A Day of Kale & Lettuce – Leafy Greens, Jarred Sauces, and Fall Pastries & Vegetables at Wychwood Barns

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My arms are killing me, especially my left one.  When I woke up this morning, I could have sworn I slept on it funny.  Why else would it feel so sore?  Then it dawned on me: my arms were sore from carrying bags of market vegetables and groceries all around town yesterday!  Up, down, and all around I went, lugging bags of fresh beautiful green curly kale, red kale, leafy romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, and a delicious fall inspired apple-cranberry crumble pie from Yorktown Pie Company.  And leftover beet risotto from my beloved Mela Cafe.  And a giant loaf of honey wheat bread from Panera Bread.  Oh, and some macarons.  Needless to say, I was out like a light on the subway and bus ride back home!

Part of me really, really wanted to take it easy this weekend.  As in, stay at home, watch tv, and catch up on sleep.  Then the blogging workaholic in me shook her head and tsked.  There were so many things I wanted to do.  I wanted to grab some vegetables to take home.  I wanted to pay a visit to the market at Wychwood Barns during the fall season, something I had never done before.  And I wanted some warm fall comfort food, a nice walk outside, and some more macarons, even if I meant I’d have to get up at 6:30 in the morning to started on my day.  So to the market I went!  And even though I was one very sleepy girl when I came home (I was dozing in front of my laptop as I was editing photos!), I was real happy I pushed myself to go out because I had so much fun yesterday, bulging grocery bags and all!

Wychwood Barns was hopping with market goers, not to mention folks who were there to check out the Pottery Glass show happening inside!  Despite the chilly weather (scarf and mitten weather for me), everyone was in good spirits, snatching up vegetables like there was no tomorrow.  I couldn’t believe all the great stuff I picked up.  My family and I gobbled up all of our romaine and red leaf lettuce today for both lunch and dinner, and my beautiful leafy kale is waiting to be sauteed with garlic and olive oil for tomorrow’s dinner.  The markets are just amazing and I love knowing that everyone in my family is enjoying the goodies I bring home every week.

This week at the market I noticed an abundance of leafy greens, Chinese vegetables, snow peas, radishes, jarred sauces and condiments (pesto and mustard, yum!), and seasonal fall fruit and veggie pastries and baked goods.  It was my first time buying red kale and I’m so excited to have it for dinner tomorrow!  It wasn’t until my visit to Crème Fraîche last month during Samsara Fields’ pop-up market that I realized just how many different types of kale there were, so it’s been great learning about and seeing (and obviously eating!) all the different kinds.  So far we’ve just sauteed it and had it with rice, but I’d love to try making kale chips sometime because so many rave about it.  That, and mixing it in with pasta.  YUM!

Yesterday was also the Junction market’s last day of the year and season and while I really wanted to be there to see their last one, I just couldn’t go out that far west.  It wasn’t practical given how the other things I wanted to do kept me closer to midtown and the downtown core.  I’m so sad that I won’t have that market to go to anymore until next year, providing they come back for their sophomore year, which I really hope they do!  Lucky for me, Wychwood, Evergreen Brick Works, and Crème Fraîche Market Cafe operate year round and I still have a few more weeks to squeak out a visit to other weekend markets such as Liberty Village, Leslieville, Withrow, Weston, and Montgomery Inn.  Some of them are a little far for me to get to, but hey, I always make my market visits worthwhile so we’ll see!

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The Stop Community Food Centre Farmers’ Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns is held year-round on Saturdays from 8am-12pm.  The park and historic community centre complex is located at 76 Wychwood Ave. just off of St. Clair Ave. West, east of Christie St. and west of Bathurst St.  http://www.thestop.org/green-barn-market

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It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Summer – The Almost-Outdoor Farmers’ Market at Wychwood Barns, Part I

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Happy Food Revolution Day, and Victoria and Memorial Day long weekend everyone!  I know it’s been a bit quieter here over the last few days and that’s only because I’ve been working on SO MANY things for the blog for the upcoming month and season!  I have huge and exciting news to share with you all soon (I can barely contain myself, but I have to wait just a little bit longer to tell you all about it) and there are a number of things I’ll be doling out over the next month including the June Food Calendar, the June Markets, and two new series that are in the works: the patio dining series and the vegan brunch series!  I’m working away at the Cookie & Baking Scrapbook Project and I’m also hard at work gathering up news and update goodies for the next installment of the Cupcake Connection.  I’m crazy busy, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.  

