The Fall Harvest Series – It’s an Orange & Gold, Leafy Green Wonderland at the Junction Farmers Market! Part I

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A photo spotlight of my latest visit to the Junction farmers market and the official return of The Fall Harvest Series!  It’s October and I have some great stuff to share with you guys this week including a fall inspired weekend brunch meal, fall flavour cupcakes, a pumpkin edition of The Cupcake Connection, and hopefully lots of butternut squash and baking pumpkin baked goods!   Even though I won’t be able to repeat last year’s feat of stringing together 2 week’s worth of fall harvest posts in a row, I’m going to try my best to get in as many posts as possible, especially market ones since many of them will be packing up for the year sometime this month.  I’ve compiled a list of all the ones that are ending during the month of October as part of the October Food Calendar, so if there’s a market you adore or one you haven’t been to yet this year, make your visit soon before they’re gone!

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The Junction farmers’ market will be held every Saturday from 8:30am-12:30pm, June 2nd to October 13th.  The farmers’ market is located in the parking lot just off of Dundas Street West and Pacific Ave.  The market is brand new to Toronto and the Junction community, so spread the word, come out, and show your support!  For more info and a list of vendors, visit the official Junction market page HERE.

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Celebrating the Bounty of Apples & Sweetness – Not Far From the Tree Presents City Cider at Spadina Museum!

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Celebrating the apple harvest and everything apple!

I know I was really mean yesterday leaving you all drooling over that apple caramel cupcake like that with no further commentary.  I’ve got the goods all ready to roll tonight though because I went through my eleventy billion photos (more like 95 but close enough), chose my favourite ones to show you all yesterday and today, and got all my apple literature materials prepared!  You know I can’t leave an event without buttons, pamphlets, postcards, and promo materials – it would be a travesty otherwise! 

Yesterday’s City Cider event at Spadina Museum: Historic House & Gardens was unlike any food and/or community event I had ever been to.  It wasn’t meant to be flashy or expensive or inaccessible to the general public.  On the contrary, people of all ages were having the best time ever taking photos of the orchards and gardens, sipping fresh warm apple cider straight out of the press, watching apples being turned into homemade apple butter in a historic 1920s kitchen, noshing on decadent and delicious apple caramel cupcakes from a cupcake truck, and enjoying a little dry apple cider on the side (read: alcohol!).  Babies and little ones were frollicking across the grass, people were running back and forth grabbing little glasses of cider because they were just that yummy, and enjoying everything there was to enjoy about the apple harvest and upcoming fall season.

Apple cider and apple yummies await you!

More importantly though, we were all there to support and engage in a larger-than-life organization, inititative, and cause: Not Far From the Tree, our beloved organization founded and located right here in Toronto, responsible for this amazing festival with the help and support of local businesses such as Pommies Dry Cider and The Big Carrot on te Danforth.

To put Not Far From the Tree and what they do into perspective, consider this: how many of us throw food out on a weekly basis, specifically fruits and vegetables and perishables?  It’s okay, raise your hand – I’m raising mine.  How many of us do so because we 1) bought more than we thought we could eat and ended up wasting it because it spoiled, 2) didn’t take care of our food and inadvertently speeded up the spoiling process, or 3) just didn’t get around to eating it or using it up in time?  Or maybe a combination of all of the above?  It happens.  We’re not heartless people (at least I hope not!); we’re just careless sometimes.

Fresh apple cider being hand pressed!

Apples getting ground up and mushed

Bushels of orchard apples just waiting to be devoured!

Watching the cider magic and quenching our thirst!

Now, envision what happens when this waste is multiplied hundreds and thousands of times.  Think of all the pounds of food waste and all the good it could do if wasn’t wasted.  The mouths it could feed, the good it could do for the environment.  Now think of what could happen if we had a way of cutting this waste down, even just a fraction by putting our food to better use and sharing our bounty or overabudance with others.  Not Far From the Tree does just that.  As an organization dedicated to caring for the well-being of the environment and community, their goal is to maintain one very specific part of our food chain and ecosystem the best they can and distributing its wares: fruit trees!

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The Kick-Off to Apple Harvesting, Juicing, Baking & More! The 2nd Annual City Cider at Spadina Museum, Part I!

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Apple baked goods, cider, orchards, fruit trees, and apple picking in the afternoon sun – it was the perfect day to ring in the season of apple harvesting and the 2nd annual City Cider festival in the city today!  Toronto’s very own Not Far From the Tree, the philanthropic organization that has been picking fruit, donating to community centres and shelters, changing lives, and bringing communities together locally and globally through their events and programs for the past 5 years, teamed up with Toronto’s historic Spadina house and museum for this Sunday afternoon celebration of all things apple related!  I haven’t had this much fun at a festival for a long time and I was absolutely blown away by all the activities and special apple related things they were able to cram into 4 hours! 

I have SO many photos that I still need to edit, so this is just a sneak peek of some of the fun things I enjoyed today before tomorrow’s big post, including a demonstration on how to make apple butter inside Spadina house’s historic kitchen, watching bushels of apples transformed into cider from start to finish, apple caramel cupcakes (YES, CUPCAKES!), exploring the beautiful grounds, gardens, and orchard trees, getting to know more about Not Far From the Tree, and plenty of tastings!  

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Spadina Museum: Historic House & Gardens is located at 285 Spadina Rd. across the street from Casa Loma.

The Fall Harvest Series: Like Apple Pie in a Muffin – Apple Almond Muffins With Cinnamon Sugar Topping!

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It’s Friday, it’s Thanksgiving weekend for us Canadian folk, and the weather is absolutely gorgeous.  It’s true that I prefer the cooler weather (remember how many times I whined about the gross humidity and heat this past summer?), but for this weekend, I’ll make an exception because it truly is beautiful out and I can’t even begin to express how excited I am about the next few days.  I’m visiting some amazing farmers’ markets, enjoying some sunshine, taking photos, and enjoying everything I’m thankful for.  And one of those things is food.  Baked goods, more specifically.  And baked goods with apples in them. 

For all of you who have the same fruit allergies as I do, there is hope!  I am going to town with the apples this fall and considering how allergic I am to the raw variety, even I’m surprised by how many different ways I’ve used and eaten them this season.  I know I’ve been going honky tonky with the apples for the Fall Harvest Series, but I promise that I have some awesome pumpkin goodies in the mix coming soon!  In the meantime though, I have another fabulous fall recipe to share with you all: apple almond muffins!  I thought the apple lemon poppyseed muffins I posted earlier in the series was a great fall recipe, but this…oh, this.  Do you like apple pie?  Fresh, hot, apple pie?  You do?  Then these are perfect for you because these apple almond muffins with cinnamon sugar topping are like apple pie in a sweet, sugary, moist tea muffin.  And yes, they do deserve the bold and italics because they are that delicious.

This is actually the first time I used a recipe I found online.  Call me traditional, but I hug my cookbooks and love my paperbacks and hardcovers to pieces.  Even though I know there’s a wealth of amazing recipes online and in blogs (hello, some of my most awesome friends have cooking blogs with recipes!), I’ve been somewhat resistent to using the internet as a crutch when it comes to this because of this. 

