Friday, 20 December 2013

How to Roast a Turkey (Tips for a Successful Holiday Meal)

With Christmas & New Years around the corner, you are no doubt planning a big meal for your family, and perhaps for your friends. A farmers' market is the perfect place to pick up most of the ingredients you need for a spectacular holiday feast.

There, you can preorder turkey from vendors like Sunworks Organic Farm (I'll be picking ours up bright & early tomorrow morning down at the Old Strathcona Farmers' Market). And while you're there, you can pick up winter squashes and potatoes that round out a traditional turkey dinner so well, you can get wonderfully rustic breads that make THE best turkey stuffing, pick up a perfect homemade pie, spectacular breads & buns, and you can get the ingredients for delicious side dishes too... red and golden beats, sweet carrots, hothouse beans, garlic, etc. Yup. A farmers' market is Feast Central... and its goods are locally shipped to market, costing less (environmentally speaking), and the money that you spend there stays in the local economy which will make our city & surrounding area a more prosperous & economically healthy place in which to live.

There's no doubt about it. Planning a big meal like this takes work, but the results are so worth it... the smell of a roasting bird filling up the house, family gathered around a beautifully set table, soft candlelight to set the mood... maybe even carols on in the background, playing softly to fill out the atmosphere of the occasion. Good company. Great food (and leftovers). A wonderful time spent together. Memories carved out, like that turkey, weighted heavily by that wonderful family binder... tradition. Yup... so worth it. But a lot of work.

Thankfully, the airwaves and the internet are full of simple how-to tips take the chaos and the intensity out of holiday meal prep. I was listening to CBC the other day, and they were interviewing some domestic engineers (yup, that's what I call 'em... you know the type... they are incredibly proficient in the kitchen, can knock recipes and tantalizing creations off the tips of their fingers without recipes, know how to display food beautifully and creatively... and most impossibly, can time meals perfectly. Domestic Engineers.). These women were from Atco's Blue Flame Kitchen spouting off some very simple, very timely advice as part of CBC's Turkey Drive.

I thought I'd share some of what I heard here with you to try to take some of the guess work out of the holiday meal prep.
  • Generally, allow one pound per person when deciding on the weight of the turkey that you will be purchasing. The larger the turkey, the better the deal because your ratio of meat to bone is higher.
  • For a frozen bird, thaw 5 hours/pound in the fridge. This is the safest way to thaw a turkey & ensure that your family & guests do not end up tossing their cookies!)
  • Over and over again I hear that you should prepare the stuffing outside of the bird... either wrapped in a tinfoil pouch or made in the slow cooker. This is the safest way to prepare it, and it allows the turkey to cook more evenly, cook more quickly, and stay juicier. I'm planning to try it this way this year. Here are some links to stuffing recipes from the Blue Flame Kitchen...
  • Be sure to remove the packages of giblets & the neck from the cavity of the bird! Store these in the fridge to make soup or stock from the carcas the next day, if you'd like. Wash the turkey with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. 
  • Atco's Blue Flame Kitchen shares this roasting timetable for an unstuffed, thawed bird.
  • 10 lb (4.5 kg): 2 3/4 - 3 hours
  • 15 lb (7.0 kg): 3 - 3 1/2 hours
  • 20 lb (9.0 kg): 4 - 4 1/2 hours
  • 26 lb (12.0 kg): 4 1/2 - 5 hours 
  • Cook at 425F for the first half hour, then 325F for the rest of the time in a roasting pan, gently tented with foil. Remove the foil for the last 30-40 minutes.
When I was preparing this blog post, I looked back through the photos of Christmasses past and realized that I had never stopped to take a photo of our table or of the meal that we were about to eat... year after year after year! I reached out to a few people to see if they had photos I could use for this post. My sister in law came through... but not in the way that I expected, thanks to her irreverent sense of humour! Let me leave you with one last image...

Have a wonderful Christmas, a spectacular holiday and a terrific New Year from all of us at SWEFM!

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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee

Friday, 13 December 2013

3 Ways to Play with Sweet Potatoes

My goal each week is to bring you recipes that are first and foremost, easy to make, and second, that use meat & produce that are in season (and during market season, that are available at our market). In that vein, I just can't possibly be done with sweet potatoes.... 

