Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Canadian Iconic Desserts: Red Fife Whole Wheat

Dawn was asked to participate in a panel discussion at the Royal Ontario Museum this past Sunday (December 13, 2009). Being of a one track mind when it comes to whole grains, she knew it had to be something with Red Fife-Red Fife Apple Tart with Maple Sugar & Black Walnuts-see recipe on previous post. A versatile heritage whole wheat, grown primarily in Hastings County and the Petersborough area of southern Ontario, Red Fife is experiencing a resurgence with local bakers (even pasta makers, after being an endangered food with less than a couple of pounds of seeds surviving.

We are currently using six heritage organic grains (Rye, Spelt, Buckwheat, Red Fife Whole Wheat, Oatmeal and Barley) in various forms in our crackers and cookies. The barley and oatmeal is grown by Franz Seeburger of Hope ECO farms out in Alymer. The other grains are grown by John and Patricia Hastings of Madoc.

Red Fife Whole Wheat is a fabulous wheat with a great story of success that is uniquely Canadian. And as we have gotten to know John and Patricia and see their dedication to growing heritage grains we have a better understanding of the link between sustainable agriculture and long-term agricultural diversity.

Here is a short portion of Dawn's moment at the podium during the panel discussion at the Royal Ontario Museum this past Sunday.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Please Allow Me to Toot...

...our own horn.

A bit dated, but great nonetheless.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Evelyn's Crackers Participates in Slow Food's Terre Madre Day

Terra Madre Day
Celebrating Local Food!
Slow Food Toronto

December 10, THURSDAY - 6-9pm

Hosted by
90 Croatia Street
Entrance on Brock Avenue, which runs South from Bloor Street West, 1 street West of Dufferin
FoodShare website
Map to 90 Croatia Street

$10 general admission
Free for children under 12


About Terra Madre Day

The very 1st worldwide Terra Madre Day is being held on December 10, 2009 to celebrate Slow Food International’s 20th anniversary, in recognition of the importance of supporting local food networks.

Terra Madre Day will be celebrated in endless ways by the Slow Food network all around the world. Celebrations will take place on farms and in homes, in schools and communities, in cities, and rural areas: from New York to New Delhi, Turkey to Tanzania, Austria to Argentina.


What is Slow Food Toronto doing for Terra Madre Day?

Slow Food Toronto will celebrate Ontario’s local food community with delicious sustainable offerings, music, and family-friendly activities, held at FoodShare on Thursday December 10th, open to the public from 6-9pm.

Travel through the various stations, sample delicious local product, and have an opportunity to connect with the people who produce, raise, grow, cook, and advocate for it all!

Participants Include:

YU Ranch, Bryan, Grilled naturally raised beef

· Niagara Specialty Foods, Mario Pingue, Proscuitto on Grassin

· The Healthy Butcher

· Akiwenzie Fish and More, smoked fish, Natasha Akiwenzie

· Matchbox Gardens, Hanna Jacobs, Vegetables, Serving Squash Bites

· Pfenning’s, Jenn Pfenning, Vegetables, Serving Carrots and Roasted Vegetables

· The Cutting Veg, Daniel Hoffman, Vegetables, varieties of garlic and red potatoes

· Everdale Farms, Gavin Dandy, raw carrots, gavin@everdale.orgCookstown Greens

· The New Farm

· KEG, Mark Trealout,

· FoodCycles, Ashlee Cooper, Sprouts

· Toronto Sprouts

· Plan B Organics

· HOPE Eco Farms, tentatively

· Torrie Warner, Warner Farms, apples, pears, cider,

· Lincoln Line Orchards, callahan_william@rogers.com

· Fifth Town

· Monforte Dairy

· Arwa Root, Mapleton’s Organic Dairy, Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt, Yogurt, Pumpkin Ice Cream

· St.John’s Bakery, Jeff Connelly, Red Fife Wheat Breads, Artisinal Loaves and Brioche

· Evelyn’s Crackers, Dawn Woodward and Ed Rek, Crackers, Jam and Crackers

· CIPM Farm, Patricia Hastings, Red Fife Wheat

· August’s Harvest, Wareen Ham, Garlin, Shallots, Saskatoon Berries

· Forbes Wild Foods, Jonathan Forbes, Wild and Forages Preserved foods

· Persall Naturals, Jason Persall, Vinegars and Cold Pressed Canola Oil

· Kozliks Mustard

· Culinarium

· Chocosol

· SOMA, tentatively

· JK Kitchens

· Haisai, Michael and Nobuyo Statlander

· 100 Km Foods, Grace and Paul, able to represent their growers and/or weekly food box

