Tuesday, November 18, 2014

from a flower to a garden - the barefoot and frolicking interview with elva tammemagi

It is with the greatest of enthusiasms that I introduce you to Elva Tammemagi, the sweet soul behind Rhizome Farms, an abundantly inspiring piece of land dedicated to growing organic food. Rhizome is one of the farms leading the organic and local food movement in the Niagara Region in Ontario, and judging by some of these photos, you'll understand why.

I've taken part in Elva's fabulous CSA (community supported agriculture) program in the past, and was always delighted with the little gems I received each week, all cultivated and hand picked by Elva's palms. Everything from blackberries, raspberries, fresh greens (and the best heirloom tomatoes and kale you ever did see).

As November moves on day by day, I see the snow fall and am reminded of some of my favourite memories from this past summer: pulling weeds at Rhizome and chatting with Elva about all things under the sun. A thrill and a delight, I present you with a further window into her inspiring and inspired journey.


1. When did you first become interested in organic farming?

When I was a kid, my grandfather owned a hobby farm that he bought when he moved to Canada (the same farm land that I use now). I used to go there as a child. I’ve always been interested in environmentalism and that was a big influence for what I do. While in University [at University of Ottawa for International Development and Globalization, I'm currently studying Food Security through Ryerson University], I experimented growing greens in my apartment and was part of a garden group on campus.

After graduating, I went backpacking across Canada and WWOOFed.  While on one of the farms, I remember one of the supervisors said something to the effect of “you're going to want to know this when you have your own farm” and I was so surprised because at the time I was not planning on running my own farm, but what she said stuck with me.


2. What gets you the most excited about what you do?

There are many reasons I love what I do; working mostly outdoors, watching plants grow through their whole life cycle, watching landscapes go through a whole season, experimenting and learning by making mistakes, working for myself, getting excited about vegetables, sharing that excitement with my customers, knowing that my work contributes to a healthier community, doing hands-on work and not needing to look clean or put together while working…


3. You spent some time out West WWOOFing - how did your experiences shape what you do on your farm?

I spent some time on West coast in 2009 and after that on the East coast in 2010. When I travelled on the West coast, it was more like a primer for getting into organic farming; I got to see how a couple farms operated and different business models. WWOOFing on the East Coast in 2010 was a completely different experience. By that time I was more interested in learning specific growing methods, construction and what was required to become a market gardener.

Now I grow some of the same varieties of vegetables on my farm (for example, growing Mizuna which reminds me of Wild Roots farm in Nova Scotia). I’d say I’m more influenced by the techniques I learned while working as a Field Manager on a farm north of Toronto in 2013.


4. What were some of the reasons for starting your own farm, Rhizome? 

In 2010, I was living and working in Toronto.  I had done some WWOOFing, trying to grow things on my own in my apartment, and was working in an organic produce store.  I was also volunteering at an urban agriculture organization that ran a small CSA. Mid-year, my best friend unexpectedly and traumatically passed away. I ended up going out on a backpacking journey on my own out east, seeking peace, and ended up again on a farm.

The farm was a place where 4 or 5 of us were all recovering from one heartache or another and actively interested growing foods for the market garden. We all found comfort working in the soil and with the land. Upon returning home, I moved to my father’s farmhouse in January 2011, about 6 months after the loss of my friend. Working with the land has had a huge positive impact on my trauma recovery, and continues to strengthen me emotionally and physically.


When I first started Rhizome Farms, it was more of an experiment; I just wanted to see if I could grow food on my own - whatever extras I grew, I gave away for free. I began working with an organization that focused on local food security and began selling excess produce at a farmers market with that group and I was also working with a local organic fruit farmer. After I realized that I could actually grow food and enjoy doing it, I started to take the business more seriously.

I like the CSA model best because it is a more reliable way of selling produce. I know how many baskets I need to put together at the beginning of my day, rather than guessing at what will sell at market. It is also nice because I get to know my customers better and share the enthusiasm for fresh local veggies, and they get to visit the farm, see how things are grown and spend a bit of time outdoors.


5. Any tips for someone wanting to start learning more about organic farming/starting their own farm?

My advice for someone wanting to start their own farm or get involved in organic farming, is to immerse yourself in sustainable food culture; become a human sponge of information, volunteer for as many local food organizations or community gardens as you can but most of all; start small and don’t expect too much.

There is a supportive community out there, but the reality is that you’re probably going to need a second off-farm job in addition to your farming business. Also, stay open-minded and experiment.  Not everything has to be done the way someone else has done it. Be innovative. Most of all, try to keep a positive attitude about your struggles and successes.


Elva is busy at work building a new hoop house for the farm, creating Rhizome's official website, and prepping for the spring CSA registration. For more information about Rhizome Farms and their CSA program, visit the blogFacebook or email Elva directly: elva.kt@gmail.com

Monday, October 20, 2014

pumpkin spice latte with whipped coconut cream and an autumn lament

It's been about a month since my last post, and wow, so much has happened. I'm fascinated with how life changes everyday, yet subtly stays the same. I feel I've grown eons in such a small amount of time, it could be from the work that I'm doing in my life outside of food blogging (academic writing and research), or the weekly Buddhist meditation classes I've started to take, or even the new nature I'm surrounded by. Learning to slow down while being busy has been quite a task, but I'm making it, and taking it, day by day.


Autumn is the perfect time for rest and renewal. Truth be told, it is my favourite season. There is something about autumn that is so haunting, so ethereal, so beautiful as a temporal season, perhaps the shortest we get to experience, and for that, I find it magical. I take no greater pleasure than looking down at the shades of red, orange, yellow, brown underneath my feet while wrapped up in a warm sweater. Maple leaves abound, and I revel in their company.

Ever find yourself trying to describe the feeling of being in the midst of those  swirling warm winds as summer says goodbye and autumn makes her entrance, and you are left speechless? Me too. What a thrill and delight we are able to experience this moment, and every moment. And what better accompaniment to your next autumn morning than this fabulous recipe.

My dear friends from Truly Organic Foods have a fabulous recipe feature with guest posts from talented raw and vegan chefs. This recipe for a Pumpkin Spice Latte with Whipped Coconut Cream was inspired by one for a Pumpkin Spice Vegan Latte by Maya Eid. Her photos are divine, as is the recipe. You'll also find instructions on how to make whipped coconut cream from a can of coconut milk with her recipe. My version of this recipe uses similar ingredients with a slight twist.


Pumpkin Spice Latte with Whipped Coconut Cream
Serves 1




For the 'tea':
1 cup brewed decaf Pumpkin Spice tea
4 tbsp pureed pumpkin
1 tbsp coconut sugar or 4 dates
1 tsp pumpkin spice

For the whipped cream topping:
1 can full fat coconut milk

Combine tea ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to your favourite mug and top with desired amount of whipped coconut cream (click on link for easy step-by-step instructions). Swirl with a spoon to make your own latte design.

Sip latte while watching the leaves fall, take with you on your morning commute to keep warm, have as company to ground yourself in the midst of the changing colours. A most perfect accompaniment to autumn. Remember to take in every moment of it.


a perfect fall adage xo

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

peanut butter oat bars and the tides of summer

The tides of summer have rolled their way once more, this time I've changed jobs, locales, and scenery once more (seems to be a running theme of late) and am so grateful to have the opportunity to set up shop, so to speak, in a most beautiful place as the last days of summer are in full effect.


Sometimes it feels like my life is "rolling with the tide" (Jorma Kaukonen reference), but I wouldn't have it any other way despite the obligatory transition period of newness and letting go of 'oldness'.

I'm reminded of sweet words of wisdom from an old friend of mine, who, when the going got tough would remind me to "accept, detach, transcend" any difficult situation. Words to live by.


Anyhow, I first made these no-bake, five ingredient Peanut Butter Oat Bars for a yoga get-together with some sweet friends in the summer.

Now, I'm craving them all the more as I've just moved to a place that requires much walking (or biking, depending on your preference) and as such, much of my energy. These bars do just the trick; lightweight, I can pop one in my purse and it keeps me satisfied all day and all of the night (Kinks reference). 


Peanut Butter Oat Bars
makes 12-16 small square bars




1 cup oats
11-12 pitted medjool dates
1 tsp cinnamon
a handful of cacao nibs (or could use chocolate chips)
4-5 heaping tbsps of organic, unsweetened peanut butter

Process all ingredients in a food processor until well combined. Press the mixture into a tray or roll into balls. Chill for at least 30 minute in the fridge or freezer. Enjoy with your morning mug.

 
These bars are quite the trip: dense, moist, yet light, dazzling the senses with hints of sweetness. A fab combination if you ask me. I also like that they are a little messy and not too pristine, just as nature intended.

If you are looking for something utterly gluten free, substitute the oats with quinoa flakes, or one could even try ground buckwheat groats. As for raw oats, that's your call; I seem to find they taste like soap whenever I eat them. Et toi?


To the last days of summer, dolls xo

Friday, August 22, 2014

cookbook review and giveaway: be decadent - guilt free recipes for chocolate lovers

Hello barefoot frolickers, are you in for a treat - a sinfulyl sweet decadent treat, I might add. Today, I bring to you a lovely cookbook giveaway courtesy of nutrition coach and author Joanna Steven.


I first connected with Joanna through the online raw vegan community some years ago, and have always been inspired by her efforts to bring health and wellness to the attention of many. One of her recent efforts, BE Decadent - Guilt Free Recipes for Chocolate Lovers brings a much needed love and awareness to that precious substance we all know and love, cacao.


Authored by Joanna and published by Tera Warner, this e-book also features contributing authors such as Natalia KW (pictured below), Kristin Suzanne, Bethanne Wanamaker, Heather Pace, Kristin Taylor, all of whom provide recipes that will satisfy any sweet tooth.

What I adored most about this cookbook was the easily accessible layout, author descriptions of each recipe, and inspiring recipes that compelled me to start some long overdue chocolate creation in the kitchen. 


The cookbook offers a thorough break down of key ingredients used in chocolate preparation, along with recipes ranging from smoothies and breakfast ideas to chocolate bars and bite-sized chocolates, puddings, mousses and cremes, gluten free baking, and even ice creams. Just some of the beautiful raw food brilliance can be found below (you'll have to peruse the pages for more):

 



And guess what? A .pdf copy of this fabulous cookbook could be yours - simply leave a comment below that mentions your favourite recipe using cacao (it does not have to be a specific recipe from thi book, any favourite recipe of yours will do!)

A winner will be selected at random. The giveaway opens right now and closes in one week (next Friday, August 29th at 4pm EST). I look forward to reading your comments!

For more ways to connect with Joanna, find her on Facebook and Twitter. For a direct link to her book, check out Amazon.com 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

strawberry, rhubarb & coconut cream pops

Well, it's officially summer, and it is hot. I'm back in the hot muggy good fortune of Ontario's sweltering temperatures, a far cry from where I was this time last year: on the much milder temperate of Cortes Island in beautiful British Columbia.

The start of summer in any Canadian locale usually brings many fruits (pun intended): berries of all sizes, colours, and flavours (you might remember my expounding on picking strawberries, salmonberries and blueberries from previous posts).

As you may have gleamed, I'm quite the fan of picking local fruit, organic at that, which is the perfect addition to any raw dessert recipe.


I've been teaching lots of yoga lately in a nearby town and one Saturday, driving home after instructing a Vinyasa Flow class, I suddenly realized it was strawberry season with a local Strawberry Festival taking place.

What curious cultural, social events are these: strawberry festivals are held in many a small town that has been affected by the production of strawberries.


Establishing a sense of community around the precious strawberry, a lovely concept, don't you think? What usually links these festivals is the selling of curious strawberry-themed treats and wares, used book and penny sales, live music, and perhaps a strawberry pie or two.

I encountered many a flat and pint of strawberries, elated upon the discovery of organically grown, local ones. Promptly purchasing two pints, I proceeded home to craft a strawberry-themed summer dessert to beat the summer heat.


Enter these succulent and sweet Strawberry, Rhubarb & Coconut Cream Pops with basil or mint chiffonade. That's right, it's your choice. Basil works beautifully, I might add. 

This ice pop kick right now seems to be partly inspired by the influx of popsicle recipes I've come across on Pinterest from time to time. The most interesting flavour combination I discovered was coffee and cream, made with almond mylk, but that's a whole other story entirely.


Strawberry, Rhubarb & Coconut Cream Pops
Makes 12 medium sized pops (depending on the mould)

 
1 quart fresh local strawberries, chopped
1 stalk fresh rhubarb, chopped
1 can coconut milk (or sub with coconut cream for a creamier version)
1 vanilla bean, de-seeded
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp coconut sugar
basil or mint, chiffonade
ground almond flour (optional)

Blend the strawberries, rhubarb, coconut milk, vanilla been and coconut sugar together in a blender until smooth. Pour mixture into moulds and freeze for at least 6-8 hours. Can top with almond flour before inserting popsicle sticks as an added bonus.

Once solid, remove popsicles form their moulds be de-thawing with warm water. Top with sliced strawberries, basil and/or mint chiffonade. What a treat and oh so good, down to the very last bite. 


I realized a funny thing about this recipe: the ingredients are so pure and nourishing that they can easily double as a face mask. What better way to treat your boy, inside and out, than with strawberry, rhubarb & coconut cream. 

Better yet, simplify and make another face mask with any leftover ingredients: a spoonful of coconut cream, dash of coconut sugar, and mashed strawberries is all you need for a beautifying few minutes of rejuvenation.

A little dab will do you.


For more strawberry sunshine, check out these posts:


Thursday, June 26, 2014

break on through - the barefoot and frolicking interview with laura-lynn petrick

Beyond thrilled, I type at dawn to bring to you the barefoot and frolicking interview with film photographer, cinemetographer, ethnographer, music video director (and former student of mine), Laura-Lynn Petrick.


Based in Toronto, Petrick has created stellar images for the likes of American Apparel, Nylon Magazine, and Penny Arcade. With a degree in Popular Culture, Petrick creates photographs in which her subjects navigate a world of refuse while renegotiating their surroundings.
 

For me, her work tends to evoke memories for a bygone era with shades of Andy Warhol, Nan Goldin, and Yelena Yemchuk as visual inspiration. Influences aside, Petrick has created a world all her own, in which the psychedelic experience rings true as an ever-present, everyday reality.

Her most recent work includes directing the music video for the Beatle-esque Michael Rault number "Too All My Friends" - you can check out the video, along with a sampling of other video works, on her website.


When did you first become interested in photography?
 
I first became into it fairly young. My grandma was a photographer and while she was around she photographed my family and I. I remember looking through her photo albums and gazing into the past. I began to love the way a photograph can represent a specific time and place. Years later I picked up a camera on my own and began documenting my life.


What are some of your artistic and cultural influences?

Overall I'm influenced by the past. I am quite nostalgic. I don't follow much in the art and photography world, I sorta keep to myself, but I know I really love William Eggleston's photographs.

I am extremely interested in the culture and sociology of music, specifically psychedelic music, jazz, blues, and rock and roll of the fifties and sixties (such as Elvis Presley, Little Walter, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Chet Baker, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac).

This music provides me with inspiration on a daily basis. I am also very inspired by my friends, whom are very talented musicians and artists. They are beautiful people inside and out and make me very happy.


How important is music to your overall process and work?

It is vital. Music keeps me shooting more and more. I must listen to 12 hours of music a day... I am so blessed to be friends with the many talented musicians in my life. A main theme of my work is documenting their evolution as musicians over the years.

Just as you can hear the changes in The Stones from 1965-69, my friends are also continuously becoming more advanced and influenced by different things, and similarly changing as musicians and individuals. I find that development fascinating and aim to capture it, through my photography and video.


Some of your favourite songs or albums to shoot to (have on in the background while you work)?

My favourites lately are "Country Honk" by The Rolling Stones, "Spill the Wine" by Eric Burdon & War, "Tired of Waiting" by the Kinks, "Who Do You Love" By The Sapphires... Classic, groovy and feel-good songs. 


How does your background in popular culture inform your photography/choice of subject matter?

Studying popular culture has opened my eyes to the world around me. It has changed the way I absorb my surroundings —through analysis of the past I have become aware of what has previously been consumed in Western culture, enabling me to maintain relevance. 

This foundation of knowledge facilitates my awareness of recycled imagery, my references to various texts, symbolism and the ‘hypertextuality’ of my photography.


What are some of your favourites cameras/types of photography to work with and why?

