My mom’s kitchen smells wonderful when she bakes. Growing up she would bake us muffins, pies, biscuits, scones and cookies that made our mouths water. Most of her recipes had some kind of delicious fruit in them, usually picked at a local berry farm or bought at a farmers market. Many of her recipes were passed down from my Grandma or the other ladies from the church who published cookbooks as fundraisers. I can’t honestly remember eating a cookie out of a bag or from a box, except maybe from a friend’s house or at the cottage as a treat. Grandma’a wild blueberry pie was famous and even now, my girls ask Santa every Christmas for blueberry pies! My Papa made applesauce that was second to none – it was akin to pie filling in a jar, heavenly!
Ask any maritimer and I am sure they will say that sitting down with home baking, a cup of tea and a good friend to share with is as close to Heaven as we can get.
Spending time with my girls in the kitchen is one of my most “happy places”. Teaching them how to create delicious creations that have been baked in my family’s kitchens for generations makes me feel more connected to my past and gives me a sense of securing skills for their future. As we peel, chop, stir, fold and sample, I smile as I remember doing the same with my grandparents and aunties and uncles from rural Nova Scotia. We play music in the background and we chat about our days, distractedly growing closer as mouth watering smells waft out of the oven. Little by little, they tell me the stories I wouldn’t otherwise hear or the secrets I would likely never discover. Their little imaginations wander as they get to pick add ins and flavourings; more than once we have had competitions to create the best scone recipe – Saturday morning Scone-offs!
Baking with the kids provides a convenient opportunity to teach them about where our food comes from and how we can look close to home for many of our ingredients. Nova Scotia is fortunate to have many small family farms, markets and Community Supported Agriculture opportunities. Although we have planted many fruit trees and berry bushes on our property, the birds and the deer tend to benefit more than we do! Because we could never grow enough of our own fruit, we joined a CSA and get a weekly fruit box of local fresh, frozen, dried and preserved fruit from a number of farms around us. It is a surprise each week when we pick up our box (we could check the website first, but where would be the adventure in that?!).
This week before we even picked up our box we definitely had our crisper full of more apples than we could eat, so we decided to bake! Our CSA, organized by Tap Root and Noggins Farms, also offers add-ons of veggies, eggs, meats and grains, which is a nice option to have. We are also fortunate to have a market close to us called “The Vegetorium” (isn’t that a fun name?) where we can pick up eggs, locally roasted coffee, baking supplies and lots of fresh produce all year round. It is a nice feeling to know which farms our fruit is coming from and to chat with storekeepers who know us by name and can tell us exactly where their eggs come from. If you are interested in joining a Community Supported Agriculture venture in Nova Scotia, here is a link from another Nova Scotia blog, Adventures in Local Food, with a list for 2015. Our CSA has proven a great way for us to enjoy other’s gardens even when we can’t yet enjoy our own!!
On the menu – Nana’s Apple Cake and Papa’s Applesauce
Delicious Honeycrisp, Gala and MacIntosh apples from the weekly CSA fruit box.
Little hands loading up the apple peeler…
Peeling, peeling and peeling!!!
We added dried cranberries and blueberries to the batter – also from our fruit box.
Little hands making sure Nana’s apple cake is perfect…
And Papa’s applesauce was pretty amazing too…
We add brown sugar (or honey), cinnamon and nutmeg to chopped apples and simmer on medium low until it reaches a soft and saucy consistency. We love it warm over ice cream or vanilla yogourt!
Recipe for Nana’s Apple Cake
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups chopped apples
2 beaten eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups raisins, cranberries or dried blueberries
Combine chopped apples with sugars, oil, eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and raisins or berries. Bake in a bundt pan or 2 loaf pans for about 1 hour at 350 degrees. Enjoy with a cup of tea!!!
” If most of us valued FOOD and CHEER and SONG above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien