Monday, April 30, 2012

Eat Drink Connect: Katie Brown

This post officially announces my upcoming video series: Eat.Drink.Connect. My intention is to allow After the Harvest to grow into new and different multimedia projects to add to the blog format. I think in some ways I've always wanted to make movies, so I've decided to just take the plunge and learn as I go!

Eat.Drink.Connect. will profile people who inspire me who have a connection to food, a story about how it connects them to others or how it creates meaning in their lives. I think it's always been about people and connections for me, and my hope is that these vignettes will inform, entertain, inspire and even connect you to food, and to the people you'll be introduced to along the way.

My first muse is Katie Brown, Chef de Cuisine at Play Food & Wine. Katie is an honest, passionate Chef who sincerely loves food and has made it her life's work. This past weekend I spent time filming Katie at work and at home (or should I say at Play and at home) and I thought I'd share a few photos from the shoot for you to enjoy.

Over the next while I'll be hunkering down and getting to know the world of editing extremely well, but I am so excited to eventually share this first video with you when it's finished!

Thank you for joining me on this adventure, and thanks to Katie and to Play Food & Wine for the amazing food, wine and hospitality.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easy Spring Appetizer: Smoked Salmon Toasts

Hello friends :) I thought I'd share an extremely easy recipe you can make this spring! Perfect for a family gathering, bridal or baby shower, this light, easy to make appetizer really hits the spot, especially for savoury types like myself. It can easily be made with smoked fish as well, preferably local! If you're in Toronto I highly recommend stopping by Gilead Cafe for some amazing local smoked fish :) Since all we had on hand was smoked salmon, we went with it and enjoyed every bite.

  • Thin, grainy bread (preferably with seeds) -- Bavarian or German bread works really well, or Pumpernickel.
  • Greek yogurt (or creme fraiche)
  • Smoked fish (salmon in this case)
  • Capers
  • Fresh Dill

Toast the bread and cut into small squares; the size of a cracker. Place on a pretty serving tray or a nice wooden cutting board for presentation. Cut smoked fish gently with a sharp knife, slowly cutting/peeling it so you have a small piece that can be folded over at least once. Place it on the toast (if you are concerned about it falling off, put a dollop of yogurt on first, before the salmon to help it adhere to the toast) -- however I didn't do that and it was fine because we ate them so fast they didn't have a chance to fall off! Then put a dollop of yogurt on top of the smoked fish, and alternate with garnishes using capers and dill. For those who don't like capers or dill, you could also drizzle a little lemon juice on top for some extra zing!

Serve and enjoy! Yummm! I recommend taking the time to make MANY of these as they go VERY FAST.

Happy Spring, Everyone!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Eating, Drinking and Making Music

Check out my pals The DoneFors eating, drinking and connecting in their totally rad new music video for Mercator Map:

Cameo appearance by Sarah's Wooden Spoon -- a lady who makes some mad cakes and sweet treats!

Your wishes can come true...but only if you want them to :)

Awesome video created and directed by Chad Nunn of CON Artist Productions.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Kauai Flashback: Making Poi at Waipa

As we get closer to the warmer days, my mind retreats to memories of my time on Kauai last summer. This trip to the beautiful garden island of Kauai, Hawaii was definitely the highlight of my year. I had many amazing adventures during my short stay, one of which was the experience of making poi at Waipa!

What is poi? What is Waipa? Allow me to explain...

First of all, the photo at the top of this post is of the taro root plant, or "kalo", which is its official Hawaiian name. It grows all over the island and is steeped in history. The root vegetable that grows underneath this beautiful green plant is like a starchy, purplish-white potato. After it is boiled and peeled, it is ground up, mixed with water and made into smooth, silky poi!

Poi is a the Hawaiian name for this staple food made from taro/kalo. Water is added to it to make the consistency smooth and the result is an almost paste-like substance. "The creation story tells of the Earth Mother and the Sky Father which produced a still-born son. Once he was buried, the taro plant grew out of his body"( Kalo means "everlasting breath", and Hawaiians see the plant as their brother, thus creating a spiritual meaning and connection when it is eaten(

Waipa is really "The Waipa Foundation", an amazing non-profit "whose mission is to restore the health and abundance of the 1,600 acre Waipa watershed, through the creation of a Hawaiian community center and learning center....Waipa is a place where Hawaiians and community can renew ties to the 'aina (land and resources), the culture and a more traditional lifestyle; a place to create assets and opportunities for more culturally relevant teaching, sharing, learning and living; and a place to work towards brining health, vibrance and pono (goodness/righteousness) to our land, resources and community." (

My experience making poi at Waipa truly defines connecting through food -- everywhere I turned there was a lively conversation, a hardworking soul cleaning up and a group of helping hands cooking, cleaning and sharing.

