How to Fall in Love with Morocco from your Couch

Bliss Bracelets

Bliss Bracelets

It would give me no greater pleasure than to visit Morocco.  The light of North Africa, the colours of spice, the intersections of costume and traditions of Berber, Jewish and Muslim communities.  I don’t have immediate plans to go, but I have found a way to enjoy a bit of Morocco [and Peru] from Canada and that is through Jessica Torres of Welland, Ontario.

Like me Jessica fell in love with One Earth and decided to become a sales consultant with them.  One Earth products meet my own criteria for company ethics and fair trade, sustainable income for locals, emphasis on local and hand made products, and well, the products are seriously cool.

From Jessica, I’ve already bought the small tea pot and a hand-tooled leather bag pack made in Morocco, but I’ve got my eye on the Lala Satchel Purse for me and the Peruvian Bliss stacking bracelets which would make exquisite stocking stuffers for my sisters and nieces.

Lala Satchel

Lala Satchel

If you are an Anthropologie junkie like me, you are going to loVe Jessica Torres and One Earth.  Shopping local in an entire new way.

Jessica lives in Welland, Ontario and her Twitter handle is @one1earthbyjess

Beretta Bison Chili

My local Metro has stepped up in all areas from produce and vinegars to adding new meat products like from our local Beretta Farms.  I  also get to swipe my AirMiles card at Metro for points.

With all these winter storms, I was feeling chili.  I mean I was craving the heat and smoky comfort of chili .  Last week, at Metro, I picked up Beretta Farms Ground Bison for a change of pace and I was not disappointed.

I was delighted to speak with Beretta directly about the husbandry of their Bison and to get an inside track on how to prepare it.  What appeals to me about Beretta is their focus on raising animals that are grass fed, and mature slowly without stress and without the use of antibiotics or hormones, ever.

While Ontario is the largest market for beef, the majority of producers ranch out West.  Beretta Bison are also raised on the grasslands of Alberta, my home province and where I spent many a happy day on my Uncle’s ranch.

Beretta Farms Bison Chili with Master and Commander

A grass fed animal tastes very different than corn or grain fed.   You eat a steak in Calgary and compare it to a steak in Ontario and, regardless of the cut, the grass makes a difference.   Beretta bison are mostly grass fed with a finish of grain.

Plains bison co-evolved with the grassland biome and survive as a wild species.  Bison have a lower metabolic rate and well-muscled head for clearing snow, so they are less stressed during winter.  Even in the summer cattle gravitate towards wooded shade, making bison better at year round foraging.

Bison are also naturally low in fat and cholesterol, but high in protein, vitamin and minerals.   The lower fat content means watching for overcooking, but I didn’t notice any difference when cooking the ground Bison.

I also asked my Tweeps about wine pairings for bison.  Thanks to Shelley Nelson of Waterloo and the Wine Ladies, Georgia and Susanne, I opened a Henry of Pelham Baco Noir and an Argentinian Malbec, and both were perfect recommendations for my spicy version of bison chili.

Bison Chili Ingredients

Sweet Yellow Onions – one medium to large chopped

Sunflower  Oil

Minced Garlic – two cloves

Cumin – a titch

Hot Spanish Paprika – 1/2 teaspoon

Chili Flakes – in our house liberal (I used Pequin Chili  this time because it has a nice smoky heat]

Salt – sprinkling

*optional oregano

Bison Ground Beretta Farms – around 1 pound * I also threw in small piece left over beef tenderloin

tomato sauce – one plus one-half jars of preferably organic sauce

tomatoes – diced – 1 can

red wine – anything, a splash

maple syrup – a touch, I’m loving Maddington’s Maple Syrup

corn kiblets – 1 cup thawed from frozen Green Organic*

*ideally fresh, but hey we live in Canada so this product is grown in China, I look for organic, gluten free processing that is handpicked and flash frozen

white kidney beans – one can organic


Saute the onions in oil.

Add and cook Bison.

Add seasonings.

Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.

Simmer and re-check seasoning.

Add veggies.

Simmer and re-check seasoning.

Serve with corn chips or dark bread.  For me, I buy “Pumpernickel” bread from Voilá Gluten Free Bakeree in Oakville **the best ever!

Great Plains Research: A Journal of Natural and Social Sciences, 10-1-1999-Comparative Ecology of Bison and Cattle on Mixed Grass Prairie, Steuter and Hidinger