Onion-Dyed Easter Eggs

Growing up, I remember that we had two different methods for dying our Easter eggs: the way everyone else did it, with the bright pastel blue and pink dyes and stickers and wax crayons that came in the PAAS kits… and the way with the onions.

Onion-dyed Eggs

I remember waffling between preferring the pastels and the onions as I got older. These days, I prefer the look of the onion-dyed eggs to the pastels, especially since my lasting impression of the bright pastel dyes is “makes a horrid mess in the kitchen.” The onion-dyed eggs are a snap to do, and simple enough that kids who are old enough to be trusted handling raw eggs can help.

To start, you’ll need some onion skins.

Onion skins

I discovered that I saved way too many skins for what I needed; I could easily have doubled up some of the skins to get darker colours. In any event, this was a great excuse to make French onion soup. When peeling the onions, try to keep the skins in as large of pieces as possible.

I bought my eggs a week before I planned to dye them. Older eggs are easier to peel. Also (obviously) make sure you’re not buying eggs with the date stamped on them, or brown eggs. Plain old white eggs are needed for this.

Finally, you’ll need some rags or scraps of cloth large enough to wrap an egg in. I had some cotton cloth leftover from making curtains, but any fabric that isn’t super thin should work. You just need it to be strong enough to hold the skins against the eggshells.

Cloth scraps

When you’re ready to dye your eggs, wet both the eggs and the onion skins well. This will help the skins stick to the shell. Also, try to select large pieces that will wrap around the egg well. You’ll want to cover all of the shell. Make sure that the skins are touching the shell, since they won’t colour what they aren’t touching.

Onion-dyed egg

(Now, some people get fancy here and put little flowers or leaves between the eggshell and the onion skins. I’ve tried that and it worked, but I didn’t feel it was worth the hassle of keeping the flower stuck while trying to wrap the egg in the onion and the cloth. Your milage may vary, of course.)

Once you’ve wrapped the egg in the onion skins, bundle the cloth up around everything and tie it off with a rubber band.

After you’ve wrapped up all of your eggs, simply cook them using your favourite method for making hard-boiled eggs. I’ve been using the method from Simply Recipes and it works quite well.

Once the eggs are cooled, remove the rubber band, unwrap the cloth and slip off the onion skins, and admire the pattern on the egg!

Onion-dyed egg

I think this is one of the reasons why I like dying eggs this way: each egg is going to be a unique surprise.

Happy Easter! If you try this out, let me know how it worked for you.

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Smoked Pumpkin Pie

Our garden was a disaster this year. A late start, some inattention during a critical early period, and very few hot days left us with not a lot of produce. The tomatoes were pathetic, and the zucchini only really started producing at the beginning of September. Therefore, we leaned on the farmers’ market more than usual.

However, one item that we always get from the market, regardless of how well (or how miserably) our garden did, is pie pumpkins.


I am a lucky woman, because my husband makes a wonderful pumpkin pie. And he doesn’t use the canned stuff; he starts with an actual pumpkin, roasted in the oven. And… he’s starting smoking the pumpkin before roasting it.

When he first suggested doing this, I admit to being skeptical. Smoky pie? I rolled my eyes. Ever since we got the smoker, he’s smoked a huge variety of things, and I’ve liked most of them. But smoky pie was just weird, I thought.

I was wrong.

Actual Pie

Obviously, you don’t want the pumpkin saturated with smoke, so it’s only lightly smoked. Pumpkin is like a sponge for smoke, so it’s a good idea to smoke it at the tail end of some other smoke job you have going. I’ve included instructions in the recipe below. But he had a few other suggestions that might help you find success:

  • Make sure you’re getting a pie pumpkin. You can make pies with regular pumpkins (like the ones you carve for Hallowe’en), but they won’t taste nearly as good. Proper pie pumpkins have dense flesh and a high sugar content.
  • Heft it a bit. You want one that’s heavy for its size.
  • Pick a pumpkin with at least an inch or two inches of stem left, and avoid pumpkins with soft spots.
  • Use a mild, sweet smoke like apple or maple.
  • Save any leftover pumpkin puree in a freezer bag, and use it in soups, muffins, or to pad out your next pie.

Finally, he noted that he screws with this recipe constantly; this is just its current iteration.

Smoked Pumpkin Pie
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A pumpkin pie with a light smoky flavour, perfect for fall.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 16
Smoked Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 pie pumpkins
Pumpkin Pie
  • 4 cups smoked pumpkin puree
  • 1 300ml can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup half-n-half
  • 2 TB brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp (rounded) nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • 2 prepared pie shells (using your favourite recipe or store-bought)
Smoked Pumpkin Puree
  1. Preheat smoker to 250°F and start apple or maple smoke.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  3. Split pumpkins vertically and remove seeds.
  4. Place pumpkins in smoker.
  5. Smoke for 20 minutes, then remove from smoker. (Pumpkin absorbs smoke like a sponge, so beware of leaving the pumpkins in for much longer.)
  6. Line two cookie sheets with foil and cover the bottom of the sheets with water.
  7. Place smoked pumpkins face-down on the foil and place in oven.
  8. Bake until soft. After 30 minutes, check the pumpkins with a fork. Continue to check every 15 minutes until they are done.
  9. Shut off oven and open the door slightly. Let stand until cool enough to handle.
  10. Remove skins and cut into chunks. Process pumpkin in a food processor until smooth. Note: Smoking can dry the pumpkin out. If your pumpkin puree is too dry, add a bit of water, orange juice or vodka until it has a smooth consistency.
Pumpkin Pie
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients and stir. Add the spices and mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour the pie mix into the prepared pie shells. Cover the edges of the crust with foil or a pie crust shield and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking for another 35-40 minutes. Pies are done when an inserted knife comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely before serving.


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Masoor Dahl Tadka

So how’s about that weather we’ve been having? Eh? Hmm?

The sunlight streaming in through my window in the evening tells me it should be spring. The -23°C windchill bullshit we’ve been having the last few days says otherwise. As much as I want to get the grill going and grab some steaks from Tenderloin on the way home, it’s still stew weather. So, after getting my lips chapped by a merciless north wind several days past the vernal equinox, I decided it was time for dahl.

Masoor Dal Tadka

This recipe is slightly adapted from Tigers & Strawberries, a (sadly) defunct blog full of really interesting recipes.  In this post, she explains that tadka is a method of seasoning a dish by frying aromatic spices in oil and pouring it on or into the dish just before serving. The flavour and richness that this cooking method gives to the food is just amazing, and I’ve pondered using the technique for something other than lentils.

One other note: the recipe calls for asafoetida, also known as hing. This is totally optional, and I realize that it is not a staple in most spice cupboards. However, if you’re near an Indian or Pakistani grocer, see if you can get a small container. I think it’s worth the small expense.

I am submitting this recipe into our company “healthy recipe” contest as an antidote to all the baking recipes containing applesauce, and the millions of ways to prepare chickpeas. (Ok, it’s not quite that bad.) I’ll just have to see if it’ll meet their criteria. Hopefully none of the judges look up what ghee is (SHHH IT’S CLARIFIED BUTTER DON’T TELL ANYONE.)

And a quick note about the photo: normally I cook the lentils down until they are totally mush. I really wanted to get a great picture for this recipe, though, and yellow mush really isn’t that photogenic. (It’s not. I tried!) However, cooking them until they are no longer crunchy, but just before they’re totally mush, worked just fine. Go ahead and give them the extra 10 minutes or so.

