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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be put on the carpool list.
Thanks everyone and happy cooking!
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 email@example.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.
Greetings, lovely food enthusiasts of Summerland. Before we begin the tour of What We Ate in March, please save the date for our Vegan/Raw Vegan Potluck on April 19 at Purple Hemp on Victoria Street. Start time: 6pm-ish. RSVP: Join the Facebook event or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know you’re coming. We’ll have the opportunity to meet some of the health practitioners at Purple Hemp and learn a bit more about the company. Notes for this event: If your dish is gluten free, please include a label to help our friends with celiac know which dishes they can safely eat. As always, remember your Tupperware for leftovers!
This month we enjoyed a spectacular Canada-inspired potluck at Maple Roch’s beautiful new store on Victoria Street. Our hostess was the one and only Mirjana, who made us maple-spiked Caesars and let us be among the first to sample the maple syrup that was recently tapped from Summerland trees. We discovered this was to sweeten us up for Mirjana’s Really Hard Canadian Food Quiz. I scored a whopping three points. Download the quiz to learn some interesting Canada Food Facts.
As always, I missed out on some photos, including LeeAnna’s Mars Bar Smartie Squares (Because Mars Bars are Canadian!) You’ll just have to imagine the chocolate gooey goodness punctuated with nubbins of sweet smartie.
It’s worth noting that this meetup marked the first time a hair dryer was used as a warming tool. Challenged with refreshing the meltiness of the cheese for her Deconstructed Bacon Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onion Marmalade, Dorthea deftly employed the hair dryer to achieve ideal cheesy softness. I hope the next time a cheese sandwich needs heating someone will carry on Dorthea’s boldness and attempt the Sam method.Onward with the rest of the treats!
And that’s what we ate in March. I hope I didn’t forget anything. A wonderful time was had by all. Thanks again to Mirjana and to Maple Roch for hosting our wild gang. See you at Purple Hemp for Vegan night!
Hope to see you next week!
We need to talk about Bacon. About dates stuffed with almonds and wrapped in bacon. Water chestnuts wrapped in bacon. Tater tots wrapped in bacon. Pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon. Meatballs stuffed with jalapeno Havarti cheese wrapped in bacon. Cake…you guessed it…wrapped in bacon.
And those are just things wrapped in bacon. There are also crackers made with cheese and bacon, topped with delicate prawns. There are Hungarian biscuits made with butter and bacon. Balls of cream cheese rolled in bacon bits. Tiny maple bacon tarts. Quiche with bacon. Creamy bacon dip. Yams with bacon. Bacon bombs. We’re talking literal explosions of BACON.
We haven’t even touched on the facon. Bacon that isn’t bacon. Because it’s facon. Infused with coconut mystery and embedded in cornbread and macaroni cheese.
In the nearly five years of running this fabulous group (Summerland Bakers’ 5th anniversary is coming up at the end of April – should we have a party?), I continue to be awed by our collective culinary creativity. Thank you to everyone who answered the call of BACON, and to the glorious Lisa and the Summerland Waterfront Resort for once again hosting our giant January potluck. Before I begin with the photos, SAVE THE DATE for our upcoming gathering:
- When: Wednesday, March 14th, about 6ish
- Where: Maple Roch’s new location on Victoria Street
- Theme: Canadian Classics. This can be a classic Canadian dish or something that features an iconic Canadian ingredient. Call shotgun if you’re doing Nanaimo bars or butter tarts, so we don’t have end up with too many.
Onward with the photos! There are several dishes that I’ve missed. When there are more than 20 of us at a meetup I get a little sensually overwhelmed and struggle to maintain focus.
Confession: I ate cookies for breakfast for three days in a row following our annual cookie swap. I feel no shame, for they were delicious. I have more in the freezer that I’m trying to save until July. I want to eat Christmas cookies in July, with an iced coffee. They say it’s good to set goals for yourself. Time will tell if this one is unrealistic.
I’m going to play a game of “were these your cookies?” with my photo collection. Lisa (hostess extraordinaire – thank you!) made a list of who made what, but sometimes I can’t tell my ginger cookies from my ginger crackle cookies. Forgive me if I get a few wrong or if I’ve missed some. You know how distracted I get around all the food. Look at this wonderful group! A huge welcome to our newest baking club foodies.
Before I begin with the cookie photos, Save The Date for January 11th, also known as The Epic Summerland BACON Potluck. The glorious folks at the Summerland Waterfront Resort will once again be hosting us. Start thinking of dishes that feature BACON in some way. For those who are vegetarian or who just want to try something new, “facon” is also welcome. We’ll meet at 6pm and start the whip-round at 6.30. We may try a film again, in this case Footloose, staring Kevin BACON.
To the cookies!