Craft

I started doing workshops at the farm not because I’m an expert in instruction or even have expert knowledge but because there are certain things that I love doing. Craft is one of them. The art of craft has a important meaning for me and how I live my live. It means something traditional and authentic. It is creating and making something by hand. It also may have been something that people have been making for hundreds of years; it has a purpose. Like many moms (and dads), I encouraged crafts with my children and making things with their hands, drawing, hammering boards, cooking, pushing together clay forms. I feel that the the art of creating something for many of us it is an important foundation to happiness and appreciation of life.

Finished for the day.

Finished for the day.

When I was finishing university at McGill, an Anthropology professor who I really admired, suggested that what I was doing for a summer job that year - hand making men's shirts  (do not ask me why I was doing that…..) was an admirable craft and one that wasn’t being done any longer. His comment has stayed with me. An admirable craft. I could tell that even though I really didn’t have much genuine skill in making shirts, he appreciated the concept and the craft intended behind making them.

Cooking class in canapes for the holidays....

Cooking class in canapes for the holidays....

The workshops we offer are not in shirt making. We do offer workshops in cooking, bread-making, floral arranging, learning about bees, beading to name a few. I also connect with others who offer instruction in things that I do not do such as dying textiles. I love making bread and I believe it is a craft that over time has ebbed and flowed in and out of our culture as important and something we do now because of choice and in former times, because of necessity. It is something we make from scratch. I am fortunate enough today to have a “genius” bread-maker here to teach his knowledge and expertise. I’ve gone from making bread with others in my farmhouse kitchen into our proper kitchen led by our pastry chef Dylan who makes fantastic sourdough bread from a starter that he has kept for fourteen years. With his guidance, I hope to have two day bread-making workshops this winter so one can really delve into the nuances of dough and the beauty of bread.

Breadmaking workshop 101...

Breadmaking workshop 101...

In our workshops involving sourdough, I've often started with an explanation about about sourdough, how it is like a love relationship. If you don’t nurture and pay attention, it may slip away. It’s a friendship that will be with you always but you do need to feed it sometimes. I found mine in the back of the refrigerator, abandon by me, completely hard, brown and green with unwanted mold and it didn’t smell that great. It has been neglected far too long and sadly it went into the garbage. Time to start again.

My abandon sourdough starter....

My abandon sourdough starter....

If you ask me what one of my goals here at the farm is, it is to have a place of learning and exploring craft of many kinds. To learn about making bread, cooking with what is available but being creative with ingredients, understanding what local means, what is plant based food and how to properly cook with fish or cut meat, arranging flowers and creating wreaths, to learn about beekeeping, farming and gardening and how to live more sustainably. I have come to the realization that I can not do everything, that it’s time to surround myself with people who have a “genius” of their own and are willing to teach others. I am lucky to have some of these people and who are willing and interested in sharing their knowledge. It’s time for me to let go of some things.

Mother and daughter with their skills.

Mother and daughter with their skills.

Shared by Sarah.

Shared by Sarah.

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In the meantime, I’m happily doing my own crafts with my girls or just on my own. It’s quiet time, a time to share together and time that I feel great joy and feeling of accomplishment. I believe it is these small things that keep us going and satisfied. Making a great meal, creating some bit of tiny beauty in our home. I told my daughter after listening to a commencement speech by Admiral William McRaven who said “change the world by making your bed’, it’s the little tasks and feeling of accomplishment that take us to the other steps in our day. I agree with this. I think she did too and I noticed her bed was made the next day...I also feel and recognize accomplishment when those who have been here for workshops share with me their own achievements. It is truly a  pleasure to receive those emails. I’m sharing two wreaths made from workshop attendees this December.

Shared by Jamie DeWolf

Shared by Jamie DeWolf

My life has taken pivoted these past ten years. From an earlier day with an office on Bay street to now my beautiful home office which looks out over the fields. I appreciate the weather. I appreciate beauty of nature. One thing that has not changed. Making and creating things using my hands. It’s a reward after a busy week and I am looking forward to sharing crafts with my girls over this holiday and appreciating all that we have.  

Merry Christmas.

Making some lemon scrubs

Making some lemon scrubs

A genius at work...

A genius at work...

Evolving

Yesterday was the first Christmas Market at the Farm. Truthfully, I did try a Christmas in the Country Market a few years ago, before our chef, before Netflix. I had an ornament table, a place to make wreaths and I believe we offered some cookies and hot chocolate. If I recall, there were not many who turned out. I remember thinking it was an idea that should be shelved. It was actually Chef Mckenna who suggested the Christmas Market this year. We could offer lunch and hot drinks outside by the fires, our breads and specialty items and Farm Flavours for sale. I agreed because I love the holidays, I love food outdoors by the fire and I am passionate about all the things we make here at the farm. And this year, unlike the last time -the delicious food of Chef Mckenna and more people than just Amy and me to make it a reality.

Wrapped up stollens

Wrapped up stollens

I made up a list of all the things I like to have over Christmas - tourtière, stollen, German cookies, shortbread, chocolate bark and handcrafted gifts and together (mostly the Chefs) we baked, packaged, assembled and decorated.

Shortbread

Shortbread

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The decorating part was fun, hanging a Christmas tree that Shawn and I cut from the property, Deanna strung lights and Aubrey Rose tied on bowes. Chef worked tirelessly in the kitchen. We listened to Christmas Music and sipped mulled wine. Given my last Christmas Market experience, I thought we might have twenty guests come by, Chef suggested planning for fifty.

The tree is hung.

The tree is hung.

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The day started out in a deep fog. In fact, I thought it was snow it was so dense. The temperature was pleasantly warm. I woke up early, started the fire inside and Shawn outside in the pizza oven and at the bon fire. The music turned on and hot drinks heated up. The kitchen lights were on from early morning as breads baked and delicacies finished up. We loaded up the wagon many times heavy with all our products and filled the tables. Everything looked beautiful and smelled delicious.

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We hadn’t quite finished setting up when some cars came down to the driveway. Early birds I thought. Then a few more. Then a steady stream. Tourtiers and pecan tarts were gone before noon, our fresh breads in twenty minutes  Aubrey Rose had a long snaking line to the register, Carlyle and Barb had trouble keeping the beverage pots full. Chefs Kevin and Dylan served up hot sandwiches from the pizza oven and Meghan delicious soup from the iron kettle by the fire. Chef Mckenna seemed to run back and forth to the kitchen more times than I could count cutting up fresh bread for more sandwiches and concocting additional batches of soup.

Carlyle and Barb taking in some sunshine

Carlyle and Barb taking in some sunshine

At the end of the day, we collapsed by the cook stove to debrief and calculated over 130 visitors came by the farm. The weather helped. It was a magically misty winter and warm day. People had the opportunity to walk the trails, warm by the fire, visit with the roaming chickens and goats. I had the chance between running back and forth to retrieve products, to chat with people who had come from near and from afar to see what it was like. It was a lovely perfect day. I will be better prepared for our next Christmas Market on the 17th and plan for a few more than twenty.  

End of the day

End of the day

Spiced Nuts and getting ready for the holidays

This is the time of year when your inbox fills up with cyber holiday shopping emails and holiday emails in general. I said I was not going to participate in that continuous sales process. Then on Friday a visitor dropped by and purchased a few things from our store and before I knew it, I was caught up in the excitement of holiday gifts and immodestly speaking, all the really great products we have here. Carlyle also just bottled more honey and it looks so beautiful in the jar.

Beautiful Carlyle honey.

Beautiful Carlyle honey.

So now there it is. Our own holiday cyber Monday gift opportunity: Carlyle Honey, Danielle’s Moraine Tea Blend, and a beautiful bar of our Farm Christmas Soap. Wrapped up in a box and ready to go. Handmade and packaged.

Danielle's Moraine Herbal Tea Blend, Carlyle Honey and Christmas Spice Soap $23.00. Includes gift box and packaging and a recipe card. email Deanna .

Danielle's Moraine Herbal Tea Blend, Carlyle Honey and Christmas Spice Soap $23.00. Includes gift box and packaging and a recipe card. email Deanna .

I’ve been asked on line a number of times for our spiced nut recipe. They were featured in one of the Netflix episodes (View it here) and I promised to share the recipe. I call it Manvers Station Spiced Nuts because I use some of our Manvers Station spice rub. If you don’t have the Manvers Station - just omit entirely rather than try to substitute. I also include our cranberry rosemary salt but ordinary coarse salt will due just fine. I’m going to include the recipe card in the Cyber Monday gift box. What I like about this mixture is that it is very slightly sticky, a little bit spicy and sweet and still the flavours of the nuts are there. It also keeps well if stored in a jar or airtight container. A nice idea when after the holidays you don't want to eat any more snack food - put them in the food processor, pulse a few times and sprinkle on salads. Delicious.

Pecans, Walnuts and Almonds. Pecans and Almonds are the musts. Peanuts, cashews, walnuts work great too. 

Pecans, Walnuts and Almonds. Pecans and Almonds are the musts. Peanuts, cashews, walnuts work great too. 

 

Manvers Station Spiced Nuts

  • 1 pound unsalted mixed nuts about 3 cups. I use pecans, almonds, peanuts or walnuts. Peanuts are definitely more popular in my family.

  • 3/4 cup minced candied ginger - this ingredient can not be substituted! I buy the ginger slices in bulk and then with a chopping knife, mince by hand.

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 teaspoons coarse salt

  • 1 teaspoon Manvers Station Spice

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup water

 

Sliced candied ginger, cayenne pepper, Manvers Station and Cranberry Rosemary sea salt.

Sliced candied ginger, cayenne pepper, Manvers Station and Cranberry Rosemary sea salt.

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

  • In a large bowl, combine all the nuts nuts, candied ginger, both peppers, salt, spice rub, and sesame seeds.

  • In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water over medium-high. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until sugar dissolves, 3 minutes.

  • Pour sugar syrup over nut mixture and toss well to combine and place on the cookie sheet in a single layer.

  • Bake until the nuts are just beginning to brown and are golden about 15 to 20 minutes, turning once.

  • Let cool completely on sheet on a wire rack before breaking into pieces.

