Cooking Classes


 Well, hello! It has been several months since I have posted on my blog. Life was very busy. All summer long I am vending at the local farmers' market.

Every week I make 70 loaves of  bread, almost 200 scones, 60 hand pies and other sundry and varied items. I dabbled in organic salad dressings. They were moderately successful. I had a few regular customers but mostly it was a hard sell to get them out of the cooler. My hummus, on the other hand, was a hit. It is the creamiest. I have a secret recipe to achieve this creamy texture. And it sold very well.

Then I moved right into Christmas markets. I travelled to larger cities with my gourmet marshmallows and my wild picked berry jams. Both are quite special. It was so nice to get out of town. I had an opportunity to meet new customers, fellow vendors and dine out at new and wonderful restaurants. I'll be doing that again next season.

Christmas baking is completed, almost. I only have a batch of cinnamon buns to bake in the morning. And now I am footloose and fancy free. Well, almost. I am now involved with a trio, including me, making fine dining meals as a pop-up restaurant. We have only delivered one event so far but another two are in the offing.

No rest for the wicked, they say.

Tonight I roasted a little Cornish Game Hen for myself. I dug through my pantry and came up with a wild rice, morel and shallot stuffing. Tossed in celeriac, potato and baby carrots. Finally taking time to make myself some good food.

Stay tuned. I'll be sharing more recipes and ideas this winter.


Played with my food tonight and this is what I made ...

Today was opening day for our farmers' market season. There were a few changes and I have new helpers so it was with a touch of anxiety that I awoke this morning to do it all over again.

I wish I had taken a few pictures. The market was flooded with happy people anxious to buy our offerings. I love market day. After a week of kitchen work it is time to meet your buyers face to face and enjoy a bit of camaraderie.

Tonight I played with food that arrived in my foraged food box from northern Saskatchewan. What a grand meal.

The burn morels were prime. Large, dry and not wormy. They made a flavourful risotto. Dandelion greens are heavy in the dietary fibre so no need to make a lot. Their bitter flavour complimented the risotto. And I have about 6 dozen quail eggs. It was fun to poach a couple. But seriously, they only take a minute. Quail eggs taste like chicken eggs but they proportionately have a large yolk.

Satisfying simple dinner.


Phyllo Balkan Feta Torte with Spring Herbs

I recently visited a new business in Moose Jaw, SK  -  Coteau Hills Creamery. There are precious few cheese makers in this province so the opening was an event to be celebrated. I came home with their Balkan style feta. It is softer and saltier than the Greek style but just as versatile.

Here is a bit about Kirby and Crystal, the owners:

The British Columbia wine industry was good to Kirby and Crystal Froese but after almost two decades it was time to return home to Saskatchewan. “We really wanted to come back to our hometown of Moose Jaw to be with our families. Our nieces and nephew were growing up fast, our parents were getting older, too,” shares Kirby.
It didn’t take long for their entrepreneurial spirit to resurface and after researching various opportunities cheese making seemed like a natural transition from wine making. “Time, temperature, pH, hygiene and patience are elements of both businesses.” They are a dynamite combination to have their own small business. Kirby was the winemaker and Crystal worked in communications and marketing.
They opened the Coteau Hills Creamery with a 750 litre (200 gal) batch pasteurizer/cheese vat. Local milk is delivered every second day from Caroncrest Farms at Caronport, SK and two other local dairies. Milk is pumped directly into the vat and is held at 63 C (145 F) for 30 minutes before it is processed into cheese. As production increases milk will be delivered daily.
Kirby and Crystal are setting their sights on distributing their cheese throughout the country. In order to be federally registered to sell outside of the province, a “Certificate of Analysis” must accompany all the ingredients and come from a Canadian Food Inspection Agency registered facility.
Their first cheese is a Balkan style feta and will be available soon. It is softer and creamier than a Greek feta and saltier.
Next they plan to experiment with other small batch handmade cheeses without using additives to increase yield or add colour. A hamburger cheddar and a brie style are in the works. They are also working on a saskatoon berry rubbed tomme style cheese, which has a lower butterfat content, firmer and with a rind, for release in August.

