Page 1

Culture Home Recreation Fall 2008 | Volume 2 | Issue 3


A Farmer, A Foodie and

A Feast Rush Creek Fruit Winery

Artist Profile

Around About

sh reli elg

. www



e li


n .c a

ca in.

www .

Beth Spence

s h e l gi


Inspired by

Alma College

Contents 4 6 8 12 14 17 18 22 24 25 27

News & Events Find out what’s happening around Elgin County this season In Season Enjoy the flavours of autumn with locally available produce Capturing the Essence of Fruit at Rush Creek Wines in Aylmer Inspired by Alma College Andrew Gunn outlines a positive outcome Map of Elgin including a sampling of the Relish Elgin Business Directory Around About Bayham Discover the Paper for the People A Farmer, A Foodie & A Feast Join us from the farm to the table Featured Event Doors Open Port Stanley/Sparta Back-to-School Lunch Tips How to prevent lunchbox complaints Artist Profile Beth Spence of Port Stanley Recipe Curried Couscous Chicken from Heritage Line Herbs’ new cookbook

Enjoy Autumn Copy Editor Debra Bagshaw Layout & Design Joanne Bagshaw Advertising Info Cover Image ©

To Subscribe:

Send a cheque for $8 (to cover mailing) to the following address. Includes 4 issues. P.O. Box 20058 St. Thomas, ON N5P 4H4 519.633.1992 Copyright 2008, Relish Marketing & Promotions Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material published in Relish Elgin is strictly prohibited without the written permission of the Publisher. Relish Elgin is published by Relish Marketing & Promotions Inc.

Although the fall season is just beginning, stores are already filling with Christmas décor and gifts. There’s plenty of time to get your Christmas shopping done, so why not take some time now to celebrate autumn. A few reasons: Local food. The farm gate offerings are bountiful and the barbecue is still readily available, but your cooking horizons expand. The cooler days invite you to try savoury simmered soups and stews, baked fruit crumbles and other foods that take a little more time and warm your soul. Opportunities to get scared in a fun way. Even the bravest of souls can probably name a few things that give them cause to jump with fright. Mazes, haunted houses and other Halloween related festivities offer a bit of a thrill and a chance to scream your head off without any real danger. The colour orange. It’s still the colour of fall. Even the traditional red and green of Christmas are now replaced yearly. Some of those colours are lovely, and they do brighten up winter. But it’s sort of comforting that nature has decided to paint the fall landscape brilliant orange—something the style gurus can’t mess around with. New beginnings. The approaching New Year, with the push to make resolutions and hyperactivity of the Christmas season can be a bit overwhelming. September brings different kinds of beginnings: the new school year, the tendency to get back to routines and start new projects, and the slow down from busy summer weekends. Let these new beginnings energize you before the chaos of the Holidays.

Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008




News & Events

Find out what’s happening where and what’s new around Elgin County. CELEBRATE THE HARVEST Nothing captures the feeling of autumn and the traditions of our agricultural areas like fall festivals and fairs. Clovermead Bees and Honey (, just north of Aylmer, celebrates the Honey Harvest Festival each Saturday in September (6th – 27th). They have tons of family fun related to honey, plus a maze made of Chapman’s Honey Plant. Rush Creek Wines’ 12th Annual Harvest Festival (, Sat Sept 20th and Sun Sept 21st, bursts with fall fun and enough family events to fill the day. They have a corn maze surrounded with over 1000 sunflowers! It’s open until October 19th and they have a discount for groups of 20 or more. A haunted version runs Fri Oct 24th and Sat Oct 25th, featuring spooky actors and scary sounds. Ferguson’s Produce’s 14th Annual Scarecrow Festival is well worth a weekend visit in October. See their ad on our back cover for a full list of treats and activities. Be sure to check out the ‘Eat Fresh, Buy Local’ themed corn maze. Fri Sept 26th to Sun Sept 28th, Wallacetown Fair presents a Tractor Pull (Saturday), Harness Racing (Saturday) and Demolition Derby (Sunday) plus a full line-up of other events.


The 154th Rodney-Aldborough Fair ( takes place Fri Sept 12th to Sun 14th with the theme “Barnyard Mardi Gras.” Go to Heritage Line Herbs’ ( Fall Festival and Herb Sale on Sat Oct 4th for a full day of activities including garden tours, demonstrations, wagon rides, pick your own pumpkins and gourds, food samples, delicious barbecue and more. Empire Valley Farm Market features the ‘Stop N’ Go’ corn maze, with 10 ft tall roads of corn. See their ad on our back cover for more info.

