Canadian Beef, Bringing Families of All Types to the Dinner Table

A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend an event called Canadian Beef Family Dinner at the Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence.  Even though I have been to the Centre before and love it there, I was especially excited to attend this event.  Paul Brandt was going to be there followed by a celebrity family cook-off burger competition.  I knew it was going to be different, special.

The evening came and it was all that and more.  Before we got into the festivities we were invited to watch this video.  Watch it, I’ll wait for you to finish.

It kind of makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, glad to be a Canadian, eh?  Well, this was the start of the night.  Then we watched Paul perform a couple of songs live and then ate and visited, and visited, and visited.  I have to confess, I didn’t eat much because almost everyone I knew from the Calgary food blogging community was there that night.

About half way through the event I thought how great that Canadian Beef and Brookline PR could facilitate this amazing night and make it feel like home.  We have a large but close blogger community here in Calgary and we almost never get to celebrate all together like that.  It wasn’t my immediate family but I thought it considerate that the table was set for us to enjoy each other’s company, my extended family.

Candian Beef Centre of Excellence Set Their Table for Family Dinner

The Canadian Beef Centre table set for Family Dinner.

And then I was asked to write this post, to celebrate Canadian Beef bringing my family to the dinner table.  I started to reminisce, I do this a lot.  I remember how much beef played an important role in the family dinner of my early life.

The beef experience commenced before we sat down to the table, almost like a ritual, regardless of the season.  The cooking would begin and the aroma would waft through the house.  In the winter it was beef stew, in the summer it was burgers or steaks on the BBQ.

Canadian Beef and Barley Stew from Homegrown the Cookbook

Canadian Beef and Barley Stew.

As our meal cooked, we would salivate waiting for everything to be ready.  Then Mom would call us to the table and we’d enjoy our anticipated meal together, as a family.

And now that I have a family of my own we also do this.

We are lucky here, not only in Alberta but in Canada too.  I can stop at any farmers market or grocery store and pick up Canadian Beef to serve my family.  Here are some facts about Canadian Beef.

Canada Beef heads up a league of farmers and ranchers from each and every province that work together. They are greater than the sum of the parts as they continue to work towards a common goal.

Economy

  • The beef industry contributes almost $25 billion to the Canadian economy annually.
  • Canada is the 8th largest exporter of beef in the world. 
  • 35% of Canada’s beef is exported.

Sustainable Farming

  • In Canada, 1 in 3 acres of agricultural land is not suitable for growing crops but is suitable for grazing cattle.
  • Canadians enjoy around 930K tonnes of beef a year
  • Feeding high energy grains lowers the environmental footprint of finishing cattle.

For all these reasons I am pleased to serve Canadian Beef in my home.  This past weekend was unique as we happened to have my Mother in Law over to visit.  She doesn’t often come to our house on the weekend so I asked her to stay for dinner.  It wasn’t anything fancy, but family dinner doesn’t have to be.  We enjoyed burgers and potatoes and each other.  And that’s Canadian Beef bringing my family to the dinner table.

Canadian Beef Family Dinner with Roaming Alberta Meats Burgers

Wagyu Beef Burgers from Roaming Alberta Meats for Family Dinner, Canadian Beef Style.

Canadian Beef Family Dinner

Disclosure – This post is part of the #makeitCDNbeef influencer program.  All thoughts and opinions on this blog are my own. Beef facts provided by Canadian Beef.

4th Blogiversary Giveaway – Fiasco Gelato

It happened this past week, so fast that I can’t believe it. This little blog of mine ticked over at four years, so happy blogiversay to me! My life has changed a lot in those four years, so has this blog, and myself for that matter.

To celebrate four years I thought it might be fun to take a look back at my first ever post, you can click here if you are interested. Back then I was all about food trucks.

And if I thought I have changed a lot in four years, the food truck scene in Calgary has changed that much more. I was scrolling through my food truck app the other day and I think I counted almost 60.  Back at the beginning there were much less.

So what is going on with some of those original trucks? They have changed a lot too.

My favourite truck back then was Blamwich, I couldn’t get enough of those delicious sandwiches even though the best one had so much bacon on it it made me break out in hives once! Margie Hope and Steve Glavicich were behind the wheel back then but since the Blamwich bus has retired you can find them spreading love in other ways around YYC.

Margie teamed up with fellow food truck owner Jody Barned (I’ll get to Jody’s truck in a minute) in 2014.  They started up The Farmer’s House in the old Kaffa Coffeehouse located in the Marda Loop area.

