Grannies and Granola

This is granola from the High Level Diner. It’s a mixture of grains, seeds, nuts, currants, and muscovado (dark brown) sugar:

High Level Diner Granola

High Level Granola.

These are Granny Smith apples:

Granny Smith apples

Go, granny, go.

The Grannies have some delicious friends:

Apples and pears

Ambrosia, golden delicious, grannies, and bartlett.

These are the ingredients for apple crumble, in addition to the apples, pear, and granola: pumpkin pie spice, lemon juice, butter, and muscovado sugar:

Ingredients for apple crumble

Ingredients for apple crumble.

I’ve made variations on this dessert many times and I never measure anything. This is the first time I’ve used High Level Diner granola in place of an oat-based crumble topping but I don’t think that changes anything significantly.

Steps to make apple crumble:

Steps 1, 2, 3

Steps 1, 2, 3.

1. Chop apples and pears, place in baking dish.

2. Add lemon juice and sugar, then stir.

3. Top with a generous sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice (you could use just cinnamon if you prefer). I don’t mix it in.

Steps 4, 5, 6

Steps 4, 5, 6.

4. Top with granola.

5. Sprinkle on more sugar.

6. Slice butter and lay on top. If you’re really industrious you could grate the butter instead or run the butter and granola through a food processor together.

Lots of apple crumble desserts

Lots of apple crumble desserts.

In this case, I made one large (serves 2-3 people) and 4 individual desserts. I used all 4 apples and the pear from the photos above, plus the full stick of butter (1/2 cup). I used just over half the granola and about a cup of muscovado sugar. BTW if you use very juicy apples/pears (e.g. from the farmers market) you should reduce the sugar by at least half. You won’t need much.

This dessert freezes wonderfully! You cook it from frozen and the apple/lemon/sugar mixture on the bottom turn into a pie filling as it thaws and cooks.

Ready for the freezer

Ready for the freezer. Remove the lids before cooking unless you enjoy eating melted plastic.

In fact, today I didn’t cook these at all. I wish I could tell you how delicious they are but I prepared these to enjoy later. You’ll just have to make some yourself to find out how good they are. 😉

Into the freezer

Into the freezer. See you later!

To cook, put them in a 400°F over for 30-35 minutes. Serve with ice cream. Enjoy!


Midpoint Miscellany

We’re at the midway point of this blog already! Here are a few quick things that didn’t make their way into full blog posts.

After the first Evoolution shopping trip and taste test, I went back with a coworker where we both spent $WayTooMuch on more delicious oils and vinegars. Then we stopped in at Dauphine bakery across the street and picked up these airy ficelle buns and sweet little candy cane kisses. Then we went back to the office (at work during staycation – gasp!) and had another taste test with coworkers.

Ficelle and candy cane kisses

Ficelle and candy cane kisses

I didn’t take a poll – or pictures – this time but everything was delicious.

After finishing the jar of sangria, I was left with a load of wine-soaked apple and mandarin segments. I wanted to see if I could make something edible with them, so I threw them in a pan with a bunch of sugar and cooked them down.

Sangria remnants in pan

Sangria remnants in pan

Verdict: Revolting. Don’t try this at home.

No story here, I just like this picture.

Spice jars

Spice jars

Epicure Extravaganza

In the past 2 days, I’ve visited 5 foodie stores that I’ve never been to before. For some people, these stores are everyday places but they were all new for me.

1. Popular Bakery (118 Ave x 93 St)

Popular Bakery

Popular Bakery on 118 Ave

This is a Portuguese bakery and grocery store. I didn’t know this before, but salt cod is a traditional Portuguese meal around Christmas so this store had loads of salt cod available. I should have taken pictures – there were big boxes full of it.

