A visit to Woodward Christmas Tree Farm, and exploring the Kamloops Wine Trail.Read More
One of my favourite places to visit in the fall is Davison Orchards. The enormous displays of squash, gourds, apples, and other produce make my autumn loving heart so happy.
Last year Little Forager was not even one year old, and barely standing so as much as he loved the tractor ride and seeing the sights there was a whole lot that he couldn't really experience. This year he made full use of the playground areas, and had so much fun hunting for the perfect pumpkin.
There is so much here to explore, and not to mention that Vernon, BC is a great town to visit. I always make sure I go home with some of their unpasteurized apple juice, and at least one box of apples. On their last day of the season they have some great deals of the gift and food items in their store. You can also fit as many pumpkins in one shopping cart as you can and take them home for a flat rate of $20. I make sure to cram my cart with as many sugar and ghost pumpkins as possible and bake with them all winter.
Life has been flying by for us this fall. I love this time of year, but I was having a hard time getting into the feel of it this time. After our smokey summer, I was just starting to feel like we were able to enjoy the warmer weather, and then suddenly it was autumn! Now that we've done this orchard visit, and have had our Thanksgiving dinner and everything I am getting into the spirit of the season much more! Time to make something with all the apples I brought home!
My last post was all about our adventures traveling around what I like to call the "bottom left" of BC. This time I wanted to update you all on some of the local fun we managed to squeeze in between all the road trips. This first one came about because Little Forager is in love with all the chickens and other farm animals we watch almost every day in the Instagram Stories of the farmer and homesteader accounts I follow. As soon as he sees chickens (or any largish bird, actually) he starts crowing like a rooster, and when he notices a cow he'll be mooing nonstop for at least the next five minutes straight. Five minutes might not seem very long, but you appreciate the full length of the time when the background music is a toddler mooing. Clearly this kid needed to visit a farm in real life, so we were grateful that our friends were more than happy to have us come visit.
I'm happy to report that he enjoyed seeing the animals as much in real life as he does in Instagram. I also have to say that we are so lucky in our friends. These are the same that we bought our pork from. It's a pretty small operation they are running almost as a hobby while they both work other jobs, so there isn't a website or anything I can point you to, but if you are local and interested let me know and I can pass some information along. When we got there - lucky again - we found out that a calf had just been born that morning, and while the mother cow was occupied with eating they took us up to see it. They had also delayed collection the eggs so that Little Forager could have a crack at it (no literal cracks were had - he was actually a very careful egg collector).
One of the other fun things we got to experience was the Easter festival at our Church. This was the first year we put it on, and it was a lot of fun. The bean bag toss was a big hit with Little Forager.
The Collective is a relatively new space in our neighbourhood that houses some photography operations, MakeShift, and is also available for private rentals. A while back they put on a pop-up shop event with lots of local vendors, as well as offering a "DIY succulent bar" where visitors could pick a container and pot it up with succulents of their choosing.
I was so glad that I had time to visit and make up a little planter of my own. They supplied really beautiful, unique containers, and the quality supplies and posted instructions made the process basically foolproof.
MakeShift is something really special, and I will be posting on Monday about one of the workshops I attended there. Please come back and read all about it and - better yet - sign up to attend one of the many workshops yourself!
Being that we live on the outskirts where the properties slowly start turning into bigger and bigger ranches, there aren't very many local businesses around. Those that are here are quite special, and another local gem is The Pond Country Market.
This place is one part garden centre, one part antique store, one part unique gift shop, one part restaurant, and all of these parts come together to in a place that is beautiful enough to be - and in fact has been - a wedding venue.
I am always so happy when we have a reason to stop here. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, the food is delicious, and the atmosphere is beautiful and easy to let Little Forager stretch his legs (under supervision) and explore.
I've got lots more waiting in the queue to write about, but until next time I'll leave you with this insanely cute photo of Little Forager chasing bubbles!
While the idea of whole animal eating sounds really nice, the reality can occasionally be a bit gruesome. If you've been reading my blog for a while now you can imagine I was very excited when we learned that our friends' farm was going to be offering sides of pork since I am passionate about supporting local growers. If they are our friends it is the icing on the cake!
I love that all the money I spent on this meat is going directly to support my friends and their farm. I know them, and that they are people of quality, and that they really care for their animals. I know they source extra treats for them like the surplus milk and cream from the local dairy, and the slightly old produce the local grocery store would have wasted. I've seen their farm and probably saw this very pig.
As I was planning my order with the butcher I mentioned that I would really like to have as much of the trim as possible - things like soup bones, and all the extra fat. In fact, when my friend dropped off my order she asked if I would want to take the head! My frugal self and my squeamish self had a little battle, but in the end I took it. That's a lot of meat to waste! Currently it is waiting for me in my freezer to become an attempt at head cheese. Regardless of how that adventure goes, I knew for sure I was going to try to render some lard.
I started out by rendering in a large pot on the stove, but the cubes I painstakingly cut (note to self - get fat ground next time if possible!) started to stick to the bottom, and I ended up transferring it all to a crockpot on low. The other thing I didn't realize is that if you don't slowly ladle off the fat as you go it takes forever to render. Once I realized that things moved along much more quickly, and "cracklins" - the leftover bits of skin and tissue that have slowly deep fried through the process - started to form. I saved my cracklins to mix into a batch of baked beans.
It is important that you don't ladle your fat directly into glass storage containers, since it will be too hot and your glass will shatter. I strained mine into a plastic bowl first and then poured it into mason jars. Working in batches like this also helped since I would know if I had burned it before mixing it in with the rest of the finished lard. Thankfully it didn't happen, but it gave me peace of mind to know that if I ruined some I wouldn't necessarily ruin it all!
When the lard is liquid it is a light golden colour, but as it hardens it turns white. To get really beautiful, pure white lard you want to render only the leaf lard which is the fat surrounding the kidneys. Since I knew the butcher was really busy I didn't bother to specify that I wanted it separated. I also didn't think I needed to be super particular about my first attempt in case it was a complete flop!
After the lard had cooled a bit more I put it in the fridge and it hardened up nicely into this nice creamy colour. It doesn't smell particularly pork like, but it isn't completely odourless. This is probably since I didn't discriminate about the types of fat I used. I may not use this in a pie crust in case the piggy taste remained, but I definitely would give it a try with biscuits or something else more savoury.
Have any of you tried rendering fats? It was certainly time consuming, but I feel like it was worth it! I am also pleased to know this technique won't be lost because most of my generation isn't interested in learning traditional cooking! Writing this post was my way of passing it along. If any of you try it let me know how it went!
For the past couple of years, our family has rounded out our Christmas season by celebrating Epiphany on the 6th of January. This is traditionally the end of the Christmas season and the "12 Days of Christmas" happen in between Christmas and Epiphany. We like to invite some friends to come celebrate with us and eat a big meal.
This year we had a ham that was part of our share of pork that we purchased earlier this fall. The pig was raised by friends of ours only about 20 minutes away from our house! You can really taste the difference in the meat. Even if we hadn't already visited the farm and seen how well the pigs were treated you would know the quality by tasting the meat! I made a glaze for the ham by blending honey, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, apple cider vinegar, and half an orange in my Vitamix.
Accompanying our ham were some roasted veggies (squash, and brussels sprouts with bacon and cranberries), yams (pureed with a candid pecan topping), and mashed potatoes. Mr. Forager came up with a winning punch combination using some of the Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival cranberries I juiced in my steam juicer and canned this past fall.
Since there was nothing in my list of Fannie Farmer pies that really matched the traditional galette des rois I just made one quickly using David Lebovitz's recipe and some frozen puff pastry from the store. Puff pastry is something that is on my list to learn how to make, but there wasn't any time to figure it out this time! Something funny also happened to my filling for the galette and it ended up spilling out the sides all around and actually looked like it was the crust of the tart instead of the pastry above it! Even if it looked a little funny, it was still delicious. I will definitely make it again from this recipe next year, but maybe find a better source (or make my own) for the puff pastry.
I hope you all had a happy Epiphany whether you celebrated last Friday or not!