By Leslie Savage
Strip loin steak
The Saturday Community Market re-opened last week on MacKenzie Avenue in Revelstoke. The chill this week does make April seem like “the cruelest month,” to quote T.S. Eliot, but hyacinths are in bloom on 5th St. East, and the weather is changing.
Gardeners across town are building raised beds, sheet mulching over grass and giving their tomatoes a head start in milk cartons by the front window. My yard is full of White-Crowned Sparrows enjoying a feeding frenzy. The Gardening Guru series has lots of upcoming workshops, and the prospect of summertime with fresh local produce looms tantalizingly ahead.
The fact is, we can enjoy local produce — dairy, meat, eggs, and veggies — all year around in Revelstoke. It’s true that lemons, avocados, mangos and bananas simply don’t grow in Canada, so we have to import them. Local supermarkets also provide reliable supplies of many household items.
But small local retailers also provide speciality items, often at very low prices. Check out:
• Vince’s Big Eddy Market for well-priced good olive oil, Italian tomato sauce in glass bottles with no additives, Italian pasta and a truly wonderful frozen tiramisu cake big enough for a crowd.
• The Revelstoke Museum stocks a great selection of Okanagan and local jams as well as imported teas.
• Malone’s, on MacKenzie which is mainly a newspaper stand beside The Modern Bakery, also offers a selection of Asian foods that’s a real surprise.
• Crescendo of course offers a wide selection of balsamic vinegars and oils that practically make any dish stand out. Next door to Crescendo is
• Mountain Meals, source of home-made soups, frozen pasta dishes, sausage rolls and empanadas—fast food made without chemical additives, of real ingredients.
• Ray’s Butcher Shop will go the extra mile to cut a roast the way you like it, and produces their own sausage.
• La Baguette for a Quebec cheeses plus a small variety of imports hard to find elsewhere, such as Maldon salt.
Scroll down and you’ll find a list of local suppliers and their products.
But first: some people ask, “Why bother?” When you can do a one-stop shop a supermarket, why go anywhere else? The fact is, buying locally, even if it means several stops and a search for what you want, optimizes health, the BC economy, and the welfare of the community.
First, your health: packaged food from the centre aisles of supermarkets — convenience foods — starting with breakfast cereal and ending with ice-cream, re the root of many health problems now besetting the modern world. Diabetes, cancer, and heart disease are all connected to the overuse of salt, sugar and fats in what has become the average diet in North American households. Buying local produce and cooking it at home, rather than using prepackaged industrial food, is simply better for us. Not only that, it tastes better.
Secondly, local food makes economic sense. A great deal of packaged food in Canada comes from the USA or Asia. For example, I could not find mot one tin of salmon at Cooper’s that is produced in Canada using Canadian salmon. Buying foreign food enriches overseas and American producers at our expense. (Ask Okanagan apple growers about the ha-ha of US government subsidies to Washington growers in spite of free trade doublespeak.) Why send our money out of the country to support an industry that competes with our own? Buying local produce, dairy, meat and fish means that we support Canadian industries.
Finally, buying from local growers and producers also means, literally, jobs in our own back yard. And jobs are the mainstay of the local economy. For instance, Wild Flight Farm in Mara employs seven people as growers and packers at a wage advertised on their web site of $13/hr and possibly more for experienced people.
This is one reason local produce is sometimes a little more expensive than imports. Growers need to make a
living, and local industry cannot compete with the poverty-creating wage scales of Mexico or Chile. But just as Canadians are re-evaluating the need for cheap t-shirts in the wake of factory collapse in Bangladesh, there’s a question about the need to re-evaluate our relationship with cheap imported foods that mean fewer local jobs, large profits to multinational food producers, and ongoing cycles of poverty in third world countries.
We all rely on supermarkets, and believe me I hugely appreciate the availability of bananas, bulk oatmeal and my favorite brand of frozen fish fingers. But there is room for alternatives — and also room for different corporate choices; for instance, let’s all encourage the supermarkets to stock items that say Produced in Canada.
Here are some options for local buying:
De Milles Farm Market. www.demillesfarmmarket.com in Salmon Arm. A family farm since the 1970s, DeMille’s is a fixture in the Shuswap, famous for their corn and pumpkins, baked goods and deli. Their store offers a range of other local and imported produce as well as their own.
D Dutchmen Dairy. dutchmendairy.ca/home/ in Sicamous. When we first started coming to Revelstoke via Vernon, a stop at Dutchmen Dairy was a necessary pit stop for ice cream. Now we buy their milk every week — in glass bottles — from Tim of Dolan Home Delivery. Dutchmen also sells cream, butter, cheese and of course ice cream.
Dolan Home Delivery. www.dolanhomedelivery.com. Tim Dolan started out as Comfort Zone delivering D Dutchman dairy products from Sicamous to Revelstoke. Since then, he has bought a new truck, changed his company name and hugely expanded his product offerings, which now include, all from the Columbia Shuswap region or from Alberta or Saskatchewan (Mills Foods). Orders online by Sunday, for delivery in Revelstoke the following Friday. Payment by cheque, cash or internet account.
• Greenslide Cattle beef
• Kazy Farm organic produce
• Gort’s Gouda in many varieties
• D Dutchman milk, cream, ice-cream, butter and cheeses
• Harmonious Farm and Ewe lamb, chicken and pork
• Mills Foods bison
• goat cheese farm
• Greenslide Cattle Co. email@example.com Drive out to where the pavement ends at 12-mile south of Revelstoke and you can see the Greenslide herd lounging about happily under the trees. Order through Dolan Home Delivery.
• Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm. www.gortsgoudacheese.bc.ca/ You can visit the farm outside Salmon Arm, order online, or ask Tim of Dolan Home Delivery to get you some of the many varieties of gouda and goat cheese available here.
• Happy Days Goat Dairy. www.happydaysdairy.com/ Donat Koller started his cheesemaking career in Switzerland before emigrating to Canada to start a goat farm. Now Happy Days goat Diary buys from 12 independently owned family farms supplying three processing plants in Salmon Arm, Chilliwack and Pokono, Alberta.
You can buy these produces online or through Dolan Home Delivery.
• Harmonious Homestead and Ewe: www.harmonioushomestead.ca/
This Salmon River family farm raises grass fed and pasture-raised lamb, goat, pork, beef, rabbit and chicken; they also sell eggs, beans and wool.
• Kazy Farm Organics. kazyfarmorganics.wordpress.com/
Kazy Farm has just moved to a new place in the Shuswap so it may take them a while to get their organic veggies to market, but watch for them.
• Kurts’ Sausage. Kurt’s Sausages are available at the Community Markets. Great flavours of chicken, turkey, pork, beef and bison sausage.
• Nadja Luckau was a newcomer to the community market world last summer. Look for her at the community market this year again, selling greens and other veg that she’ll be growing herself. Greens start now; lettuce, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi in 4-6 weeks. Later on, kale, potatoes, onion and zucchini.
• Paramjit’s Kitchen. Pam has been a fixture at the Revelstoke Communiuty Market for years: her samosas, channa masala, and butter chicken and the mango chutney, are the best ever. Great lunch while you shop, or take home frozen containers and treat yourself to an Indian feast at home.
• Terra Firma Farms. www.terrafirmafarms/index.html Terra sells at the Community Market in Revelstoke each Saturday, offering a range or organic greens, tomatoes, eggplant, cukes, root veggies and herbs, as well as starter plants. Terra Firma Farms also sells to restaurants and caterers.
• Wild Flight Farms. www.wildflightfarms.com Herman and Maria Brun deliver fresh organic produce to Revelstoke from their family farm at Riverside near Mara, from May to October at the Saturday Community Market.
Greenslide Strip Loin Steak on the Barbecue
Use 1 steak per two persons if you’re on Weight Watchers as I am, or 1 steak for each person if not.
2 tbsp vegetable oil or grape seed oil
½ cup tomato paste
½ cup red wine
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black or white pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
juice of ½ lemon
Turn on the BBQ or heat coals to high.
Make sure first that the grill is clean.
These steaks don’t need marinating, but if you want to, smother them for an hour in half a glass of red wine. Drain, then grind fresh black pepper all over them.
The secret to grilling is to decide whether to use direct or indirect heat. Direct heat is directly over the fire. Indirect is away from the heat — on the side of the grill, or above it, so that, when the lid of the BBQ is closed, you are essentially using the BBQ as a convection oven with circulating hot air doing the cooking. The trick is to get the meat cooked to required doneness without totally burning the surface.
Place steaks directly on grill for five minutes each side to sear the meat. Then, unless you like your beef “blue” that is almost raw, move the steaks a little to the side. Greenslide cuts their strip loin steaks to about ¾ inch, which takes about 6 minutes on each side for medium-rare on a high heat barbecue. Use the BBQ sauce to coat the steaks each time you turn them.
Serve with Unfried French Fries and a lovely big salad of arugula or lettuce with some grilled pepper strips on top, a plate of grilled mushrooms and grilled onion slices. Cut these into thick slices, or if your grill has wide spaces, do the mushrooms and the onions in foil on the barbecue.
Great tasting fries, baked in the oven from real potatoes, with half the fat of real fries. For 8 servings, there are only 4 tsp of oil. There is also a small amount of parmesan cheese and some bread crumbs — all told, fewer calories than a baked potato loaded with butter.
Don’t skip the step of soaking the potato pieces in brine of salt and sugar—this removes some of the liquid from the potatoes and helps make them crunchy.
For 8 servings
1 tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
bowl of water
3 lb baking potatoes (3 large, 4 medium, 5 small)
4 tbsp bread crumbs
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp oil to coat the baking pan — use a cookie sheet with sides if possible.
Preheat the oven to 450° F.
Wash the potatoes well and peel them if you like—I don’t bother, as with organic potatoes, the skin is not toxic and contains loads of minerals. Slice them into potato chip strings.
In a big bowl of water, dissolve ½ tsp salt and the ½ tsp of sugar, and put the potatoes into the bowl for 15 minutes. The salt and sugar will draw out a little of the potato liquid, which results in a crispy potato.
Drain the potatoes in a colander and then dry them very thoroughly on a piece of paper towel or a tea towel.
Mix the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and paprika in a plastic bag. Drizzle 1 tbsp vegetable oil over the dried potatoes and add them to the bag of crumbs and parmesan. Hold the bag tightly closed and shake it furiously to coat the fries.
Rub 1 tsp vegetable oil over a baking sheet and spread the fries over it. The fries should not be piled up — use a big enough pan (you may need 2) to arrange them in a single layer.
Bake for 20 minutes, then turn. Bake another 25 minutes or until well browned, at 450°.
Sprinkle with an additional ½ tsp salt before serving.
Here are some more photos that make you think of springtime… and great food: