Spooning and Forking

Archive for December, 2011

100-Mile Holiday Meal

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

So for our Holiday Meal challenge we decided to see if we could build a traditional holiday meal, using ingredients sourced only from within a 100-mile radius of Calgary. Initially we thought, “Gosh, this could never happen in Calgary. What about cranberries? What about sage, parsley, thyme? What about cinnamon and nutmeg?”

Well, we were correct in our assumptions about the herbs and spices, however, sourcing a traditional meal using local ingredients is not as hard as we thought.

So first we need to define our “Traditional Holiday” meal. There is the classic roast turkey with stuffing, a baked ham, vegetables (carrots, potatoes, Brussels sprouts), cranberries and gingerbread. Personally, I like pie and I tried to get the recipe of the best sweet potato pie I have ever had in my life, but it is Christmas after all, and people get busy. I digress.

We pulled the recipes from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, which can be found online and at the library. And you will note that I put in the recipe for sugar cookies, because, of course, “local” ginger is hard to come by in North America.

Following the recipes are links to Community Natural Foods, Sunnyside Natural Market and Calgary Farmer’s Market. We found all of our ingredients at these three stores. If you would like to make allowances, and perhaps substitute, or incorporate, rutabagas or parsnips into your holiday meal, you can get locally produced parsnips and rutabagas from Blue Mountain in Carstairs, AB.

Here is a list of what you can get at Sunnyside Natural Market and the corresponding prices:

  • Turkey – Winter’s Turkey from Dalmead, Alberta. Free Range – $3.64lb; Organic – $5.47lb.
  • Butter – Vital Greens, Picture Butte, Alberta – $6.99
  • Carrot – Lunds Organic Farm, Innisfail, Alberta. 2lb bag  $5.99; 5lb bag $9.99
  • Bread Crumbs, Lakeview Bakery, Calgary
  • Potatoes Poplar Bluff, Strathmore, Alberta. $3.95 kilo/$1.79lb
  • Milk -Vital Greens, Picture Butte, Alberta. 2litre 1%, 2%, whole  $6.49 and 1 litre buttermilk $4.49; Heavy Cream from Vital Greens, $4.79 and Creme Fraiche $6.79
  • Flour – Variety of flour from Highwood Crossing, Okotoks Alberta. Unbleached White, Pastry, Rye, Stoneground, packages or in bulk.
  • Alberta beets, rutabaga and parsnips from Blue Mountain, Carstairs.
  • Giant locally made candy canes for $2.99 from Olivier’s in Inglewood.

Ingredients from Community Natural Foods are largely the same and very similar in price.

  • Turkey – Dalemead, AB, Winters Turkey Whole Organic Turkey $11.64/kg Whole Free; Range Turkey $7.68/kg
  • Butter – Edmonton, AB (about 180 miles) Saxby Creamery Organic Salted $8.49/450g
  • Carrot – Innisfail, AB    , Lund’s Organic Farm Organic Bulk Carrots $4.38/kg
  • Potatoes – Strathmore, AB      Poplar Bluff Farms Organic Red Potatoes $3.94/kg; Organic Yellow Potatoes $4.38/kg
  • Milk – Edmonton, AB (about 180 miles) Saxby Creamery Varies $2.89 – $6.39
  • Milk – Picture Butte, AB (about 125 miles), Vital Green Farm Varies $5.99 – $6.39 (Organic Sheep 2% also available, 2L $6.39)
  • Flour – Okotoks, AB, Highwood Crossing Varies $7.19 – $10.29

Most of all the rest of the ingredients you need for a Traditional Holiday Meal can be found at several kiosks at the Calgary Farmer’s Market. Innisfail Growers Association stocks seasonal produce, many preserves, and other tasty treats such as flavored honey (we should all know by now how much I love honey).

Then of course, if you want to substitute cranberries with a regional favorite, which also happens to be native to our parts, the Saskatoon can be delicious with turkey, ham, and in pies!

So, friends, happy eating and Merry Christmas!!

