Meals on Wheels

Jean Poutine and I answered Edmonton’s Meals on Wheels call to Food Bloggers on Monday. We were greeted by Meals on Wheels Manager for Marketing and Fund Development, Kerryn North, who provided us with some background on the organization. All the staff and volunteers who we met along the way were friendly and genuinely dedicated to the cause. And cheerful – especially for a Monday!

Along with our fellow food bloggers/kitchen compatriots, the Edmonton Journal’s Liane Faulder of Eat My Words, Maki of In My Element, and Marianne and Charles of Loosen Your Belt, we helped the good people of Meals on Wheels prepare some of the meals of the day in their bright and bustling industrial kitchen.

L to R: Charles, Marianne, and Maki on the hot food assembly line.

Anyone remember the I Love Lucy conveyor belt scene? Don’t worry, it wasn’t like that. The Meals on Wheels people were very nice and we actually managed to keep up with the action on the conveyor belt without having to stuff any food down our shirts.

Monsieur Poutine and I were at the head of the line adding the cold food items to the delivery boxes and making sure that the right things went into the right boxes before the hot food items were added by our team-mates. There are a lot of things to consider: one meal or two, medical conditions, food allergies, pre-cut, soft food, etc.  Fortunately our Meals on Wheels trainer, Cook Rachelle Semnovitch, was gently guiding us at the front of the line, and Chef Glen Francis was doing the quality control checking at the end of the line.

Jean Poutine and Truly Scrumptious at the head of the food line.

We ended up as the featured photo in Liane Faulder’s Eat My Words blog post about the event. We feel that it was because we looked the cutest in our hair nets.

There were many activities that the Food Bloggers were involved in for the day. Here are a few:

Liane Faulder measuring flour for blueberry muffins with Cook Rachelle in the back, keeping an eye on things.

Truly and Jean cutting up bread for turkey stuffing.

Marianne and Charles packaging desserts. Note Charles' fashion-forward beard net.

Meals on Wheels makes all their food on-site with fresh ingredients – no processed food! They follow Canada’s Food Guide (to my surprise I discovered that I need to eat 2 to 3 more daily servings of vegetables. I’ll get right on that - the vegetable family is one of my favorite highly functional families).

Meals on Wheels is an amazing organization that offers a valuable service to people who are housebound or can’t prepare their own meals. They depend on volunteer help and cash donations for much of what they do. Check out their Annual Christmas Fundraising Campaign on now until the end of December.

Merry Christmas from the Meals on Wheels Food Blogging elves!

Photographs by Katherine Dalusong and Liane Faulder

 

Conspicuous By Our Absence

Yeah, we’ve been bad bloggers. What can I say? Sorry, sorry, sorry.

Here’s a little update on what we’ve been up to in the past 6 months.

We’ve become bi-coastal.

King Crabby – Moved to Victoria with The Boyfriend (now The Husband). Got married on Vancouver Island.

Truly Scrumptious – Retired from her government job. Converted her garage into the artists’ studio of her dreams. Drove cross-country with The Man With Whom… to Newfoundland to find that the building on their vacation property has become uninhabitable.

Jean Poutine – Mostly looking after my aging parents. Still living and eating in Edmonton.

So, you can see we have busy lives. We continue to have notable food adventures that we may or may not be motivated to blog about in the coming days.

Posted by Jean Poutine

The Nightmare that is Christmas

Hey Crabby, how was your Christmas? Did you have a turkey for Christmas dinner or is it salmon all the time on the Island?

This year was my first time cooking Christmas turkey at my folks house and it was a bit of a nightmare (think Stuart McLean). My sister’s consort bought an organic, free-range turkey from the Strathcona Market on Thursday and I cribbed a bunch of idea on cooking it from various Jamie Oliver holiday specials on the Food Network.

raw

beets and carrots

more beets, parsnips

According to JO, turkey takes about 35 minutes a kilo to cook (apparently organic turkeys cook even faster – I’ve heard this from a few different people), so this 18 pound turkey would take, at most, maybe 4 to 5 hours. I put it in the preheated oven at 1 pm, hoping it would be done by 5 and rested and on the table by 6.

stuffing (I stuffed under the ample skin at the neck end, not the body cavity)

Five pm came and went with the internal temperature falling well short of the target 165 degrees F. When the thermometer finally hit 165 a few hours later, we took it out and started carving. The breast meat was cooked (maybe even a little dry), the skin over it was brown and crispy, the thigh moved easily and appeared to be cooked, but the juices in the bottom of the pan were pink and the vegetables around the turkey were still crunchy. When we started carving, the dark meat was definitely not done. Very strange. So back it went into the oven, and we cranked the heat.

cooked?

