I’m fortunate enough to live in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, which means that I am actually close to a lot of the food I eat. One of my favourite places in the world is Willow View Farms. The family farm has been operating since 1960 and Murray and Cheryl Siemens have been there since 1991. They sell berries in summer and in fall they go full bore with squash, potatoes, pumpkins and, best of all, apples and their own amazing apple cider.
It’s important to me that I know the farmer who grows my food. I trust the Siemens to grow my food in a safe and healthy way. They are also people who give back to the world in a very unique way by taking in a budding farmer from Lesotho each year through the MCC’s International Volunteer Exchange Program. Murray can’t go to Africa to share his farming wisdom and learn from farmers there because he just can’t afford to take that much time away from his own farm. But by bringing a farmer to his own farm, he not only has an opportunity to mentor someone, the whole family is enriched by their experience. (Read more in this great MB Herald article about their first farmer-sharing experience).
So back to apples. One of my favourite things to make each fall/winter is Hot Apple Cranberry Cider. I use Willow View Farms cider and mix it with cranberry juice. BC is also the cranberry capital of Canada, growing 95% of the berries this country produces, 17 million kilograms a year! I love the mix of tart cranberries with sweet/tart apple cider. Add some spices and you’ve got a comfort drink for a cold winter night.
Hot Apple Cranberry Cider
2 parts apple juice
1 part cranberry juice (try to choose the brand/blend that has the least amount of sugar)
1-2 cinnamon sticks
Whole cloves and cinnamon
Pour all ingredients into a pot, heat slowly and allow flavours to blend. I put mine in my 4 litre crockpot and put it on high for about 2 hours then turn to low. The beauty of using a crock pot is that it can stay hot all evening without the danger of simmering down and evaporating – but you can do this on the stove top as well. If I fill my crock pot, I use 1 large or two small cinnamon sticks and 4-5 cloves, 3-4 allspice in a spice ball. Ladle into your thrifted Christmas mugs and enjoy!
Do you know who grows your food?