Friday, October 1, 2010

my working vacation in a flyin bush camp

New North Blue River Yurt in the Cariboo Mountains of BC

Snowy Mountain Alpine Tours is now  booking for the 2010/2011 season.  Be the first to experience this rustic luxury and have a run named after you!
The newest and largest  backcountry skiing venue and the first guided backcountry ski operation on crown land in the Cariboo Mountains sits on the eastern edge of Well Gray Provincial Park and is over 100 square kilometers of tenure. This summer I was invited to cook for the crew for the first phase of developement.

Blue River BC is a destination for some of the best heli skiing in the world.  For over thirty years Mike Wiegele has made these mountains a mecca for powder hounds. My history with Blue River goes back to a youth of ski racing and again when I took up backcountry skiing in the late 80's. It has hosted  the Powder 8 World Championships and it is because of the deep and dry powder.  Love of powder skiing and cooking was the inspiration in naming my food blog ...  Powderate.

This type of cooking has some challenges and one of the important requirements that makes the task smoother is to have most of the main entrees prepared and frozen ahead.  This helps keep the food during transport and in this case was done by helicopter.  Here is a photo story of the event. 

 Flying in the camp and equipment including one five year old and three dogs.  This was mid July and the weather is about to get extremely hot and dry for the duration and fortunately the forest fire smoke hadn't hit yet. 
The wall tent was brought in and erected by snowmobile in January of this year.  The heavy snow fall and the bears had taken a toll on it but an afternoon of needle work helped keep the pesky insects to a minimum.  Crew accomadation for the duration of construction.

The Alpha tent in the background, erected early in the summer became my domain and the cook house.  In this photo is Steve Ludwig and Raven the black lab that I was fortunate to have keep me company at night. 
Thanks to this sweet little machine we had some extra luxuries to keep us happy.  Like beer!
The beer garden.  Nothing like a cold beer from the creek on a hot summer day!
The hard work of master builder Dave Volmer soon has the yurt deck inshape.  He took time to install a floor in the cook tent and build a little girls dream swing.
Dave Volmer and Astrid taking a test ride on the swing. 
These are savory meat pies that I made ahead and froze.  The fillings are fresh sockeye salmon and roast moose meat and curry sweet potato. 

Trail building was an ongoing task and the accomplishment of this was done by Dana Ludwig and Brenda who made sure the trail was complete for the hike out. 
Bushwacking was the only way get around and until the girls built the trail out we'd be following the cariboo trails. 
The trail out has some of the biggest patches of fern I've seen anywhere.

Dana,  Astrid and puppy Oscar  on the hike out.  Extensive trail building and bridges were required to access the base camp. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

summer meals on the road and in the back country

June has always been about adventure and discovery.  This month the adventures included finding a remote and rugged Hot Springs accessed via a steep canyon trail with exposure that is drop dead gorgeous.  

Our day started with a bowl of first of the season huckleberries after which we were fit and ready to descend the canyon wall where the secret Hot Spings is located. 

The weather was cool and wet and I was glad as the day before was sweltering and we put off going down the canyon in favor of a shaded camp under old growth cedar trees.   We put on the Gortex hiking boots and rain gear and set across a flooding creek to get to the trailhead.

 The rewards of the day, not a soul about but us ... and the raging river rushing by was an obvious thrill.

While away the garden has become a monster of growth and a wonderful neighbor has been watering it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

urban greens in Kitsilano: moose roast sliced warm on a bed of greens with orange mint and wild ginger dressing

With the garden producing outstanding greens ideas for supper become salad centric.  The lettuce above is called Farmers Market Lettuce Blend from Renee's Garden seed company, comprised of  Little Gem, Tango, Outredgeous and Cimarron. Such a treat after grocery store lettuce all winter.  Tender and robust at the same time. 

The orange mint in pots is pretty and ready for cutting.  I'll use some in a dressing along with wild ginger root picked on a recent hike.
Wild ginger grows in shaded forests and their flowers are quite unusual.  Just peek under the deep green leaves.  Use the roots not the leaves.  After picking keep roots soaking in shallow water until using or dry for later use.

The moose roast below is a gift from the family hunter and will be braised in organic beer.
Time to snip herbs from the garden, yet another thrill.

To make a roast rub:
Minced  2 green onions, large bunch of orange mint,  3 fresh thyme and oregano sprigs and add it to a small bowl with 1/3c Dijon mustard. Set aside.  Season roast with salt and pepper and brown on all sides in a heavy bottom fry pan.

