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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
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5 Fresh Garlic Recipes for Life

Among the first to be recognized as a medicinal herb, garlic has a history that dates back some 5000 years.

Fresh Garlic
Fresh Garlic

A CBC article suggests eating raw garlic twice a week can cut the chances of lung cancer by almost half. In addition to cancer fighting properties consuming fresh garlic is a wonderful way to boost your immune system. The jury is out whether or not similar results can be achieved with cooked garlic.

Your challenge then becomes how to introduce fresh garlic into your daily diet for a long and healthy life. We know a few garlic devotees who carry fresh garlic with them and routinely chew on a few cloves a day the way some people chew Chiclets. Both difficult to swallow and one should be avoided altogether. So how best to consume fresh garlic?

Add fat. Adding a little fat to fresh garlic better facilitates the uptake of garlic’s goodness, in this case the allicin.

And isn’t just about everything better with a little fat?  Be it butter, pork, your significant other, or olive oil, how can you possible go wrong? Fat is good. Yes, yes it is. In moderation fat is good. We need fat. Just not a ton of it. Dirt is better with butter.

Here are five easy ways to add fresh garlic into your daily diet.


1  Fresh Garlic Bread / Toast:

Fresh Garlic Bread / Toast
Fresh Garlic Bread / Toast

A slice or two of sourdough rubbed with a fresh garlic clove will lend a mild garlic flavour to the bread. For better allicin uptake mince a fresh clove of garlic and combine with a fat-pat of butter or a teaspoon of cold pressed olive oil. Now spread that on your toast and feel the heal. Fast food to help cure your ills. Unlike McProcessed McGarbage.


2  Aioli with Fresh Garlic:

Dip everything in garlic aioli; fresh veggie sticks, taco chips, bread, your finger, whatever.

To make garlic ailoi mix crushed garlic with some simple homemade mayonnaise. Really? Okay.

In a nutshell – Simple Homemade Mayonnaise:

Simple Mayo Ingredients
Simple Mayo Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Up to 1 fat cup of olive oil

Combine the egg and lemon juice in a food processor and blend while slowly pouring in olive oil until emulsified and thick. That will basically do.

Add good stuff like chopped fresh Italian parsley, basil, savory, chervil, tarragon, pickles, or combination thereof to personalize this incredible dip.


3  Pesto with Fresh Garlic:

Freezer Pesto
Freezer Pesto

Every summer farmersdotter scoops up fresh basil from our garden and those of our neighbours. The basil gets washed and dried and is then processed with fresh garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil and pepita (pumpkin) seeds. Pine nuts are awesome but way to expensive for the amount of pesto we consume.

farmersdotter concludes your money is better spent purchasing the best of the rest and if you want to splurge on pine nuts then sprinkle them on top at serving time. Besides, if you toast the pepitas you will achieve a lovely well balanced nutty flavour.

farmersdotter prepares enough pesto to last all year. After processing, the pesto is divided into small batches, enough for a few days, and placed into a container appropriate for freezing.

Some recipes will caution against processing the parmesan and olive if you intend to freeze your pesto but honestly farmersdotter says do it all at the same time. We eat pesto in February and it is as wonderful as pesto freshly prepared in July.

  • 1 pound (6 cups packed) fresh basil
  • 1 – 1/2 cups virginy fat olive oil
  • 1/2 cup roasted pepita (pumpkin) seeds
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 – 8 cloves fresh chopped garlic
  • Salt to taste

This is such a versatile recipe. Experiment with fresh or dried chili peppers to add a layer of interesting heat. Substitute a portion of the basil with Italian parsley for an earthy overtone. In season farmersdotter will use our fresh garlic scape in place fresh garlic cloves.

Regardless of which combination of herbs you choose as your base, a good quality olive oil and parmesan cheese processed with fresh garlic and nicely toasted seeds and or nuts will yield a very satisfying pesto appropriate for freezing. Just what you want in February.


4  Guacamole with Fresh Garlic:

Guacamole Ingredients
Guacamole Ingredients

In a bowl mix all ingredients with a fork until smooth and dip your way to long life and good health!

  • 3-4 cloves of minced garlic.
  • A couple of nicely fat-ripe avocados.
  • 1 medium finely chopped red onion
  • 2-3 seeded Roma tomatoes finely chopped
  • Half bunch of chopped cilantro or Italian parsley.
  • Fresh squeezed lime juice to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Lime zest (optional)


5  Hummus with Fresh Garlic:

Basic Hummus Ingredients
Basic Hummus Ingredients

Simple is best when it comes to preparing hummus with fresh garlic. This is one recipe where you want to resist adding weird shit for the sake of personalizing it. No one cares. Do it simple and do it right.

The only oil used to prepare traditional hummus comes from tahini. If you want to be a purest you can roast off and blend your own sesame into tahini but commercial tahini is just fine. If you desire olive oil then drizzle a little on top of your hummus at plating time. Nice.

For best results use small grained chickpeas. Avoid canned chickpeas and the larger garbanzo beans as they will rarely produce the soft and fluffy texture you want.

Regardless, to achieve a soft and fluffy texture simply soak chickpeas overnight in fresh water enough to cover plus an inch or two. In the morning drain chickpeas and place them in a cooking pot. Again cover with fresh water enough plus an inch or two only this time add a pinch of baking soda. Place pot with chickpeas on a burner and slow boil until tender.

Forget the whole chickpeas have a weird-texture skin-thing going on. The baking soda has taken care of that.

Once your chickpeas are cooked tender, drain and rinse then set aside.

Process tahini, lemon juice, and garlic into a paste. Add chickpeas and process until smooth. Add the necessary salt to taste.

If desired, though not totally necessary, add the cumin and parsley to taste reserving olive oil and paprika for plating.

  • 2 cups chickpea
  • 4 big fat tablespoons of tahini
  • 4 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • 4 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  •  Coarse sea salt to taste
  • Ground cumin to taste (optional)
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped parsley (optional)
  • Olive oil for drizzling (optional)
  • Pinch paprika sprinkled on top after plating (optional)


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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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Decadent Baked Eggnog French Toast

One hears artisan baker stories, especially wood fired artisan baker stories, that success of a ‘good bake’ is reliant upon, barometric pressure, phases of the moon, humanely harvested wood and the sacrifice of all things virginal.

This is our first recipe post, please allow a little indulgence. We’ll get to the recipe in a second…

…We can not say for certain such folkloric commodities have any currency in the bakery. In farmerdotter’s bakery we take science to the bank. Much more precise and the returns are much more predictable.

That is the main reason we have little if any bread left over from a bake. A good, well proportioned recipe not only yields a wonderful product it yields remarkable little waste. The capacity bake for farmersdotter is 60 x 700 gram loaves divided between 6 varieties.

We scale close. So close that less than half a loaf per variety remains after all loaves are placed in the bannetons for their final proof. That is less than 1 kilo on 42 or under 2%. Just enough for a personal nosh.

Fortunately I miscalculated on a recent bake and we ended up with an extra sourdough loaf or twelve. Anyway, after a week or so our bread begins to stale. That is the perfect time to consider french toast.

After some trial and error, farmersdotter has come up with this recipe we think worthy of smothering with expensive butter and real maple syrup.

Baked French Toast
Baked French Toast

First, in order to have enough product to make this recipe you need to consistently over spend on farmerdotter bread. We recommend either Raisin & Anise Rye, Flax to the Max or the Similkameen Sourdough. We think it prudent to try all three. Variety is the spice of life!

I digress…

Decadent Baked Eggnog French Toast:

Yield 8 – 10 servings


  • 8 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cup milk
  • 1-1/4 cup eggnog or…
    • substitute 1 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg, 1 teaspoon grated cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • citrus zest
  • 8-10 slices days-old Sourdough, Flax and/or Raisin Bread


  1. Combine and beat eggs in a bowl.
  2. Add milk, vanilla and eggnog or eggnog substitute to beaten eggs and whisk mixture well.
  3. Place 75% of mixture in a baking dish
  4. Dredge bread slices into mixture and saturate both sides. Cover with remaining mixture then refrigerate, covered, overnight or for at least a few hours.
  5. Place a parchment lined cookie sheet or baking dish into a preheated 375-400 degree oven .
  6. Fry one side of the French Toast in a well buttered skillet on medium-high heat until crispy.
  7. Lightly fry second side to a light brown.
  8. Place fried bread onto parchment lined cookie sheet or baking dish, crispy side up and continue to bake for 30 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly baked.
  9. Remove from oven and top with confectioners sugar and citrus zest.
  10. Serve with butter and real maple syrup.
  11. Sliced banana is nice too!

Baking Notes:

  1. For a crispier finish, add confectioners sugar to the baking dish parchment just prior to placing fried french toast. This will caramelize the sugar to the french toast but the timing must be close to prevent the sugar from burning.
  2. If you choose this method then add your citrus zest after removing the french toast from the oven. High heat may give the citrus zest a bitter aftertaste.
  3. For an interesting diversion read the BBC account of the Great Canadian real maple syrup caper