Tag Archives: Huron County

Coffee roasting 101: All you need is a skillet or a popcorn maker

23 Jan

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By Diva Heather Boa

ZURICH – A friend who is a psychologist once told me that addiction to coffee isn’t measured by how many cups one drinks but, rather, by the depth of emotion that one feels for coffee.

Well, I love coffee. Hot, rich, smooth, black coffee. In large quantities.

So when the invitation came to attend Coffee Roasting 101 at The Coastal Roastery in Zurich today, I was excited.

Many people are familiar with Coastal Coffee Company, with its green logo of a stylized pop-up top Volkswagen van, a regular at many farmers markets in Huron County. Perhaps not so many people are familiar with its coffee shop in downtown Zurich, where there’s always a pot or two of coffee and some baked goods available, along with everything you need to prepare a good pot of coffee. At the back, beyond the retail shop, burlap sacks of green beans – which are really the seed of a coffee cherry – grown by micro producers in Nicaragua, Columbia, Rwanda, Peru or some other exotic country sit ready for the gleaming Toper brand roaster in the centre of the room.

Today, the four of us in this class are not going near the commercial roaster.

Instead, we’re learning to roast micro batches of coffee using a few methods that adapt to our own kitchens or campfires. The class ratio is a phenomenal 1:1, with staff sharing their considerable knowledge and skills.

Jason Wiebe kicks off the demonstration with a cautionary note that a butane burner should not be used indoors and a popcorn maker should not be modified in any way.

coffeeroasting5Then he fills a dry cast iron skillet with 250g – that’s one cup, for those of you still on Imperial measurements – and we watch as he flips the beans like a chef making an omelette, chaff floating into the air. In time, the beans turn from green to yellow to deep brown. And there is a cluster of cracking sounds, like sluggish popcorn, at two intervals in the process. We’re told the green beans smell like wet grass in the first few minutes, then like hay, then like fresh bread as the sugar in the beans start to caramelize. When they’re done, Jason flips them onto a baking pan to cool.

coffeeroasting8To watch a short video of coffee beans in the skillet, check out their Facebook video post on Jan. 23.

coffeeroasting9Ben Gingerich takes an even smaller portion of beans, just 80g, and pours them into an old, sturdy popcorn maker that’s been modified with the addition of a steel can missing both top and bottom fitted like a miniature smoke stack. The hot air tosses around the beans and every now and again he gives the popcorn maker a shake. We shine a penlight onto the beans, checking their colour because we can’t hear the beans crack above the noise of the machine. In a shorter time than it took to skillet roast the beans, this batch is done.

2016-01-23 14.46.03There is a third process for roasting coffee at home, but it seems to be the least favourable choice: using a relatively pricey electric drum roller with presets.

At the end of the two-hour class, we grab homemade cookies and yet another cup of coffee, we are given green beans to roast at home, and we get a sample of the beans we roasted.

Even if my sample of green beans never hits a skillet or popcorn maker, I have a much deeper appreciation for coffee, which is a big part of my day.


 

What: Coffee Roasting 101

When: Saturday, Feb. 27, starting at 1:30 p.m.

Where: Coastal Roastery, 17 Goshen St. N., Zurich

Cost: $40

RSVP: Space is limited. Email: info@coastalcoffeecompany.ca

 

 

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Cooking like a chef at Samuel’s Hotel

18 Jan

samuelsspencer6By Diva Heather Boa

GODERICH – They’re five basic ingredients: flour, kosher salt, eggs, olive oil and cream.

But they hold so much potential, as a dozen aproned people discovered during a Saturday morning pasta-making class led by Chef Spencer Vail at Samuel’s Hotel Inc. just north of Goderich.

In three hours, those ingredients were mixed, kneaded, rested, pulled, cut, filled, folded, pinched, and shaped into delicate pasta packages stuffed with all sorts of delicious mixtures. Chef Vail, of Cait’s Kitchen, demonstrated a few fundamental techniques, a few simple sauces, and a couple of cheats for making pasta on a weekend that would result in easy meals through the working week. The students gathered around the kitchen island to watch intently, ignoring the winter river scene out the hotel suite’s patio windows.

samuelsspencer11There was butternut squash baked and blended with cinnamon, fennel seeds, peppercorn, cloves, and star anise, which were piped onto waiting pasta to make a folded agnolotti, then fried in butter and sage.

