Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

Foraging: Brewing Sumach Iced Tea

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

We spent summer drinking iced tea made from foraged sumach bobs. We’re enjoying it well into fall this year and have even frozen some of their fruit, known as drupes, for a vitamin C boost later this winter.

Staghorn Sumach www.CubitsOrganics.com

One of my brothers was under the impressions that the gorgeous red blossoms of sumach trees were toxic and they’re far from it. You can eat Sumach. Not only is it perfectly edible, the lemony taste and high levels of antioxidents and vitamin C makes sumach quite satisfying brewed into tea.

Sumach Berries www.Cubitsorganics.com

Here in Ontario, there’s a few weeks left if you’d like to make your own this year. First you’ll need to find a nice group of staghorn sumacs.  They’re easily located by their bright crimsom drupes. It’s easier with clippers but it’s not hard to pick entire bunches with your bare hands. Pick enough until you have enough to fill a jar or jug to brew your tea in.

Clipping Sumach www.CubitsOrganics.com

After a quick check for insects, cover them with cold water and weigh down the floaters with a jar or plate. It’s important to use cold water as warm water will release too many tannins and make a bitter drink.

Brewing Sumac Tea www.CubitsOrganics.com

Now we wait. I let it steep over night, leaving the pitcher sitting out on the counter or in the fridge.

Once the water has turned a nice red colour, strain it through cheese cloth or a coffee filter as there are many fuzzy little hairs a strainer would miss. Then sweeten to taste. I use a light simple syrup of a 1/1 ratio of organic sugar and water although local honey would work fine.  Just a few tablespoons of each, heated on the stove for a minute and added to the pitcher of tea.  Then I add a bunch of ice and enjoy.  It’s great on a hot day or a cool evening and a great healthy drink.

I’ve found that kids really like making it. Rebecca just likes eating and drinking flowers right now but even our 12 year old friend David thought it was cool to find a plant and make something from it.

Have you ever made tea from Sumach bobs? If so, how do you make it?

Foraged Foods www.CubitsOrganics.com

Have you ever made tea from Sumach bobs? If so, how do you make it?

Here’s a great link about sumach: www.uconnladybug.wordpress.com/a-closer-look-at-sumac/

A Little Taste of Summer as we move into Fall – Strawberry Picking and Jam

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Well, baby Robin is seven weeks old today and although he is pretty much the most agreeable baby I’ve ever met he has requested to not be put down ever. Not even for a minute.

This request is totally reasonable but not compatible with writing the blog post that is supposed to go with these photos.

So as I sit here holding this little guy, join me in taking a minute to think back to a warm day in June. I’ll reflect on how babies grow into berry picking beauties and hope that Ryan brings me some of that jam on toast.

 We went berry picking at Lakeshore Farms in Wellington, Ontario, just down the road from our farm, followed the same instructions for jam as last year and used these great labels from mud and twig.

A Weekend Escape to Niagara Falls, The Good Earth and a Really Nice Hat

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Just catching up after a nice weekend away in Niagara Falls.
Living in Toronto, we’ve been many times and each season has it’s perks. The mist is cool in the summer, the icicles are stunning in the winter, Niagara Parks plants amazing gardens in the Spring.

In Autumn it’s the gorgeous colours in the changing trees and bright bright sunny days. Take that sun combine it with ample mist and you get perfect double rainbows!

Our friend Sarah made Rebecca her hat from a pattern I wore as a child.  The wool is from a wool share (like a wool CSA) from  Stoddart Farms.   It’s the neatest program where you get eco friendly dyed wool from endangered and rare sheep and goats delivered to you every month.  We discovered them at last year’s Royal Winter Fair and it makes an awesome christmas present for the knitters and crocheters in your life.

I love the localness of her little hat and that she looks like a unicorn with the double rainbow.

It was all a little much for little Ms Fancy Hat and her epic nap strike ended in a cloud of mist with a bang. 3 hours! We went for a coffee.

So Niagara Falls is fun but it can be a little over the top.  The gorgeous falls and park are almost lost to the Capital Letters TOURISM!  The separation of the city of Niagara Falls and the surrounding “fruit basket of Ontario” has always been so strange to me. The subdivisions all have names like “Orchard Grove” yet finding a fruit or vegetable on your plate, let alone a local one is next to impossible.  So after a few helpful tweets we escaped to the surrounding wine and orchard country and had a blast. And a proper serving of vegetables.

The Good Earth Food and Wine Company in Beamsville, Ontario was recommended by Eating Niagara as a good place to run around and grab some lunch.  What a perfect suggestion.

We started with some peach orchard cuddles.

Then we had a good run.  She really wanted to pick fruit and couldn’t figure out where it had gone. I guess all that apple picking left an impression.

So she inspected ALL the leaves.

And then did a little dance.

We moved inside for lunch but didn’t get a single photo of our food. It was beautiful but clearly too delicious to photograph.  Ryan and Rebecca shared some duck, I had the best cauliflower soup I’ve ever tasted.  The salad had carrot spirals that went on for miles.  The wine was delicious.  The atmosphere was friendly and charming.  The two year was welcomed with a taste of local honey from neighbours Rosewood Estates and peach preserves.  We couldn’t have asked for anything more lovely.

After lunch we poked around.

There was lots of fun food and fork related art.

Ryan is inspired and determined that some day we’ll have a whole building to cook in.  This has got to be the most perfect set up for group canning projects or pressing cider.

Their kitchen side herb gardens are still going strong and Rebecca got into the grapes.

Rebecca spent about an hour looking cute in her new barrette from paperdollaccessories while admiring and eating grapes off the vine before moving on to the pumpkins.

We picked out some wine, honey and jam to bring home and enjoyed the drive back on the back roads stopping for our groceries from road side farms stands.

Amazing. Rebecca even had another nap.

How to Can a Bushel of Peaches in 7 hours with Some Swearing, a New Pot and 29 Jars

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

As mentioned in last week’s peach lemonade post and in our #canning play by play on twitter, we spent most of last Tuesday turning 1 bushel of gorgeous, perfect, marvellous Red Haven Ontario peaches from BizjakFarms into 29 jars of assorted canning goodness.  

I feel like this post is a little late as once I actually got a bushel of peaches into jars I was sort of done with the whole thing for a few days. There was some swearing and lessons learned but I think I’m ready to share now.

First things First, we went to the Leslieville Farmer’s Market to eat croissants and the last of our Monteforte CSA cheese curds.  I then moved on to driving the poor peach guys crazy with distracting chit chat and placed an order for a bushel of freestones (lessons from Well Preserved on this one) to be picked up the following week. I think half of twitter was at the market that day.

The next week rolled around. We went back, obtained a ridiculous amount of peaches, fed some to the babies, let everybody take some photos and then got  Ryan and Andrew to carry them to the car while I went & got more cheese curds.


So after eating a dozen and taking about 2000 photos it was time to get cracking. Or smashing as its now known. 

Growing up, canning peaches was one of the few “old fashioned” canning activities my mother did. In fact she has 4 pages of scribbly notes about it which is the 1980′s equivalent to blogging.  I bet there are photos too. I have fond memories of eating these and admiring them in their jars.

Our objective was to can peaches to eat all winter. It’s my seasonal depression defence strategy. Let me tell you, when you bite into a Niagara Peach in the middle of February life is good.

Really it’s simple and once we got going things moved smoothly. 
Start by preparing all your jars; we did this the night before. Dallas has a good run down of safe canning practices on her post about her easy-peasy co-opertive peaches.  We used 2 dozen 1 litre wide mouth Jars.

 

 


Next make up a light syrup of 
1 part sugar to 2 parts water.  We used the organic stuff in a carton so it has a darker colour which really looks nice with peaches.  I think we used 4 cartons, something like 16 cups of sugar by the end of the day. We made a big pot on fairly low heat and kept adding to it as needed. Just keep to the ratio and you’re fine. 

You want to wash your peaches really well.  These were low spray peaches as organic are really hard to find especially in bulk. You want to wash off the fuzz and the pesticides. Peaches are always up there on the dirty dozen.

Next 

Blanche
Peel (we’ll get back to this)
Cut (we did some halves and some quarters)
As you cut the peaches, sprinkle lemon juice on them to prevent browning.
We processed for 25 minutes but processing times will depend on where you live and the size of your jars.

Blanching and Peeling was a total disaster, greatly reducing the yield and quickly raising the panic level. These perfect lovely peaches were crumbling in my hands.

2 large baskets were reduced to 7 litres of uglyfrustrating peaches.  We quickly movedon to not blanching or peeling, leaving some in halves, some in quarters and had great results.  I will never ever peel another peach and haven’t a clue why all the instructions and recipes I looked at were all peeling peaches.  What a mess.

Our other near-disaster was not having a large enough pot. I have canned many things but never used the giant jars before; so there I was, with hot peaches in hot jars and Ryan running out to buy a bigger pot.  I love my new giant pot.

All in all, we have some lovely peaches and learnt some valuable lessons; always make sure you have a big enough pot (this is a lesson is optimism perhaps?) and never-ever-no-way-no-how bother with blanching or peeling your peaches; especially when there are approximately 120 of them.

PS these were the last 4 peach halves and we were out of jars so this is 1 peach in one jar.  I think they’re for lunch.

project 365: week thirty: July 23rd, 2011 – July 29th, 2011

Saturday, July 30th, 2011
July 23rd, 2011 Collecting some chive seeds.
July 24th, 2011 Rebecca tries to catch some baby bass.
July 25th, 2011 Rebecca picks thimbleberries and raspberries for making jam in the rain.
July 26th, 2011 Watercolour painting with Christine in the porch.
July 27th, 2011 We made a quick trip to Furnace Falls for a little wading. Check out Ontario Waterfalls on facebook and twitter for details.
July 28th, 2011 Milk Monster Vs the Zucchini!
July 29th, 2011 Rain at the cottage brings a gazillion handsome frogs!