Blog

The One About The Orange; Another Reason to Shop Locally Owned

Shop Locally Owned; The Story About an Orange

When we last left off, the plan was to get back to the story about the orange and why I shop locally owned a little sooner. Sorry, about that.

Life got in the way. Plus I wanted to keep things real and taste it first. I mean, I needed a genuine ending for the story about the orange for here on the I Love Cowichan blog. I also wanted to get some pictures while slicing it.

This Juicy Orange is a Good Example of why You Should Shop Locally Owned

Ummm, the orange was so juicy and sweet that I got carried away eating it. Fortunately, I remembered in time to snap a shot of the last slice. I’m glad I did because as it turns out, that sensational piece of fruit is an ideal example of one of the things that I love about shopping locally owned.

Now finally the story about the Orange

I was at the Old Farm Market checkout. Two people were helping me. One was ringing my groceries through and the other was packing them into bags for me. I was already feeling pretty valued as a customer when the person bagging, holds up one of the oranges and tells me it feels as if it may be a little on the dry side.

He asks if I want some pointers on picking good oranges. Most definitely yes I reply and explain that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing when it comes to fruit selection of any kind. I couldn’t remember his name at the time, but I knew I recognized him from a story in the Cowichan Valley Citizen.

He finishes packing my groceries and we head out to the front where the oranges are. He peels the one I’d chosen and handed me a couple of pieces to try, while he chomps down on a slice himself. He’s right it’s a bit dry. Still really sweet and enjoyable but not juicy in the least. He takes his time going through the orange bin while explaining what I should be looking for. He then hands me the perfect looking orange to replace the dryish one I’d chosen.

Again, he was right. Wow! That orange was the perfect combination of juicy and sweet!

My Juicy Orange

 

My friends, that amazing customer experience is just another reason why I love to shop locally owned.

For those of you making that extra effort to #shopcowichan THANKS! Don’t forget to check us out on Instagram & Facebook. If you have any stories or pictures you’d like to share please do Contact Us.

Coming up next on the I Love Cowichan Blog… A page of sweet serenity 😉

Dear entrepreneur thank you for everything that you do for your community

Dear local entrepreneur,

First, let me say that it’s a joy supporting your locally owned small business.

I don’t like to talk negative on the I Love Cowichan blog and so I’ve been trying to figure out how to broach this important subject. On the other hand, I thought you might appreciate a friendly reminder.

So, I’m just putting this out there.

Some advice to a local entrepreneur
I support local!

As an entrepreneur, please remember…

The person standing in front of you is your loyal customer. Chances are they went the extra mile to be there because they are supporting your small business.

I’m writing this as a client who regularly goes out of their way to support locally owned businesses, especially in the Cowichan Valley. Notice I didn’t use the word shop? That’s because I don’t just shop there or I don’t just dine there. I am there to specifically support my neighbours, my friends, and my community by shopping or hiring locally.

The parking, the hours, the days you are open are not necessarily as convenient as big box stores. Your prices are competitive. However, I understand that your costs are higher. And so, I’m willing to pay a reasonable premium. I do this because you are an entrepreneur who supports local causes and provides fair paying jobs in my community.

Mutual Appreciation

But, as a customer, I also do this because I appreciate the exceptional service that I receive. I value the knowledge, expertise, and passion that entrepreneurs share with their clients. I enjoy being helped by someone who is not only pleasant but knows what they are talking about.

As a customer, I go the extra mile for you the entrepreneur because I trust you and your staff. I do this because I am greeted with a smile, sometimes even by name.  I do this because I leave your small business smiling. I keep coming back because you say thank you and you genuinely appreciate my business.

Please always remember that, and ensure that your staff does too.

Thank you for everything that you do for your customers, your staff and the community!

In the end, I decided that I’m sticking to positive only on the I Love Cowichan blog. No need to share bad experiences. I’d rather thank and encourage entrepreneurs and staff who deliver exceptional customer experiences.

For example, have you heard the one about the orange? I suppose not, because it only happened today so I’ll need a little time to write it up.  Hoping to post it tomorrow so keep your eyes peeled 😉

If you haven’t already please give us a follow on Instagram & Facebook. And, if you are following us…thank you!

Container Garden

Got Stress? Play in the Dirt. Plant Yourself a Container Garden ☺

I popped onto my back deck to water my container garden and before I knew it I was digging in the dirt. Which, as it turns out is super relaxing for me.

