February 22, 2013
Recently one of our favourite suppliers introduced us to Le Lapin de Stanstead, a producer of excellent quality and humanely raised rabbit meat. We have been testing the product for a couple of months, featuring it in pies, and recently at the Taste of The Glebe. On Monday, February 25th we are putting rabbit on the Dinner Menu and will be creating a lovely Rabbit Stew with Herbed Dumplings.
Since the dawn of time, humans have been raising rabbits for meat. Rabbit is higher in protein, iron, and minerals, and lower in calories and fat than chicken, turkey, lamb, pork and beef. Some believe that rabbit meat is the most nutritious known meat protein to humans and it is often recommended to people with heart disease, and other conditions.
Aside from the health benefits, rabbit offers some tremendous environmental benefits over beef, pork, and factory farmed chicken. The environmental impact from raising rabbits is low. The period from conception to harvesting maturity is only three months, and the amount of food they eat is minimal when compared to other animals. Rabbits will produce 6 pounds of meat on the same feed and water as a cow will consume to produce 1 pound. They are the most productive of all domestic livestock, evidenced by the fact that a single pair of rabbits released in Australia in 1859 gave rise to an estimated 20 million rabbits in less than 30 years.
As the world’s human population grows, there will be less land and water to raise food, and the rabbit will play a more important role in the world’s food supply. It has also been playing a larger role on fine dining menus, with top chefs all over the world working with rabbit on a regular basis, including many of our favourite Ottawa haunts.
Le Lapin de Stanstead is a family owned farm located near Sherbrooke. When we met, we knew that our philosophies were aligned. Stanstead feeds their rabbits exclusively with alfalfa-based meal free of any medications and growth hormones and their mission is to offer meat that is not only delicious, but also healthy, organic and nutritious. We are proud to welcome Le Lapin de Stanstead as a new supplier.
This month in the OSCAR article and on our blog, I challenged our customers and readers to shop & cook a week’s worth of meals for their family, using the shopping list and recipes created and posted in our blog/article. Well to my great joy, one of our regular readers not only took the challenge, but also sent me photos and comments.
Here, in Shannon’s own words, is the story of her success!
“This past Sunday, I took a printed copy of your most recent blog entry and headed to my local super market. I purchased the list of items and headed home for a day in my kitchen. I am a mother of two little ones and I work full time during the week. It is a continuous stressful struggle to make good, healthy, yummy meals for my kids without completely losing my mind during the week. Your blog sounded like a great way to get some meals in my freezer for the week ahead … and man, was I right! I made all four recipes. At the end of the day I had two lovely pasta casseroles, a beautiful sweet potato/chick pea stew (half for dinner and half in the freezer), a big pot of kale/bean/potato soup (put into individual serving containers and frozen for lunches or a quick meal) and 12 chicken tacos made with soft corn tortillas and individually wrapped and frozen.
I love your blog, your shop and all the delicious foods you create. I am attaching a couple photos to show off the labours of my most enjoyable and productive day in the kitchen. You can not imagine how much my stress levels are reduced heading into this work week. It feels so great to have delicious and healthy meals prepared in advance for my family.”
It was such a treat to hear from Shannon. When Jo-Ann and I started our business we had a goal – “to get friends, family and loved ones back to the table around healthy, nutritious meals”. We are so grateful to be able to help people in our community to achieve this goal in any way we can.
January 31, 2013
‘Wow! That’s a very happy surprise!’ Tuula replied, when we notified her.
Thank you to everyone who enjoyed our Spa Inspired menus this month. As always, we appreciate your support and hope you have enjoyed spa month as much as we have.
Last week I had the pleasure of leading a cooking workshop for a group of grade 11 and 12 students at St. Paul’s High School in Ottawa’s west end. I had been approached by their food & nutrition teacher, Daiana Andreoli, about whether we would be interested in working with them and I jumped all over it. There are two things that I am very passionate about, to the point of preachiness. First, it is possible to feed your family healthy and organic foods even on a tight budget. Secondly, young people will eat good food if you educate them on the importance and include them in the shopping and cooking process. Here was my opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.
I prepared s workshop based on a simple concept. Take one chicken (preferably organic) and with creative use of legumes, whole grains & healthy vegetables, turn it into 4 meals for a family of four. The shopping was done in advance by Daiana, and the day before I arrived the kids prepped all the ingredients. The chicken was cooked in a stock pot, meat removed when cooked, and the bones added back to the pot to simmer on low for 5-6 hours, so are starting ingredients were the meat of one chicken, and a luscious stock.
I developed 4 recipes that would use those base ingredients, playing around with different styles, flavours, and ethnic influences. We created a pasta casserole with leeks & peas, a white bean, potato & kale soup, a stew of coconut curried sweet potatoes with chicken & chickpeas, and finally, chicken tacos with all the trimmings.
The total budget for all ingredients including 2 small organic chickens which alone represented over $30 of the total costs was $123.00. We cooked enough food to feed 4 meals to a family of 4, with leftovers. Aside from the initial preparation, cooking time for each dish was less than 30 minutes.
My favourite of all the dishes was the stew, which was full of colour & flavour.
I have included the shopping list, prep list and recipes so you can try this experiment at home one week.
Cook Chicken/Make Stock
Cover the chicken cold water in a large stainless steel stockpot and bring to a boil. When the stock comes to a full boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer and skim off the gray foam that rises to the surface. Add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme, bay, and salt.
Cook gently for 1-1.5 hours hours until the chicken is cooked. Remove, and when cool enough to handle remove breast meet, thighs & wings. Put the carcass and the wings back in the pot and continue to simmer for another 2 hours until the broth tastes rich and is a light golden color. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or a colander lined with cheesecloth. Save any pieces of chicken and set aside. Return the stock to pot and simmer to reduce to 2 litres.
Allow the stock to cool completely; skim the fat and promptly refrigerate.
Cook 3-cups organic brown rice
The brown rice will be served with the stew and the tacos. Organic Brown Basmati is my preference
Curried Sweet Potato & Chicken Stew
serve on rice
Prep all of the above ingredients
Sauté onions in a large saucepan on medium high heat until soft. Add Red Peppers, and cook until peppers wilt. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes and coconut milk and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add chickpeas, 1 cup of chicken stock, chicken and sweet potatoes. Simmer on low heat for 5-7 minutes. Add curry paste and season with salt to taste. If the stew is too thick, thin with remaining chicken stock. Before serving, toss in spinach leaves. Serve on steamed rice.
You could garnish this dish with chopped green onions, cilantro & avocado.
White Bean, Kale & Potato Soup
Sauté onions & garlic in soup pot in 2 tablespoons of oil. Add kale and cook until wilted. Remove from pan. Put white beans, potatoes, chicken stock & reserved meat, tomatoes and juice in the soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add herbs and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add back kale & onion mixture and test for seasoning. Add salt to taste and serve.
This meal would be best served with crusty bread. The soup can be garnished with fresh chopped parsley and grated cheese (parmesan or cheddar).
Pasta, Chicken, Pea & Leek Casserole
Melt butter in a saucepan. Sauté the leeks until soft. Add cream and bring to a simmer. Add peas, season with salt & pepper. In a large bowl mix together cooked pasta, cream/leek mixture, peas, chicken, cheddar cheese & spinach. Transfer to ovenproof casserole and top with parmesan. Cook at 375 until warmed through and top is golden brown.
This meal will go well with a tossed green salad or cole slaw.
Heat oil in a sauté pan and sauté onions and peppers until caramelized. Add shredded chicken meat and season with cumin, salt & pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.
Heat more oil in pan and sauté green onions, tomatoes, corn kernels and black beans. Season with chili powder and lemon juice. Set aside half of mixture and add rice to the remaining mixture. Warm to serve.
Slice avocado and drizzle with lemon juice & oil. Season with salt.
Heat tacos in dry fry pan. Stuff tacos with chicken mixture. Garnish with sour cream, salsa, chopped cilantro. Serve with rice and garnish with more black bean mixture.
I am not generally the kind of person who makes sweeping changes every January and few of the ‘resolutions’ I make stick for very long. However, I do believe that it’s a good idea to take stock on occasion of my health, my diet, my goals and ask myself what changes would I like to make? I also find it’s a good time to ‘cleanse’ my body of the bad habits that I accumulate over the course of a year.
It is in this spirit that every January I eliminate all the things that my body really craves from my diet. The list is long, and quite intimidating; coffee, sugar, dairy, wheat (gluten actually) and wine (all alcohol to be specific). Doesn’t sound like much fun does it? You could call it a ‘fast’ of sorts, although there is no restriction on the amount of food, just the types of food.
Humans have had a long history with ‘fasting’ and although it is often associated with a religious practice, the purpose of fasting was also for the health benefits.
So during this month, what do I eat? I find sticking to a largely Asian inspired diet makes it easier. Lean meat & fish, heart healthy fats, chicken & miso broths, rice noodles, lots of fresh herbs, lettuces, avocados, fresh fruit, frozen berries and hot baths! My go to staple is Pho, which is super simple to make at home.
To assist you in meeting your New Year’s resolutions, the Red Apron will be featuring Spa Inspired Menus throughout the month of January for the 6th year straight! Customers who sign up for three nights of any week between January 7 and January 31st will have a chance to win a visit to Le Nordic Spa in Chelsea.
And in case you were wondering what a Red Apron Spa Month meal looks like – take a gander at this!
For those days that we don’t deliver, here is a quick and easy healthy meal idea.
The key to a great bowl of pho is in the garnishes. Fresh herbs, and crunchy vegetables make this dish exciting.
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh mint leaves
Diced green onions
Fresh bean sprouts
Wedge of lemon or lime
A good chicken or beef stock makes the best pho, but a nice miso broth is a quick and simple alternative. Miso is a fermented paste made from soybeans. It’s very nutritious and full of healthy good bacteria. However because it’s alive you don’t want to boil it. Bring your water to a full boil and turn it off. Stir in 1 or 2 heaping teaspoons of miso and taste.
Bring a pot of water to a full boil and drop in the noodles. Many varieties cook really quickly so test every minute. When cooked, add a cup of cold water to stop the cooking process then drain.
The beauty of pho is that you can pretty much put whatever you want in. My favourites are sliced chicken or steak, seared fish, sautéed mushroom, steamed vegetables, and tofu.
Put the protein, vegetables, and noodles in a large bowl. Pour steaming hot broth over and garnish. Slurp away!
We are Mothers, residents of our community, entrepreneurs as well as active participants in our local economy. We individually have a history of owning and operating successful local businesses.
Our commitment to getting people “back to the table” starts at home and extends to our community through a number of philanthropic endeavours.