As we learned last week, sweet potatoes are a fantastic vegetable. Remember, a general rule when considering nutrition science in your home kitchen is that the more vibrantly coloured a fruit or vegetable is, the more packed it is with nutrients and antioxidants. That holds very true for the humble sweet potato. High in fibre (especially if you eat the skin), potassium, antioxidants, betacarotene and vitamins E, A & C, sweet potatoes help to arm you against heart disease & cancer and delay the effects of aging on the brain. And because sweet potatoes have so much fibre, they are a far better choice for diabetics than white potatoes because the fibre helps to keep blood glucose levels from spiking. So even though they have a far sweeter mouth taste, they have a lower glycemic index and are a far better choice.

Sweet potatoes are a wonderfully versatile vegetable... and this week we explore that versatility with a few simple recipes. Sweet potatoes can become delicious oven-baked fries, they can add thickness and be the sweet basis of delicious creamed soups (like last weeks sweet potato ginger soup), they can add flavour and colour and creamy texture to slow-cooked stews, they can be mashed and accompany roast chicken or turkey or ham, and they can even form the basis of pancakes or waffles! Yup, sweet potatoes are a great ingredient in your kitchen arsenal.

oven roasted sweet potato fries
Who does't love fast food french fries? It's too bad that they're so bad for you! Oven roasted fries are a great compromise as they're far better for you than the ones served up at the heart-attack-on-a-plate fast food joints. And they are very, very simple to do.

Roasting brings out the inherent sweetness in this wonderful veggie. I never peel my potatoes, whether they be sweet potatoes or regular potatoes, as the peels are good for you and have a terrific amount of fibre in them. Simply scrub your potatoes, cut out any blemishes (dark spots, digging scrapes & scars), then cut them in half, then into wedges. Depending on the size of the potato you are working with, you might need to still slice the wedges again... what you are going for here are a series of potato slices or wedges that are all approximately of uniform thickness. If you don't have to watch your salt intake, sprinkle on pickling or coarse sea salt instead of the regular grained salt called for below. Personally, I love the crunch that the big crystals give the roasted fries.

3-4 sweet potatoes (to make enough wedges to cover your cookie sheet)
1-2 T. olive oil
1-2 t. salt
1-2 t. pepper
2-3 t. rosemary or other favourite herb (optional)

Then, toss in a bowl with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, a teaspoon or so of sea salt and a generous pinch or two (or three or four) of your favourite herbs (I love rosemary & black pepper, freshly muddled together in a mortar & pestle). Bake on a parchment paper lined cookie tray for about 15-20 minutes at 400F, or until slightly starting to crisp & char on the outside. The length of time will depend on the thickness of your potato wedges... less time for thin; more time for thick.

maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes
3-4 sweet potatoes
1-2 T. butter
1-2 T. maple syrup
salt to taste

Simply boil up a batch of sweet potato cubes until soft (about 10 minutes... way faster than regular white potatoes), then drain and mash them with a pat of butter and a tablespoon or two of maple syrup. The maple flavour brings out the inherent sweetness in the potato leaving you with something that melts in your mouth! And the texture of the sweet potato mash is so soft & light that the end result is something divine! If you want your mash to have a smooth texture, peel them first. If you want a more rustic hash, leave the skins on.

The Moosewood Restaurant's New Classics cookbook invites playing with sweet mashed potatoes... if you feel like experimenting, try adding one of the following combinations to your mash:
  • maple syrup & ground cardamomom
  • bourbon, pears, pecans & brown sugar
  • coconut milk, thyme, and ground allspice or ground nutmeg
  • grated fresh ginger root and ground cinnamon
  • horseradish or wasabi
sweet potato pancakes 
Think sweet potatoes don't have a place at your breakfast table? Think again! Delightfully delicate and permeated with the enticing aroma of lemon, these deep golden-brown pancakes are moist inside with crisp edges. No one will ever know that there's veggies in them!

For breakfast, serve them plain or with butter or maple syrup. For lunch or supper, top them with sour cream and put a chunky salsa on the side. For dessert, serve at room temperature, drizzled with equal parts lemon juice & honey stirred together & top with whipped cream. For another simple lemon syrup, stir together 2 T. of fresh lemon juice with 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup.

For ease of cooking, combine the wet ingredients in a 1-quart measuring cup with a pouring lip, stir in the dry ingredients, and then pour the batter directly onto a hot skillet.

Serves 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 3 minutes per batch
Total Time: about 35 minutes

1 cup peeled & grated raw sweet potato (grate finely... or grate in a food processor, then switch the blade to chop it into a thick paste)
1/2 t. freshly grated lemon peel
1 large egg or 2 medium eggs
1 cup milk
2 T. oil or melted butter
1 c. unbleached white flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 T. sugar

In a bowl, combine the grated sweet potatoes, lemon peel, egg, milk & oil or butter. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt & sugar. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just enough to combine. Do not beat or over stir. Set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Warm a lightly oiled skillet on medium-high heat. When a drop of water bounces on the skillet, and before the oil smokes, pour on a scant 1/4 cup of batter to form each round pancake. After about 2 minutes, when the pancakes are evenly dotted with bubbles and about half the bubbles have broken, flip the pancakes. Cook the second side until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Continue to cook batches of pancakes until all of the batter is used.

