Local Food on the Farm


I sat down to dinner with the loveliest group of people tonight. (Yes, lovely. The word is, I think, sadly misconstrued, calling to mind something sweet, politely grandmotherly or maybe floral, reminiscent of Eunice “Lovey” Wentworth Howell, Thurston III’s wife on Gilligan’s Island. As an adjective, lovely is defined as having a beauty that appeals to the heart or mind as well as to the eye, or of a great moral or spiritual beauty. A good thing to be, no?)

Most were local farmers and their families who have joined forces to create Country Drive 2009 – a partnership of 26 farms and rural businesses who are making it easier to discover attractions, events, history, markets and local cuisine right here in Alberta. They gathered at Edgar Farms today to preview this year’s Country Drive, and after chatting with John, Pim and Mary-Ann, Elna and Doug, Pete and Jan and others we sat down to a local feast: bison smokies, Angus beef burgers, ostrich burgers, Elna’s fantastic asparagus (which had just come from the very ground we were sitting on) with ginger-sesame vinaigrette, real potato salad like I haven’t had in a very, very long time, if ever (and from a place called The Farm with the Good Food – how can you not adore that?), macaroni salad, bean salad, and a bowl of just-plucked spinach leaves, plain, because we are so used to adorning perfectly good food with other things. I popped three leaves in my mouth before I got to the table. For dessert – vanilla ice cream with cherries I could have easily eaten a vat of.


Elna Edgar’s Cold Asparagus with Sesame-Ginger Vinaigrette

Recipe link


May 21, 2009

  • Makes: Serves 4.


1 lb. Edgar Farms fresh asparagus

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds*

1 garlic clove - crushed

1 tsp. fresh ginger - grated

2 Tbsp. rice vinegar

2 Tbsp. orange juice

2 tsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

¼ tsp. red chili flakes

¼ tsp. sesame oil


1*To toast sesame seeds, put them in a small skillet and heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and just golden. Watch carefully.

2Bring lightly salted water to boil in a medium skillet, add asparagus and cook for 5 minutes or just until tender-crisp.

3Immerse asparagus in ice-water to stop the cooking action. Pat dry and arrange on a platter.

4In a blender, combine the dressing ingredients (reserving half of sesame seeds) and blend until thoroughly combined.

5Pour dressing evenly over asparagus, sprinkle with reserved sesame seeds and serve.

Makes: Serves 4.

(As I type this I’m eating my goody bag of plump dried cherries from Prairie Perfect in Innisfail, having selfishly hidden them until M & W were safely asleep.)

If you are planning to do more day trips around home this summer (assuming home is somewhere in Alberta – I know a lot of you are elsewhere), or are looking to get out and enjoy the spring air, sunshine and green, there is no better way, with kids or without, than to hop in the car, grab a coffee and poke around back country roads, stopping at real farms to kick the dirt, inhale, listen to the cows and horses and buy just-laid eggs, handmade pies, jars of put-up spiced apples and pickled beets and asparagus and the freshest produce, in a little open country “store” with no walls and a built-in wooden money box with a jar of change set beside it. Or pick, cut and dig your own. And best of all – go home with dinner and a relationship with the place it came from. No Superstore will ever provide that experience.

The Spring Drive is next weekend – May 30th and 31st – and coincides with Edgar Farms’ Asparagus Festival (asparagus from Edgar Farms, in case you haven’t figured, is only the very best asparagus you will ever eat – and now is the time to get some). Bonus: chefs Scott Pohorelic from River Café and Wade Sirois from Forage Foods and Infuse Catering -two of my very favourite chefs- will be on hand to cook some for you.

And if you miss this one, or even if you don’t, there’s the Summer Drive August 1st & 2nd, Harvest Drive October 10th & 11th, and Christmas Drive December 5th and 6th. So you know what I’ll be up to on those weekends. I need to go get more asparagus relish – yum.

One Year Ago: Pizza with Spinach Meatballs


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16 comments on “Local Food on the Farm

  1. Monique
    May 22, 2009 at 4:10 am

    Your little sunflower is adorable..:)

  2. Kate
    May 22, 2009 at 4:56 am

    What great and glorious settings you find yourself in! Life is good to you!

  3. Kate
    May 22, 2009 at 5:02 am

    The Prairie Perfect link doesn’t take me to their site. Do they mail order their dried cherries? Fingers and toes crossed they do!

  4. Dana
    May 22, 2009 at 5:26 am

    Looks like a perfectly lovely time!

    I have a hot dog post today – if you have a moment Jules, drop by and tell me about your fav hot dog. These bison smokies sound like something I’d enjoy!


  5. Barb
    May 22, 2009 at 5:59 am

    I love that kind of day trip; grabbing a coffee and taking a drive. We used to do it a lot. People even teased us about driving two hours to get a coffee then turning around to take a different road back. We got out of that habit and I miss it.

  6. Erica B.
    May 22, 2009 at 6:54 am

    What a wonderful way to spend the day! T&I were already planning several road trips just like the Country Drive – I’m so there!

    By the way, albertafarmfresh.com has info/maps of local producers on their website. I got my maps in the mail a week or so after filling out a request on their site. A, C, J and I all have rubber boots and we have plans to explore loads of upicks etc this summer. :)

  7. rea
    May 22, 2009 at 7:43 am

    aw. sweet photo of naked boy.

  8. Denese
    May 22, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Kate: If you just search prairieperfect this will bring up a link to albertahomegardening.com, which details a visit by the author to the orchard, and also gives contact information for Pete and Jan.

  9. Cheryl
    May 22, 2009 at 8:53 am

    You are so lucky to have gone out there yesterday. I’m rather jealous. We’ll be there next weekend, I already have Morgan booked – if I can tear him away from the yard.

  10. doula aj
    May 22, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Thanks for the headsup, Julie – Now I know what we’re going to be doing next weekend! It sounds lovely!

  11. Elaine
    May 22, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    That does it. I’m moving to Canada.

  12. Sophie
    May 23, 2009 at 12:54 am

    MMMMM….Lovely indeed! Yum!!

  13. the other allison
    May 24, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Dang I’m going to miss the first to Drives! Please remind me of the October one. Our family would LOVE to participate!!!!!!! Haven’t spoken to you in a few days. Hope your on the mend. A

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