Archives for September 2013

5 ideas for cooking with fresh apple cider

Where we live, when the jugs of fresh apple cider appear in stores with a sticker boasting “New Crop”, it’s time to snag one for the basket.

Fresh apple cider is sometimes called ‘cold pressed’ or ‘fresh pressed’ and is an unfiltered, unsweetened pure apple juice. It is often unpasteurized, and recognizable by its cloudy brown colour.

Cider can be purchased from farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and local orchards, but cider really tastes best when you make your own. Look for a tutorial coming soon on that very topic!  You can also find it in the refrigerated area of the organics section in your grocery store.

It may not look pretty, but fresh pressed apple juice has one ingredient: new apples, and it’s full of Vitamin C. My kids call it brown juice. On cold days, I serve it to them slightly warmed, with a little cinnamon sprinkled on the top. They tilt their cups far back to get every last drop.

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Pepita Parsley Pesto via from Shaina Olmanson

Pepita and Parsley Pesto

It began a few weeks ago, that nighttime chill in the air that catches at the back of your throat, lingering against still bare shoulders, torsos clad in tank tops.

The market stalls piled higher and higher encouraging us to stock up for the long months ahead. My garden, still producing, has started to yellow and turn crisp as a result of the longer, colder nights.

In response to the changing seasons, as if a learned behavior turned habit, I purchase bushels of apples and boxes of tomatoes, and I cut back nearly all of my herbs: freezing some, setting others to dry, and pulsing the rest into pesto to be tucked into the freezer for a dark snowy winter day in the months ahead.

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How to make simple chia pudding

I made an impulsive purchase the other day. It wasn’t a bar of chocolate or a box of cookies, but rather a bag of chia seeds. Yep, this former chef-turned-food-blogger sampled chia seeds for the first time.

I’m not sure if I should sheepishly admit that I haven’t used chia before now, or be proud that I held out on this health food trend for as long as I did. Either/or, it is safe to say I’m completely hooked now.

Chia seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients, containing omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, and minerals including calcium- up to three times more than a serving of milk. Unlike flax seed, they don’t have to be ground in order for you to absorb the nutrients. Superfood? Perhaps.

I’m sold on this new-to-me ingredient and have taken steps to stock my pantry with a few bags. I buy chia seeds at my local natural foods store, but have also seen them in pretty much every grocery store, and of course on Amazon.

I hear chia can be used as an egg substitute in baking (which sounds kinda complicated) or merely sprinkled into smoothies (much simpler), but I’ve been enjoying them daily in a chilled, creamy pudding.

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7 Fall Soup Recipes

This morning I gathered a jar of lentils, a few carrots, and a leek for the beginning of an autumn soup.

I rummaged in the freezer for a jar of dark chicken stock, and snipped a few sprigs of thyme from the garden. The boys have the day off of school and we’ll enjoy a simple French lentil soup for lunch.

It certainly is the perfect season for summering a soup. If you’ve never made soup from scratch, there’s no better time than the fall, when all the root vegetables come into play, the garlic is firm and young and ingredients like corn, tomatoes and zucchini are still in abundance.

The body craves this nourishing bowl of vegetables, simmered in a savoury broth, and accompanied by favourite side such as skillet cornbread or whole wheat buttermilk rolls. In fact, I think I better go mix up a batch of those rolls right now.

Here are some of my favourite recipes to get you started.

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Zucchini Apple Mini Muffins

This year has been the first year that I have been able to grow a really successful garden. I’ve tried many summers before, but the disappointingly meager results didn’t ever seem to justify all the time and effort spent on the garden.

This summer, I finally met with some garden success. My monster of a zucchini plant alone makes all the weeding and watering feel like time well spent. We are pulling one or two good sized zucchinis off the plant almost every single day. It is incredible!

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