Sunday, October 24, 2010

More nuts and seeds - on sale now! But going fast...

Heads up! Nut prices are set to rise according to a recent Globe and Mail article. I admit the battle over Canadian potash (so vital to worldwide conventional farming) as the Australia mega-giant BHP Billiton tries to monopolize this vital commodity has me regularly trolling the businesses pages. Interestingly food issues show up quite regularly. In this past week there was this extensive article on nut prices being driven up by growing demand in Asia. While wholesale prices have already gone up 40%, we Canucks (as well as Americans) have been protected by the purchase contracts already in place under older pricing. Now these contracts are up and prices are soaring. Pecans are apparently the target crop but almonds and walnuts (those much touted healthy nuts) are set to follow as well as cashews, pistachios, peanuts, macdamias, pine nuts and brazils the prices for which are already up by 70%. All that to say you might want to buy in bulk now. In fact, if you're in Saint John at least I noticed that the organic nuts were marked down by quite a bit yesterday at the Super Store (they may be getting to the end of their shelf life - but presumably you can freeze them?) In any case, check out the nuts and seeds in the organic section at the Super Store for some good deals. Otherwise you can get organic nuts at Aura in Fredericton I know. And you can order some organic seeds (including those pumpkin seeds!) from Speerville Flour Mill

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - Recipes - Food - Canadian Living

And here's how!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - Recipes - Food - Canadian Living

Apparently you can also add maple syrup for a lovely nutty sweet flavour.

Pumpkin seeds and the Top 10 superfoods: Goji berries, cinnamon, turmeric and more - Nutrition - Canadian Living

And here's why you "should" roast the pumpkin seeds as you prepare for Halloween!

Top 10 superfoods: Goji berries, cinnamon, turmeric and more - Nutrition - Canadian Living

Just say no to GMO

A friend sent me this video link that's just too fun not to share....

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Happy Belated Organic Week

Well hopefully you all were more on top of it than I was last week, but apparently it was "National Organic Week". A Globe and Mail insert was devoted to organics on the 14th so it has prompted me to at least remind you all that in this fall harvest season organic produce can still be had direct from NB farms. Indeed, I was chatting to one of the folks from Jemseg River farms, who are at the Fredericton Market each Saturday (and their blog is here on blogspot: Jemseg River Farms , and she told me that not only do they have a nice fall harvest of things like kale and squash but they still have salad greens. So don't let the fall weather fool you into thinking you're forced back to the grocery store. And there is also traditional fall produce available from organic farms, like Hutlo's organic apples (I picked some up at True Foods in F'ton). You can contact Hutlo Acres to find out where else their apples can be found. Their website is: Hutlo Acres And there's more information on them here: Organic Centre
including an audio file of farmer Michael Hutton talking about the farm.

A search of ACORN's database (remember, it's at ACORN where you can search for all organic farms and retailers in Atlantic Canada by clicking on the "find organic produce: button) shows *four* - count 'em, four! - organic cranberry producers here in NB and one in NS and another in PEI. Just think, a completely organic/free range Thanksgiving (or Xmas) dinner is easily had here in the Maritimes. Free range turkeys are being raised by a number of organic farms and all the "fixings" are easily had from local and organic sources including cranberries, squash, potatoes, greens, even the ingredients for stuffing. And pumpkin! My source at Jemseg River Farms also taught me how to "deal" with pumpkins (as long as you get the right kind, not the ones made for jack-o-lantern carving but the pie variety). You just cut them in half, scoop out the innards and throw 'em in the oven to bake like any normal squash. Then scoop out the flesh when they're done. She bags the cooked pumpkin up in one cup scoopfuls and tosses them in the freezer for soups, stews, and of course pies. Brilliant. Who knew how easy it was? In fact while I was in Australia they put pumpkin in everything - curries, stews, soups, casseroles - and I wondered why Canadian cooks didn't use this lovely squash more. Maybe we're intimidated. Well, fear the Great Pumpkin no more!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Peaches and Plums and Pears! Oh my!

I have a confession to make. I've been eating Ontario peaches. Yes, I have a weakness for them since I did grow up, at least partly, in Ontario and when those Niagara peaches came in it was just heaven for us. Dad would smush them up with a little sugar and put them on pancakes and we all forgave him for moving us to Ontario from the Maritimes. And the smell of ripe peaches wafting through the kitchen.... Fabulous. But my fall from grace has been brought to an end because last week I discovered Nova Scotia peaches at Cochrane's. My guilt has been assauged. I can continue happily eating peaches even as local apples and pears and plums start filling the stores. I did also stock up on plums from Gagetown while at Cochrane's. And I picked up a basket of "Eco-logik" labelled (reduced chemical input) pears from La Fleur du Pommier (at Les Digues in Shediac but also available at the farm and the Dieppe market). For a while there I was inundated with peaches and plums and pears, and there's really only so much you can do with peaches and plums (although there are some good peach dessert recipes out there and peaches and chicken go together nicely as well...)

Pears, on the other hand, are very versatile fruits. Good thing since clearly local pears are in full season now. I found local pears, both red and yellow, at Baleman's in the Saint John City Market - and they are no doubt showing up in farm markets all over the province. I make a marvellous ginger pear crisp and pears can pretty much subsitute for apples in most cases. But this year I have promised myself I would "put up" some pears in a light syrup (i.e. can them). So I'll let you know how that goes. But now is the time to get on those fall food preserving projects. So get out your canners everyone!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tomato bonanza

You may have noticed my recent absence (0r not) but I'm just back from two lovely weeks of local eating in BC (perfectly timed to coincide with the best sockeye salmon run in many decades). BC is of course a bit freakish when it comes to local food; I was indulging in cherries and strawberries and hazelnuts and fabulous cheeses, BC wines and many, many salmon. I was prepared to be let down on my return home but really, it's pretty impressive what we can find here - even if it takes a bit of looking. Today's run to the Kingston market and Cochrane's netted me NS strawberries and cherries, lovely cheese from Armadale, Gagetown plums and apples, local cauliflower, broccoli and organic beets, baby turnips, carrots, a wide variety of potatoes (including gorgeous little reddish fingerlings) and, because of the storm warning, I even managed to score free-range eggs from Cedar Lanes (which usually sell out well before 10a.m.). So really, no shortage of local goodies here either (and, I must say, our wild blueberries are superior to the high bush BC variety - I'm just saying...)

Anyways, the threat of a hurricane meant that the Kingston market was not particularly well-attended and particularly wanting for customers were bushels and bushels of tomatoes. Now I have lived in an Italian neighbourhood in Toronto (who hasn't?) and always admired those huge baskets of tomatoes and everyone going happily home to make sauces. But not actually being Italian I have also always held back from actually buying a bushel since I really hadn't progressed far beyond putting tomatoes in salad (sad, I know.) The thought of coring and then "x"ing and then parboiling and skinning all those tomatoes before cooking them for hours into a sauce was really too daunting. But the opportunity to give it a go was just too tempting to pass up this morning and, because I really do want to avoid those highly-salted tins of tomatoes I tend to rely on all winter, I walked away with what was probably two bushels in all. My fear over what to do with this cornucopia was alleviated by one tomato seller who said she simply quarters them and freezes them and then throws them into soups and sauces as needed. Brilliant! Why not? I know they are usually skinned and cooked down to make a smoother, stronger sauce, but frankly I'm not that picky and I only ever end up throwing a tin of tomatoes in with onions, garlic and whatever else is going in the sauce and cooking it down to a bare level of thickness. It was a great relief to realize I could just cut the suckers up and freeze them on a cookie sheet. Suddenly the tomato world was my oyster (so to speak). I checked out my Preserving for Beginners book and it indeed concurred that you could freeze tomatoes (although they would be more watery) and you could even freeze them whole after coring. So I prepped a few cookie trays of tomatoes for freezing in a matter of minutes. Amazing.

