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Naramata Cider Company Rest Easy pork chops in a cream sauce

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The secret ingredient — Cider Maker’s Select … Rest Easy from the Naramata Cider Company

Seasoned with garlic cloves and shallots, this easy to make pork chops recipe is elevated into the stratosphere with its apple and blackberry hard cider and velvety cream sauce. Adapted from blogger queen of France’s Mimi Thorisson’s new cookbook, French Country Cooking, the recipe takes less than a half hour to prepare.

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Keeping it local…all the ingredients were sourced in the Okanagan Valley including the Naramata Cider Company Rest Easy, lovely thick pork chops from T-Bones in Penticton, cream from D Dutchman Dairy and vegetables from my garden and the Penticton Farmer’s Market.

Ingredients

  • 4 bone-in pork chops, 2.5 cm thick
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled and smashed
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 2/3 cup Rest Easy Naramata Cider Company apple and blackberry cider
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

IMG_6972.jpgDirections

Preheat oven to 325F

Score the pork chops on both sides and season all over with salt and pepper.

In a large saute pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 3 minutes. Add the pork chops and garlic cloves, reduce the heat to medium and cook just until the juices run clear (about 7 minutes per side).

Transfer the pork chops to an ovenproof dish, put the sage leaves on top and spoon the pan drippings over all. Put in the oven to keep warm.

Increase the heat under the pan to high and pour in the cider. Boil for 2 minutes to reduce. Add the heavy cream, stir until thickened and remove from the heat.

Pour the sauce on top of the chops and serve. Pair with the remaining cider!

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Chicks are hip – the revival of back-yard chickens

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Meet The Baroness … a Black Sex Link in her laying prime

Ordered on Black Friday as my Christmas present I had to wait months for my May Christmas morning chicken delivery which I anticipated with almost ponyesque excitement.

My grandmother would be astonished to know how eagerly anticipated my chickens were. “In my day they were meat and eggs and they would never be named,” I hear her say in my head as she long since gone. She would also be very perplexed that I am RENTING my two laying hens from Rentthechicken. com and have read up on all the treats I can feed them such as a half a watermelon, which now on the grocery list.

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Maria sticking her neck out for treats.

Chickens seem to be a perfect convergence of the economic, environmental, foodie and emotional matters of the moment, plus, in the past few years, they have undergone an image rehabilitation so amazing that it should be studied by social media experts. Why do posts of a grinning person holding a garden variety chicken get thousands of likes?

Now that my chickens have arrived I am the object of more pure envy than I have ever experienced in my life. (I kind of like it.) I can’t count the number of friends that want to know all about chicken raising before they decided to give it a shot. I’m thinking of charging an admission fee to see them.

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They forage for food all day long!

Until the nineteen-fifties, it was common to keep a few chickens around. They were cheap and easy to raise. Some table scraps and bugs, a coop and you were good to go.  A hundred years ago, a chick cost about fifteen cents and a laying hen a few dollars. A hen in her prime, which lasts two or three years, could produce an egg every day or two in the laying season, and once she stopped laying she could be cooked.

Then came urbanization, the supermarket, the egg cholesterol scare, giant egg farms and you know the rest and all the horrible images of tens of thousands of birds crammed into a giant industrialized egg laying factories. (After hanging out with these friendly, curious and surprising un-bird brained creatures I feel even more strongly about giving them a nice life…)

Renting the girls will give me a good taste of what’s involved in chicken husbandry without worry about wintering them over or fully committing to the idea. I can adopt them permanently if I get attached or request the same pair again next summer.

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My first two eggs.

Here are some observations after a couple of days of chickening.

  1. They are friendly…at least they seem so once they established that every time they see me I’m holding out some scratch, freeze-dried mealy worms, prize dandelion leaves, grapes, a bit of toast or to-die-for apparently…tattertots.
  2. Chickens make a wide-range of cool noises from a sort of purring sound to a happy cackle after egg-laying that I interpreted as I MADE EGG!!!!! But research says the egg-song made a distance away from the just laid nice warm egg is to distract predators from the bounty.
  3. There is a pecking order and a bit of squabbling between the ladies. The Baroness took a good peck to the neck over a grape squabble but shook it off like a prize fighter.
  4. Their legs and feet are kind of creepy and dinosaur looking and their toes are very flexible.
  5. Finding the first set of eggs was pretty cool, OK really cool, cooler than it should have been, but really, really cool.
  6. I’m losing sleep. I get up with the chickens to make sure they are OK. I imagine I will chill out soon. I had a reason to worry this morning. The door to the nesting area of their coop was wide open this morning and I had spotted a racoon in the hood last evening. It’s like the racoon was pulling up at a drive-through…just checking for his egg McMuffin. The girlies were OK but the nesting box is getting a second latch today.
  7. I like them!
  8. I was shown how to pick them up so I can have one of those Instagram grinning-person-holding-a-chicken photos but haven’t gotten up the nerve yet.
  9. You haven’t lived, if you are chicken, until you have had a dust bath. They really, really, really like it and fling dirt around, loll around, flap wings…
  10. Still not sure if chickens have lips.
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Maria was shy at first but is coming out of her shell.
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Egg salad sandwich in the making.
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Omelette with fresh herbs from the garden and Upper Bench Winery & Creamery Brie.
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Marie from Rent The Chicken in Kamloops letting the girls out with The Handyman looking on.
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Hand feeding. I’m working on getting them to come when called, “chick, chick, chick, chick” so I can let them do some free-ranging.

Helo happiness

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A long standing tradition in Naramata, almost every Easter a helicopter is enlisted to drop eggs onto Manitou Park for kids by our regional district. The kids come dressed up in costume or in their Easter finest. To prevent any eggcidents, the eggs are hollow plastic ones that when gathered up are exchanged for chocolate. The weather is also part of this tradition. It’s been a blue sky day for every egg drop I’ve attended and this year was no exception.

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Chocolate rain about to commence

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Mad scramble

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Never give up.
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Amidst all the chaos.

A lullaby to sleeping vines

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Naramata Bench vines lie sleeping under a blanket of snow
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Vineyard workers rest along with the vines
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Insulating snow helps protect the dormant vines
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Bud break is a few months away
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Rare sunny day in winter in the Valley
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Short days as the sun starts to set in the late afternoon over Okanagan Lake

A Calgary Highlander plays a mournful lullaby at Legend Distilling on the Naramata Bench.

Naramata Falls

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It is possible to take landscape photos in the Okanagan that don’t include the lake. Yesterday’s fall walk with friends to the dramatic canyon that created Naramata Falls is in my hood. The first time we discovered the falls it was like an unbelievable scenic bonus. Our raspberry farm borders one of the numerous creeks (Arawana) that spills water into the lake but this much larger one has carved an impressive canyon that doesn’t get much sunlight and is home to mosses and other flora that stand apart from much of the Okanagan’s desert-like environment. It smells all damp, mouldy and piney and the rushing water is audible long before its visible.

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Working without a net here (tripod), I did my best to brace myself and hold my breath to capture the falls with a long shutter opening, hence the blurry leaves.
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I used a rock as a tripod in this shot.
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I love this interesting angle.

 

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It would have taken a lot of years of rushing water to carve this canyon wall.
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The canyon, just above the Trans Canada Trail or Kettle Valley Rail trail, is a cool place for a summer hike on a hot day. 
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Thanks guys for your patience as I lagged behind taking photos.

Enjoying capturing this long autumn long kiss goodbye this year.

The long gleaming farewell

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Old vines with the Naramata Bench in the background

We are into borrowed time now in our gilded season. The low, slanting light that is wonderful for photography and that fleeting feeling, knowing the blue skies and gold light will too quickly fade to our long season of gray are getting me outside every chance I get.

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The light: thick, plush, gold is not something we are imagining. The position of the sun in the sky is changing. That, in turn, alters how we perceive colour and light. In the height of summer, the sun is as far overhead as it gets. But the sun drops and drops after the summer solstice in June — and the change speeds up at the midpoint toward winter, which is the light I’m capturing in these photos.

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This special golden light is also great for photographing people bathing everyone in a warm glow.

The farther from the equator, the more obliquely the sun’s light strikes Earth — that’s the longer, slanted light we are bathed in now, instead of the full-on beams we bask in at high summer.

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Such a great name for the winery where these shots were taken…Blue Mountain… yup.

Winter is coming but not first without this gleaming farewell.This year’s fall colour has been supreme. No hard frosts or strong winds to crash the party early so nature can do its thing and linger in all its golden glory.

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The view from Blue Rock on North Naramata Road yesterday.
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Still nice enough for a sail on Okanagan Lake.

Guess who’s coming for dinner…the whole darn Village

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Cheers to Naramata and its Naramatians

“Slow down your movin too fast,” is seldom heard in Naramata, an internationally officially-designated slow town.

A Thanksgiving harvest pot-luck at the Naramata Centre beach brought together 182 people who arrived with baskets, platters and bowls filled with locally-grown ingredients crafted into home-made dishes to share at long table under golden-leafed trees by the shores of Okanagan Lake while toasting with Naramata Bench wines. If that sounds a bit too schmaltzy and bucolic, you weren’t there.

