Tag Archives: honey

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!

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All in a day’s work: The Best Granola (so far) and Flourless Oatmeal Cookies

Well, I got tired of store-bought cereal again, so I decided to make some granola.

This time, I did not follow a recipe. I took the method from my Mom’s granola recipe and added whatever nuts and seeds I had lying around. I added dried blueberries instead of the usual raisins and took advantage of the rich buckwheat honey I picked up from Lola Canola’s booth at the Downtown Farmer’s Market.

Delicious: what a treat the blueberries were and adding buckwheat honey gave the granola a subtle touch of  caramel-like sweetness.

This is definitely the best granola I have ever made!

Having The Best Granola for breakfast on Tuesday morning will make the end of the long weekend a bit easier to bear.

Since I had so much luck with oats Sunday morning, I decided to make some oatmeal cookies in the evening (I was in a baking mood, so I whipped up a batch of Carob Cashew Brownies too!)

The oatmeal cookies were delicious and very filling.  I tried to eat two, but I had to struggle through the second one.  I figure this cookie will make a great (and fairly healthy) afternoon snack.  It will satisfy a sweet craving, without being too sweet and fill me up until dinner.

Although the recipe calls for wheat bran, you may be able to make these celiac friendly by substituting in Only Oats oat bran in place of the wheat bran.  I haven’t tried it, so I can’t say for sure, but if you do try it let me know.

Being flourless, these are not a doughy cookie.  You need to form and flatten the cookies with moistened hands, so it requires a bit more work that the traditional dollop on a cookie sheet, but they are still nice and chewy – even more so, because there isn’t any flour to get in the way of the oats.

The Best Granola (so far)

6 cups of large flake oats (not instant or quick oats)
2 cups of barley flakes
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
2/3 cup of coarsely chopped whole almonds with the skins still on
1/3 cup of raw cashews coarsely chopped
1/3 cup of oat bran
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Grated zest of one orange
1/4 cup of oil
1/2 cup of honey (approximate)
1 cup of dried blueberries

  • Preheat oven to 350°C
  • In a large baking dish combine barley flakes, oatmeal, oat bran, cinnamon, seeds and nuts.
  • Add orange zest and stir
  • Pour oil into measuring cup up to 1/4 cup measure.  Top up with honey to 2/3 cup measure.
  • Stir well to mix.
  • Optional: Take some of the mixture and place on a cookie sheet about 1 layer thick (this will give you some granola that is extra brown and crispy).
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 350°C.  Remove from the oven and stir.
  • Bake for 10 minutes more and stir again.
  • Add blueberries and bake for 5 minutes more.
  • Let cool and store in an air-tight container.

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Flourless Oatmeal Cookies – adapted from Uprisings: the whole grain bakers’ book

3 eggs
3/4 cup of warmed honey (I heated it on the stove top for a few minutes)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
4 1/2 cups large flake oats (not instant)
1 1/4 cups wheat germ
3/4 cup milk powder
3/4 cup medium unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup of chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chopped raw cashews
2/3 cup currants
Grated zest of one orange

  • In a medium bowl beat together 3 eggs.
  • Add oil and applesauce and stir together.
  • In a large bowl add oats, wheat germ, milk powder, coconut, nuts, currants, and orange rind.
  • Stir mixture and let sit for 25 minutes.  This will help the cookies stick together.
  • Preheat the oven to 325°C
  • Using your hands, roll the dough into a ball and shape into a flat cookie about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick and press onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet,  firming up the cookie edges if needed.
  • Bake at 325°C for 15 minutes until lightly brown

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Better than good! Peanut Butter and Honey Fudge

It was cold this  weekend – alternating between rain, snow, and the barest hint of sun.  In fact, the weather last weekend was rather crummy as well, but I was in Calgary having fun with my best friend, so I didn’t notice.

The cold wet weather made it the perfect weekend to stay indoors and make something delicious.  Trying to  compensate  for the depressing state of affairs outside, I guess.

So, I made some fudge.

Some pretty darn amazing fudge, I might add.

But, it isn’t really fudge, at least not in the true sense of the word. There is no milk or butter to be found, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t chewy, sweet and absolutely delicious.

