alabacore tuna recipe contest


I first mentioned ‘Iron Maiden Seafoods’ smoked albacore tuna as a suggested addition to a corn chowder recipe that I created back in July. I often purchase their fantastic products from the Trout Lake Farmers Market. When Gigi found out that I had mentioned their seafood in my blog, she asked me to extend an invitation to anyone interested in submitting an entry (there will be 4 categories, including one for children) to the ‘Nationwide Tuna Recipe Contest’. The aim of this contest is to “promote awareness of BC caught Albacore Tuna and to create a recipe book comprised of contest winners”. The contest begins September 1, 2007 and the deadline for all entries will be November 30, 2007.

Pacific Northwest caught migratory albacore tuna, which are caught as far south as San Diego and as far north as the Queen Charlottes, weigh an average of 15 lbs, as opposed to South Pacific caught albacore, which weigh an average of 150-200 lbs. A smaller fish means a lower mercury count, not to mention it is local, sustainable and very tasty.


very blackberry

Diane Thompson's Blackberry & Vanilla Bean Compote

Holy blog backlog! This summer has been so full of exciting things to see and do, I've not been able to sit still long enough to write about any of it. For the last two weeks, I’ve been road-tripping to organic farms and community gardens, picking blackberries, meeting really interesting food enthusiasts of all shapes, colours and sizes, and cooking and eating fresh fare from all over the lower mainland. I hope summer never ends.

Last Sunday, my friend Peter and I went blackberry picking. I adore this activity. It is a time for quiet and calm. I lose myself in my thoughts, as I fill my containers with berries and my lungs with sweetly scented, fresh air. Surely, it must be a form of aromatherapy? When my picking is done, I am always excited to get home and decide what to create with the fruits of my labour.

This time, I decided to keep the berries stored in my fridge, to enjoy ‘in the raw’; on top of granola, piled in the centre of a half papaya, or whirled up in a frozen banana smoothie. Peter’s harvest was not in the best of shape, as he thought a plastic bag would be a suitable vessel for transporting freshly picked berries (hung from the handle bars of his bicycle). NOT! Necessity breeds invention….

Blackberry & Vanilla Bean Compote

3 cups fresh blackberries (even if they are a bit mushed)
1/3 cup white sugar (to taste)
½ vanilla bean, slit lengthwise

Put the berries and sugar in a medium size pot. Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Scrape the centre from the vanilla bean half. Put the scrapings and the half bean in the berry mixture. Taste mixture, to decide if you would like to add more sugar. Let simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool. Serve warmed up on pancakes, French toast, ice cream, or use it as you would a jam. Store in fridge.



Diane Thompson's Basil & Hazelnut Pesto

I came home from the farmers market today with a whack of basil; far too much to eat it all fresh. What better time to whirl up a batch of simple, fresh, aromatic, bright green pesto? Keeping this in the fridge is handy dandy. Try it on pizza, grilled on bread, stirred into salad dressing, dip or pasta sauce. This version is made without cheese, though you could add some if you like. I also threw in some fresh, lightly toasted hazelnuts.

Basil & Hazelnut Pesto:

2 cups packed freshly cleaned and dry basil (stems removed)
1 large clove garlic
1/3 cup fresh hazelnuts, lightly toasted
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

In food processor, whirl together basil and garlic until basil is well minced. Add nuts, salt & pepper. Whirl again. While processor is on, drizzle oil in slowly, until pesto becomes an oily paste. To store in the fridge, put a thin layer of oil on top of the pesto, then cover with a tight lid. This will keep the pesto green in colour. To save for later, make pesto into patties about the size of crab cakes. Put patties in saran wrap and store in the freezer in a tight container. Thaw and use as needed.


fig fest!

Ripe Figs

My friends, Stephanie and Neil, are blessed with three gorgeous fig trees in their back yard. Being creative and generous folk, and also the loving parents of their one year old son, Costello; it would seem that they were inspired by their abundant harvest to arrange the following special gathering:


Sorry for the late notice....
(you just never know when these things will ripen)

Starting at 3 PM and onwards
Though a hard shut-down at 9:30 PM

Highly competitive kiddies' events in the afternoon
Sloppier adult antics as the day progresses....,

Figs for picking, and for eating
And leaves for sheltering the boastful
And lots of fig dishes
Heavy cheeses available to counter the fig factor

Come one, come all
But for the love of Buddha, PLEASE RSVP

-Neil + Stephanie + Costello

In turn, I was inspired to create a fig dish that would do justice to such soft, ripe, sweet, pink, juicy, sexy fruit. Many thanks to N + S for such a wonderful celebration of friends, food, drink....and summer.

