Lethbridge Vegan Potluck Group

I wanted to share a somewhat new group in Lethbridge- the Lethbridge Vegan Potluck Group.  I haven’t had a chance to go yet, being busy with the little one and all, but it sounds and looks like they have shared some really great meals together, as well as lots of useful information.

Check it out on facebook here.

Eating Take-Out in Lethbridge

A friend recently posted the question on facebook of where to take out as a vegetarian in Lethbridge.

I thought I’d share some of the responses:

  • El Camal the veggie burrito and the veggie quesadilla super awesome!
  • Song Thuan Vietnamese restaurant on 13th St. N. has a great tofu mushroom hot pot
  • Dono Sushi— the veggie combo, 13$ can’t go wrong, a meal for two!
  • Indian (Baadshah has a great lunch buffet, you can do take out and almost get 2 meals worth for $12!)
  • Ethiopian
  • the sushi place in park place mall- Umi Sushi Express. But they have a couple bento boxes for about $10, they aren’t on the menu, you have to ask for them.

And  not really related, but, do any of the readers out there know where to get knives sharpened in Lethbridge?  Mine are so dull!

Early Apple Wine

ImageOur apple tree is packed with apples this year- a nice reward for having none last year.  About 2 weeks ago, they started turning red and falling- I don’t remember them being this early 2 years ago.  Despite being super busy with baby, house renovations and just everyday living, we knew we couldn’t let them go to waste.  I’ve been admiring Kevin’s apple crush for quite a while now, so we attempted our own.  With baby strapped on, the three of us set up our assembly line of wash, cut, juice, squeeze resulting pulp for juice and collect juice in a primary fermenter.  It took almost 6 hours!  Although, baby bird did have a freak out about mid way, so dad had to finish the rest on his own.

ImageNext year, (or next time; as our neighbors have now donated many of their apples to the cause) we will find a more efficient way to juice and press the apples.  We just have a small household juicer and a big cheesecloth.  When it was all over, we ended up with about 3 gallons of juice and the fellah at the wine store sold us some appropriate yeast.  So, in it went, and now we wait..

Image

DIY Granola 101

Throughout my pregnancy, I’d have to say that breakfast foods have been a consistent craving, or rather food preference.  Which is fine, since we eat good, local eggs, homemade jam, and good (sometimes homemade) bread.  I also have been going through a lot of yogurt, and the organic choices out there just seem to be getting more plentiful.  Yay!

There’s nothing better with some thick, creamy yogurt than some good, crunchy granola.  I’ve bought my share of it over the last 7 months, some of it good, some of it, not so good.  So when I started searching for my own recipe, I stumbled upon one easy, healthy recipe from CHOW. 

It’s super simple, economical, and my favorite part is it’s flexible.  Once you’ve got the base, you can pretty much add anything you want in the way of dried fruit, nuts, seasonings and seeds.  I also like that you know exactly what’s going in.  Even with some of the natural or organic cereals and granolas out there, I still find words I don’t understand in their ingredient lists.

DIY Granola

1. In a large bowl, stir together three cups of old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats), three tablespoons brown sugar, a quarter teaspoon kosher salt, and a half teaspoon cinnamon.

2. In another bowl, stir together one-third cup honey (I used maple syrup), a quarter cup canola oil (I used grapeseed- canola is pretty much guaranteed to be GMO), and a teaspoon of vanilla. Dump this over the oat mixture and combine thoroughly. Get your hands in it to mix everything well, and to coat the oats evenly with the honey mixture. Heat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

before baking

3. Spread the mixture in a thin, even layer on a baking sheet and place on the center rack of the heated oven. Bake, stirring after 15 minutes, until the granola is a very light golden brown. It should take 20 to 30 minutes. If you like your granola crunchier with a toastier flavor, bake it a little longer, keeping a close eye on it—if it gets dark it will taste burnt.

after baking

4. Cool the granola completely, stirring it around so it doesn’t stick together. (It hardens as it cools.)

5. Once the granola’s cool, get creative: Now is the time to stir in all your extras like dried fruit, raw or toasted nuts and seeds, toasted coconut, etc. Store in an airtight container (this is very important—the granola goes stale easily) and eat within two weeks.

add goodies!

A couple of things with this recipe I did: the first time I made it, I added just about everything I could think of, coconut, bran cereal (hubby bought and never eats), nuts, dried fruit.. The last time I made it, I added a handful of trail mix, some rice crisps, pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts.  Both were good and it all depends on what you like in your granola (I’m not picky).  My suggestion is to add your nuts & seeds in with the granola when you bake it- it helps bring out their flavor. Don’t do this, however with your dried fruit, or it will dry it out even further.