Masoor Dahl Tadka
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A hearty red lentil stew, generously seasoned and served over rice.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 6
  • 1.5 cups red lentils
  • 28oz can diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 2.5 cups water
  • pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 TB ghee
  • 2 small onions, thinly sliced
  • 1" cube of fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TB yellow mustard seeds
  • ½ TB whole cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp crushed red chilies (or to taste)
  • 2 TB chopped cilantro or parsley
  1. Rinse the lentils and add to a saucepan with the diced tomatoes and water. Add the adafoetida and salt, and stir. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered. Let simmer until lentils are cooked to your liking. (I usually cook them down until the lentils have melted into a puree, but they are also good *very* slightly al dente.)
  2. In a frying pan, melt the ghee over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until they are dark yellow. Add the ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, cumin and red chilies. Stir briskly until the seeds start to snap and pop.
  3. Pour the onion mixture into the lentils and stir. Serve immediately over rice or with naan.


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RAW: Almond

Last year, when I first heard that Mandel Hitzer from deer + almond was going to erect a tent on the river at the Forks and invite chefs from all over Winnipeg to come play with him, I thought it was a brilliant idea. Unfortunately, I dragged my feet and missed out on getting tickets, which sold out far faster than I thought they would. Apparently, I wasn’t the only person who thought it was brilliant.

Raw Almond

This year I kept my ear to the ground, and managed to snap up a couple of tickets to RAW: Almond as soon as they went on sale. Edward Lam from Yujiro was the chef for the evening we chose. And so last night, with the windchill hovering around -25°C, we made our way down to the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers for dinner.

The food was lovely. Fresh seafood, bitingly pungent wasabi, earthy vegetables, and succulent duck graced our plates that evening. But I don’t think it’s fair to review RAW: Almond as a restaurant, really. The chef changes every few days, as does the menu, giving you a completely new experience. The venue itself rises from the ice in the dead of winter, and within a few months all that can be seen where the tent stood is a swirl of muddy water.

Raw Almond

Before dinner, Hitzel spoke about the spirituality of the Forks, and what it means to share a meal there. After we ate, I thought about the meal, and the pop-up restaurant itself, and I could see another layer of meaning: RAW: Almond is a nearly perfect metaphor for Winnipeg itself.

People from elsewhere who have never been to Winnipeg (or even some residents who don’t bother exploring the charms of their city) view Winnipeg as cold, probably miserable, and even dangerous. Meanwhile, eating in a tent in the winter in Winnipeg was poo-poo’d as cold, miserable and maybe even dangerous.

First impressions of Winnipeg can be variable, but I’ve heard it described as unrefined, and certainly not someplace you’d consider sophisticated. The tent for RAW: Almond has a rustic charm, and the temperature dictates that no one bothers with dressy clothes – casual (and warm!) attire rules there.

Raw Almond

After you’ve lived in Winnipeg for a while, though, you begin to realize that the casual attitude also translates into friendliness. Everyone here can commiserate about the cold. The long communal table at RAW: Almond makes it easy to strike up a conversation with strangers. Perhaps, by the end of the meal, you won’t be strangers anymore.

Finally, Winnipeg can be sophisticated, even though that isn’t apparent at first glance. World-class arts and music, excellent restaurants, amazing green spaces and unique festivals show that there is more to the city than its reputation suggests. And in the white tent sitting on the fork of the rivers, the food that is served there is not what you’d expect after settling yourself on a fur-covered stump next to the plywood kitchen. This is no camp food, and the plates that the serving staff bring from the kitchen would not be out of place in a swanky restaurant.

Raw Almond

Our plans for next winter already include another trip to RAW: Almond… A new night, a new tent, a new chef, a new menu, a new experience, and a new way to enjoy the city.

Raw: Almond on Urbanspoon

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I am not a baker. I think I’ve mentioned that before. I much prefer cooking, where you have a great deal of leniency in what and how you can cook. Errors can be caught and fixed before the dish goes on the table. Don’t have a specific ingredient? No worries, just substitute something similar.

Baking… baking involves MATH. It involves a great number of ratios and exact ingredients. And after you’ve committed your batch to the oven, it’s like peering into the core of a nuclear reactor: if anything goes wrong, too bad! You have to wait for it to finish. And if you totally screwed up, there’s no fixing it.

So I when I bake, it’s for specific reasons or with very tried and tested recipes. And Christmas is one of those specific reasons where I really get the urge to bake: to satiate my nostalgia.

Springerles, baked

Among all of the cookies that my family traditionally made was the springerle. Springerles are a German cookie flavoured with anise. Traditionally the flavouring came from scattering anise seed on the cookie sheet, but my mother’s recipe calls for anise oil. After mixing, the dough, which is very stiff, is decorated using a stamp or a roller with traditional designs. (I use a rolling pin. Also, after I noticed that one of the designs looks like a dick, it’s something that I simply cannot unsee. My inner 10 year old salutes you.) After cutting the cookies apart, they have to stand and dry for a day or so before baking.

Springerles, unbaked

Because of the chilling and drying time, these aren’t cookies that you can just whip up in an hour or so. That, combined with my reluctance to bake, means that I don’t get around to making these every Christmas.

However, this year I had the time and the inclination, and so I made springerles. That means on Christmas Eve we’ll be able to sip steaming mugs of hot chocolate and dip springerles into them as we watch the cats disassemble the Christmas tree.

Aah, traditions.

Merry Christmas

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
An anise-flavoured shortbread cookie.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: German
Serves: 30-40 cookies
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • 4 ½ cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp anise oil (to taste; make sure it’s anise oil, not extract)
  1. Using a whisk attachment on your stand mixer, beat the eggs until light (about five to ten minutes). Add the sugar slowly and beat until very light (another five to ten minutes). Add the anise oil and mix until incorporated.
  2. Switch to a flat beater. Sift the baking powder into the flour, then add to the batter slowly. Mix thoroughly (the dough will be quite stiff.)
  3. Chill covered for about an hour (or if you live in Winnipeg, place on your back porch for about 20 minutes). Roll the rough to approximately ½ inch thickness. Roll or press designs into the dough, then cut apart and arrange on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a Silpat.
  4. Leave exposed overnight, or until the designs on the top are dry. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake cookies for about 30 minutes. Watch them carefully so that they do not brown.
  5. Transfer to a cooling rack. When completely cool, store in a sealed tin. As they age they will become tender. Makes 30-40 cookies.

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Carbone Coal Fired Pizza (aka, The wings, boss! The wings!)

With the recent announcement that Carbone will be opening a location downtown, I thought it was time to tell you a bit about this place.

But first, I’m actually going to use my university degree and give you a little information about coal.

There are lots of different types of coal, but Carbone uses anthracite in their ovens. This isn’t the dirty, frissable coal that you might picture when you first think “coal.” Instead, a chunk of anthracite would remind you more of a giant piece of graphite from a pencil.

Anthracite burns hotter than any other type of coal or wood. It also burns nearly as clean as natural gas. Because the anthracite allows the oven to get incredibly hot, pizza crusts baked in it have a lovely char on the outside with soft, chewy centres.

But enough about the coal. Let me tell you about the wings.

Wings smothered in caramelized onions

Wings! I love wings. (Side note: my personal Mecca, Quaker Steak and Lube, has finally opened a location within driving distance. As soon as I get a spare weekend, we are totally driving to Fargo for some wings.) I have found a few places that serve passable wings in Winnipeg, although I wonder if my wing snobbery is just misplaced nostalgia for the wings I had back in Ohio that I can’t get here.

However, the first time we visited Carbone, we got an order of their wings as a starter. The wings arrived at our table smothered in caramelized onions. One bite and I was hooked. I could keep going back to Carbone just for these wings. The onions melt in your mouth, and whatever they used to spice the wings complemented the onions perfectly.

(Psst! Try the wings!)

But they are a pizza place, not a wing joint, so I guess I should talk about the pizzas. On our first visit we tried the classic Italian pie, the Margherita. This is a classic, one that we make ourselves on our grill. And it tasted classic, exactly as promised. The crust had a nice crunchy char (which I’ve heard some people describe as “burnt,” but we like this style of pizza), but with a tender interior. They also didn’t make the common error of drowning the pizza in toppings, but let the simple ingredients speak for themselves.

