>We are surrounded by logos. There are a bunch in front of you right now in an email, or website. Logos are irresistible. Even infants are drawn to certain shapes and contrasting colors even before they speak. There are industries created to capitalize on the shapes, colors and forms to create logos. We are constantly being bombarded by subliminal messages that translate into an ipad, sorry, impulse buys from all types of books, magazines, billboards and our many electronic devises. There will always be certain objects such as a diamond necklace, or oven baked bread, can draw us in like a moth to a flame. All of these things are taken into consideration when designing a logo. Good ones are easily identifiable. Great ones translate the type of business the logo represents in a blink of on eye.

I thought it might be fun to look at the transition of our logo. A project we basically have taken on ourselves from the time of this posting. It has been a slow transition between each one, slowly building in traction and recognition, very much like how Evelyn (at 5) is showing the strength and confidence of who she is now becoming.

We are creative people who enjoy being part of a growing process, especially the ones we can share. Like any recipe there still may be some evolving as the look of Evelyn’s Crackers may change a little here and there. But if our new logo isn’t quite the flame for your moth, hopefully you are drawn to the passion of supporting our farmers and our dedication to make the finest darn crackers (cookies and granola) we can.

>I Think I Can

(http://www.lafromagerie.ca/ photo credit)

For over a year we have been dropping off samples and trying to get our crackers in one of the finest cheese shops on College. As a constant reminder, we walk by the store several times a week, often stopping for a wedge of cheese, baguette or croissant.

One day out for a walk with Evelyn, it started to rain. The sudden storm came from nowhere and started to flood the street in a matter of minutes. We were caught in it, big time! Running from one store front to another, trying to find shelter anywhere from the unexpected shower. There we were several blocks from home, each with a NOW magazine over our heads (a very important skill taught to me by my father) when…eureka! There is was, La Fromagerie and their beautiful wooden park bench and dark blue awning. There we sat, wringing out our make-shift umbrellas and watching the other pedestrians and bikers go by who were much less fortunate.

After that day I felt a little more secure knowing that close by there is a great little cheese shop offering some of the finest cheeses from Europe, Quebec and Ontario. Just close enough to for a guy and his little girl to share a moment in a rain storm, or for anyone to share a moment with a piece of cheese, and now with Evelyn’s Crackers.

>Dawn’s The Baker…And So Much More

Dawn had a wonderful mention in the Woman’s Culinary Network’s newsletter this past February written by Naomi Duguid:

“Dawnthebaker” is Dawn Woodward’s hotmail account name, and that is how I often think of her, kneading a dough, shaping a cracker, slashing a baguette, setting and inventive and delicious tart out on a plate for a catered event.

Of course there is far more to Dawn than baking, but she did come into our lives with her baker’s cap on. I first met her more than 10 years ago, at an artisanal baking conference at Greystone, the CIA’s Napa campus. She was living in Toronto at the time, working as a consultant at Ace Bakery. They’d brought her up from the States because of her gleaming credintials and experience: 5 years and finalist in the competition for spots on the US Baking Team that ended up bring back the gold medal at the World Baking competition in Paris in 1997.

She left Ace that fall and came traveling me to India. We spent the millennium turnover together at Kovalam Beach near Trivandrum in sourthern Kerala, India. Dawn shared a room with my two kids, then boys of 9 and 12, played with us all on the beach, went running with me in the mornings, and danced with us late into the night as the clock turned us into the year 2000.

A few days later she put on her pack and headed north to travel through India, before flying to Thailand and traveling in northern Thailand, Laos, and China’s Yunnan Province all on her own.

She’s brave, is Dawn, and travels with her eyes and her palate open. I still have notes she sent me of foods she tasted in Gujarat on that trip, notes that were very helpful to me when I finally made it there four years later. After that long adventure she returned to the US. A second solo trip took her to Syria and Lebanon, as well as Turkey and the Republic of Georgia. In all those places she came accross interesting food; later she developed recipes drawing on all that travel experience. After she returned from that trip she spent a good chunk of the winter here in Toronto helping me with the recipe work for HomeBaking. She returned to the US and started working in Washington DC, finally settling at Obelisk, a fine Italian restaurant.

In 2003 she met Chef Ed Rek in DC. They moved to Philadelphia and married the following year. After restaurant and catering work, and developing a good reputation in Philly, they moved to Toronto in the fall of 2007. By then they were three; there daughter Evelyn was born in the Spring of 2006. In Toronto they settled near Dufferin Grove Park, and Dawn started to work on her business idea, a cracker business.

In the Spring of 2008 they launched Evelyn’s Crackers, using local organic grains and other local ingredients, making the crackers by hand in the incubator kitchen, and selling them at farmer’s markets. They’ve had rave reviews, and now have a solid following. Dawn continues to fine-tune the crackers, adding new ones and tweaking the originals. These days she also makes sweets, using the same organic grains (red Fife flour figures largely) to make shortbreads and cookies.

While getting the cracker business growing, Dawn and Ed have also been busy with the local food movement, promoting local grains and consumer awareness of the wealth of Ontario agriculture. Most recently Dawn was a speaker at a forum held by the ROM called “Canadian Sweet Treats”. After her presentation on the hisory of maple syrup, Red Fife wheat, Mackintosh apples, and Amish and Mennonite settlements, the chair of the events said, “It took and American to give us a lesson in Ontario’s food history!”.

Naomi Duguid is a cook, cookbook author, food writer, photographer, and past recipient of the Women’s Culinary Network Woman of the Year. Her website: http://www.immersethrough.com/

>Canadian Iconic Desserts: Red Fife Whole Wheat

>Dawn was asked to participate in a panel discussion at the Royal Ontario Museum this past Sunday (December 13, 2009). Being of a one track mind when it comes to whole grains, she knew it had to be something with Red Fife-Red Fife Apple Tart with Maple Sugar & Black Walnuts-see recipe on previous post. A versatile heritage whole wheat, grown primarily in Hastings County and the Petersborough area of southern Ontario, Red Fife is experiencing a resurgence with local bakers (even pasta makers, after being an endangered food with less than a couple of pounds of seeds surviving.

We are currently using six heritage organic grains (Rye, Spelt, Buckwheat, Red Fife Whole Wheat, Oatmeal and Barley) in various forms in our crackers and cookies. The barley and oatmeal is grown by Franz Seeburger of Hope ECO farms out in Alymer. The other grains are grown by John and Patricia Hastings of Madoc.

Red Fife Whole Wheat is a fabulous wheat with a great story of success that is uniquely Canadian. And as we have gotten to know John and Patricia and see their dedication to growing heritage grains we have a better understanding of the link between sustainable agriculture and long-term agricultural diversity.

Here is a short portion of Dawn’s moment at the podium during the panel discussion at the Royal Ontario Museum this past Sunday.

>Canadian Sweet Treats: Food Experts Debate the Classics

Evelyn’s Crackers’ very own Dawn Woodward is on a food panel at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) on December 13th posted on Akimbo.ca focused on distinctly Canadian desserts:

Did you know that the butter tart is practically a Canadian culinary icon? But what about carrot pudding, fruitcake, and various types of squares? All of these have a significant presence in Canada’s culinary history. Listen and interact with a panel of food experts who will discuss these and other sweet Canadian delights. Enjoy a sampling of different sweet treats. And vote on your favourite!

Butter Tarts
In Canada, baking the perfect butter tart is the holy grail of pastry. For Elizabeth Baird the search began with Classic Canadian Cooking in 1974 and has continued through her 20 years as food editor of Canadian Living Magazine, co- host of Canadian Living Cooks and into best seller The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book.

Carrot Pudding
Liz Driver is the curator of Campbell House Museum in Toronto, author of Culinary Landmarks: A Bibliography of Canadian Cookbooks, 1825-1949, and a past president of the Culinary Historians of Ontario.

Cocoa Oat Bars with Barley Flakes
Nettie Cronish is a natural foods chef, culinary instructor, cookbook author, chair of the Women’s Culinary Network, and a board member of Transfair Canada.

Fruit Cake
Rose Murray is a cookbook author, food writer and broadcaster. Rose’s first book The Christmas Cookbook was published in 1979 and reprinted several times under the title Canadian Christmas Cooking. Her ninth book Hungry for Comfort won two awards in the 2004 national Culinary Book Awards and her tenth, A Taste of Canada, has been short-listed for the 2009 awards.

Lemon Squares
Alison Fryer has been a cookbook judge for the James Beard Foundation, International Association of Culinary Professionals & Cuisine Canada. A past winner of the Women’s Culinary Network Woman of the Year, Canadian Booksellers Association Bookseller of the Year, and Ontario Hostelry Institute Gold Award. She is a frequent contributor to radio and TV.

Red Fife Apple Tart with Maple Sugar
Dawn Woodward is the owner of Evelyn’s Crackers and Cookies, specializing in handmade treats using local organic heritage grains.

Moderator: Fiona Lucas, past president of the Culinary Historians of Ontario, incoming Chair of the Canadian Culinary Book Awards sponsored by Cuisine Canada and the University of Guelph, and Program Officer for Historic Foodways at Spadina House.

Cost: Public $32 Member $29

Register Now!
or call 416-506-5797
Sunday, December 13, 1 – 2:30 pm

>More than a Cracker…

Well, we can’t seem to leave the local grains well enough alone.

Red Fife short bread cookies just came out of the oven and taste like warm pie crust, buttery and sweet.

Also, some cornmeal biscotti with almonds are in the final bake of the twice baked cookie. Dawn wasn’t pleased with how the biscotti turned out, but I have to say freshly baked biscotti is fabulous. (Corn meal vs. corn flour next time.)

And last but not least, since we have the corn flour , a new cracker for the weekend! Equal parts corn flour, red fife whole wheat and rye. Good texture, a wonderful chew from the grains and I get funny looks when I say reminiscent of corn flakes. Really good corn flakes. If they tasted like a cracker.

A little back and forth over the name for the new corn cracker. And since I make the labels, I liked my choice best. We will see how it sells tomorrow and if it lasts the next round of cuts. Runners up were: So Corny; Corn Fife and Rye (play on corn beef and rye); Shucked Goodness; Edible Ears and It Ain’t Popcorn.

>Immerse Through Crackers

We rely on our friends and family for many things and as new small business owners, sometimes we cross the line. Like the time our daughter, 2 at the time, ran around the Brick Works farmers market with a t-shirt that read: “Evelyn’s Crackers, we put the crack in crackers.

(photo (c)2008 Edmund Rek)

Quickly becoming infamous with the last minute call for baby-sitting mostly by friends, as our family are in the States, every once and while someone will come to the kitchen and help with cracker production, as did Naomi:

On Tuesday afternoon I did a short shift with Dawnthebaker at the Incubator Kitchen making crackers for Evelyn’s Crackers (named after fabulous Evelyn, Dawn and Ed’s three=year=old daughter). The crackers are hand-made, truly made by hand. The dough is mixed by machines, then divided into pieces which are hand-shaped, then run, piece by piece, through a sheeter, a machine like a pasta-maker that squeezes it flat. Each sheet of dough on its individual piece of parchment paper is stacked on the last and then when the stack is high, it’s put aside to chill while the rest of the dough is flattened. At this stage we’re not nearly halfway in the hand-work.

The chilled sheets come back out and then once again, one by one, are put carefully through the sheeter, now set to a thinner setting. They double in area (and fragility too, of course). Once again, after all the sheets in the stack have been run through the sheeter and then restacked, the stack gets set aside in the cooler while the remaining stacks are run through.

Then it’s time for the final pre-baking hand-work: Sheet by sheet the crackers are cut. You take the pizza-cutter-like roller and run it in straight lines down the dough, trying to space them evenly and keep them straight. For the cheese crackers that we were making there were six or seven lines vertically and about 11 horizontally per baking sheet of dough. No wonder Dawn feels her wrists get tired! I felt it more in my back, because the work is assymetrical, when you bend sideways over the sheet to do the cross-wise cuts.

After each sheet is cut into crackers, it is pulled over onto the stack of already sliced dough. Once the stack is tall, it is covered with plastic, tightly sealed, and frozen. The baking will take place next day or sometime in the next week. And baking too means handling the crackers sheet by sheet, putting them into the oven, and then taking them out and leaving them on a rack to cool and crisp up.

Now that all sounds long, doesn’t it? And yet it’s just a description, with no details, really.

Dawn does all this physical labour with grace and strength and skill. Sometimes Ed is there working with her, or a less-skilled sidekick like me, but most often she’s there on her own, either making and shaping crackers, or else baking.

When we were there together, she could get crackers baked while I shaped (and she was often over helping with the shaping process in between baking chores). The lovely scent of her Barley Noir crackers perfumed the space as we worked, and the spicy Dal Crackers too added their aroma when they were baked.

The thing about the cracker production, the thing that is valuable (apart from the fact that they are made from local and organic ingredients, and that they taste wonderful and are a treat to eat), is the hand-made-ness. It creates an entirely different cracker population. They are NOT all the same. For though each batch is made from one dough, the fact that they are rolled out and cut by hand, sheet by sheet, cut by cut, means that the crackers each have a personality and clear identity. There’s kind of a “every snowflake is unique” quality to them.

So while the goal of industrial production and chain restaurants is complete consistency and uniformity, the goal of hand-crafted anything, from crackers, to clothing, to furmiture, to home-cooking, is individual distinctiveness within a recognisable form. That’s why we love home-made food. And that’s what we lose if we buy “food” that has been extruded and cut and shaped by highly industrial processes.

People say, but this is elitist, this emphasis on the hand-crafted; processed food is cheaper. But it’s not. Home-made food, each of us starting with basic ingredients at home, is the least expensive and best. Next in line is food made by someone we know, made with care and attention. And as we tried to emphasise in our book HomeBaking, let’s not, as home cooks, start to think that our food should look like food that is made by machine, all “perfect” and predictable. Let’s treasure the unpredictable, the individual, the idiosyncratic.

(written by Naomi Duguid, cookbook author and one of the best reasons to live in Toronto/her blog/her website)

>Evelyn’s Crackers at Scheffler’s in St. Lawrence

We are happy to announce Evelyn’s Crackers is now available at Scheffler’s Deli and Cheese and St Lawrence Market’s south building. An upscale family run business specializing in many wonderful imported cheeses, meats, olives, oils, etc.

I did a demo of the crackers there this weekend and many people were happy to sample a product made from local organic grains and see how versatile they were with dips and cheese. The owners are Odysseas and Sandra have a great sense of humor and seem to really enjoy the hustle and bustle of the busy Saturday market. Be sure to ask for them by name when you stop by.

>Here It Begins…

>;Our first blog.

What is it going to be about?

Well, we are both chefs from very different backgrounds. Some would say quite talented. Together our varied styles compliment each other and cover most food regions and kitchen requests.

We both are very involved in the local food movement and can be a bit preachy on how Organic Farmers’ markets are the way to go.

Even still, there is a potential for a he-said/she-said back and forth about food cooking and techniques, who’s ego will survive?

Also, as new parents of a 21 month old baby daughter, you guessed it, Evelyn, so, the whole baby thing can also fill up pages of rants and endless goings on.

And to make it even better, we are new parents of a cracker business, of the same name.

There you have it. The recipe of possible topics for our new bouncing baby blog.