I use a combination of grapeseed oil for it's high smoke point and clarified butter to brown the roast in. 
Peel and slice large white onion and place in bottom of large dutch oven.
Remove the roast from fry pan and place on the bed of onion slices.  Spread the wet mustard and herb paste over the roast.  Pour one bottle of good organic beer and cover with lid.  Braise in 325 F oven for 1 1/2 hours or until tender.  Let set.  Remove the butchers twine and slice thinly. Spoon broth over the sliced meat.

to be continued.... meanwhile

go be delicious

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Breakfast berry smoothie and a scrumptous breakfast of grilled cinnamon buns

A huckleberry smoothie is an nitid way of having the very end of last summers wild huckleberries from the freezer. The early signs are promising for this season, at low elevation we have lots of berries forming on most varieties of huckleberry bush. On a recent hike to Cheakamus Lake in Garibaldi Park these green huckleberries are coming along nicely.  This is a blue huckleberry  vaccinium pacifica  which are a high bush variety and common in lower elevations. 
The huckleberries below are at mid elevation and are just past the flowering stage.  When it rains the bees don't pollinate as much and if the frost comes late it lowers the yield as well.  I have started picking berries as early as the third week in June ...  time to crave and anticipate the early season taste of tartness.
sprouted chia and flax seed meal, wild huckleberries, coconut oil, vanilla, yogurt and cherry juice from home canned cherries!
Breakfast Smoothie: serves two
In the large jar of the blender place the following ingredients
1 c juice
1c plain yogurt
1 T organic coconut oil
1 t organic vanilla extract
1 c fresh or frozen berries
2 T ground chia or flax seed
Place the top on the blender and start the motor on low speed.  Increase speed after it has begun to turn over to prevent spilling over.  Add more juice to desired consistency.  Drink slowly to taste the flavors.
For a day full of outdoor adventure treat yourself to an added bonus of grilled cinnamon buns.

 Grilled cinnamon buns: slice the buns in half and spread cut side with butter and grill on medium heat for 5 minutes.  

go be delicious

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

first meal from the garden: grilled sirloin and mesclun salad

Mescluns! Of all the wonderful foods we owe to the French this is my favorite. We North Americans have embraced this sensation from Provence by creating our own versions and though ours may not be a purist example of the Nicois mesculumo - meaning mixture or mix we have taken hold of the tradition.

This blend comes from West Coast Seeds and is called Oriental Saladini Blend consisting of unusual greens from the mustard family. In this mesculumo are choi sum, komatsuna, mizuna, pac choi, giant red mustard, red lettuce and spinach. 

For a first time gardener mesclumo  is a quick crop to start with.  One month ago the seeds went into the new raised beds and today we celebrate with our first meals.

The romantic notion of back yard food
is a new reality for us. 
Utopian is how it feels.  This was lunch after the morning gardening.  Deciding to harvest was both loss and elation after nursing and protecting the new growth it was a transition from giving to taking but a needed step.

The ability to take kitchen shears and bowl to the backyard plot and harvest salad ingredients is very seductive ...

Now we have good organic greens from zero miles and no packaging. These French Breakfast radishes and a patch of arugula along with fresh
thyme make up the greens for this salad.

Mesclun is a cut and come again crop.  It only requires a bit of feed and water and it will grow another crop.  I use this feed from Gaia Green - an  organic fertilizer, mild and balanced.  This and compost tea along with the rich soil has everything doing well and I'm happy to tell you the greens are splendid.

The cut and come again method of harvesting is done by cutting 1" above the ground . It works like a charm after just a few days new growth appears.

After two or more cuttings pull the roots and replant.

The rainy weather of late has been marvelous for the garden greens but not for the basil or hot season crops.  Adapting to it is the challenge this month as June can be more like June-uary !

My recipe today is for grilled sirloin and mesclun salad with potatas bravas and grilled onion rings.

One good size sirloin steak cut thickly feeds two with some left over for lunch.

One washed bowl of mescluns patted dry not spun, as I found the spinner a bit harsh on these tender greens.
have ready the balsamic vinegar and organic extra virgin olive oil for tossing just before plating.

For the steak:
pre-heat cast iron griddle or BBQ heated
1 lb. top sirloin brought to room temperature
1 1/2 T organic tamari
2T fresh snipped thyme
fresh cracked pepper

This goes against every rule in the book but is tried and true.  Lay the steak in a tray large enough for the steak and pour the tamari in.  With a fork or filleting knife poke holes all over both sides of the steak and soak in the tamari and sprinkle generously with the thyme as well as fresh cracked pepper and let stand. 
Meanwhile prepare the potatoes and garnish.

