Larry Fiege of Fiege’s Farm, talking about BC Big Leaf Maple Syrup

Photo and Interview by Gayle Hurmuses, with additional questions from Tilman Hainle.

Growing up in BC, I always wondered why only eastern maples could be tapped for syrup. I discovered this year that others had taken that on and begun tapping and boiling down the sap of the Big Leaf Maple which grows vigorously throughout the province.

The conditions make it difficult or impossible to produce Big Leaf Maple Syrup on a scale that makes it profitable, but a small group of local farmers make it for an equally small segment of dedicated fans.

Larry Fiege is one of those farmers and he recently introduced me to the fact of BC maple syrup’s unique and fascinating flavour…his syrup is lovely, with caramel notes, and a rich, full flavour…more aromatic than the many  excellent eastern maple syrups I’ve had.

It’s a capricious practice, the conditions aren’t always right, and the yields are unpredictable and often low…but the flavour is outstanding and unique…always lovely, but  as variable as west coast weather.

Other stories on Eatin’s Canada about Maple Syrup:

Sugarbush Sugarshack
Maple syrup – The essence of spring

The Plant Foods Council calls for changes to food regulations


An urgent request just came in from The Plant Foods Council.  There is a questionnaire that they are asking people to fill out today  because the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is enforcing some regulations which are not favorable towards vegan products and producers of vegan products.

Full story here (LINK).

From their press release:  “The Plant Foods Council, a national trade association promoting and protecting the interests of plant food manufacturers in Canada, is calling for changes to food regulations that discriminate against vegan products similar to traditional animal products such as meats, milks, cheeses and butters.

 The Plant Foods Council is also seeking an end to the recent and disproportionate targeting of plant-based companies and manufacturers by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

link to SURVEY

You can help by completing the CFIA’s survey about modernization of food labeling while keeping in mind the following amendments that Plant Foods Council is asking for:

  • Recognize and regulate the term “vegan” as a descriptor of plant-based products.

  • Allow the use of terms like “cheese”, “milk”, and “butter” to describe plant-based products.

  • Remove the requirement that plant-based meats must have the same nutritional profile as animal meats.

BBQ Pork by GaddAboutEating

Recipe and photos by GaddAboutEating.

This BBQ pork is styled after the Chinese Char Siew style, but with some homegrown (BC) and international (Guyanese) stylings.

I think it’s worth noting that most, if not all of my recipes, are designed to be simple for beginner cooks to follow; practical for those with small kitchens or limited supplies; and fun for anyone to use and play with.  If you don’t have a particular ingredient:   SUBSTITUTE with something else similar or if it seems like it’s not crucial: omit it.

In this recipe, for instance, the maltose and hoisin sauce that would typically be included have been replaced by cane sugar and cassareep.   If you don’t have honey, use brown sugar. or maple syrup, or whatever you think is similar, available, and interesting.

And finally, before we get into the recipe, I’d like to talk a little bit more about cassareep.  DSC_0085[1]Cassareep is made from cassava. Cassava is a vegetable root grown in the heat of the tropics. It has many similarities to a potato and is enjoyed in many ways by people in many countries. Cassareep is a thick black liquid made from cassava root, often with additional spices, which is used as a base for many sauces and especially in Guyanese pepperpot. Besides use as a flavoring and browning agent, it also acts as a preservative. Its antiseptic characteristics have led to medical application as an ointment, most notably in the treatment of certain eye diseases.
To make cassareep, the juice is boiled until it is reduced by half in volume, to the consistency of molasses and flavored with spices—including cloves, cinnamon, salt, sugar, and cayenne pepper.  Traditionally, cassareep was boiled in a soft pot, the actual “pepper pot”, which would absorb the flavors and also impart them (even if dry) to foods such as rice and chicken cooked in it.  Most cassareep is exported from Guyana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Niagara Integrated Film Festival – Film Feast Tour!

The Niagara Integrated Film Festival (NIFF) is a fantastic idea combining many of the things the Southern Ontario Region is noted for: Great Films, Food and Wine!

BillMarshall
NIFF and TIFF Founder Bill Marshall

Founded by Bill Marshall, also a founder of the Festival of Festivals, now The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), NIFF takes place in the vineyards throughout the Niagara Region.

Packages include gala events with 5 course meals, “Filmalicious” with station style dinners, Film Feast, with drinks and bites offered at a mini winery tour, and the Spotlight Series, in traditional cinemas, doubtless sans wine, but with a longer program for the true film buffs…or those that took a tour earlier in the day.

As a former film student, foodie and Apollonian Dionysian, (I’m Greek, indulge me). I loved the idea of this festival immediately upon hearing about it, and was excited recently to attend a bloggers event where we were taken on one of the two Film Feast mini coach tours that are scheduled for the event.

The event was a blast, despite the fact that I was only marginally awake…eyes open, brain at half speed, thanks to having completed the Mother of All Moves, at 10pm the evening before.