Classic Roast Turkey

Servings: Serves at least 15, plus leftovers


  • 1 12-pound turkey
  • Bacon-nut stuffing, may be cooked separately (or the classic stuffing below)
  • 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) butter at room temperature (extra-virgin olive oil may be substituted)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • Stems from 1 bunch parsley tied together (optional)
  • Turkey gravy (made from drippings)


Preheat oven to 500°. Rinse turkey; remove and set aside giblets. If cooking stuffing inside turkey, loosely pack the turkey cavity with stuffing, then tie legs together to enclose the vent. Coat bird all over with butter (or brush it with oil), then sprinkle well with salt and pepper.

Put turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan. Add 1/2 cup water to bottom of pan along with turkey neck, gizzard, any other giblets, onion, carrot, celery, and parsley. Put in oven, legs first if possible.

Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top begins to brown, then turn heat down to 350°. Continue to roast, checking and basting with pan juices every 30 minutes or so; if the top threatens to brown too much, lay a piece of aluminum foil directly onto it. (If the bottom dries out, add water, about 1/2 cup at a time; keep at least a little liquid at the bottom of the pan at all times.) Turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh measures 155° to 165°. If, when the turkey is nearly done, the top is not browned enough, turn heat back up to 425° for the last 20 to 30 minutes of cooking.

Remove turkey from oven. Take bird off rack and make gravy while bird rests; let it sit for about 20 minutes before carving. Serve on a platter garnished with sliced figs and mostarda di frutta and with gravy on the side.

Classic Stuffing

Makes: About 6 cups (enough for a 12-pound bird) -

Time: 20 minutes, plus time to bake

This classic dressing is based on a wonderful recipe by James Beard; it’s amazing with butter, but check out the variations if you prefer olive oil. Also, feel free to use whole grain bread for more flavor.


  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts
  • 6 to 8 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon or sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried crumbled tarragon or sage
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves


  1. Put the butter in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. When melted, add the onion and cook, stirring, until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add the nuts and cook, stirring almost constantly, until they begin to brown, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the breadcrumbs and the herb and toss to mix. Turn the heat down to low. Add the salt, pepper, and scallion. Toss again; taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the parsley and stir. Turn off the heat. (At this point, you may refrigerate the stuffing, well wrapped or in a covered container, for up to a day before proceeding.)
  3. Pack into chicken or turkey if you like before roasting or just bake in an ovenproof glass or enameled baking dish for about 45 minutes at 350-400°F. (Or you can cook it up to 3 days in advance and just warm it up right before dinner.)

Sugar Cookies (from “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman)

  • ½  pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus some for greasing the baking sheets
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups (about 14 ounces) all purpose flour, plus some for dusting the work surface
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking power
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar together until light; beat in egg.

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl.  Mix the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture, adding a little milk at a time as necessary.  Stir in the vanilla.

Shape the dough into a disk (for rolled cookies) or a log (for sliced cookies) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or as long as 2 days (or wrap very well and freeze indefinitely).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut the dough disk in half.  Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin and roll gently until about 1/8 inch thick, adding flour as necessary and turning the dough to prevent sticking.  Cut with a cookie cutter.

Bake on lightly greased baking sheets until the edges are lightly brown and the center set, 6-10 minutes.  Let rest on sheets for a minute before removing with a spatula and cooling on a rack.   Decorate with icing.  Store in a covered container at room temperature for no more than a day or two.

The Basic Dough

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

1/4 cup milk, plus more if needed.

1. Heat the oven to 375. Use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugar; add the vanilla and egg and beat until well blended.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add half the dry ingredients to the dough, beat for a moment, then add the milk. Beat for about 10 seconds, then add the remaining dry ingredients and a little more milk, if necessary, to make a soft dough.

3. Bake until the edges are brown, about 10 minutes.

Yield: 2 to 3 dozen.


To all the people we spoke with for this episode (Darrell Winter, Bonnie Spragg, Leona at Jungle Farm, Kevin at Saskatoon Farm, Chandra at Community, Patty at Sunnyside, and everyone else who helped and guided us to resources): We wish you a very Merry Christmas and all the best in the new year to you and yours.