Cook the Book Fridays – Spiced Meatballs with Sambal Oelek Sauce


I needed an easy recipe this week and our Cook the Books Friday assignment is exactly that. Thank goodness, because even so, I’m finishing this post as the clock nears midnight. 

I didn’t expect to come out to my parents’ place today, but my mother had a computer crisis that required some expert help, so earlier this week, I had her bring her hard drive to The Hackery. (They’ve helped so many people I know and I trust them.)

Her computer was ready for pick up today, so I packed up the moose mince I’d thawed in anticipation of today’s assignment, along with some seasonings I suspected she didn’t have at home, and of course, her favourite small dog. (I didn’t actually pack her, unless putting on her harness counts.)

We meandered back to her house, stopping for lunch and running a few errands. By the time we arrived, it was time to get started in the kitchen.


My Dad picked some Swiss chard and potatoes from the garden and prepared those while I worked on the meatballs. They’re meant to approximate merguez sausage, but we used sambal oelek in place of harissa, so they were more like merguez with a twist. 

They were delicious. Because moose meat is so lean, I added a heaping tablespoon of bacon fat to the mixture, which is always a good choice. The potatoes were seasoned with salt and pepper. The chard was stirfryed with a little lemon. The simplicity of the sides was perfect with the spicy meatballs. The sambal oelek mayo helped cool things down just the right amount. It was a perfect meal, especially when I found out my mother had made apple pie.

Now, I’m going to finish sorting out my mother’s computer, so she can end her enforced holiday from all the volunteer work she’s got waiting. 

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

Garden Succotash with Cornichons

Garden Succotash with Cornichons

In high summer there are few things that make me as happy as pulling fresh food out of my own garden. Well, maybe a delivery from my parents of Chilliwack corn and whatever they’ve been growing in their own garden.

When that coincides with a delivery from Maille Canada, I start feeling ecstatic.

Maille Cornichons with Caramelized Onions

Maille was kind enough to send me a jar of the newest edition to their range of cornichons – Gherkins with Caramelized Onions. Knowing how good their cornichons are is a liability. I found it difficult not to open the jar before I’d settled on a recipe to use them in. This would have been a very different post then, as they don’t last long around here.

Willpower prevailed and I came up with a version of one of my favourite side dishes, succotash, to showcase the flavour of these wonderful cornichons. Succotash is one of those infinitely variable dishes that can stray very far from its original components (corn, lima beans, and tomatoes), while still retaining its character.

I’ve made a really good winter slow cooker version with edamame and frozen corn, but my favourite time to make it is right now, when the best of the summer’s corn is at its height.

I love corn on the cob – who doesn’t? But fresh corn has so much more to offer – I eat it raw in salads, cooked with the cob in soup, and sliced off the cob in almost any dish I can work it into.

As for cornichons, I’ll eat them straight out of the jar, but love to add them (and their brine) to salads, meat dishes – or again – any dish I can work them into.

These cornichons are flavoured with caramelized onions in a brine rich with grape must, wine vinegar, and mustard and coriander seeds. They’re delicately piquant and provide a perfect acid that enhances the fresh summer flavours of this succotash without overwhelming them.

In winter, I want a succotash that’s almost a stew, but in summer I like to add raw vegetables (like cherry tomatoes) to the mix. It’s much more like a warm salad and the brine works with the sauce provided by the corn, Roma tomato, and butter beans, to act like a vinaigrette.

We ate the succotash with roasted new potatoes and beets and steamed green beans – all fresh from the garden. It made for a hearty vegan meal. But, this could easily act as a barbecue side. It would be particularly great with grilled pork chops or chicken, along with a piquant potato salad

It’s also adaptable to whatever you’re bringing home from the fresh markets or pulling from your own garden. The green beans could have easily been added to the succotash, the butter beans replaced by Lima beans, Borlotti beans, or edamame. But don’t skip the cornichons or their brine. You’d regret it.

Garden Succotash with Cornichons again

Garden Succotash with Cornichons

Makes 6-8 servings

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 ears (4 cups of kernels) fresh corn
  • 2 398 mL (14 oz) cans of butter beans
  • 1 sweet pepper (any colour), diced
  • 1 Roma tomato, coarsely diced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 6 Maille Cornichons (Gherkins) with Caramelized Onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 Tbsp brine, from the jar of cornichons

Cut the kernels from the cob using a chef’s knife, while standing the corn cob in a large bowl. Slowly slide the knife under the kernels, keeping as close to the cob as you can (and keeping your fingers well out of the way). Discard the cobs and set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or pan. Add the onion, with a pinch of the salt, cooking until translucent and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute or two more, until soft.

