rushing off to slow food nation

The irony of blogging is that the more exciting and interesting things there are happening to experience and write about, the less time there is to actually write about them. Having just finished up 2 weeks assisting at a kid's culinary camp (more on this later), I'm off to San Francisco to experience Slow Food Nation....3 days of lectures, taste pavillions, films, farmers markets and even a victory garden that has been created downtown....right in front of City Hall. God knows, there will be lots more to write about....


rub a dubb dubb

Tub of fresh basil

It has been my experience that farmers are generous folk, as confirmed last night during a get together with my friends Katy and Gabriel of Sapo Bravo Organics. As we prepared to part ways for the evening, Gabriel offered to give me some produce left over from that day's Farmers Market. Of course I gratefully accepted. After rushing out of the restaurant to their delivery truck he returned with an enormous plastic bag full of assorted fresh and aromatic beauty. Its contents consisted of cucumbers, peaches, plums, heirloom tomatoes and so much basil....even after I gave some to our waitress, the people sitting at the table next to us plus their waitress, my roommate's girlfriend's business partner, my hairdresser....the next morning I still had a bathtub full of basil (good thing I cleaned my bathroom yesterday). Nine salad spinners full later, there was still more basil then I knew what to do with. It was time to call for back up. My friend Linda came to the rescue and collected half, which she planned to make into a whack of pesto. I opted to do the same with my remaining herbage....good thing I have a freezer. PestoMix anyone?

blackberry & mint vodka

blackberry & mint vodka

Enough of this food talk. Yes, the blackberries are in season and as gorgeous as ever....and normally I would go on a riff about blackberry jam, pancakes, smoothies and such, but let's explore booze for a change....more specifically, vodka, which happens to be a great spirit to infuse with other ingredients such as citrus, vanilla, nuts and chilies. This particular vodka is dead simple to make and the deep, rich berry sweetness combined with the freshness of the mint make for the foundation of a truly delicious and refreshing summer cocktail.

Blackberry & Mint Vodka

1 26 oz bottle of decent vodka- emptied into a jug
1 clean, empty 750 ml wine bottle
2 cups of fresh mint, cleaned
enough fresh blackberries to fill up both bottles 3/4 full

Fill both bottles with blackberries until 3/4 full. Next add the mint (1 cup per bottle). Divide the vodka equally between the 2 bottles. Seal both with a cork or cap. Turn upside down, then right side up. Store in fridge for 1 week. Serve in a tall glass over ice with a good splash of Pellegrino. Garnish with a wedge of lime and a sprig of fresh mint. Cheers to summer.


them tomaydas!

home grown tomatoes

What you are looking at is my very first successful attempt at growing food. Two months ago I brought home 3 little tomato plants and plopped them into a container along with some potting soil and a large heaping of hope. Despite the fact that I had (unknowingly) crammed them into far too small a space for the amount of real estate that they would eventually require, they have grown beautifully. Each time I walk by them I am as pleased and proud as a new parent, feeling a sense of awe and wonder for their progress and for the miracle of life. Tonight I plucked the first few ripe ones, to eat with a simple salad. They were so incredibly sweet and flavourful, as if someone had taken a syringe and injected a fantastic salad dressing right into their centres. To say that I am encouraged would be an understatement.


the legacy of rae's flapper pie

Rae's Flapper Pie

Growing up in the suburbs of North Vancouver, I was fortunate enough to enjoy a solid community of good neighbours. From the time I was born, the Collier family lived next door to our family's house. This couldn’t have been more idyllic, as my best friend happened to be their youngest child. For Heather and me, our carefree, barefoot days of summer included the usual running through sprinklers, operating lemonade stands, competing in watermelon seed spitting contests and frequently sampling her mother’s fresh berry pies. Rae was a fantastic baker, a great neighbour and, most important of all, my second Mom. She loved to feed people and didn’t mind sharing her recipes with those who asked. My own mother still uses her flapper pie recipe many times each summer, showcasing whatever berries are fresh at the time. As the season progresses from strawberries to blueberries, then from raspberries to blackberries, each pie always seems more delicious than the last.....and one more reason to celebrate being together to enjoy each other and the best that summer has to offer. Though Rae died 10 years ago, our family will always refer to this recipe as ‘Rae’s Flapper Pie’.

Rae’s Flapper Pie

This pie is stellar with any seasonal fresh berries. Try one type of fruit whole, and another mashed for the topping (ie- whole blueberries with a raspberry sauce) It is best served fresh, chilled and with a dollop of whipped cream.


