Around the Table…with Yum Bakery

One of the staples of the Calgary Farmers’ Market has always been Yum Bakery. In light of them making some refreshments (see what I did there?) to their business I caught up with one of Yum’s owners Debbie Catling and she updated us on what exactly is happening in their world.

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How did this all start for Yum Bakery?
“Well, we started out when the market was at the Currie Barracks. We had bought Wanda’s Fine Baking as she was ready to retire. At the time we were selling Stock and Sauce to our partners and we saw a niche with San Francisco-style bakeries. We wanted to bring that homey bakery style with great breads and Macarons to Calgary and the Calgary Farmers’ Market.”

What is your favorite thing about being part of the CFM family?
“Just exactly that, the family. Getting to know the other vendors and seeing other people that are happy doing what they are doing. You get to go to work with people who are passionate  about their own things they are doing here.”

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What’s your favorite item that you offer?
“There are a lot of things I can resist now that we’ve been doing this for a while, but there are three things I can’t when they are fresh out of the oven: Our Roasted Garlic Cheese Buns, our Savory Scones, and our Ham and Cheese Croissants.”

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Do you have a to-go way you like to eat any of these or a recipe you use them in?
“I like to toast up the Savory Scones and make an Eggs Benedict with them. It’s amazing!”

What are three quick tips you would like to share with market guests?
“1. I think a little-known fact about us is that we don’t add preservatives or additives to anything, particularly our bread. So, keeping it on the counter for more than three days can cause it to mold. Freezing it is a good way to avoid this, not putting it in the fridge though. Putting bread in the fridge makes bread go stale.
2. Our cakes keep really well despite not using preservatives so don’t be afraid to come in and pick something up on a Thursday instead of taking your chance on a Saturday.
3. Order ahead! We make every effort to estimate what will be sold every day. Nobody likes to come in and be disappointed that the thing they are there for is out though, so we recommend calling or emailing ahead of time with orders. We will have your order waiting for you so there is no guess work involved. All that info is on our website.”

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Do you have any bakery Words of Wisdom you live by? 
“One of the first things we say to our staff is that we don’t want anything to go to a customer that you wouldn’t 100% want to buy and eat for yourself. If it doesn’t look and taste fantastic, we don’t want to sell it.”

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What’s your favorite thing to eat in the market that is NOT from your place?
“Big T’s smoked ribs are one of my favorite things ever, and Taste of Quebec has this fudge…you know, you think since I own a bakery I wouldn’t need anything else sweet, but this fudge is magical.”

Can you tell us about any new projects your working on?
“Yes! We are doing a couple of things actually. One of them is a re-brand, which we hope to have completed by about mid-June. That will consist of new packaging and new products. Our other project is opening up a little place called Jarred. The concept behind Jarred is just that: cheesecake in jars, cookie dough and trifle in jars. There will also be preserves using things that are in season. A lot of our customers at Yum request to buy our sauces like our lemon curd and caramel so those will be sold by the jars as well.
Our launch will be June 8th!”

One last question: If you could be a pastry, what would you be?
“If I could be a pastry I would be a baguette! Long, and thin, and hot!”

..I think we would all like that, Debbie.

 

 

 

Around the table… with Beeland

 

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Springtime means the bees wake from their dormancy and get to work pollinating all the lovely flowers, fruits, vegetables and more that we enjoy all year!
Here at the Calgary Farmers’ Market, Beeland is bee-central and our provider of both products and knowledge. I asked Morley, the owner of Beeland, to share some info on his products and what we can do to support the bees this spring.

  1. How did the story start for Beeland?

In 2000, I bought 125 acres of wilderness property in the Columbia Valley region of BC with the intent of retiring. In 2004, I approached a local beekeeper to put 6 bee hives in this spectacular alpine region. That was the beginning of Jubilee Mountain Apiary Ltd, which was named for Jubilee Mountain where the property was located.
In 2006, we purchased the dilapidated Spillimacheen Trading Post, located on the highway between Radium and Golden, and began what has turned out to be a 10-year restoration and renovation project. The old trading post building was re-named Beeland Market, as a retail outlet for our honey.
Today, Beeland Market has grown to include not just honey sales, but has expanded into a complete gourmet store, coffee bar and a new cafe opening in April 2017.
Jubilee Mountain Apiary Ltd. now operates anywhere from 200 to 300 bee colonies, employing 3 full time beekeepers, and an additional staff of 6-8 persons in retail, food production and food service.

