Now you may be wondering why I’m writing about Oktoberfest in December?!
To be fair, I’ve been going through an enormous amount of transitions career, home and personal-wise.
I’ve been on the road with a film crew cooking for the cast and crew. It’s a home renovation show produced by a local production company.
It’s hard to be out of Europe. A lot of my family and culture is there. However being part of this new team and traveling to small Ontario towns is very fulfilling. No matter where you are.. you can find good food!
Beau’s is an excellent example. In just a few years their annual Oktoberfest turn out went from a couple thousand to this year receiving 15 000! Incredible.
Beau’s Brewery was one of few Ottawa craft breweries when I first visited their facilities in Vankleek Hill 6 years ago. Now, in a midst of an exploding microbrewery scene, Beau’s stands out against the flock with their impeccable branding, community work with homeless youth and variety of flavours.
This couldn’t be more apparent when I went to Oktoberfest for the first time this year. Appropriately, I went with my mother who had spent 3 years of university in Germany.
When we entered the grounds.. you should’ve seen us. I think she was just excited to get out and see a bright and energetic scene on a fantastic fair grounds in small town Ontario. For me, I was moved to see so many friends, colleagues and artisans food purveyors booth beside booth selling German and beer-inspired food along side amazing musicians.
Not only did this 2-day festival have so much food and music to enjoy but there were old timey games, a strong man-style competition and skateboarding competitions.
Normally, an event with such variety could get a little diluted or overwhelming. The spirit of Beau’s ties it all together though. There was an overwhelming appreciation for everything local. We, in Ottawa, can be a community that supports each other’s talents.
This was most exhibited in the microbrewery tasting tent. Over 100 different beers were available on tap to sample. The kicker? They were from every surrounding microbrewery you could think of!
In such a cut throat and shamelessly competitive food industry, I couldn’t have been more happy to see such gracious ‘open armedness’ to neighbouring beer companies.
Kudos Beau’s. You are an example that you can be an ethical, sustainable and friendly business.
Oh! The sustainability!!! I knew they were always into having their bottles returned for sterilization and refilling – but oh-em-gee. All food vendors served food on real plates with real cutlery. Not only that but there were dedicated volunteers at every garbage area to direct you where to put what.
Amazing. A true inspiration. May many other business follow in their footsteps. To many more thousands of visitors to this fantastic event.
Two of the biggest food trends over the past couple of years have been the emergence of an eclectic Food Truck scene and small independent breweries popping up everywhere! Both were highlights at this year’s Ottawa Folk Fest. Not only because it was the best selection of food and beverage at the festival, but they were also amongst the free stages and family activities.
A stark contrast to Bluesfest was how inclusive of independent Ottawa businesses there were. I remember interviewing festival goers at both festivals and their response to how much better the beer and food was at Folkfest was apparent. They loved it!
T’was an awfully chilly weekend for the festival so some warmth was indulged! However, the last day of the festival was gorgeous.. and that’s when I decided to dig in to what the food trucks had to offer!
I wanted to try something that had more local ingredients but few were gluten-free so I had the Dragon Bowl from Angry Drangonz.
Basically.. they filled the bottom with plain sticky rice, topped that with a raw asian slaw of shredded cabbage, fish roe and green onions topped with three different meat skewers generously seasoned with cumin and other spices. On top of that, a delicious mayo, shredded lettuce, cilantro and sesame seeds. Bravo!
(I want one now just typing this out..)
Oh, RIGHT the music!!
Many people checked out international acts such as Lorde, Foster the People, The Wiggles???, Foster the People and, of course, Neutral Milk Hotel.
Amongst the locals were Cardboard Crowns. Ska in the sun. Hilarious fans. Good times.
All in all it was a wonderful festival that shows off the vibrancy of our food and music scene. Props to the organizers for encouraging free cultural events! And it’s just getting better…
With Christmas approaching fast, it’s time to think of how we can share love and appreciate one another.
I’ve found that for my metabolism, I really need a healthy dose of protein in the morning and I hope that my friend Bonnie can use this to fuel her day as she goes out on the town to do her photography!
…plus I think these would be great Christmas or Boxing Day morning.
Blueberry Pancakes (serves 2)
gluten-free, high protein
Whenever I have protein with pancakes, I always cook the meat (THINK BACON, HERE), in this case – pork chops first and then cook the pancakes. The pancakes get crispier in the fat after! Mmm..
