Monday, July 16, 2012

From Canada to my Georgia Kitchen

Field of Blooming Canola
Canola oil has been a staple in my kitchen for as long as I remember. I reach for it more often than I think about. For frying, sautéing, marinating, you name it and I’ve put Canola oil in it. Getting an opportunity to travel to the home of Canola was an invitation that didn’t require a second thought to accept. Until this trip to Saskatchewan, I knew very little about the origins of Canola. (I just knew it was good.) It’s a bit like not noticing the forest for the trees.
Canola Flower
I was privileged to be included in a select group of food professionals that were graciously invited to attend "Canola Camp" in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (Hosted by CanolaInfo and the Canola Council of Canada). During my flight into Saskatoon, the land below looked like a glorious patchwork quilt of yellow and green. I was raised in a community surrounded by fertile farmland but had never seen lush and bright crops flourishing in every direction. The incredible blanket of color was contained only by the horizon.
Canola Seed
To really understand an ingredient, you have to see where it comes from, how it grows, and talk with those those that make a living by growing it. It's accurate that Canola oil has no trans fats or cholesterol and the most omega-3's of any oil. It's a fact that the oil is rich in Vitamins E and K. It's also true that Canola is the lifeblood of western Canada and the people there are just as vital to the growth of the plants as the sunshine itself. 
Like most crops, the journey that Canola takes from planting to pressing to enhancing recipes is lined with those that have invested so much of their lives and energy into the process that creates an oil that can be found in kitchens all over the globe. To have a glance into that world is nothing short of amazing.
My time up close and personal with Canola gave me craving for my cast-iron skillet. It's like catching fish all afternoon with no flame to cook them for supper. I will never again pour another tablespoon of Canola oil without picturing those glorious fields, the farmers, and the Canadian hospitality I was lucky enough to experience firsthand.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Serves 8

Canola oil
1 cup cornmeal
4 large green tomatoes (about 2 pounds)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk

In a large skillet, pour the Canola oil to a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat the skillet over medium heat until a pinch of cornmeal sizzles when sprinkled in.
While the oil heats, peel and slice the tomatoes into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
Combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Combine the eggs and buttermilk in a small mixing bowl.
Coat each tomato slice with the cornmeal mixture; dip thoroughly in the egg mixture, and return to coat a second time in the cornmeal mixture.
Carefully place about half of the coated tomato slices in the hot oil and fry for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining tomato slices.

Copyright © 2012 Rebecca Lang Cooks, LLC. All rights reserved.
Recipe adapted from Quick-Fix Southern (Andrews McMeel, 2011) by Rebecca Lang