Long story short, we finally figured out that we had a half cooked turkey because the bottom element in the oven wasn’t working. We carved what we could (the breast, mostly) and sat down to eat at about 8 o’clock (we turned the bird over and put it back in to fully cook the bottom  half).

It was really stressful – my folks are used to having their evening meal around 5 o’clock but, bless ‘em, they didn’t complain once.

I guess in the grand scale of Christmas disasters, it wasn’t all that bad, really. Everyone was fed (eventually), no one died or got sick, there was lots of food and it was delicious – though I didn’t really enjoy it until the next day.

And how was your Christmas?

Posted by Jean Poutine

Postscript: When the repair guy came today, the element was working fine. Oy!

Everything Niece #2

Further food adventures with my niece K who’s visiting from New Zealand.

On Tuesday night we had dinner at 3 Amigos, a family-run Mexican restaurant in south Edmonton (4035 – 106 Street).

Festive, colourful interior.

Every meal begins with delicious homemade tortilla chips and salsa. We also had a starter of jalapeno poppers – deep fried breaded jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese.

K’s main course was Burritos Nortenos ($12.99),  two tortillas stuffed with chicken, rolled up and covered with salsa verde.

I had Tamales ($13.99 for three), steamed corn flour stuffed with spiced chicken and wrapped in corn husks. It came with rice, refried beans, guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo.

K was too stuffed for desert, so I took one for the team and had the Empanada de Pina ($5.99) on my own. It’s a deep fried pouch of crushed pineapple, served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream and drizzled with caramel.

Bandamax (a Mexican music video channel) plays on big screen TVs. They seem to play the Mexican equivalent of Country music – every song had either accordions or Mariachi horns.

On Wednesday night we stayed in and made burgers with lots of fixings,

including King Crabby’s wonderful pickled beets (I forgot to tell you how much we enjoyed them, KC).

Burger Australian style. K says that in Australia they put fried eggs and sliced beets on their burgers – even McDonald’s has beets.

Today I made lunch plans to meet up with Crabby and Truly Scrumptious to try out Bubba’s BBQ and Smoke House food truck (featured in yesterday’s Journal), which is located conveniently close to their workplace. We thought we’d get some brisket to go and eat in a nearby park. K was feeling a little “meated out” but wanted to come along to enjoy the fabulous weather. Before we arrived, Truly phoned me on my cell to tell me that she and Crabby were at the truck and the line was so long that they’d have to be back at work before they got their food. We decided to meet at Kyoto Sushi instead (9852 – 63 Ave).

The ever classy King Crabby demonstrates alternative uses for chopsticks. It should be noted that this Kyoto, in a strip mall on Argyll road, is run by a Korean family and is not related to the Kyoto sushi restaurants on Jasper Avenue or 109th Street.

Truly’s bento box included teriyaki beef, sushi and tempura.

K and I had Sushi Combo C ($10.95) which came with a spicy tuna hand-roll, a yam tempura roll, and one piece each of inari, salmon, and tuna sushi.

Our meals also came with soup and tea. Everything was delicious. Barbecue will have to wait for another day.

While Crabby and Truly went back to the office, K and I checked out Argyll Foods Tienda Latina, a Mexican and Latin American grocery store a few doors down in the same strip mall (9844 – 63 Avenue).

Co-owner Bernardo Maldonado was very friendly and enthusiastic. Originally from Mexico City, he and his partner Carlos Isaias opened the store 10 months ago and are starting to break even – ahead of schedule.

You can find just about every kind of dried chili you’d ever need,

as well as presses for making tortillas.

But if you’re not that ambitious, you can just buy them frozen.

K is delighted by the name of this Mexican candy.

