THE BLOG

The Mid-Autumn Festival and the History of the Mooncake

Today, September 8 is Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) and families all across the world with Chinese and Vietnamese roots will be celebrating. The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th month according to the Lunar Calendar during a full moon. This date varies from year to year according to the Gregorian calendar, but usually lands in September or early October.

Mid-Autumn Festival Light-up

Lanterns set up for Mid-Autumn Festival // Photo: Choo Yat Shing

The Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates the autumn harvest and gathers families together. Everyone comes together to share a meal, light lanterns, and gaze at the moon. READ MORE [»]

BC Hydro Power Smart Award

Because of our new plant design, BC Hydro has recognized us. We’ve help to save 384,000 kWh – that’s enough to power 35 homes for a full year!

BC Hydro Power Smart Award Close UpWe’re proud to show it off among our cabinet of products.

BC Hydro Power Smart Award Cabinet

Asian Vegetables to Grow in Your Garden This Autumn

As the days get shorter, the nights get longer and summer turns into autumn, it’s time to start your winter garden. Consider adding some Asian vegetables this year for variety on your dinner table. Many are similar to vegetables you’re already likely to be growing. Here are a few of our favourites:

Instead of: Green Cabbage
Grow this: Napa (Chinese) Cabbage

Sweeter and softer than it its green cousin, Napa, or Chinese, Cabbage is oblong in shape with thick crispy steams and yellow-green leaves. Napa cabbage grows well during cooler months, but it can grow year round in milder climates. It can be harvested 50 – 80 days after planting.

Napa cabbage can be used anywhere you would normally use regular cabbage. It does well in salads and soups, and you can even use it in cabbage roll recipes. READ MORE [»]

An Interview with Terry Mitchell – Cabbage Farmer Extraordinaire

Here at Fine Choice Foods, we believe that the best ingredients make the best food. Because of this, we try to source our fresh vegetables locally whenever possible. All of our produce is delivered daily and processed right away. One of our most commonly used ingredients is cabbage so it was important to us to be able to source some of it locally.

We chatted with one of our local farmers, Terry Mitchell to talk about his farm and how our cabbage is grown before it gets to our doors.

Terry Mitchell Cabbage

FCF: When and how did you become a farmer?

TM: The farm has been in the family for several generations. I grew up farming.

FCF: What is the most surprising thing about farming?

TM: Nothing surprises me about farming anymore as I have been doing it for so long!

FCF: Does your farm follow organic practices? Why or why not?

TM: We do not farm organically as you cannot do it in a small way and we do not have the sales in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island to support our entire farm producing organically.

FCF: What is your process to growing cabbage? When do you plant it? What do you do to make sure it keeps growing?

TM: First step is the correct choice of field. You require a field that has not had a cole crop (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage etc.) in it in the previous 3 years and that will be able to be harvested in 3-6 months after the cabbage is ready.

Next step is proper field preparation so that your field is clean and soil ready. This includes ploughing, disking, cultivating and then fertilizing the field.

After the field is prepared you can plant seed direct into soil or plant transplants which have been grown in a greenhouse prior to field preparation. We prefer to plant transplants which helps us to grow faster than the weeds!!!

Final steps include fertilizing again and monitoring and controlling pests and disease.

FCF: How do you fertilize? How do you manage pests and disease?

TM: Fertilization is done mechanically with a spreader and later with a side dresser. We monitor for pests and disease and treat them as necessary.

FCF: How long does it take to grow a head of cabbage?

TM: The entire process takes approximately 80 days of growing. Certain varieties of cabbage remain in the field even in the winter until they are required to fill orders. This really helps to alleviate the cost of storage and provides the customer with the freshest and sweetest cabbage we can offer.

FCF: What else do you grow besides cabbage?

TM: We have close to 40 crops we grow including carrots, lettuce, onions, berries and parsnips.

Thanks for answering our questions for us Terry!

Building a Better Salad – An Infographic

There is a delicate art when it comes to making a salad. You want it to be hearty enough to leave you satisfied and full after a meal. At the same time you don’t want to load it down with high fat items that leave you feeling heavy and slow.

