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Mushroom Appetizers popular party fare!

18 Dec

PlumStuffedShiitake
Plum-Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms (from epicurious.com)

Here is an Asian twist on stuffed mushrooms. Chinese plum sauce and sesame oil make the satisfying, intensely flavored glaze. Small portobellos can be substituted for the shiitakes, if you like.
  • 40 small shiitake mushrooms (about 1 1/4 pounds), stemmed
  • 12 ounces bulk pork sausage
  • 1/2 cup Chinese plum sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oriental sesame oil
    1/2 cup chopped fresh chives

Place shiitake mushrooms stem side up on large rimmed baking sheet. Mound each with about 1/2 tablespoon pork sausage. Stir plum sauce in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until melted. Whisk in oil. Brush mushrooms with all of plum sauce mixture. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake mushrooms until sausage is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer to large platter. Sprinkle with chives.

_ _ _

Susan Weth, Incubating mushrooms

Susan Weth, Incubating mushrooms

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Susan Weth, co-owner of Weth Mushrooms. I was surprised that mushrooms there are not grown in the dark, and they are not grown in horse manure.  These mushrooms are grown in a “Natural” mixture that is wood-based, as these farmers try to replicate the forest floor as a growing condition for their mushroom crops.  At Weth Mushrooms, a new crop is incubated every 10-12 weeks. They’re planted in plastic bags in that special mixture of soil, grain and sawdust that eventually hardens and colourizes (Incubates), at which stage the bags are removed.   Within one week the mushrooms are sprouting in temperature and moisture-controlled sprouting rooms. Once harvested the block-growing material is composted back into the field.

Although there are bio-security issues in certain parts of the plant we were invited inside. There are three brands of mushrooms grown at Weth’s.  Susan’s favourite brand grown here is shiitake,  so much so that she no longer uses the very popular white button mushroom, and uses Shiitake in “everything”.  Shiitake mushrooms are not native to Southwestern Ontario.  The second type, maitake, can sometimes be found in Huron County, growing in the wild.  It has a nutty flavour.  And, the third type, pioppino is a small brown variety that has a bit more texture and remains slightly crunchy even after cooking.  Maitake and Pioppino mushrooms grow faster than the Shiitake, but temperature changes can wipe out a crop quickly.

Maitake Mushrooms available from Weth's

Maitake Mushrooms available from Weth’s

Susan tells me she prefers maitake fried in olive oil and butter until the tips brown.   Shiitake are flavourful in omelettes, stuffed with roasted red pepper and goats cheese or marinated and barbecued.  Pioppino’s are nice in stews or stir fried dishes.  All three have good meaty textures and are an excellent substitute for meats.  Mushrooms are loaded with anti-oxidants.   And, to my surprise, Susan does not eat or serve mushrooms uncooked as they do have some toxins.  In some cultures, mushrooms are used raw for cleanings, but Susan does not recommend using them this way.

pioppino mushrooms

pioppino mushrooms

Mushrooms are shipped from this site every week and many local restaurants buy direct from the farm.  Susan indicated their future would likely include more varieties and increased yield.  As Weth Mushrooms are organically grown, their product is popular, especially with growing consumer demand for organic produce.  For the most part the Weth’s can’t keep up with that demand as mushroom farming is extremely labour intensive.  Picking or harvesting is all done by hand, and although there is no grading system in Ontario Weth’s internally grade and price their product as premium, utility and baby.

Shiitake

Shiitake

Weth Mushrooms is iocated on 89 acres of reforested land in the Township of Central Huron.  They’re open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 until 3:30pm or by appointment.  Tours are sometimes available so call Susan for more information.

WethMushroomSignWeth Mushrooms
35809 Union Side Road
Goderich, ON
N7A 3X8
519-524-4263

or on Facebook “Weth Mushrooms Inc.”

Are Rutabaga’s on the Menu this Holiday season?

16 Dec

RutabagaMy favourite side dish with turkey or beef is rutabaga … and, apparently, it’s a really healthy choice.  Last spring we met with the Hubbard Family in Blyth to learn about their business.

George Hubbard started a family business, G.L. Hubbard Ltd., in 1962 when he purchased the plant located on Dinsley Street East in Blyth from Russ Dougherty.

The rutabaga is a root vegetable with a yellow flesh.  It is a cross between a turnip and a cabbage.  It reported originated in Scandanavia or Russia and was first found in North America in the early 19th century.  They are served a variety of ways in many countries, but in Canada they are most often used as filler in mincemeat and Christmas Cake or served as a side dish.

