what things are happening around my city where they end up with a pile of salt (no matter how big or how small) and consider it waste?

Kiteboarding

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Out to Williamsburg for the weekend. This is just seconds after Si (middle left) let go of the kite and just seconds before some killer body drag @ ~ 20 km/h.

If you know how to snowboard and windsurf and paraglide I doubt you’ll have much trouble figuring all of this out. Otherwise just strap yourself in, hold on, and wait for rescue.

Kiteboarding
Note to self: A 14 meter kite is not a trainer kite in a 12 Knot wind.

Fruit Fight.

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Here’s a fun link for a rainy day: The CFIA’s Chemical Residue Annual Reports
( http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/microchem/resid/reside.shtml ).

I’m looking through the 2004/05 Annual Report for Fresh Fruit & Veggies. Based on their residue tests for fresh fruit and vegetable products, 9.5% of their random domestic food samples tested positive while 10.1% of the random samples taken from imported products tested positive for residues that you really shouldn’t be eating in any great amount.

Some countries were worse offenders than others, and a good number of ranked much higher than Canada — Costa Rica, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa, the Netherlands.

Heck, even Colombia did a better job than Canadian producers & processors in keeping unhealthy residues off their food. Chalk it up to experience I guess…

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