Tag Archives: Eat Alberta Conference 2011

Eat Alberta Conference 2011: an afternoon with our local food hereos

After a morning spent at our chosen sessions all the attendees and presenters descended upon Enterprise Square for lunch.

There was a fantastic tasting menu set up featuring local cheeses, meats, breads, honey, mashed potatoes, and two wonderful beets salads.  To top it all off one of the organizers Valerie of A Canadian Foodie made a wonderful vegetarian cassoulet.  To satisfy our  sweet tooth there was a variety of cookies and wonderful crunchy Pink Lady apples from Steve and Dan’s Fruit.  The organizers thought of everything!

The food doesn’t stop there.  After lunch I was off to Apple Pie Making with Christan Miller.  This was my first hands on session of the day and it was so much fun.  We were put into groups of four and measured out our flour and shortening and blended it all together using the Miller family’s special technique. Of course we were all excited to try our pies, but that anticipation was overshadowed by the apple peeler, corer, slicer in action.

Everyone was amazed.

I like to make a lot of apple sauce, apple butter, and now apple pies in the fall so I will certainly be picking up one of these little gems.

Our mini personal pies were stored in the fridge until the end of the day and, if I may jump out of chronological order, when I baked it later that evening I was delighted with the results.   I only hope I can replicate the perfect pie crust on my own!

My final session  got to the heart of what they day was all about: Making a Personal Connection to Your Food Source.  Presenter Maryann Borch and her family operate Good Note Community Farm.

She provided attendees with a glimpse into life on her family’s farm and also provided information about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) around Edmonton for vegetables, as well as meat, eggs, and cheese, something that Good Note participates in a well.  She also touched on information about the Community Garden Network as well as local food distribution organizations: Locavoria, Eat Local First – Good Food Box, and The Organic Box.

To end off the session Maryann had us all roll newspaper around wine bottles to make newsprint pots so we could take home  purple bunch onions and Calabrese broccoli seedlings to get a start on our own garden.

Kevin Kossowan ended off the day with a presentation of his From Local Farms Project.  You can view Kevin’s video here on his award-winning blog.  It was an inspiring and informative way to end a day long celebration of local food heroes.

If you haven’t guessed already I had a fantastic time and I am already looking forward to next year’s incarnation!  It was a truly awe-inspiring to attend a conference with a focus on local food and learn about the variety of food produced in our area.  I encourage you all to take a look at the links throughout today’s and yesterday’s posts and support our local food heroes!

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Eat Alberta Conference 2011 a major success!

Starting off the day with coffee from Transcend and ginger apricot scones from Queen of Tarts would make one think that the day could not get much better, but it did.  Spending Saturday at the first ever Eat Alberta Conference meant my day just kept getting better and better!

After a busy week at work and an extended fun-filled Easter weekend visit with my parents the thought did cross my mind to just stay in bed Saturday morning and skip out on the conference.

What a terrible move that would have been.  I am so glad I attended! I had a fantastic time, met great people, learned a lot, and ate a ton of fantastic food!

Furthermore, the day went off without a hitch.  The organizers did a splendid job and I am sure that next year’s event will feature another sell-out crowd of very happy participants.

We started off the day with the morning keynote talk featuring Jenny and James from Sundog Organics.  The talk provided wonderful insight into the life of a local food producer and Jenny shared some great tips and pointers about producing food on your own. The information about obtaining seed from small producers such as Heritage Harvest Seed and Salt Spring Seeds will really come in handy now that spring has finally arrived!  I will be sure to stop in at their stall this summer at the downtown farmers market.

My first session was Honey Tasting with Patty Milligan from Lola Canola.  I will confess that this was the session I was most excited about and it was great.  We got to try 8 different types of honey from all over the world: mango blossom honey from Indonesia, acacia honey from Europe, blackberry honey from the USA, and traditional sweet clover honey from Canada.

Keeping with the spirit of the conference we also got to try some great honey from Alberta, which was one of my favourites.  I will definitely be picking up some dandelion honey from Lola Canola’s booth at the Downtown Farmer’s market at the end of the month.  Another favourite was the raspberry honey (the real McCoy, not honey flavoured with raspberries) from British Columbia and of course my all time favourite buckwheat honey from Saskatchewan.

Who knew that there is such a variety of honey out there and that bees are so interesting.  Thanks to Ms Milligan for a truly informative and tasty session!

Next I was off to learn about edible plants from around Edmonton with local botanist Robert Rogers.  I was surprised to learn that fireweed is an edible plant. Apparently the shoots are reminiscent of fresh asparagus and the flowers make a great addition to a salad.  He also went into great deal about cattail.  I was very interested to learn that the pollen from  the brush like top of cattail can be collected and combined 50/50 with wheat flour  to make delicious crepes.

He also talked about a popular plant around the city-the bearer of the tart rosehip.  I have always wanted to forage for rosehips and make some jelly and if I ever do get around to it I will take Robert’s hint to pick the berries after the first frost.  Apparently this makes it easier to separate the pulp from the seeds.  If you are interested in learning more about edible wild plants take a look at Robert’s website for upcoming events!

After learning about the tasty parts of cow parsnip and bear root, as well as the delicious ways to make use of highbush cranberries,  it was back to Enterprise Square for lunch!

Stay tuned for my next post on the afternoon edition of the Eat Albert Conference 2011!