The first day of October isn’t until tomorrow, but it will land on a Saturday, and I usually post a Saturday Snippets then. So instead of two posts in one day, this one is coming a day early 🙂
My month of BUILDINGS has come to an end, and I enjoyed the monthly prompt more than I thought I would! I had a few people join in on Instagram, which was fantastic, as it gave me glimpses into the buildings and architecture from Poland, Rome, parts of the USA and other parts of BC! I’ll share September’s photo round-up in a few days time.
October Month of GRATITUDE
In a few weeks, we will celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada. While it’s easy to spend only that one day focusing on what we’re thankful and grateful for, why not be mindful of those bits of gratitude throughout the entire month? That’s what I’m planning to do, and it would be great if you’d like to join in the fun.
There’s so much that I take for granted in my little world, from the mundane nuances of day-to-day life, to the people we interact with, to the beauty of the city we live in. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness that surrounds us, so I’m hoping my prompt of Gratitude will remind me to stop and soak up those things around me that bring me happiness.
Thus, I’m dedicating October to my month of Gratitude, and it would be great to see what you’re grateful for, as well. If you’d like to join in, please do – the more the merrier! I’ll post my findings on various social media places – Instagram, Google+, Facebook and Twitter, tagging #MyMonthOfOctoberand #MyMonthOfGratitude.
And, in a blink of an eye, we’ve officially entered autumn. Otherwise known as Pumpkin season, or Halloween season (yup, candy has been on sale for the last few weeks), or Finally-Turn-On-Your-Oven season. I, however, prefer to call it Sunrise Season!
Here’s what caught our eye online during the week of 24.September.2016.
We should learn from the country synonymous with cycling – the Dutch. The super simple (but effective way) that motorists can ensure they never open their car door in the path of an oncoming cyclist.
Here’s an autumn book list. Have you read any of these? I’ve read #2 (thought it was so-so), #6 (thought it was really good), and got through less than half of #9 about five years ago. Maybe I should give it another go? Does anyone else have any good book recommendations?
Oh man, this Labrador video has totally made my Monday (and reminds me of a certain black Lab back in the UK…) 😉
Given my love of sunrises and sunsets, this photo challenge looks to be right up my alley.
On Moby news (aka Sprinter Conversion):
Our lithium batteries arrived today! Because they were delayed in transit and I couldn’t pick them up in Victoria last week, as planned. Greg, from EAS Power Solutions took the ferry over to Vancouver to deliver them in person later in the week. Now that’s customer service!
The Lithium batteries have finally arrived! There are 3 of these battery banks, 600AH in total.
All the boys checking out the new lithium batteries. I think they approve.
We need to thermally isolate the metal van wall from the metal 8020 cabinets, so Jonty spent the week working a few prototype mounts, the intention being that we’ll mount these anywhere that metal will touch the exterior van shell. In the end, a design simple to fabricate won out (a few other designs are shown below).
CNC’d prototype for an mounting the 8020 extrusion to the van wall.
How the mounts will fit into the 8020 slots.
How the mounts will lie flush against the van wall.
This is the first week that it is really starting to feel like autumn! The leaves are just starting to change, and the markets are filling up with the local Okanogan apples. When I see the fruit bins overflowing with Honeycrisp and Ambrosia apples, I can’t help but load up my shopping cart. Even after eating them during the week, in salads or on their own, we often have a surplus by the end of the week. And since the weekends are synonymous with baking, we use them up making plenty of tasty treats involving apples, cinnamon and butter.
We had a few end-of-season blackberries still kicking around and I was craving pie, but not a big pie of the usual size. I wanted something portable, that we could easily enjoy after a climbing day. So I decided to bake these single-serving Apple-Blackberry Pies, in a standard muffin tin. They tasted fantastic, a perfect autumn treat! And besides, who doesn’t love to have their own little bite-sized pie to themselves?
I’ve made these mini pies a few times now, and they really are a perfect little sweet treat. And I’m convinced that most desserts feel more individual and taste better when they’re bite-sized. Another bonus is that they freeze really well, so bake up a batch to save for those rainy Vancouver days you know are coming!
Tips for making Mini Apple-Blackberry Pies:
Butter the muffin tins really well. I’m serious. Make sure you butter the tops of the pan too. Nothing will anger a wife quicker than having a pie stick to the pan. True story.
Make sure to cut up the apples into very small chunks (think thumbnail sized), if you don’t want to pre-cook the apples first. These mini pies don’t take as long to bake as a full-sized pie, so cutting the apples into bite-sized pieces will ensure they soften before the baking time finishes.
If you make a full double-crusted mini-pie, make sure to cut a big hole in the top pastry, to release the steam and avoid too much overflow.
The deal with making these mini pies is pretty easy. Roll out the pastry and cut out 6 circles. I used a 10-cm / 4-inch crumpet ring, but I’ve seen suggestions of using the lid of a yogurt container, too. Gently press the pastry into the well-greased muffin tin, fill with the fruit filling, then use any remaining pastry dough to make a top crust, if you’d like. Brush the tops with milk, and sprinkle with a coarse sugar, then pop them into the oven. In less than 45 minutes, you will thank yourself for creating such cute, delicious treats 🙂
I think these Apple-Blackberry Pies are best enjoyed after a hard climbing day, with a good cup of coffee. Hubby fully agrees 😉
245 g (~1 large) cored and diced apple (we like Ambrosia)
60 g (~3/4 cup) blackberries, fresh or frozen
10 g (2 tsp) lemon juice or apple-cider vinegar
15 g (1 tbsp) brown sugar
15 g (~1.5 tbsp) flour or cornstarch
Making the pastry dough:
In a food processor, pulse together the flour, butter, sugar and apple-cider vinegar.