Serve right away or keep warm in a 250F oven. If you plan to serve at room temperature or reheat later, cool the pancakes in a single layer on a flat surface and then stack for storage. If storing for more than a few hours, refrigerate.

These make really great, easily portable snacks, quick to grab on the go. Call them "Lemon Pancakes" (that's the predominant flavour anyway) and your kids will never know that they're about half veggie!

For inspiration: Moosewood Restaurant's New Classics, p. 129
Sweet Potato Pancake Recipe: Moosewood Restaurant's New Classics, p. 47
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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee

Friday, 6 December 2013

Sweet Potato & Ginger Soup

Following along with our winter "what's-in-season" cooking theme is a wonderful root vegetable that keeps, like the hard spaghetti squash of last week, so well over the course of the winter.

Typical sweet potatoes available in our Canadian market
Sweet potatoes are a tad confusing because they come in so many shapes, sizes, colours and varieties... and because they are often confused with yams. They can be knobbly or smooth, long, skinny & pointy, or round and fat. Adding to the confusion is the fact that a sweet potato, despite being a tuber, isn't a potato at all! Sweet potatoes are New World vegetables and feature heavily in South American & Southern U.S. cooking. They are one of the oldest vegetables known and have been around since prehistoric times. Native to South America, they cook faster than white potatoes and can be baked, fried, boiled, nuked (microwaved), roasted and eaten raw. For the purposes of most recipes, the differences between them matter little.

Brigette, our SWEFM volunteer
coordinator, used to see Pete in
his Greengrocer's shop when she
lived in Halifax. It's a small world!
According to Pete Luckett, the most common variety of sweet potato in Canada is the copper skinned variety with bright orange flesh. The flavour will depend on the variety... as a general rule, lighter-fleshed sweet potatoes are more delicate, nutty rather than sweet, while darker ones have the distinctly spicy-sweet taste most of us would expect. He also advises that you never peel sweet potatoes, as their flesh darkens as soon as it is exposed to air. Simply wash them off, giving them a light scrub.

Sweet potatoes are wonderfully versatile... they can become delicious oven-baked fries, they can add thickness and be the sweet basis of delicious creamed soups and slow-cooked stews, they can be mashed and accompany a succulent chicken or turkey or ham roast, and they can even form the basis of pancakes or waffles! Yup, sweet potatoes are a great ingredient in your kitchen arsenal.

Still not convinced that they should be a part of your culinary repertoire? Then you have to consider the health benefits. A general rule when considering nutrition science in your home kitchen is that the more vibrantly coloured a fruit or vegetable is, the more packed it is with nutrients and antioxidants. That holds very true for the humble sweet potato. High in fibre (especially if you eat the skin), potassium, antioxidants, betacarotene and vitamins E, A & C, sweet potatoes help to arm you against heart disease & cancer and delay the effects of aging on the brain. And because sweet potatoes have so much fibre, they are a far better choice for diabetics than white potatoes because the fibre helps to keep blood glucose levels from spiking. So even though they have a far sweeter mouth taste, they have a lower glycemic index and are a far better choice.

Sweet Potatoes are more perishable than other types of potatoes because their skin is thin, delicate and susceptible to scraping and bruising. To avoid shortening their shelf life, The Sweet Potato Buyers Guide from A.V. Thomas Produce recommends that they be kept in a cool dry area with good air flow. Dampness and heat will cause them to spoil, so don't store them near a heat source and don't wash them until you are ready to use them. You might think this means you should refrigerate them, but DON'T! Refrigeration causes the inside of the potato to become hard and will affect its taste.

sweet potato & ginger soup
Frozen ginger grated with the Lee
Valley wood rasp.
This is a very creamy Thai soup, packed with flavour, that has been a favourite of mine for many years. Yup, it's a Thai recipe. 

We think of sweet potatoes as being a North American vegetable that goes hand in hand with a Thanksgiving feast, but did you know that sweet potatoes are even more popular in Asia with 90% of the sweet potato world export market being made up of sweet potatoes from there? 

They cook up very quickly (10 minutes), so they can be ready in a (culinary) heart beat! This recipe is so simple to make, but so creamy in a deliciously smooth, tangy, sweet way, that you just would't think it could possibly be good for you!