SUPPORT A WORTHY CAUSE Fall fundraisers offer opportunities to have fun and support a variety of worthy causes. Be entertained, see a fashion show, join a walk or take a coffee break and help out at the same time. Find out more about events in Elgin at


The official opening of the exhibit Celebrating 60 Years of Canadian Achievement—Pinecroft Pottery takes place Sun Sept 21st at Elgin County Museum followed by a reception at Pinecroft Pottery. RSVP to Pinecroft Pottery 519.773.3435. On Sat Sept 20th and Sun Sept 21st pick up a map for the Port Stanley Art Tour and travel at your own pace to several artists on location.4

Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008


4For more information about the tour, visit The St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre has some great upcoming exhibits. 4Aidan Urquhart: Making Memories – Sat Sept 6th to Sun Oct 26th 4Helene Lefebvre: Social Queen – Sat Sept 6th to Sun Oct 26th 4Connie Greger: In Our Mother’s Garden – Fri Sept 19th to Sun Sept 21st 4No Place Like Home, Images of Elgin County and St. Thomas by local artists from the permanent collection – Sat Sept 6th to Nov 1st Trillium House Fine Art Gallery will host two exhibits: The Healing Palette—Art as an Expression of Spirit from Oct 2nd to Nov 5th, and Incidental Hues by local artist K.D. Clow from Nov 8th to Dec 24th.

EATDRINK MAG NOW IN ELGIN Don’t forget to pick up your September copy of eatdrink magazine. It’s now available at many locations across Elgin County. Eatdrink brings together the latest in restaurant, recipe and wine news from all over Southwestern Ontario. It’s also found online at www.eatdrink. net. Now featuring a Relish Elgin section!

A BEACH RESTAURANT WITH A DIFFERENCE Shutters on the Beach has impressed Port Bruce residents and beach visitors alike this summer. Their menu includes ever-popular burgers and dogs prepared with attention to quality and detail that puts them a cut above the usual. There are also some alternative dining choices, like yellow perch perfectly

pan-fried in herbed butter, Seasonal Greens Salad (greens with cherry tomatoes, candied walnuts, cranberries, goat cheese and honeymustard vinaigrette), plus the best homemade Blueberry Crisp ever. Owner-chefs Cynthia and Jonathan Collins, who opened Shutters in May, are both graduates of Le Cordon Bleu Paris in Ottawa and have work experience that includes stints at the prime minister’s residence. Diners are also treated to live jazz music on Fridays. They plan to stay open year-round and that is likely to draw visitors to the beach in Port Bruce long after summer is past. For more information, visit

VANISHING VILLAGES OF ELGIN This book details the rise and fall of Elgin County’s crossroad hamlets, lakeports and rail depots and was launched in June this year. Through extensive research and personal exploration, Jennifer Grainger has produced a fresh work on Elgin with absorbing stories and photos of the past. In the introduction to the book she hopes that many will “take the opportunity to explore the countryside of Elgin with this volume in hand and rediscover the richness of that which has gone before.” It’s an interesting read and would indeed make a great companion for your fall jaunts in Elgin County.

Find out more about these events and many others on our website:

Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008



In Season

Enjoy the flavours of autumn with these locally available fruits & veggies.

Pears, with their soft, sweet flesh, are high in fibre and a source of potassium, vitamin C and folate. Their versatile flavour makes them equally great in desserts or savoury salads. For best flavour, keep pears in the fridge and eat them cold. An ideal fresh snack.


Grape varieties that are native to Ontario include Concord and Niagara, with thousands of European imports and hybrids also being grown here. This is the perfect time of year to enjoy a plate of grapes, cheese and apples, along with a glass of Ontario wine.

Apples have been around since prehistoric times and are now grown around the world. Their heritage is being preserved at OMAFRA’s Vineland Research Station, where 100 lesser known varieties are being grown as a source of seeds and bud wood.

Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008


also in season: peaches • muskmelon • plums • watermelon • potatoes • green & wax beans • brussels sprouts • cabbage • carrots • cauliflower • celery • eggplant • garlic • leeks • onions • parsnips • peppers • radishes • spinach • squash • turnip

Broccoli with tight green buds and slender yellowgreen stems has the best flavour. It is a great source of vitamin C and folate, and also a source of vitamin A, fibre and potassium. Try spicing up sauteed broccoli by adding chopped walnuts or fresh grated nutmeg.

Beet roots, with their brilliant colour, are unusually sweet for a vegetable. Their tops are delicious sauteed or mixed with other greens in a salad. Pickle beets this fall and enjoy them through the winter. Try pickled beets on a burger - they’re a popular topper in Australia.

Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008

Corn that is fully ripe is signalled by bright green, moist husks. Since the sweetness decreases as soon as it’s harvested, freshly picked corn has the best flavour. In addition to vitamin C, folate and fibre, corn is also a source of niacin and thiamine.



Capturing the Essence of Fruit

Aylmer’s Rush Creek Wines has been making fruit wine for over a decade.


t’s a mistake to make a trip to Rush Creek Wines to pick up wine and not take some time to enjoy their many other amenities and the ambience of the farm. It stretches around the winery, bounded at the back by the Rush Creek valley and offers delightful sights and sounds of each passing season.

the challenges of being a farmer. After losing a couple hundred peach trees following severe winters a few years running, the Flintofts gave in and bull-dozed 2,000. She also shares the frustrations of many farmers with getting product to local consumers—many grocery stores get the bulk of their produce from the Toronto warehouse, so even if it’s local it has to make the circuitous route from here to Toronto and back. Like other producers, she finds that selling product to grocers is no longer worthwhile.

