Cucumber; Did you know?

The cucumber did not originate in one particular place…

They were found in many parts of the world and as far back as prehistoric times. The Bible contains a very early cucumber reference.

Cucumber People by BreannaThere are Chinese writings dating back fifteen hundred years that reference the cucumber. The Romans had cucumbers, small and gnarled, but cucumbers nonetheless.

When explorers came to the New World they found cucumbers growing everywhere.

Many of the imperfections, the knobs and prickles, the spines and warts, that originally adorned cucumbers, have long been eliminated by selective horticulture. Most new cucumber varieties are quite straight rather than curved in the shape of a half-moon like their ancestors.

Hadn’t really intended on discussing cucumbers in particular 😉 Plan was to share two dressing or dip recipes and then let you know I’ve added a new page of salad recipes…

Cucumber Dressing or Dip

  • 1 cup finely chopped cucumbers
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced dill (optional)
  • 1 cup sour cream

Drain the cucumbers very well. Mix with the salt, lemon juice and dill. Fold into the sour cream. Chill. Serve with sea food or vegetable salads. Makes about 2 cups.

Parsley Dressing or Dip

  • 3 tablespoons minced parsley
  • ¼ cup finely chopped dill pickle
  • ¼ cup chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream

Mix together the parsley, dill pickle, tomatoes and salt. Fold into the sour cream. Chill. Great served with sea food. Makes about 2 cups.

Veggies for dipping

Select a variety of crisp, chilled fresh vegetables such as cucumber slices, celery stalks, carrot sticks, cauliflower flowerets, Bel­gian endive, artichoke leaves, radish roses, green and red pepper sticks, tiny plum tomatoes and small mush­rooms. Arrange them attractively around the dip.

Salad Recipes

Hope you enjoy the recipes!

Take care,

Shelley

PS- Remember to shop local…support your community, your neighbours & your friends! Pretty please 😉

Support Local Farm Markets in your area

Hi Ho Hi Ho to Duncan Farmer’s Market I Did Go

A Perfect Day For a Trip to Duncan Farmer’s Market

Nothing beats a sunny May Saturday outing to the Duncan Farmer’s Market. So many people, so many goodies and so many smiles. Plus, I finally met Farmer Abe!

Bought those Providence Farm veggies (can’t remember what they are called anybody?). Used them in a stir fry as suggested and wow were they nummy. Speaking of nummy…see those baby potatoes from Katie Farm, they were darned nummy in our tummies too.  What a wonderful young lady selling healthy sweets…Robert says that the orange-cranberry loaf was amazing too!

Bought some Bacon from Henry & Jones Beef at the Duncan Farmer's Market
Where’s the Beef?

Guess what I did with the freshly made that morning corn tortillas? Stuffed them with tomatoes, Henry & Jones bacon and lettuce from Katie Farm.

My daughter said the BLTs were absolutely scrumptious.

When we lived in the Eastern Townships (Quebec) we only ate farm fresh meat. I had forgotten what a difference grass fed makes and that the only thing better than bacon, is fresh local bacon.

 

Fall 2014 Duncan Farmer's Market
Fall 2014 Duncan Farmer’s Market

Looking back I see my last trip to the Duncan Farmer’s Market that I wrote about was a rainy one. Going on a fall day is fun in a certain kind of way (especially holding a fresh brewed coffee) but going on a sunshine, flower filled spring day one ups it for sure 😉

Wasn’t even intentional, capturing two different seasons at the Duncan Farmer’s Market, just worked out that way. I’m sure glad that it did.  Spring flowers may beat out falling leaves, but look at the colourful fall produce.

Attending the Duncan Farmer’s Market is just like any other local shopping spree for me…I love to visit with the people as much as I love to look at (and buy) their goods. Have you ever noticed that everyone has interesting stories to tell? I have, and that’s why I like talking to every single vendor there. I sincerely like learning about the person and what they do.

