Handcrafted, Natural and Authentic Award Winning Sausages, May 22

Ottawa native, Michael McKenzie, who now resides in Kingston with his wife Megan and their son Sawyer (3) and daughter, Eloise (11 months) is a nationwide success.  Seed to Sausage has won the 2013 Ace Bakery Artisan Incubator Award for their cured meats.

The Artisan Incubator is a celebration of the joys of artisan food, the importance of local, sustainable food producers and the vital contributions artisan entrepreneurs make to communities across Canada. Seed to Sausage won this award for its overall business and its development of quality products, specifically their chorizo and saucisson sec.

Michael started curing meats as a hobby and after sharing his recipes with local chefs and friends he heeded their advice and turned his passion into a business. He owns Seed to Sausage with his father Ken. They produce over forty-two different artisan cured meat products. They make mouth-watering fermented sausages varieties, including garlic and red wine (which includes a bottle of Sandbanks Baco Noir red wine), apple sage and maple walnut sausages along with salamis, and duck prosciutto. They also produce specialty bacon, such as molasses black pepper, chipotle chili bacon, old-fashioned double smoked bacon and garlic juniper.

“Simple honest food with exceptional quality is always our goal,” said Michael McKenzie. “Take, for instance, our apple and sage sausages. I have someone hand pick the apples and peel them. While other sausage makers may add pre-mixed spices and water, we add nothing but pork, apples, and a bit of fresh apple cider.”

The reception of this award is no small feat, judged by top Canadian tasters such as: Anita Stewart, Canadian culinary activist, author and University of Guelph food laureate among others – these experts know good food.

Seed to Sausage hand-made meat production business is run from their processing plant at 12821, Hwy 38, Sharbot Lake. This family-owned business gets some help from Michael’s mother, Anna, who assists in the kitchen, product packaging and offered more support by looking after the children while Megan (Michael’s wife) opened the retail store.

On May 18, their retail store (located at the same site) opened for the season, offering many new delicious finds for their fans. Seed to Sausage cured meats works hard to ensure the exceptional quality in everything they produce by sourcing good fresh ingredients and as much as possible everything is hormone and antibiotic free.

“Not only is our range of specially crafted meats available, but we are excited to be carrying other premium Canadian products such as those from Vancouver Island Salt Company, a fellow winner in the Artisan Incubator Awards,” said Michael. “We like to buy local, but we do not have the ocean nearby to harvest salts from, so why not make this quality Canadian product available here locally for our customers to purchase.”

The Seed to Sausage retail store is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10 am – 6 pm, and at the end June (summer hours) will open Wednesday – Sunday 10 am – 6pm. There will be a host of gourmet food items available.

I often cook with Seed to Sausage cured meats and am immensely pleased that I can purchase from some great local retailers. Check out their website, seedtosausage.ca, for a full list or ask your grocery store to stock these items. I can assure you that if you are not a fan of sausages you will be after one bite of these. These are the best sausages I have ever eaten.

I found a complex and comforting dish from my favorite Spanish cookbook – Moro by Nigel Slater.

Paella de cerdo con chorizo y espinaca (Rice with Pork, Chorizo and Spinach
Serves 4

Ingredients:

7 tablespoons olive oil
350 g of pork fillet, halved lengthways, then sliced across roughly in 7mm stripes
120g “Seed to Sausage” Chorizo, sliced on an angle or into tiny little pieces
2 large Spanish onions, finely chopped
1 large green pepper, halved, seeded and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250g calasparra (paella) rice
1 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika
2 firoas peppers (a sweet earthy pepper) or a green pepper, chopped and diced
900ml of chicken stock
500g spinach, washed and drained
1 lemon, cut in wedges
sea salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a 30-40cm paella pan or frying pan, heat the olive oil over high heat, then stir-fry the pork for a few seconds so it is a little undercooked. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and put to one side.
  2. Turn down the heat to a low to medium temperature and fry the chorizo for a minute.
  3. Add the onion and green pepper and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic to the onion and cook for a further 5-10 minutes. At this point the mixture should have caramelized and taste sweet.
  4. Stir the rice into the pan to coat in the flavor-some mixture for a minute.
  5. Now season with salt and pepper, this is the time to season the rice perfectly. Each grain of rice should lightly glisten with olive oil and yet never seem greasy or too wet.
  6. Add the paprika and fioras peppers, drained of their water, followed by chicken stock, and simmer for 15 minutes or until there is a thin layer of liquid around the rice.
  7. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or wok, briefly wilt the spinach with a little salt, either by braising or steaming, and put to one side with the pork fillet. Evenly scatter the pork over the rice followed by the spinach. With the back of a spoon gently push the pork and spinach partially into the oily liquid that remains at the bottom of the pan. Cover the paella tightly with foil and let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Serve lemon wedges and a tomato salad.