Container Garden Variety
Pretty Planter

First, I’m going to clarify…I do not now, nor have I ever had a green thumb. I am not a gardener. My grandmother was, my mother is and my sister is, I am not. However, I totally get a kick out of watching life sprout from seeds I planted. The amount of food I produce is probably not all that much. It’s tough to know for sure though. Because while I’m out taking care of my container garden I snack on my veggies.

Take last year, for example, I grew beans that were purple. The plants produced quite a few tasty beans. Apparently, according to my sister, they turn green when you cook them. I’d have known this except I ate them off the vines. So, yeah, I had no idea.

Regardless of the amount of fruit or veggies produced in my container garden, for me growing planters of food is just as pretty as flowers. And, bonus! Some of the plants, especially herbs smell just as nice if not better than flowers.

I’ve noticed that the veggies, especially kale, attract butterflies. Which, are an absolute joy to watch.

Nature’s Container Garden

I find it interesting to leave a container or two for nature to plant. I don’t plant a single thing, but the birds and the wind most certainly do. I’ve had perfect cedar and maple tree seedlings come up on their own as well as unidentified flowers a plenty sprout up. I’m intrigued by the mystery of the so-called “weeds”, and enjoy watching them grow into pretty plants and flowers while having no idea what they are.

I call this nature gardening. Some of my prettiest planters have been filled by nature. Besides, my guinea pigs really appreciate grazing in them.

Nature's Container Garden
Pippa the hairless guinea pig that we rescued from the BCSPCA.

Thanks for stopping by. If you haven’t already, please follow us on Instagram & Facebook Oh, and pretty please remember to shop local whenever you can.

 

 

 

Saturday Morning in Downtown Duncan

Saturday Morning Vibes

Kickstarted my sunny Saturday morning with a drive around downtown Duncan at 8 am. I forgot how much I absolutely love Duncan’s Saturday morning vibes. Especially in the city square as market people are setting up. It’s fun watching the sleepy little town picking up steam while on the cusp of becoming a full-on bustling little city.

Not only will the Duncan Farmers Market be packing them in, but it’s also day 9 of the 39 Days of July. Which means we’re going to have a lot of visitors today.

I popped over to Charles Hoey park to grab a couple of pictures of the Buckerfields Duncan stage before things get hopping at the 39 Days of July. So peaceful, it’s like the calm before the storm, but in a good way. And, snapped a couple of shots of Long John’s sunflowers in front of the Duncan Showroom.

Saturday Morning Winningest Smile Award

Saturday morning smiles at the Corner House Cafe in Downtown Duncan BC
Smiles at the Corner House Cafe Make my Day!

If ever you want to be greeted by genuine smiles then check out the Corner House Cafe in downtown Duncan.

Bonus! You can get some really great eggs benny for breakfast too. I’m also loving their coffee. 

Thank you for your exceptional customer service, reasonable prices, and yummy food. This place sure is brimming with community vibes and the conversations never disappoint.

If you come in hungry you’ll leave full. If you come in feeling anything but happy they will be sure to turn your frown upside down and you’ll leave filled to the brim with good cheer. I kid you not, their smiles are infectious.

Cowichan Valley Arts Council Youth

Saturday morning at the Duncan Farmers Market Youth Activities with Cowichan Valley Arts Council Youth Coordinators
CVAC Youth Coordinators at the Duncan Farmers Market July 6, 2019

The Cowichan Valley Arts Council has hired two local students as summer youth event coordinators. The team has been busy planning some fun and creative public art activities at the local market and the #39 Days of July festival. They will also be putting on youth art camps and participating in an art show.

Right now, they are by the stage in the town square having fun with some creative activities during the Saturday market.

And, that is where the new mini comic strip Destructo Baby was born.

While you’re there make sure to grab a free colouring page compliments of the Red Balloon Toyshop. They are having a  really cool colouring contest for kids of all ages. Good luck to everyone who enters.

 

Canada Day Weekend Out and About Having Fun in the Cowichan Valley

We had fun exploring Cowichan during Canada Day Weekend 2019

What better way to spend Canada Day weekend than exploring Cowichan, enjoying ice cream and listening to live music in the park? This blog post is going to be light on words but chock full of pictures and videos.

What did you do this Canada Day weekend?