Turn the heat to medium-low. Add the corn kernels, butter beans, sweet pepper, Roma tomato, and thyme sprigs, with the salt and a generous grinding of fresh black pepper. Stir well. Cook until the corn is barely tender and all ingredients are heated through, about 7-10 minutes.

Remove the thyme sprigs. Add the cherry tomatoes and cornichons, with a tablespoon of brine from the jar. (Make sure you get some of the caramelized onions along with the brine.) Mix well and serve immediately.

Overhead view of Garden Succotash with Cornichons

I will be tracking down these cornichons as soon as this jar is empty. They’re a staple in my cooking and on my snack table, too. They’ve taken their place alongside the Maille’s mustards that fill almost an entire shelf on the door of my refrigerator.

But, you don’t have to live vicariously through me – these cornichons are in wide release across Canada. And if you live in Metro Vancouver, you’ll also soon have an opportunity to sample some of Maille’s more exclusive offerings, in person. Maille is going to be bringing their Flavour Studio to New Westminster’s Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest on August 20th. They will be holding culinary workshops and mixing custom gourmet mustards. Their exclusive fresh mustard will be on tap and headmaster mustard sommelier Harry Lalousis will be there to demonstrate ways to embellish your cooking with Maille’s mustards.

I’ll be there and I’ll be writing about the day shortly afterward, so if you don’t join me, you’ll have to settle for experiencing it all vicariously. I know what my choice would be.

I received a jar of Maille’s Gherkins with Caramelized Onions from Maille Canada, but received no other consideration. All opinions are my own.

Cook the Book Fridays – Buckwheat Crêpes With Ham, Cheese and Egg

Prisma-styled buckwheat crêpe

For many of us, buckwheat flour is one of the ingredients in a pancake mix. Growing up, there were usually only three flours in my parents’ pantry: all purpose, whole wheat, and pastry. Occasionally rye flour would make an appearance, if someone had gone on a bread-baking spree.

Now, after a decade of living with someone who has celiac disease, my definition of pantry staples has shifted. In fact, there is a whole shelf devoted to gluten-free flours. Quinoa? Right there. Coconut? Two jars down. Oat? Let me grind a little for you. Garfava? It’s sitting there, a little unloved, at the end of the row.

So, sourcing buckwheat flour wasn’t the most challenging part of this week’s assignment for me.

Surprisingly, neither was making the crêpes. I put together the batter last night, but wasn’t able to start cooking until this evening. The batter held up well. My pan is only eight inches wide, so mine were a little small, but they were lacy, golden brown, light, but resilient. Nearly perfect.

Buckwheat crêpe

My woes began with the egg. My stove is ever so slightly a-tilt. Something I forget until carefully placed food starts sliding to one side. On my first attempt, the egg skated over the surface of the crêpe, settling against the side of the pan. I managed to move it back a few times, but then it burst. The crêpe was a little too Pollock to photograph, but it was delicious.

On my second attempt, I built a little wall of grated cheese around the centre of the crêpe and trapped the yolk inside. This time, my problem was folding the sides of the crêpe – I’d been a little too enthusiastic in my wall-building and the crêpe was over-filled with cheese.

As you can see, it prevented me from making a perfect square, which was probably not helped by the fact that my crêpes were a little smaller than they should have been. But, again, it was delicious and there was nothing to regret about the extra cheese.

My next attempt at this recipe will involve the purchase of a proper crêpe pan. In the name of science, of course.

Buckwheat crêpe with ham, cheese and egg

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David LebovitzMy Paris Kitchen.

Cook the Book Fridays – Raw Vegetable Slaw with Creamy Garlic Dressing

Raw Veggie Slaw with Creamy Garlic Dressing

What better time for a classic summer salad than a weekend bookended by two national holidays? Slaws are classic picnic and barbecue food and this one stands up to any I’ve tried. This recipe is also a blueprint for enjoying slaws year-round, with an host of suggested vegetables and fruits to complement its garlicky dressing. This time, I chose red cabbage, green onions, radishes, flat-leaf parsley, and some tarragon fresh from my balcony garden. In winter, I might choose broccoli or Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, and red onion.

