Summer Salads

Who can have enough summer salads? The season is so short, the bounty comes in and then the next thing we know we are furiously trying to preserve putting vegetables, herbs and fruits away in the pantry and freezer. Our menus at the farm have been laden with fresh foods from our own gardens and this year is a first for being able to supply as much as we do. We have not have not had enough help in the past to harvest nor space to grow all the vegetables required for larger events until this year. This year we have Ellen and Kris at the helm working tirelessly at tending the flower and vegetable gardens.

Ellen and Kris....beautiful.

Ellen and Kris....beautiful.

The gardens are simply beautiful. Seeds sown and beautifully maintained, it is a pleasure to see and walk through them. We’ve all been waiting patiently for tomatoes to come...just a little warmer and sunnier.

IMG_7785 2.JPG

This past weekend I was away for one of my favourite times of the year - the annual canoeing trip in Algonquin park with my friends. The last few years it seems that I am only able to make it out for the first night dinner and not the actual trip. It’s a busy time for me and hard to take those few days off. But the dinner with friends is something that I don’t want to miss. The weather was beautiful, the evening cool and we started out with charcuterie on the lake and wine.

Claire's beautiful board of delicious things.

Claire's beautiful board of delicious things.

It couldn’t have been more perfect. The next morning I watched (and helped) my friends preparing the food barrel for the several day journey. Salads were being made and bagged into zip-locks. Beet salad, beans, tomatoes, it was all so delicious and the kitchen smelled like fresh herbs, garlic, onions….it was absolutely dizzying.

Girlfriends on the dock

Girlfriends on the dock

Beets and fresh corn

Beets and fresh corn

My friends brought be back to the landing for my lonely venture back to the farm but I couldn’t wait to make up some summer salads at home for whoever was waiting for me. In our busy summer event schedule, it sounds crazy but our family on many occasions just eats leftovers. I often come in from a heavy schedule of meetings and events and wonder what is in the refrigerator to make for supper and realize there is basically nothing. But our garden has been full these past two weeks, producing a vast amount of greens, beets and squash. Enough is enough - time to pick and actually do some cooking myself!

Quinoa, feta, cucumbers and chick peas.

Quinoa, feta, cucumbers and chick peas.

There are really no recipes that I use for summer salads. The freshness of the vegetables is centre plate. What I add just enhances the flavours.

For my summer tomato salad I use fresh tomatoes, basil, Ontario boccocini, olive oil, salt flakes, pinch of fresh garlic. 

Summer beets: peeled cooked beets sliced, fresh corn kernels, red onion, balsamic vinegar, vegetable oil, salt and pepper....delicious. 

Sunset in Algonquin.

Sunset in Algonquin.

Ode to the Tomato

With our Tomato Basil Supper just around the corner, we thought it was fitting to place one of our favourite seasonal fruits in the spotlight! Tomatoes are also a specialty crop for Danielle. She started her garden here at the farm 11 years ago with a variety of heirloom tomatoes and each year expands upon the crop saving seeds from the years before. Danielle oven roasts and preserves her tomatoes so that she is able to use them all year long in soups, sauces and casseroles. 

Fresh Tomatoes at South Pond Farms - tis the season! 

Fresh Tomatoes at South Pond Farms - tis the season! 

As summer nears its end we take solace in the arrival of tomato season! Unsurprisingly, Tomatoes tote a variety of nutritional benefits, though listing them all would require an exceptionally large character count. Instead, we will dive into a couple of fun facts about Tomatoes and will leave the entirety of boast worthy accolades to the medical journals.

First on the docket, lycopene! Lycopene is the antioxidant that gives many tomatoes their vibrant red colour ( Szalay, 2016). Peer reviewed research suggests that lycopene helps to  ward of various cancers and even plays a role in cardiovascular disease prevention (Sesso, Liu, Gaziano, & Buring, 2003). In addition to this super carotenoid, tomatoes also boast an all star roster of vitamins and minerals including but not limited to:

Vitamin A: Vision booster- Vitamin A is necessary for healthy eye development and retinal health (Oregon State, 2017).

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): Heart & Skin Health- Studies show that there is a correlation between vitamin C consumption and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (Kobylecki, Afzai, & Smith, n.d). Vitamin C is also necessary for collagen production, which keeps your skin looking youthful and aids in healing (Oregon State, 2017).

B2 (Riboflavin): Macronutrient Metabolism- B2 plays an important role in the production of energy. B vitamins help the body process fats and protein and are necessary for a healthy nervous system in addition to healthy livers, skin, hair and eyes (University of Maryland Medical Centre, n.d).

Folate: Folic Acid intake is not only essential for pregnant women but also for warding off depression by averting compounds, like homocysteine, that interfere with the production of feel good hormones like serotonin and dopamine - these hormones are notorious for regulating mood, sleep and appetite (Medical News Today, n.d).

We could go on and on here… high in fibre, potassium, biotin, vitamin E etc. however, we feel like you get the just of the situation. Bottom line, tomatoes are super foods that pack a powerful nutritional punch!

Fresh South Pond Tomatoes 

Fresh South Pond Tomatoes 

Now, given that Tomato harvesting is upon us we thought it would be helpful to include some tips from the Farmer's Almanac to ensure that you are getting the most from your crop! Click here  to read the full article, below are some bullets that we found particularly helpful:

  • Leave your tomatoes on the vine as long as possible. If any fall off before they appear ripe, place them in a paper bag with the stem up and store them in a cool, dark place.

  • Never place tomatoes on a sunny windowsill to ripen; they may rot before they are ripe!

  • The perfect tomato for picking will be firm and very red in color, regardless of size, with perhaps some yellow remaining around the stem. A ripe tomato will be only slightly soft.

  • If your tomato plant still has fruit when the first hard frost threatens, pull up the entire plant and hang it upside down in the basement or garage. Pick tomatoes as they redden.

  • Never refrigerate fresh tomatoes. Doing so spoils the flavor and texture that make up that garden tomato taste.

  • To freeze, core fresh unblemished tomatoes and place them whole in freezer bags or containers. Seal, label, and freeze. The skins will slip off when they defrost.

Now that you are equipped with a highlight reel of nutritional benefits and best ‘picking’ practices go forth and seize the season, October will be here before you know it!

References:

Kobylecki, C. J., Afzal, S., & Smith, A. G. (n.d.). Camilla J Kobylecki. Retrieved August 21, 2017, from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2015/05/06/ajcn.114.104497

Sesso, H. D., Liu,S., Gaziano, J. M., and Buring, J.E.  (2003, July 01). Howard D. Sesso. Retrieved August 21, 2017, from http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/7/2336.long

Szalay, J. (2016, April 30). Tomatoes: Health Benefits & Nutrition Facts. Retrieved August 21, 2017, from https://www.livescience.com/54615-tomato-nutrition.html

Tomatoes: Health Benefits, Facts, Research. (n.d.). Retrieved August 21, 2017, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/273031.php

Vitamin A. (2017, May 05). Retrieved August 21, 2017, from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-A#function

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin). (n.d.). Retrieved August 21, 2017, from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b2-riboflavin

Vitamin C and Skin Health. (2017, May 23). Retrieved August 21, 2017, from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-C



 

Wedding Planning Advice from a Professional Planner

Amber Walker from Amber Walker Events has some professional advice about planning your BIG Day with an unexpected twist about LOVE… Curious about what an event planner has to say on the topic? Well read on!

South Pond Farms. Photo Credit: The Daring Wanderer 

South Pond Farms. Photo Credit: The Daring Wanderer 

If you are reading this, you are probably planning the day you have been dreaming about since you were a child…your wedding day. And by now, you are probably realizing it’s a lot harder and more expensive than it looks. You have a vision in your head about the lace dress you will wear, the rose petal cover aisle you will walk down, the stemware, elegant centre pieces and the most perfect first dance song. I mean it’s what you have thought about since you were a little girl ( or boy) and why should have to settle for anything less than perfect? You shouldn’t! Now, you have probably heard the old adage “no one is perfect,” well neither are events. Despite this, your wedding day is going to be ‘one for the books’ - do you know why? Because you are going to marry the love of your life! Yes, I know what you are thinking “Is this event planner really talking about love?” I sure am! As an event planner, I cut through the bull and tell you the truth. So here it is…

Beautiful Bride Kristen on her wedding day at South Pond Farms. Photo Credit: Agatha Rowland Photography

Beautiful Bride Kristen on her wedding day at South Pond Farms. Photo Credit: Agatha Rowland Photography

I have planned, attended and been in more events than I would like to admit and once it’s said and done the brides always say “Wow, that really flashed before my eyes” they go on to tell me that they wish that they didn’t stress the small stuff because no one noticed and they were so busy throughout the entire day that they barely could take in all the details they carefully chose.

What do couples remember? All the love around them. It’s like you have your own personal cheerleading squad of 150 people cheering you on like, “yeah I knew them when he was dating someone else but she was absolutely convinced they were soulmates and truthfully I thought she was crazy… but I guess she was only crazy in love because look at them today!”  OR  “I knew he had found the one the day I called the party animal of our group to come meet up with the guys for a few beers and he said ‘I think I may just have a low key night with….’’ These are the stories you will hear, everyone will tell their version of YOUR love story and seeing your love  through their eyes is the definition of magical.

The most important detail ... marrying the love of your life. Photo Credit: Agatha Rowland Photography

The most important detail ... marrying the love of your life. Photo Credit: Agatha Rowland Photography

Remember that carefully chosen aisle covered in rose petals? Well you won’t even notice when you walk down the aisle because you are pretty darn occupied looking at the person you going to spend the rest of life with. Tell me if you are going to notice that one of your candle lanterns has blown out when you look up and see a grown man waiting for you under that vine covered arch with tears in his eyes (yes men are usually more emotional at their wedding than woman, my own brother was barely able to say his vows).

You are picturing a fairytale wedding and it will be, but it’s usually for reasons that you may not expect. Don’t get me wrong, It’s your wedding day and you should put in thought about the things you want and all the beautiful details like flowers and your dream dress,  that will make your day memorable but when something goes wrong (and it will) my advice is; don’t sweat the small stuff.  This day will be everything you ever dreamt it would be and it is my belief that you will realize this the moment you look into your love’s eyes. Despite the chaos around you, despite the small hiccoughs along the way, it will be everything you hoped it would be;  light, love and complete bliss.

Amber Walker

Amber Walker

Thank you Amber for writing this beautiful blog post! If you are looking to find out more about Amber and her company, Amber Walker Events, check out the links below:

Website: https://www.amberwalkerevents.ca

Instagram: @amberwalkerevents

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amberwalkerevents.ca/

Email: Contact@amberwalkerevents.com

Healthy Eating

It finally feels like summer. Everything is growing and lush. I’m noticing too, the days already getting shorter. How does that happen so quickly? A wonderful part of my summer is having all my daughters home at various times - mostly on weekends. Olivia is back from BC for only three weeks but three weeks it is. There is always commotion and activity - the downside is the kitchen is a giant mess every day. I know there will be time when I will realize there is no one around to make a mess and I will miss it.

Liv...back home.

Liv...back home.