Grandma French's Stuffing Recipe

My niece, Claire, asked me yesterday for the stuffing recipe that we had for Canadian Thanksgiving. My brother and his family spontaneously flew up for the holiday this past October and my parents drove up as well. We also had Devon (my step daughter), James her husband and baby Aren come from the city. Thanksgiving is really my favourite holiday but I’m not going to lie, I love American Thanksgiving too. The girls and I drove home to my parents most every year for American Thanksgiving and my brother and his family from New York on years they could. We always brought some sort of craft that we did together and it always involved making Christmas decorations too just because we wouldn’t see Claire and my nephew Joe before December - if we even saw each other at all during the Christmas holiday. I love those times.

A favourite view from my parent's home in Vermont on a rainy Thanksgiving weekend last year.

A favourite view from my parent's home in Vermont on a rainy Thanksgiving weekend last year.

 

This year, I’m missing the trip home for Thanksgiving. Often the girls opt out of school and we pile into the car for a road trip for Thanksgiving in Vermont.  It’s a long journey and this year all my daughters are busy with school and Rugby and it’s impossible to make the trip. Not to mention, it’s a long drive - ten hours without traffic. Flying isn’t any faster either since they don’t live that close to any major airport. It’s the one sadness that I have living so far from my parents not being able to have a weekend dinner or holidays together as often as I would like.

I appreciated celebrating Thanksgiving here in Pontypool this year. It will hold me over until the next visit for sure.

 

Liv and I carving up the bird she made this year.

Liv and I carving up the bird she made this year.

In the meantime, Olivia’s favourite holiday is also Thanksgiving. She said to me this year she was going to eat her weight in pumpkin pie. I’m not sure she was successful on that front but she was amazing at making the stuffing. This year, each of my girls chose a dish to make which was fun and also a great help. Olivia chose the turkey and stuffing. We started with a very large bird, about 30 pounds, that came from Jessica Foote’s organic farm nearby - Lunar Rhythm Gardens. The next critical ingredient is good bread. My grandmother baked her own bread and used this as the basis for her stuffing. I used the bread we make here on the farm. Her recipe is very simple, uncomplicated and very easy to do. I add a few things depending on my mood but it is still her basic recipe and I remember her teaching me when I was about the same age as Olivia and this is the year I taught her.

A very old photo of my dad with my grandparents. Grandpa carving something.....

A very old photo of my dad with my grandparents. Grandpa carving something.....

Begin with about 1-2 loaves -depending on the size of loaf - of good white bread. Grandma French always used white bread but I often mix in a bit of grain or whole wheat bread in. The evening before, break apart the bread into cubes either by cutting the loaf or breaking it apart with your hands into about one inch size pieces. You want 10-12 cups bread after it is all broken up. Put the bread on a cookie sheet and allow to dry out overnight. If I’ve missed this step and forgotten to do it the evening before, I put the cookie sheets in a very low about 175 degree oven for  one hour or until the bread is stale and dry.

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In the morning of the day you are cooking the turkey, prepare the following:

4-6 tablespoons butter
2 large onions sliced and chopped finely.
6 celery stalks sliced and diced finely
Salt and pepper
Fresh or dried ground sage to taste. In my recipe I put about ½ cup chopped fresh or 2 tablespoons ground.
Danielle’s options: 2 fresh mild sage sausages or sweet Italian
Walnuts chopped (and toasted) (which my nephew does not like!)
1 apple chopped

For my recipe, I almost always put the sausages in. But my grandmother rarely did. Once I started doing it in our home, it seemed to become a habit.

Heat a large frying pan  on medium high. I use a large cast iron frying pan just because I love this pan and it cooks so evenly but any large pan will do. Remove the sausages (if you are using them) from their casings by squeezing the meat out directly into the hot pan. Using a wooden spoon, cook the sausages through until they resemble a brown crumble. Through this process, take the wooden spoon and continually mash and press the sausage meat in the pan as it breaks down. This will take about 15 minutes. There should be enough fat from the sausages that you don’t need any extra in the pan. If you do, use a small amount of vegetable oil to get things started. Place the cooked sausage meat into a large bowl and remove the grease.

Heat the pan on medium heat and melt the butter.
Add the onions and sauté until they are soft, do not brown - about 5 -8 minutes.
Add the celery and cook for approximately 10 more minutes or until the mixture is soft and melting.
Add the salt, pepper, sage and heat through until the spices are fragrant.
Turn the heat off.

In the large bowl where the sausages are, add the bread chunks and stir. Add the onion mixture and using the wooden spoon, combine all the ingredients. If you are using apples and walnuts, add them both here.

My grandmother used water to wet the bread, some people use stock. Either works. Olivia used water for our Thanksgiving this year. Add only enough water to dampen the bread, don’t wet it. It’s just to add a bit of moisture to the mixture. About ½ cup or a bit more should do the job. Allow the mixture to cool.

My Grandmother cooked everything on her wood fired cook stove

My Grandmother cooked everything on her wood fired cook stove

In the meantime, the turkey is washed, dried and ready to be cooked. The insides have been removed! The oven is on - I preheat to 400 degrees. The roasting pan is waiting for you on the counter. Stuff the bird with cooled stuffing. We stuff in the neck and the body and remaining stuffing goes into a buttered casserole dish to be baked covered with foil later.

