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?


Healthy Lifestyle, Personal Growth, Self-help

The Joy of Obstacles – New Book Offers Inspiring New Perspective

Kathryn Johnson, Author

Kathryn Johnson is my neighbour and before I read her new best-selling book The Joy of Obstacles – Celebrating the Silver Lining in Difficult Days I only knew her in passing. Like any of my other condo neighbours, we shared a quick hello in the elevator or out on the street. I could see she walked with a couple of canes but I didn’t know anything about her.

Kathryn’s website explains that she was born with Cerebral Palsy and that living with a disability has given her a unique perspective of the world: She sees this circumstance as a gift and a vehicle for profound understanding of what each experience has to offer.

In her book Kathryn describes the obstacles she’s had to move through and challenges she’s faced along the way. She explains how she’s built a balanced and joyful life and gives us the encouragement and stories to read so that we can do it too. How can we recognize when it’s time to move forward? She reminds us that we all depend on each other and others can provide support to help us move forward. One of the most important lessons she ever learned was to focus on one thing at a time to keep moving forward and you’ll eventually arrive at your destination! I identified with Kathryn’s difficulties finding her path in school and her career challenges. Like her, I also believe that the bumps I endured along the way led me to a successful career that I enjoyed for over twenty years.

I got to meet Kathryn and find out more about her at a recent book signing in our Strata’s Community Room. After I read Kathryn’s book and attended her talk, I wanted to learn more. What had compelled her to write a book and start a speaking tour?  The next week she agreed to sit down with me to explain more about her purpose in writing her first book.

“The underlying message in my book is that as human beings everything we do is connected. The impacts of our actions can be felt by others around the world now more strongly than ever before in history. As such, it is of paramount importance that we act with our global community in mind. We want to strive to do the best we can in all situations.”

During our chat she explained that she believes we are given obstacles for a higher purpose of learning, to evolve into a better version of ourselves. “We come into this world and things that we find tough are tough for us because we don’t have the skills developed yet; other people may find the same things very easy because they’ve developed the skills. Every time there’s a challenge, at some level, we need to connect with someone else to move through it. For example; we may do some research, talk to someone, take a course, read a book, or watch TV. There’s some information that’s external to us that will help with the answer. We need to connect with others to discover it.”

Kathryn achieved her accounting designation while at the same time becoming immersed in studying personal growth.  Once she finished her academic studies her focus shifted to looking within.  Kathryn’s been studying personal growth for over ten years and she has participated in many retreats in California with leaders in the personal growth movement.

“I think I have a powerful message that people can benefit from. Regardless of where you are in life, my message is universal. It’s important that it gets out to the world and is available for people.”

She adds, “I may have been born with a disability.  I don’t let it affect my quality of life. I have an extensive education, a successful career, I’ve travelled the world, and now I’ve written my first book.”

That’s what Kathryn plans to talk about, “Because whatever it is, our task in this world is to be the best version of ourselves we can be. We all have blocks and blocks have to do with perception and the experiences that we have. Simply reach out, connect and move forward. Do the best that you can – every day. Both you and everyone else in the world will be richer for it. People need to stand up and use their voice and just shine, whatever it is that makes them, if they weren’t needed, they wouldn’t be here.”

After my husband read The Joy of Obstacles it helped him complete an art project that he had been stuck on for months. When he read how hard Kathryn worked through her challenges he was inspired. He credits one of her earliest challenges while still in Kindergarten – learning how to tie her shoe-laces – as giving him a fresh perspective on tackling his project. Even though Kathryn was just a little kid, she broke down the complicated task into small steps and kept at it until she was able to put the parts together into the final achievement.  So too, he was able to section out his project to achieve small successes along the way. This was more manageable and it gave him a feeling of accomplishment and the motivation he needed to complete his project.

I was so impressed with his success that I decided to use the complementary workbook that accompanies the Joy of Obstacles to help manage my current challenge: to increase my blog content. I printed out the pdf found on Kathryn’s website and I’m currently on the last of the nine chapters. At first, I was reluctant to do the exercises, but I finally admitted to myself that I’ve been spinning my wheels in the goals I want to accomplish and this workbook has come along at just the right time for me. It’s providing the gentle nudge and structure that I need! The questions at the end of each chapter led me to remember silver linings I experienced along the way in my life. I remembered leaving a job I disliked to take a riskier opportunity. As I walked down the hall after giving my notice, I felt over six feet tall!

Leslie completing her Joy of Obstacles workbook page 16 / 21

I encourage people at whatever stage of life they are in to read Kathryn’s book and check out all the valuable material found on her website. She’s also available to speak to groups on Overcoming Adversity, Seeing the Gift in Any Situation, and Following Your Passion.

The Joy of Obstacles – Celebrating the Silver Lining in Difficult Days is a best-seller available on Amazon in print and e-book format. An audio version is planned for January 2019. To book Kathryn as a speaker you can contact her via her website .

Biking, Healthy Lifestyle, Restless Retiree, Retirement lifestyle

London Heritage Farm and Tearoom: A Delightful Surprise on a Sunny Summer Day!

I was sitting on the patio of the Diplomat Bakery at the end of my bike ride from Steveston Village when I noticed a steady stream of bikes, motorcycles and convertibles rounding the bend in the road coming from the other direction. My husband remembered a stinky waste processing plant from years ago but we concluded that maybe things had changed, so we decided to get back on our bikes and continue our ride. Indeed it was a pleasant ride along the Fraser River and we appreciated the clean air as we passed the new, modernized treatment plant.

As we biked along, I spotted a sign for a heritage farm and tea room so I kept that in mind to visit on our way back after we’d explored the length of the road.


London Farm Family Family Home

The museum, circa 1880’s – 1920’s has 6 display rooms, a tea room and a gift shop. The Tea Room is open on Saturday & Sunday from noon to 5 pm (last seating is 4 pm) with extended days during the summer. Check their website to plan your trip. The entrance to the farmhouse is by donation and the grounds are open to the public every day all year round from dawn to dusk and entrance is free.


Blackberries Ready for Canning

The gift shop has a wide selection of jams but I only bought one jar of strawberry rhubarb and I ended up giving it away.  I’ll plan another visit soon so I can buy some of the blackberry jam they were preparing the day I visited!

The tea room looked inviting but we arrived too late for the last sitting.  The server looked so pretty in her starched, white apron!


In the hallway around the corner from the tearoom, I admired a display of dainty underpinnings and aprons. What a lot of work on Blue Monday for women before washing machines were widely available! It’s interesting to look in the bedrooms upstairs to see artifacts like curling irons and sewing kits that the three London girls and their servants would have used for grooming and mending chores.


To end our visit we headed outside to roam around the grounds. The gardens are a welcome oasis in the summer heat, the thermostat showed over 40 degrees Celsius!


Apple trees bursting with late summer fruit, yum!


Rows of Fruits and Vegetables Waiting for the Harvest…


Now that I know about the London Heritage Farm I’ll plan to visit for high tea soon with some friends. What about you, do you have a favourite hidden secret tea room to share?




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!

frozen soup sign-1000

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.

giant soup pot-1000

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!

me outside-1000

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.


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

Food, Healthy Lifestyle, Restless Retiree, Retirement lifestyle

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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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





Food, Healthy Lifestyle, Restless Retiree, Retirement lifestyle

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!


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!

bike ride

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.


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.


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


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


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



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


Enjoy, see you next time!



Food, Healthy Lifestyle, Restless Retiree, Retirement lifestyle

“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.


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!


  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.


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


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!


  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:


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!


  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:


I made a banana bread recently with ginger & nutmeg:


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


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