Monthly Archives: September 2012

Soupstock Needs Volunteers-and not just the soup-slurping types

You may have heard about the SoupStock event happening on October 21.  Hopefully you’re thinking “200 kinds of soup, hell yah”.  And you probably know the event is trying to raise awareness about the fight to stop the Highand’s companies proposed mega-quarry just 100 km northwest of Toronto.

Or perhaps you’ve seen “Stop the Megaquarry” signs but you don’t quite know the scope of what is being planned, in which case please take the time to watch this short video.  It is eye-opening.  It’s 6 minutes long and it is riveting as you realize what exactly the environmental impact will be.  On us.

The Highland Companies proposes to blast a pit deeper than Niagara Falls from beneath a landscape of great agricultural and ecological importance.

Soupstock is being organized by the Toronto Chefs’ Congress and the  David Suzuki Website (click to read more): Joining Chef Stadtlander are well-known culinary champions like Lynn Crawford, Jamie Kennedy, Brad Long and Donna Dooher. Up-and-coming chefs like Jon Pong of Hoof Raw Bar, Craig Harding of Campagnolo, and Calgary’s Connie DeSousa of Charcut, will also showcase their talents


They are looking for volunteers to play multiple roles during the Soupstock event including:

  •  Helping chefs unload their equipment and supplies during the morning of the event
  •  Selling soup tickets and swag at visitor tables
  • Cleaning up the park and ensuring everything is recycled properly
  • Answering questions about the host organizations and the mega-quarry campaign
  • Supporting speakers and musicians at the main stage
  • Helping direct media questions
  • Skills and Knowledge Required:
  • Great people skills – friendly, professional and outgoing
  •  Energetic, enjoys working in a team
  • Flexible, comfortable in fast-paced environments
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Strong interest in environmental issues and commitment to sustainability
  • Must love soup!

    Time Commitment:

    8 hours during the Soupstock event on October 21 (approximately 9-5:00) and a 1 hr orientation on October 17 at 7pm.

    Volunteer benefits:

    An opportunity to try original soup recipes from some of Canada’s greatest chefs  Morning coffee and muffins to energize you for the day
    Soupstock volunteer t-shirt
    Information about critical environmental issues in our province

    The opportunity to be involved in the largest culinary protest Ontario has ever seen!

    If you’d like to volunteer please email Aryne ( describing yourself and your interest in supporting Soupstock.



Filed under Ruminations on the Edible, Travel and Food, Uncategorized

Connie’s Irish Soda Bread Recipe–even easier than no knead dough

Irish Soda Bread

I am late for the airport.  Or will be. Which is why I shouldn’t be posting.  But this is typical for me, “I’ll just insert complex activity before the taxi gets here in 1 minute”.   Anyway, our cheese club meets 5 times a year and for our first meeting (now held at Cheesewerks –now serving amazing brunches!) was broken up into a few subjects.  One was Irish cheese and Connie, who presented it, made this Irish Soda Bread.  So soft.  So tender and dense.  So “make in a jiff”.   As in, 45 minute and done (35 minutes for baking).


4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425°F.
Make a well in the flour.
In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients.
Add wet to dry all at once and mix with hands or wooden spoon just to combine.
Knead on floured surface to form ball that holds together.

Split the loaf in two and make two smaller loaves.
Place side by side on parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 425 for 35 minutes.

After 35 minutes give to bottoms on the bread a little knock, if they sound hollow they are done.

To make a whole wheat version, substitute 2 cups whole wheat flour for 2 cups all-purpose (50/50 split).
Add 1 cup of raisins.  Some “traditional” recipes added caraway seeds as well.

**Maybe Connie will answer this: why don’t you mix all the dry together and just add the buttermilk to that?  Is there a reason?  I did it as per these instructions and it worked, but it was against my instinct!

Cheese Club at Cheesewerks. How perfect.

For those curious, here is our cheese club meeting,table loaded with cheese and goodies.  Jill is presenting about her and Lisa’s trip to NY to take a Cheese Boot Camp at Murray’s Cheese.

Cheese Tasting

Here we were pairing different cheese styles with sweet, salty, sour.

And now, I am off to NYC for a 2 day Master class in Cheese At Artisanal.  WHOOT!!!!   Crap, I’ve really got to get going.


Filed under All Recipes, Uncategorized

Curds and Eh, Eps 8: Home Curdy Home, Kelsie Parsons reflects on his cheese tour

Say Hi to Kelsie if you see him around–he’s easy to spot.

This post is part of a guest blog series by Kelsie Parsons.   See the Globe and Mail piece about his travels.

As August came to an end so did my cheese travels. I now keep my food in a fridge, know exactly where I’ll sleep each night and I spend my days on my computer writing about cheese. There is a certain comfort to being home and having a work routine but I do miss being on the road driving every day, interviewing cheese makers and meeting their cows, goats and sheep.

Checking out Brendan’s beehives

The drive home went quicker than expected. I started in Naniamo, took a ferry to Vancouver, visited two cheesemakers then drove to Nelson, BC to visit my brother. We spent a day together checking out his beehive and watching Kokanee (fresh water salmon) spawn. The next day I hit the road again and visited Kootenay Alpine Cheese in Creston, BC then drove to Regina.

Calf at Kootenay Alpine Cheese

The next day I drove from Regina to Thunder Bay, slept in the Walmart parking lot and then did a long haul home to Stratford, ON. Three and a half months on the road sounds like a long time but it meant I only had a couple of days to spend in each city. To me the summer was a whirlwind tour of Canada but I discovered many cities that I’d love to return to.

Kokanee spawning in BC

While in a café in Winnipeg, I learned their wifi password is “every day I live my dream” (without the spaces). That phrase really stuck with me. I’m so fortunate to be studying something that I love and to work towards a book that up until now I’ve only dreamt about writing. It may sound strange (to some people) but I actually think about cheese all day and occasionally I dream about it at night. It’s kind of an obsession.

When I started in the cheese business I worked for Gurth Pretty, author of The Definitive Guide to Canadian Artisanal and Fine Cheese. In 2006, when Gurth’s book was published it was groundbreaking. No one had ever written such a comprehensive survey of Canadian cheesemakers. I was inspired by Gurth to follow my passion for cheese and to write a book of my own. By writing a book, my goal is to help others discover the world of cheese made in Canada. There are amazing cheeses, cheesemakers and mongers across the country and they deserve to be recognized!

Forms filled with Curds at Salt Spring Island Cheese

Over the past 3.5 months I visited cheesemakers in all 10 provinces and drove over 25,000km. I sampled cheese from 118 Canadian cheese producers and took thousands of photos. I flew to St. John’s, Newfoundland to visit 2 new cheesemakers and took a five hour ferry to Iles-de-la-Madeleine just to visit a cheesemaker. Every single day this summer was an adventure. Every day I learned something new and every day I lived my dream.

By nature of my adventure I ate a lot of cheese (it’s a perk of the job really). Many people have asked me what my favourite Canadian cheese is but it’s so hard to pick just one. Could you? I’ve narrowed down my list to about 30 favourites. What are they? Well, you’ll have to wait for the book! I can’t give it all away here.

A dark and Stormy cheese he means…..Illustration by Dave Donald.

Now it’s time to write a book.

For Curds and Eh 1 (the itinerary), click hereCurds and Eh 2 (Quebec), Click Here, Curds and Eh 3 (Quebec) , click here ,  Curds and Eh 4 (St.John’s), Curds and Eh 5 (Thunder Oak Gouda), Curds and Eh 6 (Cheese Festivals) and Curds and Eh 7 (Cheese Rolling ).


Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Curds and Eh, Travel and Food, Uncategorized

Weekend Wonder: Don’t Forget about No-Knead Bread

Did you forget what is possible by barely batting an eyelash?  Amazing, crispy-crusted, moist, chewy bread.  I know, I know, no-knead bread is so 2006.  But maybe it’s time to go back in time (anyone else thinking Huey Lewis right now?) and revisit.  I did not have a blog in 2006 and I want to be like all the other bloggers and write about it too. So in case you forget  how easy it is to be a bread superstar….here we go.    Recipe is from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery and I used it as a great baking idea for kids and parents for the

14 hours later…

I like to mix this together (at least 3 minutes of hard work) around 9pm the night before I need (or don’t knead-ha!) the bread.  (Usually so it’s ready to go Saturday morning.)

Whisk together 3 cups flour (AP or bread flour) with ¼ teaspoon instant yeast and 1 ¼ teaspoons salt in the bowl.  Add 1 ½ cups water and stir with a spatula until a dough comes together (30 sec-1 min).  Lightly grease a second medium bowl and transfer the dough into.  Cover and rest the dough for 12-18 hours at room temperature.

Fold the bread over a couple times…

Flour a work surface lightly and remove the dough from the bowl.  Fold it over once or twice.  Let rest for 15 minutes on the work surface.

Shape the dough into a ball.  Coat a clean, cotton tea towel generously with flour and place the dough ball (seam side down) on the towel.  Lightly dust the dough with flour and cover with another towel.  Allow to rise until doubled, 1-2 hours.  Watch part of a What Not To Wear marathon.


Preheat the oven to 450°F.  You will bake the bread in a 6-8 quart oven-safe pot with a lid (such as a Le Creuset).  Place the empty pot in the oven 30 minutes before baking.

Remove the hot pot from the oven. This is the trickiest part, transfer your dough, seam side up into the pot (BE CAREFUL!).  Try and just flip the dough into the pot using the tea towel –but if it deforms as it goes in, no big deal.  If you don;t have enough flour on the tea towel it will stick–so don’t skimp.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes covered.

After 30 minutes remove the lid.  The crust will be golden.  Bake another 15 minutes.  The rust will turn a rich, dark brown.  Remove the loaf and cool on a rack.

Oh boy!

REJOICE.  And contemplate being a baker.  Surely not everyone’s turns out this well?!   Now you can move onto No-Knead Pizza dough.

