The First Sightings of Fall Squash and Pumpkins! The Farmers’ Market at Dufferin Grove Park

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Today was the most glorious, beautiful day ever!  Sure, the leaves haven’t changed colours yet and the ground isn’t littered with gorgeous leaves to skip around in, but it was a chilly day today and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.  It was clear, crisp, fresh, and the best day to be outside.  Throughout the entire summer, I donned a hat and cringed whenever the blazing sun hit me at an awkward angle making my skin prickle.  Today, I didn’t take my hat out of my bag even once and the cool breeze felt so good on my chipmunk cheeks.  With the exception of grabbing myself a bite and using the ladies’ room, I was hardly inside at all today. 

I visited two farmers’ markets, had some yummy food, made a wonderful new friend, and went on one VERY long walk across town!  Just think, I started my morning at Roy Thomson Hall, had a great meeting and tea date with said friend, grabbed a bite to eat on King St., and then proceeded to walk from King and Bathurst all the way to Dufferin Mall.  I KNOW.  I am a nut.  Either that or just a glutton for punishment.  Nothing beats the walk I did in April along Dundas West, but I have to tell you, my feet were sore by the time I caught the bus at the end of my day and I was out like a light on the ride home.  Someday I’ll probably pay for this and my feet will rebel against me, but for the time being, it works for me.  Exercise, fresh air, and seeing lovely sights and getting to know the city better.  Works for me!

So, what was I doing at Dufferin Mall today?  I finally got my tooshie to the farmers’ market at Dufferin Grove Park!  The park is beautiful and SO BIG!  I know I sound like a child when I say this, but all I could think about when I left the market was how great the park would be in the winter for sledding and tobagganing because it’s rather hilly, haha!  It’s going to look so gorgeous in another several weeks when the leaves start changing.  It’s a great venue for a market, and for things like picnicking, throwing around a frisbee, and squirrel watching which my friend Wini (aka. squirrel scout) would greatly approve of.  There’s also a wonderful sense of community here.  Not only do children’s playgroups come here, but there’s also a tennis court on the premises and a community garden for gardening classes as well as a vegetable and herb garden!

There’s lots to see at this market and there’s lots to eat!  There were tables of fresh baked bread, veggie pizzas with crushed red pepper dough (I whimpered when I saw these because they looked so delicious), rows and rows of green, red, and black grapes in pints (they reminded me of wine grapes!), salad mixes, greens, and sunflower sprouts from Kind Organics, heirloom tomatoes, pickled vegetables and preserves, and lots of other fruits and vegetables sitting fresh and prettily on adorable printed fall tablecloths.  They have a selection of hot lunch food and snacks right near the rinkhouse (things like crepes, burritos, ice cream, chocolates, salads, baked goods, and more) and come October 1st, the market will be hosting their annual tasting fair from 1pm-4pm, with all food going for $2 a pop. 

What excited me the most today though, was my first squash and pumpkin sightings of the year!  It’s feeling like fall more and more and the sight of pumpkins and squash got me in a tizzy today.  I have more squash photos than I do pumpkin ones in this batch (or maybe patch?), but I have lots of pumpkin photos to show you all from another market, so I’ll have those to show you all real soon.  It was so awesome seeing barrels and barrels of carnival squash, spaghetti squash, and butternut squash alongside bright orange pumpkins, beets, rutabagas, and beautiful crisp apples.  I’ve been reading up on pumpkin recipes like crazy and I’m dying to get myself a cute mini one to tote around!  I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks are going to bring at the markets and I’ll hopefully have some fall baked goodies for you all in the next little while!

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Dufferin Grove Park is located at the intersection of Dufferin St. and Bloor St. West.  The Dufferin Grove farmers’ market is held year-round at the northwest corner of the park every Thursday from 3pm-7pm.  Their annual tasting fair is slated to take place on October 1st from 1pm-4pm.  For more info on the farmers’ market and its vendors, click here.

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There’s a Chill in the Air – The First September Farmers’ Market Visit and a Return to Trinity Bellwoods Park

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I woke up this morning to a chill in the air, put on a zippy sweater and hankerchief scarf, and prepared myself for a glorious day out in the city.  I was really excited for my first farmers’ market of September today and I’m looking forward to so many more this fall, especially since this is my first year visiting the markets on such a regular basis.  I can’t wait to see pumpkins, squash, gourds, cranberries, more apples, and everything else the fall harvest has to offer.  It was overcast for most of the day today but I welcomed the lack of summer heat and relished in the fresh coolness instead.  It felt so good today.  Crisp, clean, cool, breezy, and perfect for walking around town and strolling through a market in the park.  The last time I went to the market at Trinity Bellwoods was back in May, so I thought, “what better time to make a return visit than the first week of September?  A visit at the cusp of summer and fall means a lot of new things to see!”    

My feet were a little sore from my long walk akong Dundas West, but my spirits were high and I smiled when I saw the big, bustling crowd hovering in and around the market at Trinity Bellwoods.  Babies were playing on playmats on the grass, people were lugging around bulging bags of fresh vegetables, and everyone was in happy, carefree spirits.  It’s the best possible energy to be around and it’s engaging and infectious.  Things looked vastly different from my first visit back in the spring.  At the time, there was an abundance of asparagus, spinach, rhubarb, fruit and oatmeal cookies, and lots of bread and baked desserts.

The bread and baked desserts have stayed, but everything else has changed and it was so awesome seeing the vibrant fall colous at the market.  They were absolutely beautiful and so perfect for the start of fall with burnt oranges, bright reds, and golden yellows at every other table of goodies.  There were wooden baskets and barrels spilling out with tons of radishes, beets, parsnips, carrots, apples, corn, mini squashes, and pears and even though I knew summer wasn’t officially over, I could already hear the leaves and grass crunching under my feet and I could already feel the excitment and anticipation of carrying home bushels and baskets of fall goodies.  All of this would drive any foodie’s mind in circles with all the possible fall dishes these fruits and vegetables could be a part of including fall stews, soups, risottos, baked desserts, and many more. 

