Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Getting Ourselves Checked at Man Day at Crossfield Farmers' Market, Alberta

A Food Experience


The Crossfield Farmers' Market does a few things right. For a start, they care about the men in the community. They also care about food - lots of home-made, fresh, delicious locally produced products. We found the whole pantry and more in one afternoon at this little market.

Cheryl Shea invited for Man Day on 18 August to see what makes this small market so unique and to get our prostates checked. Yup, they needed checking, we were told.


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The Crossfield Farmers Market runs June to September every Thursday from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm. It is located in Banta Park, Crossfield, Alberta. The 2017 Season marks their 42nd year!

As an Alberta Approved Farmers' Market, Crossfield pride themselves in offering the best of local handmade items, fresh baking, and locally grown produce. Since 2014, and with the help of volunteers like Cheryl, the Crossfield Agriculture Society put in an extensive effort to bring the market back to its roots.

They succeeded. The goal is to offer a family friendly and interactive environment with shopping and fun events for all market goers. The Market features local artists, farmers, and bakers. On this occasion, the market also featured BBQ, axe throwing, and hosted the MAN VAN, which is Canada’s first and only free mobile men’s health clinic offering PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood testing.

Observations


Time flies when you are having fun. Indeed, we had fun at Crossfields.

What stood out for us was the variety of food vendors for the small size of the market. There was everything from gourmet doughnuts, jams, juices, seafood, sauces, mustards, ice cream, and more.

Alberta Health Services, bylaws and regulations make it hard for small producers to bring food products to market. To have a farmers' market like Crossfield, that embraces food vendors, is a win for food producers in our province. It makes it a little easier for entrepreneurs to take the initiative and make something delicious and unique when they know they have a place where they can find customers for their wares.

We also had ourselves checked by the MAN VAN. Men, in general, are skittish when it comes to discussing their prostrates. Since I turned forty a few years ago, my Doctor developed a fixation for my nether regions. The MAN VAN offers a refreshingly different approach to having our prostates checked, and yes, it is all legal. They do it with a simple PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test.

We are glad to report that we are still as healthy as ever and in outstandingly good condition. The checkup showed us a little over weight. We attribute it to our healthy appetite and healthy love for our beer. Two healthies makes a very healthy in our books!

Crossfield Farmers' Market is a must in Alberta. We rate it amongst our favorites.

Hendrik van Wyk
Healthy Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please become a patron at http://www.travelingcowboys.com if you want to see more of this and other stories.


Photos

Glass River

Gourmet!

Unique

Alberta Produce!

Future Millionaires 

Lost Texan

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Two Cowboys: Simple, Locally Made, Innovative and Durable BBQ Smoker From a BBQ Champion, Calgary, AB

BBQ Experience Counts


Bernie Kenny has spent enough hours, days, weekends and years cooking with fire so that he knows just what is needed to turn in championship quality BBQ and deliciously prepared charcoal cooked fare.

That is why he came up with an ingenious, simple and affordable device to do "everything" BBQ at once. Bernie is the inventor, perfector, and proprietor of the Smokinbox, which is incidentally also the name of his championship winning BBQ Team.



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The Smokinbox is a BBQ grill and a smoker in one. It can even do it simultaneously. According to Bernie, it is easy to clean and very fuel efficient. It has a solution that allows you to cook vegetables, smoke chicken and grill a steak all at the same time, and fast enough so that you can do it after work, during weekdays.

The Smokinbox has been performing well in competitions where competitors use anything from a $150 Weber to the flagship Backwoods Smokers to compete. Amongst the competition, it took first place for ribs at North Battleford competition, in Saskatchewan, and a first and second with two different teams at the Calgary Stampede. It took a third place overall in Edmonton's Porkapalooza with 39 teams. Justifiably, the Smokinbox is turning heads in Canadian BBQ circles for a good reason.

Observations


Why are we so enthusiastic about the Bernie's Smokinbox?

We are interested because it is a product that is passion driven and locally Alberta-made. Bernie has spent his whole life contemplating the perfect BBQ cooking solution, refined it, got his friends involved, and now we have a simple, well-made product that stands out. As with all goods developed from a maker's passions, it is likely to last you your lifetime.

A further reason we are enthusiastic about the Smokinbox is that we BBQ eight out of the seven days of every week. We know the hassle that goes into using charcoal and wood instead of propane. We are aware of the mess, the frustration, the time it takes, the challenges with temperature control and the risks of too much smoke ruining a good piece of meat (or vegetable). Bernie thought of everything.

