Artwork and Beer: Collective Arts Brewing

I recently picked up a six pack of State of Mind, the session IPA from Collective Arts Brewing.  Light, citrus flavoured, and full of hops this was an enjoyable pick for me.  It poured a light golden yellow and had a slightly hazy look.

Collective Arts has a few other IPAs and pale ales that’s I’m hoping to try in the future.  The Rhyme & Reason was recommended when I bought this selection so maybe I’ll try it next time.

One of the reasons I was excited about trying this selection was the labels that Collective Arts uses.  The bottles feature limited-run artwork by artists.  Additionally many of the labels are compatible with the Blippar app which allows you to scan the image to learn more about the artwork, artist, or listen to paired music. I loved the uniqueness of each label and the added bonus of being able to learn more about the artist using your phone was a neat surprise. A great conversation piece combined with tasty beer.

At the hundredth meridian where the great plains begin

I’ve had the Hip song “At the Hundredth Meridian” stuck in my ever ever since a friend recommended that Andrew and I try the 100th Meridian Amber Lager by Mill Street.  Neither of us are typically drawn to lager style beers, but our friend said he usually wasn’t a lager fan but still liked the beer.

Brewed at Mill Street’s Toronto Brewpub this selection’s name reflect the fact that it was made with ingredients from west of the 100th Meridian.  I’ve found Mill Street beers hit and miss in the past. But the Meridian was smooth and easy to drink.  It’s a nice middle ground between the very mild Mill Street Organic and the more robust Mill Street Tankhouse.  It has a light body, pours golden-amber and has a distinctive malt smell.  Simple but tasty.

While enjoying the Meridian, Andrew and I fondly recalled our visit to the Mill Street Ottawa Brewpub a few years ago.  Located in a former grist mill, the 140+ year old building is a great example of adaptive reuse of a heritage building.  Well worth the visit if you’re in Ottawa, even if it is a little bit out of the way of downtown.

Sharing and Gardening

One of my favourite parts about having a garden (other than eating the delicious veggies) is sharing produce and talking about gardening with other people.  I love the idea of trading vegetables, sharing bountiful produce, and having a gardening community.

Within our local family and friends we try to share plentiful produce.   This summer we’ve been treated with cucumbers from Andrew’s parents garden – they had far more than they could eat.  We plan to share some of our garlic with local and far away family members.  I also enjoy cooking and sharing meals that were made out of food we grew.  There is nothing more satisfying than eating a meal that you cooked from scratch and that contains the food you laboured over.  Those meals are true works of love — even if the occasional dish ends up being a creative failure.

Some of the best gardening tips and advice I’ve received have been from other local gardeners.  I have tendency to want to read a lot before starting a project. There are a ton of gardening books and blogs out there and beginning to read about a topic like vertical gardening can be a bit like venturing down a rabbit hole.  Which is great but sometimes it’s hard to find suggestions of what will work in our specific climate and soil quirks.  Even locally there is a lot of variation in soil, but local success stories are heartening and highlight the ability to grow such a range of produce in the North.

Where do you turn for gardening advice? Who is your gardening guru?

Volkan Brewery and Greek Debt

GreekDebtAndrew and I are still working our way through our July beer of the month delivery.  This shipment included two selections from the Volkan Brewery in Greece.  One of the most interesting parts of these two beers was a small logo on the side of the bottles which indicated the beer is a certified “Greece Debt Free Product”.

Essentially for each 1 euro of profit Volkan Brewery will help reduce the Greek National debt by 50 euro cent through the purchasing of Greek government bonds in international markets.  More about the Greek Debt Free program can be seen here. Of course the logo caused Andrew to joke that he was being a good global citizen by drinking tasty beer.

The two beer selections from Volkan that we sampled were the Santorini blonde pilsner and the Santorini black lager. Both beers are brewed with Santorini honey. The pilsner was a fairly generic tasting blonde, good on a hot day but nothing spectacular. The black lager was a bit more complex with nutty, mild chocolate malt flavour and accompanying aroma. On a whole I wasn’t overly impressed with the Volkan beers, but they did make for interesting conversation around economics and social conditions.

So far in cases where the beer of the month delivery included an Ontario and an Italian or Greek beer both Andrew and I have preferred the Ontario brew.  It seems like this was the case in July as well.

Pole vs Bush Beans

This year has included many gardening firsts at Oslicken Acres.  One of those firsts included the planting of pole beans.  In the past Andrew and I have planted both green and yellow bush beans.  These have typically grown well and provided us with lots of tasty beans — some years so many beans that we’ve blanched and frozen beans to enjoy over the winter.

This years we planted both bush and pole beans.  Andrew built two vertical gardening trellis as part of our square foot gardens which have worked really well.  I loved watching the pole beans grow and slowly inch up the trellis.  Ascetically pole beans are a beautiful plant. They are delicate climbers and the small flowers they grow are lovely.

The bush beans in our garden were ready a couple of weeks ago and we’re just starting to enjoy the first tastes of pole beans.  The timing worked out great.  We’ve had lots of produce but not so much that any of it is going to waste.  I have future plans for a tree sisters vertical garden – which will include pole beans.  Andrew and I have also talked about other decorative trellises or arches covered in climbing veggies.  Never ending construction projects for Andrew — or maybe just a trip to a garden centre.

Garden Tomatoes

tomatoOur tomato plants are crowded this year. We put too many plants into too little space in the square foot garden.  But despite these close living quarters the plants are producing tasty fruit.  Andrew isn’t a huge fan of tomatoes. He doesn’t mind tomato products like pasta sauce and can tolerate small cooked bits of tomato.  But it’s definitely not his food of choice.  So even a moderate harvest is enough for us.  Though I do like the years where there are enough tomatoes that I can freeze some and pull them out to make chili or sauce in the winter.

I love garden fresh tomatoes.  Tomatoes in season taste so much better than the bland tomatoes from the grocery store during the winter months.  This year I purchased three tomato plants from a vendor at Mill Market.  They turned into very healthy, thriving plants that have been doing well despite out error in how we planted them. Bring on the toasted tomato sandwiches.

Natural Heritage: Pancake Bay

PancakeBay

Pancake Bay

A few weeks ago we went on our first camping adventure visited Pancake Bay Provincial Park for the first time.  Pancake is located on the shore of Lake Superior, has more than 3 km of sand beach, hiking and nature trails, and a location on the paddling route of the Voyageurs.  The shoreline is beautiful, the park is well maintained, and there is educational signage throughout. The only downside of the location of the park is that is right next to the Trans-Canada highway, so on a still night you can hear transport trucks on the road.  During the first night of our stay Lake Superior was so rough all you could hear was the sound of the lake – it was a great example of the power of the big lake.

While at the park we explored the campground area and the Pancake Bay Nature Trail.  Many of the central points in the campground have educational signage about wildlife, Lake Superior, and the surrounding natural environment.  It was nice to see this natural heritage education material being included in central areas so that even those who don’t participate in formal programming could read about the area.

Pancake Bay Nature Trail

The nature trail was an easy 3.5 km walk that included views of the shoreline, forested areas, and a boardwalk through a wetland.  The interpretive signage through this natural heritage was well done and had a lot of educational information about the ancient beach ridges, rock formations, flora and fauna, and water.  There was one sign that had fallen down and there was a section of the trail that was extremely muddy.  The muddy section looked like it could use some signage or physical maintenance.

Pancake Bay Park staff also run a natural heritage education program during the summer months.  The timing of the guided walks and educational programs didn’t work for us, but it was great to see the signage relating to these events and I hope they are well participated in.  One of the programs while I was visiting included a guided walk on the beach and a discussion about the history of the Voyageurs in the area.

So far I’ve only visited a handful of Provincial Parks in Ontario but Pancake Bay was by far the most popular park I’ve visited. There are drawbacks and upsides to this popularity.  On the plus side there was a lot more educational signage and interpretive programming available in the park.  On the downside the natural heritage is heavily influenced by people and you’re bound to run into others when exploring the landscape.  Regardless, it was an enjoyable visit.

This post was cross-posted from Krista’s heritage focused blog at kristamccracken.ca

Lilies in Abundance

lilies1I have recently become moderately obsessed with our flower gardens.  And Andrew can attest to my unexplained love of lilies.  I’ve dragged him outside on more than one occasion to go look at lilies that have recently come into bloom in our garden.  For the past few years our flowerbeds have included both yellow and orange day lilies. We also have a couple tiger lilies that were accidentally translated in a hosta plant from my parents.lilies2

But I recently discovered Asiatic Lilies and have gone a bit crazy over them.  Last year we planted Asiatic lilies and oriental hybrid lilies from bulbs last year so it’s been a bit of a surprise to see what they look like as they start to bloom.  I love the colour and the number of blooms that come on a single plant.  They also seem to require very minimal maintenance. A definite win in the flowerbeds at Oslicken Acres.

Square Foot Garden Update

20150719_142120As I mentioned earlier Andrew and I are trying our hands at Square Foot Gardening for the first time this year.  When I last wrote we were thrilled with how quickly we were able to plant the garden.  It’s now mid summer and our new gardens are thriving.  We’ve already been treated to lettuce, radishes, marigolds, and chamomile in abundance and many of the other plants are thriving.

The smaller garden is also making it much easier to stay on top of the weeds.  Normally by this point in the gardening season the weeds are out numbering the plants and we’re struggling to keep the traditional style garden under control.  Andrew and I have found that the smaller gardens are much easier to stay on top of and that weeding is no longer as time consuming.

We were using this year as a trial of the square foot garden method and built two beds to start.  Based on how well things are going we are considering building a couple more beds for next year — more construction projects on Andrew’s never ending list. One thing we will do differently next year is the number of tomato plants per square foot.  As you’ll notice by the picture below our tomato plants are huge and are taking over the one bed.  We’ll definitely give each plant more space in the future.20150719_142110

Living Local: Shabby Motley

Deliciousness from Shabby Motley.

Deliciousness from Shabby Motley.

This is the second post in the Living Local Series. The first post in this series featured Outspoken Brewing and can be found here.

Shabby Motley is a yarn shop, cafe, and funky hangout out space on Queen Street.  Coincidentally it is located right next door to Outspoken Brewery, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.  The store is filled to the brim with every type of fiber and yarn a crafter could ask for.  But, given how crazy long it’s taken me to approach completion of my latest knitting project I haven’t indulged in too many of the beautiful yarns offered by Shabby.  My goal is to finish using up some of the yarn I already own before I stockpile more.

But, even if you aren’t a knitter or fiber artist Shabby Motley is a pretty neat space.  They have delicious baking, locally roasted coffee from St. Joseph Island Coffee Roasters, and delicious sandwiches.  The staff are super friendly and helpful.  It’s an inviting space that makes me want to knit more every time I visit the shop.

The shop’s facebook account is also pretty awesome and hilarious at times — and they are constantly posting inciting photographs of tasty treats.  I am very happy to see a local business like Shabby thriving in Sault Ste Marie’s downtown core. Definitely a local gem.

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