Nosh

A is for Apple

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If an apple a day keeps the doctor away woah am I set for a week or two!  Tis the season, the trees are heavy with fruit (except for my young trees, this year brought us no fruit…zero, nada, zilch)! Lucky for us my cousin offered up his orchard for all the picking we wanted and safe to say, we have our fill!

There’s something kind of bittersweet in filling these pails.  It’s the beginning of a new season and there’s starting to be a crispness in the air that tells us fall is on the way. Harvest is upon us, the evening air is thick with dust and the hum of distant combines…  Sweaters come out of hiding and spicy notes of cinnamon and clove hit our senses. As a farmwife my days are filled with hurried meal prep, driving to and fro to help move farm equipment, picking all things ready from the garden and my evenings are spent in solitude after the little goes to bed.  I often get my large soup pot out on these evenings and create my own gentle hum in the kitchen while I prepare my daily produce collection for the long winter months ahead.  On my to-do list this past week has been my apple haul!

I try to make apple sauce every year.  (There always seems to be somebody trying to get rid of apples even though my orchard is sparse!). I like to make one batch plain to use for more savoury items such as a side for pork roast or smoky BBQ sauce add-in and it’s great for substituting in many baking recipes for added health benefits.  The other batch I always try to make is one I spice up with ground clove, cinnamon and ginger and sweeten with honey.  This is a yummy snack all on it’s own or boiled down even further for a lucious apple butter to serve on scones or biscuits.  It’s also great stirred into our morning oatmeal then topped with raisins!  Apple sauce is kind of the unsung hero of the food world in my opinion.  It’s so forgiving and with my handy food mill once I cook down the halved fruits, mashing it into that yummy puree is so easy!  It’s not just for baby food!

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This year I also tried my hand at some crab apple jelly.  This is my first time taking the fruit all the way through this process on my own…Usually my mom generously shares her hard-work with me and gives me some juice she’s already prepared.  The color of my jelly is a lot lighter than I usually make (likely due to the apples I used) but I think it’s stunning regardless.  I can’t wait to dollop it on fresh bread!

Lastly, I saved some of my harvest for pure tradition.  My grandma always makes these perfect little apple turnovers this time of year.  She would always send out a tub to both our farm and my uncle’s farms for field meals and for us kids to scarf!  A few years ago I spent a day with my grandma and got her to teach me how to make this time-honoured tradition.  It was such a cherished day.  Now each year I try to make these treats and share them with my dad, brothers and my husband’s farm crew.  I always have a stock of this yummy apple filling in the freezer so each year I can continue with this tradition.

Here’s the recipe for the filling (which would be yummy in all sorts of things; apple pie pockets/handpies, a full traditional apple pie, stirred into muffin batter or even just eaten warm with a scoop of ice-cream)!

  • 8 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Cook until apples start to soften then add 3 Tbsp cornstarch (as a slurry)
  • Sprinkle 1/2 pkg vanilla instant pudding over and stir well.
  • Freeze in pint sized containers

I think we often under-estimate the power of this abundant fruit.  This time of year I always get a bit over-zealous with my fruit and vegetable preserving but I am never sorry when in the depths of winter I can pull a jar from the pantry or a tub from the freezer and taste a bit of summer splendour!  What ways do you use up this crisp and hearty gem? I’d love to hear from you!

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Nosh

Salad Bowls from Summer’s Bounty

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The haul each day of garden goodies is in abundance right now.  In between pickling and canning and preserving I’m constantly coming up with ways to incorporate as much of this bounty into our meals as possible.  Mason jar salads are nothing new…but they are often overlooked and forgotten about (at least in my case anyways).  Storing them in mason jars makes for convenient grab-and-go lunches or supper add-ons regardless of the vessel they end up being consumed from!! I store mine in the fridge for up to 2-3 days and for busy days they are a saving grace to serve along side some grilled chicken or steak or even just a simple warmed baguette.

