Recipe: Roasted Carrots, Leeks and Fennel

roasted carrots, fennel and leeks

I am beyond happy to report that the Calgary Farmers Market has reopened!!! It actually opened three weeks ago. We stopped by on opening day, but after a 40 minute wait to get into the parking lot, I was a bit frazzled and it was a bit too busy to enjoy. We were back there this weekend and it really is beautiful and amazing. There was something about the old farmers market that was so charming. Perhaps it was the familiarity of the faces and routine that we had, or perhaps I, like many, cling a bit too tightly to things I love. I’m sure the new market will grow to have charm for me like the old one. It is however, beautiful and spacious and there are some incredible new vendors, and so many yummy food choices. Highlights: Fratello Analog serves a ridiculously good traditional cap, Silk Road Spice Merchants have a great little location in the market and I’ve heard rumors that the Vietnamese Subs are the best in the city! I bought a ridiculous amount of produce at the Cherry Pit, mostly because I was just excited about all the options. Interestingly, we are almost out of produce, which proves my theory that shopping at the Market makes us eat better.

Anyway…I whipped this up for dinner last night, to use up some of the vegetables I picked up. It was delicious and super easy(but takes a while in the oven, so plan ahead!) Hope you enjoy!

Roasted Carrots, Leeks and Fennel

In a large glass baking dish, place 1 fennel bulb, thinly chopped, 4 leeks(pale and white parts) thinly sliced, about 10 large carrots, sliced into 1 inch thick rounds, and 4 garlic cloves(peeled). Drizzle with olive oil, honey, and a generous amount of balsamic vinegar. Roast at 375 for about 1 hr. Remove from oven. Add half a loaf of sourdough bread chopped into 2 inch cubes, a handful of fresh rosemary, a handful of chopped walnuts and some sea salt. Stir to coat bread with oil and vinegar. Put back in the oven for about another 20-30 minutes, until bread crumbs are toasted, and everything is golden and delicious. This serves about 4 as a side dish.

Local Fare: Boston

mmm pinkberry happy face

As expected, Boston is AMAZING! Seriously it is maybe the most beautiful city I’ve been to. The people were incredibly friendly, which could be because half the world was there for the marathon. The architecture blew my mind. ¬†Everyone was enthusiastic, customer service was over the top great, and the whole city was alive with marathon pride! We had a great time. We also ate a lot of great food! Foodie highlights include: post race fish and chips at Tommy Doyle’s Irish Pub in Harvard Square, lychee fro-yo from Pinkberry(ok let’s be honest, pomegranate, coconut and mango were equally great!), veggie pizza from Uno, giant cookies from Quincy’s Market, breakfast sandwiches from Au Bon Pain, and cappuccino from some hole in the wall in the Italian North End district. We ate well. We also walked 12 hours a day to justify eating so well! IronSister rocked her 21st marathon(5.5 months pregnant I may now happily announce!)

In other MAJOR news(at least in my life), the Calgary Farmer’s Market reopened today!!! I took the girls to check it out. It was utter pandemonium, first day craziness of parking schmazzles etc, but I’m so so thrilled to have the Market open. It is beautiful and spacious, all sorts of new stuff. Traditional cap from Fratello was worth the parking lot endurance sport. I can’t wait to go back and get my routine on. I’m home, it feels like spring, so I intend on being back in the action this week. Hopefully I’ll have some new recipes for you!

Thoughts On: Cost of Fresh

Farmers Market Finds

I know that a lot of people think it is expensive to eat local, or organic, or vegetarian, or all of the above. And when I shop at Superstore and see how incredibly inexpensive some of the stuff is, especially packaged or bulk foods, I can understand the concern. From the picture above, you can see all the produce I bought at the Farmers Market today. I bought: apples, oranges, leeks, cauliflower, arugula, kale, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, and a giant bag of sweet peppers. Most of it is local. What’s not local is organic other than a few items. Would you like to know what produce for a week for a mostly vegetarian family of 4 cost me? $24. That’s all. Most Farmers stands at the Market have dollar deal sections. Produce that is slightly less than perfect, but definitely good enough for me! Today I managed to find lots of variety there!

