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Asian-style Bok Choy Slaw

Thankfully in the midst of a near-daily Stampede fried food extravaganza, my fridge is full of greens. They grow so well here in Alberta at this time of year, and so that’s what my CSA box was full of when we picked it up this past weekend. Bok choy, rapini, gai lan (I think!) and other bags of greens we couldn’t quite identify but are nevertheless tasty. I chopped some of them up with the head of bok choy, which makes for a great salad in that one end is thick, watery and crunchy, like celery, and the other is dark and leafy – it’s like getting two veggies in one. I added some other greens, the entire bunch of cilantro, some chives from the garden and grated carrot to break up all that green, and doused it in an Asian-inspired vinaigrette made with oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and garlic. (Lime would be good too.)

Blue Mountain Asian greens
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Funnel Cakes

Early summer is fried dough season; in Calgary, the Stampede is here, and there are fairs and festivals everywhere offering up all manner of deep fried things and food on a stick. On the midway, I’ve always been semi-oblivious to funnel cakes, but have recently discovered how amazing they can be when you make them yourself. Which is a perfectly reasonable alternative to paying $7 for 7 cents’ worth of fried dough.

Funnel cakes 6

I mean, look at these. How could you not love a funnel cake? And they’re faster and easier to make than a batch of doughnuts.

Funnel cake 5

Funnel cakes are made out of essentially pancake batter, run through a funnel (easier than it sounds!) into hot oil, making squiggles and blobs – it’s all crispy bits, really. And although the classic way to serve them is warm, doused in icing sugar, I’ve discovered they make a fine sundae, and judging the best food on the midway last night, the winner in the savoury category was funnel cake poutine – a funnel cake sprinkled with icing sugar, topped with cheese curds and gravy.

Funnel cakes 2
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Frank Crownest

– This post was created in partnership with Travel Alberta – as always, all words, photos and explorations are my/our own. –

Crowsnest Pass has always been my sister’s camping destination of choice; I haven’t had much opportunity to head that deep into southwestern Alberta over the years, but when we decided to take the long way to the coast last summer, taking the windy highway 3 all the way along the US border to the Pacific ocean, we were reminded of how gorgeous the area is, how much we love driving through all the wind turbines, and how the small towns in that direction have a completely different flavour than anywhere else.

This was the most amazing scene, with the ranch and horse jumping ring and that mountain in the background that’s far more spectacular than I managed to capture – I couldn’t get the best shot with my phone in a moving car…

Crownsest Pass Ranch

There are two routes to Crowsnest Pass from Calgary, both an equal distance and equally worth taking – the great thing about this road trip is you can head down highway 2, through High River, Nanton, Claresholm and Fort MacLeod, and back home via the Cowboy Trail, including the Bar U Ranch and Longview, Black Diamond and Turner Valley. It’s about 2 1/2 hours each way – long enough to feel like a trip, but not long enough that anyone is going to get tired of driving.

Frank Slide 2

Before the townsites, you go through Frank, site of the Frank slide in 1903, when at 4:10 am, 82 million tonnes of limestone rock slid off Turtle Mountain onto the townsite below. I remember going on a field trip to the Frank slide in elementary school, and it stuck with me, imagining the tiny town and its people still under all that rubble.
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Fry bread 1

Bannock is bread in its most basic form – flour, baking powder, oil or lard, water – baked in the oven to supplement your morning coffee or evening stew, wound around a stick to cook over an open fire, or torn off in a ball and patted thin, then fried in lard or oil in a hot skillet until golden and crisp on both sides. It’s essentially a scone, only easier, and with a slightly more rugged chew.

I learned to make fry bread with a hole in the middle, in what I think might be the Blackfoot tradition – I say this only because the few times I’ve seen it made this way was by women from nations in the Blackfoot Confederacy – and I love how quickly and evenly the bread cooks in this flattened doughnut shape, without worry about it remaining doughy inside. The hot pan gives a quick crusty exterior without making you turn on the oven. And I’ve been known to mix up a batch of dough and cook a few fry breads at a time, saving myself having to resist eating the entire batch, with blueberry-rhubarb-saskatoon jam spiked with maple syrup.

Bannock over a fire
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broccoli rubble with egg

I’ve been staring at these photos for a good twenty minutes, wondering if I should bother sharing them – they don’t do the dish justice, partly because I left the broccoli on the stove a bit long while doing other things, and partly because mulched broccoli isn’t particularly photogenic. But it was delicious, and a totally different thing to do with broccoli.

I’ve been mildly obsessed with the concept of broccoli rubble since reading about it over at Deb’s – the rough chop of it, the quick sauté in garlicky oil, the shower of Parmesan. (And maybe because it sounds a lot like Barney Rubble?) I’ve always been drawn to just about any kind of grainy salad – I figured broccoli would hold up to chewy wheat berries quite well, and some salty crumbled feta, and lots of pepper, and a fried egg. I wish I had some walnuts to toast and toss on top. I devoured this thing, and I don’t regret it.
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Lamb kofta 1

I adore lamb, but am particularly fond of it ground, spiced with garlic, cumin, cilantro, coriander and salt, and grilled kabob-style. Despite my endless love for lamb kofta (a word that refers to all kinds of spiced, minced meat-balls, kabobs et al), I rarely think to make it, and I can’t fathom why that is. It’s meat on a stick, and it cooks in about ten minutes, and you can drag it through garlicky yogurt. At any rate, I was reminded how easy they were to make when I fired up the grill at 6:30 am to make them for CBC this morning, and cooked some flatbread alongside while I was at it, using the same naan recipe I’ve used for years – because I knew I’d be cooking early in the morning, I made the dough last night and kept it in the fridge to slow the rise.

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Chocolate marshmallow pie 2

I know it’s the height of spring and all thoughts are turning to strawberries and rhubarb (or should be), and I just harvested armloads of same to ensure baggies of frozen rhubarb will jam (pun totally not intended) all surplus freezer space for the foreseeable future, but because there were two 11 year olds in the house today, I decided to score some points with a chocolate marshmallow pie instead. (Spoiler: it worked.)

It’s been on my to-do list to make something out of Renée’s new(ish) book, All the Sweet Things, since long before it hit the shelves. It’s a gorgeous book, so well photographed and designed by the talented crew at Touchwood (who also published In the Dog Kitchen and Out of the Orchard! ahem), but most importantly it’s filled with things I actually want to make (and eat).

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