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Through the kitchen window

There are so many people on Bowen who not only love to eat, but love to cook. While some our foodie friends kindly offer us the opportunity to taste their food by opening up restaurants, there are so many others whose food-lives are unknown to us.
Erin Naismith and her cast iron skillet.

There are so many people on Bowen who not only love to eat, but love to cook. While some our  foodie friends kindly offer us the opportunity to taste their food by opening up restaurants, there are so many others whose food-lives are unknown to us. This column is an attempt to pry open the kitchen windows of our local friends and neighbours who have a passion for cooking. Some of them are trained chefs, some of them make a living from cooking, and others are self-taught, excellent, passionate home-cooks.
If you know of a foodie who needs featuring, please contact:

Through Erin Naismith kitchen window:

What’s your favourite kitchen utensil? (of all time, or maybe of the moment)
The kitchen utensil I seem to use most is an old cast iron skillet that belonged to Crow before we met.  I use it everyday.

What’s your comfort food?
 My comfort food is banana bread.  My favourite Auntie used to bring me some when I needed some extra care.  She lived in Ontario and would joke that her caring gestures across the miles was her equivalent to bringing over a banana bread.

If you could only have one cook book…
it would depend of the season and my ever changing the moment it would be “Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker” by Robin Robertson.
I just discovered it from the library and am excited about the recipes.  Slow cooker vegan is tricky, but I feel inspired by the variety and creativity of the recipes I this book.

Who’s your biggest culinary influence, and what did they teach you?
My Auntie Irene was my biggest culinary influence...she’s the banana bread Auntie.  We used to cook together every weekend and chat.  Her cooking was fresh, uncomplicated, and full of love.  She would prepare lunches and dinners and set the food out in nice plates and serving dishes and we would all sit together and eat.  That loving care has influenced my relationship with cooking and sharing food.
When did you realize you loved to cook?
My relationship to cooking didn’t start out as a loving one.  I really started cooking after my son, Ryder, died.  His life required so much of my care and when he died, I still needed to do something with all that care.  So I started to cook.  Partially to keep busy, partially to keep sane and partially because I didn’t know what else to do.  My cooking helped me put my energy somewhere and subsequently helped my with various therapeutic relationships.  The caregivers I was seeing at the time let me pay them with meals.  I have just kept going with the cooking.  It is still therapeutic for me and I still love sharing my meals with people.

Tell me about a culinary challenge, and how you overcame it. (for example, when you had to adapt to a particular diet or allergy, or when you had to learn a totally new cooking style.)
 The culinary challenges I face usually happen when I try a new recipe and it isn’t quite what I thought it would be!  That has happened a few times with new recipes.  Luckily , my husband is open to being my tester and I have learned to try new foods out on him first before I share them with someone else!

How has living on Bowen influenced your cooking?
Living on Bowen Island has helped me go deeper into the importance of food and community.  I have been trying to come up with ways to feed this community and through my friendships, it has happened.  There are always people in need of a prepared meal here and there for various reasons.  I like being part of these meal trains when I have the time.  Also, I have struck up a barter relationship with my neighbour, which has been mutually beneficial.  I am cooking a few lunches at the Family Place...the next one is June 9. I suppose being here has just furthered me along with the care related to food my auntie showed me all those years ago. ...there’s opportunity to share food here in a way that doesn’t happen in the city.

What are you cooking/eating lately?
Lately, I am interested in sprouting.  I find my tastes change with the seasons, and with the coming of spring, the body awakens a bit.  Right now, it’s Sunflower sprouts in particular.  I am loving fresh, raw foods and getting ready for the variety that late spring and summer has to offer.  All those choices, colours, possibilities....

Give Erin Naismith’s Sunflower Sprout Salad a try!

1 cup sunflower sprouts, whole or chopped
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
A few green onions, thinly sliced
Handful of fresh mint, chopped ( or basil or tarragon or a combination of favourite fresh herbs)
1 carrot, julienned or thinly sliced
Green leaf or butter lettuce

Juice of one lime or to taste
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
Lots of salt and pepper.
One clove of garlic, crushed
1 tsp maple syrup or agave

Mix salad ingredients in a bowl.

Mix dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk until emulsified. Adjust ingredients to taste.  Massage into the salad just before serving.