Phyllo Balkan Feta Torte With Spring Herbs
This is much ligher than a dip and can be heaped with microgreens for a dramatic effect. Serve with crostini or crackers, if you wish.
1 c. fresh whole-milk ricotta 250 mL
3/4 c. Coteau Hills Creamery Balkan style feta 175 mL
2 large eggs
1/3 c. chopped soft spring herbs or baby greens (any combination of dill, mint, sorrel, chives, dandelion, parsley, arugula) or pesto 75 mL
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper 2 mL
1/3 c. unsalted butter, melted 75 mL
1 box phyllo dough, thawed overnight in refrigerator
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
In a large bowl, combine ricotta, feta, egg, herbs and pepper.
Brush 6 1/2 inch (16.5 cm) spring form pan with some of the melted butter. Drape 2 sheets of phyllo on top of Bundt pan. Do this with 2 more sheets placed perpendicular to the first 2 sheets. Continue adding phyllo sheets in this crisscross manner until all sheets are used. Edges of phyllo should hang over edges of pan.
Scrape half of the ricotta filling into pan. Spread pesto over the cheese. Spoon the rest of the ricotta mixture on top. Fold edges of phyllo over filling. Using a sharp knife, poke at least 10 holes in dough that reach all the way to bottom of pan. Slowly pour melted butter over torte. Some butter will seep through holes and some will remain on top of dough.
Place pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, or until torte is puffy and golden brown. Allow torte to cool in pan for 1 hour before removing from the spring form pan and serving on a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Spring is Rhubarb Time

I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan. Rhubarb in the spring was a staple but we never had any on our farm. I pined for rhubarb pie and did not learn how to make one until years later. This is another version that I thought I would try. 

The crust is a butter crust rather than a lard crust. It has a meringue. A nice variation from the standard.

Rhubarb Meringue Pie
Eggs should be at room temperature when making meringue. It usually takes about 30 minutes for eggs from the refrigerator to warm up to room temperature. Older eggs give better volume than fresh eggs. Be sure the bowl and utensils are fat-free because the tiniest bit of fat will ruin the meringue. Add the sugar when the egg whites have reached the soft peak stage. The peaks will fall over gently when they have reached the soft peak stage. Gradually add sugar until stiff peaks are formed.

Put the meringue on a piping hot pie and cover the top completely and touching the crust all around to prevent it from shrinking. The heat will partially cook the bottom of the meringue and prevent shrinking and weeping. Cut a with a knife dipped in cold water.

1 recipe of Buttery Pastry
4-5 c. rhubarb, raw 1-1.25 L
1 tsp. orange zest 5 mL
2 eggs, separated
2/3 c. + 1/4 c. sugar 150 mL + 60 mL
2 tbsp. all purpose flour 30 mL
2 tbsp. butter, melted 30 mL
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar 1 mL

Roll out pastry and line a deep pie plate. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 375 F. Chop the rhubarb it into roughly 1cm slices. If the stalks are very wide and chunky then cut in half lengthways, also. Scatter on a baking sheet and bake until tender. Remove from baking and drain, reserving the liquid.

Separate eggs, putting the whites aside for the meringue. Beat egg yolks in a medium sized bowl with a fork. Add 2/3 cup sugar, flour and the melted butter. Continue to beat until blended. Then add the eggs and 1/3 cup of the rhubarb liquid to make a smooth and runny paste. Add rhubarb and mix to blend. Pour into pastry shell. Bake until set, about 30-40 minutes.

Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks, add cream of tartar, 1/4 cup of remaining sugar and continue to beat until glossy and stiff peaks form. Spoon this over the hot cooked rhubarb pie, making sure it is completely covered and there is no gap where rhubarb can bubble through the meringue. Use the spoon to bring some of the meringue into peaks. Put back in the oven for about 15 minutes until the peaks are toasted.

Cool for 10 minutes and serve. 

Buttery Pastry
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour 310 mL
1/2 tsp. sugar 2 mL
1/4 tsp. kosher salt 1 mL
1/2 c. chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 125 mL, 12 mm
1/2 c. ice water 125 mL

Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter. Pulse until the texture of very coarse meal. Add ice water slowly until dough comes together in clumps. Form into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill until firm, about 1 hour. Makes 1 single crust.

