Sunday, December 5, 2010

Local eating and eating locally

I did my yearly catering job for The Store Mason's Chandlery last night.  I look forward to it every year, they love it and I always have a great time.  Lori pretty much gives me free reign of what the menu will be which makes is all the more enjoyable!  Last night's menu, goat cheese and leek tarts, leek and green peppercorn tarts for the app., dinner was gnocchi with beef ragu and lots of local, in season veg and garlic bread.  Finally the piece du resistance - dessert -my current fav. - Pavlona.  All that crunch, creaminess, sweetness, topped off with cranberries, sour cherries, pistachios and shavings of white chocolate.  MMMMM

The fun for me also in creating menus; choosing as much local, in season foods as possible.  Obviously, from the menu above, I cannot get local chocolate, pistachios, pepper or salt.  However, I can get local goat cheese, leeks, puff pastry, eggs, butter, canned tomatoes, cranberries, cherries, squash, celery root, juniper berries etc.  I like to think that I am helping local farmers by buying local from suppliers that are small, family run joints.  If we look around, most of the stores, restaurants, bakeries either are run by extremely large corporations, mostly American or they are supplied by large corporations and who knows where they get their produce or meat.  

I like the thought of family run businesses, they have character, personality and no one is the same.  They have an uphill climb to compete against the corporations who are endless money pits.  They don't have the 'buying power' of large corporations, so their profit margin is lower because they pay more for their produce and meat.  I don't mind paying more, it's worth it for me to fight against the monster we call capitalism.

Some of you know that I struggle to produce great food, great cakes and great chocolates that are affordable.  I can't compete against Costco, Laura Secord, Lindt or Pumpernickles, I also won't compete against them!  I spend time researching what my customers buy from me.  I am proud that I can say I support local as much as possible, I am also proud that I can say I only use seasonal ingredients.  I have actually told customers that I don't to chocolate dipped strawberries in February!  So if I lose that customer, c'est la vie, I unlike corporations, don't have shareholders to answer to - the beauty of the family run business.  I also try not to contribute to the demise our our earth.

I know we are all powerless in some way to avoid the few corporate run food suppliers in this world but when I drive up to Bobcaygeon, I know my step mom has purchased her butter and eggs from the local farmers.  I get my produce  and eggs from Lanzarotta, again mostly local and a family run business.  My meat comes from farmers as close as Woodbridge, my wine comes from Kawartha County.

The restaurants I go to, well I'm lucky that I know the chefs, but I run into them at my butcher!  They buy local too.

Let's raise a glass to family run businesses.  I'm a bargain hunter like most people, but lately I'm wondering at what cost to our world and our community.  I don't have a membership at Costco, I don't shop at Walmart.  I don't mind paying more for butter and eggs as long as it's from mom and pop!

Eat local - eat fresh!  Food is life and let's share our community with each other! Let's discover the talented farmers, butchers, bakers and chefs that live nearby.

Talking of local, and it's a cold, cold day outside and we all love comfort food, how about dark beer, cheddar soup for dinner!  I love this soup, it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside and every ingredient can be bought from local mom and pop shops.


½ cup butter
1 cup red or yellow onions, chopped
½ cup carrot, diced
½  cup celery, diced
½ cup flour
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt or to taste
 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper or to taste
16 oz chicken broth
4 cups milk
12 oz can dark beer - Stout preferably!
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese grated - at least 5 year old cheddar

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the aromatic vegetables and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. If you don't have carrots and/or celery on hand, increase the amount of onion. Some variations of this soup only use onion.

2. (Have your liquid ingredients measured before starting this step.) Add the dry ingredients and cook, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.

3. Gradually stir in the liquids. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the soup comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened. Do not let it boil.

4. Stir in the cheeses until they melt. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Let the soup barely simmer for another 10-15 minutes to mix the flavours.


  1. That soup sounds fabulous.A chunk of home made bread beside wound fill the corners of my tummy.
    Re local. In the Kawarthas we also have Celebrity Cheese made just outside Lindsay and is the greatest goat cheese ever. My local mechanic quit as a grease monkey to learn how to make it & is the best. Cheese pleese Pieter