Here’s just some of what we did out and about in the iLoveCowichan mobile. Speaking of our car, stay tuned for some exciting news coming up soon.

June 28th marked the kick off for the 39 Days of July in Downtown Duncan. It started off a wee bit rainy, but full on sunshine quickly followed for the rest of the Canada Day weekend.

Here are some more clips from Canada Day Weekend at the 39 Days of July 2019

Though the week ended with a bit of much-needed rain, the weekend turned out to be perfect sunshiney summer weather and so in search of some ice cream we went…twice!

We’d heard rumors of a sinfully delicious chocolate chip ice cream sandwich being served out at the Old Farm Market Gift Shop and so we headed out in search of our sweet treasure. Which we found! And, bonus! It was being served up by one of our favorite smilers Mariah.

Saturday Sensational Services Shout Out

Thank you Mariah for always making our day with that super smile of yours! Oh, and the ice cream sandwiches? Let’s just let the pictures speak for themselves.

A great big thank you to the Old Farm Market for supporting other Vancouver Island businesses like Harlequin Nature Graphics & Skookum Prints.

We headed down to the river so that some of us could gather rocks for art and take a quick dip and so that I could take a bunch of pictures and videos. Thanks, Robert for being the one who ended up wading in for the perfect soothing videos!

I’m glad it was a warm weekend but after spending some time down at the Cowichan River, I realized just how low it really is and hope we get some more rain soon. It looks calm because the water level is low, but please don’t ever underestimate the strength of the current.

Thanks for stopping by! Keep an eye out for more 39 Days of July 2019 highlights. As always, I’m asking you to pretty please shop locally owned businesses. Support your community, your neighbours and your friends #shopcowichan.

Please follow us…

Want some Social Media Marketing Advice from Someone Who LOVES to Shout Out My Own Personal Extraordinary Service Experiences as a Customer?

Never Underestimate the Power of Social Media Marketing

Use Social Media Marketing to Grow Your Cowichan Business

Oh, and while I’m at it here are three more social media marketing suggestions.

As a local business owner or manager:

  1. Be present on social media
  2. Keep your fingers on the pulse of your social media accounts at all times
  3. Encourage staff and customers to post

Social media makes me aware of local businesses and good posts get me in the door. But it’s a bit of a letdown when I arrive and nobody that works there is even aware of the post I’m raving about. And, believe me, as a small business owner or manager that’s important feedback that you’re missing out on.

I mean, don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t necessarily expect my social media shout outs to be recognized at big box stores. When you’re into supporting “locally owned” like I am, it’s nice to meet the person(s) whose post enticed me to come in and shop in the first place.

Plus, it’s been my experience that there is nobody better at bragging about your business than you, staff and happy customers.

Social Media Marketing Manager

As a small business, it makes sense to hire a social media manager. They can help create and implement online marketing campaigns. Also to help develop your online brand and administer your accounts. If like most small businesses, you have a limited social media marketing budget then you’ll want to put their expertise to the best use.

As a manager, they oversee all aspects of your accounts, track campaign performances and provide you with reports. But, it doesn’t necessarily mean they should be the sole provider of creative content. Encouraging staff to actively participate in social media can save you money. Plus, it really is hard to beat GENUINELY proud of where I work posts.

I leave with you one final social media marketing suggestion, and it’s a biggie. Participate yourself, be familiar with your social media followers and engage with your biggest supporters (customers and staff alike).

Follow I Love Cowichan on Social Media

PSSocial Media Marketing Post – If you’re a local business follow I Love Cowichan on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter so we can follow back. Also, if you use #ilovecowichan in your posts we will check them out and possibly repost or at the very least comment.

Salad Recipes and Dressings Too

Salad Recipes Eat Local; Eat Fresh; Eat Healthily

Mixed Green Salads

Almost any combination of greens can be used in classic mixed green salad recipes. Try using at least two different kinds of fresh greens but three or four is even better.

Salad Recipes Page Image of Mixed Greens
Baby Lettuce Duncan Farmer’s Market May 2015

Make fun combinations by picking one from this group; Simpson, Boston or Iceberg lettuce.

Add a few others like Romaine, Escarole, Chicory, Endive, Watercress. Bibb Lettuce, Kale, or Spinach (the list is endless).

Always wash the greens very carefully, use them when they’re crisp and cold.

