Culinary Goods

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culinary goods

Welcome to Culinary Goods a journal written by Trevor Walker. It includes a growing collection of simple recipes that I refer to when cooking for our own family and some reflections on (mostly) culinary topics. Feel free to post comments and share your own family's tried and true recipes.

little eaters

Unfinished Muffin - photo by Anton Walker

Unfinished Muffin - photo by Anton Walker

Recently, I’ve been reading Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn, provocatively subtitled, “Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason.”  I’m finding it a bit of a slog but overall worthwhile and have been particularly intrigued by his comments on children’s eating habits.

Kohn claims that children have a remarkable capacity for self-regulation when it comes to eating.  He states that parents are often responsible for overriding the natural inclination of children to eat what they need, when they need it.  Our role as parents, Kohn maintains, is to provide healthy choices and step back to let our children choose when and how much to eat.

…young children will usually consume the number of calories their bodies need over time. Sometimes they’ll go for days eating so little that we become concerned, and then they suddenly put away huge portions. If they eat something fattening, they’ll tend to eat less, or something less caloric, afterward. In terms of how much they eat, then, children seem to have a remarkable capacity for self-regulation.

I’ve been impressed at our son Anton’s ability to eat just what he wants and leave the rest - even with ice cream and other sweets.  We try to resist encouraging Anton to finish all that he’s been given - although I still try to get him to eat something to provide sustenance before he moves on to desert - “perhaps a few more bites of dinner first?”  I realize though that I need to learn from Anton’s example of stopping when full, as I tend to clear everything on my plate plus what is left over on his.  Unfortunately, my body is storing away the extra calories and apparently I’m ready for a long hibernation this winter.

The next big diet craze - The ‘Eat like a 4-year old’ Diet?  I think it might work but clearly most people wouldn’t lose weight on what a 4-year old would eat if given free reign to choose whatever they wanted.  Kohn isn’t suggesting that parent’s should be permissive about what children eat - just when and how much they eat.  It still starts with learning to make healthy choices and teaching our children to forsake those colourful containers of sugar and corn syrup that get poorly disguised as food.

With the exception of avocado and mushroom Anton is willing to try pretty much anything we eat.  We don’t deny him junk food but it is a very small proportion of his diet and of our own.   I think we’ve managed to set a good example on that level.  However, when it comes to getting in touch with my own body’s cues about being full I have some work to do to set a better example of healthy eating.

It’s been interesting to consider the research that Kohn refers to.  He describes the work of two nutritionists in Illinois who observed 77 children between the ages of two and four, and also recorded the level of control that their parents attempted to exert over the children’s’ eating habits.

They discovered that those parents who insisted their children eat only during mealtimes (rather than when they were hungry), or who encouraged them to clean their plates (even when they obviously weren’t hungry), or who used food (especially desserts) as a reward wound up with children who lost the ability to regulate their caloric intake.


posted August 12, 2011 in Articles of Interest

Of Bees and Bargains

Hive Alive, Linda Jane Schmid

Hive Alive, painting by Linda Jane Schmid

Well, here is the first post-Plenty post to the Journal.  I’m going to continue to add to the Culinary Goods page - not entirely sure how it will evolve but it is likely to be more personal yet still focused on food and sustainability.  If you are receiving this by e-mail (as opposed to viewing it on the page) please remember that you can stop receiving the e-mails at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link below.

I recently travelled back to Saskatchewan with my Dad (I’ll post photos of Plenty, Stranraer,and the Saskatoon Public Market in another post) and while in Saskatoon attended a documentary about Bees at the Broadway Theatre.  Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? looks into the global honeybee crisis. From the catastrophic disappearance of bees and the mysterious world of the beehive it highlights the struggles of beekeepers, scientists and philosophers from around the world and includes commentary by Michael Pollan, Gunther Hauk and Vandana Shiva.

It was a good documentary but I think David Suzuki’s Nature of Things To Bee or Not to Bee (watch it on-line) episode captures the gravity of the situation better and manages to cover the same material in greater depth.  Both documentary’s show the numerous stresses that bees face today - from the use of chemical pesticides, to viruses, to the loss of natural bee habitats.

