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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Hallowe’en Kitties, Cupcakes, Pumpkins, and All Things Ghoulish – Hallowe’en Headquarters on Ate by Ate!

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Whether you’ve been costuming and partying it up over the weekend, decorating your home with all things ghostly and ghoulish, or preparing your children’s costumes and trick-or-treat bags, tomorrow is the BIG DAY.  The day we light up and put our carved pumpkins out on the porch or windowsill (if you haven’t already), dress up in a cute/scary/disgusting costume, and fall into sugar comas.  Cupcakes, cookies, chocolates, finger foods – it’s Hallowe’en, we’re allowed.  I have so many friends who absolutely adore Hallowe’en and even though I haven’t dressed up in years (I know, tsk, tsk on me), I get really excited about the occasion nevertheless. 

My best friend is celebrating Hallowe’en with her kindergarten kids and I can’t wait to eventually see photos of her two classes dressed up like a box of crayons!  All her little ones are set to dress in different colours and shades and they’ll have Crayola “sashes” to wear in the front and party hats to represent their crayon “tips”.  I told her that if I was in any way a part of the class, I would come as a green crayon (I can actually dress in green from head to toe – no lie) and construct a crayon cardbox “box” for the kids to stand in for a group picture.  I can’t get over how cute the idea is!  Hallowe’en is just pure fun and c’mon, we all have memories of Hallowe’ens past that we can reminisce about.

My favourite Hallowe’en memories: 1) the year my aunt made my witch costume from scratch, 2) discovering a full-out foodie Hallowe’en party at the The Cookbook Store in Yorkville 2 years ago, and 3) working at Claire’s 4 years ago and going through all the adorable Hallowe’en merchandise (and yes, picking up a few things for myself) and helping others find accessories for their costumes.  I can’t tell you how many times people asked for things like suspenders and hats! 

The sweetest Hallowe’en memory that I have though involves a trick-or-treating adventure my brother and I had when he was 9 and when I was 14.  I took him out for candy-hunting and as we were about to wrap up our night, we went to one last house with their lights on.  The door opened and a teeny girl in a fairy costume stood before us with her daddy.  Her daddy apologetically told us that they were out of candy and my brother and I told him it was okay and thanked him.  As we were about to turn away, the little girl reached into her own trick-or-treat basket and began to pull out some treats.  Taken aback I exclaimed, “oh my gosh, no!  It’s okay!”  to which her daddy replied, “no, no, let her, she wants to!”  She gingerly pulled out some shiny stickers and a candy for each us and put them in my brother’s bag.  I honestly wanted to cry because it was so damn cute and sweet and utterly selfless.  I can’t imagine how proud her daddy must have felt in that moment, seeing his daughter share her wealth the way she did.  It’s been 12 years and I remember it like it was yesterday.

I can’t wait to go crazy tomorrow and post up a Hallowe’en storm.  I’ll be honest, I should have had Hallowe’en Headquarters up and running a week ago but I just wasn’t prepared enough.  I’m bummed that I wasn’t able to get any Hallowe’en baking done to show you all or to do any scrapbooking beforehand, but that’s how it rolls sometimes.  I’ll have all my treats for you tomorrow and if I can’t squeeze everything in, we’ll have ourselves a belated Hallowe’en afterparty.  I leave you with some treat photos I took last year and my beloved Hallowe’en “kitties”.  Have a spooktacular Hallwe’en, everyone!

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Photos taken from Whole Foods Market, Half-Baked Ideas, and Lollicakes in Toronto.

The Fall Harvest Series: The “Pumpkin Patch” at the Market – Fall in Love at Evergreen Brick Works, Part I

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I finally made it, everyone!  After months and months of wanting to go, I finally made my way to Evergreen Brick Works for their amazing Saturday farmers’ market and marketplace and it was everything I imagined it would be and more.  And I don’t think I could have planned the trip out more perfectly – during a long weekend with gorgeous weather to boot!  I don’t even remember how or where I first learned about the Evergreen Brick Works site (or Don Valley Brick Works as it is/was otherwise known as); all I know is that once I knew about it, I had to go.  It bummed me out enough over the summer knowing I hadn’t been able to make the trip all those months; there was no way I was going to miss out on one of the city’s largest weekend markets on one of the most beautiful fall weekends. 

The Evergreen Brick Works site is so rich with history and so thoroughly woven into Toronto’s social fabric.  After all, as the city’s chief brickmaking factory in the 1900s, it contributed much to Toronto’s architecture, infrastructure, economy, and community.  Just like The Distillery District though, the industrial shutdown of the factory led to years of quiet site abandonment before its restoration, revitalization, and development in the late 1990s and early 2000.

The development of Evergreen Brick Works has done wonders for the city in so many ways.  Not only does the space serve as one of the city’s most beautiful green spaces for biking, hiking, gardening, and nature conservation, but it has also transformed into a gathering space and cultural heritage site for artists, teachers, farmers, and community groups.  Art studios and children’s programs have been created, workshops, classes, demos, and site tours take place every week, hundreds are drawn to the antiques market, marketplace, and farmers’ market every weekend, and charitable community events such as Picnic at the Brick Works and Toronto Underground Market have found turned the site into their home.

When you learn about Evergreen Brickworks, you learn so much about the local communities and about Toronto as a whole.  For those of you who are 1) history buffs or 2) just interested in knowing more and seeing cool photos, definitely check out the St. Lawrence Market Gallery on the 2nd floor of the St. Lawrence Market.  It’s free, there’s beautiful photos and artwork, and there’s plenty of articles and info to read about the Don River and the heritage site itself.  In my opinion, much nicer than your school days history class 😉 

My visit today was wonderful and coming here just makes me want to explore that much more.  I want to take photos of all the gorgeous colourful trees and gardens in the area.  I want to have a picnic lunch.  I want to buy cookbooks from the marketplace.  And because I enjoy being driven around in a cute, chubby bus, I want to ride the free shuttle bus from Broadview station again.  I took a LOT of photos today, so I’ll be splitting up the posts over the next few days!  Today’s collection of market photos: the pumpkin patch! 😀  Okay, so it’s not exactly a real pumpkin patch, but there were pumpkins everywhere so this is my compilation.  Enjoy!

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Evergreen Brick Works is located at 550 Bayview Ave.  The farmers’ market takes place year-round every Saturday from 8am-1pm.  If taking public transit, there is a free shuttle bus that operates 7 days a week beside Broadview subway station, as well as the 28A Davisville TTC bus that runs on Saturdays from 8am-3pm between Evergreen Brick Works and Davisville subway station.  Click here to learn more the site, their events and programs, and how to get here by bus, bike, car, or foot.

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. 

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.