Just a little kitchen tip: when grating ginger root, I find it far easier to grate it from frozen. Buy ginger in bulk & put it in the freezer in a ziplock bag. It isn't messy or fibrous when you grate it in a frozen state (and yes, you can grate it with the skin on). I also use a wood rasp... yup, a wood working tool that I got from Lee Valley Tools years ago and it is incredibly sharp (another trick my father taught me). They now sell them with a metal catching trough on them that makes using the rasp in the kitchen a cinch. kitchen wood rasp. And fresh in for christmas stockings this year, they have a hand protecting container that slides along the rasp surface and collects ginger bits in a little glass bowl. Check it out... Zester Mate.

Coconut milk comes in small tins
that are the perfect size for this recipe.
Also, a little shopping tip: buying coconut milk can be a bit confusing as there are many varieties and price points from which to choose. I've found that there really isn't much of a difference between them, except when it comes to "lite" coconut milk (like cloudy water) and regular coconut milk (which has a heavy cream on top... give it a good shake before opening the tin). I usually make a trip to Lucky 97 downtown or T & T at West Edmonton Mall to stock up as it's far cheaper there than at your regular grocery store.  (While I'm there I also stock up on fresh kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass and ginger as they're all infinitely cheaper there and can easily be popped in the freezer & used later with no special prep & no ill effects whatsoever. Rice is far less expensive there too). At those Asian grocery stores, coconut milk can be found in small tins that are the perfect size for this recipe. 

Don't worry about buying "lite" coconut milk. It is used in a very small amount for this recipe, and despite being high in fat, saturated fat, regular coconut milk is high in the right kind of fat... medium chain triglycerides... that are essential for our health, so it is a very nutritious, heart happy, addition to this recipe.

Yield: 8-10 servings
3 simple ingredients... the soup
before blending with just sweet potatoes, stock & ginger.

6 c. cubed, peeled sweet potatoes (peeling is optional)
3½ c. chicken or vegetable stock
1T. minced ginger root
½ c. unsweetened, light coconut milk
3T. fresh lime juice
½ t. salt
½ t. pepper
1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 c. chopped, fresh cilantro

  1. In a saucepan, combine the potatoes, stock & ginger. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover & simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  2. Transfer to a food processor or blender, or use an immersion blender directly in the pot. Purée until smooth.
  3. Return to the saucepan. Whisk in the coconut milk (be sure to scrape & include any of the yummy coconut cream that is stuck to the side of the tin), lime juice, salt & pepper. Cook over low heat until just heated through.
  4. Ladle into bowls. 
  5. Sprinkle with almonds & cilantro.
Vibrantly coloured, creamy & delicious...
this is the soup once it is puréed.
Info from The Greengrocer's Kitchen, by Pete Luckett, and from The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.
Recipe from Anne Lindsay's New Light Cooking, p. 66
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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee

Friday, 29 November 2013

Spaghetti Squash

I'm writing this blog post today, offering it up as an antidote to all the Black Friday deals that are, if yours email inbox is anything like mine right now, filling to overflowing your electronic device with enticements, offers and images that scream "buy! Buy! BUY!" I think that talking about a rock hard vegetable is about as far away from maddening lineups and door crashing specials as you can come. Think of it as a dose of back-to-earth sanity-saving humbleness. That, and you still save money.

Spaghetti Squash is a vegetable that is available & in season now at year-round farmers markets. Hard skinned, it is storable for many months without spoiling and is one of the simplest and least expensive vegetables out there to prepare. If you think you don't like squash, give it another try. It is so unlike other squash varieties in its taste & texture that it is worth the experiment. Its smooth strands pull apart easily with a fork when cooked and, depending on the size of the squash that you are preparing, can range from angel-haired pasta to thick spaghetti in consistency.

Squash is thought of one of two ways: either summer squash or water squash. Summer squash are vegetables like the cute bright yellow or green little pattypans, that are wonderful to sauté, or (also yellow or green) zucchinis, that can be eaten raw because their skins are so soft. Winter squash have a hard shell on them and are very difficult to bruise, dent, cut or.... well... squash! Pete Luckett, in his great kitchen companion book called The Greengrocer's Kitchen, writes "Winter squash are harvested in the fall, when their rinds have hardened, and they keep well under the bed all winter, or so says the Yankee lore of New England and the Maritimes." As you're heading to bed tonight, think about those Maritime bedrooms with their squash stored under the beds fighting with the dust bunnies for longevity....

