I am a city girl but my farming and foraging heritage seems to run deep. I find myself daydreaming about farmland or possibly expanding my urban garden to an urban farm – chickens and all. And, life does feel complete when I’m on the rocky, moss-soaked hills near my family cottage picking a basket of wild blueberries.
In the early twentieth century the government gave land grants to new immigrants. The area around the pre-Cambrian shield in Northern Ontario was deemed a suitable place for settlers from Finland because of the geographical similarities of the terrain. It was through a land grant that my great grandparents – Muumuu and Vaari – arrived in Canada from Finland via New York City.
They settled on a remote plot of land bridging two small lakes outside of Sudbury, Ontario. They were tasked with building a road, cut from bush and rock, leading to the nearest hamlet. The Grandparents’ proverb for their Grandchildren goes something like “When I was your age … I had to cross country ski to school 5 miles and back again, through bush and rock…” in my Grampa’s case it is not an exaggeration.
My Mother’s family maintains a cottage and small sleeping cabin down the road from the original homestead. My family has been picking wild blueberries from that same land for over 80 years.
Around the same time that my maternal grandparents immigrated, “new world” opportunity knocked for my paternal grandparents. My grandfather was a farmhand in England and was given a chance to “start-over” managing his own 100 acre farm in New Brunswick. After they settled, my great Grandparents worked the land, churned their own butter and made their own bread for the rest of their lives. My Grampy’s older brother Robert lived on the land until he died in the ‘90s when it went to a cousin who has maintained the property since then.
I was initially drawn to the cover of Janice Cole’s book Chicken and Egg but it was the subtitle that sold me : A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes. My farming blood calling to me – I had to have it. It wasn’t until I brought it home that I realized the “memoir” part of the book was only a small part of the delights the book has to offer. Janice Cole’s funny and engaging stories of raising 3 chickens in an urban garden are combined with beautiful pictures (each one looks like you could dive into the page and indulge) and outstanding recipes. All recipes use chicken and/or egg as a base but are more inspired than literal.
This beautiful blueberry sour cream tart was made using one of the recipes in the book with wild blueberries from the land around my family cottage.
For the crust I used this GF pie crust recipe from Gluten Free Girl. The extremely detailed recipe was very specific about ingredients and measurements making it hard to mess up. I did have to make a few minor substitutions (some variations on the flours and I used all butter) and followed the instruction for substitutions with care. The result was an outstanding crust that reminded me of a rich shortbread.
For more recipes and chicken inspired memoirs from Janice Cole check out her blog http://janicecole.net/blog/