On another visit, we tried the Peppino, topped with arugula, prosciutto and parmesan. I wasn’t as crazy about this one, but I admit that it grew on me. I think my husband enjoyed it more than I did. There was a lot of arugula on the pizza, but after folding each piece in half, sandwiching the greens in the middle, the bitter greens weren’t as overpowering. So apparently the preferred eating technique should be explained when the pizza arrives at your table.

Arugula pizza

And on that same thread, under Lessons Learned, the Ferrero is designated as a “personal size dessert pizza.” Lies! It may only be 6 inches across or so, but it’s drenched in rich melted Nutella and bananas. It was amazingly delicious, but it can easily serve four people who have just had wings and pizza.

The interior of Carbone is casual, and there are big screen TVs (tuned to sports, of course – yawn) in every corner. It can, however, get noisy as the place fills up. (Maybe I’m getting old, but yelling at your dinner companions across the table just isn’t fun.) I’m interested to see what kind of vibe their downtown location will have. They have a full bar, with weekly drink specials, and a nice selection of wines.

Carbone is located on Taylor in a strip mall, just past the tracks to the east as you turn off Keneston. They open at 11:30am on weekdays and 1pm on weekends. On Sunday to Wednesday they close at 10pm, and Thursday to Saturday they close at 11pm.

Carbone Coal Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

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Hopes for 2013

I hope everyone had a safe and lovely holiday season! We had a great time, and I was finally able to take a breather from what has been a tremendous flurry of craziness at work.

The next step after New Year’s – resolutions – represents a chance for everyone to voice what they hope will come to pass this year: lose some weight, save some money, declutter the house, what have you. Rather than doing my typical navel-gazing, I’m turning the resolution thing around for this post and will list what I hope to see happen in the Winnipeg food world in 2013.


There’s already been one huge announcement: the owner of Hermano’s announced today that he is in negotiations to reopen the revolving restaurant at Fort Garry Place. Better yet, the restaurant – which will be appropriately called Prairie 360 – will focus on locally-grown, Manitoba-inspired food. I am so thrilled about this, and am sending all the good vibes I can at this venture. They hope to open the new restaurant this fall.

I have a few other things that I’m hoping for this year, as well:

Backyard chickens and bees. First, I would like the city of Winnipeg to come to a sane and progressive decision about allowing residents to keep backyard chickens and bees. To be honest, I think the chicken people are sort of their own worst enemy (really? taking a chicken to a council meeting? That’s step 2 in “how to alienate your audience”…), but I’m hoping that their report is well-received. Having clear suggestions on how to limit the impact of backyard chickens and bees is a great step, and I’m looking forward to seeing how council responds.

More food trucks. Last year, Bartley Kives of the Winnipeg Free Press did a great piece on the state of food trucks and other street eats in Winnipeg. He detailed why there weren’t many (oppressive regulations) and explained what the city was doing to actively discourage them (shutting down stands operated by established eateries). On the other hand, other cities, like Toronto and Vancouver, have been actively encouraging food trucks with festivals and a expansion of licenses issued. We saw some growth this past summer, with new entries like Pimp My Rice, Stuff It and Little Bones. I’d love to see this continue in 2013.

More accessible restaurant inspection reports. This is a topic I’ve been advocating for a while, so I’m not holding my breath on seeing any action on it anytime soon. Basically, I’d like to see a more consumer-friendly way to tell how well your favourite eatery has done on its last inspection. My gold standard is the way Toronto does it: colour-coded cards that must be displayed near the front entrance, showing a green, yellow or red card based on their inspection. (The Toronto site also explains, in plain English, the difference between a minor infraction and a major infraction. Manitoba doesn’t make that clear at all.)

However, the province recently took over the inspections for the city of Winnipeg, and they are now in charge of reporting closures and convictions. They do seem to be keeping up with it a bit better than the city did, but I would also like to see if the diner down the street passed with flying green colours. The ball is in their court on this one, and 2013 would be a great year to make this change.

