My Confession-this post has taken me slightly longer than usual to finish. I think I am starting to experience the symptoms of what I am going to be referring to as ‘blogger’s syndrome’ from now on. Simply speaking, with each post comes more experience, more details and more ideas. Especially once you start realizing that people are actually reading what you are writing and following you- the pressure builds to truly write something that is meaningful and means something to me (and hopefully will in turn mean something to you). You will see that a few changes have been made in this post. All of those ‘traits’ I have spoken of in the past such as judgment, perfectionism and control all come back to haunt me when I start thinking of who is reading my words. I anticipate that my blog will be ever changing, as I will. I am still searching for something that truly resonates with me and speaks to me in terms of design, structure and organization. For now, I am still following a certain “stream of consciousness”- so, bare with me. In the middle of last week I was given some priceless advice as well as a quote that has some real intensity and depth to it- which I would love to share with you all.
Nothing Changes, if Nothing Changes.
Allow the phrase to sink into your being. Say it slowly to yourself, feeling each syllable of each word dive into the depth of the cells of your body. This quote can really be applied to anything and everything – and still hold so much meaning. I used to describe myself as someone who really detested change. Disliking change was something that I associated with myself. I thought it was part of my personality, which I also thought was a part of me. I am starting to become more able to attach less meaning to things like this, and just be. Just experience, and allow the events to unfold around me. This is something I am still working on though, and I’m quite sure I will be for a while – so, I definitely still get the stomach-tightening feeling when I think of change. Change still makes me uncomfortable. and I’m sure it always will, to some extent. After all- I am human. This is more about being aware of these feelings and trying my best to embrace change when it is approaching me.
Things are really starting to take off- and this time around, I feel like I am an active part of the change. I am the process. I am the change. I am so pleased to witness the unbelievable development of my blog- which wouldn’t be taking place without the expertise, unimaginable talent and love from my darling brother, Sam Elgar and my beautiful friend, Alyson Strike. It’s almost too good to be true that I am surrounded by some of the greatest talents of this generation and I can only begin to describe my undying excitement for their future growth as artists and people. For now though, I will shower them with as much free food as possible- in hope that they will continue to grace me, and this blog, with their raw genius.
Happiness is a really difficult idea to conceptualize and attain.
What is true happiness? How do you reach it? How will you know when you have reached it?
For me, it’s becoming something that I spend less time looking to achieve, and more time actually experiencing. I always found it quite frustrating when an elder (usually) would lend me the infamous advice that goes something like this:
Live in the present, prepare for the future, and leave the past behind
I found it difficult to apply this concept to life, because I spent so much of my time worrying about the past and things I did wrong, as well as always worrying about what people may or may not think about generally anything to do with me. With this exhausting focus on uncontrollable entities, I now see that I was never living through compassion. I was spending all of my time worrying and thinking and wondering. I am starting to become more aware of the copious opportunities that we are presented with to be compassionate, and share in compassion. An example of this is something that just happened today (why not use something fairly (haha) recent to illustrate that I am still, clearly working on this). While in class, I found myself cringing and getting mildly frustrated at some of the interactions and questions that were being focused on. I kept thinking to myself how the discussion was very pointless and off-topic (and these are sometimes things that tend to get me all worked up and spark my ability to go to a place of judgement). So there I was, becoming quite judgmental and negative- instead of detaching myself from the situation and halting this intense need to control the “directionless” (there’s the negativity coming out) flow of conversation. Although this seems quite trivial, I can assure you that by focusing on this- I created ounces of stress and negativity in my body and within my soul that I very much could’ve done without- and this continued to effect my own individual dynamic throughout the day.
So, whats different about this post?
Sam, Alyson and I combined all of our passions and spent Saturday cooking, eating, photo-taking, food designing and chatting away. I am blown away with how it all turned out and it really just makes my heart warm when I think about how the day unfolded. This is really a group effort- and so I could never accept full credit for the caliber of today’s post on Smoked Salmon Chowder. A new hope is to continue doing this and transform it into a wonderful routine that happens every Saturday. As long as we follow through, each Saturday will be filled with good eats, great photos, glorious graphics and hopefully generous reads!
There was something about last Saturday’s energy that got me leaping out of bed at 7:30am. Ok, fair enough – I did go to bed at around 930pm the night before (a Friday night- which is probably the first time I have done that in years, if ever), but still, I felt really excited about life upon waking that morning. I have to admit I was quite disappointed when I realized that there were no farmers markets running on the weekend (it was the one week break in between the summer/fall markets and the winter Nat Bailey Stadium market which starts up again next Saturday)- however, I wasn’t going to let that “rain” on my parade (if you are currently living in Vancouver you will get the humour of this sentence).
Lately, I must admit that my food has really transformed in terms of flavour and depth. I’m coming to the realization that it really is about what you put into it, and I’m not just talking about FOOD. From the beginning stages of design (choosing a recipe) to the final touch (serving and eating) there is so much energy involved and so many chances for embellishment or for lack of a better term, damage, when it comes to cooking.
Where can you buy fresh, whole, local foods?
My first choice is always a farmers market. There is something about farmers markets that are incomparable to anything else. Going to a farmers market is the whole experience- sights, smells, sounds- all of your senses are stimulated in a way that creates a memory that will stay forever, in your mind. In terms of quality of food- you can’t do any better than a farmers market. They are packed with all the information you want to know on your food from where it is from and how it was grown to the best ways to prepare it and what to pair it with in a dish. My favorite memories of farmers markets are the vendors. No where else, will you find people who are genuinely passionate and in love with the food they are selling. They aren’t just there for the money. They are there for more. Community, love and compassion are all words that come to mind when I think of a farmers market.