We are all pretty healthy eaters, and everyone enjoys cooking and contributing to the daily meals. I have noticed on this visit home, with Olivia training full time as an athlete, she eats differently than we do and for sure takes in a lot more calories! I’m talking about a lot more food... She is incredibly healthy and I’m happy to tag along with her daily regimen. We all enjoy a broad range of food especially vegetables and Olivia in particular is in tune to different combinations of vegetables and grains to give her a higher protein value. It’s hard to convince Shawn to eat a vegetable based meal or even one that has tofu in it, but we are working on it. Liv being home gets me out of the cooking slump and trying more things. The trend to plant based eating is everywhere and I am grateful for it. I always prepare a salad and fresh vegetables for every meal and surprisingly a broad variety of vegetables can certainly give you what you need every day. This time of year - it’s hard to not find abundance in either our gardens or farmers market and even in the grocery stores - there is lots of local produce.

Fresh harvest of garlic scapes

Fresh harvest of garlic scapes

Soup is something that I don’t make enough of for sure. It’s so easy if you have a blender or immersion blender and hot or cold, it is satisfying. Asparagus was plentiful this year as are the peas. I use frozen peas for this recipe - it gives the soup a brilliant green and also adds richness in flavour and add fresh for a garnish. I also used a garlic scape instead of fresh garlic. You can top this soup with just about anything: fresh herbs, a dollop of cream, Shawn would appreciate slivered bacon….

Soup topped with chevre and local canola oil and a side of Chef's special macaroni salad....with bacon. 

Soup topped with chevre and local canola oil and a side of Chef's special macaroni salad....with bacon. 

 

Asparagus and Pea Soup
serve 4 -6

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion – diced
1 clove garlic or 2 garlic scapes – chopped
1 bunch of asparagus – roughly chopped
3 cups of frozen peas
4 cups vegetable stock or water
½ cup fresh herbs: for example a combination of dill, parsley, mint, chives, lovage, chopped
Juice of one lemon or 2 tablespoon cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot. On low heat, add onions, salt and pepper and sauté slowly until the onions are melting. Add garlic, sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add stock, asparagus and bring to boil. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes until asparagus is soft. Add the peas and continue to cook for only 1-2 minutes.

Remove from heat and once cooled slightly, purée in a blender in batches until the consistency is smooth. Add half of the fresh herbs and blend one more time. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the lemon juice or vinegar and fold in.  Garnish with more herbs or whatever you like and serve chilled or warm.

Tea Walk Wednesdays at South Pond Farms

Planning on coming for lunch? We have have a new feature we can’t wait to share with  you. Combining our love of fresh local ingredients and our beautiful property we have decided to launch the South Pond Farms Tea Walk. Each week Danielle hand picks fresh herbal concoctions that you can enjoy warm or cold, while exploring the unique Bethany landscape.

Danielle's Tea Walk at South Pond Farms #teawalkwednesday 

Danielle's Tea Walk at South Pond Farms #teawalkwednesday 

Walk the long winding driveway to the property line, or make your way to our various flower and vegetable gardens; say hello to the animals or take a peaceful stroll to the pond. There are an abundance of features that we encourage you to explore - so many in fact, you might need to come back for a second trip!

For all lunch/ tea-walk inquiries please contact connect@southpondfarms.ca! We look forward to seeing you soon.

Fire & Smoke

Fire and Smoke

I have always loved cooking outside and eating outside. I wouldn’t call myself a big spit and saucy bbq type of person, I just love the concept of cooking traditionally out of doors, It may have started with camping when I was young. But in my mid twenties, I owned a cottage deep in Canadian shield country which I loved and it was where I really got into cooking out of doors on either wood or charcoal. The cottage was truly one of the most special spots to me in all the world both then and now and I have so many wonderful memories of entertaining there and of raising my daughters in their younger years.  

Full on Primal Cuts beef racks

Full on Primal Cuts beef racks

A friend introduced me to the original charcoal kettle Weber grill and he showed me how to use it properly. I still remember the smoked chicken that he showed me how to make and when I took leftovers into the office I worked at, the smell was just amazing and everyone was transported to the outdoors for a brief moment. The trick to the recipe was starting with a nice quality whole chicken, a good bed of coals, indirect heat, soaked chips thrown on, and then covered and no peaking for one hour. It was perfect every time. I then began experimenting with different bbq sauces. I was around 27 and I made “rattlesnake ribs” I think out of the Silver Palate cookbook -  if anyone remembers that. To go with them, a bourbon based bbq sauce. The recipe required a long smoke with a rub and then another long cook with a wet rub and finally a finish with the sauce. It was and still is the best rib recipe ever.  Over the years I've changed it up a little bit making it with different spices and cooking methods. In the meantime, I’ve made a lot of bbq sauces each one different than the other. I think what I love is the concept of what open fire, wood and smoke all does to food and then how a sauce may enhance it.

Manvers Station rubbed chicken cooked outside in cast iron on a flame.

Manvers Station rubbed chicken cooked outside in cast iron on a flame.

Chef Mckenna, I’m pretty sure sometimes wonders how he went from a French trained chef in a sophisticated restaurant kitchen to  being "demoted" to a “pit-master”.  But really, I know he actually loves the challenge of cooking outdoors and over fire and most of the time - is joking with me. Furthermore, who ever said pit-masters were not great chefs requiring a serious amount of skill in creating delicious food that is not burnt and overcooked! It’s about being in nature, about cooking food in a traditional way. Chef Mckenna has mastered bringing the forest and field to the fire in some very creative and excellent dishes in the short time he has been here. 

Smoked and Hotter than Hades honey glazed ducks

Smoked and Hotter than Hades honey glazed ducks

Perfectly charred asparagus

Perfectly charred asparagus

I now have a bbq sauce that is part of our farm flavours spice product line and it is one the official South Pond tasters - Aubrey Rose (my youngest daughter) and Shawn love. I call it Silo Stout bbq sauce because it is a bit red like the tiles of the silo, made with a local beer and has just a bit of sweet and spiciness and is good on everything - including Aubrey Rose’s every day breakfast - soft boiled eggs. Our Manvers Station - named after the old train station in this township; it is a spice rub that I use on a lot of things - chicken, ribs, beef, vegetables and of course - Aubrey Rose’s morning eggs.

Fresh Ontario pickerel smoked in spruce tips

Fresh Ontario pickerel smoked in spruce tips

I named this Farmhouse Supper on Thursday the 27th, Fire and Smoke just because I love both of those things. The menu features some of Chef's favourites and mine; bringing the chicken that I used to make on the kettle grill with his take on it to our community table.  Fire and smoke is about cooking food all year long, out on a grill or in the wood fired cookstove through the winter months. Nothing tastes better.

Slow cooked, long roasted and smoked pork 

Slow cooked, long roasted and smoked pork 

Herbs and herbs and more herbs

There is nothing that is more satisfying in the summer than using fresh herbs to enhance all our garden produce. It reaches all senses. It’s wonderful that we have the option to buy them and to grow them in pots year around. It’s quite another to go out into the soil in the early Spring and midsummer and cut them. It hits you on so many levels - the fragrance, the feel of them in your hand, the green smudge left behind on a cutting board. Chopped and thrown into a salad bowl or garnished parsley on warm potatoes, whole basil leaves on a stack of fresh tomatoes, the uses are endless.  It is truly a sign of the beginning of summer when you have so many options both in the garden and in the market.

 One of my favourite sauces that becomes a staple in my refrigerator in the summer months is Pistou. Pistou is a french sauce made of few ingredients. It is similar to Italian pesto, to Argentinian chimichurri (also one of my favourites). What I like about this sauce is that once you make the base, you can add whatever you want to taste.

 The basis is always a mixture of fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, salt. We use cider vinegar to give it a little lift and lighter taste, but this is not a traditional part of the sauce.  If you want to add parmesan cheese, or nuts or chilli peppers it all works. Make it in a double batch as you will want to keep the leftovers in the refrigerator to put on pizza, fried eggs, hamburgers, grilled fish…..

 Recipe yields 1 cup
4 cups of fresh herbs. I use lovage*, parsley, basil, chives, tarragon
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Salt to taste

Put all the ingredients into a blender and pulse until it is pureed. Add more oil if necessary to make a thin sauce.

*lovage has a strong flavour of celery and I use it sparingly. It’s hard to find in a store - it is generally something you might have in your garden.  

Magical Moments: Full Moon Suppers

Sunday the 9th is the full moon of July - the Full Buck Moon or Thundermoon and Blackberry Moon as it is called. At this time, a buck’s antlers are to be in full growth. It is also a time of frequent thunderstorms and a time of harvesting blackberrys. If you live here in Ontario, frequent thunderstorms are not just a happening in July - let’s look back over the past two months!  Honestly - have we had enough rain yet? Despite the fact that pretty much all that I do is weather dependent, I am not complaining. Compared to the drought of last summer where everything by this time looked scorched; here at the farm, it is lush and beautiful.

 

The flowers are in blossom and the grass seed I had to put down in areas needed no extra watering by me, the lawn looks great. For everything else, it’s all a bit late and even soggy. July should be a time of plenty, fruit and vegetable excess( if there is such a concept). So far, the bounty is delayed. Jessica our beautiful vegetable farmer is a few weeks off the mark, strawberries are still in season, no blackberries to harvest yet and our own gardens are just now providing a yield. We shall see what the end of the summer brings for the harvest.

 

There are times that we try things that really work and leave me pinching myself that not only do I live here on this beautiful land  but that I am part of something very special. Last month, our full moon supper was a magical experience. Despite a day of rain, the clouds cleared just early enough in the afternoon to let us set the tables in the field. We still had high winds and a power outage which kept the greenery off the tables. But just after the power came back on, guests arrived and were greeted with a strawberry cocktail and led out to the field for the first course.

IMG_7057.JPG

I was honoured that Kim Wheatley, an Anishinaabe (Ojibway) band member of Shawanaga First Nation and Anishinaabe Cultural Consultant was part of the supper to share her knowledge and traditions of Full Moon Ceremonies.  Kim is Turtle Clan and a proud grandmother of 2 granddaughters and mother of 3 daughters. Her spirit name is “Shkoden  Neegaan Waawaaskonen” which translates to "Head/Leader of the Fireflower". Kim’s love of Indigenous hand drumming/singing and Anishinaabe traditional teachings defines her life journey and is always the framework of interaction that shapes her worldview. She is deeply committed to creating and promoting awareness of the Indigenous perspective utilizing her gifts of song, storytelling and Traditional teachings. She shared her talents and her culture with us that day.

 

Kim sang in the distance at our ceremony space on the hill. Chef carried his long six foot board laden with canapes and guests followed down the path through the hay field. There were treated to strawberry chevre “truffles” and later, wild rice, grilled duck and quails eggs. Around the fire as Kim spoke about the moon on cue a large pink and red moon rose up over the pond. It was truly magical.

Ode to the Canadian Butter Tart

The countdown to July 1st is on! As Canadians we celebrate the date when the three separate colonies of ‘Canada’ ( Quebec and Ontario), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, came together as one dominion. The consolidation of sorts, was the first step in creating the Canada that we have come to know and love today.  To pay homage to this great day we wanted to consolidate three quintessential Canadian favourites to create a butter tart that was worthy of representing the birth of this great nation, but where to start?

South Pond Farms Butter Tarts

South Pond Farms Butter Tarts

We happen to think Canada is pretty awesome and that it has a tremendous number of equally great contributing factors. It is the home of hockey, the Great Lakes, Tim Hortons, apologies, maple syrup, agriculture, bacon, poutine, polar bears, and public health care ( to name a few). After reading this short list, you can understand just how difficult was to create a butter tart that was archetypically Canadian.

Though bragging is not in our nature, we think we have come up with the perfect butter tart to salute our country on its 150th birthday. Instead of trying to tackle all of the things that make Canada great, we thought we would focus our attention on a sector very close to our hearts- local food and farmhouse patronage. To give proper adulation to our grain farmers we have crafted a substantial buckwheat crust. To spice up the traditional butter tart filling we have added a creamy local goat cheese and of course incorporated some of our famous Canadian bacon to bring it all together. The triage of local cheese, bacon and traditional grains serve as a throwback to Canadian farmhouse cooking at its finest.  If you are wondering how can test out this scrumptious concoction for yourself, check out the Kawartha Northumberland Butter tart tour website -http://kawarthasnorthumberland.ca/buttertarttour/! Alternatively, come any Wednesday to our public lunches or our Farm Gate Fridays and Saturdays!

Strawberry Season!

It is June and we have launched into Strawberry season at South Pond! We love these power packed berries for so many reasons! Did you know that just one serving (approximately eight strawberries) contains well over 100% of your recommend daily vitamin C? Or that they are high in antioxidants and flavonoids? These compounds, while varied, serve as protection against cell damage and are natural anti-inflammatories. Studies have found that on going consumption of these molecular superheroes can reduce your risk of a number of ailments from stroke, to high blood pressure, and potentially, even cancer.  In addition to all of these fantastic health benefits, we happen to think that they are pretty tasty! If you missed our Strawberry Moon Supper last week don’t fret, the Strawberry Shortcake Country Farm House Supper is just around the corner!

We are determined to make the most of this short season and invite you to join us in celebrating all things Strawberry! Don't hesitate to call if you are looking to more about our events or delicious summer Farm Flavours. 

____________________________________________________

July 4th 2016, Accessed June 8th 2017: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/271285.php

Nov 11, 2015, Accessed June 7th, 2017: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/301506.php

July 30th, 2016, Accessed June 5th, 2017: http://www.livestrong.com/article/115553-health-benefits-strawberries-blueberries-/

 

 

 

 

Workshops that Work for You

You are busy; between work, family, extracurriculars it’s not always easy to escape to try a new class, workshop, or learning experience. We know that time away needs to be purposeful, worthwhile and social. One might see some subtle barriers here: you need a time that works for you, you need a workshop that offers content of interest and ideally, you would like to be able to add a social component, an opportunity to catch up with you friends who are leading equally busy lives. We understand the struggle. One set workshop doesn’t work for everyone so we are thrilled to announce our “workshops that work for you” initiative! Below you will find a PDF outlining five workshop experiences that you can choose from including: Farmhouse Cooking, Flower Arranging, Honey in the Kitchen, Tasting in the Silo, and Limb Trimming with a Purpose ( our version of Axe Throwing). Gather at least eight of your closest friends together and join us for flexible and personalized workshop experiences at the farm.  No longer do you have to wait for your favourite program to pop up, no longer do you have to worry about double booking, no longer do you have to worry about clashing schedules; simply put, you book a workshop that intetests you, on a date that works for you. It doesn’t get much easier that that! If you are looking to book a workshop please contact Christine at christine@southpondfarms.ca.

South Pond's Workshops that Work for You! 

South Pond's Workshops that Work for You! 

Wild Things

I really didn’t know much about foraging when I moved to the country. My years living in Vermont ended as a young adult and those years, I confess I wasn’t much into gathering edible delicacies from the forest or field. In fact, before I moved out to the country ten years ago,  I did not know about wild leeks, about the water cress growing in the ditch, about the mushrooms in the woods.

My parents had a friend who was a mushroom forager and I was completely intrigued about the very unusual things he brought over to the house to try. Much of my inspiration comes from return return trips to my hometown, Brattleboro. It is a place that is the grass-routes of food and thought; the local co-op filled with the bounty of every farmer, every person who produces things, it is a great place to see what is being grown around us.  I discovered that there were many delicious leaves and roots to be eaten and if they were in the Vermont fields and forests, they might be here too.

 

My neighbor Ralph and our friend Rolf  knew what grew on his land and ours and he introduced me to where hidden patches of delicious treats were nestled away. What you realize about eating things from the wild, is that they are precious and one needs to be minimal and respectful about harvesting them. Taking only what you need, not what you want is the rule, making sure not to disturb other plants habitats around the area. For me, it makes cooking with these things more of an experience and the taste all the more authentic to what true flavours are. I recently made  pickerel and as a finishing, layed one wild leek over top letting the flavour of the bulb and the leaf wilt into the flesh. It was subtle and delicious not to mention, it looked amazing.

 

My mom’s friend Hannelore who is someone I have learned much about cooking and gardening from over the years, showed me how to use johnny jump ups the beautiful violet that grows all over my gardens and is delicious in salads. She also told me where to look for watercress and other things that you can add to a salad - wild mint, dandelion leaves, clover leaves and blossoms.

 

Chef Kevin also has a few years experience gathering things from the forest and creating delicious recipes with them. He preserves making pesto from the leaves or pickling which allows the treat of using them all year long - a treat in the dead of winter.  Wild Things are available throughout these warmer months and I will look forward to learning a little more about them each season. Starting the Spring off is our Wild Things evening on Thursday, it will be a treat.

 

Celebrating Mothers

As we finally delve into spring, there are so many things to look forward to - warmer days and more sun, getting your hands in the soil, spring clean out projects (which are always liberating experiences for me) and then, celebrating our mothers and important women in our lives with Mother’s Day. We should be celebrating our mothers every day for all that they do and the nurture and guidance they provide. I remind my daughters of this regularly but I’m not sure they are listening…. 

Kim Magee captures my family perfectly.

Kim Magee captures my family perfectly.

It’s the little things that make me appreciate my mother. I love that she calls me about recipes that she has tried out on her french book club. I am also constantly amazed by her willingness and interest to try out new things. For example, over the long winter months, she joined a choir to meet other women and feel the joy of simply singing. Most interestingly, she has convinced my father to practice tai chi with her to a youtube video. I only hope I will manage to fit these things in my schedule in a few years. 

My mother also has become increasingly creative with her passion for fabric collage and photography. She has always been keen about photography and gave me her medium format Rollei camera many years ago to experiment with. I found the photo of her holding the camera dating back to the 1950's. I spent years in the darkroom learning about black and white photography. Today she uses photographic images in her fabric creations and they are interesting a beautiful. 

 

For many women, life is hard and weighed down with the burden of poverty, abuse, inequality and simply daily hardship. It is difficult to see the pleasure and beauty of life where they may be none.  But across many cultures, as women, we spend our lives gathering memories and accumulating interests and today in this culture, our lives overall are more varied and multifaceted than they ever were. Raising children, participating in careers, working to make our homes and living environments beautiful and comfortable all take up a place in our busy days. By the time we reach mid life and are in retirement mode, we are ready to embrace all our outside interests and push them to the forefront. I was speaking with a group of women who were in various stages of retirement and none had any difficulties making the transition because they were thrilled at the opportunity to cultivate those interests. For me, my interests became a job and now a passion and a business. My mother provided the roots of that passion and I hope to impart some sort of groundwork for my own daughters. Find something you love to do and with good management and perseverance you may be able to create a career and do something you love and earning a living at the same time is always a great thing. Happy Mother’s Day.

IMG_2324.jpg
My Mom and Dad. 

My Mom and Dad. 

Flower Moon Supper

The snow has finally melted and April showers ( as promised), have brought bountiful May flowers. It is with this Full Moon Supper that we celebrate an awakening after the long winter months. It is an awakening of our forests and foliage and the beginning of a new season at South Pond. Like the botanicals we celebrate, May means new life for our business as well. We are excited for new gatherings, workshops, visitors and experiences to be shared. To kick off this new seasons we thought it only fitting to pay homage to nature’s paralleled fresh start.  On May 10th, we will be celebrating the Flower Moon with our inaugural Full Moon Supper! Join us for an alfresco dining experience celebrating seasonal vegetation in this region.

Johnny Jump Ups: Members of the viola family have blossomed in the South Pond garden. They have a wintergreen flavour and are especially delicious with soft cheese, salads, and cocktails.

Johnny Jump Ups: Members of the viola family have blossomed in the South Pond garden. They have a wintergreen flavour and are especially delicious with soft cheese, salads, and cocktails.


In the Bethany Hills, there are a number of local floral breeds that are just as tasty as they are beautiful. We are lucky to have a vast selection of fresh florals that we can work with on the farm. At South Pond, our soil is sandy/loam which is especially great for growing greens! We have a variety of fresh buds to tantalize your taste buds including: clover, dandelion, chive blossoms, Johnny Jump Ups ( pictured above), apple blossoms (pictured below), and spruce tips. Expect to see a number of these making an appearance on your plate in May. Please, join us on the tenth to celebrate fresh florals and farm food!

Apple Blossoms at South Pond Farms 

Apple Blossoms at South Pond Farms 

To get you excited about 2017’s Flower Moon we have attached a delicious, Apple Blossom inspired, recipe below. This cocktail is sure to get even the most winter loving souls among us, excited for the new season!

South Pond's Apple Blossom Cocktail:

Directions: Mix 1.5 oz Brandy, 2 oz of Pommies, 1 oz Lemon Juice. Serve over ice with Apple Blossom Garnish.  

Pide: A South Pond variation on a Turkish theme

Chef McKenna and I were bantering around menu ideas for our farm house suppers and we lingered on different types of bread and dessert offerings. Focaccia bread, pizza, flat breads, savoury and fruit pies and our favourite variations on this theme. What are the differences between all of these things, where do they originate? I love our pizza’s, just plain with fresh tomatoes and Bella Cassara fresh mozzarella and traditional fruit pies but I was open to suggestion. 

He suggested trying out Pide’s. (pronounced pea-day)  I confess that I did not know what a Pide was. I hadn’t even heard of them and didn’t know what they tasted like. I was intrigued about a new experience. Chef McKenna whipped up a batch for a tasting - my favourite time of day. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. I did a sneak google search beforehand to at least know what I was going to eat and found the following: 

Pide is a flat bread baked with toppings in a stone oven. Pide and its various varieties are wide spread through Turkey and are established as an important food. The base is a flat-bread of a similar style to pita, chapati, or western pizza crust.”*

Crosswinds Farms chevre, pea shoots, wild leeks and Danielle's chilli harissa.

Crosswinds Farms chevre, pea shoots, wild leeks and Danielle's chilli harissa.