I was led to Waipa by a friend who grew up on the island and we were welcomed by a slew of his "Aunties" and "Uncles" who have known him since he was a small child. It was such a beautiful display of love and community to see this friend sharing hugs, smiles, memories and even back rubs with his Aunties and Uncles. It is very common to call many people your "Auntie" or "Uncle" on Kauai -- it is a respectful, affectionate way to refer to anyone who is your elder in the greater Hawaiian community.

Making Poi:

The process begins with a mass boiling of all of the taro root. Once it is cooked and softened, the small boulder-like root vegetables in all shapes, sizes and shades of purple and white are put into large bins filled with water and placed in front of small groups of community volunteers, armed with dull knives ready to shave, shape and carve.

I pulled up a chair and learned the proper technique from some Aunties and Uncles who had been shaving down kalo for years. Every Thursday morning bright and early this process begins again, and by noon the poi is bagged and ready to distribute, sell and give away. I was playfully warned by my friend not to worry if Auntie Cathy loudly proclaims that I might be carving the poi incorrectly: "If she yells at you, it means she likes you", he said, so I was happy a little later on when I heard her stern voice directed towards my knife technique.

Each time I put my hand into the huge bucket of water and taro root, I didn't know what shape would emerge or how many slimy bits of the outer skin I would touch. I was careful not to shave too much off in order to preserve as much of this starchy vegetable as possible. Once each one was cleaned and peeled to the locals' liking, it was put into another bin, and sent on its way to the grinder. After some time I finally got the hang of this inexact science, and I quite enjoyed the meditative quality of the exercise. Huddled around the poi buckets, it was a pure moment of energy and connection around this little purplish-white root vegetable.

Probably one of the happiest looking people I've ever met was the man in charge of pushing the taro root through the grinder. The result definitely did not look pretty or appetizing in any way, but I did get a feeling of visual satisfaction seeing the tubs fill up with the literal "fruit" of our labour.

Once the greyish purple pudding-like mixture filled a bin or bucket, it was rolled over to where Auntie Cathy held court, at the weighing, bagging, twisting and tying station. My friend was called over to do the twisting honours, a privilege not to be taken lightly. Considering the high station of poi-bagger, I was shocked and delighted when I was called over to tie off the bags, a role not often offered to a first-time visitor. Apparently there was a proper way of doing this task as well, and I took in every little bit of instruction from the Aunties with care and respect.

After a long session of Auntie Cathy dipping her gloved hand into the vats of poi, weighing different sized bags, and others twisting those bags just so, and tying them off tightly and properly, the poi making process was finally complete. By the time the last bag was tied, the floor had been swept, the tables prepared for lunch, and the meal prepared by loving hands. It was a true vision of community in action, all hands, feet and hearts working together to make and serve Kauai's bounty.

Before we sat down to eat, a blessing was said and hands were held in a circle. The buffet was a gorgeous display of local Kauai food including kale, papaya, avocado, pork, citrus fruits, bread, fresh pesto, rice and of course, a healthy portion of poi. As we sat down at the row of picnic tables joined together, we shared jokes, stories, memories and conversation, all while enjoying our delicious lunch. To be honest there wasn't much of a taste to the poi, but it punctuated the meal in the perfect way, and really, for me it wasn't about the taste.

What made this whole morning and meal amazing for me was the beautiful joining of hearts and hands over a fresh, local plate of food, and the community connection between locals, visitors and men and women of all ages in the poi-making process itself. Over lunch I joked with an Uncle who asked me questions about Canada, shared smiles and hugs with the friends I was visiting, and enjoyed pleasant conversation with a local Doctor who does charitable works in the community.

So you see, friends, to me, this day of making poi was not really about the actual food itself, the magic was all in the connecting.

Aloha, sweet friends :)