Nutmeg sat up when she received an email from her girlfriend, Wild Rice, who had trained in the kitchen at cooking school in London. It was not the cheery note that grabbed Nutmeg’s attention, but rather the new recipe that was contained in the text, a warm blend of pumpkin and Thai flavours. This recipe is not from the famous cooking school, there is no need to be chef material, read on, anyone can make this simple soup.
News flash! Nutmeg has been working…
Icy, glacier-fed waters carved a turquoise ribbon through the dense pine forest, and warm sulphur liquid bubbled to the earth’s surface long before any human activity in Banff National Park.
Wildlife corridors and the river flow opened access to the first human eyes, native Canadians and then a sprinkling of hardy European explorers. The steel rails of the Canadian Pacific Railway replaced the dusty pack-horse trails, bringing the curious wealthy from far flung lands. Once the asphalt road reached the Banff town site, the word was out that this mountain playground was now open to all.
Nutmeg was invited to explore Ireland with her family. The dates for the Irish tour were selected, and the itinerary confirmed. The uncontrollable was the weather. The Emerald Isle teased the group on the first day with a cool, sunny day. During the balance of the trip the sun was elusive, the rain was not – it was GREEN.
The following is one of Nutmeg’s ABC lists to give you a view of this glorious place.
Kamla McGonigal still has her notes from ten years ago when she first envisioned a uniquely Albertan dessert, one that visitors would want to take home and share with others. Her desire was to create a specialty food item like smoked salmon (BC) and maple syrup (Quebec & Ontario) that one immediately associated with the region.
Nutmeg knew immediately that there was an interesting story to be told when she stumbled across Foodie Pages a company founded by Erin Maynes. This brilliant concept brings specialty Canadian food and culinary related products to your mailbox. Erin’s vision was to use the power of the Internet to create an online farmers’ market, a “place” where consumers can buy directly from some of Canada’s creative food producers and specialty farmers.
Literally as old as the hills, the fruit of the apricot tree are confirmed to have been domesticated since the Bronze Age. Although, the exact origin of the tree is debated;
The iconic vision of a French man or woman walking home with their baguette in hand is neither a myth nor a creation of the department in charge of French tourism. The classic baguette, long, thin, and crusty, remains an excellent carrier for fresh jam in the morning, or for soaking up tasty sauces at dinner.
Although, French daily bread consumption per person has declined significantly from the early 1900s to about 120 grams, from as high as 900 grams, the mighty loaf still remains a vital part of the national diet. Despite the decline, that still is a lot of bread, over 23 million baguettes a day (8 billion a year) for 65 million people.
Music to Nutmeg’s ears, by law bakeries in France, are not allowed to use preservatives in any bread. This means that boulangeries must bake several times a day, so their customers can always find a fresh loaf.
The name baguette first appeared around 1890, although it seems that a long, thin loaf was made well before that time. A law established in March 1919 forbade the employment of bread and pastry workers between the hours of 10pm and 4am.
The ordinary baguette is a simple mixture of all-purpose flour, water, salt and yeast. The dough once it has risen, is formed in a long length by hand, scored on the diagonal and baked in a hot (400F) deck oven. Steam injection, during baking, is the key to the crusty exterior. The size of baguette is not regulated, but mostly it falls between 65-70cm (25-27 inches) long and 6cm (2.5 inches) wide. The price of bread has not been government controlled since 1978. However, the combination of strong market competition and active consumer associations, ensures that what one pays for a regular baguette is fairly consistent.
So here is the problem, the huge growth in large-scale grocery stores and multiple store bakery chains has created a highly competitive market place. The small, local boulangerie gets squeezed from all sides; “Goliath” grocery stores, rising wheat prices and fickle consumers. Today, consumers expect a wide variety of choices: sourdough, fibre, multi-grain, organic (bio), bran, rye etc.
The classic baguette remains on the bakers’ shelves as it would be suicidal for a boulangerie not to offer it among their inventory. So nothing has happened to the baguette, it still remains remarkably part of the culture in France, the quality might just not be what it used to be; however, there are lots of choices.
Tangerine walls, a bold statement in a landscape dotted by countless malls and chain restaurants. If you have spent any time in Mediterranean Europe, you could be forgiven for thinking you left Southern California at the parking lot the moment you enter Clementine Gourmet Marketplace & Cafe. It is a relatively new Mecca of fresh food, robust espresso and persuasive treats.
Early in the year in southern France, the almond tree is the first to bloom. The small white or pale pink flowers typically appear on the trees in February. A welcome sign that spring may be close at hand.
The almond tree is small; at full maturity it may reach a height of 10 meters, with a trunk diameter of 30 centimeters. The trees typically start bearing fruit after about 5 years. The almond is technically a fruit, not a nut, from the same family as the plum or cherry (Prunus). This decidedly old tree has been a part of different cultures and human nutrition for eons. There are several mentions of almonds in the bible. It is believed that growth in almond tree cultivation closely followed human migration near Mediterranean shores. Despite the fact that the almond tree is native to warm European climates, the large majority of global yield is now US based, in California, at 45% of world production.