Archive for Food

A River Run Through Us: Facts about the Mighty Fraser

You may camp beside it, maybe you fish it. You may white water raft it or face it alone in a kayak with nothing but a wet suit and courage – and not to little upper body strength. The Fraser River is many things to many people, for some, the beautiful view they see from their porch in the morning, to others a source of food and life. Here are a few facts you may not have known about the Fraser.

  • The Fraser River /ˈfreɪzər/ is the longest river within British Columbia, Canada, rising at Fraser Pass near Mount Robson in the Rocky Mountains and flowing for 1,375 kilometres (854 mi), into the Strait of Georgia at the city of Vancouver.
  • It is the tenth longest river in Canada.
  • The river’s annual discharge at its mouth is 112 km3 (27 cubic miles or 3550 m3/s), and it discharges 20 million tons of sediment into the ocean.
  • The river is named for Simon Fraser, who led an expedition on behalf of the North West Company from the site of present-day Prince George almost to the mouth of the river.
  • The river’s name in the Halqemeylem (Upriver Halkomelem) language is Sto:lo, often seen archaically as Staulo, and has been adopted by the Halkomelem-speaking peoples of the Lower Mainland as their collective name, Sto:lo.
  • The river’s name in the Dakelh language is Lhtakoh.
  • The Tsilhqot’in name for the river, not dissimilar to the Dakelh name, is ʔElhdaqox, meaning Sturgeon (ʔElhda) River (Qox).
  • About 600 freighters use the Fraser River each year. These boats come from Korea, Japan, Australia, China, USA, South America and Europe!
  • There are more than 65 kinds of fish in the Fraser.
  • The Fraser River is home to six kinds of SALMON – it is one of the greatest salmon producing rivers in the WORLD!
  • All of Great Britain would fit into the Fraser River Watershed.

For more environmental information about the Fraser visit Davidsuzuki.org

Check out some beautiful photographs of the Fraser at http://photoblog.mrussellphotography.com/tag/fraser-river/

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Edible Packaging: If the smoothie didn’t fill you up, the cup will!

I have recently heard of a new trend on the rise – edible packaging! So far in Vancouver, the only place to try it is the White Rabbit candies with their edible rice paper wrapping. But globally, edible packaging is becoming a real thing and being sold at some Whole Foods Stores and smaller businesses.

In the same vain as edible packaging is the new line of biodegradable packaging by Swedish design firm Tomorrow Machines. These containers are designed to decompose at the same rate as the food they hold!

Just think about how much plastic will be kept out of landfills! With edible packaging, these containers can either be eaten or harmlessly melted away on the grass! No chemicals, no harmful dyes – pretty amazing. I can’t wait to see this trend on the rise in Vancouver – sign me up!

Check out this article from The Guardian

A bottle made of wax-coated caramelized sugar, for example, is suitable for olive oil, since the material doesn’t react with the fatty liquids

A bottle made of wax-coated caramelized sugar, for example, is suitable for olive oil, since the material doesn’t react with the fatty liquids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A container made from agar seaweed gel is best for sugary drinks like fruit juices and smoothies.

A container made from agar seaweed gel is best for sugary drinks like fruit juices and smoothies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soft beeswax packaging labeled with soy-ink works for Basmati rice.

Soft beeswax packaging labeled with soy-ink works for Basmati rice.

 

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What Can You Do About Food Waste?

As we mentioned last week, there’s a lot of food getting wasted these days. This is bad for the environment, for the economy, and for you. A lot of the waste happens when the food is harvested, processed, and delivered, which is why it’s good to research who you’re getting your food from and what they go through to deliver it to you. However, 60% of all food waste happens at the house, restaurant, or wherever else the meal is being made . What can you do to lower all this waste?

 

  • A compost is an easy way to make certain any food remnants at home returns their nutrients to the earth rather than rotting in some garbage dump. A compost is almost no effort to maintain, just you taking the occasional trip out to the back to toss out a container of potato peels, banana skins, and anything else that needs to go.

