The Best First Lunch Ever

How exciting! I’m excited. We have a new chef and I think we are in for a wonderful season, especially if today is an indication. Chef Kevin McKenna whipped up a spontaneous lunch of homemade tacos with a cranberry and blood orange pico de gallo (salsa) and smoked duck. Smoked duck is a bit decadent and not something everyone has on hand (I accidentally had it in the fridge…) but really anything could be used instead if you wanted a meat option: sliced chicken or shredded pork, thin strips of beef. Blood oranges this time of year are in the stores and are a colourful and flavourful addition to a salad or garnish for a vegetable side dish. Chef McKenna used what was in our pantry and refrigerator which was not too much at the moment, and served Christine and me the most delicious lunch. Omitting the duck it was fully a lovely #CFF (Christine Friendly Food) gluten free and vegan. 

 

It was fresh, full of flavour so simple and seasonal. The fresh cranberries were a great touch, with the lime and onion they did not have the bitter and puckering effect one might think. The taco toppings could have been made with anything, the tacos themselves had a real corn flavour and tasted a bit like the fire they were cooked on.

I’ve been wanting to make tacos for one of our events, outside either in the pizza oven or on a cast iron pan on a burner nearby. I am imagining a taco party or even appetizers of one bite tacos with a delicious pile of brisket or fresh vegetable salsa. I’m not going to lie, the dough has been hard to master, that correct portion of water to corn flour making the dough pliable enough so it won’t stick. We may not have the mastering down yet but the result is worth another try. 

 

South Pond Farms (SPF) Smoked Duck Taco
Cranberry Blood Orange Pico De Gallo
 

1 Smoked duck breast- thinly sliced
½  C Fresh cranberries- chopped in half
½ C Flat leaf parsley - washed & picked
¼ Red onion thinly sliced and chopped
½ Jalapeño- split and seeded
1 Lime
2tsp South Pond Chocolate Chilli Salt
1 Blood orange - peeled and sliced
2-3Tbsp Oil - sunflower or personal preference

1 Package of Instant Corn Masa Tortilla Mix
(make as per instructions-about 16) 

Sour Cream / Goat Yogurt - optional
(nice accompaniment is Chef's pickled wild leeks - a very delicious treat)

Instructions: 

Chef made the tortillas in a hot cast iron pan over our wood fired cook stove with no oil turning turning after about 1 minute on each side. A regular pan over a regular stove works perfectly. 

While making tortilla’s in large pan, add jalapeño and red onion to dry sauce pan to char. In a bowl, add cranberries, parsley, blood orange, juice of the lime, SPF Salt, and oil to mix. Chop charred jalapeño and red onion to mix. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

Assemble and enjoy 

Chef's pickled wild leeks. Yum.

Chef's pickled wild leeks. Yum.

Bride Feature: Guest Blog Anica Alcide-Drake

My name is Anica Alcide-Drake, I live in Ajax Ontario with my new husband, Joseph Drake. I am a marketing professional working in Toronto, my husband is a graphic designer.  We both enjoy the outdoors, boardgames, all things vintage and tea! 

Ceremony at South Pond Farms. Photograph by Ryanne Hollies

Ceremony at South Pond Farms. Photograph by Ryanne Hollies

Joseph and I actually met at work. I was a new hire in a marketing department at corporate office in Toronto and Joseph had been with the company for some time working as a designer.  Being in the same department, over the course several weeks we made casual conversation here and there or spent our lunch hours within the same social circle.  Joseph was always funny and kind toward me.  After about 2 months, it seemed that we spent more time together as a pair, outside of the office circle. We just clicked, it felt like we knew one another for a long time and we told each other so.  Joseph asked me on a date around this time and I accepted.  On the one hand, I was taken aback as I was not expecting anything beyond friendship. On the other hand, I think I was downplaying the fact (truth) that I was secretly attracted to him but believed that any office romance would not end well.  As it happened, Joseph accepted a job closer to his home in Barrie and he left shortly after we started our relationship.  On our 3 year anniversary, he proposed.

South Pond Farms Guest Cottage. Photograph by Ryanne Hollies

South Pond Farms Guest Cottage. Photograph by Ryanne Hollies

After being to countless weddings together, we knew we didn’t want a banquet hall or country club setting. As nice as these venues were, they just aren’t us.  We wanted our guests to feel comfortable as if they were at a large family gathering and not somewhere confined or overly fussy.  We wanted something rustic, but still elegant and showcased the outdoors. We wanted something that felt like a cottage escape or weekend getaway…and we found that in South Pond Farms.  After doing a little bit of online research and great reading reviews, we thought we would come out for a viewing. The day we were scheduled to meet Amy Hall in October of 2015, we actually had another appointment at a barn venue further away later that day.  After about 10 minutes walking around South Pond, we immediately decided to cancel our next appointment. We fell in love with how gorgeous the property was and how welcoming the barn setting was. Every detail was impressive I think we said “wow” about a dozen times as we were shown each area.  Joseph and I were eager to put down a deposit as quickly as possible. South Pond just suited us to a T and we booked our wedding date within the next week.  

Alcide-Drake Wedding at South Pond Farms. Photograph by Ryanne Hollies

Alcide-Drake Wedding at South Pond Farms. Photograph by Ryanne Hollies

The planning process with South Pond was quite easy. Having the catering, recommended DJ, Reverend and ceremony site all in one place took a huge load off us, as these elements did not have to be coordinated on our own.  It was only a matter of securing a date, choosing a dinner package, etc, and reaching out to confirm availability of any individuals required.  We were not disappointed.  We were kept in the loop at regular intervals, were sent handy email reminders and this really took the guesswork out of wedding planning. All we had to do was stay on track and the staff was very helpful with all of our questions. We loved that we could visit South Pond months before the wedding to have another look around. Of course, it was as lovely as we had remembered from our first visit.

Alcide-Drake Wedding at South Pond Farms. Photograph by Ryanne Hollies

Alcide-Drake Wedding at South Pond Farms. Photograph by Ryanne Hollies

My advice for newly engaged couples would be to; 1) keep an open mind and 2) make sure that you choose a venue that suits your personality and style. Keep an open mind because we often have a very specific vision only to find that there are better or different options out there.  Don’t stress over little things or try to force everything to work because you had one idea. We kept a very open mind in our planning and weren’t rigid in our vision. Both being creative individuals Joseph and I had an idea to work toward but we were grateful for all suggestions offered and our day evolved into something wonderful.  Choosing a venue that suits your personality and style is a big one for me. Too often weddings come with the unnecessary stress of having to please everyone else when really it should be about the bride and groom.  We have been to weddings where the couple seemed out of place because the day was designed FOR them and not BY them and it felt like they were just role-playing. This is your day, and you want to look back on it with fond memories, not 100% compromise on all of your dreams and things you wished you did. 

Anica and Joseph at South Pond Farms. Photograph by Ryanne Hollies.

Anica and Joseph at South Pond Farms. Photograph by Ryanne Hollies.

Joseph and I were married on Sunday, September 18th, 2016. We were the last wedding of the season. It was a perfect day. The weather the day before was dark, dreary and raining heavily and while the forecast was favourable the next day, we were quite nervous that things might change.  Due to the heavy rain we feared that the grounds would be too wet. We knew that South Pond had expertise in plan B if the weather didn’t hold out so at least we had options. Mother nature was on our side and we were blessed to have sunny skies, and perfect weather. Our guests were absolutely impressed with South Pond Farms. Many had no idea what to expect but they were blown away. Almost every couple asked us “where did you find this place?” as they had no idea that this was so close to the city and so peaceful. They could not get over the scenery, the barn, the food.  It was nothing but praise and no one wanted to leave.  Many guests expressed that it was the best wedding they had ever been to and wished it was a 2-day affair. Everything went exactly as we had hoped and we were so happy to hear our guests genuinely express how much they enjoyed everything. Our stand-out moments were the ceremony (of course), the amazing food and the guest cottage.  It was nice to have a beautiful and quiet place to freshen up and stay after the wedding that beat any 4 star hotel. Again, like the rest of the South Pond, the cottage suited Joseph and I to a T.  We ordered a food hamper for breakfast the next day that had the most amazing freshly baked goodies for breakfast.  We really wanted to stay another day. Now, some 4 months later our families still comment on wanting to go back to South Pond. To be honest, I would not have changed a thing.

We will definitely be back.  South Pond is too beautiful a place to only visit once. We plan to attend a supper club dinner, come for lunch and take part in a few workshops.  Our plan is to see South Pond in every season. Danielle French is a wonderful and gracious hostess and the staff were very helpful and attentive to our needs. A++ experience.

 

Photography 101 - What you should know about capturing your wedding at South Pond Farms

There is a lot of work that goes into capturing your wedding day. Photographers labour tirelessly to ensure that the important aspects of your day are carefully, and beautifully, documented. To ensure that you get the best final product, there are a number of things that you can do, as a couple, to assist your photographer as they attempt to chronicle your special occasion. To elaborate on this, I have asked one of our preferred photographers, Agatha Rowland, to share some of her professional advice. 

Can places be photogenic? Because if they can, South Pond is definitely one of those places. It’s a photographer’s dream venue as far as Barn Weddings go. It’s always beautifully styled, with lots of light, and a ton of different locations for creating beautiful portraits.  Although your photographers can arrive at South Pond the day of your wedding and capture your day with some incredible photos – there are a few tips and advice that you can implement for your South Pond wedding that will help your photographer capture your day in the most beautiful way possible.

1. GETTING READY.

Getting Ready at Ironhorse. Agatha Rowland Photography 

Getting Ready at Ironhorse. Agatha Rowland Photography 

Some of my favourite moments on a wedding day happen while getting ready. To capture it the best we can, there are two things photographers will usually recommend couples think about when they’re planning this portion of their day: the location and the lighting.

The location of where you both get ready is really important. If you’re able, I always recommend being as close as possible to each other and the venue to ensure there is no unnecessary stress getting to each other on the day.

The best part about shooting brides and grooms getting ready at South Pond Farms is the gorgeous Guest Cottage. It’s not only on-location (so no worrying about coordinating getting between locations) but it’s big, bright and perfect for make up, hair and flattering photos.

South Pond Farms Guest Cottage. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Guest Cottage. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Guest Cottage. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Guest Cottage. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

Photography by Agatha Rowland 

Photography by Agatha Rowland 

Which brings me to my next point: the lighting. This is one of the most important things you can do to help your photographer take incredible photos. In fact, it’s what your photographer thinks about all day long. Lighting is the key to great photos, and so if you get ready in bright spaces – with lots of natural light, your photographer (and hair & make up artists) will definitely thank you. It’s much easier to capture each moment and create beautiful photos.

Getting ready at South Pond. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

Getting ready at South Pond. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

Getting ready at South Pond. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

Getting ready at South Pond. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

For whoever doesn’t get ready at the Guest House, another amazing space you can rent for your other half to get ready in is Ironhorse Ranch – a big timber frame log home just minutes from South Pond. Another space with big windows, lots of character (and a few goats to keep you company!). In fact, photos from Iron Horse are some of the images I show clients as an example ‘what to do’ in terms of picking a great space to get ready in.

Agatha Rowland Photography 

Agatha Rowland Photography 

2. SCHEDULING YOUR CEREMONY

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

Outdoor ceremonies are some of my favourite to capture and the ceremony spot overlooking the pond and rolling hills at South Pond doesn’t disappoint. There is really not much you need to do to ensure a beautiful ceremony – it’s all already there for you. You’re welcome to add any custom details to create a ceremony of your own, but those rustic log benches for guests and the beautiful backdrop of the landscape are really all you need. The only recommendation for the ceremony I have is the timing. As a rule of thumb, the closer the ceremony is to sunset, the more flattering the lighting. I know most ceremonies need to happen before dinner, so around sunset time doesn’t work for most mid-summer weddings – but if you can, try and avoid the hours between 10am-3pm to ensure you get that lower, more flattering light. This way, us photographers can capture you, the surroundings and your guests with ease (and as a bonus – you and your guests won’t be squinting through the whole thing!). As an example, The photos below are from a South Pond wedding in July with the ceremony at 5pm.

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography.

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography.

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography.

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography.

3. YOUR RECEPTION

South Pond Farms Reception. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Reception. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

Again, like most things as South Pond, your reception will be beautiful whether you add a lot of decor or leave it simple with South Pond’s decor. I find most couples like to add a few personal touches – from guest books to seating charts to extra flowers or table settings. But the one thing that can add a bit of extra warmth to your photos is lighting on the tables. Even some simple mason jars with tea lights can create a bit of that extra lighting a photographer loves in order to capture the ambient warmth of your reception.

South Pond Farms Reception. Agatha Rowland Photography.

South Pond Farms Reception. Agatha Rowland Photography.

4. SET A SLOT OF TIME FOR SUNSET PHOTOS.

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography.

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography.

If you want those beautiful low light photos, you’ll want to schedule a few minutes of portraits just before the sun sets. Some photographers like to shoot that warm glow just before the sun sets, and some love that soft light of just after it’t gone down. Just ask your photographer when they recommend your sunset photos be and they’ll let you know when they can get the best photos. You only need a few minutes between your speeches and sometimes it’s a nice little break for a moment ‘alone’ during your busy reception.

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

5. PLACE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER CLOSE TO THE ACTION

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

Although there are usually no posed images during your dinner and speeches, this is prime time for photographers to capture some candids. The reactions to the speeches and interactions between guests are much easier to photograph the closer we are to you. So when thinking about seating arrangements, if you’re able to – the closer your photographer is to the head table the better.

Agatha Rowland Photography.

Agatha Rowland Photography.

6. MOST IMPORTANTLY – RELAX AND ENJOY!

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

Don’t sweat the small stuff: Don’t worry about the forecast (trust me – rain is romantic!) and let you’re dress get dirty. Think of your wedding as less of an event and more of a big party for you and your closest family and friends. There are plenty of traditions – from cake cutting to first dances to formal wedding parties – that the wedding industry told us at one point we needed to include. But in reality none of these are essential to the real purpose of the day (for you to get married!). So have your wedding how you want to. Include what you want to include and enjoy all of it.

You’re photographer will capture each fleeting moment so you can look back on all those little memories. I’m sure you’ve heard this enough, but it passes quickly so soak it up and enjoy every moment. You’ve picked a great venue so embrace, relax and enjoy your wedding day at South Pond.

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography.

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography.

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

South Pond Farms Wedding. Agatha Rowland Photography. 

Agatha Rowland Photography.

Agatha Rowland Photography.

Feeling good…..Braised Kale for a winter day.

It’s January, one of my favourite months for quiet time, learning, reading and being inspired. But boy, has it been an icy one. I’ve hardly wanted to venture outside and if I did, it would be a tough journey from the front porch to the car. I’ve poured buckets of ashes out on the path which makes for a “pleasant” mess inside the front door and will no doubt kill all the grass when it all melts away. I do love winter, I love the landscape, I love getting out for X-country skiing, and maybe it’s an age thing but I see the merits of warmer climates during these months. Climate change has altered the winter I remember as a child with high snowbanks for snow forts and so much snow that it took forever to melt in the spring. Our fields are nearly bare and sadly the beautiful trails that Ralph our neighbour lovingly groomed have melted away into ice blocks. 

We have spent our days putting another piece of wood in the cookstove and working busily in our office, answering emails, developing systems and planning for the warmer months. Most importantly, Nickel the cat helps by napping nearby.

Lounging South Pond Farm Style

Lounging South Pond Farm Style

My mom and I were sharing recipes the other day, she had just made up a hearty german side dish of kale for lunch.

South Pond Braised Kale

South Pond Braised Kale

This dish is one of her staples and when she spoke about it, it brought me back to the time when I lived in Germany and would venture down to the market with Carlyle in the buggy and pick up bunches of vibrant green kale about two feet long and bring it back to the kitchen. I spent what seemed like forever, removing the heavy stalks and washing the leaves several times to get all the sand out. I remember Renate, my godmother chastising “why would you eat that vegetable, it’s tough and needs hours of cooking and not only that, tastes terrible!” This was before the kale craze, before we ate it raw or as chips, shredded in salads and juiced. Before the kale we crave! Then, the german method was to blanch it, cook it and then cook it some more with bacon, onions, broth, add a slab of smoked pork to it and bingo! A hearty meal for a cold January day. My mom adds pears and being healthier, she most often omits the pork. She says the pears lend a sweetness and she is right. Braised kale with pears. I won’t say it’s for everyone. It has a distinct flavour and can be bitter, but it feels good to eat it - at least for me. 

Today, the baby kale we buy in the plastic box ready to go is not the kale I use for this recipe. It’s the long regular kale with the thick stems that you have to remove and feed to your compost pile or the stock pot.

Recipe for Braised Kale with Pears

1 bunch of regular garden kale
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 yellow cooking onion, thinly sliced
2 slices bacon or pancetta cut into pieces
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
2 Bartlett pears, sliced (I do not peel the pears but my mother does - it’s a preference)
1/2 tsp sugar
freshly grated nutmeg or 1/4 tsp ground
Coarse salt and pepper to taste

Wash the kale thorough and remove the tough stems from the leaves. 
In a large saucepan, add the bacon or pancetta and cook until crisp, drain the extra oil if necessary, saving 1 tablespoon. If you are not using bacon, omit the step with the bacon and begin with the vegetable oil. 
Add the vegetable oil and on medium heat add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft. Do not allow to brown. Add 1 tsp sugar and sauté about 1 minute.
Add the kale and coat with oil.
Add the broth and allow the kale to simmer for 20 minutes or longer until the kale is soft and tender.
Add the pears and gently turn them into the mixture being carefully not to mush the pears, heat the pears through. Grate fresh nutmeg and taste for salt and pepper.
Serve warm with grilled sausages and mustard, pork chops with roasted apples, or a thick vegetable stew. 

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Ginger Root to the Rescue

Ginger Butternut Squash Soup: South Pond Farms 

Ginger Butternut Squash Soup: South Pond Farms 

It’s heerrreeee... Holiday treats, large dinners, indulgent baking and seasonal snacks- the days of rich feasting are upon us! I don’t know about you, but I am foodie in every sense of the word. I love food, especially holiday food but if you are like me, unrestricted indulgence is a sure fire way to experience gastric dissension in one form or another. Having struggled with intestinal issues for most of my adult life I know that without a bit of balance, the holidays can trigger a world of pain. Luckily, some of the best remedies for unwelcome tummy turbulence come from delicious whole foods that you probably already have in your fridge! One such food is ginger root. Ginger has long been touted for its range of medicinal properties and has been used to aid in a range of ailments from arthritis and muscle aches to indigestion and constipation. It has antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti inflammatory properties which makes it inherently “Christine Friendly”. I enjoy ginger in its many forms but hands down one of my favourite ways, is in soup!

Last week we put our heads together at South Pond and with the help of our wonderful chef, we came up with this delicious tummy taming soup. It’s seasonal, it’s vegetarian and it’s made with less than ten ingredients!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash.

  • 2 diced onion.

  • 1 stalk diced celery.

  • 2 tbsp minced ginger.

  • ¼ cup brown sugar.

  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper ( reduce if you prefer less spicy- one teaspoon delivers a serious kick).

  • 500 ml vegetable stock.

  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Method:

  • Chop onions and celery; add to large pot with one tablespoon of oil  ( I recommend coconut oil as it can be cooked at high temperatures without losing its nutritional value)

  • Allow onion and celery mixture to simmer over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes stirring regularly.

  • Add two tablespoons of minced ginger root, keep stirring to ensure that ginger does not burn.

  • Once the onions appear translucent add vegetable broth, diced squash, brown sugar, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.

  • Keep soup at a low boil for twenty minutes.

  • Mash/ puree mixture until desired consistency is reached. 

 

Mulled Wine

 It was Saint Nicholas Day this week and what better way to celebrate this holiday season than by a glass of wine. I love red wine and even more, I love mulled wine at Christmas. Spicy, delicious smells, the warmth in your hand. Yum. The recipe is not difficult and you can adopt your favorite spices to the sugar base.  One thing I would say is that the sweetener is critical. Sometimes I don't want to have the extra sugar and omit that ingredient and that is a big mistake. Your lips will pucker together and clearly, it's not what you expected. Whether you use honey or maple syrup instead of white sugar - don't omit adding something sweet.

When I grew up, we celebrated Saint Nicholas Day (as my mother is German) by putting our slippers outside our bedroom door and hoped we might have some sort of treat in our shoes in the morning (and not a bunch of sticks). It's not a tradition I have carried over into my family but I very clearly remembering as a child, it being the beginning of the holidays. Today the holidays begin so early and there are many other influences that we have to get us in the spirit!

This recipe is lovely to share with friends and family and it's easy to have on hand and make in advance. 

Ingredients

2 tangerines or clementines thinly sliced
1 lemon thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
6 whole allspice
3 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 vanilla bean halved
2 bottles of red wine
1/4 bottle of Port wine (optional)

Prepare

In a large pot add the sugar and either 1 cup water or about 1/4 bottle of wine. Add the fruit and spices. Bring this mixture to a boil and let it boil for about 5 minutes until it is fragrant and thick. Then add the wine and port and heat very slowly. Don’t let it simmer.  If you wish, make this the night before to allow the flavours to come together. I usually make the syrup mixture, add the fresh wine and port and turn the heat off. Then the next day, bring everything to a low heat and keep it on low for at least an hour. The house smells nice too.

Why Local Seasonal Produce is Important

Cheers to fresh choices at South Pond Farms

Cheers to fresh choices at South Pond Farms

 

For those of you that subscribe to our newsletters, you might be noticing a trend. There has been a LOT of talk about “local” and “seasonal” food choices. In a society where tropical fruits are available in December and produce is shipped year round to your neighbourhood grocer, you might be wondering why eating seasonably and locally is something that we concern ourselves with. Who cares if Strawberries are “in season” when you can buy them twelve months a year? What are the benefits of buying produce seasonally and why should we look at purchasing home-grown Canadian goods when Mexico and China produce viable alternatives? Don’t get me wrong, convenience is nice and I certainly appreciate having my favourite foods at my fingertips! But, have you ever wondered what happens to the nutritional content of your food when it is picked weeks before appearing on the shelves of your supermarket? Have you ever thought about the journey your food makes before it gets to your cart? Learning to think within these parameters might make you reassess your choices during your next shopping trip.  

Due to the vast changes in technology over the last century, the world has seen tremendous advancements in transportation and in agricultural production. The ability to ship food across global markets has resulted in a greater diversity of food and less seasonal dependence within geographical regions ( Kearney, 2010).  While mass production and increased transportation are certainly positive aspects of a modern society, what does this mean for the quality of the food in your fridge? The vitamin and mineral content of fruits and vegetables depend of several factors including ( but not limited to) variety, ripeness, post- harvest handling and transportation (Frith, 2007).  

The fact is, most varieties of produce found in groceries stories are chosen for their growth rate and their ability to withstand long durations of travel (Frith, 2007). These production traits are not free of cost and often come at the expense of taste and nutritional quality.  I find it frightening that while food supply has increased in most markets; nutrients per serving have decreased. According to the Critical Issue Report by Brian Halweil, studies continue to show that high-yielding crop varieties generally produce lower concentrations of nutrients. Why is this? One reason is that high-yield crops allocate energy to producing large products (re: fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds) and put less energy into absorbing micronutrients (Halweil, 2007). On the flip side, studies show that farms producing for local markets, are likely to prioritize nutritional quality over durability when making “varietal decisions” ( Frith, 2007).

Ripeness is a key factor in evaluating the nutrient content of the foods that we consume. If our produce has to travel thousands of miles to arrive on our doorstep, you might guess that it was picked well before it was allowed to ripen. This is unfortunate as certain produce varieties can only reach full nutritional maturity while still attached to the plant ( Frith, 2007). An example of such foods are tomatoes. While tomatoes might produce full colour after harvested, their total vitamin C content has been shown to be higher when allowed to vine ripen (Firth, 2007). Unfortunately, the more mature the product, the shorter its post-harvest life. This means that in order to maximize profit, foods are often harvested early to withstand long journeys.

Post harvest handling and transportation play large roles in the quality of the food that you purchase. If produced locally, it is likely that the fruits and vegetables that you desire have been handled by fewer people, which would certainly cut down on the potential for damage! Bruising, caused by long trips and poor handling, is a huge culprit for nutrient loss ( Frith, 2007).

Upon evaluating these factors, we believe that relying on local sources for our food has some distinct advantages. At South Pond, we work with some excellent local purveyors including Crosswind, Lunar Rhythm Gardens, Publican House and Old Flame, Mariposa Dairy, Nesbitts Meat Market, and of course, our own garden for flowers, herbs and vegetables! Sourcing locally can mean within your community, within your province and even within your country. We wholeheartedly believe in this philosophy and to prove it, we are working on our  Ontario Feast On designation! To learn more about Feast On and its partners click here!  For those of you who would like to experience “farm to table” first hand,  we invite you to attend one of our events to see the difference that it makes!

Harvesting tomatoes from our garden 

Harvesting tomatoes from our garden 

Frith, K. (2007, January 1). Is local more nutritious? Retrieved December 04, 2016, from http://www.chgeharvard.org/resource/local-more-nutritious 

Halweil, B. ( 2007, September). Still No Free Lunch: Nutrient levels in U.S. food supply eroded by pursuit of high yields. Critical Issues Report. Retrieved Dec 04, 2016 from https://www.organic-center.org/reportfiles/Yield_Nutrient_Density_Final.pdf

Kearney, J. (2010, August 16). Food consumption trends and drivers. Retrieved December 04, 2016, from http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/365/1554/2793.short

 

 

On Being Thankful

I love Christmas. I love everything about this season. This year, it commenced with a trip to Vermont for Thanksgiving and seeing my family. When I returned home, Aubrey Rose had put up Christmas lights and Shawn had the fire going. Lighting candles and flipping through magazines and cookbooks is always a source for inspiration in contemplating things to pull together for upcoming dinners. The Christmas season is making things for my family, giving things I’ve made away to friends and of course, coming up with new seasonal products for our on line “pantry shop.” 

The view from my parents kitchen window

The view from my parents kitchen window

 

I’ve just finished a weekend of wreathe making with a wonderful group of mostly new farm visitors on Saturday and my girlfriends on Sunday. Ellen, our gardener, and I collected a real bounty of greens, rose-hips, red winter berries, all the pine greens and cones.  I dried clementines, oranges and apples for the wreathes and offered mulled wine and lit scented candles. The barn was warm and smelled delicious even though it was a bit cold. It was a wonderful weekend of new visitors to the farm and visitors familiar. 

Ellen taking a break for chilli and cornbread

Ellen taking a break for chilli and cornbread

A creation!

A creation!

More than one person asked me how I liked “living the dream.” To be honest, even though it’s now been 10 years of living here in the country, I don’t think of it like that. Carlyle returned home to mull over issues in her Environmental Sustainability program and we talked at length how to incorporate her visions into our farm. I feel lucky to have beautiful protected trails right outside my door door, a pond for wild life ( including eight swans who came for a swim before it froze last week) and no matter what the weather outside, the barn is still magnificent every day patiently waiting for the gathering of people to fill up the space. I like this dream. I appreciate it every day.

All around, it was one of my favourite weekends at the farm; there is something magical about people gathering together to enjoy the season; coming together to try something new. It brings out community in us all. We gather to share and to chatter with each other new and familiar. We have such busy lives and taking time out becomes more and more valuable. 

My lovely girlfriends....

My lovely girlfriends....

 

I’m thankful for this year. It’s been a year of transition, new experiences and some difficult changes. There have been some failures but overall, these shifts have lead to a year of good things. I’m thankful for my new team who support all that we do and hope to accomplish. I’m thankful for dry firewood, good companionship the support of my girls and of Shawn and my family. I’m thankful for the loyalty of those who have supported me over these years, who come out to our supper clubs time after time, who sit through some failures and successes, who come to workshops and house concerts. I am thankful for old friends who call from years gone by and decide that we are to offer an experience for their own employee holiday party. I’m inspired by those who call me to get advice on cooking, or email me about what pot to use on the stove. I’m inspired by watching 30 people make 30 completely different wreathes. Shawn would say loyalty is trust. I think that’s exactly right. Loyalty is trust, trust that the experience is going to be a good one even though you may not know what to expect. There is a level of uncertainty with trust but people continue to trust us day after day. Trust in knowing the base line of what will happen is going to be what you hope it will be. In turn, I am loyal to you, farm visitors. I have my trust in you and value your faith in me. Thank you and Happy Holidays.

Our last house concert

Our last house concert

To keep up with South Pond this holiday season, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter here!

Last minute Gatherings

How did we get here? I found myself pondering this less than existential question while looking out the window this morning at the blowing snow. There’s no doubt about it, the days are shorter, the temperature is colder and I am officially behind on my holiday preparations- all sure signs that winter is near.

Christine Friendly Cookie Tasting!! 

Christine Friendly Cookie Tasting!! 

Despite my type A characteristics, I have always been a first class procrastinator- there’s just something about urgency, coupled with a pinch of desperation, that pushes me to produce some of my best work. Don’t get me wrong, living on the edge isn’t for everyone (I hear my husband laughing as I write this), but if you find yourself on the cusp of the holidays frantically trying to pull together catering, event space, and of course, gifts for the special people in your life- let us help!

An assortment of great holiday gifts

An assortment of great holiday gifts

We can provide fresh farm to table food, the ambiance of the bethany hills and hello, have you checked out our online store? Nothing says Christmas like cranberry salt and infused caesars am I right?

Salt Set

Salt Set

 

It is not too late to give your friends, family and colleagues the holiday celebrations they deserve. Whether its catering you are after, or a private gathering at our beautiful Ranch house; we have options for you! So, take a deep breath, throw on some Michael Bublé classics and enjoy the season because we have you covered!

Our new rub and of course, Carlyle's honey

Photos from Mark Ridout Photography

The Winter (or things to do in the off season) at South Pond Farms

We could not have asked for better press this fall. Once in the Toronto Star and just recently, featured in On the Up magazine for great escapes close to Toronto, (On the Up - Make a Break for it page 39).  On the UP is a beautifully produced magazine that is given out on the Toronto Union/Pearson express train. When I was first asked about the article in the summer, it seemed like a great idea. We have so much to offer in this part of the world in the warmer months. There is theatre, outdoor activities, artists in the hills and of course in the summer here at the farm we have our supper clubs, Wednesday lunches, painting & wine workshops, outdoor pizza making workshops, the gardens are in bloom and it is a wonderful place to be.

Pastels on Canvas at South Pond

Pastels on Canvas at South Pond

But this article came out just this fall. Many businesses close down, gardens are brown with frost, our barn gets closed up for the winter months, games and furniture put away. It’s a time that we need to plan, to regroup and to think. Nevertheless, it was exciting to see this publication. The writer who visited this summer was lovely and interesting (Christine Palassio)  and I enjoyed spending time with the photographers (Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott) who had travel all over the continent photographing food and people. 

Getting ready for a supper club

Getting ready for a supper club

I’m always asked at this time of year if it’s nice not being busy but actually, I’m just as busy as I am in the summer. I am not hosting large events in the barn but I’m occupied catching up on emails and planning different things for the winter and of course, thinking ahead for 2017 and 2018 brides! The winter is also time to plan workshops in areas that I love like beading, creating things out of the winter farm fauna, bread making, getting ready for the holidays. In the winter months - the barn may be shut down (except for wreath making day) but the outdoors is still magical. Shawn built a magnificent fire pit - “fire pit” does not do this justice. It is a beautiful spot for fire including an iron plow in the centre that acts as a backdrop for the wood.

