These are some of my favourites. Many people are surprised to learn that you can pickle carrots. To then learn that they are very spicy is often a second surprise.
We are bouncing off the walls with excitement and the weekend can’t come fast enough. 8 of us are piling into cars and heading to Picton to attend Taste! Taste is one of the premiere festivals in Toronto (it was named one of the top 100 Festivals & Events in Ontario). There are 16 restaurants, almost 20 wineries sharing their wares as well as several farms and specialty food producers (a full list is here).
We enjoyed a sneak peak a few weeks ago – Rosehall Run, The Grange of Prince Edward, Black Prince Winery joined Fifth Town Cheese and the Milford Bistro at a quiet press event in Toronto a few weeks back. All of them are attending the event this year and we were excited to meet their teams and taste some of their wares.
Rosehall run also announced that they worked with Chef Jamie Kennedy to produce a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that will be uncorked for the first time this weekend. The wine is a 2007 vintage and only 100 cases were created. For more info, check their release here. For a Taste, drive the 2.5 hours to Picton to enjoy a wonderful fall day and great tastes of the season.
We spent a lot of time speaking with Veronica and Chris from the Milford Bistro. This charming couple adores the county and loves what they do. We hadn’t visited the Bistro yet but it was on our list of places to check out – after trying their food, we will definitely prioritize our visit!
The Milford Bistro has a focus on local. Their offerings included multi-colored beets topped with local cheese and lamb from 3km away from the restaurant. Chris is serving up lamb tartare at Taste this weekend. I had never tried raw lamb and couldn’t resist a try. I was surprised to find out how mild it was – milder than beef tartare and a definitive contrast from it’s flavor when cooked. Dana almost melted at their beet dish and if you are attending the event, make sure not to miss their apple pannacotta that cleverly hides a buckwheat gingerbread crumble in it’s depths.
Chris has also prepared a cheese sampling and paired some of Fifth Town and Black River’s cheeses with homemade breads that were simply exceptional.
It’s been a rough summer. If you don’t have plans on Saturday, head to Picton for a wonderful fall drive and head to Taste! (you can buy tickets at the door). If you’re there look for us and say hey – we’ll be wearing small WellPreserved Buttons and be with a gaggle of people.
I have a moderate amount of patience and an obscene amount of determination. Unfortunately, patience is a large part of the mystery that is producing a jar of beans (pickled or preserved) that stand vertical and tight in your jar.
When beans are packed tight like this, there are a few advantages:
- More fit in the jar. More beans per jar = cheaper batches.
- Beans are tighter in the jar. This means less floating.
- They look prettier.
There are two things that have helped me make more consistent jars of vertical beans: practice and a little technique. Since it’s impossible to practice stuffing beans into jars and read this at the same time, let’s focus on technique.
I start with a small handful – small is the key. I tap them on the counter so that the bottoms are flush with each other and place them in the jar while holding their tops. Since I place them inside the jar evenly, they stay that way. I rotate the jar 45-90 degrees (holding it with my hand) so they don’t shift.
With the jar on the angle, I load more handfuls of 3-6 beans at a time for a few more rounds. I stop this before it becomes difficult to do so – at this point the jar can be lifter vertically and beans should be loose without falling over. A little shake of the jar will ensure that any raised beans lower.
It is now time to start loading the jar one bean at a time, trying to stay in the middle with new additions. Gently jostle the jar to settle the contents after each bean until they no longer shift with a gentle shift. I keep stuffing the inside at this point to fill it tightly.
Stuffing the middle means that any beans that go crooked are hidden and any that break (I pack them that tight), won’t be seen to prying eyes.
Combine these hints with practice and patience and you’ll be off to the races!
I have been meaning to post this trailer for some time. Fresh appears to be a movie that attempts to answer some of the questions raised by many in the food movement and looks like an exciting positive spin on where we are at and where we need to be, in relation to food.
For more info, check out there site here.
Their distribution model is very different – they sell licenses for people to organize screenings in their areas. Fall has us tied up but would anyone be interested in attending a Toronto screening if we found a way to make it happen in November? Let us know if interested how many people you would bring. We would also love to know if anyone would cross promote with their blogs. This is not a definitive plan but thought I`d float the thought out to the Universe and see what falls from the sky!
It’s 10.30pm as I write this. I’m weary from a 6 hour drive that normally takes about 2.5 hours. It’s been a long day – but a great one.
I went north this weekend to our cabin. It was time for the annual work weekend. It’s a tradition that I’ve known my entire conscious life and one that marks the true start of fall for me. I remember my father pulling me out of school for 1 or 2 day in September as the crew of men headed north to prepare for the fall hunt. It was always a lot of fun and some fun work – a lot of playing with tools.
Our cabin has changed a fair bit over the years. There are bunks for 14 of us and our membership sits at 13 people (plus a small waiting list). The average age of our hunters is about 50 years old. The 4 youngest members (which includes me at 36) hunt with our fathers. My Dad has hunter out of this cabin for more than 40 years.
