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33. How Do You REALLY Feel? And A Delicious Sugar/Gluten Free Peach/Blueberry Crisp

Right now, I’m feeling pretty fantastic.  How are you doing?  What do you feel like as you move through today?  Are you rested?  Happy?  Satiated?  All of the above?  None of the above?

I was super lucky this morning as my parents took the kids out for a long boat ride, giving me some time to myself.  I look a yoga mat, phone, laptop, planner, and some water up to my most favourite spot in the whole world, with the intention of finally laying out some concrete plans for the fall.

The yoga mat was so I could do a short yoga practice (via Yoga Download) to help clear my mind, and the rest of my accessories were there to help me with my planning project.  As I looked at calendars and commitments, and thought about how to structure our lives this fall, all I could think about was how I wanted to feel through this next season.  Yes, Danielle LaPorte has been popping up a lot lately, which may explain why I keep being drawn to how things feel.

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But I digress.  Over the past few days, in the in the past few posts, I’ve talked about how, for me, having little sugar and alcohol helps me to feel physically better, how I want to listen to my gut more, even if that means going against popular convention, and how having down time / quiet time helps me centre myself and allow my to hear what my gut has to say.  When these three things happen . . . well, I feel fantastic.  Sort of like how I’m feeling now.

So the planning continues . . . how to schedule things to allow for all of the above, but still allow for some spontaneous fun.

Sadly, this was pretty much as far as I got in my planning process today – the kids came back from the boat ride, lunch needed to be made . . . and from there, some chores, some dinner preparations, and of course, my new dessert.

As this is the last long weekend of the summer, we’re in a race to use up as much food as we can so we don’t have to take much back to the city with us.  With all the gorgeous peaches we have, and a giant bowl of blueberries that was just about to pass its prime, all I could think about was a fruit crisp.

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My aforementioned desire to consume little in the way of sugar meant that my traditional favorite crisp recipes were out.  So I started a search of the internet.  Was there a crisp that was going to taste good that didn’t include sugar or gluten?  I’m sure there are some somewhere, but I didn’t find them.  Sure, there are tons of recipes like this, but the majority of them consist of some fruit baked with almond flour mixed with a little melted coconut oil on top.  A crisp this does NOT make.  A crisp to me is a bottom layer of juicy, sweet fruit, topped with a crispy, buttery oat topping.

So I returned to my favourite recipe.  Was there a way to make it sugar and gluten free?  Armed with maple syrup and tapioca flour, I gave it a go.  And the results were surprisingly good.  (*note that this is based on the Strawberry & Rhubarb Crisp recipe that appears in the Gourmet cookbook.  If you have never made this on an early summer’s day when the strawberries have just come in and the rhubarb is on it’s way out . . . you MUST do so, sugar and gluten and all.  It is DIVINE!).  This recipe keeps the oats and the butter, but does away with the flour and all the sugar!

And once that was done . . . it was off to to get in some fun by the water before dinner!

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Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free Peach Blueberry Crisp

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 5-6 peaches, peeled and cut into small wedges (I cut each peach into sixteenths)
  • 3 cups wild blueberries
  • 1/4 cup maple syurp
  • 3 Tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 1/4 cups organic gluten-free oats
  • 4 Tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Put the peaches and blueberries into a medium sized bowl.  Pour in the maple syrup and 3 Tbsp of tapioca flour.  Mix until all the fruit has been coated with both the syrup and the flour.
  3. Pour the fruit mixture into a 9×9″ baking dish (you can grease this with butter beforehand for an easier clean-up if you wish)
  4. In another medium-sized bowl, combine the oats, 4Tbsp of tapioca flour.
  5. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it into the oat mixture.
  6. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of maple syrup in and stir so that the oat mixture forms small clumps.
  7. Pour this topping mixture over the fruit.
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the peaches are tender (you can check this with a thin paring knife) and the topping is browned and crisp.

 

32. So. Many. Peaches. 2 Amazing Toys. And More Reflections From Yesterday’s Post.

First up . . . the peaches.  There is SO much to like about this time of year.  The sweet final days of summer.  The excitement of back to school.  The sense that the new school year is, in so many ways, a time for fresh-starts and new beginnings.  And of course, it’s PEACH season.  Personally, I don’t think there is anything  better than a perfectly ripe, juicy peach.  And while the Husband points out every year, a peach is perfect for all of about 20 minutes – before that, they’re too hard, and after that glorious 20 minutes, they turn mealy and mushy.  But in that 20 minute window . . . perfection.