Salt and pepper the bird well and place in the oven. Turn the temperature down to 325 and cook until it is done. I use 20 minutes a pound. Make sure to allow the turkey to rest for at least 30 minutes after removing it from the oven. Just before serving, scoop out the stuffing into bowls.

Good luck with this, Claire. Happy Thanksgiving. We will miss you this year.


 

Everyone has a Budget: Customizing your Holiday Retreats

The holiday season is upon us and with that comes an inherent desire to gather with colleagues, family and friends. Despite wanting to partake in the full gamut of seasonal festivities, we know how important it is to keep your bank book in the black. In the event industry often see  “a one size fits all” approach to event planning. This creates a dichotomy of have and have nots, can and cannots. Frankly, we don’t think event planning needs to be so black and white; after all, what are the holidays without a little bit of colour!  At South Pond, we like to take a “build your own” approach to gatherings.  At the end of the day everyone is operating from a different budget and we believe that you should be able to customize your event accordingly.

Culinary Creativity at South Pond Farms 

Culinary Creativity at South Pond Farms 

Whether you are looking to spend or hoping to save we can accommodate a variety of options to ensure that you get the biggest bang for your buck! We cater to half day, full day and even weekend groups. If you are looking to get your staff out of the office for some quality team building, or hoping to bring your family together to learn a new skill, our half day workshops are the perfect solution! Lunch and supplies are included! If you are looking for a full day experience why not schedule two work shops or an afternoon on the trails!  

South Pond Makers 

South Pond Makers 

If you are looking to extend the holiday cheer a bit further, we recommend an intimate culinary experience with our Chef in the South Pond Kitchen for a six course tasting menu. Each menu is unique and prepared seasonally, dietary restrictions are always accommodated for and you are able to bring in your own wine! For those looking to prolong the celebrations or perhaps, looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we encourage you to stay with one of our accommodation partners for a weekend of R&R. South Pond can provide all the goodies you need to ensure that your stay is a comfortable one.

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We know that everyone is looking for something slightly different and feel that you should have a say in building your ideal retreat. Contact connect@southpondfarms.ca to learn more about how you can customize your event!

 

Wood stacks and conversations

This past week, I’ve had the pleasure of being able to take a break from life at the farm and visit my godmother, Renate and her companion Eberhard in Germany. We often visit with her and then take a few days to tour the country side. Visiting the two of them is such a pleasure for me and for Shawn but most importantly, Shawn is so happy to have her German cooking. Eberhard is also a very cook cook and they prepared one of Shawn’s favourite meals together. It wouldn’t be a visit without schnitzel and no matter how hard I try to make it at home (not on that many occasions sadly for Shawn), it is best prepared in her kitchen. Eberhard makes his own bread and he says the secret in this dish is in the breadcrumbs. He combines a variety of his stale bread slices and makes up a delicious topping for the schnitzel. Renate uses his breadcrumb mixture for her vegetable specialty of boiled cauliflower with toasted brown butter bread crumbs. This is such a great way to enjoy cauliflower - even for those who do not like it. While this should be a story about great Germany recipes, it is actually a story about wood. More on recipes later...

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Shawn and I have been having some new “conversations” about wood recently, although these conversations have been part of time spent around the cookstove in the winters since we met. Years ago, you may recall that I wrote one of my first blog posts about stacking wood in a holzhausen, a round wood pile shaped like a bee hive.

Our first holzhausen

Our first holzhausen

Using this type of wood piling was my idea of stacking a large amount of wood in a beautiful way. We use over eight chords of wood and each holzhausen takes about four chords. During the summer months it would be an aesthetic feature on the property and then turn into our fuel during the winter. Shawn gave pause and one of his looks when I set my sights on this type of stacking mode leaving the girls and I to do nearly all the work together with Jamyang Tenzin. Jamyang is an expert wood stacker and also in the summer tended all the fires for our pizza oven and barbecues. He appreciated my stacking idea.

Starting the pile

Starting the pile

Carlyle finishing the last little bit.

Carlyle finishing the last little bit.

The downfall in the holzhausen’s were realized when it was time to keep them covered and protected from rain and snow. I purchased giant tarps, and held all the corners down by tying bricks to edges with rope looped through the tarps holes so that the bricks hung down around the wood stacks. I also put re-enforcing tent pegs into the ground and looped some of the tarps edges through the pegs. We were ready for the winter. Until the first major winter storm with hurricane force winds picked up the edge of the tarp and off it flew across the field leaving our wood exposed to the elements. It was almost impossible to keep the wood dry that winter and was a cause of quite a lot of conversations between Shawn and me as we sat beside the wood stove glass of wine in hand and analyzing different ways to hold the tarps down. Next year would be different I said. I would use heavier bricks, different ropes and tie some of the edges to the fence posts and trees. 

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Next year was no different. I bought new tarps, I doubly secured them. the wind caught an edge and it was game over. Tarps flying up over the wood - the edges secured by the fence or tree staying in place but the end result was wet wood. The conversations by the wood stove between Shawn and I continued. I decided that the following year, I would stack the wood normally like everyone else does, in rows and he would use a large rubber sheet he had to cover the stacks. This didn’t work either. One large cover was prone to being lifted off the edge and it was so heavy, we could hardly get a wet rubber mat back on top of the wood. We talked about this situation over wine and by the wood stove. Shawn said it was just a fluke and we tried it another year with the rubber mat. February’s storms blew it off last year again and we battled with trying to keep our wood dry. I suggested a wood shed large enough to hold all our wood. But this type of structure would need a fair amount of square footage near the house and Shawn wrestled with the number of structures we have all over the property. 

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this past week during our visit to Renate and Eberhard’s, I went out for a number of walks in the country side by their house which is located at the base of the Bavarian Alps. These people seem to use wood and many houses in fact have special wood stoves. I noticed how they stacked their wood.  Tidy piles all neatly covered and ready for the big snows of their winters.

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I also remember on another one of our day trips from their home, how the Swiss stacked their wood. They use a lot of wood and their stacks were beautiful and purposeful and each one protected by metal or rubber but the difference is that each stack had it’s own cover. I hurried back to the house - eager to show a potential new plan for covering our wood with photographs that I had taken. We talked about it with Eberhard and my Godmother and decided what we really needed was therapy, a mediator, an advisor on wood and more wine. We will see how this year works out. Shawn has half the wood stacked and covered with the large piece of rubber and I’m going to cover the other half with different  smaller pieces like those I just saw on my trip. Stay tuned to the spring for more conversations about one of our favourite topics. Wood stacking.  

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What's New With Farm Flavours

If you have been on our on-line shop recently you might have noticed some new additions to our Farm Flavours Pantry- Gift Sets! Okay, it is true, we have experimented with gift sets in the past but this year we are partnering with local purveyors to ‘round out’ the types of items that we are able to offer in our store. As a business owner in rural Ontario, I am passionate about working with other small businesses to create quality goods that are local and unique to the region.

South Pond Farms Finishing Salt Set 

South Pond Farms Finishing Salt Set 

This year we are happy to feature businesses from Peterborough, Northumberland and the Kawartha Lakes in our gift sets. Below you will find some information on the craftsmen and women behind the magic.

Honey’s Kitchen: featuring Carlyle’s Honey, The English Potter’s hand crafted honey pots, Beeswax wraps by our very own Amy Hall.  Carlyle is my eldest daughter who has taken on sole responsibility for the honey on our farm. Carlyle is a self taught bee keeper and works tirelessly to take care of her bees, harvest the honey and process it for jarring. Gail West is the creative spirit behind the English Potter in Lakefield, Ontario. Each one of Gail’s pieces showcase a unique facet of her whimsical personality- her creations are truly one of a kind and we are lucky to work so closely with her. Last but not least, you have likely seen our third entrepreneur on our Netflix series “Taste of the Country” - Amy Hall is from the City of Kawartha lakes, you can find her Beeswax wraps at the Lindsay Farmer’s Market every Saturday!

South Pond Farms Honey's Kitchen 

South Pond Farms Honey's Kitchen 

Maple 150: The Maple 150 gift set features Maple Syrup from Deanna Bolton’s family farm in Lakefield. Deanna is our in house Public Event and Wedding co-ordinator. Deanna started with us this spring and is typically the friendly voice on the other end of the phone and the helpful individual that responds to each and everyone of the connect emails. The Maple Syrup provided from the Boltons is also featured in the South Pond’s Sugar Shack Maple Mustard and the Maple Champagne Tarragon Vinegar made on the farm by our Chef!

South Pond's Maple 150 

South Pond's Maple 150 

Farmer’s Daughter Beauty: This basket features a homemade scrub by Danielle French, it also features Handcrafted botanical soaps made exclusively for South Pond by a local artisan and Keene’s Cross Wind Farm’s body butter!

South Pond Farms Farmer's Daughter's Beauty 

South Pond Farms Farmer's Daughter's Beauty 

Farm Pantry & Finishing Salt Set: Featuring, of course, South Pond’s signature salts but also, a handcrafted spoon carved by John Newman aka “John the Carpenter”. John’s craftsmanship was featured on our blog earlier this year- to learn more about him and his carpentry skills check out his feature here.

Now is a great time to start shopping for the holidays! If you order your South Pond Gift Boxes before December 1st, 2017 and share a photo on your social media, you will be entered for a chance to win a custom Holiday Gift Box that is otherwise, not available in store! This contest is open to all Canadian and US residents and is a wonderful way to support our local artisians! 

 

Holiday Planning: Gatherings

It is not Halloween but we know that planning for Christmas can be downright scary! Whether you are planning a family outing or a corporate event, the task of planning a Christmas gathering can be daunting. Despite it being October, holiday gatherings can easily sneak up on you so here are our three top tips to ensure that your get-together is one to remember!