I also remembered a recipe for roasted tomato sauce that I had wanted to try and lo and behold another dead-easy tomato preservation technique presented itself. You just quarter or halve the tomatoes and put them cut side down on a baking sheet or baking dish, drizzle them with olive oil and salt, throw in some whole garlic gloves and chunks of onion and roast them for 40 minutes (until the skins brown somewhat). Then, when they're cooled, throw them in the food processor or blender. Again, fabulous results. Really, really tasty base tomato sauce ready to freeze with minimal effort. I also discovered that if you want the sauce thicker just pour off the "juice" that will have accumulated in the pan and reserve that for the most amazing soup broth ever. I can't wait to get more tomatoes. I'm on a roll!

In fact I started looking for other things to roast so I checked on line about roasting beets - which again, I love but am intimidated by. Easy as all get out it turns out. Wrap 'em up in some tin foil, pour on a little oil, and roast until fork tender. Once they've cooled the skins "slip off like big winter sweaters" as one website quaintly put it. Absolutely lovely. Besides I just happend to have some NS feta, and some roasted walnuts to throw into a salad with the roasted beets. And, to top it off, a honey balsamic vinegar I had brought back from Vancouver island (Okay, this is the part where my dear brother-in-law would ask - so is it still local if you brought it back from the other side of the country? Okay, well, we'll discuss that later. But it was really good with the beets....)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Slipp Farms Organic Celebration this Saturday

Here's an opportunity for a farm visit this weekend. Slipp Farms - known for its organic meats and poultry - is hosting an organic BBQ and celebration event this weekend, starting Saturday the 21st at 1 and you can even stay over night and camp out on the farm. Just bring your own tent (and dishes and cutlery for the bbq). Check out their info at:

There will be Speerville baked goods, Picaroon's beer and Slipp Farms meat on the bbq of course. (Sounds like someone took my NB bbq idea seriously). There will also be live music and you can go for a swim in the Saint John river. Sounds ideal. Slipp Farms is in Central Hampstead, so close to Saint John, Fredericton and Sussex.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Kingston Market update : Going for Greens

It seems like quite a while since I've been to the Kingston market so I finally made a journey over there this morning to catch up on the goings-on. Good thing I did since I bumped into one of the chefs for the Hampton locavore dinner and he was hinting that he was going to do some pretty interesting things to Terry Mierau's chickens (Cedar Lane farms). There seems to be a theme among the chefs of using as much of the beasties that are going to be presented as possible - so a great learning opportunity for all of us. There are only 100 spots though, so get your tickets now.(see the bbq post below for the link).

Things are in full swing of course so I was able to load up on all sorts of things, including my beloved lamb's quarters (the greens on the far right of the photo). Whaelghinbran farms (OCIA certified - i.e. certified organic) brings these lovely things to the Kingston market. You've really got to try them - Michael Pollan, author of the Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food - lists them as one of "the most nutritious greens in the world" (check it out: In Defense, p.170 - sorry, can't help footnoting). And they have a marvellous nutty flavour - great raw in a salad or cooked. Not only did Whaelghinbran have lamb's quarters they also had goose foot greens (in the centre of the photo) - which are very similar, but prettier because of their pink centres - and New Zealand spinach (not from NZ directly, but originally grown there, just in case you were wondering about the food miles) which is a nice "fat" spinach (far left) - perfect, I was told, for making spinach based dishes with, like Spanakopita, since it holds together better.

Chestnut Acres was also there with a cornucopia of irganic stuff - organic potatoes, kale, carrots, blueberries, salad greens, herbs, cabbage (red and green) cucumbers, zucchini, purple and green beans (and a groovy bag of mixed purple, green and yellow), snow peas, fava beans and on the list goes. They are excitedly awaiting their appearance on SmartEat TV - so keep checking on that website for updates: ...SmartEat TV (Smart Eat TV also has great hints on finding local foods and excellent recipes)

I was also able to stock up on some new NB cheeses from the "Cheese Shop" (Linda Nadj-Homestead is bringing in artisanal NB cheeses) and chicken from Cedar Lane Farm (which also carries lovely pork and, if you get there early enough, free range eggs - as well as Dave Bunnett's grass-fed beef).

I came away pretty stocked up (and could have stocked up more except I'm travelling next week, so didn't want to over-do it) but there are always those other things you need to pick up that you can't always get at the Farmer's market so I popped into Cochran's in Quispamsis on the way home and was delighted to find early pears in from Gagetown as well as Oberly apples and Yellow Transparents (also known as August Apples I believe). I was also able to pick up the Armadale parmesan that had sold out at the market already (I really have to get up earlier on Saturdays) and scooped up some black currents they were selling off at 2.99 a pint (more black current sauce for me, mmmm, maybe on some Cedar Lane pork, mmm...) I also made a note of the other local goods available there like Gagetown cider and sparkling juices, local free range chicken, Slipps farms beef and Jolly Farmer chicken, Armadale's butter, yoghurt and other cheeses, Degenhardt sausages, Covered Bridge Chips, that mustard from Jolly Farmer I mentioned in my BBQ post and a whole host of Speerville stuff. So really, lots of local to be had there. *And* there carry something that for sometime I didn't believe existed - organic milk from NB. Yup. Our very own Northumberland Dairies makes an organic milk. Who knew?

Indeed, if I were going to suggest a Saturday circuit for people out Kennebecasis Valley way that would pretty much cover all your grocery needs, that's all you'd have to do, start at the Kingston market and then finish off a Cochran's, (and don't forget Kuinshoeve meats just a few doors down) or go the other way through Hampton and stop at Kredl's. Pretty easy really and you're fridge will be full, believe me, I'm having trouble closing the door ...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Locavore BBQ

I was just reminded of the locavore's dinner in Hampton on Sept. 24 (advance tickets required, see the info at Hampton )and it made me think of how easy it would be, right now, to pull off an NB or NS or "Maritime" BBQ with almost all locally sourced ingredients. Now we're into high "Down Home" season and the weather is begging us to be outdoors, it's time to invite everyone over for a bbq. And if I had a bbq in the city where my friends are, I'd do it - but hey, thought I'd give everyone else ideas from my perch. So here it is:

To start, of course, you need munchies - which is the other thing that got me thinking about this. Covered Bridge chips are now showing up in a variety of locations. The company is run by the Albright family - 4th generation NB farmers - in Hartland,NB and they're really good (the chips I mean, although I'm sure the family is very nice). The chips are kettle cooked so they have that extra bit of flavour and they've come out with some great flavours like: Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper, Sweet Potato and Brown Sugar and the newest (and my personal favourite) Lobster (it's great, mild loberstery flavour). They also have really good tortilla chips. You can check out their products at: Covered Bridge. In Saint John you can find them at Baleman's (see the photo display above), and I've also found them at that little Bate's Landing convenience store (at the ferry) on the Kingston Peninsula. They show up unexpectedly in a variety of places, but they're hardest to find in the big grocery stores since either they're not stocked or they're off in some display separate from all the other chips (go figure - shelf space costs big time). So keep on the look out for them. Anyways, with your chips, of course, comes your beer, and on that front NB has no problem: Picaroon's and Pumphouse are easily available - or Moosehead if you're not a craft brew person - as are the NS independents. There's a new Picaroon's out "melon head", which oddly features a cat wearing a melon helmet on its label, that I'm dying to try but I need help since I often can't justify drinking an entire Picaroon's pint bottle on my own. So only a party where I could split a beer with someone would work (hint, hint...)For the non-drinkers, you could stock some apple cider from Gagetown.