Rhubarb Eton Mess
4 c. rhubarb 1 L
2 tsp. maple sugar 10 mL
2 c. whipping cream 500 mL
1 packet individual meringue nests

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Chop the rhubarb into 1/2 inch (12 mm) pieces. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Roast until the rhubarb is tender and beginning to caramelize. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Whip the cream in a large bowl until thick but still soft. Roughly crumble in 4 meringue nests.
Take out about half a cupful of the rhubarb, and fold the meringue cream and rest of the fruit mixture together.

Arrange in 4 dessert bowls and top each with remaining rhubarb. Serve immediately.

Rhubarb Iced Tea
8 c. rhubarb, chopped into small pieces 2 L
1 c. sugar 250 mL
1 Earl Grey teabag

Roast chopped rhubarb in a 350 F (180 C) oven until tender. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Strain the juice from the fruit in a colander. Use the fruit for a pie or crisp. 

Boil 2 cups (500 mL) of rhubarb juice with 1 cup (250 mL) sugar. Cool. 

Put teabag in a pot and add 3 cups of boiling water. Steep for 5-7 minutes or until it is a strong tea. Remove teabag. Chill tea.

Mix tea with an equal amount of rhubarb syrup and pour over a glass full of ice. Serve.


Now This is a Yorkshire Pudding

The prime cuts of beef are the prime rib roast, short loin and sirloin and make up only 25% of the carcass. Cooking with the prime cuts is often seen as a no brainer. But skill is required to make the most of them.

Standing Rib Roast
Dry a 3-rib roast, about 7 pounds (3.5 kg), thoroughly with a paper towel and place it on a plate in the refrigerator to further dry for 1 to 3 days.
Bring the meat to room temperature before roasting by allowing it to sit on the countertop for 30 minutes. Season generously all over with sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C). Place the meat in a roasting pan, bone side down and roast for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 325 F (160 C) until done. Additional cooking time for rare is 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Half an hour before the expected done time, insert a meat thermometer into a thick portion away from bone and fat. When the internal temperature reads within 5 degrees of desired doneness remove it from the oven, cover with foil and let sit up to 45 minutes. The temperature will rise during this rest period. Rare is an internal temperature of 120 F (50 C). Medium meat reaches 140-145 F (60-63 C), medium well is 150-155 F (65-68 C) and well done is about 160 F (71 C). Save all the juices from the pan and serve in a small gravy boat with the roast. Serves 4.
Yorkshire Pudding
Make one large Yorkshire Pudding and serve it with the roast on top. It will soak up all the juices.
1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
1 c. flour 250 mL
2 eggs
1 c. milk 250 mL
1/4 c. oil 60 mL
Mix all ingredients, except the oil, together.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C).
Take an 8-inch round pan and pour the 4 tablespoons of oil into it.
Heat the pan for 2 minutes before pouring in the cold batter.
Cook for 20 to 30 minutes.
Do not open the oven door during cooking.
Serve immediately and enjoy the crispy outer edges and the custard-like inside. Serves 4.
Smashed Potatoes with Truffle Oil
Cook 4 medium sized whole potatoes in boiling water until just fork tender. Drain. Generously oil a baking sheet and place potatoes on the sheet with space around each for spreading.
With a potato masher gently crush each one and then crush again at a 90-degree angle to the first crush. Brush will oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and drizzle with truffle oil.
Bake on the top shelf of a 450 F preheated oven until golden with crispy edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Serves 4.


Poached Steelhead Trout with Lemon Risotto

During the World Women's Curling Championships here in Swift Current I was sourcing a lot of local food for the opening banquet.

One of the items we picked up for the banquet was steelhead trout from Lucky Lake. Wild West Steelhead has a wonderful farm on Lake Diefenbaker. Their fish is very good. Not only is it delicious and fresh they know how to farm fish and be kind to the environment. The fish food is government approved. The eggs are neutered so the fish cannot reproduce, if by chance any escape.

I was immediately impressed by the texture of the fish. It is firm and cooks to flake easily. I think I'll be making that two and a half hour trip over bad country roads at least once a year from now on.

For the banquet the fish was cured and made into gravlax, sliced thinly and added to the starter salad.

Poaching fish is highly under-rated. Poaching is especially convenient in the summer. The fish can be cooked ahead of time and chilled to be served cold or at room temperature. Serve with a homemade mayonnaise or aioli.

I have also included a very easy slow cooker poached version.