Blamwich

Steve branched off from Blamwich in 2012 and started his small but mighty Braizen Food Truck. He is known for making quality salads and sandwiches and even cookies. In the winter months he works at schools making sure kids are getting good meals but when the weather warms up he takes his truck back out on the streets. Steve has also appeared on Chopped Canada not once but twice as well as Eat Street.

Braizen Food Truck

So back to The Farmer’s House. When I used to go to the food trucks chances are Blamwich and Jo Jo’s BBQ were side by side. Jody Barned from Jo Jo’s always had some excellent smoked meaty goodness going on, a tangy coleslaw and my favourite, corn fritters. Often I would grab a sandwich from Blamwich and then scoot on over to Jo Jo’s for corn fritters. So when Margie and Jody decided to hang up their truck keys for house keys I’m sure it was a natural fit. And today you can go to The Farmer’s House and Margie will be there offering good food and great wine in a warm space.

Jo Jo's Food Truck

I don’t know where we would have been in those early days without Chef Mario Spina’s Pimento’s Pizza truck. Four years ago I had a very picky eater in my house and if it wasn’t for the pizza truck I wouldn’t have been able to go to a Food Truck Frenzy. Chef Mario has changed focus these days, moving from pizza to burgers. His brick and mortar business is now called Burger 320 and you can find it in Bridgeland.  The Burger 320 Truck is driving the streets in the summer months and I have to mention that Chef Mario also appeared on an episode of Chopped Canada.

Pimentos Pizza Truck

The best food truck of all though was and is the Fiasco Gelato truck. That was the one my son always begged for so we always tried to find it. My dear friends at Fiasco are still on the streets with the original Elie but they have added to the fleet with Bambino, that specializes in ice cream sandwiches. And even though they recently suffered a set-back with a fire at their newly opened location at 110, 221 19th St SE they are almost ready to open their doors again, hopefully by the end of April.

Fiasco Gelato Food Truck

Does all of this look fun?  It is fun.  Going to a Food Truck Frenzy in Calgary is definitely an experience.  These days you pay admission to get in but you have a ton of food trucks to choose from and some great entertainment too.  The first frenzy of the season is coming up on April 23 and 24 and if you click here you can find out more details.

As always, for those of you who stick it out to the end there is my giveaway.  To celebrate my four year blogiversary my friends at Fiasco Gelato would like to give one of you, my lucky readers, a one month subscription to their Gelato Club. The only rules are you have to live in Calgary and the winner will have to answer a skill testing (not hard) question.  To enter my giveaway please click on the Rafflecopter link below for details.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fiasco Gelato Holiday Collection

A sample of what you might get with the one month Gelato Club subscription. These were this past year’s Holiday Collection, the flavours change all the time!

Good luck everyone.  And if you can’t make it to the Food Truck Frenzy be sure to check out the YYC Food Truck app throughout summer to find a truck to eat at.  You can find it here and I always have the link on the front of my page, just in case.

Shokunin Calgary

This post may get me in a bit of trouble but I feel like I should write it in this way. My regular followers know that I try to strike a positive note in my posts and social media.  It’s the way I was brought up I guess, if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it at all.  I know I know.  I have spoken with many of you in my community and you tell me if something is bad you should be honest about it and call it like it is.  I can’t be like that.  If I don’t like what you’re serving me then I simply won’t write about it or if I do voice my opinion, I will try and say something constructive.  That’s just me.

This is my blog, my rules so I can do whatever I want.

That being said I would like to talk about a restaurant that is not necessarily getting a fair shake. The highly anticipated restaurant from Chef Darren MacLean, Shokunin, has generated much talk.  Everyone was waiting for it to open but from the get go reviews have been mixed, some of you love it and many of you like to talk about how it hasn’t met your expectations.

I know it may seem that I am biased because I have kind of been with the restaurant from the beginning. I work in the same building that Shokunin is located.  When it was in construction I was often invited in to see how it was going.

When it was finally ready to open we all flocked there, people in my office and others in our community. Was it smooth sailing?  No.  In those first few weeks there were glitches, things that I even experienced that I questioned.  I am not going to even talk about those things here.  The things I thought were out of place I have already brought up directly with Darren and his team, because again, that’s just how I roll.

I keep going back to Shokunin. I know for me it is easy because it is in my building but I also keep going back because you can’t judge a restaurant by the first month it is open but how it handles itself after. Darren has great passion for this concept and he is slowly getting things into place.

There is also a great team supporting him. This is how I know.