I’ve never eaten, let alone prepared, salt cod so I was going to bypass it but then I remembered: The whole point of Savoury Staycation is to try new things. The staff person behind the bakery counter offered some tips on soaking and cooking the cod, and then a customer (you can see her in the photo with me above; you can also see the big ol’ cod that I’m holding in my bare hands – which was weird) stepped in. She’s originally from Portugal and shared some of her favourite ways to prepare salt cod. I love when this happens, when you run into someone who is willing to share their enthusiasm and expertise with you. She wrote down the names of a couple recipes. One (bacalhau com natas) is basically cod in cream sauce, and looks like it could stop your heart! The other (bacalhau à braz) is shredded cod and shredded potato mixed together and fried. I got a couple additional recipes from a friend who went with me to the store (hi Wade!) so now I just have to decide which ones to make. I’ll report back on this blog about it later.

BTW, holding a slab of salt cod feels exactly like holding an enormous sour gummy candy. After I set it down I nearly licked the sour sugar off my fingers before remembering it’s fishy salt, and wiping it off on my jeans like a civilized person. 😉

I also picked up some sausages, mini pasta, a coconut bun, and two Portuguese egg tarts. My plan was to share the tarts with my husband but that didn’t happen. I devoured them both as soon as I got home – omgyum.

If you’re wondering (because I’d be interested in this) the total cost was $22.16 (the cod was just over $12).

2. Kasoa Tropical Food Market (118 Ave x 93 St)

Items from Kasoa

Items from Kasoa

Kasoa is a small African food store. Some of the foods there are variations on what you would get at a larger grocery store, but I picked up a few unusual (to me) items: green lentils (ok you can get these anywhere but I’ve never had them and I’ve been thinking of trying them), a sweet & spicy sauce, lemon cookies, and tamarind balls. Total: $6.10 – each item cost $1.20 except the sauce which was $2.50. Very reasonable! I’ll try some of the items later and report back.

3. Paraiso Tropical (118 Ave x 91 St)

Items from Paraiso Tropical

Items from Paraiso Tropical

It just occurred to me why 118 Ave is called the Avenue of Nations. This little pocket of 118 Ave is like a mini trip around the world: Portugal, Africa, and now Latin America.

Paraiso is bigger than Kasoa and specializes in a wide range of Latin foods. I picked up some fresh, locally made corn tortillas (can’t wait to try these!), dulce de leche pudding, hot sauce, a creamy white beverage called horchata, lime soda, and caramel-filled figs. Total: $24.24 (the tortillas were $6.50).

The horchata is a mix of rice, almonds, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and a couple other things. It’s concentrated so you mix it with water. I’m drinking some right now as I write this and… have you ever had something where you honestly can’t tell if you like it or not? That’s how I feel. It’s got a lot of sugar in it, but it’s not sweet. There’s a bit of heat from the cinnamon but not in a way that I really like. I’m puzzled. Have to keep trying it I guess. Has anyone else ever tried horchata?

BTW, before we leave 118 Ave, if you ever have a chance to go to Plaza Bowl on 104 St, do it! It’s a wonderful old-school 5-pin bowling alley.

4. Sunterra (57 Ave x 111 St)

Sunterra purchases

Sunterra purchases

Sunterra is pretty much Edmonton’s foodie mecca, and if you have an unlimited budget you should shop there for every meal, every day. The rest of us have to be a bit selective. I picked up some venison sausages, Atlantic salmon, Meyer lemons, multigrain wraps, and a Caribbean spice rub. Total: $26.56. I’m excited to try the Meyer lemons – I love citrus in general, and I’ve heard these are sweeter than regular lemons.

5. Italian Centre (50 Ave x 104A St)

Items from the Italian Centre

Items from the Italian Centre

I found some gorgeous black rye bread, mini pandoros (a cross between bread and cake), more pfeffernussen, Italian seasoning (I figure Italian seasoning from an Italian store is somehow more authentic), tomato paste in a tube, and two meats and two cheeses. Total: $42.73.

The two cheeses that I got are both sharp, hard cheeses (aged provolone and piave vecchio). I wanted to get a couple more cheeses but the woman behind the meat & cheese counter made it completely clear that my requests were an unacceptable inconvenience in her life, so I stopped at 2 cheeses. Too bad – I would have liked to try a blue cheese and maybe a creamy cheese. The friend I was with (hi Kelly!) got great service from a guy working behind the counter, but a supremely crabby old lady tried to butt in front of her and steal the nice cheese man. Wait in line, crabby lady!

