I know that there is still technically one more month of fall, but with December nearly here and Christmas lights on display, the idea of winter is starting to set in and the feeling of autumn is fading.
Remember how I made a bucket list for all the things that I wanted to do in autumn? Well, I did them.
Do the Run for the Cure 5K (Check!)
This was our 7th year participating in the Run for the Cure which is a major fundraiser for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Our team raised over $2500 and I had tonnes of energy to blast out this 5K.
Me and My Sister at the Run for the Cure
Go Apple Picking (Check!)
Despite the fact that the lady at the PYO Orchard was practically encouraging me NOT to pick any apples on the evening that I went out, I got a 15lb bag of crazy good Golden Delicious apples and ate them all.
Make a recipe from the Apple Cookbook my friend Tina bought me (Check!)
I didn’t blog about this, though I don’t know why.
I made an apple chutney and I also tried my hand at apple strudel. The filling of said strudel was to die for but the crust was atrocious. I should have taken a hint to use store bought pastry or phyllo when the recipe in the cookbook actually said: “making the dough can take decades of practice”.
I still ate the whole thing.
Buy a yellow cardigan (Check!)
I basically haven’t stopped wearing this since I bought it.
Run the Hot Chocolate 15K (Check!)
9.3 miles on Chicago’s waterfront on a beautiful November day, followed by hot chocolate and fondue. It could have been better (ya know, without the whole runner’s trots business), but I had an awesome time doing this race with Vicki and Tina and I can’t wait until we do another race together.
Why we don’t get more than 10 costumed children banging down the doors to our house is beyond me. Kids these days, yeesh!
Bake a pumpkin cake (Check!)
Okay, so it was cupcakes. . . close enough. These bad boys were really good. The cupcake reminded me more like a muffin, but when you put the buttercream frosting on it they were delicious. There’s a reason I haven’t made them again– because they would be devoured.
I watched not one, but two such games! Why?
Well, first I watched a regular season game . . .
. . . and then Matt’s team made the championships. Which their team won for the first time ever!
Congrats boys, way to end the season.5 Comments
Thursday night I crossed 2 more to-do’s off of my Autumn Bucket List: apple picking and watching Matt coach a football game.
The game started at 5pm so I had some time to kill after work and since Wagner Apple Orchard is not far from the field where the game was happening I detoured for apple picking.
There was a frost in the spring which has been pretty hard on this year’s apple crops so I wanted to make sure that I got some good apples, especially before the Thanksgiving rush this weekend which I’m sure is going to bring tonnes of pickers. I knew that Empire and Mutsu were available, and Mutsu are my favourite so I was highly disappointed when the lady at the orchard told me that the back orchard where the Mutsu grow wasn’t open.
I think she was trying to deter me from picking apples altogether, really. Saying things like “All we have in golden delicious right now. . . they’re very hard to pick. . . WAY up in the trees . . . you’ll need to find a ladder, and they can be hard to find sometimes” I was waiting for her to tell me “Maybe you should just go” since she seemed so disappointed when I told her that I figured I could manage.
I was a bit worried that the apples were going to be crap and I would end up with a paltry amount of apples for $13 (since they don’t charge by the pound but by the bag instead) but actually when I finally managed to find a ladder and climb all the way up into the tree to grab one I took a bite and it was delicious. Golden delicious.
I kept singing “I’ve got a golden delicious” to the tune of “I’ve got a golden ticket” from Willy Wonka. To myself of course not out loud.
I paused for some narcissistic self-timer photo ops and then continued picking, mostly from one tree, until I filled up my bag.
Apple Picking. Check!
Now, what to do with 15 pounds of apples? Apple pie? Applesauce? I’ll probably eat most of them raw actually because they’re so good.
Stay tuned for part two… watching high school football.4 Comments
Here’s what I’ve been up to in my kitchen lately:
from Oh She Glows
I’ve made this recipe more times than I can count in the last several months and it is probably one of my favourite salads. I can eat it in massive proportions, so it’s a good thing that the recipe makes a huge batch.
I like to put a little more currants than the recipe calls for.
I also use lime juice instead of lemon and cilantro in place of parsley. Thumbs up.
from Green Kitchen Stories
The yoghurt curry dressing used on this mix of boiled eggs and fresh vegetables is very tasty. I like that this recipe comes off as light and fresh yet decadent at the same time.
Though the recipe doesn’t call for it, I blanched my veggies before mixing them in the salad. Also, I left out the grapes and the sprouts. I think there are a lot of variations that you can do with this recipe.
(Image Source, left. That’s my version on the right)
I have made this dish several times since I first tried it, including once for Matt’s birthday in January. I pretty much buckle at the knees for anything ‘creamy’, and I especially like this recipe because it’s a bit on the healthier side since it uses yoghurt instead of cream. The sauce is honestly to die for.
I’ve made this with both chicken and pork and they are both very good. I even made it one time using red wine instead of white and it came out burgundy in colour and just as delicious. This has been one of my top meat recipes as of late.
from Leftover Queen
This is the Greek version of sesame candies. It’s rich with honey, has a deep sesame flavour, and is very very sweet. Unlike the sesame bars I’m used to, these are soft and chewy because they use honey instead of sugar (which hardens the candy).
I have only made these once and found them to be a bit on the sweet side, so I would probably not cut them into squares any larger than 1”. I only made half the recipe and it still made quite a large batch.
from David Tani via TheKitchn
So far I’ve made this mushroom sauce twice. It’s fantastic and very deep in umami taste. It makes a really good substitute for a meat-based dish. I’ve made the recipe as written and once with water in place of the mushroom broth (which, to be honest, I didn’t notice was missing). It’s very very good.
from Rosa’s Yummy Yums
I was first drawn to this recipe because of Norway in the title and I’ve been all over anything Norwegian since I came back from visiting the country. Then I was intrigued by the high apple-to-flour ratio and the lack of any fat (outside from the 1 egg in the recipe).
I made it this week and it is already half gone. I like that it is light, soft, and moist from all the apples packed in there. It isn’t too sweet or too decadent but is full of flavour from the spices.
It’s the perfect not-so-guilty dessert (I calculated 1/8th of the cake at only 110cals) that could easily double as a breakfast.5 Comments
It’s been a few weeks since the unfortunate apple picking of thanksgiving weekend. I have since picked through and eaten all the crisp and tart mutsus and am left with several pounds of mediocre empires and golden not-so-delicious.
I’ve been scrambling to think of some things to make with my apples.
I’ve made some apple sauce that was so good because it was far too sweet to be apple sauce and was venturing close to pie-filling territory.
I’ve made some apple and sweet potato fritters with poached eggs. A favourite dinner of mine, but I imagine it would be just as delicious for breakfast.
I also made some pumpkin dip for sliced apples that I put out for a Hallowe’en party that Matt and I hosted.
But for the most part I have been lazy and have decided to just eat them raw with some peanut butter (more as an excuse to eat peanut butter in a more refined way than off a spoon from the jar, to be honest).
I think this caramel apple & pumpkin cake is the best thing that I’ve made with my apples so far. This past week, as I mentioned, was my Nonna’s 88th birthday. I had printed out a few recipes for cakes that I thought she might like. I narrowed it down to a sachertorte, a chocolate bread cake with nuts and booze, and an apple upside down cake.
I asked Matt’s opinion but it was one of those cases where I was really asking for no reason—I was planning on making the apple cake regardless. Luckily he told me to go with the apple upside down cake because Nonna loves apples and everyone was happy. This recipe seemed the easiest to make of the three and plus, I could get rid of some of those apples.
Caramel Apple & Pumpkin Cake
From King Arthur Flour
Makes one 9” round cake
This cake is very moist with a rich, spiced flavour. It makes a good coffee cake (or birthday cake, as the case may be)
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 apple, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9" round cake pan by greasing it, lining it with parchment paper, and then greasing the parchment.
Cut the top off of one apple and set it in the middle of the pan, skin up. Cut the remaining apple into wedges and place them in the bottom of the pan in a ring around the apple top. I used one and a half apples for the top and cut up the remaining half to use in the cake.
In a saucepan over low heat, cook the topping ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. Pour 1/2 cup of the topping over the apples into the pan, and set the rest aside.
