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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Winter Vegetables, Kale, & Garlic Focaccia Buns – The Indoor Rinkhouse Farmers’ Market at Dufferin Grove

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Aside from the beautiful, vibrant farmers’ market sign, soil, patches of grass, and some tree trunks, what do you see up top?  If you said ice rink, you are right and you get a big fat cookie! 😀  I went to my first official winter indoor farmers’ market yesterday at Dufferin Grove!  Now I know I’ve been to the indoor lunchtime markets at the Centre for Social Innovation a number of times since they started in September, but the CSI markets have always been indoors so technically, my visit to Dufferin Grove yesterday was my first in what I call “the indoor market circuit”.  Markets such as Dufferin Grove, Eglinton Park, Sorauren Park, and Wychwood Barns have all moved indoors for the winter season and the new kid on the block, 99MRKT, is taking the city by storm with its indoor fall and winter market emporium.  I’m so excited to see what the winter will bring and I’m already looking forward to my holiday visit to Evergreen Brick Works later on this month!

I had such a fabulous day out yesterday, but unfortunately nature took its course and I came down with a nasty migraine in the early part of the evening that left me incredibly nauseous and sick, hence why I couldn’t write and share these photos with you all yesterday.  I feel awful that I had to skip a day like that (especially after all the gushing I did for the blog’s 1st birthday!), but I feel much better now and I’m excited to fill you all in on my first indoor winter market visit of the season.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: the market at Dufferin Grove exudes such a sense of belonging and community.  There’s a board right outside the rinkhouse with a weekly newsletter posted on it with great bits and bites about some of the goodies at the market, recipe ideas, and much more.  I arrived at the market only a half hour after it started and the market grounds were already packed with eager shoppers, ice skaters, and hockey players coming in and out and milling around.  Yes, ice skaters and hockey players!  The Dufferin Grove farmers’ market takes place in the indoor rinkhouse during the winter season, right beside the outdoor ice rink located at the northwest corner of the park. 

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Hitting Up the Weekend Markets! Squashes, Crab Apples, and a Sea of Rainbow Colours at Liberty Village

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It’s Friday and the weekend is here!  I’m excited because there’s so much going on with the last of the outdoor markets, Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington, and the spooktacular yummies that await me on Hallowe’en!  I have so much I want to do but there’s always never enough time.  I haven’t even been able to do any Hallowe’en baking for you guys!  Hopefully I’ll have something fabulous for you all on Monday, but for now, I’m chugging away at getting these weekend market photos up!  If you’ve been following the Farmers’ Market series since I started it back in May, you’ll have noticed that many of the markets that I hit up were weekday ones.  It’s a habit from university that it’s still in my blood and a little hard to kick.

While I was in school, my weekdays were flexible.  I would go to my classes on the days I had them, I would attend meetings whenever they arose, and I would stick myself in the library for the day when it was necessary.  Between all these activities though, I would hop around town.  I took advantage of the precious time I had to do things during the school/work week because I knew I would have to succumb to a weekend of work.  Sometimes there was just too much going on during the week to “sit down” and get things done.  Three hour break in between classes?  Sweet, I’m taking a break at the mall.  Classes finished by noon?  Nice, I’m spending the rest of the day downtown.  I would get my shopping done that way, I got to stroll around, and of course, I got to eat.

Pretty graffiti art by Liberty Village

Cupcake offerings at For the Love of Cake!

This habit of rushing around during the week and staying home on the weekends has made it a little difficult for me to get out to the weekend markets this year.  I’m the opposite of most people.  While they can’t wait to get out and party it up, I’m laying in front of the tv tired from the week’s antics!  The reduced transit service in my area doesn’t exactly help matters either.  But missing the weekend markets started putting me in a bad mood so I tried my best to get out to a few of them and I’m so happy I did.  I finally went to Evergreen Brick Works and just recently, I ping-ponged between two Sunday markets in the city: Leslieville and today’s Liberty Village!

Liberty Village is an up-and-coming neighbourhood in the west end off of King Street sweeping the city by storm.  The industrial feel is still very much present, but businesses in and discussion of the area are both steadily growing as more people venture out to explore.  Even though I can’t say that I could spend an entire day in the neighbourhood, there’s some great stuff in the village that I love, such as For the Love of Cake cupcake shop (blog post forthcoming, I promise!), Demo Soap Studio (if you get a chance to check them out at the One of a Kind Show, do it!), and a handful of dining establishments that look great on paper and that I can’t wait to try out.  I went to Liberty Village for the first time in the summer of 2010 and it’s definitely grown in the past year.  I think many people who have an interest in design and architecture will also appreciate the area, in addition to foodies, because the main strip was constructed in a way that makes it very distinguishable from other neighbourhoods in the city.  You’ll just have to go and check it out 😉

The Liberty Village farmers’ market, located in the Green P parking lot just outside the Liberty Market building on East Liberty Street between Atlantic and Hanna Ave., is a sister market to others in the city: Bloor-Borden-Lippincott, Sick Kids Hospital, Ryerson University, and East Lynn Park.  If I had to make a comparison, I would say that the Liberty Village market is a little more similar to Bloor-Borden-Lippincott.  The Liberty Village one didn’t have the ginormous herb table, but I recognized some of the same tables and farmers.  The markets at Sick Kids Hospital and Ryerson are much more different in their offerings.  Liberty Village is more fruit and vegatable centric whereas the market at Sick Kids has waaay more baked goods, and Ryerson has a mix of both.

It was a beautifully warm day when I went (which is a stark constract to the weather we’re having now!), and the market was busy.  The tables were just bursting with beautiful colour and I was so giddy to see two particular things at this market: crab apples and baby squashes!  We’ve all heard the terms “sour grapes” and “crab apple” but I’ve never actually SEEN a crab apple before.  Unless I missed them, none of the other markets I’ve been to have them.  They were adorable.  So cute and small and bright pink-red!  I did a little bit of research and found out that these fruits are wonderful for making jellies, jams, and preserves.

And the squashes!  I can’t get over how pretty they are.  And how good they are to eat.  I saw these adorable baby squashes at the market that were white with deep green striping and I asked the farmers how to cook them.  They told me I could cut them in half, sprinkle a little brown sugar, put some butter on them, and roast them in the oven for about 45- minutes.  Friends on Twitter also made a few yummy suggestions like sprinkling cinnamon on too!  Let it be known that aside from butternut squash soup and Chinese squash, I’ve never actually eaten or cooked things like butternut, acorn, or spaghetti squash until recently.

Once my fall kicked into high gear, my mum started going on and on about how much she loved it when my grandma used to make it when she was growing up and how she had somehow forgotten about it until now.  So we bought some butternut squash.  And ate it.  And loved it.  My dad and brother didn’t really care for it one way or the other, but my mum and I cleaned off almost an entire one between the two of us.  It was juicy and soft and mildly sweet.  In my opinion, it’s more awesome than a sweet potato!  Sweet potato lovers, don’t hate me.  Or throw your sweet potatoes at me.  I just love the flavour and texture of butternut squash more.

The weather this weekend is looking a little nicer, so I’m hoping I can make it out to some fun stuff happening in the city.  Enjoy Friday today and check out the outdoor markets while you still can!

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Liberty Village farmers’ market is located in the Green P parking lot on East Liberty Street between Atlantic and Hanna Ave.  Liberty Village is located just south of King Street West and the market is held every Sunday from 9am-2pm.

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.