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.

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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. 

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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.

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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! 




 

Rethinking Waste

I like to consider myself the woman behind the curtains at South Pond. I am the oldest daughter of four and South Pond is my home. I have helped my mom transition our farm into a successful agritourism business.  I am also a full time student in a Masters of Science in Sustainability Management program at the University of Toronto. This means that my schedule at the farm is erratic, so I often don’t meet many of the people visiting, unless of course you find me behind the bar, serving cocktails at an event or counting inventory before anyone wakes the next day. Although these are the things people see me doing, they take up the least amount of my time on the farm. I am usually at a desk somewhere, whether it’s in London, New Zealand or Toronto sending out confirmation of purchase emails, updating the website or updating wedding planners. I do the background work and projects of all kinds that make up the visible features of the farm. My latest background project is waste management.

I have a huge vision for the farm. I see it being self-sustaining, where the land is more than enough to keep the business operating successfully. Growing up here, I’ve seen this property move through major transformations. I mean major. That barn where many have their first dance? That is where I tied a rope swing to jump into the hay. The bottom of the barn is where my sister and I raised chickens as our first summer business venture. I see so much potential in the property, in my home. Out of the 60 plus acres here, we barely use a quarter of its potential. There is so much productive land that could be used to feed not just parts of the meals served at the farm, but all of them! This plan still has a long way to go before it becomes reality. In the meantime I am chipping away with smaller projects.

This year’s project: waste management. Not many people get as excited about garbage as I do. It isn’t so much about the garbage, it’s about what is produced and how we can reduce it, but better yet, how we can re-use it. With all the events we do and despite how careful we are about our waste, we generate a lot of it whether it's food waste or packaging, or even decorations and garbage left behind from guests. When my mother started this business, she always insisted on using glass and real cutlery and utensils, not allowing plastic water bottles to be brought on to the farm. We also had goats and chickens and our kitchen was pretty good about making sure kitchen waste was disposed by either composting or animal food. However, it is difficult to refute that the average Canadian generates 4 lbs of waste per day, so if 100 people spend the day at the farm, we could be looking at about 400lbs of waste just that day!

So where do I begin to reduce this statistic in our own footprint? First, I sort. I walk through an average event day and figure out how many different types of waste are produced. Here is a list of the extent of this sorting:

  • Cardboard & Paper
  • Cork
  • Liquor Bottles
  • Regular glass bottles
  • Aluminum Cans
  • Plastic
  • Plastic wrap
  • Styrofoam
  • Metal
  • Broken Glass
  • Vegetable Scraps
  • Meat, Dairy and Cooked Food Waste
  • Garden Waste
  • e-waste

Next, I figure out what I can do with it all. I called our local waste management providers, Miller Waste and ordered 2 dumpsters. One for landfill and the other for cardboard and recycling. Ordinarily, one might not be able to put cardboard and plastic together but in speaking to Miller, we are able to separate using bags for plastic and leave the cardboard broken down. Now the ultimate goal here is to send as little as possible to the landfill. This requires a little creativity.  We separate all of our cans, which means that we can actually sell them as scrap metal, along with any other metal that may be thrown out, and make a little bit of money. Bonus! The beer store is fantastic, because they will come to the property and pick up all of our empty bottles for free when they make a delivery.

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Shawn Sutcliffe, who restored and created many of the structures on this property, is one of the more sustainable people I have ever met, especially when it comes to waste. In fact, he has spent his entire life using other people’s waste, in a career of demolition. He told me that he could use our broken glass for road bedding after crushing it up. What a creative way to use a waste so difficult to dispose of! As a fully operational office, we often head to Staples for supplies. This is a perfect opportunity to drop off any old electronics so that they can be recycled or properly disposed of. Now for the cork. In the past, I have used the corks for my own DIY projects, but I am still waiting for an epiphany moment for a really great use of cork on the farm. Until then, I can compost what I don’t use, as cork is 100% natural.

Food waste is probably the most exciting part about the whole waste management plan. My goats, Tula, Eloise and Squirt as well as our laying hens will eat a lot of vegetable waste, but not everything. They enjoy vegetable skins, greens and some fruits. Because of how much we give them to snack on, they are becoming picky eaters. They do not enjoy onions, potatoes and other heavier vegetables. They also often can’t keep up with the pace that we’re producing at. Enter our new piglets. That’s right. This year, South Pond Farms will house 2 piglets for the duration of the season to help us with our food waste. The best part of this is that while they help us with waste, they can also dig up our vegetable garden for next year! Anything left that the pigs, chickens and goats won’t eat as well as garden waste can go straight into our compost pile. Another, more difficult component of  food waste, comes from table scraps. This includes cooked meats These things aren’t great for pigs on a full time basis and  they don’t compost as fast as vegetable and garden scraps. For this reason, we are looking into an anaerobic digester. This option may be able to produce nutritious fertilizer fairly quickly to be spread on our gardens throughout the growing season.

