Freestyle baking

I spent the week (when I wasn’t at work) processing my harvest. There is something very satisfying about seeing bags of fruit and vegetables flat packed in my freezer. Everything was orderly in my fridge freezer and that inspired me to tackle the pantry.

I have a walk-thru pantry. It was the number one reason I bought this house. Number two reason was more than one bathroom and number three reason was the view. Maybe reason number one was the view…whatever.

While in pantry, I found at least a quarter tonnne of David’s Tea, several jars of nuts and a packet of freeze dried raspberries from Trader Joe’s. We don’t have TJ’s here in Canada so that was from my last trip to the USA in May 2019. I repacked the tea and found a better location for it, I sorted the baking items and spices so I had a good idea of what I had and what I needed to replenish. I put the items I needed to use up on my counter. Plus I had some raisins that were a little on the hard side. Can someone please tell me why I have two Costco size jars of cinnamon in my pantry, bags of cinnamon from the Bulk Barn and one glass jar of cinnamon. I don’t even like cinnamon. That honour belongs to my family. They are all about apple pie and cinnamon, cinnamon buns and cookies with cinnamon. I like cardamom. Not the same but similar. No I don’t like all the pumpkin flavoured things out right now. They don’t taste like pumpkin, they taste like cinnamon and nutmeg. I love pumpkin. It tastes like squash because it is squash.

I looked at these things and came up with a plan. I pulled the spiced rum from the liquor shelf and soaked the raisins for about an hour. I took the raw pecans leftover from my birthday cake and deep fried them in browned butter. I would add these to my oatmeal cookie recipe that I love.

I found some nearly expired raspberries in the fridge. They were at the ugly stage where you cook with them and refrain from adding them as a yogurt topping. I added those to the freeze dried raspberries and decided to use up the buttermilk I had and make raspberry scones. I wanted to recreate a dry jar I received as a gift from my son’s girlfriend. One of those jars where you add the dry ingredients to some butter and milk then bake. Those scones were amazing.

Then I had 6lbs of apples that I picked yesterday after work and needed to process them them. So my daughter and I sat, peeled and chopped those, laid them out on a tray and now they are freezing before I bag them. There is nothing that frustrated me more than a bag of fruit that is frozen together in one giant lump. It’s nearly impossible to do anything useful with a brick of macerated fruit or veg. I packed up the scones and tried to freeze them in my fridge freezer. Nope, that was full of rhubarb, carrots, beans, zucchini, green onions and now trays of apples. I went to my deep freezer in my pantry and yikes. Nothing was going in there, so I cleaned that out too. There was expired things int there from 2017. Maybe older. I tossed that and discovered I need to buy meat. I have one steak and some stew meat. I am good for vegetables and fruit from smoothies though! I even have frozen cubed coconut.

The scones went in the freezer along side Grandma’s date squares. The rum raisin oatmeal cookies went in the cookie jar. The daughter made an apple pie that is in the fridge. Baking has gone from a stress reliever to a creative outlet for me. I am developing my own recipes from techniques I learned this spring. I was always a cooking freestyler and rarely follow a recipe for meals. Now my creativity is flying high with baked goods. Later this week I will share my new recipes because they were delicious.

Dang I am tired. I had a full day and should sleep well tonight. Hopefully… sleep has been elusive but now that my kitchen is decluttered, perhaps I will sleep well one again.

Stay healthy everyone!

Edmonton Tourist: Smoky Lake Pumpkin Fair

img_4240

The first Saturday in October, Smoky Lake Alberta hosted the 31st annual Pumpkin Fair. I had never been. Since I haven’t been on much of a vacation this year, I thought I would continue the ‘Alberta Staycations’ I have been experiencing.

Smoky Lake is about an hour and a half northeast of Edmonton. The hubs and I stopped at Tim Hortons for breakfast and steeped tea ( I might be the only Canadian who doesn’t enjoy their coffee but they make EXCELLENT steeped tea) and headed north-ish.

I love a good road trip.

There was a long convoy of vehicles travelling from Edmonton to this small town. Since we had no idea where we were going, we followed them. That took us to the school that hosted the Farmer’s Market.

img_4230

There was a part two to the market down at the gazebo which we would visit later. The first impression was, damn Smoky Lake residents, good on you for supporting this event in full force. I am sure the entire town was here plus visitors from surrounding areas and Edmonton. I knew many people who came to this but only saw their Instagram posts, I didn’t run into them.

The lines for the market tables were slow. One woman asked the vendor where the farmer’s market was, and he laughed and said – you are here. To be fair, it was really a craft fair, the farmer part was down the hill.

img_4231

So many people and lots of quilts, candles and indigenous creations from beadwork to moccasins. The knitted sweaters and alpaca woollens were stunning! This is where I ran into an old friend I’ve known for 50 years.

img_4233

We took the obligatory selfies and then she and her hubs were kind enough to show us around the fair! To be honest, I was grateful. This place felt overwhelming for me, plus it was fun to catch up.

img_4232

We left the busy school and climbed down the hill towards the midway and gazebo where Famer’s Market part II took place.

img_4241

There were fewer farmer stalls than I expected. I think the bulk of the growers were in the building that charged admission. This was where the pumpkins and gourds compete for largest.

But…

There were some amazing things to see.

img_4234

If I played cribbage, I would be all over these. It made me think of Sundays at my grandpa’s house. He would break out the cribbage board and play his boys before dinner. I wish I could have given him a set.

img_4237

We found wine – even hemp wine!

img_4236

We found alpaca wool galore. I bought three dry balls to try those out. I am on a quest to reduce single-use plastics and unnecessary chemicals. Goodbye fabric softener, hello wolley dryer balls.

I fell in love with alpaca shawls and took the producer’s card so I can call her when I free up some cash flow after Christmas.

After we looked at all the vendors, we went out towards the midway.

img_4243

It brought back memories of Sherwood Park’s Medieval Days where my friends and I would hang out on a Friday and Saturday night each summer.

img_4238

By this time it was getting late and we needed to be back in the city for dinner with a friend, plus we wanted to visit the Victoria Settlement provincial historic site. So we bid each other goodbye and did a drive-by of the show and shine downtown.

img_4246

Hearses were out! That is a proper car for a pumpkin fair show and shine!

I am sad to report that I didn’t stick around for the giant pumpkin weigh-off or the smashing pumpkin, but this photo from RaisingEdmonton.com will give you the idea of the size and scope of these beauties. 1500+ lbs. How great would that be for a jack-o-lantern?

Related image

If you missed it this year, pop it into your calendar for 2020, the first Saturday of October. It’s worth a visit.

Screen Shot 2019-10-06 at 11.49.08 AM.png