Combine pumpkin, sugar, eggs, spices, and salt together in a mixer at medium speed for about 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and baking soda. Add the chopped apple and stir until just combined. Drop scoops of the batter over the apples in the cake pan, and spread evenly.
Bake the cake for 35 to 50 minutes (my oven gets very hot so the cake only took 35 minutes, but the original recipe called for 50)
Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert it onto a serving plate, bottom side up. Reheat the remaining caramel topping and pour it over the cake.4 Comments
Tonight I felt that I had a lot of energy on my run. Even though the weather was quite nice, I worked out on the treadmill today so that I could do some uphill work (hills are hard to come by in Essex County).
I ran at about 6.5mph to warm up. Then I ran 5 consecutive minutes on a 5% incline. I decreased the speed a bit every minute, but I was really happy that I was able to keep up the incline run for that long.
My pace was between 8:30 and 8:00 minute miles for the rest of the run which was really strong.
I’ve been pretty happy with my speeds on my short and medium distance runs lately. I really think all the interval training that I’m getting from kickboxing is helping a lot.
Oh, and I may or may not have deadlifted 185lbs today(!!!) No big deal, only the best ever. I was able to squeak out 2 reps, and it felt good.
Last night I made this dish:
Root Vegetable Crumble
It’s exactly what it sounds like—a savoury crumble instead of the more common sweet version. I liked it a lot, but think that the recipe needs some tweaking.
Here’s a rundown of what I did, in case you want to run with the idea in your own kitchen:
- I cooked finely chopped onion, garlic, sweet potato, celery root, and bok choy, with a little oil and some rosemary
- I toasted slivered almonds and flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds.
- I mixed the nuts/seeds with whole wheat flour and cold butter to make a crumb. Spread it over the veggies, and baked it in a hot oven.
What I would change:
I think that it came out a little dry and next time I need to add either a vegetable with more water content or add some broth to the root veggies.
Also, I think I skimped a bit on the butter in the crumble. It was a bit too crumbly.
But, anyway it was a good dinner idea and side for Perfect Baked Tofu.
Another thing I made last night was this thing of beauty:
Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake
It was for this little lady’s 88th birthday which was today.
I’ll share the recipe within the next couple of weeks. I have a few other delicious recipes that I’ve made lately! There’s so much to share.3 Comments
This weekend is Thanksgiving which is one of my favourite holidays.
The food is delicious.
The weather is gorgeous and the leaves are just started to fall.
And, mostly, there is little hype about it. It’s a fun get together with family that people don’t make a big fuss about or spend months planning for like, say, Christmas.
I had two dinners this year: one with Matt’s family tonight, and the other with my family at my dad’s house on Saturday night.
For dinner at my dad’s I put these Turkey Meatballs on the menu since I was cooking and I don’t like / don’t know how to make roasted turkey. The meatballs turned out awesome, yet again. Luckily, this time they didn’t take me 3 hours to make because I already had marinara sauce in the freezer and I made the meatball sauce with that on Friday night.
My sister Vicki flew in from Illinois for the holiday weekend, although she had to fly back home today (why can’t American thanksgiving be on the same day as ours?) But we were able to take advantage of the nice weather this morning by going apple picking!
Generally, I love apple picking but I have to admit that today’s experience was a pretty shitty, to put it nicely.
We got to the farm at high noon and it was hot as balls outside. We went in to buy our bags to fill and the lady at the counter told us:
“All that’s left on the trees is Golden Delicious”.
Vicki says to me “Golden Delicious? Those are the shitty kind! Want to try the apple picking place on Patillo Rd?”
I said no because I know how these “pick your own” places work- they always have good fruit on some trees that are off limits to the public. You just have to sneak your way into the no pick zone and pretend like you belong (note: it helps to look like a Jamaican or Mexican migrant worker in these cases). No, this woman was clearly bullshitting.
When we got into the orchard we quickly discovered that, in fact, she was not.
All that was left of the empires and mutsus on the trees were very, very high in the tree tops and even if we could reach them they were basically rotten or mealy anyhow. We spent a good 15 minutes walking around with empty bags hoping to find some semblance of an edible fruit that wasn’t of the golden delicious variety.