This weekend is my birthday and because my husband hadn’t been to Shokunin yet I decided that we would go there for my annual birthday feast. I made the reservations and requested my favourite spot, the window by the open kitchen.  I was looking forward to chatting with Darren as he told me about all the food he was making.

We walked in and he wasn’t there because of a previous engagement. I’m not going to lie, my heart was disappointed.  I hope the look on my face didn’t betray my feelings to the rest of the staff.  But, this I can tell you, we were well taken care of.  I know the staff is familiar with me and in fact I adore Colin, who takes care of front of house, but I noticed the care they took with the rest of the guests in the space.

The quiet chefs went about their work as they cooked and plated and were willing to please. They looked up with eager anticipation as we took our first bites to make sure we enjoyed what we were eating.  And we did, and there is nothing better than seeing that pleased look in their eyes when they know they’ve made you happy.  We were in good hands with the team at Shokunin, without Chef Darren.

This is why I know Shokunin will do well. So all you people out there who have written Shokunin off please don’t be so quick to judge.  Shokunin is hitting its stride and I hear they have fancy bento boxes coming soon for lunch, which is just awesome!

Ok, I’m done talking and you guys need some photos. I have a ton to share as I’ve had many meals there but I think I’ll stay with the ones from my birthday dinner.  We had the Omakase, which is the tasting menu and I had the Bartender’s Omakase, which was sake chosen to go with our food.  We loved all of it.

We started with this fresh Red Snapper Nigiri with Wasabi.

We started with this fresh Red Snapper Nigiri with Wasabi.

Next up was this beautifully plated Hamachi with Yuzu Sauce, Apple, Pea Shoots and Nori Dust. I loved how clean this tasted and the pea shoots added a fresh overall note.

Next up was this beautifully plated Hamachi with Yuzu Sauce, Apple, Pea Shoots and Nori Dust. I loved how clean this tasted and the pea shoots added a fresh overall note.

We watched this come together carefully starting with the Miso Parsnip Puree, then adding the mouthwatering Pork Belly drizzling the sauce on top. Last was the perfectly cooked egg and then up to the pass for the last minute greens and finishing touches. Melt in your mouth delicious.

We watched this come together carefully starting with the Miso Parsnip Puree, then adding the mouthwatering Pork Belly drizzling the sauce on top. Last was the perfectly cooked egg and then up to the pass for the last minute greens and finishing touches. Melt in your mouth delicious.

Course four was filled with skewers from the binchotan grill, this was the start. Shishito Peppers, Chicken Drummettes paired with Japanese Pickles and the most amazing egg and soy sauce.

Course four was filled with skewers from the binchotan grill, this was the start. Shishito Peppers, Chicken Drummettes paired with Japanese Pickles and the most amazing egg and soy sauce.  I didn’t get pictures but afterwards came Chicken Thigh and Chicken Breast.

We finished my birthday feast with the White Miso Crème Brulee with Yuzu Peel paired with Yuzu Sake.

We finished my birthday feast with the White Miso Crème Brulee with Yuzu Peel paired with Yuzu Sake.

Homegrown the Cookbook

Last December I was invited to a special event at the Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence to celebrate the launch of Mairlyn Smith’s newest cookbook, Homegrown.  It wasn’t my first trip to the centre, which is a space I love, but that’s a story for another time.  However, I had a heard a lot of things about Mairlyn’s book so I thought it was the perfect space to host this event.

Mairlyn Smith and Abe van Melle demonstrate how easy it is to tie a roast.

Mairlyn Smith and Abe van Melle demonstrate how easy it is to tie a roast.

The main theme of Homegrown, is just that, focusing on cooking with the resources we have available to us here in Canada.  And what better place to do that then in a place that promotes Canadian Beef.  We are so blessed in this country of ours and Mairlyn’s book celebrates this.  From BC wine, to the prairie pulses, to scallops from Nova Scotia and everything in between, this book has it.

The recipes aren’t all hers but are a compilation from the Ontario Home Economics Association. When I got home after the event and had a chance to flip through the pages, one of the things I most enjoyed was seeing the smiling faces of all these ladies showcasing their food alongside their recipe.  The beaming pride of Canadians with their Homegrown creations, you have to love that!

At the event, we were served these wonderful Cranberry Maple Butter Tarts.  They were sinfully delicious so of course when I got home I sought out the recipe.  So here is my confession, when I get a new cookbook the first section I drift to is desserts, I mean who wouldn’t?

Cranberry Maple Butter Tarts from Homegrown the Cookbook.

Cranberry Maple Butter Tarts from Homegrown the Cookbook.