When buying winter squash like Spaghetti Squash, select one that is hard and that seems heavy for its size. Don't worry if you see scabs or scars on its shell, but make sure there is no mild, soft spots, lumps, bumps or cracks. It should be very hard and watermelon shaped with a smooth, yellow skin. If it has a greenish hue, it may be immature. The larger the squash, the denser the pasta-like strands. Don't spoon the squash out of the shell once it is cooked; rather, use a fork like a comb to tease the strands away from the skin. Don't worry... it's super easy to do!

How to butcher a squash 
Winter squash are notoriously difficult to cut because they are so incredibly hard. The Greengrocer recommends that you place a damp cloth under the squash to prevent it from sliding. Then, using a long, sturdy, shape knife and a mallet, hammer the knife into the squash to split it vertically, to one side of the stalk. Now our son, he would like the axe or hatchet to become a kitchen tool... and then he'd embrace helping me with meal prep!

Roasted spaghetti squash
This recipe comes to us from Adam Mickelson whose wife, Trisha, volunteers at our market. Trisha always raves about Adam's cooking, and she shares one of his easy-to-prepare ideas with us today.
1 Spaghetti squash
1 tbsp. butter
1. Slice a spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Poke skin several times with a fork.
2. Scrape out seeds.
3. Place two halves on foil or parchment lined cookie sheet, flat side down.
4. Bake 50 minutes in pre-heated oven at 375 F.

5. Remove and let cool about 5 minutes until able to handle.
6. Scrape flesh out of skin with a fork to create spaghetti-like strands.
7. Place in serving dish and stir in 1 tbsp. butter, add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and serve as side dish.
  • Use in place of pasta for a lower calorie spaghetti dish.
  • Add a tablespoon of maple syrup to enhance its inherent sweetness.
Recipe from Adam Mickelson
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Contributed by Trisha Mickelson, SWEFM Volunteer
Intro by Sheri Hendsbee, SWEFM Volunteer Steering Committee Member

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Local Links... a new section of our website

Our market has now wrapped up for the season and we've seen the first significant snows fly. This is a time to reflect on what has happened and, behind the scenes, to plan for the future. If you haven't already done so, please take a moment to complete our survey. SWEFM 2013 Market Survey (click this link).

Our market is a local market. It serves to support Edmonton's southwest region by bringing together local shoppers, artisans, food producers and farmers. Gathering places like our market help to strengthen community bonds, and they play an essential role in creating a city that is livable, connected, vibrant and healthy.

Carly Jane (left) is a fantastic local food blogger
The neat thing about a market community is that it can have so many layers. A thriving community is a complex entity. Sure, there are the people who make our market community thrive... the shoppers, vendors, volunteers, buskers, sponsors, families, neighbours & friends. And there are the experiences, on site, that help to forge those ever-important connections. But there are also rich, hidden layers.

What people do with their market purchases, the ways they support their local community, are just as important as the place or event itself. They form extra layers that move a market community from a superficial (albeit fun) place of commerce to a meaningful place of connection where bonds are strengthened, and the sense of community is heightened.

In that vein, we thought we'd begin a new section for our website under "Cool Stuff." This is a place that connects you to that invisible layer. This will be a place of links. 

  • Links to local blog writers who support our community by using & raving about local, fresh market ingredients. Bloggers who support the unique and vibrant, continually evolving food scene that we are extremely lucky to have here in Edmonton. 
  • Links to local restaurants that carefully source out their raw materials from our market's local farmers, so that you can continue to support our market's farmers year-round. Curious to know what other chefs in town love the same farmers you do? This is the place to find them.
  • Links to organizations that serve to help us all think locally, healthily & sustainably.

We are only a seasonal market. So during market season, it's easy to pop up to the market and shop directly from the farmers, artisans and food providers that come once a week to our neighbourhood. But once the market shuts down for the year, you may find yourself wondering how you can continue to support them, and in so doing, help them to thrive & support the local economy all at the same time. By supporting the links we have posted in our new website section, you have an opportunity CONTINUE to support the farmers, chefs and artisans from our market year round, helping them to be successful. And maybe find a little inspiration to try something new while you're at it...

If you follow a local blogger that you really enjoy, please let us know by commenting below! We'd really love your help developing our new website section!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

It's a Wrap! PARGAR Food Bank Results

SWEFM's First Annual Harvest Festival: Featuring the Plant-A-Row, Grow-A-Row Collection for the Food Bank

The 2013 season marked our first year partnering with Edmonton's Food Bank to deliver fresh, nutrient-dense fruit and produce to those in need of assistance and sustenance in our city. And by all accounts, it was a terrific first start!