You all know I have a hard time leaving the market empty-handed so for the first time ever, I picked up a HUGE, leafy fresh bunch of kale and this baby is going in the pot for dinner sometime this week!  I’m so happy I was introduced to this vegetable last year.  I could munch on a whole plate of the stuff all by its lonesome with nothing on it and be a happy camper.  I may have walked away from the adorable teeny yellow tomatoes and homemade blueberry scones I saw today, but I walked away with a very beautiful vegetable and as an added bonus, it made it all the way home with me sans the squish.  I’d say the fall farmers’ market score card is off to a fantabulous start so far 😀

 

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 The farmers’ market at Trinity Bellwoods Park is located at Dundas St. West and Shaw St. every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm until October 25th.  The next time you’re there, be sure to also sign the petition to prevent the increase in farmers’ market user fees.  You can also access and sign the petition, and learn more, online here.

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice…Or Naughty! Spice Cupcakes and Baked Apple Tea from David’s Tea

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Sugar and spice and all things…naughty?!  Oh no no, eating cupcakes is not naughty at all 😉  Indulgent and delicious, yes, but not naughty.  It just so happens that my cupcake from The Cupcake Shoppe was named Naughty n’ Spice (how cheeky!) and it was all sorts of creaminess and yummy.  If carrot cake had a spunky sister, this would be her.  To brighten up a dreary fall day late last year, I enjoyed The Cupcake Shoppe’s seasonal special, Naughty n’ Spice, with creamy cinnamon vanilla buttercream frosting adorned with little red sprinkles, and moist spiced cake with lots of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  It was light and fluffy and the spices really came through in the cake.  The combination of creamy buttercream and moist carrot cake-like cake just made me devour it and that’s saying a lot because I eat really slow!

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I’ve posted about The Cupcake Shoppe and their cupcakes twice in my blog since I started writing and I’ve been visiting this lovely cupcakery for over half a year now.  I’ve tried a number of their sweet little cakes and do I ever have my favourites!  So far I’ve tried After Ate (mint chocolate), Coco Loco (coconut buttercream with shredded coconut on vanilla or chocolate cake), Cookie Dough (cookie dough buttercream with vanilla chocolate chip cake), Lov’n Lemon (lemon buttercream on vanilla or chocolate cake), Mango Madness (mango buttercream on vanilla or chocolate cake), Opposites Attract (chocolate frosting on vanilla cake), and finally, Red Velvet (cream cheese frosting on red cake).

Out of all the ones I’ve tried, my top 3 are 1)  Red Velvet, 2) Cookie Dough, and 3) Naughty n’ Spice.  I loved this cupcake and you can bet I’m excited to eat some more of them come next fall!  Not to mention the seasonal aspect of the cupcake and tea made this scrapbook layout so much fun to craft and it totally gave me an excuse to play with my cute cookie alphabet Martha Stewart stickers, and fall apple stickers! 😀

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Because David’s Tea is only several shops away from The Cupcake Shoppe, I have become quite accustomed to toting a cupcake to the tea shop and ordering a tea to go with it, and I have an old friend of mine who I used to nosh with to thank for this as she eagerly sparked this idea over half a year ago.  I then sit there and eat it and guzzle down my tea.  And then waddle out the door with my tummy full and my bladder the size of a watermelon.  Tea and cupcake times are absolutely lovely 😀

Funny thing is, I often don’t scrap my cupcake photos.  Most of them time I slip them into a photo album and admire them from there, but getting cupcakes from The Cupcake Shoppe and having them with a tea from David’s Tea is incredibly enjoyable and makes for some really inspiring scrapbook layout ideas!  I’m a total nerd when it comes to this because the same way I match my accessories to my outfit, I match my cupcake to my tea.  It’s true!  I’ll walk into the tea shop and either find something I like that complements the cupcake, or I’ll choose something that matches the cupcake flavour.  And what goes amazing with spice cake?  Apples!  Apple cinnamon is a tried and true combination that just works in so many desserts dishes whether it’s pie, crumble, or granola and cereal.

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It was a chilly fall day and I wanted to take advantage of David’s Tea‘s new seasonal winter tea list and as luck would have it, they had an apple tea!  So I ordered the Baked Apple tea to go with my Naughty n’ Spice cupcake and had myself a jolly good time!  And as the cupcake shot into the top 3 of my Cupcake Shoppe list of favourites, so did the Baked Apple Tea.  I mentioned here in my first David’s Tea post that my favourite tea thus far was the Crème Brulée and the Baked Apple quickly claimed the top 2 spot.  I had mine iced and it was like sipping sweet apple pie.  At times, some of the teas can come across as a bit diluted in flavour when iced, but this one is fantastic iced.  It was a yummy way to spend a fall afternoon; apple tea + spice cupcake certainly equals everything nice 😉

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The Cupcake Shoppe is located in the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood at 2417 Yonge St., north of Eglinton on the east side of Yonge St.  The Eglinton David’s Tea location is only a hop, skip, and step away from the cupcakery at 2389 Yonge St.  David’s Tea is located at 4 other locations in and around Toronto, Scarborough, and Thornhill.  Click here for a list of the other locations.

Scrapbooking materials used: mint green cardstock (Recollections); poppy red construction paper; apple and apple tree stickers (Sticko); cookie alphabet stickers (Martha Stewart Crafts); crystal adhesive gems (Studio 18); metallic gel pen; black Sharpie marker.