I dont knead you anymore – our first attempt at no-knead bread…

For the recipe and details on how to do this, click here – if you are uncertain what no knead bread is or why it rocks, keep reading this article before heading there .:)

We originally posted about No-Knead bread back in August.  Although the whole world seems to know about it, we were new to hearing of this apparent hit for the kitchen.  It was Twitter that turned us on to this and we were excited with many the recommendations to give it a try.

I dont knead you anymore   our first attempt at no knead bread... November Flour Cooking Recipes [Read more...]

Good bye Harlan…a sad day at the market.

I did not know Harlan Clark – our conversations were generally limited to the weeks price or availability of eggs.  I am not a giant breakfast eater so even these conversations were scattered (or scrambled as the case may be).

Good bye Harlan...a sad day at the market. November

I frequently saw him from a distance.  A lot.  Harlan Clark was an egg farmer who, along with his wife Norine worked their egg stand for more than 60 years.

The couple have been a fixture at the market and missed only one weekend at the market over the last 60 years (after Harlan had a heart attack).  Their dedication included getting up just after midnight to make it to the early morning Saturday market and tended to more than 1,500 chickens in their flock.

Dana`s earliest memories of Toronto are of buying eggs from the Clarks in her pajamas as she lived close to the market.  It’s going to be a different market and he will surely be missed by many who were close to him – and many strangers, like us, who were touched and inspired by their passion.

Good bye Harlan...a sad day at the market. November

The family has requested that any donations in his name be directed to the Port Perry Hospital Foundation or the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

We ran an earlier post on the Clarks (including a link to a great article from them) in February.  If you want to learn more about this amazing couple, click here.

Help save a non-profit Brooklyn based urban farm

The video below speaks more than I can possibly explain in words.

The executive summary: a non-profit group transforms an abandoned lot that was zoned for a different non-profit and grows crops for 7 years to feed the hungry, teach people how to cook healthy and get youth involved in farming in Brooklyn. Unfortunately the non-farming non-profit owes money to the city and the city wants to evict, sell the land and move the farm but aren`t offering solutions that will work.

It`s an amazing project that`s in danger of disappearing.

Watch the video below and check Sustainable Table for more info.

My most important travel souvenirs come from the grocery store

I have just returned from a week in Glasgow, Scotland.  The trip was for business and took me there for 8 days, including a weekend.  It`s my third time in lovely Scotland and had very little free time to explore.  It was a very good trip – one that focused on business.

My primary motivation in life is friends and family.  There is nothing that is more important to me (even though I show that in odd ways from time to time :)).  Sometimes this means work becomes a priority as it is something that helps me interact with friends and family and certainly opens many opportunities for experiences which can develop me further…for friends and family.

It is because of this that I found business travel to be deflating for some time.  I value the present a great deal and knowing that I was away from those who I hold dear was a tough deal to accept.  I would make the most of it and have a lot of fun but there was still a hollowness that I was missing out on times with people I held dear that I would never, ever get back.  The emotion was different than simply missing people – it was one of missing out.

I tried something new about 4 years ago and it`s made a massive difference on my perspective and added a lot of enjoyment to these trips (and my return) since.  It`s something I wholly recommend to those of you who travel on business – it can also be applied to traveling for pleasure.

In order to reconcile that I am missing out on time with friends and family in the present, I purchase something that I either couldn’t or wouldn’t at home to share with those who are dear with me later.  Essentially I am trading a present sacrifice for a future experience that could not have happened without the sacrifice itself.  This means that I will get to do something with people I hold dear and they get to experience something they may not have otherwise because I went on that trip.

The most common things I purchase are food and drink related.  I really like to try to acquire flavors that are local or unique.  Regional chocolate is easy to pick up at airports and things like coffee and tea can have interesting interpretations from all over the world.

Alcohol is a favourite.  It`s portable, often includes a wonderful design element, shares well and lasts a long time – if not, forever.

This trip has seen a bottle of Edradour Scotch added to my collection.  They pride themselves on being Scotland`s smallest distillery (they employ 3) and produce 1-3 casks of Scotch per week.  The bottle I purchased is a hand-numbered bottle from a single cask was aged from May 28, 1996 through August 18, 2009.  It wasn`t the cheapest bottle (around $100 Canadian) and I would never spend that type of money on a bottle at home – and that`s part of the point!

My most important travel souvenirs come from the grocery store November

When I can`t find something regional, I revert to Scotch.  We`ve built a collection of about 12 bottles over the years.  We have tasted them all and have yet to finish our first bottle – I`m not the world`s biggest Scotch drinker.  I remember the trips the different bottles came from and the memories I`ve had sharing them with those dear since then.

Anyone do something similar (or willing to try?)  Are there any other food related traditions some of you apply to business (or personal) travel?  Anyone have a taste of a region they want to share?

Campfires and food – a favourite combination

I have many memories which combine my loves of food and fire.  The combination of the two things are one of my most favourite pairings.

It’s not that I would choose to have everything I eat cooked over coal or burning ember.  Sometimes the connection is not so literal – drinking a beer beside a roaring fire in the early chill of autumn is one of my favourite activities of the year.  The pop, crackle and warmth of an early winter burn makes the soup I eat beside it only taste better.

Some of the connections, of course, are very intertwined.  I remember coring apples and stuffing them with brown sugar before wrapping them with tin foil and throwing them in a fire for a prolonged visit before enjoying a fireside desert.  I also have a found memory of snorkeling in the Atlantic ocean, collecting mussels off a dock and surrounding rocks before cooking them in seawater over burning driftwood while watching sunset.

A different kind of fire burns in our modern ovens and through coils of my stovetop (I am without the luxury of gas, for now).  I remember occasionally cooking on an old wood burning cook stove at our cabin as a child and marvel at what’s happened to our kitchens in the last 100 years.

My sweetest memories are from Boy Scouts and hunting trips where we cooked our own dinners over an open pit of coals.  Fire pits offer a unique feature not available in a modern kitchen – the 360 degree cooking surface.  Communal meals can be prepped and cooked in the middle of a conversation and the chef never has to turn their back on the waiting diners.  The cooking becomes the focus and not a mere task or errand.

To this day I still cherish this act and recommend that everyone makes time to go back to this ancient technique from time to time.

Sometimes fire is just a great after dinner activity.  A way to digest, to enjoy.  It’s a wonderful host to a group of new acquaintances as was the case on Halloween for us at Grassroots Organic Farm.  The fire pulled us in and we found ourselves meeting strangers that we hadn’t met earlier – despite the fact that we were all gathered in a relatively small space for hours before.

The crew had an old and broken upright piano that had been around the farm for many harvests.  It was the feature of the evening (emptied of moving parts and undesirable melty-type things J).  A pumpkin-headed scarecrow took it’s position at the keys and lit the night sky.

Pull up a chair around our fire and enjoy with us – I’d love to hear any of your fireside stories about campfires and food in the comments!

Campfires and food   a favourite combination November

Campfires and food   a favourite combination November

This little piggy went to the farm…

It has been over 20 years since I spent 10 days working on a pig farm at a friend’s place.  There were 800 pigs running around and it was a very different place from Grassroots Organics and how they raise their pigs as part of the Kawartha Ecological Growers.

Mark and his family have a small number of pigs – I believe the total is 5.  They have free access to the open air and (literally) muck about the yard.  They are practically domesticated and appeared to run towards us as they were called.

We had a quick lesson on the utility of raising pigs on a farm such as this and I found it fascinating.  A small number of pigs are raised at the farm each year and they are given free range of a different part of the property each time.  As they eat, walk, play, fertilize and dig in the ground, they actually do a wonderful job preparing it for planting in following years.  It is just by living their lives that they transform hardened earth into a garden which can be planter year-after-year.

