Elmira’s Blockbuster Days Are Here!

The Downtown Elmira BIA has been working hard on this week’s Blockbuster Sale. If you don’t already have it marked on your calendar, this annual event takes place this Thursday, Friday and Saturday – August 7, 8 and 9.

The Blockbuster Sale (formerly Sidewalk Sales) may be annual, but this year it has a new name, look, and exciting new activities. This event is fun for the whole family and begins Thursday where you can start off with shopping in downtown Elmira.

Some stores will remain open until 8 pm. Then after you shop-til-you-drop, you can enjoy live entertainment at the band shelter, grab dinner at a local restaurant, or stop by the Kin Club BBQ (at the old KFC parking lot).

The fun continues on Friday with a new addition this year of a barbecue and car show. Face painters, jugglers, a magic show, balloon artists and more will also be downtown on Friday.

But if you miss the first two days, you can still come back for more sales on Saturday. Of course, we’ll be there for the fun, too, so be sure to stop by the Food Shop!

Check out the Downtown Elmira BIA on Facebook or Twitter for up-to-date info on this must-attend event.

“Working together to grow in a positive way”

elmira wibIf you’re a woman living or operating your business in Elmira, then the Elmira Women in Business (WIB) might interest you. Self-described as “a group of local women navigating business together”, the Elmira WIB meets monthly to network, enjoy guest speakers, and business showcases.

“The goal is to keep it casual and productive,” says Karen, owner of, and photographer at Green Apple Photography and one of the organizers for the monthly get-togethers.

“There are a lot of great women in our area who run their own businesses, and I found that there wasn’t a place, time, or group for us all to meet and connect together,” she adds.

Karen says that, so far, there has been a wide range of attendees, including a nutritionist, real estate agent, massage therapist, personal organizer, communications company owner, lawyer, nursery/garden centre owner, and web designer, to name just a few.

The goal of the networking nights is to allow people to meet other local businesswomen, share marketing ideas, discuss difficulties and opportunities for small businesses in Elmira, and to simply share your story.

At each meeting, the businesses are showcased and attendees can learn about how they operate, what they do for marketing, and what they offer the community.

There is also opportunity to learn more about specific business topics and women’s interests with guest speakers.

“Our latest speaker was Gail Martin, editor of The Elmira Independent. She gave a wonderful talk on building relationships with local media.”

The Elmira WIB website is under construction, but in the meantime, you can join their mailing list or stay up-to-date via Facebook and Twitter.

Local Strawberry Blessings

strawberries It’s that time of year in Ontario – where beautiful, delicious produce is fresh and plenty, something that we are blessed to have locally. Red and juicy berries are one of my favourites, when they’re in season.

We use strawberries a lot in the Never Enough Thyme kitchen – on salads, in scones, or with goat’s cheese and brie on a crostini. While there’s nothing quite like fresh strawberry jam on toast, these tasty little morsels are versatile.

I came across a recipe this past winter for “Strawberry Blessing” and saved it until the local berries were ripe for the picking. Keeping a recipe that long was a challenge for me as I love developing the original and creating a new one.

The first time I test a recipe, I try to stay true to the original guidelines, and make notes as I go along. For instance, this recipe is made with mascarpone, an Italian sweet cheese; but sweetened cream cheese would have a similar result.

Enjoy the local strawberry blessings, however you choose to use and eat them! This instance is my take on the delicious dessert – perfect for a summer barbecue or potluck.

Strawberry Blessing

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups strawberry jam
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 3 tbsp. Grand Marnier
  • 1 1/3 cups whipping cream
  • 6 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 ¼ pound mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 pound of berries
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 5 mint leaves
  • 16 lady fingers

Instructions

  1. In a pot, mix 1 cup of jam, water, and orange juice and whisk together.
  2. Bring to a simmer and allow to cool.
  3. Add the Grand Marnier.
  4. In a bowl, whisk the whipping cream, 6 tbsp. sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
  5. In another bowl, whip mascarpone cheese until soft and smooth.
  6. Add in the lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon and whip together.
  7. Add the whipped cream, with a small amount first to allow the mascarpone cheese to get smooth. Then add the rest of the whipped cream.
  8. Slice strawberries, add sugar, and chopped mint.
  9. Line a 9×9 pan with plastic wrap. Spread half of the cheese mix over the plastic wrap. Add a layer of sliced berries. Spread the other half of the remaining strawberry jam over the cheese mix.
  10. Dip lady fingers in the jam water and place over the jam, rounded side down.
  11. Place another layer of cheese mix, berries, jam, and more lady fingers.
  12. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 4 hours.
  13. Unwrap and flip onto serving platter. Decorate with berries and mint, then serve.

