Simply Greens with Mustard
by Darcie Friesen Hossack
The living palette of green here, on the edge and throughout Jasper National Park, seems almost impossible at times.
Having lived in the Okanagan Valley for so long, Chefhusband and I became reconciled to the idea that spring might not appear during any given year.
Going straight from winter's grey, where the resident Valley Cloud can plug the sky for months, like cotton stuffed into a vitamin bottle, any green that then appeared as grass on the hillsides, could soon turn crispy and brown.
Here, next to the Park, spring arrives late, but remains for most of the summer.
Where a 25C day was a rare reprieve from the upper reaches of 40, at which human activity is necessarily reduced to sitting under a sprinkler, here at Overlander, it's time to tie a jacket around your waist and strike out for a long walk among the trees.
Recently, for Chefhusband and me, that meant a visit to the Patricia Lake trail, just above the town of Jasper.
Listed as moderate, for a bit of incline here and there, this trail is well wooded, flowered, and opens onto occasional vistas, often as a reward at the end of a little effort.
There are Morel mushrooms here and there, which, although delicious, and perhaps the subject of a future recipe, are strictly off limits to all but the squirrels (who dry them on pine branches and, I'm quite certain, use them to make soup).
By far, however, the most unexpected thing to stop us in our tracks, isn't the flowers or even the forbidden fungus, and not the first, but the second grove of birch trees (depending from which end of the trail you get your start).
Here, on the far side of a wetland, a multitude of species make their home. And as the backdrop to those wild lives, nestled in front of a protective chain of mountains, we find the freshest of greens. As bright as candy, this is not the hard-working green of an sun-baked forest. Or the protective hue of leaves trying to shield themselves from a summer scorch.
Rather, like the first lettuces of the season, this is the sort of green that makes your senses hungry for more and more of these amazing outdoors.
As we drive back to Overlander, where the grass is always greener, I'm reminded of a line from a poem.
"Grass beautifies the earth as food beautifies lives," writes Mbizo Chirasha, a friend and newly-appointed UNESCO-Rila associate from Zimbabwe.
And what he says is true.
We're in our kitchen now, and to bring out the beauty in a few, simple greens, all we're going to need are a handful of the Maison Orphée and St. Michael's ingredients that we have at home, and can be found on the shelves at the Jasper East store.
Outside, it begins to lightly rain, and as we whisk together olive oil and grainy mustard for a vinaigrette, we know one thing for sure. Here, Overlander, is a place that can beautify a life.
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Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette
3 Tbs Maison Orphée old-fashioned whole grain mustard
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs Maison Orphée extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Maison Orphée apple cider vinegar
1 tsp flaked kosher or sea salt
1 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
2 Tbs St. Michael's honey
In a small bowl, whisk ingredients together until combined. Alternately, shake together in a jar with a tightly-sealed lid. Keep refrigerated, and use within a week. Shake or whisk again before each use.