We met at 9am at 250 Front St, in front of the CBC Mothership, and travelled in a mini-coach with its own interior light show and 80’s music…it was like being in an early rock video, except we didn’t begin to drink until a couple of hours later. Thankfully, I’d had the time to grab an egg salad sandwich and coffee at one of the vendors in the food court below. NB. If you are ever in the CBC building and need to get a quick and delicious sandwich and coffee with very little lineup, go to the convenience store/deli thing…they’re excellent.

After a quick stop to pick up more bloggers and a local news reporter in Niagara-on-the-Lake, we went on a tour of three wineries for a selection of wines, food pairings and movies.

PondviewBarnPondview Estates Winery, our first stop, was by far my favourite. The hosts were warm and charming, clearly beaming with pride over the estate, and justifiably so. They had planned to do the presentation indoors, but thanks to unexpected beautiful weather, we were hosted outdoors on the veranda overlooking the estate vineyards. It was a lovely setting and a wonderful way to begin the tour.

Our hostess Kimberly, told us the company history, instructed us on wine technique, and introduced each pairing with excellent showmanship, reminding us to wait for the right moment to appreciate the pairings, as her colleague gracefully filled our glasses. Lou Puglisi stood by beaming and spoke about growing the business and growing in it. 

Tasting Plate Pondview Estates Winery
Tasting Plate Pondview Estates Winery

The foods for pairing were simply cheese and charcuterie, but excellent (with the exception of an excessively fatty prosciutto, left unfinished), well chosen for their pairings, and presented with a sense of showmanship.

The wines were lovely, Harmony White served with Brie, Bella Terra Chardonnay with Gran Padano, and Cab Merlot or Harmony red with the unfortunate prosciutto, I chose the Cab Merlot, which I loved and as a dedicated imbiber of red wines was surprised at how much I enjoyed the white wines, particularly the Chardonnay, usually not a favourite of mine, but I would happily have this on my wine rack.

Then we were led to screenings in the barrel room, in a space created by walls of wine. It was a cool room, but we were offered warm and colourful blankets, which made it cosy and fun.

The films  were each gripping and memorable.  one about feuding fishermen and a selfless act of courage that transcended the conflict; the other about Inuit fishermen following the old ways and a mysterious violent event. The chill of the room suited both films perfectly, adding to the theme of cold and loss.

From Pondview, we went to Konzelmann Estates Winery, where we were led to a very gothic presentation room in the Barrel Cellar, and greeted by Simon, a genial and gracious host. They served a passable Pinot Noir that was low-priced, but full bodied, paired with a trio of canapes that ranged from appetizer, to main, to dessert. Chicken Ceasar Salad in a Frico Basket, Smoked Salmon Blini’s, and Mini Strawberry Muffin with Mascarpone.

The films were again well-chosen for the location, with the gothic ambiance of the room perfectly suitable to the themes of internal conflict and doubt. Both excellent films, The Time Keeper and Saving Face looked at the ideas of how we spend our time, and what truly is success?

Finally, we arrived at Pillitteri Estate Winery, where the presentation room was a spacious event room overlooking the vineyards, which was lovely when we were sipping wine and tasting the bites offered.

Sadly, there was little showmanship for this particular event and while the wines were introduced to us and the pairings explained, it was  a more perfunctory experience than the two prior (and the food was merely okay). I was aware of the reasons for the pairing, but not drawn into it.

For the record, the trick is not when the magician pulls the rabbit out of the hat, it’s when we’re shown the empty hat, and drawn together into the promise of the trick…and the razzle dazzle happens. Abracadabra! The rabbit is merely the result.

Unfortunately, the blinds were forgotten for the beginning of the screenings and from my vantage point the films were a wash of light. This was corrected midway, allowing the final excellent films Farewell, and Sleeping Giant, to be clearly seen.

Relatively speaking though, these were small issues, as the Pillateri wines, a Pino Gris, a Cab Merlot, and a Vidal Ice Wine were each fabulous, the Vidal being my favourite of the day, and still lingering on the memory of my tongue over a week later.

I recommend this particular tour and am sure that the other is an equally enjoyable experience, and good value for money as an afternoon jaunt.

The rest of the festival has some excellent offerings as well that are more than worth checking out.

Runs from June 18 – 21.

To book tickets: NiagaraFilmFest.com

PondviewBarn

Uses of the Dandelion

From Godey’s Lady’s Book published in 1862 (found on the delightful “The Complete Victorian” website.
Photos by Philly Markowitz and Jacqui Shannon

Dandelions and greens
Dandelions and greens

Henceforth, all Eatin’s Canada recipes will be written in such delicately correct language for the edification of all and sundry.

Dandelion
It’s uses are endless: the young leaves blanched make an agreeable and wholesome early salad; and they may be boiled, like cabbages, with salt meat.

The French too slice the roots and eat them, as well as the leaves with bread and butter, and tradition says that the inhabitants of Minorca once subsisted for weeks on this plant, when their harvest  had been entirely destroyed by insects.

