Weekend Getaway: Westcoast Food Tour

I was recently invited on a whirlwind food tour of the Fraser Valley, Surrey and White Rock, all of which are part of the Lower Mainland, sitting just north of the U.S. border and south of Vancouver. A hop, skip and jump from Seattle, particularly if you nab a train and make yourself some cocktails in a jar for the voyage (who me?), the American dollar is strong compared to the Canadian dollar making for a budget friendly adventure. The best! I grabbed a friend, hopped on the train and spent two days on a

Westcoast Food Tour

, eating a massive amount of food and learning. Here, a few highlights:

.The green goddess dressing (and entire menu) from Water Shed Arts Cafe in Langley. It was some of the best food I've had in a long time. Simple, healthy, delicious. Thank you to Tourism Langley for showing off your part of the world!

Water Shed Arts Cafe
Water Shed Arts Cafe

.A helicopter ride from

Sky Helicopters

in Pitt Meadows, who are currently running an AMAZING deal you should definitely, immediately take advantage of.

Sky Helicopters
Sky Helicopters

.

Chaberton Winery

who makes delicious, crisp, affordable and

refined

white, rose and red wines. I fell in love with their wines and I lugged home so many bottles that I now can't bring myself to drink because they're SO good, I'm waiting for a special occasion. (You can also take a

helicopter to the winery

, btw!)

Chaberton Winery
Chaberton Winery

.Local Harvest Market in Chilliwack - a young farm run by a small, passionate family, they use earth-friendly growing techniques wherein they layer thick mulch (from local mushroom growers, and wood chippers) and minimize weeding, turn out amazing produce. Walking through the fields with the owner inspired me to get back into my gardens at home. This area is also home to several dairies and food producers, including Smits & Cow. Simply driving down a road will inevitably lead you to a tasting room or small store of food. Check out Tourism Chilliwack to learn more about this area and for maps to all the fab food finds.

Local Harvest
Local Harvest

.Tulip season is over, but I highly recommend a visit to Abbotsford Tulip Festival. Planted and managed by a young woman whose father owns the land, she did an AMAZING job laying out the fields and finding rare varieties. It was a fabulous visit! Stunning afternoon, even in the rain.

Image-1
Image-1

.

The Wooden Spoon

cafe in White Rock is perfect for a brunch for dudes, hungry people, anyone with a hangover, or anyone wanting to feel in with the in crowd. This modern, hip cafe is clearly a neighborhood favorite, offers hearty portions and makes delicious morning-appropriate cocktails.

.

The Honey Bee Centre

in Surrey - if you love honey, you must stop here. I collect honey on any adventure, as the flavors tend to be something you can't find at home. Here, they offer jars of local honey (I chose the Blueberry Honey and sent a jar home to my family in NY, and the Dandelion honey for it's strong medicinal taste) and some rare, international finds. EXCELLENT SELECTION.

 **This is not a sponsored post! My trip was hosted, but my blog, ideas and recommendations are 100% amyp**

HOW TO :: Grow Your Own Fig Tree | Propagating Figs

This is a great fall project as we move into winter. Be sure to position the cutting in a sunny spot so it can put on growth before winter really sets in. It will go dormant over winter (keep the soil moisture consistently JUST damp) and pick up growth as we turn into the new year.figs_food52 copy I think you'll be surprised at how simple this is, but for anyone interested, here are the instructions if you want to DIY it:

  1. Find a fig tree! Maybe your neighbor has one or maybe you're in a local park.
  2. Using pruning shears, cut a 4- to 10-inch long piece of soft wood new growth, just above a plant node.
  3. Fill a large pot with potting soil (a simple plastic pot that shrubs come in is perfect) and stick the fig cutting in, cut side down. Don't worry about stripping the bark, spacing or anything. You just need to place the cutting in a well-drained medium with space to grow.
  4. Water, water, water! Moisture is key. Eventually, your cutting will grow smaller little leaves and develop a root system. You know it is ready for replanting or repotting when you give the plant a slight tug and it resists.

Homemade Yogurt

yogurt + bowlHomemade yogurt is ultimately an easy kitchen project anyone can put together with success, as long as you’re willing to accept a little inconsistency……... When I was in elementary school, my mom packed my lunch every day. I wasn’t one of those kids who glamorously got to wait in line for a hot lunch; I was the one with a grease-stained paper bag. On the very rare occasion, my mom would pack up a yogurt cup. I favored the kind with sweetened yogurt on top and jam-like fruit on the bottom.

Thankfully, my taste buds have matured and the thought of pre-sweetened yogurt is cringe-inducing. And while I eat yogurt daily, I never considered making it at home until my friend Lynda eco-guilted me by pointing out my habit creates considerable waste from all the plastic yogurt containers I blow through. This simple statement of fact forced me into the kitchen.

Homemade yogurt is ultimately an easy kitchen project anyone can put together with success, as long as you’re willing to accept a little inconsistency. Made from the binding of milk proteins, homemade yogurt will vary in texture and richness each time you make it. Temperatures, good bacteria and milk fats will vary slightly with every batch you make, so no two will be identical.

To make yogurt, milk is heated to just below boiling and then cooled—a warm jump start wherein good bacteria can proliferate—and then held at a consistently warm temperature for hours. You need to introduce good bacteria (just like bread yeast) to the milk to activate the fermentation process. You can use either non-fat, low-fat or whole milk as all produce excellent results. The biggest challenge with homemade yogurt is maintaining a warm space needed for the milk proteins to bind together. You can incubate warmed milk in a number of ways: storing in a cooler with a hot water bottle, placing in a warm cupboard next to a hot water heater, even using one of those 70s-era plug-in yogurt makers. Over the years, I’ve settled on a simpler technique that doesn’t require special equipment—justyour oven.