By breaking down your salad into layers, you’re able to put together a delicious and healthy salad. The greens you use form the base and by including protein, healthy fats and grains you can turn it into a satisfying meal. Mix in different textures and flavours to keep your meal interesting. To tie it all together, make your own salad dressing using your favorite seasonings.

Follow these easy steps to make your own delicious salad.

Building a Better Salad - An Infograph

5 Delicious and Easy Salad Dressings to Know

Under the heat of summer the last thing you want to do is turn on the stove or oven. If you’re like us, the summer weather plus the abundance of fresh vegetables and herbs will have you eating plenty of salads. One way to add variety to your salads is to switch up your dressings.

chicken salad

Photo: Jules

Making salad dressing is so simple. You know exactly what you’re putting into it and can customize it to what you like and have in your pantry. Plus, you can make however much you need for a week. No more wasting half a bottle of store bought dressing that you never really liked in the first place. READ MORE [»]

A Day Volunteering at the Richmond Food Bank

Last week, members of our team spent a couple hours at the Richmond Food Bank to lend a helping hand. We’ve donated to the food bank and this was a great opportunity for our team members to see where our donations go.

Fine Choice Foods Volunteers at the Richmond Food Bank

We were welcomed at their main warehouse on Cedarbridge way where they collect and distribute donations. We were given some background on their operations and a short tour of their facilities.

Since 1983, the Richmond Food Bank serves over 1500 people a week through their various programs. Regularly they give out 30 000 pounds of food a week. That’s a lot of support for our community! Through it all, the Richmond Food Bank receives no governmental support so their whole operation is funding through generous donations and volunteer hours. READ MORE [»]

Behind the Scenes: Product Development

On Friday May 16th, we welcomed the winner of our contest, The Battle of the Culinary Students – the Gyoza Wars, to our plant.  Christa Yeung was the teenage gourmand who captured the attention of the Fine Choice Foods and Choices Markets teams with her Spicy Pork and Cilantro Gyoza flavor. We started the day together with a plant tour and then sent her off working with our R&D technologists.

Christa with Jeremy, one of our R&D Technologists.

Christa with Jeremy, one of our R&D Technologists.

Christa arrived, brimming with enthusiasm, and with a basic recipe which was used as a starting point for our new gyoza flavour. First up was chopping up all the ingredients that made up the filling. In her video, Christa highlighted the use of water chestnuts and Sriracha. The use of vegetables was minimal in the original recipe however we suggested the use of more vegetables to give a more desirable texture to the gyoza. As a result,we added a variety of fresh vegetables like green onions, ginger, garlic and a variety of spices to liven up the flavor profile. READ MORE [»]

Winner Announced for Battle of the Culinary Students – the Gyoza Wars

Fine Choice Foods and Choices Market are pleased to announce that we have selected a winner for Battle of the Culinary Students – the Gyoza Wars.

Congratulations to Christa Yeung from R.C. Palmer Secondary School in Richmond, BC. We had a number of great ideas submitted from students across the Lower Mainland and finally narrowed it down to Christa’s idea of Spicy Cilantro and Pork Gyoza.

As a part of her prize, Christa will be visiting us on May 16 to work with our R&D specialists to develop her flavour profile.

Look for these gyozas in your local Choices Market in the summer!

 

Grow Your Own Asian Herb Garden

As the days are getting longer and warmer, many are starting up their gardens for the year. Consider adding a few herbs commonly found in Asian cooking to your garden to try new flavours and ways of cooking. There is nothing better than harvesting your own herbs and enjoying them fresh with your meal.

Cilantro

Garden fresh cilantro

A herb commonly found in many gardens, Cilantro is also known as coriander leaf and Chinese parsley.

Cuisines: Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican, Indian
Can be found in dishes like: Cilantro Pesto Shrimp Tostadas, Cilantro Beef Stew, Cilantro Peanut Soba Noodles

How to grow it:
Cilantro should be grown in the spring or fall when the weather is cool. It requires sun, but not a lot of heat. Cilantro is best grown from seeds as it grows quickly and doesn’t like being transplanted. When it starts to flower, remove the flowers to keep the cilantro thriving.

How to use it:
Cilantro loses its flavor quickly when it is dried or cooked. It is best used fresh and immediately after harvest. Add cilantro to your favorite dishes just before serving. If you want to preserve it, try freezing it in ice cube trays with water. READ MORE [»]