My Parents have spent a lot of time at the cabin in late fall – wood is piled high, bunks have been cleaned out, roads repaired and projects started and finished (including some camp-made beets and relish). My Mother has also planted some garlic as an experiment for the winter.
This weekend was mostly the veterans of the cabin. With a lot of the typical pre-work complete, we set off to replacing an old deck that was falling apart on the front of the cabin. 3 very long days later and the patio is done. It is one-part decorative and another part functional – a day in the autumn bush can be a messy affair and having a place to wipe down before entering the cabin will save a lot of cleaning. The guys worked like champions – and like they were 40 years younger than they are. I am immensely proud.
I did get out for a quick tour of the bush, some early scouting a bit of bird hunting on Saturday afternoon. Didn’t see sign or birds but it was great to be back in the woods.
There are two things that stood out to me this weekend and are part of the hunting experience that I want to share:
1. The spirit of community and help
When I arrived on Friday night (most were up Thursday), we had a guest. Irv (from the camp next door – 5 km away) stopped to pay a visit. Irv is a dear friend and I always love to see him. Irv stayed at the camp on Friday night and helped us for half of Saturday. Paul (from a cabin about 15 kilometers away) popped bye after Irv left. He picked up a hammer and helped until we were done and stayed through to Sunday morning. Frank (one of our hunters) was at a wedding on Saturday night. He got back to his Hotel at 4am and left for the cabin by 6am to come and help out. Frank had also donated the wood he salvaged (legally) from a worksite – about 400 square feet of wood. The spirit of helping your neighbors is unparalleled to what I’ve experienced in the woods.
2. Bonding is more than burping.
There is an element of male bonding – it’s far beyond high fives and swearing. I have known each of the members that were there for 30+ years. I have learned a lot from these men and they have prepared me for a lot of life’s challenges. This is the 4th time in 40 years that we’ve built a deck (the original deck was simply a set of wooden skids laid on the ground). The guys took great pride in the work and were very open that this was the last time they would ever build the front deck. They would either be “gone” or have to watch the young guys next time. Mortality was a theme this weekend – they are preparing themselves – and me – for the autumn of their lives.
We will post more in the coming month as we prepare further for the hunt and share the entire picture of this part of our life that is a mystery to many. Though this post does not directly mention food, it is part of the bigger picture that is hunting and our fall harvest.
There are weeks of work to prepare for just 5 days of Moose Hunting. In that time we’ll learn a lot – and have a lot of fun.
What if Peter Pecked Picked a Pickled Pepper? Darned if I know…
What I do know is the $7 of jalapenos and $6 of Ontario banana peppers combined with Ontario organic vinegar, some water and a few spices make a pile of hot peppers. There are 19 cups of banana peppers and 13 cups of Jalapenos. The total cost of ingredients come in around $1.50 per cup for local, preservative-free pickled hot peppers.
We’ve experimented with cider vinegar in these peppers (typical treatment is white vinegar). Hoping that there will be a touch of sweet under the heat of the peppers.
I wore gloves for the entire cutting process (I used a knife instead of a mandolin). My heavy duty gloves saved my hands – in part. 2 hours of slicing peppers eventually creeped into my gloves and onto my hands. I could still feel the tingle this morning and through noon – I can’t imagine the pain I’d be in if I had skipped the gloves altogether.
These two batches have me as excited as I’ve been in a long, long time for a batch of preserves. I adore hot things and thinking that we can add these local peppers to lunches, salads and meals for a long time to come is a real thrill. I was excited to find red banana peppers – they tend to be a rare find most times of year (I have a guess why this is the case but need to do some research before ranting a little :)) The sight of red peppers instantly inspired me to jump to the call of duty and through this 2-time shot of heat together in a single night.
A batch of hot peppers gets me excited beyond belief – what are your favourite batches of preserves to create/ consume?
This is the closest I’ve come this year to quitting in the middle of making a batch of preserves.
Pickled onions – I’ve been meaning to do a batch for two years. I have this vision of having a sophisticated cocktail party and, whilst wearing a cardigan, I offer my guests some form of dirty martini with a homemade pickled onion on the side. The more likely reality is that I will end up eating an entire jar of pickled onions by myself on the couch while watching a few games of football in the winter.
I introduced the topic of hunting to this forum in February (the article was called Confessions of a One-Time Vegetarian which attempts to give a balanced introduction on my own moral journey related to hunting). The onset of fall means that we are in full-on preparation mode for the coming season.
Dana and I have added to our family this week – he is too young to hunt this year and will eventually join me in the bush. Our main hope for Shaeffer is to be a good pal – I would far rather a great friend and poor hunter than the other way around. He is a Vizsla (Hungarian bird-hunting dog). He is named after the pond on our property near Huntsville (Shaeffers Pond).
We will update our journeys with Shaeffer as it relates to food. For now he is stalking his toys and living a life between crazy energy and absolute sleep.
There were no plans to preserve yesterday – but sometimes I see something that melts a little piece of my heart and calls me to the jarring process (Im really not all that dramatic – but its the closest I can come to describing what happens).
I ran into a bin full of Ontario Romano Beans. They looked super cool. I bought a pile of them and took them home.