Alberta Whisky Cake

It’s becoming increasingly prevalent to consider source (local) and company (niche) in our world. In a sense, our western culture has perhaps always leaned more towards a high standard of craftsmanship, than an overload of cheap trappings. We cherish one well-made bit crafted from a local artisan, over 10 made overseas. A pair of chaps so beautifully constructed they must be passed on from mother to daughter. And so on.

I’ve as much as possible refined and practiced the same criteria in my kitchen and lifestyle. I’d rather have less, and enjoy quality than stack up on bulk buys of ridiculously processed foods.

awckamlaAll part of why I never grow tired of this friend, and her consistently positive mind and joy of life.

It took baker Kamla McGonigal of Calgary, Alberta, four years to perfect her recipe. Determination, baby, that’s what it took. The fourth generation Calgary native wanted to use whisky, locally distilled at Highwood Distiller’s, from grain at nearby farms as one of the main ingredients in her delectable cakes. Finally after countless hours over an oven, McGonigal developed one of the best tasting and most unique baked-goods available to those with discerning palates – the Alberta Whisky Cake.

awcwhiskeycakeboxUsing only the finest locally-sourced ingredients, Alberta Whisky Cakes offer a seductive flavor. You will be able to smell it’s sweet, distinct goodness before you will ever taste it, but as whisky advocates know – this is a desirable trait.

awcradioSo, as I’m working through my Christmas list of gift-giving and thank-you’s – both personal and corporate, Alberta Whisky Cakes in their delightful western-styled packaging are a top pick. The beautiful bundts are simple to order, and because of the dense, whisky intinction, keep well through shipping and into the Christmas season.

Find Alberta Whisky Cake on Facebook or, here.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

rhubarbcakeA couple of years ago, I purchased a rhubarb plant. I set it temporarily by the compost pile, while I deliberated where to plant it. It was spring. It rained for a long time. Spring turned into summer. Horses, shows and other priorities prevailed. When autumn rolled around, I guiltily pushed the dried up stalk, still in its pot, to the back of the compost pile, out of sight. Finally, sometime before winter I threw the entire plant into the compost pile, on its side, still in its pot. I was fairly certain I’d missed the successful transplanting window by a month, or season, or two.

There may be some truth to the theory that you really can’t kill rhubarb. The following spring, as I was tidying up the compost pile, there it was, on its side, bright green leaves and red stalks pushing out from the dried plant.

This time I didn’t miss the window, and since then we’ve re-discovered rhubarb as one of our favourite springtime treats.

So, good, I decided to make a rhubarb upside-down cake for Wee’s birthday. So simple. The streusel ends up on the bottom of the cake in this case, but it’s still a beautiful thing. I have trouble with upside-down cakes flipping out intact. In this case, it’s appropriate to cool the cake about 10 minutes and then flip it. Too long, and the rhubarb will get sticky.

Streusel 

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

bit of salt

Cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

4 cups (or more if desired) of cut up rhubarb, tossed in enough sugar to coat it.

1 cup sugar (in addition to the sugar used for coating the rhubarb)

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons of salt

1-2 tablespoons orange juice

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

a bit of orange zest, optional

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Butter a 9 or 10 inch round cake or pie pan (2-3 inches deep)

3. Spread the rhubarb and sugar mixture into the pan.

4. Make the streusel by crumbling together the ingredients.

5. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in zest and juice. Add eggs one at a time. Add flour in three batches and equal halves of the sour cream in between, beating until smooth. Your batter should be spreadable, add the second tablespoon of orange juice here if necessary.

Note: if you find yourself short of sour cream, you can substitute plain yogurt. Just let it sit in a strainer for 15 minutes mixed with a teaspoon of baking soda. This will give it the same consistency as the thicker sour cream.

6. Spread the batter over the rhubarb and top it off with the crumbled streusel.

7. Bake about 60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the edge, and invert onto a pretty cake plate.

rhubarbsliced

 

 

Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Chips

Fruit-Salsa-on-cinnamon-chips

If you want to fix a special summer snack that is as healthy as it is fresh, this fruit salsa on cinnamon chips is to die for! A seriously easy recipe that works great at home or from the living quarters of your trailer at a show.