The dressing is truly garlicky, calling for two full tablespoons of garlic to one cup of mayonnaise. I made a vegan version, using vegan mayo, and it translated quite well. Vegan mayos have improved immensely over the last few years, I’ve found. I quartered the dressing recipe, made half the quantity of salad, and still had some dressing left over. It will be gone quickly – it’s so good, it could serve as a dip. It’s a terrific combination of garlic, red wine vinegar, and Dijon mustard.

Raw Veggie Slaw

I’ll be adding this dressing to my regular rotation. I can’t remember the last time I bought a bottle of salad dressing. There are so many great scratch recipes for them and I like being able to make dressings in small quantities – that way, they never go to waste, unlike past bottled dressings that expired long before I could finish them.

I hope my Canadian and American friends are enjoying their long weekend and those in other parts of the world have a relaxing weekend, too.

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David LebovitzMy Paris Kitchen.

Baking Chez Moi – Rice Pudding with Spiced Hibiscus Syrup

Vanilla bean rice pudding with blueberries and spiced hibiscus syrup

I’ve had Dorie’s rice pudding before, with lemony caramel apples. It’s different from the rice pudding I grew up with, which was all about making leftover rice delicious. (Though even that kind of rice pudding can put on some party clothes.)

Dorie’s rice pudding uses arborio rice, which is simmered in whole milk and flavoured with a little sugar and half a vanilla bean. It’s simple, rich and delicious, the perfect backdrop for flavours in every season.

In summer, she recommends spiced hibiscus syrup and fresh strawberries. We’re well into blueberry season here, so I used those instead. They’re just as nice a pairing for hibiscus as strawberries and they’re what was freshest at the market today.

Spiced Hibiscus Syrup

As a bonus, there is plenty of leftover hibiscus syrup. I mixed a tablespoonful into some cold Pelligrino earlier today, but there are endless cocktail and mocktail possibilities for this jar of simple syrup. Or, I could just spend the rest of the week drizzling it over ice cream.

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this recipe here or here, along with posts about this month’s other selected recipe, Rose Frasier.

Honey Dijon Lamb Meatballs

Lamb meatballs with rosemary roasted potatoes and sauteed greens

Mustard does something magical to lamb. Slather it on a leg of lamb before roasting and it forms a beautiful crust. Add some to a shepherd’s pie and it will marry the flavours of all the seasonings. Dollop a tablespoonful into a meatball mixture and it will add tenderness along with flavour. I enjoy the pairing so much that I sometimes forget that there are other flavours that can complement lamb. I suppose it’s not surprising that when Maille Canada kindly sent me a sample of their famous Honey Dijon mustard, I started making plans for the ground lamb in my freezer.

Maille’s Honey Dijon is already a favourite of mine, but their squeeze bottle packaging was new to me. It’s meant for outdoor eating, so I wanted to make something that would showcase the flavour of the mustard, but would also translate easily to the barbecue.

Our weather has been a little spotty of late, so I roasted these meatballs in the oven. But, they will roast just as beautifully in a grill pan on the barbecue. I make my meatballs with rice, which means I don’t have to exclude gluten-free eaters. You could easily replace the rice with another grain or quinoa. I cooked the rice in a tomato-rich vegetable broth, but you could use chicken broth, lamb broth, or plain water, instead.

These meatballs get their tenderness from the mustard and a bit of yogurt, with a tiny bit of extra piquancy from some finely diced cornichon (a trick I picked up from Dorie Greenspan). They’re great on their own, or with a bit of tomato sauce. They’re lovely in soup and I suspect they’d elevate a meatball sandwich, especially if you served them on a baguette with cultured butter and a generous slathering of honey Dijon.

Honey Dijon Lamb Meatballs

Makes 15-20 meatballs

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup cooked basmati rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp plain French-style yogurt
  • 1 tbsp Maille Honey Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cornichon, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • zest of 1/4 lemon, grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a good grinding of black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Or, use a grill pan and cook on the barbecue with the lid closed.

In a large bowl, gently but thoroughly mix all ingredients. Shape into balls of 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture and place on lined baking sheet.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until nicely browned and cooked through. (If you’re using a meat thermometer, cook to 160°F.)