…the role that bees play in nature simply cannot be overstated - they pollinate many of the food crops that we depend on. A world without bees would be unrecognizable since they also pollinate many of the plants and trees in our gardens, forests and meadows.

It is clear that the way that domestic honey bees are treated (such as the transportation of bees across the continent to pollinate almond crops every Spring in California) is part of the problem. However, the loss of wild bee species tells us that there is something larger happening as well.  We’ve lost our affinity for nature and perhaps because of that we fail to equate the health of the environment with our own health.  We are destroying habitat and spreading pesticides through the environment at our own peril.  The loss of bees represents a horrific intrinsic loss - we are destroying the grandeur of the planet and its organisms - but also we are destroying the ability of the planet to support us.

Conventional agriculture is like a Faustian bargain - I am not sure that we are trading our souls for those cheep grapes but certainly our health and that of our planet.  The next time you are considering whether to purchase organic or conventional produce think of the bees and reach for the organic.  When seen in the light of the true costs of conventional agriculture - loss of species, soil degradation, pollution, the appalling treatment of agricultural workers… (and the list goes on; if in doubt consider the impact of just one conventionally grown crop: tomatoes) - organic is an incredible value indeed.

Since returning home I’ve come across some encouraging local initiatives regarding bees.  I was at the Empress last week and noticed a white picket fence bisecting part of the lower garden there.  I walked down to have have a look and was surprised to see ten hives behind the fence.  You must stop by to hear the wonderful buzz of 400,000 honey bees who will forage the Empress’ gardens and look for blossoms throughout downtown!  They are expected to produce over 1,000 pounds of honey which will be featured in the hotel’s restaurants.

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from the Wayward School about a Natural Beekeeping workshop that occurs tomorrow.  Learn how to introduce bees to your own backyard.  When our kids are a bit older I hope to add honey bees to our yard - until then we hope that Mason Bees will make a home in the new box on our shed.

Natural Beekeeping

Instructor: Javan Kerby Bernakevitch
Date: Saturday, June 18th
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm (plus follow-up field trip from 1-3 pm)
Location: 1337 Vining Street (backyard of residence)
Workshop Cost: $10 (free for members!)

… a co-operative school of thoughts and actions … a series of thematically organized lectures, workshops, and gatherings in Victoria, BC … a de-centralized network of thinkers, makers, doers in Victoria and beyond … a hyphenated happenstance … what you make of it.

Thanks to Linda Jane for the use of the image at the top of this post - click here to view more of her Bee series paintings.

posted June 18, 2011 in Articles of Interest


Letter from Rachel Berman

A letter from Rachel

One of the really nice things about Plenty is that it brings us into contact with remarkable people.  Artist Rachel Berman adopted Plenty several years ago, took us under her wing, became our Patron Saint, and then almost as suddenly as she appeared she was back in Toronto.

We weren’t completely left in the lurch though as she is a prodigious writer and kept in touch with us and with the rest of the community that she had formed around her in Victoria.

Well, Rachel is here again and - Plenty’s Patron Saint is back.  An upcoming exhibition features some of the letters that she sent back to Victoria. It’ll give you a sense of Rachel’s community here and the art that permeates her life and relationships.   Somewhere Somehow Somewhen (November 25th to December 24th,  Dales Gallery) also includes recent works by Denise Nicholls and GJ Pearson.

To view the recipe that Rachel includes in the “dear really dears” letter shown at the top of this page please scroll down.


Sole Albert Premier


posted November 5, 2010 in All Recipes

Table Talk: Mushrooms


Table Talk ✱ First Wednesday ✱ at Plenty epicurean pantry ✱ 7 - 9 pm ✱

On November 3rd Share Organics and Plenty will be co-hosting Table Talk. These lively sessions take place in the store on the first Wednesday of each month, from 7 - 9 pm, and are an opportunity to sample wonderful food, share preparation and growing tips, and engage in great discussions about food and sustainability.

For November’s discussion of mushrooms we are very fortunate to be joined by Dr. Adolf and Oldriska (Oluna) Ceska.

