It's shaping up to be a fantastic year for local foods.
Last year (2013) the government took steps to redefine the word "local". While it formerly meant within 100km, local now refers to provincial wide. This is great for rurally produced foods who want to sell in large urban centers and be able to market their product as local but it also means you could be eating a salad in Kenora with tomatoes grown by your neighbour in Bayham Township and the restaurant would be completely honest in calling them 'locally grown'.
We're incredibly fortunate to have access to a wide variety of high quality agro-products grown and prepared right here in Elgin County. When you think about it, it's really the best kind of problem to have: so much food to choose from in season the imports aren't needed.
Last weekend was a soft opening to market season when I had a booth set up at a local trade show. This weekend is the grand opening with the full-on farmers' market beginning May 10. But wait - there's more!
Spreading the Bread Love - with Tea
Just in case you can't seem to get yourself out of bed early enough on Saturday mornings, you will now have another option on where to pick up your sourdough bread on Saturdays. Wildflowers Tea, located on Fruit Ridge Line, south of St. Thomas, will be selling Elgin Harvest loaves at their newly opened farm store!
Jane, from Wildflowers Tea, has been a vendor at the St. Thomas market for the past four seasons and has taken the plunge to open her own store on her family's farm. The store provides space for offering eggs, organic produce, yoga classes, seasonal festivals, workshops, and of course, wildflower tea - much of it grown on the farm. Not only can you sit on the porch and enjoy a steaming cup of wildflowers tea, you can also stroll the gardens to see and smell the positive energy that vibes from the land.
I'm incredibly excited to work with Jane and I look forward to sharing and supporting our passion for good food at the farm store this season. This Saturday is a great time to visit the farm - Wildflowers is hosting an open house from 10-3.
You can find out more information about Wildflower's Tea by visiting the website.
I wrote about Wildflowers Tea in 2012 when I used a tea to prepare Lavender Mint Shortbread.
As mentioned, this Saturday is the opening day of the St. Thomas Horton Farmers' Market. This is my fifth season at the market and I'm anxious to see familiar faces and tempt new fans with all the baked goods and preserves I can whip up.
- Sourdough breads
- Seeded Crisps & Hummus
- Cinnamon Brioche Rolls with Blueberries
- Cherry Cardamom Scones
- Coconut Brown Butter Brownies, Salted Chocolate Rye Brownies
- Sourdough Croissants
- Rhubarb Curd Tarts with Buckwheat Sable
- Pecan Butter Tarts
- Kamut & Nut Cookies
- Live-Cultured Tri-Coloured Kraut
- Pickled Jalapenos
- Seville Orange Marmalade
What's a unemployed girl to do when she is starving without a culinary home? She sells off unneeded treasures to thrifty bargain hunters, purchases a former jewelery cabinet from a second-hand store, and calls the manager at the community complex to ask about "fridge space".
The sun (finally) broke through the snow clouds in April and the between the combination of boredom, excitement, frustration, and confidence, I've been doing my best to shake off the under-employed-cabin-fever-blues that sucked away much of my motivation over the past 4 months.
Caster wheels sourced, chrome polished, doors painted - twice. Lawns raked, rubber stamps designed, bread baked - and burnt. Spreadsheets for costing input, tables stained, succulents repotted, bread baked - and devoured. Applications mailed, cheques signed, furniture moved, pantry restocked, croissants baked - and my pants don't fit. My apron strings are long, thank goodness. Need a bubbling drink dispenser? Two years later I finally fixed it. Wanna buy it?
All this is to say - it's the beginning of another localicious season at markets and farms and I am super-motivated. Beginning this weekend, I'm taking my show on the road throughout the county to sell my baked goods & preserves.
First stop: Diva's and Dude's Day Out. Held at the Saxonia Hall in Aylmer on May 3, this show is open from 10-2 with over 40 vendors. Croissants, brioche cinnamon buns, 5 different sourdough breads, whole grain seeded crisps, berry & cream cookies, salted rye brownies, Kamut & walnut jam cookies, and good ol' fashioned tender, flaky pecan buttertarts are all on the menu.
The following week, May 10, Mother's Day weekend, is the opening day of the 2014 season at the Horton Farmers' Market in St. Thomas. You will find me there each and every Saturday morning from 8-noon smiling and sipping coffee (probably cold because I talk so much) until the fall. I look forward to seeing both familiar faces and tempting new ones with my siren pastries.
In case you need reminding - my mission is local, quality, and made from scratch. I don't use premade doughs from the grocers freezer, nor do I use margarine. I bake fresh, using as many locally sourced and/or organic products as possible including grains & flours, eggs, honey, cane sugar, jams, dried fruits, spices, herbs, vegetables, and lard.
I'm a chef by trade it's not a hobby, it's a passionate style of life.
