Tag Archives: Mussels

The Best Ingredients Make The Chowder.

Folks are passionate about their chowder and most will tell you they have the best chowder recipe. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. But you just know the best recipes begin with the best ingredients and farmersdotter has access to the best ingredients in the world. Beginning with shellfish from the Oyster Man. He is the authority on shellfish.

Unless you live on Oyster Man’s delivery route between Cortes Island and The Kootenays you are most likely unaware of him. We are fortunate to be able to buy these amazing fresh bivalves as he passes through the Similkameen Valley en route to Nelson .

Steaming Bowl of Lusty Goodness

Steaming Bowl of Lusty Goodness

Mussels, Clams, and Oysters, nurtured in the chilly waters off the coast of British Columbia. These guys are arguably the finest shellfish available anywhere.

We always buy enough seafood to have a feast the first night knowing the leftovers will become chowder. See our preparation for steamed mussels to get you started. This works well for clams or a combination.

Most every ingredient in farmersdotter chowder recipe is certified organic and sourced from our farming friends and neighbours of Cawston. Only the best.

After feasting on five pounds each mussel and clam and usually a couple dozen fresh shucked oysters, the leftovers are ample enough to yield a couple dozen bowls of chowder.

 

Heirloom Carrots from Honest Food Farm

Heirloom Carrots-Honest Food Farm

Begin by sauteing onions, shallots, and garlic in olive oil and butter on medium-low heat in a very large pot. Like a very large pot.

Throw in celery and carrots. Look at these amazing heirloom carrots we use from Honest Food Farm. If those colours don’t scream clean prostate nothing does. Continue to saute until vegetables are at least fully translucent if not slightly browned.

Next add the broth from the last night’s feast which consisted of sauteed onion and garlic in butter and olive oil with vermouth and white wine then topped with fresh lemon, parsley, shallot and plum tomato.

Now is when you can own this recipe and add any quality ingredient you want. Clean out the fridge. Add some nice heritage fingerling potatoes chopped into cubes for a great bite. To add more umami toss in mounds of sauteed mushroom and a dollop of tomato paste. Go bananas.

Continue to simmer then prior to service add cream. Yes, cream. Certified organic heavy cream. 36% with no fillers or stabilizers. Anything less is not cream, it is a stabilized carrageenan filled wanna be. Check for salt and pepper then serve with an astounding bread and you will have your very own, not to be duplicated best chowder ever.

So search out food producers in your neighbourhood. Get to know them and before you go grab a bottle of wine to share. Grab two. Your best recipes start here.

From the shameless promotion department, we recommend The Oyster Man’s tinned smoked oysters ordered online. They are fabulous. Worth every damn penny.

Om's Lusty Smoked Oysters

Om’s Lusty Smoked Oysters


On Mussels, Clams and Oysters… Oh My!

There is a aquaculturalist well known throughout Southern BC to sea-foodies, and in particular to us shell-fishies as the Oyster Man. His passion for bivalves is intoxicating, and isn’t that just what you want from your aquaculturalist?

Oyster Man is pretty much everything you’d expect from a man of the sea. Solid stature, sparkling sky blue eyes, sea-salt grey and pepper black full beard crowned with the requisite maritime chapeau. Very satisfying. Everyone loves the Oyster Man.

During the Cortes Island shellfish season Oyster Man can been seen from shore hand harvesting his wonderful bounty at low tide. In Oyster Man’s world “when the tide is out, the table is set.”

Photo Credit: Oyster Man

Photo Credit: Oyster Man

We lucky few who live in the Similkameen have access to Oyster Man as he meanders from the Gulf Islands through Manning Park up the Crowsnest Highway to the Kootenays loaded to the gills with fresh mollusks.

It will be 9:00am when Oyster Man temporarily sets up shop at our neighbours organic poultry farm in Cawston. In attendance will be local farmers, foodies and vintners lucky enough to be included at this semi-secret rendezvous.

Imagine sampling and discussing beautiful ocean fresh oysters at 9:00 in the morning. An impromptu tailgate party ensues with Riesling and Chardonnay graciously shared by Little Farm Winery lacated down the street. Orofino Vineyards from up the street will be along in a moment. Talk about bookends. Oyster Man shuck another!

Tailgate Oysters with Little Farm Winery

Tailgate Oysters with Little Farm Winery

Our standing order from Oyster Man is ten pound mussels, five pound clams and a couple dozen small oysters. Upon my return farmersdotter gets right to work debearding the mussels, scraping the clams and shucking the oysters.

