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On Gluten Free

Gluten free. At what cost?

Gluten Free
Gluten Free

There are a lot of gluten intolerants out there. As we zoom around the neighbourhood peddling our bread and products there seems more people who purport a sensitivity to gluten. First off full blown gluten sensitivity, properly diagnosed as celiac disease is serious stuff but the whole gluten free movement smacks of a trend.

Gluten libertarians will confess they are not celiac but have gluten sensitivity. We have briefly written on this subject so we won’t repeat ourselves here. Most recent gluten free converts will impart a sincere desire to improve their health by eliminating gluten from their regime as integral to adopting a better diet. Trend or no thank God there is a growing awareness to improve ones diet.

But at what cost? There is a myriad of gluten free recipes which are excellent at eliminating gluten from a diet but not everyone is in a position to prepare each recipe at home from scratch.  So one must rely upon ready packaged foods from a local purveyor to acquire gluten free products.

This is where the real cost is revealed because some gluten free alternatives include alarming amounts of GMO additives primarily from corn and soy. Most corn and soy based foods are made with GMO.

No one is sure of the risks involved in eating a diet containing GM corn and soy but a recent report from The Guardian indicates feeding GM corn to rats resulted in an increase of developing tumors, organ damage and premature death.

Until comprehensive product labeling legislation is introduced to illuminate GMO ingredients choosing gluten free products requires you to assume that if the label mentions corn or soy there is an 85% probability the product is GMO.

Recommended reading on the Rise of Gluten Intolerance, Gluten Free Information and Genetically Modified Foods

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Sunday Salute #2

The weekly tip ‘o the hat, congratulations and Sunday Salute goes to Kal Tire. In particular the Kal Tire in Penticton. farmersdotter and I were cruising about town yesterday and ended up at the Penticton Community Centre for a relaxing swim, steam, and sauna before heading home around 4:30pm. We got to the parking lot when farmersdotter noticed a flat tire on the truck.

Not being one to shy away from a little adversity I immediately got the jack and tire iron from our little Isuzu,


lowered the spare and set about changing the tire. In no way could I loosen the lug nuts. With time running out and an expired BCAA card in the wallet, farmersdotter said she’d call the local Kal Tire. We’ve dealt with them in the past and thought it might be worth a try.

Well Kal Tire responded within 10 minutes.  Took a trip back to the shop with our tire, returned with it repaired, reinstalled it and we were on the road in about an hour. As it turns out our Japanese right hand drive Isuzu has split rims and tubed tires so this was not a standard flat tire fix.

Anyway, the point is for all this service, and with a smile, there was no charge. You heard right. No charge.

We have dealt with Kal Tire for years. Be it Fort St. John, Kelowna, or Penticton. Each time we require new tires we go to Kal Tire. Every time we swap out winter and summer tires or require a tire rotation we go to Kal Tire.  And because the original purchase was with them there has always been no charge for follow up service and always fabulous service.

But this was different. Close of the end of the business day on a Saturday and the tire in question came with the purchase of the truck and not from Kal Tire. The young fellow who attended us is named Chris. A nicer young lad you’d be hard pressed to find. Upon leaving us he explained that everyone “has bad luck now and then so no charge.”

I’d open my wallet for these guys and but they refused to take it. We love Chris and we love Kal Tire.

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Saturday Slam #2

Folks who know farmersdotter and her loyal boy toy, know we advocate voting with your wallet to effect real change. That is exactly what we are about to do as the weekly spotlight of the Saturday Slam shines upon Rogers, one of the three piddle poor wireless/internet bears Canadians must endure.

Roger, Telly & Bell Boi
Roger, Telly & Bell Boi

The reasons for this slam are so well known as to be universal and in no way proprietary to Rogers. Poor customer service and technical support is the norm among most Canadian providers. Its just that at the moment Rogers is our provider so they bear the face of this slam.

A quick glance at a recent survey from J.D. Power and Associates tells the potential nightmare Canadians face every time we call for help from any of these providers.

Three years previous our wallet closed on Telus. We can not in all good conscience open it for Bell. If Bell were set apart from the other two we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Twice burnt. The devil you know or the devil you don’t want to know.

So we may have to look beyond the den for a service provider. That will be difficult given the top alternative providers are only slightly less scatological mini-me’s of their ursine parents: Rogers begat Fido, Bell spawned Virgin and Telus hatched Koodo. 

Fido, Kooie & Lil' Virgil
Fido, Lil’ Virgil, & Kooie

Not many good things being said about the independent providers in Canada either. Seems they all aspire to have a den of their own. That and they all lack the infrastructure to make them widely competitive. SaskTel has some good press. Not moving to Saskatchewan anytime soon. Go Riders!

We are dependent upon our cell phones because part of the whole closing the wallet on Telus three years ago thing meant we give up our land line. No choice.

Where we live Telus is the only land line provider. Even if there are alternate land line providers out there hidden from our scope they would all have to employ their infrastructure from Telus.

We would love to know your experience with Canadian service providers.

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On Ten Foot Poles

farmersdotter’s bakery oven was built by Alan Scott. As the story goes, around the turn of the century there was a proposal that a communal wood fired oven be erected at the Grist Mill.

Grist Mill
Grist Mill

The idea struck a chord with some locals and a plan was rolled out to secure native Australian Alan Scott, the leading authority of his time on wood fired oven design and construction, and have him travel to the Grist Mill site and lead a workshop on how to build a wood fired oven. The Grist Mill in turn would presumably benefit from the oven and all that it entails.

For reasons unknown the Grist Mill site fell through, most likely due to conflicts with Mill’s heritage status but that is only this writer’s humble opinion. The search was on for an alternate venue. It was then fellow Australian and previous owner agreed to host the workshop on what was to become our farm. The oven was built. It then lay dormant and cold up until last year.  This year farmersdotter is regularly baking traditional naturally leavened bread in this fabulous oven.

With a baking hearth of  72″ X 96″ the oven is one of the largest Alan Scott designs capable of baking over sixty loaves a time. We routinely bake up to three batches per firing. We haven’t tried for four batches but feel confident we could.  Alan Scott oven plans, books, and information on workshops are available from  Oven Crafters.

Oven Interior
Alan Scott 72″ X 96″ baking hearth courtesy            UK Wood-Fired Oven Forum

One question we are often asked is where we build the fire to heat the oven. The answer is on the floor of the baking hearth. For pizza and bagels one could bake with a live fire on the hearth but for our sour dough recipes we remove the fire from the oven.  When the oven reaches 600 to 700 Fahrenheit and only embers remain we close the oven with a home made plug…

Home Made Plug
Home Made Plug

…to allow the temperature to moderate throughout the baking chamber.

After a few hours we unplug the oven and scrape forward ash and coals employing our Ten Foot Pole Scraper…

Ten Foot Poles
Ten Foot Poles: Peel and Scraper

…and let them drop into the ash pit located at the front of the hearth. The oven hearth is then cleaned or ‘scuffled’ with a water soaked towel attached to the end of yet another Ten Foot Pole.

I have always wanted to justify using the term ‘Ten Foot Pole’ and now I have. I can rest happy. Cheers!

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Sunday Salute #1

The weekly Sunday Salute, Tip ‘o the Hat, and Congratulations goes to the UBCO School of Nursing for presenting a fabulous Global Gala at the Laurel Packing House in Kelowna. Money raised at last night’s gala will help nursing students bring health care supplies to Africa.

Global Gala 2012 - presented by UBCO Global Nursing Citizens
Global Gala 2012 – presented by UBCO Global Nursing Citizens

There was a fabulous Chicken Curry for dinner with apple crumble dessert. To begin a fresh fruit plate and wonderful local braided bread were laid out on each table. Must say the evening went on without a hitch and was very well paced. Considering the venue does not have a commercial kitchen and out of necessity the dinner had to be prepared at various approved offsite kitchens there was potential for hick-ups but the delivery of dinner was flawless. Having dinner catered by so many future nurses all dressed in basic black was a bonus. At least for this farmer.

One very cool discovery was the beer supplied by Firehall Brewery. On tap were their Stoked Ember Ale and the Holy Smoke Stout. Think I have a new favorite brew.

Cheers to all the organizers and supporters of last nights gala. To paraphrase a presentation from one eloquent speaker last evening… even in the absence of medical supplies and support it is important we show up every year because at the very least it gives hope.