A cold day, the numbers of market shoppers were low, but those that did come out certainly contributed wonderful fresh harvest produce, in some cases from their own gardens, and in many cases purchased from the beautiful produce on display at vendors' booths throughout the market. Starting with a bucket of potatoes from my own garden (that began as swefm market veggies from some of Dargatz Family Farm's potatoes that sprouted on me in the spring), brought to market at set up time, the table soon heaved with a rainbow of colourful produce.

Over 650lbs of food was donated to the food bank!

If you missed past articles about our exciting partnership, you
can read up on them here:

A Tour of the Food Bank
Plant-A-Row, Grow-A-Row: What Do I Plant?
Plant A Row, Grow A Row: A Unique Partnership

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Fresh Sheet: October 2nd Market (Last market of 2013!)

Servus GumBall Give-Away, Game! Servus, a sponsor of the Market had a fantastic idea for the last market of the season. They will bring their GumBall machine - the cost is $1 a go, with ALL proceeds going to the United Way Campaign. How it works: Each color of gumball corresponds to a prize and the more valuable the prize, the fewer gumballs of that color there are. PRIZES include: SunWorks sausage, Ada's Soap Shop vegan bar of soap, Riverbend Garden Vegetables, Moonshine Doughnuts, organic chocolate bars, tickets to the Citadel, AND MORE...
Moonshine Doughnuts is making up delicious doughnuts for the market - that just happen to be dairy and egg free. Their doughnut varieties are constantly changing...and this week's doughnut 4-pack is certainly for the chocolate lover. This week's flavours: Lime Margarita, Blackberry Earl Grey, Double Chocolate & Cocoa Mocha. Also available in Gluten Free.

Morrie's Hand Crafts will make his final appearance at the market selling his wonderful selection of handcrafted, corian bowels, word art AND wood-branch key or coat racks. Corian is a durable substance, mainly used in building counter tops. It looks akin to marble and comes in many colours. It's never to early to think about the perfect christmas gift - Morries, has you covered. 

Squashes...Squashes...SQUASHES! Winter Squash season is one of my favourite food seasons of the year! Oh the variety: from bumpy to smooth, from orange to yellow and green. Winter Squashes can be pureed, steamed, baked, roasted, sauteed! Add squash to vegetarian lasagna, fill gnocci with them, make soup, or serve roasted with butter, maple syrup and cinnamon. Use them in muffins and cookies or add to curries. So much to do with this highly versatily and nutritious vegetable. And they keep, so load up on your farm-fresh, local Winter Squash from RiverBend Gardens, Dargatz Family Farm and Holden Colony. 

momstown will be back at the info tent doing a craft with young children who come to our market, so be sure to stop by and make a craft. This week is a super fun activity: TISSUE PAPER PUMPKINS

Remember, if you see something on the lists below that you especially want to seek out, stop by the info tent. There we have a large map of the site that shows where vendors are located and we have volunteers who can direct you to help you find those treasured items.