Potatas Bravas or Spanish Potatoes
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks and patted dry
1 T grapeseed oil
1 T paprika
salt and pepper

Toss the potatoes in the grapeseed oil and paprika sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spread into a baking tray and bake at 375 F oven 25 minutes or until golden and fork tender.

For the garnish:
6 fresh radishes
1 large yellow onion, peeled and slice across into 1/2" rings
1/2 t grapeseed oil
salt and pepper
Brush with oil and season.

To cook the steak and garnish:

With the griddle hot but not smoking or the bbq on medium high cook one side of the steak for 5 minutes then turn and continue cooking the other side for 5 minutes.  Gives a medium rare steak.  Adjust cooking to your personal preferences.  At the same time you have placed the onion rings to the ends or side of the cooking surface and turned them at approximately the same time as the steak.

Remove the steak and turn off the heat.  Let stand on cutting board tented for a good 5 minutes.  Prepare the greens with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil, toss with fresh herbs and salt and pepper.  Plate the greens, surround the salad with the potatoes.  Slice the steak thinly across the grain on a slight angle and top the greens with the hot steak.  Garnish with the radish and onion rings.

go be delicious

LA ooxx

Sunday, April 25, 2010

my very first garden has vegetables coming up!

Lilac blooms over the north east corner, scenting the air with the promise of summer.  The raspberries will love the dappled early morning sunshine filtered by lilacs foliage and the broad leaves of the rhubarb will be a good sister sheltering the roots with protection from the elements. 

April is here at last!  watch.
I started the yard-to-kitchen garden conversion late last fall.  Groups of bamboo had taken over the fence as had the white clematis climbing the katsura tree.  An unsightly over-large California lilac (hit hard by cold the winter before last) needed removing along with the weeds and moss which owned the lawn, growing tall as toddlers. Gone. The roots of the bamboo and Ceanothus required pick-axe (if I had one) and a hand saw to loose them of their well staked territory and did not going without a fight.  The digging and shaking of every bit of soil from the sod was better than going to the gym. Done!  No injury occurred in the making of this garden.

Liar - bruises from holding milk crates heavy with sod against my thighs whilst I shake out any remaining free soil
The first pots - Steve made for me from newspaper using this neat tool from Lee Valley.  Instead of adding more plastic pots to the equation, this simple pot uses up newspaper, then you just plant it in the garden or container.
The starting mix in these pots is from the bag I picked up at Choices Markek.  Later I made my way out to West Coast Seeds in Delta and prefer the starter mix they offer called Dutch Mix. It is finer textured and esthetically more pleasing to the eye. 

I kept going to see if anything had come up - finally about the fifth day these sweet and tiny double leaves appeared out of the soil, it was magic!

A gardener was born!

Broccoli seedlings growing in cartons saved all winter from coffee cream.
These are the first plants to go into the main bed.  I salivate to think how tasty they will be.

I researched and visited most of the sites that sell bulk soil, sampling the best.  I took Steve who is a full-time gardener with me  - it is vital to get the best soil for your vegetables and herbs.  I was nervous about getting it wrong, he's not as fussy, and he did chose the soil I was leaning towards, saying it had great structure and felt loamy and looked good, adding that it smelled better than the Rainforest premium topsoil, the runner up. I ordered 4 yards of  organic veggie mix from EcoSoil via Greenway Landscape Supply on Mitchell Island.
This soil is garden ready. Here is what I did to prepare for this moment - the moment the soil would be delivered.

After emptying and moving the compost again I decided to dig three deep trenches below the main bed and bury the almost composted compost.  This way I could start a new batch from scratch.  I had dug down into the existing soil 18 inches and  buried leaves from the katsura and limed it. That was last fall.  With the extra organic matter and the lime balancing the acidity the native soil had been amended somewhat.  After raking the native soil smooth over the buried compost  I layered on 350 pounds of organic steer manure.  Lucky find on Craigslist. A high school fundraiser - love that. Now I was ready for the soil.
A wonderful moment for me.  The day was dry and hot and the work a pleasure soon done!