Then there is the main feature: the grill. I'd feature things like buffalo sausage from Boutouche's Seawind Buffalo farm (Dieppe market) and wild boar sausage from outside Sussex (Kredl's, Sussex market, Shediac Coop) and some local grass fed ground beef for burgers (Kingston Market, Kuinshoeve Meats, Dieppe market, Goddard Farms in Berwick). Local chicken and seafood are other options of course (did you know we shrimp farm up Caraquet way?). And there's lots of great veggies now in that go on the grill beautifully: sunburst squash, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, the list goes on. So the grill part is actually quite easy - just go to your best source of local food and get some protein/grilling veggies.

What about the traditional bun and fixings for the meat products? Well, you could go whole hog and make your own from Speerville flour. But if you're not that ambitious there are a couple options I can think of: use pita bread from Mother Nature's (made in Saint John) or just go to your local independent bakery. Studies on salt in Canadian food showed that bread made in actual bakeries had lower salt than both commercial store bread and homemade. Go figure, bakers probably just know what they're doing.

Fixings? Well, believe it or not, Speerville has a marvellous organic old-fashioned mustard made right there in Speerville in "Nancy's Kitchen" - you can order it from them or look for it in markets etc. I picked it up from Dave Bunnett in Dieppe Market. Relish? Well that's just pickles right? So make your own with the pickling cukes that are now all over the place or buy some from the market or get them from friends who pickle (my favourite option). You can jazz it up with Lady Ashburn's and chow chow and all sorts of other homemade pickled goodies available in church basements and farm markets everywhere. Now ketchup I admit, I find disturbing. Mostly sugar no? So, just use tomatoes, or whirl some tomatoes with sugar and a little vinegar and voila! Ketchup.

Okay now really, salad is you only other issue and that is dead easy given local greens and veggies are everywhere. *And* like I said earlier you can now get organic canola oil both from NS and Quebec in a number of healthfood stores here. And Boates' organic apple cider vinegar from NS is really good... Or use those herbed vinegars from Erb's Herbs in Cambridge Narrows or Tansy Lanes near Moncton. Just think of the options here!

For dessert? Blueberries of course? Blueberry grunt, blueberry crisp or go easy on yourself, run down to Pennfield and buy youself a couple of those amazing pies from everybody's favourite blueberry stand... Oh, but don't forget to top it off with some icecream from Sussez Ice Cream.

Sounds good yes? So, if you try to pull this off, let me know how it goes. Or better yet, invite me....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Purple Haze

Blackberries have been found! Yes, right next to the blueberries at Baleman's in the Saint John market. While apparently blue or purple is the least common colour of food, right now we are in a purple/blue season (for those of you who adhere to the old rule about four colours on your plate - turns out that's not a bad starting point). There are blueberries, blackberries, eggplants, purple cauliflower *and* these fabulous purple beans the Balemans are growing and bringing in to the market (they turn green when you cook them but they're great to look at while they're raw). The beans are very high in antioxidants I'm told. So go to it. Now's your time to eat as much purple as possible.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The devilishly good local tomato

The lowly tomato has a lot to answer for apparently. Many locavores were launched on their locavore journey by the sad, sad condition of the grocery store tomato. Either they've just come back from Italy, or eaten their own garden tomato, and it hits them: why, oh why, do we buy these tasteless things *called* tomatoes that are so far from the real thing. And every summer I go through the same revelation. Today I ate my first (and so far only) ripe tomato from my roof top garden (okay, my handful of containers plopped out on the roof). Boy was that tomato good. "Mountain Princess" it was called and I had bought the seedling from David at Amarosia farms a couple months back. Today was a veritable feast of tomatoes since I had also bought a quart from David on the weekend and today I turned some of them into my favourite quick pasta dish which was almost entirely made up of Maritime ingredients: you boil some rotini (okay, not Maritime - although there are sources of handmade pasta here, Sisters in the Saint John market, and another pasta maker in Dieppe market); sautee some tomatoes (Amarosia's tomatoes, beautiful, small, sweet, a hint of lemon flavour?) in oil (organic canola from Quebec) with garlic (Amarosia's organic), and toss the pasta and tomatoes with feta (from Homestead in NS - and available at the Super Store), and basil (from my rooftop, organic, plants from Northern Arrow farms, Kingston Market), and finally throw in some olives (okay, on this one I admit defeat but hey, the point is to source as *much* locally as possible not absolutely everything, unless you're a real diehard.) To die for. The whole dish was accompanied by a salad of local greens, cukes and cilantro dressed only with the most amazing canola oil I've ever had. I cracked open a new bottle of Fox Mill Organic canola oil from NS that I had picked up at Winterwood in Sussex (but also available at True Foods in F'ton). It has the most beautiful flavour, almost walnutty. Really, hunt it down and try it out.

It really is a great moment when the tomatoes start coming in and we are reminded so forcefully of why local is better - it *tastes* so much better to start with. When I checked on canned tomatoes and pesticide residues using the "what's on my food" button above - the canned variety came out not too bad, in comparison to the fresh (which had 30+ residues, while canned had 8). So canned doesn't look like a terrible option until you investigate the salt question. You may have noticed that the government just brought in "voluntary" guidelines on salt in Canadian processed food since we discovered that most of us are getting 2-3 times the recommended daily allowance, which in turn is contributing to heart disease, stroke, etc. But some 77% of the salt we're getting comes from processed foods (including innocent looking things like breakfast cereal, and "healthy" soups). In other words, we don't have a lot of personal control over our salt intake. So, back to the tomato question. If we don't go for canned, what do we do? My "Beginner's Guide to Preserving Food at Home" says you can freeze them (wash and core them and freeze them on a cookie sheet before packaging) but canning is much better, although I've also heard that this can be dicey unless done right. You have to add acid (citric acid or lemon juice) to tomatoes to can them for starters or they will definitely go off. Drying them is another option if you have one of those dehydrator thingies. And my guidebook also has a way of making those "last of the season" green ones last for up to 6 weeks ripening under layered newspaper and kept in a cellar. Maybe I'll just try canning some tomato sauces this year and see how it goes. But if you have hints, let me know. The basil is just going wild as well so I guess I'll also have to learn to make pesto too.... (and now that I've discovered that both Armadale and Jolly Farmer make parmesan I can make a pretty local variety too!)

Strawberries redux in Shediac

So there I was all sad that strawberries were so done when out of the blue, another late batch of local strawberries showed up in my Shediac Co-op this weekend. So, keep your eyes peeled. These things happen. Now, has anyone seen the blackberries yet?

I also had the most gorgeous organic blackcurrants from Gaetan, who provides organic produce and foraged foods to Les Digues in Shediac/Grande Digue. Black currants need to be cooked into a sauce or something with sugar because they're so sour, but the taste is amazing. I made them into a sauce and poured them over bbqd wild boar from Brabant's in Knightsville (and carried by the Shediac Co-op - along with buffalo meat from Bouctouche). Beautiful! It all went very nicely with the organic veggies I picked up from David's stall on his farm (Amarosia) also in Grande Digue - beautiful Japanese eggplants, tiny little yellow squash (which all went on the bbq) and lovely mixed salad greens. He has lots more including tomatoes, herbs, purple cauliflower and weird and wonderful varieties of beans.

