Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

Ten Things I Know About Manitoba Canola Growers


1.  Those beautiful yellow fields that you see in July around Manitoba are canola fields.  (I always thought were mustard fields-duh!)

2.  After the pretty flower has disappeared a pod is formed which contains the tiny seeds that are crushed to make the oil.

3.  Canola growers are some of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. Many farms are multi-generational and the operators and their families are highly educated and care deeply about their land, their crops and our environment.

4.  Many canola growers produce a variety of crops, raise livestock and have “other” jobs too.  They are all trying to just do their best for their families and their communities.

5.  Canola oil tastes really good.  I have recently started baking with canola and have replaced my olive oil bottle with a canola bottle by my stove for sauteeing.  I still will use a drizzle of olive oil for its unique flavour (especially my coveted bottle from our friends’ own olive trees in Sicily).  Infused canola oils are fantastic!

6.  I am still learning about cold-pressed canola but understand that it is “purer” and therefore (in my mind at least) even healthier.

7.  Canola is a key crop which contributes to more jobs in Manitoba and thereby accelerates the growth of our provincial economy.

8.  Manitoba Canola Growers are wonderful community supporters.  You will see their sponsorship at work wherever you go in this province.

9.  Canola growers want us to “Be Well”.  I am taking this to heart and have really stepped up my game in examining many aspects of my life and lifestyle.

10.  Ellen, Jenn and Leanne are decidedly the most thoughtful and considerate people that I know.  Their passion about their product and brand is nothing short of astounding.  They LOVE their growers and speak proudly about them at every opportunity.  They are so kind to those who are considered part of the Canola family.  The attention to detail of the recent “Be Well” camp was meticulous.  Literally every single thing that you could possibly need, want or desired was already planned on our account.  The “campers” felt listened to, valued, coddled and loved.

Kath’s quote:

The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they’ll ease
Your will they’ll mend
And charge you not a shilling.”
~Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields, What the River Knows

Love -that is all.

Meet Hannah Kucher and her Family


As soon as we pulled up to the Freefield Organic Farm, we knew that we were expected because three blonde heads were peering out the window in anticipation of our arrival.

The first to burst from the house was eldest daughter Hannah who’s sweet face looks like the yellow flowers that bloom everywhere on the property.

Soon we meet Franz and Erna Kucher who moved from Austria to Inglis, Manitoba with Hannah and their two sons Elias and Jonathon.

Two years ago little Samuel was born and it was this entourage (as well as a neighbour who helps out in the orchard) who proudly led us on our farm tour.  In between the children showing us their wide variety of squashes, Franz and Erna explain how they decided to leave Austria and their full time jobs (he a Policeman and she a Teacher) and move to Canada when they were delivered a wake-up call in the form of a flood.

Over the years, they have moved a number of former schoolhouses onto their property and one serves as the farm house while another has been renovated to become a milling house.  The kids attend school in nearby Inglis and Franz has a job which takes him away from the farm.  Erna, Sam and two dogs keep the home fires burning and the entire family participates in the operation of their 560 acres of land.

They grow Heritage vegetables, raspberries, apples, cherries, plums, currents, hazelnuts and a variety of other berries.  In 2012 they added Golden flax, hulless oats, Red Fife wheat, amaranth and red clover.  Three milling machines have been purchased one by one, so that they will be capable of producing a number of gluten free flours, flakes and bread mixes.  They also press oils and package herbal teas.

The tour has been casual, but so informative, and the enthusiasm of these first generation Canadians is contagious.  It is obvious that the kids are hating to see us go, but they are so polite and obedient that no fuss is made.  As we pull away the family has gathered on the lawn to waves us on and wish us well.

Kath’s quote: “Burn down your cities and leave our farm, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.”

Love-that s all.

Asessippi Autumn Feast Dinner


Nestled deep in the Shell River Valley is the Asessippi Resort and Ski Area.  I have to admit, that I have never been to the ski hill in winter and certainly not on a gorgeous late summer day, as this day was.  Tables were set up at the apex of the hill so that we had a stunning view of the valley and for miles around.

The dinner menu was extensive, and all items had been carefully sourced and prepared by Chef Wes Osborne from the Russell Inn.

Our el fresco table had been set with care.

We were invited to serve ourselves from the buffet tables which were literally overflowing with choices.

I tried to chose very carefully so as not to waste any precious food.

My happiest discovery was the array and abundance of Bothwell cheese.

I savoured a couple of cubes with my dessert selection.

