Tag Archives: madoc

Red Fife – Found It!

I’ve played around with bread-making here and there over the last few years and done a fair amount of research on different flours. In the course of some web browsing I stumbled onto the topic of Red Fife wheat:

Bought to Canada by David Fife, of Peterborough, in 1842, it became the main spring wheat variety grown in Canada and the northern U.S. for decades. It was gradually displaced, however, as “new and improved” wheat varieties came onto the market and has only recently been re-introduced. In the past few years, Red Fife flour has been discovered and embraced by the artisan bread world for the fantastic flavour and deep golden-red crust it produces.

Intrigued, I tried to source some locally about a year ago and came up empty-handed. Then, while researching something entirely different last week, I discovered a Red Fife wheat grower only a stone’s-throw past the 100-mile ‘local’ definition, discovered also that the grower stone-mills it into flour, found out that Westboro’s newly-relocated Natural Food Pantry, just blocks away, had it … and here it is!

Heritage organic flour from CIPM, Madoc, Ontario

I think what pleased me most in finding this flour was discovering that it’s grown and milled just outside the small town of Madoc, Ontario, where my grandmother lived all her life and where I spent almost every summer of my childhood.

A bit more hunting netted a promising recipe for Red Fife whole wheat bread that uses two different pre-ferments (a la Peter Reinhart) for the dough and a flower pot as a sort of ‘brick oven’ to bake the bread.

Now I just need to buy a terra cotta flower pot* and find time in the next few weeks to give it a go!

*OK, I know, there’s the wood-fired brick oven I built in the back garden but winter has arrived here and although I cooked outside in it that first winter, I’m just not that stoic at this point. The best I can say is maybe …

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Madoc & Carp Fairs past & present … and a cider challenge for the future

Carp Fair - 26 September 2009

Carp Fair - 26 September 2009

My earliest acquaintance with the rural fairs was the Madoc Fair, which I attended often in childhood when visiting my grandmother. We lived in Toronto and I went to the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) each year but it was the Madoc Fair that I loved.

Aside from candy apples and candy floss, the ferris wheel and midway games, I indulged my ‘inner farmer’ by visiting every barnyard animal in the place. I was green with envy of the 4H kids, who rode horses and raised calves.

I took in every exhibit – pies, pickles and preserves, sewing projects, vegetable and flower displays – and felt a certain satisfaction whenever I recognised an entrant’s name, especially if there was a ribbon attached.

But the best thing ? Madoc Fair taffy!
Unchanged from when my grandmother was a child to when I was last there five years ago, it was a taste of heaven I’ve never found anywhere else!

After moving to Ottawa, friends and I made annual treks to the nearby Carp Fair. It became a family event when my children were small.

The big guys! Carp Fair '09

The big guys! Carp Fair '09


It’s been a few years, but last weekend marked our return to the Carp Fair – an evening visit this time; previous ones always were afternoons. I didn’t get to the barns but I watched 80 huge draft horses, all harnessed to wagons in teams of eight, parading around the outdoor ring at once – a pretty impressive sight! We had a great hip-of-beef dinner in the dining hall.

The exhibits seemed scaled down compared to earlier fairs but it was there I noticed what, for me, was the highlight: the homebrew exhibit … with a cider category!
Fair09_Cider
The category looked rather lonely with only one entry … so, if my cider project succeeds, it may just be a competition next year – second prize, in particular, looks within easy reach!