I had originally wanted to make a galette either sweet or savoury, which is more of a pie crust shaped in a circle but with a centre opening revealing the contents. I liked the idea of the pizza crust since it would not contain butter and there were more opportunities to use different grain flours. 

The Pide was honestly delicious. The thin crust light and airy and the balance of flavour from the filling was a perfect ratio. It can be made in the oven, in a stone oven, on the barbecue, pretty well anywhere. It is a great way to profile special or seasonal ingredients and there is really no limit to what you can put inside as fillings. It will be a feature on our menus.

Date accessed: April 28, 2017

2017 by Louis Herman restaurant review

Earth Day

Today is a big day for us at South Pond! It is April 22nd, 2017 - also known as Earth Day!

If you are unfamiliar with Earth Day, or more specifically Earth Day Canada, I strongly urge you to check out their website here. Earth Day challenges people all around the world to reconnect with nature and commit to environmental conservation.

In the name of environmental conservation and eco stewardship, we are excited to share some of our own sustainable initiatives with you! At South Pond, we are working hard to ensure that we are conducting our business with an environmental conscience. We currently participating in a number of environmentally friendly initiatives, but 2017 is a particularly exciting year for us as we further our acquisition of green technology.   

Earth Day at South Pond Farms 

Earth Day at South Pond Farms 

As you can imagine, as a large scale event venue there is inevitably food waste. We do our best to mitigate this waste and have always been advocates for compositing however, until this year- we had no way of composting animal protein and dairy. I am thrilled to report that thanks to our very own sustainability consultant Carlyle Apps, we have purchased the Bokashi meat and dairy composter! This powerful anaerobic device will ensure that no morsel of food waste is left behind and the remenants is used as fertalizer for the garden.

Coupled with our schnazzy new fermentor, our on going commitment to local farmers and local food is another major component of our sustainability initiative. Shopping locally cuts down on carbon dioxide and exhaust emissions that are by-products of transportation. By reducing our ‘food miles’ we are reducing our carbon footprint!

On  top of our regular efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle, this year we are working to instil a sense of appreciation for Mother Nature with a brand new event series; Seasons on the Moraine. Join us at the farm this season to learn about the ecosystems on the Moraine! Each session strives to connect individuals with nature- if you are looking to learn something new; or simply to sample some fire side snacks, make sure you register as spaces are filling up fast!

Seasons on the Moraine at South Pond Farms 

Seasons on the Moraine at South Pond Farms 

Today, over a billion people will be celebrating Earth Day world wide! We would love to hear how you are paying tribute to our fine planet on this great occasion! Feel free to share your stories by emailing connect@southpondfarms.ca.

Happy April 22nd Earthlings!

 

Bread

There are so many great types of bread and new varieties that I've never heard about. A first for me is this bread is called Vegetable Ash Sourdough made by our Chef here at the farm. It looks a bit crazy but it is delicious and does not have a burnt taste as you might suspect. Some claim ash has health properties and has important anti-oxidants for your body, help with digestion. Aside from these benefits, it is a great feature to add to your bread basket. 

Be Our Guest

At South Pond Farms we are a one stop, full service event venue. What exactly does that mean? It means that as a business we prioritize convenience for our guests. It means that when you book an event at South Pond you can rest assured knowing that we don’t just provide a space for your gathering; instead, we take care of all the details for you from decor and set up to fantastic local food, and even activities. Below is a brief summary of the services we provide so whether you are planning your event day in Ontario, or around the globe- you can arrive at South Pond knowing that every detail has been taken care of.

Vendors : Having worked with some of the best in the business, we are happy to refer you to some of our preferred vendors including DJ’s and photographers! Our list of co-collaborators will save you hours of research and the fear of booking someone who doesn’t meet your standards.

Table service: Sourcing tables, chairs, linens, cutlery, glassware, etc can take some major research. Will your desired company deliver? Will they set up for you? Will they tear down and repack? Or will you be saddled with the extra responsibility before and after your big event? If you book at South Pond- we can take care of the setup and tear down for you. We provide harvest tables, chairs and all antique plates, cutlery and glassware that you need to make your day a success so that you can walk in and out without unnecessary stress.

Flowers: We are happy to create unique arrangements with flowers fresh from our farm and local greeneries. Whether you are looking for simple centre pieces or bouquets with a dramatic flare, we have you covered. Between Danielle, and our dynamic garden team, we can create your ideal botanical backdrop.

Decor: Why spend hundreds of dollars on decor pieces when you can rent them for a fraction of the cost! We have built up our decor closet so that you don’t have to. From table runners to candles, from vases to decorative signs, we have a range of products that will complement your event and add to the ambiance you are looking to create.

Staff: It is not always easy to find accredited and professional staffing for your event. At South Pond, you can rest easy knowing that all of our kitchen staff have their food handler certifications, our bar staff are smart serve accredited and our wait staff have been trained in customer service! You don’t have to worry about interviewing and hiring

Bussing: No wheels? No problem! We strive to be accessible for all. We work with a fantastic bussing company so that you and your guests can kick back, relax and not worry about the logistics of getting to and from our rustic retreat.

Workshops: The fun doesn’t have to stop after your meal. We are happy to provide a range of customized workshops for you and your group. Roll up your sleeves and immerse yourself in intimate culinary and creative experiences. Our workshops combine all of the things we love; farm fresh ingredients, home cooking, the beauty of nature, artisanal baking and more! We will take care of the entertaining so that you can learn some tricks of the trade and most importantly, have some fun.

There are a number of perks associated with booking a full service venue, at South Pond we are here to ensure that your event runs smoothly. Let us take care of the details so that you can enjoy your special day and simply, be our guest.

