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Are You Rhubarb Savvy?

By: Getty Stewart, PHEc, B.Ed., Author of Prairie Fruit Cookbook and

Rhubarb heralds the arrival of spring. For many of us Northern gardeners, it is the first produce we can pick from the garden. This hardy plant, often referred to as the pie plant, produces lovely edible stalks that range in color from lime green to cherry red.

Here’s a little True and False quiz to test your rhubarb knowledge.Rhubarb

  1. Rhubarb is a fruit. T or F?

While we use it like a fruit in pies and crisps, rhubarb is actually not a fruit. A fruit is the fleshy part of a plant that comes from a flower and surrounds a seed. We use the stalks of the rhubarb plant, much like the stalks of celery. Technically, rhubarb is a vegetable. False.

  1. Rhubarb leaves should never be eaten. T or F?

Rhubarb leaves are toxic and should never be eaten. The US National Library of Medicine lists oxalic acid and anthraquinone glycosides as the most likely toxic ingredients. Eating rhubarb leaves may cause a burning sensation in your mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, eye pain, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and weakness. More seriously, you may develop kidney stones, seizures, go into a coma or even die. Deaths rarely occur as you would have to ingest a considerable amount of leaves. True.

  1. Because the leaves are poisonous you should not compost rhubarb leaves. T or F?

It is safe to compost rhubarb leaves. Iowa State University’s Horticulture News states rhubarb leaves are safe to compost despite their poisonous content. False

  1. Color of the stalk is the best way to determine if rhubarb is ready to harvest. T or F?RhubarbLeaves

Color is simply an indication of the variety of rhubarb, not whether it is ready to harvest. Some rhubarb never turns red, so don’t wait! Use size as the best indicator. When stalks are about 7-15 inches (20-40 cm) long they’re ready to harvest. The width of the stems will vary. False

  1. The best time to harvest rhubarb is spring time. T or F?

Spring is the best time to harvest rhubarb. To harvest, slide your hand to the bottom of the stalk, twist slightly and pull. The stalk should come out quite easily. Be sure to leave 1/3 of the leaves so the plant can nourish itself throughout the season. Seed stalks will form in the summer, these can be cut to extend the harvesting season. You may pick a few stalks in summer and fall – leave 2/3 of the leaves on. True

  1. Rhubarb is so tart, nobody would want it. T or F?

People adore the tart, refreshing taste of rhubarb. If you or a neighbour have rhubarb that you’re not using, consider sharing it with a Fruit Rescuing organization like Fruit Share. Volunteers will pick your rhubarb and share it with community organizations who will put your surplus produce to good use. Or, offer your rhubarb to a friend – you might get a tasty surprise in return. False

  1. Rhubarb is only good for rhubarb pie and rhubarb crisp. T or F?

While rhubarb pie and rhubarb crisp are among the favorite ways to eat rhubarb, there are hundreds of recipes and many different ways to use rhubarb. Here are just a few recipes to get you started! Find more recipes in the Prairie Fruit Cookbook and at False

Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer JamRhubarbBars

Rhubarb Fruit Leather

Rhubarb Honey Bran Muffins

Honey Rhubarb Sesame Chicken

Rhubarb Juice

Rhubarb Oat Bars


Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener. For more articles, recipes and tips on Making Home Cooking Easy and Enjoyable visit her blog at

Funding for this article provided by the Canadian Home Economics Foundation.



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Eat, Play, Love

by Christine Houde, PHEc, Heart and Stroke Foundation

Spring has finally come to the prairies. The threat of snow is waning, the crocuses are blooming, the garden is beckoning and it’s time to get out there and get active with our families.

But shaking off the winter hibernation habit can be tough. Really tough.

Not to worry, the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s (HSF) got your back. May is physical activity month, and to help families get motivated, HSF is offering a chance to win a specially selected prize, worth $200, and all your family has to do is participate in a physical activity together, and submit a form to HSF explaining what you did (entries must be received during May, 2014). You can get rewarded for something you would do anyway.