We gave up and headed to the golden delicious trees. I tasted one and it wasn’t so bad. It was pretty crispy for what it was. I filled up half my bag and then said
“I’m just going to fill the rest from the bins at the front entrance.”
There were some pristine looking pre-picked mutsus and empires there and I wanted to bring home some apples that I would actually eat.
“We could have done that at Zehrs.”
…and we could have.
But at least we got to hang out. Next time we’ll just go to the gym together.
Happy Thanksgiving!2 Comments
It’s Food Blog Friday!
This week’s recipe comes from Verses from My Kitchen, a well-written and well-photographed food blog that I stumbled across through Twitter. The recipe is a Apple & Sweet Potato Cakes with Poached Egg and Sweet Mustard Sauce. As soon as I saw the photo, my mouth started salivating and I knew I had to make this recipe. Plus, the recipe name says it all—it’s essentially a list of all the things I love to eat. How could this dish be bad?
I didn’t make any substitutions to the recipe except that I doubled it. I got 6 fritters out of the doubled version of the recipe.
Apple & Sweet Potato Cakes with Sweet Mustard Dressing
From Verses from My Kitchen, makes 6, serves 3
1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated
1 sweet onion, peeled and grated
1 large green apple, cored and grated
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tbsp. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
1/4 cup of oil
1 T. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. granulated sugar
pinch of salt
3 eggs for poaching
To make the cakes: grate the onion first (the acidity helps prevent the apple from changing colour) and then the apple and sweet potato. Place the three ingredients in a bowl and season with salt. Wait for a minute to allow some of the moisture to be drawn out. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
- Once squeezed, pat dry with a tea towel and put in a small mixing bowl. Add the egg, flour, baking powder and cinnamon and stir to combine. Season.
- Using a non-stick pan over medium to medium-high heat, add the oil and allow it to heat up. Place a 1/4 cup mixture into the pan and press down and shape into a circle with a spoon. Leave it to cook. It’s fragile. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown, and then flip over and repeat.
- Meanwhile, add the dressing ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until fully combined.
- Make your poached eggs in another pot and drain when finished.
- To serve, stack two cakes on top of one another and place the poached egg on top. Finish with a drizzle of your mustard dressing.
All in all I loved this recipe and I will definitely be making it again, no substitutions. The sweetness of the fritters with the tanginess of the mustard dressing are a perfect combination. I tried one cake without a poached egg on top and it just wasn’t the same. The runny yolk just adds depth to the dish and I wouldn’t recommend you leave it out. I give this recipe
Food Blog Fridayrecipes are ranked on the scale of 0-3 spoons
0 spoons – That was fucking horrendous
1 spoon – I doubt I’ll be making that again
2 spoons – I’ll probably make that again with some tweaks
3 spoons – That was perfect.
The Politics of Pie
Ever notice how pie always seems to get overlooked at holiday parties? Sure, everyone wants a piece but if there are cookies or sliced fruit or pieces of baklava on the dessert table everyone goes for that stuff first.
First, there is the apprehension about being the first person to cut into the pie. You are nervous that you might come across as greedy. You wouldn’t want to cut into a pie and be the only one to eat it would you? And if you are the only one to eat it, then the remainder of the pie is clear evidence for the rest of the crowd of exactly how much pie you ate. People might judge you for wanting a big piece (what a pig!) or even for taking a small piece (that’s all?!) Plus the first piece always ends up looking pretty mangled and who wants that?
Then, of course, if you are slicing the pie on behalf of other people you get caught up in the politics of size. People will start telling you to cut them a small piece, but just how small is small anyway? Are they just being coy and saying that so that when they are dished out a a huge piece and they eat the whole damn thing they can blame you for their gluttony? I remember one Thanksgiving when my sis was doling out pieces of pie. One of my uncles asked for a sliver of pumpkin pie and my sister cut him a piece that was quite literally 1 centimetre wide. We all looked at her and laughed as my uncle said, `What the hell is that?!` Apparently we all have different definitions for sliver.
So my answer to the politics of pie is this: pie squares.
Remember the 25lbs apples that I picked on Thanksgiving weekend? Well, besides packing away three a day between breakfast and lunch I decided to actually use them in a recipe. And what’s better than home made apple pie? Apple pie in a convenient eat-with-your-hands bar form, that’s what! It’s like a fast food apple pie because you can take it on the run—but it’s better because it’s vegan and McCruelty free.
Oh yeah, and you can put it on your Christmas cookie tray too and expect people to overlook all the other pies on the dessert table. How do you like them apples?
Apple Pie Squares
- 3 c. pastry flour
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 3/4 c. vegetable ghee
- 6 Tbsp cold water
- 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs or bread crumbs
- 3 large Mutsu apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
- 1/2 c. dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Combine dry ingredients until well mixed. Add in vegetable ghee and cold water. Mix with your hands until the dough just comes together to form a ball. Be careful not to overmix the dough as it will become less flaky.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put in the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours.
Cut the dough in half with a pastry cutter. Place one half on a non-stick mat and roll out the dough carefully until it is large enough to cover a 8×8 inch baking dish. Roll the dough around the rolling pin and then unroll the dough over the baking dish. Trim the edges of the crust knife.
Once you lay the filling then repeat with the second half of the crust for the top of the pie.
Preheat the oven to 375*F
In a small bowl combine the sugar and spices.
Cover the bottom crust with bread crumbs or graham cracker crumbs. Place half of the sliced apples on top in one layer. Sprinkle half of the sugar mixture over the apples. Repeat.
Lay the remaining crust over the filling and score the top so that steam can escape.
Bake for 35 minutes or until both the top and bottom crusts are gold brown.
Once the pie is cooled, cut into squares and enjoy!
The 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies is being hosted by Abby Sweets.No Comments
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
This year the weather was beautiful, the food was fantastic, and the company (as usual) was great. My sister Vicki and I cooked up a pretty delicious feast at our dad’s house on Saturday night for the entire extended family. Well, almost the entire family. Matt stayed at home because he was sick with a terrible cold (which I think I start to feel coming on myself, yuck). My brother-in-law had to stay in Illinois to work — I guess they don’t appreciate Canadian thanksgiving out there.
I was too busy cooking (okay, mainly eating) to take any pictures but the menu consisted of:
- Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
- Orzo Salad with Black Olives and Raisins
- Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Apples and Sage
- Sauteed Spinach with Pinenuts and Raisins
- White Bean Puree
- Homemade Roasted Garlic & Potato Bread
And for dessert there was fruit, pastries, a delicious chocolate amaretto torte, and some tasty rocky road squares.
It was so much food! I gained 3 lbs this weekend.
At least I was able to burn off some of those extra calories with a Sunday morning. My sister, my dad, and I all headed to the gym for a family Power Yoga class. I’m trying to get my dad into yoga because I think it would be great for his back. He’s come to 2 classes so far and I think he’s really starting to see that it can be an intense workout. Sunday’s class was pretty advanced so I was pretty impressed that he was committed to come out! I think we have a future yogi on or hands.
Today, in spite of Matt’s current illness (and my imminent one) I dragged us out to Wagner Orchards for some Apple Picking fun. It’s not fall until you go apple picking, as far as I’m concerned. We got about 25lbs of Empire and Mutzu apples, and I got to play with the cows
Matt was really excited about these apples!
Normally when I go apple picking I end up eating about 3 apples a day until they’re all gone. Now I’m hoping to turn them into something interesting. Perhaps a cookie for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies? Anyone have any suggestions?
This weekend I also took Bagigis for several long walks because the weather was so nice! She was just as excited as I was to get out of the house.
We even caught glimpse of some deer on one of our walks:
All in all, I think it was a pretty perfect weekend.
I just hope I don’t end up catching Matt’s cold :-sNo Comments
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- Lose 6cm from my waistline
Start (Aug 15): 83cm/ 91cm/ 166.8lb
Aug 31: 82cm /89cm/ 166.8lb
Sep 10: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Sep 20: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Oct 1: 83cm/ 88cm/ 165.6lb
Oct 10: 82cm/ 89cm/ 166.6lb
Oct 31: 81cm/ 88cm/ 166.6lb
Nov 15: 81cm/ 87cm/ 169.4lb
Dec 1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.2lb
Jan1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 169.4lb
Feb 1: 84cm/89cm/171.8lb
Mar 15: 83cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb
Apr 15: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb