Things I’m loving right now…Monday edition

crabapple blossom

I love spring, I love tree blossoms, I love wine, I love colourful fruits and veggies (more so now that I’m a vegetarian once again), I love learning tricks that make life easier, and I love recipes that are super easy and also super good.

So in keeping with the above, here are some tips, tricks and recipes that you might love too, along with a fresh image courtesy of a nearby crabapple tree in glorious bloom.

Rainbow sangria — the most beautiful (and healthiest) sangria you will ever set eyes on.

THE best and fastest way to separate eggs — you have to see this to believe it (thanks sis!)

Strawberry rhubarb crisp bars — I made these last weekend with rhubarb from my garden and they are too fast and too good not to try.

Goat cheese and avocado toast — yum!

And just because life is so short and we’re all getting older by the day…40 Regrets You Don’t Want to Have in 40 Years (well, maybe not even 40 — it was written for a younger audience!)

Have a scrumptious week, everybody!

Crisp and golden…

Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple…
JK Rowling

apple orchard

Applesflare

And so it begins — my favorite time of year. Crisp, sunny, mellow weather. New shots of colour in our surrounding trees. The freshest of fruit and vegetables. And time to enjoy my favorite of all apples, the honey crisp.

I didn’t know about the honey crisp until a few years ago. I think I first found it in a grocery store. Always on the lookout for something new and different in the produce section, I tried it. And was an immediate convert. Then I found a nearby orchard that grows it. Hallelujah!

The honey crisp is the quintessential eating apple. It has an unbelievably crisp and juicy texture. Its flesh is cream coloured and coarse. It is so hard to describe the flavour, but trust me, if you love apples, there is nothing like it.

Sharing with Kim Klassen’s Friday Finds.

Kim Klassen dot Com

Friday Finds

What did I find, discover, or uncover this week?

Well, buried beneath the soil in our garden lay a beautiful rainbow of heirloom carrots, which we dug up, admired, photographed and then ate for supper!

This was our first year experimenting with heirloom carrots. I ordered the seeds online and we planted them in late May. They grew quite slowly this summer — but they did grow — and I think they’re incredibly beautiful. They are also incredibly flavourful.

The varieties here are Chantenay, Atomic Red, Dragon and Amarillo.

Hybrid seeds are created by crossing two selected varieties, sometimes resulting in vigorous plants that yield more than heirlooms. Heirloom vegetables are old-time varieties, open-pollinated instead of hybrid, and saved and handed down through multiple generations of families.

One of the main advantages of heirloom vegetables is exceptional taste and, some would argue, higher nutritional value. A lot of the breeding programs for modern hybrids have sacrificed taste and nutrition.

The standard tomato is a good example. Instead of old-time juicy tangy tomatoes, it tastes like cardboard. It was bred to be picked green and gas-ripened because that’s what was needed for commercial growing and shipping.

I know I’ve eaten at restaurants that serve heirloom vegetables and fruit, and, upon tasting the rich, deep flavours, my reaction has been: “This is a carrot, tomato, melon or (fill in the blanks)….?” because the flavour is so much better than the standard grocery store fare.

These carrots have been a great find.

Sharing with Kim Klassen’s Friday Finds

Kim Klassen dot Com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

With my tongue planted firmly in my cheek, I offer you, today, my masterpiece…mini lemon meringue tarts.

tart2

Mini lemon meringue tart. Click on image for recipe. There’s a video.

tarts

You make these in mini muffin tins.

tartsfew-low res

Yes, they did taste good.

I love baking and I’m always looking for recipes that are yummy, pretty but not too time-consuming. And I particularly like ones that you can’t screw up too badly. In the past, I’ve not had great success with intricate, fancy  recipes!

I just finished an online course in food photography so I thought I’d use these little guys as subjects. They are a lot more cooperative than people or animals. They don’t move unless I move them…

This recipe did have three separate steps but each one was quite easy and at least two of them can be done a day ahead. When we have guests for dinner, I try to pick a dessert that can be prepared in advance.

The other thing I like about the mini tarts is that they lend themselves to portion control — you can have as many or as few as you wish while still having a taste of something sweet. Although once you taste these you may not be able to exert too much control.

I think these will become one of my go-to recipe for dinner parties. They would also be great for pot luck dinners. What about you? Do you have a special dinner party dessert recipe you find yourself returning to again and again?

Linking to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.

Of rhubarb and farmers’ markets…

final-rhubarbsmall

Preparing to stew some rhubarb with coconut sugar.

baking

Rhubarb coffee cake. This is the moistest coffee cake I have ever had, and it’s very well-balanced between tart and sweet.

rhubard-sauce

I add vanilla to my stewed rhubarb.

cake

Yum!

rhubarb bag

More rhubarb delights to come…

I hope you’ll forgive the riot of rhubarb shots, but, at this time of year, it is one of my great joys. (Yes, it doesn’t take much to make me happy.)

Rhubarb is really a vegetable, but we eat it sweetened, like a fruit. I adore its tartness and acidity. It must be in the genes because my mother and sister are very fond of it too.

A quick trip to the farmers’ market this morning and five pounds of rhubarb and a few hours later, I’m in the kitchen, stewing it up and making rhubarb coffee cake. And I still had enough left over to freeze for another day.

I love our local farmers’ market. I bought my rhubarb from the same wonderful couple as last year. (Let’s call them Joe and Dorothy.)

Today, I was at the market early enough to buy up a good share of what they had to sell.

Last year, things were different. One weekend, my family was visiting, and we arrived at the market just minutes before it closed. I had my heart set on rhubarb, but it was too late — there was none left. After I expressed disappointment, Joe offered to drive all the way back to the farm just to get me some. I thanked him profusely for offering but said I didn’t want to put him to that kind of trouble. “Oh, no trouble,” he said. “Meet me back here in 15 minutes.”

And so I did. True to his word, Joe was there waiting with a bagful of lovely freshly cut rhubarb. I wanted to pay him extra in appreciation for his effort, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Needless to say, I am now a big fan of Joe and Dorothy’s and a regular customer of their fine produce.

We’re now growing rhubarb in our own garden. We started it last year from a cutting, so the plant is still small, but I have great hopes for next year.

There’s so many good things you can make with rhubarb. When I stew it or bake with it, I often add vanilla for a wonderful flavour combination. Ginger is lovely too.

Here’s my recipe for rhubarb coffee cake (pictured above) from Epicurious.

Here are 10 more rhubarb ideas courtesy of the Kitchn.

So, what’s your favorite thing to eat this time of year?

Sharing with Favorite Thing Saturday and Home Sweet Home.