Tag Archives: potatoes

Day Tripping: Peaches, Pizza and Preserving with Farmers Feed Cities

2 Sep

Peaches at Quiet Acres Farm

The most wonderful time of the year is almost over….peach season in Ontario is coming to an end! I’m obsessed with peaches and as soon as the season hits, I’m one of the first in line for delicious Ontario peaches. The peaches from our neighbouring country to the south are fine for baking or in pinch when I’m desperate for one in the middle of winter. Ontario peaches however are a thing of beauty. I didn’t always appreciate them and actually when I was growing up I preferred nectarines, since they didn’t have “furry skin” but that all changed when I met a beautifully ripe Ontario peach a few years ago and I haven’t looked back!

Last summer, I had the opportunity to join a wonderful organization, Farmers Feed Cities, on a farm and vineyard tour in Niagara-on-the-Lake with a group of food bloggers and journalists. Farmers Feed Cities is committed to supporting Ontario’s farmers and helping the public to understand their importance. The goal of this farm and vineyard tour was to give us “city folk” a chance to understand and appreciate the contributions made by Ontario farmers. We only experience the end product at our local grocery store but behind the scenes, there are so many people and processes involved to get product from the farm to the market and finally to our dining tables.

We started our day off visiting the fruit and vegetable growers at Quiet Acres Farm in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is just over an hour away from Toronto. Our first stop was a visit to their peach orchards and they looked like they went on for miles and miles. Rows and rows of peach trees with beautiful fruit hanging down, just ready to be picked. We sampled fresh peaches and cherries, straight from the trees and maybe it was the setting but they truly were the juiciest and most delicious fruits I had ever had!

We then took a tour of their peach processing facility, where all peaches are sized, sorted, washed and packaged for grocery stores. One thing I really admired was that no peaches go to waste. They are all sorted and graded and if they don’t make the cut because they rotted on the tree, they are put into piles around the orchard that compost down and get returned to the soil.

Next, we paid a visit to their garlic and potato barn. The owner opened the doors to a huge, dark barn and asked us to all look up. There, in an attic-type space were bundles of garlic! Down below, there were baskets of potatoes, covered up so that the light wouldn’t harm them. I had never seen anything like it and as much as I call myself a “vegetarian foodie” I realized just how little I knew about the growth and handling of some of my favourite fruits and veggies.

Garlic barn

Potatoes, potatoes, everywhere...

We ended our tour of Quiet Acres with a visit to their fruit and vegetable stand for a little shopping. Everything they sell is grown on-site, so you can imagine just how beautiful all of the produce is. If you can’t, don’t worry, I’ve included a few pictures : )

Our next stop was a visit to Southbrook Vineyards, a company that is close to my heart as I used to frequent their Richmond Hill location, where they had a pumpkin patch and sold fresh pies throughout the Fall season. Sadly, the Richmond Hill location is closing this year, but fear not, their beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake location is going strong! We had a great tour of the vineyard and ended off with a delicious outdoor luncheon with fresh salads, pizza and wine (of course!).

Wine at Southbrook Vineyards

Beautiful fresh salads at Southbrook Vineyards

Fresh pizzas at Southbrook Vineyards

A glorious lunch at Southbrook Vineyards

We ended the day with a lesson in canning and preserving the beautiful peaches and cherries we had tasted on our tour. Lynn Ogryzlo taught us all about how to can Ontario peaches and cherries so that we could enjoy these beautiful fruits and bring back memories of a sunny, warm day by opening up a jar of home-canned fruit, even in the middle of winter!

Preserving with Lynn Ogryzlo

If you’re reading this, please do support our Ontario farmers, they work so hard and they are a huge part of our economy. Even if you can’t visit a farm in person like I did, the next time you’re at your local farmer’s market, please take a few minutes to speak to the farmers and their staff. They’ll appreciate the effort and this simple act will deepen your connection to the food that you’re putting on your table. P.S. I’ll bet your food will taste even better too!

Frolicking in the vineyard at Southbrook Vineyards

Links:

Farmers Feed Cities – http://farmersfeedcities.com/

Quiet Acres Farm – http://www.qa.on.ca/

Southbrook Vineyards – http://www.southbrook.com/

Lynn Ogryzlo, The Ontario Table – http://www.ontariotable.com/about-lynn-ogryzlo/

Basil Omelettes with Brie, Onions and Red Peppers

9 Apr

Eggs. They are so versatile and since they last for quite some time, they have a knack for being around just when you need them. One of my favourite things to make with eggs is an omelette and thankfully my husband is an omelette “eggspert” : ) I thought I would give him a break today so I stuck my head into the fridge to see if we had any ingredients worth of a “fancy” omelette (fancy = any omelette that contains more than just eggs, salt and pepper). I found some fresh basil, a chunk of brie, a lonely red pepper and an onion. It turns out that I hit the ingredients jackpot and the results were pretty tasty, so I just had to share the recipe with you.

Basil Omelettes with Brie, Onions and Red Peppers

Makes 2 servings.

Ingredients:

4 eggs

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil

3 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1 red pepper, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 thick slices of Brie, chopped into 1-inch pieces

Salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Directions:

In an 8-inch skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the unsalted butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and red pepper to the skillet and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. At this point, you should reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes or until the onions and peppers become soft, sweet and slightly caramelized. Do not let the onions and peppers burn! Season lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, basil, salt and pepper (to your taste). Whisk until frothy. Then, wipe the skillet with a paper towel to remove any moisture and residue from sautéing and return the pan to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter. When the butter has melted and foamed, add half of the egg mixture and swirl the skillet to coat the bottom of it evenly. Using a rubber spatula, stir the eggs very lightly until almost set but still moist, for 1 minute. Pat the eggs back into an even layer with the back of your spatula. Sprinkle half of the brie onto the omelette and cook until the eggs are set but not too brown (this should take anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute). Add half of the red pepper and onion mixture (or as much as desired) onto the omelette as well. Then, lift an edge of the omelette with the spatula and fold the omelette in half to enclose the filling and make a half moon shape. Then, slide the omelette onto a large plate. Repeat the steps above to make the second omelette. Done!

The basil adds a bit of flavour to the omelette and the brie melts into the caramelized onions and red peppers to form a gooey, delicious filling. As rich as it sounds, you will eat this and still feel pretty great afterwards, as it doesn’t feel too heavy. Do you want to make this fancy omelette even fancier? Serve with toast, hash brown potatoes and a green salad. Perfect for a crowd-pleasing brunch or a quick after-work meal!

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