Thursday, December 13, 2012

Explore Local Foods, Local Markets Event

I still miss our pigs...
Myself and Ron Erdmann of Erdmann's Gardens and Greenhouses will be headlining this event on January 16th near Barrhead. This is an event being hosted by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development and should be very interesting for anyone thinking of starting a farm based, direct sales business. It could also be a great venue if you are a well established marketer to be able to share your experiences and perhaps pick up some tips from others. I know that I am looking forward to learning as much or more than I share. Here is the link to the event

I will be speaking about our experiences in starting our farm business. The information I have learned through experience about small scale farming, marketing, sales and social media. The importance of selling and more importantly what are we actually selling? The answer may surprise you.

One of our early ventures...potatoes
I will also share some of the stories of the trials in my transition back to farming after leaving the large grain operation that my Dad had going. I'll let you know about the livestock we've tried, the crops we've experimented with, the equipment we've gone through. Most of these stories are amusing I can assure you. I will also let you know where we are now and what are our plans for the future of our farm.

I am hopeful that I will be able to give everyone some good ideas on achieving sustainability for your farm and maybe provide some additional ideas for direct marketing your products. 

Here is the google map of Summerdale Hall. I hope to see many of you on January 16th!

Monday, December 03, 2012

Ruiskakut Cookies - Traditional Christmas Favorite

Ruiskakut Cookies
These cookies originated in Finland (one posting I found said they originate in the land of Karelia, which includes parts of Finland and Russia) and as far as I can tell they are a winter/Christmas treat. They are sometimes called Estonian Rye Cookies.
They are mainly made with a whole grain rye flour and are often served as appetizers with a cream cheese spread or fruit preserves. ""

The few recipes that I found were all pretty much the same. I took the simplest one and made it as "100 mile" as possible.
1 cup of softened butter
2/3 cup honey (the original recipe called for granulated sugar)
2 cups whole grain rye flour
1 cup soft wheat flour (Spelt Flour would be a great substitute)
3 tbsp water 
NOTE: I didn't add the water as my dough was still quite soft. Instead I added a touch more flour and let it firm up a bit in the fridge before rolling.

Beat the butter until smooth. Add honey and beat until fluffy. 
Add flours and mix until just combined.
Add water if needed to hold dough together OR knead in additional flour if dough is too soft to roll out. Wrap in plastic and chill if needed.
Roll dough about 1/8" thick. Use a 3" wide scalloped cutter and then a 1" round cutter to create a "wreath".
Pierce all over with a fork. Add red and green decorating sugar crystals if desired.
Bake at 350F for about 8 min. They can become over done quite quickly so check at 7 min.

They are a thin, crisp yet tender cookie with a wonderful earthy flavour from the whole grain flours and honey.
A definite worth while cookie to add to your Christmas traditions!

The above recipe was submitted to me by Deb Krause. She has a beautiful blog entitled Simple Pleasures Deb is also known as @DebTheLocavore on Twitter!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shovel and Fork Food Craft

I sincerely believe that Edmonton has been waiting for this type of thing for many years. How far we've strayed from our heritage of foraging, hunting, trapping, canning, baking and growing. Kids grow up, never leaving the city, not knowing what part of a chicken the egg comes from.

Up until now, it has basically been a survival of the fittest to try to figure out how to brew your own fruit wine or not kill yourself on a mushroom foraging trip. Here to save the day figuratively, and possibly literally, is Kevin Kossowan and Chad Moss et al. Together with other experts in their fields, these guys are sharing their incredible expertise with others. Here you can learn all there is to learn about everything from canning to cutting game birds to drying mushrooms and fire-baking pizza. Awesome!

Here's the link to their amazing website where you can examine all the details. Shovel and Fork

Friday, November 02, 2012

Italian Farmers Market - Turin, Italy

We are back from a wonderful trip to Torino, Italy for Terra Madre and Salone Del Gusto. It was incredible to say the least to be able to spend time in Italy doing not much more than tasting slow food. Chefs, artisans, farmers and producers from all across the globe were there celebrating their foods and successes. Anyone interested in food and culinary arts simply has to attend this massive celebration held every two years in Italy's 4th largest city. 

Huge permanent coverings over the market square.

However, it was on our daily roaming through the city that we came across the traditional markets of Europe. Held daily, rain or shine at various places throughout the city there is no place to better sample the local foodstuffs in their most pure form. Truffles, Italian mandarin oranges, charcuterie and cheeses of every imaginable kind, fresh meats and seafood, and of course, Italian baking. The markets contain anything you would ever need to create an Italian feast every single day of the week (except Sundays of course).  

Our favorite farmer at the local market. Eggs aren't refrigerated.
We visited these markets whenever we could and bought various kinds of treats that would sustain us through the rest of the day, but it was little hollow. All I could think about was the fact that our hotel did not have a kitchen so that I could properly get into Italian food. We settled for some wonderful Trattatoria's for our evening meals and snacked on mandarins, cheese, salami and bread during our walks along the River Po in the afternoons.

Clothes at a Turin market
The markets are obviously important to Italians as they are established in permanent locations with city infrastructure covering them. In the evening these market squares are used for paid parking. 

Throughout most of Torino, people live in apartments so the population is dense, but we didn't see one single supermarket during our travels in the city. The market was the only place other than a mini-market or small specialty shop to purchase what you would need. Furthermore, the markets didn't just contain food. On one side of the street, under a huge covering was the food, nothing but food. On the other side, another huge covering; but here you would find whatever else you needed for everyday life. Sewing supplies, fabric, cleaning products, clothes, shoes, you name it. Not a single craft in sight, no re-selling prints of "crying fairies", no artwork of Elvis or the Beatles. How refreshing it was to see markets focus on what you needed to survive instead of a place to go walk the dog and have a bag of popcorn. 

Fresh seafood of every kind
Now, you're automatically going to assume that I am opposed to all superfluous things that go along with "Fido" peeing on my table cloth while the owner is busy with his 3 foot long bag of candied popcorn...I am not. I just cannot help but think that if Edmonton farmers markets began to take the entertainment component out of farmers markets, then the producers and farmers would begin to see increased sales from people who avoid the crowds and reluctantly go to a supermarket instead. I can only imagine how frustrating it has to be for people who come with all their shopping bags to have to dodge around Starbuck wielding parents pushing double-wide strollers parked in front of the Fairie Print table just to be able to get their shopping completed. At the very minimum, it would be nice to have the food and the crafts segregated to be able to allow shoppers to be uninterrupted by the browsers.

There is nothing wrong at all with a little ambience from the talented buskers, and in fact that is the one thing that I found wanting about Italian markets. They were, perhaps, a little too business-like and stark. But, most importantly, it works for the Italian producers and customers and its been working for thousands of years.

It appears to me that markets in Edmonton are getting bigger and bigger. Record attendances are made from time to time and yet sales amongst a lot of the vendors that I speak with are down or stagnant. Year to year at Strathcona Market we are up around 400% in 2012 yet our sales were flat at City Market 104 compared to 2011. City Market had huge numbers of vendors and record attendances. At one market more than 35,000 people attended. Why then are my sales down or similar over last year?...because people don't want to buy groceries in a crowd.

One of the side streets at a Turin market
There is one train of thought out there amongst farmers market manager it seems. Bring in as many people as you can so that there will be that much more exposure to vendors, and in turn will increase sales in the long run. That is surely a sound plan, but here's the problem. It would be like having a huge BBQ every single day that your hardware store is open. Bring in as many people as you can and hope that you sell some hammers along with the free burgers. But when I need another hammer, I am going to go to the place that is not so crowded. Where I can park and go buy my hammer without battling the crowds.

Here's my best example. At St. Albert Market, our best sales week this summer was an event related to food held at City Hall. The crowds were noticeably sparse. One of the worst weeks we had was the Cruising Weekend. Huge crowd. Bring food people to the market and food sales will increase. Bring tourists to the market and food sales will decrease. Farmers make and sell food. Farmers Markets, approved by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, should be in existence for farmers to be able to sell food.

Cleaning supplies at the market
There would be a lot to change about Edmonton markets and how they are run, that's for sure. But, it is interesting to think how they could possibly change. Why not try to make markets supply things that we need to live like socks and underwear and soap and laundry detergent? Why not try to get people attending markets for necessities so they aren't forced to the farm-crushing superstores as often? Why not push the envelope of what we can produce or import as small business producers and farmers? Why not try?

Amazing cheeses!
The markets of Torino, Italy really opened my eyes to what successful markets are like. Markets that have run daily week after week for centuries.

