Food, Healthy Lifestyle

My Favourite Apple Crisp Recipe

I love desserts, especially ones with fruit. An old favourite is apple crisp. I use a recipe from Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook that was first published in 1983.


The New Laurel’s Kitchen is available on line through various vendors.

Tip: I stopped keeping paper copies of recipes years ago and I rarely buy recipe books. Now most of my recipes are stored on my laptop so I usually view the recipe on the screen propped open on the kitchen counter. That way I have less clutter and I can stay organized.

The Laurel’s Kitchen apple crisp recipe is quite basic with one exception that calls for 1/2 cup of lightly toasted wheat germ. This adds a nutty, rich flavour and goes well with the butter, cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar and fruit. I usually just use apples, but this time, I included a pear.

Large Flake Oats Topping (before the butter is mixed in!)

Use slow cooked oats. For the inexperienced, shopping for oats can be intimidating. The varieties are based on how much they’ve been processed. You don’t want the instant, nor the steel cut type. For further information about the different types of oats visit the Whole Grains Council website.

Rum-soaked Raisins

Soak ½ cup of raisins in some hot liquor: I used rum warmed for 20 seconds in the microwave to add a flavour boost! Yum!

Sliced and Cored Apples with Cinnamon, Sugar and Flour

A tablespoon of whole wheat flour and a teaspoon of cinnamon are added to sliced apples (I included a pear too). Enough to fill your favourite dish. Mine is a ruffled Emile Henry. It makes everything look extra-fancy!

Add the topping: 1 cup oat flakes with ½ cup butter, ½ cup brown sugar and spices to taste.

Bake at 375F for 30 – 40 minutes (until bubbly and fruit is soft)
The original 1983 recipe calls for margarine but I prefer butter.

I enjoy fruit crisp with some Balkan Style 2% Yogurt, or if it’s summer, some vanilla ice cream! Do you have a favourite fruit dessert to share?

 

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Food, Healthy Lifestyle, Restless Retiree, Retirement lifestyle

The Stock Market: A Granville Island Favourite

I’ve been buying soup at the The Stock Market for years. Although the original owners sold their business several years ago, the new owners kept many of the original recipes including their popular chicken noodle soup. Starting at 11 am there are three daily soup selections giving you a healthy option for a quick lunch at the market.  You can make your choice and then find a spot to sit inside, or outside, the market to enjoy your soup which includes a tasty piece of fresh bread. However, I prefer to buy the take-away soup bags, especially the frozen options. For six dollars I can buy a frozen bag to take home, defrost and enjoy that day, or I’ll pop it in the freezer for what I like to call “emergency food”. Here’s the selection of frozen soups from last week. I bought a mushroom and a lentil, both were delicious and at three to four servings in each bag it’s a very good value indeed!

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Check out this giant-sized soup pot and stirring spoons! You can watch the staff chopping up mountains of fresh vegetables. There can be line-ups but the service is efficient and friendly.

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Make your selection whether it’s a ready-to-eat soup for lunch or buy your bag to take home!

Eating soup has been shown to help keep you feeling satisfied and full so you can avoid over-eating. There’s lots of research (some of it funded by Campbell Soup) to show the health benefits of eating soup. Of course, exercise is the other important part of staying healthy. I’m lucky I can easily walk, or bike, to most activities in my South Granville neighbourhood so that helps me to stay healthy!

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If you want to avoid the summertime crowds head to the Stock Market at 8am for a helping of their oatmeal porridge. That way you can begin your day with a wholesome breakfast and you’ll be ready to start your shopping at 9am when the food stalls open. Before you know it you’ll be finished shopping and you’ll be on your way before the hoards descend!

The porridge is $5 for the small size and $6 for the large.

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I prefer the small size with cream, topped with apricot & peach compote.

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Yum! Although I must say, my made-at-home porridge is better!

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This Week’s Hit: Savoury Polenta Pie and an Old Favourite

I’ve made this savoury polenta pie, adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook, several times but this version was the best so far! The crust was thick and rich (the addition of Parmesan) and the novelty of whipped baked squash filling took this savoury pie to the next level! I topped it off with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, yum!

I use a 10-inch Emile Henry pie dish to achieve the chewy, thick crust. The pie dish has built-in fluting so even an amateur like me can impress my family and friends with my pie’s presentation! You can find the original recipe here:  Mollie Katzen’s Polenta Pie

Earlier this week I satisfied my love of sweets with this Applesauce Bran Loaf adapted from my brother-in-law who says it’s adapted from a weight-watchers recipe! I prefer to make my own baked goods to control the amount and type of sweeteners and fats included. Here’s the recipe:

Applesauce Bran Loaf:  Grease a standard loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine and beat thoroughly: 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 1/2 cup applesauce (or mashed banana or combination), 1/2 cup molasses

Add and mix until smooth: 2 cups flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup wheat bran, 2 cups oatmeal

Press into baking pan pushing dough into corners and leaving a depression in the middle (this will rise during baking). Bake about 70 minutes until done (check that a knife comes out clean).

Every time I make this loaf it’s a bit different, depending on what’s in the cupboard! This version included walnuts and dried apricots. I ran out of wheat bran so I included a cup of toasted wheat germ. Instead of using the two cups called for in the recipe, I prefer only using one cup, this results in a moister loaf. I like a thick slice toasted with a dab of butter!

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Of course, all that eating has to include some exercise! Here I am dancing at the Kitsilano Showboat on Canada weekend and working on some tennis drills at our local courts, whew time for a snack!

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How about you, what are you doing this summer to stay fit and fed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring Shopping at the Farmers’ Market and a Few Grab ‘n Go Ideas from Granville Island

Recently, I went to one of our local farmers’ markets and at an organic vegetable stand I selected some rhubarb, a shallot, some spinach and Jerusalem Chokes.  I had no experience with the knobby, brown chokes but another shopper assured me that they are a tasty root vegetable you can boil in water.  At the lone bakery booth I bought a loaf of  bread for a pricey $7 that turned out to be burnt along the bottom crust. A defect I missed when purchasing.

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That night I sautéed spinach to go along with the lightly boiled chokes and some barbequed chicken.

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The next day I tried to salvage the bread by cutting off the burnt crusts and incorporating the remaining cut-up bread into an egg bake but I discovered that soggy bread isn’t very appealing. It tasted better the next day after it had a chance to firm up a bit.  The rhubarb purchase was more successful, after I cooked it on the stove top with a splash of maple syrup it made a tart and tasty topping for ice-cream and yogurt. It also worked well in smoothies in my new Ninja blender.

This was my first trip to a farmers’ market this spring and I’m planning to go weekly during the summer months to all of the markets operating in and around Vancouver.

A Few Grab ‘n Go Ideas from Granville Island

Here are a few items I regularly prepare for lunch or dinner that I pick up at Granville Island, a ten minute walk from my condo.

This first option is fresh pasta stuffed with various vegetables and cheese. With some prepared pesto and a bunch of spinach wilted into the cooked pasta it makes a great meal for lunch, or dinner. Tip: remember to reserve a bit of the starchy cooking water to loosen up your sauce and help it stick to the pasta.

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Toss in some tomato to add colour and more nutrition and finish it off with fresh herbs and a dusting of grated Parmesan.

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Another favourite take-away is a small ‘pizza’ (they call it focaccia) from Terra Breads, very yummy, this one’s potato. I rarely order take-out pizza as this satisfies any craving I may have for a doughy, salty treat.  Heat it up at a low temperature in the oven (never microwave bread items) for a delicious snack or add a soup or salad to make a meal.

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Another favourite is candied salmon that I buy at the fish monger in the market. I like to crumble it up and add to a salad, stir fry or pasta dish. It’s expensive but it packs in a lot of flavour for only a small amount.

I like to flavour my stir fries with fresh lemon, salt, pepper and some crushed garlic and olive oil.

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Here’s the finished salmon & vegetable stir-fry rounded off with brown rice & barley.

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I’m lucky to live in a neighbourhood with so many food shopping options! I’ll share more soon!

 

 

 

 

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What’s for Supper?

 

Supper, or dinner, is probably my least favourite meal of the day. Usually I’ve spoiled my appetite and I have to force myself to eat something nourishing otherwise it’s an evening of snacks – not good!

I eat fish at least once a week and tonight it’s cod and trust me, I really need to have an appetite to enjoy a chunk of fish when the cookie jar is calling me.  For example, I made these oatmeal cookies on Monday and they’re all gone now!

