Summer is hanging on, but my internal clock says it’s time to start roasting pans of various veggies in the oven, slathered in olive oil, salt, pepper and perhaps a little herbes de provence. Seasonal veggies are the best, and I just did Brussels sprouts, chunks of carrots and some meaty cremini mushrooms – roasted at 375F for about 35 minutes, until tender.
And when I couldn’t imagine making any more tomato sauce – but still had part of a half bushel of market fresh romas staring me down…I remembered a Michael Smith recipe from years ago for roasting tomatoes. I cut the last 24 tomatoes in half, sliced up two onions in half rings, added a couple garlic cloves, olive oil, salt and pepper, and slow roasted for about 75 minutes until everything started to caramelize (well, kinda burned on the edges but I guess that’s just an extra dark caramel). I froze them to add to a hearty something in the deep of winter…when I’ll remember how warm and humid September really was.
I took a summer vacation from the Wednesday night yoga class I’ve been doing for more than 15 years. Apparently, I’m a creature of yoga habit. It was a little freeing at first, giving me a night off. Then it wasn’t.
My Friday favourite is that this week, I got back on the mat with a regular yoga class here.
I was walking the dog last night after work. Summer has returned to Ontario in that perfect way that only happens near the end of the season. Warm, sunny days and almost duvet nights.
As I coaxed the dog along with a steady supply of liver treats, I was thinking about how much I love this time of year. I was making a list in my head and thought I’d share them here.
- the bugs are done
- my brown-eyed susan patch adds more brightness to the shortening days
- butterflies are scurrying around to fill up on energy from the butterfly bush
- the first time you need to put a sweater on as evening falls
- shifting meal ideas to soups and stews and roasts
- dusting off my knitting that sat quietly in the corner all summer
- canning tomatoes and beets, and freezing endless cobs of corn
Enjoy the waning summer days, wherever you are.
Since becoming empty nesters, I keep way less stuff in the cupboards. Last week when I really wanted to bake something but realized I had no flour…I had to get creative.
It didn’t take long to find a recipe from Smitten Kitchen for Salted Peanut Butter cookies that had only 4 ingredients – peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla! A quick scan of the cupboard and I knew I was in luck.
Here’s the recipe:
1 3/4 cups (335 grams) packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (450 grams) smooth peanut butter
Coarse-grained sea salt, to finish
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the light brown sugar and eggs until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then the peanut butter until smooth and completely incorporated.
Scoop the dough into balls. Place on prepared pan. Place the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking. (My cookie sheet doesn’t fit in the freezer, I just put them in the frig)
Sprinkle the dough balls lightly with coarse-grained sea salt just before baking. Bake for 15-18 minutes.
These tasted like very grown-up peanut butter cookies. They were chewy and intense and the flavour improved with age. I brought some with me on our flight to LA last weekend and shared them with family. My daughter-in-law liked them so much she made a batch in the house we rented and even though the oven didn’t work and she had to improvise with a toaster oven, they were delicious the second time around. Try them and let us know what you think!
My friend Lisa and I have been walking every Saturday morning for 16 years. We take silly pictures of ourselves and post them on instagram with witty hashtags like #lisaheatherwalk or #wehaveprobablytalkedaboutyou.
And then Lisa fell and broke her knee cap. Sounds like something that happens on HBO, not to my walking partner.
She is my friday favourite because she is being such a good sport about this injury. She needed surgery to wire her knee cap back together. Two weeks later she learned that one of the wires had broke and they had to repeat the surgery. She has been out of commission for 7 weeks. She is upbeat and accepting and not whining. She’s amazing and her outfit even matches her cast!
There is a roadside restaurant in the Western Massachusetts town of Gill called Wagon Wheel that we stumbled upon last summer. We were heading to Vermont and looking for lunch, or ice cream, whichever came first. We found both. We started with the spicy black bean burger salad and ended with the Oreo Speedwagon ice cream (coffee and oreos-my new favourite flavour)
Last weekend we actually planned our drive home from Quebec City to include lunch at Wagon Wheel. We drove 6 hours for lunch! When we got home I started looking for recipes for black bean burgers to try and re-create the Wagon Wheel burger.
Here’s what I came up with. A hearty, slightly spicy, black bean & veggie burger.
Saute some onions, garlic and jalapeno in olive oil. Add 1 tsp cumin.
Blend 1/2 cup oats and 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons flax seed in the food processor. Set aside in a large bowl.
Pulse some carrots & parsley and any other vegetables you want in the food processor.
Add the pulsed carrot mixture to the oats/breadcrumb mixture. Pulse a 15-oz can of rinsed black beans in the food processor. Add to the carrots and oats. Add the sauted onion mixture. Add 1/2 cup steamed corn. Add an additional 15 oz can of black beans and salt and pepper to taste.
The recipe I was semi-following ended there but I added 1 egg because I couldn’t imagine how I could shape the mixture into burgers. After shaping the burgers, refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour. Then cook in pan and serve on a salad!
They were really good but way too much work to ever make again! I’m going to stick with Wagon Wheel or those frozen cardboard ones!
I think there is a fine balance between getting out there to move whether it’s walking, on a bike or hiking up a mountain…and pausing along the way to take it all in. There’s gotta be good stuff along the way and not just the endorphin high or fit bit count at the end.
I got my bike out for the second time only this year. I had done a ride with my trainer for one of our weekly sessions, and wanted to try and keep the momentum going. When I head out, I’m often already thinking about getting back home. Does anybody else’s mind go there?:-)
So as I pushed down on the pedal the first few times, I thought about trying to enjoy the time on the trail, noticing what I was riding by, saying hello to people I passed by. And not just racing to get it over with.
It worked. So I tried it again on the weekend with a paddle down the river. I’m not in quite the same hurry in a kayak, as on my bike, but I often think “okay, you have an hour…paddle to the bridge and a little farther, then turn around and get back.”
But this time, I tried to find the perfect place between effort and ease.