 

Bread and Jam

My grandparents lived in the small community of Shelby, Michigan just near the coast of Lake Michigan. They had a one hundred acre farm perched on a small hill with a beautiful view of crops and other neighbouring farms. That part of Michigan - possibly like most of Michigan - was pretty flat and from their vantage you could see quite a long way out. Their land was uniquely positioned on this rise. Driving to their farm for a visit from Vermont was a two day excursion and for many years, my Dad drove a Fiat so imagine my brother and me in the back seat and sometimes our dog for two solid days...We started going to their farm when I was about five years old. The I spent time during the summers and on holidays, helping my grandparents, picking fruits and the delicious meals from her cookstove is one of my most vivid and special memories. 

When we got to the end of their very long laneway, we were allowed to jump out and run to the farm house. This was a special treat because the land was basically white sand and running down the lane was like running on a beach. My grandmother always greeted us, coming out onto the porch her beautiful flower gardens on either side.

Isabel French and her beautiful flower garden. Irises that travelled to my parent's garden to now my own.  

Isabel French and her beautiful flower garden. Irises that travelled to my parent's garden to now my own.  

My grandparents were not really farmers with a history and tradition of living on the land, but they moved to this magical place in mid life to start something new. They were not young homesteaders but a couple with three children looking for change. I’m not sure if their move was precipitated by anything in particular or because they wanted to live a more simple life. Looking back on it now, there are similarities with my own life that I was not even aware of when I moved here with my four daughters. That was now ten years ago when my eldest daughter, Carlyle was twelve years old. My dad also was a teenager and the eldest of three when my grandparents decided that they wanted to experience rural life, growing their own food and living as much as possible off the land. I’m not sure if my dad loved all the responsibility that he was required to take on then: milking the cow, walking a very long way to a school bus, gardening and picking fruits in the summer. My grandfather planted fruit trees and bushes, a large vegetable garden and asparagus. My grandmother cooked only on a wood stove similar to mine, she baked and preserved all the fruits and vegetables my grandfather planted. 

My grandparent's cook stove 

My grandparent's cook stove 

 

Whenever we visited, there were several things on the table at all times: a dish of preserved fruits like applesauce, raspberries or blackberries, cherries. We would get our own single portions in Ironstone dishes that today I have in my cupboard. There was always a loaf of fresh homemade bread and a jar of my grandmother’s jam - even at supper time. Food was simple and from the farm. It was always delicious. 

My grandmother's Ironstone for our morning fruits.

My grandmother's Ironstone for our morning fruits.

My own love of bread and baking was greatly influenced by my grandmother. The smells of a fresh loaf that you have kneaded and crafted and pulled hot out of the oven is something that once experienced, it stays with you forever. My mother, on the other hand, did not bake bread. But she and my father love all varieties of bread, in fact I would call them connoisseurs of sorts. They would actually travel quite a distance to Boston or New York city from Vermont in those early days before great baking came to Brattleboro, to get the traditional heavy, unleavened german breads or rye loaves two feet in diameter that my mother experienced as a child growing up in Germany. My dad just loves bread and he easily transitioned to the german style after meeting my mom but I know he loved the white, lighter breads made by his own mother. Both are a comfort to him and also to me.

Our own red fife wheat bread (agatha rowland photography)

Our own red fife wheat bread (agatha rowland photography)

Today, I strive to make the german rye and hearty breads of my mother’s heritage; I love the bread my grandmother made and there is a place for it at my table. Ultimately, any bread made with the freshest flours and grains - there is nothing else like it at any meal. 

from right to left: My grandfather French, my brother, father and mother with Thanksgiving meal on the table.

from right to left: My grandfather French, my brother, father and mother with Thanksgiving meal on the table.

The Changing Face of Weddings

When I say the word wedding, I am sure that a number of archetypal stereotypes come to mind. To prove this theory, I surveyed a few South Pond family members and some recurring themes included: Saturday, Black tie, White Dress, Afternoon Ceremony, Moonlight reception, Three Course Dinner. What our lovely family members seemed to be describing, was a Classic Wedding; and while this wedding is certainly common at South Pond, it is not the only type of wedding we offer!

The wedding industry is changing, more and more often we see brides shifting away from convention and incorporating personalized elements to ensure that their special day is truly one of a kind. Long gone are the days of Saturday only weddings; in fact, in 2016,  the majority of our weddings took take place on a Friday night or Sunday morning. We see a similar trend emerging in 2017 and 2018.

Friday nights offer a number of benefits from both a planning and fiscal standpoint. First,  there is something incredibly romantic about a Sunset Ceremony; you and your spouse exchanging vows as the sunsets over the countryside- someone please queue the photographer! Second, by planning for an evening ceremony, most of your guests will not have to barter for time off work - unless of course, if they are travelling long distances but in those situations Friday is usually a write of anyways. Third, because you are using the property for a shorter period of time, South Pond provides a discount for Friday night weddings. If you are on a tight budget, this is a great way to save some cash without drastically altering your vision.

Sunday brunches are another trend that we saw take off in 2016. If you assume brunches are solely for couples looking to host small intimate weddings you are wrong! In fact, last season one of our largest weddings was a brunch wedding! In our opinion, Sunday morning weddings are a beautiful alternative to the classic wedding. We try to reflect this uniqueness in our menu options for brunch by including exciting twists like breakfast stratta and scones - I don’t know about you, but we can’t think of a better way to kick off our Sunday morning!  Rolling hills, sunshine, fresh dew and hot coffee, throw in a wedding and some champagne and we are sold.

At South Pond, we know that weddings come in all different shapes and sizes. Our goal is to help you find the right fit for your vision, please contact us to discuss your options further!