I work solemnly with Nikon Fm 10, Nikon Fm 2, and sometimes my Nikon FG- I like them all. They're really well made and have a timeless aesthetic. For video I use a Sony Hi-8 Handycam & a Bell & Howell Super Eight.

I love the grainyness and bleeding colours of Hi-8, and it's portability. I take it with me to shows and parties and on vacations, it's durable and has a nice 90's low fi feel to it.

The Bell & Howell Super Eight "Autoload 308" is my favourite though, it is really washed out, it's from one of my favourite years in history, 1968, and it certainly gives your film that authentic sixties aesthetic.


In what ways do you see your work evolving?

I see myself working making movies.. Documentaries.. More Music Videos.. Art films... working with analogue motion picture film. I will always shoot photographs.

I want to have a library of special books depicting my photo diary and music documentary work. Oh, and hopefully make a sweet cowboy Western film.




Stay connected with Laura-Lynn on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and at her official website lauralynnpetrick.com. Her self-titled photography book is also available for purchase on her website.

Break on through, to the other side. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

matcha and coconut bliss ice cream pops and kiss me organics product review

panic. frenzy. my love is near. More truer words have never been spoken when it comes to this post.

One of my most treasured bands of my youth, Veruca Salt, has reunited with their original line-up for the first time in 18 years (and to boot, I'm seeing them on tour this summer - all of my teen rock fantasies are finally coming to fruition - nice).

Their enticing b-side "The Speed of Candy" features the lyrics "panic, frenzy, my love is near" as a reference for the love for candy and a desirable amour.

After making these Matcha and Coconut Bliss Ice Cream Pops, the lyric swirled inside my mind like some sort of infinite raw vegan mantra. While not candy per se, these ice pops are just as sweet with natural sugars from coconut, agave, and dates. 

 

Seeing as how I had copious amounts of billowing Coconut Bliss in my freezer, I couldn't help but craft another summer treat with this divine iced nectar. A hint of coconut, vanilla, and agave was just what these pops needed. 

To make an even wilder combination, I threw in a dash of matcha green tea powder sent to me by the fine folk at Kiss Me Organics for good measure. Because Coconut Bliss and Cacao are not the same without an extra kick of matcha. 


Kiss Me Organics Matcha is all natural and USDA approved organic, free from chemicals and preservatives. With a lovely texture and consistency, it was a welcomed addition to this recipe, making these pops all the more decadent. 

Did you know that matcha is an anti-aging energy booster and has even been touted to improve memory? Apparently EGCG, a strong Matcha antioxidant, can generate new brain cells by focusing on the area of the brain that deals with short and long term memory. Whoa. 

With all of that in mind (partial pun intended), whip up a batch of these pops the next time you want to feel on top of things.


Matcha and Coconut Bliss Ice Cream Pops
Makes 8 medium sized pops (depending on the mould)

Ice Cream Filling
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup or handful of dates, pitted
1/2 carton (or 1/2 cup) Vanilla Island Coconut Bliss
1 cup fresh almond mylk
2-4 tsp Kiss Me Organics matcha (the more matcha, the deeper the green tinge)
seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Carob Coating
6 tbsp melted coconut oil
6 tbsp sifted carob powder
3 tbsp coconut nectar

To make the Ice Cream Filling, blend ingredients together in a high speed blender (yo, Vitamix) until smooth. Pour mixture into preferred popsicle moulds of choice and freeze overnight or for a few hours until frozen solid.

To make the Carob Coating, mix the melted coconut oil, carob powder, and coconut nectar in a small mixing bowl. Dip the frozen pops in the carob coating and let harden. Toast to your good fortune on a warm summer's day and revel in coconut matcha-fueled bliss.


Experiment with different toppings, such as cacao nibs, coconut sugar, or a sprinkling of shredded unsweetened coconut.


I must admit, to bite into one of these is an experience on par with the most decadent of raw vegan desserts. The melted carob bliss gets me every time, as does the crunchy cacao nibs. Sigh.


we're all on the (natural) sugar team. 

For more on Kiss Me Organics, visit them on Twitter. Oh, and for the latest Veruca Salt updates, visit them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter too. Or better yet, check them out on their reunion tour xo