Continuing on the topic of seasonal food, this morning on CBC Edmonton AM, I spoke with Mark Connolly about the August bounty.
So, what exactly is in season? A quicker question to answer would be “what’s not?” Last week, I scrambled my way around the city and came home with a trunk full of incredible goods. Here’s a sampling of what I found:
Taber corn is grown in a rich agricultural area in Southern Alberta that receives an inordinate amount of sunshine. The availability of this flavourful corn is something people look forward to all year. The Peaches and Cream variety is out right now and the Yellow King will arrive shortly and should be available until end of September.
Check Johnson Fresh Farms website to find a vendor near you, and remember, any vendor selling Taber corn must always display their license to ensure the public that they are indeed a verified Taber corn vendor. This corn is so desirable that imposters are known to set up stands and sell corn of lesser quality under the Taber name. Not cool.
The best way to enjoy these cobs, in my opinion, is to simply grill or steam/boil them. I cut the kernels off the cob and made fritters that I then topped with a Saskatoon crema (made with Kindred Orchards Saskatoon berries). Halfway through frying the first batch, I realized that I’d forgotten to add the egg (which explained why they weren’t sticking together). I saved the cooked crumbled kernels and used them to top a corn chowder I made the following day, so it wasn’t such a bad mistake to make.
If you search the internet for these types of fritters or soups, you’ll get endless results in return. Be brave; get creative. I often don’t have all the ingredients on hand so am constantly adjusting recipes. For instance, the fritters also included some pulsed garlic scapes I had hanging around, and the broth I used for the chowder was a broth I made from scraps of scapes and leeks I had on hand in the crisper.
Potatoes: “New potatoes” are spuds that are dug from the ground shortly after the plant flowers and are meant to be used before their skins thicken. Because of their thin skins, they have a short shelf life, so don’t let them go to waste after you’ve bought them! They are best boiled and tossed with butter, herbs, salt and pepper. Simple and delicious.The ones I made were a perfect accompaniment to a pan roasted duck breast from Four Whistle Farms, and I used the beautiful onions and garlic from Holden Colony plus some dried figs from my pantry to make a condiment to go with that duck.
About that duck breast: I bought a package containing two duck breasts from the Four Whistle Farm kiosk at Bountiful Market. These bird parts are huge. The package cost about $30, but I got three meals out of one breast. So, when you do the math, it costs about $5 per meal which is absolutely incredible when you consider the quality of this meat and the time and effort that went into raising it. Many Edmonton chefs use product from Four Whistle Farms. Everything they raise is top quality.
I saved the excess oil used to cook the garlic, onions and figs into that jammy condiment as a base for a tasty vinaigrette sometime down the road. Before you throw scrap foods or bits of produce into the garbage, try to think of other ways they might be useful. It’s a great habit to get into if you want to help lessen food waste and stretch your dollar at the same time.
Alberta Garlic: It’s heavy and juicy and way more flavourful than grocery store garlic that’s shipped in from other countries. If you see it, buy it.
Tomatoes: They’re available In every size shape and colour imaginable. What a beautiful salad they make, and again one of the foods that often tastes best with hardly anything done to it. Big beefsteak tomatoes are just begging to be used in a sandwich.
Use the smaller ones in salads or with any kind of soft cheese. So simple. So delicious.
The late Chef Gail Hall, an Edmonton chef, food activist and supporter of good local producers who used seasonal ingredients in her recipes often said that good food doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated to make; that if you keep it simple and use quality ingredients raised by local producers, the food will speak for itself.
She was right about that and much more, and is still so very missed today.
Please support our local producers. Eat seasonally, and thank a farmer while you’re at it.
And, speaking of Gail Hall. I wrote the book about her and her wonderful contribution to the Canadian food scene. If you are curious and interested in reading more, please contact me.