Poached Steelhead Fillets with Pimient d’Espelette Mayonnaise
Serve this with a simple green salad dressed in a tarragon vinaigrette, and lemon risotto. Pimient d’espelette is a spice from the Basque region of France and Spain in the Pyrenees near the village of Espelette. It is more delicate than cayenne.
1/3 c. water 75 mL
1/3 c. dry white wine 75 mL
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 fresh parsley sprigs
1 fresh thyme sprig
2 full fillets of steelhead trout, skin on
Combine 1/3 cup (75 mL) water, wine, shallot, parsley and thyme in large skillet. Place steelhead fillets skin side down in a large pan like a small roaster. Season with salt and pepper. Cover tightly and heat to just under a simmer over medium-low heat until fish is barely opaque in center, about 10 minutes. The liquid should not break into a boil. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer steelhead to a platter. Discard liquid or reserve it to use as fish stock. Cover fish with plastic wrap and chill until cold, at least 4 hours.
Serve steelhead on a platter. Garnish with slices of lemon and serve with pimiento d’espelette mayonnaise. 

Pimient d’Espelette Mayonnaise
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature 30 minutes
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard 2 mL
1 c. olive or vegetable oil (or a combination), divided
2 tsp. sherry wine vinegar 10 mL
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice 7 mL
1 tsp. pimient d’espelette 5 mL
2 tbsp. shallots, finely chopped 30 mL
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Whisk together yolk, mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) salt until combined well. Add about 1/4 cup (60 mL) oil drop by drop, whisking constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Whisk in vinegar and lemon juice, then add remaining 1/2 cup (125 mL) oil in a very slow, thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended. If at any time it appears that oil is not being incorporated, stop adding oil and whisk mixture vigorously until smooth, then continue adding oil. Whisk in salt, black pepper and pimient d’esplette. Chill, covered, until ready to use. This can also be made in a blender and stream the oil in slowly.
The egg yolk in this recipe is not cooked, which may be of concern if salmonella is a problem in your area. Mayonnaise keeps, covered and chilled, up to 7 days.

Simple Poached Steelhead Trout
This method of poaching fish is foolproof. However, it only works for single serving portions rather than a whole side of fish.
1 c. water 250 mL
1/2 c. dry white wine 125 mL
1 yellow onion slice
1 lemon slice
1 sprig dill
1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
slice 2 steelhead fillets into 6 - single serving portions, without using the thinner tail portions
Combine the water and wine in the slow cooker and heat on high for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the onion, lemon, dill, salt and salmon. Cover and cook on high for about 20 minutes, until the salmon is opaque and cooked through according to taste. Serve hot or cold.  (Adapted from The Gourmet Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley)

Lemon Risotto
2 tbsp. shallots, finely chopped 30 mL
2 tbsp. olive oil 30 mL
1 c. Arborio rice 250 mL
1/3 c. dry white wine 75 mL
2 c. chicken stock, approx. 500 mL
1 tsp. lemon zest 5 mL
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated 60 mL
Saute shallots in olive oil until clear. Add rice and toss until coated in oil. Add wine and cook until reduced by half. Add warm chicken stock a ladle at a time until the rice is cooked to al dente. Stir often. The rice should be cooked but still firm. Remove from heat and add parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.


A Sandwich Buffet or How to use up all those bits and pieces of food

It’s that time again. Seeding is in full swing and farm work becomes more active so is the busy-ness in the kitchen. Sometimes it is okay just to throw something together for lunch. This sandwich buffet uses bits and pieces of food that alone are not enough to feed a crew. It is an excellent way to use a single pork tenderloin, a couple of chicken breasts or a partial package of bacon. Then present a decadent dessert as the finale.

The components of a sandwich buffet include the protein, the crunch, the breads, butters and mayonnaise.  

Proteins are essential for muscle growth and repair. It takes the body longer to digest protein so a person feels full longer. Offer several choices of pre-sliced meats, poached fish, pates, cheeses and eggs.

Generously rub pork tenderloin or skin-on chicken breast with a seasoning mix like Creole or lemon pepper. Preheat a cast iron pan with a little canola oil and add the meat. Brown on all sides then slip it into a 350 F (180 C) oven to complete cooking, about 15 minutes. Cool and slice thinly.