In the meantime, we are grateful to have at least a few markets that attract foodies. Strathcona Market being the best by far. And, we are mostly grateful to our customers, who I know go out of their way to purchase our products. Without both a market and loyal customers, we'd be stuck in the commodity market along with the vast majority of other Alberta grain producers. 

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Farmers Market Questions

As you can imagine I get a lot of questions about our products during the farmers markets we attend. The number one question is always "Do you have anything that is Gluten Free?". Now, this is obviously important to many people and there is a huge amount of misinformation about it. People are passionate about diets and food ideas, as they should be, but like all things that people are passionate about, sometimes the truth is slightly different from perception.

Much in the same way that people needed to stop saying "I am going Ski-dooing" they also need to stop saying "gluten free". What they really ought to be saying is "modern wheat gluten free".

Gluten is present in almost all grass-family grains including barley, rye, oats and spelt. The difference is that these complex proteins are not typically associated with our modern Gluten phobia. People suffering from Celiac disease react violently to these proteins, but there are a growing number of people who are reacting to modern wheat proteins and not the other types of gluten. Why is this? Because the only grass-type grain that has been genetically manipulated by the modern plant breeding industry is wheat. There are also a growing number of studies on this phenomena and the most obvious one is the book Wheat Belly by Dr. Davis. If you want the interesting details of what I'm talking about, read his book. It is a great book.

So, here is the answer to the question "do we have anything gluten free?". The answer is, it depends on if you are a diagnosed Celiac or not. The vast majority of our customers with modern wheat gluten sensitivity report back to us not only on how great our products taste, but how good it makes them feel. Insoluble fibre, lacking from every other diet on earth that doesn't include grains, is absolutely necessary to whole health in human beings. We've been eating it for eons. Why do our customers with wheat sensitivity love our products? Because we only grow heirloom and ancient species of wheat. Wheat does not easily cross either...plants need to be practically touching before they will cross pollinate. So, our wheats are purely old, organically grown, and full of health and great taste. 

I hope this helps a bit with your gluten questions.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Busier than normal Fall

The past few weeks have been a blur. We are still basically setting up our business all the while operating it, and farming, and fathering. It is a Fall worth remembering for what we've accomplished, but it has been stressful and busy beyond belief.

Our milling building is nearing completion as far as being ready to accept new bagging equipment. We are also planning to renovate our mills for increased efficiency. Right now we are having to re-load the mills 40lbs at a time and I would like it if we could simply pour the amount of wheat that we need to mill and walk away. New hoppers on top of the stone mills will solve that problem. We've achieved our Food Safety grant, that was good news. Now we have a little help purchasing new bagging, mixing equipment along with some new bins and other infrastructure.

A view of the yard from our brand new grain bin
The harvest for 2012 is one I'd as soon forget. This past summer was simply too much rain, too much wind and too much hail. Yields were down as much as 80% in some fields due to flooding and then a late August hail storm. What wheat we did harvest appears to be very good quality. The protein is great and the appearance is as beautiful as ever. Looking forward to baking with it for sure. Still to harvest, after a killing frost, is the oats and the flax. We need the frost to kill the underseeded Red Clover. Once that happens, we'll have the ability to straight cut the crops with the combine and then use the grain drier before we store the crops. Again, the weather has been great, but we usually have a good frost in early to mid September. What a year we've had!
combining wheat
Looking back on mistakes made, some small successes, some advances made and hope that what we've accomplished this year will pay dividends in 2013.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Oatmeal Flax Crisps

Here is a simply wonderful dessert that is full of healthy ingredients. It is actually closer to a candy bar than anything. These are our family's favorite treat now that Cindy's made them a few times. Incredible tasting according to all who've tried! Enjoy.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups Gold Forest Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Gold Forest Golden Flax seeds
1/2 tsp. baking powder

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; stir in sugar and vanilla and cook for about 2 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in oats, flax seeds and baking powder; mix well. Press firmly into greased 12x8 baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 7-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool; cut into bars. Voila.

This is a highly addictive treat that will win you much adulation at the next church or school bake sale...guaranteed.

On a note, Cindy thought that the flax and butter made these "greasy" so she tried it with 2 cups of just turned into a granola...good, but not a bar. I didn't mind the buttery appearance at all. She wants to try it with Organic Agave syrup and then add some more oats, but to me, it works just fine as is.

Cindy got this recipe from the Canadian Living Cooking Collection recipe book titled "Muffins and Cookies". The 65 tastiest recipes for muffins, cookies, bars and squares.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Harvest Time 2012

Harvest is always a sort of year end for me. It is always a time to reflect back on the year past and take inventory of what we've accomplished and what is left to do. All of this is of course in between actual harvest activities. The busiest time of year by far. 

The farm is beginning to take shape more and more. Since I've started farming full-time (along with operating the milling business) I have had the chance to spend some time with landscaping and some construction projects, but nothing major. The back deck went from just that to basically a full fledged addition. I've got it about 1/3 finished, but my goal was to simply have a deck and a roof this year and finish the rest next year. 

All in all, the farm has gone from completely rough to marginally functional...hows that for a description? Some of the yard work, gravel and grading have been accomplished and new bins and buildings have been ordered and are on their way. 

The business itself has undergone a transformation too. Once again, there are two families who own and operate Gold Forest Grains. The Schneider's and The Bennett's. Chris and I are partners now in the farm and milling business. It is a tremendous help to have another person involved with a vested interest in the business. Chris is as passionate about organic food and farming as I am and together we are growing Gold Forest steadily and rather quickly.

The Market sales have increased for us and being in the three largest markets in Edmonton has really helped to get the word out about our fresh flour and grain products. Old Strathcona Farmers Market is still our best performing market, we simply love being involved with such a tremendous market. It is professionally managed and the customers are there to purchase food. Unlike other markets in town where entertainment is the focus, as a vendor I appreciate the focus on local food at Strathcona. Our sales at that market are more than all other markets combined weekly. 

The grain harvest is ongoing. We have purchased a new combine and it is being delivered today. It is newer and in better condition than our old L is an L2 by Allis Chalmers. Not new for sure, but in prime condition for its age and we are looking forward to less mechanics and more harvesting. 

This past summer has been trying from a weather standpoint. The fields around home are still water logged and swathing has been a nightmare. Stuck every 3 minutes. Our flax will simply have to wait until freeze up when we can go into the frozen fields with the straight cut combine. Other crops have been damaged by excessive storms, but it could have been worse. We avoided hail for the most part. Next year will be better...that is always the promise of "next year".

Sunday, July 08, 2012

chicken day today

I've been putting it off as long as I can, because I've been so busy with everything else. Today I finally had to start the new chicken tractor...our chicken population went up by a few today! When our Buff Orpington hen went broody, we quickly put her in a quiet place in the a dog crate. This way she was safe and secure and alone...exactly what a setting hen wants. Today was the 21st day of her odyssey and sure enough, hatching began. At first this morning, I could hear the muted peeps coming from within the eggs, then holes appeared, then finally some wet, soggy chicks. As I type we have two dried chicks and other eggs with holes. By tomorrow we should have 5 or 6 chicks! I have almost completed the new tractor and sometime tomorrow I will transfer mother and chicks to some fresh clover in the orchard. We can move the tractor every day or so and she will teach them to hunt for food and act like a chicken.

Well, we ended up with only 4 chicks out of the batch. This was not the greatest of successes, but we have 4 more chickens than what we had before so that is a good thing. Mother and babes are at home now in the orchard where she is teaching them to dust bath and peck clover and bugs. Later this summer, when the apples are dropping, they'll eat those up too.

Friday, June 29, 2012

New flour sizes

A few of you who have dropped by the markets booths lately will have noticed that our bag sizes have changed for the flour products. This wasn't exactly planned, but our bag supplier has been unreliable with the 1.6kg sized bags and we were just unable to get them last week. This prompted us to downsize the flour to 1kg size bags. 

Actually, it is probably turning out for the better for right now. These mid-size bags of flour save us some money in label costs because the smaller labels come 10 to a sheet. For the same price, we get 400 extra labels. Another benefit has been that our customers have a little easier time carrying around flour with them at market. During the summer months when baking is less intensive, the smaller sizes have proven to be quite popular. 

For our hard-core bakers, don't despair. We are currently looking for larger bags. We hope to offer flour in both 1kg size and something around 3 or 4 kg sizes. This fall, when baking season is in high gear, we'll have you covered all ways possible!

This Saturday we will, once again, be at City Market Downtown, Old Strathcona Market (my favorite) and St. Albert Farmers Market

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kathy Freston on how essential Fibre is to your health This is a great little overview of fibre and its immense benefits to human health. A post is coming soon from Cindy that quotes new studies as saying that Scientists have "grossly underestimated" the antioxidant properties of whole grains!

Oatey Flaxy Cookies

Here's a new recipe from Tesia for her Gold Forest Grains version of the classic Oatmeal Cookie!

Gold Forest Grains Oatmeal-Flax Cookies


Dry Ingredients
  • 1 cup GFG whole grain flour (I used Spelt, but Soft White would also work well)
  • 1 ½ cups GFG Traditional Rolled Oats
  • 2 Tbsp GFG Golden Flax
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg

Wet Ingredients
  • ½ cup honey (I used local honey from Hanneman Honey)
  • ¼ cup healthy oil (canola, olive)
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 egg (beat with 1 Tbsp water)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Yummy Additions
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup pecans (walnuts or almonds would work well, too)
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (because, you know…)

1.  In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.
2.  In a medium, bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. 
3.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Add the raisins, nuts, and other
     additions you like.  If the mixture is too wet, add a bit more flour (I wound up adding
     an extra 2 Tbsp of flour).  If it’s not binding well, you may want to add an egg white.
4.  COOL the mixture for 20 minutes in the fridge.
5.  Preheat the oven to 335 degrees Fahrenheit.
6.  Drop the mixture by teaspoonfuls onto your baking sheet (try lining the sheet with
     parchment paper for easy clean up).  Press down with a fork to ensure even baking.
7.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom of the cookie (mine
     were baked nicely at 15 minutes).
8.  These freeze well, too!

Makes ~2 ½ dozen cookies

Monday, June 25, 2012

a wonderful new blog to follow!

This is Jacquie's blog...Garneau Home Kitchen. She's a local food enthusiast from central Edmonton and has some great, upbeat writing. A fresh style of reading that makes you think you're hearing from a close friend. Lover her style.

Friday, June 22, 2012

2012 Farmers Markets

For this summer we are now in Edmonton's three biggest farmers markets! This is a lot of extra work, but we really want to get the word out to as many people as possible the benefits of local, stone-milled, heritage grain products. Every Saturday for the rest of the summer you will find us at Old Strathcona Farmers Market, City Market and the St. Albert Farmers Market. On top of that, we also attend a tremendous food market on Wednesday night in Terwillegar...the Southwest Edmonton Farmers Market

With so many markets to choose from these days, we have spent a great deal of time researching markets around Edmonton. We have even attended a few! In the end, we have chosen the markets that most reflect the intended purpose of Alberta Approved Farmers Markets. We have chosen markets where farmers are actually the main focus, and food is king. It is too bad when good markets choose to become flea markets, but in the end, the customers will decide. Perhaps Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, who approves the markets, will one day pay attention to their own title and approve only markets where farmers actually form the majority of the vendors. It frustrates me to have the Sunny Girl logo on flea markets where it is difficult, if not impossible, to actually find a farmer. 

So, do yourself a favour and take a little trip to one of these great markets this summer. It is a great way to spend a morning and you can actually make grocery shopping a form of recreation!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Gold Forest Products on the coast!

This past weekend was the launch of Gold Forest Grains products in Powell River, BC. Stella, the owner of Kelly's Specialty Shop in Powell River got hold of us through my Aunt Sonja who works at the store. Together, they placed an order for many of our products to be carried in their store. Additionally, they attended Powell River's farmers market last weekend and featured our grain products! Sales are going well there and on our next visit to BC's glorious coast, we will feel right at home after we stop in at Kelly's!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spring Seeding 2012

Garreth and a friend filling the small drills
The seeding season went fairly well. Between Chris, me and Dad we managed to get our fields tilled and seeding in record time this year. A full week earlier than last year. Even with our fields spread over creation, three people helped with the logistics of moving equipment and keeping things progressing. Son Garreth even got in some good tractor time helping out with cultivation and harrowing. He also helped here and there with cleaning out the seed drills and filling them between crops. We bought an old end-wheel seed drill for spreading Red Clover Seed in one of our fields. Our big drills don't have a grass box for such a task so it was necessary to purchase this old drill. It also worked well for seeding our smaller plots with the specialty grains. 