And don’t stop there, PLAY IT FORWARD. Over the long term, you’re much more likely to stay active if you have a physical activity buddy to help keep you motivated and having fun. Encourage everyone in your family to participate in physical activities with their friends and colleagues for even more opportunities to submit and win. For more information about the month long challenge, go to

With Play covered, let’s get back to the Eat. Spring is a great time to plant the seed – or re-visit the roots – of investing in family meal time.

Children who eat with their families are more likely to

  • eat more fruits and vegetables
  • eat less saturated and trans fat
  • get more key nutrients such as calcium and fibre
  • accept new foods more readily

Families are more likely to eat together if they eat at home. Families who eat at home are more likely to eat healthy, home-cooked meals.   So what’s holding everyone back? For many people it’s time. Meals from scratch take time to plan, time to shop, and time to prepare. The good news is there are many online tools to help the busy family make heart-healthy choices. Visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s meal planning resources for weekly meal plan templates, grocery lists, and time saving tips.

Another great way to save time in the kitchen is to have the kids help. Cooking with children is like having an extra tutoring session while assembling a meal. They can strengthen their math skills, reading comprehension, and manual dexterity. Home cooking with the kids also reinforces messages about healthy eating, encourages independence, and it can be great fun too.

Download the free PDF of kid friendly recipes at Quick and Healthy, recipes the whole family can enjoy, Kids’ Edition, Volume 1.

Wishing you a happy, heart-healthy spring.

Christine Houde is a professional home economist working with the Heart and Stroke Foundation as nutrition and research manager.  With a background in Foods  & Nutrition, she has promoted heart health, healthy eating and family mealtimes to kids and adults across Manitoba for over 12 years; one of her favourite projects is the Quick and Healthy cookbook and media segments initiative produced in partnership with HSF and the Manitoba Canola Growers Association.  Christine also works with the prevention research initiative of HSF, with a focus on reducing chronic disease risk factors for Manitobans. She loves Friday night homemade pizza night with her busy family.

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Food Revolution Day – May 16, 2014


It’s a Cook Cook Revolution – or is it? The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation created an annual global day of food action to get people cooking in the kitchen with real food – a message that Canadian home economists have been sharing with people and teaching families for over 100 years.

Sobeys Inc. recently teamed up with Jamie Oliver and is inviting Canadians to take part in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day On May 16, 2014, you can join Canada’s biggest potluck party at Better Food For All and share a post or photo of your potluck on Twitter at #PotluckChallenge.

It is encouraging to know that Sobeys sees the importance of getting more Canadians cooking in their kitchens. They also support home economics education by employing registered dietitians, as indicated in their national food study. In Canada, we know how to get people cooking in the kitchen, and it’s through home economics education and professionals in the field.

As for marketing, a young, passionate, well-known British chef seems to be required to get the message across. So be it. It’s great to see a forward thinking movement encouraging families to shop smart, cook healthy and support local. But let’s face it – we have a Home Economics Revolution going on.


Diana Mager is a professional home economist employed by Manitoba Hydro. Starting out as a Winnipeg Hydro Home Economist, she developed practical, budget friendly recipes for families, provided expert advice on food preservation safety and promoted energy efficient appliances. This led her into a career in Corporate Communications. With a background in Food and Nutrition, Diana has promoted Manitoba foods and farm families for over 15 years. She also appeared on Great Tastes of Manitoba, the longest running local cooking show, for six seasons. With the help of her family, Diana grows her own fruit, vegetables and herbs, and somehow finds time to jam, pickle and preserve summers’ best!

