September 20, 2008
Is it weird to want to stay in a B&B in your own town - and mainly so you can eat the breakfast? Maybe so. But Little City Farm in Kitchener makes it a tempting thought.
The eco-friendly guest house is run by Karin Kliewer and Greg Roberts who (along with new baby Maya) run an urban homestead of sorts on their Duke Street property near downtown. They grow much of their own food there in a massive garden, bake and cook in their backyard cob oven and are committed to supporting local farmers and eating organically and sustainably.
"It's like a regular working farm," Kliewer says of their home. "People come knowing it's not a regular B&B. They end up interacting, helping with baking or helping in the greenhouse or weeding. We really encourage people to get involved."
Kliewer says she enjoys knowing that they may be introducing guests to new ways of eating and living and inspiring them to adopt new habits.
"Hopefully people will take a little bit home with them," she says. "Much of it is simple stuff that we can all do. I hope we even just inspire guests to think, 'Maybe I can plant some tomatoes next year.' "
As for those breakfasts, they look and sound fantastic. There's plenty on the menu, says Kliewer -- frittatas made with local goat cheese, organic free-range eggs, and herbs and vegetables from the garden; whole-grain breads from the cob oven with local fruit jams and honey; homemade organic yogurt with seasonal fruit and maple syrup. Kliewer even makes her own herbal teas.
Apparently my temptation to stay someplace a few kilometers from home isn't out of the ordinary, either. Kliewer tells me they've had several local guests.
"People have biked and walked over," she says. "We had people from around the corner that had a new baby and never had a honeymoon. It's an easy getaway and a neat way for people to get to know their own community. Often we neglect what's right there in our backyard."
If you can't get your head around the local travel idea, there are other ways to enjoy Little City Farm. Kliewer and Roberts regularly hold workshops that are open to the public -- on subjects like canning and preserving, bread-making and gardening. Next Saturday they'll run one on beekeeping, complete with a honey tasting. And they'll be sharing their experiences this Wednesday evening when they speak at the Kitchener Public Library's main branch. See the couple's website at www.littlecityfarm.ca for more details.
I asked Kliewer to share a recipe and she provided this one, which I then made myself -- and loved -- on a recent, rainy Sunday. Now is certainly the time to enjoy pears.
Kliewer serves guests this cake (adapted from Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert's Simply In Season) with homemade yogurt and garnished with edible flowers. I can't think of a better way to start the day.
PEAR GINGERBREAD UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. white sugar
1 tbsp. margarine
1 tbsp. water
2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced
1/3 cup margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. each nutmeg, allspice, sea salt
1/2 cup molasses or honey
1/2 cup buttermilk, soymilk, or regular milk
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Prepare syrup by melting first four ingredients together in small saucepan. Stir until well combined. Pour into 8x12 glass baking dish.
3. Arrange sliced pears evenly on top of the syrup.
4. In medium sized mixing bowl, beat margarine, brown sugar and egg.
5. Mix all dry ingredients together in small bowl.
6. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with molasses/milk.
7. Spoon cake batter over pears in baking dish.
8. Bake about 30 to 35 minutes or until knife inserted in cake comes out clean. Remove from oven, cool a few minutes and turn onto a platter.
9. Serve warm or cold with homemade yogurt or whipped cream.
Makes eight servings.