In other words each stop at each booth takes quite a bit of time and I never seem to get as far as I hope to. I mean, sure I usually make it all the way through from one end and back, but I don’t get to stop for as many chats as I’d like and I run out of money sooner than I’d originally planned 😉

Speaking of running out of money, I did notice that more of the vendors now take Square as payment. Nice!

I’ve decided from now on I will alternate which end of the Duncan Farmer’s Market I start at each time.

 

 

 

 

Locally Owned

and Locally Made Bliss…

Wow! April is gone poof, just like that. Now we’re officially half way through May.

Ever notice how May in the Cowichan Valley looks more like mid summer across the rest of Canada? So happy we live in the warm land.

Container garden strawberries herbsMy Kale is growing, strawberry plant is budding and my roses are blooming.

Never underestimate the healing power of digging in the dirt with your hands or the joy of eating something that you’ve grown yourself from a seed.

This wasn’t exactly where I was originally headed, but come to think of it my sister’s flowers are most definitely a beautiful bounty of locally owned bliss. I’ll just let the pictures do the talking…

Anyway, where was I? Right, Wednesday and Friday after school the girls and I like to explore locally owned businesses.

We call it treasure hunting. Sometimes we hunt for hidden treasures that we’ve never found before, other times we head to a favourite spot for some locally made bliss.

Wednesday we visited a place that’s  near and dear to our hearts and tummies. We stopped to grab a treat at a cute little locally owned bakery in Duncan.  It’s almost torture following our own rule of one treat each. This visit we picked an eclair, a cream horn, a custard doughnut and a chocolate covered banana. I had fruit 😉 They all looked AMAZING!

  • Rated as to die for BLISSFUL: the eclair and cream horn
  • Rated as interesting the banana I liked it but didn’t love it
  • Rated as pretty good after brushing some of the sugar off the custard doughnut (was apparently a bit too sweet)

 

We’ve purchased many birthday cakes from Westfalian Bakery.  Every single one was rated as BLISSFUL.

Locally Owned…

Westfalian Bakery on Urbanspoon

 

Take care!

Shelley

PS- Remember to shop local…support your community, your neighbours & your friends.

Cowichan Valley Treasures A Hunting We Will Go

The Cowichan Valley; a veritable trove of hidden treasures

When I was managing the Monk Office Supply store in Duncan, I met a lot of Cowichan Valley business owners. I saw first hand how hard they work. I also witnessed A TON of generosity. Even in difficult times they supported local causes.

Local shop owners are not only passionate about what they do; they take pride in and are supportive of their community.

These business owners taught me the importance of shopping local and what it is truly like to be part of my community. When I buy from a locally owned independent shop I am supporting my community, my friends and my neighbours.

It feels great being supportive, it’s nice being genuinely appreciated and I’m provided with expert service. They aren’t just merchants, they are specialists.

I know, I know, I’ve said this before a favourite thing about shopping locally is that I like to visit. For me it’s all about the experience, especially the smiles.

Amanda, Kendra, Taylor of Flynn's Fish n Chips Cowichan Valley locationThanks to the girls at Flynn’s for their wonderful smiles (including Amanda our very first Winner of the Winningest Smile Award), the amazing cheese fries and for helping me to finally convince hubby, that my kind of exploring is fun! Ummm I wanted to share Amanda, Kendra & Taylor’s beautiful smiles but it seems that Robert’s phone crashed. We’ll be back soon…hope to get all 3 of you together again. Kudos to all three of you for great service and radiant smiles!

It took some prodding but hubby is now on board and has started exploring (and shopping) the Cowichan Valley with me. I love being out and about; seeking caches of hidden treasures that Cowichan has to offer.

This month we discovered and visited (twice!) Old Farm Gifts/Specialty Coffee. We’ve been going to the market for years and never realized what was going on inside next door. These pictures will help put into words what I can’t….

There is something for everyone.  In fact there are a whole lot of somethings for everyone 🙂 What a difference a week makes. Our first visit to Old Farm Gifts/Specialty Coffee was on a cold rainy day. What is better than sitting in front of a real fireplace sipping a coffee?

Cowichan Valley's Old Farm Gifts Specialty Coffee fireplace

The next week when we went back we sat outside enjoying the sunshine (while I sipped my delicious coffee). The one constant for both visits was Mariah Viberg’s warm welcoming smile. When she smiles, you just can’t help smiling back. Thank you Mariah for being so wonderful at what you do. You are ILoveCowichan.ca’s latest Winner of the Winningest Smile Award!

Mariah Viberg

 

I’m happy to report that my husband Robert, my daughter Brittany and my youngest Victoria are all on board with supporting their community (the Cowichan Valley) by shopping locally as much as they can. Can’t wait to see where we go next week.

Take care!

Shelley

 

PS- Remember to shop local…support your community, your neighbours & your friends.

PPS- Old Farm Gifts/Speicalty Coffee 5169 Francis Street 250-748-7147

Social Media Knock Knock

Social Media use it!

There are oh SO many great reasons to use social media (i.e. Twitter, Facebook Page) for your local business. That being said…DO NOT sign up for social media accounts unless you are committed to maintaining them.

In the brick n’ mortar world that’d be like leaving the store untended with everything in locked cases. Potential customers can walk in and ONLY look around. They can’t ask questions or make any purchases because nobody is there.  Plus it looks like it’s been abandoned for a really long time.

In the online social media world customers search for YOUR business. They sign up to follow you. They are specifically asking to be kept up to date. They are giving you permission to socialize with them.

When the first impression of your social media page/account is that it’s being neglected it can affect how they feel about your business.  My particular pet peeve is following a local business (especially ones that I frequent regularly) then not receiving any kind of acknowledgement. As a customer, it makes me feel like I’ve just walked into your store without being greeted.

Social Media use it to stay in touch with customers.
Social Media Don’t Make a Bad Impression

If you’re not ready to add fresh content regularly (stay in touch) then you probably should wait to set up accounts or pages. It looks really bad when a customer posts a comment that is left eternally UNANSWERED. Remember though that you are passing up the opportunity to communicate directly with your customers. To keep them informed. To provide news about your local business. To build a community with your customers and other local businesses.

When customers are looking for you on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or others and don’t find you this can also leave a bad impression. The impression that your business may be a little out of date.

I like to look at it this way….when the store is quiet a valuable tweet to followers gives you the chance to treat them as if they are in the store. Thereby eliminating the lull altogether.

Now is the time to put social media to good use for your business!

If you need a little help setting up your accounts, building your social community and keeping them fresh feel free to get in touch 250-710-0594 or Shelley@ILoveCowichan.ca

 

 

Say Thank You and Mean It!

Wow! What a whirlwind December was. We’re off to the start of another new year. Bye bye to 2014 and hello to 2015. Speaking of December, the month of power shopping reminds me of something I noticed a lot (too much in fact). When you work in retail, without exception you should always say thank you and mean it! This is especially true for small local stores. This didn’t happen with some of my local shopping experiences this holiday season.

I know it’s busy. I know it’s difficult. But…

When I shop in smaller stores I expect to be greeted when I enter, and thanked when I leave and it best be genuine. I want that Thank You even if I haven’t made a purchase. These two interactions are part of the customer experience that keeps me coming back.

Duncan Andison Blackboard with Thank You written on it

Photographic Print Thank You by Duncan Andison

The big bad box store who shall not be named knows how important this is. They pay people to stand at the door saying hi and thank you. All too often though, it isn’t genuine. Just words they are repeating over and over.

Please, please, please understand the time of “buying local” has come. It’s your time as a local business owner to shine. People are becoming more intent on supporting their community by spending money locally. Customer experience matters, it is what can set us apart from big box.