So if you're in the Shediac area - say, on a visit to Parlee - check out the Co-op's local holdings, and then try the "other side" of the Bay - Shediac Bridge/Grande Digue area (Rte 530 off 134) - and you can load up on organic and local foods (including lobster of course.) And, with so much shopping to do, you may want to stop for the perfect organic and fair trade iced coffee (they have actual barristas, they're from Vancouver, what can I say?) at Inn Thyme on Main Street in Shediac and try their local cuisine. (You can tell what I've been doing all summer....)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Shaking the hand that feeds you - farm day at Amarosia

Had a marvellous day this weekend when Amarosia farms in Shediac/Grande Digue opened its doors for a farm visit. A number of the organic farms have visit the farm days and I highly recommend them. A gaggle of us, kids, dogs, parents, foodies, followed David around his farm, learning all about what he was growing and how he was growing it. David had all sorts of lovely organic vegetables and herbs growing. He showed me how to identify those lamb's quarters I've been after (I may have to volunteer some weeding just to get my hands on some more....). I learned that red peppers are just green peppers that have matured. Did you know that? Okay maybe you biologists and gardeners did, but I certainly didn't and it was really nice to find organic peppers of any colour - since peppers are, again, one of those heavily pesticided but frequently used vegetables. It was an eye opening experience to realize how much work these farms are and what a labour of love. David and a handful of helpers (literally, I think there's three) manage acres and acres of organic farm and its attendant weeding and picking and de-slugging and god knows what else requirements.
(I highly recommend Brian Brett's new book "Trauma Farm" for a loving, poetic and realistic view of running a sustainable, mixed-use farm in Canada.)David was taking all these demands in stride, even growing things like fava beans, which are a pain in the butt, "because people love them". See? Again, this is where knowing your farmers gets you. David will grow things just because other people love them. Now that's farming.

Besides meeting the farmer, it's also really great to hang out with other locavores. We shared information like where to get free range chicken and who was selling free range chicken carcasses for stock (JP at Springbrook Farms in the Dieppe Market has them for a couple of dollars). Some of us reminisced about things their families used to grow and how good they tasted and we delighted in seeing a farm going back to these "old ways". We shared recipes and knowledge and a lovely afternoon in the sunshine on a farm. And one woman gave me a great new "rule of thumb" - since you can't always tell whose organic or sustainable just from looking at the product, talk to the farmer, and if they invite you to come to the farm you can be pretty sure you're going to like what you see..

So, keep an eye out for other farm visits - often posten on farm websites, talk to your favourite farmers at the market, and pay them a visit some time.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I scream, you scream

Lucky happenstance took me to the Sussex Farmers' Market again this Friday (it runs Fridays from 11.m. to 6pm) just as the ice cream craving was coming on. Well, actually I was driving to Shediac from Saint John and realized it was 5:30 on a Friday as we came through Sussex and then I began having visions of Dave Freeze's Sussex ice cream (was the peanut butter and chocolate on? Would there be new flavours?) I got there just in time to dig into a to-die-for pistachio ice cream (with actual pistachios in it) and to be told that Dave was hard at work mixing up new batches for the Dieppe market the next day. I immediately made plans to go to the Dieppe market in the morning and indeed, we found Dave in the Dieppe market scooping out all sorts of flavours (blueberry crisp was the latest addition). Now here's one of the many pleasures of shaking the hand that feeds you... Dave and I had a great chat (I finally got my hands on the pb and chocolate) and I mentioned that people had been asking me about ginger ice-cream. It's apparently a flavour that a lot of Maritimers remember from their childhood. A friend currently living in Boston was with us and chimed in that there's a Boston ice-creamery that does molasses and ginger ice cream. Dave was immediately on the case; we could see him thinking out recipes in his head. So stay posted, ginger/molasses icecream may yet appear on the roster. See? Another reason to get out there and meet our local producers - they might even begin making things for you you've been looking for. So remember, summer is short, ice cream is one of its highest pleasures, if you're in Sussex on a Friday or the Moncton area on Saturday - go to the markets and find Sussex icecream. You'll thank me later...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hodge podge, tomatoes, corn, berries and mushrooms - summer in full swing!

Well apologies for the absence but I'm sure you all have been quite happily enjoying the bounty of the summer harvest, which is now full on. There's really more than I can write about here but I'm sure you've noticed that farmers' markets and market stores are now filling up with all the makings of hodge podge (new potatoes, beans, peas and carrots in butter/cream and milk). The green and yellow beans are so good I can't stop eating them raw. There are also lots of summer greens including swiss chard (excellent with a little butter and vinegar) and still more beets and beet greens (I'm on the hunt for kale though, I love kale, it's very good for you, and the commercial varieties are high on the Dirty Dozen list of most heavily pesticided foods). You lucky dogs who are members of CSAs are probably seeing even more variety than we're seeing in the farm stands ( I would kill for some mizuna and lamb's quarters).

My favourite moment so far: the "magic" moment - which lasts all of two days - when strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are all available at once. This magic moment sadly passed about five days ago (sorry not to have been on line to tell you) but hopefully most of you caught it too. I'm always sad when the strawberry seasons ends however and this year I was quite remiss in freezing sufficient numbers of strawberries (only four quarts put away this year - hardly enough). I hoping the rest of you did manage, but there is hope for those who, like me, just kind of missed the opportunity. Before you run out and start buying California strawberries (remember, they're laden with pesticides) take note that in the Annapolis Valley at least they're growing strawberries until late into October under some complicated plastic arrangement. Okay, they do get a little dear, but still, think about how much you pay for those tasteless California berries come December! So, if you are short on strawberries this fall just call your friends in NS and have them help you out. However, despite my moaning about the strawberries, we can all be happy that raspberries are appearing everywhere (and yes, I'm freezing those as quickly as possible, just sticking them on cookie trays like I do for strawberries) and blueberries are coming in early and strong. Blackberries can only be around the corner... I've also seen local gooseberries at Baleman's and sour cherries at Cochrane's (as well as in the Moncton area). I eat the sour cherries as they are, although I guess many use them for cooking. But I think they're a great alternative to grapes at this time of year.

Another important development - the chanterelles are here! Yes those gorgeous, kind of apricotty mushrooms that mysteriously appear and disappear at the blink of an eye so if you're not paying attention you might never even know they existed (I just happened to spy one lonely box the other year and asked where they came from, to which the reply was "we'd have to kill you if we told you"). I think there's a secret communications network that just "knows" whent the chanterelles have come in and they quickly swoop in as soon as the few precious boxes hit the market stands. My wonderful market stand in Shediac actually called me to let me know they had arrived so I could rush over there before they disappeared. They're lovely just sauteed in butter with a little garlic and cream - sublime really. But again the window of opportunity is very small so keep your eyes peeled!

Things are moving so fast now that I'm thinking it's time to pull out the canner. I've already seen local field tomatoes at Kredl's as well as NB green peppers (and red ones from Ontario but I don't know how much better they are than the Mexican variety in terms of pesticides - general rule of thumb, if you can't get it from the Maritimes, get it from Quebec, which has much more stringent rules on pesticide use than anywhere else in Canada). And of course the pickling cukes are all over the place as well as fresh dill. (Of course you can just cut the cukes up, pour on some vinegar or sour cream, chop some dill on them and you've got a great cucumber salad.)
Oh and how could I forget! Hunter's corn! Beautiful peaches and cream corn - I've found at both Cochrane's and Kredl's.

Otherwise I've really been enjoying traipising around to various markets and farm stands while I make my summer journeys between Shediac and Saint John. I've made a number of discoveries that I can share with you later - like where to find organic flax and canola oils made in NS (hint: the Sussex health food store Winterwood Natural Foods - more on them later) and all the groovy flavours of chips being put out by a local NB chip company Covered Bridge. But really, more on that later....

Thursday, July 8, 2010

the Spring Harvest

Look at what customers are receiving from CSA farmers this week.

2 large bok choi; Fresh Dill; Fresh Cilantro; Romaine Lettuce; Carrots; Sugar Snap Peas; Beet Greens; Radishes; Spanish Onions; Kale; Broccoli - lots of it! Organic Strawberries; 12 Free Range Eggs

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sussex Market

Heavens, I've really fallen behind here - not in the marketing and eating of course, just is the documenting of it. So while I have yet to catch you up on Fredericton Market finds -- including the most gorgeous "braising greens" from Jemseg River Farms (organic - running a CSA and going to F'ton market on Saturdays) and all sorts of lovely interesting things like lovage and kohlrabi from another "traditional" family farm (not certified organic but organic nonetheless), "spruce tea", and more Au Fond du Bois cheese -- I had better get on to my most recent market visit, which was to the Friday afternoon farmers' market in Sussex. Here were my happy, happy finds...