Diane Thompson's Proscuitto Wrapped Figs

Proscuitto Wrapped Figs
(With Goat Cheese, Toasted Hazelnuts, and Black Pepper Honey Drizzle)

10 fresh figs; cut in half, lengthwise
10 thin slices of good proscuitto; cut in half, lengthwise
1/4 soft goat cheese
1/4 cup honey mixed with 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
3 tbsp crushed, toasted hazelnuts
2 tbsp olive oil

Wrap each half fig in a half strip of proscuitto. Put olive oil in large, flat pan that has been brought up to medium heat. Saute fig halves, face down until lightly golden brown. Gently turn them over and fry for another 3 minutes. Serve on large plate, flat side facing up. Put 1 tsp of goat cheese on each fig, then a light sprinkle of the hazelnuts. Drizzle lightly with peppered honey.


ranty pants


O.k., just one last rant about plastic bags, and then I promise to shut up about it....at least for awhile. My Mom kindly ripped this tid bit from the newspaper for me last Saturday (thanks, June), and it is too good not to share. Leaf Rapids, Manitoba has become the first municipality in Canada to ban plastic bags! Since April of this year, any of the town's retailers who ignore the ban on selling or distributing single-use bags could find themselves facing $1000-a-day fines. How fabulous is that? San Fransico is in the process of implementing a similar ban, which will affect all its supermarkets by September of 2007, and its pharmacies sometime in early 2008.


and the winner is.....

La Tartine Gourmande

Back on July 24, I entered the 'Does My Blog Look Good In This?' photo contest. What amazing entries they were. Congratulations to the first place winner, La Tartine Gourmande (shown above). Here is a peek at all 88 entries.


thrill of the grill

Diane Thompson's Marinating Vegetables

My fabulous roommate, Michel has an equally fabulous barbeque. When he first brought home his shiny new Weber (Spirit E-210), buzzing with excitement, I really couldn't see what all the fuss was about. I figured it must be a guy thing. Then one balmy summer evening, I took it for a spin. SO satisfying to sear and grill on that 'Q'. Truly. These days, I'm really into grilling marinated vegetables. Here is what I came up with this week. These veggies are so versatile; chop them up and put them on top of a salad, toss them into a pasta, on top of a pizza, put them in a grilled sandwich, or keep them whole and use them in an antipasto platter.

Grilled Marinated Vegetables

1 eggplant, cut in 1/3" slices
1 yellow zucchini, cut in 1/3" slices
1 green zucchini, cut in 1/3" slices
1 yellow pepper, cored and quartered


1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped, fresh basil
3 thinly sliced green onions
1/2 tsp salt
fresh pepper
3 crushed garlic cloves

Place a layer of vegetables in the bottom of a large baking dish. Combine marinade ingredients and drizzle some on top. Keep layering veggies and drizzling with marinade, until both are used up. Cover and let stand in fridge for 1-3 hours. Grill and serve, or cool and keep for earlier mentioned uses.


30 day challenge complete

Chris Jordan 'Running The Numbers'

The above photo by Chris Jordan depicts 60,000 plastic bags, the number used in the U.S. every five seconds.

Chris Jordan 'Running The Numbers'

The second photo is a partial zoom.

Chris Jordan 'Running The Numbers'

The final photo is detail at actual size.

On July 31, I successfully completed my 30 day challenge. It also happened to be the last day of artist Chris Jordan’s photo exhibit ‘Running the Numbers’. On display most recently at the Von Lintel Gallery in New York, this incredible new series “looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics”. Jordan's work uses large photo images to portray the quantities of consumption which occur during specific time frames. If you happen to find yourself in Los Angeles after September 8, you can catch 'Running Numbers' at the Paul Kopeikin Gallery.

As for my own challenge, to last the entire month of July without accepting plastic bags; I honestly did not accept a SINGLE one.... so easy, and very satisfying. It is now simply a good habit which I fully intend to continue. Incidentally, since my posting on July 1, an estimated 50,141,616,005 plastic bags have been consumed worldwide.