The yard last fall.
This is after I removed the California lilac, the bamboo that was as tall as a house all along the street side of the fence and hand cut a lawn full of weeds. This is where the fun began.
I had started composting last summer and moved the darn thing three times since. This next photo shows what it looked like just before Christmas with the white cord lighting the holiday lights.  My theme was white blooms.
December 1 I planted white tulips and white narcissi, along with white winter pansy.  Because of the Katsura tree I built up the soil in old brick beds to keep the soil off the trunk and still use the area for veggies after the bulbs.  Slightly sorry I put bulbs in here as I want to plant veggies there now! But this is so gorgeous, not sure if I'll leave them or not.  Moving things has been the fun of it, trying this or that look and not worrying about being perfect.  Just going out and doing something is how I like to function.
The center bed is 10'x10' for a total of 100 square feet with four other beds 4'x4'- 8' along the east fence.  This will be a considerable amount of shaded areas but I have a fire escape as sunny real estate for tomato pots and other containers.
I had thought to make the beds dry stack but after the first load of flagstone covered such a small area quickly that changed to non-treated spruce boards. 
I put these together using only shims, no nails or screws.  While digging I turned up old glass shards, a toy soldier, a glass bird and a few marbles.  This place is one of the oldest operating corner stores in the city and was built in 1907 or before and fantasized about various treasures laying below my shovel. 

My West Coast tomato seeds are up and doing well so far.  Potting into big pots they look so small, but it will last for awhile, then the lettuces and greens will have grown and been deliciously dined on, at which time there will be more sun and space for cucumbers and tomatoes.  Can you believe how quickly I've run out of space. 

It has been a mixed bag this week weather wise and
end up moving the starts in and out of the house, one day it's blazing hot and then the next it's wet and blowing, much cooler than I'd like.
As the season progresses I'll share with you the  wonders of growing things to eat.

A portrait of my digging treasure!

Now I begin laying in the flagstones as the mud is messy! Steve and I have been hauling foraged flagstones from the wilds each time we hike somewhere out of town. Rock hounding is our new sport.

Just a little chocolate coconut zucchini cake covered in chocolate cream cheese icing.  Next time it'll be my future bumper crop of backyard zucchini in it. 
Tea break and cake - rewards are good!  Sure ... I'll work it off ... more gardening!

One interesting social factor has been the people who pass by and make comments on the project and the curiosity that some men just can't pass up an opportunity to hit on you for dates, even after you explain that your man wouldn't be too happy about that.

The little tomatoes in big pots sheltered from the wind and rain will be happy when the sun comes hot again.

go be delicious

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Portobello Satay with braised collard greens and hazelnut crusted potato cakes

Agricus Bisporus - The portobello mushroom is a variety of agricus that is allowed to mature beyond the button stage before harvesting and are simply an overgrown crimini, the brown version of the button mushroom.  Often thought less potent than the exotic varieties they are as much if not more so. These meaty mushrooms are among my favorite foods and I cook them often, on their own and almost always add them in one form or another to recipes.

Vancouver BC is the birth place of eating local, home of the 100-mile diet and is also home to 13 certified organic mushroom growers.  A British Columbian eats more mushrooms per capita than anyone else in Canada averaging 3 kilos per person.  BC produces 35% of Canada's mushrooms and the availability year round of the portobello put this food on the top of my list.

Asia Pacific Farms is the largest producer of organic mushrooms in Canada is located in nearby Aldergrove.
I am investigating growing my own as an important part of a permaculture design in my yard.  Fungi cycle nutrients that nourish new life in the soil.  Recognizing this essential function would be an inventive way to integrate mushrooms into my fledgling front yard edible garden.                 
Misty Mountain Mushrooms David Lee Kwen is a man I've come across on a few occasions during the pine mushroom season and he is extremely knowledgeable about our indigenous species.  What I've gleaned over the years about the wild mushhrooms I'll leave for further posts as they come into season.

Portobello mushrooms are prized for their anti-cancer properties although the phyto-chemicals and antioxidants have yet to be fully understood, but we do know enough to say they are a nutritional powerhouse compared to other kinds of produce, a cup of cooked mushrooms does contain a milligram of copper, a trace mineral that may play a role in guarding against osteoporosis.  Adding a portobello mushroom to your plate for an extra bit of bone-friendly copper is a smart idea. If that's not enough to recommend them here is a short list of benefits aside from the local and sustainable:  only plant food to contain high levels of vitamin D, rich in niacin, and trace amounts of B6 and B12, (vegans take note) and excellent levels of selenium, good levels of potassium and zinc. All in all an excellent meat alternative or booster for any diet.