I just marinated 2 chops with 2 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tbsp dried rosemary (fresh is always better), 1 tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper. Sear on both sides until cooked (about 5min per side on medium heat in a frying pan). Top it with Grapefruit Marmalade?!
In a medium bowl mix:
3/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
In another larger bowl whisk together:
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp veg oil
1 cup milk (almond or regular)
Mix wet and dry ingredients together and stir in:
1/4 cup small frozen or fresh blueberries
Heat a skillet on med-hi (I use cast iron..) and melt 1 tbsp coconut oil if not cooking meat first, or if not enough grease in pan.
1/4 cup of batter
in the pan at a time leaving 1/2 cm between pancakes. Cook on medium heat until you see tiny bubbles throughout the pancake, flip and cook for another 1 1/2 min. Do this until all your batter is out!
Enjoy with the porkchops!
Merry Christmas and thanks again to everyone who donated to my trip to Ireland. I’ll be there in one week and will hopefully have time to blog my culinary school experience.
Warm up with our fall favourite Grilled Cheese. First, MC Atherton and I tour Ontario farms to find the freshest ingredients.
If you’ve already checked out the episode.. here’s our bread recipe!
Beer Bread (adjusted from Joy of Cooking cookbook)
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup amber beer
Preheat the oven to 400. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan.
Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Slowly add beer then fold until dry ingredients are just moistened. Add batter to loaf pan and bake for about 45min or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let loaf cool before removing it.
Learn how to make chai tea from scratch as well as our healing Ayurvedic dish, Kitchari!
Mmm.. Stay warm!
As the peaches are coming to a mush and rare state, why not preserve them?
Those of you who know me best know that I have a deep rooted passion for understanding how things are made from its raw materials – especially when it comes to food. That’s why when my work’s group trip to the apple orchard fell through due to bad weather I was stoked to see that there was an apple tree right in the backyard of where I was already!
I thought, screw the apple orchard, I’ll pick apples here and try to make my own cider!
I based my recipe loosely off of City Mom’s.
Wash, core and quarter,
as many apples as you think can fit in your largest pot or,
as many apples you can pick that worms haven’t gotten at
(I’d recommend a sweet-ish variety – Macintosh, Gala, etc)
Add apples to pot and just cover with,
3 inch cinnimon stick
1 lemon quartered
Bring to a boil covered. Once it boils, remove lid and boil for one hour.
Turn heat to low and simmer with lid on for 2 hours.
Remove from heat, cool at room temperature and strain.
I recommend serving each cup gently heated with,
a touch of honey
(and 1 oz rum or whiskey)
This was the best apple cider I’d ever tasted.
The festival of lights of the Hindu religion. This holiday takes a likeness to a New Years celebration. From what I’ve read, this is a holiday to wrap up old business dealings, get together with family members and welcome in Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and abundance.
I’ve always loved reading into Hindu celebrations because they’re so rich in symbolism so I’m sure I’m missing out on 99% of what it’s all about but it didn’t stop me from being inspired to make the most EPIC MEAL EVER. Diwali food fare is usually highlighted with many sweets but.. I’m surprisingly not into desserts so….
Butternut Squash Stuffed Naan
I used the Whole Wheat Naan bread recipe from Monsoon Spice because I didn’t want to risk substituting Spelt flour for White flour since Spelt has more similar baking properties to Whole Wheat.
I changed their recipe to make 6 stuffed Naan instead of 12 long thin Naan’s.
I also added 2 tbsp toasted cumin to the dough, Add it in with the flour.
I stuffed it with
1 Bunch Kale, steamed, chopped and tossed with
3 cloves garlic, minced and
a pinch of salt
and, of course,
1 small roasted butternut squash, mashed with
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
1 tsp garam masala
a pinch of salt
Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle course sea salt on top.
Bake at 400 on a buttered baking sheet for 10 min.
Add to pot,
1 apple, cubed
1 inch ginger, minced
1 tsp cinnimon
Sautee for a few minutes then add,
1 bag of Upper Canada cranberries
1/2 cup water
Stir occasionally. Cook this on medium until you start hearing the cranberries pop and turn into the consistency you want.
Sweeten to taste with
Maple Syrup, about 1/4 cup.