Crispy comes from sliced raw vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes and crisp, torn lettuces. Torn lettuce can be prepared in advance because it browns more slowly than cut lettuce. Wash and shake lettuce dry and tear into serving size pieces. Then wrap it in a clean tea towel and refrigerate until serving time. Pickles, sauerkraut and a simple shredded coleslaw add flavour and crunch. 

Offer a selection of breads and buns. Baguettes make a nice chewy sandwich. Slice them horizontally for a hearty serving. Whip up some biscuits. Focaccia is simple to make in large batches. It is a flatbread and is sliced horizontally to make sandwiches.

Moisten the sandwich and also prevent juices from soaking the bread with mayonnaise, butter and mustards. Dig through the fridge for condiments like cranberry sauce, salsas and chutneys and put them on the table.
1 medium baking potato, peeled and quartered
1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast 7 mL
3 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour 875 mL
1 c. warm water 250 mL
1/4 c. olive oil, plus more for the pan 60 mL
1 1/2 tsp. salt 7 mL
Boil potato until tender. Drain and cool. Put it through a ricer and use about 1 cup (250 mL) lightly packed potato.
In the large bowl of a stand mixer combine yeast, flour and 1 cup (250 mL) warm water until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until bubbly, about 20 minutes.
Add remaining dough ingredients, including reserved potato. Mix with paddle attachment on low speed until the dough comes together. Switch to dough hook attachment and increase speed to medium. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl, turn the dough to coat with oil and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm, draft-free place until dough is doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Cut dough in half and flatten each piece into an 8-inch disk on a large, generously oiled baking sheet. Cover dough with clean tea towel and rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C). With 2 or 3 fingers, dimple the dough at regular intervals. Make about 2 dozen dimples. They should almost poke through the bottom of the bread. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake about 25 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Serve warm. This recipe can easily be doubled. (Cooks Illustrated)
Poblano Salsa
1 large poblano pepper, halved and seeds removed 
1 bunch scallions 
2 tbsp. canola oil 30 mL
2 tbsp. fresh mint, roughly chopped 30 mL
1 tsp. lemon juice 5 mL
1/2 tsp. cane sugar 2 mL
1/2 tsp. chili flakes 2 mL
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
Place poblano halves and scallions on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and roast until softened, about 15-18 minutes.
Remove from oven, cool slightly, then chop coarsely.
Add to a bowl with remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper.  (Bon Appetit)
Caramel Brownies in a Jar
There is no brownie better than a cocoa brownie. Serve these in a 1 cup (250 mL) wide-mouth canning jar or other dessert dish. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a generous drizzle of caramel sauce.
10 tbsp. unsalted butter 155 mL
1 1/4 c. sugar 315 mL
3/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder 175 mL + 30 mL
1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla 2 mL
2 cold large eggs
1/2 c. all purpose flour 125 mL
2/3 c. walnut or pecan pieces (optional) 150 mL
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C). Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
Combine butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from skillet and set aside until mixture is only warm, not hot.
Stir in vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When batter looks thick, shiny and well blended, add flour and stir until fully mixed in, then beat vigorously for 2 or 3 minutes the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
Bake until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
Lift up the ends of the parchment and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares. (Bon Appetit)


Soba Noodle Salad with White Miso Dressing

Salads are the crunchy version of a soup or stew. They can be made with whatever is at hand. My month of crunchy salads is on day 6. There is no real recipe today. Just an inspiration.

I have a few leftovers from previous meals so they came together in this salad with the addition of cold soba noodles. Cook noodles according to package instructions.

Finely chopped kale, romaine and green onions were tossed with cold cooked soba noodles and yesterdays salad dressing Miso, Carrot and Sesame Dressing. Garnished with spicy pepitas and sea buckthorn berries. Nutrition overload.


Miso, Carrot and Sesame Dressing

This is day five in my month of salads challenge. My real meal was the shrimp bisque. This is a simple salad elevated by an interesting dressing. The recipe is from Bon Appetit. Enjoy.

Miso, Carrot, and Sesame Dressing

I have white soy paste and it is very thick and rich. I cut the amount of white miso in half. I would suggest you use it 'to taste'. 

Servings: Makes about 11/2 cups
  • 1/2 cup white miso
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (packed) finely grated peeled carrot
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated peeled ginger
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey 
Place all ingredients plus 1/4 cup water in a resealable container. Cover and shake vigorously until well combined. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.