There are the lovely Joel and Jennifer (and their baby daughter Gwendolyn) who've moved from Montreal to Spring Meadows Farm in Head of Millstream. They're raising free range chickens (and turkeys). I bbq'd one of the chickens this week and it was amazing. They also have pork and Joel's dad raises range fed beef. Their farm is at 57 McMillan HIll Rd, Head of Millstream and they sometimes come to Sussex market but Joel will bring things into Saint John. Just give him a call at 506-433-1407. (He has email but frankly, Head of Millstream doesn't exactly have high speed and being "spoiled" by living in Montreal, as Joel puts it, he really doesn't see the point of even trying very hard when all you can get is dial-up). But really, it's worth a call. The chickens cost around $3.40/lb. And if people wanted to get together on beef, Joe's Dad, Jerald Coburn, processes one steer a month and can sell it in 50lb or more lots. (His number is 506-433-4885).

My other really happy find at Sussex market involved dairy, of course, it is Sussex. But oh, this was really special. It was my favourite kind of dairy: ice cream. Sussex icecream is run by Dave Freeze and only available at either Sussex or Dieppe markets and it's absolutely lucious. The flavours are to die for. I had lemon, made from real lemons, and my other half had the fresh strawberry - incroyable. We also tasted the peanut butter/chocolate combo made with organic pb and 70% dark chocolate - heaven! You can buy it by the dish or in pint containers to take home. Really, you have to seek them out if you are in either market. They're just building their website at - or you can call them at 506-433-0996 if you want to know more. I love summer...

I also picked up some very good, and very inexpensive honey from bees that had been feeding on blueberry plants. Very nice flavour. This was from R&J Honeybee Farm - who also carry great blocks of beeswax - which is great for furniture polishing among other things.

I also dropped in on the Green Pig in Salisbury - and again very, very glad I did because there to my delight they had that great Maritime delicacy (well, I thought it was a Maritime delicacy but turns out it originally came from Europe) Sandfire or Samfire greens (or as they are known in Acadie "tetines de souris" - Yes, you bilingue folks, that's exactly what they're called, go look it up, really, you can look it up here, scroll to the bottom of the page:!Acadian food words). I was introduced to these as a kid in Shediac. They're a marsh green so they have that lovely salty flavour of marsh greens - kind of like salty asparagus. You steam them a bit, throw on some butter and then pull the flesh off the stems with your teeth. Delicious. They only show up here and there and unpredictably - unless like my family you sail to Shediac Island to pick them. But there they were at the Green Pig. So if you haven't tried them, this is your chance...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Local produce and organic stores

I decided it was time to have a look see at that other venerable market in our area - the WW Boyce Farmers' Market in Fredericton - last Saturday morning and I'm glad I did. It reminded me that not only do I have lots of farm markets to cover (Thursday in St. Andrews, Friday in Sussex, and Saturdays just about everywhere) but I should remind people that you don't have to run all over God's half acre visiting individual farms to get local food: you have the markets, obviously, and you have CSAs (community supported agricultural boxes which are delivered to you or you can pick up once a week - there are a number of those running in NB right now) and, you have your lovely farm market stores which at least carry some local produce and/or organic produce stores.

If you live in the Fredericton area you really have an embarrassment of riches to choose from when it comes to both local and organic sources. Two stores in the downtown serving this need: the True Food Organics store on Charlotte St. (run by and supplied in part by their organic farm in Keswick Ridge and which carries an amazing array of stuff - including organic sunflower and flax oils from NS) and the long-running Aura health food store. *And* at the market I got to talk to the folks running the Apple Bin Farm store which is *dedicated* to NB produce and is just a few minutes outside Fredericton at Keswick Ridge. The Apple Bin carries NB fruits, veggies, meats, eggs, dairy and other things like honey and cider and herbs etc. Really, Freddybeach has no excuses whatsoever. Nonetheless I had an interesting conversation with the Apple Bin folks who are finding it hard to educate people on local food (the "yes we have no bananas" song comes to mind) and have had to cut their hours back to Wed-Friday afternoons (1-6) and Saturday afternoons (1-5). Phone 506-260-2498. We would die to have such stores in Saint John (more on that soon.) People in the Fredericton area can also drop by Joseph's "Urban Organic Garden" in Marysville on Tuesdays between 4 and 7) or he's in the market on Saturdays. Last Saturday he had scads of scapes and sprouts and he assured me that the number of different things available on Tuesdays is much greater as he pools resources from two of his gardens.

In Saint John we have Baleman's in the market which brings in stuff from its farm and other local producers when available and Grand Bay Westfield has the Corn Crib and there's Cochrane's in the Valley.

Towards Sussex, in Berwick just up the #10 highway towards Cambridge Narrows, there's a new one to me: Goddard Farms Shop (433-2544) which sells both animal and vegetable products "no growth hormones, pesticides or sprays" - and that includes pet food. It's open Mon-Sat. "mornings and evenings are best for dropping in, or call ahead."

Moncton not only boasts two very fine markets on Saturdays but has a lovely natural foods store, Sequoia, 114 Highfield St. (

And, if you're going down the highway towards NS, a great stop is the relatively new "Green Pig" farm store at Salisbury - you know where you'd normally turn off to go to the Tim's and the Irving Big Stop. Well, go right, not left, if you're coming from Moncton and you'll immediately see the Green Pig ( - open every day 9-8 in the summers. The Green Pig (the story behind the name is on their website) is dedicated to local products (including a lot of stuff they grow/raise themselves). They carry Speerville products, local cheeses, Just Us coffee from NS, and they have a great bakery to boot! (You can get organic pumpkin pie there in the fall).

Now if you get all the way into NS and you're headed for Truro or Halifax, just before Truro and again just 2 minutes from the highway, is Masstown Market. A fabulous stop if you're looking for coffee (they serve Just Us) and a snack - they have a whole cafe counter/bakery thing happening - they also have a liquor store, a plant store, a craft store, a deli counter and a grocery store - but most importantly for our purposes they are again dedicated to local products. It's the only place I know where I can buy local (okay south Shore NS) *line-caught* haddock. They're very into supporting sustainable fisheries. But there's also loads of local meat, cheese and produce. So if you're passing through bring a cooler with you so you can stock up...

Okay, so that's what I know at least in the Southern NB region (or nearby). Feel free to add!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Not in your body but on it... Olivier comes out clean

Okay so this isn't food exactly, but it is stuff that you put on your body and therefore gets absorbed into it. We're talking soaps, shampoos, moisturizers, cosmetics that sort of thing. Now there has been lots of criticism of the cosmetic industry and the stuff they put into "beauty products" like phthalates (plasticizers), but good old US-based Environmental Working Group has a whole database on cosmetic products and the chemicals they contain that is pretty scary. EWG brought this database to my attention again in an email in response to a US Presidential Cancer Panel that admitted that "health officials have grossly underestimated the extent of environmentally induced cancer among the 1.5 million Americans diagnosed with the disease annually". EWG put out its Cancer Prevention Tips - you know, filter your water, avoid things like Teflon and Scotchguard, eat the Clean 15, avoid the Dirty Dozen - but they also pointed to things like avoiding carcinogens in cosmetics (including sunscreen by the way - check out their report on that one!). Well so I checked out their database (you pump in a cosmetic brand name/product and out pops an analysis of just how chemically contaminated the thing is).Well I put in "moisturizer" and what to my wondering eyes should appear on the "clean" list but moisturizer by Olivier soapary as one of the cleanest products they have listed. That's Olivier from right here in New Brunswick. Yup, Bouctouche way for the original soapery but Olivier products are available in Saint John, Moncton and Dieppe markets and they have shops in other spots (they're opening one soon in Riverview across from Moncton, complete with a cafe and local art). And you can order stuff on-line. Anyways, as you can guess from the title the main ingredient of Olivier's stuff is olive oil (obviously not an NB product, but hey, the soaps and moisturizers and shampoos and lip balms etc. etc. are all handcrafted here in NB). So yay for us and Olivier.