· Slow Food Toronto, with Margaret Webb’s Apple to Oyster’s book

· FoodShare

· FarmStart

· Not Far From The Tree

· Local Food Plus

· Evergreen

· West End Food-Coop

· Edible Toronto


For more information, please contact:
Paul DeCampo, paul@toronto.slowfood.ca or
Miriam Streiman, miriamstreiman@hotmail.com

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Red Fife Apple Tart with Maple Sugar

Sorry! I have been asked to include the recipe. Here it is:

Red Fife Apple Tart with Maple Sugar
Serves 8, generously
The red fife makes a sweet and nutty crust, with a firm cookie texture. Not too sweet, it can be eaten for breakfast, too.

11/4 cup Red Fife Whole Wheat
½ cup All-Purpose flour
2 tablespoons maple sugar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter, cold
1 egg yolk, large
¼ cup whole milk yogurt
1-2 tablespoons cold water
Blend the dry ingredients and cut in the butter until it is the size of peas and then add the egg yolk and yogurt and gently mix. If the dough isn’t coming together in a shaggy mass, add one tablespoon of water (or more if needed) and bring together in a rough flattened round. Refrigerate for 1 hour (or overnight).

¼ cup toasted and ground almonds
¼ cup toasted and ground black walnuts
5 medium apples
¾ cup maple sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Squeeze of lemon juice
¼ cup maple syrup

Heat oven to 350F.
Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface or directly onto parchment paper. Dust the top of the dough to keep the rolling pin from sticking. Roll to a 12x17 inch rectangle. Place in same size baking tray and trim the excess. Chill for 30 minutes and then pre-bake for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel, core and then thinly slice the apple segments (less than 1/8th of an inch thick). Place in a medium bowl and toss with lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon.

Sprinkle the dough with the ground nuts and then place apple slices over tart dough in parallel rows, overlapping each slice slightly.
Bake 40-45 minutes or until apples are soft and crust is well-browned. Brush with the ¼ cup maple syrup.

Canadian Sweet Treats: Food Experts Debate the Classics

Evelyn's Crackers' very own Dawn Woodward is on a food panel at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) on December 13th posted on Akimbo.ca focused on distinctly Canadian desserts:

Did you know that the butter tart is practically a Canadian culinary icon? But what about carrot pudding, fruitcake, and various types of squares? All of these have a significant presence in Canada’s culinary history. Listen and interact with a panel of food experts who will discuss these and other sweet Canadian delights. Enjoy a sampling of different sweet treats. And vote on your favourite!

Butter Tarts
In Canada, baking the perfect butter tart is the holy grail of pastry. For Elizabeth Baird the search began with Classic Canadian Cooking in 1974 and has continued through her 20 years as food editor of Canadian Living Magazine, co- host of Canadian Living Cooks and into best seller The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book.

Carrot Pudding
Liz Driver is the curator of Campbell House Museum in Toronto, author of Culinary Landmarks: A Bibliography of Canadian Cookbooks, 1825-1949, and a past president of the Culinary Historians of Ontario.

Cocoa Oat Bars with Barley Flakes
Nettie Cronish is a natural foods chef, culinary instructor, cookbook author, chair of the Women’s Culinary Network, and a board member of Transfair Canada.

Fruit Cake
Rose Murray is a cookbook author, food writer and broadcaster. Rose’s first book The Christmas Cookbook was published in 1979 and reprinted several times under the title Canadian Christmas Cooking. Her ninth book Hungry for Comfort won two awards in the 2004 national Culinary Book Awards and her tenth, A Taste of Canada, has been short-listed for the 2009 awards.

Lemon Squares
Alison Fryer has been a cookbook judge for the James Beard Foundation, International Association of Culinary Professionals & Cuisine Canada. A past winner of the Women's Culinary Network Woman of the Year, Canadian Booksellers Association Bookseller of the Year, and Ontario Hostelry Institute Gold Award. She is a frequent contributor to radio and TV.

Red Fife Apple Tart with Maple Sugar
Dawn Woodward is the owner of Evelyn's Crackers and Cookies, specializing in handmade treats using local organic heritage grains.

Moderator: Fiona Lucas, past president of the Culinary Historians of Ontario, incoming Chair of the Canadian Culinary Book Awards sponsored by Cuisine Canada and the University of Guelph, and Program Officer for Historic Foodways at Spadina House.