And for good measure… Superstore Liquorstore (48 Ave x Calgary Trail)

White wine

White wine

I picked up a white wine so I can attempt a white sangria. I fussed over which wine to get – I nearly bought one just because it had a cool blue bottle, then a different one because I liked the label. In the end I settled on this inexpensive ($9) Canadian pinot grigio.

Well, that’s my epicurean shopping adventure. I’ll be doing lots of cooking and experimenting in the next few days – who wants to be a taste tester? 🙂

Salad Splendid

I have a secret superpower: I make fantastic salads. I don’t do it often because it’s a lot of work but for your reading pleasure (and my health and whatever) here’s how I do it.

First, I follow the rule of AB3: Avocado + Beans, nuts, or seeds + 3 colours of vegs. Then I add 1-2 fruits for a bit of sweet and juiciness. And then I add cheese because life without cheese isn’t much of a life.

Salad ingredients

This salad is brought to by the letter A and the letter B and by the number 3.

I vary the dressing but this time I used olive oil, fig-infused balsamic, and a pinch of kosher salt. Sometimes I add miso paste and/or maple syrup but I kept it simple this time.

Now my big secret is this (are you ready? This is a gamechanger): I put the greens into the bowl with the dressing and tossed them before adding any of the toppings, thusly:

Salad greens

Take a moment to catch your breath.

Next I chopped and added all the fruits and vegs. A commenter on this blog (thanks Kelly!) suggested shaving the pear and cheese which I did – great tip!

Finally, in lieu of croutons, I drizzled some blood orange infused olive oil onto the cocktail bread and toasted it (omgyum!). The result:

Finished salad

A delicious, hearty salad.

Best salad ever!

Bubbly Balsamic

One of the more incredible things I’ve heard lately is that you can use flavoured balsamic as the base for an Italian soda. I have some experience with Italian soda experiments, but even so, I was skeptical about vinegar soda.

Then I took a taste, now I’m a believer.

Bubbly balsamic

Bubbly balsamic

I used the Cranberry Pear White Balsamic from Evoolution. I played with the proportions and found you get the best flavour at a 10:1 ratio of club soda to vinegar. For a 355 mL can of club soda, you want a little over 2 Tbsp of vinegar (a little more than shown in the lower-left photo).

Go try it. You can thank me later. 🙂

Matcha Mama

A delicious dessert told in pictures…

Matcha powder

This is matcha. It is made from a particular type of green tea leaf, dried and ground into powder.

Pudding powder

This is vanilla pudding powder. It is made from chemicals you can’t pronounce.

Milk in measuring cup

This is milk. It’s made by wild Pyrex cows.


You can make something yummy by mixing these ingredients.

Action shot

Action shot!

Matcha pudding

Delicious matcha pudding!

Matcha pudding

P.S. Soylent green is people.

Matcha pudding

Delicious, delicious people.

City Spirit

I’m going to divert briefly from the theme of my blog. Like everyone, I’m heartsick about the shootings in Connecticut yesterday and I can’t begin put my feelings into words here. I just want to share a story.

This morning I decided to go to the City Market. While waiting at the bus stop, I saw a boy about 5 or 6 years old across the street. There was a snow pile under a big tree. He climbed the snow pile, reached up, and grabbed a branch. Swung for a minute, then jumped down. He made a snowball and threw it straight up to see if it would catch in the branches. Tried again. Shrugged then went back into his yard. It was cute – just a kid exploring his world.

Then I thought about someone putting bullets into a bunch of kids that age and I started crying right there at the bus stop. Grabbed some kleenex and managed to pull myself together before I got to the market.

And when I got there, it was a little bit magical. There were families skating on the frozen wading pool. There were carollers singing in harmony. Inside City Hall there were dozens of booths set up, people smiling, families and kids walking around. It was a warm and bustling community spirit and just what I needed.

Outside City Hall

Outside City Hall

I have to remind myself sometimes: There’s enough bad stuff in the world. Once in a while you have to turn off the news and go be with people who make you happy.

I hope you’re all with people who make you happy.

I’ll be back to happy foodie blogging tomorrow!

Salad Spendthrift

There’s an H&W Produce within walking distance of my home. I like H&W – they sell a wide range of produce at low prices. The thing you need to know, however, is that there’s also a wide range of quality. I always go there with the mindset that I’ll buy whatever looks good, rather than planning to buy some specific items.

So on my most recent trip I passed on the sweet potatoes (scrappy-looking) and kale (limp), and picked up some salad greens, carrots, mushrooms, and tomatoes. I also picked up two bags of my favourite holiday treat: pfeffernusse (lighter-than-air ginger cookies from Germany). Everything in the picture below cost a total of $11.10, and half of that was the cookies.

H&W shopping trip

H&W shopping trip

It’s a good thing these salad ingredients were so cheap since I’m going to dress them with $12-a-bottle olive oil and balsamic. 🙂

Sangria Study

I’ve never been much of a wine drinker and never had sangria until a few weeks ago when I went to Tres Carnales and had their sangria which is omgdelicious. So I decided to make my own.

Keep in mind this was an experiment! I didn’t really know what I was doing, but here’s what I did:

1. I found a super easy recipe online – basically wine + fruit + ginger ale.

2. I went to DeVine Wines on 104 St and asked for a wine recommendation. I have no idea how to buy wine so I asked for something under $20. The woman helping me said you don’t need to spend that much on wine being used for sangria because the fruit will sweeten it for you. She suggested this $14 Spanish red wine:

Spanish red wine

Spanish red wine

3. At the last minute I remembered to also buy a corkscrew. (The last time I bought a bottle of wine I had to use a screw and pliers to get it open. It wasn’t pretty.)

4. I went home and looked on YouTube to find out how to use a corkscrew.

5. I used the corkscrew to open the bottle of wine. (This step was a complete success.)

6. I poured the wine into a 2-litre mason jar because I don’t have a glass pitcher and there’s something tacky about putting wine in a Tupperware jug. I chopped up 2 mandarins and 2 apples and added them. I was going to add more fruit, but that was enough to fill the jar to the top of the wine.

Making sangria

Making sangria

7. I put it in the fridge for 24 hours to let the flavours develop.

Jar of sangria

If I could save wine in a bottle.

8. I poured a glass mixed with fruit-flavoured sparkling water (instead of ginger ale.)

Glass of sangria

Glass of sangria

And the verdict is… meh. It was ok but really winey. I found that the more sparkling water I added, the more I liked it. In fact I think that if you subbed out the wine completely and replaced it with cranberry juice, this would be really delicious, although it’s really just fruit punch at that point.

Will I make this again? Maybe. If I do, I’ll try a different wine even though the Spanish wine I used here seemed like it was good quality (it sure smelled good once some of the alcohol evaporated). I’ll also use different fruit, maybe berries and lemons and limes, and I’ll add ginger ale next time.

In some ways, this all seems a bit silly – all this work for a beverage that was just medium-delicious (medi-yum?). But that’s part of the Savoury Staycation process. I want to try new things, and sometimes new things aren’t wholly successful, and that’s ok. 🙂

Have any of you ever made a really good sangria? Any tips or recipes you can share? If I get some good suggestions I’ll try making another sangria and write about it before I wrap up this blog at the end of December.

Beautiful Bottles

Nothing substantive here, I just wanted to post a couple more pics of the beautiful Evoolution bottles before I move on to other topics.

BTW if you look closely, you’ll see one bottle is less full than the others because I couldn’t wait to use it once I got it home. (It’s the pumpkin spice white balsamic. I drizzled it on roasted sweet potatoes which was awesome.)

Oil & vinegar bottles lined up for inspection

Oil & vinegar bottles lined up for inspection

This final pic makes me laugh because it’s so faux-dramatic. The bottles look like they’re standing around waiting for trouble. Or they’re at a night club pretending to be cool. Or they’re preservation jars at the back of some secret lab containing tiny aliens in formaldehyde.

Bottles being dramatic

Bottles being dramatic

Or possibly I have an overactive imagination. 🙂