Last week, the Husband came home from the market with about 2 dozen peaches.  I was in heaven.  And then I panicked.  What on earth was I going to do with so many peaches???  As much as I love them, there is a limit to how many I can eat in a day.  And I’m still having nightmares about choking down those almond ginger peach muffins I made last year at this time (so much almond meal went into those muffins, I couldn’t in good conscience toss them . . . and so I ate them . . .one painful muffin at a time).  And our freezers are quite full, so I wasn’t sure a batch of my favourite  gluten-free (paleo) peach muffins was the best idea.

So I made peach “ice cream”.  And a peach marinade that I put on pork tenderloin and then grilled.  Both were fantastic.  I’ll put the recipe for the marinade at the end of this post . . . I strongly suggest you make it.  And don’t just use it as a marinade . . .serve it as a sauce with any white meat you like . . . serve it over ice cream . . . or mix it with yogurt and granola.  Its SOOOOOOOO good.  Also, it makes a lot, so you can freeze the leftovers for future meals.  (I didn’t write down the ice cream recipe as I made it, so I’ll “have” to make a 2nd batch and then I can post the recipe!)

Now for the amazing toys . . . The weather up north has turned cool.  And the bears are out in full force (a summer that yielded little to no berries has created a severe food shortage for the local bear population).  So rather than spending our day out in the sun swimming and playing with the water toys, we’ve spent most of the day inside.  We have few toys up here – because we spend most of our times out of doors – but the few we do have, are exceptional, in the sense that the kids, through the years, will play with them for extended periods of time.

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The first is Fisher Price Trio.  Sadly, it’s been discontinued, but you can still buy it on Amazon and eBay.  We have a bunch of sets that have all been dumped into one big bin and the kids will spend hours coming up with different creations.  Today they made vehicles, cakes, and giant towers. It’s better than lego, because even the littlest of kids at the cottage can play with it, but sufficiently complex creations can be made out of it that the oldest of kids will still play with it too.

The second is Zoob toys.  We have a Fastback H2H set that my son was given as a birthday present a few years ago.  The kids make all sorts of different vehicles using the different pieces and LOVE to race them against each other down the hallways of the cottage.  I can’t say enough good things about this toy . . . and it’s readily available!!

Which brings me to the reflections part of the post.  I said yesterday that it is when we create quiet spaces for ourselves that we can tune into what our gut / intuition is telling us, and from there, we can make much better choices for ourselves and our families.  Today, since we haven’t been swimming or playing outside, I’ve had some quiet time, including a long nature walk, with the kids.  In the absence of errands to run, screens to watch, and other city disruptions, I’ve been amazed at the things the kids have been asking and saying.  For as long as I’ve had kids, I’ve heard mothers exclaim how important it is to keep kids “busy”, to “tire them out”.  And I’ve gone along with that line of thinking.  But in the quiet of today, I’m starting to realize that my kids may be craving some quiet time too.

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And now for the recipe.

Summer Peach Marinade / Sauce

  • Servings: 3 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 5-6 peaches, pitted, peeled and cubed
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp bourbon (optional)

Directions

  1. Put the peaches, maple syrup, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Turn the heat down to low, and simmer for about half an hour, or until the mixture has decreased in volume by about half.
  2. Remove the pan from heat, and let cool.
  3. Using a blender, puree the mixture.
  4. Transfer to a small bowl and add in the vinegar and bourbon.  Stir to combine.

I used this as a marinade on pork tenderloin.  I put the tenderloins on a grill that had been pre-heated to 450 degrees and then spread a thick coat of the marinade over the tenderloins.  Each time I rotated the meat, I spread on more marinade.  This would work equally well with chicken or turkey.

Leftover sauce can be used as a dipping sauce, or eaten over ice cream, or mixed in with yogurt and granola (you might not want to add the bourbon if you want to have this as part of breakfast!)