Without exception, do what you have to do to ensure that every person walking in the door is greeted cheerfully and is thanked genuinely when they are leaving.

It’s simple…be honestly grateful that this individual chose to visit your place of business.

I am proud to say that I did most of my shopping locally this year (yeah me!) Also, supported local artists with some of my gift purchasing.

 

Besides saying thank you, here is some other advice to help improve retail customer experience.

A Busy Busy Christmas Month

Ah December aka Christmas month…

Not like it’s a surprise or anything. Same time, some month, same amount of busy busy busy every year. I’m not complaining, it’s a happy busy. I love the Christmas season. Everything about it.

So many things going on this month I just haven’t been able to write about them. Tons of pictures, just haven’t gotten around to sharing them. They say a picture is worth a thousand words…hmm wonder what a video is worth? Well, I’m going to give it a shot.

As Christmas approaches, there have been so many fun events. We took a bunch of pictures and I planned on sharing A LOT of them. Times running out. If I don’t share them soon Christmas will have come and gone.

The Downtown Duncan Christmas Kick Off…

I remember our first December in the Cowichan Valley watching Christmas fireworks. Being from Montreal, I had never experienced anything quite like it. I mean we had sleigh rides, but fireworks, in the winter? The first year we stood right up close to the town hall. When I saw how close the fireworks were, I’ll admit I was a tad nervous. I had never been that close to them before. 10 years later and it still amazes me, though I do stand further back now.

A few years ago we discovered the Lighted Truck Parade in Victoria.  Again, it was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. Now we look forward to it every year. Here’s a video of this year’s full parade. The children in the background are, well I guess you’d say very excited!

Plan was to name each of the shop windows, but I’m running out of time.  Sorry I didn’t get around to it. I’ll try again next year. If you see your store window please give it a big shout out in the comments. The Downtown Duncan windows in all their Christmas splendour needed to be shared so here’s a video….


Please remember (Christmas shopping too)…Support Your Neighbours Your Friends Your Community…Buy Local! Pretty please :)

I Love Cowichan Facebook page

 

 

“I Posted a New Photo to Facebook” Pet Peve (Uggg)

Facebook TwitterIf I’m on Twitter, I want to read something, In fact, I want to read something interesting.

If you want me to visit your business on another social media website, for example let’s say Facebook. Then send me there via an interesting thought and a picture. Entice me, encourage me to visit your other post.

I realize the Facebook link shrinks the 140 characters but if the most interesting thing you have to say is…

I Just Posted a New Photo to Facebook …

I’m probably not going to visit. I’m most certainly not going to fave or retweet it. What’s the problem with sharing the picture on Twitter? You’ve got my attention, why risk losing it?

Think about it for a second, you are on Twitter to grow your local business.  To communicate directly with your customers. To increase the number of customers (and potential customers) who are following you. You have a limited amount of  real estate (140 characters) to promote your business, and instead you’re promoting Facebook?

I realize most likely, you want customers to visit your Facebook page because there you can offer more information. You may have a page (or pages) set up specifically geared to offering valuable information to your customers, freebies, coupons. It’s a great way to stay in touch with customers and for customers to like/share your pages. You can manage lists and campaigns, the possibilities are endless.

BUT…right now we’re talking about you having somebody’s attention on Twitter…

Your Twitter goal may in fact be solely to direct customers to your local business Facebook page(s). You still have to offer something of interest or value. Think of the 140 characters as a headline. An interesting headline will get the click, will get favorited and will get retweeted. A powerful headline & picture; even better!

I know it’s tempting and a real time saver to use an ap that updates all of your social media accounts when you make a new post.  That unfortunately leads to boring and unpopular  Tweets like “I Posted a New Photo to Facebook fb.meblahblahblah”

I’ve taken the time to visit you on Twitter, please give me a little time in return by sharing your interesting Tweets.