Curried Couscous and Sidestripe Prawn Salad

Serving only sustainably harvested seafood is very important to me. BC sidestripe shrimp is ethically and sustainably harvested. It is a top choice of the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise program. Always look for their logo on any fish or seafood you purchase.

A long time ago when I was in real estate sales one of my clients was from mainland China. Every time his entourage came into town we had a feast at his partner's restaurant. That is when I first learned to eat shell-on shrimp. Now it is the only way I want it.

Curried Couscous and Sidestripe Prawn Salad

1/2 cup cooked couscous
1/4 cup corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon Madras curry powder
2 teaspoons peach chutney
1/2 small head of romaine lettuce
8 side stripe prawns
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
olive oil
sea salt

Wash and crisp romaine leaves. Leave them whole.

Cook couscous according to package instructions. When finished add curry powder, corn kernels and one teaspoon of chutney. Stir to mix. Season with sea salt to taste. Set aside

Toss prawns with smoked paprika and add to a hot pan that has been oiled with olive oil. Turn once and cook until done.

Prepare salad by laying 2-4 romaine leaves on a plate. Fill with couscous. Top with sauteed prawns. Serve immediately. Serves one.


Black Kale Salad with Navy Beans

It is Crunch Challenge month. Eat a crunchy salad every day for a month. I committed to posting every day whether it was pretty or not. Today I dined a little later and the natural sunlight was fading. That makes it difficult for taking a good picture. But here it is.

I enjoyed this salad but could have thought it through a little more. The pine nuts are the same size, colour and shape as the navy beans. They taste good together but not very eye appealing. I was considering saskatoon berries to sweeten the bitter kale but took the lazy way out and used some pomegranate jelly that was hiding in my refrigerator. It worked very well. Shaved parmesan would be ideal but I had none.

The dried navy beans were cooked in my pressure cooker with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda added to the water. Cooked for 5 minutes from the time full pressure was reached and they were perfect. The outer skins separated and rose to the top of the water. Skimming these off will solve your problem with flatulence and beans.

 My sea salt comes from an artisanal producer operating on Salt Spring Island. Canadian flavoured sea salt! Yay! The brand name is Salt Spring Sea Salt. This is pure with only balsamic and garlic added to pure sea salt.

I rarely use bacon fat. I don't like the flavour and idea of all the sulphites and additives. However, I was fortunate to find a pastured pig that was made into old style bacon. So delicious. I could not waste a drop of that liquid gold.

Black Kale Salad with Navy Beans

3 or 4 leaves of black kale, rib stripped out and leaves chopped
1 tablespoon good quality bacon fat
1/4 cup cooked navy beans
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
balsamic garlic sea salt
pomegranate jelly

Saute kale in bacon fat until just tender. Arrange on serving plate. Top with navy beans and pine nuts. Season with balsamic flavoured sea salt and pomegranate jelly. Serves one.


Candied Steelhead Trout Salad with Romaine and Spicy Pepitas

A couple of weeks ago three of us made a trip to Wild West Steelhead trout farm. It was so interesting to see the facility and chat with Twyla, the person who sells the products. None of us could resist buying a package of candied trout.

Of course candied or gingered nuts would be wonderful but in the spirit of honouring my budget I am using seeds a lot more this year. They are crunchy and nutritious and a whole lot cheaper. A pet peeve is undressed greens. None of this drizzling vinaigrette over greens. That is okay if you are serving 400 people but in a home kitchen or fine restaurant the greens should be dressed and then laid out on the plate.

Candied Steelhead Trout Salad

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of your favourite chiles, ground
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
juice of half an orange
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cups romaine, coarsely ripped
2 tablespoons goat cheese
1/4 cup candied steelhead trout, chopped in bite sized pieces

Wash romaine and dry. Rip into large bite size pieces. Wrap in a tea towel and put in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Toss pumpkin seeds with a little olive oil and toast in a pan over medium heat. As soon as they are beginning to brown turn onto a paper towel to soak up extra oil. Sprinkle with ground chiles. Set aside.

Place ingredients 3 through 7 in a jar with a lid. Shake vigorously to mix. Toss romaine with vinaigrette in a large bowl. Arrange on your plate. Top with torn pieces of steelhead trout and chevre. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve.