This changed though when I made a boo-boo buying ingredients.  Long story short, I bought one too many bags of ground almonds, thinking I had used up my supply from before only to have my mum unearth 3 bags of the stuff from my baking ingredient bags.  Oops.  Needless to say, I need to use up some of those ground almonds, and fast.  Enter the interwebs.  Thanks to a recipe I found for apple almond muffins on Eleanor Snare’s blog, The Magic Square Foundation, I was able to use up some of stash and I came away with some of the most delicious muffins I’ve ever had in my life.  I made adjustments to the recipe though (converting some of the measurements, for example), so this recipe is the one I ended up with after the adjustments.  If you want to see the original, the link is at the bottom of the post.  Looking for a knock-out fall or Thanksgiving dessert or snack?  Here it is:

Recipe for Apple Almond Muffins With Cinnamon Sugar Topping (yields 24 tea muffins if apples are cut into small chunks, 18 if apples are grated)

Ingredients for muffins

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup), at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 4 small apples (*Deb’s note: I used Gala apples)
  • 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 ground almonds
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk (*Deb’s note: honestly, I just eyeballed it when I poured milk into the batter.  I’d say anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup should be good)

Ingredients for cinnamon sugar topping

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds (*Deb’s note: it’s completely up to you how much sliced almonds you want on the muffins, so if you love them, add more and if not, add less or omit them entirely).
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 12-cup cupcake or muffin pans with paper liners (or any amount of pans that will equal to 24 spaces for 24 muffins).
  • Cut the butter into small pieces and beat together with both the brown sugar and the white sugar in a large mixing bowl until creamy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
  • Cut the apples into small chunks (or grate them if you wish) and add the chopped apples to the wet mixture.  Don’t beat the apples in, just mix them in with a mixing spoon.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, add the flour, ground almonds, cinnamon, and baking powder.  Mix gently with a spoon until everything is evenly distributed.  Fold this into the wet apple mixture by hand.  Slowly mix in the milk.
  • Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each cup until it is full.  Sprinkle sliced almonds on top.
  • To make the cinnamon sugar topping, mix the brown sugar with the cinnamon until combined and sprinkle over top the almonds and muffin mixture.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.

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This recipe was adapted from The Magic Square Foundation and the original can be viewed here.

The Fall Harvest Series – Pumpkins, Apples, and Maple Cupcakes Everywhere! The Fall Market at David Pecaut Square

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I have a tiny confession to make: the squash and pumpkins I saw at Dufferin Grove farmers’ market two weeks ago were not actually the first ones I saw this season.  I know, how scandalous of me to tell such a fib!  I had seen the ones at David Pecaut Square by Roy Thomson Hall earlier that morning and had taken so many photos that I just had to put them aside for the Fall Harvest series.  With so many photos of apples, squash, pumpkins, and gourds, it was too perfect to pass up for this series because it’s everything anyone could ever want in a fall market.  There were barrels of squash and pumpkins at multiple farmers’ booths and vendors, little buckets of beautiful, gleaming apples in over 10 varieities in a rainbow of colours (green, yellow, gold, blush red, candy apple red, and purplish red!), potatoes, beans, rutabagas, plums, and LOTS of sweet baked goods!

I knew we already had apples, potatoes, and beans in our kitchen at home, so I didn’t pick up any produce; however, I didn’t leave the market empty-handed either!  You know me, it’s hard visiting a market without bringing something back for the fam or for a friend.  One of my favourite booths at the market, More Than Pies Baking Co. Ltd., had brand new goodies I hadn’t seen at their booth before because almost everything was fall-themed and inspired!  Vanilla cupcakes with maple buttercream frosting, pumpkin spice loaf cakes, cranberry scones, and plenty of cookies and bars. 

I picked up a pumpkin spice loaf and a maple buttercream frosted cupcake and I looooved both so much!  I scarfed down the cupcake right then and there (no, really, I did.  Owner Louise asked me if I wanted a paper baggy for my cupcake and I told her not to bother, ha!) and saved half the pumpkin spice loaf for my boyfriend and brought the other half home for the fam.  My dad enjoyed it so much he finished off the loaf after we all had a slice! 

