Posts tagged ‘Fall’

Applesauce, homemade and homegrown

applesauce2

Applesauce must be one of the easiest recipes on the planet. And as an extra bonus it’s the perfect thing to make when you’re enjoying an afternoon or evening in as it makes the house smell absolutely heavenly.

In the early stages of my pregnancy I was obsessed with applesauce as it was one of the few things I could stomach. Now that I am eating everything in sight it doesn’t have quite the same cache, but it is delicious nonetheless. Especially the homemade variety made from apples grown in my own backyard.

Here is my no-recipe recipe for applesauce:

Peel and chop up a bunch of apples. Put them in a saucepan with a tiny bit of water and a giant spoonful of cinnamon and any other spices you have handy (cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, etc). Cover the pot and simmer on low heat for a long time, stirring occasionally, until the apples turn to mush.

I poured mine into two big jam jars, and stuck one in the fridge for eating right now (perfect as a midnight snack), and one in the freezer for later.

November 25, 2014 at 1:24 pm Leave a comment

Fall turns to winter and spring

magnolia buds_november

It is pouring down rain today. Pouring! The rain is hitting the roof of our apartment hard enough that the plink plink plink sound is echoing in the hood fan of the stove. It’s beautiful to listen to, lovely to write about, and in a few minutes I’ll be walking downtown and getting soaked by it.

The other day, when I was out for a walk in the sun, I saw that holiday decorations are going up all over the place: lights, wreaths, acrylic snowflakes and oversized Christmas ornaments hung on the almost-bare branches of trees. Along with these vestiges of winter, I noticed that spring has already started. Furry buds on magnolia trees, green clusters holding spring’s rhododendrons, and even a few spring bulb tips peeking out of the ground just as the final leaves fall from the trees. This is the thing I missed when I lived in Calgary: the continuous cycle of plant life, the constancy of new beginnings, things forever growing and green. I will take the rain.

November 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm Leave a comment

Autumn cup squash (risotto + soup)

Autumn cup – isn’t that a perfect name for a squash? Also known as buttercup, kabocha or turban squash, it tastes similar to butternut squash, but with a smoother, sweeter, and in my opinion, more delicious flavour. Dark green on the outside, bright yellowy-orange flesh inside – it is as gorgeous thing to look at as it is to eat.

Here are two recipes that will take you through one squash: a risotto flavoured with kale, caramelized onions, and fresh chives, and a soup made from roasted squash, ginger, and paprika. Warm and yum!

Autumn Cup Squash Risotto (inspired by the Acorn Squash Risotto in my favourite Italian cookbook, Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano)

Serves 6

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 of a autumn cup / kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
1-1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
8 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated*
1 cup kale, finely chopped
1 small bunch of chives, finely minced (about 1/4 cup)
fresh ground pepper

This first, all-important step is so often missing from risotto recipes: Put a chair/stool beside the stove, turn on the music, pour a glass of wine and bring a book. You have an hour of occasional stirring in front of you.

In a large saute pan (large!), cook onions in oil over low-medium heat – let them turn brown slowly so they caramelize. Then add the squash and stir until it softens and starts to break down. Add in arborio rice and cook it for a few minutes so it toasts, and then add in the wine. Have the vegetable stock warming in a pot beside your risotto pan. Add a couple of ladle-fuls of stock to the risotto and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat until you’ve used up all the stock. Stir in the cheese, kale, and chives, and sprinkle with pepper. I made this recently and served it with a spinach, pear and walnut salad and that was a nice match.

*Vegans, omit the cheese.

Autumn Cup Squash Soup
If you make the risotto above, you’ll be left with half a squash – the perfect amount for a pot of soup that provides a generous serving for two people. Cut the squash into wedges, toss with olive oil and cracked pepper and roast it in the oven until soft. Blend with water or vegetable stock, season with ginger and paprika and you’ll have a cozy lunch.

October 31, 2012 at 3:12 pm 1 comment

End of summer garden

This weekend feels like the end of summer. The weather is still warm, but it is changing, as is the light, which is thinner now and less intense. Shadows are more pronounced and I see them invading sunny places earlier in the day. I don’t mind – there is something beautiful about the dance of tree leaves in the shade.

The plants of summer are still growing – yellow impatiens, a pot of blue forget-me-nots grown from seed that are just catching their stride, green tomatoes, mint, oregano and chives – but they’re slowing down. Two strawberry plants joined the garden this year and I’m pleased about that: from what I’ve seen in other people’s yards, they don’t wither away in the cold. I’m hoping the Asian greens will stay with me, too, if I don’t eat through them before winter arrives. Gai lan (Chinese broccoli) is the one below with the beautiful white flowers.

I’m looking forward to spending the afternoon outside on the patio in my wicker lounger chair saying farewell to summer and enjoying the beginning of fall. Next weekend I’ll find a garden store so I can plant kale, chrysanthemums, and winter pansies.

September 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm 1 comment

Green tomato season

It’s that time of year again. Green tomatoes on the windowsill time. Do you have them lined up on your windows, too?

At lunch today I did what I often do, which is to walk from my corporate office job down to the beautiful beach. I sat down on a bench on the seawall, and after about 10 minutes I was too hot. I got up and walked a few minutes further and settled myself against a piece of driftwood on the beach proper, near the water. Much better. My sandwich and I were quite happy to have such a wonderful problem.

It is downright chilly in the morning and the night now that mid-September has arrived, and I think this is the last hurrah for my tomato plants. I’ve done all right this year – a steady harvest of two or three cherry tomatoes every day for the last month, and I have another tomato plant with larger fruit that occasionally produces a tomato worth slicing.

I am beginning to wonder about the green tomatoes hanging on the plants. The minute I see a tinge of yellow, they are whisked inside where they can finish ripening in the warm, sunny window of  my studio and not draw away any energy from the other tomatoes on the plant that still need more time. This is working well so far, but I am a little sad watching new tomato nubbins just beginning to form. I don’t think they’re going to have the chance to meet my sandwich or go to the beach.

September 13, 2012 at 9:08 pm 2 comments

More fall leaves and flowers

Roses in the rose garden at Stanley Park

Sunshine has been so present in Vancouver this fall. A gorgeous September rolled over to a bright, beautiful and mostly dry October and we’re having a very gentle entry into the idea of November as well. Like last weekend. we were out walking the neighbourhood and parks again this week enjoying the fall colour and the sunny skies while they last. (more…)

November 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm 2 comments

VanDusen Botanical Garden

Finally I’ve seen VanDusen Botanical Gardens in the daylight. We went this past Sunday when the garden’s new building was unveiled, inspired by free admission and late-October sunshine. Last Christmas my family and I spent a couple of dark, drizzly hours wandering the Festival of Lights, but given how close we live to VanDusen I felt long-overdue for a daytime visit.

I love gardens in the slow-growth seasons of late fall and early spring: contemplative and restrained, all the small beauties and quiet moods of the space shining through. Flowers were largely absent save for the winter heathers, the droopy hydrangeas, and a few other hardy stragglers, although it was easy to imagine springtime dogwoods, magnolias, and rhododendrons. I can’t wait to go back.

October 25, 2011 at 11:47 pm 1 comment

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