Baking, eat local

Butter Tart Bars

A few months ago while in my culinary program I was speaking to two of the other student, both of which were born in columbia and we began to have a conversation about what would be the national food of Canada, the chef instructor and I began to list foods such as poutine, peameal bacon, and even maple syrup.  

Looking through my cookbooks and my own personal recipes I had a lightbulb moment a few days later though, butter tarts. How could I have forgotten this delicious treat and it’s connection to this country? There are so many facts in the history of the butter tart that makes it first place and most lovef as a national food such as; 

  • There are multiple events in the country that star this pastry including Butter Tart festival at Muskoka Lakes, Ontario, the trademarked “Butter Tart Trail” at Wellington North, Ontario, and the “Butter Tart Tour” in ,Kawarthas Northumberland Ontario
  • The first published recipe for a butter tart was in 1900 from Barrie, Ontario and can be seen in The Women’s Auxiliary of the Royal Victoria Hospital Cookbook
  • Butter tarts are most popular in the provinces of Ontario and Nova Scotia
  • Culinary historians trace its creation back to lesfilles du roi, the hundreds of young women sent from France to populate Quebec in the late 17th century
  • At the 2017 edition of Ontario Butter Tart festival  in June, 50,000 visitors consumed more than 160,000 butter tarts Butter Tart Bars
  •  1 3/4  cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 3/4  cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
  1. Grease a 9×13 pan and line with parchment paper
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit 
  3. Mix together flour and sugar and then cut in the butter into the flour until it resembles a crumb mixture. 
  4. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the baking pan and bake 20 to 30 minutes (until the edges just start to brown)
  •  2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  •  1/3 cup +1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 large  eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2  tsp salt
  • 1 cups corn syrup 
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup 
  1. Mix together the flour and brow  sugar really well. Whisk in the eggs, and vanilla extract and then finally the corn and maple syrup and whisk well. 
  2. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes while the bottom layer bakes (it will dissolve all flour and brown sugar in the time) stir occasionally
  3. As soon as the bottom layer has brown edges take out from the oven and pour over the syrup mixture and return to oven for an additional 40 to 50 minutes (it can be wobbly in the middle but not overly wobbly or it will need to be put back in the oven for a few minutes)
  4. Once cooled pull out the bars using the edges of the parchment paper and cut into big bars. 

*if you wish to add extras such as pecans or chocolate chips add about 1 cup* 

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Baking, eat local, Happiness, Lifestyle, Lily's Food

Jam Filled Buns/Cookies

This week instead of testing out new recipes and making them my own I wanted to be nostalgic and take recipes from my childhood and try to change them up a bit and put my imprint onto classic recipes my mother would make for me when I was a little girl.

This recipe was my favorite as a young child and teenager. We would call them Jam cookies due to the tiny size and hint of sweetness from the jam, but the original recipe my mother went from years ago they were referred to as “Jam Filled Buns.” they have a flaky biscuit look and taste to them, and are perfect for a picnic, summer party or just a quick breakfast surprise. IMG_3063

  • 2 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter (cut into cubes)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cold milk
  • Jam (any flavor you wish)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a large bowl combine the sifted flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Make well in center.
  3. Whisk together the milk and egg, then pour into the well of the flour mixture and stir well to form a soft dough. (use more milk if needed)
  4. On a floured surface knead the dough 8-10 times, pat or roll out the dough until it is about 2 cm thick.
  5. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out circles and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  6. Make deep hollow in top center of each biscuit. Drop small spoonfuls of desired jam into each hollow
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on your oven. IMG_3065
Baking, eat local, Healthy Food, Lily, Lily's Food, Nutrition, Uncategorized

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberries are not normally eaten in our house fresh, I enjoy the taste of blueberry but whenever we buy a package they tend to be pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten. We’ve decided to start buying frozen blueberries and we keep throwing them into our smoothies, and bake with them…my favorite fruits to bake with. I love the sweet taste that comes out of the berries when cooked and I love that the flavour spreads perfectly and pairs well with many other flavours.

With the decision to try and not buy many (if any) pre packaged foods, I decided to try and test out some muffins this week that can be used as a quick snack. after looking through other recipes so that I could get the basics down, I decided to make a few changes, using only brown sugar, and my favorite healthy swap of using yogurt instead of buttermilk and I was very happy of how the muffins turned out and Lily (who does not really enjoy blueberries) gobbled them up!IMG_2975

Blueberry Muffins 

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup yogurt*
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Grease, or line a muffin baking pan (12)
  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, add the brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.
  3. In a medium bowl, with a whisk or fork mix the egg, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla.
  4. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until combined (the mixture will be lumpy) add the blueberries and mix well.
  5. Spoon the batter into muffin tin 2/3 full
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on your oven.