I love hearing stories of clever farming such as this.  It’s another dramatic reason supporting the idea of diversification on a farm and how one can work with nature to help nurture and grow her bounty.

I also think that the pigs are adorable and, once again, wanted to share some pictures:

This little piggy went to the farm... November

This little piggy went to the farm... November

Some of these remind me a lot of Babe: Pig in the City.  I recently saw the movie again – it was as bizarre as the first time I saw it!

Life’s like a box of….Turkeys?

When we enter the local grocery store we are so often presented with the illusion of choice and plenty.  Garlic is a great illustration of this – there are at least 10 sub-types of garlic with up to 600 variations on those themes yet we are offered one or two.  Grocery stores often choose the food which grows easiest, cheapest, fastest, in biggest quantities or simply travels the best.

There are more than 600 types of tomatoes.  Watermelon has many different types as do peppers and, certainly hot peppers.  There are many different colors of carrots available and potatoes don’t stop merely at boiling or baking.

Livestock is also similar.  Our recent visit to Grassroots Organic farm (one of the hubs of the Kawartha Ecological Growers Community Shared Agriculture Program) was a reminder of this.  A small flock of different heritage breeds of Turkey roam the farm freely.

I loved how different each one was from the other.  They traveled in a small flock group; their attitudes alternated between a proud mob to a scared collective of individuals.

We took some time to take some portraits and thought you might enjoy the photos…

Lifes like a box of....Turkeys? November

Lifes like a box of....Turkeys? November

Trick or Treat – at Grassroots Organic Farm

We recently visited the home of one of our favorite farmers for a great Halloween ShindigMark Trealout and family and their band of merry men and women (Kawartha Ecological Growers) have been mentioned here a lot through the summer and fall.  I love the work that this first generation farmer is doing and how hard he is trying to do things the way he sees as right.  When the average age of a farmer is nearing 60, it is hear warming to see someone in their 30s risking everything to follow their beliefs.

The Trealouts hosted a fundraiser at their farm on Halloween.  Cold weather and rain held some people back but those who attended (including us) had an awesome time.  It was a fantastic country party – lots of costumes, big fires, wonderful food, kids, dogs and livestock all running together.  It was a fantastic day.  A full sized piano provided the heart of the bonfire that warmed us all as we ate homemade caramel corn and enjoyed the company of family and new friends.

I grew up in the country for my first 5 or 6 years and spent a fair bit of time visiting friends and relatives in later years.  Summer and fall were always great times and gatherings such as these built communities unlike most I know in the city.  Being invited to kitchen parties, garage parties, beach parties and festivities like these on farms is a rare honor and something that I highly recommend not skipping.  Most of these days center around people, food, food that people make, bring and grow and the occasional libation if desired.  It’s also great family fun.

In a case like this it was also an opportunity to support a group of people who work so hard for the benefit of the rest of us.

Join us in the next three days as we post pictures of the day, the livestock and the bonfire!  I challenge you to think about your local farmers, fishermen and women and the people who work to bring you your food and consider finding ways to support them and their missions!

Trick or Treat   at Grassroots Organic Farm November

Trick or Treat   at Grassroots Organic Farm November

Moose Hunt – Day 9 – A surprise ending

I woke up this morning for the hunt to find out that it was over.  To steal a sentence from earlier in the week, `plans change quickly when you don`t have any.`

I`m not entirely sure what the reasons were.  We certainly are happy with our results, the weather has been getting tougher and we`ve all been here for a week.  Perhaps it`s simply time to go - some of the guys will be back up for deer season which starts 10 days from now and lasts 2 weeks.  I`ll be in Scotland for most of it (a work-related trip) and it looks like I will miss another year of deer season.

It was an excellent hunt and I`m very happy with the results and time we got to spend together.

Our `driveway`is abotu 700 meters to our main logging road.  Four-wheel drive trucks are made for eating roads like this and my two-wheel drive takes it slow and steady and it`s a small relief when I make it to the main road where we drive another 12 or 13 kilometers back to an actual road and the start of civilization.