For more information or to let me know of a good recipe or restaurant to try email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com.

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Milkman delivers the goods from Limestone Organic Creamery – May 8

ImageFresh milk delivered to your doorstep? It might sound like something out of a 1950’s suburb, but that’s exactly how Limestone Organic Creamery ensures you get your fix of the creamy goodness of their organic products.

Francis and Kathie Groenewegan have been dairy farmers all their lives. Today they own the only certified organic farm production facility in Ontario. They received a Rural Economic Development grant through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) enabling them to build and open Limestone Organic Creamery at 3127 Sydenham Road, Elginburg less than a year ago after much anticipation.

It’s a family owned and operated business with six part-time employees. While the entire family assists in a variety of roles, Kathie Groenewegan and her daughter Olivia Groenewegan manage the retail store and marketing. “Mom has a keen eye for putting things together,” says Olivia.

Patrick (Olivia’s brother) is responsible for operations, product innovation, testing and sampling along with their father, Francis Groenewegan assisting to process and bottle the milk.

The Limestone Organic Creamery is the only certified organic facility in Ontario and one of three on farm processing facilities.  The cows are milked twice a day; the truck delivers the milk to the farm processing facility where it’s pumped into the raw room, through the separator, pasteurizer and homogenizer.  The milk is then bottled and recyclable colored coded caps are applied which determines your choice of milk – 2%, whole, cream and during the holidays, eggnog.

Milk is sold at their farm store with zero food miles offering a true “farm to gate” experience, by delivery or independent grocery stores throughout Kingston.

Also available are many other organic and local food items such as: Reinink organic eggs, a range of pasta from Pasta Tavola, ice-cream from Slickers, selection of sauces and relishes along with Seed to Sausage products. By fall they are working on processing their own yogurt and buttermilk products.

The delivery service is a convenient way to provide customers with the fresh products right to their front door. The vintage milk truck delivers each week on Thursdays and Fridays across Kingston city and to many rural areas, as far east as Joyceville and west as Odessa. If you are not home the items are carefully left in a special Limestone Creamery leased “porch box”.

“The kids think its Christmas morning when John (Bertrand), the farms milkman arrives,” jokes Olivia Groenewegan. “If he sees children in the window he may even leave behind some cookies for them too.” To enjoy the delivery service, simply sign up for an account online at limestonecreamery.ca and complete an order form.

How does buying organic milk compare to conventional milk?

Their milk is the only organic milk bottled here locally. You pay a $2 refundable deposit otherwise the price to conventional milk is comparable at .10 cents more a litre. Only Limestone Organic Creamery milk is bottled in their branded bottles and is the only milk for sale in market assured of being local. All others come from an Ontario pool of milk and may not necessarily be from this region.

What does it mean to be a certified organic farm?

The farm is inspected and certified by Pro-Cert organic systems Inc. to ensure they adhere to a set of standards and guidelines. The Limestone Creamery does not use pesticides or herbicides. The milk contains no antibiotics, no hormones and no GMO’s as the cows are treated homeopathically for any illness. The milk is processed the same as conventional milk.  “The difference is in the way our cows are treated and fed,” says Olivia “Our cows graze outside in summer and are outside in the pasture throughout the seasons, weather permitting.”

“We have had some customers who claim to be unable to drink milk,” continues Olivia. “They enjoy our un-homogenized milk products and find them easy to drink and digest.”

At the store, you are greeted with a warm smile from the staff standing behind the vintage counter top. Fresh scones, cookies, homemade ice cream, coffee and tea are available along with their full product range. So many favorites but I am not alone when I say the campfire ice cream is dreamy. One bite and you will recall a summer campfire cracking in the distance with roasted marshmallows on the end of a stick. On May 10th they are kicking off Friday night extended hours till 9pm, so you can all enjoy escaping the city for mouthwatering homemade ice cream cones, along with new this season – milkshakes and sundaes.

In June, they will hold a Strawberry Social featuring strawberry sundaes, milkshakes, music and food.

For more information about Limestone Organic Creamery or for a full list of grocery stores that stock their products visit their website limestoneorganic creamery.ca to order, drop by the farm store located at 3127 Sydenham Rd, Elginburg, Ontario or call 613-542-0732. Store is open Mon-Fri, 10 am – 6pm and every Saturday 10 am – 4pm. Summer only Friday nights till 9pm.

A recipe mustered up with items purchased from the farm store at Limestone Organic Creamery.

RASBERRY AND PEAR BREAD

Makes 1 large loaf

Ingredients:

125 g butter, at room temperature

1 cup of caster sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 Reinink organic eggs

2 cups self-raising flour

½ cup of Limestone Organic Creamery 2% milk

2 (525g) pears, peeled, cored, quartered and thinly sliced

125 g punnet fresh raspberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 320 F (160 C)

Grease and line a 20 cm x 9.5 cm x 7 cm deep (6 cup capacity) loaf pan with baking paper.
1. Using an electric beater, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy.

2. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

  1. Sift flour over mixture.
  2. Add milk, pear and raspberries. Using a large metal spoon gently stir until combined.
  3. Spoon mixture into a prepared loaf pan and smooth top with the back of a wet spoon.
  4. Bake for 1 hour and 10mins or until bread is cooked through when tested in the centre with a skewer. Let stand for 5 mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Slice and serve with Limestone Organic Creamery fresh cream.

Vibrant Street Life – patio season is now open

The groundhog lied. Spring, as you know, had a dismal start. Thankfully, this past week we saw a rise in temperature, prompting restaurants to finally open their patios.

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Patio season is a time of celebration and a kickoff to the warmer days ahead. In Canada, during many months of the year, we live indoors. I welcome the moderate temperature where you can dine alfresco.

To dine alfresco is to eat outdoors, derived from the Italian word which means “fresh” or “open air”. Oh, to be Italian and experience outdoor occasions filled with food, laughter and wine all year long.

Like our European counterparts, our downtown has a vibrant street life, with restaurants offering open-air dining options throughout the warmer months. Many pubs and restaurants are locally owned and chefs prepare unique farm-to-table menus. You can discover venues with atmospheres ranging from cozy to elegant.

I don’t have a favorite patio, I hop from one to the next. There are so many options: the classic Brew Pub, Toucan, Tír Nan Óg and Coppers at the Queen’s Inn to the delectable Chien Noir, Atomica, Woodenheads, Casa Domenico, Pan Chancho and Chez Piggy. Several local hoteliers have patios off their restaurants with great views of the harbor.
The “Big Dig” is on and some downtown locations are offering specials for customers. For example, you can get “The Big Dig Caesar” with a cheeseburger garnish from Harper’s Burger Bar. That’s a clever twist and I’m looking forward to checking out this yummy option.
Another fantastic reason to head downtown is the great retail shopping experience. I like to wander in and out of the shops searching out happy discoveries from top brands to one-of-a-kind items. Some retailers such as Chris James clothing will offer to pay for your parking. Late night shopping launches May 30 .

Don’t forget the farmers’ market. Plan to check out the umbrella seating in Springer Market Square, offering a great spot for your own picnic lunch. Soon the open-air cinema will be showing movies again. Bring along your chairs and get cozy under the stars.

For more information about events and activities coming to Kingston, visit downtownkingston.ca.

I took a break from the office and met a friend for lunch last week. We met at Portsmouth Harbor and strolled the waterway path into the city. We marveled at Lake Ontario and the beautiful architecture along the route from the old Queen’s University buildings to the Pump House Steam Museum, and the many hotels, restaurants and shops. We decided to do this again, perhaps in the summer when we could take in one of the lunchtime concerts in Confederation Park.

While many people prefer to eat indoors, protecting themselves from the elements, there are some definite benefits to eating meals outdoors. You tend to lounge and relax more when eating outside. It’s a great stress release to soak up the sunshine or the starry night while sipping on your favorite cocktail.
Go away rain and snow. Now is the time to experience these longer, lazier eating occasions at a great restaurant patio or your own backyard.
My family and I enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner outside in the warmer months. One of my family’s favorite dishes is zucchini fritters, a nice light meal that can be eaten at any time of the day.

Zucchini Fritters with Corn and Bacon (serves 4)

Ingredients:

3 zucchini, trimmed and grated

* cup of self -raising flour

* cup finely grated parmesan

50g feta, crumbled

1 egg

4 thin rashers of bacon

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 fresh cob of corn, kernels removed

1 tbsp. finely chopped chives

1/3 cup light sour cream

Instructions:

Using your hands, squeeze as much liquid as possible from grated zucchini and place into a large bowl. Add flour, parmesan, feta and egg. Season well with salt and pepper.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add bacon and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until crisp or cooked to your liking. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Cover to keep warm.

Shape the zucchini batter into a pattie shape.

Heat 1 tsp. oil in pan over medium -low heat. Add zucchini mixture/ pattie to pan and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with any remaining mixture.

Place corn kernels into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Stand for 5 minutes or until tender. Drain and return to bowl. Add chives and stir until combined. Serve fritters topped with corn mixture, sour cream and bacon.

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