Two of these little piglets will be moving to South Pond later this spring!

Two of these little piglets will be moving to South Pond later this spring!

Overall, progress is being made. It is my personal goal to divert 90% of our waste from landfill this year. We have also committed to removing all unnecessary uses of disposable plastics from the kitchen. This includes cling wrap being replaced with beeswax wrap. That huge vision I have? It includes have 0% waste to landfill. We are not at that point yet, but one step at a time will surely get us there.

My sights for future next steps: energy footprint.

By: Carlyle Apps

Another (Tasty) Quinoa Dish

Toasted quinoa with cranberries and greens

There are times when I get tired of quinoa. There are a lot of great grains to choose from in making a grain salad or risotto-like dish but I often fall back to quinoa. It could be that it is always in my pantry. But there is something delicious about quinoa especially when it is toasted. It has a great nutty flavour and it doesn’t get mushy and flavourless after it is cooked. This dish is a great “go to” for a healthy side or main meal and as always, my barometer on making something again is: will Aubrey Rose and Shawn like it. Both enjoyed this dish even on its own with no side dish of meat.

 

I used what green vegetables I had on hand. Something sturdy that can keep its own flavour with the toasted quinoa: broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage are great vegetables. I had cabbage on hand so that is what I used.

I also used vegetable broth but chicken broth would work just as well. Heat the broth first so that you pour hot liquid into the quinoa just like you would a risotto; the reason for this is to keep all the ingredients at the same temperature. Putting cold liquid in will slow the process down.

I'll try another grain and share it with you...next time.

2 tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil
2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup white wine
½ onion sliced
1 clove minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
1 cup quinoa
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups finely sliced cabbage or other dark green vegetables
1 cup fresh cranberries coarsely chopped (or dried)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1-2 cups coarsely chopped parsley
Grated zest of 1 lemon

In a saucepan, heat gently until just simmering the broth.
Heat oil in a larger sauce pan like a cast iron pan and add the onion. Saute briefly until soft about 3-5 minutes. Add in quinoa and stir to coat all the grains in the oil. Keep stirring in the pan until you can smell the quinoa begin to toast.
Add in garlic and ginger. Stir again for 1 minute.
Slowly add in the broth ¼ cup at a time adding more as the liquid begins to evaporate. This should take about 15 minutes. Add in the wine and salt and pepper.
Add in the vegetables, berries and stir together. There should be just enough liquid to steam the vegetables. If all has evaporated, add ¼ more wine, broth or water. Let this mixture cook on a low temperature for about 5 minutes. Add almonds, parsley and zest. Serve.

John the Carpenter

Periodically we profile artists, influencers, people that make South Pond the magical place that it is for me and for others. John Matchett also known as John the Carpenter is someone that has made South Pond that special place.

Our bread boards made by John. (Agatha Rowland Photography)

Our bread boards made by John. (Agatha Rowland Photography)

I came to know John via his wife, Barb Newman who has been painting and decorating here as long as I have lived on the farm. Barb was even profiled on one of our Taste of the Country TV shows about how she turns even the most unattractive watering can into a piece of art. She introduced me to John as being able to fix and build things and in fact he does. But he does more than tinker, he creates beautiful and creative, purposeful things out of wood, metal and other discarded objects lying around. From breadboards to mobile chicken houses, John is one of those secret weapons that every business (and household) needs to have.

Chicken cork made out of wood

Chicken cork made out of wood

John was raised in Miramichi, New Brunswick and travelled west to our area to help a friend build a house. One thing led to another and he never left this area. At the early age of seven, he expressed interest in carpentry and began making things out of wood.  He was greatly influenced by his father who made all his creations with axes (no easy feat!): handles for tools, bob sleds, log dog houses, cedar darts with chicken feathers, so many things. John is like this as well. One of the things he made for me were corks made out of wood with a chicken carved in the top, candle holders made out of expired light bulbs, hangers for keys and things made out of wire, even the pot holder for my cast iron skillets is handcrafted from copper piping and then hand made S hooks. One of the more creative projects was arriving one day with a red hay wagon which he then reconstructed into a mobile chicken coop. Barb of course, painted it my favourite colours and the chickens (and the goats) love that little house. John also makes our salt and preserve spoons out of maple, walnut and cherry wood. They are delicate and lovely (and available for purchase with or without or products on our web site).

Salt & preserve spoons

Salt & preserve spoons

If you ask John what is the one thing he is passionate about, it is using his hands to create something that is personal to him. All of his creations are unique, one of a kind. Not one is like the other. His future projects, aside from coming up with ideas for South Pond, are creating live edges with his chain saw. Maybe a modern day version of what his father used to do. I’m looking forward to seeing the results.

John tackling a very large fallen tree for future creations.

John tackling a very large fallen tree for future creations.