By my calculations, what I spent on produce is approximately the cost of a couple 2 litre bottles of pop, a box or two of granola bars, a box of sugary cereal, a box of crackers and a bag of chips.

So my challenge for you this week, to my friends and readers who are trying to make even small changes to be healthier, give up one or two of your regular pantry snack items, and put that money into trying one or two new fruits or vegetables. Try to find something local even just “kind of local”!

I know that money is tight for lots of people in this economy. I’m not oblivious to financial challenges and having to live on a pretty tight budget. But I do believe that you put your money where your heart is. Convenience food is delightfully convenient. It is also full of chemicals and preservatives. Canned food is full of sodium. Cheap isn’t always better. Frugality is not necessarily our highest calling.

Living healthy can be summarized in a very simple formula: drink lots of water, eat food that is fresh and unprocessed, sleep, move, love. Live healthy today!

Recipe: Leek Potato Cauliflower Soup

warm soup on a cold day

Tricky as it’s proving to be, I have tried very hard today to have a good attitude about the snowy rooftops that greeted us this morning, the dreary grey forecast and the slight blue tinge to my fingers. The day started off well with a trip to the Farmer’s Market. Always a highlight. Usually we go as a family, but today, Picky Princess was busy at preschool, so Sexy Husband and I took Foodie Baby for a morning visit. We don’t get to do a lot with just her and she clearly loved all the attention, being extra sweet and charming. After a predictably great coffee from Phil & Sebs, inspiration greeted us in the form of produce that just seemed to be begging to be turned into soup. This recipe is what came from our need to be warm, comforted and together around the table. So tasty, so easy.

Leek Potato Cauliflower Soup

Serves 4

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 leeks, pale green and white parts coarsely chopped

1 large russet potato, coarsely chopped

2 cups (approx) cauliflower, coarsely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

sea salt

1/2 tsp red chili flakes (I used Aleppo chiles)

3 cups water

shredded parmesan

Directions: In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add all the vegetables, sea salt to taste and chiles. Saute for a few minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add water and simmer until potatoes are soft approximately 20 minutes. Using a wire whisk, smash large chunks of vegetables so that soup thickens a bit. Serve garnished with shredded parm.

Farmer’s Market Friday

I know. It’s not Friday. However every Friday morning, Sexy Husband and I pack up the girls and head down to my favorite place in the world (or at least my favorite place in my regular little world of Calgary): The Calgary Farmer’s Market! Thankfully, the Market is open all year, but it is definitely a booming place in the summer! Vendors from all over Alberta bring their fresh and colorful wares and I wade through the crowd in a state of blissful giddiness. There are many amazing vendors that, over time, I will have to write about. People who are doing their part to make local food available, to grow organic food, to support green growing. It is multi-cultural. It is fabulous.

We have our own little routine, which has become practically sacred in our house. It goes something like this: upon arrival, Foodie Baby and I head straight for Phil & Sebastians for the best coffee in town(congratulations to them on their recent win of the KRUPS cup of excellence award for the bazillionth year in a row). Sexy Husband takes Picky Princess to the bouncy castle. She jumps with glee while we sit in happy silence with our coffees. Magically, ever week, as we take our last sips, she decides she’s done with bouncing and off we head for “sweet pie” at Simple Simon Pies. She samples a rotation of delicious fruit pies and we hit up our regular stops: fresh organic farm eggs, some kind of new spice mix from Silk Road Spice Merchants, organic bananas from Lunn’s Farm, and whatever other produce that catches our eyes. The energy is spectacular, the air thick with hope that I have what you need and you have what I need. I love it.

In fact, I love it enough to make it a feature to write about. So from here on in, once I return from the Market on Fridays, I will write about the treasures and inspirations of the week. Watch for it: Farmer’s Market Friday.

Markets like this one are an amazing way to buy food that has not travelled very far, by people you can actually get to know and support, and who are passionate about what they do. They are an incredible source of inspiration and usually…great deals. Last I read, Calgary has 17 official Farmer’s Markets, so chances are…wherever you live, there has to be some too!

We are off to the Okanagan for holidays this Friday, so I won’t be at the Market this week… but here are some pics from past visits.

Picky Princess finding some treasures

Phil & Sebastians