Monday, 1 October 2012

I'm ba-ack (and a recipe for applesauce cake)

I'm back - hopefully on a more consistent basis as I have missed cooking and blogging.

We have trekked across Canada, keeping it as far South as possible.  The kids were great, the terrain was breathtaking, the food was lacking in excitement.  We've been in the house for one week now and have had two good, homemade suppers to satisfy.  Oh yum.

My kitchen was set up almost right away and even though I have not done one big grocery run yet to stock it up like it usually is, I am finding it exciting to find recipes to use what I have on-hand first and foremost, then get the condiment or little thing I need to complete that recipe. 

Living in a province with such bountiful lands is comforting somehow.  We've been foraging on the most obvious crop available to us - blackberries.  They grow EVERYWHERE!  We can be at the park (any ol' park and there are many to choose from) and everyone can get their full of blackberries.  The wee-est one sees a branch with berries on it and walks towards it with her mouth wide open!  She stuffs her face and gets all messy from ear to ear and grins so happily.  We have picked some to freeze and enjoy with later.  There just are so many!  Back home (NS), we had a small patch near our house that we thought was fantastic so we harvested from it each year, but it doesn't come close to the amount of berries near us here!

We've been getting out as a family every afternoon or evening since we arrived and that's been wonderful. I'm enjoying walking and marvel at how close we are to everything we need.  We have moved into a town, pretty much the heart of a small town with a small city right nearby for all the other services we may need.  There is a farm nearby and we can smell the "pooping cows" several times a day, it brings a smile to our faces.  There are orchards all around and my neighbour has taken to picking enough apples and pears for our family too.  I've bottled and frozen so much applesauce and have made an apple crisp (will have to post that recipe soon, it's almost as famous as my brownies) and an applesauce cake (recipe below).

The Big Kid gets to come home for lunch.  It's such a treat for me to not have to make his lunch on days there is little in the house to get creative with.  He enjoys the break from school too.  He'll stay now and then when he wants to.

When I left NS I was concerned about what I'd find for coffee, I had loved Just Us! but have no fear, these Islanders love them some coffee!  There are coffee shops everywhere!  There's even a tiny shed (like a Steve-O-Reno's in Halifax) on a walking path.  Anyhow, I have tried a few and have come to enjoy Karma Coffee.  It's what I'm perking now, Lefty's.  Ho yeah, I got a houswarming gift from my realtor of a Keurig!  So for a few days, I had my espresso machine, Keurig and circa 1984 coffee percolator all lined up on my counter!  I thought that was pretty crazy!  Where is that Bodum so I can add it to my display...  Keurig is not for me, if anyone wants one they can have mine.  I've brewed 12 cups in it and will not be buying more pods for it.  Works great, like new.

So, life is good here.  Falling back into the cooking routine feels good; actually having a routine at all feels great after a summer of being transient and living out of a duffle bag for the kids and I.  Enjoying stir-fry's and meat 'n potatoes meals - things we didn't eat much of on the road.

Here's a recipe for a great lunchbox filler and late night munching.  Also refined enough to share with a new friend and a cup of tea or coffee, of course!  I did not frost mine but have included a recipe that I think would be divine with it. 

I baked mine in two 9" square pans for 45 minutes.  I replaced the shortening with butter and decreased it to 1/3 cup and I think you can get down to 1/4 cup no problem.  I creamed the butter and sugar, added the remaining wet ingredients and then the dry.  It freezes well, so bake two, share one right away and as soon as the second one is cool, cut it into single servings, wrap well in plastic wrap and freeze.

(From the 1971 Betty Crocker cookbook)
2 ½ cups flour 
2 cups sugar
1 ½ tsp soda
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp allspice
1 ½ cups canned applesauce (I used my homemade applesauce, it was slightly chunky)
½ cup water
½ cup shortening
2 eggs
1 cup raisins
½ cup finely chopped walnuts-
 Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking pan, 13x9x2 inches, or 2 round layer pans, 8 or 9x1 ½ inches. Measure all ingredients into large mixer bow. Blend ½ minute on low speed, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan(s).
- Bake oblong or bundt pan 60 - 65 minutes, layers 45 - 55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean. Put topping on warm cake:

1/4 cup soft butter 
2/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup finely chopped nuts
2 Tbsp milk
- Mix thoroughly butter, brown sugar and nuts. Stir in milk. Spread mixture evenly over warm 13x9-inch cake. Set oven control at broil and/or 550 degrees. Place cake 5 inches from heat and broil about 3 minutes or until topping bubbles and browns slightly. (Watch carefully--mixture burns easily.) Note: it only took a minute and a half in my stove.
What did you do this summer?


  1. Yummy cake... but still in shock that you hate your Keurig... you know you can brew your own coffee in it, right?

  2. Yeah, I do know and after you posted about how much you adore yours I was surprised to find how much I was not interested in mine. Perhaps I'm too deep in the ritual I have to make coffee (the filling, measuring, listening, smelling) that it would take much longer to fall in love with the Keurig. I also love to brew a big pot and pretend all my friends are going to come over and share it with me. Sigh.

  3. I, too, am in shock that you hate your Keurig. I love mine. I still make coffee in the pot most of the time (buy beans from a local roaster), but for convenience, Keurig makes the best fast cup of coffee. I like to use it when hubby is at work and I have the house to myself and I want "just one more cup of coffee". If its the coffee you're not liking, try different brands. I find I don't like the flavoured coffees - very fake taste to it. I like the Emeril's and the Starbucks.
    Glad you're settling in, and I'm totally jealous about the blackberries. I love blackberries. They grow them near us here, but not in that kind of eat-your-face-off abundance. I used them in a crisp the other day - just substitute blackberries for the apples in any recipe. I cut down the sugar cause I find most crisps have too much anyways, and then you have the excuse to buy a really good vanilla bean ice cream.
    Thanks for the applesauce cake recipe, definitely going in my "Recipes to Try" file...

  4. It's so good to have you back Rana. I've missed your blog. I have a great recipe for applesauce cake and I add grated carrot to it.

    Wish I had blackberries near me. They are so good and good for you.

    Hope we can Skyppe soon!