  • Set a date - December is a busy time for most. Between holiday get-togethers and last minute gift shopping schedules book up fast! Set a date for your event as soon as possible so that your friends, family and colleagues can squeeze your gathering into their rapidly filling planners.
  • Set the tone - What type of atmosphere are you looking to create? Is your gathering meant to be a team building excursion? A relaxing day away? A culinary adventure? At South Pond we offer a variety of packages depending on the intentions for your event.  Whether you are looking to engage in a workshop with your team, walk our trails and become one with nature, learn about farm house cooking and baking, or enjoy a private dinner with our chef, we have options that appeal to a variety of audiences!  Set your tone, determine what you are looking for and ensure that your venue can accommodate your needs. Check out some of our public and private workshops here!
  • Set a menu- Accommodating for dietary restrictions is an important step in ensuring that all of your guests can fully partake in your holiday event. It is important that the menu you choose accommodates a variety of dietary modifications. Our chefs are trained in nut free, gluten free, dairy free, vegan and vegetarian cooking. We believe that everyone deserves a delicious entree and are happy to make alterations to all of our dishes to ensure that this is the case! We also advocate for menus that are seasonal and local so that your guests have the freshest tasting and most nutritionally dense meals during this holiday season. For more information on eating local check out our blog published during last year’s holiday season: https://www.southpondfarms.ca/stories/test?rq=local

With these tips in mind you are ready to plan an unforgettable event! Set a date, set the tone and set your menu to accommodate all of your guests; doing so will undoubtedly lend itself to a stress free day filled with great company, great memories and delicious food!

 

 

 

Farmhouse Feasts

On October 15th we hosted our inaugural Apple Fest Brunch at South Pond Farms. It was a quintessential fall event and despite it being our first Apple Fest it was the last barn event of the season! Where did the time go? After a busy summer of Farm House Suppers and Full Moon Dinners we couldn’t imagine a winter void of culinary creativity. As such, we have decided to introduce intimate Farmhouse Feasts.These feasts are particularly special as they are intimate dining experiences located in our Chef’s Kitchen! As a result, attendance will be capped at twelve guests. Dinner will be comprised of a six course tasting menu that features seasonal and local ingredients. Each menu will be different and kept a surprise; however, we will be sending out suggested wine pairings for each course the week before. Perhaps we forgot to mention one of the unique features of this event, since dinner takes place in our Kitchen, each event is BYOB! All recommended pairings will be available at the LCBO and will allow you to customize your choices to your individual tastes!

Farmhouse Feasts at South Pond Farms 

Farmhouse Feasts at South Pond Farms 

While the element of surprise might seem daunting, we hope that you are as excited as we are to sample new and innovative menus created by our chef. It is worth pausing for a moment here to reiterate that we are happy to modify individual dishes for dietary restrictions. We believe in making these experiences inclusive to all - vegetarians, vegans and gluten intolerant alike. Please let us know upon booking if there are any restrictions that we should make our kitchen aware of so that we can ensure that you get a meal that is customized just for you.
These events can be booked privately for a flat rate or as a public event ( dates for these are noted on our website). If you want to test the waters before committing to an event of your own we recommend the October 21st dinner. Unfortunately, the 20th has already sold out! If you would prefer a private booking instead please don’t hesitate to reach out, we would be happy to coordinate a time with our chef.

 

Sumac

I spent one of the most beautiful fall days this past weekend picking and drying sumac. Sumac is one of my favorite bushes. They are called bushes but really small trees, grow here on the property and are unusually shaped. In fact at the end of the driveway, a lone sumac bush stands as almost an ornamental tree to mark the entrance. I pick the branches and berries early in the fall before the seriously cold weather sets in and spoils the colour of the berries but turning the leaves a blood red. I remember as a child spending time on my grandparents farm in Michigan, there were many sumac bushes growing in their sandy soil. There was also said to be an indigenous burial ground on their farm and old sumac trees were clustered in this area. I felt connected to this land and associated the with the sumac bushes in a spiritual way.

Our lone sumac bush adding an ornamental touch to the entrance of South Pond

Our lone sumac bush adding an ornamental touch to the entrance of South Pond

I use the berries and branches for fall and winter decorations. I also dry the berry clusters for use in spice mixtures, or sprinkling directly on salads or dips and also to make tea; of course it is a staple in our farm cocktails. Sumac claims to have have a number of health properties. It is high in vitamin C, can be used as a poultice on burns and wounds by grinding the berries into a powder, to aid digestion by steeping the berries in water, straining the mixture and drinking it cold, and to cure sore throats and cold sores. When I was younger and interested in dying fabrics, I ground the berries and infused with warm water to make a red dye.

Sumac berries

Sumac berries

 

Mostly, I love using sumac in food. One of my favorite “Ottolenghi” inspired salads uses pita bread broken and sauted in a pan with almonds and sumac added in at the end before serving and heaped on top of a bed of spinach and red onions. Sumac has a citrus flavour and when you rub the individual berries between your fingers the flavours are released. Chef McKenna here at the farm uses sumac instead of citrus in his cooking simply because lemons are not local and sumac is a tangy and tasty alternative.

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Sumac is increasing finding popularity. I notice that in restaurants or in cooking magazines I see it used more frequently but years ago who would have have seen it? The sumac bush is native to the Middle East and sumac as a spice is a staple in these countries. Sumac is the main component of Za’atar a delicious spice mixture that used widely in middle eastern cooking. I make a mixture here with our garden thyme, oregano, sea salt and sumac.

Sumac flavoured butter on top of South Pond's sourdough quinoa crackers

Sumac flavoured butter on top of South Pond's sourdough quinoa crackers

 

I pick the berry clusters before too much frost has hit them, late in the summer, early fall. The berries are a deep red and the leaves just starting to turn colour. Don’t wash them as the “dusty” feeling on the berries is what holds the vitamins. I dry the berries out, in front of our cook stove which is a perfect slow drying method. You can leave them on a tray out of the sun until the berries are dry - this takes a few days.

 

Then remove the berries from the clusters and pick out any sticks or impurities. I grind them in a blender and store in a mason jar to use throughout the year. I also add sumac to a honey syrup for a cocktail or tea base. An easy way to use the sumac berry is to put the entire cluster into cold water and let it steep for several days, strain and use as a lemony drink full of vitamin C.

 

Making a vitamin drink

Making a vitamin drink

If you don’t want to make it yourself and aren’t near any sumac trees - good news. It is available in most all bulk or health food stores in the spice section. Enjoy using this spice! The tastiest use is to simply sprinkle a teaspoon before serving on top of a salad, on roasted vegetables or roasted chicken. It will give your food a little zest.  

 

New Catering Menu and Workshops

Despite summer coming to an end, great food and fresh products are still in full swing at South Pond. To that end, we are thrilled to announce that our Thanksgiving and From the Pantry catering menus are now up on our website! Our menus are comprised of real and honest ingredients; no substitutions. Everything we make is from scratch, by hand, one at a time. Everything that we offer is either from the farm or sourced from local providers.

Some of South Pond's Famous House Made Bread. Photo Credit: Agatha Rowland Photography

Some of South Pond's Famous House Made Bread. Photo Credit: Agatha Rowland Photography

The catering menus, though new this fall, are what ultimately established South Pond Farms as a business. Though we have evolved into the event venue that you know today, we actually started as a prepared food delivery service. Danielle’s passion for fresh farm food is what inspired her to create “Weekend Baskets to Go” -  homemade food that she would deliver on Friday’s to anyone looking for seasonal and delicious farm fare. Though we are no longer in the delivery business, we excited to open our doors to you and yours this season! Simply place your orders by Tuesday at noon and pick them up Friday afternoon to ensure a weekend full of great food! Follow the link to place your order.

Thanksgiving orders may be placed until noon on Tuesday, October 3rd and picked up on Friday,October 6th between 12-5 pm. Regular From the Pantry orders may be placed before noon on Tuesdays and picked up on Fridays from 12-5 pm.

 

Farm Fresh Food From South Pond. Photo Credit: Agatha Rowland Photography

Farm Fresh Food From South Pond. Photo Credit: Agatha Rowland Photography

If you are looking to dive into farm fresh cooking for yourself, we have a number of Farm House Cooking and Baking workshops up for Winter and Spring 2017/2018! We have also launched Farm House Feasts as part of our Fall and Winter Gatherings initiative. Join us in the chef’s kitchen for a communal and intimate dining experience featuring the cuisine of Chef Kevin McKenna. If the listed dates don’t work with your schedule, let us know, we are always happy to facilitate private workshops and dinners!

Please contact connect@southpondfarms.ca to learn more!  

 

Preserving - Tomato Jam

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I’ve been making some my favourite preserve, tomato jam. When I first moved here, I planted a garden of heirloom tomatoes and it seems the tomatoes became one of those things I was most proud of from the garden. The varieties are so unusual, beautiful to look at and the taste is delicious - truly the taste of a real tomato. I put a lot of tomatoes away each year primarily by roasting them. I spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet, rub a bit of olive oil on them and put them in a 300 degree oven for several hours. They are done when they are shriveled and some of the juices have evaporated. I cool them and put them into ziplock bags or freezer containers or in vacuum sealer bags.

The stew

The stew

One year I had so many tomatoes I looked for something different to make and tried a tomato jam recipe. I ended up with a few different recipes that I liked and combined them into one I now use most of the time. (Although every year I might try a slight variation.) The downside of tomato jam is that basically one pound of tomatoes gets boiled down into one 250 ml jar! When I think about this concentration of tomatoes, it makes no sense to make it and include it in our Farm Flavours. But I do make it and I do include a few jars in our Farm Flavour shop. What I love about the jam is that it is really a pure taste of tomatoes slightly enhanced by the sugar, vinegar and spices. I use this jam sparingly on cooked chicken, cheese, alongside a roasted vegetable (or straight out of the jar with a spoon…)

Favourite heavy pot made by Lodge

Favourite heavy pot made by Lodge

Sadly this year, with the rain and location of where I planted this year, I did not have a tomato crop and have relied on local farmers for a supply. I’ve made a few batches these past weeks and plan for more in the coming weeks - especially now that the main summer season is over. Although with the beautiful weather - it is hard to be inside at the canning pot. Try making some of your own and feel free to experiment!

Weighing in

Weighing in

Here is my recipe for Tomato Jam

1 1/2 lbs of tomatoes of all shapes and colours. Chop them coarsely. I leave the cores in.
3/4 - 1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice or cider vinegar                                                                1 tablespoon fresh ginger finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 hot pepper - I use the thai chilli peppers finely chopped

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir often! 
Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam. This can take an hour or more. Be careful not to burn the pot. 