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  1. What is your favorite thing about being a part of the Calgary Farmers’ Market family?

Our role at the market is more than selling honey and bee products; we are very much filling an educational role to the public on the reality of bee life. Most people are concerned with the life and survival of bees and their role in our lives, particularly as pollinators.
I try and explain the fragile nature of our environment and how it sustains bee life, and as a result of that, human life. Beeland, in its very important physical location at the Calgary Farmers’ Market, has become a critical educator to the public in this very important area of apiary agriculture.

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  1. What’s your favorite item that you produce? Why?

Our honey changes year to year depending on the climate. The most unique honey that is produced is definitely Snowberry Honey from one alpine location. The Snowberry plant grows exclusively in the Rocky Mountain area and has a tiny pink flower that blossoms in late June. This tiny flower is very high in nectar, however its blossom coincides with a wet June climate. Because of this, the bees are not able to gather the nectar each year. The production of this honey is very small, and is sold out instantly when we are able to present it in September.

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  1. Do you have a go-to recipe that highlights your product?

Beeland market uses honey in our line of Beeland sauces. This product line now ranges from BBQ sauces, Honey Hot Sauces, and other food products produced with honey.

  1. Words of Wisdom you live by:
Bees are one of the few creatures that sustain the lives of human beings, they take nothing away from the universal creation. They are in perfect harmony with nature and life of the world. Human beings should be able to learn from them and live our lives in the same perfect peace and harmony that bees do.

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  1. What’s your favorite thing to eat in the market that’s not from your booth?

Margarita’s cheese perogies, drizzled with butter and Beeland honey. It’s a special delicacy!

  1. What are three quick tips about bees that you want to share with market guests?

1. Bees sustain life.
2. Do not spray dandelions, as dandelions are the first flowers in this climate that produce both pollen and nectar. This is the first food for the bees in the spring and it is critical for their survival. Eliminate all spraying of herbicides and insecticides. We must re-educate our minds that this flower is not a weed, but is part of a natural system that sustains life.
3. Lately, bee keeping has become a trendy hobby for urban-dwellers. We, as human beings must understand that bees are delicate living beings, and any aspiring beekeeper MUST ensure proper education and internship with a seasoned beekeeper prior to embarking on becoming one.

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Around the Table… with Frank & Mabel

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Yuval & Sandy (with their cute girls)…. or as we love to call them Frank & Mabel.

Some things just go together. Like peanut butter and jam, milk and cookies, steak and rosemary…. They strike a chord, transport you back to your childhood, delight your taste buds. We made a take on the classic apple pie with our insanely Easy Apple Turnovers, so why not pair them with a local gelato to create your own take on apple pie and ice cream. We sat down with Yuval of Frank & Mabel’s to get the inside scoop.

How did this all start for Frank & Mabel’s?

I was doing environmental engineering for 15 years and decided I needed a change. I had some ideas in my head and we came up with the concept of Frank & Mabel’s. We wanted to do all local, so I went to try all of the sausage and hot dog makers in Calgary and then I did the same thing with gelato. I found the best in Calgary and brought it to the market.

What is your favorite thing about being a part of the CFM family?

I was a customer first and I always imagined how great it would be to have a business here. I love the market atmosphere because of the people, the customers and vendors alike are tremendous.

What’s your favorite item that you offer? Why?

I personally really like the Caprese hot dog. It’s refreshing and light, it’s something different.

Do you have a favorite hot dog add-on?

The caramelized onions, they’re killer.

Three quick tips that you want to share with market guests?

1. Come early.

2. Ask questions.

3. To get your kid out of the play area, entice them with a $1 kids cone!

Sneaky! that’s a good one.

Words of Wisdom you live by:

I work to live.

What’s your favorite thing to eat in the market that’s not from your booth?

Ooooh I like Big T’s brisket breakfast sandwich with potato salad…. and bbq sauce. That’s bbq right there! I spent time in Memphis and this sandwich takes me back.

If you could be a flavor of gelato, what would you be?

Chocolate cherry!