Serve immediately. Leftovers can be gently reheated in broth or tomato sauce, or added to soup. Or, place them on a tray and freeze them, then transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag. They’ll keep for 3-6 months.

Maille Honey Dijon Mustard

Maille sent me two squeeze bottles of their Honey Dijon mustard. I’ve been working my way through one of the bottles, using it for sandwiches, salad dressings, and marinades. And now that summer’s about to begin in earnest, I’m glad to have a container of gourmet mustard that’s picnic-safe. The other bottle was sent home with my mother. My parents grill all summer long and they were eager to add it to their condiment arsenal.

I think this packaging is going to be a hit. People are seeking out higher quality sausages and cured meats for their al fresco meals these days. It makes sense that they’d want to elevate their condiment selection, too. Maille is certainly confident that’s the case – beginning this month, you’ll be able to find their honey Dijon in supermarkets, as well as gourmet stores. Barbecue culture is growing up.

I received two bottles of Maille’s Honey Dijon Mustard from Maille Canada, but received no other consideration. All opinions are my own.

Cook the Book Fridays – Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse

Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse

It’s ironic that the phrase ‘piece of cake’ signifies something that’s dead easy, as our cultural image of a piece of cake is based on the layer cake, which requires multiple steps, a light touch, and at least a little bit of decorative talent. Chocolate mousse on the other hand, associated with restaurant meals and special occasions, is a piece of cake to make.

This mousse is complicated by the addition of caramel, but even that is easy, once you’ve learned the trick of it. In fact, making caramel is a lot like making brown butter. When you know how to make it, you want to add it to everything. And once you’ve added caramel to chocolate mousse, I suspect you’ll want it that way every time.

Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse

The only thing that’s not easy about this recipe is having to wait eight hours for the mousse to set. I solved that issue by making it before bed last night. If I’d made it during the day, I wouldn’t have waited nearly that long. As it was, it took a lot of will-power not to eat it for breakfast. Which wouldn’t have been a bad idea, save for the fact that I wanted to wait for some brighter afternoon light for photographs.

Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse

I’m so glad we’ve posted about this recipe – I’ll never have to wait for good light again. Now that I know how delicious it is, I don’t think I could have the forbearance. This mousse is wonderfully balanced in its elements – salt, sweet, bitter, and rich. It’s the sort of thing you could bring out in cocktail glasses at a dinner party, but I don’t recommend waiting for an occasion. Spoon it into little pots and enjoy it as a mid-week treat. It will look just as charming and it will be even more satisfying.

Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse

Surprisingly, I’ve still got some in the refrigerator to enjoy tomorrow. This recipe could be halved, easily, but I recklessly made an entire batch. At least it gave me the opportunity to use the cute little lids for my Riviera Petit Pot jars. More importantly, I’ll have a decadent treat to distract me from another long day of elevating my sprained foot – an enforced rest is not as relaxing as you might think.

Luckily for you, this is one of the recipes from My Paris Kitchen that’s posted online. Head over to Epicurious and then run to the store for any of the ingredients you don’t have on hand. It takes eight hours to set, so the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be enjoying it.

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David LebovitzMy Paris Kitchen.

Cottage Cooking Club – April 2016

Cherry Blossom Snow

It’s hard to believe we’ve come to the end of our time with River Cottage Veg. Collectively, the bloggers of The Cottage Cooking Club have worked through every one of the 200 recipes included in the cookbook.

This cook-a-long came at a fortuitous time for me. My partner was moving toward veganism and I wanted to build some plant-based cooking into my blogging routine to support him. We’ve always eaten a lot of vegetarian and vegan meals, but ensuring variety is a great incentive to keep going when you’re changing the way you eat.

It was also a chance to keep cooking alongside one of the talented bloggers I’d met through French Fridays with Dorie. Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness posts wonderful recipes with gorgeous photography, in a blog full of family adventures, travel tales, and explorations of her city and region. She’s been a terrific leader, from the structure she devised that allowed the group as a whole to complete the book in two years, to her always supportive comments on every participant’s blog.

My last month didn’t go as planned. I’d promised to blog about three recipes this month, but only managed two – one of which was the wrong variation of the dish. I guess it goes to show that improvisation is as much of a kitchen skill as any of the others that everyday cooks perform.

Oven-Roasted Ratatouille

Oven-Roasted Ratatouille

I made this recipe in March, as I’d gotten a great deal on eggplant and bell peppers and was looking for a tasty way to use them. As luck would have it, this dish was due to come up in our very last rotation.

