Last Day in the Garden

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

This post has been sitting as a draft for a week. It's been a busy year for us, but we try our best not to forget about the garden. The garden in fall is a deceiving place. At first glance it's all brown and death, but this, to me creates the most beautiful contrast for the few colours left. Tomatoes on their way back to soil, green herbs that will weather the frosts, orange carrots cold and crisp from the cool soil.

We prepared next years garlic patch which seems to be going in later each year. On a November day in Canada when t-shirts weren't out of the question, we wondered if November is becoming too early. But this last gasp of summer warmth quickly turned into frost the following evening, and it's clear we're on our way to winter.

We planted carrots late this year, so the small, finger-sized roots are just a little treat for us, as opposed to the early glut we had last year which were getting old by the time winter rolled around. We're going to split the difference next year and hopefully start our carrots at the right time so they're the perfect size when the frost hits.

Herbs, brassicas, onions all weathered the light frosts we've had to date and were harvested, and arugula is as strong as ever. We're expecting the spicy leaves to feed us right until Christmas.

Another year closes in the garden. It's a beautiful cycle that reminds you that if you didn't plant something this year, or something didn't work out, there's always next year. It also reminds us to not plan for just next year, but more in terms of the next ten. What do we want our garden to feel like in a decade? Let's get started on that plan!

Pure Green Magazine Vol. 4

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Have you seen the latest issue of Pure Green Magazine? We're contributors yet again! This time we visit some old favourites, Detour Coffee Roasters as they prep to expand into the space next door.

We've visited them twice in the past-when they first opened, and when they opened Detour Roasters Cafe. You might even recognize some of the images from the blog posts.

I know there are other cafes in the area, but there's one thing about Detour that makes us keep going back-they're doing it right. I've visited many other cafes in the area that look cool, but, to be honest, the product is pretty bad. If you focus on quality first, and then have some style thrown on top, I'm a fan!

Speaking of people who are doing it right, pick up the new Pure Green Magazine. You can find their list of stockists here to see if there's one near you, or better yet, subscribe online.

Caffeine and Unhomogenized Milk

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ok, so my latte art isn't anywhere that it should be, but to be in the middle of Norfolk County and to have, at least taste-wise, a good coffee is a special thing. Since moving to small-town Ontario, I've had a few culture shocks. The biggest of all being a lack of good coffee. I know it sounds elitist, groaning at the entrance to Tim Hortons, the standard of coffee in the County, but if wanting something better than Tim's is elitist, then I guess it's true, and I sure hope I'm not alone.

So the search began for an espresso machine. I came up with a budget for a new one, but our family philosophy has always been to buy used, and you can get higher quality for cheaper than a mediocre, brand new product.

So I started asking around and a family friend who has a beautiful Italian Elektra espresso machine helped me find another one just like it that was gathering dust at a local restaurant. It had been run on city water, which if you look at the tubes below, you can imagine how they would scale up quickly like any kettle and give the machine a heart attack, or in this machine's case, a pump attack.

Our friend helped me take it completely apart, descale it and diagnose the pump problem. I was quoted $350 for a new pump out of a espresso repair shop in Toronto, which seemed high. I was ready to order one for $150 U.S. online when I had a long think about it and thought, there has to be a place that supplies pumps, the most replaced part in an espresso machine, to the dozens of repairmen that criss-cross the province fixing cafe machines every day.

My email was answered by a nondescript Mississauga industrial park "beverage pump distribution" company. They were the main importer of these Italian pumps to Canada. They quoted me $63, and I was in the car within minutes.

It took no time to put it back together. The spiderweb of pipes was actually not as intimidating as it looked. They either fit or didn't, so unless you were bending one, it was only a matter of time before you found where it went.

Before we knew it, we were pulling lots of espresso test shots, and things got really caffeinated. I brought it home, and since it's a commercial, cafe machine, it doesn't have a water reservoir, instead is meant to be plumbed into the water supply. I have it running out of and draining into a pair of glass gallon jugs until we're happy with the spot and are ready to run the water supply and drain lines.

The only issue is that I want to show off the awesome logo plate on the back.

I've been using Detour Coffee Roasters' Punch Buggy espresso, and Harmony Organic's unhomogenized whole milk for steaming. We're so lucky to be a 20 minute drive from Hewitt's Dairy, where they process the milk for Harmony Organics, so we can get the freshest milk at a great price. The unhomogenized milk for some reason tastes so much better. It's one less of an industrial process, and homogenizing has been blamed for some of the difficulty in digestion. The taste alone is worth it.

As for the latte art, next time I'm available for one of Geoff, from Detours' barista classes, I'm there.