The Sweetest Crumb

Archive of ‘The Canadian Food Experience Project’ category

Sour Cherry Pie and a Canadian Recipe

Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a cherry craze.

I’ve been buying cherries (along with almost every other kind of fruit available) at our local farmers’ market to fully take advantage of the last few, dwindling weeks of summer produce.

I have helped my parents pick their overflowing Evans cherry tree, essentially stuffing my freezer full of cherries afterwards. I may have even announced afterwards that we need to buy another freezer (don’t worry – Sean stopped me from making that impulse buy).

And, I’m currently drinking a chocolate cherry latte courtesy of Roast… mmmm.

So overall – cherry overload.

Also, since today is the 7th, it is once again time for my monthly post as part of the Canadian Food Experience Project. For those of you who are new to the Canadian Food Experience Project, the series began on June 7, 2013 and involves a collection of monthly articles written by food bloggers, writers and enthusiasts on pre-determined Canadian food topics. The project aims to help us explore and share our Canadian food identity.

As today’s challenge was to share a cherished Canadian recipe, I thought it would be a perfect time to share what I did with all my Evans cherries. As some of you will know, the Evans cherry is a sour cherry variety which grows on a hardy tree, perfect for withstanding our harsh Alberta climate, making it a very popular regional fruit. It might not have the same look or flavour as the better known Bing cherry, but it is still delicious, tart and perfect for desserts – especially pie.

This pie was great – I’ve been having a slice with my lunch everyday since I made it and it never fails to hit the spot. The tart filling goes well with the buttery crust and it would be fantastic with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Now I need to admit that I am very picky about pie crusts – full disclosure! I need the crust to be flaky and sprinkled with sugar. But I refuse to use shortening in my crust to get the flaky effect. First of all, the extreme white colour of shortening creeps me out a little. Second, hydrogenated oils and trans fats are yukky – I want to feel good about what I’m putting in my body regardless of if its a quinoa salad or a slice of pie. And third, nothing beats butter, in my opinion :) Needless to say, I am a butter purist when it comes to baking. So… I use this wonderful recipe from Smitten Kitchen for pie crusts. Deb also provides some great tips on making pie dough for those who may be attempting their first pie here and here.

For the filling, I used the recipe below. It is really easy to throw together and has few ingredients since the cherry flavour stands out well all on its own.

So, if you have a cherry surplus in your freezer too, make a pie. You won’t be disappointed.


Sour Cherry Pie Filling

By Genia Rodnyansky Published: September 7, 2013

  • Yield: enough for one 9

Recently, I've been on a bit of a cherry craze. I've been buying cherries (along with almost every other kind of fruit available) …


  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 lb sour cherries such as Evans, pitted
  • 1 tsp lemon juice freshly squeeze
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Mix in cherries, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Stir carefully until evenly mixed.
  3. Use mixture to fill prepared pie crust.

    Canadian Food Heroes

    Happy Wednesday, friends!

    Sorry for the long absence, guys. Life got busy and my blog posts became less frequent. However, since today is the 7th, it is once again time for my monthly post as part of the Canadian Food Experience Project. For those of you who are new to the Canadian Food Experience Project, the series began on June 7, 2013 and involves a collection of monthly articles written by food bloggers, writers and enthusiasts on pre-determined Canadian food topics. The project aims to help us explore and share our Canadian food identity.

    The challenge for August is to write about our local Canadian food hero. As I started to think about this topic, I found myself in a bit of a panic. I am not closely acquainted with any local farmers, producers, chefs or bakers – what would I write about? In fact, I am a chartered accountant who spends Monday through Friday working in a tall downtown office tower, as far away from anyone involved in the production of local food as possible. However, this somehow doesn’t stop me from being hugely passionate about eating healthy, local foods. In fact, I’ve always had a weird fascination with anything rural (when I was young, while other girls dreamed of marrying movie stars, I dreamed of marrying a farmer ;) ). And now, as an adult, I find it extremely important to cook meals from scratch, know exactly what I am eating and where the ingredients came from. So while I can’t say I am closely  acquainted with any local farmer/producer/chef/baker, I can safely say that I am truly grateful for all the talented individuals in the Edmonton area who help us city dwellers develop a deeper understanding of where our food comes from. These are the my “food heroes.”

    There are local farmers and gardeners like those at Happy Acres U-Pick and Billyco Junction. They value chemical-free growing and welcome anyone to stop by for an afternoon of picking strawberries, saskatoons and honeyberries. This not only allows people like me to fill their pails (and freezers) with berries that are bursting in flavour and nutrients, but allows families to bring their children along to learn about local agriculture.

