Monday, February 14, 2011

A Prairie Locavore

Aren't these local apples beautiful?
 There has been a lot of talk lately about eating locally or at least regionally.  In many regions of Canada it would be impossible to find enough food to sustain a family's food needs for an entire year without importing it from some other region.  The flip side of this, of course, is that there are also many regions and locales that can provide a decent, balanced food supply that can be preserved, canned, frozen or otherwise put aside for consumption off-season.

Zucchini in our garden
We are blessed in this area with a great deal of variety in our local foods.  Within a 100 miles (or so), we have everything from pork, poultry, cattle, dairies, wheat, and fruit and vegetable farms.  It is relatively easy to eat well and not have to travel far to get good, nutritious food.  We are, however, restricted to a very short growing season when it comes to plant production.  This means that we have to preserve a great deal of food in order to make it through the winter season.  Unless you live on an acreage or farm, it would be impossible to provide/grow enough food to sustain a family from one growing season to another.  Farmers and farmer's markets can make that important difference when it comes to putting food by.

I have a confession to make - I really like reading cookbooks, particularly small-town and regional ones.  I recently picked up a couple older cookbooks from a book sale.  One in particular caught my eye.  It is called The Prairie Cook's Book edited by Betty Ternier Daniels, illustrated by Betty Sadoway and printwork was done byWendy Borsheim.  The book itself is the size of a standard piece of typing paper - about 8.5 x 11.5.  The cover looked like someone had copied lovely hand drawn the images and beautiful handwritten calligraphy.  Flipping through the cookbook, I realized that the entire book, all two hundred pages of it, was all hand-written and copied to create this book- obviously before computers were popular!  Upon further inspection, I noticed that it was published in Saskatchewan.  Unfortunately, there is no date as to when it was published but I did a bit research and as far as I can determine, it was published probably about twenty-eight years ago. 

This cookbook was way ahead of it's time when it was published.  Betty Daniels says in her introduction that

"this cookbook is designed to help make you independent of the international food system, its recipes contain very few processed foods. You won't need to buy canned soup or packaged biscuit mix to follow these recipes. If you can't raise the ingredients yourself, you will be able to buy them from local farmers.  Not only will you reduce your dependence on the international market place; you will also save money and get better-tasting food that is free from additives and you'll reduce the a mount of packaging that you throw in the garbage as well...As these recipes will demonstrate, a diet composed entirely of prairie foods is not a spartan one.  We can grow a lot of good food!"
Apple juice from a friend's apples

I am truly impressed with this cookbook - the recipes are easy, nutritious and have a huge amount of variety within them.  There is everything from paneer, yogurt, enchiladas, to graham wafers and fruit juices.  As well, there are recipes for sauerkraut, chutney, dill pickles as well as rose-hip catsup.  You know a cookbook is truly from the Canadian prairies when it also includes detailed instructions on how to make a prairie favourite - Saskatoon wine!


  1. Saskatoon wine? Please explain.

    I love cookbooks too. This one really sounds like it covers everything.

  2. I love recipe books and that one sounds like a wonderful find. And my, oh my, aren't you industrious growing and canning! I bet that apple juice was yummy.

  3. Laurita, we have a small berry that grows wild here and it sort of resembles a blueberry in colour but is round and far more flavourful. We make jam, compote, and saskatoon wine from it. The wine is generally fairly sweet but the flavour is quite wonderful!

    Cookbooks, especially the older ones, are always full of wonderful surprises to make and share. Cathy - I love homemade crabapple juice - it is always so refreshing. (I accidently called it apple juice under the picture.) Somwhow, it always seems to taste better knowing that it is completely chemical free.

  4. Thanks for the tip on the cookbook. And Saskatoon wine! Is this a huckleberry or serviceberry? I love blue berries. Peace...

  5. Linda - I am pretty sure that a saskatoon is a serviceberry. It does make pretty great pies and wine!