Dry them with a paper towel just before you’re ready to serve, and then tear the leaves (don’t cut them) into bite-sized pieces.

Add dressing also just before serving green salads. Always toss lightly and make sure that everything is well coated.

Tomatoes are not served with the classic Mixed Green Salad.

Now here are some super duper nummilicious recipes for salads that the whole family will enjoy…

Onion Cucumber Salad

  • 2 onions
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Peel the onions and cucumbers; cut into paper-thin slices. Cover with salted ice water.

Cover and chill for 3-4 hours.

Drain; add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and pepper. Serves 4-6.

Italian Onion Salad

  • 4 Large red Italian or sweet Spanish onions
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 8 anchovy fillets
  • 1/4 cup pitted black olives (Italian or Greek)

Peel the onions and slice paper thin. Cover with ice water; add the salt and a few ice cubes.

Let stand 30 min­utes.

Drain the onions and dry them.

Put the onions in a salad bowl; sprinkle with a mixture of the oil and vinegar.

Arrange the anchovies and olives on top. Serves 6-8.

Pepper Salad

  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 cups chopped cabbage
  • 4 peppers (green & red), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

Mix together the vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and brown sugar.

Toss together the cabbage, peppers, and onion. Add the dressing and mix thoroughly.

Chill for 3 hours before serving. Serves 6-8.

Asparagus Salad

  • 2 pounds of asparagus
  • ¼ cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon Tabasco

Cut all the white part of the asparagus away. Cut the green part diagonally into 1-inch pieces. Cover with boiling water, then drain well immediately. Chill.

Mix together the oil, soy sauce, sugar, and Tabasco.

Toss with the asparagus just before serving. Serves 4-6.

Great places to get fresh veggies for your salads…

Vegetable Appetizer Recipes List

Vegetable Appetizer Recipes

The vegetable appetizer recipes page is just getting started so keep checking back for more veggie appetizer recipes.

Fresh is best!  Get as many of the ingredients as you can from local farms, markets or stores that sell local produce. Remember to support your community, your neighbors, your friends…Buy Local! Pretty Please.

Leek Vinaigrette Recipe

Leeks Vinaigrette Vegetable Appetizer RecipesWash carefully to remove all the earth.

Tie with thread into a bundle, or wrap a narrow piece of alum­inum foil around them.

Cook in boiling salted water 10 minutes, or until tender but firm.

Drain well; cool, and remove thread or foil.

Beat together the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and mus­tard. Stir in the onion, parsley, and egg.

Pour over the leeks; chill at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Serves 6.


I know what you’re thinking…mushrooms aren’t vegetables. True, but where else was I going to put these nummilicious mushroom recipes?So here they are, on the vegetable appetizer recipe page 😉

Mushroom Pickles Recipe

Pickled Mushroom RecipeCombine and bring to a boil the vinegar, salt, lemon, chili sauce, and allspice.

Add the mushrooms and bring just to a boil.

Remove from heat immediately

Pack into jars and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Keeps 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator, or longer if packed in sealed jars.


French Fried Mushrooms Recipe

Vegetable Appetizer Recipe for French Fried Mushrooms

Wash and thoroughly dry the mushrooms.

Cut in 1/2-inch slices, stems and all; toss with the flour.

Heat the oil to 375°; fry the mushrooms 2 minutes.

Drain well; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Serve 4-6, or pierce with cocktail picks to serve as a hot hors d’oeuvre.


Recipe For Mushrooms in Parmesan Sauce

Recipe Mushrooms in Parmesan Sauce

Cook the broth, chili sauce, salt, ginger and onion over low heat for 5 minutes.

Melt the butter in a skillet; saute the mushrooms 5 minutes.

Mix in the hot sauce; cook over low heat 2 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Just before serving, blend in the cheese until melted.

Serve on toast, in patty shells or on crisp crackers.

Serves 4-6.


Russian Style Mushroom Recipe

Recipe For Mushrooms Russian Style

Melt the butter in a skillet; saute’ the onion 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper; saute 5 minutes, or until browned and liquid evaporated.

Blend in the paprika and sour cream; heat but do not let boil.

Deli­cious on toast as a first course, or as a vegetable.

Serves 4-6.

Onions in Raisin Sauce Recipe

 

Onions in Raisin Sauce Veggie Recipe

Buy even-sized onions.

