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    Skills Preserved and Perfected

    berries ready for preserving

    On Saturday July 28 during the Water Festival about 48 bakers including old hands, novices and volunteers gathered in the Whitecapper’s Room in the Chestermere Rec Centre for the 2nd annual “Preserving Our Skills Workshop.” Participants spent a full day preparing for the upcoming Red Ribbon competition at the Country Fair September 7th and 8th. The event was hosted generously by the Chestermere Agricultural Society. The very knowledgeable and capable Louise Bruns of Patterson Spring Farms (www.pattersonspringsfarm.com) taught everyone how to make bread, buns, cinnamon buns, jam, pie and fresh salsa. Even the “old hands” learned a few tricks, such as adding ginger to enhance the yeast for bread and vinegar to the pie dough to make the dough easier to roll.
    ‘Early bird’ Louise whipped up two batches of bun dough before she came to Chestermere, so the day began with making whole wheat and cinnamon buns. These were left to rise while Louise taught the group how to make dough from scratch. Brown bread dough was prepared and set to rise while the group learned how to make blueberry jam. By the time all the participants had their jam made it was lunch time and everyone sat down to eat warm from the oven cinnamon and brown buns baked on the spot by wonderful volunteers . Yum. Wonderful with butter and fresh blueberry jam.
    After lunch Louise showed everyone how to make bumbleberry pie: mixing the pastry, preparing the filling, making an edge, and even how to make a lattice crust. Everyone enthusiastically went back to their tables, cut fruit and mixed and rolled dough. Soon everyone at the table had a unique and wonderful pie in front of them.
    Louise then gathered everyone around the huge island in the kitchen to chop tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro, parsley and garlic. A few more ingredients were added, some crackers thrown into a dish, sour cream was set out and everyone sat down to ate delicious salsa.
    Thanks to some great volunteers everything seemed to run effortlessly and seamlessly. Elaine Peake and Dorothy Longair greeted everyone at the door. Rosemary Clysdale of Heritage Park fame, Chestermere’s own Grannie Jen and others were busy as beavers in the kitchen washing fruit, baking the bread, cleaning up, and so much more. Carol Smailes from the CRCA did a great job organizing the event, shopping for the mountain of supplies and putting it all together. Lennox Gomes and his trusty Red Ribbon volunteers helped Carol set everything up the night before. All the participants pitched in for the cleanup and then went home to a thankful and no doubt pleased family with a pie, a loaf of bread, a jar of blueberry jam and a tummy full of salsa and chips. A happy ending and hopefully the first of many in the coming years. Look forward to seeing some new participants with their top entries in the Red Ribbon competition on September 8th of this year and watch for the video of this unique day to be featured by the Association of Alberta Agricultural Societies on their webpage.