2 cups graham wafer crumbs
¼ cup lightly toasted sesame seeds
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp sugar ½ cup melted butter

In medium bowl mix crumbs, seeds, sugar and salt. Stir in melted butter, stirring until well combined. Dump ingredients into an 9” glass pie plate and press ingredients evenly with the back of a spoon, forming into a crust. Bake @ 350* for 15 minutes. Allow to cool.


4 cups washed and dried berries
2 cups mashed fruit
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp cold butter
2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 3 tbsp cold water

Garnish: 1 cup cold whipped cream, whipped

Put mashed fruit and sugar into a small pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes. Add half of the cornstarch and water, stirring until thickened. If mixture is still too runny, add a little more of the cornstarch and water. (texture should be like a runny jam) Add in butter and melt. Remove mixture from stove and allow it to cool to room temperature. Place the 4 cups of fruit in the pie shell. Cover with the fruit mixture. Cover with seran wrap and chill in fridge for a few hours. Cut into slices and serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

u-pick, u-eat

frsh picked raspberries

My recent visit to a 'u-pick' berry farm has given me a new found appreciation for those who harvest our fruit. Two weekends ago, well stocked with potato salad, drinking water, hats, sunscreen and a plethora of empty yogurt containers, 3 friends and I hopped in a car and made our way to berry picking country. Driediger Farms in Langley is about a 50 minute drive from Vancouver…..just enough time to decompress from the city and slow to a country pace (or at least try to) .

Driediger Farms

We were on a quest for raspberries. After arriving at the farm (with mapquest directions in hand) we made our way to the u-pick check in, where all of our empty containers were weighed and recorded with a piece of tape. After making our way to the assigned 'u-pick' area, we divided ourselves amongst the many tall rows of fresh raspberry bushes and began to individually collect our loot. As I gathered (and tasted) the luscious fruit, I couldn’t help but think that they would be wise to weigh the pickers as well. At $1.60 per pound, surely folks like me were literally eating into their profits? Not having been to a u-pick since I was a kid, I found the activity to be relaxing and quite meditative though, despite my keen efforts to focus and forage efficiently, it really was slow going. Never again will I look at a basket of picked fruit at a stand or in a store and think that it is too expensive. Gathering fruit by hand is incredibly time consuming, as are most tasks related to food production. But it was a fun day out and the rewards were sweet, as I was reminded each day for the next week when I would open my fridge and help myself to fresh, sweet, juicy, perfect raspberries.


potato salad with parsley pesto dressing

potato salad with parsley pesto dressing

With our summer coming so late this year, local produce has, in turn, been a slow grow. Our Farmers Markets are now finally brimming over with the tasty, fresh produce many of us have been dreaming of all year. It seems ironic that my post culinary school edible creations are now more simplified than ever. Why fix what ain't broke? Tis the season to satiate our cravings for the fresh flavours, colours and textures that only summer's bounty can bring. Not to mention..... less preparation time equals more outdoor playtime.

Potato Salad with Parsley Pesto Dressing

This salad is a fine example of fresh summer eating. The parsley pesto may seem like a lot of work....but the extra can be used in pasta etc. Or substitute with a store bought pesto. It will be just as yummy- great picnic or road food!

3 c (approx) baby potatoes, scrubbed, halved and steamed until they still have a 'bite'
2 c kale, sliced into thin ribbons (chiffenade)
2 green onions, finely sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/2 yellow pepper, sliced
1/3 c fresh radishes, halved and thinly sliced
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled
1/3 cut fresh basil, cut into thin ribbons (chiffenade)
S & P
Parsley Pesto Dressing (see recipe below)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over potato salad, only adding enough to wet the ingredients. (extra dressing can be stored in the fridge, in the same lidded jar, and used on other salads)

Pesto Parsley Dressing

1/3 c parsley pesto (see recipe below) OR store bought pesto
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 c buttermilk
S & P

Combine all ingredients into a medium size jar. Seal lid. Shake jar over sink for 30 seconds, until all ingredients are combined.

Parsley Pesto

2 c parsley, rinsed and dried, large stems removed
3/4 c lightly toasted pumpkin seeds
1 fresh garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
S & P
1/3 c - 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor, except for the olive oil. Whirl 45 seconds. Slowly start to drizzle in olive oil, keeping the machine running, until pesto consistency is achieved. Store refrigerated in a tight container.