Here is Mark Bittman’s New York Time’s article that made this bread famous….(6 year anniversary coming up in November!)

And here is the Jim Lahey’s Sullivan Street Recipe with weight measurements (which I think is best to use if you own a scale).


Filed under All Recipes, Blogs with cooking tips, Uncategorized

Homemade pesto– you’ll give yourself a high-5.

Who else falls into the “I’ll just grab a jar of pesto from the store shelf”  while shopping rut?

My basil plant has gone wonderfully berserk with leaves this year and I had to use up the bounty.  The colour and freshness of the homemade stuff is huge.

And so versatile when it’s crazy busy back in September mode–yes pasta, but also sandwich spread, fish or chicken glaze or add to sour cream for a dip.

I used pesto as inspiration for my latest blog on so if you would like the recipe click on the link.  It truly takes not time at all.

(You can substitute walnuts for pine nuts or keep it nut-free (a la french pistou, here is my chef basics video recipe).

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Almost Perfect Frozen Foods…wait, what?!

Doesn’t this sign just beg for a caption contest?   I just love it.  From the name itself to the visual image of the word PERFECT deteriorating and falling apart.

Time and time again Tad and I are baffled  at the name of this frozen food store when we drive by it on the way to Apsley (and the cottage)  along Hwy 7.

It’s just…well, when it comes to frozen chicken….I’d actually like it to be fully perfect.

I am thinking that whoever came up with this name is no longer in advertising.

(I just now noticed the sign for GUNS below the food sign.  See?  They advertise “Accuracy PLUS….not “pretty good accuracy, almost perfect”)

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Filed under Ruminations on the Edible, Travel and Food, Uncategorized

How to Smoke Cheese on Your BBQ (and win friends and influence people)

Cheddar, Mozzarella and Pecorino– all warm and smokey.

Where’s there’s smoke there’s a woman who smells like a campfire.  That woman was me as I tried smoking cheese for the first time this past June.  Armed with a 30W smoldering iron, a tin can, hardwood chips and my Weber I was ready to MacGyver it up.  The Spread article about the experience will also tell you everything you need to know.  (Including how I struggled through a hurricane-like storm to achieve my lofty goal…..a smoked cheese burger).  But it did not include pictures of how this simple technique will make you look like a culinary superstar.

So here, with visuals, is the step by step.

STEP 1: Remove the label from your can. Now open the top with a can-opener about 2/3 of the way around. Bend back the lid and remove the contents (save for later). Rinse out the can.

STEP 2: Using a triangular can opener, make a hole in the centre of the opened lid of the can (where it’s still attached). It can be hard to get the right leverage so I put a pen under the open part of the lid to prop it up. Make a hole (vent) in the bottom, too.

STEP 3: Fill the can with wood chips. Fruit wood is a good choice because it gives a sweeter, milder note (mesquite chips can be overpowering for cheese).  Home Hardware has them.

Yes, this is the uncleaned bottom of my Kettle BBQ.

STEP 4: Insert the soldering iron all the way into the triangular hole in the top, where the lid is hinged. (I had to make the hole bigger.) Place the can with the soldering iron at the bottom of your grill (where the coals or flame would usually be). You want the iron lying on the bottom of the grill – so the chips in the can fall on top of it. Replace the top grate, close the lid. Plug in the soldering iron (you may need an extension cord). Its heat will cause the chips to smoulder but not catch fire. The barbecue should be filling with smoke in about 15 minutes.

STEP 5: I smoked cheese on my Kettle grill (above) and on our gas BBQ and it worked perfectly both ways.  Lay a piece on foil on the grill and lay your cheese on top. Close the grill.

I used three cheeses: Balderson 3-year-old cheddar, Pecorino Romano and half a ball of mozzarella (regular, not fresh). Check after 30 minutes to gauge how much smoke flavour you like; bigger hunks of cheese will take longer.   Flip the cheese half-way through the smoking to expose all the surfaces.

There they are on the gas BBQ. Happy as can be.

STEP 6: Remove the cheese and let it come to room temperature. If moisture has beaded up on the surface, dab it with paper towel. Wrap the cheese and refrigerate overnight (or at least a few hours) to let the flavours settle. The cheese will be slightly golden but not intensely dark.

After a bit of troubleshooting, the results were amazing. The cheddar was flavoured with the sweet, fruity smoke (I will be melting it on nachos). The Pecorino was also satisfying – the smoke was a nice match to the sweet/salty notes of the cheese. The mozzarella, which had a denser exterior, took on the mildest flavour, but would add perfect, subtle smoky notes to a pizza.


Use a soldering iron with a cord. I bought a cordless version that stayed on only while your finger was pressing the button – back to the store for me. No amount of duct tape would make it stay down.  Honest.

Also, even if you have a soldering iron, you want to buy a new, clean one to use with the food.   THE SOURCE has them.


Filed under All Recipes, Cheese/Cheese Related, Cookbooks, Magazines (+recipes from), Uncategorized