by | Aug 9, 2018

Angie Quaale’s hyperlocal cookbook, Eating Local in the Fraser Valley, explores the culinary riches of the region.

I was raised somewhere between South Surrey and Langley, close to White Rock and a few blocks from the U.S. border. We had land – five acres – no public transit and lots of time to kill. I still have dreams of public buses leaving me at the Campbell River Store and having to find my way across fields to home.

I moved into the city a decade ago and never looked back, but a recent trip out to the Fraser Valley made me see my self-described country bumpkin upbringing differently. Where I once the Fraser Valley as a land of big box stores, Ford F150s and an overabundance of Starbucks cafés, surrounded by vast agricultural land, I started to see an abundant and sophisticated culture that I underappreciated.

Angie Quaale knew what I did not – that the Fraser Valley is one of the most important regions in BC for food production and plays an essential role in the BC food system. Quaale is an elected official of the Township of Langley, a mother, local food advocate, owner of Langley’s loved Well Seasoned gourmet food store and now the author of the new Eating Local in the Fraser Valley cookbook.

Eating Local in the Fraser Valley is part recipe book, part guide book highlighting the many food makers in the region and their favourite recipes. The book is rich in photographs, varied in recipes and divided up by city. It’s a nice read and reference book for those wishing to explore local, but also has some recipe gems like the an IPA vinaigrette and lobster mac and cheese.

Quaale has spent nearly 20 years advocating for local and artisan foods in the Fraser Valley. She opened Well Seasoned in 2004 because she was becoming increasingly concerned that food options were being limited by big grocery stores.

“The consumer had fewer and fewer options, but I don’t think they realized then how few options there were,”  said Quaale. “I didn’t want to wake up one day and not have any options in my food life. I wanted to get food from people who were doing interesting things and not eat Kraft Dinner or Campbell’s Tomato Soup every day, and that is what was sort of available.”

It was Quaale’s passion for the region that attracted long time friend and publisher Robert McCullough who started the imprint Appetite by Random House, which is based in Vancouver. McCullough has worked with the likes of Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi, author of Plenty, along with other well known foodies.

Summer Herb Salad with Old Abbey IPA and Orange Vinaigrette By Old Abbey Ales. 
Savory “Pop Tarts” recipe by Vista D’oro Farms + Winery.
“I said thanks, but I don’t think I can do this,” said Quaale. “I went home and talked to a couple of people and I thought, ‘who in their right mind says no to Random House?’ I have friends who are writers who have spent their whole life trying to get published and I’m the ass who says no to Random House? This opportunity is never going to come again, so I told Robert how terrified I was and said yes.”

It took Quaale two years to put together the profiles, recipes and photographs that were shot over a full year. She didn’t tell anyone she was working on the project, except those that were in it.

“My parents didn’t even know,” said Quaale. “I still feel super exposed by the book and I was really afraid of failing and having a crappy book, not because Random House would allow that, but I went into the local Chapters and Coles and it was so weird to see my book there.”

“Someone said to me, ‘did you check this off your bucket list?’ I said, ‘this wasn’t even on my bucket list,” said Quaale. “It was so hard to do, but it was a really amazing experience,”

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Carrots with Parsnips and Chickpeas

This quick and easy side dish is packed with sweet, salty, spicy and bitter flavours. Pomegranate molasses is a kitchen staple in Middle Eastern countries and is a great to add a little tangy zip to a dish. Seek it out at your local Persian grocery mart or specialty store.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb small carrots, peeled
  • 1/2 lb parsnips, peeled
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Halve the carrots and parsnips lenghtwise. Place on a baking pan in a single layer, and then add the chickpeas. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle over the chili flakes and the salt and then toss to combine. Bake in oven for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, stir well, and return to bake for another 15 minutes, until carrots and parsnips are fork-tender and chickpeas are crispy.
  • Transfer to a platter to serve, drizzle over the pomegranate molasses, chunks of feta, and sprinkle with parsley.

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Excellent work. Well done you. Bravo.

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