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Archive for May, 2009

Full disclosure item 1: You can`t buy these cakes in Toronto.  They are from Halifax although the chef tours from time to time.
Full disclosure item 2: I am biased as the subject of this article is my cousin.
Full disclosure item 3: Some of these cakes are not suitable for minors. We will give you warning before giving you access – some of these cakes have made even the most comfortable blush.
Full disclosure item 4: If you`re not into adult cakes, there are plenty of family friendly and amazing things to browse on her site.

With all the legal beagle stuff out of the way, let`s talk cake!

My cousin Shauna is a full time independent baker.  She makes cake, cupcakes and sweets of all sizes.  She is a sculptor as much as a baker and has a following of almost 700 fans on FaceBook (her group contains almost 300 pictures of her amazing cakes – if you`re signed up you can access the group here).  She also has website with a few samples that you can check out here.

This was for a fundraiser that Shauna was a contributing sponsor to – the feather boa is the only inedible portion of the cake.  It featured 14 pounds of fondant and was more than 2 feet tall:

Her process is amazing – it seems like she can create anything out of cake.  In addition to amazing wedding cakes and `fancy cakes`, I love her 3-dimensional dump trucks (wheels are the only thing touching the ground), a vertically standing R2D2, real-sized designer hand bags, shoes, boats and planes.  Shauna will work from the top of her head to create a design or work from photos that you give to her to design something to your liking.  Speaking of liking, she also makes cakes featuring the human anatomy (sometimes even wrapped in leather…).  Some of these even contain airplane bottles of liquor that are to be drunk from the cake.  If you`re not a little shocked by some of the pics – keep looking.  🙂  We`ve placed the tamest of the bunch in this post 🙂

The following was designed by Elissa Strauss (of New York City):

These final two leave me speachless:

Check out CityGirl and let her (and us) know what you think.

Shauna was in town this weekend for a cousin’s wedding – 3 amazing cakes (a 3 or 4 foot high traditional cake, a groom’s cake which was modeled after Bon Jovi’s guitar and a birthday cake that looked like a cheeseburger and french fries).  If the pics turned out, we’ll share them soon.

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I have hesitated posting the following picture and perhaps I shouldn’t – however it was stunning to me when I realized what it was and realized how much flying has changed from a luxury experience to the commodity it largely is today (though there are some contenders like Porter and Emirates amongst others who are trying to change things).  Well Preserved is about food and/or food design and I do believe this fits our theme.

My Aunt was a Stewardess (this was before Flight Attendant, before Steward) and was a professional hostess.  She took her job seriously and we regularly heard the stories of the sky.  I remember receiving one of the first phone calls from a plane (in flight) and loved the stories of famous people who road the skies with her.  An autographed photo of “Darth Vader” (I can’t remember if it was the actor or the voice) who was apparently so scared of flying that she had to hold his hand during landing and takeoff was a prized possession for many years.

My Aunt would tell me of all the grandeur of first class.  Guests would be greeted with champagne, 5 course dinners would be served in real china and freshly baked bread would be carved in front of the waiting guests.  Mixed drinks were served (and probably with maraschino cherries as well!).  It was the ultimate in luxury and decadence and I knew a lot of people who had never been in a plane.  Less I sound completely old, next months birthday is #36 – it’s amazing how much change has happened in our lifetime!

The bread knife above is my only link to those days – imagine the decadence of using a tool like this (complete with the Air Canada logo on it) to slice bread on an overseas plate.  It is approximately 18 inches long in total and was produced for the on-board crews exclusive use.  It has ended up at our cabin in the woods – I often wonder where it travelled and whom it served.

Somehow the modern replacement of the plastic “peel away” dinner seems to fall that much shorter from grace.

Fine food and flight were once equal signs of decadence.  Perhaps it’s better for our carbon footprint that the two have parted ways however it is fun to think about the times when

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Remember the story of the Little Red Hen?  She asked for help all the way through the process of making bread and no one offered until it was time to eat.   I kiddingly think this fairy tale was created by someone making pickles and preserves instead of bread – I mean how much work is really involved now that we have bread makers to do all the work for us (again, there is jest intended here).  There is never a shortage of people willing to help with the eating 🙂

This fall will be the first (perhaps annual) jam draft for well preserved – the concept is simple and easy for any who wish to participate.  It’s a combination of a used clothing swap, the NHL draft and a fun excuse to meet up, share recipes, a few tastes of each others labor and perhaps a few beverages to wash down the afternoon.  Exact dates will be confirmed towards the fall – the event is likely to occur in late September.

The idea is simple – we will arrange a gathering of locals who will bring a few extra jars of their wares.  You will leave with as many jars as you enter with.  The person who brings the most jars will get first pick (of one jar) and we will continue through the group of people until we end up at the start again.  Once you have picked the same amount of like-sized jars that you brought, you will exit the draft and it will continue until complete.

Imagine that Jack Brings 6 small jars, Jill brings 3 and Hank brings 7.  Hank will pick one jar, followed by Jill and Jack.  This will repeat 3 times and Jill will be complete  and the other two will continue until complete.

Duplicates will be allowed though exact number of each will be confirmed in advance (based on number of people coming).  It is possible that you could leave with some of the jars you brought.  There will be a minimum of 2 categories (750 ml and 250 ml) and we will work a system so that each comes out with a fair a share as possible.

We are hoping to do 50 batches of jams, pickles, fruit and sauce this year – so get jarring!  The difference between 10 and 100 jars is your leftovers!

We`d love to hear if you are interested through a comment below or an email – wearewellpreserved(at)gmail.com.  We are also considering putting on a small intro to preserving clinic for those who may be interested in learning – please also let us know if that`s something that you would be interested in and we`ll ga

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Having Kids….

I thought the title of this post would at least get us a few hits from family and friends – sorry Mom (x2).

Being childless and living downtown Toronto we rarely get exposed to ‘kids stuff’. Last night we went to see City and Colour at Massey Hall, Kathleen Edwards was the opener, and she played a little song called “You can always blame it on the letter B”. Now I know you’re thinking I’m probably pushing it here – “Kids, music…what (the heck) has any of this got to do with food and/or design…this IS WellPreserved people!”. Granted it’s a rare day when I get the opportunity to layer on another one of my obsessions – i love music, especially of the Canadian acoustic/indie type and if i can plug any of it to our ‘out of country’ readers i will – so bear with me, i’m getting there.

“Blame it on the letter B” was a ‘cleaned up’ version of Kathleen’s song “the Cheapest Key” which she was asked to perform on the CBCs show “Mamma Yamma”. The Cheapest key is a (slightly) bitter, grown-up angsty song.  But “Mamma Yamma” is a kids show, the host is a giant (slightly scary) puppet Yamm that owns a snack bar/fruit&veg stand in Kensington Market in Toronto, so she decided to rewrite it and turn it into a song about eating the alphabet. It will appear on the new fall season of Mamma Yamma this September. If you’ve got kids (or not!) there’s an album out now called “Mamma Yamma and friends” and includes past guests such as The Great Lake Swimmers, Kim Stockwood, Ron Sexsmith, Bare Naked Ladies, Amy Millan, Sarah Harmer and Bedouin Soundclash.

Here’s a clip of the show with musical guest Rupert Harvey (of Canadian Reggae band Messenjah)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

you can see a video of Kathleen Edward’s “Cheapest Key” here. She’s incredibly talented, curses and drinks like a sailor and great to see live. Checkout her album “Asking for flowers”.

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People were in a great mood through the day – the weather was unreal and the wine was flowing for those who were not driving.  People were excited to be there – newbies (like us) were excited to be in such a fantastic place while the veterans around us were both excited to be back and excited to share their past experiences as our guides.

We ate a lot, walked around and spent a few hours lounging on a hay bale in the sun and shade of the forest.  White Eagle joined the festivities and prepared a smudging which he asked us all to join.  He was friendly, smiling and welcoming of all.  He smudged with Sage from a BC Nation and presented a lovely part of the afternoon that was the only “formal” part of the day.

Food was plentiful (I was surprised that most of the tables served for all 4 hours) and you could graze at a leisurely rate with ease.

See More:

Eigensinn Farm Wild Leek and Maple Syrup Festival (Part 1)
Eigensinn Farm Wild Leek and Maple Syrup Festival (Part 2)
Eigensinn Farm Wild Leek and Maple Syrup Festival (Part 3)
Eigensinn Farm Wild Leek and Maple Syrup Festival (Part 5)

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Day 3 of the posts on the event – for those of you arriving to the table late, we`ll add links to the other posts in this 5-part series shortly.  There will be more pictures on Thursday before a BIG FOOD ANNOUNCEMENT on Friday and a few regular posts on the weekend before the final Eigensinn post on Monday.

We`re hoping that you`re enjoying the visits and that each day is a little like being there – small little surprises around each corner that, together, will give you a feeling for what the day was like.  The farm was full of surprises and each corner brought on another surprise and delight and flavour.  The chef`s and team who worked the event were so focused on ensuring that all were enjoying and were world class in their service and friendliness.  I really enjoyed seeing them sneak up to other booths to say hi, share a smile and a taste of each others wares.

See more:
Eigensinn Farm
Wild Leek and Maple Syrup Festival (Part 1)
Eigensinn Farm Wild Leek and Maple Syrup Festival (Part 2)
Eigensinn Farm Wild Leek and Maple Syrup Festival (Part 4)
Eigensinn Farm Wild Leek and Maple Syrup Festival (Part 5)

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photo by Margaret Mulligan

photo by Margaret Mulligan taken at the 2008 Chef's Congress at Eigensinn Farm

So how do you get to go to one of the foodie events of the year when it sells out quicker than you can swallow a piece of  Hiro Yoshida’s maple salmon wild leek sushi? You have friends with talent and great connections (lucky us! we have lots of those). Margaret Mulligan, friend and photographer (you can see both joel and i on her portrait page) loves everything to do with food, including the people.

I have always felt that ‘food people’ are like ‘design people’ (this includes photographers etc.). I know a lot of both varieties and don’t think it’s a coincidence that most of them overlap in their appreciation for the other. There’s an obsessive passion to what they do, they live, and breathe their craft. It’s something you can’t shut-off at the end of the day and follows you to bed at night. Both can be solitary in their pursuit but rely on the appreciation of others for ultimate success. A large part of design for me is watching people interact with, or appreciate it and I’m sure it’s the same when a chef gets to see the look of pleasure cross your face as you taste their creation.

Margaret had the opportunity to use her formidable skill as a photographer to shoot the biennial Canadian Chef’s Congress, it took place at Eigensinn farm at the end of the summer in 2008. If you want to get a great feel for the farm and ‘food people’ and see what an amazing event this was, have a look at the slideshow on her website – If the congress is looking for volunteers for the 2010 event in Vancouver (and happens to read this) CONTACT US! wearewellpreserved@gmail.com

(Speaking of food and design people, I tagged along with Margaret yesterday to pick up a project at Pantry Press – the name says it all doesn’t it?. They are friends with the Stadtländers and do a lot of design work for them and for the Chef’s Congress. They have a vintage Vandercook and print beautiful letterpress stationery in their (dream of a) coach house studio. Really nice people too, can I just say that i’m jealous?  But inspired and determined to get my Showcard press rolling again in the next few weeks  😉

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