EPC has named it “The Best Treat of the Year”.

The main ingredients are peanut butter and honey.  A mix of nuts, seeds raisins and coconut plus some carob powder  give this fudge its body and rich taste (I am sure that cocoa would work too).

I found this recipe in Lenten Cookbook: a collection of vegan/vegetarian recipes.  It was put out in 1998 by the Ukrainian Women’s Association Olha Kobylianska Branch from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Since its first printing in 1998, it has been revised and printed four times – undoubtedly a popular cookbook.  I was lucky to get the last one in stock at a local Ukrainian church when a coworker picked one up for me at one of their popular Friday night perogi dinners.

I thought it might be fun to take a look a cookbook that was put out to give church members some vegan and vegetarian options during fasting days.  Without a doubt some of the recipes are a little strange, containing such delights as non-dairy topping and canned tomato soup.  Cool whip is certainly vegan, but YUCK!    And canned tomato soup, well, I hate when recipes ask for a can of any kind of soup to masquerade as a sauce.

Aside from a few questionable recipes, there is a section featuring traditional Ukrainian recipes that contains at least four recipes for borsch, plus recipes for buckwheat Kasha and potato pancakes.

Regardless of how the other recipes turn out, this fudge recipe is worth its weight in gold.

Peanut Butter and Honey Fudge

1 cup of natural peanut butter (please don’t use Kraft)
1 cup liquid honey
3/4 cup carob powder
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped cashews (or nut of your choice)
1/2 cup raisins

  • In a saucepan over low heat gently heat, but do not cook, peanut butter and honey until blended
  • Add carob powder and mix well.
  • Stir in sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, coconut, chopped cashews and raisins.
  • Line a 9 x 9 cake pan with plastic wrap and fold in mixture.  Press into pan and flatten with a spatula.
  • Chill for 2 hours before slicing.
  • Makes 16 large squares, but I cut them in half.

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Raisin Squares for my Husband’s Suitcase

Ok, I know.  It is Lorna Sass Month, so what am I doing posting a recipe for raisin squares from The Deaf Smith Country Cookbook?

Well, I really wanted some and I love to bake.  But even more than that, I wanted to make a sweet treat for EPC.   He is away on a work trip again this week, so I thought he needed a treat to take with him in his suitcase.  Since he has traveled  for work a lot lately, I have been a little cranky.  I guess in retrospect I needed him to take the raisin squares with him, so he could feel my love while he is a few provinces away.

EPC loves these raisin squares.  They make a great snack.  Full of raisins and nuts with a base of whole wheat pastry flour and a touch of honey these squares won’t cause your blood sugar to skyrocket, so they make for a perfect late afternoon protein-rich snack to get you through to dinner time.  Of course, this can be said about many of the sweeter recipes in this cookbook.  As a result, this is the only cookbook that EPC will consistently eat the cookies or other treats out of.  So, if I don’t want to get stuck eating all the cookies myself (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) this is the cookbook I turn to.

In case you are interested, the Deaf Smith Country Cookbook is the very first cookbook I ever owned!    My Mom and Dad gave it to me when I moved from Ontario to Alberta almost 20 years ago.  They inscribed it with “Happy healthy cooking”.  My Mom even has the original edition of this cookbook at home that came out a year or so after I was born.  So, in the spirit of the inscription: Happy healthy eating!

Raisin Squares

2 cups of Thompson raisins
1 1/2 cups of water
2 tablespoons of butter

1/2 cup of honey

1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of allspice
2 cups of chopped nuts (I used almonds, but walnuts work too)
2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (if you can’t track pastry flour down, use 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white flour instead)

  • Put the raisins, water, and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil
  • Remove from heat and add the honey, stirring until blended.  Let cool
  • Mix the flour, spices and nuts.  Add to the raisin mixture and stir well.
  • Pour into a greased and floured 8 x 8 can pan.
  • Bake for 40 minutes at 350°C
  • Cool and cut into squares

I always store these at room temperature, or in the freezer for long-term, because I find they tend to dry out in the refrigerator.

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