Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Story About a Pig

It has probably been 23 years since there were pigs on our farm. So, it proved quite entertaining for my family to witness my brother raise a pig this summer. 'Oinkers', as he affectionately became known, was purchased from the local high school. The school runs an agriculture program, complete with a fully-functioning barn and livestock that are cared for by the students. When the students leave in June, the animals do as well. Knowing the teacher, both because he took the class himself and he's a neighbour, my brother offered to take 2 of the pigs.

Not long after my brother lost one of the pigs to pneumonia, the other started breaking out of his pen. My brother would return home to find his piggy out in the field with the cows, and despite his best efforts, Oinkers repeatedly found his way back out to the pasture. There was little doubt in my brother's mind pigs were truly as smart as they say. The character of a lone pig is quite intriguing, and like something out of a Disney movie, Oinkers led the cows to the field in the morning and back to the barn at night.

Some pig! Oinkers supervises the heifers in the pasture.
My niece also grew quite fond of Oinkers. I suppose one pig among many cows is quite memorable at the age of 1 1/ 2. She could tell you what a pig said, nearly as soon as she could 'moo'. In fact, it's quite humourous. She is an agvocate in training; I expect she will never let her teacher tell her class that a pink says 'oink'. She's gleaned this not from books or TV, but from the real pig on her daddy's farm. As a result, she grunts and snorts anytime she sees a picture of or someone mentions pig. It's amazing what a little girl picks up from the farm around her.
Of course, I have been referring to Oinkers in the past tense. Animals come and go on the farm all the time. As farmers, we understand and accept this, but I think we also learn to appreciate each one while they're there. Whether a prized show cow or some, random pig, they are all subject to nature and we have each learned the hard way, how fast they can be taken away. Despite what we read in "Charlotte's Web", I think the fate of most pigs is predetermined. Nevertheless, having a pig was a delight for my family and I would be surprised if there was not a new piggy there by spring!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Food Friday: A Visit to Stonewall Kitchen

Recently, bf and I spent a weekend on the New England coast, including a tour of Boston. We had been talking about going forever, so when Porter offered flights at 50% off, it was time to go!

To my surprise, our first destination was also the home of Stonewall Kitchen. When the weather turned foggy and rainy, a visit only seemed appropriate. After all, there was bound to be lots of samples!

Posing with a scarecrow @StonewalKitchen in York, Maine

After navigating through the packed store, tasting every dip, sauce and spread we could, and enjoying lunch from the kitchen at Stonewall Kitchen, we left with a basket of sauces and more. My haul included:
  • Roasted Peach Whiskey Sauce
  • Artichoke Pesto
  • Vidalia Onion Fig Sauce
  • Champagne Shallot Walnut Dressing
  • A few more Christmas gifts....
Back at home, I couldn't wait to try my new pantry treasures. First up, the Vidalia Onion Fig Sauce and the Champagne Shallot Walnut Dressing. The flavour combinations of both sounded so incredibly complex, I couldn't leave these on the shelf. They certainly didn't disappoint either!

The dressing has proven a great compliment to both spinach and mixed green salads. Topped with some orange slices, sunflower seeds (because I throw them on everything), goat cheese and candied onions, and I had an exquisite salad. 

Next, we rubbed a pork tenderloin with salt and pepper, then roast it on the barbecue, glazing regularly with the Vidalia Onion Fig Sauce. It was so mouthwateringly-juicy, we pulled the entire roast a part and nearly ate it all before it even made it to the plate. 

You can check out Stonewall products here. Do you have any gourmet pantry favourites?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

First Guest Post Ever!

If you know me personnally or from Savvy Homegirl, you know I love good food and good wine! My friend, Allie, recently started this excellent wine blog and I was delighted when she asked if I'd provide a post on my wine touring experience!! Check it out, my first guest post, over at Winegloss today!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Happy Thanksgiving

In what has become a Thanksgiving tradition, I found myself in the thick of the harvest action this weekend. Whether it's climate change or a blessing from above, unseasonably high temperatures, dry and sunny weather graced Southern Ontario again this Thanksgiving. Perfect weather to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner on the deck also meant perfect weather for combining. There wasn't a combine sitting still Saturday. My brother counted a dozen on the five-mile trip to the elevator. I even found myself behind the wheel of the combine, and later the grain cart, when there weren't enough bodies to be found to keep the combine, grain truck, seed-drill, and sprayer going.

Fall harvest is my favourite time of year. Golden-brown fields, set against a perfect canvass of red and yellow leaves and a clear, blue sky make every corner look like a page from a magazine. Beyond a doubt, it's stressful. Equipment tends to break and sometimes people tend to not hear all the instructions, but everyone seems to have an air of more optimism about them. The crop is coming off. Grain is going to the elevator.  A years worth of work is coming to fruition.
My niece co-pilots in the combine. Luckily, that paper isn't important anymore.
Despite our best attempts to work straight through the weekend and my mother's stern warning about working on Sunday, He made sure we took a break. The combine broke down long enough Sunday to ensure everyone made it to church, we witnessed the baptism of my cousin's beautiful twin boys, enjoyed an afternoon with family before settling down to relax together at night after milking. By noon today, everyone was back in the field running like clockwork. I set off to catch up with friends, before heading back to the city and another week of travel. It will be at least ten months before I see the harvest fields again, but for now and the coming weeks, it will be engrained in my memory until I make it back to the farm.