Here is a dish I made at the Tree Planting Reunion in August 2008 for the vegans and vegetarians. Some of the meat eaters thought it was steak.  The menu for the weekend started with a BBQ on Friday night.  Here is the recipe.

Portobello Satay
1 T olive oil
4 large portobello

1/4 c organic tamari
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T lime juice, fresh squeezed
2 T organic dark brown sugar
1 T smooth organic peanut butter
2 - 3 t spice mix
spice mix
1 t cumin seed
1 t coriander seed
1 t allspice berry
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t cayenne

1) Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add the portobello caps and cook until softened, turning once.  About 5 minutes.  set aside.
2) In a small cast iron skillet dry roast the cumin, coriander, and the allspice seeds.  Cool and grind in spice grinder or mortar and pestle adding the ground ginger and cayenne.  M ix well.
3) In a food processor combine the tamari, minced garlic, peanut butter, lime juice, brown sugar, and spice mix and process until smooth.  Transfer to a shallow dish.
4) Cut the portobello into 1/4" thick slices and add to the marinade.  Cover and leave for 1/2 hour at room temperature.
5) Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Remove the mushrooms from marinade reserving marinade.  Thread onto soaked bamboo skewers. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake until browned 6-8 minutes, turning once and brushing with marinade.  Serve hot.

I use the broiler or the BBQ depending on the occasion.  This time I used the broiler and served over a bed of collards braised and hazelnut crusted potato cakes and garlic chips.

go be delicious

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wholewheat stone ground organic cinnamon buns with dried cranberry and walnuts

This post is an ongoing editorial of angst.  I drool enviously over the breads made by artisan bread makers, lusting after the dark chewy textures.  Recently I realized my bread making is stuck in a rut.  Sure these look good and taste good, made with the right ingredients but I want to trap my own yeast and culture a starter that isn't made with store bought yeast. 

The School of Artisan Food based in the heart of the Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, is set to take it's first students in September 2010 for the Foundation Degree in Artisan Food, a 2 year diploma program. The emphasis is on foods that ferment; bread, cheese, beer, diary and charcuterie. While that would be an marvelous experience I'll need to take another route.

I begin with the very talented Susan at yeastspotting who has mentored a league of her own, sharing her knowledge so kindly.  I started my quest with; water + flour = yeast, a very detailed set of instructions, thank you very much Susan.

It all went well for awhile but something went wrong so I had to resort back to my tried and true method, for now.  Here is my recipe for sweet dough. I use our local Anita's organic stone ground wholewheat and organic unbleached white flour.

1 c warm water
1T sugar
2T regular yeast

In a small bowl add the warm water, dissolve the sugar and stir in the yeast.  Let set until foamy, about 10 to 15 minutes.

3 c milk or water and milk combination, scald
1/3 c to 1/2 c butter or coconut oil
1/4 c to 1/2 c  pure cane sugar
2 large eggs, organic free run
1 1/2  t  sea salt
4 c wholewheat flour
4 c  unbleached white flour, approximately

In a large bowl whisk hot milk, butter, sugar, and salt together to melt butter and cool to warm before adding eggs.  Whisk in yeast mixture and add the wholewheat flour changing to a large wooden spoon.  Work in enough unbleached flour until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn out onto a floured surface.  Knead 8 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Wash the bowl and butter or oil the bowl well and roll the dough to cover with oil or butter.  Cover with cloth and let stand in warm spot.  When it has doubled punch down to let air out and butter top.  Let rise again to double.


1/2 c butter
1 c packed organic dark brown sugar
2 - 3 T ground cinnamon
1/2 c dried cranberries, soaked and drained well
1/2 c raisins or currents
1/2 c chopped raw walnuts

glaze for pans
1/4 c butter
1 c dark organic brown sugar
12 raw walnut halves, optional

Preheat oven to 375 F
Butter 2 large heavy baking pans or 2 glass cake pans, this is a large batch.  Sprinkle brown sugar on bottom of pan and distribute the walnut halves if using.  

On a large floured surface roll out the dough making sure to keep the surface underneath well floured. Roll a large rectangle to 1/4 thick.  Spread soft butter, sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon, then cranberries, raisins and walnuts.  Roll the long side in tightly.  Cut into 1 inch slices and place cut side down 1/4 inch apart.  Cover with tea towel until double in size.  Bake in oven on middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes until browned and firm.

Have a large cooling rack ready and another baking pan to turn the buns out onto right away.  Flip out onto rack with sticky side up until cool.



go be delicious xx