Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cheesepalooza November Challenge: Mozzarella!

Ah, mozzarella.  The first cheese I learned to make.

A Traditional Mozzarella

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lots of Changes Lately...

... the biggest one being the move from Edmonton (#yeg) back to the country. That's right, this rural girl is back where she belongs!

And look what my sister found for me :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Wild Blueberries

Have you ever seen anything more gorgeous?
Just wait till you find some to taste!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Heritage Breeds. Which are Canadian? Does it matter?

I've been doing some serious research on what animals I want to acquire for my homestead/hobby farm, when the time comes.
Some will come sooner rather than later (spring 2013 I'm planning on getting my first couple sheep or goats, possibly some rabbits as well).
Some animals are more expensive than others (cattle and bison can cost $1000+. Goats, sheep, swine and donkeys are in the $150-$500+ range. Rabbits and poultry are generally $5 to $30+).

Some breeds need lots of attention, others can forage and birth on their own with great results.

What kind of animals do I want to raise?
How hands on do I want to be with my animals? How hands on CAN I be?
Do I want pasture/foraging breeds or barn/feedlot breeds? 
Do I want breeds developed for commercial industry or heritage breeds?
Will any heritage breed do or should I focus on finding Canadian heritage breeds?
Am I only keeping animals for my family (and friends) or will I be selling meat, milk, eggs, fibre, breeding stock, etc?

Lots of questions that need answers. Some are even pretty easy to answer. Others, not so much.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Talking about Sheep and Goats

Well, it's decided.
Zac, Londyn and I will be moving out of the city come September.  We're moving in with my mom.  That means we'll be living on the acreage I grew up on :)
The move is mostly to save money to buy an acreage/farm of our own (not paying rent makes a huge difference when it comes to saving for a downpayment) but also because I'm sick of the city.
Or the city makes me sick.


Either way, I'm ready to get out of here.

Anyways, back to living on the acreage!
Mom said I could get sheep or goats or whatever I like as long as I take care of them :)  She doesn't want to do any of the milking or cleaning up, etc but is more than willing to eat the cheese I make lol

There's 5 breeds of sheep I've been researching:

A terrific all-round breed that produces excellent meat, wool, and milk. A hardy breed. Fleeces come in a variety of colours.  The characteristic that really drew me in was the non "sheepy" taste to the milk they produce (as the website says). I would like to taste farm fresh milk before making up my mind on that.

Clun Forest
A hardy breed that can survive on grass and foraging. A great milk sheep and produces good fleeces until 10-12yrs of age.  Lamb easily and usually without assistance.

North Country Cheviot
A general-purpose breed. Produce a medium-wool fleece free from hair or kempy fibres. Are good milkers and easy lambers.

One of the purest breeds in the world. They are generally raised for milk, meat and wool - which is low in lanolin. Their wool is known internationally as Lopi yarn. Left unshorn for the winter, the breed is very cold hardy.

Royal White/Dorper/Katahdin
Royal White is a hair sheep, meaning it sheds rather than needing to be sheared. They breed throughout the year, produce lots of milk and have high lamb survivability. They also have parasite and disease resistance.  Usually breed for meat as the flavour is more mild than that of woolly-sheep.

Alberta Sheep Breeders Association

All five have characteristics that appeal to me, but what on earth would I do with 5 different breeds of sheep?!
For sure the Shetland and Icelandic are my favourites, Royal White and Clun Forest come in at a close third/forth.

I'm interested in them for home-use/hobby farming, not a commercial operation.
Maybe I could get a variety of breeds? But which ones? I want strong general purpose breeds for milk, meat and wool.

Thoughts? Maybe you've worked with a breed I don't have listed here that you would recommend. Let me know!

** Addition **
In my research for a suitable milk goat I came across a breed that, of course, isn't really available in Canada. The Guernsey Goat.
They're so pretty!
I found the breed (as it wasn't listed in my Dairy Goats book) through this Mother Earth News article Choosing a Dairy Breed. Besides the prettiness the characteristic that drew me most to them was "is able to convert grass into milk" Most goats, especially dairy, need higher protein (grains, etc) to produce larger amounts of milk.

Other breeds I'm considering...

All have a milder tasting milk and are good producers. Butterfat varies between 2%-6%.
The only downfall (to me, maybe not everybody) is that Nubian's are known to be quite noisy. It's the nose :)
I'm leaning towards Sables (more colourful than their all-white relatives, Saanen) since I can't have Guernsey Goats.

Alberta Goat Breeders Association


Here's some links for my own information. I'm planning on teaching myself spinning and weaving (and I may try knitting again). I used to crotchet, a long time ago...
Birkeland Wool Bros. Store
How To Make a Drop Spindle

Friday, June 29, 2012

Eat Alberta 2012: Session 4, Prairie Mill Sourdough 101 AND Wrap-Up

My last session of the day was Sourdough 101, with Owen of Prairie Mill Bread.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Eat Alberta 2012: Session 3, Sausage Making

After a wonderful lunch (once again by NAIT) we were off to our third session of the day!

Sausage Making with Allan Suddaby, of Button Soup fame.

I've chatted with him on twitter a couple of times, as well as read and comment on his blog.
This was the first time we met it person.

It's always a nice feeling to meet tweeps in real life lol

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Eat Alberta 2012: Session Two, French Macarons


The second stop of my Eat Alberta adventure was French Macaron Making!

Connie Nelson of Mirabelle Macarons was our instructor.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Eat Alberta 2012: Session One, Cheesemaking

You may remember my post telling you all to register for Eat Alberta.  Well, those of you that listened joined a fun filled foodie day at NAIT!

My lovely sister, Kristy, joined me for the day, as well as Mira and Yvonne! Kristy and I took the same sessions while Mira and Yvonne went off on different culinary adventures. 

Our first session of the day, after a great morning keynote by Nature's Green Acres, was Cheesemaking!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Foraging Adventures 2012

Over the past couple months I've been trying to quietly trying to see how many people were interested in spending a day tramping around the bush learning about edible plants, local wildlife, etc.

I gathered some names, sent out a facebook message.  Then, I sent out a tweet to see if anyone else out there would be interested...

Well, there's enough people to move ahead with phase2!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hungry for Change

The latest film from Food Matters about the lifestyle of North Americans and Western society, Hungry for Change, is a series of interviews from various experts (yes, that word again) giving healthy lifestyle, not diet!, advice that the average person can truly relate too.
Yes, it will probably end up just preaching to the choir. That's usually what's happens with these films.

The free viewing is available online until March 31st. The film is about an hour and a half, take some time out of your day to watch. But make sure you do it, as with all things in life, with your brain turned on.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Eat Alberta 2012

 Eat Alberta: Your Real Food Survival Guide

Hey boys and girls!
Remember my last post about living sustainably? Well, here's the next step... 

This is the second Eat Alberta conference of what we hope to be many that will celebrate such local food heroes. Our Real Food Survival Guide focus this year will provide insight into tasting, preserving and preparing food while living in our Winter climate. 
As we are so passionate about the local food opportunities our city provides as well as acutely aware that food expertise (in a variety of forms) lies within each of our neighbourhoods.

Check the site often for when registration opens (should be sometime today, Monday March 12th).  Last year it sold out within 3 DAYS

Thursday, March 8, 2012

... Organic Farming, Commerical Agriculture, Sustainable Food Systems...

What does it all mean?!

I follow lots of different folks on Twitter. Some are pro-organic no matter where it comes from. Some support local over anything, even if it's commercial agriculture (or Big Ag is what I usually call it), which usually means pesticides/herbicides/gmo/etc.
Others use a bullseye to decide what to support first (I'll get to my personal version later).

I stumbled upon a twitter conversation involving an organic farmer and a marketer/something who was/is attending a Farm Fair in Western Canada (I'm trying to be discreet. And I don't remember all the exact details and I'm not about to go searching for them).
She (the marketer) was someone who I thought supported local, organic, heritage foods. She did volunteer to help with the upcoming Slow Food National Conference Gala.
Her and the organic farmer (who's products I fully support) were in an argument about what will feed the world (that was the basis of it, as far as I could tell).

I was confused. I thought we were all on the same side.

But does eating LOCAL mean ONLY organic?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring is coming!

Are you ready?

I placed a potato order with Eagle Creek Farms which included my new favourite, French Fingerlings! YUM!
Oh, and I'm really looking forward to getting out to the farm for some spring-time foraging. But that's still a couple months off.

I meant to get a post up on my attempts at making a Homemade Fruit-Filled Cereal Bar for my toddler (I have pictures and even measured as I did it!) but it involves turning on my old noisy -about to explode any minute- desktop to edit/upload the pics, so I'll do that tomorrow while working on photos from my latest shoot.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Winter Food Swap, Life Update/Rant

Isn't it pleasing when the word "rant" is in a blog post title? ;)

First, here's an EXCELLENT post on the Winter Food Swap this past weekend.  Valerie is a great writer and took some amazing photographs.
Show her some love and leave some comments :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February Supper Club and Pork Hocks

Earlier this month Mira and I tried our hands at our first supper club.
There was an ok turn-out, but the food was fantastic!

The Theme: Your Grandmother's Kitchen
We all had to bring a dish or two that our grandmothers or great-grandmothers or great-great-grandmothers, etc would've made on at least a semi-regular basis.  The foods of our heritages.

I did smoked pork hock in sauerkraut with bacon-onion perogies.
My grandmother, et al. is Ukrainian :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lunch Special: Curried Beef Pockets

With Zac in school for the next little bit he needed something that was easy to take for lunch.
Thus, my mutation on Empanadas!
Unfortunately for him we had guests over for dinner and had these :)  He didn't get very many for lunch.
But, what was left, freezes well and is easy to heat up in a microwave.

Curried Beef Pockets

Friday, January 20, 2012

What's New for 2012?

Since I had Londyn 16months ago, plus the 7months before that (yes, pregnancy is 9months), I've been horribly anti-social (the first 2 months were fine).
Not "baby-blues" kind of anti-social, just tired, exhausted, not feeling my best- which is what happens when one neglects oneself in favour of caring for a new life.
And I'm not complaining. Not at all! We're hoping to get pregnant again this year.

But it does play into what I hope to accomplish this year.
To be more involved! (perhaps even a better blogger ;) )