Rutabaga are planted 6” apart, and only 12 acres had been planted when we visited this producer on May 13, 2014.  2013’s extremely long winter delayed the planting season this spring.  Plans were being made to plant another 12 – 17 acres in the couple weeks following, with planting all finished by the end of June.  The rutabaga is a 90-day crop and harvest begins in October, taking approximately three weeks to complete.

Phil & Karen Hubbard trimming the rutabagas for shipping

Phil & Karen Hubbard trimming the rutabagas for shipping

The rutabagas are pulled in the field by a harvester, trucked into the plant and unloaded via stackers to prevent bruising and cracking.  They are kept at 33 degrees in a humidity-controlled room and  about 50,000 bushels are stored in the two on-site storage sheds.  There are two more sheds off-site.  Each week this plant processes  2,000 – 4,000 bushels, depending on the market – typically less in spring and more in fall and winter months as that’s when the harvest take place and when the consumer demands this tasty root vegetable.

Buckets on a tractor transport the rutabaga from the storage shed to a wash station. Rutabagas are then washed twice.   Hubbard Farm is still using its original washing equipment.  Rutabagas travel, via an auger, into a holding bin where they drop to be trimmed and sized/sorted by hand.  Trimming is done only for esthetics. The next step in the processing is waxing – a process that requires six people.  And, finally, stickers with Foodland Ontario’s bar codes are applied and the rutabaga are boxed in 50lb boxes for shipping.

Hubbard’s ship every day with Friday being their biggest day to accommodate shipping schedules into the United States.  They have enjoyed a long term partnership with Stovel Siemon of Mitchell for shipping their products across Canada and into the U.S.

Yearly inspections are required at Hubbard’s for food safety standards. It is a year-round business with down-time in July for repairs and cleaning.  A recent new shed was erected on the property to meet food safely requirements.  It houses packing cartons and skids.

This operation currently keeps six families in Canada and seven immigrant families employed including two of George’s daughters, his son and one of his grandsons.  Many of the immigrant families have other jobs in their native Jamaica such as driving a taxi, farming, and building furniture. Since 1988, foreign workers have been a part of the Hubbard Farm with nine arriving each spring, rising to 13 each fall.

Rutabagas are high in Vitamin C. I asked Susan Hubbard what the most intriguing recipe she’d heard of and she responded “Cheese Whiz and mashed rutabaga” – I guess I should try it that way too, although I find it most delicious mashed with a little browh sugar, salt and pepper, and slathered in gravy. It can also be served with apples. 

If you haven’t tried Rutabaga put it on your bucket list.  It can be purchased year round at most grocery stores, or direct from the plant at 367 Dinsley Street during business hours.

Hubbard RutabagaG.L. Hubbard Ltd.
367 Dinsley St., PO Box 340
Blyth, Ontario, Canada  N0M 1H0
(519) 523-4554 

_ _ _

Sadly, shortly after our visit at Hubbard Rutabaga plant last spring George Hubbard passed away.  He will be missed by his family and many friends and neighbours in Huron County and beyond.    His family will continue to operate the business and farms.

It’s Turkey Time (at Hayter’s)

14 Dec

Hayters Store SignIt’s that time of year when turkey is on everyone’s mind … and fork, so I thought it would be a great time to share this story about Hayter’s.  Enjoy!

Since 1984 this family-owned turkey farm in Dashwood is the place where the Hayter family has developed its passion for premium quality. Their devotion to taste and tradition in every aspect of turkey farming and turkey products continues through three generations and was evident when we met with Joanne recently.

This family decided to raise turkeys because their land was poor and they found that turkey manure proved to be the best fertilizer. They had farmed beef and cash crops until 1993.

The Hayter’s have 13 barns and this is only turkey farm in Huron County that also has the processing plant. 

Hayters Farm

Hayters Turkey grow poults from one day old until they reach average market size of 35lbs, taking toms up to 16 weeks.  The hens go to market at 13 weeks at about 18 pounds. Hayters raise 160,000 turkeys per year on their farm in South Huron.

Their onsite store was built in 1983 and has been expanded a couple of times since, although the Hayter’s have had a farm outlet for 50 years.  The more recent addition of the LCBO agency store brought increased notice of their products, particularly with the summer market travelling to the lakeshore.

Hayter Store 2

Easter, Christmas and Thanksgiving is still the biggest sales opportunities for fresh turkeys.  To expand their market, further processing was needed to meet the needs of a time-challenged consumer.  Thus, turkey sausage, schnitzel, marinated fillets, wings and drumsticks, and burgers were added to their product lists.   Also offered through the store are frozen and fresh turkey products and condiments.  Hayter’s Turkey products are labelled with the Foodland Ontario brand.