*For added flavour, use a flavoured yogurt, vanilla or blueberry or mix it up and use strawberry or even peach.

*Don’t forget to go like my facebook page @ahappinesshomemade 

eat local, Goals, Happiness, Healthy Food, Homesteading, Lifestyle, Lily, motherhood, Nature, Nutrition, Personal

Crunchy Mom, My Badge Of Honour

 A “crunchy mom” is a woman on a quest for more information.  A mom who is environmentally, health, and socially conscious.

 I was called a “Crunchy Mom” a few weeks ago, and from the rest of the comment, it was definitely meant to be an insult. I’ve heard of the term, but have never thought of myself of being one, I definitely though never thought of it as a bad thing, it was one of those mom things that seemed like a good thing to aspire too. I mean look at the definition!  Coming from a girl that was in the environmental club through my school years, volunteered at the food bank, and even tried to start my own charity to give your old sleeping bags that just take up space in your closet that you never use to the homeless during the winter so that had a chance to stay warm in a freezing Canadian winter where shelters were packed full I think that looks like a real honour to be called a “Crunchy mom” but was I one really? 

First, I went to my boyfriend and our best friend Dave, I mentioned the comment and wondered what they thought. Obviously I had to kind of explain what the term exactly meant, but once I got the jist of the definition out I was promptly told “well of course someone said it, you are one!” It wasn’t one second of mulling it over, not one brief pause. So the two people I spend talk to the most and spend my weekends with believe I’m a “Crunchy mom” but I still questioned myself, that seems like such an honour to be called ( in my opinion) and I didn’t just want to take that label and run with it, I wanted to make sure I’ve earned it.

Where else to turn to? Well I don’t have many mom friends (social anxiety at its finest, I really have to just push myself and find more mom friends) and went to Facebook groups, one I had been invited to was a natural parenting group and I went there, as I read through these moms comments and questions I felt even more like I wasn’t one of them.  These were moms that went all vegan, moms that travel the world with there children, moms that bathe in the lakes they find while there road tripping through life in there mini buses there family lives in (ok not all, but I did find one mom that was doing just that!) I was nothing like that, I’m flexitarian, my kid bathes in a bathtub and my kid isn’t travelling mingle with different cultures on there natural land.

But was that what I had to do to be a crunchy mom? Or are there levels of “crunchiness” ?

I decided to open up, went to the post section and wrote how I had been deemed a “Crunchy mom” as an insult and felt like I wasn’t really doing enough to be “crunchy” so asked, am I really a crunchy mom? I couldn’t just ask a bunch of strangers and get a proper response so I decided to explain a bit about what I do, that I think is a bit “crunchy” but I still don’t think is enough.

  • Uses coconut oil religiously as moisturizer,  and make my own body scrubs with coconut oil
  • Lily and I have a minimum of one hour of nature time a day
  • I buy most of my cheeses, vegetables and meat from local farmers
  • All our sweet treats and desserts are home made
  • I’m attempting to make as much ourselves, soups, marinades, condiments and my quest to make our own breads is ongoing (see mu last post) and I hope to one day make all our sandwich breads, buns and such from scratch.
  • Instead of turning up the heat I try to use blankets and layers, or in the heat flowing clothes instead of turning on the air conditioner
  • I do yoga with Lily as much as I can to teach her how to calm her mind and body down.
  • I try to limit Lily’s tv time to one movie a day  (when she gets bored of the movie and runs off to play, the movie is paused and when her interest comes back to the movie the tv turns back on until she loses interest again.
  • I use essential oils for everything from making sure I have a good night’s rest ( chamomile and lavander) to muscles pains and growing pains for Lily.
  • I’m trying to cut down on processed foods, and snacks are only whole foods versus pre packaged snacks.
  • we are flexitarian,  we do eat meat but we don’t make it the only way we get our protein.
  • Lily and I still cosleep, even though she’s starting to move around more during the night and prefers my side of the bed, after almost four years were still comfortable. 

After writing the comment and posting it I had had revelation. Why do I need these mothers to approve that I am a crunchy mom? Why do I need to be approved to have this title?  I’m trying my hardest to be eco conscious, trying hard to make sure my daughter understands where her food came from, and how it’s made versus that it’s just something you buy in a store. I’m teaching my daughter to be aware of the world around her, and to not harm anything even as little as an ant and I’m teaching her that there are other ways to get rid of anxiety, pain and other ways to deal with sickness then popping a pill.

So yes, I’m a crunchy mom, and I wear that title as a badge of honor.

Check out the Facebook page for this blog @ahappinesshomemade 

Baking, eat local, Healthy Food, Lily's Food, Nutrition, Personal, Uncategorized

Strawberry Cake Loaf

When asked as a young girl what my favorite food was I would never have said brownies, no chips were the best flavour, no Mcdonalds chicken nugget invoked true happiness for me to be my favorite food, the food I loved to eat by itself, with a tiny sprinkle of sugar, cut up into pancakes or with a dollop of whip cream for dessert like my grandmother would give us, it was the perfectly red strawberry.