 

Image: rakratchada torsap / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Helping you eat your way to health”

nutritionAs a fellow lover of food, I’m excited to introduce you to Amy Sonnenberg of Designed for You Nutrition – a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. Amy loves food just as much as we do at Never Enough Thyme – not just to eat, but she’s also interested in how it grows, where it comes from, and preparing it.

Amy also sees food as a way to connect with people, share and celebrate. And the sharing is something she aims to do through her business – she wants “to share with others how to use food to our advantage, choosing the right ingredients to support our health.”

After studying at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, Amy is now a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and she owns and operates Designed for You Nutrition in downtown Elmira. Amy is also a wife and a mother of two young children, so she understands the challenges us moms face – those of busy schedules, potentially picky eaters, allergies, budgets, and that sometimes it’s tough to go home and cook a healthy meal at the end of a long day.amy

With all of these factors in mind, Amy’s services include everything from one-on-one nutrition assessments and
meal plans, complete with recipes, to a personalized trip to the grocery store, and lunch and learn sessions at your work, to services geared toward childhood nutrition, and more!

On her website, Amy states that she wants “to walk along side you and help you discover the joy of eating, the fun of cooking and the satisfaction of feeding you and your family well.” So what are you waiting for? Contact Amy to get started down the path of the right nutrition, just for you. Phone 519-503-7926 or email amy.e.sonnenberg@gmail.com.

 

Photos from: www.designedforyounutrition.com.

The Happy Valet

valetIf you’ve ever wanted to order some of our take-home food or catering, but you don’t live in or near Elmira, or you’ll just be too busy prepping the other aspects of your party to come pick up the platters, we’re very excited to announce that we’re now working with Mary Jo of The Happy Valet.

She had us at “There’s not enough time in the day” and kept us with her fabulous, professional service.

In addition to the services The Happy Valet is helping us with, she also does everything from getting your groceries to taking your car in for service; waiting for the telephone repair man to watching your home while you’re away. “The Happy Valet can put more time back in your day for the more important things in your life,” which is a motto we can certainly get on board with!

Other examples The Happy Valet is happy to help with include:

  • Grocery/LCBO shopping
  • Gift buying and wrapping
  • Home and pet sitting
  • Dropping your vehicle for service
  • Assisting seniors with appointments
  • Pick up/drop off dry cleaning
  • Concierge services
  • Personal driving services
  • “Wait for service” for home technicians or deliveries

Gift certificates are also available. Contact Mary Jo today: 519-404-8195; thehappyvalet@bell.net.

Let it Rain in Downtown Elmira

umbrellaOne of the best aspects of being located in the heart of Elmira’s downtown is that you can park your car once and wander the streets, popping in and out of all of the wonderful places we have to offer. The downside to this, combined with Ontario’s unpredictable weather, is that you could leave the house ready for summer and get stuck in an out-of-the blue monsoon.

This is why we love the new Umbrella Program that the Downtown Elmira BIA has introduced. They’ve purchased 50 orange umbrellas and distributed them to businesses in downtown Elmira, which can then be used by customers. So, if you’re out and about and it begins to rain but you’re unprepared, you can borrow an umbrella from the business you’re at and return it to any business in downtown Elmira.

We’re excited to get our orange umbrellas and offer them to you if you get caught in the rain on your next visit to Never Enough Thyme!

Check out the Downtown Elmira BIA on Facebook.

 

Image: sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Farm to Table

farmingIt’s officially been spring for a month now, even if the weather hasn’t always displayed the signs synonymous with this season. But despite this fact, we’re gearing up for fresh, local produce to once again be in abundance and in our kitchen.

With warmer weather also comes wedding season, which Never Enough Thyme was busy with into fall and we’re sure to start picking up with again very soon. Even with our weddings, we aim to feature many local and seasonal ingredients. Our team works well together when it comes to creating the menu, though we do sometimes banter back and forth (in a good way) to come up with new ways or favourite recipes to bring out the best qualities of the produce and meats we select.

Part of our experimenting and creating sometimes includes trips to the farms where we source our products, and one such farm is my Uncle’s in Drayton, which we love for its lack of using chemicals and fertilizers.

When we visit these places, we see first-hand all the farmers who work around the clock to bring the produce and grain in from the fields. And their willingness to share their bounty is always inspiring! My Aunt often has an abundance of cherry tomatoes and she’s always eager to share it with her family and friends.

When I think about farming and cooking, it’s obvious that the people who take on these careers need to be passionate with a desire to make something great. These people won’t make millions, but waking up and doing what you love while providing people with a memorable experience and sustainable living is part of the joyous feeling that comes with farming and cooking for a living.

I’m so grateful for all the farmers out there and the hard work they do, including my Uncle Brian and Aunt Helen who never hesitate to share and grow these wonderful ingredients for us to cook with.

These recipes were inspired by a trip we took to my Uncle and Aunt’s farm in the fall, and we hope they inspire you to cook with local ingredients as well!

Cherry Tomato, Chicken and Corn Tostada

Ingredients

  • 4 whole grain flour (or corn) tortillas
  • 2 cooked and cooled chicken breasts
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 cob corn, kernels removed
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Place flour tortillas on a cookie sheet. Pull chicken into pieces, divide and put on the flour tortillas.
  • In a bowl, toss the corn, tomatoes, and sliced green onion; drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt and pepper; toss.
  • Divide among the flour tortillas and sprinkle on the cheese.
  • Bake in oven at 350˚F until cheese is melted and golden.
  • Serve with your favourite salsa!

My Mom’s Zucchini Loaf

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups washed and shredded zucchini
  • 1.5 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ cup chopped nuts

Instructions

  • Cream together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla until combined.
  • Fold in the flours, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, chopped nuts and zucchini.
  • Line two loaf pans with parchment paper and divide batter between the two.
  • Bake at 350˚F until toothpick comes out clean. 

 

Image: Keerati / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A Taste of Woolwich Comes to Elmira

local foodWe’re very excited that the annual Taste of Woolwich event takes place in Elmira this year. Even though there may still be snow on the ground, the Taste of Woolwich event stands by its mantra: “local food is always in season”. This is where you can buy and taste local food from Woolwich, learn more about local food issues, and engage your family with food activities.

The 8th annual event takes place tonight, April 7, from 5-8 p.m. at St. Teresa of Avila Church at 19 Flamingo Drive in Elmira.

There will be about 25 area growers and producers, primarily from Woolwich Township, who will offer information about the diversity of local foods available. There are also some exciting workshops throughout the evening, including:

  • Families Growing Together (5:10-5:40 p.m.): This session will teach families about gardening and where food comes from, with a focus on youth-oriented gardening opportunities.

 

  • Local Healthy Food Where We Live, Learn, and Work (5:50-6:20 p.m.): Experts will speak at this session about what’s happening in Woolwich and encourage conversation from the audience about “accessing healthy food where we live, learn, and work.”

 

  • Young People Cook – Demo (6:30-7:00 p.m.): Budding teen chef, Colin Rier, from the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory Café will demonstrate cooking with local food with junior foodies Mac and Coleton Benham.

 

  • Walk, Bike and Eat Local in Woolwich (7:10-7:45 p.m.): This session will focus on how we can make Woolwich a more walk, cycle and local food friendly community. Ellen Desjardins will present findings from local discussion groups and a community forum that took place this past winter. You can add your own ideas and respond to the call for community action.

As a jointly sponsored event from Woolwich Healthy Communities, The Region of Waterloo Public Health, and Foodlink Waterloo Region, all will have people on-site offering local food fun and games for the whole family.

If you’re looking to get out of the house now that spring has (sort of) sprung and beat the Monday blahs, Taste of Woolwich is free of charge (though donations are welcome) and close to home.

 

Image: porbital / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sampling some syrup

syrupThis year, on April 5, the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival is celebrating 50 years! Since 1965, the annual event has attracted thousands of people to the biggest festival of its kind and we’re excited to once again be part of the action. We especially love that proceeds from the Festival go back to non-profit organizations in the local Elmira community. We’re all about supporting local!

But we also don’t bring out the maple syrup just once a year, we love to cook with it year-round and have been experimenting with it lots as we gear up for the Festival.

Maple syrup isn’t just made for pancakes and French toast. We use this liquid gold for our butternut squash soup and to balance out a vinaigrette. You can use maple syrup as a substitute for honey and maple sugar as a substitute for brown sugar. Some of our best recipes started with a missing ingredient and using a substitution we had on hand. Be creative and experiment!

One of my favorite things to do as a chef is sharing what we create, whether it’s through pictures, on our website or this blog, in Woolwich Observer articles, and at our store and catering business – we enjoy bringing our passion of the region to your table. Congratulations to Elmira and all the volunteer on the 50th anniversary of the Maple Syrup Festival!

Here’s a full meal – entree, salad and dessert – starring maple syrup. Enjoy!

Maple Sugar Shack Chicken Breast

Rub:

  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 skin on chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • Combine all dry ingredients, evenly rub into the chicken breast, add vegetable oil. Let stand for 25 minutes.

Glaze:

  • ½ cup maple sugar 
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
  • Combine ingredients, it will turn into a paste. 
  • Place chicken after marinating on a baking tray and roast in a preheated oven at 400 for 8 minutes.
  • Turn oven down to 350 and spread the glaze over the chicken. Continue cooking until the chicken breast reaches 165 F.
  • Allow to rest for 5 minutes, slice and serve with salad.

Crunchy Romaine Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 head romaine, chopped
  • 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 Martin’s honey crisp apple, sliced
  • ¼ red onion, sliced
  • 15 toasted pecan halves
  • crumbled smoked cheddar
  • sea salt and cracked pepper
  • maple cider vinaigrette

Maple Cider Vinaigrette:

  • 2 tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. cider
  • 2 tsp. grainy Dijon
  • 1 tsp. chopped ginger
  • 1 tbsp. diced onion
  • 2 sprigs of chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp. Elmira maple syrup
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • combine in food processor and puree.

Instructions

  • In a bowl, place the chopped romaine, apple, carrot and red onion.
  • Toss in maple cider vinaigrette. Do not add the whole batch of dressing. Only add as much as you need.
  • Season with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place in serving dish and top with crumbled cheddar and pecan halves.

Tarte Tartin Upside-Down Apple Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 6 1/2 tbsp. cold butter
  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 7 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 7 tbsp. maple sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 8 baking apples, peeled and cored

Instructions

  • Place dry ingredients in food processor, add butter, water and egg yolk. Pulse until combined.
  • Create a ball wrap in cellophane and let rest in refrigerator for 1 hour.
  • Melt the butter in a cast iron pan, sprinkle on the maple sugar, allow the sugar to brown. Add the maple syrup.
  • Arrange halved apples in pan in a single layer, cook on stove top until the apples are caramelized and golden.
  • Arrange apple in bottom of pan with caramel.
  • Roll out dough to round shape – same size as the pan. Place on top, bake in oven until pastry is crisp, 20-25 minutes.
  • Serve with your favourite ice cream.

 

Image: rakratchada torsap / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Stay warm with comfort foods

chickenEven though spring is technically only a couple of weeks away, the white stuff is still piled up outside and you’re probably pretty sick of winter by now. We try to make the best of our time indoors by cooking with flavours that’ll give your house that warm, comforting smell. Nothing beats the smell of home cooking!

With more time inside, you have more of a chance to think about what to cook for dinner. During the cold days of winter, we often turn to braising, crock pots and full-flavoured savoury dishes.

Some of these dishes, especially ones that are French-inspired, use techniques that require more time and effort, but when it’s minus 30 out and the thought of going outside hurts your face, a little extra time by a warm stove is probably pretty appealing.

This recipe for Chicken a la Printanier allows us to use local ingredients and pairs well with mashed potatoes – the ultimate comfort food. Enjoy the (hopefully) last few days of winter with this hearty meal, and stay warm!

Chicken a la Printanier

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 leek (whites only)
  • 1 carrot, sliced diagonally
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 2 cups 35% cream
  • Snow peas
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Remove leaves from thyme and chop.
  • Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper and thyme. Sear the breasts in a hot pan with olive oil, skin side down first. Remove and set aside.
  • In the pan where the chicken was seared, add leeks and garlic, sauté for 3 minutes (do not let it brown too much).
  • Deglaze the pan with white wine and allow to reduce by three-quarters. Add cream and reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.
  • Add carrots and chicken breast, cover with lid or foil and place in preheated oven, cook for approximately 30 minutes.
  • Once finished, season with salt and pepper and add the snow peas.

 

Image: Apolonia / FreeDigitalPhotos.net