I found the tart recipe no problem, but I also found the most amazing introduction to this section, treats – a cautionary tale.  Something I needed to hear after a year of drifting off focus and indulging.  I mean who would blame me after the year we’ve had as a family but it hit me at the right time and I was listening.  I’ll just quote it here:

” Treats! We all love’em, and an occasional treat is okay to fit into your eating plan – occasional being the operative word, as in once in a while…

…Merriam Webster definition: Treat noun : something that tastes good and that is not eaten often

That leads me into the other thing I love about this book, it includes the nutritional information for all the recipes.  I know that some people say, just eat better food and less and you will lose weight.  For me though, the accountant side shines through and I need something more concrete.  To make weight loss happen for me I need to know exactly how large that serving is and how many calories it is gonna cost me.  If I don’t handle my weight loss this way I spin out of control, I need guidelines.  That’s just me.

Homegrown the Cookbook

Fast forward to the start of the new year and I’m planning on how I am going to start losing the massive amount of weight I need to lose.  The first week I am eating salads and veggies but I am not happy.  That’s because it’s Canada, it’s cold, there’s snow on the ground and the last thing you want is to eat that lovely but not very satisfying bowl of greens.

So I pulled out my Homegrown cookbook and looked for inspiration.  I found it in a soup recipe.  Here is what I can say about this Root Vegetable Potage, do not be bound  by it.  The first time I made it I couldn’t get parsnips or leeks.  That’s okay, I just added in extra carrots and onions and it still turned out great.  I also used turnip instead of rutabaga.  The more you make the recipe the more you can experiment and work out what combination works for you.  Like the second time I made the recipe I had the parsnips but I think I like it better with just the carrots so that’s how I’ll make it going forward.

Root Vegetable Potage Ingredients

This recipe also makes a lot of soup!  Like I put enough in containers to take to work for the week but had enough left over to put in the freezer for another time.  It’s perfect. And it is entirely satisfying to eat this instead of salad for lunch and fits into my eating program.

Root Vegetable Potage Homegrown the Cookbook

I am looking forward to exploring the rest of the book but have only made one other recipe.  As the seasons turn I am excited to try some other things with more great Canadian ingredients.

But in the meantime, Mairlyn has graciously allowed me to post the Root Vegetable Potage recipe here on the blog.  If you are trying to keep an eye on what you are eating and want something more substantial I highly recommend this soup.

Root Vegetable Potage

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter

2 large onions, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 leeks, thinly sliced

1 tsp (5 mL) dried rosemary

1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried thyme leaves

1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried sage

2 carrots, scrubbed well, chopped into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes

1 small rutabaga, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes

2 parsnips, scrubbed well and chopped into 1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes

2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed well and chopped into 1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes

3 large baking potatoes, scrubbed well and chopped into 1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes

8 cups (2 L) no salt added vegetable broth

1/2 tsp (2 mL) iodized salt

Pepper to taste

Root Vegetable Potage Prep

Method:

  1. In a large Dutch oven or a large  heavy bottomed pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Add leeks, rosemary, thyme and sage and continue sautéing for approximately 3 minutes, or until the leeks have softened.
  2. Add the rest of the vegetables and stir well.
  3. Pour in the vegetable broth, add salt and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce to medium-low and simmer for 35 to 45 minutes or until vegetables are very soft and tender.  Season with pepper and serve.  Stores for up to 3 days covered in  the fridge, or freeze any leftovers for up to 3 months.

Makes 16 cups (4 L) One Serving = 2 cups (500 mL)

Per Serving: 172 Calories, 3.3 g Total Fat, 2 g Saturated Fat, 0.2 g Trans Fat, 231 mg Sodium, 35.4 g Carbohydrate, 5.2 g Fibre, 12.8 g Sugars, 0 g Added Sugars, 3.3 g Protein, Carbohydrate Choices: 2

Heather's EATS with Mairlyn Smith at Homegrown the Cookbook Launch

Posted with permission from Mairlyn Smith P.H.Ec www.mairlynsmith.com from Homegrown Celebrating the foods we grow, raise and produce.

SIMPLE Cinnamon Cake

Before I tell you what I have been up to this week I wanted to take a minute to congratulate Maria B who was the winner of my Nature’s Path #OnMyPath giveaway.  She’s on her path by cooking more at home and eating less processed foods, which I think is a great goal to strive for.

This week has been another first for my blog adventure.  At the beginning of the year my dear friend Ginni over at The Spicy Eggplant asked if I would be interested in being a guest poster on her site and create something to do with baking.  It turned out that the week she gave me, this week, also happens to be her birthday week.  I was honoured.