Cost: Public $32 Member $29

Register Now!
or call 416-506-5797
Sunday, December 13, 1 – 2:30 pm

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Local Organic Farmer Keeps the Doctor Away

A Chewswise Blog Post:

Doctors Rx at AMA: Eat Local and Organic

Posted: 19 Jun 2009 08:55 AM PDT

A couple of weeks ago, the New Yorker had a fascinating article on McAllen, Texas, a county that ranks among the highest in the nation in health-care costs. Funny thing is, the outcomes of the patients in the system weren't any better than places that spent far less. The moral of the story, by physician and writer Atul Gawande, was that you must control the culture of spending (and earning) to contain out-of-control health care costs.

What he spent less time on was the make-up of the county, which ranks high in alcohol consumption, diabetes and heart disease. The per capita income, he noted, was $12,000 a year and the Tex-Mex diet contributed to a 38% obesity rate (the national average is 34%). While acknowledging these social causes of illness, Gawande didn't take the next step and consider diet as a cost-efficient way to rein in health costs. Obviously, costs have to be contained in the system, especially one that rewards doctors for every test, procedure and visit. But why not include or integrate factors outside the health-care system that breed disease in the first place? Why not change the playing field so there are, in effect, fewer patients for doctors to over treat?

If Gawande didn't consider this argument, I was surprised that the American Medical Association did this week. In a fairly remarkable development, the AMA voted at its convention to support "practices and policies within health care systems that promote and model a healthy and ecologically sustainable food system."

"Preventing disease is paramount in the provision of health care. Hospitals, physicians and nurses are ideal leaders and advocates for creating food environments that promote health. This policy is an important contribution to a prevention-based health-care delivery system," said Jamie Harvie, director of the Health Care Without Harm Sustainable Food Work Group.

This statement wasn't just your usual "eat your fruits and vegetables, cut down on fatty food and exercise" type of recommendation. It was a blanket endorsement of organic and local foods, recognizing that the way food is produced effects health, the environment, even the conditions of workers. The resolution, in turn, was based on a report by its Council on Science and Public Health, which presents an informed view of the current nutritionally deficient food system. The report (pdf) states:

The current US food system is highly industrialized, focusing on the production of animal products and federally subsidized commodity crops, such as corn and soybeans. This has resulted in a highly processed, calorie-dense food supply, instead of one rich in a variety of fruits vegetables, and whole grains ... The poor quality diets supported by this system contributes to four of the six leading causes of death in the United States: heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.

The report then describes the way industrialized food production has actually threatened health. "These methods have contributed to the development of antibiotic resistance; air and water pollution; contamination of food and water with animal waste, pesticides, hormones and other toxins; increased dependence on nonrenewable fossil fuels (including fertilizers)," the doctors' report says.

It also adds the clincher that I wish Gawande had considered: "Clinical approaches to addressing diet-related health concerns are costly and not sustainable."

The resolution passed this week states:

That our AMA support practices and policies in medical schools, hospitals, and other health care facilities that support and model a healthy and ecologically sustainable food system, which provides food and beverages of naturally high nutritional quality.
That our AMA encourage the development of a healthier food system through the US Farm Bill and other federal legislation.
That our AMA consider working with other health care and public health organizations to educate the health care community and the public about the importance of healthy and ecologically sustainable food systems.
Industrial food producers are already in a tizzy over the documentary Food Inc., but I bet they didn't expect to be facing the nation's doctors.

I would note a last bit of irony to this resolution. For years -- back in the 1950s and 1960s -- the AMA did battle with one of the earliest proponents of organic farming, J.I. Rodale. They investigated him, and brought complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (over Rodale's over-zealous promotion of vitamins). It took a few more years -- OK decades -- for the AMA to change its position and at least endorse one point that Rodale got right: That the way food is produced effects health. He realized this in the 1940s. The AMA acknowledges it today.
- Samuel Fromartz

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Evelyn's Crackers and Leslie Stowe

CanadianLiving.com had a recent article about...

you guessed it, cheese and crackers.

Do you want to go two-for-two?.

Guess who's crackers were mentioned. article

Friday, July 10, 2009

More than a Cracker...

Well, we can't seem to leave the local grains well enough alone.

Red Fife short bread cookies just came out of the oven and taste like warm pie crust, buttery and sweet.

Also, some cornmeal biscotti with almonds are in the final bake of the twice baked cookie. Dawn wasn't pleased with how the biscotti turned out, but I have to say freshly baked biscotti is fabulous. (Corn meal vs. corn flour next time.)

And last but not least, since we have the corn flour , a new cracker for the weekend! Equal parts corn flour, red fife whole wheat and rye. Good texture, a wonderful chew from the grains and I get funny looks when I say reminiscent of corn flakes. Really good corn flakes, if they tasted like a cracker.

A little back and forth over the name for the new corn cracker. And since I make the labels, I liked my choice best. We will see how it sells tomorrow and if it lasts the next round of cuts. Runners up were: So Corny; Corn Fife and Rye (play on corn beef and rye); Shucked Goodness; Edible Ears and It Ain't Popcorn.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Immerse Through Crackers

We rely on our friends and family for many things and as new small business owners, sometimes we cross the line. Like the time our daughter, 2 at the time, ran around the Brick Works farmers market with a t-shirt that read: "Evelyn's Crackers, we put the crack in crackers."

(photo (c)2008 Edmund Rek)

Quickly becoming infamous with the last minute call for baby-sitting mostly by friends, as our family are in the States, every once and while someone will come to the kitchen and help with cracker production, as did Naomi:

On Tuesday afternoon I did a short shift with Dawnthebaker at the Incubator Kitchen making crackers for Evelyn's Crackers (named after fabulous Evelyn, Dawn and Ed's three=year=old daughter). The crackers are hand-made, truly made by hand. The dough is mixed by machines, then divided into pieces which are hand-shaped, then run, piece by piece, through a sheeter, a machine like a pasta-maker that squeezes it flat. Each sheet of dough on its individual piece of parchment paper is stacked on the last and then when the stack is high, it's put aside to chill while the rest of the dough is flattened. At this stage we're not nearly halfway in the hand-work.

The chilled sheets come back out and then once again, one by one, are put carefully through the sheeter, now set to a thinner setting. They double in area (and fragility too, of course). Once again, after all the sheets in the stack have been run through the sheeter and then restacked, the stack gets set aside in the cooler while the remaining stacks are run through.

Then it's time for the final pre-baking hand-work: Sheet by sheet the crackers are cut. You take the pizza-cutter-like roller and run it in straight lines down the dough, trying to space them evenly and keep them straight. For the cheese crackers that we were making there were six or seven lines vertically and about 11 horizontally per baking sheet of dough. No wonder Dawn feels her wrists get tired! I felt it more in my back, because the work is assymetrical, when you bend sideways over the sheet to do the cross-wise cuts.

After each sheet is cut into crackers, it is pulled over onto the stack of already sliced dough. Once the stack is tall, it is covered with plastic, tightly sealed, and frozen. The baking will take place next day or sometime in the next week. And baking too means handling the crackers sheet by sheet, putting them into the oven, and then taking them out and leaving them on a rack to cool and crisp up.

Now that all sounds long, doesn't it? And yet it's just a description, with no details, really.

Dawn does all this physical labour with grace and strength and skill. Sometimes Ed is there working with her, or a less-skilled sidekick like me, but most often she's there on her own, either making and shaping crackers, or else baking.

When we were there together, she could get crackers baked while I shaped (and she was often over helping with the shaping process in between baking chores). The lovely scent of her Barley Noir crackers perfumed the space as we worked, and the spicy Dal Crackers too added their aroma when they were baked.

The thing about the cracker production, the thing that is valuable (apart from the fact that they are made from local and organic ingredients, and that they taste wonderful and are a treat to eat), is the hand-made-ness. It creates an entirely different cracker population. They are NOT all the same. For though each batch is made from one dough, the fact that they are rolled out and cut by hand, sheet by sheet, cut by cut, means that the crackers each have a personality and clear identity. There's kind of a "every snowflake is unique" quality to them.

So while the goal of industrial production and chain restaurants is complete consistency and uniformity, the goal of hand-crafted anything, from crackers, to clothing, to furmiture, to home-cooking, is individual distinctiveness within a recognisable form. That's why we love home-made food. And that's what we lose if we buy "food" that has been extruded and cut and shaped by highly industrial processes.

People say, but this is elitist, this emphasis on the hand-crafted; processed food is cheaper. But it's not. Home-made food, each of us starting with basic ingredients at home, is the least expensive and best. Next in line is food made by someone we know, made with care and attention. And as we tried to emphasise in our book HomeBaking, let's not, as home cooks, start to think that our food should look like food that is made by machine, all "perfect" and predictable. Let's treasure the unpredictable, the individual, the idiosyncratic.

(written by Naomi Duguid, cookbook author and one of the best reasons to live in Toronto/her blog/her website)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Evelyn's Crackers at Scheffler's in St. Lawrence

We are happy to announce Evelyn's Crackers is now available at Scheffler's Deli and Cheese and St Lawrence Market's south building. An upscale family run business specializing in many wonderful imported cheeses, meats, olives, oils, etc.