I can’t get over how much I love the market here.  I was anxiously anticipating the arrival of the fall bounty in all its glory and seemingly overnight, the market transformed into a harvest market just begging to be brought home and turned into warm comfort food.  Summer was enjoyable, but fall has just inspired me in a completely different way and I feel pumped!  Visiting the markets does wonders for your creativity and imagination.  You look at all the fresh, amazing food and you think, “what can I do with it?  How many different ways can I cook with this?  How can I turn these foods into a great meal?”  All I’ve been thinking about lately is fall baked goods!  I don’t think a day has gone by over the last week and a half that I’ve haven’t been excitedly browsing and paging through apple, cranberry, and pumpkin recipes to try out.  I hope you all liked the apple lemon poppy seed muffins recipe that I posted yesterday and I’m so looking forward to adding to the growing collection of recipes I have here.  It’s the first day of October today and that means there’s at least a whole month of fantastic fall farmers’ marketing and baking.  I can’t wait.

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The farmers’ market at David Pecaut Square is located at 55 John St., at the intersection of King St. West and John beside Roy Thomson Hall.  The market operates every Thursday from 8am-2:30pm, and will be open until October 20th, 2011 for this year.            

*Formerly known as Metro Square, David Pecaut Square was renamed in honour of David Pecaut, co-founder of Luminato, who passed away from cancer in 2009.

Pumpkins, Squash, Apples, and Plenty of Fall Sweet Eats & Comfort Food – The Fall Harvest Series on Ate by Ate!

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Just like the seasons, our tastes and preferences change as we grow up.  I used to love summer, not just because of the summer-vacation-from-school angle, but because I genuinely enjoyed all the things I got to do during this time.  Things like going swimming every week and playing sports outside and wearing shorts.  However, I’m 26 now and over the past few years I’ve done a complete 18o, for many reasons!  The humidity started wreaking havoc on my skin, I had to start wearing a hat nearly every day I was out because heat and sun exposure would give me migraines, and all in all, my enthusiasm for the sunshiney, beachy season just wasn’t where it used to be.  I longed for the crisp, cool air of the fall season to brush against my cheeks, to simaltaneously take photos and kick up the gorgeous fallen leaves, and to completely delve into fall comfort food, markets, and activities. 

Fall is my favourite season now and I know I’m not the only one super excited about it!  I know fall officially started last Friday, but here in Toronto the temperatures have still been seasonably warm and on some days, hot, hot, hot – there was a humidex this past Monday!  Temperatures aside, my giddiness over fall is still very much intact and I cannot wait to wear chunky sweater knits, scarves, boots, fuzzy shoes (I have a very cute pair of flats with fuzzies around the collars!), and long-sleeved cardigans.  My camera is waiting with baited breath for all the leaves to change colour and because I’ve been looking forward to fall so much, I’ve already gotten a head start on the fall harvest and comfort food noshing 😉

Since I started Ate by Ate on the last day of November last year, I didn’t get a chance to do anything fall-related for the blog or to show you all some of my favourite fall photos so here’s some to get the ball rolling!  The first three were taken from Main Street Unionville on a gorgeous fall day several years ago with the obligatory feet in leaves shot 😀  I am BEYOND excited to start my Fall Harvest series now, and to show off some amazing fall foods and meals around the city.  I have so many ideas and so many things I want to do – go to an apple orchard, attend as many farmers’ markets as possible before the seasonal ones close up show for the year, and of course, indulge in some special fall eats and treats.  There are some amazing fall menus being put out by a number of places and so many shops are creating their own special versions of some classic sweets and desserts.  I started brainstorming fall food over a month ago to prepare for this series – think pumpkin, squash, apples, maple, chilies, stews, soups, and LOTS of fall inspired drinks and desserts!

This Fall Harvest series is one that I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time so I hope you all enjoy it as I embark on a week-long journey of posts leading straight up to Thanksgving!  I’m hoping I can extend it to make this into a 2-week series, but it’s really going to depend on the amount of baking I can do and the number of markets I can get to.  The Fall Harvest series starts first thing tomorrow and you’re going to looooove it (well, at least I hope so!) because it’s yummy and baking related!  In the meantime, here are some of my favourite fall photos.