Not only are things heating up here, but the weather is starting to get mighty fiery as well and that definitely makes for some very eventful outdoor farmers’ marketing!  I went to the market at Wychwood Barns again today and I can honestly say that since I started going back in February, today’s was the best its ever been.  I cannot wait to share my huge write-up with you all tomorrow featuring pies, hummus, sweets, and some very adorable and delicious sushi (yes, that’s right, CUTE sushi!), so enjoy the market veggies photos that were taken today – it doesn’t get any fresher than that! 

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The Stop Community Food Centre Farmers’ Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns is held year-round on Saturdays from 8am-12pm.  The market will be heading outdoors for the summer season starting next Saturday, May 26!  The park and historic community centre complex is located at 76 Wychwood Ave. just off of St. Clair Ave. West, east of Christie St. and west of Bathurst St.  http://www.thestop.org/green-barn-market

Peach & Ginger, and Spinach & Blue Cheese Scones, Easter Fun, and More at the Wychwood Barns Market!

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I’ve always felt bad about the summer market oopsie and mix-up I made last July.  The oopsie that resulted in mass confusion amongst the rest of my family and the one that will always make me face palm and mentally roll my eyes at myself.  The mistake I made?  Mixing up my market hour times.  After going on and on about how the farmer’s market at Wychwood Barns was one of the best in the city, my family and I made plans to go one Saturday last July.  Only there was a slight snafu. 

For whatever reason, I thought in my heart of hearts that the market went on until 4pm (which it didn’t and doesn’t), so the family and I frollicked about, eating brunch first.  When we arrived at the market we found the vendors packing up and it was then that I realized what a big boo-boo I had made.  It was 12:30pm.  I was so embarrassed.  Disappointed and embarrassed.  What an awful combination.  BUT!  I made it up to my mum this past weekend by finally taking her there and to my delight, we brought home a bevy of market goodies!

This little piggy went to the market...

and found jalapeno & cheese cornbread muffins...

...and Earth & City's vegan nut burgers!

It was busy, it was bustling, and Easter fun abounded throughout the market with dark chocolate bunnies preening from Chocosol’s table, honey egg-shaped candles from the honeycomb and wax candles table, and tiny tots dying Easter eggs in a rainbow of pastel colours.  What I love about the market at Wychwood Barns, aside from its size, is how there’s a balance between fresh fruits, vegetables, and cheese and prepared foods and baked goods.  Forget inviting friends and family out to a sit-down place – I say we all have a scrumptious and delicious meal right inside the market and barn!  It’s SO easy to shop and eat at the same time here and it would take me weeks upon weeks just to get through all the wonderful food.

As I munched on cheese and pretzel sample and a smoky root vegetable appetizer, I admired the barrels of potatoes (I cannot wait to start buying blue and purple potatoes again this summer!), the gluten-free brownies and chocolate chip cookies (it took all of my willpower not to make a dive for the table), the jalapeno and cheese cornbread muffins (I wanted to stick my face in the basket and inhale them), the vegan nut burgers and coconut brownies from my beloved Earth & City, and the giant sweet and sticky whole grain cinnamon rolls.

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The Stop Community Food Centre and Wychwood Barns – Farmers’ Market, Food Programs, and Accessibility, Part II

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One of the most rewarding things about food exploration is the infinite number of ways we can engage in it.  It’s about cooking from the heart, cooking at home, with family, with friends, for survival, passing down cultural traditions, dining out, experimentation, food cultivation, food history, economic and environmental stability and sustainability, and most of all, accessibility.  When we immerse ourselves in food culture, we essentially investigate the question, “how does a community feed itself?” 

The Stop Community Food Centre is one of Toronto’s culinary cornerstones, offering food programs in an effort to increase accessibility to healthy food.  These food programs take into account the very different lifestyles, family structures and situations, incomes, and aspirations of Torontonians, and are tailored to different age groups and levels of culinary experience.  Its mission is to build awareness and accessibility to nutritious food and food pathways.  It’s about knowing and understanding the different socioeconomic positions people occupy in our societyand finding ways to lessen the burden, to increase the knowledge of food systems, to spark a new-found interest, and to nurture those who take pleasure in cooking and food exploration.

