Saturday, March 24, 2012

365 Days of Dining

Greetings Readers!

What a beautiful spring day it was in Vancouver today. Sunshine, sweet scent, the world re-awakening from a long cold slumber. Early spring is a time of transition for the natural world every year; early spring is a time for transition for me this year. I am in the midst of huge changes in life, some of which have happened already (career change), some of which are happening as we speak (soul searching), and others that are yet to be (life situation). 

In my constant efforts to infuse this transition with purpose, goals, dreams, and challenges, I am applying for the amazing 365 Days of Dining food blogger position with Tourism Richmond. I am so very excited about the prospects of simply being selected for the Top Ten, even though, of course, my goal is to get the whole shebang and be the new super-psyched ambassador for Richmond, a city that has been my vibrant and ever-changing backyard since I was born. 

Eating at The Grilled Cheese Grill in Portland, Or.
The competition is stiff, but I am a competitor and I have a lot of unique qualities to bring to this position that others may not have. 

The selection of the next great food blogger is not up to the public, but you can support my quest by checking out my YouTube audition video below and doing the following if you dig it: a) "Like" the YouTube video, b) "Share" the YouTube video and encourage others to watch and "like" it on YouTube, c) write nice comments on the YouTube video page, and d) give me mad props using my full name Jessica Roberts-Farina on Tourism Richmond's Facebook page, the headquarters for the job application process and conversation. All I ask is if you don't dig the video, please keep it to yourself. I want to keep everything positive, peeps! 

Thank you to all of my readers, friends, and family for your support in my heartfelt campaign. I'm not doing it for the prestige or the dollars, but for my sheer love of bringing the joy of food and urban culture to you!

And for your enjoyment, a photo of a recent homemade breakfast, greasy spoon-style.

Egg, bacon, tomatoes, and potatoes. Yum.

With thoughts of hardy crocuses and snowdrops in mind,
The Fledgling Basement Foodie.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vancouver Craft Beer Week

Dear Readers,
I've been MIA from this blog for eight long months, due to medical reasons before and new job now, but I've been thinking about it a lot of late. I'm hoping to return to posting regularly in the next month, with a special focus on "brown bag" lunch ideas for work. Now that I work Monday to Friday 9-5, I'm working a lot harder at making my own healthy and filling lunches. It's a lot of work, but well worth it and I am discovering so many delicious, affordable, and nutritious recipes: Baked Goat Cheese and Apple Mixed Greens Salad anyone?!
Anyways, here's a link to a recent story I did for the Edible Vancouver blog on the recent Vancouver Craft Beer Week's Phillips Brewmaster's Dinner event at Biercraft Bistro on Cambie.
The Fledgling Basement Foodie

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

AMS Farmers Market @ UBC

I'm back from a brief two-week hiatus. I say "brief" because I have been the painful and debilitating thralls of an inflammatory bodily flare-up due to my scoliosis (an abnormal curvature of the spine). In part, it is my fault, working two jobs for a year that had a high physical component and not lifting properly. Not doing stretches every single day like my back specialist said I would have to do every day for the rest of my life. Pushing myself too hard. Thinking myself more physically able and capable then I will ever be.

I'm on prescription anti-inflammatories and I have an appointment with my family physician next week. I had a back x-ray today and I will nervously await the results to see if a) my scoliosis has worsened and b) if any injury has surfaced. I am happy to say that I am for the first time in weeks free of a life-stopping, wholly upsetting, vice-grip headache (knock on the hardest wood ever-sexual pun really not intended at all there!) that has destroyed my life in more ways than one this month especially.

I'm determined to get to the bottom of all of this and start getting better again. I deserve a long and happy life.

Anyways, that's my emptying of my soul to you, my readers and cyberspace, and I feel better.

What I'm really here about today is to rave about the AMS Farmers Market @ UBC. When I was leaving work at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts a couple weeks ago, I saw a big bright poster advertising the market on the SUB. It was unfortunately not a day that the market was on (Sep. 17, Sep. 24, & Oct. 1), but I hoped I could still make it. Luckily, I was working on Sep. 24 and I finished work with plenty of time to go check it out.

Photo Credit:

The market is on the South Side of the SUB (South Plaza) right at the foot of the Grassy Knoll. There were six, great, local vendors there (a few of which I recognized from the Vancouver Farmers Markets: Natural Village Farm from Richmond selling vegetable produce, Hardbite Potato Chips (a local success story), Honeyview Farm from Rosedale in the Fraser Valley purveying honey and honey products, The Apple Barn hailing from Abbotsford selling peppers and other produce, Arkesteyn-Vogler Family Farm from Abbotsford selling a range of organic produce, and Golden West Farms from Summerland with their delicious organic
apples and peaches.