Now, the rest of the meal was taken from this book:
This author traveled all over Asia and collected authentic recipes and published them = my dream one day.
The Saffron Rice
was a lot of work for not that great of a result, but that’s only because I scaled it down by eye.
The jist is, to 1 cup dry brown rice in a small pot add:
1 cinnimon stick
1/2 tsp saffron (or tumeric – it’s more to get that yellow colour)
3 cardamom pods
1 tsp cumin seeds
add 2 cups of water
Bring to a boil on med then simmer with the lid on until cooked through, about 20min
Eggplant Coconut Curry with Green Beans
1 tsp salt on
1 medium eggplant, sliced on a diagonal
and leave to sit for 10min to draw out bitter juices.
Wipe off liquid on eggplant and sprinkle slices with
1 tsp saffron (or curry powder)
3 tbsp oil in a deep cast iron pan or medium sauce pan,
Fry eggplant until soft, 10 min and remove from pan.
Fry, for 1 min
1 large onion, thinly sliced and
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced.
Add to pan and stir on med heat for 1 min,
1 inch fresh ginger, thinly sliced,
8 dry chillies,
2 tsp mustard seeds,
2 tsp fish sauce
1 stalk fresh lemongrass.
Pour in, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 min
1 1/2 cups coconut milk.
Add eggplant and beans and cook until tender.
Season to taste with,
lime juice and 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped.
Make this for yourself if you have 3 hours lying around because then you’ll have dinner for the next 5 nights and breakfast (Naan, chutney and 1 egg..) for 5 mornings. Or invite lots of people and have plenty of fresh yoghurt and have a Bollywood night.
Yes. I know it’s hard to believe, but you can use a squash instead of pasta as a “lighter on your tum-tum” alternative.
It’s fairly simple:
Preheat oven to 350
Slice in half and scoop out the seeds of,
1 Medium Spaghetti Squash (about 4 servings)
Place face down in a casserole dish with,
1/4 cup water
Bake for 45min or until the spaghetti scrapes out easily with a fork and is less crunchy and more tender.
Fork out of the squash and toss in a bowl with
1-2 tsp salt, to taste
1 bunch basil, chopped fine
3 tbsp olive oil
It obviously isn’t the same texture-wise but you honestly feel a hell of a lot lighter after eating it.
Meatless ‘Meaty’ Tomato Sauce
(one million servings.. 12)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped.
Sautee on med-hi heat
2 tbsp olive oil
2 med onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic,mashed
until onions are translucent.
Add, and sautee until tender ‘n’ juicy,
7 mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 medium eggplant, cubed (although I like to roast the eggplant separately on the bbq in strips or in the oven, cubed but that’s just for that roasty flavour).
Add to about 3L of your favourite pasta sauce recipe and season with smoked sea salt or black pepper.
Yesterday I had a BIG craving for Perfection Satisfaction Promise’s (Laurier @ King Edward) Chai Tea. If you haven’t been there before, or tried their in-house, full bodied chai, I really recommend going. This restaurant is for those who like customizing meals, are vegetarian/vegan, who like Indian/healthy comfort luncheon food. This ain’t buffet style either like some other vegetarian restos but still casual.
The atmosphere is relaxing, cheery yet earthy. If you open up to the vibe of Sri Chinmoy that permeates the intention of this restaurant, you’re bound to feel as though you’re treating yourself to a yogic way of eating.
Earl Grey Chai
1-1/2 cups water
1 inch stick of cinnamon
8 cardomom pods, broken open
8 whole cloves
5 black peppercorns
1/8 tsp ground ginger
2/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 1/2 tbsp honey (or to taste)
1 bag earl grey tea
Put 1-1/2 cups water in saucepan. Add the cinnamon, cardomom, black pepper, ginger and cloves and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the milk and honey and bring to a simmer again.
Throw in the tea bag, cover, and turn off the heat. After 2 minutes, strain the tea into one big mug and serve immediately with a garnish of ground cinnamon.
A note on the benefits of these spices…
Cinnamon has been proven to keep your blood-sugar from spiking when you consume sugary substances, cinnamon and ginger help stimulate circulation (great for this weather!) and ginger helps reduce nausea! *note* the mode of preparation and consumption of them spices affects their effectiveness.. holler
PS. Did you know chai means ‘tea’ in both Serbian AND Mandarin!? (and probably a bunch of other languages..).