Hello to everyone,
At work we received an interesting memo about the price of wheat. I know it’s more expensive to live out here on the island, but I have found the price of food (and other things….houses, gas, etc..) a little costly. For example, bread is anywhere from $3.00 a small loaf to $4.95. And there’s a reason for it. It’s been in the news about the rising cost of wheat, but I had no idea of the ins and outs of it. Our flour supplier,Rogers Foods Ltd., gave Andrew a heads up.
Here’s my summary on the situation:
Consumers will pay more for bread because there is a larger than ever demand for wheat and a low reserve of it. Stats show that in the past 6 months, wheat has gone up over 70% in cost. A $6 bushel now costs over $10.00. Lucky farmers. Poor bakers.
Plus, it’s not just Americans and Europeans that are pigging out with a meat-rich diet. China and India are lining up at the buffet and chowing down on meat too. I love this stat: “In 1985 the average Chinese consumer ate 20 kg of meat a year, now he eats more than 50 kg”. Is Dr. Atkins alive and living in China?!
Now here’s the catch….animals have to eat too. More animals, means more feed for them. Aha, I’m understanding the economics of it all! More grain is going to the feed market than ever before. Turns out a farmer needs about 8kg of grain to produce 1 kg meat.
And let’s not forget about corn. If anyone has read Michael Pollan’s “the Omnivore’s Dilemma” then you know what I’m talking about. If not – check it out. But corn is king. Farmers who previously planted wheat and soybeans have jumped on the bio fuel/ethanol bandwagon turning their silky corn into big dollars (and gas, plastic and who knows what else, but that’s another story). Again, here’s another staggering stat: America’s maize harvest will be 50% more than last year…about 335m tones. Yikes!
And the buck doesn’t stop there, as a note to beer drinkers….the switch in crops will also effect barley….rising cost there too!!!!!….so be prepared to pay more $$$$$ for your “wobbly pops”.
And that’s my 2cents for today. I’ve only tipped the cap of the iceberg because my brain understands recipes more than economics, but I’m trying to learn. Understanding your food goes beyond depth of flavour and how it’s cooked. Where and how it’s grown is of the utmost importance.
Yikes. It’s 9:30 am. Still in bathrobe and have to go to work.
Managed to find some turkey so the dinner was a go. Lucked out with the weather so even pulled off barbecuing outside without a drop of rain. Felt a little weird celebrating the harvest at the beginning of spring (my lovely guests all came with armfulls of beautiful tulips!), but then again, life in the food world is always topsy-turvey!
Here are my brave guinea pigs – Andrew, Monica, Heather and Ingrid (second pic).
Unfortunately by the time I took the photos….the food was long gone. But I think they look well fed. Steve was at work, but crashed the party after wards. I really hate that our schedules are at opposite ends – I’m days, he’s nights and I’m tired of only hello-goodbye! But he’s trying to get the same days off as me….two full days off together is a start!
I’d like to say that this fall-inspired dinner (OK, a test run for thanksgiving) made me reflect on life and run a tally for all I have to give thanks for…..which is A LOT……like new friends, old friends, generous living, no snow (etc…)but really, as chief cook and bottle washer, I could only think of the dishes. I thought I was being clever this year and would reduce the mess by barbecuing, skipping gravy and such, but truthfully, it looked like a bomb went off in the kitchen. It didn’t seem as “greasy” a clean up, but there was definitely dish mountain.
On the bright side, I did give huge thanks to my dishwasher, and what i couldn’t finish that night, Steve cleaned up the next day – on his day off no less! Plus he gave me and my heavy head a ride to work the next morning! Truly, I’m blessed
Hello out there
It IS a small world after all…..a few days ago I met a face from the past living right here in Victoria BC.
It was a super sunny afternoon – sitting on the patio at work on my break – one of those amazing days because it’s February and you’re actually sitting outside and the sun feels warm (I’m still in disbelief about the weather out here), the fountain sounded summery with its trickling water – the patio was packed under the red illy coffee umbrellas with kids, moms and all those lucky people who can take an afternoon off…..oops I’m rambling……….
on my break ………..eating in the sunshine and talking on the phone to my mom (still need to break bad multitasking habits)….when this woman with 2 adorable children came up and started talking to me (after phone call obviously!). Turns out we worked together years ago for Oliver&Bonacini – she was cooking at Au Berge and I was at Canoe ….we crossed paths briefly, as I was leaving to go to Chats and she was off to cook with Alice Waters in Chez Panisse. Years later….here we both are. I’ve invited them over for dinner on Monday….along with Monica & Andrew, Ingrid & Morgan (all from Ottavio) to test a harvest dinner menu I’m working on…no pressure there! Just a few excellent chefs and my bosses – yikes!
anyways….will let you know how it all goes. It’s sunday (fairly early morning right now) and I still haven’t located any fresh turkey which I need to find fairly soon so I can brine it…..already checked 2 butchers yesterday and they’re out….oi…..better get on the hunt!
