Thank you so very much to Heather Heagney author of After the Harvest – http://aftertheharvest.blogspot.com/ – one of my personal favourite Ottawa food blogs. She has some great answers to my questions below!

(Simply Fresh) How would you describe your approach to cooking?

(Heather) My approach to cooking is quite experimental, and often inspired by specific ingredients that I like. I’ll find something I feel like cooking and go from there, adding things as I go –it’s all very haphazard, really. I’m definitely not a baker, not really one to measure things! With this freestyle method you can find some really amazing flavour combinations, but sometimes the results just don’t work. I like it that way though– it teaches me more about the ingredients and their flavour profiles. It works out well with a seasonal approach though, you start with what’s fresh and go from there!

What is your favourite go to recipe when you need a quick, healthy dinner?

Honestly, when I need a quick, healthy dinner – I will often make a salad! I know it probably doesn’t qualify as cooking, but the possibilities with a salad are endless! A typical salad for dinner might include: red leaf lettuce, cucumber, peppers, red onion, tomatoes, chick peas, chicken or fish (great use for leftovers!), grated cheese, raw pumpkin seeds, fresh herbs and homemade dressing. I read somewhere that there are 2 types of people in this world: people who buy salad dressing and people who make their own salad dressing— I thought that was hilarious. I love making salad dressings and I recommend people try making their own; you’ll never go back to bottled! I’ll be sharing some of my salad dressing recipes on the blog soon.

Tell us a little about your blog – why did you decide to start writing?

I’ve enjoyed writing for most of my life and over the years it’s taken many forms: speeches, articles, essays and poetry, to name a few. I started After the Harvest because I wanted to write more regularly and I also wanted to learn more about the Ottawa food scene. I grew up here but a lot of my food and drink knowledge came from my experiences living and working in Toronto. Having just moved back here less than a year ago, I started with some local farmers’ markets and just kept writing and sharing online. Since then, After the Harvest has grown into a blog that you can visit for a lot of different food and drink related topics:  information on environmentally and socially conscious food information (and opinions), wine recommendations, fun food facts, stories about the people behind the  food and drink and everything in between. I’ve always loved variety in my life so I wanted the blog to reflect that. Depending on your mood there is probably something to read that will suit you, and I look forward to seeing where the blog leads me in the future! I also want to thank everyone who’s been reading and sharing their comments with me so far – it’s been so much fun!

You have recently given up coffee in favour of drinking tea more regularly for it’s health benefits (http://aftertheharvest.blogspot.com/2010/03/tea-and-health.html) – what is your favourite tea, and how do you take it?

It is so hard to choose a favourite tea! I could probably go my entire life and still not have tried them all. Based on what I’ve experienced, I’d have to say it’s a tie between a green tea: Moroccan Mint from Tealish, and a white tea:  Peach Blossom from Rishi. Usually I drop a little bit of honey into my tea, but I’ve also been known to make a whole pot, enjoy a cup and chill the rest for iced tea. Tealish has some great teas, check them out if you get a chance! www.tealish.com

Your recent post on Backyard Farmers (http://aftertheharvest.blogspot.com/2010/03/backyard-farmers-and-urban-beekeepers.html) echoes my thoughts and feelings entirely! Should it become legal, would you raise chickens in your backyard?

If I had a house with a yard rather than an apartment in a building, then yes I would! The only thing that would worry me is the winter season — I’m not sure what I would do with the chickens during those chilly months. Once I do have a home of my own I definitely want to try to grow and/or raise as much of my own food as possible. It is so important to know where your food is coming from, and there is such a great feeling that comes with growing your own food. You are connecting with nature, working hard and contributing to your health.  I actually have an upcoming post that will share a friend’s personal experience raising her own backyard chickens in Seattle, Washington, so stay tuned to After the Harvest in the next week or so to read all about it!

Thanks again Heather, I’m really looking forward to your coming posts!

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