Arts in the North

ArtsCan Circle is an organization whose work I’ve been covering almost since my first day on the job here. They send teams of Canadian musicians and artists to remote indigenous communities to give kids a shot at creativity and a chance to escape from everyday life, which as I’m sure you know, is sometimes not always the greatest when you’re in a remote, rural, Northern community.

A few months ago, a team had planned to go up north but awful weather grounded their plane at the airport here in town, and making the best of it, they toured local schools and set up an impromptu benefit concert. I had the pleasure of hearing founder Mike Steven’s story of an intense experience in remote Labrador started the whole endeavour, in person, but I highly recommend you take a few minutes and read or listen to it for yourself, here.

The team has a mandate to only visit communities to which they can return, so the children involved have continuity. To that end, ArtsCan Circle can only work in a limited number of towns due to limited resources.

I had an email from one of the crew yesterday letting me know about a few upcoming dates and asking me to pass along the message that this is ArtsCan Circle’s Aeroplan Miles campaign month. Donations of Aeroplan Miles help ArtsCan Circle’s teams get out to Labrador and up to Thunder Bay, from which they continue to travel to the far-flung remote communities.

To donate, check out

If supporting youth arts programming sounds like a good idea, I would also suggest you take a look at DAREarts, an organization doing similar things for youth all across Canada and specifically in Aboriginal communities.

Recipe: Pineapple Salsa

You need to make this. And then eat it all. And then make more.

We went to a party a few weeks ago, a small gathering of people featuring free-flowing wine, the best chili I’ve ever had, and a smorgasbord of delicious food. I managed to eat my weight in pineapple salsa. I had to make my own! I was told what went into the salsa that I devoured at the party without measurements or instructions, but I figured something like salsa has room for error.

Pineapple Salsa

How to Make Pineapple Salsa

I diced up a pineapple, bell pepper, and red onion.

Jalapeno, seeded and diced– this was about 3/4 of a large pepper.

Combine everything with the juice of one lime, salt, and chopped cilantro to taste — again, something like this has wiggle room, so if you don’t like cilantro or you looooove cilantro or you want to add mango, do what you want and it will probably be delicious.

This made a huge bowl of salsa, of which I’ve probably eaten at least half in two days. It’s supposed to also be good with grilled meat or in tacos, and I’ve seen a recipe that calls for grilling the pineapple so it’s caramelized and yummy.

Highly recommended!

Bannock Burgers

Bannock burgers are an amazing thing. There is a woman who makes them at home and travels through town to different workplaces selling them, and she always goes to where Matt works. He buys two and we meet up for lunch.

Bannock burger

Bannock burger

A close relative to the bannock burger is the bannock dog, a hot dog or smokie wrapped in bannock dough like a corn dog. Delicious, but slightly more greasy.

Though bannock is a staple of the north, it apparently actually originated in Scotland. Also known as frybread, it’s made by combining flour, baking powder and water, kneading, and frying in fat, oil or shortening, or baking it in an oven. You can add all sorts of mix-ins to the dough — we have an annual bannock baking competition in town and I’ve seen everything from classic blueberry to strawberries and brie.

I can’t give you a tested-and-true bannock recipe because I’ve never attempted to make it, but here’s one that claims to be an authentic Cree bread. Give it a try!

Chili Chocolate Pork Tenderloin

Chili Chocolate

Our usual pork tenderloin strategy is to slow-cook it while we’re at work, shred it, and mix in some homemade barbecue sauce for easy pulled pork sandwiches, but I wanted to hold off on the barbecue flavour this time around to try something new.

I found a recipe for a chili chocolate pork tenderloin at A Lusty Bit of Nourishment that seemed worthwhile, and I can safely say that the tenderloin was delicious (and continues to be delicious sliced up on sandwiches). I’ll encourage you go to the site for the exact recipe (and the story behind it), but here are the basics.

Chili Chocolate Pork Tenderloin

Mix up cocoa powder, chili powder, brown sugar, and salt (I found the meat a tad too salty so you may want to consider using less than what the recipe calls for).

Chili Chocolate Pork Tenderloin

Chili Chocolate Pork Tenderloin

Chili Chocolate Pork Tenderloin

Chili Chocolate Pork Tenderloin

Mix it all together with enough olive oil to create a paste.

Chili Chocolate Pork Tenderloin

Chili Chocolate Pork Tenderloin

Rub the paste on the tenderloins (you should use two).

Chili Chocolate Pork Tenderloin

Brown chili chocolate pork tenderloin in olive oil in a dutch oven or otherwise oven-safe pan.

Chili Chocolate Pork Tenderloin

Stick in the oven until the pork is cooked. Once the meat is cooked, remove it from the pan, put the pan back on the stove and add a half-cup of white wine, incorporating the crispy bits of meat and spices into the liquid. Let it bubble and reduce, then pour it over the sliced pork.

Chili Chocolate Pork Tenderloin

A bit more complicated than pulled pork, yes, but it was really, really juicy and the combination of cocoa and chili was a treat.

Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Cashew chicken

How often do you stumble across a recipe that doesn’t land you in the grocery store, buying all of the listed ingredients for all kinds of money?

Last Friday I wanted to make something healthy, not time-consuming, with not a lot of ingredients, while using up some of the food we already had in the house. My sister suggested lettuce wraps; I spent all of five minutes poking around on Real Simple, and there it was — the perfect recipe for chicken and cashews in lettuce wraps.

The recipe called for soy sauce, honey, oil, chicken, pepper, ginger, garlic, scallions, water chestnuts, cashews, and lettuce (or rice). All I had to buy were the scallions and chicken (which we would normally have except I keep eating it).

Real Simple Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps


* 3 tablespoons soy sauce
* 3 tablespoons honey
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
* black pepper
* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon grated ginger
* 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced
* 1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
* 1/4 cup roasted unsalted cashews
* 1 small head lettuce, leaves separated


1. Mix the soy sauce and honey together and set aside.
2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Season the chicken with pepper and cook, while stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown (about three minutes).
4. Lower heat to medium — DRAIN THE CHICKEN! — then stir in the garlic and ginger. Add the scallions and cook for a minute.
5. Add in the water chestnuts and half the sauce mixture. Keep on heat until the chicken is cooked through, about four minutes. Remove from heat and add in the cashews.
6. Divide the lettuce leaves (or rice, or rice on lettuce!) onto plates and add the chicken on top, with the leftover sauce mixture as the final topping.

In Lettuce