The leaves are ever a favorite and useful article of food in the Vale of Kashmir, where, in spite of the preconceived prejudices we all have to the contrary, dandelions, and other humbler examples of our northern “weeds,” do venture to associate themselves with the rose or the jasmine of it’s eastern soil.

On the bands of the Rhine the plant is cultivated as a substitute for coffee, and Dr. Harrison contends that it possesses the fine flavor and substance of the best Mocha coffee, without its injurious principle; and that it promotes sleep when taken at night, instead of banishing it, as coffee does.

Mrs. Moodie gives us her experiences with dandelion roots, which seem of a most satisfactory nature.  She first cut the roots into small pieces, and dried them in the oven until they were brown and crisp as coffee, and in this state they appear to have been eaten.  But certain it is that she ground a portion of them, and made a most superior coffee.  In some parts of Canada they make an excellent beer of the leaves, in which the saccharine matter they afford forms a substitute for malt, and the bitter flavor serves instead of hops.  In medicine, too, it is invaluable.

Dandelion Flowers
Dandelion Flowers

BEET SALAD using Pickled Beets and Shallots

Recipe and photos by GaddAboutEating.

This is a fun recipe because you can modify it to use ingredients that are currently in your garden (or fridge, or pantry) and it uses a bottle of Pickled Beets and Shallots as featured in this recipe.  Or you can use other pickled beets you have as the base.

Beet Greens in the garden...
Beet Greens in the garden…

The thing I loved about this version of the recipe was that it included not only the pickled beets and shallots, but also the beet greens and shallot greens that were fresh in my garden.  I was tempted to call this ‘Beet Beet Shallot Shallot Salad’ but thought it was a bit heavy handed.  This from someone who LOVES to repeat herself!  😉

Three ways to deal with slugs

Article and photo by Jacqui Shannon
It’s the time of year when our gardens are starting to really come into their own. Our delicate seedling are full of vigor and the promise of harvest is within sight, we know it and so do the slugs.

Slugs. Grotesque, slimy, and capable of completely devastating your plot. It’s enough to dishearten even the most dedicated and have them reaching for a spray bottle.  There are multiple reasons I won’t use chemicals, but I don’t want to get political.

As an organic gardener, I am always looking for ways to improve my soil. Chemical pesticides and fertilizers may offer a short period gain but ultimately leave our soil poorer.   But how do we “win” against slugs without turning to chemicals?

Pick them off. For those with small plots of vegetables and time, a daily commitment to checking each plant is an ideal solution. Taking time for a daily inspection and removal and disposal will keep slugs in check, but this may not be practical if you’re short of time or if your garden is larger than a few meters.

Mulch. A slug is a delicate creature. It has a soft underbelly and will avoid crossing any mulch that is rough and irritating. I ring of mulch of moderately abrasive material such as diatomaceous earth. I suggest 10 cm wide and at least 1cm thick as an effective barrier, or rough bark mulch. You’ll need to ensure you keep it topped up of course, but weekly inspections should suffice. Mulch should not come in contact with the plant, try to leave a good few centimeters circle empty around each stem. I like this method because along with creating a barrier it also helps keep moisture in the soil.

Provide shelter. Slugs do most of their damage at night. During the day a slug will look for refuge. By placing an piece of untreated board at both ends of your garden row, and one in the middle if the row is long, you’ll encourage the slugs to use this as a daytime refuge. This doesn’t stop them from eating your plants, but it does make collection an  disposal quite easy and quickly puts a dent in the number of slugs feasting on your patch . Simply lift the board each morning and remove the slugs below. A upside down empty grapefruit skin in the same positions also works.

Many a gardener has heard about the effective use of copper in deterring slugs. Every year I hear people talking about copper and pennies. Copper tape, if thick enough may certainly do the trick. My experience is adhering it and ensuring it doesn’t get accidentally covered over by soil, (and thus ineffective), can be laborious, it’s also quite expensive.  Pennies unfortunately, have not contained enough copper to work as cheap substitute for a very long time. My advice is to forget about copper and do two or even all three of the above for success.

Photo from http://www.allaboutslugs.com

Banana coconut rum upside down cake (gluten free)

Recipe and photos by Rita Anastasiou.

banana-coconut upside down cake 3

It all started with a failed attempt to make a healthy dessert… It was one of those days again,when I was trying so desperately to trick my sweet tooth with plain bananas…! One thing brought another,I realized I had in my pantry Malibu Rum and all the ingredients for a cake. It’s not any kind of cake! It’s one of the most  moist,rich,fluffy upside down cake you’ve ever had! The caramelized bananas pair beautifully with the warm spiced and the coconut rum! The kitchen bathes with the aromas of the baked bananas…  Try to refuse a piece of cake like this!

banana-coconut upside down cake 2

banana-coconut upside down cake

Social Media Integration Powered by Acurax Wordpress Theme Designers
Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookCheck Our Feed