The Canadian Food Experience Project-August 2013

Each summer I am lucky to enjoy the bounty of what Ontario has to offer. Living in an area so close to farms and markets always inspires me to get out and see what local farmers are up to and try to get a sense of what life on the farm is like. 
Last fall my cousin married a wonderful young man who happens to be the oldest son in a wonderful family that has a berry farm in Norfolk county. Jeff and Paula Zelem, of Kent Kreek Berries have farming in their blood and their 4 children certainly do as well. 
This weekend was a fun and busy one as my close family was in town for my grandmother’s 85th birthday party. A trip to the farm to pick blueberries was on the agenda. During their busy work weekend, yes weekend because the farm doesn’t stop for the holidays they not only let us pick fresh juicy blueberries but gave us a tour of the operations. I was so excited to walk through the barn to see the grading of the blueberries, packaging and labeling all happen right in front of. This little blueberry assures that “only the berry best for you” is in each container.

Since the challenge for The Canadian Food Experience Project for August was a Canadian Food Hero in the region I thought a perfect choice would be Kent Kreek Berries. Getting to know the family that farms our food is getting to know your own food and where it’s coming from and just how important it is to the community and families all around.
Oldest son Greg, who married my dear cousin Sarah, was in charge of us this weekend. He gave us a special tour that I can honestly say opened my eyes to see beyond the fields of blue. While driving on the tractor, with the makeshift wagon in behind filled with my family, Sarah filled us in (with Greg’s help) about the fields we were in and what crop was growing or would come to be along each row. I also found out why it was named Kent Kreek Berries. The creek that ran through the farm is called Kent creek. Makes perfect sense! A great water source to help the farm's berries too.
A keen eye for the farm, Greg made sure to stop to fix a pipe that was leaking while we patiently waited for his return. We came to a perfect picking row near the back of the farm. Excitedly we jumped off, with baskets in hand and started picking. I am pretty sure we ate more than we picked at first, but soon enough the baskets were filling up! 

I was looking for some big blue berries to take photos of and Greg told me to come over and check these ones out. So I hopped over a row to check out the bushes Greg was nibbling on. “These are 30 years old, my grandfather planted this variety and they are great for eating out of your hands” 
Greg was right they were certainly perfect to eat right out of your hands and boasted some big blues indeed. Some photos showcased some berries being as big as a loonie! You know some antioxidants are in there and then some. 
It was at that moment I knew just how important a family farm is and what it means to the farmers and beyond. 

I had so much running through my mind with all this family and fun that recipes started to flood my memory. So I came home with a desire to make all things blueberry! So because my grandmother was leaving the next day a quick batch of blueberry jam was whipped up so she could take it with her in her luggage. I had a box of Certo pectin crystals in the cupboard so I just used that recipe from the box to whip up a few jars. It was perfect! 

Now of course I also made pancakes and another batch of blueberry peach jam and those recipes you can find "In my Kitchen" column this week. But here are a couple more blueberry recipes that are perfect for this time of year and also a tribute to some local farming food heroes, the Zelems and Kent Kreek Berries. So glad to have you part of our family and thank you for taking pride in all that you do and grow for our families! 

Blueberry and White Chocolate Tart

Sweet white chocolate with a hint of orange is the backdrop for fresh blueberries. Adding some fresh blueberries into the cooked mixture truly adds that summer fresh flavour right back into this dessert.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours

1 1/4 cups (300 mL)  graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup (50 mL) butter, melted
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) 35% whipping cream
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar
3 tbsp (45 mL)  all purpose flour
4 oz (125 g) white chocolate, chopped

Blueberry Topping:
2 cups (500 mL) fresh Ontario blueberries
1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar
2 tsp (10 mL) cornstarch
2 tsp (10 mL) grated orange rind
1 tbsp (15 mL) orange juice

In bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into 13 inch by 4 inch (33 cm x 10 cm) rectangle pan with removable bottom and bake in 350 F (180 C) oven for about 10 minutes or until set. Let cool.

In bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar and flour; set aside. In saucepan bring whipping cream just to the boil and slowly pour into egg yolk mixture whisking constantly. Return to pan and whisk in chocolate. Place over medium heat and cook, whisking gently for about 5 minutes or until thickened enough to coat a spoon. Pour into cooled crust and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until set.

Blueberry Topping: Meanwhile, in small saucepan bring 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) of the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, orange rind and juice to boil over medium high heat. Cook for 1 minute and remove from heat. Stir in remaining blueberries. Spoon over chilled white chocolate and refrigerate for about 1 hour or until cool and set.

Makes 8 servings.

Tip: Can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

If you don’t have the tart pan simply use an 11 x 7 inch (28 x 18 cm) baking pan lined with parchment or foil.

The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us.


  1. What an inspirational story, Emily! I cannot imagine carrying on the work of family who came before with that same passion and pride. What a gift... it is exactly these kinds of people that are Canadian Food Heroes. I can feel your inspiration through the recipes you have made and shared. I am now heading over to your column. This is exactly how this project is supposed to work. Woven into your everyday work - with this focus... not be an "extra" chore, but a little added focus to what you already do! Hey - I hear I will see you again at Christmas in November this year! I am taking my mom from the 4th to the 7th of November!

  2. Thank you so much Valerie! I love these folks and would love everyone to be able to experience the love of food and family in this way and many others:) I am so excited that I will get to see you in November! What fun:) Twice in one year, it is truly an honour.
    xo Emily

  3. Hi Emily,

    Really enjoyed the story and the recipe. Yesterday I did a behind the scenes tour of Martin's Apple Farm and I have a new appreciation and respect for what fruit farmers go through.



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