Around the Table… with Market Seafood

If you think all fish tastes the same, then you haven’t had Brian’s seafood.  He offers some of the freshest and most flavorful fish we’ve ever eaten, which is saying a lot in our land-locked province. He has a wide variety of seafood, both fresh and frozen, to choose from and if you aren’t exactly sure how to season or cook what you’ve picked up, just ask Brian, he’s a chef!

How did this all start for Market Seafood?

I realized I didn’t want to work 16 hours a day working in my own restaurant so I sold it and got into the seafood business.  And that’s how Blu Seafood was born, 8 years ago. Now we’ve rebranded as Market Seafood and our only location is here at the Calgary Farmers’ Market.

What is your favorite thing about being a part of the CFM family?

We all know each other, we work as a close team to make the market a better place, for ourselves and for our customers.

What’s your favorite item that you produce? Why?

Ahi Tuna.  I have it all year long and it’s so easy to cook.  It takes 2 minutes preparation and 2 minutes cooking.  It’s beautiful and it’s always good.

Do you have a go-to recipe that highlights that item?

I do. It’s very simple.  Just salt, pepper, olive oil and grill.  We have it on a recipe card that people can take home with them.

Three quick tips that you want to share with market guests?

1. In preparing fish: Keep it simple. Don’t over season or spice.

2. In cooking fish: Don’t over cook your fish.

3. In buying fish: Always buy fresh.  If it smells, you shouldn’t buy it.  Never be afraid to ask to smell the fish before you purchase it.

Words of Wisdom you live by:

Live every day and be thankful for every day that you get.

What’s your favorite thing to eat in the market that’s not from your booth?

I really like the chicken sausage from Missing Link Extraordinary Sausage.  My granddaughter just loves the honey chicken.

If you could be a fish, what would you be?

Oh…. go away, no I’m not answering that one.  I’d be the Big Fish!

I think that’s a lot like the Big Cheese 🙂

Brian Big FIsh

 

Around the Table… with Gull Valley Greenhouses

IMG_8389 As you’re meandering around the market, we’re sure you often wonder “what’s their story?” Our vendors all have unique, individual, and interesting stories of how they started, what keeps them going, and what they love at the market.  But sometimes, they’re hard at work on the farm (or in this case, in the greenhouse) or your arms are just too full with a fresh market haul to have a chat.  Well, that’s what we’re here for! We recently sat down with Scott Epple of Gull Valley Greenhouses to bend his ear for you. Lettuce introduce you…. see what we did there?

How did this all start for Gull Valley?

My Father-in-law had a wee tiny little greenhouse on his chicken farm as a hobby.  He sold to little farmers’ markets at first and then gave up chickens and moved from Barrhead to Lacombe 25 years ago.  Now, we’re 3 miles south of Gull Lake at Aspen Beach.  We currently have 3 acres of greenhouses and within the next year we’ll be building another acre.

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Find Gull Valley Greenhouses in Aisle 4, Booth 58

What is your favorite thing about being a part of the CFM family?

It’s a family.  Everybody, for the most part (like every family!), gets along and if something goes wrong we have each others’ back.

What’s your favorite item that you produce? Why?

Flat beans! because it gets me in trouble every week: ‘Where are they? Why don’t you have them?’ Usually they’re gone.

They’re pretty popular?

Yeah! The flat beans, well they’re Italian Romano beans, are that one draw that brings people in every week. They’re so hard to pick; they grow 20 feet tall in the greenhouse so we use scissor lifts to pick them. But people love them so we love growing them.

Do you have a go-to recipe that highlights that item?

My wife steams the beans.  Slices grapes, fries onion and bacon, and tosses is all together with feta and a little mayo for a cold salad.  Is it ever good. It’s sweet and salty, that’s our favorite. The kids loves it too.

Three quick tips that you want to share with market guests?

1. Cream of the crop on Thursday, it’s relaxed and we’re fully stocked. 2. Never put basil in the fridge, it’s picked fresh so you can leave it on your counter for up to a week. And place our mint in a little water on the counter and it will keep for weeks, months, it’ll even grow little roots. 3. Never put your tomatoes in the fridge. Words of Wisdom you live by:

Pile it high and watch it fly! You want a beautiful display for people to shop from.

What’s your favorite thing to eat in the market that’s not from your booth?

The Vietnamese sub from Le’s Vietnamese. Or the Tom Yum soup from Shef’s; they don’t always have it but it’s really spicy and really good.

