Sep 28, 2010

Lazy Girl's Bruschetta

I thought I'd post the recipe for my easy bruschetta that I mentioned in the last post.

One of the reasons I love this bruschetta is because from August to October, I get to make it with fresh veggies from my own garden (or the farmers market!)  I grow at least two varieties of tomatoes, peppers, and onions every year, and I love combining them to make bruschetta, fresh salsa or just a simple veggie omelette.  I always have a nice bowl of the "Trifecta" on hand in the fridge!

Most of my recipies are "lazy girl" recipes.  I do love to cook and am not lazy (I promise) but I'm so busy that I only make the less time-consuming recipes regularly.  The in-depth recipes I save for special occasions.  The only part of this process that take a bit of time is the chopping.  Chop extra and save for later - you'll be happy you had this lovely mix on hand!

I also wanted to mention that one of my favourite foodie bloggers Girlichef has a wonderful Hearth and Soul blog hop going on each week that you can take part in!  Please pop by and check out the wonderful recipes posted by other bloggers who are sharing all kinds of food that means something to them.

Lazy Girl's Bruschetta:

Veggie Mix:  Simply chop up tomatoes, peppers and onion of your choice. I like to include some minced garlic, but some people find this too strong so you can skip the garlic if you like.

Toss veggies in a bowl and add the seasoning of your choice. I like to use Basil or Oregano from my garden (or from the spice cabinet, now that the herbs are mostly done for the season.)

You will also need:

1 baguette
Butter or Margarine
Shredded Cheese of your choice (I like a sharp white!)

Slice the baguette into rounds and lay out on a cookie sheet. Leave for a few hours if possible - the bread is best when it's a bit dry.

When you are ready to assemble, simply butter the bread (you can omit this step, but I like the golden colour it gives the bread beneath the veggies.) If you did not add fresh garlic to your veggie mix, you can opt to add some garlic powder to the buttered bread (as if you were making garlic toast.)

Spoon veggie mix onto the bread, and top with a pinch of shredded cheese.

If you are in a rush, this can be made under the broiler, but I prefer to bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes to get a nice golden bruschetta. Just be sure to check your bruschetta now and then to make sure it doesn't get too well done!

This bruschetta never fails to remind me of late Summer days in the garden.  It's a simple thing to make, and a hit at our Girls Nights In when we do appies and drinks at my friend's ranch.  It's even a nice, simple alternative to a heavy dinner.  This little plate at the top of the post was my dinner this evening - yum!

And to think - as a child, I hated vegetables!

Sep 26, 2010

Farmers Market Saturdays

This weekend, the farmers market was hosting a "Harvest Moon Fundraiser" for the local soup kitchen - and serving homemade squash soup and bread - yum!

I managed to come home with quite a haul this time, including these heirloom tomatoes for the bruschetta I'm making for the girlfriend's gathering tonight.

I can't believe that there are only two more farmers markets left for the season. Some of the vendors have packed it in early this year, like the lady that makes my favourite lavender shortbread. But there are still plenty of veggies to be had and some gorgeous Autumn flowers, so there is still every reason to stop by the market!

Sep 23, 2010

Autumn Equinox Blessings and Gifts!

Happy Autumn Equinox!  Mabon Blessings!

I know that some of you have been celebrating for several days now - giggle - everyone seems to have a different calendar or idea of what day the equinox falls on this year.  According to my calendar it is today, the 23rd - so I'm posting my happiest wishes to you all!

Faerwillow, over at Serendipity hosted an Autumn Equinox exchange and gave us partners to send items that represented the season.  For me, Autumn is all about home and comfort - comfort food that is!  I sent my exchange partner some chocolates, cinnamon honey, gourmet hot chocolate, candied nuts, candles, Halloween ephemera, and a little bear in a pumpkin outfit.

We were asked to wait until the Equinox to open our package, and then share on our blogs what we received.  My exchange partner is the incredibly creative Angelique at For the Love of Creativity.

As you can see from my list - my creativity lies in shopping.  I am not bad with child-safe scissors and a glue stick - but anything else is beyond me.  Angelique however, is amazing!  I received the most incredible treasures from her!

The first item is the Autumn Fairy.  She is just lovely - her colours are quite bright and cheery and I know just where she is going on my wall

She also made me this beautiful rose wrist cuff, and some handmixed tea which I am boiling water for...right now! 

And in my tea will be this yummy Texas honey.  Look at the beautiful artwork Angelique put over the label!  I won't be giving up this jar when all the honey is gone!

And if those lovelies weren't enough, there was this fabulous little "Wishing Jar" with all sorts of faery trinkets inside and out.  Even a 1946 wheat penny from the Mr.!  Thank you, thank you!  I almost lost this treasure to my neice who was helping me unwrap my gifts.  I told her she could add her wishes to the jar - but it was staying at Auntie's place!

Angelique also added some beautiful note cards to her box of goodies and a kind letter outlining each item and what it meant to her.  What an absolute joy this has been to open!

So many thank you's to Angelique and Faerwillow!  This has been so much fun!

Happiest Autumn to all of you!

Sep 18, 2010

Farmers Market Saturdays

Attending a farmers market isn't the only way of supporting your local growers.  I do a veggie swap with my neighbours and often bring extra items from my garden to work for my co-workers to take home.  Visiting a local farm, gardener or roadside stand is also a great way to get fresh, local food all season long.

This cute video has a couple spotting a stand set up by an enterprising gardener:

Sep 13, 2010

Sweety Pies

Some of my favourite things to buy at the farmers markets this time of year, are fresh-from-the-farm apples.  There is nothing like a crunchy Macintosh, or a glorious Gala apple to make me feel like I'm knee-deep in Autumn.

Although an apple a day might keep the doctor at a distance, a nice freshly baked pie will have everyone running to your door.  My biggest problem has always been the time involved in pie making.  The reality of working (and playing) as much as I do is that I don't have the time or energy to make pies completely from scratch.  I can't stomach store-bought pies, so I've come up with a solution that saves me some time, but still gives me that homemade pie I crave.

~picture from Country Living

Jen's (Super-Yummy) Lazy-Girl Apple Pie:

1 frozen pie shell  (don't cheap out - buy the good shells!)
5-8 fresh apples - your choice (I love Macintosh for my pies!)

3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup butter (salted)
1/2 cup sugar

Sugar & Spice:  (add spices to taste - I like a spicy pie!)
1/2 cup sugar
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 - 1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon powdered cloves

Preheat oven to 375*C.

For your crumble topping - in a bowl, cut butter, sugar and flour together with a pastry cutter until crumbly.  Put in fridge until ready to use.

Put frozen pie shell on a cookie sheet.  You want to fill the shell pretty full, as the apples bake down - and sometimes there is spillage!  Prick pie shell with a fork.

Wash, peel, and cut apples - layer in pie shell sprinkling some sugar & spice mixture on as you go.  Fill your pie full!

Pile your crumble topping on your pie.  This may take some assembly skills - especially if you fill the pie as full of apples as I do.  Trust me - it's worth it.

Bake 45 minutes or until pie topping is golden.

This honestly is the best, easiest pie I can make.  I take it everywhere with me, either in pie or tart form and it's always a hit.  For tarts, I use the same recipe and it makes about 18 tarts or so, depending on the size of the tarts I buy. 

If the thought of store-bought shells and salted butter leave you shuddering - try this divine recipe from the Country Living website.  Apple Pie with Salted Pecan Crumble - there is even a recipe for whipped cream.

But - if you are like me, and perennially short on time - do try my easy apple recipe - you won't be sorry!


Sep 10, 2010

Lady Autumn

Lady Autumn  ~ by Deirdre Akins

Lady Autumn, Queen of the Harvest,
I have seen You in the setting Sun
with Your long auburn tresses
blowing in the cool air that surrounds You.

Your crown of golden leaves is jewelled
with amber, amethyst, and rubies.
Your long, flowing purple robe stretches across the horizon.
In Your hands You hold the ripened fruits.
At Your feet the squirrels gather acorns.
Black crows perch on Your outstretched arms.
All around You the leaves are falling.

You sit upon Your throne and watch
the dying fires of the setting Sun
shine forth its final colors in the sky.
The purple and orange lingers
and glows like burning embers.
Then all colors fade into the twilight.

Lady Autumn, You are here at last.
We thank You for Your rewards.
We have worked hard for these gifts.
Lady Autumn, now grant us peace and rest.

Sep 8, 2010

Bearing Fruit?

Pomona, a wood nymph-cum-goddess had a lackluster interest in love.  She preferred to spend her time pruning and watering her fruit trees (her name comes from the Latin word pomum which means fruit.)  Although she eventually fell for Vertumnus (a god of changing seasons and agriculture,) she turned away many suitors in favour of her passion for her orchards.

I'm hearing her name whispered on the breeze lately.  It could be the Autumn scent of apples in the air, or perhaps the harvest coming in and the Equinox approaching.  But I think it's less the fruit, and more the fruitfulness that is on my mind.

Autumn is the perfect time to turn inward and to reflect on our productiveness thus far.  Did we accomplish what we set out to do this Spring and Summer, or were we courted by distractions? 

One of the exercises I've come across recently is to list all that you have accomplished this year, and then list all that you wanted to accomplish and have not.  Perhaps there are things on the "accomplished" list that you hadn't planned but happily achieved.  And maybe there are things on the "have not" list, that weren't as important as you first thought.

For me the trick is balance.  In order for this project to be successful, I must resist beating myself up for those things I didn't accomplish, yet still be firm enough with myself to observe where change and pruning is needed. 
"I am doomed to an eternity of compulsive work. No set goal achieved satisfies. Success only breeds a new goal. The golden apple devoured has seeds. It is endless." ~Bette Davis
What I don't desire, is looking at my fruitfulness as just another stepping stone up to a pedestle that cannot support me.  This quote from Bette Davis seems applicable in today's view of what is "success."  Rather than think I have to be a certain way or shape or person, I'd rather look at my individual accomplishments as successes, even if they keep company among occasional missteps or unfinished business.

I admire Pomona's commitment to her fruit.  She let very little get in the way of shaping her harvest.

Sep 5, 2010

Farmers Market - Fall Fun

This time of year, the farmers markets aren't the only fun places to visit.  Many family-owned farms host harvest festivals, Fall fun-days, or have corn mazes you can visit. 

"Corn Mazes America" lists mazes to visit all over the USA - just search by your State. 

Sep 3, 2010

Sweet September

"By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer."

- Helen Hunt Jackson

I can see by the blogs I've been reading today, that I'm not the only one still suffering from a Summer cold that just won't let go.  Coupled with an impromptu trip with my neices, playing catch up at my bookkeeping job and trying to find enough energy to work the Saturday markets - I've had a hard time posting here in the last few weeks.  When I do finally sit down, it's usually to watch another episode of The Office on DVD, because all the laughing really does make me feel better!
Another thing that makes me happy is that Autumn has finally arrived here in the Valley.  Although we've had some warm days, the nights are getting consistently cooler, and one of the large trees by the river where I walk is turning a gorgeous shade of golden yellow.
I'm snapping up the Halloween magazines at the grocery store and starting to haul out the Fall decorations.  My neices go back to school on Tuesday, and we are going to spend the weekend at the farmers market and do some last minute back-to-school strategizing.
My birthday is coming up mid-month, and I have a few outings planned with my girlfriends.  I will try to remember to bring my camera with me and get pics of our adventures.
September is always when I seem to come alive again after the heat of the Summer.  This is when I come back home to myself again.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what will unfold during this wonderful month.  I will keep you posted!