After the yogurt sets up in the oven overnight, it is chilled where it will thicken further. Homemade yogurt varies in texture. I prefer a smooth, pourable consistency, but you can easily manipulate yogurt into a thicker, lusher product.  If the final batch is too loose or you are after a Greek-style yogurt, strain the chilled yogurt through a fine mesh sieve at room temperature for several hours. This produces less yogurt (about a pint, depending on just how thick you want it) and a cup or two of whey that you can use in another recipe (try using it to cook polenta).

For a hands on class about homemade fermentation, including how to make yogurt, kefir kombucha and more, check out my upcoming class schedule. Hope to see you there!

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HOMEMADE YOGURT

makes 4 cups | start to finish: 30 minutes active time + overnight rest

6 cups of dairy milk 4 tablespoons plain yogurt with live yogurt cultures

Heat the milk over medium heat until quite hot, but not boiling—about 180 degrees if you’re using a thermometer. Remove pot from the heat and let cool until it’s 115 degrees, still nicely warm, but not immediately hot to the touch.

While the milk is cooling, preheat the oven to 120 degrees or your lowest setting. Turn oven off once it’s been warmed, but do not open the door.

When milk has reached 115 degrees, place the 4 tablespoons of plain yogurt into a large, non-metal bowl and slowly whisk in one cup of the warmed milk. Add the rest of the milk to the bowl and stir to combine. Cover with a large plate or plastic wrap. If using plastic wrap, poke a few holes on top to allow air flow;  if you’re using a plate, air will escape around the edges.

Working quickly, place the bowl in the oven and close the door. Turn on the oven light, if you have one, and let the bowl sit overnight.

In the morning, remove the bowl from oven and test the set of your yogurt. If the yogurt is very thin, like heavy cream, and you’d like it thicker, you may reheat your oven to 120 degrees and place the bowl in the oven for another 4-6 hours. Afterwards, move to the refrigerator to chill completely, where yogurt will continue to thicken slightly.

If you would like a Greek-style final yogurt, set a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and drain off the whey. The longer you strain the yogurt the thicker it will become, so be mindful and check the set every hour or so.

Store the final yogurt in a covered glass jar or plastic container in the refrigerator. Yogurt will keep for several weeks. Save four tablespoons as a starter for your next batch.

washed jars • store in fridge

WEEKEND DIY :: Orange Marmalade

marmalade This time of year, the best way to boost your pantry is to step outside our local sources and reach for some citrus. As winter draws to a close, we could all use a little zing, and this recipe for orange marmalade is zingy and versatile.

The secret to a good marmalade is in your preparation. Make sure to leave time to peel and slice your fruit properly, and reserve the seeds for an added boost of pectin. You can leave the citrus rinds as thick or thin as you prefer, but I like long thin slivers in my marmalade. This recipe is a great marmalade basic that will leave chewy rinds suspended in clear orange jelly. You may use any oranges you like. I love Valencias for their heavy juice, or Cara Cara, whose rind smells and tastes like a traditional orange but whose fruit gives a lovely red tone.

This basic marmalade recipe can be modified to suit you with the addition of spices or booze. A splash of bourbon stirred in at the end will smooth out the bitterness of the citrus and give the marmalade some depth. You may also add a vanilla bean to the pot, infusing the fruit with a round sweetness from the beans. A whole clove or two also complements the citrus, offering a bit of warm spice to the jar.

Marmalade is a great pantry staple because of its ability to be served with sweet or savory foods. Use this on your toast, or smear a layer on the bottom of a sweet tart. You can also add fresh garlic and water to the marmalade for a fresh-tasting glaze for fish, chicken, or duck. I also serve marmalade on cheese plates alongside a soft creamy cheese.

Orange Marmalade

Makes about 4 half pints start to finish: 1 hour + overnight

2 pounds oranges, scrubbed 1 lemon, scrubbed 3 cups water 2 to 3 cups sugar

With a vegetable peeler, remove the outer peel from both the oranges and the lemon, avoiding the white pith. When done, stack peels, cut into very thin strips and toss into a large pot. Cut the peeled fruits into halves. Extract the seeds and juice from each half, placing the seeds into a muslin bag and reserving the juiced halves. Pour the juice from the fruit into your pot, along with the muslin bag of reserved seeds. Add all of the juiced lemon halves, and 4 of the juiced orange halves. (Adding the juiced citrus halves aids in adding pectin to the marmalade.) Add the water and set over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, cooking until the rinds are soft, about 30 minutes. Cover the pot and put in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

The next morning, measure the marmalade. For every cup of citrus and liquid, add 3/4 cup of sugar to the pot. Return the pot to medium-low heat and cook down the mixture. Skim off any foam that forms and stir the marmalade often. Put a plate into the freezer for testing the set. Cook until the marmalade gels, 30 to 60 minutes.

While marmalade is cooking, prepare jars and lids for canning by washing in hot soapy water. To test the marmalade, remove the plate from the freezer, spoon a small amount onto the cold plate, and let it sit a moment. Push the marmalade with your fingertip. If a wrinkle forms in the jelly, the marmalade is done. If it is loose and runny, keep cooking and stirring until thickened. When your desired consistency is reached, remove the muslin bag of seeds and the citrus halves, squeezing any excess juice into the pot. You can compost your solids.

Add the hot marmalade to the jars. Using a damp clean towel, wipe the rims of the jars, and place lids and rings on the jars. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs and let them cool on the counter. When cooled, remove the metal rings,check for proper seals, and label with date and contents. Store in a cool, dark cupboard until ready to use, for up to a year. Store in the fridge after opening.