    There are producers which reliably bring their produce to local farmer’s markets so us city dwellers, who often have little opportunity to plant and harvest our own gardens, can take advantage of the season’s bounty. Their market stands become a regular stop for many. I can personally attest that we’ve been getting our weekly haul of fruits and vegetables from producers like Steve and Dan’s and Gull Valley Greenhouses all summer, using their produce in everything from weekday lunches to dessert creations.

    There are also organizations like Taste Alberta that put on wonderful events like Farm to Fork. The event, held this July, allowed regular city folks like us to meet regional producers like Patrick and Cherylynn Bos of Rock Ridge organic dairy. We toured their farm and learned about the processing of goat and cow milk and cheese. We were able to put a face behind the milk carton we may have already been buying at Blush Lane. Plus we got to pet the cute goats!

    While on the Farm to Fork tour, we also had a chance to stop at Brown Eggs and Lamb, a local farm near Lacombe. Cal and Laura welcomed us into their farm even though we arrived after official tour hours. They treated us to some homemade saskatoon tarts and openly told us all about their experience with hens and sheep – they even let us hold their chickens. Brown Eggs and Lamb also has a small shop on site where anyone can purchase their eggs and lamb. They also carry ground flours, local dairy and pasture-fed meats from other nearby producers.

    These experiences are so valuable. Being able to visit the farm where you obtain your food from allows you to build a relationship with the producer, feel confident in the quality of food you are purchasing and solidify a clear connection between farm and food. Thank you to everyone who let us into their farms that day!

    Lastly, there are our friends and family, who support us in our pursuits of healthy, local food. Friends who are willing to share their knowledge on where to find wild blueberries or how to identify edible mushrooms.

    Family members like my mom, who has the biggest green thumb and so much generosity that she won’t let us leave her home without filling our car with her own amazing, local harvest.

    And significant others like my own urban farmer, who puts up with me while I insist on spending countless hours of our preciously limited free time washing, sorting and freezing local summer produce so we can enjoy it when the summer is long gone.

    So thank you to all of my local food heroes – my pursuits at eating healthy and local would definitely not be the same without people like you!

    A Regional Canadian Food: Saskatoon Berry Ice Cream

    Happy Sunday, friends!

    As today is the 7th, its time for my monthly post as part of the Canadian Food Experience Project. For those of you who read last month’s topic… you will recall it was all about the past with recollections of first authentic Canadian food memories. The challenge for July was to explore a regional Canadian food.

    For those of you who are new to the Canadian Food Experience Project, the project began on June 7, 2013 and involves a collection of monthly articles written by food bloggers, writers and enthusiasts on pre-determined Canadian food topics. The project aims to help us explore and share our Canadian food identity.

    When I was thinking about what regional foods or ingredients I would work with for the challenge, the Saskatoon berry just seemed like an obvious choice. These sweet berries are native to the prairies (along with British Columbia and some of the Northern United States), having been used by Native Americans for food and medicinal purposes centuries ago. While they can be easily mistaken for blueberries in appearance, Saskatoon berries have a fairly different flavour – still sweet like the blueberry, they also have a bit of tartness and a drier, less juicy feel. We can’t generally buy these berries at nearby grocery stores, but they are locally available in the wild or can be harvested at local U-Picks. It is definitely not uncommon to see Saskatoon berries used in pies or tarts in Alberta and, to me, they are a perfect representation of regional cuisine.

    While Saskatoon pie is delicious, and I would never turn down a slice, I wanted to make something a bit different to showcase the flavour of this regional berry. I pulled out the ice cream machine and a few hours later we had Saskatoon berry ice cream!

    The ice cream recipe was inspired by a few of the recipes in The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz – this man in amazing and I love to live vicariously through his food adventures.

    Also, I know that not everyone has an ice cream maker just sitting around at home, but to be honest, a simple, quality machine can be purchased at a reasonable price and is a great investment if you’re looking to make frozen desserts at home. Ours is by no means fancy, but it does the job, churns the ice cream and yields delicious creamy desserts. (I dream of one day upgrading to a professional machine.) The recipe for the ice cream itself was quite simple. The most frustrating and time consuming part was straining the berry puree through a fine sieve to make sure our ice cream was as smooth as possible. While this is by no means necessary, you won’t regret spending the extra time straining the puree when you’re enjoying flawlessly smooth and creamy scoops of ice cream. In terms of taste, I couldn’t have been happier with this ice cream. The Saskatoon berry flavour came through really well and the bright, natural colour was a plus.

    Some additional tips to keep in mind:

    • If you haven’t made ice cream before, make sure to read through the steps carefully. It may help to have your ice bath ready when you are making the ice cream.
    • Make sure to chill your cream mixture in the refrigerator thoroughly before churning. This will help create the creamy taste we love so much in ice cream.
    • As with most homemade ice creams, this dessert was very rich and you really need only a small scoop or two to be satisfied – so good.
    • The dimensions below will yield more berry puree than you will require for the ice cream. You can use the remaining puree in smoothies or add to pancake batter for a regionally-inspired breakfast. Enjoy!