When I got to the logging road, I realized that we had forgotten the partridge in the hanging shed.  Many of the guys were busy hooking up trailers and making for the final trek out so I decided to go back to get them.  Because of the condition of the road, I opted to walk in to get them.

It was a wonderful walk back to the camp.  I must admit I felt like I was  on some sort of reality show and I had made it to the final episode.  I walked a road I`ve known for more than 30 years and recounted where Jack used to park his truck, laughed at the place I got a truck stuck for the first time, vowed to come back to visit a patch of wild blueberries that my Mother pointed out in the fall and smiled at the memory of passing Ralph in the middle of a mud puddle about 5 years ago.

The walk was reflective – even more so on the way back as I carried the two birds back to the vehicle.  I finished cleaning them (removing their feathers) back at the truck and made a few simple cuts with a knife that my previous dog had `given`me for Christmas.  One of our other hunters had engraved my name in it for me.

Moose Hunt – Day 9 – A surprise ending wellpreservedgoesmoosehunting November

I`m pretty certain that I would not be a hunter if I didn`t grow up with it.  I`m prepared to venture one step further and suggest I`d likely be anti-hunting.

But I did grow up with it.  And growing up with it helped me understand that hunting and killing were not simply synonyms.  I have learned, for me, that there is far more to hunting than I may have otherwise thought.

I still hunt birds with my Grandfathers shotgun.  I walk differently in the woods because of lessons taught to me – both by nature herself and the elders of my camp that have passed their traditions to me.  I have learned ways (and continue to) to make even more use of the animals we harvest and the traditions we continue.  It is in my memory and those around me that names of places live on and that they are not forgotten.

I have stood in the foundation of rock homes that were abandoned 100 years ago and have been seen by less than 10 people since.  I have helped rebuild loose stone walls that were placed there in the 1800`s out of respect for those before me who settled these lands.  I have learned that we are preserving far more than food on these journeys that I once struggled so dearly with.

I have come to terms with my hunt and the traditions which endure.

Moose Hunt – Day 9 – A surprise ending wellpreservedgoesmoosehunting November

As indicated in an early post, I have skipped many stories in these posts which tell much bigger stories of what happens as we hunt which would explain far more about our trip and our `tribe.`  I haven`t skipped hunting stories – simply skipped deep personal stories of sharing, teaching, helping and guiding each other that is a part of these trips.  One could generalize these stories as those of `male bonding` – I like to think of them more as the sharing between brothers, fathers and sons of my second family.  Sharing these stories would betray such sacred trust but you`ll have to take my word that there is far more to these journeys than simply killing.  I am, after all, one of the newer hunters and I`ve been there (full-time) for almost 15 years.

For those of you who have stuck with us through these posts – thank you.  I am sure that they haven`t all been easy to read.  I know (based on traffic), that they are certainly not the most popular subject we have posted on.  Our stats have taken a dramatic hit while posting on hunting and I know it`s been difficult for many to stick with it.  I am not asking for your support or approval – each will make up their own mind.  I simply thank you for sticking it out, keeping an open mind and joining us in thinking about what we eat.  The comments and emails have been honest, open and moving.

It`s time to leave the woods behind and get back to some different topics around food, design and thinking about what we eat.  I hope you have enjoyed and, again, thank you for your support and curiosity.  Writing these posts has been some of the most difficult writing I have ever done.

Moose Hunt – Day 8 – A Rainy Friday

Late fall turned into early winter yesterday.  I can’t beleive the difference in the last 8-15 days (since the start of the hunt and the end of canadian Thanksgiving).

Some snow started last night and the morning ground is crisp with frost.  I’m back to where I’ve spent most of my watches this week on Wolf Road.  Waiting.

We’re down to 12 men now – we’ll be at 10 by nightfall.  The meat was taken to the butcher today (ironic since the temperature is now plenty enough to hold it but we had to honour our appointment).

You can’t bring game to just any butcher – our laws and regulations are far too prohibitive.  A butcher has to clear it’s shop of all domestic meat, clean, process the game, empty it out of their shop and clean again.  This can be especially difficult as a balance of regular customers and a flood of animals are balanced (regular customers have to shop elsewhere during processing and cannot buy meat from wild game as its sale is illegal in Ontario).

Our butcher – a new one to us in the last few years is an oddity in that he disects the entire animal with only the aid of a knife.  He does not use saws or other such technology.  I can’t imagine the skill involved in preparing our meals like this.

Moose Hunt – Day 8 – A Rainy Friday wellpreservedgoesmoosehunting November

we’ve also decided to have some sausage done (I beleive) this year.  It’s been years since I’ve had moose sausage and it’s an exciting promise.  The meat is mixed with about 30% pork (mostly fat) to create a rich taste of the hunt.  This also makes moose a breakfast option and it’s nice to have the variety.

Another hunter just made a moose call – this represents the start of the hunt.  Time to watch.  And listen.

First run is over.  Holding ground – doggers are walking a circle (about 4 kilometers) to start the hunt again from a different angle.  Waiting.

Run hasn’t started.  Still holding.  Cold.

Moose Hunt – Day 8 – A Rainy Friday wellpreservedgoesmoosehunting November

3 moose are appraently in play.  A dogger has seen signs early on.  This bodes well – there won’t be 3 cows together so there is lkely at least 1 elidgible animal near.  It’s very early in the run though.

Doggers start.  Waiting.

2 of 3 doggers are out – we will wait for the third before heading back to camp for warmth and soup.  I’ll have a different outfit on this afternoon, it’s been a bitter morning.

Back on the watch – out for 2 runs and dressed for winter.  Raining.  Waiting.

15 minute reset.  here we go again, waiting.

I was out until dark fell once again.  Though I haven’t written about most of my evening hunts, I have been out each and every night this week until near dark.  I tend to jump on the ATV and go for a ride through the woods on the off chance I will see something.  I also like to keep an eye on who is in the forest these days (in terms of other camps and road hunters).

The early week was great for evening hunts.  I nearly froze solid last evening and I thought I was going to be washed away tonight.  I drove almost 40 kilometers on an ATV in the cold rain this evening with little to show from it.  My gear will have to hang for a long time in the sauna to dry for the morrow.

Rain is tough to hunt in for those who wear glasses (myself included).  You run out of dry material to clear your glasses very quickly and impaired vision is a definitive hinderance.  Rain also fills the woods with sounds and hearing anything becomes a very difficult task.  Of course it also has a nasty side effect of erasing any footprints.  If all of that were not bad enough, many animals also hunker down and don’t like to move about in the rain.  Unless you are tracking through the woods (of which I don’t nearly have the talent), hunting in the rain calls for a lot of luck or a good team of doggers.  Solo hunting on an ATV in the rain is akin to buying a lottery ticket – you know you will likely fail but have to play just to confirm that.

As I drove a certain section of road I noticed that 5 chickadees emerged from the forest and flew by my side for a few hundred feet.  This little act was barely notable except for the fact that they have been coming out to greet me every time I pass this stretch of road.  It’s happened 6 or 7 times this week at the same place.  It is always the same number at the same spot and I assume that these are the same group.  I’ve now been in these woods for 8 days and this is the type of observation and interaction that you can only make after staying in the woods for a solid chunk of time like this.  I feel welcomed by them and glad to be part of their week.

I called home on my way back to camp.  It was a brief chat – tough to talk for too long when one is virtually swimming in the early dark and cold of winter’s start.

We laughed at ourselves toady – if people knew how often we simply sat still in the rain and/or cold I think they would calculate that we are daft.  I’m pretty sure they’d be right.  Time to relax with the guys, have a few beer and warm back up – tomorrow is the first Saturday hunt in a long time.