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 if you’d like to be put on the carpool list.

Thanks everyone and happy cooking!

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