Friday, December 16, 2011

Dark Days Week 2 and 3, Plus 'Local' Apple Juice

Since my first Dark Day's dinner seemed to come together with little effort I decided to try something a little more challenging last week. I had a spaghetti squash stored from the summer and a variety of local veggies as well as wild leek pesto that I had frozen and I thought they would go well together. I baked the squash, chopped some of the same bacon from last week, added some mushrooms, onions and garlic, all local as well as the frozen stuff and heated it all together in a cast iron frying pan. Truth be told, it didn't look very appetizing and didn't taste all that great either, even after I smothered it with lovely Tuscano cheese from Monteforte. The Russian thought it was okay but I think I've just discovered that I don't like spaghetti squash. At all. So much for that plan.

So I tried again this week with something I'm more familiar with - Beef Bourguignon! This is not a truly authentic version- no pearl onions for starters but it's tasty just the same. I used some stewing beef which was a gift from a farming friend in Stouffville, more of the bacon, local onions, mushrooms and garlic, frozen local carrots, and fresh thyme and oregano from the herb garden outside (which are still going in spite of a few hard frosts now). The bourguignon in this case was actually Baco Noir from Pelee Island, which is a tad outside the 150 mile radius but still in southern Ontario. To make it even more local I could have used a wine from the Niagara region but this one was already open and I think it suits this dish. The best part of this recipe is that I made it in the slow cooker so it took very little effort. I served it with mashed Ontario potatoes and the last of the tiny brussel sprouts from the garden. So good...

I'm still adjusting to having a regular work week again, even tho it's only part time. It's been 5 years since I last held a job with semi regular hours so I've gotten spoiled with the amount of time I've had to experiment with different recipes and pick up ingredients on a whim. Meals lately have been a lot more sporadic and thrown together without much thought so it's been nice to take the time to plan out at least one good meal a week and thankfully we have still lots of great local food stored in various forms to work with. The brussel sprouts and some kale are the last of the home grown fresh produce so there will be be more trips to the market from here out if we want fresh veggies. Can't complain about having anything from the garden in the middle of December tho!

A note for those of you in Ontario: On a recent trip to Zellers I discovered Allen's apple juice on sale for $.99  for a 1L can, which a great price. We drink a lot of juice in this house so we stocked up. Even more intriguing however is that these are Special Edition cans of juice, apparently because they contain 100% juice from "fresh Ontario apples". On one hand I am delighted to find local apples being used for commercially prepared juice, but it seem more than a little sad that what used to be the norm now rates as a cause for celebration. Just a quick check of stats for 2010 reveals that in Ontario we harvested about 280 million pound of apples, with the majority of those sold as fresh (about 211 million lbs)  but only 67 million lbs went into processing. That actually sounds like a good thing but when you consider how much apple by-products are used in the manufacturing of other stuff like mixed fruit juices and that imported apple juice concentrate from China cost about one fifth of the price, you can see why we rarely get local apples used in products manufactured in Canada, even if they are labelled as such. As long 51% of the manufacturing costs are incurred in Canada, the product can be labelled made in Canada, even if the only local ingredient in it is the water used to dilute the apple concentrate!  In 2006, Canada imported over 21 million litres of apple juice from China (I couldn't find a more recent statistic but I'm pretty certain that number didn't decrease in the last few years) .

I am prepared to vote with my dollar as the expression goes, and buy up as many tins of this as I can find room to store and I  also wrote the manufacturer (A. Lassonde Inc. ) an email to let them know I appreciate the effort to support local produce. If you have Zellers near you it might be worth picking up a few tins, if only to encourage both the use of local produce and the labelling of such!


  1. Interesting info on the apple juice - the only problem is I don't like the tin taste from the can.
    My father-in-law lives in the Okanagan Valley and he sees truckloads of local apples drive out of the region on the way to California. Then when he goes to the grocery store, he can't find a local apple anywhere. They are all imported from the US. Who made up this system anyway, a transportation company?
    I love beef bourguignon. Nice meal.

  2. my ex sister in law makes great spaghetti squash - simpler the better I think - scooped out and baked covered with butter salt and chile flakes in a hot oven for 40 mins or so? add parmesan for the last 10 mins... if you have another one try it... now I am going to have to go buy a spaghetti squash - YUM!! xoxox

  3. Elizabeth, it's totally crazy. I've ranted previously about seeing strawberries from California in local stores in June but not being able to find a local berry that was grown less than 5 km away.

    I don't notice a tin taste from the juice but perhaps you have better tastebuds than I do!

    Cheeka, thanks for the advice- I'll try that next time

  4. I'll be heading over to my local Zellers tomorrow!