Fresh vegetables & fruits in season, and available now at this week's market:
The BC fruit trucks are bringing a wealth of gorgeous fruit. This week expect to see:
  • Apples (Galas, Macs, Pink Ladies)
  • Asian Pears!
  • Dehydrated apples, sparkling cider, 100% pure apple juice 
  • BlackBerries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries (dark cherries)
  • Concord grapes (the seedless wine grapes, small & dark & ever so flavour-filled) AND Green Grapes.
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears (Bosc and Bartlett)
  • Plums (many, many, kinds!)
  • Raspberries
  • Saskatoons (fresh saskatoons are no longer available, but frozen ones are)
  • Strawberries
  • Watermellons 
As for veggies... they are now officially pouring in from the fields! Expect to see
  • Acorn Squash
  • Broccoli
  • Beans... yellow & green & purple, field & hothouse long (incredibly, the purple beans change colour when you steam them or plop them in boiling water, going from purple to green... the second they're green, they're done!)
  • Beets (red, purple, golden & striped candy cane)
  • Butternut squashes
  • Cabbages (green & purple, round and conical)
  • Carrots, classic orange as well as purple.
  • Cauliflower (white, purple, yellow and the wonderfully whimsical Romanesco)
  • Corn - sweet corn 
  • Cucumbers, field & hothouse, small pickling, small snacking, long English, round yellow, and large field cukes
  • Eggplants (long purple & yellow and small green oriental)
  • Fava Beans
  • Fennel 
  • Garlic
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi (purple & green)
  • Lettuces (romaine, green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce)
  • Leeks
  • Onions (large field onions, red onions, small spring onions, chives)
  • Pattypan Squashes (mini yellow or green squashes, great for sautéing)
  • Peppers (small & large orange, yellow, red & green bell peppers, sweet thin-walled long red cubanelle peppers, red spicy chiles, mildly spicy green jalepeños, hot banana peppers, extremely hot wee little orange habeñeros)
  • Potatoes (golden, white, purple, red)... don't forget to pick up fresh dill to go with them.
  • Pie Pumpkins
  • Fresh garlic
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Swiss chard (it comes in three colours: rhubarb red, peppermint stick pink and golden yellow)
  • Summer Squashes (Zucchini and yellow summer squashes)
  • Tomatoes, field & hothouse (large, small & on the vine red, the wonderfully flavourful & meaty green & red striped mini zebras, heirloom varieties, Romas, Big Uglies, etc.) 
  • Winter Squash! Many varieties.
  • The Mallow Fellow is done for the season.
  • Delectable gourmet chocolate bars, truffles,  chocolate dipped marshmallows, cocoa covered almonds and pecan clusters from Violet Chocolates. 
  • A variety of artisan breads, cinnamon buns, cinnamon breads, pies, muffins, sweet loaves, gluten-free loaves & baking, cupcakes, bagels, homemade cookies, cakes & other finger-licking good baked treats throughout the market
  • Unbelievably authentic & delicious French style croissants (with chocolate inside, or with real raspberries)
  • Brioche with raisins & coconut palm sugar crumble or with orange blossom and a hint of anise or Gruyere and rosemary
  • A wide assortment of flavours of banana bread
  • Fresh & frozen meats (beef, bison, pork, chicken, lamb) 
  • Farm-fresh eggs
  • Jarred pickles (cucumber pickles, dill pickles, pickled eggs, pickled beets)
  • Dehydrated garlic powder
  • Fresh raw honey & bee pollen (Want to know more about bee pollen? Click here.)
  • Specialty gelatos (great in this blistering summer heat!) They're packed on dry ice at the market, so they easily make the trip home without melting.
  • Greek dips (humus, tzatziki, spicy feta & red pepper) and specialty Greek food items, like  Sagnaki (lightly breaded baked cheese, delicious served warm).
  • Turkish Foods (from savoury pastries and dinner items to sweet dessert treats) will not be available.
  • Korean Foods (green onion cakes, kimchi, bulgogi as ready to go meals )
  • Indian Foods (naan & butter chicken as ready to go meals, Samosas, Indian cookies & salty snacks)
  • Thai Foods (frozen & ready for your weekday meals)
  • Packages of spices ready for appetizer dips or wine slushes
  • AAA Alberta Beef Jerky
  • Jams & jellies & condiments to compliment everything from your toast through to your meats and fish
  • Sweet treats like cookies, mini cupcakes, snow cones & soft ice-cream to eat on the spot
  • Kettle Popcorn


  • Specialty soap (Ada's Soap)
  • Jewellery this week (necklaces, earrings,  from Capiluv)
  • Adorable Gift Tags and hair pins, from Capiluv.
  • Bath & body items (lip balms, bath bombs, body creams)
  • Corian Bowels, Wooden Coat Racks & word Art (Morrie's Hand Crafts)
  • the ATM will be in the centre of the market, beside Yellowbird Food Truck, should you need access to a banking machine 

  • Due to the onset of chillier weather the slide will not be at the market till summer 2014.
  • The balloon busker will be at the market, creating lively, fun designs out of his rainbow of coloured balloons. 
  • The Dolphin Lady facepainter will be at the market, creating incredible works of art on wee little faces
  • momstown will be at the SWEFM Info tent doing crafts with the kids that they're sure to enjoy, free of charge. 
  • And as always, there are plenty of curbs and rocks to balance on along the avenue of trees that goes down the centre of our market!
 Come on out to the market for dinner. The food trucks will be on site, and you can grab a spot of shade under a tree (and perhaps even a spot at one of the highly coveted picnic tables, if you're lucky!) and then devour a scrumptious dinner. Choose from :
  • Sailin' On (vegan), 
  • Bully (gourmet comfort food) 
  • Yellow Bird (Japanese fusion) 
  • Fat Franks (gourmet hotdogs, sausages & smokies)
  • Butcher's Bus (sausage on a bun, pierogies & soft ice cream cones)
  • Pink Kernel (snow cones, mini donuts, popped carnival corn, cotton candy)
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Contributed by Melisa Zapisocky

Friday, 27 September 2013

Recipe: Roast Chicken

a few thoughts 
Sheila Hamilton of Sunworks Organic
Farm shows off one of her delicious,
free- range chickens.
This blog entry marks the last recipe of the market season as Wednesday saw our market come to the end of its third successful season. In preparation for winter, I thought I'd share one of our family's favourite recipes. I make this one at home about once a week or so in the cooler months, depending on what's going on with our evenings. And for our family of 4, we usually get two meals and some sandwiches or meat for salads out of it.