If you could be a vegetable, what would you be?

Oh…. well I kind of look like an eggplant, LOL

No you don’t!

I’m stumped.  Hm… maybe a pepper. Good, strong, full of vitamin C. More vitamin C than an orange, eh?


We certainly don’t think Scott looks like an eggplant, but a good, strong farmer he certainly is. If you haven’t tried his Italian Romano beans, make sure you stop by Gull Valley Greenhouses on Thursday so you don’t miss out.

Learn more about the history of Gull Valley Greenhouses.

Happy Hogs

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Connecting with your food and your farmer is an integral part of any farmers’ market.  We strive to take it one step further and give you a little more insight into the products you’re buying and who you are buying them from.  Every once in awhile we get really lucky and can steal a few hours (or more if we’re truly blessed) from one of our farmers; I visit their farm, pick their brains, and learn all about their story.  This week, perfectly timed with Easter approaching, I visited Spragg’s Meat Shop and Farm in Rosemary, Alberta.  Greg and Bonnie Spragg are at the market weekly doing deliveries and saying hello, but we wanted to know more.  Don’t you?

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After being employed at a hog barn for a few years, Greg decided he wanted to take a crack at raising his own pigs.  So, Bonnie purchased 3 little pigs for his birthday in May 2002.  It may not seem like the most romantic birthday gift, but his herd flourished and by the end of the summer, Greg had raised 75 weaner pigs to market weight.  He loves his pigs and it shows; he’s been nicknamed the “pig whisperer” and rightfully so.

What little piggy wouldn’t be happy to romp around in all of that green grass?

They’ve now been farming at their present location for 12 years; growing to have approximately 1000 pigs roaming free at any given time. In addition to the free-roaming hogs, the Spragg farm has 200 acres of irrigated land on which crops of barley, wheat, and faba beans are grown to later grind into the necessary pig feed.

In order to increase production to meet the growing demand, they partnered with another local hog producer who specializes in breeding and weaning.

The baby piglets are born year round inside (where it’s nice and warm!), and are moved to their free-range environment at the Spragg farm when they reach 50lbs.

Running PiggiesGreg and Bonnie’s pigs run and frolic in open interconnected pens, free to eat an antibiotic-free, plant protein diet when they please.

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They live happily, hormone-free, in the fresh air… and they really are happy hogs.  Their pastures are seeded with annual grasses to increase grazing time for the pigs.  And in the colder months, they are provided with straw and alfalfa hay to keep the forage component in their diets.

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I couldn’t resist jumping into the pig pen to take advantage of a more personal introduction.  They’re curious little piggies, gently nudging with a boot-chew here and there, as interested in me as I was in them.

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The above are the ‘little’ piggies, weighing in from approximately 50-70lbs at 3 months old.

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They will bulk up to about 240 lbs by 7-8 months of age, like the hog above, before being sent to market.

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Look at all of that space!!!

If you ask Greg and Bonnie what sets their pork apart from the rest of the pack, they will tell you, first and foremost that they have happy hogs.  But in more technical terms:

  • they do not spray the pastures that the pigs are on for weeds or insects
  • pigs do not receive antibiotics, hormones, or artificial growth promoters to ensure pigs grow faster or leaner than they would naturally
  • their pigs get a plant based diet, with no animal by-products in that feed
  • the barley and faba beans that are fed to the pigs have been grown conventionally (crops are sprayed once to kill the weeds in the field, and the barley crops are grown with inorganic fertilizer when necessary to provide the appropriate levels of fertility in the soil).
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Faba Beans and Barley grown by Greg & Bonnie Spragg; then ground into a fine flour for pigs to eat when, and as much as, they please.
Spragg’s Meat Shop opened in Rosemary, Alberta in November 2005; due to increasing demand for their product, they built a new (and very impressive) processing plant, on the right, which opened a month ago.
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You should see the smokehouse they have now!
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Bacon is brined for 10 days before spending time drying and smoking in Greg’s impressive new smokehouse. It’s even digital!
The expansion to include processing allowed Greg and Bonnie to raise the hogs, process them, and then market the pork products direct to the consumer.  The meat shop prepares their free range pork for both the farmer’s market retail locations in Calgary, Brooks and Millarville, as well as restaurant and wholesale customers.  In peak season, they process approximately 50-70 hogs each week; with hogs being butchered twice weekly, the pork you buy Thursday-Sunday at the Calgary Farmers’ Market is as fresh as it gets.