(On a side note, I like to call them Salad Bowls since I’m never graceful enough to get them all mixed up in the jar, seemingly always having to dump them into a bowl at some point anyways!  It doesn’t really matter to me though, they’re still yummy and beautiful.)

 

Here’s two recipes for you to incorporate into you lunch repertoire (they travel great as *gasp* back-to-school looms ahead!):

Pesto Pizzazz:

  • Dressing layer: (I mix mine right in the mason jar as this is the first layer)
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp vinegar or lemon juice
  • Toppings: (start with heartier veg and layer until the daintier, more fragile veg are on the top)
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • grated carrots and zucchini (squeeze out the excess moisture)
  • cucumbers
  • greens

 

Summer Berry Sizzle:

  • Dressing layer:
  • 1 Tbsp berry jam (I used raspberry)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • Toppings:
  • crumbled feta
  • snow peas, cut into slivers on the diagonal
  • radicchio
  • cucumbers
  • blueberries
  • toasted almonds

The sky really is the limit though.  Whatever fruit and vegetables you have on hand, hard or soft cheeses, tuna, chicken, hard-boiled eggs, beans and lentils, seeds and nuts, and even cooked grains and pasta.  Get creative with how you chop each item too.  You eat with all your senses; sight and smell play a big factor so make it pretty!  What other mason jar salad combos are you loving right now? I’d love to hear from you!

Blog, Mom-ing

Lost & Found

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I’m back! After a very long spring and summer hiatus I finally have some reformity and transformity in my life.

I’ve been rather transparent with my mental health journey in the past and I work hard to maintain as much of a balance in my life as I can but I truly needed to practice what I preach and take a good long hard look in the mirror these past months.  Dealing with depression and anxiety is no joke, it’s crippling at times…and it’s a constant work in progress.

I’ve struggled with the decision to go back on my meds or not and after a lot of research and soul searching I’ve decided to try different avenues for now. I fear the side effects of antidepressants more than anything at this point.  What I’ve done instead is perhaps a bit hippy-dippy…I’ve stocked my home with essential oils to diffuse and roll-on, I’ve amped my gut health vitamins and nutrients as well as be more consistent with my multi-vitamins. (Did you know there’s a direct relationship between your gut and your mental health? My regime now includes probiotics AND prebiotics.). I’ve also started to take time 3-5 times a week to study some personal growth “textbooks” (which right now include a lot of Brene Brown “The Gifts of Imperfection” and Sarah Knight “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck).   I’m slowly learning what it means to trust myself and stand up for myself.  I’m a perfectionist in the most ugly ways of that word.  I am learning to be kinder to myself.  Asking for help is THE HARDEST thing for me.  It smells and tastes like failure and I really need to change my perspective on that (once again, practice what I preach!). I have a lot to learn and a long way to go but I needed to take that time to focus on my health.

I’m all about the simple things, the little pleasures and the morsels of happy-inducing that flutter through our lives daily. I had gotten to a place of so much pain, bleakness, guilt, worry, regret and just plain old despair that I couldn’t shake the dark cloud that had made its home over me.   I needed to refocus and get back to a healthier head space. I needed to do this for me and my family. So that in turn led to way less blogging and photographing for the blog (which can I just say has gotten a lot harder with my impatient helper!! Lol!)…BUT I’m back! I’m still working on me but I’m breathing a little bit easier everyday! So the lost has been found.

I encourage you to take the time you need for your own heart and health too!  It’s a day-to-day process and it takes compassion and persistence.  It ultimately starts with you but there are many ways to get help…don’t go it alone.

Nosh

Super Simple Thai Curry Soup

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Ok I don’t know how “Thai” this soup is in all technicality but it’s spicy and full of flavour and crazy easy to make!!

Here’s what you do:

  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2-1 tsp chili flakes (as desired)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots thinly sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced then cut into spoon size pieces
  • 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1 cup shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • garnish: rice noodles, cilantro, lime, chili flakes, toasted coconut

In a soup pot, toast spices in oil. Add garlic, ginger and cook slightly.  Add the veg (minus the kale) and stir to coat with oil and spices. Add the stock and simmer until potatoes are tender. Add chicken and kale and simmer. Just prior to serving, add coconut milk, heat through and serve over cooked, strained rice noodles. Top with cilantro, coconut, a squirt of lime and more chili flakes if desired! Fresh and Full of Flavor!!

Mom-ing

When the bottom falls out…

Picture this, you’re carrying an extremely heavy load, all tucked into a box. There are a million things in this box.  Somethings heavy, some as light as air.  Your box never changes size, it just gets fuller or empties as life persists.  You must carry this box from point A to B to C etc…now imagine the bottom of that box is beginning to get worn and ragged and is starting to fall apart. What do you do?

In the wake of so many local and beyond local tragedies and excessive loads that so many people I know (me included) are carrying, I felt compelled to write a post and share some thoughts on getting through those really rough times that life inevitably throws at us. Sometimes we are assaulted by life’s cruelties and some people especially seem to have to carry extremely heavy loads.

First and foremost you need to remember ‘you are not alone’.  You really aren’t.  Just like in the box scenario, if the bottom starts to fall out call for help.  Call anyone.  A friend, a relative, a helpline, a doctor…anyone.  You cannot carry that load alone.  It’s impossible, not failure.  Remember that above everything…’you are not alone and nor should you have to carry it alone’.  Just like “A joy shared is doubled,  A struggle shared is halved.” We as humans are not built to do this life alone.  We are meant to live, work, play, and love in packs/groups/tribes.  There are people and resources out there to get you and that load you’re carrying the help you need.  It may not be easy but trust me it’s worth it.     YOU are worth it.

  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
  • Canadian Mental Health Association: 613-745-7750 (MB division: 204-982-6100)
  • Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: 204-784-4073
  • Your Life Counts: 289-820-5777
  • Manitoba Suicide Line: 1-877-435-7170
  • Manitoba Mental Health Education Resource Centre: 1-855-942-6568

Sometimes in the midst of disaster/tragedy/struggle our minds go into complete overdrive and so begins the cycle of never-ending anxiety and often despair.  Through the years I’ve learned some very basic tools to get me through those really aggressive times, especially at night, when the mind snowballs and won’t shut off and let us sleep, this in turn making for even more anxious days ahead.  Simply put, you need to stop your mind and stop that pattern.  Lots of people use meditation and deep breathing.  I find that what even works more simply is to ‘stop and think of 5 things I can hear’…’stop and think of 5 things I can physically feel’.  It seems so juvenile and trivial but it nearly always works long enough to calm my mind, slow my breathing, and relax my body enough that I can sleep.  Everything seems easier in the light of day.  So when you’re laying there at night and the world rushes in and your box starts to get even heavier, shut it out and think of 5 things…

Once you can stop the cycle that your brain inevitably wants to take you through with anxiety you are able to think clearer and this is when you need to focus on a new mantra of less worry.  Self-talk in a positive way is so extremely important.  Remind yourself that a) you are not alone. b) you can get through this. c) you are worth it. d) it WILL get better. And breathe. REALLY breathe.  Fill your lungs slowly and release that air slowly.  Focus on one thing for one moment. And ask for help.  Please ask for help.  No matter how little or big your struggles are there is someone there to help.  No matter the task or request, someone is there to help.  There are medications, counselling and mental health therapies that DO work.  Keep searching until you find the help you need but don’t do it alone…you need to fix and strengthen the bottom of that load you’re carrying but there are tools/supplies/resources out there to help.

We have to talk about it.  We have to share our loads. We have to reach out and ask for help. We have to be kinder to ourselves. We have to take care of each other. We have to have faith in brighter days ahead.

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