Sustainable Dining – Local and Fresh Foods on the Menu

Charbris Restaurant at 15 King St. North in Waterloo has partnered with Foodlink Waterloo Region to launch its Taste Local! Taste Fresh! menu. They have a distinctive new menu every three months which showcases a bounty of fresh local ingredients sourced from a range of farms and food producers in the area. Let’s hope other local restaurants will follow this excellent trend in wholesome menu offerings!

Stacking Wood for Winter

Each year at the end of summer I spend several days stacking wood. We use wood as a secondary source of heat through the winter. When we renovated we installed a wood burning masonry fireplace called a Temp-Cast stove. They are also known as Russian heaters or German tiled stoves. This is not the same as a traditional fireplace or wood stove that you stoke continuously. Based on European technology (they don’t have much wood left to burn so they are very frugal about it) a masonry fireplace is made of a special firebox (very dense, very heavy, concrete-like substance). The Finnish government encourages the use of masonry heaters through tax incentives, to reduce the use of natural gas, oil and electricity. The result is that 90% of the new homes built each year in Finland are heated with a masonry stove. The entire box heats up along with any stone or brick finish you use. A short, hot fire heats the masonry mass, which stores and radiates it back to the space slowly and evenly for many hours. This creates a very gentle heater, with almost imperceptible warmth. Part of the design is a constant flow of fresh air to the firebox, enabling the wood to burn at very high temperatures. The moderate heat transfer also allows the firebox temperatures to reach 1500 degrees F. (815 deg. C) or higher, creating very high combustion efficiency, while the exterior is still only warm to the touch. I do two burns a day, one first thing in the morning and another around dinnertime. I use 6-8 pieces of wood for each burn and they go in all at once. I use far less wood over a season than if I had a traditional fireplace. They are efficient and clean burning. Recent testing in Finland shows that masonry heaters typically attain combustion efficiencies of 88 to 91%. The best part is that I get to enjoy a wood burning fire when it is blustery and cold outside. Sort of makes one look forward to winter!