If you are interested in attending please RSVP (trevor [at] as space is limited.

For this session participants are asked to read an article about mushroom foraging titled Kana (in Orion Magazine on-line) and watch a video on how mushrooms can save the world (Paul Stamens TED talk).

Dr. Adolf and Oldriska (Oluna) Ceska, M.Sc. are rare plant species specialists based in Victoria, BC.


posted October 27, 2010 in Articles of Interest

A Public Market “within 30 years”?

Victoria Public Market 1891 - 1959, City of Victoria Archives

Victoria Public Market 1891-1959, Victoria Archives

The City of Victoria is currently inviting feedback on the Draft Downtown Core Area Plan. There was a Community Forum held at the Conference Centre on Friday and it continues Saturday from 10 am - 4 pm where the city is seeking feedback on the downtown plan and the Official Community Plan.

The Draft Downtown Core Area Plan mentions the prospect of a permanent public market for the city (on page 80) under the heading “Urban Animation”.  It discusses the development of outdoor cafe and dining areas and continues:

9.4.22 Review and update the City’s policy on public markets to:

Determine guidelines and standards for maintaining and expanding

existing markets and for establishing new markets.

Identify the conditions and thresholds that must be met to trigger the development of a central public market within the 30-year term of this Plan.

Public markets provide much more than ‘urban animation’ but I am pleased to see that a public market is at least contemplated. I’m greatly discouraged though by the timeframe given.  A permanent public market is needed within 5 years - not within 30.  If you agree please contact the city to say so:, or attend the Saturday forum, or one of their future downtown planning events to say so in person.


posted June 26, 2010 in Articles of Interest

Corn Husk Boats

Corn Husk Boat by Shelora Sheldan

Corn Husk Boats (with roast chicken, gravy, roasted vegetables and sautéed mushrooms, and finished with cream sherry). Photo and meal by Shelora Sheldan.

Hey, sailor!

If you’re not up for making tamales, dried corn husks, a common wrapper used for those delectable snacks, can be reconfigured as a fun container to hold rice or salad.
Have you noticed the unusual corn husks at Plenty (usually placed near our rice, masa harina and tortilla presses) and wondered what to do with them?  They are generally used for tamales but Shelora Sheldan suggests another creative use.  She recently featured instructions for Corn Husk Boats in her blog, Cooking with a Broad.  Thanks Shelora for sharing this!
Also, have a look at some of the colourful and mouth watering posts from Shelora & Bill’s new year trip to Mexico (select ‘newer post’ at the bottom to progress through each entry from the trip) and the recipe for Stuffed Chilie Pasilla de Oaxaca!
posted June 11, 2010 in All Recipes

Fathers Favourite Foods - by Bobbie Holob

Bobbie & George

Bobbie & George visiting Hungary

Working at one of the greatest little food emporiums Victoria ever had, leaves me with thoughts of food as Father’s Day (June 20, 2010) approaches…hmmmm what would our customers consider for their Father’s Day purchases?

My next thoughts are about my own Dad’s favorites and what he would have liked.  I think it would be our peanut butter filled pretzels and an authentic black licorice rope.  I remember days of licorice (all kinds but mostly black), pretzels, peanut brittle, all sorts of nuts and sunflower seeds in the shell. Those were saved for (open window) long road trips when I was a kid in the backseat of the blue Buick…ducking those sticky shells flying back at me!  My Dad was an elementary school principal and as a family we always had entire summers off.  I was fortunate to have a family that loved spontaneous travel and adventure.  I did far more than the average kid and realize now how lucky I was.

If I had to think what I have inherited from my Dad, I might be inclined to think it’s his silly (perhaps not always tasteful) sense of humour.  Dad’s was borderline corny!  I hope mine is not so bad.  Honestly though, I find myself resorting to humour sometimes more than I should.  Blame it on Dad. I love you Dad.


posted June 7, 2010 in All Recipes

Cooking Like a Hungarian - by George Zador


The native cuisine of Hungary is one of the most diversified and flavorful of Europe yet most people associate it only with goulash and paprikash. Among the many signature dishes Hungary is renowned for, the simple lecso (pronounced ‘lecho’) seem to fly under the radar perhaps because it is used so widely and so much the basis for stews, sautés and sauces that making it is akin to boiling an egg to Hungarians.

A healthy, vitamin packed dish of stewed peppers, tomatoes and onions that tastes superb and is endlessly versatile, quick and easy to make to eat fresh or for canning in jars, rates it as Hungarian soul food. (It certainly is in my soul)


posted June 7, 2010 in All Recipes

Free Range Society


Recently, I borrowed a book that I’d noticed at D’Ambrosio Architecture & Urbanism, where my wife Erica works.  Thanks to Gwen and Franc for loaning me their copy of The Great Good Place: cafes, coffee shops, community centers, beauty parlors, general stores, bars, hangouts, and how they get you through the day (Ray Oldenburg. 1991, Paragon House).

For a book about cafes, bars, and hangouts it wasn’t as rollicking a read as I imagined it might be, none-the-less Oldenburg’s case for “the informal public life and the Great Good Places essential to it” sheds light on some fundamental elements of culture and society that too often we overlook.  He points out that,

Great Civilizations, like great cities, share a common feature.  Evolving within them and crucial to their growth and refinement are distinctive informal public gathering places.  These become as much a part of the urban landscape as of the citizen’s daily life and, invariably, they come to dominate the image of the city.  Thus, its profusion of sidewalk cafes seems to be Paris, just as the forum dominates one’s mental picture of classic Rome.  The soul of London resides in her many pubs; that of Florence in its teeming piazzas.  Vienna’s presence is seen and felt most within those eternal coffeehouses encircled within her Ringstrasse.  The grocery store-become-pub at which the Irish family does its entertaining, the bier garten that is father to more formal German organizations, and the Japanese teahouse whose ceremonies are the model for an entire way of life, all represent fundamental institutions of mediation between the individual and the larger society.


posted June 4, 2010 in Articles of Interest

In the Green Kitchen


There is nothing else as universal.  There is nothing else so powerful.  When you understand where your food comes from, you look at the world in an entirely different way.  I think that if you really start caring about the world in this way, you see opportunities everywhere.  Wherever I am, I’m always looking to see what’s edible in the landscape.  Now I see Nature not just as a source of spiritual inspiration - beautiful sunsets and purple mountain majesties - but as the source of my physical nourishment.  And I’ve come to realize that I’m totally dependent on it, in all its beauty and richness, and that my survival depends on it.

- Alice Waters, A Delicious Revolution, Center for Ecoliteracy (*this is one of my favourite articles about food)

We’ve recently received some copies of Alice Water’s new cookbook, In the Green Kitchen.

Alice Waters has been a champion of the sustainable, local cooking movement for decades.  To Alice, good food is a right, not a privilege.  In the Green Kitchen presents her essential cooking techniques to be learned by heart plus more than 50 recipes—for delicious fresh, local, and seasonal meals—from Alice and her friends.  She demystifies the basics including steaming a vegetable, dressing a salad, simmering stock, filleting a fish, roasting a chicken, and making bread. An indispensable cookbook, she gives you everything you need to bring out the truest flavour that the best ingredients of the season have to offer.

Contributors: Darina Allen * Dan Barber * Lidia Bastianich * Rick Bayless * Paul Bertolli * David Chang * Traci Des Jardins * Angelo Garro * Joyce Goldstein * Thomas Keller * Niloufer Ichaporia King * Peggy Knickerbocker * Anna Lappé & Bryant Terry * Deborah Madison * Clodagh McKenna * Jean-Pierre Moullé * Joan Nathan * Scott Peacock * Cal Peternell * Gilbert Pilgram * Clair Ptak * Oliver Rowe * Amaryll Schwertner * Fanny Singer * David Tanis * Poppy Tooker * Charlie Trotter * Jerôme Waag * Beth Wells

Check out her Green Kitchen website to see some of the great recipes and techniques in action.
posted June 4, 2010 in Articles of Interest
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