Browsing: Food Events

Canola Connect Community Summit 2017

April27

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I am blessed to be a part of a special community. Canola Alumni events take place on a regular basis so that the community can reconnect and share our passion for food and the farmers and scientists that are supporting the effort of producing a nutritious product for our families.  If you think that listening to futurists, sustainability excerpts and policy writers is boring, think again! The presentations were dynamic and they were interspersed with delicious food samplings and (new this year) progressive craft making sessions.  All this along with a mindfulness session and team-building drumming opportunity!

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This was our mid-morning snack as we commenced our first crafting session.

What I appreciate the most about attneding a Canola Connect event is having the opportunity to speak directly to Manitoba’s farmers. They answer my questions carefully but with passion. I met Pat and Paul Orsak a number of years ago when I visited their farm with Canola Camp. Paul spoke again at the recent Canola Community Summit. He got me thinking….

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Inventory for our crafts.

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Lunch of raw vegetable salads and tuna bowls with rice or spiraled zucchini.

I was reminded that organic standards leading to certified organic are NOT about nutritional value, food safety, or end use quality. Organic standards are about production methods and marketing. The setting of those standards is led and designed by the organic industry itself NOT by independent health regulators or science based third parties. Does this seem reasonable?

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Our afternoon snack of parsnip, carrot, beet and lotus chips with sweet potato hummus.

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Bruschetta made from three cold-pressed canola oils: Prairie Sky, Northern Lights and Heartland-all delicious in their distinct ways.

Innovations in plant genetics and precision farming practices ensures that land use is optimized. Natural wilderness areas can be preserved. Harmful tillage can be avoided, reducing the amount of silt going into rivers and streams. We should all be for this, shouldn’t we?

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Meat + Bread appetizers.

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Three salads for our salad course.

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Chicken with a fruit sauce and a savouring potato patty.

So if farmers want to produce the same amount of food organically, where are they going to get the extra land? Should farmers choose a production method that would require using more land? What do we think about deforestation? Clearing wilderness?

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The gang called these snowmen, I didn’t sample them…two desserts was enough!

Do we want to knowingly and willingly price food out of reach of some consumers? Are we concerned about food prices for those less privileged here at home, or for those who live in the third world?

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A cream puff filled with a chunky chocolate.

Can the global agriculture and food industry afford not to use all the tools in the tool box while still trying to feed a growing world population?

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Lemon Meringue Tarts

Farmers like Paul want to be sustainable. They  want to leave a legacy. They don’t want to squander the land resource they’ve been entrusted with and they want to leave the land in better condition than they got it. The farmers I have met through Canola Connect want to produce food that is affordable, safe, and abundant.

A couple of weeks later I am still rolling these questions over in my mind. The thing is, I know Paul, I know his wife, I know his daughter. I make decisions with my heart (that is pretty obvious if you spend any time on my blog space) and I know that Paul wants what is best for his family and ultimately for us all. Do I trust what I read on line? Do I trust the scare tactics that are promoted by extremists? Or do I trust Paul to make the best choices for his family and the world? I think that you know my answer to this…

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I was so proud that the beer poured that evening was son J1’s 1919 from Little Brown Jug.

Kath’s quote: “I love food. Farmers love food. I love farmers“. -Me

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Love never fails.

 

Table for Twenty

June10

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In 1996, farmers planted the first biotech crop. I was recently invited to Winnipeg’s “Table for Twenty” event at the Kitchen Sync. We assembled to celebrate that first crop and engage in continued conversation about plant biotechnology and the benefits to both Canadian farmers and consumers.

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I was very excited that Chef Gordon Bailey was our culinary host that evening. I first met Chef Bailey when I was a judge for a PEI Shellfish Festival held a couple of years ago in Winnipeg. He won the best seafood chowder contest (not the category that I judged) and represented Winnipeg at the national cook-off which he won as well. No surprise really as Chef Gord once owned a popular restaurant in PEI.

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First up was a basket of potato/whole wheat buns with smoked rosemary butter. I can usually refrain from the temptations of the bread basket but not on this evening. I ate not one but two-they could have been my entire meal!

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The salad course was a feast for the eyes-zucchini confit, vine ripened tomato, sweet corn relish, basil marinated tofu, cold-pressed canola oil and spring greens freshly plucked from the garden. The spritely flavours were a lovely way to commence the evening.

