January meetup – are you up for the challenge?

Every year we have the opportunity to stretch out, both creatively with a new and wonderful culinary challenge, and physically, as we are hosted by the lovely people at the Summerland Waterfront Resort, in their spacious ballroom.

This year we have a challenge like no other. In honour of our hostess Lisa’s Estonian heritage, our quest will be to prepare recipes from the 15 post Soviet states. I’m rather excited about this theme. It’s not like anything we’ve tried before, which means pretty much all of us will be out of our kitchen comfort zones. We’ll get to learn about countries we didn’t know before, and eat amazing new things.

  • Meetup date: Wednesday, January 30
  • Where: 13011 Lakeshore Drive South. Please park in the underground parking lot to leave the outdoor lot free for Local on Lakeshore guests.
  • Time: 6pm-ish
  • What to bring: Your friends! We have lots of room for this event, so feel free to invite people to participate. Also, along with your dish, please bring a note card or print out of your recipe, which includes the country it comes from.
  • Extra fun: I’m gathering a Youtube playlist of tourism videos from the different countries, to hopefully play in the background while we eat.

To help get you started, here is a list of the countries that will be inspiring us. Happy cooking! Let me know what you’re making.

Central Asia

  • Kazakhstan
  •  Kyrgyzstan
  •  Tajikistan
  •  Turkmenistan
  •  Uzbekistan

Eastern Europe

  • Belarus
  •  Moldova
  •  Ukraine

Eurasia

  • Russia

Transcaucasia

  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Georgia

Baltic states

  • Estonia
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
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What we ate in November and December

Greetings, fellow bakers and lovers of good food and good company,

I have been remiss in my blogging duties. So now I have to catch you up on what we ate in November and December. Only of course I’ve lost all my notes so we’ll have to go by the photos and my vague memories.

The most important thing to know about the November meetup is that Wendy, our hostess extraordinaire, was stunning. Dress, heels, and gorgeous calves to match. Of course I forgot to take a photo, so you’ll just have to imagine how splendid she looked. It does make me think we should plan an “all dolled up” theme, because sometimes it’s nice to have an excuse to look a little bit extra fabulous.

November’s theme was inspired by Jean, who was eager for a reason to whip up a Chicken Mushroom Pithivier. So we all dove into our cookbooks and recipe bookmarks in search of the dishes we’d been meaning to make but just hadn’t gotten around to. Below are the results. We devoured the following delicious items: Pithivier (recipe included – note the Bacon), Work-of-art-vegetable tart, roasted beets, German red cabbage, Ginger snaps, Salted caramel apple pie bars, Oatmeal shortbread, Crunchy coleslaw, Chocolate covered cake filled with lady fingers and delight, and two dips (Harvarti & dill and red bean). Wendy also made a really lovely fruit punch that I forgot to photograph. It was a perfect mix of flavours. Afterward I got to hang out with Wendy and Manfred and talk about some of their memorable camping trips and also East Prussian history.  It was a lovely evening.

And that’s what we ate in November. In December, joyful chaos reigned at our annual Cookie Swap, hosted by endlessly lovely Lisa. There were dogs. There were babies. It was quite bonkers and a lot of fun. I got to dance around by the Christmas tree with babies, and later I got to hold Margaux and she gave me all the kisses. My photos do not do any justice to the selection and sheer Yum that we enjoyed. Thank you to everyone who made cookies and ate cookies and to Lisa for hosting us and for the babies for being babies and the dogs for being puppers. 

Save the date for January 30 at the resort! Oh yes, it’s going to be a good one.

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Upcoming meetups!

Greetings, foodie friends!

Get ready, for there are many potluck adventures ahead. We begin with November and our theme of “The dish I’ve been dying to make or have been meaning to make for so long but just haven’t gotten around to it and could really use an excuse to finally try it.” This theme was inspired by Jean, who I happen to know has a new recipe she’s been wanting to spring on us.  So get hunting through your cookbooks for bookmarks you put there two years ago, then hit the kitchen with gusto!

Date: Thursday, November 15
Time: 6ish
Where: Wendy’s! Thank you Wendy for hosting. Address is 7125 Peach Orchard Road. Limited parking in the driveway but you can park along the road.
What to bring: Feel free to bring along your own plate and cutlery. There will be some there too. Also, please bring a copy of the recipe of your dish or a vague list of ingredients. And the Tupperware! Always the tupperware.
RSVP: Sign up on the Facebook event or pop me an email back to let me know you’re coming.
And now, for the “Save the Date” section of the email.
Wednesday, December 5th will be the annual Most Excellent Cookie Swap at Lisa’s place. Details to follow, however, plan for 6-packs of cookies to swap, along with a plate for snacking during the meetup.
January (tentative date Jan. 24) will see us Back in the USSR, and I don’t mean the Beatles’ song. Your challenge will be to attempt a recipe from one of the 15 post-Soviet states. We will once again dine in the fabulous setting of the Summerland Waterfront Resort ballroom. I chose this theme because I wanted our glorious hostess Lisa Jaager to have an excuse to make us more Estonian food. Knowing our collective culinary creativity, you could say I’m a little excited for this meetup.
That’s all for now.
Peace, love, and buttercream,
Sophia

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What we ate in September – Taste of Summerland Potluck

When was the last time you got to have a really good borscht? I mean really good. The kind made with a quart of full fat cream and a wallop and a half of pure, glorious butter. And vegetables, etc.

We had amazing borscht and much more at September’s Taste of Summerland Potluck, hosted by the lovely people at Summerland Arts Council. Extra big thanks to Elaine for organizing. Somehow we managed to subconsciously balance the perfect number of savoury dishes with a few too many desserts, which is exactly the right amount. We set up the tables in a row and sat communal style. We visited and ate, sipped tea, went boldly up for savoury seconds before hitting the desserts. We got to see the Inspired By show one more time before the opening of the Who Gives a Hoot Owl extravaganza (on now until November 17!) Potluck food photos and dramatic descriptions below.

I don’t have an event planned for October but will post November details soon. And December’s Cookie Swap is a go again at Lisa’s. Date and number of cookie info coming soon. I believe I’m relieved enough for all of us when I tell you that I will NOT be in charge of the cookie math this year. The New Year will once again kick off with a lavish potluck at the Summerland Waterfront Resort, followed by a “Church Suppers Through the Ages” meetup at the Service Station at the Lakeside Church in February (Probably. Could be March).

Here’s to being thankful for another year of baking club. If you have ideas for our upcoming 6th year of potlucking awesomeness, please email me and let’s chat.

Onward to the deliciousness!

We got to sample several varieties of apples grown by the lovely people at Carcajou Fruit. It’s a good apple season. There are some very tasty varieties available locally, so support your local farmers and indulge.

This is the borscht that Betty made. It was full of veggies from her garden. My mug nearly ranneth over. I have thought of it every day since eating it.

Janet brought baked ham, local honeyed carrots and red cabbage. Three kinds of mustard to go with the ham. Yeah. So good.

A veggie/pasta/saucey comfort food bake with yummy crunchy topping, brought by Don and Judy. I had two helpings.

I have forgotten the name of the lovely lady who brought this homemade currant jam, which we devoured with cheese and meats and crackers. It was just the right about of sweet, just the right amount of tart. It was just right.

I simply must post two photos of Val’s Plum Galettes. Just look at them.

That’s right. A small vat of the most splendid whipped cream to dollop right on top of a big wedge of one of those beauties. Yes. It happened.

Elaine brought these little apple tarts (made by Sophie?) which were gooey and rich. Would be an excellent breakfast tart, paired with a cup of Earl Grey and a view of the sea on a cold autumn day. One can dream…

Elaine also brought this Bold! Robust! Apple & Walnut Tarte Tatin. If there had been vanilla ice cream present, I would have camped out with the leftovers until I had to be forcibly removed from the building.

Inspired by memories of picking berries with her grandmother, mom and cousins out in Saskatchewan, Denise made a Saskatoon Berry Cream Cheese Crumb Cake, to which she also added four grown-in-Summerand apples. This is one of those cold weather delights. Yum.

Chantelle’s Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars. They were just as glorious as they sound. Oh, yes. I loved these. I had two little pieces the next morning for breakfast, with my tea. The sun was shining and all was right with the world.

Joy made this lovely plum cake with plums from her garden. The perfectly soft, perfectly sweet prune plums were nestled in a light sponge cake. The cake was still warm. I added a big dose of whipped cream and had myself a nice sit down.

Let it be known that I successfully made my first batch of apple fritters. They were better right out of the oil and tossed in sugar. Overnighting in the fridge made them soft and gave them the outer texture of cold rubber. Once bitten they were still tasty, still soft like a hug inside your mouth, but better warm. Would make again.

And that’s the report. I failed to photograph Heather’s hummus. It was tasty. I had it up against the ham and carrots. Nice combo.

Until next time, kitchen witches.

Sx

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Taste of Summerland Potluck

Greetings, everyone!

This month’s potluck is a little bit different – the Arts Council is hosting a Culture Days event on September 29 at the Art Gallery, and as a bonus they’re going host us for our potluck at the gallery in the evening. I’ve made a Facebook event and we have lots of room so feel free to bring someone along.
Start time: 6pmish at the Arts Centre on Wharton.
Theme: Taste of Summerland – a chance to showcase locally grown ingredients or locally made products. Be as simple or as eccentric as you desire.
To bring: A piece of paper or recipe card with either the recipe or list of ingredients. Tupperware for lovely, lovely leftovers. If you’d like to save on using paper plates and plastic cutlery, feel free to bring your own plate, etc.
There are many more events happening all day on Saturday – I hope you can take part in some of them!

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Road trip adventure to The Grist Mill and Gardens

This week a small contingent of baking club nerds took our meetup on the road. We journeyed to the beautiful Similkameen Valley to the Grist Mill and Gardens.

Our host was the one and only Chris Mathieson – philosopher, history buff, storyteller, and maker of a fine slow cooked beef brisket.

Chris told us some of the history of the site and introduced us to a few of the many goodies on the grow in their lush gardens, including apricots, peaches, wild greens, wheat for the mill, and more than 20 varieties of heritage apples. We learned about the great Zucca melon conspiracy, the history of Canada’s Red Fife wheat, and the best way to use a water mill to produce whole vs sifted flours.

Trying to tell time with the sundial.

The summer kitchen doubles as a stage for the Grist Mill’s annual concert series.

David checking out the rushing water of Keremeos Creek.

There is a spectacular view from the upper gardens.

Over the years, The Grist Mill has become much more than a lovely heritage site. They host a myriad of events throughout the year, from weddings to cooking classes and their annual concert series. Their campground is a relatively new addition, and in true Grist Mill style, they’ve added an option in which they’ll include all your breakfast fixings, from fresh baked muffins to bacon from their own pigs. You can cook up a camper van feast of amazing local food, and give them back the dishes when you’re done. Every year the Grist Mill adds changes and new events, so it’s worth following them on Facebook or Instagram to keep up.

Onward to the food! We potlucked in style and abundance, and even made a couple of new friends who joined us for our meal. In no particular order, we ate three kinds of pasta salad, a bean salad, salmon pie, Mexican-inspired rolls, deviled eggs, quiche, and mini spinach and mushroom quiches. Then, just as things couldn’t get any better, Chris brought out some of the beef brisket they were preparing for that night’s Sunday Dinner event.

We also got to sample from the Grist Mill’s pantry, including pickled garlic scapes, the ultimate addition to your summer caesars. We tried the smoked salsa, which was rich and thick and not too spicy. Chris explained their process of slow cooking and even smoking the tomato skins and it all sounded beyond my everyday kitchen capabilities, so I bought two large jars instead.

We even got to meet one of site’s newest additions, whose soft plumage and quiet peeping was thoroughly adored.

Cookbook and preserves porn!

Before we left, Chris took off into the gardens to forage some greens, and came back five minutes later with a huge bowl overflowing with a mix of wild and cultivated wonders. We munched some fresh lamb’s quarter as we packed up our leftovers.Thank you everyone for putting up with my somewhat sporadic organizing techniques. A huge thank you to Chris for his time, humour, stories, food knowledge, and for everything he does to keep this seed of agricultural history alive and thriving.

Several of us are keen to attend some of this summer’s concerts and/or Sunday dinners, so it looks like there were be additional road trip opportunities over the next few months. Email me at pleasebringcake@gmail.com if you’d like to be put on the carpool list.

Thanks everyone and happy cooking!

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Vegan Potluck at Purple Hemp

This kid. Rylee has been coming to baking club for half her life. During this time she has learned how to quickly scan a well-laden potluck table for anything that might contain bacon. She understands the value of second dessert, and the practical economy of sturdy Tupperware. These are life skills not taught in school. I like to imagine her years from now, at university somewhere, organizing potlucks or bringing cupcakes to study meetups.

There is something about this simple act of sitting down and eating together, enjoying a good chat and a catchup over a resplendent quantity of home cooked awesomeness. In this era of online connection and real life loneliness, that craving for community can be just as strong as the appetite for the food.

Happy 5th Anniversary to our splendid little baking/cooking/potluck/eating club. Thank you to everyone who joins in the ridiculousness and makes this the fabulous group that it is. Thank for you indulging when I throw weird-yet-wonderful themes at you like Bookish Bakes and Full Fat February. Extra thanks to everyone who kept it all going and gave me amazing support when I had to step away. I squeeze you.

As a special anniversary event, we have our first road trip. On Sunday, May 27th, we’ll be carpooling our way down to Keremeos for a lavish picnic potluck at the Grist Mill Gardens. Join the Facebook event or email me at pleasebringcake@gmail.com to sign up. Let me know if you can drive or if you’ll need to join a carpool group.

Want to know what we ate in April?

Our Vegan meetup fell during Earth Week (not planned but still splendid) and was held at Purple Hemp. We learned about why Chris and Elaine started the business nearly a year ago, and about their products and the practitioners offering a variety of health services. Baking club member and whole foods aficionado Victoria was our host for the evening. Here she is introducing us to Purple Hemp’s new smoothie menu.

Then we got down to eating. We had salads, we had appies, we had hearty savoury dishes and multiple desserts. It was really a perfectly balanced potluck. I’ve tried to include links to recipes where I have them.

For salads, we enjoyed Tania’s Thai inspired coleslaw, Rosemary & Sandy’s Yin & Yang Salad with jalapeno/tahini dressing, and got our lone non-vegan indulgence by way of the cheese in Jean’s Quinoa Taco Salad. I’ve decided that my only way forward with quinoa is with cheese. Same goes for kale.

For our Dips & Chips course, we devoured Dorthea’s Rustic Italian Caponata with Belgian Endives and/or popped bean crackers, scooped great chipfuls of Chantelle & Rylee’s Oh She Glows Hummus & Pita Chips, used fresh veggies to load up on Gina’s Roasted Beet Hummus, and sprinkled the works with Laura’s Roasted Chickpeas. We also got to try some of the Okanagan Rawsome Carrot Crisps, which Purple Hemp carries in store. Both a salad and a dipping dish, Jan’s Thai Veggie Wraps with peanut dipping sauce. I didn’t get to try one but they sure looked tasty.Now we need to take a minute to talk about Kim. Who is this woman? After five years of baking club, what do we really know about her? That she makes a mean Schneckenbrot, yes. That she can construct a Battenberg Cake using homemade marzipan, certainly. But three month aged vegan cheese? Did she go to some secret culinary school, like Hogwarts but for kitchen wizards?

Behold her epic Fromage et Charcuterie board, featuring:

  • Fennel Salami (raw dried plums, raw almonds, fennel, balsamic vinegar, cognac, black pepper).
  • Smoked Fermented Cashew Cheese, made using traditional cheese making techniques (ie it takes several MONTHS to make) and cold smoked for 6 hours.
  • Rosemary Crisps (flour cultured cashew milk, pomegranate molasses, pumpkin seeds, black sesame seeds, flax seeds, fresh rosemary, baking soda, salt)
  • Pate faux gras with coronation grape and balsamic glaze (raw cashews, coconut oil, mhite miso, cognac, vegan nutritional yeast, tahini, shiitake powder, coronation grapes, balsamic vinegar, agar agar)

All topped off with a zinger of a Quince Paste.

It was amazing. I don’t know what else to say.

This is no time to stop to break – we have the main courses to attend to! In this case we ladled ourselves helpings of Denise’s Tofu Enchiladas and Karen’s Sweet Potato Chickpea Spinach Coconut Curry from Oh She Glows.

Then we ate no less than six desserts. I’m counting Ingrid’s Homemade Aussie Bites as a dessert because they were slightly sweet and would be nice with a cup of tea. We also had slabs of Wendy’s Banana Chocolate Cake (aka Wacky Cake, aka Most Excellent Breakfast Cake). The decadence continued with Victoria’s Chai Spice Chashew Cheesecake and Lory’s Avocado Sweet Potato Brownies. Rylee devoured several of Emily’s Ginger Cookies, and I once again hauled out my old Raw Mango Fruit Tart recipe, which never fails me. I don’t have a formal recipe but I posted a rambling version of a recipe on Instagram.

And that’s everything we ate! I hope you’ll save the date for our trip to the Grist Mill. Thanks for being awesome.

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