We bought some Mexican sodas, grabbed blankets from the car, and went to the park to enjoy the rest of this lovely afternoon.

This is what the sky looked like.

Posted by Jean Poutine

Sugar and Spice and Everything Niece

My Edmonton-born niece K. has been visiting her home town since late last week. She’s currently living in New Zealand and will be returning there in a few weeks. In the meantime, we’re having a great time hanging out – and food is often involved.

Macaron madness at Duchess Bakery.

We’ll be back, oh yes we will.

At the Strathcona Farmer’s Market, K. is fascinated by “fractal cauliflower”

which is what I call Roman cauliflower (it’s also called Romanesco broccoli).

Shopping at the Italian Centre

for fixin’s for “scratch” pizza.

We also made granola and a lovely dinner at her grandparent’s house last night, including squash and cabbage soup, roasted beets, a perfectly cooked elk roast and maple baked apples.

I’m going to try to get her to blog about food in New Zealand and her recent trip to Japan.

More to come.

Posted by Jean Poutine

Fort Edmonton Park Bannock

The Man With Whom I Keep Company and I love wandering around Fort Edmonton Park, and it is especially beautiful this time of year with all of the gardens in full bloom and bursting with their bounty.

We managed to catch Paulina at the Native Camp outside of the Fort as she was starting a batch of bannock. She told us that the ingredients are whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt  and water. She added a bit of cinnamon for an exotic touch. She said that the trick to preventing lumps in the dough is to make a well in the center of the dry ingredients for the water, and then keep mixing in the dry ingredients a little at a time.

The bannock is then formed into a round shape, covered and left to rise. We went off to explore  and came back in time to see it in mid-rise.

We went to do more exploring and got back when Paulina had rolled out the dough and was cutting it up for frying (we had incredibly good timing). Paulina is a many-talented woman, so she was doing some beading while waiting for the dough to rise.

The coals need to burn down to a nice even grey so that the bannock doesn’t burn. The strips of dough are fried in some lovely lard. The Scottish were the ones to bring bannock to the First Nations, and we know how the Scots love their lard!

Paulina with her bannock tool.

A basket of beautifully browned bannock.

Samples being cut up for the hungry crowd.

My piece of bannock. It was hot and delicious – crunchy on the outside and soft in the centre. I was thinking that butter melted into the bannock would have been especially delightful.

Delicious, but not enough to satisfy our desire for baked goods, so we stopped in at Jasper House for Ginger Molasses Cookies and Raspberry Lemonade.

A former patient of 1885 Street’s Dr.Wilson. He could have benefitted from a diet including bannock and cookies.

Fort Edmonton Park closes September 25, and there are fewer people there this time of year, so it’s a great time to visit.

Posted by Truly Scrumptious

To market, to market

Hope you’re having a great vacation, Crabby. Missing you and our weekly trip to the Old Strathcona market.

Yesterday Truly Scrumptious and I went to the downtown market instead. We took the High Level Bridge streetcar from the south side. The one operating this day was Melbourne tram #930 that was in service in Melbourne, Australia from 1947 to 1997.

The volunteer conductor gave us a brief history of the tram and Edmonton streetcar history (which you can read about on the Edmonton Radial Railway Society‘s very handsome website).

Crossing the High Level Bridge

to the northern terminus at 109th Street south of Jasper Ave. It was shortly before noon and we were both very hungry, so our first stop was the Blue Plate Diner.

I liked the art they had on the walls. We were seated next to one of several portraits of dogs by Dana Holst. The flying baby painting in the background – by an artist with a difficult name I didn’t take down – was also pretty great.

TS had the maple-glazed cornbread with a bowl of fresh fruit.

I had the special, which was a savory basil cheesecake. I thought the plate looked a little unappetizing when it arrived, but it tasted so much better than it looks. It’s an unbaked cheesecake made with mascarpone (and blue cheese too, I think) with a breadcrumb crust. And lots of fragrant fresh basil. So rich, so creamy, so basilicious. Those aren’t blobs of whipped cream at the top of the plate – they’re my poached eggs. There’s also a couple of sausages hiding behind the fruit cup.

Hunger quelled, we hit the market. These berries looked fabulous (glad I remembered to bring my camera this week).

We chatted with Jo, who was shelling peas at the Slow Food Edmonton tent, and I introduced myself to Sharon of Only Here For The Food who was also hanging out.

These handmade monsters by Belua Designs are awesome.

Especially this mutant sock monkey.

I bought some tomatoes, TS failed in her quest to find a sunhat with a brim. It was a glorious summer day with perfect weather.

We got back on the streetcar and went home.

Posted by Jean Poutine

Strathcona Staycation

Hi Crabby, I’m on staycation (yes, I too am surprised that it has its own Wikipedia entry). Wish you were here.

I took an afternoon stroll around the ‘hood today to shop and enjoy the beautiful weather while it lasts. I left the house without my camera which guaranteed I’d see all kinds of photo-worthy sights. In lieu of the pics I would have taken, I’ve attempted to draw what I saw. Too bad I’m the world’s worst draw-er.

Here’s a staycation tip: Try to get to the Old Strathcona Farmers Market before two o’clock. It’s a lot less crowded then but that’s because most of the good stuff is gone. I bought some green beans, blackberries and ground bison to make meatballs to have with spaghetti.

blackberries

Outside the market, I stopped to smell the kettle corn and the fat franks at Fat Franks. I considered having one of their smokies for lunch (which was also breakfast) but decided I wanted a sit-down meal instead.

I returned DVDs at the library and got some new ones, then walked to Whyte Avenue. I popped into Chapters and thumbed through a copy of Fine Cooking magazine, the one you alerted me to last night. It has an article called Tiki Time about the history of “tropical” cocktails, with some recipes. I decided the four-page spread wasn’t worth the $8 price tag. If you’re seriously interested in Tiki drinks, this is the book to have.

Across the street I could see the guy with the bicycle decorated like a parade float (I’m sure you’ve seen him) in the parking lot of the Tim Horton’s where all the bikers hang out. I really have to get a photo of him someday ‘cuz he’s way hard to draw…

so here’s a Timbit instead.

I headed west along Whyte with the idea of finding suitable lunch grub. I remembered Da-De-O, which I love but haven’t been to in a long time.

I ordered a blackened catfish po’ boy sandwich with sweet potato fries. It was so good it made me wonder why I stopped coming here. I used to go just about every week for their po’ boy special (they still have it on Mondays and Tuesdays). I think I may start that ritual again. I see they also have poutine made with sweet potato fries – mmmm.

Heading home, I stopped in at the K & K Foodliner, my favourite little neighbourhood grocery store, because I forgot to get eggs at the market.

checkin’ out the German DVDs at the K & K

I also picked up some of their wonderful bacon which they butcher and smoke in-store.

Then I went home and now I’m waiting for those ugly storm clouds in the northwest to roll in.

Posted by Jean Poutine

Sikh Temple

Truly Scrumptious here. You may remember me from the Pagan Perogy Party. I am now a contributor, so you will see my scrumptious posts from time to time.

This was a food encounter of the serendipitous kind. The Man With Whom I Keep Company, my niece, and I were driving past the Nanaksar Gurdwara Gursikh temple north of Edmonton the other day, when I cried out (as I often do) “Stop! I must take photos!”

The building is an amazing structure built by volunteers and entirely covered in tile. I was clicking photos of the front entrance when a man invited us in. He rounded up three delightful children to be our guides through the temple. We were asked to remove our shoes and wash our hands, and were given head coverings to wear. We were led on a fascinating tour and best of all, we were invited to eat! A wedding feast was being prepared in gigantic pots in the temple’s kitchen.

Our diminutive tour guides dished up huge food trays of exotic comestibles for us and we sat down to a vegetarian feast of Punjabi food: Matar Paneer, Aloo Gobi, Chana Masala, Roomali Roti, Raita, and Kheer.

The Man With Whom I Keep Company was thrilled to find that the dinnerware was Melmac.

We were then treated to Masala Chai and a plate of sweets: Jalebi, Besan Ladoo, Boondi Ladoo, and Carrot Halva (I think – my notes were all blurred with ghee).

We left happy and satisfied, just like the drain cover in the temple yard.

Posted by Truly Scrumptious