There were braised chicken thighs, flavoured in a stock of onions, carrots, water, salt and peppercorn, which would be pulled for the filling for ravioli, then topped with a sauce of the stock reduction, along with mushrooms and kale.

There were aged cheddar, Swiss, and jalapeño goat cheese filled into pasta shaped into tortellini and topped with a mixture of simmered cherry tomatoes, chopped onions and smoked garlic, with a touch of cream added at the end.

samuelsspencer9“Any paste you like the taste of you can use as a filling,” Chef Vail said, as students pulled pasta through the pasta-making machine and cut shapes in the dough.

As one budding cook pointed out, all we needed was a good bottle of red wine – or a bad bottle of red wine.


 

What: Cook Like A Chef, with Chef Spencer Vail

Where: Samuel’s Hotel Inc., 34031 Saltford Rd., Goderich, ON

More details: Learn some pretty great kitchen skills and share in the meal prepared. Stay Friday or Saturday night in a cozy room with a fireplace and enjoy a hot breakfast the following morning. Classes are held Saturdays. Packages priced per couple. Additional guests taking part in the classes are $70pp.
January 16 ~ Local Ingredients, International Flavour
January 30 ~ That’s How I Roll
February 13 ~ Get in the Game
February 27 ~ To be Announced

February 6 ~ Valentines Crash Course: Beyond Making Toast and Boiling Water – Learn How not to Suck at Cooking (This class is for men only. Craft Beer is included in this class)

To register: Email kim@samuelshotel.ca, phone 1-877-524-1371 or 519-524-1371

Website: http://www.samuelshotel.ca

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There’s treasure on Hwy. 86

14 Dec

bushart1By Diva Heather Boa

HURON COUNTY – It’s easy to image carloads of tourists and cottagers rolling along the picturesque Hwy. 86 – the dividing line between Huron and Bruce counties – in search of adventure during the summer months. They stop to poke around the markets, garden centres and studios that surround Wingham in a big arc, and they eat picnic lunches or enjoy coffee breaks at pretty parks set in small villages.

This time of year, the swarms of summer visitors are gone, but many of those places remain open to be discovered in this week before Christmas.

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Bush Art, 86457 Norman Line, Wingham

The roadway sign at the corner of Norman Line and Hwy. 86, just west of Wingham entices folks down a dirt road and up a farm laneway. It would seem unlikely that on this dreary day the place would welcome travellers, but there’s the neon “open” sign lit up with red light bulbs. I enter a room filled with wooden angels with crosses of copper wire hanging from their necks, walking sticks with patterns burned into their smooth surfaces, a massive tree burl with every curve highly polished, and other items crafted from materials found on the farm’s acreage. As is Huron County custom in the rural area, I know that the owner will eventually discover my car in his laneway and come out to greet me. True enough, within a few minutes, retired-farmer-turned-artisan Brian Wellsted joins me, inviting me to wander further into the old barn, where used row upon row of books neatly line his handmade bookshelves, organized in categories just like you would expect to find at Chapters or Coles. He leaves me alone with the hum of the heaters and the rhythmic tap of rain against the old window panes, while I explore the mystery section, picking out two reasonably priced hard covers, and then sifting through the Canadiana, gardening, travel and sections.

I leave with my two books and wooden angel just as what appears to be a mother-daughter combo enter for their turn to explore.

Pioneer Conservation Area, 13 Clyde St., Bluevale

Today the ball diamond is empty, the playground equipment quiet. There’s no one under the picnic shelter. It’s peaceful. A great place to read my new book, enjoy a cup of coffee and recall the last time I was here – as a reporter, observing a mock disaster built around a scenario of a bus accident. There were student actors hanging in tree branches, caught under the bus, trapped inside, thrown clear across the field and impaled by branches. They waited while emergency workers co-ordinated efforts to get medical help to them and extract them, in a rehearsal of their skills. But on this day there’s no one in the park and on the footpath to the Maitland River even though it’s quite pretty.

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Old 86 Farmers’ Market, 44229 Hwy. 86

The fry truck is all closed up now that the sun has waned, but there’s still plenty to see at this massive farmers’ market of locally produced frozen, boxed and preserved food, and everything from gardening tools to home décor to underwear.

I wander through a front room filled with wonderful preserves by Glenn Hill, turkey products by Hayter’s and new giftware, picking out a jar of marmalade for a Christmas morning treat.

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Then I head back into the vast room, at the least the size of an arena floor, and sift through toys, gift wrapping, golfing shoes, work clothes, wall signs, books and all sorts of items that would make great gifts or stocking stuffers. In the end, I pick out two pairs of gloves with little no-slip nubs of plastic on the palms, perfect for the gym.

With my haul of treasures in the back of the car, I head back down the highway, this time in search of lunch.

Dinner at Hessenland with a heaping of precision, consistency

7 Dec

hessenland1By Diva Heather Boa

ST. JOSEPH – There are two reasons to be a fan of the simply elegant European dining experience at Hessenland Country Inn: Precision and consistency.

With the ownership team of Liz Ihrig at front of house and Frank Ihrig in charge of the kitchen, there is a never-failing attention to detail that is almost spooky.

We’re here for a business meeting of eight women – the annual meeting of the Ontario Travel Divas, with a photography seminar provided by Erin Samuell of A Simple Photograph, division of blog ideas for the next year, and dinner. We’re in luck because the restaurant is open this weekday night to accommodate a Christmas party in its vast main dining room, with a wall of windows and patio doors that provide a picturesque view of the countryside near the shores of Lake Huron.

IMG_4928We meet in an intimate space at the front of the restaurant, and hear not a peep from the party.

Twinkling white Christmas lights in garland border the window and stockings carefully hung on the mantle serve as a backdrop to a table perfectly laid out with silverware, carafes of water set at intervals.

I could order with my eyes closed: Kalbs Schnitzel Wiener Art ($24.95), which is a Huron County veal that’s been breaded and sautéed, with just enough smooth, brown gravy to make it decadent. And on the side I choose spaetzle, a soft egg noodle that is delicious without adornment, and red cabbage, made interesting with clove and something sweet. This is the same order I have every time, and every time it looks and tastes just as wonderful (unless it’s Mongolian Grill night, when I choose a whack of raw meat and vegetables and take it outside to the grill for frying and spicing by Frank.)

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On a visit this past summer, the kitchen also made a special order birthday Pavlova, a fussy dish with its meringue base, topped with fruit and whipped cream.

Our waitstaff finds the perfect balance between professionalism and friendliness, somehow always managing to appear when we’re in need but disappearing from the cozy dining space when we are settled.

Hessenland also serves its own beer, Hessenland Helles Bavarian style beer, and this spring will begin planting grapevines with the expectation of pouring its first glass of wine in 2018.

Hessenland is currently running pre-Christmas hours, Friday and Saturday for dinners only. Group reservations for 20 people or more on the remaining weekdays until Dec. 17, at which time it closes until Spring.

 

 

 

It’s here: The Christmas holiday season in Huron County

14 Nov

goderichparade17BY DIVA CAROLINE THUSS – Don’t get me wrong. I have been enjoying the unseasonably warm and sunny weather we’ve been lucky to have so far this fall but there is something about the holiday season that makes me crave a light dusting of snow, hot chocolate with a splash of Bailey’s and all the Christmas displays that neighbours and storefronts prepare.

There is so much going on in Huron County to get you in the spirit and it all starts this weekend! From the lighting of trees to Santa Claus floats in the local parades to the famous ladies night to get a jump of your Christmas shopping.

Here is a rundown of events:

BAYFIELD:

Christmas in Bayfield

Friday, Nov. 13 to Sunday, Nov. 15

Lighting of the lights in Clan Gregor Square took place last night and the Santa Claus parade got under way this morning. FREE horse drawn carriage rides all weekend! Lots of shops are open for fun Christmas shopping.

BRUSSELS

Brussels Business Group & Municipality of Huron East’s Brussels Santa Claus Parade

Saturday, Nov. 28, starting at 5 p.m.

Come out and enjoy a great family evening. Visit with Santa after the parade and be sure to bring your picture for the colouring contest (ages 1 – 12). Free skating and face painting. Make plans to attend this wonderful evening.

CLINTON

Clinton Santa Claus Parade

Friday, Dec. 4, starting at 7 p.m.

A regular Santa Claus Parade with floats, bands, etc. and the “Jolly Old Man” himself!