We are trying a few different things this year. As I mentioned earlier we planted some Red Clover. We did this as an underseed for our Oats and our Gold Flax. This will act as a nitrogen fixer in the soil for next years crop. We will plow it under next spring or perhaps this fall.

 Bags of Red Fife Seed
A few different wheats went into the ground this spring too. Red Fife, Park and Spelt. All three are heritage varieties and the Spelt is truly heritage as it is known to have been grown 6000 years ago!

Breaking Hayland
A lot of effort also went into breaking a piece of old hayland across the road. It is around 40 acres. Breaking hayland takes a lot of time and effort. The sod is difficult to break down into viable seedbed. We probably should have taken some time last fall to at least run over it with the chisel plow. But, we managed to get it seeded into Oats/Clover. Hopefully we will get a half decent crop of oats out of it and it will be ready for wheat next year.

Now, we gratefully watch the rain fall on newly seeded fields. What perfect timing! I finished seeding and it started raining the very next morning. The only things left to do is a little bit of harrowing on the oat seed, another disc of the field where the Hemp is going and then seeding Buckwheat in June. Fingers crossed for a warm, dry summer after some June rain. That's all I can do now.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Spelt Spaetzle recipe by Paul Shufelt, Blair Lebsack and Tony Le

Here is a tremendous recipe and article from yesterday's Edmonton Sun by Chef Paul Shufelt VP Culinary Century Hospitality. He and Chef Blair Lebsack and Chef Tony Le have come up with what I suspect will be an outstanding dish for Saturday's Slow Food Fundraising Gala...Roots, Shoots and Garden Boots. Stone ground mustard Spelt Spaetzle.

Organic Spelt Spaetzle by Paul Shufelt

Monday, April 30, 2012

Terra Madre 2012!

We are incredibly excited to have been nominated, and won, the award of Terra Madre 2012 delegate for Northern Alberta! Terra Madre is an annual event by Slow Food, an organization of more than 100,000 members in 150 countries worldwide. It is a time for people from across the globe to convene and share thoughts and knowledge about local, sustainable food production. It is a prestigious honour for us to have been selected and we are extremely proud. This year's Terra Madre is being held in Turin, Italy so Cindy and I are brushing up on our Italian and learning all that we can about the event. We will be part of the Canadian Delegation and will participate in manning the trade show booth as well as attending meetings and conferences. Of course, we will be in there will be some touring and eating as well. A sneak peek at 2012 Terra Madre.

Slow Food

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We are proud to have Grapevine Deli as a new depot for our products in St. Albert! This is a tremendous food store that we have been supporting for years now. Jay and her family are doing a wonderful job with this store and we should all do our best to support them! If you are looking for Gold Forest Grain products and you are in St. Alberta be sure to stop in to Grapevine. We'll have our products on their shelves by this Thursday...April 24.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Dr. Davis "Wheat Belly" on youtube

I really like the message that Dr. Davis is bringing the world. It is a message that we have been on about for some time now. Modern varieties of livestock, plants and grains are simply not all that they have been made out to be. Dependant upon anti-biotics and chemical inputs, they work just fine. However, heritage varieties are healthier, cleaner and more durable in every possible manner.

We will have more information posted soon regarding the dietary benefits of diets that contain heritage and ancient grains and flours that are 100% whole grain or "entire grain" products. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A new customer!

Sunset at Gull Lake
We are very proud to introduce a new customer of ours. Clarissa and Thomas of Gull Lake Centre purchase freshly milled HRS Flour, Rye Flour and our famous Pancake Mix for use at their camp. It looks like a wonderful place for a kid to spend a week in the summer! Please have a look at their website and support them if you are able.  

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

a great video

Here's a wonderful little video from Malorie @countryaccent featuring Owen Peterson from Prairie Mill Bread and Shannon from Nature's Green Acres. It was rather amusing and informative at the same time. Hope to see more!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wheat Berry Salad with Pine Nuts - Caroline

A tremendous recipe from one of our great customers, Caroline!

I wanted to send you that awesome recipe made with wheat berries......mmmmmm.....soooooo good! As I said, it's a little bit of effort, but worth every minute spent. I've done various renditions of this recipe (depending on what's in my fridge and pantry),  and it always turns out beautifully, but the best version is always this one - the original.
                                               Wheat Berries Salad with Pine Nuts

(One day prior to making the salad, make preserved lemon - see step one in recipe)

Preserved Lemon
3-4 lemons
1 tbsp coarse kosher or pickling salt

1 cup hard wheat berries
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 cup medium or coarse bulgur
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 large, unpeeled garlic cloves

Juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3/4 to 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
3-4 large Roma or plum tomatoes
3-4 tbsp chopped fresh mint

1. To quickly prepare preserved lemon, lash sides of washed lemon 6 times, evenly spaced, from just below top to just above bottom. Work coarse salt into slashes. Place in a small wide-mouth preserving jar or ordinary glass measure. Microwave, uncovered, for 1 minute or until skin feels hot. Juice remaining 2-3 lemons; pour over hot whole lemon until just covered. Wedge lemon in jar, if necessary, to keep from floating. Cover and let stand at room temperature for half a day or overnight; then refrigerate.

2. Generously cover wheat berries with cold water in a medium saucepan; add 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes; drain. Meanwhile, combine bulgur, 1 tsp salt and measured boiling water in a mixing bowl; let stand while berries are cooking.

3. Place pine nuts and unpeeled garlic cloves in a small heavy skillet over low heat. Shake pan frequently for 8-10 minutes or until pine nuts are golden. Watch carefully, as pine nuts burn easily. Cool; then peel and mince garlic.

4. To make salad, stir drained wheat berries into undrained bulgur. Whisk lemon juice with olive oil, garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Stir dressing into wheat along with green onions and parsley. For best flavour, cover and refrigerate for several hours.

5. When ready to serve, remove a couple sections of preserved lemon. Cut away mushy interior and most of the white; very finely dice remaining yellow peel. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out seedy interior. Dice remaining tomato shells. Stir preserved lemon, mint, tomatoes and pine nuts into salad. Serve in a large bowl.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

stop eating wheat? how about Stop Eating Modern Wheat!

"The Bible says, "Give us this day our daily bread." Eating bread is nearly a religious commandment. But the ancient wheat of our ancestors is something modern humans almost never eat.
Canada's first commercially viable wheat
from 1909 not ancient, but heritage.
Instead, we eat dwarf wheat, the product of genetic manipulation and hybridization that created short, stubby, hardy, high-yielding wheat plants with much higher amounts of starch and gluten and many more chromosomes coding for all sorts of new odd proteins. The man who engineered this modern wheat won the Nobel Prize -- it promised to feed millions of starving around the world. Well, it has, and it has made them fat and sick." 
  An excerpt from Mark Hyman's article in the Huffington Post.

The entire article can be accessed here.  This article by Dr. Hyman closely mirrors findings as outlined in Dr. Davis' book Wheat Belly that I am currently re-reading.  I only find it troubling that not enough emphasis is placed on the ancient varieties of wheat vs. modern. Dr. Hyman has spelled it out more clearly and I appreciate that.

Here's my view on the subject from a post I did a few weeks ago. 

upcoming events

I have been invited to present and lecture at the South Edmonton Vegetarian and Gardening Club's potluck supper on Sunday March 25th at the Pleasantview Community Hall. The event starts at 5:00 pm. I will be talking about organic crop production and how folks can apply these principles to the backyard garden. I will also talk a little about our adventure in building and living in a strawbale house. It should be a fun evening. Here is a link with some details on how to attend.

We have also been invited to participate in the Slow Food Canada's National Fundraising Gala on May 5th at the Enjoy Centre's Prairie Bistro. The gourmet dinner will feature our heritage grain flour along with other local fare.

And the event that we will be involved in very soon is Brittany Watt's Market Brunch at the Old Strathcona Farmers Market on Sunday March 4th. At this lunch event, I will be talking about our flour production business along with how we produce heritage and ancient grains organically. There are only a couple tickets left for that event and they are available at the market concession each Saturday. Here is the link to that event!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Geoffrey McGill's baking!

Farmer Poached Eggs on Crusty Toast
Back in December Geoffrey came up to my table to purchase some supplies for his day long baking course he was hosting for some friends. That morning they had spent some time at Old Strathcona Farmers Market picking up the ingredients they would need for the various dishes that Geoffrey had planned. What I didn't expect was that he would take such wonderful pictures of the finished baking and share them with me. What a wonderful surprise! So, here they are for everyone to enjoy. 

Buon Pizza Margherita 

Pull Aparts

Dinner Buns

Crusty Rustic Bread

Focaccia with Roasted Market Vegetables