This is one of the dishes I hadn’t noticed while paging through the cookbook and it’s another one that Kevin wishes I’d made much sooner and often. Oven-roasting brings out the flavour of all the vegetables beautifully. We’ll be making this one as often as we can get our hands on good eggplants – I can hardly wait to try it again in high summer.

Roasted Potatoes and Eggplant

Roasted Potatoes and Eggplant

Another eggplant dish and another recipe in Kevin’s Favourites column. I was supposed to make the spiced eggplants with chickpeas, but when it came time to make my shopping list, I looked at the wrong recipe. We’ve got more eggplant in the refrigerator, so I’ll probably correct this error soon. At least it was a delicious mistake.

Quinoa with Zucchini and Onions

Quinoa with Zucchini and Onions

Speaking of delicious mistakes, this dish was supposed to be quinoa with leeks and squash, but once again, I looked at the wrong recipe. Kevin was pleased with this mistake in particular – he loves zucchini and tolerates squash. I’m happy with either. I skipped the nuts and doubled down on the lemon in this dish. It makes a great side, but a bowlful made a satisfying lunch, too.

That’s it for this month’s selections – I was supposed to make Spiced Spinach and Potatoes as well, but every time I set aside some cooked potatoes for the dish, they ended up being used for something else. I suppose I’ll have to plan to make another dish that uses leftover potatoes, then perhaps I’ll make this dish instead.

The rest of the recipes I tackled this month were from previous months’ selections. I go through periods of focusing more on ingredients than recipes I’ve undertaken to make. It always leads me to recipes I might have overlooked otherwise.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce

This sauce is a component of several of Hugh’s recipes, so when I picked up a big bag of hothouse tomatoes, I decided to give it a try. Hothouse tomatoes need help and roasting is the best way to get the most flavour out of them. I added some grape tomatoes I had on hand, as well. The sauce is seasoned only with garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper, but it is rich and delicious on its own and even better as the base for soups or stews.

You’re supposed to seed and skin the tomatoes when they’re roasted, but I threw them into the food processor whole. I like using the whole vegetable when I can and there’s pectin in the skins, which helps to thicken the sauce. I know it’s less refined, but for my purposes it worked beautifully. I used it in two more of Hugh’s recipes and had enough left over to enjoy on its own.

Eggplant and Green Bean Curry

Eggplant and Green Bean Curry

It’s been an eggplant kind of month around here, hasn’t it? This dish would be good even with store-bought sauce, but Hugh’s roasted tomato sauce made it fantastic. I especially appreciated that the dish included a homemade curry paste – that’s often the difference between delicious and mediocre with Indian-inspired dishes.

Mexican Tomato and Bean Soup

Tomato and Bean Soup

Hugh’s sauce went to good use in this soup, too, a Mexican-inspired dish that is just fiery enough to wake up the palate without drowning out the other flavours. It should be called double tomato and black bean soup, because there is quite a lot of fresh, diced tomato along with the roasted tomato sauce. This one was a hit at home and then again for my parents. Their only complaint was that the container I’d sent home with my mother was too small.

Cambodian Wedding Day Dip

Cambodian Wedding Dip

This is a recipe that I’ve been meaning to make since I got the book, but I’ve not gotten around to it until now. The combination of cremini mushrooms, coconut milk, curry, and peanut sounded intriguing. Kevin said it put him in mind of a vegan version of chopped liver. It’s certainly meaty enough to use as a sandwich filling, as well as a dip. I’d like to serve it at a tapas party. I think it would be one of the dishes that gets everyone talking.

So that’s it – the last of my posts for this cookbook. While our group may be finished with River Cottage Veg, our household certainly won’t be leaving it on the shelf. There are too many pages marked with notes, variations, and exclamation marks. And there are plenty of bookmarks for recipes we haven’t yet gotten around to trying.

I am excited to see what Hugh has on offer in River Cottage Every Day. I’ll continue cooking along with the group, but I’m going to stick to vegetable-based selections, as I’ve found that this monthly date with plant-based cooking has been great for our diets and palates.

You can find the rest of the group’s wrap up posts, here. I encourage you to check them out – you’ll meet some wonderful bloggers and get some great inspiration for vegetarian eating.

And you can join in on the Cottage Cooking Club’s next adventure, cooking through one or both of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall´s River Cottage Every Day and Love Your Leftovers – you can find the details, here.

A Medley of Taste – Simply Delish Soup and Salad

Calico Bean Soup

As I told you on Tuesday, Kevin and I did some shopping at the Fraser Valley Food Show last weekend. We’ve been happily eating our way through our finds ever since.

Today, I have something of guest post from Kevin, reviewing one of the products he was especially eager to try, Simply Delish Soup and Salad:

Simply Delish Soup

On Saturday April 2nd, I went with Teresa to the Fraser Valley Food Show. As someone who has been celiac since my birth in 1971, and who has been vegan for almost a year and a half, I was a bit skeptical about finding much that I would like at the show. I say this even knowing full well how much things have changed for people with celiac disease since the 70s and for vegans in the last five years.

The place that immediately caught my eye was Simply Delish Soup and Salad. Their display booth was outstanding. I couldn’t stop looking at their pre-packaged soups, as they looked incredibly pretty. I believe everything but one item was both gluten-free and vegan. The service was friendly but not overbearing. Brad was very helpful in explaining their product and I thought it was cool he was aware of Teresa’s One Wet Foot blog. I ended up leaving with their Calico Soup.

I initially thought that $9.00 was a lot to pay for this pretty package of beans and spices. Once I realized how much soup it makes, I realized I was wrong – it makes a lot of soup for $9.00. Teresa even helped me do some quick math about how much it would cost otherwise. Usually one pays a lot extra for convenience, but not here. The soup couldn’t have been easier to make – just put it into a slow cooker and add water. As someone who likes convenience with vegan/gluten-free cooking, I can’t even begin to explain how much I loved the simplicity of this.

Often with pre-packaged vegan and gluten-free food, not only is it over-priced but it’s also loaded with unhealthy ingredients. This soup couldn’t be farther from that – the nutrient value is extremely high in this soup. I can’t recommend this soup enough. I was happy to hear that Brad & Chelsey sell their product in Vancouver, as we plan on having much more of it in this household.

Medley of beans in the slow cooker

I agree with Kevin’s assessment – we enjoyed a delicious soup with minimal effort – we threw in some diced celery and carrot, as we had it on hand, but I suspect it would have been just as enjoyable without. I also added some salt just before serving. Brad and Chelsey don’t add any salt to their products, which I appreciate for two reasons – salt makes dried pulses tough and I like to control the amount of salt in our food. We like just enough salt in our food to enhance the flavours.

There’s a place for soup mixes like this in our lives – made with healthy ingredients, guaranteed gluten-free and vegan, great as is while easy to customize, and perfect for days when hands on cooking isn’t feasible. They’re a great addition to our pantry.

Overhead shot of calico bean soup

We received no consideration for our review of this product. It’s part of an occasional series of posts highlighting locally made products that we buy and enjoy.

Food in the Fraser Valley

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It’s become a habit of mine to kick off the spring season with a visit to the Fraser Valley Food Show. I’ve told you about it before, and this year was just as enjoyable.

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This year I brought my partner for the first time, so much of our time was spent exploring the Gluten-Free Living section, so much so that we came home with bags packed with products we bought to try. I’ll be featuring a few of the ones we like best in upcoming blog posts.

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I was on my own for the sausage-tasting, since my partner is vegan, but there was plenty to occupy his time before we reconvened in the wine, beer, and spirits tasting area. I ate my way through about ten excellent offerings and was hard pressed to choose a winner, so I’m not sure how the judges, who tried many more, could come to their decisions. You can see the list of winners here.

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Here are a few of the highlights for me this year:

Nextjen gluten-free flours

Ravens Brewing Company Dry Irish Stout

Wayward Distillation House‘s Unruly Gin, Vodka, and ‘Depth Charge’ liqueur

Nuoc Cham Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Onnick’s Blueberry Farm‘s bottled iced teas

Stapleton Sausage Co.‘s duck sausage with blueberry, made with Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry duck

ZipGrow Farm Walls

Hanes Hummus

Simply Delish Soup and Salad gluten-free soup mixes

That’s just a sampling of what we enjoyed at this year’s show. I’m hoping to do a little exploring of some of the farms and makers in the Fraser Valley this year, so stay tuned for more!

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I attended the Fraser Valley Food Show on a media pass, but had no obligation to review or write about any aspect of the show. All opinions are my own.