I did a demo of the crackers there this weekend and many people were happy to sample a product made from local organic grains and see how versatile they were with dips and cheese. The owners are Odysseas and Sandra have a great sense of humor and seem to really enjoy the hustle and bustle of the busy Saturday market. Be sure to ask for them by name when you stop by.


Red Fife Pancakes

We are always happy to hear how other people are using Ontario grains in every day meals cooked at home.

One of the members of Evelyn's Crackers' community submitted this recipe for making pancakes using Red Fife Whole Wheat flour farmed from John and Patricia Hastings of CIPM Farms in Medoc, Ontario:

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 cups of milk
1 cup red fife whole wheat flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (more if you like)
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/4 cup melted butter

Blend the oats and milk, let stand for five minutes. Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt. Add the dry ingredients, eggs and butter to at mixture and stir until just combined.

Heat pan (cast-iron preferably) on medium low heat; lightly coat with a neutral oil and pour batter and proceed as expected.

The Red Fife whole wheat can be found in Evelyn's Crackers and for sale at their table at the Green Barns Farmers' Market Saturday mornings.

Check out our website and blog:


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Lamb That Got Away (Almost)

Of the innumerable number of dinner parties that happen throughout the city, I took part in a remarkable one. A dozen people were brought together this particular evening to share in the bounty of local food in a newly renovated kitchen.

Prior to the renovation, one could easily tell the young couple hosting the dinner were food groupies by their big red leather sofa in the kitchen. However, a bone of contention with one half of the pair was the big red sofa in the kitchen.

So, how does one design a kitchen around a large sofa in the kitchen?

By replacing it with bar stools and a seven foot granite-top island.

Since Big Red is no longer in the kitchen the other half of the couple has been seen circling the monolith, as if breaking in a new pair of shoes, not really sure what to do; saying things like: "No more snacking and napping in the kitchen, or you can't flop onto a bar stool!"

A month in, he is getting used it and almost admitting to liking the extra large eating surface. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

As with most home renovations it went past due and the couple suffered almost two months without cooking in their own kitchen. Finally, the day came when move back into their kitchen and they didn't waste anytime getting back into the swing of things..

Within an hour after the contractor packed up his tools, guests were arriving for their first dinner party. The kitchen tours we met with cheers over anti-slamming drawers, a water spigot over the stove-top (tested curiously by a guest without out a pot underneath) and two very special ovens. But, the star of the evening was the local grass-fed leg of lamb from Twin Creeks Organic Farm.

Not surprisingly, the guests arrived early helping to peel potatoes, wash the lettuce and care for the lamb. When I arrived the potatoes were being sliced for an au gratin, drinks were being poured and the lamb was locked in the oven. No kidding.

One of the two ovens had a locking feature. As more people arrived, different button combinations were pressed trying to fix it.

After some Niagara prosciutto, more guests and more wine, out came the oven's users manual. Nothing worked, even after trying Google. Finally, a decision was made to go old school and flip a fuses in the basement. We continued stirring and chopping as the lights went: off-on, off-on and off-on again. At last, the oven reset itself, the door unlocked and “he” was put into the second oven.

The dinner preparations progressed fabulously: the mustard herb-crusted lamb was toasted under the infrared broiler; the potatoes were topped with extra reggiano cheese and also browned; a salad dressing was made and tossed with tender greens and the Empire apple tart was in a holding pattern waiting to go into the less greedy oven.

At last, dinner's ready! Let's eat!

And we did, with high accomplished spirits amidst the myriad of paint cans and stacks of drywall.

It was truly a fabulous meal. Meeting new people and coming together united in appreciation for local food and the environment to prepare it in, with or without a big red sofa and a locking oven.

Here It Begins...

Our first blog.

What is it going to be about?

Well, we are both chefs from very different backgrounds. Some would say quite talented. Together our varied styles compliment each other's weaknessess and cover most food regions, or kitchen situations. We both are very involved in the local food movement and can be a bit preachy on how Organic Farmers' markets are the way to go. Even still there is a potential for a he-said/she-said back and forth about food cooking and techniques, who's ego will survive?

Also, as new parents of a 21 month old baby daughter, you guessed it, Evelyn. So, the whole baby thing can also fill up pages of rants and endless goings on. And to make it even better, we are new parents of a cracker business, of the same name.

There you have it. The recipe of possible topics for our new bouncing baby blog.