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On Tuesday, I stopped in at Granville Island after a bike trip on the newly redesigned False Creek Seawall South. They’ve done a great job separating the bike and pedestrian paths. It’s a beautiful stretch along the creek between Science World and Granville Island, but there are sterile patches without any trees as the old Cherry Trees were deemed too fragile & got the chop!

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I picked up a pound of cod at my go-to fish monger, Seafood City. I forgot that Tuesday is cruise ship day, but the crowds weren’t too bad. It’s awkward when your local grocery store is also the #2 tourist destination in the city (Stanley Park rates #1). I smeared the cod with Oyster Sauce, it can stand up to the cod’s texture and natural flavour. Bake it in a hot oven & it’s done in thirteen minutes.

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I thought some fresh veg would go nicely with some couscous as I’m potato’ed and breaded out. No leafy greens on hand, just cuke, red pepper, green onion and parsley mixed with a lemon, sour creme, yogurt, mayo and olive oil dressing.

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Meanwhile the couscous steams in boiled water. Pretty easy, I prefer whole wheat couscous but it’s not always available.

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Mix it up with the veg and it’s ready to meet the cod!

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Add some organic steamed carrots and it makes a satisfying dinner ready in under 30 minutes!

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I did break down & have a pre-dinner snack: an appetizer of focaccia bread, heated up in the oven it’s pretty yummy!

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Enjoy, see you next time!

 

 

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“What are You Having for Breakfast?”

“What are you having for breakfast?”

In the April 18, 2018 St. Lambert Journal (my home town), columnist David Leonardo references a 1961 editorial in the Sherbrooke Record. He says it caught his attention because it illustrates the breakfast menu of 50 and 100 years ago.

”Here’s what was on the breakfast table in the early 1900’s — oatmeal, bacon and eggs or pancakes, apple pie, doughnuts, cheese and milk. Then, of course, there were loaves of homemade bread and heaps of butter. But even these meals of fifty years ago faded into obscurity with the accounts given by the great Samuel Johnson, (a writer born in 1709), of the early morning snacks enjoyed in his day. One mouth-watering menu offering: Oysters, shrimps prawns, boiled eggs, mutton cutlets, beeksteaks, kidneys tongues, ribs of beef, turkeys, squabs, teal, game, pies, muffins, baked potatoes, rice and cheese. Many reasons may be advanced for the decline of the heavy breakfast — desire to hold down weight, the belief that heavy meals are the cause of numerous ills, nervous tensions etc., — but probably the chief cause is the lack of help.”

How about you, what does your breakfast look like?  Here are my go to breakfast favourites:

  1. Terra Bread whole wheat toast topped with crunchy peanut butter and finished off with jam. I prefer home-made when I can get it, if not Bonne Maman will do.

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Sometimes I make my own bread but it takes most of the day, which isn’t really a strain now that I’m retired and can set my own schedule! I’ve also started to use a bread hook and bread flour to speed up the process. There’s also an artisan bread I recipe found recently I’ll share in a future blog.

Here are two of my loaves, looking good!

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  1. Fruit salad: If I just have toast after an hour or two I’ll have a snack, usually some fruit. Right now mangoes seem to be in season. I bought these and some mandarins on West 4th at a small green grocer.

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I like to cut up my fruit and serve it in a pretty bowl, here’s a mango & orange salad:

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If I’m adding bananas or apples, I’ll mix up some lemon or lime with some honey, yummy! That way the fruit keeps its vivid colour. We eat with our eyes too!

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  1. I also like to cook oats, but that is more effort as I prefer slow-cook and those can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour of stirring on the stove top depending on the type of oats. I know you can microwave but I can’t bring myself to do that… yet! I like to cook over-ripe bananas into the oats for a sweet flavour & I use water & 2% milk in the mixture, stirring frequently for a creamy consistency:

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Before serving I add cinnamon and I like to top it all off with more fruit. In winter I keep bags of frozen fruit, like blueberries, in the freezer. For a final voila, add some yogurt!

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  1. A fourth option is some sort of baked item. I like to make breads & muffins myself, that way I know exactly what’s inside. Even when I buy store-bought that lists just basic ingredients it rarely tastes as good as mine. This is an oatmeal muffin I made topped with a nut & fruit mix:

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I made a banana bread recently with ginger & nutmeg:

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Finished loaf ready for breakfast tomorrow morning or a late-night snack!

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I hope you can enjoy a tasty satisfying breakfast every morning!

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