Check out EWG's cosmetic database at:

And Olivier, if you don't know them yet:

Fundy Gardeners

Another site of interest is the blog sponsored by Fundy Gardeners, a local group of approximately 125 gardeners who meet monthly to listen to landscapers, expert gardeners of all kinds and specializations, as well as producers, and biologists. These talks are often accompanied by beautiful slide or powerpoint presentations.

During the summer members open their gardens to other members every Wednesday night. The focus tends to ornamentals, shrubs, and flowering plants, but there are many members who have outstanding vegetable gardens as well.

All members receive discounts at a large number of local garden supply stores and nurseries.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Yes the peas are here now. Beautiful new peas just came in to Baleman's in the Saint John City Market from the Baleman farm. This really does mean that hodge podge (that Maritime treat of fresh garden veggies - peas,carrots, potatoes, beans - drowning in milk and butter) will soon be with us. At the moment I'm happy to eat the peas raw!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Farm gates are opening....

So it looks like things are really starting to happen. There are reports of farm market stalls opening. You can also follows the blogs of a number of organic farms in NB to see what's up and what's in. Here are a few of them....

Kathi Dunphy of Minihorse Farm B&B, which produces organic veggies and berries, has declared that she's putting up her roadside sign to let people know they can now come and get her organic produce in St. Martin's (280 West Quaco Rd, 506-833-6240). She already has mixed salad greens, some broccoli, arugula, onion tops and a variety of herbs. See her blog at:

You can also check out the goings on at Jemseg River Farms: http//
They brought their first harvest in to Boyce's Farmers' Market in Fredericton last Saturday - gorgeous looking greens - and they're offering weekly CSA boxes (still available for sign-up on their blog site) or you can stop by the farm (262 Rte 715 Jemseg; email; 506-470-1906)

Another group offering CSAs is:

Dave's Produce Packs:

Dave is the manager of Kredl's (you see Dave's farm when you come into Hampton, and "Dave's" produce is often featured at Kredl's). See the article on his new "produce packs" weekly delivery idea at:
And join the facebook group to join the action.

Another farm to follow is on Kingston Peninsula: Chestnut Acres:

And near Shediac/Moncton area: Amarosia farms:

And rumour has it that the folks at Good Spring Farm in Keswick Ridge (who are die hard local foodies) are also opening a farm gate stand. They're at:
730 Rte 616, Keswick Ridge (they're on the map at

And the list goes on!

More ways to find organic farms and food in NB

Well there are just no end of resources. See my previous posts labelled "database" for other listings, but I just found three more. A Canadian "map" of organic producers/sellers. Just go to the list of towns for NB click on one and up pops a listing and a map of how to get to them. Marvellous!

Canadian Organic Database

And, oh how could I forget them, there are the amazing folks at Falls Brook Centre - that haven of eco-activity in NB. They have a page dedicated to local foods as well, " the 100 mile challenge" which includes a resource list of NB producers and farm markets.

And yet another listing for organics in NB from Buy Local Think Global:

Go to it! (And tell me what you find!)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

U-Pick season begins

Since the strawberry season has begun - and therefore we should all be filling our freezers soon - I'm tracking down U-picks in the province. I've found this one listing (and it includes an organic strawberry place I had seen in my travels last year, so I hope it's still around!) If people have more u-pick sources send them on!

Cheeses save!

Okay I'll stop with the corny titles soon, but friends and I came up with this one last night (admittedly we had been drinking a lot of wine) over our "Maritime cheese plate." Now admittedly, dairy is one area where we really don't have any problem finding local products. Sussex is of course a dairy capitol and between the two big daries (although Baxter's is owned by the big Italian conglomerate Saputo) in the province and the big cheese and butter producers both there and in PEI (ADL) it isn't too hard. So people, put down that no-name cheddar and reach slightly to your right in the cheese cooler and you'll find Maritime products. Not that hard, not that big a price difference, generally much tastier, they haven't travelled that far and they keep jobs and farms going in the Maritimes etc.

Even better, you can get amazing cheese and dairy products, "naturally produced" (but I'm not sure what that means yet, I'll try to drop in on the farm, but I'm quite sure you're avoiding additives and hormones) from Armadale in Roachville. Armadale's many cheeses are pretty widely available - Saint John City Market, Dieppe Market, Boyce's Farmer's market in Fredericton, Kredl's, Cochrane's, to name a few places. They do great cheddars, goudas, curds, yoghurt, quark, buttermilk, butter - you know your go-to dairy stuff. What I like to think of as everyday cheese - although maybe not everyone consider cumin gouda "everday" - I do however. Armadale is also doing a cow's milk feta (again, an everyday cheese to me). It's a nice dry feta. Great for cheese plates and salads. (For melty, pasta feta I still like Homestead feta from NS - you can actually get it at the Super Store).

However, there are also some artisanal cheese producers in NB and NS doing amazing things. So on our lovely cheese plate last night were some great goat cheeses - fantastic if you have trouble with cow's milk - made in the traditional way that is hard to find even in France these days. In NB, starting with the furthest away is the "Fromagerie au fond des bois" in Rexton, which does amazing goat cheese - beautiful little washed rind, soft goat cheese the like of which I've only since in France and Portugal - oh, and BC. They do ash-rolled soft goat cheese, and hard goat cheese and you name it. Things of beauty and amazing flavour. Now I used to have to go to Dieppe or Moncton to find these cheeses - or you can go to Les Gourmands in Moncton - but now they're being brought in to Kingston's Farmers market (Homestead Cheese Shoppe). Beautiful. And so are some of the cheeses from our incredible fromagerie - Bergerie de 4 vents - which puts out a camembert to die for (La Dune) and other sheep, cow and goat cheeses. Indeed, their first cheese - the semi-pressed, sheep's cheese, Le Sieur de Duplessis - is getting national recognition. See the write up in the Globe and Mail
(Apparently the Sieur is also available at the new Costco in Saint John)
For more on the Fromagerie au fond des Bois see:
Au fond des bois You can visit them on Tues, Thurs and Sunday afternoons in the summer. So if you're up that way check it out.

Both the Sieur de Duplessis and a "Barbizon" soft goat cheese from au fond des Bois were on our platter last night as well as a camembert from 4 vents and a "gris blue" coming from a fromagerie in Bouctouche (I'll have to find out more on this one) - ash covered, mixed blue and soft goat. Fantastic. However I must admit the salt addicted, high-flavour seeking folks at the table (okay that includes me) couldn't past the Dragon's Breath blue from That Dutchman in Economy, NS. The Dragon's Breath is the Dutchman's (famous for his amazing goudas) favourite cheese, and one can see why. It's a black wax wrapped blue that knocks the socks off you - and you just can't help going back for more. Bring on the Newman's Port (Newfoundlanders will know what I'm talking about).
You don't have to go to Lower Economy however - the Dutchman's stuff is usually available at the venerable Masstown Market (just off the Trans Canada before you hit Truro in well, Masstown, 2 mins from the highway - the Masstown Market prides itself on providing local products so it's a good place to check in on your next drive through to Halifax).

