Who doesn’t love a sale? But how many regrets stem from snapping up a bargain that maybe didn’t fit quite right, didn’t match your decor or really wasn’t needed at all? My rentthechickens will not fall into that category as the Black Friday bargain was an “item” already on this savvy shopper’s list and eggs never go out of style.
My two laying hens, 100 pounds of chicken feed and portable coop will arrive in May from Kamloops’ couple Ron and Marie McGivern’s farm and will be picked back up in October. These rentthechicken.com hens are a perfect way for us newbies to get our feet wet. If we chicken out, no harm, no fowl. Ron and Marie will come and pick them back up.
For about $500 including delivery and pick-up, the hens will lay the equivalent of eight to 14 golden eggs a week…somewhere around $2 an egg. The point is not to save money but to give us the chance to test out a risky purchase before making a commitment to longer term chicken husbandry.
Rentthechicken.com was started by an enterprising couple from Freeport Pennsylvania. “Your chickens will come from our affiliate homesteaders in Kamploops,” says Jenn Tompkins. “We started out thinking we could rent chickens to a few Pittsburgh hipsters and that would be it. We were dead wrong. We now have more than 35 affiliates all over the U.S. and Canada and are renting out more than 1,000 chickens. People are really interested in having their food closer to their tables without a longterm commitment.”
Jenn says the hens will quickly become my pals. It’s all a matter of who feeds them and who brings the yummy table scraps, she says.
What’s in a name?
Downtown Abbey characters like Lady Mary and Edith are trending chicken names, according to Jenn as are Laverne and Shirley with the older demographic. Younger renters are leaning toward characters from Friends or the Big Bang Theory. Charlotte and Mrs. Feathers have made the cut.
Our hens will be named Maria von Trapp and Baroness von Schrader, Maria and Ness for short.
Rentthechicken does away with the four to six months rearing period until the hen is ready to lay and also the risk of ending up with a rooster chick – no eggs, lots of noise.
My farm neighbours will be incredulous at my rental hen scheme but I like the idea of an exit plan, no need to winter-over the girls or deal with “end of life issues”. My ladies will come in their egg-laying prime and Maria and Ness can be rented in following years if we bond or we can adopt them and give them a forever home if we get really brave.
Jenn assures us that two hens won’t make a lot of noise and their portable coop will spread their fertilizer around to help our berry farm. She told a story of a couple of hens that were used as therapy birds for an autistic boy. We all need a little therapy right? Wonder if a therapy session should start with a why did the chicken cross the road joke or would it quickly devolve into the which came first chicken or egg existential question… I wonder if rentthechicken.com could include a sub-business…Rent a Cock to fertilize my hens should we choose to start a brood or How Would You Like Your Eggs incubating service…
Bring on May and Marie and Ness, future blog stars.
Homemade concord grape jelly tastes nothing like sticky-sweet supermarket grape jelly. It has a deep, concentrated grape flavour and is equally tart and sweet. A jar of this jelly will find its way into many, many Christmas stockings this year – a Christmas stocking factory’s worth. It has all the kid-friendly nostalgia you remember, but with lovely floral notes and a thick consistency that comes from using concords at their peak and I love the purple.
My pal Linda bought an old farm house that was un-lived in long enough for grape vines to drape all the windows of the charming house – a bonanza of lovely ripe concord grapes planted by a farm family years ago. I picture the farmer’s wife making jars of jelly to fill her preserve cupboard in the house’s basement.
Linda described the amount she picked with hand gestures and I determined that adding some farmer’s market purchased grapes to the mix would make a canning session worthwhile. Mistake. Big mistake. Hence the 72 jars, the Grapes of Wrath of canning sessions, zombi apocalypse preparedness, multiple store trips for more jars and two days of purple stained everything. Good thing the jelly is amazing.
Too make a normal-sized batch you will need:
7.5 lbs concord grapes (Linda’s were perfectly ripe and organic)
1 pkg fruit pectin crystals
5 cups granulated sugar
Rinse grapes; drain well. Remove enough from stems to make 10 cups (2.5 L), discarding any wrinkled or bruised grapes.