    Saskatoon Berry Ice Cream


    By Genia Rodnyansky Published: July 7, 2013

    • Yield: 1.5 quart

    Happy Sunday, friends! As today is the 7th, its time for my monthly post as part of the Canadian Food Experience Project. For those …


    • 6 cups Saskatoon berries fresh or frozen
    • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
    • 1 1/2 cups half and half
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 5 egg yolks large
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed


    1. Combine the Saskatoon berries and 3/4 cups sugar in a large saucepan. Add a splash of water and cook over low-medium heat for about 15 minutes or until berries are breaking up and soft. You can assist the process by stirring with a wooden spoon and breaking up the berries against the side of the saucepan. If the mixture becomes too thick, you can add a bit more water but be careful not to dilute the flavourful puree too much.
    2. Once cooked, transfer the puree to a blender and blend until smooth. Then strain the mixture through a fine, mesh strainer. Reserve 1.5 cups of the strained puree. The rest can be set aside for other uses.
    3. Pour the whipping cream into a large bowl and place a strainer over top. Set aside.
    4. Warm the half and half and the 1/2 cups of sugar in a medium saucepan.
    5. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly add the warmed half and half mixture to the egg yolks, adding a little at a time and whisking constantly until fully incorporated. This will allow the eggs to temper and not cook. Return this mixture back to the saucepan.
    6. Cook the mixture over low-medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan as you cook. Cook the mixture until it thickens to a custard consistency and coats the back of your spoon.
    7. Pour the thickened mixture through the sieve, into the prepared whipping cream. Add in the Saskatoon berry puree and the lemon juice. Stir to combine and transfer to an ice bath to chill, stirring occasionally.
    8. Once chilled in the ice bath, refrigerate the mixture for at least 4 hours or overnight before churning in your ice cream machine. Churn the mixture according to your ice cream machine instructions. Enjoy after churning or package for a bit of time in the freezer before enjoying.

      The Canadian Food Experience Project: My First Authentic Canadian Food Memory

      Happy Friday, everyone!

      Today I wanted to share a new project that I’m participating in. Valerie Lugonja of A Canadian Foodie has put together the Canadian Food Experience Project which begins on June 7, 2013. She’s gathered together a group of Canadian food writers and bloggers who will write monthly articles on pre-determined Canadian food topics. The project will help us explore and share our Canadian food identity which, I know, is sometimes hard to do. Honestly, how many of us have struggled to explain what Canadian cuisine is when we meet travellers from other countries? Maple syrup, poutine, caesars… and my list is basically complete ;)

      I am really excited to join in on the project with so many great writers and Canadian food advocates. I hope you guys enjoy these monthly posts and encourage you to take a look at the articles of other participants.

      My First Authentic Canadian Food Memory

      Since my family immigrated to Canada when I was 6 years old, my first Canadian food experience (authentic or not) took place in 1994. Staying in a hotel our first week in Canada, we discovered both Raisin Bran cereal and peanut butter (in those little single-serving squares) at breakfast. Having just arrived in Canada, both of these foods were entirely foreign to us and I whole-heartedly believed they were authentic Canadian foods. Not to mention, I thought these were the most delicious foods in the world! As a result, I remember eating A LOT of Raisin Bran and peanut butter in our first year in Canada.

      Things have changed slightly now. First off, I can’t stand Raisin Bran anymore. Second, I realized that those typical hotel breakfast foods may not be as authentically Canadian as the 6-year old version of me thought.

      So what was my first authentic Canadian food memory? What is authentically Canadian food? It has to be more than just poutine (although poutine IS delicious).

      For me, Canadian food is food which is influenced by the countless cultures which co-exist and shape our country. It can be the French Canadian cuisine or what’s served at that one Chinese food restaurant which can be found in virtually every small town in Alberta. But also, Canadian cuisine is food which celebrates the produce and livestock that we are proud to have locally: British Columbia salmon or sea buckthorn berries that grow throughout the prairies.

      So while I can’t easily pinpoint my first food memory, there are a few which particularly stand out. First, is having Christmas dinners where the food is clearly from a mix of our traditional and adopted cultures. On our table you will find a stuffed turkey and cranberry sauce, dishes almost unheard of back home, as well as many Ukrainian salads and sides including rye toast and caviar. I also have fond memories of joining my parents in foraging for mushrooms in the forest and picking Saskatoon berries until our baskets and stomachs were full. Finally, I can recall being out with my parents where we fished for trout, later hearing it crackle in tinfoil while it cooked over our campground fire.

      While none of these memories have a poutine in sight, I think they are all authentically Canadian in their own way.