To this day I will tell you I love my strawberries, I don’t often eat them by themselves sadly but I love when they are in something, cut up into yogurt, in a smoothie, cooked into pancakes or waffles and of course baked into delicious treats like this amazing strawberry cake loaf, its baked into a bread pan and is a moist and delicious cake reminiscent of a pound cake. IMG_2921

Strawberry Cake Loaf 

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 6 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup strawberry yogurt *
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped strawberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper
  3. Cream butter, cream cheese, sugar, and salt in large bowl until fluffy (about 2 minutes)
  4.  Beat in eggs and vanilla extract until combined
  5.  Add flour, baking powder and baking soda to the mixture
  6. Add strawberries and stir until just combined
  7. Pour batter in prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes. If top browing to quickly tent aluminum foil over bread.
  8. Cool in pan for 10 minutes remove and cool completely on wire wrack, serve with whip cream. Perfect for dessert or to eat alone for breakfast.

* Try to find a strawberry yogurt that is flavoured with real strawberry pieces rather then an artificial flavouring or the taste will be a little off in the end.

Baking, eat local, Goals, Happiness, Homesteading, Lifestyle, Lily, Lily's Food, Nutrition, Personal

Lily in The Kitchen

When Lily was around 9 months old I borrowed this one book from the local library titled “The Homemade Pantry” and it’s exactly what the title suggests, an entire cookbook packed full of recipes that show you how to make all the pantry staples at your home instead of buying everything pre-made and processed with ingredients you might not even be able to pronounce. 

That idea of the book stuck with me all these years.

I want my daughter to grow up understanding how to make her own bread, that mayonnaise doesn’t just have to come from a Hellmans container but can be whipped up in our kitchen, I need her to know early on that pizza doesn’t come prepared and frozen in the freezer section of the grocery store, heck I want it to go so far that she understands she can even make her own crackers and cheese!

This is why Lily has grown up in the kitchen and will continue to do so. As a little girl, I would place her in her high chair, roll it into our tiny kitchen and give her a wooden spoon while I baked zucchini bread, graham crackers and even when I wilted spinach in a pan with Garlic to make her a personal toddler person that became a staple in her diet as a toddler.

As she’s grown older she grown from just sitting in the kitchen to her helping us gather our ingredients throughout our kitchen, to her even grating chicken and help dice carrots with a safe knife and learning to scoop the sides of a bowl while stirring and hold to lightly fold chocolate chips into a batter. 

I’m a Baker and I hope to one day own my own bakery and I hope for a little while that Lily will be along to help with odd jobs in the kitchen while I work…I even have this dream that I would have a tiny table for her to sit at off to side where she can do her homework. 

We have a bit to go for my dream of a fully homemade pantry but my daughter is along for the ride and I couldn’t pick a better kitchen helper. 

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Eat Local

We are lucky to live in a society that still believes in fresh farmers markets each weekend, we’re lucky to have farmers open their fields for families to go anywhere from apple, pumpkin picking to strawberry picking. Kathleen Wynne

But we won’t be for long.

If we don’t continue to purchase from our local farmers, our local cheese makers, the farmers that surprise us not only by growing wheat, but grinding it down into a flour and baking with it and having that all done in time to sell at the local farmer’s market, if we don’t continue to support our local food growers one day will not have enough money to support not only themselves but also their homestead which means no more local food.

When we purchase our foods from farmers markets and directly from the people that are making and producing the product then we have so much more information available. We are able to learn information like the positives of drinking milks and eating cheeses from other animals not just from cows, which I learned about last weekend at the farmers market. I’ve been loving Brie in this one sandwich I’ve been buying premade at a indoor market grocery store and decided to buy my own brie, when I asked for some from the man at the market he asked which one I wanted, cows milk or buffolo. Know I like to think I’ve tried more foods then most and I’m to trying most things once, but I have never heard of local buffolo milk, luckily when asked which he recommended he went into an amazingly informative conversation that I was happy to listen to and discuss. I would have never gotten anything similar to that from a grocery store. 

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I’m committing myself to eating locally as much as I possibly can. I’m going to find a farmers market that I can find most of what I need, my cheese and dairy needs, my jam needs, produce needs and pre-made but locally made foods (like the gorgeous pizzas at our market). I mostly shop at the London’s Western Fair Market which has all of this and more, but now that the spring is here and more produce and outdoor markets are beginning to pop up and I’m going to be as happy as can be to try every single new market that pops up in our area.

I’m proud to eat in season, I’m proud to support local food, and I’m proud to eat local!