Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.


Farmer’s market

Farmer’s Market – in micro


A photo essay of the Penticton’s Farmers Market and Community Market — up close…a microcosm of the Okanagan in June.



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Fall farmer’s market leek soup

FullSizeRender.jpgSweeter and milder than onions, leeks make a lovely, creamy and delicious fall soup loaded with bucketful’s of fresh market garden vegetable healthy goodness like carrots, onion, potato and celery and a dollop of Naramata Bench wine for added flavour.


Some assembly required

  • 8 medium leeks (3 pound), trimmed, leaving white and pale green parts only, and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 small potato
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine…I chose Tightrope Winery’s 2015 Pinot Gris (Why not use a nice wine as you only need a 1/2 cup and the Chef can appreciate it a wonderful glass or two while cooking.)
  • 3 cups chicken or turkey stock …I used my homemade turkey stock frozen from my Thanksgiving turkey
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves…still growing in my garden luckily
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chilled heavy cream



Wash sliced leeks in a large bowl of cold water and lift out and drain well in a colander. Leeks collect a lot of dirt and sand generally so need a good wash. My market leeks were perfectly clean which was a bonus. Cook leeks, onion, carrot, celery, salt, and pepper in 4 tablespoons butter in a large heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.

Peel potato and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, then add to onion mixture along with wine, stock, water and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in parsley and simmer soup, uncovered, 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf and keep soup at a low simmer.

Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then add flour and cook roux, whisking, until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 cups simmering stock (from soup), whisking vigorously, then whisk mixture into remaining soup and return to a simmer, whisking.

Simmering soup before blended.

Blend soup in 4 batches in a blender until smooth.  Reheat if necessary, then season with salt and pepper. Any leftover soup freezes well. (Don’t add the cream topping before freezing).

Beat cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until it almost forms soft peaks. Serve soup topped with cream. A dollop of sour cream would also work well.


Meet you at the market – Penticton revives the town square of old


Joy Road Catering is one of the must-visit stalls at the Penticton Farmers Market. Run by the Okanagan’s top catering chefs, Cameron Smith and Dana Ewart, they sell their signature galletes, wood-fired oven breads, cinnamon buns and these beautiful tarts.

One of the largest and most successful farmer’s markets in British Columbia is in my hood and has become one of our greatest weekly pleasures. Today’s last outdoor market of the season is a time to reflect on the growth of the combined Downtown Penticton Association Community Market and the Penticton Farmers Market and the growing appeal of farmer’s markets across North America.

This beet “pumpkin” reminds me of volleyball Wilson in one of my favourite movies of all time, Castaway.

A trip to the market is much more than about the food that will fill my wicker market basket. It’s about community, identity, pleasure and as food writer Michael Pollan puts it so well, “about carving out a new social and economic space removed from the influence of big corporations on the one side and government on the other.”

Still life in leeks.

There is a lot more going on at the Penticton markets than an exchange of money for food. Sitting with my Backyard’s Beans coffee, in a returnable china mug, I look around and see a pair of talented musicians signing an old Joan Baez tune. Someone else is collecting signatures on a petition. Kids are everywhere. Every second person has a dog on a leash. Friends are meeting up and blocking foot traffic as they exchange hugs. Someone is taking photos of the cabbages. I overhear a discussion on leek soup recipes between farmer and customer. I see strangers talking to each other in line.

I read a study that calculated that people have 10 times as many conversations at the farmers’ market than they do at the grocery store. Like going back in time, the market has taken on the function of a lively new town square reminiscent of old world markets from centuries past. How great is that?

Still life in green and purple.
Parsnip hair…genius.

The rise in popularity of my local market and markets across the province is not just anecdotal. The latest stats from 2012 show that total economic benefits of all farmers’ markets in British Columbia was greater than $170 million, a 147-per-cent increase from 2006. The study said that the five most important factors market shoppers consider are nutritional content, where it’s grown or produced locally, in season, whether it’s grown or produced in B.C. and animal welfare issues. I think a sixth factor should be added, the mre intangible benefit of farmer’s market shopping –the chance to see people, meet friends and have meaningful exchanges with the farmers that grow our food.

Lemon tart love.

Willis showing off his apple juggling skills which involves a knife spearing as his grand finale. Don’t try this a home…






Fall and soup go together like a good book and a crackling fire – Roast maple butternut squash soup

I used my wood-fired oven to roast the squash…a regular oven will do the trick too.

Only a few simple ingredients are needed for this recipe which can easily be scaled up if you plan to make a lot and freeze some.

Butternut squash are inexpensive to buy and are a farmer’s market staple.
I cook outside whenever possible. I get the whole idea of a summer kitchen. All the mess is easier to sweep off the deck.


  • 4 cups roasted butternut squash (2 medium squash)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 apple and/or 1 pear
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt (to taste…important as some chicken stocks are very salty and you may want to only add 1 teaspoon of additional salt)
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 3 cups chicken stock (substitute vegetable stock if you like)
  • 1/4 cup cream or milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (for garnish, optional)
Here is a batch roasted in a conventional oven.

Roast the squash, apple/and or pear: Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut squash and apple and/or pear in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds and dark orange stringy flesh and the apple or pear core. Brush with a light coating of olive oil. Place squash and fruit cut side down on to a baking sheet.  Roast in pre-heated oven for 55-60 minutes or until very soft when you press on the top of the squash.
Remove from oven and using a spatula, flip the squash halves and fruit halves over and allow to cool a few minutes. Using a spoon, scoop all the roasted squash flesh out and in to a bowl, being careful not to take any of the skin.

For the soup: In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook, stirring, until onion has softened and is translucent. Add the 4 cups of roasted squash and stir. Add the chicken stock (or vegetable stock) and stir to combine well. Bring to a light boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes to blend the flavours. Add in the maple syrup and cinnamon. Using an immersion blender or in small batches in a blender, puree the soup just enough to remove any big chunks. It doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth unless you like it that way.
Taste soup. Add salt as needed and some freshly ground pepper. You may wish to add a splash more maple syrup, again, if needed.

At this point I cool and freeze any soup I have made for later. (Do not add the cream or milk before freezing.) Before serving, heat up the soup again and add the cream or milk. Garnish with some chopped parsley or croutons and a tablespoon of sour cream. I like to add a side of homemade corn bread.


Harvest portraits


The Okanagan Valley is giving up the last of its bounty in one giant explosion of colour before the grey and white of winter moves in. Most of these photos were captured on the weekend at the Penticton Farmer’s Market or while helping with the grape harvest. Colour wheel!










Nonna’s super secret tomato sauce recipe and the trip to Keremeos …(Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 5 out 5)

Keremeos in British Columbia’s fertile Similakameen Valley is bathed in sun and heat for 181 frost-free days resulting in the best tomatoes in the world and a price that will blow your socks off.

Top down to take advantage of the sun on the first day of fall, The Handyman and I head out from Naramata past Almost a Ranch, Foggy Mountain Ranch, Cedar Creek Ranch and the infamous Crazy Zach’s junk/antique on the way to the “Fruit Stand Capital of Canada” on our annual pilgrimage to bring home some summer to store for greyer days ahead.

I always feel a bit like Toad from the Wind in the Willows out for adventure on days like this…
One of Zack’s treasures in a tomato red.


Harvest days.

A still life in gourds.
There is something about the light in the fall…
These 40 lbs. of vine-rippened beauties cost a grand total of $9.98. Add in some Walla, Walla onions and red Russian garlic and your total is somewhere around $16 bucks.

Nonna’s secret tomato sauce recipe

(Disclaimer…I am not Italian and do not have a Nonna but if I did this would be her recipe…I have made this basic but lovely tomato sauce for years and it pays homage to Keremeos’ bounty. This makes a lot of sauce at one time and takes advantage of Farmer’s Market tomato prices.

  • 20 lbs. of perfectly ripe tomatoes
  • 3 or 4 large onions chopped
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1/2 cup of Similkameen honey
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • splash of olive oil (if freezing your sauce, omit if canning)
  • If you are freezing your sauce you could also choose to add in peppers, mushrooms…Don’t add in if canning as the additional fresh vegetables will change the pH so it’s unsafe for water-bath canning…

You can either can or freeze this recipe. If canning, omit the olive oil (very important) and follow standard canning direction adding 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to each quart jar after filling. This ensures that the sauce will be safely acidic.


Soften onions and garlic in a splash of olive oil (if freezing sauce) or in a small amount of water in a heavy large pot. (I actually use two large pots, dividing the onions and garlic between them, as one won’t hold 20 pounds of tomatoes.) While the onions are softening, begin preparing your tomatoes.

Add tomatoes in batches to a pot of boiling water for about minute and transfer to a cold water bath (I use the sink). This will make peeling easy… the skin will just slip off. Take a paring knife and cut out the stem end and remove the peeling skin and discard. I then give each tomato a bit of squeeze to eliminate some of the juice so you will have a nice thick sauce. Add the peeled, squished tomatoes to the onions, bring to a boil and then simmer.

Once all your tomatoes have been added to the pot or pots, add in your seasoning reserving the fresh herbs until the sauce has finished cooking. Simmer on low for two to three hours until your sauce reaches your desired thickness. Be sure to taste and adjust your salt and pepper if necessary.

If you like a smooth, uniform sauce, add the cooled sauce to a blender for 30 seconds or so. Add about three cups to each freezer bag and place all the bags on a cookie sheet (to prevent leakage in your freezer) and freeze. Remove the cookie sheet after your sauce is frozen. If you prefer to can your sauce, load your jars, add the lemon juice and place in a canner and boil for 35 minutes. (Do some canning research if you haven’t canned before so you know how to sterilize your jars and so on…)

Tomato-coloured pot not necessary but awesome right?


Fictional Nonna would be so proud.

Carpe Diem berry farm blueberry ginger lime sorbet I say

What to do with soooooo many blueberries? 

Adding fresh lime and ginger zings up the blueberries in this summer sorbet in the most amazing way. You need a bit of technology to make this one…a blender and an ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker I highly recommend getting one. There are a million ice cream and sorbet recipes to choose from and it’s easier to make than you can imagine.

Makes 8 1/2 cup servings.


  • 5 cups fresh, washed and stemmed blueberries (I picked my own from our farm but it’s blueberry season and they are everywhere at the farmer’s markets and supermarkets.)
  • 1/4 cup honey (Penticton Farmer’s market purchase)
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 6 limes)
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger



Add all ingredients to a blender and liquefy about 2 minutes until the mixture reaches a deep purple colour. Refrigerate for about 2 hours until cool. Taste and add more sugar if you desire but I like it a bit tart so didn’t add any more sugar.

I store my ice cream maker vessel in the freezer so it’s ready when I am.

Follow the instructions of your ice cream maker. Run the ice cream maker for 20 to 25 minutes — until the sorbet thickens to soft serve consistency.

Loaf pans work great to freeze and store your sorbet in.

Transfer to a container and freeze for 4 hours or overnight. Scoop and serve.


Must love bees: It takes hundreds to make berry tarts

Our raspberry farm is abuzz today.

Each raspberry “flower” has many stamens and styles, each attached to a carpel with two ovules. Because the small individual flowers on each receptacle open over an extended period, bees must visit each plant several times to ensure that enough individual flowers are pollinated to make enough fruit for us to sell.

We are relying on wild bees to do the work for us.
The flowers are kind of pretty close-up

We are talking 100 to 125 pistils, per raspberry to which pollen must be transferred to create a mature seed and the tasty red druplet surrounding the seed. If each and every one of these druplets is not pollinated, the overall integrity of the fruit is compromised and the fruit will be misshapen and crumbly.

I feel like I should be bringing out pitchers of iced tea for them or offering them tiny, careful massages.

Some of the many variety of bees I spotted include honey, bumble, carpenter, cuckoo, digger, mason, yellow-faced and mining bees. I would just get them in focus and they would be off before I could capture their photo. These few photos in the post were among about 100 of blurred or vanished bees. They are busy right?

You can tell that this guy is a honey bee as you can see the pollen basket on its hind leg (white). The bee moistens the pollen with nectar and packs it in the pollen basket for transport.

During this time of the year it’s important not to water the raspberries too much as the nectar will drip off the immature berry and the pollinators won’t be attracted to them. Pesticides are a concern too but not for us and we don’t use them on our organic berries. Even it the pesticide is not toxic to bees, they often repel them.

Encore raspberries.
We made mason bee houses at a recent Naramata Garden Club meeting. I plan on making more to give the little guys a reason to stick around and help us out.

There are so many recipes that use berries made possible by the work of all those bees. Here’s an easy one that looks and tastes great.


Easiest ever elegant dessert…part of the dessert table I made for my lovely niece Nicole’s wedding…

Chocolate berry shells

  • Buy pre-made chocolate shells
  • Daub a teaspoon or so of jam onto the shell and spread it around…it will act as “glue” for the berries
  • Decorate with a mix of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries
  • Finish with a grating of lemon peel

To market, to market, to be a fat pig

Joy Road makes joyous cinnamon buns

It’s summer. The Penticton Farmer’s Market opened two weeks early this year and I hope it closes two weeks later. It was named “2015 Market of the Year” by the British Columbia Association of Farmers’ Markets for a reason, lots of reasons really. Here is a look at opening day of its 26th season.

Faces in the crowd
Arriving in style
I’ll take two please
Hundreds of peeps shopped for kale, tomato plants, asparagus and pickles
Wine tasting…and buying
In a pickle?
Sunshine and carbs at Joy Road
The market is up and running from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays
Home again, home again

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