The single biggest factor for us that makes the Smokinbox a favorite is that we can charcoal cook at different temperatures in one device. It means we can do our vegetables at the warmer end. Our low and slow at the lower end, and still grill a steak right over the coals.

We don't take part in BBQ competitions. Pitching our experience against novices will be unfair. We are not excited about the Smokinbox because it can help us become BBQ champions. We like it, because, for us, every BBQ or Braai as we call it, needs to be perfect. With the Bernie's Smokinbox it becomes so much easier.

We like it so much that we asked Bernie if we can promote it for him. He agreed, so stay tuned for many more stories from our adventures using the Smokinbox for our meals and learning from Bernie how best to BBQ the Canadian Champion way. We hope to impart some "Boere Braai" wisdom as well along the way

Get your Smokinbox here.

Hendrik van Wyk
Braai a Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please become a patron at http://www.travelingcowboys.com if you want to see more of this and other stories.


Photos



Make Something

Champion

Champion Box

Clean Smokinbox





Monday, August 21, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Early Morning Mustard at Exhibition Park Lethbridge Farmers' Market in Lethbridge, Alberta

Mustard World


If you go early, you get the freshest produce. If you go later, you can spend more time with friends at the market.

Everybody in Southern Alberta knows that Lethbridge's Farmers' Market is one of the best in the area. It is packed with fresh produce that sells out early. You can also find products like honey from Forever Bee, mead wine from Spirit Hills Meadery, nuts and even locally made mustard from Luco Farms. We also managed to get an excellent Flat White Coffee from Red Engine Coffee Roasters.


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The market return every May to the Exhibition Park's indoors West Pavilion. The Saturday market opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes at 1:00 p.m. The last market of the season is on the last Saturday in October. There is no admission or parking fee. Over 3000 people attend the Saturday markets, so it is a busy place. Get there early.

Between fifty and a hundred exhibitors are at the market each market day. The Farmers’ Market is a member of the Alberta Farmers’ Market Association (AFMA). It aims to offer at least 80% of products to be locally made, baked or grown. This means you can find crafts, fresh fruit, vegetables, home-made baking, artwork, hand-made clothing, and much more made by people in the area.

Observations


The Lethbridge market has the right vendor mix and offers something for everyone. There is enough to taste, see and sample from local vendors so that it keeps you busy for the entire Saturday morning.

As you would expect, the produce from this part of the world, with its well-structured irrigation infrastructure, is outstanding. If you are not into farm-fresh food, there is even someone (Synergy Urban Farms) that makes a business out of cultivating vegetables in people's gardens in the city of Lethbridge. Call it "garden-fresh" produce. You can buy this also at the market. 

What we learned new, courtesy of Luco Farms, was that the area is also a primary producer of Mustard. Yet, as usual, we don't process it in Alberta as we should. Like some of our other highly prized agricultural assets, namely barley, we export most of it to the rest of the world without adding any value. Luco Farms is changing that with the traditional mustards they produce, with the hope to export it soon.

We love mustard on our BBQ pork and making the discovery that we can use our very own Alberta mustard is a revelation. The only challenge now is that we have to work in frequent visits to the Lethbridge Farmers' Market to stock up on this beautiful mustard. We'll see you there.

Hendrik van Wyk
Hot and Spicy Mustard Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please become a patron at http://www.travelingcowboys.com if you want to see more of this and other stories.


Photos

Great Sausages

Alberta Mustard!

Fresh Honey

Indeed!

Berries!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Testing the Water at Coulee Brewing Company in Lethbridge, AB - The Home of Alberta Pilsners

Must be the Water


Lethbridge has a brewing history.

Fritz Sick came to Lethbridge in 1901 with $8,000 and started the Alberta Brewery. The brewery had as its 1st brew, a lager called Alberta’s Pride. This “beer without a peer” was advertised as “concentrated liquid food” and families were encouraged to serve the beverage at meals to help maintain strong digestive organs and encourage the appetite.

In 1905, the brewery began to make malt beer and changed its name to Lethbridge Brewing and Malting Co. In 1918 the brewery became Lethbridge Breweries Limited. The Brewery survived Prohibition by making Near Beer or Temperance Beer, a beer with only 2% alcohol.



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Old Style Pilsner was first brewed in 1926 by Fritz Sick at his Sick's Breweries Ltd. in Lethbridge, Alberta. Although Molson’s Breweries Limited bought the brewery in 1958, Molson’s continued to brew Lethbridge Pilsner and Lethbridge Lager Beer. The company continued brewing these brands to “suit local taste preferences with skills, modern techniques, and experience supplied by the entire country-wide organization.”

In 1989, Molson’s merged with Carling O’Keefe Operations and in 1990 operations ceased at the Lethbridge Brewery. In 1991, 90 years after Fritz Sick began brewing in Lethbridge, the brewery was knocked down.

As brewing and craft beer is experiencing a renaissance in Alberta, Coulee Brewing Co stepped in, in 2016, filling the Lethbridge brewing and beer hole left behind by the Lethbridge Brewery's departure. By doing it, they have the opportunity to reinstate the Pilsner and Lager legacy of Lethbridge Brewing and taking it a step further.

Coulee Brew Co.'s beer is now available at select bars, restaurants, and retailers throughout the area. It opened its doors to the public on Jan 16th, 2016.  It is the 3 ½ year vision of craft passionate, local entrepreneurs, Deborah Pallett and Scott Crighton.  Its creation was driven by their desire to restore the history of beer production in the local Lethbridge community while involving the community every step of the way.

Coulee Brew is a 16,000sq ft facility, with 2 separate brewing systems - yes it is big for a craft brewery! Lethbridgians must be a thirsty lot. A 7bbl pilot system, and a 4 vessel 30 bbl system. The tap house and grill is a full-service pub style restaurant with an open concept. Patrons can sit, eat and drink while viewing all things beer through walls of glass to the facilities production area. 

Observations


Coulee has quality beers, created with respect for the history of brewing in the community, a love of craft, and pride for all things Southern Alberta offers.

Cudos to Coulee Brewing Co.'s focus on the well-known Pilsner. This was our favorite when we visited. Maybe the water in Lethbridge adds a character to a Pilsner that is unique to that part of the world. The Bear's Hump Nut Brown (named after a famous landmark in Waterton National Park, not too far away, and a favorite summer spot for us) is also go-to comfort food when we visit the Park or the brewery. 

We were astonished at the size of the facility and the buzz of activity we encountered during our visit. What was even more impressive was their hospitality on the day we arrived, unannounced. This makes Coulee Brewing another local favorite for the Two Cowboys and a recommended Two Cowboys experience in Lethbridge.

Hendrik van Wyk
Pilsner Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please become a patron at http://www.travelingcowboys.com if you want to see more of this and other stories.


Photos


Long Term Commitment

Making Beer

Drinking Beer

Talking Beer
Filming Beer



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: WilliamsWarn Beervolition Continues with Updates from Brewers in Auckland, NZ

"Fresherder" Beer


We are well down the path of beer liberation and beervolition by making and drinking our very own fresh beer.

It means that we are no-longer donating up to 51% in taxes and excise to non-value adding parties like local, provincial and federal government, and a further 25% in transport, packaging, branding, distribution and retailing. We've taken back our beer. We've taken control of our beverage and it saves us a huge sum of money.

To make our own beer is as simple as making a cup of tea. We do it using the help, equipment, and ingredients of WilliamsWarn. Not only is it a ridiculously simple, consistent and an almost fault-proof way of making beer, it also guarantees that our beer tastes better. It is fresh, the way bread must be fresh to enjoy it at its best.

We get to experiment with every possible traditional beer style and hops combination. We are also doing non-traditional style beer with chocolate, vanilla, fruits, and spices. If we've had enough of beer (not that it will ever happen), we do ciders with ginger, elderflower, and berries. The combinations and the options for creativity are endless.

If you have to ask us about our most important piece of equipment in our kitchens, we have to confess it is our WilliamsWarn BrewKegs. It is our path to liberation, frugality, freshness and our own great tasting freshly brewed beer!

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Others' Beer


We made another beer run Downunder in the early parts of Summer 2017 to meet more beervolitionaries courtesy of WilliamsWarn. We also got a chance to experiment with some recipes in the WilliamsWarn test kitchen in Hastings, New Zealand.

Below you will meet some of the people that we visited and get a view of our escapades.

Enjoy their stories, and let us know in the comments if you've made the move to liberating your beer.

When you are ready to join us in our beervolition, we can introduce you to the good people at WilliamsWarn and give them a reason to launch WilliamsWarn North America sooner than planned.

Hendrik van Wyk
Brew Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please become a patron at http://www.travelingcowboys.com if you want to see more of this and other stories.



Wedding Beer with Mike Wade-French

Harpurs Brewing Co.