And the best part? Not counting the fruit, there are only 140 calories per every 7 chips!

Ingredients:

1 mango

6-8 strawberries

10 cherries

1/8 cup chopped cilantro

1 tsp lemon juice

1 Bag of Stacy’s Cinnamon Chips

____________________
Instructions
Wash all produce. Pit the cherries. Prepare your mango and cut into small pieces. Chop the tops off your strawberries and cut in half. Chop the cilantro up slightly. Throw the cherries, strawberries, mango and cilantro in a food processor and add in the lemon juice. Not a lot of processing is necessary because you want the salsa to be somewhat chunky. Once you have a blend you’re happy with, put the salsa into the fridge and allow it to marinade for at least 15 minutes.

Serve the salsa with Stacy’s Cinnamon Chips.

Sooooo good!

DSC_0171-WEB

 

The Art, Cake & Whisky Contest

It took Alberta baker Kamla McGonigal four years to perfect her recipe. The fourth generation Calgary native wanted to use whisky, locally distilled from grain at nearby farms as one of the main ingredients in her delectable cakes. Finally after countless hours over an oven, McGonigal developed one of the best tasting and most unique baked-goods available to those with discerning palates – the Alberta Whisky Cake (AWC).

Which is exactly why we picked her as one of our Artisans of the West (in the food category) in the March issue.

But on June 20, disaster struck Alberta Whisky Cake when High River flooded.

This is a picture Kamla sent me on June 24. The shot is of 3rd Ave. The Cakery Bakery, which had been producing Kamla’s cakes, is located on the far left of the photo – it is completely ruined and will have to be refurbished, replaced with new equipment etc. Most of AWC’s  inventory of packaging/printing/labels were stored at the bakery and also destroyed. In addition, Highwood Distillery, which supplied the all-important whisky ingredient, also incurred flood damage.

At that time, Kamla didn’t know when she would be able to supply AWCs again. She had a few dozen in storage, most of which she later donated to a flood fundraising effort. It seemed Alberta was completely out of stock of the unique Alberta Whisky Cakes.

But Kamla is a passionate soul – and determined to get the cakes back into production.

On July 13th, she posted on Alberta Whisky Cakes Facebook page:

“Good morning. I’m headed to the Millarville Farmers Market for the last time this season, with the last of my inventory (until Cakery Bakery is back up & Highwood Distillers rye whisky available again). The kindest thing I can do right now is get AWC bigger & better than ever before – people REALLY want JOBS, not handouts.” ~ Kam

Her farm, west of High River, has a healthy beautiful crop of canola (an important ingredient in the cake) nearly ready to be harvested, and it turns out the Cakery Bakery was covered by insurance, and a rebuilding is in process. It will take 2 to 3 months, and in the meantime, Kamla is using the time to tweak the current product and invent new versions of it. Look for perhaps a fruitcake version, or even, gluten-free in the future of AWC.

One of the unique aspects of the Alberta Whisky Cake is that each comes with an exclusive AWC Unbridled Spirits certificate. This certificate can be presented directly to a select list of AWC artists to receive $35 off of your purchase price, on an individual piece of art valued at $100 or more. These artists are local people who are involved heavily in the arts, and have not yet become renowned or rewarded for their exceptional dedication to their creative work.

Past recipients have included such artists such as Whitney Wilkie – Whittie Girl Leathers (www.whittiegirlleathers.com)

Or, Jane Romanishko – Jane Romanishko (www.janeromanishko.com)

And Neville Palmer – Reflective Eye Photography (www.reflectiveeye.com)

Now the Whisky Baker and Western Horse Review have knotted their tendrils of love for western art and culture together to come up with the Art, Whisky and Cake Contest.

Kamla needs an emerging western artist to showcase when her new set of post-flood AWC’s begin rolling off the production line in a few months and she’s inviting Screen Doors & Saddles and Western Horse Review readers to put forth nominations of your choice.

In the comment section below simply state your nomination of a Canadian emerging western artist. Include the name and if possible, website url, of the artist and a simple line or two detailing why you’d like to nominate this individual. From all of the nominations, Kamla will make a selection of three finalists. These three finalists will be profiled here on Screen Doors & Saddles and on Western Horse Review Facebook and viewers will have the opportunity to vote and ultimately, choose the next AWC Artist!

