Maple Pumpkin Quick Bread


One of the best things about living in Canada in the fall, other than the fabulous hauls from the farmers market, is that other reason why we appreciate the almighty maple tree.
The nectar of nature, maple syrup is truly a spring gift, however delicious, a simple autumn walk can be just as spectacular. The colourful displays the scarlet and rusted orange maple leaves screaming their last vibrant shrieks before plunging to their deaths is always enough to get my heart racing back to life.

When I recently took part in a detox diet, I realized my longing of food. No, I didn’t crave fatty snack food or sugar, per se, it was the bread. Neglected of fruit, sugars and wheat among (many) other things, it was the bread I craved.

Always a creative person, by mid-diet, I was determined to solve my dilemma.
Only restricted by wheat, gluten and yeast, I set out to find any alternative.
Scanning the aisles of the health food store, I found various root and bean flours which met my specific diet requirements. Knowing that some of these new flours would lend an undesired new flavour twist to my creation, I found the most mild; brown rice, cranberry bean, arrowroot and soy flours then set off to work.

Inspired by a dense, sticky snack bread sent to me from my Blogging By Mail partner, Arden. Her Kruidkoek was spiced, but not too sweet, perfect for something like, say, pumpkin.

Next having to go sugar-free, I knew I wouldn’t get the sticky, sweetness of that super Dutch snack, but it didn’t matter. I wasn’t looking for cake, I wanted my bread back. Something to clean my plates and dip in my soup. Something just to finally eat and feel satisfied again. The maple syrup was perfect in this regard. Not the same sweetness as sugar and just a hint of smokiness – perfect.

What I ended up with made me feel like I was cheating, isn’t that terrible? Great on it’s own and with the Roasted Vegetable Soup, I finally I felt like this diet was really working for me. I had my bread, I felt whole again.
Continue reading Maple Pumpkin Quick Bread

Preserving The Summer


Wouldn’t it just be the way, when I was confronted with this and a box of dusty, old canning jars:
“I’m presuming I can finally recycle these?”

We were down in the basement purging of it’s overwhelming accumulation to free up movement to the laundry and the like. By the dust streaks, one could obviously conclude I hadn’t done much in the way of preserving for some time. As fate would have it, upon conceding to the disposal, my neighbour showed up with more jars. Then the strawberry season was heavenly, peach baskets were sweet and overflowing and the Mennonite farmer at the market, had the crispest, greenest basket of miniature cucumbers I’d seen.
They were calling my name – I swear to you, they were.

As far as I can remember back I’ve been a bit of a pickle connoisseur. Kosher Dills, Polski Ogorkis, Baby Dills, Cornichons… I even remember the market unveiling of Vlasic’s extra crunchy pickles.
Man, what a breakthrough.
I can clearly recall a monstrosity of a pickle found, I believe Strubs. Being about six, it was probably the size of my foot, I kid you not. This of course encouraged me to dig this, the largest pickle I’d ever seen, out from the jar. Besides, if anyone was going to go down as conquering this cuke, it would be me. Slowly but steadily, I devoured the soft, briney interior. My temporary embalming only ceased by my bedtime and the numbness in my mouth. I even recall carefully wrapping that treasure, carefully, and storing it away for morning.

Since then, the best pickles ever were from the same family who sold me the cucumbers this year to begin with. Even with pickles, good ingredients are still important. Size is also important, as I’ve long since abandoned volume for numbers. A perfect pickle is garlicky, dilly, crisp, small and must applaud all grilled cheese sandwiches they accompany flawlessly.
I’m just beginning to be able to open my stock of pickles and enjoy the harvest. Preserving is great fun. It’s really not the mess you’d imagine it to be. Plus a payoff that continues months on, is so worth it.

If you’d like to read of other savory preserved summers, visit The Passionate Cook for a round up of sealed greatness.

Brown Butter Zucchini


It’s Farmer’s Market Day – again. As I began to troll the stalls, I was almost sure it would be the standard fare – until I spotted these. Baby everything! Courgettes, patty pan squash, they even had silver dollar cauliflower, such a great way to get through the overwhelming number of summer squash!

For a super easy side dish worthy of a gourmet status, just rinse and steam the vegetables until fork tender. In a dry sauté pan, toast a handful of pine nuts. When they are golden on all sides, add about 3 tablespoons of butter (or the vegan variety) to melt and turn a pale brown. Pour it over the little steamed squash and serve immediately – family style. I’m a citrus addict, so I added a touch of lemon zest along with some freshly ground black pepper, but I’ll leave that up to you.

Simple and quick, but when I do it again I’ll have to make more – I ate the whole plate.

Basic Tomato Sauce


BASIC TOMATO SAUCE

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, finely diced
1 Stalk Celery, finely diced
1 small Carrot, finely grated
2 Cloves Garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Thyme leaves
1 teaspoon Oregano Leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Rosemary, dried and crushed

3 Cups Fresh Tomatoes, skinned and chopped; or 1 – 28-ounce Can Diced Tomatoes in Juice
Salt and Pepper, to taste


In a large saucepan, heat the oil to medium high and add the onion, garlic and celery.
Once the vegetables are aromatic and have become translucent, about 5 – 7 minutes, add the shredded carrot, thyme, oregano and rosemary; cooking for another 3 – 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, reduce the heat to a medium low and simmer for about 25 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Purée to smooth the sauce with a hand immersion blender or leave chunkier, if desired.

Makes about 4 cups.