Cranberry Quince Conserve with Goji Berries || Simple Bites #recipe #preserving

Cranberry Quince Conserve and a break

We’ve been under fickle skies for the past week.

In the time that it takes to stroll five minutes down my leaf-strewn lane, an afternoon of sunshine is overtaken by clouds. Painted in every colour of grey imaginable, they bring a dreamy rain that slides down the exposed tree trunks and slicks the leaves underfoot. Then, in a moment, rain changes to flurries of snow that never seem to land, only whirl around and around as if lost in the October winds.

The sensation of feeling adrift is a familiar one; being tossed around similarly to those golden-hued leaves abandoned to the tendencies of autumn gales. We have no normalcy these days, I confided to a friend one evening. While many things factor into this unsettling times, a certain upcoming surgery certainly plays a lead role.

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Oregano Hazelnut Pesto || Simple Bites #recipe

Autumn Pesto Blitz (Oregano-Hazelnut Pesto)

If there is one fall tradition I uphold above all, it is making and freezing pesto. Pumpkin spice lattes we can take or leave, but we simply cannot be without multiple batches of homemade pesto as we head into winter.

I keep an eye on the frost warnings, but generally I harvest my herbs during the last week of September. All the basil is set aside for pesto – and a good bunch of the parsley and oregano, too. We like variety in our pesto; it makes up for the fact that we are decidedly unvaried in our use of the sauce. Yep, you guessed it: pasta. I am the mother of three children, after all.

Pizza closely follows pasta as a vehicle for enjoying homemade pesto. There’s hardly a winter pizza we make that doesn’t take a spoonful of the sauce, like this Brussels Sprout, Walnut & Pesto Pizza. Ohh, la la.

Here’s how my autumn pesto blitz goes down, plus a recipe for a new favourite: Oregano Hazelnut Pesto.

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Backyard beer brew

Our Beer Chronicles: Part 1

If you want to brew your own beer at home, and learn how to do it more or less “properly”, there are innumerable blogs, books, videos, podcasts and conferences that you can use to learn. This is my preferred route, as I like to know what I am doing, and why, and what will go wrong if I don’t do it.

I’ve learned, though, that for some things, it can also be good to just jump in and get some hands on experience – ideally with someone guiding you through the process.  And so that is what I have done with some of my co-workers who have brewed together in the past with reasonably good results.

Based on the “Mild Mannered Ale” we made together a few months ago, which was fantastic, I’d say the recipes and process we followed so far are pretty good, and so we had the itch to give it another go.  I’m reading up in bits an pieces along the way, and figured I’d share about my basic understanding of the process.

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Quick Pickled Strawberries with Black Pepper and Tarragon | Simple Bites #recipe #pickles

Quick Pickled Strawberries with Black Pepper and Tarragon

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to host a backyard wedding. You know, a quaint, yet beautiful gathering, where children run barefoot on the grass, and friends and family mingle over generous slices of homemade layer cake.

A reception at home sets the scene for a simplified wedding, where a couple can do away with much of the frills that can (and often do) overtake a event of this nature. Instead it calls for buckets of wildflowers, blush pink raspberry-rhubarb punch, twinkling string lights for when the sun goes down and heaps and heaps of love.

This summer our homestead with be the setting for the wedding reception of a couple most nearest and dearest to us. (Psst, we threw them an engagement party last year.) Danny and I, along with the bride and groom, are thrilled to host this incredibly special event – in our backyard!

So, the big day is coming up in early August and preparations are well under way. Well, pickle-making, at least.

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marinara header image

7 ways to preserve tomatoes for winter

This one will be short, friends, because let’s face it, we all should be canning this weekend. Tomatoes are still lining the aisles at local markets, heaped high in baskets and waiting to be brought home and put up for the winter.

Around here, tomatoes take front and centre in fall preserving. Rather than introduce a new recipe, I though I’d shine a light on a handful from the archives that are tested and perfected to the max.

Take your pick between a simple slow cooker ketchup or a classic Marinara sauce. Stick to whole canned tomatoes or choose to preserve them already crushed. Just get busy!

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