Make 2011 a year of eating livelier
Fill your calendar with local produce, fresh finds and new recipes
This is the month when we all make resolutions to live better. And the resolutions usually are broken before you spot the first Valentine’s heart.
Instead, how about a whole year of resolutions to make your food life more vibrant? Do one thing each month and you really will live better as a cook and eater. Go out and discover where things are grown. Or just sharpen your knives and clean out your cupboards.
The important thing: try something different.
A new cookbook is a great way to open your mind. Three to consider: Mark Bittman’s Food Matters has 500 recipes that cut back on meat and tone up taste. The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders will have you canning and preserving with style. And Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan will bring style and substance to your kitchen.
Start researching local farms that offer weekly shares of produce, meat, eggs and cheese, called CSAs or community-supported agriculture.
Typically, CSAs cost between $200 to $600 for half or full shares delivered weekly from spring to fall.
Don’t let your resolution to eat better and lose weight fall by the wayside. Expand your healthy eating repertoire by steaming, baking or grilling fish twice a week.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers a shopping guide and recipes for sustainable seafood at montereybayaquarium.org.
Also look for The Oceanwise Cookbook (Whitecap, 2010, $34.95) for recipe ideas from Canadian chefs for sustainable seafood.
Teach your children how to cook. Start with scrambled eggs or a simple baking project for the young children or help your teens plan, shop for and cook a meal.
This is a simple tactic to get children to eat new foods. If they cook it, they are more likely to eat it.
Some farmers markets are open all year, but this is the month the selection explodes.
If you’ve never gone, make this your year to try it. If you’re already a regular, branch out by visiting a new market or two in your area.
There’s nothing like eating a strawberry fresh from the field. Pick-your-own farms are great places to take kids, too.
This is a good time to find the farm nearest you and start following their harvest predictions online.
Old-time cooks had a rule: never eat a peach or a tomato before the first of July. We heartily agree. It’s hard to hold out, but sun, rain and heat bring these to perfection.
Peach cobblers and ice cream, tomatoes in every salad, even good ol’ sandwiches of tomato slices and mayonnaise are our reward.
Explore a new cuisine. Head to one of Calgary’s excellent cultural festivals this month or go to an ethnic restaurant for lunch. Check out a cookbook from the library. Explore an ethnic grocery store with a copy of one of author Linda Bladholm’s guidebooks, such as The Indian Grocery Store Demystified.
Enjoy one of the best times of the year for local produce, as the fall harvests begin to flow in. Plan to freeze, can and cook your heart out.
Apple season offers a crisp, delicious match for autumn: compiling recipes now, and discovering the different varieties available in farmers markets and grocery stores (visit the B.C. Tree Fruits website at bctree.com for recipe ideas).
Baking season beckons — apple and pumpkin pies, quick breads and Christmas cookies. Dedicate a few hours to getting ready.
Clean out your baking cabinet, restock and check baking soda and powder (stir ½ teaspoon baking soda into 4 tablespoons of vinegar and ½ teaspoon baking powder into 4 tablespoons of water — if they don’t fizz, replace them.)
If you are around older family members at the holidays, vow to get at least one family recipe in writing. Or get them to make it while you take notes. If that isn’t possible, try making one new food from your heritage.
This is one resolution you will never regret.