Heat the oil in a deep skillet; add the peeled onions, tossing until coated.

Mix in the water, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, tomato paste, marjoram, bay leaf, and raisins.

Cover, bring to a boil and cook over low heat 30 minutes, or until tender but firm. Shake the pan frequently.

Chill.

Serves 8-10.

I will be adding more vegetable appetizer recipes soon.  In the meantime, if you have any great vegetable appetizer recipes or any type of veggie recipe that you’d like to share please share it in the comments or send me an e-mail.

I know, I know, I’ve said it before.  Here goes again…

Support Your Neighbours Your Friends Your Community…Buy Local! Pretty please :)

Vegetable Recipes

Vegetable Recipes and Veggie Advice

I’m putting together a bunch of vegetable recipes to share. Before you know it (fingers crossed) a whole list of easy to make veggie dishes will appear when you click here.

For now, let’s start with some veggie talk…

Duncan Farmers Market Vegetable Recipes Page ImageI prefer to eat and cook with fresh vegetables as much as possible.

My second choice is frozen. They can be a great offseason alternative to fresh, they are available all year round. This means we don’t always have to wait for summer to enjoy a great tasting broccoli dish or the spring-like taste of baby peas.

Nothing beats fresh for eating raw though. So, I try to eat and cook with veggies that are in season. This also happens to be when the prices are lowest. I also do my best to buy locally grown. Please, support your local farmers.

I’m pretty lucky when it comes to accessing fresh local veggies at reasonable prices. We have a lot of farmer markets surrounding us in the Cowichan Valley.  In fact, one of the biggest Saturday markets in British Columbia is just minutes away from home.

The Duncan Farmers Market is open every Saturday all year long and at last count has over 150 vendors. I enjoy my Saturday outings to the market.

We have the ability to buy directly from farmers and farm markets. A short car ride away in either direction we have Russell Farms Market & The Old Farm Market. 

And, summer through fall there’s also Grandma’s garden to pick from.

Rarely do I use canned vegetables from stores. Though, I will include a quick canned vegetable recipe or two. Because in a pinch sometimes canned veggies are the only option. So, why not spice them up a bit?

Veggie Advice

Select small, young vegetables whenever you can. They have the sweetest taste and crispiest texture. As tempting as it may be to get more bang for your buck by buying the biggest vegetable, or the older tired vegetables on clearance, sometimes it just isn’t worth the loss flavour, texture, and freshness.

For example, a tiny young carrot is wayyyy better tasting than a foot long giant overgrown one.

Though, when it comes to soups and stews, you can put those clearance rack veggies to some tasty use.

When it comes to frozen, quality is really important. Try to buy brands whose vegetables are frozen within hours of being picked. Some of the vegetable recipes will look at creative ways to cook with frozen.

 

Sensational Services Shout Out

Sensational Service Shout Out

We’re dedicating our Saturday posts to local shops, restaurants, farmers, artisans and other Cowichan Valley establishments that put in the effort to deliver sensational service to their customers.

All too often, especially on the web these days, we’re inundated with negative thoughts. Seems crankiness is contagious and people can be pretty quick to complain, but we have a habit of slacking off when it comes to sharing our positive experiences.

Rather than complaining about the bad experiences, I prefer to encourage

I Love Cowichan Sensational Service with a Smile Web Image
Sensational Service with a Smile

sensational service. When someone makes the effort to provide service with a smile I enjoy thanking them. Both in person and on the I Love Cowichan blog with a shout out.

It really makes my day when I’m greeted with a genuine beaming smile and am not made to feel like helping me is an imposition.  Happiness is contagious too! Join me in helping to spread the joy of warm smiles by supporting local businesses that care about their customers.

This Week’s Sensational Service Shout Out Goes to…

Aastha Devotional Indian Food

Aastha Devotional Indian Food Sensational Service Shout Out I Love Cowichan
Aastha Devotional Indian Food James Street Duncan BC

Everything about my first visit to this restaurant was excellent.

I was greeted by a warm welcoming smile and patience as I became familiar with the dishes on the menu.

I went with the daily special that the chef cheerfully made a slight adjustment to for me.  I can’t remember the last time that a meal included the drink. I really appreciated that little extra.

Thank you, everyone, at Aastha for making my local dining experience an enjoyable outing.

Other Sensational Serice Shout Outs