A Passable Interview: Ruth Daniels

I met Ruth Daniels through our mutual friend, our meat vendor.

How often do you get to say you met someone through a meat vendor?

But I did, and she and I got to talking. A lot. Originally from Montreal, Ruth moved to Halifax from Toronto with her better half, David, to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren who live here. I had the chance to interview Ruth for CBC’s Information Morning in my Assis Toi series and felt like I found someone who gets what it means to eat : that food is a connection between people, between families, between generations.

What got you into blogging?

Staying connected with my daughters who went off to Dalhousie & NSCAD and kept calling home with cooking questions and requests for recipes. My husband, much more technically in tune with the times, suggested blogging as a way for them to enjoy my dishes whenever they wanted to make them.

Where has blogging led you?

I currently have 4 blogs : Once Upon a Feast, that’s a general site where I share all my favorite food places and people, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some very cool chefs and even had the chance to cook with one or two.

Recipes from 4EveryKitchen, which started out as a place to more easily sort all the recipes I’ve been making – recipes I’ve created from scratch, those I’ve adapted from others, and those that I’ve found on line or in cookbooks and had to keep handy.

Cookbooks 4 Every Kitchen where I’m lucky enough to receive review copies from publishers and cookbook authors (plus the 100 or so I’ve purchased that sit on my bookshelves) and share my favorites with my readers – along with a recipe or two, of course.

Ask Ruth is the blog that answers kitchen and cooking questions. I’m always surprised at how I’m found.

As for where blogging has led me…certainly to be a strong supporter of local farmers and artisan cheesemakers, bakers, ….etc… and naturally to just see the “food angle” of everything.

How has your relationship with food changed since you’ve moved to Halifax?

I love going to the Halifax Saturday Farmers Market and other small farmers markets around the province. It’s given me a greater appreciation for the food I buy. I love the pride the farmers, and other purveyors of all things food and local. And I love the accessibility to them. An example: chats with Randy of Ran-Cher Acres, who produce some wonderful goat cheese from their Saanen goats, led to a visit to their farm. I got to visit the beautiful, curious goats and got to watch Cheryl (Randy’s awesome wife) make the cheese.

Is this different from when you lived in Toronto or Montreal?

Perhaps it’s only that my eyes were opened here to the joy of small farmers markets. Toronto, Montreal, St Jacobs have gorgeous markets, but they’re huge – and not everything is produced locally, so it’s a very different experience.

What do you miss of Montreal or Toronto?

The joy in food shopping, Toronto, is to visit the ethnic neighbourhoods – produce, fish, poultry, meat markets and travel the world for spices etc., without leaving the city. Portuguese sausages and custard tarts are the first things that come to mind that I haven’t been able to find here. And, in my humble opinion, no one makes breads & pastries like the ones in Montreal – from bagels to croissants, pain chocolat…and well, now I’m drooling all over the keyboard.

What is your relationship with food now that you are a grandmother?

I’m certainly more conscious of introducing my little grandsons to healthier choices and my three and a half year old and I already bake together. I think it’s important to bring a playful element to food. His favorite thing to do with play dough, for instance, is to make radish pizza – seriously!

How does this make you feel, as a foodie and a (grand)parent?

First, it makes me glad to know that my playfulness in the kitchen with my daughter has rubbed off. The littlest (at 18 months) is very adventurous – he even loves salad! His older brother (3 1/2) has become picky and not really into the actual EATING part, but we do enjoy our time together in the kitchen. Given the state of our youth – high rates of obesity, favoring fast foods…it’s important to give little ones a good foundation.

You can contact Ruth via email at Ruth@4everykitchen.com