Strathcona Country Kitchen Makes Cooking a Family Affair
Take a family who loves to cook and bake and feed people, and what do you have? Grant and Vanessa Lloyd of Strathcona Country Kitchen — that’s who. Never detered by a batch gone wrong and certainly not intimidated by a complex recipe, the Lloyds began perfecting the art of jam and jelly making, and over the years expanded their line of spreads, relishes, chutneys and butters to include pies, tarts, scones and breads – oh my! We asked them to tell us more about the tastey treats they offer at the City Market Downtown.
We make jams, jellies, pickles, chutneys, ketchup, relish, scones, pies, cookies, dark Christmas cakes, lemon tarts, and fruit curds.
Do you have a particular favourite?
Vanessa – my favourite is the dark Christmas cake. I started making them when I was about 15 years old. They remind me of Christmas and family as I used to make them with my mom.
Grant – My favourite is the black currant jelly. It’s a flavor I’ve always enjoyed and it never gets old for me.
Do you follow an old family recipe or have you created your own recipes over the years?
The relish recipe was passed down from Vanessa’s old boss, and we named after them — Harley and Barb’s Famous Tomato Relish. Our other recipes are often culled from our collection of cookbooks and adjusted to our tastes, however many of our recipes were created from scratch as we couldn’t find a recipe that would give us the taste we wanted.
Do you try different combinations of ingredients and are they always successful?
We do try different combinations and they are not always successful. We have burnt things, had fires on the stove, thrown out batches of baking. We always vet the new product around the house first, and if everyone likes it, it goes to market.
What makes your jams, jellies, spreads and other goodies so different from other similar products?
We both love to cook! Our house is filled to the brim with cooking magazines, cook books, cooking equipment, etc. All of our products are made in small batches in order to retain that artisan quality and taste. Everyone in our family loves to be creative in the kitchen and we enjoy feeding people. In our spare time we cook and experiment, and our daughter gets into the action as well. We do not use home canning jars — our product looks like it belongs on a grocery store shelf. Our Traditional Marmalade made the top 25 things to eat in Edmonton list a couple years ago.
We make our jams jellies and spreads in the traditional way so pectin is not added to most of our products. We use fruit that has been picked at the peak of freshness. We hand-cut fruit for our jams. We use fresh citrus/fruit for our curds. We only use butter and the best quality chocolate, and fresh herbs from our garden.
Our deep dish pies are perfect for one or two people, which works well for a lot of our customers, particularly the tower residents on 104th street. Many customers just want something small so we offer three sizes of lemon tarts — single bites, share for two or three, and a large family size. Our products are made with love and we are very proud of them.
Tell us about the ingredients you use.
Quality ingredients are our first consideration. We buy get as much as we can from local suppliers, like our fruit — saskatoons, rhubarb, black currents and crab apples. Our tomatoes from the Holden colony. We have built relationships with our fruit sellers over the years, and we are happy to pay a bit more to get the best that is available. We occasionally pick wild berries for specialty products (wild strawberries, highbush cranberry etc) and almost everything else we get from Sunbest Fruit, also a City Market vendor. Their berries are shipped overnight from BC and are the freshest available. We buy unsprayed whenever possible, and organic whenever possible as well.
What feedback have you received from customers?
Our customers are great!! We enjoy getting ideas from our customers and listening to their feedback. They tell us they liked something in particular, how they served it and who they shared it with. Our Scones have a faithful following and there are always several types to choose from. We change as fruit is in season, and often will make something specific for our customers. If it goes well, it stays in the lineup.
Every May long weekend we hear “thank goodness you’re back!!”, and at the end of the season “Where can we find you after Thanksgiving?”
Because our baking tends to sell out early, some customers will call us at home, and we put aside their orders if they know they will be late getting by the market. Grant has a cupboard full of jam in his office in Commerce Place, and can be seen year-round running down to meet a customer at the front door.
Relish makes a great appetizer if you put a small spoonful on a plate and a piece of poached halibut with a drizzle of truffle oil on top. Jellies are great mixed with mustard as a marinade, or oil and vinegar for a salad dressing. A great way to enjoy our soft ginger snaps or chocolate chip cookies is put a bit of vanilla ice cream between them and make an ice cream sandwich. Yum! A spoonful of curds in Greek yogurt and sprinkle with Granola or nuts make a great breakfast or snack.
Do you have a unique or interesting story about selling at the City Market Downtown?
People often ask for our recipes for jam, relish, curds and scones, and we give it to them. Nine times out of 10 they will come back and tell us they burnt it, or too much chopping was involved, or it didn’t come out the same, or it’s too much work. And they end up buying from us anyway. We are set up to make the products we offer at the Market and it’s easy for us, so we don’t mind giving out our recipes. Our customers keep coming back.
Why do you like selling at the City Market Downtown?
The city market has grown into a vibrant market with top class vendors and staff, and it’s the best street in the city to sell on as it’s lined with beautiful trees and historic buildings. The market is a destination for people, not just a quick shopping trip. People come to the market to shop for food, they enjoy food and that makes it a pleasure to sell them something they will enjoy.
The care and attention that has been put into the market by all shows, and we are all very proud to be a part of it.
On which days will you be at the City Market Downtown?
We sell at the city market May Long Weekend until Thanksgiving, usually taking the long weekend in August of for a family vacation.