I am not a fancy baker but like to keep to the basics so I came up with this SIMPLE Cinnamon Cake for my friend’s birthday.  You can go to her website here to check it out.  Happy Birthday Ginni!

SIMPLE Cinnamon Cake

Nature’s Path #OnMyPath Giveaway

In my last post I mentioned that I am eating healthier these days.  I tried to do that last year but every time I got started something new would happen to throw me off track.  By the end of the year I ended up not feeling healthy or good about myself and I knew something had to change.  So I’m making baby steps and getting back to basics, just like I always do.  Doing things like eating more fruits and vegetables and trying to get more activity in.  And it has been working.

There is one company that has a small part in my journey and that is Nature’s Path.  Most of my mornings start with their instant oatmeal.  I really feel that they have the best product on the market and it fills me up and keeps me going until lunch, no problem.

Nature's Path Instant Oatmeal

A lot of the time they also close out my day.  When I’m sitting quietly at home in the evening I often want something a little sweet to munch on.  That’s when I end up having some yogurt, sprinkled with a sampling of Nature’s Path granola and fruit.  It satisfies my craving.

Nature's Path Granola with Yogurt

A big thank you goes out to Nature’s Path for keeping me on my path.  And you know how great Nature’s Path are?  They want to help keep you on your path too.  They are doing this by giving you TWO chances to win some of their marvelous product.

The first way is by winning a grand prize of organic granola for a year.  Here’s how to enter.  Tell Nature’s Path how you’re getting healthy and what’s on your path for 2016 by posting on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using both hashtags: #OnMyPath and #GranolaForAYear.

The prize includes everything you need to get back on a healthy path including:

  • Nature’s Path granola and organic breakfast foods for a year
  • DIY Vegan, by Nicole Axworthy & Lisa Pitman – recipe book including more than 100 ways to create an awesome plant-based pantry
  • Un-Junk Your Diet by Desiree Nielsen, R.D. – how to shop, cook and eat to feel better forever

The thing to keep in mind for this is that the grand prize contest closes February 28, 2016.

The other way you can win some amazing cereal is here on this very blog.  Yes, I want to keep you on your healthy path too.  Nature’s Path has graciously given me one of these boxes to give away to you.

Nature's Path #OnMyWay Giveaway

All you need to do is click on the link below to access my Rafflecopter link and it will tell you what to do next. This contest is open to Canadian and US residents only and the winner will be required to answer a skill testing (not that hard) question.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck everyone and I’m looking forward to hearing how you are all keeping #onyourpath.

Welcome to 2016

A year, it’s been a year. A year ago my Aunt died in the most tragic of circumstances, a car accident, on a snowy road. And it wasn’t the only loss this year but thinking back the suddenness of it was shocking. Because of that, it makes this loss almost seem worse. What would it have been like when my Mom died if my Auntie had been there? There is so much more that I could say but I don’t really want to go down that rabbit hole.

And I don’t want to do that because she loved life. She’d want us to be happy and celebrate while we remember her and her life. So today I remember and tomorrow I celebrate.

For my own reasons I will be celebrating the New Year tomorrow also. That’s only because I was sick as a dog at the end of December and couldn’t do much of anything. I didn’t get any closure on my year. I didn’t get a chance to say good-bye, to kick the year out the door and start fresh. I thought it would be fitting to pop open a bottle to do that and also raise a glass to my Aunt.

Stoneboat Grand Piano

So that’s what I’m going to do. And then I get to start on my new year.

I’ve also done a lot of reflecting over the past couple of months with where the blog is going. Everywhere I turn in my blogging life people are talking about “Take the Leap”. I’ve been thinking about that a lot, what is my leap? Am I ready to take this little thing I have going to a self-hosted site? Should I be going out there and pitching myself more? There are so many what ifs but I came to this conclusion.  For where I am in my life, I can’t do those things. In order for me to maintain balance I need to continue as I am.

I’ve also thought a lot about what kind of blog this is. I’m not exactly a recipe blog, nor am I restaurant review blog. I don’t talk about healthy eating alone or about travel. I’ve read on forums that people skip through all the narrative to get to the recipes only. That is not me.

I am a story writer, first and foremost. My stories revolve around everything relating to food. Sometimes you’ll get a story with a recipe, or a restaurant review, or a product. You get the idea.   And that’s just who I am.

For me to determine that for myself and not feel anxious about any of the other stuff is a leap, not much of one but still a leap. So for this year, that’s how I continue.  I already have some posts in the works that revolve around healthy eating so stay tuned.  Let 2016 begin.