Sometimes I wish I had more hands. That way I could mix dough and take better photos at the same time.
The pics below are a basic tutorial demonstrating a few techniques I use to make a loaf of bread. In this slideshow, I use locally milled Red Fife wheat (thought to be the oldest wheat varietal in Canada) and a natural leaven - otherwise known as a sourdough starter - to bake a loaf of country style hearth bread. The bread doesn't have a strong sour flavour, but does have a slightly sweet and nutty taste from the use of whole grain flour. The interior is very tender and moist with a mix of large and small holes; the crust is crisp and hearty. The dough makes great bread - but also fantastic pizza.
Enjoy the show!
My last post was a month ago! Oops. Winter got a hold of me and I'm just now beginning to thaw out.
It hasn't all been icicles and bitterness. Much of the past month has been spent the same way the two previous to it were: baking breads using locally milled whole grain flours and a whole lot of reading. Kamut, spelt, whole wheats, rye, amaranth, corn, porridges, sourdoughs, croissants, English muffins, sourdoughs, flat breads, bricks, and even my most perfect loaf to date. All this baking has thickened my waistline but expanded my bread powers. I'm looking forward to working off the dough and spreading the good word on whole grains with the sun on my shoulders throughout the coming seasons.
We can all use a little inspiration and a reminder that sun will once again bring the bountiful harvests to our gardens, markets, tables, and souls. Spring is just starting, but the next three months after which strawberry season arrives will be here before we know it.
With all the sourdough experiments taking place in the kitchen over the past several months, there always seems to be a partial loaf of bread waiting to be sliced. In the quest for oven spring, crackling crust, and an irregular gelatinized crumb, my recipe books have become dotted with post-it notes and the freezer full of back up loaves. Whereas I once ate porridge or fruit or eggs for breakfast, everyday now starts or ends with toast & jam. High-hydration bread doughs have changed baking for me.
Inspiration pops her beautiful face up just about everywhere you go. In my case it's usually sparked from a craving, a glass serving dish, a pot, a recipe, a food item, or in this case, a tweet. Each Monday, the L.A. Times Food section asks followers of their Twitter feed to tweet pictures of their #weekendeats. Be it pork belly sandwiches, Star Wars cookies, or cascading beers, followers use the hashtag to share their tasty treat pics and if the L.A.Times is diggin' what you shared, they will retweet the pic and idea to their 344 000 + followers.
One of the retweets this morning was a pic of Pineapple Upside-Down Pancakes posted by the blogger from Edible Life in YYC. I thought the idea was fantastic and well deserving of an homage. Plus I love pancakes.
I feel like a lone soldier baking my way through Tartine No. 3, the latest book released by the co-chef and co-owner of Tartine Bakery in San Fransisco, Chad Robertson.
The Tartine method of making naturally leavened breads requires very moist dough and a long fermentation period. I've had success with a few recipes from the second book, Tartine Bread, but these new recipes with even wetter doughs and less glutenous flours is really pushing the loaf.
In this day and age of information sharing, I find it very surprising to find a lack of chatter from homebakers and chefs regarding the recipes from the book. This book was two years in the making and its release was well anticipated but besides a few sites promoting one or two recipes just before the launch, the intertubes are mostly quiet about Tartine No. 3. (I'm job hunting and have had time to sift through the bread baking forums, a lot.) And that is why I feel like a lone soldier - not all the recipes are clear on the specific ingredients and there isn't anyone with insider insight to steer me in the correct direction.
After baking no less than 5 challenging batches of breads from this cookbook that focuses on using more whole grains and flours in its recipes, I needed to attempt something I knew I could achieve in order to save my baking-esteem: cookies. Break making isn't my forte but cookies - now that's something I can champion. Sure, the quantity of cookies didn't match (original recipe says 5 dozen, I got 23) and I needed to add a few tablespoons of water to the dough to bring it together, but I happily ate cookies for lunch today and I no longer feel alone.
Everyone is busy, me included. I've made time to do some holiday baking this year though and I would be delighted to share my wares with you. A few favourites on the list as well as a couple of new treats (photos posted below). Something missing? Send your requests to Cindy@ElginHarvest.ca . Sorry, no tourtieres this year. Beer brined cheese curds will be available in limited quantities.
I think I'm an empathetic person. Not like the HONY guy, but I get the feeling that sometimes people share with me things that they don't necessarily share with others. I'm okay with that. Sometimes venting, expressing, just saying the words out loud, seeing them typed on a screen or scribbled on a scrap piece of paper is monumental in sorting out what step we take next. Life can be complicated, things don't always go according to plan - sometimes we just need someone to listen.
I hear you. I understand what you are saying. I can't fix your problem, but I'm listening.
Do you like peaches? Here, have a Liège waffle.
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.