The Fox - Auckland Viaduct

Karaka Bridge Brewery - Mancave!



69 on K'Road Auckland, NZ


Jason Hill, Auckland

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Community and Old School Ingenuity at [Theoretically] Brewing in Lethbridge, AB

Brewing & Science


Sometimes, the most rewarding way is the better way. There are people in the world that are so enthralled with the process of creation that they take particular care not to sidestep any part of the journey. Words such as authentic, artisan, original, one-of-a-kind, and unique are associated with these makers.

For them, producing ice cream with a powder mix is not real ice cream. Chocolate without cocoa butter is not chocolate. Boots need to be hand-stitched and hats need to be hand shaped. You've seen and met many of these producers on this site. We want to introduce you to another pair that goes out of their way to keep it local, community focused, traditional and pure. They are Kris and Kelti from [Theoretically] Brewing Co. in Lethbridge.


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Changes in Alberta's liquor laws opened up the opportunity in 2013 for craft brewing. [Theoretically] Brewing, took the plunge with a deluge of other budding brewing entrepreneurs to capitalize on the opportunity of making their community's beer. They joke that the process from fire-pit to tasting-room was the biggest game of chicken the pair have ever played as they kept expecting for reality to put a stop to their dream. Encouraging friends, stalwart enthusiasm, and incredible support from their families helped make [Theoretically] Brewing what it is today - Alberta's second smallest brewery.

Saying that it is the "second smallest craft brewery" doesn't do justice to the journey. Kelti explained that their commitment to their community helped to keep welders employed in Lethbridge during the recession to custom make their brew and fermentation tanks. They wrestled through the permitting system with the AGLC and Lethbridge Council until they pioneered a practical approach to sustainable energy use on their premises. However, all the good intentions will mean nothing if the beer is no good, so let's talk about the beer. It is good!

All of their beers are unpasteurized and unfiltered, meaning that there are live yeast cultures in the beer and that they do not contain preservatives. This sounds like fresh beer to us! They bottle finish their beers, which is gutsy for a commercial brewery. You can never be guaranteed of the end result in a batch. Every bottle can be different. Every batch can be different. At [Theoretically] Brewing it is all done by hand with a lot of love and care, while they tinker with new and creative processes and recipes. This is what craft is all about. Experimentation!

Even their beers are named after scientists and scientific concepts or theories.

Observations


Kelti, didn't spare us on the day we visited the brewery. She took us through their entire repertoire of the brewery's arsenal of beers. Step-by-step we settled into tasting from the lighter to the darker beers until we ended with the stouts. At least, that is as much as I can remember. After the fourth beer, we can't remember what happened. Apparently, she explained how their love of stout is where the inspiration for the Brewery came from.

All we know is that it was a big tasting. We sipped from giant test tubes and savored every moment, aroma and flavor. No beer was wasted. We drank every last drop as Kelti took us through the inspiration for every brew. There is a story behind each one, which we hope to bring you in subsequent installments.

We came away from [Theoretically] brewing with mixed emotions. Somehow, we don't want them to change and grow up. We wish them success and many years of beer market domination and at the same time, we want them to stay as they are.

They must remain one of the smallest breweries in Alberta. We want to keep them our secret. They are quaint, special, practical and passionate about what they do. If you contrast it with some of the other more recent additions to Alberta's Craft Brewing scene, [Theoretically] Brewing inspires what a true Craft Brewery is all about. They don't do hectolitres of yet another Ale, Pilsner or Brown. They don't have the flash taproom or the "beertarts" in sales marketing, crisscrossing the Province and selling yet another label or brand.

Instead, for them, it is about the process of creation. The community that comes from the support of their people. The experiments and the focus on keeping it practical. Theoretically, they are one of the more unique breweries we've had the privilege to visit so far. Believe me, we will be back at the first opportunity we get.

Hendrik van Wyk
Theoretically a Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please become a patron at http://www.travelingcowboys.com if you want to see more of this and other stories.


Photos

"Tube Porn"

Bottle Finished

Smile!

Test Tube Heaven

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Black Cherry Chocolate Banana Soft Serve Two Cowboys Special at Swirls Ice Cream in Lethbridge, AB

Must Stops


We have three great culinary passions. Beer, BBQ and Ice Cream.

We don't give attention to these primary food groups in any particular order. However, when the sun is out, and the weather heats up on the Prairies of Alberta, we have to stop at every ice cream shop on our route.

The ice cream tastes even better when the business is from a locally owned and operated business. It is how we discovered Lethbridge's pinnacle and most recent addition to the ice cream universe. Swirls Ice Cream!



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Swirls has apparently been a local tradition for more than 30 years in Medicine Hat. We've never been to Medicine Hat. It doesn't stand out as a "must-do" on the tourism agenda for our great Province. The same goes for Lethbridge. No one excitedly proclaims that they are travelling to Lethbridge for the Summer holidays. We did.

We made the trip during the early part of Summer to go and explore what Lethbridge has to offer, courtesy of Chinook Country Tourism. We were pleasantly surprised. As all great stories should start, this one began with an ice cream stop at the newly opened Swirls. There were beer and BBQ stops as well, but we will leave that for later.

Swirls is an institution that took way too long to work its way into the local stops and attractions of Alberta. It is changing with the recent addition of Swirls Lethbridge. We also discovered a Swirls ice cream truck at the Okotoks Farmers' Market. We are told, there are more.

Observations


When you visit the store, you quickly realise it is high-tech ice cream. Majestic one-arm-banded touchscreen-controlled ice cream dispensing robots deliver flavours and colours on demand. This is not your quaint Italian Gelateria or the over commercialized blizzard blast. Swirls hits you in the face with exploding colours and an overload in flavour. Nothing disappoints except your capacity to inhale the deliciousness.

Great people run the business. They are our kind of people. Bob Probe and his partner made this their second career stop. A childhood dream coming true, maybe? We are glad they did. It is an enormous amount of fun to visit them and create your own custom flavors.

We indulged in creating the Two Cowboys Special which includes Black Cherry and Banana Ice Cream dipped in Chocolate. Wickedly delicious!

Our only problem now is that Lethbridge is a day away from our home base. It is about time that we give them a hand to bring a Swirls to the mountains. How about one in Canmore?

Hendrik van Wyk
Chilled Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please become a patron at http://www.travelingcowboys.com if you want to see more of this and other stories.


Photos


Creativity!

Guess?

When do we taste?

Ice Road Swirl

Lovingly Mine

Monday, August 7, 2017

Travelling Cowboys: Naughty Beer Run to Invermere for a Lager at Arrowhead Brewing Company, British Columbia

B.C. Border Beer Run


Arrowhead Brewing Company is a craft beer brewery located in Invermere, which is in between Radium and Fairmont, just two hours from Banff and 3 hours from Calgary, in the heart of the Columbia Valley, East Kootenay, British Columbia.


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The brewery opened in October of 2012, but it's been a long-time dream of co-owner Shawn Tegart to start a craft brewery in the Columbia Valley of BC. Shawn and his wife and co-owner, Leanne Tegart, started working on turning the dream into reality in 2011.

Since then, Arrowhead has been consistently brewing a variety of ales, starting out with just two styles. These days there are six permanent beers available, as well as three to five seasonal varieties.

Arrowhead's goal is to change the way people view and drink beer; valuing quality and experimenting with different styles. They want to ignite passion in beer drinkers for craft beer and to cultivate a palate for a wide variety of beers.

They also highly value the good times and feel everyone should relax more and worry a lot less. This is music to our ears.

Observations


Arrowhead Brewing Company offers a great selection of beer growlers. It is expensive, so take a credit card. You will hurt to own one of their branded items. It is worthwhile because they are quality items.

We've stocked up on some of these expensive growlers and filled them with the Blonde Bombshell (4.8%). We found it our go-to beer for this brewery. It is a popular easy-drinking blonde ale with more flavor than a Lager (according to the brewer). It is light-coloured ale with an almost K├Âlsch-like finish from the German hops and is moderately carbonated. We love it.

There is a good wide selection of permanent brews on tap and some seasonals. We are so glad they added the Greywolf Premium Lager light. They claim it to be very easy to drink. Apparently, it's crisp and clean and the perfect companion to 18 holes of golf, or any sunny summer day! We won't know because we haven't tried it yet.

It is encouraging to see that craft breweries like Arrowhead are no longer shying away from the slower brewing crispier lagers. Cudos where it is due. It is great that a lager is now a permanent feature on their schedule.

The decor at the brewery is unique and there is a big story to it that you can only get when you visit the brewery. Go see it.

Arrowhead Brewing Company is a stop for us on our beer run through British Columbia and recommended by the Two Cowboys for an experience. They are not always the friendliest people around but the beer is good.

Hendrik van Wyk
Bombshell Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please become a patron at http://www.travelingcowboys.com if you want to see more of this and other stories.

Photos

It was cold!


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