I didn't really know what to expect from the market, but I was really impressed. All local and often organic vendors with high-quality products at great prices that students, faculty, and visitors of UBC can really feel good about purchasing. I didn't come with a grocery list or much money, so I limited myself to buying some delicious and huge collard greens ($2) and some beets ($1.50). Only $3.50 for some really healthy local vegetables that have lasted me awhile!

Beets & Collard Greens, Natural Village Farm, Richmond, BC
I was so pleased! Thrilled and exhilarated, actually. Food should get people excited and I was happy to be one of those lucky folks. The 2 bags of Hardbite Potato Chips for $4 (full-size bags too!) was a hard deal to pass up. Tempting though. Very tempting.

If you're nervous about eating leafy green vegetables (hey, childhood eating habits are hard to break), all you have to do is sautee them for a few minutes (until they are wilted) in some butter or olive oil with minced garlic and/or  chopped onions and a sprinkle of salt. Delicious! And extremely healthy. The beet greens taste more like spinach when they are cooked, but the collard greens hold a more distinct, perhaps lettuce-like flavour (I can't describe it, but I prefer it). Roasting the actual beets are a good idea too. And here's a tip: use gloves and don't wear white when handling the beets. They stain and the juice is bright-pink!

I definitely recommend getting to the last market of the AMS Farmers Market series this Friday, October 1 from 10:30 am-5:30am, rain or shine. I don't know exactly which vendors will be there, but you are bound to find something worthwhile and delicious.

I'm so pleased to see this initiative from the AMS and I wish them the greatest success. Hopefully it will be an annual event that increases in length and size next year and far into the future. Kudos!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Trout Lake-Cedar Cottage Pocket Market

A lot of people want to eat local and/or organic, but a lot of people cannot afford it. For the most part, prices of produce at farmers' markets are the same or even cheaper as those at supermarkets. (Please never buy produce at Safeway, which is always expensive!) But still, with low wages, high unemployment, and an ever-increasing cost of living, accompanied by a culture and society long accustomed to not seeing the virtue in spending more money on fresh groceries than on clothing (that's not an insult, it's just a general fact), buying and eating local and well is expensive. Especially in lower-income areas like East Vancouver.

Along comes the Trout Lake-Cedar Cottage Pocket Market. It is the project of the Trout Lake Cedar Cottage Food Security Network-newly revived after a brief hiatus-along with partners such as the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Coastal Health. It's goal-and a well-met one too-is to provide fresh, local, and organic produce to its neighbourhood at low, affordable prices.

Sweet and delicious Organic Royal Gala Apples
from Cawston, BC

I bought these apples at the pocket market on Sunday (literally a stone's throw from our place) for only 50 cents each!

There were peaches, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, and more produce as well. The quantity is small (at least when I got there), but the quality is high. And that is truly what matters, especially when it comes to food.

There is a coupon program as well for low-income persons with any profits from regular cash sales directly supporting the coupon program.

If you live in the neighbourhood, it is well-worth showing up to get a few things! It is really important to support programs and markets like these. This is ultimately what we need after all: markets in all of our neighbourhoods, each little nook and cranny served with fresh, healthy, and affordable produce.

The next one is October 17 with coupon program shopping only from 10-11:30 with the general public welcome after until 1pm. It takes place at Brant Villa at 2290 E. 25th Avenue.

If you want more details, go to TLCC Food Security Network's blog. And in case you're wondering what a pocket market is, here is a definition (generously sampled from the Coquitlam Farmers Market website):

Pocket markets are mini farmers markets where we sell the food our vendors grow or prepare, on their behalf. A fairly new concept in Metro Vancouver, pocket markets allow local producers, especially farmers, to focus their time and talents on growing or preparing food for local distribution and consumption while providing citizens with more locations where they can access fresh and delicious food from a known and trusted source. For our vendors, pocket markets provide an added way for them to get their food directly to your plate. This helps moves our region towards greater self-sufficiency!

*Also, there is a new pocket market happening at VCC-Broadway Campus from 11am-2pm on Tuesdays, run by the Coquitlam Farmers Market whom also runs a few other pocket markets in the Lower Mainland.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Favourite Food: Fraser Meadow Probiotic Honey Yogurt

The more I go grocery shopping, especially when I'm in Safeway, the more depressed I get. Everything has preservatives in it, soy lecithin, sugar, modified corn starch, colour X, flavour Y, toxic swill # 30.
I actually had a hard time finding a jar of freakin' pickles that did not have "Colour" in it. Colour? Are you kidding me? Why would pickles need colour? ACK!

