Field Trip: Cake & Loaf

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Josie and Nickey of Hamilton, Ontario's Cake and Loaf are the people that introduced us to the idea of a CSB. CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, where you subscribe and receive weekly fruit and vegetable boxes is fairly well known, but take that same concept and apply it to a weekly box filled with loaves of fresh bread, muffins, buns, treats and whatever else you sign up for, and you have a Community Supported Bakery.

These girls are the real deal, they bake everything from scratch and have a focus on local, organic and fair trade ingredients. They're proud of what goes into their creations-whole grains, organic flours, real butter, organic free range eggs and only fresh fruits and vegetables. Their eggs come from La Primavery Farms in Dundas, their flour from Oak Manor Farms in Tavistock and their milk is delivered from Hewitt's Dairy.

They have options beyond just baked good for their shares. They make preserves and sauces from market fruits and vegetables, and foraged or backyard-grown berries and fruit. None of their preserves contain added sugar or pectin and their roasted tomato ketchup sounds pretty amazing. They also stock very delicious Detour coffee.

We sampled delicious goodies all morning, and left with a huge paper bag filled with delicious, buns, bread, muffins, cupcakes, truffles, brownies, and even biscotti. You should definitely check out their site and see if one of their packages works for you. They cater to different diets as well, whether it's gluten-free or vegan. The cost isn't the same as if you were to pick up some Wonder bread and a few muffins at the grocery store, but just think of the ingredients that go into their baking, and you're not only supporting Cake and Loaf, you're supporting a beautifully local supply chain.

Josie and Nickey have been hitting some bumps on their way to open their storefront bakery so they're throwing what they call a Cake and Dough. It's essentially a bake sale to introduce people to their services and food as well as support a great cause. It'll be held on March 19th at Fenian Films on Locke Street in Hamilton, Ontario. Half of the funds will be put towards opening their storefront, while the other half will be donated to the Juravinski Centre. If you are interested, contact them for more details.

If you need a sample, Hero Mobile Cafe carries their vegan products at the Hamilton Farmers' Market, and they'll be sharing a stall with them at the Ottawa Street Farmers Market this summer. Or drop them a note about their Cake and Dough, and help them open a responsible and locally focused business.

California Colour

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm in Los Angeles right now for work, (hard life, I know) and I managed to have a few hours free yesterday morning so I made a point of visiting the Santa Monica Farmers' Market. It was a short walk from my hotel along main street, in a parking lot behind a massive line of valet-parked bicycles.

I've been dying for fresh citrus after seeing tree after tree loaded with oranges or lemons. It's been giving me pretty bad climate envy, as I know there's weather that would instantly kill these trees back in Canada.

I'm not sure what it is about the colour that brightens your day, but even the root vegetables-carrots, potatoes-were colourful. When we plant our garden this year, we're going to plant a variety of colours to, if anything, brighten the cold winter day we pull a few out of storage to eat.

Today I'm driving up the coast in a rental car. I have the morning free, so it'll be nice to see some agriculture. I hope the fact that it's a holiday and most roadside markets will be closed doesn't push me to theft. I know it's going to be tempting to pull the car over on a quiet road and help myself.

I might just have a fruit overload this week, but I think it's ok since we don't eat very much during the winter. I just wish I could bring some home with me.

I didn't bring my camera with me on the trip, so I took all the photographs with my phone. Not up to the usual level, but the colours came through nicely.

Field Trip: Seedy Saturday

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We made it out to our very first Seedy Saturday this past weekend. It was in Niagara and hosted by Linda Crago of Tree & Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm. We've been looking for interesting seeds as we plan our garden, and this was a great event to find lots of rare and endangered vegetables.

Seedy Saturdays (and Sundays) were first started in the late 1980s as a protest against the commercialization of seeds. The events were held as a way for people to share and therefore protect thousands of plant and vegetable varieties that were beginning to disappear.

While large seed corporations are working tirelessly in a lab somewhere to build The Tomato, small seed organizations and individuals are working tirelessly to keep all other tomatoes alive. These small seed savers champion genetic diversity and open pollination. They are against the idea that a seed can be patented and relish the differences that diversity brings.

I wrote about the differences between hybrid and open-pollinated seeds in a post before we went to the event. And since then I've come across a wonderful video on YouTube profiling Baker Creek Seeds, an heirloom seed distributor in the U.S.

Seeds of Diversity, a pioneer in heirloom and open-pollinated seed saving maintains an extensive list of Seedy Saturdays happening across Canada on their event listing page. They also have a simple and handy guide to saving your own seeds, although I find YouTube one of my most used resources.

We're looking forward to growing a lot of open-pollinated vegetables this year, and we're very excited that we can and will save seeds for next year's crop.

We're Winners!

Monday, February 14, 2011

I just realized that we never officially announced this on the blog. We are the happy winners of a Canadian Food Blog Award! The news made the rounds on Twitter and our Facebook group, but ironically, never made here.

We were finalists in three categories, and ended up winning the photography award. It's nice to see that people are connecting to the photography, and that our philosophy of providing more than just 'food porn' is paying off.

A big thank-you to everyone who reads us, and to the Canadian Food Bloggers Association for putting the awards together. We hope that we're inspiring people to go beyond the pretty pictures and visit and try some of the things we write about!

In the spirit of photography, and seeing that it's St. Valentine's Day, I leave you with an old photo of my valentine under our cherry tree.

Posted by Jesse, accidentally logged in as Melanie.

Seedy Saturday

Friday, February 11, 2011

We're going to Seedy Saturday. I know it sounds a little, well, seedy, but it's not. It's a seed exchange being held at Balls Falls this Saturday. I know that sounds especially seedy, but again, it's not. It's actually a conservation area with a huge waterfall, and a name that distracts you (or maybe just me) from its beautiful setting.

Seedy Saturdays (and/or Sundays) are events where people get together and share heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. Most seeds you see at garden centres today are hybrids, which means that their parent plants are carefully crossbred to produce a specific plant with specific traits. These traits are usually good, like, higher yield or sweeter taste, but there's one big drawback. The next generation seeds produced by that hybrid plant are usually duds and if they do work, they often don't continue the good traits of their hybrid parents.

Heirlooms, on the other hand, are open-pollinated. If you plant an heirloom pepper seed, the peppers that grow on that plant will have the same seeds as its parent, and you can save however many you need for next year's crop. It's beautifully open-sourced. In today's world, where corporations are patenting seeds, and hybrids force you to buy new seeds every spring, a seed swap is a refreshing event. It reminds us of how nature works. That it doesn't belong to one person or corporation. We're all entitled to it.

The Niagara Seedy Saturday is being hosted by Linda Crago, who runs an heirloom vegetable farm called Tree & Twig. We heard about it on Twitter and we're excited to attend. Visit Seeds of Diversity's event listing to see how many events are happening across Canada over the next few weekends. You don't need to bring seeds to swap, just show up and pick up some seeds to try. And if all goes well, you'll never have to buy those seeds again.

Field Trip: Devon Acres Farm

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Jesse's mom, Jane has been out dairy cow shopping lately. She's considered Holstien (too much milk) checked out Brown Swiss (too big) and more recently Canadienne, an endangered heritage breed native to Canada. Last weekend she mentioned that she had connected with a local farmer who has a Canadienne as well as some Milking Shorthorns. She made a date to kick their tires, and invited us to come along.

We drove the snow-covered, winding driveway to Devon Acres Farm and met Robin Kirby, who walked us over the crest of a beautiful hill, past two working horses to the barn. The farm is surprisingly ancient. Most jobs are done by hand and others requiring fuel guzzling tractors are done with the horses.

Aerron milking one of their Milking Shorthorns.

We learned that they milk the cows for their own consumption and that their main farm operation is a CSA, which offers mainly vegetables as well as organically raised grass-fed beef and lamb. In the summer you can find them at the Brantford Farmers Market, and they've been known to show up with a vegetable-filled democrat buggy, drawn by one of their horses.

The shorthorns were beautiful and munching on their hay as Aerron, Robin's son, began milking. He let Jesse give it a try and he managed to squeeze out a bit of milk. It wasn't too bad for a first attempt, but when Aerron took over again, it was easy to see his years of experience as he squeezed a few litres out in a matter of seconds.

Robin Kirby leaning on their Canadienne & Their Border-Cheviot sheep.

Robin and Aerron's families use the milk to drink raw and make their own yogurt, kefir and butter. I bet it's delicious. That's why we're doing all this cow shopping, so that one day, we can shake off the last mercy-hold of the grocery store - dairy.

Devon Acres Farm
101 Robinson Road
RR#4 Brantford, Ontario
(519) 752-3980

Decadent Delights Chocolate Brunch

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jesse and I have been invited to be guest judges at the Decadent Delights Chocolate Brunch, a fundraiser for Aberdeen Health & Community Services Foundation and Norfolk Cardiac Club. We get to share a table with the mayor of Brantford as well as some local media personalities, which feels a bit odd for us, but should be fun!

The not-so-secret ingredient for the event is chocolate, which is not exactly the most local food, but, since you can't find it locally, we're happy to indulge. The events of the day include a Silent Auction, prizes, chocolate competition, brunch, decadent desserts and lots of chocolate.

Competitors in the competition include:
Flyer's Cafe & Bakery - Dunnville, ON
Leigh Ann's Cupcakery - Brantford, ON
The Belworth House - Waterford, ON
The Brantford Golf & Country Club - Brantford, ON
The Rustic Mug - St. George, ON
Vida Doce Chocolates - Caledonia, ON

The fundraiser will take place at Brantford Golf and Country Club on February 13th. Tickets are $60 each, and can be purchased by calling 519-756-5300. It feels funny that a couple of spare-time food bloggers get to share a table with the mayor, but hey, we'll take it!

Field Trip: William Dam Seeds

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A few weeks ago we visited our allotment at my parents' place. It's a quarter-acre that will hopefully grow enough vegetables to see us through, not only the summer, but with a little storage and preservation, right through to next spring. The spreadsheet of seeds, root-stock, rhizomes and plants that we're going to need to make it a reality seems to be growing on a daily basis, as we plan to grow for self-sufficiency.

William Dam Seeds is where we've been getting the majority of our seeds for the past few years. They're located in Flamborough, just west of Dundas, Ontario and their retail outlet is rarity with its aisles of seeds. It's quite overwhelming when you first arrive, and we were told  of how common it is for someone to arrive wanting to buy "carrot seeds" when, with a quick look at their catalogue, you discover that they offer a couple pages worth of carrot varieties.

William Dam's seeds are untreated, which means they're untouched as far as pesticides are concerned. They made this transition way back in the 60s when William Dam himself had a bad reaction to pesticide treated seeds. Many seed suppliers chemically treat their seeds as they might be susceptible to certain pests or diseases, but sometimes those pesticides can still be detected in the fully mature plant. Their seeds are also GMO-free, and in many cases, certified organic.

They don't have all varieties available as organic seed, but they're slowly working on it. Stocking too much organic seed too fast compromises their ultimate goal, which happens to be their motto: 'seeds of highest quality.' And unproductive seed that happens to be organic isn't helping anyone.

They're all stocked up for spring at the store, but if you can't make the trip, visit their website and order a catalogue. Dreaming of the garden is always a beautiful escape during the coldest days of winter.

William Dam Seeds
279 Hwy # 8, West Flamborough, Ontario