 

Food programs offered by The Stop include a food bank; an after school cooking and learning workshop for elementary school children; a drop-in program for those who need a healthy meal, food counselling, and access to information and resources around the city; an urban agriculture program that is comprised of several community gardens in and around the community, all of which produce fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs for The Stop’s food events, kitchen, and cooking workshops; food and cooking programs for both new parents and seniors; a community cooking program which strives to increase accessibility and awareness of healthy living and eating habits, build cooking and social skills, and to bring people together through food and cooking.  Finally, The Stop offers a weekly farmers’ market year-round, every Saturday from 8am-12pm, in conjunction with the Wychwood community and Artscape Wychwood Barns.

The Stop and Wychwood Barns are a fusion of culture and art, bringing together local businesses, farmers, entrepreneurs, and artists (culinary and otherwise) under one common goal and umbrella.  We may not all be locavores, but the The Stop Farmers’ Market at Wychwood Barns emphasizes the importance of providing support for local, Ontario growers, producers, farmers, retailers, and independent food businesses who strive to grow, create, and prepare organic, sustainable, healthy food.  The market fully endorses market vendors that provide food that is gluten-free, vegan, raw, dairy, meat-centric, and organic, so long as the food has been cultivated through ethical and sustainable practices.  Market vendors have information plaques attached to their booths informing market goers of the business’ history, mission, goals, and information.

The mission behind The Stop Farmers’ Market isn’t to necessarily “convert” our community into becoming a locavore one or to “push” the locavore doctrine onto people.  We know the benefits of using seasonal ingredients and buying local, but we also know that many of us don’t wish to subscribe to these principles and/or face limitations, so we need ways to negotiate through the various foodpaths that are made available to us.  And one of these ways is through a community market like this one.   

Its goal is to show support for local businesses while at the same time building awareness in and around Toronto (and beyond!) concerning the food options we have in our cities and province.  The concept of accessibility is based upon the notion of choice.  Without choices and without options, accessibility cannot exist so it is through accessibility that we can begin to make informed purchasing decisions and healthy lifestyle choices.

The Stop Community Food Centre and Artscape Wychwood Barns provides our city with so many opportunties to engage with food and I’m so looking forward to being more involved in this community and taking advantage of the many food programs that are offered.  I hope you’ve all enjoyed the first two parts of the Wychwood farmers’ market series because the third and last will be featuring the raw and vegan delights of Earth & City tomorrow!

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The Stop Community Food Centre Farmers’ Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns is held year-round on Saturdays from 8am-12pm.  The market is currently being held indoors for the winter.  The park and historic community centre complex is located at 76 Wychwood Ave. just off of St. Clair Ave. West, east of Christie St. and west of Bathurst St.  http://www.thestop.org/green-barn-market

Root Vegetables, Cheeses, Pot Pies, Chocolate & More! The Farmers’ Market at Wychwood Barns, Part I

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After months and months of farmers’ market visits, I have finally made my way to Wychwood Barns for The Stop Community Food Centre Farmers’ Market!  I’ve been looking forward to my first Wychwood farmers’ market visit for so long, especially after I mixed up the market times the first time I tried to go last summer and ended up showing up after the party!  For whatever reason, I mixed up the times and thought the market went on until 4pm when it actually went on until 12 noon.  I learned from my mistake and knew better this time.  I knew the market would be amazing given the size and scope and all the wonderful things I had heard from others; my going was only a matter of time.  I woke up at the crack of dawn, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to get an early start to my day.  Today was absolutely beautiful out and it was the perfect day to go to the market.  The air felt fresh and comfortable with just a tiny bit of nip in it. 
 
The market, held indoors in Artscape’s barn #2 on Wychwood Ave., is arranged in a rectangular shaped “O” offering everything from local Ontario winter squash, fruits, and root vegetables, fresh cheeses, pickled vegetables, loaves of bread and giant scones from city bakeries, meats and meat spreads, breakfast food, roti, vegan delights, savoury pot pies, chocolate, and so much more.  Coming here felt simaltaneously brand new and familiar.  I was seeing the market in all its glory for the first time, and yet there I was excitedly saying hello to market vendors I had met over the summer and friends I had made along the way on this market journey.
 
