At FBC, we’ve been lucky to partner with some really terrific companies over the years. One such organization is Canadian Lentils. They were a Gold Sponsor of our very first conference in 2013. In 2014, they were our Title Sponsor at our conference in Vancouver and this year, they are one of two Title Sponsors of FBC2015 happening in Montreal in October. I’ve also felt a connection to them having been born in Saskatchewan. With Canada being the world’s largest lentil producer with Saskatchewan producing 95% of that, well, that’s a lotta lentils!
Because lentils have been top of mind for the last couple of years, they’ve slowly but surely made their way into my pantry as an essential item. Like most people, my experiences with lentils fell into the soup category which I would happy eat, especially on a cold winter evening. But I’ve grown to incorporate lentils into all sorts of dishes. They still go into soups, but they now get tossed into salads, omelettes and smoothies. As a treat, I’ll fry them up and add them as a crispy garnish to all sorts of things. And as a bonus, they are really good for you! Lentils are a good source of protein, potassium and fibre and they're even gluten-free.
So when FBC was invited to join Canadian Lentils on their Farm to Table tour with Chef Michael Smith recently in Saskatchewan, it was too good of an offer to pass up and get a full appreciation for where all those teeny tiny lentils come from.
Two things really stood out from the trip…
Visiting Simpson Seeds
While we began the trip in Regina, we took a ride to Moose Jaw and met the brother/sister team of Jamie and Elyce Simpson of Simpson Seeds. They’ve been eating lentils for as long as they can remember and the family has been growing them since the late 70’s. Considering Canada only began growing lentils in the 1970’s, we were with a pioneering family. We knew we were in good hands right away when we started off with Kitchen Sink cookies loaded with lentils, chocolate chips and dried fruit! Soft, chewy, tasty and a sneaky/smart way to get 2 cups of lentils into a batch of cookies!
As we all know, it’s been a very dry summer but yet the lentils were more than holding their own even though it hadn’t rained in 2 months! We had the chance to get our hands dirty while we learned all about lentils. We learned that in each pod, you can find anywhere from 1-3 lentils inside. When you think 5,000 lentil farmers produced 1.84 million tonnes of lentils in 2014, that's a whole lotta lentils! Simpson Seeds is one of those 5,000 farmers but it’s no wonder their motto is “Nourishing the World” as they ship across the world.
In addition to visiting the fields, we got to see how all the pieces all came together, from the field to how they're gathered, processed and finally packaged to ship around the world. It's easy to take for granted that all our food comes in a neatly packaged bag but it was a good reminder that there are people working hard to make it so easy for us to eat well.
And while lentils are a workhorse regardless of climate, they didn’t stand a chance compared to the beauty of the canola field we also passed at Simpson Seeds. Photo opp anyone?
Hanging out with FBC Members
When FBC first began in 2011, our goal was to bring Canadian food bloggers together, both online and offline. And over the last (almost!) four years, I’d have to say we’ve done a pretty good job. We’ve held two conferences, (2013 in Ontario, 2014 in British Columbia) and another planned for October 2015 in Montreal, so we’ve given people the chance to come together. Connections have been created, developed and grown into meaningful “what would I do without this person in my life” friendships.
With all the conferences, meet-ups, potlucks and everything else, everyone is now a one-degree of separation from each other. You know someone that knows someone. You see what they're doing on their blog, Instagram and Twitter so you already feel like you know them even if you haven’t actually met.
So, combining those two factors, when we see each other now, it’s not “nice to meet you” but rather “OMG, it’s so nice to see you again!”
And that’s how it felt during this trip, the proof…
Renee of Sweet Sugarbean – attended FBC2013, will attend FBC2015 AND we had met for brunch in Saskatoon a couple of weeks earlier when I spoke at a conference.
Aimee of Simple Bites – Attended and spoke at FBC2013, FBC2014 and will attend FBC2015. Have had dinner with her and her family at their home in Montreal and I helped her bake cookies for her book signing event in Vancouver earlier this year.
Dan of Dan’s Good Side – met Dan in 2011 at a food blog conference in the U.S. and he attended and spoke at FBC2013.
And of course, there were new people to meet during the trip as well but again, it didn’t take long to become friendly since the food world is pretty small and everyone had friends in common. Was great to meet the editors of Canadian Living, Chatelaine and Style at Home.
And of course, having Chef Michael Smith there was a lot of fun too. He spent the entire trip with us and was good to see the Lentil Hunter himself in a lentil field. If you haven't checked out the Lentil Hunter web series before, you should. Watch how lentils are prepared and enjoyed around the world.
My takeaway from the trip...lentils and friendships, two things one can easily take for granted. This trip was a good reminder that a lot of work and effort goes into both of them.
- 1 cup lentil puree
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 2⅓ cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups oats
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- ½ cup coconut
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup fried blueberries
- Lentil Puree - Add 2 cups of red split lentils, and 5 cups of water into a pot, bring to a boil, simmer and cook until tender. Drain off excess water, and keep the water. Puree the lentils, adding about 2-3 tbsp. of the water to make it smooth. Cool down and use, or package it, and place it in the the freezer.
- Cream together: Butter brown sugar, lentil puree. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time.
- Fold in: Flour, baking soda, salt, oats, chocolate chips, coconut, dried cranberries, and dried blueberries.
- Drop cooking batter by using a teaspoon on a cookie sheet, and place into a 375 degree C pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes.
As part of the Farm to Table Lentil media trip, I was a guest of Canadian Lentils. My transportation, accommodation, excursions and all meals were covered. I am not being further compensated for writing about my experiences and all opinions are 100% my own. Neither Canadian Lentils or the businesses mentioned in the post reviewed this article before publication.