 

 

  • Don’t waste anything on your plate. Don’t order more than you think you could finish and don’t leave anything behind. If you do have food that you can’t finish, save it as leftovers to eat the next day. The only things that should be going in the trash are what you’re certain you’ll never be able to eat.

 

Food waste is a terrible thing. However, if you’re careful, you won’t cause much of it. That’s a lesson all of us could learn. Do you have a best left over or produce storing tip? Please share!

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What is Food Waste?

Canadians as a whole eat a lot. Sure, some eat more than others but still most people will have three meals a day with maybe a little snacking on the side. Multiply that by the amount of days in a year and the amount of years a person lives, and it really adds-up. Not just waste from plastic wrappings, paper plates, and disposal utensils, but from the food itself. As Torah Kachur points out on the CBC’s Waste Warrior , more than 1/3 of the food produced in Canada is wasted, which comes to around $2,700,000,000 worth!

Food waste can happen at any stage of the process. Often not all of the food is harvested properly, then some is lost during preparation, in transportation, even as it waits on the shelves to be purchased. Even after it finally gets bought for a home, restaurant, or other place that prepares meals, it’s still likely that a large percentage of the remaining food will end up in the trash or be lost in some other way.

This waste is bad for the environment of course; it’s also bad for the individual consumer. It costs the average Canadian $500-$800 each year! We would love to hear your thoughts on how you could cut down on food waste.

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Save your belly, your wallet, AND the planet!

I went shopping the other day to refresh my pantry after eating everything prior to disappearing for a month in Thailand; the cupboards were pretty bare.  There are a few things that exist in the grocery store that I don’t understand.

Most of those things are “instant” like: bacon, potatoes, oatmeal (the new entrant and the reason for this posting).

Bacon? Really? You can microwave bacon pretty easily by putting it on paper towels and then covering it with more paper towel. 1 minute or so for the first slice, and 30 seconds for subsequent slices.  Maybe a little less – I’m recalling the instructions from when microwaves first came out and people used to microwave their Thanksgiving turkeys. (how was that EVER a good idea?)

Anyway, 1 minute negates the need for instant bacon. IF your reason for buying instant bacon is such that it’s convenient to pull it out of the freezer, you could do what I do. I go to the butcher shop, buy yummy bacon from pigs that get read to at night and tucked into their little pigsties because a) it’s yummier in my opinion, and b) you buy it by weight, or rasher or whatever you want. If you want 10 slices, you get 10 slices and you don’t need a whole package. THEN I take that yumminess home and lay the slices out on a cookie sheet.  Set the timer for 90 minutes, go play Call of Duty, and come back and put those slices in freezer bag with the date. Then you always have bacon and you pull it out, slice by slice, no problemo. Essentially, it’s instant bacon.  You don’t have to go all the way to a butcher shop, but I’m a single man, I enjoy filling my day with things like butcher shops and yummy bacon.

Instant bacon? PLEASE!

Potatoes? Ummmmm you cut potatoes in half or quarters and throw them in a pot of boiling water and walk away. Come back, they’re done. Squish them. Easy.  (don’t actually walk away – or do – but it ain’t my fault if the pot tips over – it’s your pot in your kitchen).

Now. OATMEAL. (care for an interesting (irrelevant?) fact? Quaker is owned by PepsiCO and I’m going to talk exclusively about Quaker, just  them bc their website is the easiest to access. I couldn’t care less which oats or oat brand you use. Literally, couldn’t care less)

Oatmeal is good for you, filling, full of fiber and easy to prepare. You don’t need to take my word for it though, here’s what Men’s Health has to say on the issue.

But, while I’m in the oatmeal aisle weighing out the options, I’m presented with 2 sort main choices. Instant or Regular. I went for regular. Why? Firstly, packets of 6 individual serving sizes weighing about 250g was about $4.99. A 1.3kg package of regular oatmeal was $4.20. That’s an incredible price difference. Second, flavouring adds all sorts of weirdness to your oatmeal (I know what “honey” is, I don’t know what “a;skd;jfd;s jdf” is), and I’d rather add some frozen berries, some honey, or some brown sugar and milk.  All easy, and all “instant” if you ask me. Thirdly, packaging. 1 package of 1.3kg is WAY less to “throw out” or “recycle” than a box, full of individual packages, weighing 200 grams +/-. Fourthly, cooking instructions. For 1 person, you put 1/3 cup of oatmeal in a microwave safe bowl, you add 2/3 cup water, stir, microwave for 2 minutes stirring once about halfway.