In addition, we’ll do a random draw from all of the nominations, and the winner will receive an Alberta Whisky Cake, compliments of Kam. I’m sure it will be one of the first cakes to be pulled from the Cakery Bakery’s ovens once they are up and running again.

It’s possible we might be dubbing the first few as “celebration cakes.” For in a small way, we hope this contest symbolizes the hope we extend toward the people of High River and surrounding areas, many of whom have lost so much and are still struggling, and foster feelings of a brighter future!

As Kamla says, “out of hope comes clarity, energy, focus & optimism!” So, go ahead and nominate your favorite up-and-coming western artist in the comment section below. We’re counting on your support and feedback for this contest.

Wild Rose Petal Ice Cream

Credit: Priscilla Unger

I have a big announcement to make… Drum roll please!! My Stable Life is extremely proud to collaborate with a new guest blogger – Priscilla Unger, creator of Memories of Home. In her own words Priscilla is a homemaker, a homebuilder, a homesteader, and a homeschooler. And in her spare time, she is a hobby food creator. Priscilla has agreed to come on board with My Stable Life and share a few how-to recipes of her own that truly represent the country lifestyle. I get goosebumps just thinking about it!

So without further ado, let me introduce you to Memories of Home’s first entry. Wild Rose Petal Ice Cream. Nothing screams Alberta summer better than this…!

******************

BY GUEST BLOGGER – Memories of Home

I could pretend that I’m knowledgeable in the ways and palette of edible flowers, but that would be… well… complete barnacle.  All I know is that upon discovery of every beautiful and fragrant flower this year, much Googling ensues in a quest to find out if it’s edible, and how it tastes.

I know – I should have discovered Wild Roses sooner.  Having lived in Alberta for most of my life, its symbol is proudly powder-coated on provincial license plates… I see it every day.  (I read recently that it became Alberta’s official floral emblem in 1930).

Maybe because of the recent historic flooding in my home province, (or maybe just because often pretty things I look at become food-i-fied), the Wild Rose has compelled me to pick and gather the brilliant and fragrant petals from the bushes in our yard this summer.

Credit: Priscilla Unger

RoseWater is easily made at home by pouring one part boiling water over four parts loosely packed rose petals and letting it steep for a couple of hours.  Look how beautiful the colour is.  And the smell…

Credit: Priscilla Unger

I wonder why the ingredient has not become more popular here in North America…  Many people from around the globe use it as a common ingredient – as we would use fresh herbs. And as is the case with all plant organisms, claims of medicinal benefits are also well documented about the consumption of rose petals.

Rose petals inspire me to make gorgeous jelly preserves, chic marshmallows, and perhaps tea infusions in little sachets for gifts. But since is summer, Rose Petal Ice Cream seems like a fitting idea, and an elegant addition to any sweet menu.

If you do not have an ice cream machine, you can either buy one here, or use David Lebovitz’s no-machine method as explained here.  Both options work well with this recipe.

Credit: Priscilla Unger.

WILD ROSE PETAL ICE CREAM
(makes approximately 1.5 L)

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together, and bring just to a slight boil:
2 cups of Whole Milk
2 cups of Heavy Cream
1/2 cup of Sugar
pinch of Salt
1 whole Vanilla Bean, halved and seeds scraped or 1/4 tsp. Vanilla Powder

In the bowl of an electric mixer, on low speed, combine:
6 large Egg Yolks
1/2 cup of Sugar

As the mixer is running, very slowly pour about half of the barely boiling milk mixture into the yolk mixture.  Return the combined mixture to the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture over medium heat.  Cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon (about 170˚-175˚ F).  Pour the custard through a mesh strainer into a clean bowl or storage container.  Let cool, then cover and refrigerate until completely chilled.

When you are ready to churn the ice cream, add the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Five minutes before the end of the mixing cycle, add:
2 Tbsp. homemade RoseWater  *optional  (see above for method)

Gently fold in:

1 – 2 cups of loosely packed, un-sprayed Wild Rose Petals

Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze to store.

Credit: Priscilla Unger

 

Enjoy!

Rootbeer Paralyzer Float

Great for a hot Friday afternoon!

There is nothing better than an ice cold, Rootbeer float on a hot day…

Except for maybe an adult version of one!

 

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 ounce Vodka

• 1 ounce Kahlua

• Rootbeer

• Vanilla ice cream

• cherry for garnish

 

Enjoy!

Recipe of the Week ~ The Ultimate Grilled Steak

Photo by Krista Kay Photography

I'm kicking off our Recipe of the Week series not so much with a recipe, but rather, sharing a few thoughts about grilling a great steak. If you found the May/June issue of Western Horse Review in your mailbox recently, or picked it up at the newsstand or your favorite tack store, then you're already privy to the three steps to a great grilled steak I suggested in our Food of the West feature.

These three simple details – 1) bringing your steaks to room temperature and salting them well, 2) building a two-zone fire on your preferably charcoal barbecue, and 3) letting the meat rest, will bring you a lot closer to a juicy and unforgettable steak.

We chose the beef for our barbecue photo shoot from Bar P Ranch, just outside of Nanton, Alberta. Owners, Rob and Tami Palmer operate their family farm with a sustainable philosophy, and raise beef that is grass-finished and free from hormones or antibiotics. The cattle are never fed grain or animal by-products, and the pastures they graze on are not chemically fertilized or sprayed. In my mind, that’s beyond organic – it’s an absolute clean-beef, with a sustainable footprint. Plus, I like the idea that the cattle running on Bar P Ranch pastures are raised naturally and respectfully, in a stress-free and family-farm environment.

It's become paramount to me to care about where my family's food comes from, and how it is raised. An “organic” label in a large chain grocery store just doesn't tell me enough, particularly as I become increasingly aware that there is such a thing as “industrial organic,” and it’s most likely the beef that is pushed in major grocery store chains. I prefer to know exactly what ranch the beef I purchase is originating from, and how it is fed and raised. And, I don’t mind paying a bit more for that. It's all about supporting our local economy too.

Photo by Krista Kay Photography

I’m intrigued with discovering new riffs to the process of grilling steaks, and perfecting what I've learned thus far. One of the important considerations is the cut of the meat, and I'm still learning about the variances of each cut. My favorites these days seem to be rib-eyes and a well-marinated flank steak. For the purposes of our barbecue photo shoot, we grilled all of the above Bar P steaks with fantastic results, but we saved the tenderloins to pan fry, and that, I'm planning to showcase in a future edition of Food of the West. Stay tuned!

Strawberry & Cilantro Grilled Cheese

As I peer outside at our horses through a window, I’m watching them buck and rear and throw quite a fuss. They’re probably just as upset as we are at this cold, harsh weather blowing in… Bring on Spring already.

I figure the gusty forecast calls for the perfect remedy to ease my winter blues – comfort food!

The Strawberry & Cilantro Grilled Cheese is one of our new favorites. This avant-garde spin on an old classic takes just minutes to prepare and tricks both my children and my husband into eating vegetables, at the same time.

Strawberry & Cilantro Grilled Cheese

Ingredients:

• 3-4 Large Strawberries

• Small bunch of fresh Cilantro

• 1 Avocado

• 5-6 Cherry Tomatoes

• 2 Pieces of bread for each sandwich

• Cheese

Directions:

Wash the rind of your avocado and peel. Slice the flesh of the avocado into small chunks and place into a small food processor. Wash your strawberries and remove the tops. Wash your tomatoes and cut into halves. Wash the cilantro and chop up finely. Add everything together in the food processor. Blend together into a chunky “salsa.”

Prepare your bread as you would normally for grilled cheese sandwiches by buttering the outside and placing into a fry pan on medium heat (buttered side down). Allow them to heat to a golden, toasty brown. Remove when they are toasted as desired. These will be the tops of your sandwiches.

Quickly throw in the remaining pieces of buttered bread, (again buttered side down) and add cheese on top. These will be the bases of your sandwiches. Allow the heat to melt the cheese without burning the opposite side of your bread (especially now that your stove burner has warmed up). Once the bread has a nice, crispy glow and the cheese has turned into melty goodness, remove from the fry pan.

 

Spread the strawberry salsa mix onto the tops of each sandwich and press onto a base with melted cheese. Cut in half and enjoy!