Friday, January 29, 2010

Brambling On

Don't forget about the Brambles Challenge.  Today and tomorrow are your last days to shop.  Spend more than five dollars or less than five dollarsLet me know what you bought in a comment over at the Five Dollar Brambles Challenge before February 1, 2010, and you could be the grand prize winner of a five dollar Brambles gift certificate.  Good luck!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

International House of Oatcakes

Most years, just before Christmas,  my friend L from Sleeping Cougar Acres and I get together to do our holiday baking.  This year, in addition to the customary chocolate gingerbread and butter tarts, we added honey bun bread and Scottish oatcakes to our repertoire.

Though we did use a recipe for the oatcakes, there wasn't much Scottish about them by the time we finished. 

We used a cookie-dough scoop to ensure our oatcakes were a uniform size.  Somehow I can't imagine my Scottish ancestors needing a cookie-dough scoop to make their oatcakes.  The German-made scoop was the first touch of global flair.


Our oatcakes drifted even further from their Scottish roots when we ditched the rolling pin recommended in the recipe.  Instead, we flattened the dough in a tortilla press - a tortilla press made in Taiwan no less.  These were becoming rather cosmopolitan oatcakes.

Once out of the tortilla press, L cut the rounds into wedges with a pizza cutter. I don't know where the pizza cutter was made, but it certainly added an Italian feel to an already international experience.  

If you consider that the whole process was carried out by two Canadian women, I think it's safe to say that these oatcakes couldn't be considered Scottish any more.  They were more of a Scottish-Canadian-Italian-Taiwanese-Mexican-German oatcake.  They were the United Nations of oatcakes.  And they were yummy.  In fact, I liked them so much I asked Santa Hubby for my own tortilla press.  Lucky for me the man takes a hint well, and there was a shiny new tortilla press under the tree for me.  

Oatcakes have since become a staple in our house.  I make them regularly to replace store-bought crackers.  Each time I make them they stray a little bit further from their Scottish roots.  I made some this morning that included olive oil, ground flax seeds, whole flax seeds and cumin.  I topped them with some coarse kosher salt, and once they were baked L came over and helped me eat them with homemade hummus.   I have the feeling we're not in Scotland anymore!

Note:  Today's post was fueled by Smokehead Islay Single Malt Scotch Whiskey.  I don't usually drink while I'm writing, as it seems rather clichéd, but today each time I wrote "Scottish" my brain heard "scotch". When I couldn't stand it any more I went and poured myself a wee dram. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Contented Cows?

"Comox Valley Beef, raised on pasture and finished with grain from Surgenor's Brewery."

The above quote is taken from a packet of stewing beef that I picked up at Brambles Market last week.  Some day I'm going to have to find out about the grain they feed these cattle.  Is it a by-product of the brewing process?  Does that mean it's been fermented?  If so wouldn't it still contain some alcohol content?  Talk about your contented cows!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dairy Police

Was out with friends last night. During the course of discussion, one women revealed that she has access to unpasteurized milk. I was teasing her, calling her a scofflaw, and asking if she was worried about being arrested by the dairy police. Another friend pointed out that it wasn't illegal to drink raw milk, though it is illegal to sell it in Canada. Odd. You'd think law enforcement officials would want to quash the demand and therefore wipe out the need for a supply. Don't they use the same logic with drugs and prostitution? Shouldn't there be a similar branch of police work devoted to investigating illegal milk users? I imagined undercover cops dressed like cows trying to entrap raw milk addicts. There was even a brief enactment of how such a scenario might go down. Did I mention I have rather silly friends? 

For a more serious look into the pros and cons of raw milk check out this CBC News article.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

“We’ll Make Great Pets”

I saw this trailer for "Daybreakers" a while ago. I haven't seen the film, but the clip shows vampires farming humans for their blood in a rather horrifying facility. No green pastures for us! Kind of makes me think about factory farming in a new way. Maybe we should be setting a better example for whatever comes after us. When it's our turn to be exploited as a food source, we're going to wish we'd modeled more humane practices.

Note: The title is a quote from Pets by Porno for Pyros.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Five Dollar Brambles Challenge

Hello and a very belated Happy New Year! 

I haven't written in so long I feel like my writing muscles have seized up.  In an attempt to ease myself back into a routine without injuring myself,  I've decided have a little fun with this first post of the decade.  

Retail sales tend to slump in January, as people suddenly become frugal after over-indulging in December.  Downtown Courtenay businesses have been hit particularly hard this year.  Media coverage of local flooding, while providing us with some impressive photos (my favourite is of people canoeing across a baseball diamond), has shoppers thinking twice before heading into town.  This made my shopping yesterday particularly easy, as I had the stores pretty much to myself, but it left me rather concerned about some of our local retailers.

In an effort to generate some business for my favourite downtown Courtenay shop, I'm challenging those of you in the Comox Valley to brave the (receded) flood waters, take five dollars from your change jar and head to Brambles for a little grocery shopping.  I'm willing to bet your biggest challenge will be limiting your spending to five bucks. 

Now here's where the little bit of fun comes in.  I'm making this challenge into a little contest.  Go to Brambles, spend your five dollars and leave a comment here telling me what day you were there and what you bought.  Make sure you include a name or a nickname with your comment, because I'm going to randomly select one person and send them a five dollar Brambles gift certificate.  (I told you it was a little contest.)  I'll choose my winner on February 1, 2010, so make sure you do your shopping and leave your comment before the end of this month.  If you visit Brambles more than once between now and January 31, feel free to leave a comment after each visit.  

Now go, empty those pockets, scrounge under your sofa cushions and dig to the bottom of your purse.  Do whatever it takes to scrape together your five dollars and get shopping.  I look forward to seeing your comments here soon.