Hayters Turkey employs 70,  including 5 extended family members.  Joanne’s brother Tom earned an animal poultry science degree from Guelph.  One son heads the marketing division in Toronto.   Joanne told us that they do ship to western Canada, but currently have no interest in the US market.  And, they attend farmer’s markets seasonally in North Bay, Sudbury and Sault St. Marie.  

A quota system for raising turkeys came into effect in 1970.  However, the Hayters Farm was a significant size at that time so that percentage of their quota doesn’t cost.  In Canada, farmers can’t grow more than 50 birds without a quota.

The processing plant at the Hayter Farm is provincially regulated.  Regular Inspections are deemed “necessary” as this family feels it is vital to promoting the message that their products are safe and healthy options.   Joanne feels they do have a voice but it’s difficult to advocate for change and to keep ahead of the ever-evolving health requirements while operating this size of business.

Joanne’s favourite product is the marinated fillets, and she wants everyone to know how healthy turkey is with just 2% fat in the breast.

HOW TO COOK FULL 15lb. TURKEY
Breast up – 450 degrees for 1/2 hour uncovered; then 2 – 2.5 hours at 350 covered.

Check the website for virtual tours of their farm – coming soon!

Hayters Turkey
37467 Dashwood Rd, R.R. 2, Dashwood
Ontario N0M 1N0
519-237-356
info@hayterturkey.com

Snowflake Getaway at Samuels

9 Dec

Snowflake Stay PackagesSamuelsHotel2by Diva Caroline
I am still enjoying the relaxed feeling that I instantly had upon entering the front lobby of Samuels hotel, located just outside of Goderich, for the Snowflake Getaway with my husband this past weekend. As parents to three busy kiddos we always say to each other that we need the chance to get away and spend some time without the kids but rarely do that. This package from Samuels provided just what we needed to relax and enjoy some “us” time with out being called “mom and dad” for a bit. The package included accommodation with a welcome gift, $50 voucher towards our dinner from the bistro menu and breakfast. I have enjoyed cooking classes and dinners out at Samuels but I never had the opportunity to stay overnight. The owners, Hugh and Kim Burgsma, have created a beautiful 13 room (plus the school house suite) boutique hotel that one would expect in a big city and made it available to visitors to Ontario’s West Coast.

SamuelsHotel

We were greeted by the friendly front of house staff member, Sarah, and felt very welcomed. The large Jacuzzi room was nicely furnished and very clean. The view from the terrace was of the beautiful Maitland River and provided a wonderful sunset as we enjoyed a pre-dinner drink in our room. As the weather was cooler, we took advantage of the fireplace in our room to add to the relaxing atmosphere.

We enjoyed a fabulous meal from the Bistro menu along side other guests by the stone fireplace in the dining room. We started with the baked Brie with berry port compote and French Onion soup, which was the perfect start to our dining experience. Our mains included a smoked pulled-pork wrap (a favourite of my husband’s) and coconut curry prawns with basmati rice, which was beautifully scented.  And, the servings were very large! We decided we could not turn down dessert and shared a mouth-watering brandy baklava that was served with warm crème Anglaise. YUM!

Samuels3

On our way back to our room we stopped to pick up a DVD from the collection available to guests to watch back in our room. It was nice to be able to have access to a wide variety of titles, along with several books that are free to borrow.  A variety of snacks and beverages are also available for guests to purchase.

I took advantage of the beautifully large Jacuzzi tub and enjoyed a nice long soak with some wonderfully scented bath salts that were provided in the room. Afterwards we cozied up on our bed to watch the movie. It is so nice to have a DVD player in each room.

After an amazing long sleep in the comfy bed, we ventured out into the dining area for our breakfast, which included a continental buffet of cereals, fruit, yogurt, breads and pastries, juice and coffee as well as an item off the hot breakfast menu. My husband enjoyed the Caramapple crepes (so good) and I had the Belgium waffle with fresh berries. Service was, again, excellent – as was the food.

Samuels4

I would highly recommend the Snowflake Getaway package at Samuels. They really understand hospitality and treated us like valued guests. It is in a great location for exploring all that Goderich and area has to offer this winter – from snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on the trails to shopping at the many excellent shops in the downtown square! Why not book yourself some time with friends or your partner and enjoy all that Samuels and Ontario’s West Coast has to offer?!