Roasting a chicken is one of the simplest things to do in the home kitchen. It sends a wonderful aroma
through the house. And it creates the kind of meal that brings families together, gathered around a beautiful heaping platter of delicious food. We're talking movie dinners here... you know what I mean... the ones you typically see on the silver screen where parents and kids talk and share stories about their day. The kind where people relax over a good food and with good company and really enjoy themselves. Yup, this recipe can do that.

But before I share it, I have a confession to make: I have tried this recipe with both a Costco roasting chicken (sorry!) and a Sunworks Organic Farm chicken. Though the price was far greater with the farmers' market chicken, the taste and texture were out of this world and far, far better than the Costco chicken. I also found that when roasting the costco chicken, my roasting pan was filled with a good inch of liquid at the end of the roasting process, and the bird had shrunk noticeably in size. Not so with the organic Sunworks chicken. So though the price was 2-3 times more for the organic farmers' market chicken, the end result was a bird that was far more tender, tasty and flavourful and that lasted  two to two and a half meals for a family of four, rather than a single meal with the less flavour-filled Costco chicken. So getting my roasting bird at Costco was most certainly not the deal I thought it would be.
One other thing to note: what you might not know is that Sunworks sells a case of ten chickens at a considerable discount. If you have the freezer space to hold 10 birds, this deal is well worth the trip to the market. You just have to order them a week ahead of time, using their online site, and come early to get them before the crowds line up at their booths for their regular purchases. A small price of inconvenience to pay for a tremendous deal, I think. During the winter, I pick them up at the Old Strathcona Market before 8am, but between May and October, they can be purchased and picked up at our Southwest Edmonton Market.

balsamic roast chicken
Using balsamic vinegar on the outside of the chicken gives a wonderful colour to the roasted bird once
it comes out of the oven and it does something incredible to the flavour of the potatoes that are cooking in its juices. And rubbing the spices between the chicken skin infuses the meat with far more flavour... and for health reasons, you really should avoid the fat in chicken skin and use it simply to give chicken flavour while roating (and to prevent it from drying out), and then to add flavour to any chicken stock you might make later on, should you chose to do that from the left over carcass.

And one more word of caution: please, please, please be very careful with your hand washing when preparing a raw chicken carcass. Every time you touch the raw bird, wash your hands before touching anything else like a bowl or a utensil. Then once the bird is in the oven, carefully wash down all kitchen surfaces that might have come in contact with the bird or its juices. Then throw the towel in the laundry that you used to dry your hands. And do NOT prepare the bird on a wooden cutting board surface.

1- 5 to 6 lb. whole chicken
1 & 1/4 t. sea salt, divided
1½ t. dried thyme, divided
1½ t. dried rosemary, divided
freshly ground pepper to taste
4 t. olive oil, divided
3 T. balsamic vinegar
1½ lbs. baby red or fingerling potatoes, halved (whole if fairly small)

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a roasting pan with foil.

Wash the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels, being sure to rinse out the cavity. Set the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan, (or directly on foil if you have no rack), breast facing up. Loosen the skin covering the breasts by putting your fingers between the skin and the meat, gently pulling up to create an air pocket between them. This is the space into which you will rub a spice mixture.

In a small bowl, combine one teaspoon each of salt, thyme & rosemary plus several grinds of black pepper. Rub half the oil over the chicken. Rub half the spice mixture directly onto the meat, underneath the skin that you have lifted. Rub the remaining spice mixture over the outside of the skin and inside the cavity. Drizzle vinegar all over the chicken & rub to coat evenly.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the potatoes with the remaining two teaspoons of oil, 1/4 t. salt and a half teaspoon each of thyme & rosemary. Season with pepper. Spread potatoes around the chicken in the roasting pan. Place the pan in the centre of the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Open the oven and loosely cover the chicken with foil to prevent over browning. Cook for 45 minutes more, until the juices run clear when pierced with a fork and the internal temperature of the breast meat is 160F (thigh meat should reach 170F).

Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Transfer chicken to a cutting boards & let rest for 10 minutes (the temperature of the breast meat will rise to 165F). Carve the chicken into slices & save the skin & bones for making soup stock. Serve with potatoes.

Recipe from Clean Eating, p. 16
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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee