So one of the perks of being a Produce Manager and a foodie is that every morning is a little like Christmas. I tear into the huge pallets of fresh produce like a giddy school girl, excited to inspect all the fabulous contents.
Naturally my fruit and vegetable consumption has gone up dramatically. You can’t move 1000’s of pounds of produce every week and not take it home and create with it.
Being a huge lover of anything citrus one of the first things I had to try was preserving lemons and limes.
They are extremely easy to make, the only thing you require is patience to allow them to preserve.
We recently did an entertaining tasting event at work. Being a produce manager my selection to choose from is quite extensive. There are so many things I could have featured. At a meeting before the event someone had mentioned cranberry sauce. That started the gears in my mind turning. I thought it was a fantastic idea.
So many people automatically reach for the canned cranberry sauce on the shelves they have no idea how easy and flavorful homemade cranberry sauce can be.
The result were show stopping and fabulous! We had people coming back four and 5 times.
By the end of the evening we sampled out over 400 bites and had received rave reviews from everyone.
Because of the volume of samples we presented costs and time available for prep were kept in mind. If I were to make these at an event I hosted in my home I would have chosen phyllo cups as the vehicle for the bites.
This is a three step appetizer so planning ahead is essential.
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup of maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup of water 1 cup granulated sugar
Rinse cranberries and place in a large bowl. Heat syrup or honey and water in a small sauce pan just until warm. Pour the syrup over cranberries when warm. You do not want the syrup too hot as you do not want the cranberries to pop. Allow to cool. Cover and let the berries soak in the refrigerator overnight. Drain cranberries in a colander. Place sugar in a large bowl or baking dish. Add cranberries in small batches and roll around until lightly coated in sugar. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet until dry, 1 to 2 hours. When dry the berries have a nice crunchy candy coating.
Cranberry Sauce 1 bag of cranberries – fresh or frozen 1 cup of mango melon juice 1 cup of sugar 1/4 cup of honey
Place all the ingredients in a small pan. Cook on low – medium heat, stirring occasionally.
As they heat up, the cranberries will pop open. You know the sauce is done when 90 % the berries have split open.
Pour into a bowl to cool.
Sugared Cranberry Bites crackers or phyllo cups
soft spreadable cream cheese cranberry sauce sugared cranberries fresh mint for garnish
Spread the crackers with the cream cheese, add a teaspoon of cranberry sauce, and 4 or 5 sugared cranberries. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.
I landed a fabulous job in a new town and embraced the adventure.
But no matter where my life takes me there are two constants.
Gingerbread and raising money for charity.
And this year did not disappoint.
One thing I have learnt in my short time here.
Barrhead does it up right.
From the Taste of Barrhead to the Pumpkin Walk (which we’ll talk about soon) to the Festival of Trees. This little town supports the local events
You don’t have to be in a big city to see amazing people step up and raise big dollars for charity. It can happen anywhere.
I am so very proud to say that my 2013 gingerbread house sold for $600.00 at the Festival. All the money my house raised was donated to FCSS!
Love that. And it makes every hour I put into it worth it when I can make such a significant contribution to an event like that.
This years build was clean and simple. With around 120 hours work it is one of my easier houses. If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll recognize my style.
If you ever have the chance please do check out your local Festival of Trees. Not only is it a great way to get into the Christmas spirit it is a wonderful contribution to local charities in your area.
Be sure to stop by the Food Bloggers of Canada for a step by step Gingerbread house tutorial I wrote! It breaks down the steps so you can create a one of a kind gingerbread house of your own!
I had the pleasure of attending the second Taste of Barrhead this afternoon.
Hosted by the Barrhead & District Chamber of Commerce, it was an opportunity for local businesses, churches and community groups to gather and present foods from the various countries around the world.
From the moment I pulled up to the school I was excited, the parking lot was overflowing, a very good sign indeed.
The gymnasium was a flurry of activity with live entertainment to line ups at every booth, I knew it was going to be a fantastic afternoon enjoying flavors from around the globe.
And they did not disappoint.
My first stop was at the booth from France! Hosted by The Barrhead Co-op. They had some amazing sweets, from sucre a la crème, cream filled pastries and sugar tarts. Simone did an amazing job and I know everyone enjoyed her sweets. So much so that the tarts were already sold out by the time I arrived.
Not sure what direction to head I toured the entire venue deciding what to sample. I stopped at the Italian Ice booth next for what I thought would be a bit of a palate cleanser. Having a hard time deciding between the flavors I went with a combination of Lemon and mango ices. They were perfect after the sweetness of the sucre a la crème.
As I wandered with my Italian Ice I noticed the Filipino booth in the corner had a very large crowd. That had to be my next stop. I ordered the Rice Vermicelli and one of the skewers of BBQ pork. Because you can’t go wrong with meat on a stick. And I was correct. The lightly grilled pork was tender and sweet and was fantastic with the vermicelli. After I finished that, I went back for a second skewer of the BBQ pork. I should had gotten a third but was trying to save room so reluctantly walked away.
Portage College was in attendance doing a sausage making demonstration. They made it look very easy and within minutes had a very nice coil of sausage. I took a pamphlet with information about the classes they offer. I would have loved to attend something like that when I was first learning the ropes in the culinary world. They offer some real world courses that everyone should take, not only those who are interested in becoming restaurant chefs but for anyone who loves food and would love some good skills.
I had my eye on the booth offering butter chicken and headed there next. It was a nice sized portion and had good flavor. Though not as spicy as what I am used to it was really good and mild enough that the younger foodies in the crowd would enjoy.
At this point I was full. I know for next year to NOT have breakfast before heading down. To wrap up my afternoon I headed back for one final Italian ice. The blue of the Blueberry was calling to me and I had to give it a try.
By the size of the crowd and tables selling out of food I would say they had a very good turn out and will be able to claim the event a huge success! There was so much more I did not get to sample. I know for next year to come hungry and perhaps attend with a friend so one can sample twice as much.
And a final shout out goes to the Norway booth for best dressed! They really added a fantastic feel to the event.