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Accessing Locally Grown Fruit – Buy it, Grow it, Rescue it


By: Getty Stewart, PHEc, B.Ed., Author of Prairie Fruit Cookbook

As the days grow longer and the sun shines brighter, I yearn for the fresh taste of local fruit. The tart, refreshing taste of rhubarb.  The full bodied flavour of local strawberries.  The delightful combination of raspberries and cream. The unmistakable flavor of wild blueberries, saskatoons, chokecherries and cranberries. The intense flavour of our sour yet sweet cherries perfect for pie.  The joy of a crisp, juicy apple plucked right from the tree and the intense taste of those deep blue grapes.  Mmm, can’t you just taste it!

Want to get your hands on fresh locally grown fruit this summer?   Here’s how:

Buy It

Visit farmer’s markets, u-pick farms and small local grocers to get the freshest local fruit possible. You can’t beat freshly picked, sun-ripened fruit.

Grow Your Own Fruit

Even if you live on a small urban lot chances are you can grow at least some of your own fruit.  Think about small options such as rhubarb, currants, haskaps, strawberries, cantaloupes, gooseberries, nanking cherries, grapes dwarf apple or cherry trees.  When making your selections, skip the large retail outlets and visit locally owned and operated greenhouses for the best advice on varieties and growing tips for your space.

Rescue and Share Surplus Fruit

All across Canada, fruit rescuing organizations like Fruit Share are popping up.  Fruit Share is a non-profit, volunteer organization that connects fruit owners with volunteer fruit pickers.  Fruit owners with excess fruit, make their fruit available to volunteer pickers who will pick the fruit and split it three ways.  One third goes to the home owner, one third is split between the volunteer pickers and the final third is donated to community organizations that can make good use of the fruit (soup kitchens, food banks, church groups, youth groups, social service agencies, etc.).  The result is more fruit for those who love and need it and less waste and mess for those who have too much of it - a win/win/win.

Our friends at Hidden Harvest Ottawa have put together this chart of established fruit rescuing groups across Canada.  If your community isn’t on the list, don’t give up, call a local organization involved in food security or sustainable living to inquire about anyone who may already be rescuing fruit.  Or, consider starting your own fruit rescuing group with the help of Fruit Share Manitoba’s guide to starting your own Fruit Share.



Whatever way you get local fruit this summer, I hope you enjoy every mouth-watering bite!

Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener.  For more articles, recipes and tips on Making Home Cooking Easy and Enjoyable visit her blog at

Funding for this article provided by the Canadian Home Economics Foundation.

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Grandma Wizardry


By Meghan Rafferty, PHEc

I have been fortunate to have had many opportunities to learn recipes and cooking tricks from my Grandma. She lives in Toronto so when I visit I always make a point of asking her to include me in the kitchen as much as possible. And let me tell you – I think she is MAGIC. I can think that recipes are impossible and she always has the perfect trick that makes it so much easier! I think it’s some type of Grandma Wizardry, but I can’t quite tell yet. On top of regular cooking for her family, she catered a lot of large dinners for business associates of my grandpa’s when he was still working so I think the magic has accrued over time.

A few years ago I was chatting with her and saying that I would like to find more ways to add eggs to my diet and she mailed me a recipe that she found. She recommended it because it was quick, healthy and delicious, knowing that those are my requirements for a great recipe. In true Grandma-style she adapted it, knowing that I don’t really like green peppers but LOVE red peppers. Here’s the recipe:


I hope this recipe might come in handy for you, I love how quick it is so I can make it early in the morning and have a decent breakfast before I leave for work at 7:30.


As a professional home economist, Meghan Rafferty works full time as a Policy Analyst for the provincial government and works part time as a skating coach and clinician. Meghan is the Director of Public Relations for the Manitoba Association of Home Economists (MAHE), MAHE representative on Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba and committee member of the Recreation Coaches Committee for Skate Manitoba. In her spare time, Meghan keeps training for her next half marathon, loves zumba, reading and playing in her garden.

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Roasting your Holiday Ham – tips and recipe


Around the holidays when families are gathering for a big meal to celebrate, ham will generally will make an appearance on the dining room table. I get a lot of questions about cooking times and temperature for ham, suggested recipes and glazes. Here is a brief guide for ham basics.