EXETER

Exeter Tree Lighting

Friday, Nov. 20, starting at 6:30 p.m.

MacNaughton Park, Exeter

Exeter BIA’s Exeter Christmas Open House

Friday, Nov. 20 to Sunday, Nov. 22

Celebrate the Christmas season in Exeter! Check out its fabulous shops and restaurants, then head to the Santa Claus Parade!

Exeter Lions Club & Exeter BIA Exeter Santa Claus Parade

Saturday, Nov. 21, starting at 7 p.m.

Come and enjoy a parade of lights along Main Street! Part of “Christmas Weekend in Exeter” festivities.

GODERICH:

IODE Goderich Christmas House Tour

Saturday, Nov. 14 and Sunday, Nov. 15

Area homes decorated for Christmas are open to ticket holders for touring. Saturday Nov. 14 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 15 from noon to 4 p.m. Refreshments at the Goderich Library. Tickets, $20, available at the Goderich Library or by contacting 519-524-6700.

Goderich BIA Ladies’ Night Out

Thursday, Nov. 19, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Enjoy refreshments, nibbles, free gifts, and in store specials. Why not treat yourself? You work hard all year round, but the holiday season is especially hectic, so treat yourself to a night out on the town, in downtown Goderich.

Festival of Lights Celebration

Friday, Nov. 20 to Sunday, Nov. 22

Let Goderich brighten your mood and gladden your heart with yuletide joy, glittering lights, charming displays and special events during this annual salute to the festive holiday season.

Friday, Nov. 21: Candlelight Ceremony at Lions Harbour Park to remember and honour those who are no longer present with us.

Saturday, Nov. 21: 6:30 p.m. – seasonal music; 7 p.m. Court House Park light displays will be turned on; 7:15 p.m. – Santa Claus Parade beings.

HENSALL

Hensall Kinsmen and the Hensall Fire Department’s Hensall Wreath & Tree Lighting

Friday, Nov. 27, starting at 6 p.m.

Folks gather at the Jennie Smillie Parkette for BCES choir performances and tree lighting. Hot dogs and hot chocolate are served following this at the Hensall arena, as well as games for the kids.

HURON EAST

Christmas Show and Sale of Pottery

Saturday, Nov. 14 and Sunday, Nov. 15, noon to 6 p.m.

Studio open house featuring new work in stoneware and porcelain by award-winning potter Robert Tetu. Choose from functional pottery or beautiful one-of-a-kind decorative items, all displayed in an historic general store.

Location: Beechwood Pottery, 44004 Bridge Road – 4 km north of St. Columban (Hwy #8) on Beechwood Line, corner of Bridge Road.

LUCKNOW

Lucknow & District Chamber of Commerce and Lucknow Kinsmen’s Lucknow Santa Claus Parade

Friday, Nov. 27, starting at 7 p.m.

Main Street is aglow with lights and music as our many floats usher Santa to town. Visit with Santa at the arena and get a free treat bag. Free skating from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the arena.

SEAFORTH

Shop Seaforth & Win – 2016 Edition

This year the Seaforth BIA is once again holding our Shop Seaforth and Win Christmas promotion, and its gotten the okay from the big man himself (Santa, of course!) to add to the prize pot. Four prizes of $mart Money to be won.

All you have to do is collect five receipts from any of our BIA business members, put them in an envelope with your name and phone number, and drop them off at the tourist information booth in the Santa Mailbox! It’s super easy, and the promotion runs until Dec. 22.

Seaforth Lions’ Santa Claus Parade  

Friday, Nov. 27, starting at 7 p.m.

Lighted Santa Claus Parade.

BIA No Tax Weekend

Saturday, Dec. 5 and Sunday, Dec. 6.

WINGHAM

Wingham and District Lions Club’s Wingham Santa Claus Parade

Saturday, Nov. 28, starting at 11 a.m.

Children are invited to meet Santa at the Fire Hall following the parade.

ZURICH AREA

Poinsettia Festival at Huron Ridge Acres

Thursday, Nov. 19 to Saturday, Nov. 21, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

and

Thursday, Nov. 26 to Saturday, Nov. 28, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Experience the wonder of thousand of beautiful poinsettias during daytime hours, the soothing atmosphere created with twinkling lights, candles and music during evening hours. Greenhouses are decked out to get you in the Christmas Spirit. 47101 Bronson Line, Zurich.

 

 

 

Huron’s tourism operators get a night out

22 Oct

waynepettiBy Diva Heather Boa

BAYFIELD – A cluster of women have turned their chairs away from tables recently cleared of the remnants of another fine dinner at The Ashwood and they face indie rock musician Wayne Petti, who commands the small stage.

He encourages them to sing the chorus “If I live, or if I die” while he lays his vocals over top, accompanied by guitar. Their voices carry to the far end of the bar, where others attending the Fall Harvest Dinner hosted by the Huron Tourism Association chat over after-dinner drinks.

It’s a Thursday night in this quiet village, but nearly 40 people have gathered here for a three-course dinner and to hear this talented Canadian singer-songwriter from band Cuff the Duke, just another musician in an impressive lineup of performers who hit the stage at The Ashwood. (Royal Wood with Peter Katz on Oct. 29 is sold out, but there are still tickets available for Northern Pikes – yes, the same band that sings She Ain’t Pretty – on Nov. 12., and The Ashgrove on Nov. 14.)

The Ashwood is a fine example of the effort local tourism operators put into creating experiences that attract tourists.

Kim Burgsma, President, Huron Tourism Association

Kim Burgsma, President, Huron Tourism Association

In fact, Kim Burgsma, who is the president of the Huron Tourism Association, tells those tourism operators gathered for dinner that tourism brings $60 million annually to Huron County, with 94 per cent of visitors coming from less than three hours away.


 

Want to be in the know about what’s going on in Huron County?

Here are a few ways:

  1. Follow Ontario’s West Coast’s Facebook Page
  2. Follow Ontario’s West Coast’s Twitter Page @onwestcoast
  3. Sign up for the Huron Tourism Association weekly listing of upcoming events by emailing tourism@huroncounty.ca

 

Countryside inspires artists in Huron County Art Show

19 Oct

groupshotBy Diva Heather Boa

GODERICH – Cows. It doesn’t matter if they’re Jerseys or Holsteins. Just cows.

It seems those four-legged cud-chewing creatures figure prominently in the imaginations of artists here along the Lake Huron shoreline. Why else would curators of the Huron County Art Show have to strategically arrange the exhibit to separate paintings of cows, relegating one to each wall? They are separated by barns, trees, wildlife and all sorts of other pastoral scenes captured in a variety of media in this 15th annual show, with this year’s theme: Our Creative Countryside.

David Taylor

David Taylor

“It was a great pleasure to jury this show and I was very impressed with the high standard that you’ve developed here,” said David Taylor, during the show opening at the Huron County Museum this weekend. Taylor served as curator of various public art galleries before retiring in 2006 and now volunteers to assist the curator of collections at the Tom Thompson Art Gallery in Owen Sound.

In front of a crowd of artists, family and friends, he announced six honourable mentions along with the first and second prize winners, whose artwork is purchased by the County of Huron and becomes part of its art bank for display in county-owned buildings.

The exhibit features 36 artists from across Huron County, including 11 new artists.

farmallFirst prize went to Scott Ramsay for Ole Faithful, an acrylic “portrait” of a ’58 Farmall H.

“Each well-earned wrinkle and blemish is creatively reproduced to express the love, use and reuse by the owner,” wrote Ramsay in his description of the artwork.

Second prize went to Julie-Anne Lizewski for Field of Promises, an encaustic on wood panel.

“This painting was inspired by a recent tour of a friend’s Huron County farm, overlooking a field, with a feeling of great joy and hope for the future.

fieldencousticThe art show is funded by the County of Huron, which recognizes culture as one of the pillars of economic development.

“Aristotle once said, the aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance,” said Paul Gowing, the county’s warden, during the opening ceremony. He said the art in the show highlights the inward significance, putting a different light and frame on subjects.

happyfarmLater in the evening, Lynn Haygarth’s liquid acrylic piece, Happy Farm – Plough, was announced as the winner of the People’s Choice Award, based on ballots cast by those attending the opening evening.

A final award winner – the one that will make the poster of the 2017 International Plowing Match Rural Expo – will be announced during the summer of 2016.

The Huron County Art Show runs until Dec. 20. Entrance is free with museum admission.

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