Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Nana Schneider's Pie Crust

Here is a great pie crust for you to try out. This recipe is used extensively in our home and works great. It is a more traditional, rolled pastry crust and is super easy.

Nana Schneider's pie crust. A rolled pastry that works every single time with most of our flours. I usually use Park for this recipe and I sift it before it goes in the mixer. Nana didn't make a lot of pies that I remember, but she sure made butter tarts at Christmas time. As I grew older, that was my annual Christmas present from her. A tin of homemade tarts. Even now I can still smell the aroma as I lifted the lid off the tin. As far as I know, this recipe is her never fail pastry.

Nana (Marguerite) Schneider's Pie Crust
2.5 Cups flour (I sift our Park flour for this recipe)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 lb lard (I always use butter)
2.5 tsp water
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 egg

Dry ingredients go into the mixer bowl and are blended well. I use the kitchen aid.
Cut the lard into small cubes and incorporate into the dry ingredients with the mixer until it is coarse looking. Stop the mixer.
Add the egg and vinegar and start mixing once more.
Add enough water as you are mixing so that the dough just starts to come together. It may be less water and it may be more. Don't worry about it.

At this point, take the dough out of the mixer bowl and shape into 2 small flattened balls. These can now go into the fridge for about 15 minutes or you can go ahead and freeze one for later use. Depends on how much dough you need for your baking project.

On a floured surface, roll the dough as thin as practical. You will need to add small dustings of flour to keep the rolling pin free of dough. The thinner the pastry, the more tender and flaky it will be. Now you can go ahead and use in your favourite pie or tart recipe!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Back to hunting...

After an absence from hunting of about 6 years, I finally accepted an invitation by Kevin Kossowan and Jeff Senger to join them in Southern Alberta for a few days of shotgun swinging and bowstring pulling. What an amazing time I had and something funny happened on the way to the field.

I've hunted for most of my life. For whatever reason, since I can remember, I have wanted to hunt things and eat them. Some of my fondest memories of childhood include wandering the nearby forests with bow in hand and a folded section of tin foil in my pocket. The hope was to be able to get an arrow into some form of small game and then cook it up.

Over the years, my hunting evolved into something different. Evolved is perhaps the wrong word, for it evokes a sense of improvement or development in a positive direction. That is simply not the case though as I discovered on my most recent trip with food minded hunter friends Kevin and Jeff. For whatever reason, my hunting over the years had morphed away from food and became strictly trophy based. The meat became almost an inconvenience, something that had to be dealt with by law so as not to be wasted. I eventually became both disconnected and disappointed with my hunting activities. Switching from efficient compound bows in the mid-90's to more and more primitive weapons kept things interesting for sure. But the hunting became a chore, something that kept me from my family and made unsuccessful trips all the more unacceptable. Eventually, I quit hunting altogether.

Enter this most recent trip. Traditional bow in hand, the joy of good friends and laughing. A chance to get away from a hard Fall season of business and harvest. But most importantly...a chance to make some food! Back to my youthful feeling of the joy of the field with the prospect of getting to eat something I had a hand in harvesting from the wild. But the bow, an heirloom Bear Kodiak from 1956, while beautiful and easy shooting, was viewed by one particular friend as "pretentious". What?! Me pretentious? While the comment was made in the most friendly of contexts, it really hit home. Here I was with only 3 days available and desperately wanting to make some ingredients for charcuterie with a weapon in my hand that made it ever more difficult to achieve my goal.

Kevin Kossowan's Photo

The day after I arrived home from such a great trip, the laptop opened Ebay. Within two more days I had purchased my first modern compound bow since more than 20 years ago. I look forward already to enjoying next year's hunting season with a much more efficient weapon and a greater chance at putting something in the charcuterie cabinet...and friends that find me ever so slightly less pretentious.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Winter Cooking Classes - #1 Indian Cuisine

I am proud to introduce the first in our series of winter cooking classes. On Sunday, November 2, 2014 we happily introduce you to Michelle Peter-Jones and Addie Raghaven. Michelle and Addie are both passionate foodies and expert cooks. It also helps that they are both of Indian origin and both have studied Indian cuisine during long stays in exotic India! You will learn the art of Indian cooking from two true experts on the subject. You will also enjoy learning about India and it's amazing culture of flavour.

The classes will be held in the warm and cozy kitchen of our Strawbale Farm House. A gentle fire rolling in the wood stove will make you feel right at home. The kitchen not large, so class sizes are limited to 8 participants. We will also utilize the outdoor cob oven for much of the menu...the taste of wood-fired dishes are beyond compare.

The day begins at noon and will run until we are finished enjoying the days cooking. Fine refreshments are included, the food will be amazing and the things you learn will be with you always.

To register for the class RSVP to goldforestgrains@yahoo.ca 

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

GFG's Ultimate Peanut Butter Cookies

This is a family favourite on our farm. I like them crispy for dunking in my afternoon coffee. This instantly brings me back to when I was a kid on Nana and Papa's farm where the same ritual was played out 40 years ago. Cindy and the kids like them a little more chewy and with Chocolate Chips. So, take your pick how you like your peanut butter cookie. Either way, they're pretty darn good.

1/2 cup butter - room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter - It has to be crunchy peanut butter or it's not a peanut butter cookie.
1-1/2 cup GFG Park or Red Fife flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1 - Cream the butter and sugars
2 - Add egg, vanilla and peanut butter and beat well
3 - In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients
3 - Add dry to wet and mix until incorporated

Drop suitable spoon fulls of dough onto a cookie sheet and make a criss cross pattern with a fork. Again, if you don't do this...it's not a peanut butter cookie.

In the meantime, you will have pre-heated your oven to 400 degrees. Once the oven is ready, bake your cookies. This is the tricky part. The cookies go from chewy to crispy really quick. So if you like chewy cookies they will cook in about 8 mins. Once they just start to turn colour around the edges. Leave them to colour fully for another 2 minutes or so and they will be crunchy when they cool, ready for coffee.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Rain, glorious rain!

With seeding about 1/2 complete I was getting nervous about the lack of rain in our area. It was dry...very dry. While that made the seeding operations steam along, it did nothing for my anxiety over whether we would get to harvest anything that we were busy seeding. 

With organic farming, the weather and timing are absolutely critical. A good, quick germination immediately after a light tillage means that the crops will get ahead of any possible weed infestation. It is all about competition for resources at ground level. Seed the wheat too early or when it is too dry and it sits in the ground waiting while all around it existing weed sprouts happily push to the sky soaking up the snow's valuable moisture. At times, it is a very complicated process for me. I am glued to the computer monitor watching the latest radar tracking timing the seeding process as precisely as I can. 

This year has been especially crucial as there simply has been no moisture to contend with at all. Luckily, we had a fairly good snow pack and our clay loam soils have retained a lot of moisture. The seeds that were sown earlier are now starting to show themselves. First up is Buckwheat!

This Buckwheat was seeded about a week ago. It is only intended as a plow-down so it was sown earlier than Buckwheat normally would. Buckwheat is a short-season crop, maturing in as little as 90 days under ideal conditions. Normally, I would till the fields from time to time getting rid of the weeds until early June and then seed the Buckwheat that would then be harvested in October. 

Finally, the rain came today! After days of rain all around us I was ready for a psychiatrist. Overnight last night, we had some moisture. Off and on all day today we've had good periods of rain. This will go a long way towards germinating the wheat and flax that have also been seeded.

Nothing stresses me more than a drought...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to Order and some Pork!

We are getting a lot of questions about how to order products so I thought I should post something formal. All of the products that we have for sale are listed on the Products and Pricing page. If it isn't listed there, we don't have it for sale.

To place an order for pickup at either the farm or Strathcona Farmers Market simply refer to the aforementioned page and then drop us an email with what you'd like to pick up. It will require up to 4 days to fill your order! Please don't order products with the intention of picking up the next day. That makes us feel bad that we are letting you down. We do not keep an inventory of milled flour. We mill fresh to order.

Pork...we now have a limited selection of pork for sale. Inspected. Organically grown/fed. We have chops, cutlets and ground pork for sale. Prices are in the mid to high teens per kg. so it's comparable to other similar pork products around.

One other thing...we are a small farm. We have modeled our farm on our ability to grow just enough grains of various species to mill in to flour for sale direct to consumers. This adds the most value to the grain farming side of things and enables us to at least try to be profitable. If you'd like to purchase grains for home milling, we will still have to charge the same price as we would achieve for our flour products. This is simply a function of supply/demand as we only grow what we anticipate needing for flour sales and future seed supply. We rarely have more than that. The only grains we have enough of to be able to offer for sale at reduced "grain pricing" are Rye and Park Wheat. We hope you understand.