22. Some Days are Just Perfect In Every Way (And discovering a new perfect vanilla frosting made it that much sweeter)

Today was one of those absolutely perfect days.  From start to finish, I loved everything about today.

I loved that I got to start reading the September editions of my favourite magazines this morning, on the dock, with the sounds of the kids and the Husband swimming in the background.  I loved that it was sunny and warm despite a forecast of rain and storms.  I loved that we had a picnic lunch.  And I loved that we even managed to fit in a little quiet time – even though everyone was quite desperate to squeeze every last moment out of this amazing summer.

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I loved that I was still able to bake a cake for the Husband’s early birthday celebration – and make and ice the cake with the kids.  And I loved that I found a new, absolutely delicious vanilla frosting recipe today, that will, from now on, be my ONLY vanilla frosting recipe.  Yup . . . it’s THAT good.

And, because I love nothing more than sharing recipes that I find to be absolutely delicious with you . . . I’m going to share the revelation that is this frosting recipe with you!

Absolutely THE BEST Vanilla Frosting

  • Servings: Enough to Ice 1 Two-Layer Cake
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup / 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream (or milk, but I used whipping cream, and the results were AWESOME)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 5 cups icing sugar

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, vanilla, cream, and 5 cups of icing sugar.
  2. Keep beating the icing on medium-to-high speed until the frosting reaches your desired consistency – I prefer a very fluffy icing, so I tend to beat it for at least a few minutes.
  3. Turn the mixer off, and frost your cake!
  4. If you have leftovers, put them in a container, and freeze.  When you want to use the frosting, just thaw it, and beat it again for a few minutes to bring it back to it’s amazing fluffiness!

15. Some Days Just Call For Cake

We awoke this morning to the sound of rain.  Pouring rain to be exact.

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So what do you do when you’re stuck inside with 4 kids ranging in age from 1 through 8?  You bake.  Among other things.  Like card games, board games, dress up, puddle jumping, swimming in the rain, movie time . . .you get the idea.

And so, we made my favourite vanilla cake.  And I happened to have one of my favourite helpers in the kitchen with me!

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And then we made chocolate frosting.  Again, because we have almost as many little ones here as adults, I used milk chocolate as the base for the frosting and added in some cocoa powder to make it taste a little more chocolate-y.  If you don’t have little ones, or you have little ones that like dark chocolate, go ahead and use whatever chocolate you like best.

This cake makes 2 9″ cakes, so it’s the perfect cake to make for a birthday.  And the frosting recipe will make enough to ice a 2-layer cake (with leftovers – which I just freeze and use up later if I make the kids cupcakes or sugar cookies that they can ice).  If you want to cut the layers in 2 (I’ve done this before), use 1.5x the recipe and you should have enough.  Just don’t forget, if you have little helpers in the kitchen with you, to let them lick the frosting bowl clean!  It saves little fingers attacking the frosted cake . . .

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My Favourite Vanilla Birthday Cake

  • Servings: 2 9-inch cakes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 cup softened butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups buttermilk (or use regular milk with 1 tsp of white vinegar added to make it more acidic)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 cups AP flour

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and butter and flour 2 9″ cake pans.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.
  3. Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Measure out the rest of the dry ingredients, and add half into the bowl along with 1/2 of the buttermilk / soured milk.  Mix lightly until the dry ingredients and milk are just combined.
  5. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and milk and mix well until all the ingredients are completely incorporated into the batter.
  6. Divide the batter into each of the 2 prepared cake pans.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cakes comes out clean.

Milk Chocolate Frosting

  • Servings: Makes Enough to Ice One 2-layer cake
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 6oz of milk chocolate (I prefer Dairy Milk)
  • 2 cup of cold butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder (I prefer Camino brand)
  • 1 1/4c powdered / icing sugar

Directions

  1. In a bowl set over (not in!) simmering water, melt the chocolate
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a regular bowl using a hand mixer, add in the butter, cocoa powder, icing sugar, and vanilla
  3. Once the chocolate has melted, add it to the bowl holding the remaining ingredients.
  4. Beat the mixture until all the butter and chocolate are well mixed.
  5. Continue to beat until the mixture obtains the degree of fluffiness you prefer (I quite like a very fluffy frosting, so I let my mixer run for quite a few minutes.