And since they were cutting hams, they gave one to me!  When someone gives you such a beautiful ham, you don’t refuse.  So, here’s and Easy Easter Ham recipe for you.

For more photos of the farm visit, check out our Facebook album.  And for another look at Greg and Bonnie’s happy hogs in greener pastures, check out the slideshow on their website.  Or you can follow them on Twitter and Like them on Facebook!

Want to know more about what sets Spragg’s apart from the rest?  Stop by the meat shop here at the market and ask, they’ll be happy to share more information with you!

Happy Hearts

It was only two and a half years ago that Eahly and Nan arrived in Calgary, eager to put roots down and make this city “home”.  Coming from Vancouver, they were surrounded by a plethora of dietary options, including amazing variety in vegetarian and vegan fare; but found fewer options in our beef-centric city.  Then, one day in October 2011, while shopping at the Calgary Farmers’ Market, they noticed a vacant booth and a seed was planted.  What if?  Beginning on a hope and whim, Eahly and Nan set out to bring more options to vegans (and non-vegans too) and share their passion for healthy, delicious food.  If you’ve ever been by Hearts’ Choices, you will instantly see (and feel) the love that goes into creating and sharing their vegan Thai food.  Driven by Nan’s philosophy: “no good food = no happiness”, every dish they make, whether it be Thai Vegan Curries, Peanut Satay Sauce, or Bamboo Shoot Stir Fry, is handmade with care and intention.  And their high quality, non-GMO soybean vegan products are mindfully sourced from a renowned Buddhist vegan company in Taiwan.

We know it’s easy to turn your nose up at vegan food if you’re a born and bred meat-lover.  Tofu? Tempeh?! Vegan Scallops?!?!  Get outta Cowtown.  But in all seriousness, Eahly and Nan help many families bridge the gap when there is a division in the kitchen.  For example: wife is a vegetarian, husband wants his steak; now they can make one meal for everyone because the vegan fare at Hearts’ Choices can fool even the most discerning palates and satisfies everyone’s needs.  Eahly and Nan believe that their food “helps make their life a little more harmonious and happy”.  That’s what makes them love coming to work every day. It comes as no surprise then that they love when you drop by their booth or send them a photo of your own creation, sharing a part of your heart with them.

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And now they’re sharing that love with you!  Join them for an evening of food creation and fun as Nan (originally from Thailand) teaches the basics of Thai vegan cooking in a hands-on interactive cooking class.  We recently crashed one of their classes to get our own hands dirty (and our bellies happy!) and were pleasantly surprised to find people of all ages, all levels of cooking experience, even non-vegans soaking up Nan’s knowledge and cooking up a storm.  We couldn’t help but join in too.  The Thai Vegan Larb Salad, Tom Kha Pak (a sweet and sour coconut vegetable soup), and Pad Se-ew (Thai Street Noodles) that we all whipped up were delicious, healthy, and didn’t last long.

Larb CollageIf you’ve ever wanted to learn more about vegan cooking or you’re just interested in exploring Thai ingredients and dishes, you can join Eahly and Nan in their upcoming class (hosted April 7th).  Classes run approximately 3 hours, and include all the equipment, ingredients, and teaching required for you to create 3-4 delicious dishes while learning the basics of Thai cuisine with lots of cooking and eating along the way.  Do you have to be a Vegan to enjoy this opportunity?  Absolutely not!  In fact, it is perhaps the most reasonably priced Thai cooking classes in the city.  So… can you throw chicken in the Tom Kha Pak?  Yes!  Will Nan and Eahly frown upon it?  Never.

In the upcoming April class, you can look forward to making:

  • Vegan Pad Thai
  • Vegan Pumpkin Stir Fry (Eahly’s favorite!)
  • Vegan Pad Phet No Mai (Spicy Bamboo Shoots)
  • Thai Cucumber Salad

Sounds yummy doesn’t it?  Get your tickets before they’re sold out!  And don’t forget to swing by Hearts’ Choices the next time you’re at the Calgary Farmers’ Market; say hi to Nan and Eahly, try one of their many samples, and show them some love.

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