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Would You Like Tortillas With That?

To consume a meal in Mexico without corn tortillas is rare. Tortillas are plentiful and cheap. Chances are anything made with a corn ingredient anywhere in the world is made from GMO corn. No getting around it. Nasty stuff but there you have it.

farmersdotter and I vote with our wallet and prefer to support organics and the local fair trade economy. One does the best one can.

That being said you can purchase a kilo of fresh tortillas anywhere in Tulum for about $9.40 pesos and you can by a wheat flour bun for $1.20 pesos or ten cents each.

Either way that is high carb cheapness. Seeing how we are all about the gluten and not GMO we choose to buy fresh leavened buns every day from the mercado or the street vendors who parade the streets on bikes or motos all day and night.

Pollo asado al carbon or BBQ chicken is available everywhere in Tulum from vendors on the main avenue to private stands that spill out onto the street. The private family run operations are easily equal to the store front ones. Pork, beef and seafood are plentiful as well.

From about 8 am until well into the evening Grandma and the grand kids will be slapping whole split birds onto the grill to satisfy eager street dwelling carnivores. Each morsel flavoured with the families own unique rub. Always good and always moist.

One taste of these home grilled pieces of juicy goodness and you know these aren’t Tyson’s over injected chemical monster birds that can’t stand on their own two boney feet. These are dense meat birds. A meal that can easily feed two to four comes complete with sides of rice, slaw, hot sauce, peppers, pasta and of course tortillas. We ask our purveyor to skip the tortillas and substitute a little more rice.

A whole pollo meal will cost 100 to 130 pesos depending wether you dine in or take away. We found one delicious pollo place in a nearby colonia that offers a two for one take away deal every Sunday. Holy crap. Why would one cook at home?

To make this two for one deal work within our ‘prepare meals at home’ budget we combine all the ingredients in a bowl.


Remove the meat from the bone and place in the mixing bowl.

Add the sides; slaw, pasta, rice and hot stuff to taste. To this we also add fresh chopped tomato, and cucumber.


Divide the mixture in half. One half you keep in the fridge to use in the first few days. Simply add mayo and mustard to make this a great sandwich mix.

The second half you will freeze without the mayo and mustard for later use.

Add the cost of a bun, fresh veg and condiments you have 10 tasty meals for under $1.25 CDN each.

Take that to the beach!


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On Funnel Farming and Hearty Stock

Fast food isn’t about food. Fast food is about funneling food en masse to folks who believe they are too preoccupied or too incompetent to cook for themselves. A person who identifies either as a reason for not utilizing their kitchen has their priorities or brain out of balance. Why else would one entertain fast food. Convenience? Lazy git.

Lazy Git
Lazy Git

Forgive me: In our society it should be mandatory for every student to study Home Economics. We have a responsibility to every young person in this country to ensure they all have an opportunity to exit high school with a clear and basic understanding of meal preparation, land stewardship and conservancy, personal health care and hygiene, personal income tax preparation and respect for their elders.

Where were we? McFake fast food. Today, Big Agra has become so proficient as funnelers of food that the fast food industry exists more for stock holders desirous of dividends than anything resembling stewardship. Funnel farming operates with little regard for the health and well being of the farmer or the land.

There is a solution. Get to now your kitchen. We can think of no better way to begin in the kitchen than the ability to prepare yourself a wonderful stock. Something as simple as boiling down roasted chicken bones to yield a nutrient packed stock for soup, gravy or sauce will make your life better. Its true. Life is just better when a hearty stock in is in the picture.

Hearty Chicken Stock
Hearty Chicken Stock

Your homemade stock is the beginning of slowing down the Food Funnel effect which is a good thing.

