Monday, May 24, 2010

Oh, Canada - part 1

A couple of weeks ago, my brother and I took off to Canada for a workation. I think this was my last workation. I've done two now, and I've decided that I would just rather take a vacation that doesn't involve work. The principle behind a workation is that you can travel and meet new people for cheap because instead of paying a lot of money, you're working. It's a good option to have. We both heard of WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) from friends and decided that it was high time to take a brother/sister road trip. Brother wanted to practice his French, so Quebec was our destination. We picked out a wonderful family to stay with and started our drive on Mother's Day. (Sorry, Mom!)

On our way up, we made a detour to Ann Arbor, Michigan. I love this city. We walked around, indulged in some much needed bubble tea and picked Conor O'Neill's for lunch. Brother got a roast beef sandwich and I got Conor's Ploughman: Sauteed vegetables served on grilled seven-grain bread with farmhouse cheddar and pesto mayo. It was amazing.

We bunked in a hotel just outside of Toronto, then kept on driving the next day. Our second lunch was had at a hole-in-the-wall pizza shop in Kingston: Paradiso. It was fully loaded and hard to finish, but we did our best.

We made it to the farm after about 950 miles of driving. The family was very warm and welcoming. Brother picked this farm because they have kids about our age, which made things more fun. Our first assignment was to help Mimi, the oldest, cover the greenhouse/tunnel with it's plastic top. After seeing how easily one of these comes together, Brother and I want to build one at home.

Here's the dinner table where we shared three square meals a day. I absolutely loved that they kept a wooden cutting board on the table at all times. It was there for slicing the bread and for keeping hot pots from scorching the tablecloth. We had an abundant salad every evening with dinner, and for breakfast there was fresh homemade bread. Almost everything we ate was organic. Bonus!

Since we did such a good job on the first greenhouse/tunnel, we ripped off and re-covered their other one. It looked so nice when we were finished. We also weeded some of their garlic patch. Their primary crop is garlic. They sell the bulbs, the flowers, and beautiful braids of garlic at their local farmers market.

A couple of evenings we went for a walk/hike on their 150 acre property. The cats were desperate to come with us, but we had to scare them away because they just can't keep up with our pace.

Saturday morning, we were surprised with homemade crepes! I had mine with some real maple syrup, of course (it's Canada after all,) and others were topping their crepes with yogurt and apples. Yum!

They had some chickens in a coop that their grandfather had built. They move their coop daily so the chickens can get new grass and bugs. They especially like grubs found from the gardens.

We went lumber jacking Saturday afternoon. We pulled a couple of fallen trees from the ski/hike trail, chopped them up, and lugged them back for fire wood. The family lets the local cross-country ski lodge use some of their trails for skiers. There are many many trails.

Flippin' cool, fresh milk! Mimi took Brother and I to their dairy farmer friend down the road. He was from Switzerland and his cows were very happy. The family gets their milk from him for wholesale price. Score! You can't get fresher milk than this. And it's raw so it can be digested easier. It tasted magical.

Mimi and I made a pretty dang good dinner Saturday night. We shredded some butternut squash and tossed it with some garlic and olive oil and baked it. The soup was made from the chicken stock that was brewing all day long. It was the best chicken noodle soup I've ever had.

Mimi showed me how to make cream cheese. She's getting into cheese making. She has made goat cheese and feta cheese as well. I used the cream cheese to make a batch of St. Louis Specials. They were a hit with the family after dinner with garden-picked bergamot tea.

Check back on Thursday for part 2 of our Canadian adventures.

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