Capturing the Essence of the Fruit

The Farm

Back inside the winery, Wendy stirs a tank of rhubarb which is in the last stage of the primary fermentation. She says, “We lightly crush 100% pure fruit to start a pulp fermentation using the skins and meat of the fruits.” It’s this process that “captures the bouquet, flavours, colours and goodness of each fruit to give our wines lingering, intense and distinctively smooth flavours.”

On a summer walk around Rush Creek, Wendy Flintoft’s strong sense of connection to her farm is obvious. She notes that its “rich sandy loam soil and temperate Lake Erie north The 800 pounds of rhubarb will undergo a shore climate nourish a diverse range of second fermentation and after 12 weeks in crops. These include grains, ad“On a summer walk around Rush zuki beans, raspberries, red and black currants, gooseberries, rhuCreek, Wendy Flintoft’s strong sense of barb, huckleberries, plus 1000’s of connection to her farm is obvious. ” pumpkins and sunflowers.” She looks with pride at her traditional English gar- the tank will be filtered to separate out the den and points out the field which is planted sediment. It will then be fine filtered and for the corn maze, which will become the sweetened, yielding 200 gallons of wine with a sweetness level of 1 or 2. stage for the haunted corn nights. Wendy continues with a survey of the fruit, noting the ripeness, which wines are made from each and even suggests some tasty food pairings. You just know that with her closeness to the fields, fruit, wine production and love of cooking the recommendations are bound to be goods ones. She also talks about some of


As she stirs the rhubarb, Wendy tells a bit about how she and husband Kim got into the winery business. They purchased the farm in 1992. When Wendy felt that downsizing in her workplace was a possibility, thoughts turned to taking some Ministry of Agriculture courses related to the fruit-4

Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008


4growing she and Kim were already doing. Says Wendy, “A couple of these were on how to start a winery. It seemed like there was a lot of red tape, but we continued to research and to plant more fruit. For two years we did test batches, and gave away the product with a survey. Our business plan was based on that survey.”

Last year Wendy and her daughter Racheal completed “From Plate to Palate”, a great little fruit wine cookbook, delightfully illustrated by Shelley McVittie. The winery offers various tours, including ones with a cooking demonstration. Particpants appreciate the casual but informative sessions and Wendy obviously enjoys sharing her passion for wine and food.

Rush Creek launched with peach, raspberry and plum wines. Now in its 12th year, the winery carries 21 varieties and produces about 45,000 bottles per year; several have been award winners. The Flintofts enjoy developing new recipes by varying, for example, the yeast or sugar level. Says Wendy, “People stop in and ask what’s new and we like to oblige them.” Rush Creek offers a style for every taste and occasion, from Pearfection (dry), a 2007 Wine Championship winner, to the best-selling Blueberry Rush (medium), Sweet Spiced Apple featured on the Food Network, and Maple Rush Dessert Wine.

The Flintoft’s celebrate the land and the seasons with a sense of appreciation and fun, both of which they wholeheartedly share with visitors to the winery, whether to one of the year’s seasonal events, or on just an ordinary day that could become special with a winery visit.

Hauntings and Other Fun at the Winery It’s clear that Wendy likes to introduce a good measure of fun into the winery activities. She enthuses about the haunted corn maze: “We grow special flat-bottomed pumpkins and last year carved 125 and lit them all both nights. ‘Creepers’ and ‘grunters’ haunted the corn and the spooky music drew owls from the woods—people were surprised to discover those weren’t fake owls!” Many winery visitors have asked to be let in on the secret of the Strawberry Decadence wine, which reveals flavours of first strawberry then chocolate. The Flintofts are happy to provide the curious with “The Official Story of Decadence” which involves special bees from local Clovermead Bees & Honey flying across trays of cocoa strategically placed in Glen Howe’s nearby strawberry fields…

UPCOMING EVENTS AT RUSH CREEK Corn Maze on now until Oct 19th Harvest Festival Sept 20th & 21st Haunted Corn Maze Oct 24th & 25th Rush Creek offers complimentary tastings daily; various tours; a brushchetta and dessert bar; complimentary licensed outdoor BBQ garden, and shoppe with an interesting selection of gifts and the fine art of Shelley McVittie. 48995 Jamestown Ln, RR #2 Aylmer 519.773.5432

Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008



More About Fruit Wines SOME FRUIT WINE FACTS

4Fruit wines are not new—China and Japan have made plum wine for centuries, and early Canadian settlers made wine from all sorts of fruit. 4The new generation of fruit wines offer a huge range of sophisticated tastes. Historically, there have been some poor fruit wines (homemade and commercial). That reputation and the lack of availability may explain why their popularity lags behind that of grape wine. 4Fruit Wines of Canada released the “quality certified” (QC) standard a few years ago, modelled on the VQA standard for wines. 4Fruit Wines of Ontario (FWO) is the association that establishes and maintains high standards of quality for the fruit wines in this province.