Snowflake Stay @ Hessenland

3 Dec Hessenland2

by Diva Rachel Lynn

Snowflake Stays are taking place at four different Inns throughout Huron County From Dec.1 to Jan.1. Packages start at $101.50 per person per night and all come with a special welcome gift, dining and accommodation. For more information on this great winter opportunity visit http://www.ontarioswestcoast.ca/beta/news/snowflake-stays/

Snowflake Stay Packages

Hessenland Country Inn is a beautiful place on Lake Huron between Grand Bend and Bayfield.  My husband and I were looking for a night away and decided Hessenland was the place for us.  We decided on the Snowflake package, which included a welcome gift, a 3 course dinner and breakfast.

There is a rich history to Hessenland, which is now run by second generation Ihrigs: Frank and Liz.  Frank is the head chef and Liz takes care of the day to day operations as the Innkeeper.  For more on their history please visit: http://www.hessenland.com/about-us/http://hessenland.com/about-us/

My family is German and this is one of the reasons why I wanted to stay at Hessenland.  My dad was born in Germany and came to Canada in 1956.  My maternal grandmother came to Canada in 1933.

As we opened the doors we were greeted to a beautiful décor and our host for the evening: Katie. She showed us around the Inn and to our room before we were guided to dinner.

HessenlandChristmasTree

Shawn got the Caesar salad, but not just any Caesar salad.  Here is there description:

Hessenland’s Classic Caesar Salad made with Crisp Romaine and tossed with our own Caesar dressing, with Westphalia Ham, and aged white cheddar and 12 Rye Bread.  

I choose the Die Hessenland Gulasch Suppe (goulash ) cup of soup.  I was not disappointed.  It was full of flavour and the beef was so tender.

HessenlandAppetizers

Main course:  Katie was informing us of the specials for the evening but as soon as Shawn saw Rouladen on the menu he tuned her out (sorry Katie!).  Rouladen is tender slices of Beef stuffed with vegetables, bacon & spices.    My mom makes this German staple like no other and Shawn has never seen it on any other menu.  He did not offer to share with me.

HessenlandRouladen2

I knew before we arrived that I was going to order the schnitzel.  It’s one of my all-time favourite comfort foods and reminds me of home. I had high expectations for this meal.  It came with spaetzle (homemade noodles) and fresh veggies.  I was given the option of red cabbage (also one of my mom’s specialties and one of my favourites) but opted out as they make theirs sweet and my mom makes hers sour (I usually prefer it sour).  I was pleasantly surprised when my dish came to with a sample of the red cabbage.

My expectations were beyond met.  I could not get enough of the food. It brought me right back home.  And the red cabbage was so good.

Schnitzel

 Pork Schnitzel, “Schweine Schnitzel”, Huron County Pork breaded and sautéed

I had to stop myself from eating all of the schnitzel to save room for dessert.  Shawn ordered crème brule and I ordered the strawberry sherbet.  My sherbet was made with real strawberries from Masse Fruit & Vegetable Market down the road.  It was the perfect ending to a spectacular meal.

HessenlandDessert

When we arrived at our deluxe room, a welcome package was waiting with lots of great goodies, including homemade cookies from Chef Frank, a welcome letter from Frank and Liz and a Snowflake list of “Things to do” in Huron County this winter.  This was extremely useful as it helped me decide to go to the Poinsettia Festival the next evening.

SnowflakeStaySwag

Hessenland was a great staycation (only 25 minutes from Goderich).  We will definitely come here again….and again.

Hessenland Country Inn
72981 Bluewater Hwy, RR1
Zurich, ON
519-2360-7707

Hessenland: www.hessenland.com
Follow them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/hessenland
and Twitter: https://twitter.com/HessenlandInn

 The Snowflake Stay Package at the Benmiller Inn & Spa

1 Dec

by Diva Calista Powell

Snowflake Stays are taking place at four different Inns throughout Huron County From Dec.1 to Jan.1. Packages start at $101.50 per person per night and all come with a special welcome gift, dining and accommodation. For more information on this great winter opportunity visit http://www.ontarioswestcoast.ca/beta/news/snowflake-stays/

Snowflake Stay Packages

A cozy lounge area outside of the dining hall decorated for the holidays.

A cozy lounge area outside of the dining hall decorated for the holidays.

 

My appetizer: Blyth Farm Golden Eweda Raclette. A must try!

My appetizer: Blyth Farm Golden Eweda Raclette. A must try!