We favour chicken stock that incorporates an Asian flair. Here is how its done in farmersdotter’s kitchen:

Basic Hearty Chicken Soup Stock:

Yield: 6-8 litres

What you’ll need:

8-10 litres water

3-4 pound organic free-range chicken with the nasty bits

2 large onion peeled and cut in half

4-6 carrots pealed and roughly chopped

8-10 celery stalk roughly chopped

7 large cloves of garlic

salt & pepper to taste

For an Occasion Make It Asian and Add: 

3 ounces sliced fresh ginger

2 whole star anise

6-8 cloves

1 ounce cinnamon stick

3 ounces light brown sugar

2 tablespoons fish or oyster sauce

1 bunch of cilantro

What you’ll want to do:

1: If you have cooked your chicken remove meat from the chicken bones, and set aside for later use in soup. If not, you can place your chicken pieces into the pot and remove the poached meat later. Regardless, place the bones, basic ingredients, and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a slow simmer. Cover and continue to simmer for up to 12-18 hours. Check the water level and periodically add water to ensure bones are covered in liquid.

Make Mine Asian:

Simply add the Asian Ingredients to the basic process. To further enhance the experience try to put a light char on the vegetables. Either quickly fry or roast vegetables on high heat. Better still, and loads more fun, place cut vegetables on a foil lined cookie tray and scorch the exposed flesh with the open flame from a crème brûlée torch. In addition it is always a good idea to toast spices immediately prior to use. You can accomplish this in a hot, dry, non-stick fry pan but mind you don’t over do this step. Burnt spice is not desirable.

2: After your stock has simmered and developed intense aroma and colour let it cool. Strain your stock into a large container and chill. Fat will rise and congeal on the top. As much as we like all things fat it is important to skim the fat from the top and discard. It has served its purpose and any healthy fats are exhausted. Keep stock refrigerated until use. Simply ladle out your stock and reheat with noodles and chicken or tofu. Top with scallion, crushed chilli and lime. Voila, instant pho ga.

Served with a healthy dish of broccoli sauteed with ginger, garlic and oyster sauce you have a quick wonderful meal made from your hearty stock.

Pho Ga
Pho Ga

farmersdotter loves to visit Marc Matsumoto’s No Recipes for inspiration. His blog will instill confidence and the technique you need to cook well and cook often. Cheers!

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A Bad Moment in an Otherwise Good Day

How many people can say they had only one bad day in their whole life? Just one bad day. Certainly not I.

A neighbour of ours…

I know. I refer to everyone in Cawston as a neighbour but Cawston you see is very small. Hard not be a neighbour here. One could say the community is insignificant were in not for the diverse makeup of residents who choose to call Cawston home.  Plus the fact that Cawston wears the mantle of the Organic Farming Capital of Canada. Not Saltspring Island. Cawston. Saltspring is Randy Bachman and everything rammed earth and yurt. Cawston is the Organic farming Capital of Canada. That is what the sign on the Highway says.

Highway Sign
Highway Sign

Even the Wikipedia entry on Cawston in insignificant. We are unincorporated. We do not have a community website. The URL mentioned in the photo is cleverly disguised as “404-Page not found”. We do have a Community Hall.  But again no website. Saltspring Island has a website. Perhaps as it should be. I digress.

… a neighbour of ours is Blackbird Organics. They are certified organic by S.O.O.P.A. for assorted ground crops, tree fruit, chickens, and eggs.

farmersdotter loves the free range eggs and chicken from Blackbird Organics. The eggs are fabulous. Rich and creamy with a brilliant orange yolk. The chickens are simply sublime. Every day is a day of free range fulfillment under a full sky for Blackbird’s….birds. Right up until the last day. Even then the last day really isn’t that bad. It is merely a bad moment in an otherwise good day. The moment when it was decided thou shalt end up on my plate. Perhaps as it should be. I have had more than one bad day.

Regardless, there is no duplicating the wonderful taste and texture of a free range organic bird.

To successfully roast a good organic bird requires no wizardry. farmersdotter favours a brined bird. Succulent saltiness is what we’re after and there is no other way to achieve this. Deep fry?  Deep frying a whole bird is so wrong on so many levels. There isn’t enough alcohol on Sunday football to get me to deep fry a whole bird. Yes, I have sampled whole deep fried Chicken. Not lovin’ it.