These chaps were part of the pre-dinner entertainment.  They might have been called the “Young Neal’s” or something equally as fun.

But for me-this young girl was the absolute highlight of our evening.  She and her younger brother have raised tens of thousands of dollars under the banner “Kids Helping Kids” where they sponsor first generation parents (who have immigrated to the area to work in the agriculture industry) to reunite with their kids.  We passed the hat amongst the foodies that I was traveling with and raised a contribution to go towards their wonderful cause.

The time had come to board the bus for our journey back to the Barn in the Bush.  But first, I scooped another couple of these rhubarb squares (supposedly for breakfast) but I ate them on the way home.  They turned out to be my favourite recipe of the evening and I would love to get my hands on a copy.

Another stunning sunset on another stunning prairie day…..

Kath’s quote: “Never rub another man’s rhubarb.”-Jack Nicholson as The Joker, ‘Batman’

Love-that is all.

Meet Pat and Paul Orsak-Memories


Saturday of Manitoba Canola Grower’s “Be Well Camp” was a packed agenda. First stop was in the Binscarth area where we toured the Silver Creek Bison Farm.  In this setting it was not difficult to imagine herds of these majestic animals that once populated our prairie provinces. No wonder our founding politicians chose a bison to be our provincial animal.

Next stop was the Orsak Family Farm where we warmly invited by Paul and Pat, in spite of it being right smack n the middle of harvest. The Orsaks are another fine example of the education, love and commitment that Manitobans have for their land, their crops and the environment.

I am a proud prairie girl and feel right at home in the midst of a grain field.  The beauty of burgeoning land is really stunning in my opinion.

We were treated to anther Lunch in the Field.

I am amazed by what is planned and served using all of the freshest ingredients that the local gardens have to offer.

I would love a cookbook which held all of the tips for getting such delicious hot and cold food out to the field, not knowing when the combine team is going to be able to break.  Hey maybe with more research, I could write one!

We ate our lunch in the shade of the trucks because the day was glorious and warm. Paul shared his passion for farming and made such an impression that our discussion continued around our bonfire that evening.

And then it was back to work. Even though I spent every one of my young summers on a grain farm, I had never been inside a combine and was enthralled by the perspective from the cab.

I have also never been inside a working grain elevator, in spite of the number of them that once stood in a long line marking the south border of Limerick, SK where I spent my summers. I was fascinated by our elevator tours in Russell and Inglis.

I had been inside one of these old trucks though. When my Grandpa’s could no longer be repaired, it sat on the edge of the farm yard and we used to play in it as kids.  We would scare the living daylights out of ourselves when we pressed the old starter button on the dashboard, as it would still try to fire up.  Grandma could hear us from the garden, if she were there picking peas and we would get shooed away.

Kath’s quote: “As a work of art, I know few things more pleasing to the eye, or more capable of affording scope and gratification to a taste for the beautiful, than a well-situated, well cultivated farm.”-Edward Everett

Love-that is all.


Barn in the Bush


I was skeptical about sleeping in a “Barn in the Bush” but enthusiastic about our rustic adventure.  My speculations were totally unfounded because the facility is remote but contains every amenity you would desire in a hotel room and more.

The room that I shared with my new found friend Wendy from Vancouver, was cozy and inviting after a considerable amount of bus travel that day.  There was a sleeping loft and another bed nestled under the stairs.  The futon, perfectly positioned for movie watching on the big screen TV, could also accommodate more sleepers.  With a fully equipped convenience kitchen, the place would be perfect for a family reunion or a gang of skiers who wanted to explore the slopes close by.

When we arrived it was in the dark and so we had no idea how beautiful the landscape in the Lake on the Prairie area was.  We discovered that in the morning with a brief early morning walk.

And this was the view of the birches at sunset.

As a departure gift, the entire gang of the Manitoba Canola growers “Be Well” Camp were presented with Bonnie’s (Bonnie and Steve Morrison are the owners) secret recipe for fish seasoning and batter.  We had occasion to use it on pickerel up at the cottage this weekend-yum!  I served the pickerel with Floating Leaf Wild and Brown Rice, and roasted spaghetti squash boats filled with the sweetest of cherry tomatoes, feta, olives and oregano flowers.

The departure treat was appreciated but not necessary, as staying at The Morrison’s delightful guesthouse was gift enough.

Kath’s quote: “The smell of coffee cooking was a reason for growing up, because children were never allowed to have it and nothing haunted the nostrils all the way out to the barn as did the aroma of boiling coffee.”-Edna Lewis

Love that is all.

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