An afternoon Cultivating Shiitake Mushrooms(Day 1)

Yesterday we spent a few hours helping out at the Boyter Family Farm in Fonthill to learn about the process of cultivating mushrooms by working hand in hand with them. Here are a few photos from the first stage of cultivating shiitake mushrooms with a brief description below each as well as a link with more in depth information if you’re interested.

Violet and the pile of cut Maple logs, we used for cultivating. It’s recommended to use a hard wood for Shiitake Mushrooms such as oak, birch and beech along with a few others are also options for  the process. 
Drilled holes for inoculation approximately 1 inch in depth.
Drilling the holes to later fill with shiitake spores.
Melting bees wax using an old crock pot as a double boiler. 
Hardened block of bees wax that was later melted for capping the holes filled with spores.
Using a bent spoon to cover the holes.
 Maple logs filled with mushroom spores and capped with bees wax.  

Shopping Waste Free in Niagara

Our Favourite Waste Free Grocery Shopping in Niagara

  1. Farmers Markets 
  2.  Roadside Stands & Farm Stores
    Bring your own cloth/reusable bags
  3. Bulk Barn
    The Bulk Barn provides many organic options and will  allow you to bring your own  cloth bags when you stock up on dry goods. Their plastic containers for wet items are 100% recyclable.
  4. Health Food Stores such as The Healthy Cupboard, Rosemary’s Natural Choice & Health Wise

Inspirational Docs & Talks

As we reflect on the first week of 2016 we are noticing a trend in our life that we hope continues for the remainder of the year and beyond. That trend is that of self sufficiency and consciousness.

We(C&G) like to consider ourselves a curious pair, always  reading, researching and discussing in search of new knowledge; especially when it comes to topics related to culture, food and the environment. We are thankful for the friends who know our passions and send us recommendations of documentaries and good reads that they know will fill our minds and hearts.
This past week two videos have helped to kick start a higher level of consciousness about our own actions and their effects on not just our bodies but also the environment around us and we thought we would share.

The first was recommended this past week by a friend, the title is  In Defense of Food a PBS documentary  by Micheal Pollan. To be honest we see the dozens of documentaries related to the food system on Netflix and often skip over them. We know about Monsanto and have watched King Corn, we  consider ourselves food/health conscious however the simplicity of Michael Pollan’s research in the documentary is one of the aspects that we connect with, along with the cultural aspects which take a look at our history with food and the whiplash of health and nutrition trends that continue to bombard much of North America.
He puts it quite simply with 3 easy rules “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” He explores each of these aspects by looking at our history with food and travels to different parts of the world to see how indigenous tribes and life long vegetarians food choices have impacted their health. The documentary findings are not easy to ignore and we found ourselves delving deeper into our own food choices.
The second video is a TED Talk by Lauren Singer called My Zero Waste Life. 
A year and a half ago the  Environmental student made a challenge to herself to create as little waste as possible. After realizing she was judging others on their actions without fully looking at her own she decided to make a change and be the change she wanted to see in the world.
We found ourselves appreciating her honesty and once again the simplicity behind her actions and choices.
Avoiding plastic waste, shopping consciously (which after taking a trip to the grocery store made us realize the organic/natural choice without plastic can be hard to come by) Her actions are creating a movement and have moved us to look at our waste a little closer, and think twice next time we buy something.

These two video crossed our path for a reason and we are happy to begin the year with these positive lifestyle advocates sharing their advice. Our hope to to continue to increase our self sufficiency in matters of growing our own food but also expand that to making many of our products from scratch. Not to promise ourselves we will be perfect but to know we can do better and continue to try. In the words of Lauren Singer we hope to further align our values with our lifestyle.

Related Resources

Fire Roasted Chestnuts

– Chestnuts
– Water
To Taste
– Salt
1.. Prepare your fire, we used two cement blocks to hold up the pan and wood underneath before lighting the fire.
2. Soak your chestnuts in warm water for a couple of minute
3. Make a small slice in each of the chestnuts, this is to help them from bursting
4. Once the pan is hot add in chestnuts, we used a large steel camping skillet
5. Roast chestnuts, flipping them constantly until they are brown, only slightly burned(too burned they can become hard)
6. Remove chestnuts from fire, and shell them once they cool
7. Season with salt (we often don’t use salt the flavour is amazing on it’s own, however it is an option)
* Best eaten when warm
Health Benefits of Chestnuts
Like all other nuts, chestnuts can help to prevent heart diseases and conditions and provide energy, along with being very low in cholesterol. They are basically just as important to include in your diet as other grains. Preventing the common cold and enhancing fertility in men are some of the other health benefits, which are attributed to the presence of vitamin C in chestnuts.

Fire Roasted Salsa Recipe

     The experience of cooking over the fire is an opportunity to connect with your food and environment. It gives you a hands on experience creating something that’s not only satisfying for the soul but also the palette. This Fire Roasted Salsa has rich smoky flavours that are only achieved while roasting your vegetable over the fire. This traditional recipe is quite free and I encourage you to explore different vegetables in the process, new types of tomatoes and hot peppers will create new flavours. Here are the basic steps to this delicious homemade salsa.
– Tomatoes(we used a mix of roma, pink bumblebee and beef steak) and sometimes even throw in cherry tomatoes
– Onions(red gives a really sweet flavour) 
– Jalapenos & or Cayenne Peppers
– Garlic
– Vegetable oil
To Taste
– Salt
– Pepper
– Sugar
– Lime Juice 
– Fresh Cilantro

1. Lightly wash and dry your vegetables.

2. Prepare your fire, we used two cement blocks to hold up the pan and situated the wood underneath before lighting the fire.

3. Lightly oil your pan(must be able to resist high heat). We used a budare a traditional Venezuelan iron pan.

4. Place your tomatoes(whole), onions(cut in half), garlic with peal(whole) and peppers(whole) on the pan.
Fire roasted vegetables.
Fire roasted vegetables.
5. Lightly turn the vegetables to evenly grill them, if you are going to keep the peels on your vegetables then make sure not to burn them otherwise those burnt pieces will show up in your salsa later.

Fire roasted vegetables
Fire roasted vegetables

6.Once the vegetables are evenly grilled remove them using a long pair of tongs and place them in a separate bowl.

Fire roasted vegetables by Culture & Greens
Fire roasted vegetables by Culture & Greens

7. Once all of your vegetables are cooked finely chop your jalapenos and garlic. Remove peals and dice your onions and tomatoes(if you like chunkier salsa then dice them larger) then place all your ingredients into a large pot and place on the stove or over fire in a  heat resistant pot.

8. Once the mixture is at a consistency you like add your extra ingredients for taste like finely chopped cilantro, salt, pepper, lime juice and sugar. Often the salsa will already have a sweet flavour and wont necessarily need the sugar.

9. Allow your salsa to cool and transfer into a sealed jar or container to store in the refrigerator. You may also can your salsa if you make a large batch.

Enjoy with corn chips, with tortillas, rice or on scrambled eggs….or basically anything because it’s just that delicious.

Fire Roasted Salsa by Culture & Greens
Fire Roasted Salsa by Culture & Greens