The Urban Locavore: Austin Farmers Do it Right

When people ask me why I identify as a flexitarian my first response is usually to say I have commitment issues. Then I laugh and follow up by adding that, in general, I find a diet that emphasizes option and choice far more appealing than one that focuses on restriction and intolerance.

That said, on my recent visit to the Austin Farmer’s Market I was dying for ways to narrow down my options because I was utterly spoiled for choice. Everything I saw – from the dark chocolate covered cacao beans to the honeydew kombucha – seemed to jive perfectly with my food politics. Organic? Sure. Sustainable? Yup. Affordable? Uh-huh. Ethically produced? Why even ask.

The real kicker for me was that on top of all that, everything was local. More often than not this is determining factor for me and the fact that everyone here just took it for granted blew me away. I mean its the middle of January and for a Canadian gal like me local produce in the winter is a total novelty (unless you’re really into burdock root and turnips…) So when I saw this local produce tasting table I knew I was up for something really special.

Once I’d had my fill of free tastes (and more pickled beets than I’d like to admit) I moved on to the prepared food stands because it was 11 o’clock and obviously time for my favourite meal of the day…Second breakfast.

The first stand that caught my eye was Dai Due.

I was immediately drawn to their locavore philosophy:

Dai Due was created to reconsider what “our” food is and will be.  By using  ingredients that are present in our region, we are able to serve foods that are fresher, buy food that is produced in a fair and equitable way, pay homage to the local culinary traditions, and support farmers and ranchers who are striving to improve the quality of our food.

And of course the food looked incredible…

Did I mention that Dai Due also offers seasonal hunting schools (including one geared specifically to women – !!!) in case you want to seriously walk the walk when it comes to the business of eating locally sourced, ethical meat.

Since they were out of many of their breakfast items I moseyed along and ended up choosing 2 unique sounding vegan dishes to curb my mid-morning appetite: a BBQ Tempeh Breakfast Taco and a spicy cactus tamale.

My BBQ Tempeh Breakfast Taco (left) & Cactus Tamale (right) alongside two mandatory varieties of hot sauce

I may never eat another tamale again for fear it would taint the memory of this masa.

Obviously I am so glad I got to check this market out while I was here in Austin. I left feeling happy, inspired and…ahem…totally stuffed. 😉

What are the factors that influence your food choices (local, organic, dairy-free, gluten-free, animal-free, etc.)?  Are you more influenced by what you do want to eat or what you don’t?

Splurging at the Health Food Store (VLOG)

This afternoon I had some time off and decided to hit up one of my favourite Natural Food Stores. When I got home my wallet was significantly lighter and I felt a pang of guilt as I unloaded my bag of what I deemed to be totally unnecessary purchases. But then I checked myself! I mean sure, I could live without these item but sometimes springing the few extra bucks on foods that spice up your pantry will make eating nutritious whole foods at home just that little bit more exciting. And if you live in a city as foodie-friendly as mine, the temptation to go out to restaurants is pretty much omnipresent. So in the long run…maybe you’re actually saving money! Or am I rationalizing here?

Either way I decided to record this vlog to show you some of the foods that make even this bargain hunting, bulk bin diving lady crack open her piggy bank. Still not sure how I feel about the vlogging format (I apologize in advance for being a touch terribly long winded) but I figured it would be fun to mix things up. Hope you enjoy!


Mentioned in this post:
The Simply Bar
True Lemon
Chia Seeds
Food For Life Brown Rice Tortillas
Mary’s Crackers
Sun Warrior Blend Chocolate Protein Powder.

Now then…what do you love to SPLURGE on? 

Savoury Apple Dijon & Kale Cornbread

As we are currently enjoying in the last days of autumn here in Southern Ontario the farmers markets have been packed to the brim with harvest vegetables. As a result I have been subsisting on almost entirely on skillets full of leafy greens, beets, winter squash, sweet potatoes and apple…probably with some kind of poached egg on top.

So today I figured why not harness some of these autumn flavours and make the transition from skillet-full-of-delicious to baked-good-full-of-delicious? Which brings me to this slightly unconventional cornbread….

Apple Dijon & Kale Cornbread (Gluten-Free)

A play on this recipe from the Edible Perspective

Do not be afraid of the different flours in this mix. Masa harina is inexpensive and readily available at Latin American grocery stores or in the international foods section of  major chains (I found my bag at Wal-Mart…wait…forget I told you that). And you can swap the buckwheat flour for whole wheat if you like.

  • 1/2 cup raw buckwheat flour, ground in a coffee grinder from raw buckwheat groats (can sub for whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup masa harina or corn flour
  • 1 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened nut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp  fine grain sea salt (I used seasoned herbamare)
  • 1 tbsp mixed herb salt-free spice (like spike, mrs. dash, etc., or use your own combination of savoury herbs)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1-1.5 cups finely shredded kale leaves (cut from stems)
Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir until mixed thoroughly.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry bowl and mix with a large spoon until just combined.  The dough will be thick.
  5. Scrape the dough out into a well greased 9  inch pan or cast iron skillet. Push dough to the edges with spatula.
  6. Bake for 30-35min, and test with a toothpick. The top should be golden brown + cracked, which the edges being slightly darker.
  7. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely (30 mins or so) before cutting.  The cornbread will have the best texture once fully cooled.
Enjoy it with a piping hot bowl of chili, squash soup or (my personal fave) toasted up under two perfectly poached eggs.

