12 November 2014

Old-Fashioned Pancakes with Apple Chutney and Maple Whipped Cream and a Visit to the Grist Mill

Old-Fashioned Pancakes with Apple Chutney and Maple Whipped Cream

On a gorgeous sunny day a few weekends ago my feet had that wandering itch. You know the feeling when a bright, sunny autumn day has you busting to get outdoors. So I hopped in the car and ventured into the southern interior to the Similkameen Valley. My destination was The Grist Mill and Gardens in Keremeos which has been a favourite of mine for several years. 

Under the leadership of proprietor Chris Mathieson the mill with its natural assets is becoming a foodie destination with visitors getting a tour of the working mill and interactive exhibits thrown in for good measure. The 12-acre site,  with six acres to grow wheat and its own restaurant facilities is perfectly positioned to illustrate both the past and future of food.

On this day my goal was their annual Apple Day celebrations and the promise of a pancake breakfast by our very own Natasha Schooten in the bright and peaceful on-site tea room.
When Barrington Price built his flour mill to supply miners in the Gold Rush several years after joining the Hudson Bay Company in 1872, he probably never imagined The Grist Mill at Keremeos would be operating again in the 21st Century.  In 1877, he built a water powered Grist Mill with some of the best milling equipment available, to produce a high quality white flour from wheat grown by the First Nations people that was in high demand. The mill and subsequent store worked together to serve the needs of local ranchers, native people, gold miners and travellers on the historic Dewdney Trail paving the way for farming and agricultural production in the area. It was state-of-the-art technology in the 1880s, and now it's the last example of a pioneer British Columbia mill that still has its historic, original machinery and building in place. Unfortunately, the gold rush did not last long and the mill went into disrepair.
In 1979, when the site was purchased by the British Columbia Heritage Trust, this little mill was recognized as the last surviving example of the many pioneer settlement mills in B.C. which produced flour during the 1800s. It now appears to be the only remaining mill from that period west of Manitoba still in its original location with both the building and machinery intact.

Restoration of the mill began in the 1980's.  After years of misuse and neglect the "foot prints" left by the 1877 machinery have been used to reconstruct the mill and put it back into working condition. It was quite a challenge but a piece of history worth preserving.
The "foot prints" of time have allowed the Grist Mill to become a destination under the supervision and management of Chris Mathieson a seasoned museum professional. In his first year at the Old Grist Mill, his initial job was to "ensure the mill works" and regular tours were offered. Since then he has introduced a wide range of events aimed at connecting visitors not only to its history but to the food, culture, and sustainability of the area. In the last 2 years attendance has increased six-fold offering significant historical and cultural value to the community that cannot be measured in dollars

Food lectures, guest speakers, cheese making workshops and six annual events such as Apple Day and the Similkameen BBQ King competition has us wanting more.  Stellar Sunday brunches, and Chef Series dinners are a few initiatives bringing life back to this historical sight. There is also a successful concert series throughout the summer. 

In keeping with recent trends people are concerned about where their food comes from. After years of importing ingredients from all over the world, chefs are going back to basics and staying local. Farm-to-table restaurants are popping up all over the valley with the goal to limit the "eco-footprint", and support our local farmers and producers. Everybody wins, from farmer to chef to diner.

As the Similkameen and Okanagan valleys become a destination for the creative cook to source the freshest ingredients this iconic historical site has added a seasoned chef to its team. The Grist Mill and Gardens at Keremeos welcomed Chef Natasha Schooten this year, whose career has taken her from hotels, resorts and wineries, (most recently Terrafina Restaurant at Hester Creek Estate Winery).

Sourcing products from local purveyors is not exactly new. Chefs like Alice Waters (Chez Panisse), Peter Hoffman (Savoy), and Dan Barber (Blue Hill) were all pioneers in the locavore movement. Following in their footsteps Chef Natasha Schooten of The Grist Mill and Gardens incorporates vegetables, herbs, and fruit picked that day on their 12 acre property. It can't get any more farm-to-table than that!!The Grist Mill has an heirloom apple orchard and a small plot of heritage wheat growing on the upper fields. It has some of the most interesting organically-managed heritage gardens in Canada thanks to these new initiatives. All gardening is organic and seed conservation is a critical part of their mission. In season the mill still grinds flour every day. (On my visit  last year I was thrilled to find that their flour is now for sale in small quantities and purchased directly at the mill). 

On their website Natasha says, "Here in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys, chefs are blessed with plentiful access to the freshest ingredients, from organic vegetables to thoughtfully raised proteins. Setting menus for the Tea Room and events at the Grist Mill in the heart of farming country is an exceptional opportunity for me as a chef."  Chris mentioned that the tea room on site once rivalled Sooke House on Vancouver Island.  With Chef Natasha at the helm I have a good feeling that this will once again be the case in years to come. “We’re hitting all the right notes,” says Chris.” It’s just a matter now of allowing time for the seeds to germinate.” 

On this day for their Apple Day celebrations Chef Natasha Schooten was offering up a pancake breakfast with an apple theme of course. I knew I was in for a treat!! Pancakes made with flour milled on site, an apple topping and apple sauce from heritage apples gathered in their heirloom orchard,  and whipped cream  all with a side of bacon had me swooning. I new that one day soon I would try and emulate the recipe at home. The recipe below is not  theirs but it satisfied my hunger and the topping was worthy of any accolades. As the recipe suggested I used a mere 3/4 cup of the flour purchased at The Grist Mill. It is like gold! With no preservatives it must be kept in the refrigerator, but this treasured ingredient will not last long.

**Old Fashioned Pancakes with Apple Chutney and Maple Whipped Cream**
Recipe inspired by Chef Natasha Schooten at The Grist Mill and Gardens in Keremeos

For the pancakes:

¾ cups all purpose flour
¾ cups whole wheat flour
3½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons melted butter
1¼ cups milk
1 egg

Apple "Chutney"

3 apples, 2 slightly sweet, the other tart.  I used 2 honey crisp and 1 granny smith
2 tablespoons of butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
juice of 1/2 lemon
pinch of salt

Maple Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
3 tablespoons maple syrup, cold

For toppings:
maple syrup, chopped pecans, powdered sugar

To Make the Whipped Cream - Make the maple whipped cream first so it can be kept chilled in the fridge while you’re preparing the pancakes and chutney. The secret to successful whipped cream is,  EVERYTHING must be cold.  About 30 minutes before making whipped cream, I put the bowl I’m using (glass or metal) in the refrigerator along with the mixer beaters.  This helps the cream form into whipped cream not only quickly, but very easily.

Combine the heavy cream and maple syrup together in a bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 5 minutes until whipped cream forms.  Cover and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

To Make the "Chutney": Peel the apples and chop them into a very small to medium dice.  Heat up the 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium size saucepan. When it has melted, add in the apples, lemon juice, spices, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt.  Stir the apple mixture and allow it to cook until the apples become tender, about 10 minutes.  It will reduce down and be a thick, jam-like sauce  if you cut your apples into small dice, larger chunks will remain if the apple was diced larger.

While the chutney is cooking, mix up the pancakes.

To Make Pancakes: Mix the flours, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Whisk the honey, melted butter, milk, and eggs together in a separate bowl. Combine the two bowls together, stirring until mostly smooth.

Add a little butter to a heated skillet. Pour 1/4 cup of pancake batter into skillet, let it spread out. Wait a few minutes until you see bubbles rising and the bottom looks dry. Use a spatula to carefully flip the pancakes - cook another few minutes on the back side until cooked through. 

Serve warm with maple syrup, chopped pecans, a dusting of powdered sugar and maple whipped cream. I also love yogurt and honey on top!

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.

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  1. What a special place to visit. I feel as if I've stepped back in time. Your old fashioned pancakes with apple chutney make it all the more special. You must have had a fabulous day Val.

  2. A dreamlike place. So peaceful and beautiful.

    Those old-fashioned pancakes look very tempting.



  3. I should have driven over for pancakes, like I said. Pancakes and pics look great. Set the "old fashion" tone to the post beautifully.

  4. Beautiful tour and photographs

  5. What a gorgeous place, Val! I'd love to visit here and amble to my heart's content. Maple whipped cream is my very favorite. :-)

  6. It's wonderful when historically significant sites are preserved so future generations can learn from them. Places such as this mill are real treasures. That breakfast looks fantastic - a real stick to the ribs beginning to the day.

  7. The chutney is just perfect for these lovely pancakes and would be great in a pumpkin or squash soup too. The pictures are picture perfect like a magazine.

    1. Thanks for your kind words on my photography Angela. I am the kind of gal who likes to eat her meals warm, so it is as quick and painless as possible. It takes longer to download my photos on my computer than to take them:-)

  8. I am all over throwing seasonal fruits on top of my pancakes, and this sounds just about perfect! Might have to make these Thanksgiving morning for a real treat.

  9. What an interesting place to visit. Love grist mills, the scenery, but this is very quaint and peaceful for sure. Those pancakes and apple chutney would be perfect for breakfast tomorrow morning. Thanks for the recipe.

  10. What a nice visit to the old mill location! Those pancakes are worthy of a Sunday brunch; your shots are lovely. Foodwise and scenery!

  11. What lovely place Val look awesome and love your pancakes!:)

  12. I was just in Mendocino, but now I want to go back. This seems like just the thing to enjoy in apple country. Los Angeles is NOT apple country. GREG

  13. What great photos of this lovely area. Your pancakes are the "icing on the cake" so to speak. Thanks for sharing your day and recipe with us.

  14. What a beautiful place to visit, I bet that the flour will taste wonderful in anything that you bake being freshly milled like that. Your pancakes look delicious!


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