Once we get hit with the notorious Huron County snow squalls, it’s easy to go into hibernation mode and want to stay indoors until the warmer seasons. After experiencing the Snowflake Stay package at the Benmiller Inn & Spa, I am so glad that I got to enjoy the beautiful side of winter. My partner Dan and I arrived to Benmiller after dark, so we went right to the dining room to enjoy our three-course meal that was included in the package. The entire menu looked delicious, and I always appreciate when local fare is incorporated into the recipes. I was feeling pretty adventurous so I chose the Blyth Farm golden eweda raclette appetizer, which was a skillet full of rissole potato, cornichon pickles, double smoked bacon and a grainy mustard sauce. I have to say; I‘ve never had anything quite like this dish. The double smoked bacon was to die for, and I especially enjoyed the cornichon pickles. For the main course, I treated myself to the grilled Ontario duck breast that was crusted with a delicious spice served on top of a sweet potato mash and root vegetable rissole. The montmorency cherries were the perfect amount of sweet to compliment the rich flavours in the duck. Just when I thought our meal could not have gotten any better, it was time for dessert. A natural chocoholic, I selected the flourless chocolate gateau. The serving size was massive, and it tasted absolutely decadent and rich-just how chocolate cake should be. I must also credit the attentive dining staff, as our server Amber was especially thorough, and ensured that our experience was first-rate.

Grilled duck on sweet potato mashed

Grilled duck on sweet potato mashed

After our meal, it was time to check into our room in the River Mill building where we found a lovely gift of jam preserves, candy canes and Huron County thermoses. Bundled up in our Benmiller robes, we enjoyed a bedtime tea in our room, which had a view that overlooked the Maitland River. We arose early in the morning to check out the indoor pool, and I was wishing that I had packed a swimsuit. We headed back down to the dining hall to enjoy our breakfast of Omega-3 eggs, smoked bacon, homefries, fresh fruit, and Benmiller Inn baked scones with fresh blueberry jam.

Photo 4s

Not wanting to leave just yet, we decided to take in the beautiful day and walk around the grounds. Growing up in this area, I am aware of how beautiful the river is in the summertime, but with the sunshine gleaming off of the fresh fallen snow and the frozen ponds, it was absolutely stunning. I can’t recommend the Benmiller Inn & Spa enough for their friendly service, delicious food, gorgeous landscape and cozy rooms. I most definitely want to try out another Snowflake Stay package at another Huron County destination. Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, or even a girl’s weekend, any Snowflake Stay package will be sure to create lasting memories for you this winter.

Photo 5s

All Snowflake Stay Packages include:

- A welcome gift awaiting in your room
– A snowflake sugar cookie
– Accommodations for one night
– Three-Course Dinner for Two
– Breakfast for Two

To book at the Benmiller Inn & Spa, visit http://benmiller.ca/snowflake-stay/email guestservices@benmiller.ca or call 1-800-265-1711.

The Benmiller Inn & Spa
81175 Benmiller Line
Goderich, Ontario
Canada N7A 3Y1
Tel: (800) 265-1711 or (519) 524.2191
Fax: (519) 524.5150

A New Thanksgiving Tradition

17 Nov Grandma Polly says it’s turkey time. Thank-you Hayter’s Farm!

by Diva Calista Powell
As our American neighbours prepare for their Thanksgiving feasts, I can’t help but reminisce about the amazing dinner that my family had this year. After visiting the Howick Fall Fair and seeing the wide variety of vegetables grown by my fellow Huron-Countians, I made it my goal to support local when selecting my Thanksgiving produce. Starting with the main attraction for this year’s meal, we picked up a fresh Hayter’s turkey. The great thing about Hayter’s is that you don’t have to drive too far in the county to get one, as they have a number of supermarkets where they distribute their products. Next on my grocery list was bread for the stuffing. Tasty-Nu Bakery and Cheese House in Zurich made this really easy. It just so happened that the last Goderich Farmer’s Market was happening on the Saturday before our big meal, so we picked up some carrots, potatoes for mashing, and my personal favourite- broccoflower (a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower).

Steaming broccoflower and carrots from the Goderich Farmer’s Market.

Steaming broccoflower and carrots from the Goderich Farmer’s Market.

Grandma Polly says it’s turkey time. Thank-you Hayter’s Farm!

Grandma Polly says it’s turkey time. Thank-you Hayter’s Farm!

With the Christmas season around the corner, another family meal needs to be prepared. Even though the snow has made a recent appearance, you can still get great local produce. I recently became aware of the year-round Farm to Table box that offers Bruce and Huron residents produce grown in our region. This program is volunteer-run and have many locations for pick-up.

For schedules and more information about the Farm to Table Box email farmtotablebox@gmail.com or leave a message at 519-335-3493. For updates, follow them on Twitter (@farmproducebox) or like them on Facebook.
To see where you can purchase Hayter’s Farm products visit their website at http://www.haytersfarm.com/.

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

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