Evergreen Brick Works Farmer’s Market, In Pictures

The Brick Works Market runs every Saturday morning from 8 until 1pm. It is located at 550 Baview Ave. in Toronto, Canada. A map to the site can be found here

Immediately upon ariving at the market I was delighted to discover my good friends The Elwins were the live entertainment for the day. I encourage you to play their sweet-as-locally-sourced-pie tunes while you browse through my impressions of the market. 







Hope everyone is enjoying their long weekend…
Cooking, eating, playing, giggling and all in all having some fun!

Green Goddess Tofu Bowl (Or: How I Let My Freak Flag Fly)

Some days I can’t help but embrace my inner hippie. 

I haven’t talked about it much on the blog, but I grew up on a farm. An organic farm. And if we’re gonna get real specific, it was a commune.

Now before you get yourself all riled up, the commune wasn’t anything cultish or creepy. It was just a buncha earth lovin’ folks who had common goals about sustainability (long before that word was all trendy and on oprah). So they decided to live their lives together – growing vegetables, raising livestock and sharing large family-style (mostly vegetarian, always organic) meals.

And sure we’d occasionally frollick around a May pole and yes we would celebrate a solstice or two. I mean it wasn’t creepy, but it was definitely eccentric.

Anyhow after a lovely trip to the Brickworks Market this afternoon (more on that tomorrow), I ended up with an arm load of organic veggies, some herbed tofu and a hankering for some seriously granola grub. So I whipped up a meal that was totally inspired by my days as a flower child.

Green Goddess Tofu Bowl

Don’t be scared by all the steps: this bowl is really just a mix of a whole grain cous cous base, some roasted tofu and veggies and a light tofu sauce. All toppings are optional, feel free to mix and match based on what’s in your kitchen. 


Protein – Roasted Tofu and Summer Squash

  1. Dice 1/2 block (or 1 full block, but reserve half for another recipe) of herbed tofu in equal parts balsamic and soy sauce – I used about 2 tbsp each. Toss together with salt-free herb mix (Spike, Mrs. Dash, etc.), garlic powder, pepper and nutritional yeast if desired.
  2. Spread out tofu blocks on a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet, leaving a little space on one side.
  3. Toss 1 diced zucchini in the leftover tofu marinade and spread it out on the empty half of the baking sheet.
  4. Roast tofu and zucchini at 425 for around 20-30 minutes.
Grain Base – Whole Wheat Cous Cous 
  1. In a medium saucepan sautee 1/4 diced onion, 1 tbsp minced garlic, 1 diced yellow pepper and 1/2 cup diced cauliflower in a little oil until fragrant and just softened.
  2. Add 2/3 cup water and heat until boiling.
  3. Add 1/2 cup whole wheat cous cous, remove from heat and cover. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.

Green Goddess Dressing 

  1. Puree 1/2 package silken tofu, 1 green onion, 1 clove of garlic, small handful of fresh basil, 1 tsp dijon, juice of half a lemon, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
  2. Thin with water, I used about 1/2 cup for a lighter consistency.
Additional Toppings:
  • Steamed Greens (I used black kale)
  • Dollop of hummus
  • Toasted nuts and seeds
  • Hot sauce (obviously)
LAYER UP AND ENJOY!
When was the last time you ditched the too-cool ‘tude to let your freak flag fly?

What’s the Capital of Canada, Again?

As promised, here is a little photojournal chronicling my trip last weekend to Canada’s capital city of Ottawa!

First things first: my gracious hostess for the weekend (ain’t she sweet?)

Things kicked off Saturday morning with a lil’ stay-at-home brunch. Sunlight streaming in the window and bouncing off her handmade chandelier? Swoooon.

French toast made with whole grain cranberry bread, a side of fruit & my addition of a perfectly poached egg.

Next came a little downtown exploration, which for me had to include ogling local produce at the ByWard market and of course a  little thrift shopping.


We also stumbled across this so kitschy its cute urban garden in our travels.

The weekend drew to a close with a short drive out to the quaint little town of Wakefield, Quebec for a little bridge jumping, river swimming & rock lazing.

SPLASH!

We look miserable don’t we? 😉 

Hope you don’t mind the epic photo post today…but as the cool breeze starts to roll in and labour day quickly approaches, I’m feeling prematurely nostalgic about summer.

Roncesvalles Market Haul + Leftovers Redux

Photo Source

Inspiration struck today when my afternoon running excursion took me Westier than West to Roncesvalles Village. As I  zoomed lackadaisically trotted past seemingly endless fruit and flower shops, I knew resistance was futile. Despite being planless, bagless and at not at all close to home, I ended up buying two fully loaded bags of goodies to last me through the long weekend.

swiss chard, red leaf lettuce, spinach, fiddleheads, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, shallots, arugula & basil

I was very grateful that I had chosen to shop once I got home and spotted my very sad looking leftover lunch: 1/2 a football sized wrap from Ravi’s that had turned to mooooosh in my fridge.

BUT thanks to my sweet haul I was able to transform my wrap into a way way delicious EPIC SALAD.

On the plate:

  • red leaf lettuce & arugula
  • 1/2 chopped apple
  • a few slices red onion
  • blueberries
  • 1/2 wrap filling (so long moosh!) consisting of: roasted chicken, caramelized onions, sweet potatoes, tomato chutney, spinach & edamame
No. Freakin. Words.

There. Are. No. Words.