A lot of my nervous breakdowns-always silent, always just in my head, although it's possible eyes are bugging out crazy-style-take place in front of the yogurt. Seriously, wtf! I urge you to really take your time when you're buying yogurt. Most of it is just loaded with the grossest, most unnecessary ingredients: modified corn starch, sugar, artificial colour and flavour, additives from Mars & Venus. I mean, honestly, yogurt is this: milk and bacterial cultures, for fuck's sake!

So, not surprisingly, I did not find actual delicious and healthy, honest yogurt in Safeway. I found it in Donald's Market on Commercial Drive. It is this: Fraser Meadow Probiotic Honey Yogurt. 2% milk fat, from Agassiz (so if you're scene of choice is the locavore crowd, you'll be extra happy!), made with only organic milk, honey, and probiotic, active bacterial cultures. And it is great! Creamy (but without the unnecessary cream and sugar), tasty, healthy, and no bad milky after taste.

Photo Credit:

In fact, one of Fraser Meadows' yogurts was included in Vancouver Magazine's 2009 Top 100 Things To Taste Before You Die. And I have to say, they know their food!
So, screw Safeway and buy some actual yogurt from a small family farm in your own backyard.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Roasted Chickpeas Recipe

Unfortunately there will be no weekly farmers market post for this past week as I have been quite sick and have not had the wonderful opportunity to visit or work at any of the markets this week.

Instead, I am here to deliver the news: roasted chickpeas are awesome!!! A total revelation to me and finally, a healthy recipe alternative to chips that actually tastes good. (Crunchy nori...yuck. Kale chips...shoot me now.)

Photo Credit:

I came to this ultimate ephiphanal (is that a word?) conclusion while looking at my fridge, shutting the door with dismay, opening the cupboard, looking at it with dismay, and then alighting on my can of San Remo chickpeas.
I didn't particularly want a boring chickpea with lemon juice salad (I need to go grocery shopping, okay?), so I went to my version of Granny's searched "chickpeas".

I mostly came across recipes for hummus and then roasted chickpeas. After looking at a few and knowing that I had a lot of random spices perfect for the recipe, I went to work and created my own version of The Roasted Chickpea. And it rocked! And chickpeas are seriously healthy: they are very high in dietary fibre, excellent to eat for diabetics, and packed with protein, zinc, and folate, among other things.

Photo Credit:

So with no further ado, here is my recipe:

approx. 15 oz canned chickpeas, drained
2 tbsp. olive oil
cayenne pepper
cajun seasoning
parmesan cheese
(the above five are all to taste)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
2. Whisk together olive oil, spices, and seasonings.
3. Drain chickpeas and mix into oil and spices.
4. Spread evenly on large baking pan.
5. Put in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. After 30 minutes, be sure to keep an eye on them to prevent charring.
6. Take out, put into bowl of choice, sit down, and enjoy!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tomato Fennel Soup Recipe

Tomato Fennel Soup

Photo Credit: Jon Sullivan

*Cooking oil                                        (2 tsp./10 ml)
Chopped fennel bulb (white part only)  (2 cups/500 ml)
Chopped onion                                    (1 cup/250 ml)
Minced garlic cloves                            (2 cloves)
**Chopped tomatoes                          (28 oz./796 ml)
(any kind, as long as they 
are sweet and delicious!)
Chicken stock                                     (2 cups/500 ml)
Balsamic vinegar                                 (2 tsp./10 ml)
***Granulated sugar                           (1 tsp./5 ml)
Salt                                                     (1/2 tsp./2 ml)
Pepper                                                (1/4 tsp/1 ml)

*I used olive oil. I don't use any other cooking oil. Works every time.
**The recipe actually calls for a can of diced tomatoes (with juice), but if tomatoes are in season, for pete's sake, use those please!
***I halved this recipe, as it is designed to serve six and I only wanted to serve three. It worked perfectly, three medium-sized bowls of soup. I used one sugar cube (I don't have loose sugar as I don't bake). So two sugar cubes would work for the full recipe.

1. Heat cooking oil in large saucepan on medium.
2. Add fennel, onion, and garlic. Cook for approx. 10  minutes, stirring often, until onion and fennel are softened.
3. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, granulated sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir. Bring to a boil.
4. Simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fennel is tender.
5. Carefully process in blender until smooth.
6. Makes about 6 cups.
7. Eat and enjoy.