Most hams are fully cooked, however, the flavour and juiciness are enhanced by additional cooking. Roast in an uncovered pan at 3250F (1600C) for 15 minutes per lb/0.5 kg or until a meat thermometer registers 1400F (600C). If desired, brush or coat with a glaze during the last 15-30 minutes.

To roast a small formed ham piece, place it cut side down in a small roasting pan. Add a small amount of water or fruit juice like apple or pineapple. Cover loosely with foil and roast at 3250F (1600C) for about 1 hour or until heated through.

Glazed Ham with Cider Sauce recipe from Manitoba Pork

Laurel Lyons, PHEc, is Special Events Coordinator for Manitoba Pork.

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Making house decisions: To renovate or to buy?

By Lavonne Kroeker, PHEc

Perhaps like me, you’ve spent much of your winter thinking about this question, perusing, getting quotes from contractors, dreaming, stressing, meeting with your financial institution and talking with friends and family.  Making housing decisions can be stressful because there are so many factors involved and anything you do will not be cheap!

I remember back in university getting a resource called “How Much Home Can I Afford?” which helped me in my initial home-buying process. Now, there are a number of calculators available online through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation that can be helpful when one is making decisions.  Another tidbit of knowledge that came back to me during this process was the term NIMBY – “not in my backyard” and the concept that our suburbs can disconnect us from community.  In thinking about that further, I realized that is one of the reasons I like my neighbourhood – it is a community.  Some of us don’t have garages (ironically on my wishlist for my addition) which means we actually see each other in our daily comings and goings as opposed to whizzing into our garage and entering the house without being seen or interacting with our neighbours.  I also love that I live on a street with people from all walks and stages of life.  If I built in a new development, that is less likely and something that I don’t really want to give up.  So you can see which direction I’m leaning . . . I hope to make a final decision by the time the snow melts!


As a professional home economist, Lavonne Kroeker has worked in a wide variety of settings – an adult learning centre, child welfare, private industry and since 2007, as a Rural Leadership Specialist with Mantioba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives.  Her job involves “creating leaders” in rural communities – whether its supporting volunteer 4-H leaders, chairing a Safety Day committee, developing programming for women in business or organizing training for farm women, there is never a dull day!  Besides her day job, Lavonne enjoys volleyball, biking, creative pursuits and almost any outdoor activity!

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Get Kids Cooking for a Chance to Win! – Recipe for Success Video Cooking Contest challenges kids to create their best sandwich

By Stacy Cardigan Smith
Communications officer, The Winnipeg Foundation

Eating healthy food is fun, easy and delicious – especially when you’re with friends. That’s the message behind the new Recipe for Success Video Cooking Contest, which kicks off January 20, 2014.
The contest is giving kids in Grades 4-6 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the chance to share their most creative, nutritious and delicious sandwich recipes for the chance to win great prizes. Any recipe goes so long as it’s healthy – it can be a falafel pita with cucumbers, an egg salad sandwich, peanut butter and apple on toast, an Asian lettuce wrap, or anything else students can dream up. The contest is presented by The Winnipeg Foundation.
Up for grabs are three, $500 grants to support healthy food at a school or community organization, five Junior Master Chef Culinary Adventures at Red River College’s (RRC) School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts, plus the winning sandwich recipe will be featured at RRC’s Culinary Exchange restaurant.
“We’re hoping to see some really imaginative sandwiches,” says Richard Frost, CEO of The Winnipeg Foundation. “It can be a breakfast, lunch or dinner sandwich. And plain white bread need not apply – we want to see wraps, pitas, even lettuce. Anything goes, so long as it’s healthy.”
Sandwich recipes can have a maximum of five ingredients, not including the “bread” or whatever it is that contains the sandwich.
Videos entries can be up to three minutes in length, which will be strictly enforced. The contest entry period runs until March 14, 2014, with a People’s Choice public voting phase from Mar. 17 to 28. The contest is open to residents of Winnipeg.
The Winner and Runner-up teams will determined by a panel of judges, and the People’s Choice team will be determined by public votes. In addition, two teams will win Junior Master Chef Culinary Adventures based on a wild card draw.
What is a Junior Master Chef Culinary Adventure? It’s an awesome food-filled day for the winning teams at RRC’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts. Teams will get a cooking demo and lesson with a professional chef and the chance to create their own culinary masterpieces. Plus they’ll receive a delicious lunch for the teams and up to two adult guests per team member, as well as an exclusive viewing of the top video entries.
The goals of the contest are to get kids eating healthy food and to show them healthy choices don’t have to be complicated.
“We know sometimes a sandwich is more than a sandwich – it’s a building block for a better future,” Frost says. “Research shows the best way to get kids to eat healthy food is by getting them involved in preparing it. That’s why the Recipe for Success Contest aims to nourish the potential of Winnipeg kids by getting them talking about, preparing and eating healthy sandwiches.”
The Winnipeg Foundation supports a variety of programs that help kids access healthy food and cooking skills, including the Nourishing Potential Endowment Fund.
Visit for complete contest details.