Those are my big three. There are a few others, but I’m interesting in what you think. What would you like to see this year?

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Canned Apple Butter

I knew it was coming, but over the weekend it happened: our freezer is now totally full. Not a scrap more of frozen beans, cauliflower, bacon or ground bison will fit.

We are blessed to be presented with this problem, of course, but it is still a problem. See, I went and bought about nine pounds of Goodland apples at the farmers’ market, and now I had nowhere to put them. The intention was to peel, core and slice them, toss them with sugar and spices, portion them out into freezer bags and then freeze them for making apple pie this winter. Our little freezer space problem nixed that idea.

So I turned to plan B: making apple butter and canning the results.

Apple Butter

Canning is one of those devoted foodie things that I love the idea of, and I love the results, but – my gosh, it is a pain in the ass to actually do. It involves either using a pressure canner, which scares the daylights out of me, or boiling a huge pot of water on the stove during the hottest part of the summer. Then you have to clean and sanitize the jars, sanitize the lids, cook your food, fill the jars, process them, and then give up precious counter space for a full day while they cool.

But you know what? I do it anyway. I do it because I love opening a jar of summer while a blizzard howls outside. Eye on the prize and all that. If you’re interested in getting started doing canning yourself, I recommend reading the tutorials on the Bernardin website or at the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Or if you prefer blogs about canning, there are two that I like: Well Preserved, written by a couple in Toronto, and Food in Jars, written by a lady in the US.

Apple butter is a fruit butter, which means that it’s basically apples cooked down with sugar and spices until the sugar caramelizes and the mixture becomes thick. It’s a staple condiment in the heart of Amish country, near where I grew up, but I was surprised to discover that it’s relatively unknown in Winnipeg.

Apple Butter Label

I’m well versed in ways to eat apple butter, but this was my first time making it. I probably could have cooked it down further, but I wanted to go to bed sometime before 1:00am. I basically ended up with a thick, spreadable applesauce; not exactly what I wanted, but close.

I think next time*, I’ll cook it down in a crockpot. If you cook it long and low with the crock’s lid tilted slightly, you apparently get a much more consistent texture (and you don’t have to spend all evening stirring a pot).

Recipes for apple butter vary, but here’s what I did:

  • About 9 lbs of Goodland apples (three bags), peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 2 TB apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

In a stainless steel pot of boiling water, cook the apple slices until they’re tender. Drain.

Return the apples to the pot and put the pot over low heat. Add the apple cider. Smash the apples into a chunky paste with a spoon and bring to a “boil” for about 20 minutes. This will be a popping, spattery, mess-making boil. Don’t cover the pot, though, because you need the liquid to cook off.

Add the vinegar or lemon juice, sugar and spices. Stir well. Cook over low heat until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. (This could take 1-2 hours.) Puree the apple butter mostly smooth with an immersion blender, or work out your frustration by mashing pieces against the side of the pot with a spoon.

Using proper canning techniques, fill 125ml jelly jars and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

*Yes, next time. I am such a masochist.

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Get Your Half Pints at the Flatlander’s Beer Festival

I totally admit to not being much of a wine person. Instead, my Midwestern upbringing has made me a beer person. I don’t dislike wine, but when given the choice I prefer malt and hops to grapes. This has led to some interesting encounters; for example, a waiter at Sydney’s once said “Aren’t you cute!” when I asked for a pre-dinner beer instead of a cocktail. Fortunately, the rising popularity of craft brews is allowing us beer people a lot more variety and choice when it comes to our beer.

One of the rising stars on the Canadian craft brew scene, of course, is Winnipeg’s very own Half Pints. They just got some national attention from Jordon St. John when he profiled them for the Sun. As far as I’m concerned, they deserve the positive attention. In his column, he mentioned one of their recent seasonal brews, Noche De Los Alebrijes.

Noche De Los Alebrijes

Noche De Los Alebrijes is a dunkle lager. I am normally not a fan of darker-coloured beers, but this one has really won me over. It has a really rich flavour that manages to not be overwhelming, and fades into an intriguing chocolate aftertaste. I like this beer. I really, really like this beer, and I’m going to be very sad when we’re gone through our hoard and we can’t get anymore. (We went to the Ellice Street MLCC and just about bought them out of stock a few days ago.)

My husband is a fan of the Humulus Ludicrous, a ridiculously bitter IPA that Half Pints put out at the same time as Noche De Los Alebrijes. I’m not a fan of the extreme hoppy taste, but that just leaves more for him.

Half Pints is going to be at the Flatlander’s Beer Festival tonight and tomorrow. They will have Humulus Ludicrous available to sample, along with a cask of a vanilla stout, which I am very interesting in trying.

We went to the beer festival last year and had a fantastic time. (And thank you, Winnipeg Transit, for the ride home.) With your admission you receive five tasting tickets, and you can buy additional tasting tickets at the event.

You also receive a guidebook with space for you to take notes about the beers you’ve tasted. After the event you can peruse your notes, and go to the MLCC to find your favourites from the evening. Last year I added a few more beers to my favourites, including something that I consider a “dessert beer,” St. Louis Kriek. It tastes more like a cherry fruit cooler than a beer, but I can see it taking the same place as an ice wine on a dinner menu.

The Flatlander’s Beer Festival is on September 13-14, from 7:00pm-10:00pm at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. Tickets are available at all MLCCs, or from Ticketmaster. See you there!

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What’s Not at Our Farmers’ Markets

We have returned from spending some time in Ohio, visiting family and friends. As part of our trip, we visited a farmers’ market that has popped up in my hometown, right downtown under an overpass bridge next to the river. It’s nicer than it sounds, and even in the morning we were glad for the shade.

The local food movement isn’t confined to Manitoba, fortunately. Wherever you go during the summer, you’re likely to find some kind of market where farmers sell direct to the consumer. (Some of them might not be quite so local, so do your homework before you go.) Ohio and Manitoba are a few zones apart in terms of the things that you can grow. There were lots of similar items, but one of the things that is missing from the Manitoba markets was peaches.

Peaches at the Kent Farmers' Market

Until I moved away, I totally took fresh peaches for granted. The ones we get from Ontario are nice; in fact I found some delicious ones at Safeway last week. But they’re not this fresh. I really miss them. Manitoba excels at blueberries, while Ohio does not, but peaches… Mmm.

Another thing that stood out at the market we visited was dairy. There were at least two goat milk producers at the market. One of them was selling litres of frozen goat milk, and both of them sold various types of goat cheeses, including flavoured fetas. I thought about how wonderful it would be to complete my shopping at the market: fruit, vegetables, eggs, milk… and dairy.

But unless the law changes, that’s unlikely to happen.

There is nothing in the Manitoba guidelines or regulations preventing dairy from being sold. The problem – and here is where my naïveté about economics becomes evident – is the agriculture marketing boards in Canada. They limit who can sell a product, when, to whom, and for how much. For dairy, farmers have to buy quotas – which are limited – in order to produce to sell. This effectively keeps new, smaller producers out of the market, and also removes the possibility of niche producers from jumping in to grab the smaller market share available at a farmers’ market. (And please, if I’m totally out to lunch on this, let me know in the comments.)

I am torn on this issue. I see the benefits of having a mandatory marketing board, but the consumers are really the losers in these cases. I remember the hullabaloo over Peak of the Market’s clamping down on local potato producers. That was eventually resolved, but the thought of having to fight that battle for every type of food stuff is a bit exhausting. This type of marketing board is becoming less and less popular, and I’m sure everyone in Winnipeg knows what the Canadian government did to the Canada Wheat Board.

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For someone who just wants to buy locally-produced food, preferably directly from the producer and without having to travel all over the countryside to get everything I need, this is all a bit depressing. In the meantime, I’ll do what I can, and keep my eyes open for new and exciting food available at our own local markets.

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