Ladle into hot sterilized jars and follow the instructions for canning. I boil the jars in a water bath for 10 minutes. 

Lunch

Lunch

A Season in Review

It has been another busy summer season at South Pond Farms: weddings, Full Moon Suppers, Country Farmhouse Dinners, brunches, private events and to cap it off, becoming the recipient of the Haliburton- Kawartha Lakes- Brock Canada 150 Award! When we think back on Summer 2017 we know that it would not have been possible without our wonderful staff, local purveyors and support from our community.

South Pond Farms. Photo Credit: Agatha Rowland Photography

South Pond Farms. Photo Credit: Agatha Rowland Photography

Having been selected as the recipient of the Haliburton- Kawartha Lakes- Brock Canada 150 Award is a huge honour.  It means that our community feels that our business has had a positive impact in the region.  This business, and any positive feedback that we have received because of it, simply would not be possible without our terrific team.  For those of you that have attended our events, you will have met some of our amazing young servers. All of these hard working individuals are from this area, most are students striving to save for school. We are lucky that these remarkable young people choose to work with us during their time home and we wish them luck as they head back to their respective schools this fall! To everyone who has helped this season; students and non-students alike, thank you for the dedication and kindness that you have brought to each and every one of our events. We cannot thank you enough for your positive attitudes, smiling faces and hard work this season; it takes a village to bring each event to fruition and we could not have done it without you.

South Pond Farms Team 

South Pond Farms Team 

More of our team! 

More of our team! 

Speaking of villages, we are lucky to live in a community with so many talented and like minded purveyors. Fresh, local, farm to table food is what drives our business. Though we do our best to keep our gardens bountiful all season long, we would not have been able to provide fresh seasonal produce at each event without the help of Jessica Foote and the Lunar Rhythms family. If you are wondering where we get our one of a kind Chèvre? Look no further than Chasing the Cheese in Peterborough and Crosswind Farms; you would have sampled some of their amazing products on our bruschetta, pizzas, pides and on top of our salads this summer. Primal Cuts, Nesbitt’s Meat Market, Traynor Beef, Linwood Farms we thank you for sourcing local and sustainable products so that we can offer the very best to our guests. There are countless individuals that work behind the scenes so that we can stay true to our vision and Feast On mandate.

Locally Sourced Goodies at South Pond Farms. Photo Credit: The Daring Wanderer. 

Locally Sourced Goodies at South Pond Farms. Photo Credit: The Daring Wanderer. 

Last, but not least, we wanted to extend great thanks to Kawartha Lakes Community Futures Development for their support this year. The initiatives that we are striving to undertake require a great deal of internal infrastructure - this infrastructure comes in various forms including: software, consultations, and new personnel. Thank you KLCFD for recognizing and supporting us in these endeavours. 

As a new seasons crests the horizon, our commitment to great service and fresh local food is unwavering. We look forward to continuing on this wonderful journey with you all and cannot wait to see what Autumn has in store!

 

 


 

 

 

 

Summer Salads

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

Ellen and Kris....beautiful.

Ellen and Kris....beautiful.

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

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

Claire's beautiful board of delicious things.

Claire's beautiful board of delicious things.

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

Girlfriends on the dock

Girlfriends on the dock

Beets and fresh corn

Beets and fresh corn

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

Quinoa, feta, cucumbers and chick peas.

Quinoa, feta, cucumbers and chick peas.

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

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

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

Sunset in Algonquin.

Sunset in Algonquin.

Ode to the Tomato

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

Fresh Tomatoes at South Pond Farms - tis the season! 

Fresh Tomatoes at South Pond Farms - tis the season! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fresh South Pond Tomatoes 

Fresh South Pond Tomatoes 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



 

Wedding Planning Advice from a Professional Planner

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

South Pond Farms. Photo Credit: The Daring Wanderer 

South Pond Farms. Photo Credit: The Daring Wanderer 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amber Walker

Amber Walker

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

Website: https://www.amberwalkerevents.ca

Instagram: @amberwalkerevents

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

Email: Contact@amberwalkerevents.com

Healthy Eating

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

Liv...back home.

Liv...back home.

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

Fresh harvest of garlic scapes

Fresh harvest of garlic scapes

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

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

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

 

Asparagus and Pea Soup
serve 4 -6

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

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

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

Tea Walk Wednesdays at South Pond Farms

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

Danielle's Tea Walk at South Pond Farms #teawalkwednesday 

Danielle's Tea Walk at South Pond Farms #teawalkwednesday 

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

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

Fire & Smoke

Fire and Smoke

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

Full on Primal Cuts beef racks

Full on Primal Cuts beef racks

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

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

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

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

Smoked and Hotter than Hades honey glazed ducks

Smoked and Hotter than Hades honey glazed ducks

Perfectly charred asparagus

Perfectly charred asparagus

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

Fresh Ontario pickerel smoked in spruce tips

Fresh Ontario pickerel smoked in spruce tips

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

Slow cooked, long roasted and smoked pork 

Slow cooked, long roasted and smoked pork 

Herbs and herbs and more herbs

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

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

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

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

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

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