 
 
 
Going to Wychwood today made me realize everything I had been missing out on and it made me appreciate the experience so much more.  I want to come here every Saturday now.  I want to integrate this market into my weekly schedule so I can take photos, buy vegetables, eat breakfast, eat pot pies and vegan food, and sneak in a sweet dessert here and there.  I think I could feasibly feed myself for an entire day here!  In hindsight I really should have picked up some kale to take home, but I didn’t leave the market empty-handed!  I ate some samples and took away two giant scones (one spinach and blue cheese and one orange and chocolate chip!) and a heavenly frosted brownie from Earth & City which I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into.
 
 
I’m so happy to finally feature the Wychwood market on the blog and I have a ton of photos to post and so much to write about, so I’m making this into a 3-part Wychwood farmers’ market series: a post full of photos for today, a full write-up about The Stop Community Food Centre in conjunction with Artscape Wychwood Barns, and a delightful new vegan foodie post of Earth & City!

If Candied Orange Peels and Creamsicles Were Married – The “OC” Cupcake at The Cupcakery, Part II

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Have you ever felt like you needed to reignite a spark to renew your interest in something you’ve always loved?  A feeling that you needed something to make you see things with fresh eyes?  If you’ve ever been heavily invested in a project, a hobby, or just a passion in general, I’m sure you’ve come across that feeling.  This is how I felt about cupcakes as I trudged my way through the first two and a half weeks of December.  The cupcake fire didn’t dissipate; it just required a little attention, a little shift in focus.  A little more kindling so to speak. 

Many of my holiday plans fell by the wayside and a number of these plans had involved fun cupcake adventures.  I had built everything up in my head so much that I ended up heartbroken when things didn’t work out.  Call it over zealous, call it over ambitious; I had put so much on my plate that nothing had come out of it at all.  It had gotten to the point where I had lost sight of what I wanted to get out of my cupcake exploration.  I had lost direction.  And for a little while, it wasn’t as fun anymore.

  

Fast forward to the new year.  I needed to forget about the disappointments over the holidays and breathe new life into something I loved so dearly.  And I did.  I can’t even begin to describe the overwhelming happiness and giddiness I felt after I threw some of that new firewood into the flame.  Enter The Cupcakery.  Located on St. Clair Ave. West just east of Dufferin St. on the corner of Glenholme Ave., The Cupcakery is a shop I’ve wanted to visit for ages!  I thank my cupcake friend Alex at Vivid Memories for posting about them and thus, leading me to such a wonderfully yummy shop. 

My favourite things about The Cupcakery?  Price and affordability, simplicity, and presentation.  Cupcakes are $2.50 each ($13 for 6 and $25 for 12) and I have to tell you, prices like those are icings on the cake.  In many of my cupcake posts, I’ve ranked places into price categories (low-end, mid, and high-end) and I am so happy to place The Cupcakery in the lower rung of the price ladder.  If my memory serves me right, their cupcakes are now some of the most affordable in the city and they are one of the few cupcakeries that sell cupcakes at this price point.  Several establishments have raised their prices and the ones who used to sell their cupcakes for $2.50 no longer do, so this really is a breath of fresh air.

Their cupcakes are colourful, bright, dainty, and perfectly frosted with lots of frosting and just enough cake to create the perfect balance.  Nobody likes a cupcake with just a dab of frosting (geez, could you spare a little?) or so much of it you think you’re eating it out of the can (there’s a reason why the word “cake” is part of “cupcake”!).  Even though their menu doesn’t scream wild and wacky, that’s the beauty of it.  They are beautiful, simple cupcakes that truly capture the essence of the sweet treat.  They have enough unique flavour combinations to entice the experienced cupcaker, but also enough simple classics to remain familiar to those who may not always eat cupcakes or to those who aren’t all that interested in the outlandish.

They have a selection of 6 cupcakes every day on a rotating basis and there are flavours on their menu that I am dying to try: Black Forest, Lemon Popp (lemon poppy seed with lemon frosting), and Let’s Be Berry (vanilla cake filled with berries with lemon frosting), just to name a few.  The 6 flavours they had on hand the day I went were: Back to Basics (chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream), Principessa (vanilla cake with pink frosting), After Eight (chocolate cake with mint frosting and chocolate chips), La Dolce Vita (chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream), Chips Ahoy (vanilla cake filled with chocolate chips with vanilla frosting and cookie chunks), and my pick, The OC!  Perfect for the chocolate orange lovers out there!  And of course, for the diehards of the old show.  A chocolate cupcake with orange frosting and chocolate chips.

My cupcake was placed in a little pink box that was just the right size for a single cupcake.  It was so cute and pretty, like a precious jewel.  You should have seen me holding on to my little cupcake box for dear life as I rode on the streetcar and then the bus.  I mentally cursed every single time I lurched forward as I felt the cupcake jiggle in the box and I cursed some more when I eventually took a bite of my cupcake because it was so delicious I wished I had bought a second one, specifically the Chips Ahoy one, to accompany my chocolate orange! 

To my utter surprise though, I opened my little box to discover my cupcake in perfect condition!  After all that jiggling, the frosting wasn’t smushed and it was in immaculate condition.  And best of all, a napkin was included underneath my cupcake.  Love!  It was everything I had hoped the cupcake would be.  The chocolate cake was moist, soft, and fudgy and the orange frosting was PERFECT.  The flavour was bold without being sour and the frosting was sweet and creamy without being runny or greasy.  It was a beautiful juicy orange sugar flavour, exactly like what candied orange peels and creamsicles would taste like if they were married and embodied in a frosting.

This is the first look into The Cupcakery and I’m really looking forward to posting more about them and talking about some of their other products as well.  This cupcake made me so happy and I think it was a fabulous way to start off the new year, cupcake style!  The cupcake fire is roaring with a vengeance and ready to take on the next adventure.   

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The Cupcakery is located at 1034 St. Clair West Ave., right at the corner of St. Clair and Glenholme Ave. between Oakwood Ave. and Dufferin St.  The Cupcakery is open from Wednesday-Sunday at 11am-5pm Wednesday-Friday, 10am-5pm on Saturday, and 10am-4pm on Sunday.  They are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  You can check out their official website here, ‘Like’ their Facebook page here, and follow them on Twitter @tcupcakery.

Check Marking My Way Through the Cupcake Shop Directory into 2012 – The Cupcakery on St. Clair West, Part I!

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The Toronto and GTA cupcake shop exploration continues on into the new year!  2011 was a fantastic cupcake year from top to bottom.  Not only did I get the chance to visit bakeries I never even knew existed prior to the start of the year, but I also engaged in some full-blown cupcake baking marathons at Le Dolci where we icing sugar queens baked over 400 minis on some days!  It’s been a joy photographing them, scrapbooking my adventures, and of course, eating them!  It was so much fun following monthly and weekly flavour specials, trying out combinations I never thought I would enjoy (my aversion to all things mint chocolate did a 180 as soon as my sweet teeth got cozy with the Mint Everest cupcake from Short & Sweet!), getting a handle on vegan cupcakes, and becoming friends with the masters and bakers behind these sweet local businesses. 

My favourites in 2011 include the fluffy sweet Strawberry cupcake from Flour Studio, the Lemon Drop cupcake from The Cupcake Shoppe, the Black Velvet from Sweet Escape Patisserie, the Cookies n’ Cream vegan cupcake from Bunner’s Bake Shop (blog post and photos forthcoming), the lemon sugar cupcake from Bake Sale on the Kingsway (thorough blog post also forthcoming!), and the Mint Everest cupcake I mentioned up top from Short & Sweet Cupcakes.  My goal was to visit as many cupcake shops as possible and I think I did a smashing job showing off some of the prettiest and tastiest in the city so far.

I have a very long way to go before I check every cupcakery off of the “cupcake directory”, but I don’t mind because it means there’s a whole world of tiny cakes with frosting waiting for me.  I’m determined to visit every shop on Queen Street East (what I dub as Toronto’s cupcake roadway), to show you all what’s available in Markham (aside from Old Firehall Confectionery), and to start a new series of flavour groupings here and there.  It’s going to be another fabulous cupcake year in 2012, so to kick things off, a Part I picture post of The Cupcakery on St. Clair West!

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The Cupcakery is located at 1034 St. Clair West Ave., right at the corner of St. Clair and Glenholme Ave. between Oakwood Ave. and Dufferin St.  The Cupcakery is open from Wednesday-Sunday at 11am-5pm Wednesday-Friday, 10am-5pm on Saturday, and 10am-4pm on Sunday.  They are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  You can check out their official website here, ‘Like’ their Facebook page here, and follow them on Twitter @tcupcakery.