2 minutes? How much more “instant” is “instant”. IT’S A NON PRODUCT!

What’s the PINNACLE of Oatmeal (in my world at least)?

Here’s what I like, and this does take a bit of time, about 30 minutes or so. (I’m not a professional recipe writer – if this doesn’t work, change it, but it’s approximately what I do on a Sunday morning).

First, you need Steel Cut Oats, they’re nuttier and use more of the oat. As such, they take longer to cook. PC makes nice cheap ones you buy them at Superstore. There’s a fancy brand at Whole Foods or Capers. And then other brands at other stores.

  1. Take about 1/4 cup per person and put them in a pan.
  2. Turn the pan to high, and while watching and shaking, toast them until they’re a nice toasty colour
  3. Add about 1 cup water, turn the heat right down, and let it simmer away
  4. Wait 20 or 30 minutes until it looks good.
  5. Right before it looks done, you want to add some frozen berries. You need a bit of that hot/simmering water to defrost the berries (I like a nice mixed berry mix)
  6. At the same time, add some REAL maple syrup.
  7. Just before serving it, add a little milk

Taaa daaaaa, worlds BEST oatmeal. I love it!

Otherwise, the other regular oatmeal work fine, but if I have time in the morning to enjoy my oatmeal this is it. I saw it prepared once on a Food Network show and it was $20 in some fancy restaurant or other. Make it your own, I don’t think this is exactly the one I was shown.

Any good oatmeal recipes? I love the stuff, so I’ll post yours.

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Mercury Ball water test

I enjoy cooking. I cook all the time. I get hungry, I need to eat, and it’s fun. I get a sense of accomplishment from it because I’ve made something. I’m not a patient man; I’ve never had time to make plastic model airplanes or anything like that. But cooking? It’s quick and easy and results are obvious and edible.

Last night was pretty cool because apparently for all my cooking life I’ve been adding oil to the pan too soon.  But, I found this video online and I tried it out. It’s the “mercury ball water test”.

http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/12/video-how-to-preheat-your-pan-leidenfrost-effect.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+seriouseatsfeaturesvideos+(Serious+Eats)

It works. And it works well. Extremely well. Last night I made chicken chow mein after making sure the pan was hot enough. Not only did my meal taste awesome, but nothing stuck. I mean nothing. Usually when I make stir fry, the soy sauce that I add at the end gets stuck to the pan and it’s a pain to clean and annoying.  But last night? Even the soy sauce balled up. It flavoured the food and didn’t dirty the pan. I must be a simple kind a guy with simple thrills, but I thought this was really cool.

So if you’ve read this far you’re probably thinking, “Tom, seriously. You’re talking about a hot pan here!!” Well, it was awesome!!!!

How does this relate to recycling? Well, I thought of that. For Christmas, consider making your friends, family or loved ones a nice yummy meal!!!!

See? Easy. The “mercury ball water test” is good for the environment!

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Spud Patrol

It’s not cold YET! But it will get that way, and it will get wet and it will happen soon. I’d like to introduce you to Spud Patrol. I heard about them last year through CBC’s morning feature, “Bright Lights”.

Here’s a quote from their main page:

A little effort on our part goes a long way. Each month on Saturday nearest the full moon a group of us go to downtown eastside Vancouver, Nanaimo, & Victoria to distribute home-baked potatoes. We go rain or shine. In fact, it is easy to think that this is someone else’s problem and to stay in the comfort of our homes, but we encourage you to put love and compassion into practice by DIRECTLY helping those less fortunate than yourself – you’ll be glad you did!

Take a look at their website, and give them a visit. You’ll be glad you did!

http://www.spudpatrol.com/

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