Simply brine your chicken or turkey in a container that will accept the whole bird.  We use a 20 litre food safe container. The process is forgiving but time consuming. Most important is the brine solution which consists of 1 cup kosher salt dissolved into every 4 litres of water. It is crucial the whole bird be submerged in the brine solution and appropriately chilled for the entire time.

Brine a roasting chicken for at least 4 hours while a turkey can be brined from 12 to 18 hours. After you remove the bird from the brine and have allowed it to drain, pat dry as best you can then return the bird to the refrigerator and set for a few more hours. This will nicely dry out the skin enabling it to crisp up better in the oven.

Organic Roast Chicken
Organic Roast Chicken

Preheated oven to 400 degrees and first place bird breast side down on a roasting rack and set in oven. This is to allow juices to seep down into the breast.  Remove the bird from the oven after 1/2 hour and flip so the breast side is up and continue to roast for 1/2 hour. Check temperature. The bird should be close to done. Remember there will be residual cooking and  again, a brined bird it is virtually impossible to dry out.

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If its Gluten Free it ain’t Bread

“Is this bread gluten free?” A question we are often asked by well meaning albeit maybe visually challenged gluten free cheerleaders. We love you guys and truly believe in your gluten sensitivities but first of all, if its gluten free it ain’t bread. Bread has gluten. Yes? Yoghurt has active bacterial culture; bread has gluten. Call it want you want; cardboard, drywall, or insulation but ‘gluten free’ is a descriptor that disqualifies a loaf as real bread. Tofu ain’t chicken no matter how much you try.

Tofu Wiener
Tofu Wiener – Courtesy Thomas Pluck
Cheap photo shot? True, but you got this far so might as well keep calm and carry on…
Next time you see a loaf of bread of any size or loft, call it oven spring, it is not gluten free. Our bread is lofty. You can see that.
Lofty Sour-Dough
Lofty Sour-Dough

Gluten free bread is kinda flat. Opposite of lofty. You can see that too.

Gluten-Free Raspberry Tea Bread - Courtesy Melting Your Mouth
Gluten-Free Raspberry Tea Bread – Courtesy Melting Your Mouth

Second, we believe commercial yeast is also at blame. In a gluten free nutshell here is why. Commercial yeast is designed to react very quickly and doesn’t allow sufficient time for enzymes to break down starch molecules. That means your digestive system must work very hard to finish the process of breaking down the starches and in some people that can lead to a bloated feeling. Hence the term gluten sensitivity. A naturally leavened bread like ours mitigates that demand on your digestive system and thus can be better tolerated.

Out of the nutshell here is the same thing as explained by the  Real Bread Campaign for basement dwelling, Frito-Lay munching nerds.

True sourdough breads are made using a starter that contains a culture of naturally occurring yeasts and lactobacilli or lactic acid bacteria.  The yeasts produce carbon dioxide (CO2) that makes the bread rise and the bacteria produce lactic and acetic acids that affect characteristics including taste, texture and sourness of the finished bread.  In the right quantity, the acids also act as a preservative, slowing the onset of mould – a much more natural method than the spraying of calcium propionate that many modern factory loaves get.

From a hundred or more species of yeasts, saccharomyces cerevisiae (brewer’s sugar fungus) is the one usually predominant in sourdough cultures, the same species that’s sold as fresh, dried or instant bakers’ yeast. The main difference is that these industrialised versions are specific strains that have been bred (or even spliced together using GM technology) for characteristics such as speed and/or volume of CO2 production…   © 2009 The Real Bread Campaign.

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farmersdotter Chicken Wire Floor Stencil

farmersdotter decided while we wait to complete renovations she would like to paint the entry way floor. Eventually we plan on tiling the concrete base but for now farmersdotter thought it nice to hand fashion a chicken wire stencil from mylar and try her hand at faux paint

farmersdotter Stenciled Floor
farmersdotter Stenciled Floor
farmersdotter Floor in Progress
farmersdotter Floor in Progress