Nova Scotia of course has a number of cheese places, Fox Hill Farms in the Annapolis Valley, for example: . But for goat cheese I think NB has it wrapped up. In any case, this is one food group for which there are absolutely no excuses for not buying local.... (okay, maybe parmesan, but I'll get back to you on that...)

Emu-se bouche

Another trip to Kingston market yesterday and another new protein to try. In years past I had driven past the emu farm on the #10 highway just up from Sussex and on the way to Coles Island, but I hadn't checked it out yet. Luckily for me, Carol Milberry, of Silver Shoes Emu Ranch, was at the market and I had the chance to take home an emu steak. It's really quite amazing what variety of local meants and poultry we can find in NB. In fact I had a fascinating conversation with Terry Mireau of Cedar Lanes Farms who is breeding a Tamworth sow he got from Chef Jesse Vergen - who sometimes serves this gorgeous tasty pork at the Saint John Alehouse if you ask nicely - with Terry's Berkshires, which are also very tasty. They have *fat* on them - yes fat! It's fantastic. The Tamworths are one of the oldest pig stocks and were common in Canada until the 1960s when they were replaced by leaner stock in the attempt to reduce saturated fat in the Canadian diet. But there is now some argument, by Michael Pollan and others, that our fat-phobia has gone a bit overboard, leading the introduction of more sugar in the diet for instance, in an attempt to replace the lost flavour of fat. (Besides as Pollan points out many human societies, including Inuit, subsisted on high-fat diets quite nicely for thousands of years, it's only our modern diet that seems to have produced the high rates of heart disease and other complications that we blame on high fat.) In any case, fat does carry flavour. I had the Tamworth chops at the Ale House several months back and they were delicious. And last week I tried out this inch and half thick Berkshire chop - it was enough to feed to people - and again it had that lovely mushroomy flavour that processed pork entirely lacks. (Processed pork, you might also note, is often injected with saline solution - or "seasoning" i.e. salt - to try and give it some flavour. So the sodium content of store bought pork can be way out of whack, and given our tendencies to high blood pressure in Canada one might consider this a problem.)We were both sucking on the bones of the Berkshire pork chops true Tom Jones style (the character from Henry Fielding's novel where there's a lot of succulent eating, not the country singer). Technically to truly follow Tom Jones we should have thrown the bones over our shoulders to the waiting dogs on the floor - but lacking dogs and really not wanting to clean the floor after that we just gnawed away until there was nothing more to be had. Mmmmm....

But back to the the emu. I tried out Carol's recipe for "Honey Mustard Emu Steaks" for dinner tonight - with more lovely NB beet greens and some admittedly non-NB quinoa (although organic quinoa can be sourced from Speerville). It's is a very rich, tasty meat. Reminds me of kangaroo (which is probably no coincidence since emu is a big number ofr the aborigines of Australia) - a dark, dense, very low-fat meat, but also very mild. It's not like game meat, just very rich steaky flavour. It's also a great source of iron (four times more than beef). It needs to be cooked "low and slow" as all lean meats do (or this is what Dave Bunnet taught me). It would probably do really well is a simmering dish like a stew or a "emu' Wellington or some such thing. I'll check with the local chefs and see what they would do. But add this one to your list of local protein sources people. It's available at the Kingston Market, at the farm on Route 10 and at Goddard Farms in Berwick (also on Route 10 - a shop which carries no-hormone meats of other kinds and local veggies "with no pesticides or sprays"). And if people know of other places, let me know!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I kid you not, New Brunswick strawberries. I saw them yesterday at Kredl's in Hampton and couldn't quite believe my eyes. Thought I must have misread the sign. So I went back again today and there they were. Strawberries. Beautiful, new, real strawberries. From here! Okay, so they're $6 a quart. But at this stage who wouldn't cough up the $6! So get ready, summer is here!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kingston Market

I finally made it to Kingston Market this a.m. and of course all sorts of goodies were to be found...

First off, I did find fresh lettuce from Cedar Lane Farms. And great sunflower and pea sprouts from Homesteader Farms. The salads in this house will be fabulous this week.

And I got some of the Cedar Lane pork chops - will try those later.

Most exciting was a chat with Fred Decker, who was the first to point me in the direction of NB cheeses a few years back. He's now running Bounty of New Brunswick catering ( which is focused on "local, seasonal and regional cuisine." And he's cooking at the Kingston Farmers' Market this summer. He made me a fabulous "Maple Peppercorn Egg and Cheese Sandwich" (Cedar Lane Farm eggs, Sussex cheese) and Decker's own Maple Peppercorn Bacon. He also reminded me to check out Mott's Winery near Cambridge Narrows(which I shall surely do) and gestured over to the marketer carrying those fabulous NB cheese. (A man after my own heart, wine and cheese as the key ingredients to anything.)
More on the cheese later...

But the Deckers also had marvellous breads and, be still my beating heart, Belgian waffles. Tomorrow morning I have a date with those Begian waffles, some NB organic maple syrup a friend gave me, Armadale's Balkan yoghurt and last year's Pennfield blueberries turned into a compote...

I also met Cynthia Liberty of Cynfully Delicious Who had gorgeous looking baked goods - using Speerville products of course - including her very cute bagels. If I didn't already have waffles in hand I'd have to get the bagels. I made off with some focaccia bread however and she has quite a raft of other things she makes.

There's always more than one can take in at the Kingston Market - there were the organic herb plants I picked up for my balcony garden from Northern Arrow for example. But more on that later, I have some cheese to taste...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Local Food Resources

Check it out: here some other resources for finding local food:

The NB Conservation Council has its Local Food page with a search engine much like ACORN's:

AND: Check *this* out: a friend pointed me to this new site:
Apparently it's a "web-tv", social network site, 13 episodes (coming soon) dedicated to NB food producers. Cool yes? Will explore more and keep you posted...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Granola Girls

So it may not be seasonal but before I forget I wanted to mention a lovely local food product in Saint John that people may or may not be aware of. A mother-daugher team here is producing homemade granola bars - the kind without all that scary stuff like high fructose corn syrup, the stuff that Michael Pollan warns is everywhere and contributes massively to our obesity and diabetes crises. Even as I sit here now I have pulled two tired "granola bars" from my briefcase - they are handy things in a hunger crisis - and see that they definitely would not pass Pollan's tests for "real" food. They have many more ingredients than five (his rule of thumb); and one contains many unpronounceable ingredients and high maltose corn syrup (not sure how this differs from high fructose corn syrup). What ticks me off about things like commercial "granola bars" is how we quite innocently assume that they're good for us - they contain good things like nuts and seeds and dried fruit. Oh but the things that are done to those nuts and seeds and dried fruits when they become part of what is loosely called a "granola bar" (or now increasingly "cereal bar"). It makes me crazy how people's efforts to eat well have been used and abused by the food industry. In any case, there is help at hand. The Granola Girls are now selling actual granola bars i.e. organic oats, raw nuts and seeds and dried fruit (and a little dark chocolate). I can attest to their excellence. They're making their bars available by order through their website as well as at Feel Good Store, Ambience Spa and the Kingston Farmers' Market.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Beet Greens are in!

They're here! Okay spring is definitely full on now, and summer is around the corner. Popped by Baleman's in the Saint John City Market this afternoon and ta-da! Rob Baleman's brother had just brought in some gorgeous beet greens. These are those lovely tender baby beet greens that are only around at the beginning of the season when the beets are being thinned. Steam them up and add a little butter and maybe even a bit of vinegar and they are lovely. Only debate around here is baby beets on or off. I like them on, others find them stringy and gritty. I like them on because the beets (tiny as they are at this stage) are so good for you (as are the greens, lots of calcium and Vit C in those babies according to my Laurel's Kitchen). The beets themselves, once they come around, are loaded with goodies. I'm determined to cook beets regularly this summer now that I'm not so scared of dealing with them. At a cooking course in Australia they just made me peel them while they were raw and then steam them and I realized this was actually easier than the whole steaming process where the skins are supposed to just "slip off" and never do.

So, the green season is upon us. Glad I froze some fiddleheads before they disappeared (I'll let you know this fall how that worked out). Rob Baleman tells me that the peas on their farm are already in blossom - that means peas should be here in a couple of weeks, as will the first potatoes. There are visions of hodge podge dancing through my head.

Now I'm on the hunt for more sources of local baby salad greens....

Sunday, June 6, 2010

How to find organic in Atlantic Canada

So, a basic resource that you'll want for finding organic food in the Maritimes is the marvellous ACORN site. ACORN is the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network - i.e. the association of organic producers and sellers in Atlantic Canada. Their head office is right here in NB in that hotbed of food activism: Sackville (I am dying to get to the Sackville market this summer). ACORN, bless them, has this marvellous on-line directory of organic sources in the Maritimes where you can just pump in "Blueberries" and up pops all the organic blueberry producers, sellers, u-picks, u-name-its in the region. You can also search by province or narrow it down to a producer or a market or a CSA. ACORN's fantastic site is here:


And, doubly bless them, they now have a map of organics in the region on their homepage. You can also sign up to their Facebook page and receive newsletters and updates. It's really the best resource we have for at least finding those folks registered with ACORN. So check it out - you'll be amazed at what you find!

Two other sources you should know about:

The Conservation Council of NB's Find Local Food page - which also has a database for NB:
Find Local Food
Here you can pick your region and get a list of all the farms, farm stands, markets etc. in that region. Great if you're doing some touring this summer!

And, the Really Local Harvest Coop/ Recoltez de chez nous, which provides all sorts of resources on local, environmentally friendly producers in the Southeast region of NB:
Really Local Harvest
The Really Local Harvest folks came up with the "eco-logik" label that you'll see on some farms in south-eastern NB. The label is reserved for those producers who reduce their chemical inputs through more sustainable farming methods.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15

So since the local agricultural season is upon us I thought it might be useful to have this handy guide from the Environmental Working Group in the US that lays out the best and worst of fruits and veggies in terms of pesticides. Now I know it's American but given how many of our fruits and veggies are imported from there it's useful for Canadian too. The EWG is trying to keep things simple by going the practical route of dividing up those things you really should buy organic if at all possible and those where more traditional production methods are less problematic. I like their style. If anything, discovering local and organic foods should be fun, you don't have to be a puritan, but why not do it if you can? The EWG list helps you make some practical choices. I figure everyone has their own ethical guidelines, and those guidelines should be flexible. (Sometimes just getting people fed can take precedence I would say. Making fresh produce of any source available to people living in poverty is preferable to no fresh produce. However there's often little reason good why that produce can't be local. ... but I digress. More on that later). In any case, my guidelines run something like: organic and local is the best, but local still beats shipping over long distances and it supports a local sustainable economy, so I'll still go for local even if it's not organic. If I need something from a distance I'll try for at least organic and fair trade if it's coming from the global South. But that still won't cover everything so EWG's list of the clean 15 help me judge I don't have to worry about too much if it's coming from the States. Rules of thumb really. Not written in stone. Depends on the season and all that.

Anyways, for your personal shopping pleasure, here is link to the EWG's pocket guide on the "Dirty Dozen" (and the "Clean 15" as well). They've even got an I-phone app... So take it with you when you shop. And in any case, let me know where you're finding local and especially local and organic in NB!

The Dirty Dozen

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Beef, Wild Boar and Buffalo

So while we await the appearance of more NB/Maritime veggies we should also note the growing availability of free range/grass fed meats in NB. Now while I'm cutting down on meat and agree that industrial meat production is a huge burden on the planet, what mean I do eat now I'm trying to make not only local but grass fed/free range/ sustainable etc. It's surpisingly not that hard to find in NB. I'm a big fan of Dave Bunnett's organic, grass fed beef. He's raising cattle in Havelock (where you can stop by to pick up your meat) but his beef is also available both at the Dieppe Market and the Kingston Peninsula Market. And you can order these terrific freezer packs from him which frankly I think are competetively priced with your generic grocery store beef. Check out his website: Bunnet Family Farm
The beef is excellent - way more flavour than grocery store beef and leaner too - so cook with care. Dave gives excellent advice on this.

There are other more esoteric options in NB however
One I found on my way through the old (890) highway from Sussex to Petitcodiac - Brabant's wild boar meat in Newtown/Knightville. Wild boar is very lean and tastier than pork. I had some lovely chops the other night - they need to be cooked slow and low to retain their moisture. It's very low in saturated fat, lower than pork, and only slightly higher than chicken. Brabants

The other night I cooked up their also very tasty and lean sausages along with sauerkraut from Lewis Mountain (outside Moncton)that I also picked up at the Dieppe Market. Apparently there's an organic Lewis Mountain sauerkraut as well.

And in the same trip, I picked up some buffalo meat at the Dieppe market from SeaWind Buffalo Ranch in Bouctouche. Fabulous hot Italian sausages from them. Again very lean and the sausages had a marvellous fennel flavour. Highly recommended if you like Hot Italian. The Buffalo at Seawind are grass fed - avoiding all the problems of grain fed meat.
Seawind Buffalo Farm

There are other sources I'm sure, in fact I'll check it out on the ACORN site....which I will introduce in the next post.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Spring: Fiddleheads

So it's spring and the first sign of spring to me is the arrival of fiddleheads - which have actually been around for a couple of weeks now. Fiddleheads are of course our most emblematic local food and pretty easy to find so I'm sure no-one needs help in that department. But fiddleheads are becoming increasingly popular because of recent confirmations of their very high nutritional value - not just in minerals and Vit A and C but in antioxidants ( double that of our other emblematic food: blueberries) and Omega-3s. See the recent CBC article on a NS scientist arguing for fiddleheads to be commercially farmed because of their nutritional value:
Of course, as usual, science has simply re-proven what First Nations here have known for thousands of years - fiddleheads are incredibly good for you, eat 'em while they're here.

(Apparently food does fascinate university students, check out this reaction to the fiddlehead news from a science student at Waterloo: - with recipe attached.)

There is some debate over how to prepare fiddleheads - the government recommends 10 minutes of boiling, since undercooking of fiddleheads can make you ill. I'm a long time practitioner of the method laid out in Marie Nightingale's "Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens", the bible of traditional Maritime cooking, which is to steam them in the "water that clings after rinsing" (several times of course to remove the chaff). This method does mean careful watching however and I have been known to burn them when I've left them unattended, so be forewarned. Some great recipes are at the end of this article from Vitality Magazine:
Fiddleheads Taste Like Spring

Other spring greens are showing up as well: I found fabulous local asparagus at Les Fleurs du Pommier at the Dieppe Market. And I've had mixed greens already from Dave Bunnett's Farm (he who produces grass fed beef in Havelock, but more on that later...). He too is at Dieppe market. So you can pretty easily green up your diet with local greens even now.

Real Food in New Brunswick

Well I've been meaning to do it, so I've finally done it - started a blog so people can share where to find real food in NB. By "real" I mean locally grown, locally made, maybe even organic where we can find it. And I'm only starting in NB because that's where I am, but I don't intend to limit it to just NB - that 100 mile circle can stretch to NS, PEI, Quebec and Maine quite easily. And heaven knows I'm a keen fan of things tropical such as coffee, chocolate and sugar, so if I can find it fair trade, I consider that "real" too - as in it provides a real and sustainable living for those who produce it. My goal is just to help us all share information on where good food can be found in our own backyard. So I'll just start blogging about what I've found and where I've found it and hope that others join in. New Brunswick, it turns out, is quite rich in real food - you just have to look for it...