In the Edel farmhouse in Morris Manitoba, a comforting aroma of cinnamon, rosemary, and nutmeg wafts through the air of Elaine Edel’s kitchen. Resting on the counter are cooling racks filled with the day’s baking: pies, waffles, muffins, and the most divine-looking breads.
Her kitchen resembles a lab with its grinders, dehydrators, mixers and other tools of her trade. She grinds flour, rolls oats and barley, she makes soup and salad dressings from scratch, and cans hundreds of jars of food every year. Elaine is not only a farmer and chef extraordinaire; she is a pioneer in food science and author of seven cookbooks
Necessity really must be the mother of invention, at least according to Elaine. Years ago, when she was a young mom to five boys and her family found themselves overwhelmed with financial burdens, the ingenious stay-at-home mom rose to the occasion. Elaine contributed to the family income by using her culinary know-how and working magic in the kitchen.
Elaine’s story begins when she was a teenager. “I met my husband, Melvin, at church when we were both 16. I immediately put my eye on him and I thought, ‘He’s not getting away!’ We married soon after, began farming and started our family. I stayed at home with the boys, and spent a lot of time in the garden and cooking. I loved to cook and was always trying new things in the kitchen.
“In 1988, we had one of our worst crop years ever. We had a drought so severe it only produced two bushels of wheat to the acre. It left us financially stressed to the max and we had five kids to feed. That’s when I knew I had to do something, and cooking was what I knew best. I began catering from my home. I was always creating new recipes so I thought I’d put a few together into a cookbook.”
Since writing out those first few recipes, Elaine has spent almost 25 years sharing her passion for cooking and her knowledge about food and has also worked with the University of Manitoba exploring the uses of soy.
She’s made over 10,000 loaves of whole grain breads with soy, flax, barley, rye and wheat and no longer cooks for survival, nor just for pleasure – she now teaches consumers how to bring grains and plants from the field into their kitchens.
Under the pen name Winnie, Elaine writes recipes and gives tips for both the novice and the experienced cook. There are few experts who could match her knowledge of soy and fewer chefs who could claim to have created as many original recipes from soymilk, soycream, soynuts and soyflour.