Happy September Everyone!

So glad to see the rain again, it’s been a shockingly dry couple summers in a row, this one especially. Now our rivers run again and maybe the trees will be healthy enough for us to get a nice showy leaf display instead of last year when they all died early and just turned brown. It’s not hot anymore, but it’s still pretty warm, and when the sun comes out it feels a little harder earned and a bit more satisfying again.

When the seasons transition I think we all feel a need for transition in our lives, for some of us this might mean a new outfit, or new dinner recipes, but there is one transition I would like to suggest everyone consider… your own to-go mugs. I don’t want to sound like a naggy-nelly, but this so happens to be my vessel for ranting en masse to you folks, so deal with it… here we go.

I believe the majority of people on the west coast would agree that we should be responsible for our environment and should probably go to greater lengths to protect and conserve, and likewise great things have been happening with holding our businesses and public facilities accountable for they’re environmental footprint, but individually there is still so much that we excuse ourselves for because we don’t feel anyone is watching.

Starbucks and popular media has made the to-go cup a near necessary accessory. All summer you see people all over town running around with cups with green straws, and although what’s in those cups is a whole ‘nother rant for me, I’ll stick to just the cup for now. I would estimate that nearly half of the people working downtown have an average of a two cup-a-day habit, and at 5 days a week (while working), with 2 weeks vacation a year, we’re talking 500 cups going out the door. A lot of focus has gone into using recycled materials and creating cups that are recyclable or compostable, but we’re neglecting the other two R’s, reduce and reuse.

Personally, if I’ve forgotten my reusable to-go mug at home, I kind of punish myself by not allowing myself to pick up a drink, or I will take the time to sit and drink it out of a mug, its very rare for me to use a paper cup, and I would just like to see other people hold themselves to this standard as well. I do offer a few options at the cafe and I can discuss my experiences with various types of to-go mugs (metal vs. glass etc.) if you’d like to stop by, but please, when thinking about how to better yourself and continue with improvements to your life this fall, consider adopting a mug. Thanks 🙂

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2015! How does it feel so far? Despite oil prices and Ebola, I’m excited.

Victoria is a wonderful city, albeit a small one that doesn’t view itself that way, its ambitious, an obnoxious kid-sibling to its bigger city neighbours in Vancouver, Seattle & Portland. But really we have such a unique location and such amazing landscapes on our door step. If you haven’t gone to Port Renfrew in the middle of winter with a good raincoat and boots yet, put it on your bucket list! I still have quite a lot of goals to achieve locally, namely getting to the top of the island.

This past weekend though, I got a good start on one thing I’ve been meaning to do. I went to Portland for part 1 of the Washington & Oregon foodie roadtrip. I only had 2 days, and thats certainly not enough time to do it justice, but it was enough time to stuff my face many times over and meet a lot of fantastic people doing fantastic things. Heres a bit of what I learned while I was there…

1) Your allowed to take a lot of things to farm markets, like charcuterie, cheese, and distilled liquor! People can sample and sell artisan products, allowing local producers to flourish and keeping more money in the community instead of exporting it all to large commercial producers.

2) Sales taxes don’t exist. I’ve never been a fan of the double taxation policy of taxes on income, and on monies spent, but even if we could include it in the prices so we don’t all walk around with pockets full of small change that would be swell.

3) They have HUNDREDS of food trucks, at least 100 I’m pretty sure. Entire blocks of food trucks stacked together like little cubicles of exotic food. And the quality of this food is unreal. But it also doesn’t seem to take away from restaurants because that’s a whole other experience in itself, and either you have time for it and want it or you don’t and a lack of food trucks won’t make more people go into restaurants, it’ll probably send them searching out fast food chains.

4) Portland is awesome mostly because it’s not your typical holiday destination. No part of it is jammed down your throat, and you don’t need to seek out anything found in brochures to have a good time.

Now I called it part 1 because I’m going to need to do more trips to explore more and eat more, especially because the Washington part of the trip was very muchly left untouched aside from some fantastic cheese I picked up. What I get most excited about with regards to Victoria is being here as this culture of quality foods is coming about. Now is a great time, and don’t be daunted by any of it with its big breathy descriptions, just eat it! It’s all subjective. Just don’t eat anything with the word ‘gourmet’ in front of it, thats my only rule.

