Carlyle is off on a truly epic adventure. She is finishing her degree in biology from Western in New Zealand and has fully embraced the local culture of “tramping” (hiking) and enjoying the natural beauty of this country. It seems that New Zealand naturally attracts those to come to it’s rugged and spectacular landscape who love nature, the outdoors, wildlife, beauty that only the land can give.
Carlyle is my eldest daughter, she arrived here to rural life from our little Toronto world to go into the seventh grade - which now seems like a lifetime ago. She embraced our new farm life in a serious way. She embraced chores and stacking wood - a lot of wood. She tended every wounded animal that wandered onto the property. One day she and I stopped at a road side sign spontaneously and picked up Lillie the lab to be a companion for our dog Mollie. Like all puppies, Lillie was the cutest dog ever until she came home and spent a solid two years putting me over the edge of dog training. She tended meat chickens and our laying hens. She withstood the coldest temperatures in our house with relative comfort, smiling when it got to near zero degrees in her room. She did not think it was weird to take a hot brick to bed with her to keep warm.
All my wonderful daughters contribute in such supportive ways to what we have created here. From the very first events which imposed ever so slightly on our home life to our family room converted to an office and now visitors who regularly drive down the laneway, they have all embraced the change. Carlyle has an important role here at the Farm. She manages the bar; I will find her after closing at 2 a.m. and first thing the next morning calculating usage to the ounce. Last year was her first bee tending adventure and in the fall, a lovely bounty of her own honey. This summer our significant landscaping project, initiated by her, is to introduce more native species into our gardens and in fact, as an experiment we will fully convert our ceremony area into a landscape of native flowers and grasses. If Carlyle were part of a beautiful plate of food, I would describe her as the bones in the meat. The spine on the vegetable. She brings structure to my creativity. And a bit of reality when I may have wandered from it.
As honey production increases, it will become an integral component of our menu fare. A new way to use it was in our Easter celebrations this past year. This cake recipe was given to me by my friend and business owner, Nicki Dedes from the Olympia Restaurant in Lindsay. It is a lovely traditional Greek corn cake, a recipe from her mother which she graciously shared it with me. I added my own twist by pouring Carlyle’s honey as a syrup over the cake instead of sugar syrup. It was delicious.
Orange Torte Ravani
(This is a great cake to have in the afternoon with a cup of strong coffee.)
1/2 lb butter
3/4 c sugar
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup regular all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 orange rind grated
1/2 c orange juice
1/4 cup of milk
1 cup finely chopped almonds
Prepare and grease an 11”x7” pan. Preheat oven to 350. Grind almonds until fine in a food processor being careful not to make almond paste! In an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Mix flours, salt, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture gradually and alternatively with the milk. Do not over mix. Add almonds and orange zest plus the juice. Stir until just combined. Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Make syrup and and pour cooled syrup over warm cake. Cut into diamond shaped pieces - or squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired and serve.
Syrup: 1 cup honey, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 lemon boil together 10-15 minutes. Let cool slightly and remove any lemon seeds. Add 1 T orange blossom water (optional).