The cowboy tending the fire - summer or winter.

The cowboy tending the fire - summer or winter.

I am imagining an event in the dead of winter - maybe Valentine’s Day - people sitting around the fire, bundled up sipping mulled wine or hot chocolate. This year I’m taking a chance and doing just that. Valentine’s Day outdoors, in the middle of the week. What is more romantic that eating under the stars around a fire. Now that is a Canadian event! The article published this time of year may not have been far off base. There are some magical experiences to be had just a short drive out of the city.

Dinner under the stars at South Pond Farms 

Dinner under the stars at South Pond Farms 

 

Look for our House Concert Schedule, festive holiday events and after a successful beading afternoon - more beading in the winter!

Beads, Booze and Beyond

Beads, Booze and Beyond

 

 

 

Corporate Retreats

Benefits of Corporate Getaways

In the post industrial workplace, the vast majority of Canadians are waking up and commuting a minimum of half an hour to their full time jobs in the private sector (Statistics Canada, 2010). Upon arrival, most Canadians are putting in 40+ hours a week isolating themselves behind a desk, slugging through emails, and doing their best to uphold corporate interests. We are creatures of routine, day after day we commute to the office, graft, commute home, and repeat.  It is within this monotonous routine that we see the biggest potential for employee disengagement. Increasingly, Canadians are plugged in but switched off, showing up but not really contributing.  With most organizations placing an emphasis on performance, a disengaged employee is most likely, an underperforming one.

According to a study of employee engagement in the Canadian workforce, engaged employees demonstrate higher levels of commitment and productivity; they are working harder, yielding better results, they are building better relationships and they are going above and beyond baseline job expectations (Bakker, 2011). To put it bluntly, disengaged employees are not. It does not take a statistician to correlate the relationship between disengaged employees and a company’s bottom line. Consequently, managers looking to better the overall functioning of their organizations are looking for innovative solutions to foster employee satisfaction and engagement.

One strategy that is proving increasingly effective at re-engaging employees, boosting team morale, and escaping daily office fatigue, is the implementation of corporate retreats. Corporate retreats, getaways, field trips (or whatever you choose to call them), take employees away from the banausic workplace environment  and offer an opportunity to reset. Corporate retreats serve as mediums to set new goals, to initiate valuable training and facilitate better communication (Saint Blanquat, 2015). These mini office getaways break the cycle of everyday routine and isolation and allow for reflection and invigoration. Research shows that following corporate retreats/ team building days, individuals return back to the office with renewed energy and enthusiasm (Saint Blanquat, 2015). Renewed enthusiasm equates to happier and more productive employees and in turn, more successful corporations.

It might seem like common sense, but just incase you hesitate to make the leap, studies on employee satisfaction continuously show that businesses that invest in their employees reap the benefits of a motivated task force. Whether you are looking to hit the road for a day (or a couple of days) check out our various corporate packages. Our naturally beautiful setting and unique options for workshops during your “day away” make South Pond Farms an ideal escape from the ordinary. In addition to delicious farm to table meals, we offer one of a kind team building activities ( including axe throwing for groups who have a lot of pent up frustration- kidding! … Kind of).  What are you waiting for? Boost Moral, escape the grind and relax with us in Bethany Hills, we look forward to hosting your team.

 

Bibliography:

Bakker, Shawn. "Control, Opportunity & Leadership - Psychometrics Canada." N.p., 2011. Web. 8 Nov. 2016.

"Employment by Age, Sex, Type of Work, Class of Worker and Province." Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2016.

Saint Blanquat, Amaury. "What Are the Benefits of Team Building and Corporate ..." N.p., Nov.-Dec. 2015. Web. 8 Nov. 2016.

“Transportation." Transportation. Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. N.p., 2016. Web. 08 Nov. 2016.

 

 

Farm Flowers and Soup

How do these things go together particularly in the fall? Easily. Have a workshop making beautiful arrangements or wreaths out of the last of the garden flowers and farm fauna and eat a delicious comforting soup for lunch or dinner. 

Fall holiday wreath making at the farm

Fall holiday wreath making at the farm

 

I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t love fall, all the vegetables, cooler weather, fire, colours, the smell of winter coming on. I love going out into the fields or around the house and picking out seed pods or dead flowers to use for arrangements on the front porch or on the table. We have a holiday wreath making on December 3rd and I’m looking both in the gardens and the forest for some interesting things to add for decor. I also love getting the last of the vegetables out of the soil. Vegetables and herbs are a great use for arrangements as they are for the soup pot. Soups are a “go to” and this one is truly a favourite. 

 

We’ve spoke about “Christine Friendly Foods” - healthy plant based cooking and this soup is a great contribution to that repertoire. My own upbringing was based on both on a meat and plant based diet; my mother cooked creatively with vegetables and grains primarily because meat was expensive if existent at all in the war when she grew up and she knew how to make do without it. I think back to my childhood of my mom feeding my brother and me Tiger Milk shakes, growing sprouts on the window sill, having potatoes served over bitter greens, using legumes before they were popular, slicing kale and cabbages in most of our salads way before they were marketed in clear plastic ready to use containers. We are coming full circle embracing simpler foods grown from the farm, prepared in more traditional ways.

 

This Italian based vegetable soup can be made without the two ingredients that deviate from the “Christine Friendly” plant based food - the pancetta and the parmesan cheese rinds. I like to use them but they don’t make any difference in the fundamental taste of this soup which is focused on the vegetables that are used.

Fresh tomatoes from the garden but canned works well too

Fresh tomatoes from the garden but canned works well too

Parmesan rinds gives the soup a bit of the saltiness from the cheese. It is easily removed from the recipe.

Parmesan rinds gives the soup a bit of the saltiness from the cheese. It is easily removed from the recipe.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 red pepper coarsely chopped
1 hot pepper finely chopped
4 cups fresh or canned tomatoes chopped
1 can white beans drained
1 cup chopped cabbage
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup pancetta finely sliced (optional)
Fresh herbs: parsley, oregano, thyme
salt and pepper to taste
left over parmesan rinds (optional)

In a large sauce pan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the pancetta if using. Let the meat brown slightly. Then add the onions and saute them until they are soft not browned, about 5 minutes. Add in the carrots, peppers and garlic and stir for about 5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and the juice, the broth and the cabbage and if using the rinds.  Add the herbs. I often just toss them in removing them before serving. Or tie them with kitchen twine. Bring to a simmer and partially covered simmer for about 45 minutes. This soup is great to freeze and to save for the next day. I also like to blend it with an immersion blender leaving chunks of the vegetables.

 

Little pancetta cubes or bacon if you want an little smokiness flavour.

Little pancetta cubes or bacon if you want an little smokiness flavour.

Remove the rinds if using and you can blend the soup with an immersion blender to make it thicker if desired.

Remove the rinds if using and you can blend the soup with an immersion blender to make it thicker if desired.

A Season in Review

For me, autumn has always signified a fresh start; a new beginning, a time to reflect on the busy summer months that seem to pass by far too quickly. After starting my journey with South Pond Farms in May of this year, I have a whole new perspective on what is means to have a “busy” summer. As a place for gatherings - both public and private- the farm truly comes alive in the summer months. From weddings to supper clubs, corporate retreats to workshops, my first season at the farm passed by in a blur of chiffon and lace. It is only now, after the tucking away the remnants of our summer scheduling, that I have had a moment to sit back and reflect on what a season it has been.

This morning, over warm chai tea and cool wooden floor boards, I contemplated the highs and the lows of our summer- What were some lessons that I learned this season? What could I take away from this unique experience? Undoubtedly, I learned a lot in my new role as the Marketing and Special Event Coordinator but one lesson that I learned, and often ‘re-learned’, was the importance of being prepared. Now, I’m confident that my girl scout leader is reading this and wondering why it has taken the better part of 28 years for this message to sink in- so let me explain. This season has taught me a lot about expecting the unexpected; weather forecasts can change in the blink of an eye, there will always be a guest that fails to appear on our RSVP list, wine orders WILL get lost and there will always be unanticipated delays. Unpredictability is simply the nature of this industry.

If I am honest, I have always been quite decent at drafting contingency plans; you know, setting extra places (just incase), and making sure that the bar is stocked with extra wine… it is emotional preparedness that I struggle with. It is rationally separating my emotions from my reactions when we face a harsh criticism, when all of our planning goes out the window due to a last minute change, or when there is a looming deadline and the printer breaks.  It is easy to get overwhelmed in moments like this -it is easy to react out frustration. I think most of us know how detrimental these reactions can be. By observing my colleagues and many of our fantastic guests  I saw time and again,  just how impactful it can be, to move forward from a place of compassion. I learned that positivity and patience doesn’t come from being able to control your circumstance but rather, from choosing a state of mind amidst chaos. At South Pond, and probably in most careers, there will always be elements beyond our control; but learning to channel positive emotions in whatever the circumstance, was perhaps the greatest take away I had from this summer at South Pond.

 

 

Pumpkins, pumpkin spice and more pumpkins. Roasted Pumpkin and Garlic Soup

Okay,  just incase you missed it… it is officially pumpkin season. With our powers of perception and our ability to report breaking news we should probably be evening anchors or something right? Pumpkins are everywhere at the moment from our coffees to our crockpots and why not try it in our soups? If you are in Ontario right now you could probably use something warm and delicious. Something warm, delicious, and full of fibre and protein of course! Below is a quick and easy recipe for festive roasted pumpkin and garlic soup  à la Danielle French. It is loaded with “Christine Friendly Foods” (CFF’s)  and is full of savoury fall flavours.

Christine & Danielle

The pumpkins here have seen better days and have found a new home on the compost pile. That is the beauty of canned pumpkin. Always available, always good. In the spirit of "quick and easy" canned wins hands down. I served this last night for some friends and they all gave it the thumbs up. I think a nice touch would be finishing it with some toasted pumpkins seeds - an idea I had after we finished it off! 

Our own roasted garlic

Our own roasted garlic

Recipe for Roasted Pumpkin and Garlic Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion chopped
2 large tablespoons of roasted garlic or 2 cloves fresh garlic
1 medium pumpkin which you have cut into pieces and taken the peel off,  coated in olive oil, roasted in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour  OR
1 796 ml can of unsweetened pumpkin
1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 cups vegetable stock

In a medium heavy saucepan, heat the oil on medium to low heat and add the onions. Stir until just soft and not brown about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin spice and stir to release the flavours. Add in the stock salt and pepper and cover. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Puree with a blender and return to the pot. Heat and serve. I served this with a dollop of roasted garlic and a bit of it's oil. It was delicious. 
 

 

 

 

My Story

My story, though still unfinished, began in a doctor’s office almost seven years ago when I was diagnosed with IBS, lactose intolerance, gluten sensitivity and a torturous colon… just a few mild ailments.

As it turns out, my years of tummy troubles arose from the perfect storm of food sensitivities, unhappy entrails and extra curvy innards. Thankfully my gastroenterologist, the ever knowledgeable and up beat professional that he was, assured me that all I would have to do to keep my symptoms at bay was invest in some powerful laxatives and drink ‘Milk of Magnesium’ three times a day until I developed colitis or cancer at which point he could “cut out” my diseased digestive organs. Shockingly, I wasn’t convinced that his “treatment” method was my best option (I was 21 and nowhere near ready for a colostomy bag) so it was here, that my search for alternative answers and passion for nutrition began. Food became my medicine, a way of keeping my symptoms at bay. It wasn’t easy at first, I have a list of kitchen catastrophes to prove it, but through inventive substitutions and a willingness to take culinary risks, I feel like I finally have this food thing under control. I am happy to report that my intestines are still intact and I am happier and healthier than ever.

Today, it seems that I am not alone in my struggles. As a member of the South Pond Team for almost five months now, it is rare that we have an event where there isn’t a food sensitivity, allergy or intolerance to gluten and/or dairy. We recognize that cooking gluten free and dairy free is a topic of growing interest! Moving forward, featured recipes that are dairy free, gluten free, and plant based will be labeled as "Christine Friendly Foods" (CFF for short). Additionally, we have decided to put together a skills class on November 30th where we can delve into cooking for a variety of intolerances. Whether you are an individual who suffers from food sensitivities or someone just looking to shake things up in the kitchen, this skills class is not to be missed.

 

Fall Soups

Fall is my favourite time of year for soup. There is something about the cooler temperatures, we all yearn for the warmth of comfort food. The colours of the leaves and land match the vegetables that come out of the garden.  I got this recipe from my friend, Kate many years ago. It is a little cumbersome to make because of roasting the peppers but it is well worth it. Most importantly, this recipe falls into the category of  “Christine Friendly Foods”  (#CFF) - watch for our new blog from Chris' Corner: stories from a self professed food addict and our own South Pond Special Events Coordinator. It makes me feel healthier just knowing that! 