Now if you’ll excuse me…I’m heading over to Tweet something (ILoveCowichanca) that will hopefully entice my Twitter friends into reading this blog post.  Have a super day!

Support Your Neighbours Your Friends Your Community…Buy Local! Pretty please 🙂

Support Local Business

Local Business Please Support Local Business

I absolutely love how Buy Local is on the tip of more and more tongues these days, especially for those of us from smaller communities.

Support Local Business Merit Furniture Duncan BCToday when I was out and about in Downtown Duncan I popped into Merit Furniture to look at sofas. Our current couch celebrated its 10th birthday recently. Though it has served us well, the time for a new one is most definitely on the horizon.

I remember we bought the couch when we first arrived in the Cowichan Valley.  The one I bought was a little more expensive than the others. The sales person pointed out that it was made in BC and that this particular company made great quality furniture. She was right. It’s been through A LOT. Not a single spring is broken and the frame is as good as new.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a couch last nearly that long…even before kids.

When we were just about done, Roger mentioned how he has started bringing in some locally handmade (in Duncan!) accent pieces. He showed us a gorgeous corner hutch and some tables.

While he was showing my husband and I the furniture, another customer in the store overheard and joined us. We started talking about how important it is to Buy Local.

Then it hit me. This wasn’t just a case of us as shoppers buying local, but an ideal example of one local business supporting another local business. Kudos to Merit Furniture in Duncan!

As consumers more and more of us are doing our “Buy Local” part.

As a local business owner, are you doing your part? Whenever possible please support other local businesses. Sell locally grown or manufactured products. For whatever services your business needs hire someone local, be it an accountant, web designer, carpet or window cleaner etc.

Support Your Neighbours Your Friends Your Community…Buy Local! Pretty please 🙂

My Buy Local Market Adventure

One of my recent buy local adventures was a tad chilly, a bit rainy and a whole lot of fun.  I finally made it to the Downtown Duncan Farmer’s Market.

Which meant of course. the first thing I had to do was grab a coffee. Truth be told,  it’s the first thing I do regardless of the weather; ALWAYS.

Can’t remember if I had the Dragon’s Tooth blend, the Bulldog Bite or maybe it was the South Seas Serenade, but the coffee really hit the spot. I didn’t catch his name, but the conversation sure was lively.  The product motto is a pretty good indicator of his personality… “Beans so Fresh They Ought to be Slapped.”

Misty Ridge Organic Coffee Buy Local
Misty Ridge Organic Coffee

Great coffee, great conversation and some useful advice ” Warm your mug with hot water just prior to pouring your coffee into it and your coffee will stay hot longer”.

Raw Vegan Organic Dark Cacao
100% Handmade Raw Dark Cacao

While I was enjoying my coffee the stand right across from me caught my attention.

RAWkolates, hmm had no idea what it meant, but the display looked interesting and I was pretty sure I saw some samples.  I poked around for a minute or two while Vida (she introduced herself soon after) finished up with some customers.

Vida quite patiently (I say patiently because I asked a lot of questions) explained what RAWkolates are and that she makes them all by hand.

RAWkolates are handmade raw vegan fair trade organic dark cacao bars & squares. Her treats contain absolutely no refined sugar, no gluten, no dairy, no soy, no sulphites, no GMOs nor wax.

I was a bit hesitant when she offered me a sample, but I have to admit it was a really good. Just the right amount of sweet.  Vida is a Holistic Nutritionist &  Raw Food Chef who lives in  Nanaimo.  She is Island born and raised.  She grows her own food, creates in the kitchen and even builds her own furniture from recycled wood pallets.

RAWkolates are also available in Duncan at Chari-Teas

Just two vendors into my buy local Saturday adventure and it was pretty clear.  People who sell at the market are extremely passionate about what they do and they have some pretty interesting stories to share.

Ummm, that and judging by the number of questions I ask it’s going to take me way more than just one Saturday to get through the entire market.


Vegetable Appetizer Recipes