Chicken Salad with Camelina Tarragon Vinaigrette

About a year ago chef and cookbook author David Leite of Leite's Culinaria formed a new group called the Fatty Daddys. He was going through a difficult time and needed support. Immediately the group filled and I can't believe we have not let it go. There are so many motivated and supportive members helping each other in their weight loss struggle.

This month one of the members issued a Crunch Challenge. Well, you know, we have been doing planks, running, jumping, skipping and everything active. Naturally we assumed it was another activity but no, it is a challenge to crisp things up with salads.

I created the same challenge for myself a few years back when I was housesitting in Tennessee. I made a salad a day for a month. So here I am again. New location, different ingredients and a different time in my life. I pledge to post my salad whether it is noteworthy or not. I am looking forward to this month of interesting and challenging salads.

This is a salad for one person. I was essentially using what was available in my refrigerator. What fun! I didn't see a crunchy salad when I peered in. Boy, was I wrong.

Chicken Salad with Camelina Tarragon Vinaigrette

1/2 cup shredded roast chicken
1 carrot, coarsely grated
2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon camelina oil
2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 radish coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon crunchy chickpea snack

 Combine camelina oil, tarragon vinegar, Dijon mustard in a jar with a lid and shake to make the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a medium sized bowl combine onion, carrot and radish. Add vinaigrette and stir to coat. Add the rest of the ingredients except crispy chickpeas. Toss to coat all ingredients.

Plate the salad and garnish with crispy roasted chickpeas.

Roasted Chickpea Snack
Use any seasonings you have on hand.
  • 15 fl.oz. can chickpeas, drained
  • canola oil
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. chili pepper powder  
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Drain chickpeas in a colander and let them dry completely. Spread the chickpeas on a baking sheet and leave them on the counter an hour to make sure they are very dry. This may take an hour or so. Preheat oven to 375 F.

Drizzle or spray chickpeas with oil and roast for about 35 to 45 minutes, shaking the pan every ten minutes. All ovens are different so make sure they don't burn. They will be golden brown and crunchy on the inside when done, not moist. They will continue to crisp up after taking out of the oven. Mix up all the spices and toss the chickpeas in it while they are still warm.


36 Hours in Swift Current - 2016 Ford World Women's Curling Championships

South Saskatchewan River Valley at dusk. Photo credit Sherri Grant, Val Marie, SK

In less than 3 weeks the eyes of the curling world will be trained on my small city in the prairieland of Saskatchewan. Teams, or rinks as they are called in this sport, will arrive from 11 countries. The town will be awash in visitors and this guide is for those who want to take some time away from the rink. Yes, rink is the word for the team and also the word for the arena where the game is played. Confused yet? Put on your slider and hurry hard as I take you with me for the next day and a half.
Ice on pond on a sunny day. Photo credit Sarah Galvin.
The cutbanks on Swift Current Creek on the south side of town. Photo credit Sarah Galvin.
Saturday, March 19
9:00 am
Rather than having a cuppa at the obvious choices of Urban Ground or Starbucks opt to join coffee row at the downtown Timmy's (Tim Hortons). Retired farmers and business men alike gather to shoot the breeze. Eavesdrop all you want. They won't care. And with any luck you can have a prairie specialty with your coffee, butter tarts.

Photo credit Sarah Galvin.

 10:00 am 
When I pulled into this dusty prairie town I was drawn in by the remnants of history. The Court House, Lyric Theatre and several other buildings gave this city a sense of place and time. It aroused my interest. Swift Current is no different than so many old Canadian cities and towns. Many historical gems have been razed. The Swift Current Museum has created walking and driving tours of historical Swift Current that help you to envision its previous glory.

The Healy Hotel immediately created a stir when I put out the word I was looking for little known facts about our town. Jacki MacDonald shared a little known bit of history. Her sister's first husband said when he was tagging along with his older brothers they found tunnels by the train tracks. The Healy is known for having more than one outlaw as a patron. Located a mere two blocks from the train station made it an ideal hideout. Even Al Capone spent time here during the Prohibition. Rumour has it these are long forgotten tunnels were used by gangsters. Swift Current has a convenient location close to the US border. The Soo Line Railway ran through here from the States providing access for those hiding from the law. The hotel was demolished only in 1989. 

From the words of the University of Alberta Library "The Healy Hotel stood at the corner of Cheadle and 1 Ave NE. confirmed reports of a tunnel leading from the railway station to the hotel to allow for safe dispatch".
Photo credit University of Alberta Libraries. Opened 1914.
The Lyric Theatre. Built 1912.
First United Church. Construction began in 1912.
Swift Current Court House. Completed in 1916.

Visit the current installation at the Art Gallery of Swift Current. Seeking Tranquility by Maple Creek photographer Al Hartley. It can be found at 411 Herbert St. E. in the downtown.
Photo credit Al Hartley

12:00 pm 
Still downtown? Stop for lunch at a local favourite Pizza sTOP

1:30 pm
Time to stretch your legs and get out of town. There are a number of Hutterite Colonies nearby. Go for a visit but call first. They are very busy. Don't call on a Sunday though.
Nothing better than Hutterite buns. They will be served at the Opening Banquet for the Games. Photo credit Sarah Galvin.
3:00 pm  
While you are driving north on Highway #4 look out for the Lonely Tree. Honk and make a wish. This is only 6 km north of the city. If you decide to drive out at night time, say around 10pm or later you might be lucky enough to see the Aurora Borealis, 'The Northern Lights'.
Lone Tree. Photo credit Prairie Fire Photography by Craig Hilts.

Drive a little farther to Lake Diefenbaker and Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park. The park is closed in the winter but driving down into the valley is simply breathtaking. You will most likely find people ice fishing on the lake.

5:00 pm 
Before dinner visit Black Bridge Brewery. Stop by to sample the beers and to purchase your growlers for take out!
The tasting room at Black Bridge Brewery. Photo credit Black Bridge Brewery
6:00 pm 
It's an early dinner tonight so we can catch a live concert later. There are so many choices and many of them Greek! I would opt for The Akropol Lounge Next Door. Not only do I love the name and the lounge is upscale but John Gannitsos is the world's best host. Ask for the Greek special. Plus he feeds every musician who comes to perform at the Lyric.

8:00 pm 
The Lyric Theatre was opened in 1912 and built at a cost of $50,000. It is one of the oldest running theatres in the province. It is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar refurbishment. Tonight they are presenting the talented  Jason Plumb, Danny Olliver, Megan Nash
There will be a display of photographs at the Lyric by members of Image West Photographic Association. More of their works are on display at the Art Gallery of Swift Current. These are a part of the Saskatchewan Prairie Light Photography Festival 2016

Jason Plumb. Photo credit Jason Plumb.

Upper level of The Lyric under renovation. Photo credit The Lyric Theatre.
Still not ready for bed? Drop by the Living Sky Casino and feed some slots.
 Photo credit Living Sky Casino.

Sunday, March 20

10:30 am
Parts of southern Saskatchewan are referred to as the Bible Belt. There could not be a better description for the Swift Current area. There are more churches than people, almost. You can find several Christian denominations including Greek and Ukrainian Orthodox. There is also a mosque but no synagogue or Hindu temple, to my knowledge.

Ukranian Orthodox Church. Photo credit Sarah Galvin.

11:30 am
Brunch time. Downtown check out the menu at Sinano Greek Resto or take in the brunch buffet at the Living Sky Casino.

Go skating. We have had a very mild winter so far and the outdoor skating rinks are not ready. Check out the ice at Fairview Arena. Located at 101 Hayes Drive. Or Northhill Indoor Ice at 4 Avenue NE & Ashford St.
Photo credit Sarah Galvin.
Photo credit Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame
Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame in the I-Plex where the curling events are taking place.

How to get here -

Fly into the Regina International Airport and rent a car. Drive 2 1/2 hours west from Regina on the Trans Canada Highway. 

Arrive by Greyhound Bus or STC (Saskatchewan Transit System). 

There is an airport to accommodate small private jets and planes. This is a century airport and trained pilots for World War II. In September the world famous Snowbirds of the RCAF will present an airshow.

Where to stay -
The hotels and motels are on the highway. Home Suites Inn, Holiday Inn, Best Western and Green Hectares Bed & Breakfast are a few choices.

And if you return to venture outside the city there is a world to explore.
Great Sandhills Park. All photos Sarah Galvin

Summer storm looming south of Swift Current.

Murraydale Rodeo, oldest in western Canada.

Great Sandhills Park.

Avonlea Badlands.

Driving up to the bench near Cypress Hills.

Dinosaur bone exposed in East Block of Grasslands National Park.