Green is one of the less-popular colours of smoothie with my friends (although there are worse outcomes from my smoothie obsession). They like pink. Chocolate is okay if you don’t tell them there is kale in there. Yellow tends to get a decent reception. All the recipes are basically the same, but much like when you mixed modeling clay together when you were a kid, the colours you end up with sometimes leave something to be desired. The taste, though, is always divine.
Two great things for me about salad season are (a) variety and (b) surprises! We do our best to eat local produce when we can get it, and we are at the height of the #Canadian season, with lots of delicious things in abundance. I have no trouble buying lemons, or spices, or coffee, or even avocadoes from afar. But oh, the glorious greens, the field tomatoes, the cukes…who could resist?
Combine that with my efforts to eat more plant-based meals, leading to new and interesting mixtures of veg – and I’m having the best time! Today I had a Greek-salad-inspired dish with an Asian flair. That’s a real Toronto meal if I ever saw one.
Regent Park is a neighbourhood in transition – where new residents are meeting and mingling with folks who have lived here for a very long time. So some of us newcomers, like me, are finding our way around to the services, people, and places that surround us.
One of the places to connect is our amazing aquatic centre – with this friendly guy at the entrance. There are lots of other opportunities to connect also; all you have to do is dive in! (Yes, I’ve been known to like a pun or two).
Today, for example, and every Wednesday for the summer, you can get an amazing, tasty meal for only four bucks at Regent Park. Just show up around 6pm, and buy a ticket from the folks in the Community Food Centre booth. Get in line, and be prepared for something delicious (last week it was rice, lentils, curry beef, and salad – tasty!) While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the vendors on site, selling fresh bread, Ethiopian coffee, and lots of other treats.
One more great way to get involved in the neighbourhood is the Regent Park Neighbourhood Association, or RPNA. You can also find the RPNA on Facebook, or follow what’s happening on Twitter. There are lots of amazing people to meet, with tremendous community spirit, and whether you want to simply find out what’s going on, to communicate with others who live in this fantastic community, or you need to find where to get a…well, you name it, the Neighbourhood Association’s got a place for you.
So come and visit, or if you live here, walk around – there’s so much to see and do. And if you’re so inclined, follow my WalkEatLive blog, or my tweets where I talk about places to walk and sightsee; healthy, fresh-made food; or other stories about the way we live and get the most out of life.
I don’t buy store bread, typically, except the occasional pitas or wraps. I make bread once a week and that’s more than enough for the two of us, even if we have dinner guests. Lately, I’ve really been on a sourdough kick – inspired by Michael Pollan’s Cooked.
The idea of bread that rises without the use of commercial yeast appeals to a person like me, who loves inventing things, and wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. Combine that with my search for the perfect technique that combines my commitment to using as much whole-grain flour as possible, with getting great crust, a moist interior, and that elusive “spring” where the interior forces itself through the slash as it bakes in the oven, and you can imagine lots of sourdough-baking in my future.
Unlike the precision of, say, cake baking, sourdough isn’t so much a recipe as a science experiment (albeit a tasty one). I don’t typically use a recipe so much as check out other bakers’ successful tips and then work at adapting it until it feels right. I’ve used different versions, but for starters I would suggest you check out Anne Marie’s (the Zero Waste Chef). Check out her other incredible, helpful, and sometimes edible posts, also.
You might also like the post specially-designed for beginners from The Perfect Loaf. He has many, many versions of sourdough – which makes me slightly fearful of my eventual fate, having embarked on this journey.
The most interesting thing I’ve noted is that both the examples provided by these excellent bakers seemed lately to be unduly wet. Sourdough afficionados will tell you the dough should be wet, but I’m talking ridiculously wet, almost like soup. Yet it didn’t start out that way at the autolyse stage, nor during the folding. It seemed to happen during the bulk fermentation. What I’ve realized is that, being a typical Toronto summer, it is much more humid than it was in the spring, and definitely more than the winter. So I think the dough is absorbing more moisture from the air. The other day it was 60% humidity inside, with the air conditioning turned on. So I’m learning to adjust for that.
Anyway, each loaf has turned out very well, some better than others. This pair of loaves have been a real treat, as you can see! I hope you’ll share your favourite way to use sourdough bread.
Happy 149th birthday, Canada!
As an advocate of home cooking as an alternative to unhealthy, over-salted, sugar-laden processed foods, I also love local fare. There are real advantages to eating food from as close to its source as possible. So I do my best to grow food, pick or buy food that’s in season, and support my local farmers. There is, however, another side to the coin. We’re in Canada.
Being Canadian means that the food growing season is very short. Depending on your location, having a farmer’s market is an option for only a few months, or you had better learn to like cabbage, potatoes, and turnip. Heck, even those quintessentially Canadian winter vegetables are frequently imported by major grocery chains from as far away as Texas and California. And that’s not our only challenge.
We have the great good fortune here in Canada to be what we describe as a mosaic, rather than a melting pot. People flock here from all over the world for an opportunity to live in an accepting, expansive, amazing country. When they get here, we welcome them, and their cultures, and that includes their food. Feta and falafel, tofu and tangerines, wasabi and watermelon have all made appearances on our household menu.
So here’s our compromise: We don’t grow coffee, but I’m not prepared to give it up, so I buy it, and look for fair trade. I’ll lean toward a local roaster over a multinational if I can. Figs, dates, and other foods that are prominent in my neighbourhood because we have a huge population of new Canadians…great. I’m in. I support farmer’s markets where and when I have access. Oranges? Florida’s marginally closer than California, but either way I’ll keep eating oranges. If there is locally-produced couscous, farro, tofu or even feta, I’ll give it a preferential position in my (reusable) grocery bag. Wine, for me, has no boundaries.
I avoid products that should be available year-round in my supermarket (sorry Texas carrots and Washington apples, you’re not coming home with me). Lastly, there’s the budget. As much as possible, I will pay extra for the privilege of eating food that’s grown in my home province, even though that is an unfair result of our grocery chains supporting the industrial food complex. But if push comes to shove and the unprocessed fresh or frozen food I can afford isn’t as local as I’d like, it still beats something from a can, box, or jar. I can live with myself.
Have a happy Canada Day, all, and eat well, wherever you are. We’ll be enjoying a seasonal, local treat homemade with all-Canadian ingredients: strawberry shortcake.