pumpkin pie’d

It’s that time of year when pumpkins dot farm fields here in Prince Edward County, additional to those lovely vineyards dripping with grapes and birdnetting. Pumpkin lends a silent reminder of the days when this area was renowned as”The Garden County of Canada”, producing,canning and shipping massive amounts of tomatoes, peas, beans, corn and yes, pumpkin. See about how history lives here, or talk to oldster folks you hold a door open for in town …they might tell you of those tough times of working for 12 cents a day. Kudos to Mill Pond Cannery and Preserves of Bloomfield, for their delicious products that honour that rich agricultural history rather deliciously.

Here are recipes I developed for Foodland Ontario, for Pumpkin Pie with a Cookie Crumb Crust, and Thai Custard Steamed in a Pumpkin. It hadn’t occurred to me to cook pumpkins for making puree WITH the skin on, until some family-farm friends in West Lake mentioned they’d always done it that way…for preserving a brighter colour (and not having to get out the veggie peeler). Imagine eating a dessert that boasts enough Beta Catotene to actually be GOOD for you !

The Wellington Pumpkinfest makes for a great outing on Sat.Oct 16, and a chance to meet local growers of some really mammoth specimens the festival is known for (with winning seeds having been sold far and wide).

pumpkn-pie-crumbphoto by Michael Waring

food styling and recipe by Ruth Gangbar /  Foodland Ontario

Bill Greer, founder of Wellington Pumpkinfest
Bill Greer, founder of Wellington Pumpkinfest

While you’re visiting, check out the Wellington Heritage Museum (open from April-Oct) to see the “Douglas A. Crawford Cannery Industry Exhibit”, before heading to Rosehall Run Winery and  tasting on Greer Road (or see their wines served gloriously at the Slow Food fundraiser at the Brickworks 4th Annual Picnic in T.O on Oct 3). The wineries of the County are gaining acclaim;  I even heard tell of  a local Port in the works at Karlo Estates Winery…so there. Calvados, pleaaase? Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

photo by Will.P.  on  Flicker

photo by Willi P. on Flickr (and more shots here)

The Harvest by Gudrun Gallo

The Harvest   by Gudrun Gallo

terrine, crostini, port jelly

More samples of images we captured for his premier cookbook project,  Mark Mcewan’s Great Food at Home….


I still haven’t seen my copy yet, but the buzz is intriguing.

Launch party this weekend….


photography James Tse food styling Ruth Gangbar prop styling Laura Branson

Hmmm, if the launch wasn’t happening this weekend, it might have been  Taste  a celebration of regional cuisine here in Picton that would have stolen my attentions for a few delicious minutes. The Fall is magnificent, even if I only grab a few days here and there between photoshoots. Next week we’ll be working on another issue of The County Grapevine Magazine, and it’s new sister publication The Niagara Grapevine. { Psssst….anyone want to trade good food styling for good wine? }. The County is now equally ripe with other magazines such as square2, County and Quinte LivingWatershed, and Steve Campbell’s long time County Magazine. Digital publications are great, but there’s still nothing quite like reading the printed page on this weekend of literal feasting.

wondering about sauna?

Now that the birds here in Prince Edward County are flying south, if I start thinking about it right now, could this be the year that the Winter sauna/outdoor hot tub gets built at the Nook?This Dutchtub seems a real stunner, with it’s colours and customized templates…but at a starting price of $6,000, there’s no way.


Lots of issues to work out for building an off-grid, lakeside sauna/tub. Safety, ease of operation, building logistics, cost, making sure it’s chemical-free and energy efficient.


I wonder what shipping would cost from New South Wales, for this portable tent sauna?

garr-renolds-photogphoto by Garr Renolds

Wiki says:”In the 1940s, the first home hot tubs began to appear, mostly in California, USA. Inspired by the Japanese Ofuru soaker tubs (above pic),these early prototypes were made from used oak barrels, wine tanks and olive vats from nearby wineries”. Nifty ! But how about this: a propane water heater and stock tank combo? That would be relatively easy to assemble and use,as I have an ample supply of propane. But I’ll need to figure out getting the water from the frozen lake into the tub in the Winter. Count on my friends at Cottage Life to have a water intake forum here. I’ll need to read it over later…for now I’m getting packed up and heading back to T.O.


McEwan burger bites

The images below are two options of the well-truffled and famed Bymark Burger ( recipe here). I got to take a bite out of said burger (yes, twas bitten ) while onset with one of my all-time favourite teams of photographer James Tse , Laura Branson prop stylist, and Executive Chef Drew Ellerby (of ONE and Fabbricca) while we were having a blast doing the photography for the soon to be released cookbook called “Great Food at Home” by Mark McEwan”. My appetite to get my copy will have to wait until the launch:

Mark McEwan: Great Food at Home
Monday September 27th, 7 pm
On stage interview, Q & A and book signing.
Tickets $45/35 students, available only at The Cookbook Store
Ticket price includes copy of Great Food at Home.
Event location: George Brown Chef School.


accessing your inner pioneer

It’s getting to be that time of year when inquiries for renting my secluded cottage getaway here in PEC take a unique turn, with explanations of how “Quiet Season” hiking to the Nook becomes necessary, and when. But why? “Because the road is steep and narrow at the top of the hill ; because fallen leaves and possible rains make it treacherous.” And additionally,when there’s snow and ice, it’s also the occasion for heating water over the woodstove (which proves itself squarely as a non-decorative device) and for having a taste of living more like early pioneers (but with a Blackberry). Snowshoeing, simmering stews, striking full-mooned moonbeams shining through the woods, not wanting to get up to stoke the fire during the night, the sounds of ice crackling along the shores of the Adolphus Reach. It might even be the year of the sauna.(Ok, so I’m a winter person).

When I recently prompted a mid-photoshoot conversation with Claire Tansey (former Summer-time guest at the Nook, and Food Editor extraordinaire at Chatelaine Magazine) to the topic of “dining in the winter woods”, I liked hearing about a Coq au Vin supper she’d prepared in advance and warmed apres ski in a Mount Tremblant hotel room kitchenette, completed with crusty baguette to sop up the juices….and a bottle, naturally, of good red wine. Here’s her delicious recipe. More posts to come on these winter menu queries that I’ll solicit from other favourite foodies and outdoorsy types I know….

Meanwhile: a bit of necessary business to update on my website (as soon as my webmaster calls back):


Quiet Season Rates (Oct.-Jan) at the Nook are now :$650 per week, $290 for 3 nights,  $220 for 2 nights. High Season Rates (May-Sept): at $790 per week (reduced from $850!), $390 for 3 nights, $290 for 2 nights.

Happy Labour Day and enjoy these last wonderful days of Summer  ! and let me know what your favourite winter cottage meal might be. Ruth’s Canteen delivers customized picnics, by snowshoe if necessary. No dishwashing or soapmaking required…

photo James Tse    Food Styling  Ruth Gangbar   Props  Laura Branson