Christine with her homemade kale chips

Christine with her homemade kale chips

I don’t know how over the years I began eating more and more meat. Meat is easy to cook. Add a salad and a potato or rice and it's a balanced meal and as we all stopped eating so many carbs, just the salad. Grilled steak over salad, roasted salmon and a salad. I called my friend Judy yesterday complaining about boredom in the kitchen. “What are you cooking, Judy?” Salmon. Salmon and salad. Nice. What was I eating? Leftovers from my Rotary lunch - Tante Nati's goulash, potatoes and carrots. Equally nice. This fall, I’m going to make a better effort to eat healthier, take meat out of the daily diet and see what happens. 

One of the issues I see with this approach is that it takes more time to cook without meat. It means combining more food to get the proteins and other nutrients that we need - watch for our upcoming cooking class on this November 30th. I know that it is well worth it but I get busy throughout the day and leave making dinner until the end when I’m tired and have to go pick up Aubrey Rose or really just want to put my feet up. When the girls were little, I cooked in the morning after getting them ready for the day. I wasn’t as busy then but when I think about it, there is no reason that dinner last can’t be started at that time - at least in my schedule. Possibly I will find after a month of being better organized and eating healthier, it will be no more work than throwing chicken on the grill or salmon in the oven. 

This past weekend, I pulled the carrot and roasted pepper soup recipe out because it is seasonal - I still have a lot of carrots in my garden and I had Shawn’s folks coming for dinner. Alma, Shawn’s mom, is pretty nutrition conscience and I knew she would appreciate it. I tried a new meatball concoction that was really delicious too. A recipe on that later! Shawn and his dad are meat guys so it all balanced out. Aubrey Rose and Carlyle who was home - they both enjoy most anything. 

Roasted Red Pepper and Carrot Soup Recipe

 

  • 4 large peppers
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 small carrots diced and peeled
  • 1 medium potato peeled and diced 
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (or chicken but then it’s not CFF)
  • pinch of curry powder (another option is to add 1 tablespoon grated ginger)
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 6 tablespoons plain unsweetened yogourt 

 

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 450. 
  • Line a baking tray with parchment. Lay down washed peppers and rub with olive oil. Bake in the oven until skins are blistered about 15-20 minutes. 
  • Remove and transfer to a covered container to steam the peppers and loosens skins. 
  • When the peppers are cool, remove skins and seeds and cut into small chuncks. 
  • Meanwhile: in a saucepan, heat olive oil and saute onion until soft, do not brown. Add carrots and potatoes and stock and simmer over medium heat covered for about 15 minutes until the carrots are tender. Add peppers and curry or ginger. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes. 
  • Remove from heat and blend with a blender. Return to the pot to keep warm. 
  • Grate zest with the yogourt. 
  • Serve the soup with a dollop of the lemon zest and yogourt mixture. 

Makes 8 servings

Leftovers the South Pond Way

When my brother and I were kids we often spent summers at my grandparent’s house in Michigan. The soil was rich for many things - particularly fruits being so close to Lake Michigan. My grandparents chose in mid life to "opt out" of their urban lives. I believe my grandfather had a health incident and they picked up the three kids - my dad being the eldest at 14 - and they bought a 100 acre farm outside a town of about 300 inhabitants. They may have been the hippies of their generation. The farm already had cherry trees, asparagus fields and they added different fruit varieties, peaches, pears, apples, plums and they had a patch of raspberries both black and red, blueberries and of course a vegetable garden. My grandmother cooked on a wood stove, she would not consider an electric range, she baked bread every day and preserved all the bounty of their farm and put it away in the root cellar which for my brother and I was a creepy place that our grandfather went down to periodically to get food supplies. He opened a hatch in the kitchen and there were steep steps and darkness when Tom and I peered down. 

One of the many holidays we spent at the Michigan farm was Thanksgiving. My grandmother cooked the turkey in the wood stove, she actually cooked the entire dinner in the wood cook stove and it wasn’t very large. She must have timed everything just so. I remember a few key things about our dinner. There was always homemade bread and jam, there were other pickles and preserves, and the next day there was turkey and biscuits made with the left overs. Or if it happened to be chicken - chicken and biscuits. I used to hate biscuits as a child but I loved this dish. It is the epitome of comfort food and worth making any time not just over the holidays. 

This recipe is from my grandmother. It’s been over 25 years since she passed away. It’s hard to believe. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t think of both of them in some way. Opening a jar of pickles, starting the wood cookstove in my own kitchen, baking bread, having jam and fresh bread (which we don’t have for dinner that often). She was such a great influence on me. I just ordered fruit trees and berry bushes for our garden which I’m hoping will bear fruits in my life time. Cultivating berries was a hobby for both my grandfather and then my father who has been picking a bonzana crop of blueberries this past month and putting away who knows how many containers in the freezer. My mom making jams and pies. Traditions of preserving that will be passed on at least through my generation and I hope my daughters. 

South Pond Turkey and Biscuits

Prepare and butter a casserole dish - I usually use a 2 quart pie dish or square pan. 

Take all the leftovers that you think you would like to use out of the refrigerator. It can be as simple as just the turkey or add some vegetables and even stuffing! The important ingredient is left over gravy. If there is none, use chicken stock homemade or boxed. 

 

Take 4 tablespoons butter and melt in a sauce pan large enough to hold all the stock and meat. Add 1 cup of chopped celery and a small onion or leek chopped finely. Saute for5 minutes or until soft. Add in 4 tablespoons flour and stir until all the vegetables are coated and gently cook but do not allow to brown. Add in about 3 cups of warm stock and stir slowly until the sauce thickens scraping the bottom of the pan. Let this simmer gently for about 5 minutes and then add in about 2-3 cups of the leftover cooked meat which has been cut into smaller pieces. Heat through. Add in 1 cup of cooked vegetables such as squash or peas or carrots. (I have added in stuffing!) Turn off the heat. Add salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400

Making the biscuits

 

In a bowl add 2 cups of flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1 tablespoon sugar. Mix together. Add 4 tablespoons cold butter cut into pieces. Mix together with your hands under the butter is worked in with the flour. Add 2/3 - 1 cup milk. Mix together with a spoon just until combined. Do not overwork the dough or the biscuits will be tough.

Turn onto floured board and pat into 1/2” thick dough. Using a knife cut into triangles or cookie cutter. 

Pour the turkey mixture into the buttered casserole and place the biscuits on top. Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the biscuits are gently browned. Serve with cranberry sauce, pickles and for an extra treat, bread with jam.