In 26-cup (6.5 L) pot, crush grapes with potato masher. Add 1 cup (250 mL) water; bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Scoop cooked grapes and juice into jelly bag suspended over large measuring cup or bowl. Let drip, without squeezing bag, until juice measures 4 cups (1 L), about 2 hours. (Or place in colander lined with triple thickness of damp cheesecloth. Bring up sides and tie top with string to form bag. Tie bag to cupboard handle or support bar over large measuring cup or bowl. Let drip, without squeezing bag, until juice measures 4 cups/1 L, about 2 hours.)
In large pot, bring juice and pectin to boil. Stir in sugar; bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Boil vigorously, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam.
Using sterilized metal funnel and 1/2-cup (125 mL) measure, pour into hot sterilized 1-cup (250 mL) canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch (5 mm) headspace. If necessary, wipe rims. Cover with prepared lids (boiling water poured over them in a bowl to sterilize); screw on bands fingertip tight.
Process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Transfer jars to rack; let cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Unlike other jams, it takes that long for grape jelly to set up so it’s hard to determine if it will gel. Check for seal, ensuring that lids curve downward. If for some reason your jelly is too runny…this may have happened with one or two of our batches…it’s possible to empty the jars back out into the big pot, add some more pectin, re-boil and go through the entire canning process again. What’s eating Gilbert Grape? Doing things twice always ranks up there but the result is worth it. (Use full amount of pectin the recipe calls for.)
Farm to glass meet farm to fork. Legend Distilling in Naramata is now home to Knotweed Restaurantand its a perfect marriage. Both Knotweed and Legend Distilling share concepts and philosophies on community and supporting and buying local and sustainable.
“The Knotweed concept is farm to table,” says Chef /Owner Mike Sonier. “The concept is to tie farmers and chefs together and bring an ever-changing menu of quality food with the end result of a wonderful experience for guests.”
Chef Mike uses only sustainable wholesome ingredients that are locally sourced from the community as well as seeking out the highest quality organic ingredients from various humane farms around B.C.
“The pairing works beautifully with Legend Distilling’s overall philosophy of supporting our local community and locally produced products,” says Legend co-owner Dawn Lennie. “As a B.C. craft distillery, we use only B.C. grown raw materials in all of our products sourced from farms around B.C., many right here in Naramata like the Balaton Sour Cherries we use grown by Forest Green Man Lavender.” (And the raspberries from our farm…)
Every day is like a black box restaurant test says Chef Mike. “I like to get really creative with what the community has to offer and what’s in season. I’ve found my niche. I love to cook with local ingredients and the menu changes as often as nightly to weekly depending on what our suppliers have on hand.”
Chef Mike started getting serious about cooking at 13 but can date the first spark back even earlier. “In Grade 2 or 3 we did some cooking in a home economics class at school and I immediately went home and got busy. My mom came home to a kitchen with a food all over the counter.”
He attended Nova Scotia Culinary Arts school and worked in restaurants in the Maritimes, Toronto and Ottawa learning from chefs and compiling dishes, techniques and learning how to coax the most flavours out of a wide-range of ingredients along the way before starting Knotweed.
“We ask our guests to allow some time for the dishes to come out of the kitchen,” says Chef Mike. “Everything is made from scratch, per order, freshly prepared as this is the best way to ensure our standard of quality is met.”
Dining with some of the Okanagan’s food and wine literati, the wait was no issue as we happily tasted whichever meal came out first. Convivial lunch companions included Wine and Food Trails writer, book author and now winemaker, Jennifer Schell, Wine and Food Trails fellow writer Rosalyn Buchanan, Penelope and Dylan Roche, in the process of building a new winery on Upper Bench called Roche, Legend owners Dawn and Doug Lennie and Karolina Born-Tschuemperlin, co-owner of Forest Green Man Lavender. Forgivable bad manners in a gathering of food writers, we moved the dishes into good lighting and did some quick backdrop styling to snap some photos before we dove in.
The Legend drink menu compliments the lovely food or maybe it’s the other way around? A wide array of hot and cold cocktails and seasonal drink specials are on offer with all of them using their own handmade spirits, as well as an ever chanaging selection local Naramata wines, bubble, BC craft beers and cider.
Me and all my foodie pals had no hesitation in giving Knotweed a hearty bravo and another checkmark on the list of what makes Naramata so great.
Literally at the end of the road lies one of the most unexpectedly delightful places in the world. The temptation is to keep the discovery a secret. Fortunately Naramatians are too sociable and ardent about their home not to share and bloggers can’t keep any secret at all.
A trip along Naramata Road toward the Village is a sensory experience whose end result is an extraordinary sense of well-being. The scientists have gone to work and come up with a formula for scenery that most appeals to people (they study everything right?) and the Naramata Benchlands ticks all the boxes. It’s to do with the proportion of sky, the straight lines of the vineyards and orchards and the expanse of the blue lake grounding it all.
Travelling through a winescape of row upon row of trellised grapevines dotted with sympathetically designed winery architecture and guest accommodation, the road twists and turns to reveal new vistas. Scientists tells us that we like making discoveries and the “I wonder what’s around the next corner?” feeling we get when heading from Penticton to Naramata fits the bill. The vines and orderly orchards advance across rolling hills that all lead down to the shores of Okanagan Lake and the elevation of Naramata Road lets us appreciate it all.
Once lured in by the scenery it’s what Naramatians have produced from this naturally gifted growing region moderated by the lake that adds the next layer to our pleasure. Naramata’s artisanal products are lovingly produced by people whose lives are devoted to their craft whether it be wine, spirits, fruits and vegetables, pottery or painting and they revel in sharing this passion. Wine and culinary experiences are top-notch and varied but all share a similar philosophy. Skill and a light touch are used to let the ultra-premium, local, in-season ingredients shine.
The village itself has lost all track of time. No traffic lights, no chain stores, few streetlights to blot out the stars, Naramata is made up of quiet streets with a mix of cottages and modest houses with well-kept gardens. A little church with bells that ring at noon, a general store shaded by elms, artisans and shops sprinkled here and there, cozy restaurants, the world’s best pizza place, a welcoming coffee shop, busy pub… Anchoring the Village, the perfectly in-keeping Heritage Inn sits and the end of the main street, as it has for more than a century.
Naramata’s quality and human pace of life is internationally recognized. We have been given the designation as a Cittaslow town. Cittaslow towns celebrate life in the slow lane, locally grown products and the slow food movement, in places where people care for the land and for each other.
Based in the Tuscany region of Italy, the Cittaslow network and accredited communities have a mandate to improve the quality of life. It’s karma that we have this Italian designation. Our town’s founder, John Moore Robinson produced a brochure in 1907 calling Naramata, with its wonderful climate, the Italy of Canada.
As part of the Cittaslow philosophy, I’m working to bring local chefs into the Village to teach us how to use all the lovely produce (like the raspberries from our Carpe Diem berry farm) to bake and cook for our friends, families and the many guests who have come to love our secret place.
The first guest Chef, Dana Ewart of Joy Road Catering is an Okanagan superstar. She is going to show us why we need brioche in our lives. CC Orchardswill be providing sweet dried cherries for use as one of our brioche ingredients.
Tickets to the December 10 class are half sold and I’m thrilled with the response from the Village about the new venture. Here’s the link to join inNaramata Blend Cooking Class Series Brioche! A second class on eclairs and profiteroles is in the works for February…
meet my needs to learn hands-on from some of the best
offer that opportunity to anyone else with a keen interest in learning how to make magic with what we grow and produce in the Okanagan Valley.
For the first class, Chef/ Proprietor of Joy Road Catering Dana Ewartwill show us why we need brioche in our life – just in time to amp up our holiday baking.
We will learn how to make this buttery rich yeast dough that is so tender that it walks the line between bread and cake. It will be fun to enjoy some mulled wine, sample what we bake and take home the recipes after the afternoon class.
With this amazing French dough as our base Dana will teach us how to make these brioche treats flavoured with:
Candied orange peel
This versatile dough will also be made into Joy Road’s famously delicious pull-apart cinnamon buns shaped into loaves and elegant small buns meant for classy desserts like baba au rum.
If you are in my hood and want to buy a ticket go online and learn more at Eventbrite.
I’m talking to chefs and gathering ideas for upcoming classes in the hope that my instinct that cooking classes are a perfect fit for Naramata is on the mark. Send me a comment if you have ideas for other classes… preserves, chocolate, fancy eclairs, bread…
Storm Sunrock PANO – Epic summer storms from the Sun Rock viewpoint on North Naramata Road. Photography is a love affair with life. Burk Uzzle
Caillum Smith has made photographs that engage us visually but more importantly they illicit strong emotional responses and herein lies his talent, his passion and his calling. A Naramatian through and through, Caillum has been published and awarded by National Geographic, North Face, Time Magazine, Google+, the CBC, Sigma Lenses, the International Mountain Summit, Outdoor Photography Canada Magazine and the Canadian National Commission among many others.