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A rustic bowl of goodness was the main course. Braised chicken thighs and wild mushrooms were perched upon split pea and yellow pulses.

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We concluded with a sparkling apple sorbet on a crunchy oat and chickpea biscuit accompanied by warm vanilla cream.

Even though the food was an absolute pleasure, the persons who rose to speak in between the courses and the engaging conversation around the table, made the evening even more enjoyable. Coming from a multi-generational agriculture and food family, I love the opportunity to connect with the people who are responsible for feeding my family and indeed the world.

At our table was Erin O’Hara one of our hosts from Crop Life Canada as well as Shawna Mathieson of the Prairie Oat Growers Association and my long time friend Ellen Pruden from the Manitoba Canola Growers. Farmers Rob & Shelly Bartley and Paul Orsak (who I have met on numerous occasions) really illuminated the advantages of bio-tech crops for me. Not only are crop yields higher but they are able to be kinder to the land they own in addition to being able to spend more time with their own families. Nita Sharda, a Dietician and fellow blogger, was an important part of the discussion indicating how she negates worries about bio-tech plants with her clients.

Of course there are also world-wide advantages of bio tech crops. For a more global perspective I found the Table for Twenty website a great resourse.

Kath’s quote: “Genetically modified organism foods are feared and hated by environmentalists and the public alike. Yet the scientific assessment of GMOs is remarkably different. Every major scientific evaluation of GMO technology has concluded that GMOs are safe for human consumption and are a benefit to the environment.”-Ramez Naam

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Love never fails.

Spring Chicken!

May11

Like the seasons, one thing you can count on in Winnipeg is a special evening with Karen Webb and Manitoba Chicken in fall and spring. I chose a random seat at the dining table and ended up sitting with two lovely couples. One person I had met previously under different circumstances and the another is a very good friend of Sister #2. What a small world Winnipeg is.

Our family loves chicken and I can never get enough advice on varied ways to prepare it for just D and I or when the gang all assembles for Sunday dinner.

Deluca Fine Wines was the co-host for the evening and I enjoyed all of the pairings but the truth is, between being polite and visiting with the other guests at the table and making note of all the chef’s comments, I was hard-pressed to also get all the wine info recorded.

The chefs were from the Rossmere Golf & Country Club, a place that has been recently recommended to me by one of my Canstar Community Newspaper readers. Coincidentally, I grew up just steps away from the Country Club and can’t wait to visit.

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The evening commenced with Chicken croquettes assembled from ground chicken which had been merged with duck fat and foie gras. The earthy tastes were enhanced by a lovely puree of truffle and sweet corn.

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Next up was chicken soup which I bet was better than your Momma makes. The chicken consume had delicate noodle strands floating at the bottom and the spoon contained a dollop of decadent cream of chicken soup. I opted to stir mine together for the best of both worlds.

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Asian elements were played up in the salad course featuring spinach tossed in soya ginger vinaigrette, adorned with smoked chicken and compressed pineapple. Chef came around and added a dusting of a powdered barbeque sauce just before we tucked in.

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Our entrée was a clever take on the traditional chicken cordon bleu with comfortable additions like mashed potatoes, carrots and asparagus.

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A close up of the stuffed chicken.

Roasted ham and grated Bothwell Swiss cheese had been paired, cooked and then stuffed into whole deboned chickens which had been soaked in a citrus brine. The result was a lovely spin on a classic.

A little ice cream bar was set up with Cornell Cream ice creams and fun toppings. But my gaze went right to the chocolate petit fours and lemon tarts from High Tea Bakery. Both amazing!

I paced my wine consumption by splashing the remains of the white samplings into the spittoons, so that I could savour the lone red from Chateau du Charmes-the Niagara on the Lake vineyard that we loved touring.

Kath’s quote: “But my favorite remained the basic roast chicken. What a deceptively simple dish. I had come to believe that one can judge the quality of a cook by his or her roast chicken. Above all, it should taste like chicken: it should be so good that even a perfectly simple, buttery roast should be a delight.”  ― Julia Child

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Love, never fails.

 

 

 

Chef Charlie Palmer

April27

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D and I love everything about New York-the parks, the galleries, the restaurants and especially the people. So it was no surprise to me that New York Chef Charlie Palmer was the real deal. In spite of his culinary pedigree and I am guessing substantial wealth, he was as approachable and personable as the many hometown chefs that I have come to know.