*If your butter is soft, when you add in the chocolate, it will melt.  This is easily fixed – just throw the bowl int the fridge (or freezer if you want a really quick solution), and let it set up until the butter isn’t quite so melty and the mixture can be whipped

*I have found, after making this recipe on more than a few occasions, it works best if the butter is actually FROZEN before you start – I just slice it into pieces and throw it into the bowl.

 

14. Cottage Workouts II & Adventures in the Kitchen with My Son

This week has been HOT!  And HUMID!  Which has made working out HOT!  And SWEATY!

While we were treated to a few moments of gorgeousness while the sun rose, dark clouds were pushing in on the horizon, bringing with them the promise of rain.  And so, I decided to get up, and get going, and get running.

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Two minutes into my run, I was swarmed by bugs . . . big black ones . . . flying around my head . . . landing on my already sweaty limbs . . . attempting to bite me.  I ran for a few more minutes, alternating between trying to out-run the bugs, and wildly flailing my arms trying to shoo them away.  And still they stuck with me.  It was at this point that the doubts started creeping in . . . maybe I should turn back. . . maybe it’s too hot to be doing this anyway . . . what if i swallow one of these bugs . . . what if I end up with a million bites?

And I came dangerously close to just quitting . . . Until my rational mind shouted louder than my monkey mind . . . and I remembered how good I would feel when it was all over, how much I love the feeling of working out, and that despite the bugs, there was a lot to enjoy on my run . . . and my persistence was rewarded with a stunning view at the 1/2 way point in my run . . . and a lovely cool swim with my mom, not the kids, on my return.  Oh, and the best part . . . I set a personal best time for the run, finishing it a whole minute faster than I did last week!

In the event you’re wondering, my workout on Monday was this:

2km run to open then:

  • 50 Double Unders
  • 50 Kettlebell swings, 50 air squats, and 50 sit-ups
  • 10 Burpees
  • 40 Kettlebell swings, 40 air squats, 40 sit-ups
  • 10 Burpees
  • then rounds of 30, 20, and 10
  • 50 Double Unders to close

And on Tuesday, I did a modified version of a friend’s workout (she just might be superwoman as her version had double the number of reps that I did, and even doing just half the workout nearly killed me!)

2km run to open then five rounds of:

  • 11 Kettlebell swings
  • 11 push-ups
  • 11 burpees
  • 11 Kettlebell thrusters

And last night, I did a great, SHORT yoga class on Yoga Download.  You can watch the class on line, or through the podcast app on your phone (which is what I did).  It’s a great class in that it hits all the major muscle groups, in fairly quick succession, so you get a great all-over stretch!

Later this afternoon, I had the distinct pleasure of spending time in the kitchen with my son playing the part of my sous-chef.  We were in charge of whipping up a meal that, as this part of our stay up north comes to an end, involved singing up the odds and sods we had left in the fridge and the freezer.  We decided on making coconut rice (again!) and served it with a stir-fry of mixed bell peppers, bok choy that had been sautéed in olive oil with garlic and scallions, pan fried pork cutlets that had been sliced into strips, and shrimp sauteed in olive oil, ginger and scallions.  Our idea was that you could put the rice down on the plate, add on whatever you’d like, and pour some sauce on top (recipe for the sauce to follow).  I had a truly lovely time cooking with him.  He was capable enough to handle cooking the peppers and pork on his own.  He was an eager taste-tester of everything we made – including the slightly spicy sauce.  And he was engaged in learning how to make the things he hadn’t cooked before – like bok choy.

And in the end . . . it was a pretty good dinner.  And the upside, the fridge and freezer are almost empty!  Just in time for us to fill them up next week!

Sweet & Spicy Coconut Soy Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 Tbs soy sauce / coconut aminos
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • crushed red pepper flakes to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp)

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, set to medium-low heat, combine all ingredients.
  2. Depending on the type of honey you use (raw honey vs a liquid honey), you may have to stir the mixture more frequently with a whisk until the honey has melted.
  3. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, and turn the heat down so the mixture comes to a simmer.
  4. Continue to cook until the sauce has reduced, and is the consistency you prefer (I left mine on the heat for about 15 minutes).  Serve over any dishes involving rice, shrimp, pork or chicken!

 

13. Where I Fell In Love With Baking & The Cookie Recipe that I Have as a Momento

In my first post in this series of #100morselsofjoy, I talked about the resort I grew up going to ever summer, and how all the owners of the resort were related, and how each one of them took care of a specific aspect of running the resort.  Well, while all the owners hold a special place in my heart, and my memories, my hands down favourite was Lillian.

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Lillian ran the kitchen – from that little room on the left with the white awning and flower boxes.  Every morning, Lillian baked.  And the smells that came out of that window could, and often did, make a person swoon.  Luckily, there were two ways resort guests could get their hands on Lillian’s baking; either you could put an order in for what you would like, or, you could wander down to her kitchen and see either what was just coming out of the oven, or what cookies she had packaged (on little styrofoam trays placed inside plastic bags and tied with a little wire tie) and stored in a large chest freezer.

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Yup.  That’s me (and the dog Rex that lived at the resort).  And right behind me . . . that’s the door to Lillian’s kitchen.  I’m about 5 in this picture, and I’m pretty much as happy as can be, because as soon as I’m done with my ritual patting of Rex, I know I get to go into Lillian’s kitchen and see what she has baking.  Even as young as five, I knew I wanted to know how she made such magic in her kitchen . . . and that when I grew up, I wanted to be able to spread happiness the way she did by making things in the kitchen.

As a young teenager, it became apparent that the resort owners were getting old and would be putting the resort up for sale.  My father, in a stroke of genius, asked Lillian if he could accompany into her kitchen and watch her bake.  She said yes!  I was on cloud nine.  I was finally going to get to see the inner workings of the kitchen where so much magic and so much happiness was created.

That experience, in that old cottage kitchen, with a woman who had been baking her entire life, is etched into my memory.  She had been baking for so long that she didn’t need a recipe.  She simply baked by feel.

Perhaps at this point I should note that while her cookies were out-of-this-world delicious, her “sticky” buns were even better – the secret she claimed being that she used maple syrup that had been made on the property.  And it was on sticky-bun day that I got to watch her bake (sticky bun day was Thursday, and resort guests were sure to put in orders for these as there were never any leftover to be put into the freezer for sale at a later date).

As the morning unfolded, I realized that my dad’s stroke of genius may have had more to do with attempting to obtain Lillian’s recipe for the aforementioned sticky buns and any secrets she might have had that made them taste so good.  Unfortunately, since Lillian could bake solely by feel, and didn’t need a recipe, it was difficult to pin down exactly how she made those buns (to this day, I’ve never been able to recreate them.  However, if you live in Toronto, and ever go to the Brickworks Market on a Saturday, there is a woman there who sells cinnamon buns that taste remarkably close to Lillians – her stall is in the north east corner of the market – they are laden with brown sugar and butter – and not the maple syrup that I prefer – but they are stupendously good nonetheless)

BUT, not all was lost.  She did have one recipe that she actually had written down, and that she was willing to share.  Luckily for us, it was the recipe for our most favoured cookie of all the cookies she made . . . it was a raspberry jam thumbprint cookie.  But the cookie itself wasn’t the traditional shortbread.  Nope.  It’s a brown sugar/oatmeal cookie with desiccated coconut mixed in.  A better cookie, you have never tasted.

And so, each year, when my family is assembled, I try to make at least one batch of these cookies for everyone to enjoy.  Today was that day.  It was another gloriously sunny day, and the perfect day for a picnic lunch, complete with Lillian’s cookies.

As the cookies cooled, I made myself a thick peanut butter and jam sandwich (strawberry) on freshly-baked white bread, a few sandwiches for the kids, sliced up some fresh veggies and lots of watermelon, and by the time the cookies were cool, we were ready for our lunch by the water.  And a better lunch, we could not have had.  Pure joy!!

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And that . . . in a nutshell . . . is where I feel in love with baking, and why I find so much joy when I’m in my kitchen and I hope, that by sharing this story, and this recipe, I can share some of the magic and happiness of Lillian’s kitchen with you.

Lillian's Oatmeal Jam Cookies

  • Servings: 80
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups lard (due to all the work I’ve done with the Coach, I just couldn’t bring myself to use lard . . .so I used butter.  Did they taste as good.  Yes.  But they also weren’t as crispy – was that due to the 100% humidity we had here today . . . maybe . . . so use whatever you have on hand/prefer to use)
  • 2 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups coconut (1 200g bag)
  • 2 1/2 cups oatmeal
  • 2 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • raspberry or strawberry jam (about 1/3 of a cup)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, using the Convection Baking option if you have it.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (although Lillian did all her mixing by hand in a big bowl with an equally big wooden spoon) cream together the butter and the brown sugar.
  3. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix well until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. In a large bowl, measure out the flour, oats, coconut, baking powder and salt.  Add half of this mixture into the stand mixer and mix until just combined.  Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until everything is well mixed.
  5. Roll the dough into about 1″ balls, if not a touch larger and place on cookie sheets (no need to grease/line the cookie sheets.  Using  your hands, flatten the balls only the slightest amount, and using your finger, make a small indent into the top of the dough ball.  Into this little well, place about 1/2 tsp of jam (I use 2 teaspoons to get this job done).
  6. Bake for 8-12 minutes.  The cookies will spread and should crisp up nicely (unless of course you are making these in weather conditions that include 100% humidity!)

 

10. Fresh-Out-Of-The-Oven Cherry Pie

 

I got a bit carried away at the grocery store a few days ago – this tends to happen to me at this time of the year – and as I took stock of the fridge this morning, I realized I had purchased several peaches that were about to become over-ripe, one massive watermelon, and a big bag of the most delicious cherries you have ever tasted.  Something had to give.

I had a peach with yogurt and granola for breakfast (unbelievably good).  I decided to save the watermelon for the kids for their after-lunch dessert and afternoon snack.  And got down to the business of making a cherry pie for our dessert tonight.

So . . . first things first.  I needed to make the pie dough.  I didn’t have the vodka on hand to make the pie dough I normally make (and that I wrote about here) from America’s Test Kitchen.  When they say it’s a foolproof dough, they really mean it.  But really, that was just an excuse.  What I really wanted to try was this recipe for dough.

Here’s the thing.  I’ve only relatively recently discovered Food52 and have been obsessed with it since I found it.  Years ago, when I was just dating the Husband, I read Cooking for Mr. Latte my Amanda Hesser.  I LOVED it, and LOVED the recipes she included in the book.  And when I found out that she was a co-founder of Food52 . . . well . . .that cemented it for me.  I was hooked.  Ok . . .that and this part of their company’s manifesto:

  • If you cook, your family will eat dinner together.

  • If you cook, you will naturally have a more sustainable household.

  • If you cook, you’ll set a lifelong example for your children.

  • If you cook, you’ll understand what goes into food and will eat more healthily.

  • If you cook, you’ll make your home an important place in your life.

  • If you cook, you’ll make others happy.

  • If you cook, people will remember you.

But I digress.  I finally had my chance to try out my first Food52 recipe . . .

I followed the recipe to a T, using water not cream.  I won’t lie, the dough was hard to roll out (it was super cold after all), and there wasn’t much of the dough.  In an ideal world, I would have done 1.5x the recipe.

For the filling, I used another Food52 recipe, but halved it so that it would fit into a 9″ pie plate.

And since there was only a little bit of leftover dough, I made a few cutouts to decorate the top of the pie, and threw the whole thing into the oven at 375 for about 45 minutes.

It came out looking good, smelling great, and I can’t wait to sample it after dinner tonight!

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3. Baking Biscuits with My Kids

Ok.  So it’s kind of a toss up as to what brings me more joy here . . . being in the kitchen with the kids, or these biscuits.  I’ll say once more . . . there’s a time and a place for a paleo, real food, sugar-free diet.  Summer vacation is not that time.  Meaning we continue to enjoy our favourite treats in moderation.  (Just to be really clear on my stance on all of this . . . even though we’re on vacation, breakfast and lunches hold true to my diet principles.  Dinner and the dessert that follows involve treats in moderation.)

The husband and I are on dinner duty again tonight and really what compliments a summer dinner of barbecued steak, roasted potatoes (with mushrooms and broccoli rounding out the meal) more than a dessert of strawberry shortcake???  Especially when those strawberries are the last of the ontario strawberry season, so red and ripe and juicy they will ooze their juices all over the freshly whipped cream???  Well, I couldn’t think of anything.

So, this morning, we got to baking our biscuits.  In my world, the ideal biscuit should be tender, should have risen well in the baking process, and of course, taste good.  And the ideal biscuit recipe should of course make enough that there are sufficient biscuits leftover to serve with eggs the next morning.  I think the following recipe ticks all those boxes! They’re a snap to whip up, and the recipe doubles easily so you can have LOTS of leftovers (they freeze really well and defrost equally well for a tea-time treat later in the week).

The one little tip I have for these is, when you place the uncooked biscuits on the tray, place them right beside each other.  This is supposed to help them to rise even more!

Oh, and if you don’t have buttermilk, Just at a teaspoon or so of white vinegar to regular milk.  This will sour it enough and provide enough acidity to allow the biscuits to rise.  BUT, if you do happen to come into fresh buttermilk as I have on occasion (thanks Coach!), it makes this recipe extra tasty!

Perfect Tea Biscuits

  • Servings: 1 1/2 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 cups All Purpose flour (organic is preferable)
  • 4 tsp baking powder (honestly, I forgot to add this in today in all the commotion in the kitchen and the biscuits turned out just fine . . . but I would recommend adding it in)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 6 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/3 cup very cold butter cut into small cubes
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (or regular milk with 1 tsp white vinegar added in)
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 (use the Convection Bake setting if you have it, if not, just set it to 450)
  2. In a big bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix with a whisk.
  3. Toss the butter into the bowl and, using your fingers, mush the butter around in the flour mixture so the butter ends up being pea-sized and coated in flour.  Don’t over-work the dough at this point – meaning, it’s ok (and even better) if there are small chunks of butter in the dough (when the butter heats and the water in it evaporates, the height of the biscuits will increase).
  4. Pour in the milk, and mix it in using a large spatula.  Keep stirring in a folding motion until all the milk has been incorporated.  At this point, you can get your hands back into the dough and do a final mix with your hands.
  5. Throw some extra flour on your work surface, and turn the dough out onto your table.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to about a 3/4″ thickness.  (Again the thicker the biscuits is before it goes into the oven, the higher it will end up being).
  6. Cut the biscuits using either a round cookie cutter, a glass, or a biscuit cutter, and place them, right next to each other, on a baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on just how big your biscuits are (obviously they will take closer to 15 minutes if they are big and thick).
  8. Let cool and enjoy!

2. This One

This one, no matter the circumstances, is able to bring a smile to my face and joy into my life.

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Weekends at the cottage are a time for dividing cooking and clean-up duties.  One night the Husband and I cook, and my brother and his wife clean up and we switch the next night.  Tonight, the Husband and I were on cooking detail.  I don’t think there is anything better in the whole world than being in the kitchen together (ok maybe if the kids are in the kitchen with us and helping out . . . that’s pretty much perfection).  And the cherry on top tonight?  We made a recipe that we used to make back in the day, before kids, when we had dinner parties with friends.  The kind of dinner parties that could stretch late into the night because no one had to get home to babysitters/nannies/in-laws.

The recipe you ask?  Well, it’s Gourmet’s Island Pork Tenderloin.  We made it without the Tobasco tonight so the kids could eat it as well.  And the best part of this dish???  Using the leftovers, as a side, or mixed right in to some scrambled eggs.

And of course, the best side for the pork??  Ginger coconut rice.  In fact, the rice, with a generous spoonful of the sauce from the pork poured over it???  Just make it.  You’ll be in heaven.

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Ginger Coconut Rice

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • chopped green onions (the green parts only)

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the coconut oil and add in the grated ginger on medium-high heat.  Stir until the ginger is fragrant.
  2. Add in the water, coconut milk and rice and stir to combine.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir.
  4. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to low and simmer until the rice is cooked.  I am rather unorthodox about how I cook my rice, I will lift the lid of the pot and stir it all up, checking on how much liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from the heat once the rice is cooked to your preferred level of doneness – garnish with the green onions.

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