Till next time, live long and sammich!

Delicious Summer Drinks!

How to make blended coffees better than Starbucks…. because information should be free, especially about food, so everyone can make informed decisions about what they put in their bodies and so we can all eat amazing things all the time!

It wasn’t the easiest decision for me to give up this secret, I scoured the internet hard and experimented a lot to find it, but its probably my best party trick aside from my cookies… which I’ll get to in another post.

Anyways, lets get to it. Ever tried to throw some stuff in a blender at home in hopes of turning out a frappuccino? Milk, espresso, ice… and blend… and turn out an icy listless pile of slop that you then look at and think “Maybe it’ll still taste good,” and so you try to turn it out into a nice tall cup you’ve set aside for yourself, and a pile of liquid runs out, and you think “Weird”, but then its followed by a block of flavourless ice shards that doesn’t collect nicely for pouring, instead slamming into the cup and half onto the counter. So now, frustrated, invested, and probably initially hot and kinda desperate before you even began, you take a drink and really, its cold, watery coffee flavoured ice.

Got a little carried away there, you can see I’ve been through this a few times though… and now I have the answer, and I call it the Magic Gums!

Turns out theres a fun thing that happens when you combine a certain amount of Xanthan Gum and Guar Gums in the presence of liquid. Either gum on their own in the liquid will have a much less effect even in greater quantities, but together, they make a blended drink surreally creamy, thick, and delicious. It also increases volume and greatly improves consistency, and can be used with milky or not milky drinks…. just not so well with almond milk.

So like everything that seems too good to be true, I was highly skeptical, so more research… turns out xanthan gum is a byproduct of a bacteria eating lactose, and is in great supply due to the way commercial cheeses are made in North America, and guar gum is made from the outside of a bean… so both are naturally derived, huzzuh! Likewise, if you pick up a frappuccino mix from the grocery store, you’ll find both of these ingredients, but you’ll also find a whole lot of questionable ones that with this secret, you can now avoid putting in your body.

One last fun fact about this combination of gums…. it binds to things in your intestines, much like chia seeds and their goo, and helps keep things moving…. ahem.

Magic Gums

Combine 2 parts Guar Gum to 1 part Xanthan Gum

Use 1/4 tsp per beverage

Thats it, just a quarter teaspoon, so a little goes a long long way.  You can try experimenting too, heres my two favourites that aren’t on the menu.

Lemonade Slush

Fill a mug with ice

Top up 3/4 with Sammich Lemonade

Add 1/4 tsp of Magic Gums & Blend

Banana Milkshake Smoothie

Put a banana in a mug

Fill rest with ice

Top up 3/4 with Milk

Add 1/4 tsp Magic Gums & Blend

You can even add cocoa to that last one and make it a Chocolate Banana Milkshake…. tastes like childhood memories.

New Art @ Sammich

I just wanted to take _DSC0954a little moment to feature the art we have on our walls this month. I met China Goodhue at the shop, she comes in on her scooter, and is always nice to chat and visit with, and always has a smile on her face. She also has a studio across the road in the Central Building and when I needed to fill my walls again, she was happy to let me come pick a few to display.

What I really like about her is that in spite of her mobility issues through most of her body, shes making beautiful colourful works reflecting both the light and happy parts of life, as well as some for her darkest moments involving the heartbreak of loss and death.

On a lighter note, I love the lemons painting, I also love that if you get up and look it right in the eyes, you’ll see that theres a texture of another painting below it, and when I asked China about this, she said she didn’t like it so she painted lemons on it, and I think thats an amazing metaphor for life.

I also picked up a couple more for the shop, and although I loved her darker, intenser paintings, I grabbed the sunny ones because its a cafe…

_DSC0958 _DSC0957… and they are for sale! I wanted to try and see if I could sell some while they were here, and really, for an original, prices starting at $75 are a steal.

If you’d like to check out more of China’s stuff, shes on the Facebook.

Recipe Sharing Time!

