I was the Artistic Director and Executive Director of the Peterborough Folk Festival for 7 years; before that, I’d been a long-time volunteer, starting out as a parking attendant ‘way back in the nineties. We prided ourselves on a lot of great things – that it was a deliberately small festival, deliberately for the community and not intended to attract tourists. It featured primarily emerging artists and artists doing music that wouldn’t be presented in any other space in Peterborough – from Taiko drumming to hip-hop – exposing artists and attendees to new sounds, ideas, and cultures.
And it featured good, high-quality local food – both in the public areas, where the vendors were, and the Artists & Volunteers Hospitality Area, where Joanne Rowland and her dedicated team served up what I’d say is hand’s-down the best food I’ve ever eaten backstage at a festival. With produce sourced from the farmer’s at the local markets, and a tiny little budget, they’d whip up a feast that accommodated every diet and left everyone feeling wonderfully well-fed.
I rarely had time to sit and eat – there was always so much to do! – but when I did, this was my first choice. Sweet Potato Salad with Orange-Maple Dressing – delicious, flavourful, and great energy food that kept me going when all I wanted to do was lie down in the grass and sleep.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 6 pounds sweet potatoes (yams), cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 cup green onions, chopped
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup raisins
- Whisk all ingredients together. Season to taste with salt and peppe.
- Steam sweet potatoes in batches until just tender, about 10 minutes each batch.
- Transfer sweet potatoes to a large bowl, and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Add green onions, parsley, pecans, and raisins.
- Pour dressing over; toss lightly to blend.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.