Here is why Caillum wins awards and captures us:
Okanagan Lake Autumn Sunset – Crepuscular rays erupt over Okanagan Lake. Photography is an art of observation. it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them. Elliott Erwitt
The how is a bit more difficult to analyze. He uses strong compositional techniques, unique perspectives and dramatic lighting but there is more to it than this.
“Finding a balance between the two (technical and artistic) is essential,” says Caillum. “Better gear won’t necessarily make your photos better but can assist in tapping into further creative potential. You can have a technically sound photograph with top notch editing but if it is lacking a strong composition and creative lighting, you are simply left with a high quality, sh*t photo. Good photos are not only visually engaging, but emotionally engaging as well. Having said that, creativity and instinct will always trump technology.”
Northern Lights Naramata Bench – Once in a while the northern lights will appear over Okanagan Lake and Naramata. This was captured from Munson Mountain during the summer. Photography helps people see. Berenice Abbott
It is always amazing to me when a young person discovers a passion at an early age that will become their life’s work. Imagine all the years ahead to relish that passion and hone their skills. Most of us cast about for years and never find a career and calling all wrapped into one.
“My interest in photography first began after my grandfather gave me his film camera when I was 17, or so. I used the camera as a visual diary to document the world around me; photographing wildlife, landscapes and anything else I encountered while outdoors in my Naramata backyard. Once I left high school, my parents bought me a DSLR as a return to university bribe when I dropped out but ended up skipping final exams to go mountaineering in the Andes. A few years and international awards later, I quit my job at a winery and started Preserved Light Photography.”
Naramata Bench Vineyard Okanagan Lake – Overlooking Manitou Beach from Kettle Valley Winery’s “Old Main Red” vineyard. When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence. Ansel Adams
“I’ll usually have a pre-visualizated concept of what I want to create but some clear signs of a killer photo are when your eyes pop out of their sockets as your jaw simultaneously plummets to the ground. I’ll often tell my workshop students, ‘The best way to create better photos is to stand in front of better subjects.'”
The life of a successful professional photography is not all sunsets and adventures in the wild though. Caillum says the most challenging part about being a professional photographer is finding that balance between business tasks and personal projects. “There are times where I’ll go several months without capturing a personal photo, having depleted all energy, and hours of the day, working for clients. However, I really enjoy the challenge of being given, or coming up with, an idea for a client and turning it into a creative reality. Nothing more rewarding than when your art makes even the smallest ripple with others.”
With photos like this one Caillum is making waves:
Naramata Aerial Photo Old Main – Aerial panorama of the Naramata Bench orchards and vineyards near Old Main Road. Photography is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world. Bruno Barbey
When I asked him about a typical day he says there is no such thing. “I only sleep four to six hours a night (if that) and have driven over 20,000 kms in the last three months alone. The thing that would surprise most people is that I’m not out adventuring and creating epic landscape photos as often as it may seem. There are many days that slip into 15+ hour digital succubus’; making blog posts, emailing clients, editing photos and what not. I’ll often grab my sleeping bag, venture into the mountains, set up a time-lapse video and have a nap beneath the stars whenever I feel my sanity slipping.”
As for the future…”That is what is so exciting about this lifestyle, I can never be truly certain what it holds. As for this winter, most of my time will be spent working with Apex Mountain& Discover Naramata’s digital marketing & media.
“I always chuckle when someone asks, ‘Aren’t you worried about wrecking your camera?’. Probably because it happens so often. If my camera isn’t dangling from a string while climbing a mountaintop, getting blasted by snow while skiing, soaking beneath a waterfall or enduring -40 temperatures filming time-lapse video of the northern lights, it isn’t doing its job!”
Aerial Photo South Okanagan – Early morning flight over North Naramata Road and the South Okanagan Valley. There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs. Ansel Adams
When I asked Caillum for five tips for us wannabes he says,
Gear doesn’t make great photos, creativity does.
There is no magic formula for camera settings.
Most online forums are a terrible place for constructive criticism.
Find your style and stick to it.