I have been fortunate enough to have been in locations throughout my life where I have been able to get a great supply of fresh, seasonal and local ingredients (farmers markets are becoming more and more mainstream and popular, so do your research, I am sure there is one within reach of you). In Malaysia- I was surrounded by delicious, fresh and local tropical fruits. I would spend my summers in Calgary- where Millarville market is located. This is still one of my favorite places in the world. Its quite a large market- and there is such a sense of community there, it is contagious. Even though my family only spent our summer months there, we are always greeted with familiar, friendly faces- it is such a welcoming place. My biggest piece of advice with farmers markets and buying food in general (that I still must continue to follow myself) is get to know your vendors. Grow relationships with them. By valuing where and who grows your food, you will begin to value the food you eat and in turn, begin to value yourself more. Its a cyclical process (as is mostly everything in nature). By loving your food you will eventually begin to love yourself more (this I promise you).
The secret key to creating a wonderful meal is having an appreciation for fresh, whole ingredients.
I won’t be posting on seafood dishes too much, simply because they are not a large part of my diet (I am a pescatarian I suppose if you are searching for a label for me), and unfortunately I don’t consume meats- but I won’t place any boundaries on who I am and where I will go with this blog, because once again- nothing changes if nothing changes, and you never do know what the future will bring.
Enter Satisfyingly Simple Smoked Salmon Chowder. I love salmon. I love seafood. Fish is becoming a difficult food to come by now a days in terms of quality and affordability. I have heard an abundance of stories from people here in Vancouver about the shortage of fish this year. This truly does upset me because it is just another example of the after-effects of our continuing ignorance in terms of the earth and the planet’s resources and our general lack of compassion. Globalization has brought about many wonderful things, but one of the damaging effects (in my own opinion) is greediness. We are able to eat whatever we want, whenever we want (any time of the year), without spending too much money or exerting too much effort. As a result, we are generally unaware of what actually is going on in the world (or the sea, in regards to this particular post). I may sound quite hypocritical, as I go off on a rant about diminished resources in a blog about seafood soup (hah). My point however, is to just try to be aware of your food and your consumption. Be mindful, that is all. 🙂
Smoked salmon is a great food because it’s preparation involves little processing (smoking involves heating the fish at low temperatures over a longer time period with wood) and creates such amazing taste and dimension. Salmon in general is so great for you in terms of its nutritional makeup. It is a great source of EFA’s (most specifically your omega 3’s, EPA:DHA sources which are anti-inflammatory and integral to several processes in your body), protein, vitamin D, B12, tryptophan (and the list goes on). This is a great soup to accompany you into the winter months- it is warming, satisfying (so says the title;)), and truly delicious. I have been making it for 3 years now- and I have yet to ever get sick of it. Another wonderful thing (and this goes for all soups) is that once you get the base and foundations down, you can alter and play with the soup’s ingredients- depending on what is available to you at the time and what foods are seasonal. This time around, I went for the eye-catching, creamy, colourful nugget potatoes which were on sale at Whole Foods. Beside the salmon- they really enhanced the colour profile and flavour of the dish. The other stars of this dish are lemons and thyme. Fresh herbs are probably one of, if not my most favourite part of cooking. They do wonders for your body (most herbs are chelating and have dramatic cleansing effects on your liver and digestive system) and have such a clean, tantalizing taste to them when they are combined with other foods.
This dish is sure to satisfy yours and your guests hunger pains and give you a warming sense of comfort.
I leave you with a final photo, (credit to Alyson Strike) of the chowder, along with the newly designed Grocery List of the required ingredients (credit to Sam Elgar). Hope you enjoy it!
- 2 tablespoons organic grass-fed butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 1/2 cup organic spelt flour (or quinoa flour for GF)
- 7 cups organic vegetable broth
- 1 pound potatoes, washed and halved or cubed (I used small baby mixed potatoes)
- 1 tsp dried dill weed
- 1 tsp dried tarragon
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or dried)
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 8 ounces smoked salmon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- juice of 1 whole fresh lemon
- 1/4 tsp hot sauce
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 cups organic almond mylk
- To start your soup, prepare your mirepoix (which is the French cuisine term for chopped onion, garlic, carrots and celery). Wash + Chop these four ingredients, remember- if you are using organic ingredients, leave the skins on (the carrots for instance) as they are part of the food’s nutritional density.
- In a pot, add your butter and olive oil at medium heat. Add your mirepoix ingredients and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
- To make your dry rue (which is the base of your soup), slowly sprinkle the spelt flour ( you can also use almond meal flour or another type of flour if you like- I try to keep my dishes gluten-free when possible and spelt flour is very versatile and works in a lot of dishes so I find it great to have on hand).
- Gradually add your vegetable broth to the pot, and stir until it is slightly thickened.
- Add the halved potatoes (or quartered, depending on the size of potato you are adding) (once again, leave the skins on!), dill, tarragon, thyme and paprika. Reduce the heat, cover and allow it to cook for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the salmon, lemon juice, chipotle/cajun/chili/hot sauce (depending on which you have on hand and prefer), sea salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes.
- Mix in the almond milk- and allow the soup to simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not let the soup boil.
- I served the chowder dressed with some fresh, chopped green onion. You could also chop some fresh parsley, dill or thyme (once again, how I LOVE fresh herbs)
This soup was originally adapted from Mimi’s Smoked Salmon Chowder.