I always know I’ve eaten or drank something really delicious when I still think about for a few days after wards. Such is the case with this brunch:
Megs whipped up this mushroom frittata on Sunday – lots of mushies and a PILE of cheese. Multo Benne. We had a mountain of toast – but the important thing to note is that on the toast is the world’s most delicious butter. Living in BC I never really expected to become addicted to Quebec butter. But I’m hooked. Of course the only place in town that sells it is Ottavio’s (it’s the west coast version of Harrod’s food hall) and it sets you back a pretty penny….$7.95….and worth every single buttery buck. It’s from Fromagerie P’tit Plaisir in St.-Gerard . It’s made from the fresh cream of whey from the dairy farm. The butter is fresh and sweet – a little salty and kind of cheesy at the same time. I’m sure this sounds disgusting or like a heart attack ready to happen, but I adore it thickly sliced (still chilled) on baguette. My simple sandwich. Completely unhealthy and unashamedly delicious.
What made brunch even better was the beverage. Drink of choice for brunch….forget champagne or sparkling wine – it’s all about the cider. Out here, Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse makes a killer one called Rumrunner…..here’s the official description from their website:
Rumrunner is crafted with home-grown heritage apples including Winesaps and Gravensteins. The apples were hand pressed using our traditional rack and cloth press, slowly fermented with Champagne yeast then aged in rum barrels. Notes of brown sugar and spice give complexity to this semi-dry sparkling cider.
My official description: what a colour and flavour – fresh, tart, tiny bubbles that go on tingling and that burnt sugar taste from the rum barrels – for $17/bottle you cannot go wrong! And it’s just a little bit different from what you’re used to. And right now, I’m all about the change.
I’m finding the most amazing food products out here – am trying to source local, but am finding surprises from everywhere in Canada….would love to hear about other Canadian treasures if anyone cares to share.
Good Evening & Happy Sunday to all….
I’m hungover, happy and sad all at the same time. We had our very first house guest from Toronto. My BF Megan. A short but sweet visit – she arrived late thurs night and I just drove her to the airport an hour ago. She’s off to Van for a conference and gets to stay at a fancy hotel. Lucky! We’ve been friends since university and then lived pretty much across the street from each other for the past 3 years. She’s like a sister to me. It felt like home when she walked through our door. But now the house feels empty – Steve is at work and I’m a little blue. Poor me! As George would say, my bread is sorrow and my drink is tears. But that’s another story!
Anyways…..last night was a blast. She loves to cook and eats like a champ so we had a feast: rib eye steaks (we LOVE meat) with a red wine-shallot sauce. I think she looks pretty pleased
It looks pretty tame in this photo, but we polished off a bowl of shrimp to start and had a big salad with lots of avocado and cucumbers in it. Then we had a slice of pear-frangipane tart and of course some cheese. 3 kinds: Cabrales (a peppery blue from Spain), Belle Anne (local! a washed rind cheese) and a Corsican cheese – think it was called Corsu Vecchio? it was a sheep’s milk one- pretty fantastic. And of course we drank way too much wine and got really silly. So silly that we took a crazy amount of ridiculous pictures and decided to make a CD with our favourite songs (i’ve only recently learned about itunes and how to download)….which when i read the playlist this morning I had to howl: Bee Gees (You Win Again), ABBA (Our Last Summer) and Jeff Buckley (Lilac Wine) to name a few. Very odd mix.
Since it was such a fun evening, I decided to write down my steak recipe – I’ll call it Bifteck Meganno in memory of good times.
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 beef rib eye steaks (about 3/4-in. thick)
Coarse ground pepper
Olive oil & buttah!
2 shallots, minced
1 cup red wine (+ a little bit more)
1/2 celery stalk, minced
Celery leaves, shredded
And here’s what to do:
Get out your heaviest frying pan. Avoid using non-stick ones if possible, you just don’t get a good sear. Season steaks with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little oil.
Heat frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add a knob of butter and a generous splash of oil. Add steaks. Sear about 2 min. per side. Reduce heat and cook another min. on each side. If you like them rare – take out of the pan. Otherwise cook a little longer. I like them on the rare side.
Add shallots and celery to pan. Stir until they start to soften, then increase heat back to high. Add wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up and stir in brown bits from pan bottom. Stir often until wine reduces by half. If it doesn’t look like enough sauce add another splash or two of wine.
Live dangerously and stir in a knob of cold butter, then return steaks with any juices to pan. Turn to coat, then plate them up! Pour sauce overtop and sprinkle with celery leaves.