I believe the best thing about the internet is the ability for people to share what they know, I have learned many a thing from youtube videos and blogs and the intention behind the Sammich Blog is to give away all of our secrets…

lemonade

Last summer I squeezed lemons every morning to make fresh lemonade, so this year I’m planning ahead, and I’ve come up with this great lemonade concentrate recipe. It takes a little patience while making it, but then it can be preserved in jars and makes a great gift or handy to have on hand all summer, and is a great way to take advantage of any lemons you might find on sale.

Zest of 3 Lemons

1 1/2 C. of Lemon Juice (about 7 or 8 lemons)

1 1/2 C. of Sugar

1 1/2 C. of Water

1) Combine lemon juice, sugar & zest in a pot, heat and stir till simmering. Don’t let it boil! It’ll get bitter.

2) Strain out lemon zest, unless you like your lemonade pulpy.

3)Add water. Or don’t. I haven’t entirely made my mind up on this one, it’s just ridiculously concentrated without it.

Voila! To preserve I used sterilized jars, and hot water bathed for 10 mins. Or you can stash it in the fridge where it’ll be good for at least a month.

To Consume: Cut it 1 part to 3 parts water or soda water over lots of ice, or with less or no ice over 4 or 5 parts water or soda water.

It would probably be great in cocktails too….

 

 

Sammich Turns 1!

March 14th last year, I said ‘Enough is enough’, picked a bunch of stuff up, and showed up the next morning bright and early to make muffins, soup, coffee and sammiches and officially call Sammich open for business on the 15th. I was terrified, but realized that I was never really going to be completely prepared to open, and that this was going to be a work in progress for a long time to come, but I better start putting some money back in the account or it wasn’t going to last long…. And now its a year later, and I’ve met so many awesome people that are doing pretty fantastic things in the buildings downtown that otherwise had stood faceless until then… And those awesome people like my food, actually, frequently boast quite strongly about it, which is great and keeps my ego alive while I navigate all the more difficult aspects of business ownership. So what I’m getting at is this. Thank you everyone, and I’m going to keep making everything from scratch to feed you, so you can be confident on the ingredients you put in your body.

And enough of that, I found some pictures from early on.

_DSC0770What I had dubbed ‘Tuscan Cafe in a Can’, Sammich was devoid of inspiration, and bit by bit I’ve transformed it over the year, theres still a few things left to update, but progress has been good.

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I built new live-edge cedar and yew counters, new menu boards, gained some much needed workspace by rearranging the display cooler and front counter, and got new tolix-esque chairs. Oh and we painted, a whirlwind 4 hour, 4 person prime and paint… it was messy.

So to celebrate, I threw a wee party… I don’t really need much excuse to give things away for free, its always been one of my favourite things to do. So I made a ton of cookies and gave them away with Salt Spring Coffee’s Canopy blend coffee.

So, another year older, and another year wiser?

_DSC0916 _DSC0913 _DSC0912

 

Cafe facelift is finally coming together

I’ve thought about it a lot too, because sometimes it feels like you’re walking in sand, a whole lot of effort and nothing much to show, but then all the little steps I’ve been taking added up into my new counter top made of that beautiful cedar slab, and a smaller round cut of yew, as well as a bonus project of shelves built from old pallets I hung this week too.

1601206_229009687223127_1424495926_n 1902075_228990710558358_1113694120_nI also finally got a painting party together, so the walls are much brighter. Theres also new art, by Genni Delaquis, inspired by local scenes, I’ll leave the rest a surprise.

So the surroundings finally match the quality of foods found at Sammich, and everyday looking around puts a smile on my face. Now its time to hunker down and start expanding the menu though…

But first, a party! March 15th Sammich turns 1, and its come a long way from the first day, when I was terrified, but decided ready or not, I was opening shop. So come down on Saturday March 15th and theres bound to be some free cookies, some streamers & balloons and general good times to be had, oh and, tell your friends.

What a busy fall….

I can hardly recall whats occured between now and summer, and its almost winter. But seriously, last thing I remember was heaps of tourists, then we had a couple quiet weeks in October, and now its a few weeks till Christmas… In the meanwhile I’ve been catering, mostly for local offices, including a beautiful cheese and charcuterie spread I did on a piece of live edge cedar, and then promptly forgot to take pictures, gah. In other news the new counter made of the other piece of live edge cedar I picked up in the Cowichan Valley is almost ready to be my new counter, I’ve been putting a coat of tung oil on it everyday when I get home from work, should be done between 15 and 20 coats, and we’re at 7 or 8 now.

I’ve also got a new logo…

Made by Better Business Products.

New Sammich logo, made by Better Business Products.

 

It started with me scribbling on a piece of paper, and it looks more or less the same, just not in pencil anymore.

Built it out of spruce and painted it with chalk paint.

Built it out of spruce and painted it with chalk paint.

I also finally hung my new chalk board, a vast improvement, and I’ve been scribbling on it for the past 2 weeks, but I think it’s nearly done.

This board had me googling chalk art techniques, and trying to figure out what kind of chalk serious artists used, and watching videos, its all pretty amazing work they do. When all was said and done though, I opted not to buy $50 chalk, and got myself a pack of crayola….

Now I think its about time to tackle my older menu board, now that I know what I can do. I’m also hoping to paint soon, and I’ve got some tile accenting and backsplash I’m thinking about, but hopefully, sometime near Christmas, Sammich will be all snazzy.

 

Rainy-day Adventures in the Cowichan Valley

Now that the fall is here, I’m working on revamping the interior of my cafe. I’ve got a bunch of ideas, just a lack of time, but I’ve started really trying to focus in my off time on doing little things all the time to work towards an eventual goal, so hopefully by Christmas, I’ll be well on my way.

I’m immensely proud of my crummy little spice rack I procured from Value Village and painted, with its new vintage-y spice shakers, it would make any DIY hipster proud. I picked up a peculiar little tiki-man napkin holder and painted it too… I like weird stuff like that.

Irvin Bahnmann of Bahnmann Timber, aka the guy with all those beautiful slabs of wood.

Irvin Bahnmann of Bahnmann Timber, aka the guy with all those beautiful slabs of wood.

In the Cowichan Valley, however, I found a fellow selling live edge slabs of lumber (oak, magnolia, plum, cedar, maple etc), and his prices were within my range. I had been nearly ready to give up on this idea of mine, quotes I had received were $250-$500 for an unfinished slab. I was kinda heart broken by this, started having ideas of acquiring a chainsaw and making my own slab… but then I did some further searching and emailing and met Irvin.

He has a great selection, and for $70 I picked up a slab of cedar, rough cut, but with one long straight edge already, and a live edge on the other side. It’s deep in colour, not the prettiest colour of cedar I’ve seen, but I wanted to stain it, and I’d have felt horrible covering up a beautiful marbled pattern like in some of the oak and maple he had. I don’t think he believed I’d get this big slab of wood into my car, but I did, paid the man, and off I went to show it off to my Grandpa.

Now I’m working on figuring out how to plane the thing….

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Welcome to Sammich

We’re a lunch spot serving Sammiches (sandwiches), fresh baked goods made daily, soups from scratch, fair-trade organic Salt Spring Coffee, and freshly squeezed lemonade among other things.

We opened March 15, 2013, and this being the first cafe I’ve owned, I was terrified. I didn’t really expect that the day would ever actually come that everything would actually happen as it could, and I would have my own cafe. It’s not to say I wasn’t prepared, at least to some capacity, but it’s another story to invent yourself a job, and then try to perform it in front of people.

I just started piling samples on top of each other, and hiding them behind a picture.

I just started piling samples on top of each other, and hiding them behind a picture.

So now the cafe has been open for over 7 months, feedback on the food is very good, and now I’ve got a few goals on the horizon, namely expansion of my soup selection for lunch, including a meat soup variety, also made from scratch, so I’m looking for some good bones, and beautification of my shop.

I finally picked a colour I think, the pinkish one, its kinda more beige looking, really a very progressive and edgy colour…. I think this is the hardest decision I’ve made about the cafe so far.

I’m also ready to hang another menu board I’ve built out of spruce and painted with blackboard paint, and lastly, I’m staining a pallet I’m turning into a shelf and have every intention of hanging on my wall as well somehow, cause it definitely weighs a lot, and that will make it tricky.