As much as I enjoy cooking magazines like Olive, delicious., Cooks Ilustrated, and Cooking Light, I often crave a local Canadian option. There’s Canadian Living and… well, not much else. I discovered Ricardo last winter, and I’ve been quite impressed with their recipes. When they asked me to try out one of their chicken recipes and I had chicken breasts in the fridge defrosting that very day, I figured it was fate.
I picked the Parmesan-crusted Chicken, because anything involving panko and parmesan is a usually a hit with my family. This dish is a nice alternative to the full job of coating and frying that panko coating usually involves. Instead, the chicken breasts are roasted in sour cream and whole-grain mustard, with the panko and parmesan mixture on top. I quickly brined my chicken breasts in a mixture of salt and sugar water for about 10 minutes beforehand, because I find that cut needs it. I have to say, the sour cream really helps with that as well though, as well as giving the chicken a tangy flavour.
I think this is my husband’s new favourite. Which is fine with me, as this recipe is really easy to pull together on short notice.
The rhubarb always surprises me. It seems to go from tiny little green shoots to full-fledged leafy green monster overnight. In our communal rooftop garden, luckily I seem to be one of a few who harvests those ruby stalks, but you should be able to find it at your local farmers market or good grocery stores.
Rhubarb syrup is simple to make – minimal chopping and little cooking. It’s an incredible pink colour, and looks amazing on ice cream, swirled in yoghurt – instant pink joy!
Rhubarb syrup makes approximately 2 cups
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
2 cups rhubarb stems, chopped into rough 3-cm chunks
Put sugar and water on to boil over high heat in a large pot (the rhubarb will foam, so you need room).
Once boiling, add your chopped rhubarb and boil for 2 minutes. Take off the heat and let cool completely.
Decant into a clean jar, store in the fridge.
Rhubarb soda with mint makes one
Fresh mint leaves, washed
Add ice to a highball glass. Tear several mint leaves into small pieces and sprinkle over ice.
Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the rhubarb syrup, and top up glass with soda water, adjust sweetness to taste by adding more syrup.
Slice strawberry in half and tuck down in the glass just below surface of the liquid. Sprinkle a few more pieces of mint, or a few whole leaves. Enjoy!
I write for VancouverMom.ca and the new app Jelly Been about places to visit in Vancouver with kids. Recently I’ve been doing these fun lists of my favourite places grouped by theme. Here are a few of my favourites…
Brain Freeze Ice cream, gelato, popsicles – cold things that make my son grab the sides of his head and wail for a minute. And then demand we go back the next day.
Toasted Grilled cheese sandwiches are a child-pleaser. My own son somehow missed that gene, but I’m happy to make up for his disinterest.
SLUUUURP Best soup places to visit with kids. Pho, ramen, hand-cut Chinese noodles… I’m not going to pick a winner here.
Climbing the Walls It’s raining and your living room is being slowly destroyed by bored children. Take them to one of our city’s many climbing gyms to burn off some energy.
Cut flowers. They are everywhere this time of year.
And I have to admit, if I have to read one more instagram blurb about how buying flowers every week is ‘such a great mood lifter’ I will get very cross.
Most of the cut flowers we buy at the average North American florist, or order through one of the big websites, are shipped up here from giant flower farms in South America. The working conditions at these flower farms are not good, often the pesticides used are harsh as they aren’t held to the same standard as agrochemicals used on food crops. It’s well worth reading this Tyee series on floral farms and fair trade.
There’s no need to give up on your floral addiction, just think about it a little differently.
Debra Prinzing, a writer and lecturer based in Seattle and Los Angeles, has written several books on working with local and in-season flowers and foliage. This may seem dismal in February, but a quick scroll through her blog will change your mind. Succulent cutting, clippings from trees and shrubs, and flowers from local hothouse growers combine to make some beautiful arrangements.
Here in British Columbia, we have several options at this time of year – the Fraser Valley has several flower growers supplying incredible armfuls of tulips, and a few local florists also stock locally grown orchids. Choices Markets has both local flowers and fair trade blooms from South America. Nationally, Whole Foods is a good bet, as they have their own Whole Trade relationship with South American flower growers, as well as sourcing local flowers as well. Keep your eyes open when you’re out for a walk, and look for sculptural bits and pieces, though always ask before taking a cutting!
Every year I try and come up with a non-candy option for the class Valentine’s Day cards. In the past we’ve made bath bombs and red sparkly play dough. This year, as Valentine’s Day is the beginning of the beekeeping year, I have bees (even more) on the brain.
The other week I also did a presentation about beekeeping to my son’s kindergarten class, which was sweetness itself. After hearing about every single time every child has been stung, or nearly been stung, or thought about being stung, by a bee, wasp, or mosquito, they asked great questions about honey extraction, where the dead bees go, what makes honey taste different, and how I make the smoker work.
So, as the time for planting wildflowers comes up in early March here in the temperate, if damp, west coast, I thought we could tape a little glassine envelope of bee-friendly wildflower seeds inside the valentine. If you’d like to do the same, I think the bees would be thrilled. Below you’ll find a printable in both English and French (my son goes to a French immersion school), to make your own. We’re gluing this image to the front of a blank card after my son does the tough work of printing his classmates’ names on them, and taping the little envelopes inside.