The oysters are consumed raw in accordance with Oyster Man’s recommendation: Unadulterated, swimming only in their own nectar. But seeing how Oyster Man is probably past Osoyoos by now farmersdotter can not resist adding finely chopped shallots, from yet another neighbour and fellow shell-fishie, plus fresh squeezed lemon. No honey and, for this one time only, no hot sauce. Thou shalt let the Oyster be.

Oyster Plate

farmersdotter Oyster Plate

The plan is always the same. Feast on fresh steamed mussels tonight and with the leftovers farmersdotter makes the best, and we mean without a doubt the best chowder anywhere. Ever. Period.

The secret to good chowder is simple and begins with the preparation of your mussels and/or clams for steaming. Going forward, and bless you for making it this far, we’ll defer de facto to mussels but the same could be said for clams or combination thereof.

Steaming Mussel Bowl

Steaming Mussel Bowl

Preparation for Steamed Mussels:

5 lb – Mussels

2 – medium red onion, finely chopped

2 – shallot, finely chopped

4 – 6 garlic cloves, minced

4 – roma tomato, seeded and chopped

2 oz – butter, salted

2-3 tablespoon – olive oil

1 cup – dry vermouth or half-decent white wine

Handfull – chopped parsley

To taste – salt and pepper

Lots – lemon/Lime wedge. Hey, Vodka/Gin/Tequila optional

In a huge pot melt butter and olive oil together over medium-high heat. Add garlic, shallot and red onion and saute until translucent.

Now you are going to add the mussels but just before you do tip in the vermouth or half-decent white wine. Or both, what the hell.

Okay, quickly add the mussels, stir and cover to let steam for about five minutes.

Immediately prior to serving add and stir in the tomato and parsley.

Empty everything from the steam pot into a nice crockery serving bowl and crush citrus over the top. Keep some citrus on the side and use liberally for brightening things like your drinks or the mussels at the bottom of the bowl.

It goes without saying that viable mussels will open during the steaming process. Mussels who choose to remain closed should be avoided for being antisocial and potentially toxic.

Enjoy with fresh focaccia or naturally leavened bread for dipping.

It is vital to retain the liquid from the serving bowl in order to make farmersdotter chowder. Next time. Cheers!


First Christmas

We sincerely hope you are having a wonderful Christmas Holiday. We are. The new snowfall in our yard is truly reminiscent of a winter wonderland.

New Snow

New Snow

Our extended family is scattered hither and yon celebrating the season with friends and other family in various locales.

This is our first Christmas on the farm. We selfishly decided to stay put this year and enjoy a little solitude. Consequently it has been very quiet. The down time affords an opportunity to visit with friends and neighbours after a busy harvest. We get together and discuss pertinent issues. We get together and share food items we are passionate about and specialize in.

That can mean anything from the sweetest root veggies to delicious preserves and fabulous dried produce, organic eggs and poultry. The list goes on. We of course delight in breaking our bread. And wine. One can not swing a cat in the Valley without upsetting a bottle or two of Pinot Gris.

So nice to have vintners as friends. Especially considering the Similkameen Valley was recently named by enRoute Magazine as “one of the world’s 5 best wine regions you’ve never heard of,” garnering a staggering 37 medals at the All Canadian Wine Championships.

This week provided a different bounty in a very special way. A fellow known for supplying seafood will occasionally pit-stop in the Valley while on business. Amazing Shellfish. Simply amazing. That coming from a one who spent 40 years on Vancouver Island. From this bounty farmersdotter prepared a simple and elegant shellfish brunch for two.

Christmas Eve Brunch

Christmas Eve Brunch

Fresh Oysters set out in their own liquor on a bed of the aforementioned fresh snow.  Served simply with lemon and finely chopped local organic shallots this dish screamed Pacific Ocean. I like to add a drop or two of warmed local organic honey plus a drop or seven of hot sauce. Franks Red Hot if you please.

Quickly steamed in their own juice with local organic dried tomato, fresh local organic shallots, organic garlic and pinot gris from Orofino Wines, the mussels were plump and sweetly sublime.

At the last minute we decided upon surf and turf so out came a top sirloin from Tony’s Meats & Deli. If you are a carnivore and if you ever get to Penticton you must stop by Tony’s. Tony knows every one of his suppliers, every cut of meat, and every product he purveys intimately. The dude is old school and very proud of what he does. Tony’s staff are fabulous as well. If Tony isn’t in the store you never have to worry.

Lastly, farmersdotter grilled a selection of Olive & Rosemary, Roasted Garlic & Sun Dried Tomato, and Similkameen Sourdough breads to soak up the broth. Everything was served with an ample supply of lemon, fresh organic shallot and wine. That was Christmas Eve.

Imagine the creamy chowder that is going to come from the left over shellfish.

Cheers and Happy Holidays.


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