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Reader appreciates Emmie Oddie’s recipes, advice

When Ernie and I were married in 1960, we received The Western Producer for free because Ernie shipped grain to the pool.

We already received the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, but I hadn’t seen a weekly paper since growing up on the farm where my family received the Free Press Prairie Farmer.

Anyway, here we were with the WP arriving in our home each week, and I liked it. It was an arrangement that became more comfortable with the passing of years, so when we had to pay for it, we bought it.

I think it began costing $5 for two years. Then it went gradually up and up until it was as now, 53 years later, about $90 per year including taxes.

One of the big features in the WP for me was Emmie Oddie’s I’d Like to Know page. Here were recipes submitted by prairie people that Emmie tested in her own kitchen. Here were household hints, letters from readers with requests for information and hints of their own.

In the pre-television days, this was the where-to-go page for canning, sewing, gardening, care of house plants and more.

Emmie was powerful and amazing in the life of prairie folk. She always started her page with a chatty essay about how her week went with those personal glimpses into the lives of her husband and children, Langford, Bill, Rosemary, and later, grandchildren. How eagerly I read her page. It is sadly ironic but perhaps fitting that the WP would celebrate 90 years of publication at the same time that Emmie would pass into eternity three years short 
of 100.

Emmie encouraged people to push on and have dreams and goals. She cited people like Nellie McClung, Violet McNaughton and others as role models. The women’s movement was important. To improve the role of women was to improve the role of human kind.

There are many other appealing features in the WP. Ernie always enjoyed the classifieds and had a special interest in stationary engines and all retired machinery that might be parked in the trees in some remote part of a farm site.

Western People was popular in our house with the bird watcher page and the pictures and biographies of talented and interesting people.

These are some of the ways that the WP has worked its way into our lives over 50 plus years.

In 2012 at the Saskatoon Exhibition, we stopped at The Western 
Producer booth.

The person in charge said, “have you ever thought of subscribing to The Western Producer?”

We said, “we have had a subscription for 52 years.”

“That’s a long time,” was the reply.

We agreed and said, “and I don’t suppose we’ll be cancelling anytime soon. You see, the old Western Producer just might be the glue that’s holding this very satisfactory marriage together.”

Verna Boehm – The Western Producer

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Open Letter Regarding Faculty of Human Ecology

Please take a moment to read an open letter to: President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manitoba, Dr. David Barnard, Vice-President (Academic) and Provost, Dr. Joanne Keselman, esteemed members of the University of Manitoba Senate, Dean of Human Ecology, Dr. Gustaaf Sevenhuysen, Ms. Marcie Marcuza, CBC Radio host Information Radio, Ms. Marilyn Mackie, CBC Radio host Radio Noon, Honorable Members of the Manitoba Legislature: Mr. James Allum (Minister of Education and Advanced Learning), Ms. Theresa Oswald (Minister of Jobs and the Economy), Ms. Kerri Irvine-Ross (Minister of Family Services and the Status of Women), friends and supporters of Human Ecology/Home Economics;

My name is Christie Crow, and I am a graduate of the FACULTY of Human Ecology, I graduated in 2009 with an Integrated Degree from the Faculties of Human Ecology and Education. I am a teacher of Foods and Nutrition for grades 7-11. Every day, I count myself fortunate that I get to do what I love to do. I have the opportunity to talk to and teach my students about food, the benefits of healthy cooking and eating and quite simply, how to cook. My love of and passion for food, of cooking, and of nutrition doesn’t stop at the 27 faces in my classroom, nor is it limited to the students who are registered in my classes. The students who do take my classes talk about it in the hallways, they talk about the new technique or new ingredient or about grocery shopping or about how much Ms. Crow HATES energy drinks and what’s in them, they take that same information home and talk about it there AND in many cases take an active role in cooking at home.

With the rise in a variety of health concerns (a list that grows every year) that stem from poor nutritional habits, convenience foods, or a simple lack of cooking and nutritional literacy. The skills that my students leave my classroom with are skills that will AND DO last a lifetime because they are LIFE skills. In an era when so many of YOU are concerned about the longevity and health of the next generation, their ability to look after their own health and that of their families’ wellbeing, it seems counter-intuitive to dismantle a Faculty that focuses on life-long learning for individuals, families, and communities. Whose graduates are professionals in the fields of Human Nutritional Sciences, Family Social Sciences, Textile Sciences and of Interdisciplinary Health Studies.

While I teach Foods and Nutrition, I call on my Family Social Sciences and Textile Sciences background weekly, if not on a daily basis. I am good at what I do because of where I come from. I come from a faculty centred on, and which prides itself in, interdisciplinary teaching and learning. I come from a faculty that focuses on a wholistic approach to learning and prevention, that teaches us to see the strengths in others and to help build on those. I come from a faculty that always taught us to not only look at the big picture but to examine all the pieces of the puzzle, how they fit and work together, and how we can help make the whole stronger. I come from a faculty that preached community, but who more importantly, practiced it on a daily basis. If you dismantle the faculty, if you break apart its many facets, you not only take away the strength of our whole faculty but you will lose the strength found in each of its parts. You will devalue the history of our professional practice, you will devalue its current dynamic practice, you will devalue MY profession and my calling. You will eliminate jobs, because at the very base level of this argument who is going to hire anyone from a Faculty that was dismantled for value of its scrap, with a degree that the President of that same University didn’t value enough to even consult those that hold it.

I do what I do everyday, because of where I come from, I COULD NOT DO what I do everyday without my foundation of Human Ecology. The heart and soul of what I DO and who I AM is centred in Human Ecology, MY heart and soul is centred in Human Ecology. It defines my job, my career, it has helped define me AND my values, my approach to teaching and my approach to life. It would be a tragedy and a terrible loss to the University of Manitoba (as a founding faculty) as well as to the province of Manitoba if the Faculty of Human Ecology was lost, it would also be a great personal tragedy to the many professionals who proudly call themselves graduates of the Faculty of Human Ecology who are spread across this province, this country, and around the globe using the skills and knowledge that we learned and earned from the Faculty of Human Ecology.

I am asking you, friends and family, if you value what I (or another Home Economist) do for you , as a colleague, as a professional, as ME, SHARE and LIKE this letter, forward it on to listening ears. I am asking you Minister of Education and of Higher Learning, take a look at what is about to happen at the University of Manitoba without meaningful and public consultation with alumni or stakeholders, I am asking you, members of the media, you need to ask questions because the leadership at the University of Manitoba isn’t answering ours.



Christie Crow, B.H.Ec, B. Ed
Graduate 2009
Faculty of Human Ecology and Education
University of Manitoba

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