COOKING WITH FRUIT WINES Fruit wines make great reductions. Rush Creek Wines’ “From Plate to Palate” features complementary reductions for many entrees. Try the recipe below, which uses Rush Creek’s Pearfection dry pear wine.

Pork with Stone Fruit & Pear Wine from Rush Creek Wines Collection of “From Plate to Palate!” New Edition Written by Racheal Flintoft & Illustrated by Shelley McVittie 1 pork loin roast 1 bottle Rush Creek’s Pearfection (dry pear wine) Garlic seasoning (to taste) 11/2 cups peeled, cored & sliced stone fruits (peaches and/or plums) 2 apples, peeled, cored & sliced 1 Tbsp butter 2 Tbsp sugar

DIRECTIONS 1 Marinate pork in 1 cup of Pearfection wine & garlic seasoning overnight. 2 Cook pork loin, sliced into medallions, until medium done in skillet. Remove from heat. 3 Sprinkle sugar over fruit. 4 Heat butter in non-stick frying pan, then add sugared fruit and cook for 2 minutes, browning both sides. 5 Remove the pan from the heat to add 1 cup of Pearfection wine and return to heat. Stir gently until the liquid is almost gone. 6 Top the pork with the fruit mixture. Serve with wild rice and a glass of Pearfection wine.

Always More Online 10

Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008


Inspired by Alma College

Andrew Gunn reflects on what could become of the tragedy of Alma.


he destruction of the main building at Alma College by fire and subsequent demolition will be remembered for many years by the citizens of St. Thomas. It was tremendously upsetting to watch flames overwhelm the elegant Victorian Gothic structure that stood magnificently in the city for well over a century. Along with the death of Jumbo the elephant, killed by a train on the railway tracks of St. Thomas in 1885, the obliteration of Alma College will be remembered as one of the most terrible scenes in the history of Elgin County. Two years before the fire, a motivated group of university professors and administrators proposed the idea of establishing a private university in St. Thomas. The original goal was to purchase the Alma College property to serve as the campus. The historic main building would have been renovated for use as the location of classrooms and faculty offices. For many people in the community, along with members of the Alma

Foundation, and steps were taken toward the goal of starting up a post-secondary institution in St. Thomas. However, two main problems existed. First, the property was owned

by a development group from London, and second, the main building at Alma College had fallen into an extraordinary state of disrepair. Offers to purchase the property were made but always rejected.

As the owners of the property pursued their goal of demolishing the Alma College buildings, the goal of the Alma College Foundation persisted. The search began for “For many people in the community, along other properties in with members of the Alma College International the area that would Alumnae Association, the prospect of having the provide an attractive setting for a opportunity to bring the Alma College property campus. A few back to life was too tempting to ignore. ” pieces of land were considered. EvenCollege International Alumnae Association, the tually, a site was secured southwest of St. prospect of having the opportunity to bring Thomas in the Municipality of Central Elgin. the Alma College property back to life was too An article in the local newspaper announced tempting to ignore. In short order, a charitable the concept early in June, shortly after the corporation was established, the Alma College Alma fire. 4


Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008


4In an attempt to retain the connection to Alma College, the Foundation has proposed to construct a campus which would include a faithful reproduction of the main building and chapel of Alma College. The school itself would offer an integrated curriculum of arts and sciences with a special emphasis on the importance of public service. At full capacity,

the proposed university would host four hundred students, and the focus of the faculty would be put squarely on teaching. A graduate of this institution would have an impressive understanding of the development of the arts and sciences from ancient to modern times, speak at least two languages well, and seek to serve his or her community given the challenges unique to our times. Obviously there are great mountains to climb in any attempt to establish a new university or college in the province of Ontario. An application to gain consent to operate a school must be submitted to a review board set up by the provincial government, and the approval of the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universi-

ties must be obtained. Concurrently, there are countless difficulties involved in securing financing for the construction of a campus from scratch, difficulties which are compounded by the goal of setting up a private post-secondary institution. At this time, the first steps have been taken. Directors of the Alma College Foundation have met with provincial officials, and contact has been made with potential donors. Only time will tell if the goal is achievable. It is impossible to know what is possible until an attempt is made. Right now we are firmly entrenched in a time of great change in St. Thomas and indeed Elgin County as a whole. This region has been strengthened and supported in the past by the railway industry and more recently by automobile manufacturing. There is a clear need to diversify our economic base in order to meet the demands of our complex global society. One way to accomplish this task is to establish a distinctive place of learning in our community which will draw academics, students and visitors to the area.

Andrew Gunn is a St. Thomas resident and the president of the Alma College Foundation. For information on the school project, or if readers have any questions, contact Andrew at

Always More Online Alma College Image courtesy of Elgin County Archives: Scott Studio fonds. Box 76, #23789. Alma Amphitheatre, Spring 1936.

Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008




jennifer m. designs Visit Empire Valley’s beautiful greenhouse in the spring and impressive corn maze in the fall, and enjoy their fresh, home grown seasonal produce throughout the season.

Art, interiors and accessories to create a space as unique as you. Stop by the studio/gallery to see Jennifer’s ever changing collection of original pieces and accessories.

27983 Talbot Ln, Wallacetown, N0L 2M0 Tel: 519.762.3504 Visit: Check their website for seasonal hours.

364 Talbot St, St. Thomas, N5P 1B6 Tel: 519.633.9806 Visit: Phone for hours.

Eat, Shop, Play ... Locally! Here’s a sampling of featured businesses from the Relish Elgin Business Directory. For our complete directory, visit


ille W d



Rush Creek Wines offers tastings daily, tours, a brushchetta and dessert bar, licensed BBQ garden, and shoppe with a vast selection of gifts and the fine art of Shelley McVittie. 48995 Jamestown Ln, RR#2 Aylmer, N5H 2R2 Tel: 519.773.5432 Visit: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm

SHELLEY McVITTIE’S GALLERY This charming shop features Shelley McVittie’s paintings along with many gift ideas and items from days of past that are sure to stimulate inspiration, nourish passion & energize imagination. 48664 John Wise Line, RR#5 Aylmer, N5H 2R4 Tel: 519.773.5912 Visit: Visit for seasonal hours.



The Woodpecker constructs and assembles quality solid wood furniture by hand. They build everything from dining sets to bedroom suites, cedar chests, armoires, picnic tables and rocking chairs.

Great food ... not a lot of clams. At the Port Bruce Pier across from the pavillion, Shutters offers great beach fare, including fresh lake perch and delectable desserts.

9600 Walker Road, RR#4 Aylmer, N5H 2R3 Tel: 519.765.4771 Mon-Sat 9am-6pm

3159 Colin Street, Port Bruce, N5H 2R2 Tel: 519.773.5556 Visit: Check their website for hours.



ing Colour to L if e Bring Canadale Nurseries is a family run business that has been serving Elgin County for over 50 years, meeting every need for both indoor and outdoor gardening.

Wander through the country store with unique gift items, or dine al fresco in the beautiful gardens. Lunch, tea & snacks are available from 11am until the end of Sept.

269 Sunset Drive, St. Thomas, N5R 3C4 Tel: 519.631.7264 Visit: Mon-Fri 8am-5:30pm, Sat 8am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm (till Dec)

53443 Heritage Line, RR#1 Aylmer, N5H 2R1 Tel: 519.866.5577 Visit: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-4pm


Around About Bayham

Cheryl Lester’s vision is to connect the residents of her community. Around About Bayham is a weekly publication that was launched January 17th 2008. The paper captures the happenings and heart of the Bayham community. Bayham, Elgin’s easternmost municipality, extends from the shores of Lake Erie into the heartland of farm country and includes Calton, Corinth, Eden, North Hall, New England, Port Burwell, Richmond, Straffordville and Vienna.

The Visionary

Bayham resident Cheryl Lester took the initiative to start the paper and was its publisher/ editor up until this September. Her career has been as a consultant in organizational leadership and she stresses, “I am not a journalist.” She is however, a person who recognizes potential.

The Inspiration

Cheryl believed that there were many local assets that might be better appreciated if there was a forum to share the stories. She quickly began to envision “Around About Bayham— The People’s Paper” during a few of her beach walks last year. Cheryl’s vision has been realized weekly in a paper that is fun, informative, and full of life, local people, happenings, news and issues. She has effectively worked through the logistical and time challenges of creating and producing a weekly publication, as well as meeting her consulting commitments. Cheryl expresses a profound sense of appreciation for the enthusiasm and contributions of community members, as well as those of her husband Doug.

Passing the Torch

Liz Underhill enthusiastically took over the helm as AAB’s publisher/editor at the beginning of September. Cheryl is looking forward to some of those inspirational beach walks which have, of late, been a distant memory.


4My hope was that the paper would help people to see themselves more clearly as important pieces of the Bayham community, a community with great possibilities. 4At first many were surprised that the paper wanted their stories and pictures but buy-in to the idea has grown. It has been intriguing to discover who is interested in writing and their topics of choice. One recurring column, called “Common Folk” is about everyday people with amazing accomplishments. ~Cheryl Lester

Liz Underhill can be contacted at Stories and pictures of Bayham’s people and events are always welcome.

For email subscriptions & online content, visit Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008



A Farmer, A Foodie & A Feast

This new regular feature will bring you information on three aspects of local food. The Farmer section will feature an area farm operation. Our Foodie will be a local person passionate about real food, whether a chef, cook, caterer, nutritionist, or home cook. Finally, the Feast will bring you some seasonal menu ideas, to re-establish the connection between field and table.


Dedicated to bringing their customers fresh, seasonal produce, Empire Valley Farm Market is located just west of Wallacetown on Highway #3. Dave and Joy Westelaken began farming at Empire Valley in 1984. They have since expanded and diversified with the addition of the market in 1993 and greenhouse in 2003.


ave manages the planning and production of a diverse variety of crops on 125 acres. Many kinds of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, gourds and sweet corn are grown for processors and fresh market. It’s his hard work behind the scenes that provides the abundance of fresh-picked produce throughout the summer and fall. The “face” of Empire Valley is an inviting market and greenhouse set alongside the 100-year-old family home. You will often find Joy there, as she coordinates the hub of activity necessary to operate the farm and market. Dedicated, long-term employees and the whole family work together to create a popular stop for customers to pick up local fruits, vegetables and flowers, plus recipes, tips and news of community events. Joy never pauses for long during market season, but it doesn’t take many minutes to get a sense of her energy, ability to find and seize opportunity, and practical business savvy. If there are programs or initiatives available to help with management and promotion of the farm, Joy is sure to have investigated them


and signed up as an active participant. Empire Valley belongs to both Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing, and Fresh Vegetable Growers of Ontario. This is the second year for the farm’s corn maze, as part of the Ontario Maze Craze program. Empire Valley is now working toward certification with Local Food Plus, an organization which aims to foster local sustainable food systems. Empire Valley goes to St. Thomas’ Horton Market Saturday and Covent Garden Market in London Thursday, bringing produce to their patrons. Hundreds of loyal customers also regularly visit Empire Valley in Wallacetown. Joy is also an avid community supporter and advocate for the mutual benefits of working with other groups and businesses. Her enthusiasm invites happy collaboration. She works with local restaurants such as Lakeview Gardens in Eagle, Tall Tales Café in Wallacetown and The Green Onion in Dutton, bringing their patrons the good tastes of farm fresh produce.

Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008



The Tall Tales Café is a popular diner and social hub in Wallacetown. Operator and Chef, John Mairleitner sees the move to local as a good fit with his business. As we chat, he receives several compliments on his coleslaw, which was served the previous evening at the Elgin Cattlemen’s Association BBQ in St. Thomas.

How did you come to operate the Tall Tales Café? My family has always run restaurants. My 2 brothers and I had helped out since my Mom took over the Tall Tales in 1982. I spent a year taking business courses at Fanshawe, with thoughts of being an accountant, but I found I wasn’t a desk person. I discovered Fanshawe also offered Hotel & Restaurant which appealed to me. I completed that 3-year program, and really liked the cooking part, so went on to apprentice at the Kettle Creek Inn in 1995 and obtain chef’s certification from George Brown in Toronto.

What are the challenges of operating the business? The business includes a gas bar and variety store with video rentals and lotto kiosk. It’s a challenge to keep on top of the paperwork and management of all three. But the diversity is also beneficial in a rural location.

What are the benefits and challenges of running a restaurant in a small village? You have to keep in mind time and space available and customer favourites, so the diner format has some limitations, but there’s also freedom to offer home-made items and local ingredients.

Does your business give you much creative outlet? Catering gives me a chance for more creative cooking. For example, I recently catered a wedding in Rodney at Lion’s Gate Estates. A chef friend helped with the preparation of a

meal for 150 people consisting of 6,000 pieces of 12 appetizers. I really enjoyed doing that, although it was a bit nerve-wracking—a little bit of tension is good though; it helps keep up the flow of preparation.

What are your thoughts on the recent emphasis on local? I have to keep convenience in mind to keep the diner running smoothly so some local items fit better than others, but I have always tried to use as much as possible. I keep in contact with Joy at Empire Valley Farm Market and use what she offers as a menu focus. Our popular bean and bacon soup uses beans from Ontario Thompson Beans. Our ground beef, hamburgers, and deli meat are from Evelyn’s Sausage Kitchen in Shedden.

What are your plans for the future? I have found in recent months that transient customers are down and local customers have increased. I think that with the price of gas and environmental concerns this trend will continue. I see this as a great opportunity. The area has lots to offer. I look forward to giving my local customers greater variety right here with more home-made items using local products, getting involved in the Local Food Plus program, and some other related ideas. I am really excited about carrying out these plans in the upcoming year.

You are well known for seasonal fruit and other pies? Any secrets to share? The biggest hint is just don’t over mix the pastry.

Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008




Here’s a smattering of simple autumn menu ideas—all told, they use each of the September & October seasonal fruits and vegetables (see pages 6 & 7) at least once! Mix and match to create your own seasonal feast. For recipes not printed here or elsewhere in this issue, check out



Squash & Apple Soup Corn & Potato Chowder

Peach Crisp or Crumble Tall Tales Café Apple Pie (next page) Cheese & Fruit Tray with Grapes, Pears & Apples Watermelon & Muskmelon Kebabs


Broccoli & Cauliflower Salad (next page) Shredded Beet-Cabbage Salad Mixed Greens Salad



Curried Couscous Chicken (pg 27) Pork with Stone Fruit & Pear Wine (pg 10)

Roasted Autumn Vegetables Brussels Sprouts with Leeks (this page) Steamed Green & Wax Beans



Fresh Salsa (recipe at Empire Valley) Cucumber Raita & Pita Bread (this page)

Savoury Zucchini Corn Muffins

Cucumber Mint Raita

Brussels Sprouts with Leeks

2 cups Balkan style yogurt cheesecloth 1 English cucumber 1 clove garlic, minced 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice 1 tsp ground cumin 1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint salt, to taste •• Line a sieve with cheesecloth and strain the yogurt in it for at least 2 hours. •• Seed, grate and squeeze dry the cucumber. •• Mix the yogurt and cucumber with the garlic, lime juice, cumin, mint and salt. •• Serve with Naan or pita bread.

1 2 1 1


lb brussels sprouts, sliced into thirds leeks, thinly sliced Tbsp vegetable oil Tbsp margarine 1/4 cup water 1 Tbsp each thyme & oregano salt & pepper, to taste •• In a large frying pan, heat the oil and margarine until the margarine is melted. •• Add the brussels sprouts and leeks and sauté for 4 or 5 minutes •• Add the water and herbs. •• Cook until sprouts are tender. •• Season with salt and pepper.

Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008


Broccoli & Cauliflower Salad

Tall Tales Café Apple Pie

head each broccoli & cauliflower 1/2 lb bacon, cooked, drained & crumbled 1 cup finely diced cheddar cheese 1/2 cup rasins 1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts 1/4 red onion, chopped 1 cup Miracle Whip 1/4 cup white sugar 2 Tbsp vinegar •• Cut broccoli & cauliflower into bite-sized pieces (you can include the stems if you wish). Mix together with bacon, cheese, rasins, nuts and onion in a large bowl. •• Mix the Miracle Whip, sugar and vinegar together. •• Pour the dressing over the remaining ingredients and toss to coat.

4-5 large apples, peeled, cored & sliced 11/3 cup sugar 13/4 cups flour 2 Tbsp brown sugar 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1 cup butter or margarine, melted •• Spread the apples in the bottom of an unbaked pie crust. •• Mix 1/3 cup of the white sugar and 3 Tbsp flour with the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the apples. •• Mix together butter/margarine with the remaining white sugar and flour and sprinkle over the pie. •• Bake at 350° F for approximately 45 minutes, or until crisp is golden.


Empire Valley Farm Market is at 27983 Talbot Ln, Wallacetown (519.762.3504, They’re also at the Horton Market in St. Thomas on Saturdays and the Covent Garden Market in London on Thursdays. The Tall Tales Cafe is at 29634 Talbot Line, also in Wallacetown (519.762.2605).


Doors Open Port Stanley/Sparta

Take a peek behind the scenes around Port Stanley & Sparta this October.


ort Stanley and Sparta invite you to explore their heritage gems during the Doors Open Ontario event, Saturday October 18, 2008. It’s your chance to discover a new place, tour a site that you may have admired, or get a glimpse of some behind the scenes action. It will also provide an opportunity to talk to people who can give you the “inside scoop”, and perhaps a new perspective on history.

Spirited Fun in Sparta

The Sparta House Tea Room began as a colonial-style hotel in the 1840s. Over the years, in addition to being an inn and tearoom, it has served as a funeral parlour and a hardware store. The owners will share with Doors Open visitors a tour of what was once the upstairs ballroom plus the story of two frequently sighted visitors of the ghostly kind. In the pre-Halloween spirit, several Sparta merchants decorated for the season will also tell their own ghostly stories. Live entertainment, including barbershop quartet, pumpkin decorating competition, free treasure hunt and more fun for the entire family will enliven your visit to the village.

More info for each location can be found at (Go to Events and select Port StanleySparta 2008 in the Event Search).


ON THIS YEAR’S TOUR Alma Villa Erie Salmon & Trout Club Orchard Hill Farm Port Stanley Festival Theatre Port Stanley Fishery Quai du Vin Estate Winery St. John’s Presbyterian Church The Windjammer Inn Elgin County Museum Sparta House Tea Room & Restaurant

Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008


Back-to-School Lunchbox Tips Lunchtime Complaints

Think food safety. Use safe food handling techniques and ensure work area, containers and raw produce are clean. Temperature

Get prepared. Stock up on reusable containers for easy, spillproof packing. Keep a stock of cut-up vegetables in the refrigerator.

The Solution

© istockphoto/20/21

Here are some tips to help prevent these and other complaints:

control is important to both safety and food enjoyment. Send frozen drinks or ice paks for cold foods and a thermos for hot foods. Follow peanut allergy guidelines provided by your child’s school. Make lunch easy to eat. Avoid peeling, difficult to open containers or messy foods. Lunch time is often short. Give choice. With your child, make a list of favourite foods from the four food groups. Children who are involved in the planning are more likely to eat their lunch.

The dietitians at outline four common pet peeves children have about school lunches: “I hate it when my sandwich is soggy.” “My fruit always gets squashed.” “I can’t stand it when my drink is warm.” “I’m tired of the same old thing for lunch.”

Some Outside-the-Box Ideas for Kids Lunches 4 The Deli Buffet. Pack a divided container with cheese, meat, and vegetables. Include a veggie dip and a whole grain tortilla, bun, bagel or pita. 4 Cold Leftovers. Some kids like pizza, pasta, or cabbage rolls just as well cold. 4 Fruit Smoothies. Blend up in the morning and send in a cold thermos. 4 Pasta Salads. These may be preferred to a sandwich. Stir in tuna or chicken, vegetables, nuts or seeds, dried fruit or diced cheese. 4 Yogurt Sundae. Spoon vanilla yogurt into a wide mouth thermos. Send favourites like granola, fruit, nuts or raisins to stir in. 4 Roll-Ups. Spread a tortilla with cream cheese, sprinkle with finely chopped raw vegetables and roll up. Cut into one-inch slices.


Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008


Artist Profile: Beth Spence Beth Spence is a Port Stanley resident whose work has been exhibited mainly in Ontario, Manitoba and Upper New York State. She is a member and past-president of the Port Stanley Artists’ Guild and a member of the St. Thomas Artists’ Guild. Beth’s studio “Doodlings” will be part of the fall Port Stanley Art Tour slated for Sept 20th and 21st 2008. Her studio is located at 43070 Gentry Lane (by appointment) and she can be reached at 519.782.7772.

What is your approach to painting? Painting is extremely personal. I attempt to approach painting in a broad, abstract way, and deal with the entire canvas, not just parts of it. Hopefully, a painting should develop as a whole in terms of colours, form and relationship. It is not so much what you paint as how you see the things you choose to paint and the excitement you feel in them. When I paint someone, I am not concerned so much with likeness as with the character or spirit of that person. Certain objects and space can also have their own character. Media used include oils, acrylics, watercolours or mixed, depending on the subject matter—seascapes, landscapes, portraits, pets or still life.

What sparked your interest in being an artist? I was blessed with parents who supported my desire to paint at an early age. Then I had several well-known mentors throughout my formative years. During my early teens in Port Colborne, I was able to hop on a bus to Buffalo, New York and attend classes at the Albright Knox Gallery.

How did you become a teacher? I graduated with honours from the University of Western Ontario in Family Studies. Back then Western didn’t have an art program. At age

40, I had studied painting for several years and knew I wanted to teach art. I got permission to take a visual arts major for my teaching certification at University of Toronto. I then taught for twenty years in various schools. An arts credit was mandatory, and some of the students thought art class would be the easiest—some of them got a bit of a surprise. But I enjoyed teaching and think it was a definite advantage to start it at an older age.

What are your present interests? I am active with a small group in painting plein air. What a wonderful way to explore Elgin and Central Elgin County! We learn, we offer suggestions and we meet an interested public. I also teach some very small classes which I enjoy because it is a chance to meet some different and interesting people. Fellow artists appreciate Beth’s skills and knowledge, as well as her huge sense of humour and the joy she takes in art, teaching and learning. She once admonished one of her high school students who was disappointed that he had achieved only 90%. “A true artist”, she said, “shouldn’t get 100%— they would lose interest in striving and experimenting”. Beth and the other members of the plein air group are true artists, happy with their adventure and quite content never to get 100%.

Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008



Curried Couscous Chicken

From Cooking With Herbs, Volume 1 by Deborah Benner & Shelley McVittie.


ho better to make cooking with herbs easy and delicious than Deborah Benner, of Heritage Line Herbs? Her family farm grows 150 varieties of herbs and she showcases them in several tasty ways at their Silver Birch Tea Room. Add to that artist Shelley McVittie’s love for the old-fashioned warmth of country life and cooking, and her ability to capture this in illustrations, anecdotes and tips, and you have a winning combination.

Deb loves to show how simple it is to make herbs a tasty part of your meals, and the book is a great resource to do just that.

Cooking with Herbs is available at Heritage Line Herbs (53443 Heritage Line, RR#1 Aylmer, 519-866-5577), Cobblestones (48664 John Wise Line, RR#5 Aylmer, 519-773-5912) and online at

Curried Couscous Chicken from Heritage Line Herbs’ Cooking with Herbs by Deborah Benner & Shelley McVittie 1 lb boneless chicken breast, cubed 1 Tbsp olive oil 1 onion, finely diced 21/2 Tbsp curry powder pinch cinnamon 11/2 cups white wine 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced 1 small zucchini, diced 19oz can chick peas, rinsed and drained 2 cups chicken stock 11/2 cups couscous 4 Tbsp chopped cilantro

DIRECTIONS 1 In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil over mediumhigh heat. 2 Season chicken with salt & pepper. 3 Brown chicken. Add onion, curry powder & cinnamon and cook for 1 minute. 4 Reduce heat to medium, add wine & cook for 6-8 mins until liquid is reduced by half. 5 Add pepper and zucchini and cook for a further 5 mins. Stir in chick peas and reduce heat to low. 6 In a medium saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil. 7 Add couscous. Cover, remove from heat and let stand for 5 mins. Fluff with fork. 8 Serve chicken over couscous. 9 Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Relish Elgin Magazine • Fall 2008


Profile for Joanne Bagshaw

Relish Elgin Fall 2008 Edition  

Relish Elgin is a lifestyles magazine, promoting the people, place, businesses and events of Elgin County, Ontario, Canada.

Relish Elgin Fall 2008 Edition  

Relish Elgin is a lifestyles magazine, promoting the people, place, businesses and events of Elgin County, Ontario, Canada.


Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded