Have you ever?

October 25, 2010

Watermelon Red

Have you ever seen an apple this beautiful? It’s kind of like the blood orange of apples. The outside of the apple is nondescript, it’s no crapple, but there’s nothing alluring about it. I would have passed right by it except for the sign on the apple bin declared it a Red Fleshed Apple. Huh? I asked “Is the flesh of this apple red?” I know, right? Sometimes my mouth speaks before consulting my brain, it’s not a good short cut. A quick google shows that there are many types of red fleshed apples, with fitting names such as Hidden Rose and Grenadine. Just lovely, a little shock of colour on a grey and rainy morning.

Smart and Pretty

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In Between Days

September 16, 2010

Peeled Peaches

My neighbourhood seemed still yesterday, and neither warm nor cold. In between days. Summer is quietly taking its leave and making room for fall. There are peaches still, at the market. Slightly over-ripe and marred with the odd bruise or dent which makes them perfect candidates for a small batch of peach barbecue sauce.

Makes about 1 cup

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1/4 small onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes, optional

2 – 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, to taste

2 – 3 tablespoons honey, to taste

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

pinch of sea salt

2 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks

Heat olive oil in a medium sized and heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook for a few minutes, letting them sweat but not colour. Add garlic and chili, if using, and stir to prevent scorching. Turn in all the remaining ingredients and lower heat. Use the lesser amount of both vinegar and honey – you can taste later to see if you want your peach barbecue sauce more tart or sweet. Simmer for about 20 minutes, use a fork to press down juicy ripe peaches into smaller pieces. Puree if you like or leave it a bit chunky. Think of all the food you can baste with your sticky, peachy sauce: veggies, pork, chicken, salmon, prawns. A brush with the end of summer.

Peach BBQ

Summer Vacation

August 23, 2010

Red Haven

My favourite place in the Okanagan is Osoyoos, where we have spent the last few days. Osoyoos is the only desert in Canada and some of the sweetest fruit grows here. This is the place of childhood summer vacations. It tastes of dark cherries and ripe peaches eaten swiftly, juices dripping. We’re driving home today with five boxes of red haven peaches in the back of our truck – they’re not all for us – and the Glee Soundtrack on. I wish we could stay longer, the sun is shining and the lake is warm.

St. Malo

July 29, 2010

St. Malo Swimming

It was sad to leave Paris! However, St. Malo is ridiculously charming. This seaside place is lousy with fresh seafood, salted butter and caramel, boozy apple cider, kougin amann, crepes and striped fisherman’s shirts. You can bet I’m going to sample my way through, clad in navy and cream stripes. Seriously back to clean eating upon my return. But for now – pure indulgence.

Fraise

A Week or Two

June 3, 2010

Strawberry Blossom

This rain seems endless, though it looks as though today might be beautiful. We are a week or two away from the blissful arrival of berry season. This rain is good, it’s drenching everything with droplets of emerald. I ran through Stanley Park – was it yesterday morning? – with the Parkside Runners. It was raining and misting and puddle-riddled. It was also lush and fresh and so, so green! And while we were running I thought of the pots of strawberry blossoms that I saw at the market last weekend. It won’t be long now, and that’s kind of thrilling.

True Blood

March 8, 2010

Red is the new orange

I love blood oranges. I always manage to feel a bit surprised when I slice into a blood orange. Happy surprise at the splattering of ruby juices from a mainly orange-hued orange. Sometimes there is giveaway streak of blushing scarlet on the orange cheek but, for the most part, it is most definitely orange. A blood orange has its own unique flowery, sparkly sweet taste. We are still months away from local strawberries. If you crave the bite of something red this late winter, try a blood orange.

Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins

February 1, 2010

Warm Blueberry Muffins

I have bags and bags of blueberries in my freezer. I really got out of control this past summer. It’s not just blueberries, either. I have strawberries, cherries, raspberries and even some peaches. I like the idea of being able to freeze the loveliness of summer – a sweet, frozen taste of August in January. The reality is, I’m one of those people who is always, annoyingly, cold. An icy, healthy fruit smoothie is most unlikely after a dark and chilly 6:00 am run. I’m much more comfortable and cozy with the oven on.

Makes one dozen

1.5 cups brown rice flour

1 cup organic cornmeal

1 tablespoon gluten-free baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

zest of one lemon

1 1/4 cups frozen blueberries, or other frozen berry

2 whole eggs

1/3 cup agave

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup almond milk

small splash of pure vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350º and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside. In a large bowl, measure in brown rice flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and lemon zest, whisk lightly together. Stir in frozen berries and toss to coat with dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs with the agave, olive oil and almond milk. Add the splash of pure vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and berries and stir well to combine. The batter will thicken rather quickly from the frozen berries. Scoop the chilly batter into the muffin cups, dividing equally. The batter will almost fill them up. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until tops spring back a little when lightly pressed. I found these muffins were best eaten on the day they were baked. This recipe has used up about 1% of the fruit in my freezer.

Are you from around here?

December 21, 2009

Vancouver Kiwi

BC is the only place in Canada where kiwi grows. I don’t think of kiwi as a local, seasonal fruit. It seems odd to me that we can grow them in Vancouver. But look, here they are, all emerald-bright and sparkly inside casual, bristly jackets. Kiwi are originally from China and have been grown here for decades. They are loaded with fibre and are higher in vitamin C than oranges. You can put them into a smoothie or to smarten up a crisp fruit salad. These ones are from the Winter Farmers Market at the Wise Hall. Maybe you’ll find kiwi at the next market, on January 16th. There’s a lot to look forward to with a fresh, new year approaching.

Oh my darling!

December 10, 2009

Winter Sunshine

Clementine! There are many varieties of the Christmas-time orange. Mandarin. Satsuma. Mikan. Tangor. Chinese Orange. Honey Mandarin. Tangerine. Owari. Japanese Orange. These days my heart belongs to the charming, darling Clementine. What’s not to like? Their colour is an exceptionally bright and glossy orange. I love that their stems and leaves are often attached. They’re portable and easy to peel. Don’t you eat more oranges this time of year?

Little Apple Cakes

December 7, 2009

An Apple a Day

I have a few favourite apples. My top two are Belle de Boskoop and the Pink Lady. Belle de Boskoop are an old-timer of an apple – they are sweet and crunchy and quite large. I see them at farmers markets now and then, but they’re not that easily found. They are the best-flavoured apple for cooking. The Pink Lady is a cultivated apple, a cross between a Lady Williams and a Golden Delicious. Pink Ladies really get around, I see them everywhere. They are a mid-sized apple, tart and crunchy, and great for baking and eating. Use whatever type of apple you like for this recipe, you could even use crapples if that’s what you have in your fridge. For these cakes, I experimented with date powder as the sweetener. It worked very well and gave the cakes a lovely, dark crumb, as if they were baked with brown sugar. Date powder, or date sugar, is simply dehydrated and ground dates. It is an unrefined sweetener that is high in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Try it, I think you’ll like it.

Makes 12 little 2.5″ x 1.5″ cakes. Recipe is easily doubled to make 12 larger cakes or muffins.

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup date powder

2 tablespoons agave

1 large egg

1/4 cup almond milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder

1/4 teaspoon xantham gum

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into smallish pieces (just eat the remaining half piece of apple while you work)

optional topping: 1/4 cup chopped pecans mixed with 2 teaspoons date powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350º. Prepare small ramekins or baking tins by placing them on a half-sheet pan and lightly oiling with a bit of coconut oil. Set aside until batter is ready. In a small to medium sized bowl, whisk together coconut oil with date powder, agave, egg, almond milk and vanilla extract. In a larger bowl, combine brown rice flour with remaining dry ingredients. Stir apple pieces into dry ingredients and toss to coat. Pour the quite-thick liquid ingredients over top of flour and apple mixture and stir well. This is a thick batter that requires determined stirring to properly combine and distribute the apples evenly. Use a tablespoon to divide batter amongst your baking dishes, using the back of the spoon to spread mixture flat. If you’re going with the cinnamony-sugary pecan topping, sprinkle a bit over each little cake before sliding into the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, rotating pan about halfway through. At this point, your kitchen will be cozy and perfumed with the delicious scent of cake and cinnamon, one of the very best smells in the world. The tops of the cakes will spring back slightly when pressed. Remove from oven and allow to rest in dishes until cool enough to handle. Use a thin-bladed knife to loosen cake away from dish, invert to release and enjoy, warm out of hand. Or cool completely and wrap individually and freeze. They will be fully defrosted for your 10:00 am refined sugar-free, gluten-free and guilt-free coffee break.