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Mel, Yanti and Don provided the perfect sound-track for the event that could well have been a scene from a movie.

The Naramataslow dinner was designed to celebrate Naramata’s special status as slow city bestowed on us by Cittaslow, an international organization formed in Orvieto Italy in 1999. Only three special towns in Canada are Cittaslow. We join Cowichan Bay and Wolfville as places where the pace of life is a bit more human.

To quote from the charmingly translated Italian on the Cittaslow website, “A Cittaslow place is motivated by curious people of a recovered time, where man is still protagonist of the slow and healthy succession of seasons, respectful of citizens’ health, the authenticity of products and good food, rich of fascinating craft traditions, of valuable works of art, squares, theatres, shops, cafes and restaurants. These are places of the spirit and unspoiled landscapes characterized by spontaneity of religious rites and respect the traditions of the joy of slow and quiet living.”

Slow food or local food of high quality with connection to the local land made into traditional recipes where the community comes together for a shared meal to savour this intrinsic part of life is pretty much the essence of Cittaslow and last evening’s Naramataslow dinner.

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In the midst of a rainy weekend, the sun chose to shine on the 182 diners in one of the most picturesque places in Canada.

Centre stage on the menu for the special dinner was a pit-roasted pig and not just any pig but one that was raised on the bounty of the Village and surroundings. Pig-raiser and Roast-master Jay Drysdale of Bella Wines and his wife Wendy raised this particular pig on mash from Legend Distilling, whey from Upper Bench Winery and Creamery and fruit culls from local orchards.

“I hate to ask but did the pig have a name,” I say. “Yup,” says Wendy, “Chorizo.” Makes sense right and in some strange way makes me feel better than if had been named Babe or Wilbur.

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It’s hard to make meat photogenic but I think I nailed it here…apologies to all the vegetarians out there who had many, many options to choose from at the feast.

Naramataslow organizers had the foresight not to over-plan the event, although committee member Miranda Halliday of Elephant Island Winery says the event was a bit of a “leap of faith. We didn’t have tons of time for preparation and what with harvest being so early this year and all of us small business people being busy it came together rather organically and was actually sold out before we had done much advertising.

“It turned out that the simplicity of it was brilliant. The community came together to pull this off.” As for the weather, Miranda says, “You just can’t script that. What a bonus to have the sunshine on our first harvest dinner so we could eat outside by the lake.”

Tickets to the dinner were a whopping $5 and guests were asked to bring a dish for sharing that celebrates our local bounty. Wow, did we ever step up to the plate. Here are some of the offerings…

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Committee member Dawn Lennie of Legend Distilling dresses her work of art.
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Eat the rainbow.
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Roasted root veggies.
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Still life…salad.
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Yum
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Recipes like the one for these colourful latkes are being collected and will be shared in the coming days.
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Still life #2…Trifle by the lake
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A part of the Naramataslow miracle, Miranda says there was an amazing balance between sweet and savoury items amongst the lovingly prepared recipes with no complicated pre-planning or sign-up sheets.
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Still life #3…apple pie with caramel sauce by the lake.
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This nameless person had the forethought to assemble dessert before tackling that healthy looking main. The raspberry almond tart topping this dessert plate is my contribution and the recipe can found in the link. The last of my fall raspberry crop ended up in the tarts.
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Wine was available by the glass or bottle from a wonderful selection of Naramata Bench Winery Association members. Cheers to them.
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Pass the salt please.
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General conviviality is a Cittaslow prerequisite. Crushed it.
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Miranda says that there was a nice mix of ages at the dinner.  (I like the adult supervisor’s style.)

Miranda says there is a long list of people that help pull off this amazing dinner including the RDOS (regional district), OAP (senior’s group), the Naramata Centre’s Jim, the pig providers Jay and Wendy, the organizing committee (Dawn, Miranda, Jay, Trevor and Nicole and their kids who helped with the set-up, the musicians (Yanti, Don and Mel), Ian  who set up the sound system, Naramata Bench Wineries Association, local photographers Lone Jones and Callum, the poster designer Renee and Chorizo.

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A preserve exchange table was set up. Yeah! I made a lot of grape jelly this year.
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That’ll do, pig. That’ll do. The left-over pork has been frozen and will be used to make soup for community Christmas hampers.
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“It was a bit of a leap of faith,” Miranda says. “There wasn’t time for tons of prep. But we knew it would work. This is Naramata.”

 

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