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Happy-Gourmand

Easy as pie

It’s harvest season. At Rabbit Hollow, our humble property on the Westside, that means an embarrassment of riches.

We are grateful and overwhelmed with the bounty our yard offers in fruit, vegetables and herbs; we work daily to preserve, freeze and dry as much as we can to enjoy through the winter.

Some days picking and pitting and washing it just seems like hard work, and then I feel like I’ve been written into a chapter of Little House on the Prairie. But in the dead of winter, nothing brings a smile faster than using some of that goodness to make a meal.

We do cook some of the harvest fresh as well. I have eaten green beans sautéed in pasta sauce, chopped in salad, and added to caponata.

Peaches have been in chutney with pork and in salsa with salmon.

And don’t get me started with tomatoes … even eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner they are still piling up.

The fun dishes to make when we are up to our ears in healthy food are the desserts, of course. One of the dishes I make while gathering the fall fruit is a galette, a rustic version of pie that is easy to throw together, tastes delicious and even looks hip in this age of everything artisanal.

Galettes can be made with any kind of stone fruit or a mix of stone fruit and berries. You can adjust the spices as you like and use different sweeteners to your taste.

The galette recipe I use is from a cooking site I trust and enjoy, The Kitchn (sic). They allow for adaptations, and I have a few more if you try the recipe.

These are general tips that work for any galette or pie baking:

  • Don’t build your galette or pie until you are ready to put it in the oven. This helps prevent a soggy bottom.
  • Bake on the bottom rack of the oven (the other secret to prevent the dreaded soggy bottom).
  • Start with a hot oven for the first 10 minutes, then turn it down for the remainder of cooking time.
  • Watch the crust and if it browns too fast, tent a piece of aluminum foil over it until the last 5 minutes of baking. If it doesn’t brown fast enough, use the convection bake setting for the last 5-10 minutes of baking.
  • Ensure your filling will set by using a thermometer – especially if you use corn starch, it must boil for thickening to happen, so you need a filling temperature of 200F.

Maybe you’re not into pie, or at least not into baking one. If that’s the case, here are my suggestions for places to go for pie:

  • Shuswap Pie Company, Salmon Arm (worth the drive – lots of flavours and you can watch them making pie, too) 
  • Davison Orchard, Vernon (there’s something cool about getting pie from where the fruit is grown) 
  • Sandrine French Pastry & Chocolate (this might be the fanciest pie you’ve had, but it still tastes just as homemade) 
  • Joy Road Catering, Penticton Farmer’s Market (they make lovely galettes) 
  • Wild Pies, Oliver – also at the Penticton Farmer’s Market (they make hand pies, so you don’t have to share)

Any way you make it or buy it or slice it, pie is a fun and easy way to celebrate the harvest season.

I hope you’ll do your part to support the local farmers and producers and have at least one piece.



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Don't turn quite so fast

The year I was born there was a hit song by The Byrds called Turn! Turn! Turn! that quoted Biblical verses about everything having a season.

I know I’m getting older and slower amidst a fast world, but can someone tell me why the season for everything can’t match the one we are currently living in?

It’s barely past Labour Day and I’ve seen three separate ads for pumpkin spice lattes. I’m still doing my morning walk, in shorts, with Ella, in an orchard that has peaches on the trees.

I reserve my right to experience pumpkin spice after the first frost, thank you very much.

Superstore put Halloween candy on display this week. It makes me wonder, is this the stock that didn’t sell last year, and they just need to make room in the back for the new arrivals coming soon?

I am not inspired by their display, but rather put off. Why should I store candy for almost two months? Maybe they are hoping I’ll eat it before Halloween and need to buy more. That’s just mean.

Costco has gone all out and jumped right ahead to Christmas already. Perhaps they think that I will have free time with fall routines and want to start wrapping my presents. Or maybe they just had too many pumpkin lattes and they are confused, thinking the Yule is around the corner.

Not at my house, it’s not. I am a fan of Christmas, and all holiday celebrations – but each in their own season.

I enjoy experiencing the weather we have throughout the year in Canada. Here in the Okanagan, we are fortunate to have beautiful springs, summers, falls and winters.

All of them are different, but all have something to offer. Mother Nature sometimes spends more time in one season than another, but they each have their time, just as the song said.

I believe in the essence of things, in their intrinsic magic and uniqueness. I love to celebrate the taste of fresh foods in their season. The flavours of all those seasons deserve to be relished in their proper environment, or if not, as a special treat while reminiscing.

Otherwise, life all runs together like a melting rainbow candy.

If you need to have a taste of this season, don’t turn quite so fast to reach for the latest bit of marketing.

Make a pear frangipani tart or a tomato salad. If you see peaches around as I do, then here’s a fun twist on a salad idea that will use some of those tomatoes as well: Peach and Arugula Salad.

Make those coffee shops serve those pumpkin spice lattes next month; tell them you want to stay in season and request an apple cider.

Breathe the frost-free air, and remember:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
— Ecclesiastes 3:1-8



A pilgrimage to dinner

We went to God’s Mountain for dinner with friends this week.

It was our celebration of another summer season here in this little paradise full of food. But the name of the place is only part of why a dinner there was the perfect experience.

The hosts were a pair of chefs well known in the Okanagan. Dana Ewart and Cam Smith are the wunderkind who coined the term “cuisine de terroir” when they decided to feature local, seasonal fare at their Joy Road Catering table.

People who wanted to experience a taste of the region made the pilgrimage to partake of their meals.

Dana and Cam speak of food the way the Sex in the City girls spoke of martinis and expensive shoes. But there is no pretentiousness at all; the evening is very low key and full of laughs.

There is a reverence for the meal at Joy Road events that just happens as people eat and drink and share the camaraderie around the table.

Even if you’re not a sentimental gourmande like me, you get drawn into the world of appreciating the circle of life that comes with good food.

You hear about the prosciutto that comes from their pigs, who get to eat scraps from the kitchen and farmers’ market and get washed daily by the dishwashers.

Dana tells a story like the one about the grapes being in the dessert because they were so prolific this year the vines blocked the internet at their property. How can you not love what you’re eating after that?

Since the Okanagan is as much about the drink as the food it accompanies, most of these dinners feature local wine as well as vittles. The evening we enjoyed was with Wild Goose Winery, which was started by another pioneer family in the region, having planted their first vineyards in 1984.

They share their passion as farmers with the same fervour as the Joy Road team, so this was a well-paired menu.

All of us at the table started to relax and smile once we sat down at the table and sipped and tasted. When the winemaker, Hagen Kruger, told us about buying port for his kids to drink on their wedding day or the birth of his grandkids, we laughed and shared our family stories with neighbours, too.

People I’d never met were like old friends by the time dessert came around. A sense of community was formed.

Dana and Cam have sold their business, and they are moving on to new adventures, so this was one of the last dinners they would host. Joy Road has new owners, and they will undoubtedly do wonderful things too, but this particular form of magic is coming to an end.

Our pilgrimage was also an homage.

As the last dessert plates were being cleared and we savoured the final sips of the port style wine served as a special treat, we thanked our hosts for our full bellies and happy hearts.

Roland Kruger, the “front end” owner at Wild Goose, invited us to drop by the winery with the sincerity of a long-standing neighbour. I know we will make a point of getting there before the end of the harvest.

Dana thanked us for coming and told us how she couldn’t do what she does without sharing. She said that one of her favourite things has been getting emails in the winter from people who have worked to re-create a Joy Road evening in their home community, sharing local ingredients to make a meal together, even in the frozen north.

Dana and Cam wanted to share a taste of place with their food (that’s what “terroir” means). Not only have they spent the last 15 years sharing the wondrous flavours of the Okanagan, they have shared their hearts and souls and built a community of kindred spirits who learned to respect and appreciate local seasonal food.

Cheers to them. Here’s to spreading their good word.



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Ella and the dog days

The hottest days of summer are often referred to as “the dog days.”

The dog star, Sirius, rises and sets with the sun at this time of year; it is the brightest star in the sky and in ancient times they thought its heat added to that of the sun.

And so you have the ancient logic as to why August got so hot.

For me, the dog star is more about my special friend. August is when my four-legged pal has her birthday, and summer is one of our favourite times of year.

Well, next to spring and fall and winter, that is.

Ella is my pal. She is a chocolate Labrador retriever, my breed (and colour) of choice. She is cute (I tell people she practises looking cute when no one is around) and she has a wonderful smile.

She loves to be with people and is curious to know what is going on. If nothing is going on, however, snoozing is her activity of choice. How can you not love someone with those qualities?

Ella is the perfect companion. She reminds me every day about the joys of living in the moment. Every time she chases her tail with complete abandon, I smile.

All I have to do is tell her to try to catch it by going the other way, and she does. Do you have a friend like that?

She is a foodie, too, just like me: she loves the berries we grow in the yard, and fresh garden cucumbers and carrots and beans. I suppose I should really say she is a gourmand, as in truth, she is simply motivated by her tummy. She will do anything for food.

Having a dog is a fantastic experience, in short because dogs are creatures that know how to love unconditionally.

They will treat you with the same enthusiasm whether you had a good day or a bad one, they will be just as excited to see you after ten minutes away or 10 days, and they can often be wonderful comic relief.

I have worked with Ella doing obedience, confirmation shows and rally obstacle courses. Of course, we have done work retrieving too, as this is her No. 1 instinct. (She swims like an Olympic athlete, and I don’t just say that as a proud pet owner.)

We have a few blue ribbons hanging in the front entry room, but even when we didn’t win any prizes, she always performed like a star and was the ultimate teammate. We have even shared the odd ice cream cone in celebration.

Ella and I celebrated her 12th birthday this week with time in the garden, sniffing the flowers and a sunset walk overlooking the lake, checking for deer and generally enjoying the moment.

Even if you don’t have a dog, I wish you a lazy, happy last weekend of summer, enjoying your moments in the sun and under the stars.



More Happy Gourmand articles

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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