Food for the Holidays

By Julia Segal

It’s the holiday season and many of us have one thing on our minds: food. Every year it gets more and more difficult to decide what kinds of festive meals to cook for the holidays. I am torn between classic comfort favourites and fun new dishes. Gone are the days of two-bite anything and canapes – now I ask myself ‘is this too spicy for grandmaman?’ This year however, instead of browsing foodgawker for recipes, I decided to let the local bounty inspire. Even though seasonal food availability tends to taper off this time of year in majestic Frontenac County, with a little searching you can find fantastic local and seasonal ingredients for your holiday feasting needs.

First, let’s talk poultry.

Whether you’re putting a bird in the oven or making chicken korma, there are a few places to check out for your poultry needs. Reinink family farms, aside from providing the freshest eggs this side of Prince Edward County, is selling organic roasting and braising chickens this year at the market. Reinink is a small family-run organic egg farm just 30 minutes from Kingston. Find them at the Public Market behind City Hall – they are some of the few still braving the cold to feed you. For a more sizeable bird, head over to Wendy’s Country Market and pre-order your local Christmas turkey.
For something truly different at the Market, I love checking out what Sarah has at Edible Earth. One of the few people left at the Kingston Public Market this time of year, Sarah combines her love of organic farming with her Korean roots. Pick up some homemade spicy kimchi for a fun addition to any recipe or surprise guests with hot dandelion root tea, a healthful coffee substitute made from the root of the dandelion flower. If you stop by to chat with Sarah, you never know what kind of intriguing Asian vegetables you will find – like black garlic, her specialty, – or what interesting tidbits about Eastern medicine you will will learn. After all, isn’t this time of year all about sharing and learning?
Even though the leafy greens and tomatoes are gone from our fields, our winter vegetable options are worth checking out. Your best bet for the freshest and most delicious seasonal vegetables is Kitchen Garden’s Winter CSA. It has already kicked off but they are still selling some shares. Not only is it local, organic and seasonal, The Kitchen Garden also focuses on increasing the nutrient density in all of their products. For kale lovers around town, you’ll be happy to know that local farmers are still growing kale in the most frigid of weathers. You can find curly kale from Roots Radical at John’s Deli. Some kale combined with dried fruit (check out Tara Natural Foods’ killer selection), nuts, and cheese makes for a serious winter salad. For new kale consumers out there, roll up your sleeves and give your kale a back rub. I’m not kidding – if you want your kale to be less tough massage olive oil into the leaves for a few minutes and let sit.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, would it be cheese? No holiday party is complete without a cheese plate, so why not pick up some cheeses from near and far right in downtown Kingston? Drop by two historical gems – Pan Chancho for local finds and Cooke’s Fine Foods for weird international options – and you’ll be set until the new year. My advice: try the Moroccan Spice at Cooke’s or Bonnechere from Back Forty at Pan Chancho.
Maybe all of this cooking isn’t really up your alley anyway since you really just want to spend time with the family. So let someone else do the cooking! Virg and the fam over at Pasta Genova know what they are doing when it comes to feeding big happy families. Serve up some of their amazing fresh pasta with one of their homemade sauces. Or maybe some ready-made lasagna or cannelloni. It only takes 4 minutes to cook fresh pasta, so you can spend more time drinking eggnog and laughing at uncle Milt’s jokes.
Whether you decide to plan a big meal or grab some quick bites this chilly holiday season, remember that local and seasonal food is always an option around these parts. Our local farmers are still growing and shops are cooking up amazing holiday treats for all to enjoy.