Seed Starting

Thanks to the beautiful weather, I’m sure everyone has now been bit by the gardening bug.  Admittedly, we are a little behind in our seed starting due to all the preparations we’ve been doing for the baby bean this spring.  But this weekend was a gentle reminder to get on it.  Having not ordered from any seed catalogues this year, we headed out to green haven to browse what we hoped was a more diverse selection of seeds.

Though there weren’t as many varieties as the seed catalogues, we came home pleased with our new stash.  This year, we’ve decided to not grow so many cherry and grape tomaotes; last year we ended up with far too many (and still have jars full of savory jam, freezer bags full of frozen whole, and packets of dehydrated.)  But really, there’s only so much you can do with little tomatoes.

This year, we picked out two bigger varieties; one coined a ‘mortgage lifter’, promising 2-4 lb tomatoes. the other, an heirloom beefsteak-type.  Me thinks these would be excellent sandwich tomatoes.  We also went with our old standby, roma, which I love to can and some ground cherries, which were really fun last year.  Those combined with a few other varieties and maybe a few of our leftover cherry & grape tomato seeds from last year, and we’re good to go.  We also picked up cucumber, eggplant and peppers to start.  We’re going to get some lettuce, chard and pea greens going in the cold frames soon.

What I was really excited about this year was my new seed pot maker:

This simple, yet genius little device transforms strips of newspaper into little pots for planting.  Its about as eco-friendly as you can get; as once the seedlings are ready for planting, you just stick the whole thing, newspaper and all into the ground.  This is my first year trying this so I’m hoping I like it.  Much smarter and cheaper than buying plastic, peat, coconut, etc pots.

Are you starting seeds this year?  what are you planting?

Upcoming Workshop: Permaculture 101 – Working with Nature

The Campus Roots Garden Club presents Permaculture 101 — Working with Nature; Wednesday, 2012 January 25 @ 7pm at the University of Lethbridge, room AH116 .

Learn the fundamental concepts behind permaculture and how it can be applied in daily life with Jason Baranec of Southern Alberta Permaculture (SAP). There is no question that this session will get you thinking about confronting cultural, environmental, and energy-supply change and provide new perspective in becoming a more sustainable and energy efficient member of the community.

All the information here.

 

2011 Recap- Food & Foraging

As 2011 comes to a close (and 2012 is actually here) everyone seems to have a list of faves, experiences and plans for the future.  The more I think about it, my 2011 list involves a lot of food, drink and travel.  I’m still saying that stalking the wild asparagus was one of the highlights of the year:

And certainly our 2 trips down to Montana for a plethora of local craft beers, nosh and skiing was memorable.  Alberta, why can’t you relax your liquor laws so we can have more small-scale breweries & wineries? 

my fave

A recent trip to Mexico also involved a lot of food for me… and since I’ve now got a little bean incubating in my ever expanding tummy, I couldn’t partake in the alcohol component.  Though, I’ve gotta say, the virgin pina colada I had with fresh pineapple was quite tolerable.   As was the freshest pineapple and cantaloupe I’ve ever had paired with fresh queso blanco.

And, luckily, baby bean hasn’t been too fussy; despite a brief aversion to anything tomato earlier in the fall (which could have also been a result of me just dealing with too many tomatoes), we’ve been lucky.  In 2012, I will take charge of labeling the tomato seedlings so we don’t end up with buckets of cherry and grape tomatoes… which, you can really only do so many things with other than eat fresh.

2011 was also the year of the cabbage fail.

I may or may not attempt another cabbage crop this season.  I’ve heard a few ideas that sound promising, such as nylons.  We’ll see!  I’d love to be able to make my own kraut with homegrown cabbage; as the organic stuff is hard to come by.

What else is in the works for 2012?  Possibly more peppers and another attempt at eggplant, which I started from seed too late in 2011.  By the end of September, there were tiny little purple eggplants growing, but nothing substantial to harvest.  We seem to do well with hot plants so we’ll continue to roll with those.

I’d also like to bake more bread.  Lethbridge suffers from a lack of artisan bakeries- wouldn’t it be great to have some nice seedy, Austrian bread? We make our own pizza crust and focaccia lots, since these don’t suffer if you don’t achieve a decent rise from the yeast, which is usually the problem when I make bread.  This no-knead bread article and recipe have created lots of buzz on the internet over the last 5 years, so I’ve gotta give it a try.  And it sounds like a good recipe to have handy with a baby around-  you just mix the ingredients and let ferment at least overnight and bake. In fact, it claims to be so easy, people actually let their kids make it!

Image from steamykitchen.com

I can’t wait to see what 2012 holds- with that in mind, I may be posting less as we prepare for baby bean.  I would like to extend an invitation to any readers who’d like to share something unique on the Lethbridge Veg- whether it be recipes, your favorite local haunt, information on gardening, an event notice, or whatever you see fit.  Feel free to drop me a line!

I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2012 full of lots of fresh, local food and a reminder to slow down and enjoy the little things!