Buy a tripod
Summer Solstice Little Tunnel KVR – For two weeks surrounding Summer Solstice, the sun will set through the KVR’s Little Tunnel. In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality. Alfred Stieglitz.
I spent two hours with Caillum on a workshop last week and learned a ton which I will post about soon. The biggest thing I came away with was sharing the excitement of the possibilities that photography provides to connect to people in a meaningful way. We also talked about the Okanagan and the stunning canvas it presents for his professional and my amateur but enthusiastic eyes.
You know you’ve made it as a photographer when your husky Astra has her own Instagram account with hundreds of followers…Huskyadventuredog… Seriously, Caillum has that indefinable instinct for making photographs that move us. I need no words to make my case.
A treasured children’s book, packed in an Marine’s kit bag as he headed off from his home in small town Emmaus Pennsylvania, to fight in the Pacific Theatre in World War II somehow found its way to a used book store in Kona, Hawaii. How Hans Brinker ended up back in Pennsylvania with the war hero’s son is much less of a mystery.
Holidaying in Kona, weirdly home to a giant used book store (Kona Bay Used Books), browsing the packed shelves for vintage children’s books to add to my collection I find an immeasurably valuable treasure. I spotted this very nice edition of Hans Brinker and became intrigued with an inscription inside the book that said: ‘This is my book, Norman Schantzenbach, December 25, 1933’ and on the facing page, a sticker commemorating the jubilee of a small town in Pennsylvania, Emmaus. Tucked between the pages was a pressed leaf.
Once home in Canada, with the unusual last name, a date and the name of the town, an internet search lead me to the conclusion that the book belonged to a Marine killed in action in January 1944 at a battle at Cape Gloucester, New Britain in the Pacific.
The Battle of Cape Gloucester was a battle in the Pacific theater of World War II between Japanese and Allied forces which took place on the island of New Britain, Territory of New Guinea, between late December 1943 and April 1944.
The battle was a major part of Operation Cartwheel, the main Allied strategy in the South West Pacific Area and Pacific Ocean Areas during 1943–44, and was the second World War II landing of the U.S. 1st Marine Division, after Guadalcanal.
Yet more internet sleuthing lead me to connect with a relative of the Silver Star hero in Pennsylvania via a Facebook message that languished for some weeks before being discovered in the non-friend zone.
“Norman, Sr. would have been about 10 years old when he wrote his name in the book,” says Bonnie Schantzenbach, whose husband was a cousin of Norman’s. “It must have been a favorite from his childhood and he took it along to have a piece of home with him. Touching that he brought a leaf from Pennsylvania tucked in the pages. His only son, who was only three years old when he was killed, is still alive and lives a few miles from us.” Cool message to receive.
I mailed my new collectable from Kona to Bonnie in Pennsylvania, who coincidentally was working on a family tree she was planning to surprise Norman Schantzenbach Jr. with.
“I showed Norman Jr. the family tree on my laptop and then pulled out the book,” says Bonnie. “It took him awhile before he really realized that this was his dad’s book. He laid it down and then picked it up saying, “This is incredible”. He doesn’t have much of anything of his dad’s except for the Silver Star and he was moved beyond words.”
Here is the Silver Star reference I found in my research: Schantzenbach, Norman R. For Gallantry in Action on January 3 – 9, 1944 at Cape Gloucester, New Britain.
Awarded for actions during the World War II
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Sergeant Norman R. Schantzenbach (MCSN: 359043), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while with the FIRST Marine Division during combat with enemy Japanese forces on Cape Gloucester, New Britain Island, from 8 to 9 January 1944. Courageously leading his squad across a stream while subjected to withering hostile machine-gun fire, Sergeant Schantzenbach succeeded in reaching an advantageous point for firing upon enemy gun emplacements. By his cool and aggressive leadership throughout the ensuing violent engagement, his squad was able to force desperately fighting hostile units to abandon their positions. Later while fearlessly defending a ridge against a night counterattack, he was fatally injured. Sergeant Schantzenbach’s heroic initiative and selfless devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
General Orders: Commander 7th Fleet: Serial 0395
Action Date: January 3 – 9, 1944
Service: Marine Corps
Division: 1st Marine Division
Norman Jr. called me the day Bonnie brought him the book and could hardly get the words out he was so full of emotion. “Thanks, you have no idea in the world how much this means to me. No idea at all.”