“Wine is one of the most cultivated things in the world…
…and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” – Ernest Hemingway
Visiting a vineyard has always been a pleasant past time of mine. Here in Vancouver we have a few local wineries a little bit off the beaten path. Last month I re visited Township 7 (in the 7th Township of Langley, off the highway in the Fraser Valley area) with a friend.
I tried to locate a Township 7 Merlot that was part of a Christmas gift basket but everyone that previously had it in stock was sold out. After exhausting my search I decided to go directly to the source – Township 7 in Langley. Their other location (Naramata Bench in the beautiful Okanagan Valley) was several more hours away by car.
Once there we ended up doing a tasting.
Once finished we ended up becoming wine club members. Which means that every season we’ll be getting drunk several bottles shipped to us. Which means that by Spring/Summer we’re certain to be in the red. Other than that, we’re always white and bubbly.
I look forward to soon sharing a new podcast that my neighborhood wino friend and I have decided to create. We look forward to introducing your senses to BC wine along with the art, culture and culinary experiences brought together by knowledgeable people and others who like to indulge appreciate good wine and good times. Life is meant to be relished.
We’re in the process of getting the website up and running. You’ll be among the first to hear about it.
Although I hardly eat meat anymore I’ve always loved a good grilled rib-eye steak. It’s my favourite cut. I recently came across this online article from “The Times of Israel” and found it intriguing. Thought it worth a share.
Have you heard about this?
An Israeli company announced earlier this month that it has made the world’s first laboratory cultivated rib-eye steak complete with all the flavor and texture of regular meat, minus the harm to animals.
Aleph Farms claims its printed meat has all the flavor and texture a butcher can offer but *without harming animals, opening the way for sustainable food production.
*Key Words. I really hope this new method becomes the norm.
See link below for full story by Stuart Winer – The Times of Israel (February 10th, 2021)
Dine Out Vancouver Festival is about community, collaboration, and sharing Vancouver’s culinary story.
Along with the Wines of British Columbia, and a host of other Community Partners, Tourism Vancouver is proud to continue to showcase Vancouver’s culinary talent as well as the many different culinary and cultural experiences that only a city like ours can offer.
It all started with an idea. A group of food and wine enthusiasts got together with the team at Tourism Vancouver back in 2002 and pitched the idea of a fixed-price menu deal to get Vancouverites out and into restaurants during a normally slow time of the year. Fifty-seven restaurants jumped on board and from that stellar yet humble beginning, Dine Out Vancouver Festival has grown into Canada’s largest food and drink festival.
Today, the festival is a promotional umbrella that brings together hundreds of chefs, more than 300 restaurants, wineries, craft breweries, suppliers and more for a month of dining, food-forward virtual events and experiences designed to give culinary enthusiasts the opportunity to taste the best flavours of the city. Dine Out Vancouver Festival also includes special hotel offers to help make an overnight Dine Out experience both safe and relaxing.
For 2021, we wish our out-of-Province and International friends could join us, but unfortunately for now, non-essential travel into Canada is not permitted and not recommended into and within British Columbia. BC Residents, let’s do our part by continuing to follow current public health orders. Stay local and support local, with your immediate household or bubble in accordance with the latest guidelines.
Runs February 5 – March 7, 2021.
Check out the participating restaurants and hotels:
This is one of my favorite Vegetarian dishes. It hits all the taste sensations; sweet, savory, sour and nutty.
One of the things I love best when ordering Thai food is Pad Thai. One of the things I like least when ordering Thai food is Pad Thai...when it is not up to par. I’ve been disappointed more than once. So I’ve been making my own.
Making Pad Thai is much easier than you think. You can tweak ingredients to your own liking and add chicken and/or shrimp to make it non vegetarian or omit the egg to make it vegan. Experimenting with flavors is best. For me personally, I love an excellent homemade vegetarian Pad Thai using rice noodles. Depending on my mood I might switch up the veggies or make more or less of the sauce. So this is kind of a non-recipe recipe.
Before we get started a few basics you should know:
TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST PAD THAI
Prep your ingredients. Have all your ingredients prepped and ready before you begin. Cooking Pad Thai is a very fast process and by having your ingredients prepped and within hands reach, this will ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Continuously stir. I use a huge frying pan (you can also use a wok). You will need to continuously stir veggies throughout the cooking process to ensure even distribution of heat and even cooking.
Do not overcook the noodles. I always pre-cook noodles in a separate pot and add them last (they may appear a bit lumped together if you don’t use them right away, however they do separate once you add them to the pan). Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain. Cook veggies until the sauce dries. The noodles should still be firm and not mushy when you add them to the pan. Fully-cooked noodles will change color from transparent to white. If you are new to stir-frying noodles, I would recommend turning down the heat while cooking, as things move fast.
Serve hot. Pad Thai is best served immediately. Once the noodles turn cold, they will start to lose their texture and flavor.
Toppings are Everything. Serve Pad Thai topped with fresh bean sprouts, green onion (cut on the bias), cilantro, shaved carrot, chopped peanuts and lime wedges.
Ingredients (for two):
1 package Flat Rice Noodles (you can find ones specifically for Pad Thai)
1 Red Bell Pepper cut into strips
1 Onion thinly sliced
2-3 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch chopped fresh Ginger
Extra FirmTofu cut up into cubes
1 Large Egg, slightly beaten (optional and added to hot pan before noodles)
Handful of Snap Peas
1 Carrot (cut into small chunks)
The above is my go-to but you can also add sliced mushrooms and/or broccoli
Right before serving add the following:
Handful of Peanuts finely chopped
Fresh Bean Sprouts
Chopped Green onion
Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain.
You can use a combination of some or all of the below ingredients for the sauce. My suggestion is to try what I recommend at first and then adjust according to your taste. Omit any that don’t sit well with you. For instance, I don’t always use fish sauce.
These are general guidelines as I don’t have a set recipe.
2 Tbsp. Toasted Sesame Oil, 2 Tbsp. Rice vinegar, 1-2 Tbsp. Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce, 1 Tbsp. chili-garlic sauce, 2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce (optional), 2 Tbsp. store bought peanut sauce, 1 Tbsp. Lime Juice, 1 Tbsp. tamarind paste (not difficult to find in the Asian section of almost every grocery store).
TO MAKE *SAUCE:
Pour about 2 Tbsps of toasted sesame oil in a large frypan or wok. When hot. add the garlic, ginger, onion + pepper. Stir until fragrant. Add any other veggies (snap peas, carrot, tofu, mushrooms, etc.) and then add your rice vinegar, soy, fish sauce, chili-garlic sauce, tamarind paste and lime juice. With wooden spoon, stir veggies and coat with sauce. When all veggies are just about done, add the slightly beaten egg, then the noodles to the pan or wok.
TOSS together then:
Add peanut sauce to the pan; to taste. Divide mixture among two plates and top with bean sprouts, green onion, cilantro, shredded carrot and chopped peanuts. Serve with lime wedges. If you like it spicier add a bit more chili sauce.
Let me know how you like it.
*you can buy store-bought pad thai sauce to try if you like, but some of the ingredients are things like ketchup, corn starch and sugar. Some people making homemade sauce add ketchup and a bit of peanut butter to the sauce. I omit ketchup all together (really not necessary) but I like adding some spicy peanut sauce. It’s all up to personal taste.
I’ve never adhered to a totally gluten-free diet, however I’ve been experimenting with changing original recipes by trying to make them taste as good, or better by making them gluten-free. That’s mainly because eating gluten-free foods makes me feel less full and less bloated.
This recipe originally called for 1 cup of all-purpose flour. *Oat flour gives baked goods more flavor than regular all purpose flour, though it may also give them a chewier and crumblier texture.
1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 cups oat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. allspice
2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1-2 cups raisins
Preheat oven to 350F. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar. Add eggs, vanilla and 2 tsp. water and beat until smooth.
Sift dry ingredients together. Add to the butter mixture and mix well. Fold in oats and raisins. Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving enough space for the cookies to spread out. Bake approx. 10-15 minutes, until golden.
Makes about 2 dozen good size cookies
*Not only is oat flour packed with antioxidants, it also has more protein and fat than most traditional flours, and up to 8g of fiber per half-cup serving. One half-cup serving of oat flour contains: 191% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of manganese. 41% of the RDI of phosphorus.
The gluten conundrum
By now you’ve heard of gluten, and you probably even know it’s the wheat protein that gives bread and other foods their shape and texture. But going gluten-free when you don’t have a diagnosed wheat allergy or celiac disease doesn’t promise weight loss or better health, according to science. That hasn’t stopped millions of people from giving the diet a try. Experts recommend consulting your primary health-care provider before making any drastic changes to your diet. Check out some reasons you should not go gluten-free.
A heavenly-spiced, double-decker cake iced with cream cheese frosting. Apple sauce makes it extra moist and delicious. Makes 12 servings.
I’ve tried several carrot cake recipes including my mom’s (which included in the ingredients crushed pineapple and some mayo). Sorry mom, it was always my favourite, however my carrot cake connoisseur boyfriend says this one knocks them all out of the park. But we’ll let you be the judge.
For the Cake:
1 ½ cups sugar (I always use organic cane sugar)
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce (if you have the time, making it yourself is best)
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups *flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
3 cups grated carrot
1 cup walnut or pecan pieces
1 cup raisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease and flour 2, 8-inch round cake pans.
To make doubly sure the cakes do not stick, cut 2 rounds of parchment (I swear by parchment – it’s a baking life saver) the same size as the bottom of the pans and set them in. Place the sugar, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla in a bowl and mix until well combined. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices into another bowl, and then mix into the wet mixture until just combined. Fold in carrots, nuts and raisins. Divide and spoon the batter among the pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of each cake pulls out clean. Cool the cake on a baking rack in their pans for 30 minutes, then un mould and cool to room temperature.
To frost and decorate
250 gram pkg. hard cream cheese, at room temperature (I use Philadelphia)
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups icing sugar (I used organic icing sugar for the fist time and while still sugar; it made me feel better about eating it – it was also easier to beat ).
Place the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until quite light. Gradually beat in the icing sugar until fully incorporated. Set 1 cake layer, crowned-side down, on your cake stand. Spread a ¼ inch layer of frosting on it, and then set on the second cake, crowned-side down. Frost the top and sides of the cake, doing so as neatly and smoothly as you can (not so much for me this time).
If desired, after frosting, you could also coat the sides or top of the cake with unsweetened shreds of coconut and/or walnuts or pecans.
The Added Touch
You could also decorate the top of the cake with small carrots made of marzipan. To do so, color 100 grams of marzipan orange with **food color. Divide it into 12 pieces and roll each one into a carrot shape. Use the back of a pairing knife and make a few shallow, indentations on one side of each piece to give it a slightly wrinkled carrot-like look.
Arrange the carrots on top of the cake. As you can see, I omitted this extra special step this time around.
*You can easily make this gluten-free by substituting regular flour for gluten-free. This time I used “Namaste gluten-free Perfect Flour Blend” and it was divine. Having said that, I have to admit that using regular cake & pastry flour makes for a perfect tasting allover cake. I was quite pleased though with this gluten-free flour blend. Make sure you read the package to see how easily adaptable it is for baking – not all are created equal.
**Juicing carrots will provide you with a natural dye alternative that will emit NO additional flavor when used moderately. For a more saturated color, reduce the liquid into a syrup. This will produce a more vivid color, without changing the properties of the dish.
With Christmas around the corner and families staying put, it’s beginning to look a lot like a different kind of holiday season. Lots of things are up in the air and I’m not talking flying. Life as we knew it is a little blurry right now. I’m trying to look at the positive, but with so many small businesses getting shut down again and struggling to survive, it can become dispiriting. “This won’t last forever,” encouraging as it sounds…is not soon enough. We should help to save lives while also saving livelihoods. We have to take care of ourselves the best we can. Little things here and there help to uplift our spirits.
So I’ve made cookies. Lots of cookies. Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, Old Fashioned Oatmeal Raisin with Indian spices, Thumbprint with Jam, Peanut Butter/Chocolate Chunk and finally holiday shortbread. The one with the least amount of ingredients and the most challenging.
This one is a Martha Stewart original. The only thing I’ve changed is instead of using granulated sugar I’ve substituted with organic cane sugar. They’re really yummy. My added touches: some are cut out round and sprinkled with chili cocoa powder instead of powdered sugar. Or; should you decide to melt chocolate, you can dip half the cookies in the chocolate, as shown.
Shortbread Cookies with Cardamom
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground *cardamom
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar (original recipe calls for using granulated).
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling
Whisk flour, salt & cardamom in a medium bowl.
Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in Vanilla.
Reduce to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture.
Press the dough into a 10” x 15” rimmed baking sheet on top of parchment paper. (the recipe doesn’t call for this but this way turns out being a lot easier to work with the cookie dough).
Press parchment paper onto surface and smooth top. Remove top parchment; wrap sheet in plastic. Refrigerate 30 minutes. This will help the dough become harder and therefore easier to cut into cookie shapes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using snowflake (and other) cookie shape cutters, cut out cookies, and arrange by size on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
Sprinkle with sanding (icing) sugar. Bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.
Let cool on sheets on wire rack.
You can freeze what you don’t immediately eat. I freeze all my cookies. Once thawed they’re as good as new. Enjoy!
*Cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of various plants in the ginger family. Cardamom pods are spindle-shaped and have a triangular cross-section. The pods contain a number of seeds, but the entire cardamom pod can be used whole or ground. The seeds are small and black, while the pods differ in color and size by species.
Canadian Thanksgiving is this coming Monday, October 12th. With whomever you decide to celebrate with, be it friends or family in your small group – here is an easy and delicious little recipe to add to your dinner. Or; just have them for breakfast or afternoon tea.
I used Wensleydale cheese only because I was looking for a good way to use up this cheese which is one of my least favourites, and I love cheese. This type of cheese is not easy to spread on crackers as it crumbles and it has a slightly sweet taste. However it’s awesome in this recipe. You can also use aged cheddar or a combo of cheddar/parmesan. I bet Gruyère would be good too. This recipe was supposed to be scones but I think they turn out more like biscuits. The lavender pepper is a nice added touch and something I’ll continue to use.
Cheese Biscuits with Lavender Pepper
1¾ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
5 Tablespoons cold butter, cubed
¾ to 1 cup buttermilk
1 cup shredded *Wensleydale (the one without cranberries) or other cheese
1 ½ teaspoons dried, culinary lavender flowers (or use 1 teaspoon fresh lavender flowers)
1 tsp. **Lavender Pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a shallow mixing bowl sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and lavender pepper.
Add the cubed butter and cut into the flour using a pastry cutter or a fork until butter is about the size of small peas.
Stir in the buttermilk, a quarter of a cup at a time, until it forms a wet dough. Stir in the cheese until completely combined.
Scoop onto a baking sheet by large spoonfuls and bake 12 to 15 minutes until tops are golden brown.
*Fun Facts: According to the official website of the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes, a.k.a. the company that produces Wensleydale Cheese, the first people to make this particular dairy delight were French Cistercian monks back in the 12th century. After arriving in Wensleydale and the nearby surrounds, they set about making their cheese, albeit with ewe’s milk rather than the cow’s milk typical today. I say Ewwww!
Wallace (of Wallace and Gromit fame) is an advocate of a good hunk of Wensleydale, but did you know that the Aardman Animations shorts helped revive the company back in the 1990s? It’s true! The brand was floundering, but animator Nick Park’s (coincidental) decision to namedrop Wensleydale Cheese helped boost sales. You can now even get Wensleydale Cheese wrapped in Wallace and Gromit branded packaging.
Another fun fact: I never watched Wallace and Gromit – but I think this marketing ploy was genius.
**To make lavender pepper combine black peppercorns with lavender flowers (half and half) and grind together using a clean coffee grinder or herb grinder.
The lavender works surprisingly well with pepper, offering a flowery note that stands up to the peppery bite without the bitterness. Also good to use on pork, chicken or beef.
This is not a conventional winery. For good reason this is perhaps the most visited and extraordinary award winning winery in Canada.
Located in Kelowna, British Columbia, Summerhill has a breathtakingly extensive view overlooking Lake Okanagan coupled with an organic farm-to-table bistro offering culinary creations by award winning chef Jeremy Luypen who works closely with local farmers and growers (I had lunch there and it was excellent) and of course there’s the wine…
Brut on the Beach
Recently I was very fortunate to be a guest of Summerhill’s most interesting and entertaining proprietor Stephen Cipes and his gracious wife Rie at their lakeside home. It was there, and at the winery tasting room that I got to sample most of the Summerhill wines (all of them organic by the way) that I was not familiar with. What a treat!
Before this I cannot believe that I was accustomed to only drinking Summerhill’s “Alive” label red and white wine (also vegan) bought at my local wine shop. Back at the winery I discovered so much more. I liked the Robert Bateman series Merlot the best out of all the reds and ended up buying several cases of a mix of red & white varietals with a few rosé & bubbly thrown in. I’m really picky regarding rosé wine, however for me, theirs is the best I’ve come across to date. It’s a gorgeous coloured medium-bodied delight. Plus it’s still summer and Rosé is a solid summer staple. We enjoyed a few bottles at my friend Margeaux’s after leaving Kelowna and moving onto Castlegar.
On their website I discovered so much more information which I’ll share a bit with you below. For full story you can visit: https://www.summerhill.bc.ca/
The Summerhill *Pyramid is second only to the Great Pyramid of Egypt for alignment and precision. Please see link below for the incredible description because the story is quite amazing.
Driven by conscience and passion:
A former New York commercial real estate developer, Stephen Cipes was the recipient of the prestigious Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, seemingly more a spiritual visionary than Wall Street hard-nose. One day he just decided to pick up and leave the rat race for cleaner living. With a dream and a vision, the Cipes family bought Summerhill Vineyard in 1986, and moved to Kelowna from New York the following year.
Stephen had a vision to preserve the pristine conditions of his family’s new home in spite of the rapid agricultural and civic development. To protect the Okanagan’s lake and inhabitants, Cipes set out to prove that organic wines are better in every way – in the way they taste and make you feel as well as in their impact on community and environment. The result is that Summerhill has been a hub for organic viticulture in Canada.
“Be a conduit and allow your vision, your dream to come through – and fortify it every day.” – Stephen Cipes.
Almost as soon as the Cipes family arrived, the vineyard was transitioned to organic maintenance and replanted with European vinifera winemaking grapes imported from France and Germany.
Summerhill’s first experimental crush of wine was in 1990. This was the same year as the formation of BC VQA (Vintners Quality Assurance), in which the Cipes family took an active role developing. Preliminary meetings to form VQA were hosted by the Cipes family at Summerhill Vineyard.
Stephen’s New York business sense drove the tiny Okanagan wine industry forward in those early years by focusing on making traditional method sparkling wine, producing the most expensive wines the valley had seen to that point, creating the region’s first destination tourist attraction winery, and by bringing international attention with write-ups and glowing wine reviews in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
His vision was that the pristine Okanagan valley, the northernmost desert viticulture region in the world, had the potential to make the finest wines in the world and bring pride to all Canadians.
Summerhill has accomplished a long list of “firsts” on the way to making this vision a reality.
We are Okanagan Valley pioneers in making organic wine, ultra-premium quality wine, and in establishing the model of a tourism destination winery in this beautiful place. We have worked with our provincial government to change rules so as to allow wineries to cater to wine tourists, establishing over twenty new policies for the entire province including the allowance of restaurants at BC wineries.
Our team members have sat on boards and committees to help draft the national organic standards for wine in Canada, and we have worked with the BC chapter of Demeter to certify the first biodynamic vineyard and wine in our province.
We have integrated Permaculture design principles into our farm and business.
The Summerhill Pyramid is the first wine cellar in the world to knowingly integrate sacred geometry for the benefit of the wine.
Summerhill uses no animal byproducts in its winemaking, and is therefore vegan friendly. Some animal byproducts commonly used in winemaking include fish bladders, gelatin, egg whites, milk, and milk byproducts. Summerhill uses none of these ingredients in our wine.
We were once asked whether our Biodynamic practices are vegan friendly. Some biodynamic preparations are made with animal parts, and our farm composts are made with animal manures. These animal parts are not in the wine or in any way touching the grapes. They are used as a medium to create beneficial soil bacteria that aid processes in the grapevine’s immune system. We must leave it to each individual vegan to decide whether the biodynamic preparations are a deal breaker or not.
“Be whole unto yourself at all times, and envision the world in which you want to live.”- Stephen Cipes.
The man is full of surprises. He wrote a book I’m now reading called “All one Era“. I’m delighted to call Stephen & Rie my friends.