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I was flattered by the last minute suggestion that I attend a soiree at Kitchen Sync, but really didn’t realize the magnitude of the invite. Sister #3 did though, she knew that Chef Palmer had been awarded numerous Michelin stars, the titles of his cookbooks and had seen many of his appearances on NBC’s Today Show.

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I loved watching him pull just roasted lamb chops out of the oven, spoon a savoury sauce over them and then, in one fell swoop, make small talk with the foodies, autograph cookbooks and pose for photos.

I am not usually inclined towards lamb but Chef Palmer has made me a recent convert. I noticed that there are two lamb recipes in his American Fare cookbook which has been recently added to my personal collection. I look forward to trying them out along with numerous other delectable looking recipes.

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Friend Chrissy Troy of Virgin Radio chatting with Chef Palmer

My life is often filled with lovely surprizes like a last minute invite to meet a Michelin chef.

Kath’s quote: “We take those things and kind of upgrade them. Give them a little twist, a little finesse, but it still has those flavors and those textures that people identify from their childhood.”-Charlie Palmer

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Love never fails.

 

 

A Christmas Gift from McDonald’s

December14

When our eldest child was five years old we had an extended stay at the Children’s Hospital here in Winnipeg. It was there that we met a little girl that I am going to call Britney. She was in the room next to ours and the two girls loved to play Barbie’s together and Britney’s Mom and I would try to support each other the best we could. I remember the day that we were able to finally go home after our ordeal. December 8 will long be fixed in my memory. Our daughter “Beep” as she is called in this space went to a new school in January where she received all of her necessary therapies as a part of her school day. Before that occurred though, she was an outpatient at the hospital and whenever we were in the building we would go to visit Britney. Beep even got to attend a Christmas party with Britney that was put on by Cancer Care. You see Britney had leukemia. On the day of Christmas Eve, Beep wanted us to delivery Britney’s Christmas present but when we arrived on the ward, we were told that Britney wasn’t feeling up to visitors. We left her gift for her to open whenever she felt up to it. On Boxing Day, without ever having opened her gifts Britney passed away. We had gone to visit the ward that day too and all the nurses were so upset that they were visibly weeping and trying to take care of all of the other sick little ones.

Britney’s Mother was a single Mom from somewhere in the province. She spent every single waking hour at the hospital by Britney’s side. Once Britney had fallen asleep at night, she was encouraged to go take some time for herself, have a good rest and return the next day. This went on for months on end. Luckily for Britney, her Mom was able to stay in the city the entire time and be within walking distance of the hospital. Britney’s Mom spent her nights at Ronald McDonald House. She shared with me that she did not know what she would have done if it were not for the House. She wasn’t willing to spend any time away from Britney as she must have known that their days together were few.

These days Beep has grown up to be a beautiful, intelligent woman and is in the midst of obtaining her Masters Degree at the University of Manitoba. My time had freed up and I was a volunteer at the Children’s Hospital, sometimes on the very ward where Beep and Britney played with their Barbies. In addition to the House which is close by, there is a Ronald McDonald suite right in the hospital. Here families can do their laundry, get caught up on the world through provided computers, make phone calls, relax in front of the fire, bake cookies, watch movies and play with their other children (as often times, a whole family will attend a sick child to the hospital). I have often encouraged parents to take a break and head to the facility while I spent some time hugging their baby or playing on the floor with their toddler.

Recently though, with our own grandbaby and another on the way, I spend the hours that I might have been volunteering, babysitting the Wee One. She is an absolute joy and both D and I are excited every time we get to spend time with her. This weekend she had a sleep over with us and on Saturday evening, I let her open a Christmas gift that had been delivered from McDonalds. A box was filled with a number of treats but the best one was that they had made a donation to Ronald McDonald House in my name, so that a Mom like Britney’s can be close to their child at Christmas.

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The Wee One hasn’t been to McDonalds very often and loved her happy meal with its little “Build a Bear” toy. In turn I was pleased with the sautéed onions, double cheese and pretzel bun of the Jolly Burger from their Holiday Warmer menu.

Here is the Wee One in the act of opening “Glamma’s” gift.

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Poppa read us the card from a Ronald McDonald House Family and then the Wee One gave us her rendition. A healthy child is a blessing that we never, ever take for granted.

Kath’s quote: None of Us is as Good as All of Us.”-Ray Kroc of McDonalds

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Love, that is all.

 

 

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