Add the water, 1 tbsp at a time and pulse until the dough just starts to clump together.
Remove from the food processor, wrap tightly in plastic or place in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to a few days.
Let sit at room temperature about 15 minutes before you plan on rolling it out, to soften it up a bit.
Making the filling:
Core a large apple and dice into small pieces. Place into a bowl, along with the blackberries.
Add the lemon juice or apple-cider vinegar, brown sugar and flour and toss very gently to combine.
Set aside while you are preparing your muffin tins.
Making the mini pies:
Pre-heat the oven to 350 F and place a baking tray in the oven, to catch any over-flow.
Grease 6 muffin cups very well, ensuring both the cup and the top edge of the pan are greased.
Lightly flour your counter-top and roll out the pastry dough into a rectangle, about 5-mm thick. Cut out 6 circles, each about 12 cm (4.5 inches) in diameter. Gently press each pastry circle into a prepared muffin cup.
Spoon the apple-blackberry filling into the prepared pastry cups. The filling will shrink down as it cooks, so don't worry if the cups look quite full. Really pile it in!
If you are doing a top crust (there is enough pastry dough), roll out the remaining pastry and cut into your desired shape - either strips for a lattice, or circles for full coverage. Regardless of the shape, make sure you have enough holes in your top crust to let out the steam.
Pinch together the edges to seal. Brush the tops with a bit of milk and sprinkle with a coarse sugar.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, then rotate and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the filling starts to bubble
Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Then gently remove the mini pies from the muffin holders and cool completely on the rack.
While the pies are still hot, use a knife to loosen around the edge of the muffin cups, so that any overflowed filling will not stick to the pan while the pies are cooling.
The pastry recipe will make enough for 1 9-inch single-crust pie, or 6 double-crust mini pies. These pies freeze very well.
I spent a few days on Vancouver Island this past week for a site visit, nicely breaking up the usual work week. I always take the first ferry to Nanaimo and, during this time of year, I’m almost guaranteed to see gorgeous sunrises as the ferry rounds Horseshoe Bay and passes by downtown Vancouver. This year was no different!
Here’s a few things that caught our eye online during the week of 17.September.2016.
I just finished reading this book on the ferry ride back to Vancouver. I thought I had the story figured out, and felt disappointed that the plot was so obvious. Then, one page later, it totally threw me for a loop and I could hardly put it down. A completely engaging thriller!
Our wardrobe is largely filled with Icebreaker clothing, so we’re well aware of the awesomeness of Merino wool. I feel like these shoes might be speaking to me… 🙂
On Moby News (aka Sprinter Conversion):
The 8020 framing continues in the van. We’ve finished the kitchen counter and Jonty has started working on the upper cabinets; lots of CNC prototyping this week.
Lower kitchen cabinets framed in 8020.
Lower kitchen cabinets framed in 8020.
Lower kitchen cabinets framed in 8020.
We are still awaiting our lithium battery arrival. The shipment didn’t quite match with my visit over to the island, but they are on their way! Hopefully this coming week we’ll have them in hand.
I had never eaten a fresh fig until a few years ago, when a friend asked if we wanted any from her neighbour’s tree. “Yes!”, was the obvious answer! Fresh figs are a wonderfully tasty fruit, especially when their skin starts to give way and a bit of their nectar seeps out. And when a fig is perfectly ripe (or over-ripe!), it has a sweetness that pairs perfectly with a little spice. Case in point is this Spicy Carrot and Fig Salad.
The idea for this salad came about after a trip into Whole Foods, where they had strategically placed the best looking figs right at the entrance to the store. They were staring me down, and I was sucked in immediately. Good thing they are in season right now, because they were actually a reasonable price, so I couldn’t refuse!
There are only a handful of ingredients in this salad – a few tangled carrots are tossed with a spicy vinaigrette and the wheat berries give a nice nutty chew and a bit more substance to the salad. I really think the spicy vinaigrette brings out the best of the sweet fresh figs!
Like most of our salads, the recipe here is a general guide. If you don’t like spicy foods, leave out the chilies. If you have other veggies in you fridge, feel free to use them up. We like adding grains like farro or wheat berries to our salads, as they hold up well in the fridge over a few days, and keep us feeling full well into the afternoon.
So if you’ve never eaten a fresh fig before, make friends with a fig-laden neighbour, or grab a pint of them at the store while they are still in season, and make this salad! 🙂
3 - 4 medium to large carrots, peeled and grated or spiralized
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 green onions, white and green parts finely chopped
4 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
4 fresh figs, sliced
2 red Thai chilies, chopped (remove the seeds, if you want a milder heat)
1 good handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 good handful fresh basil, shredded
1 lime, zest and juice
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 - 2 tbsp olive oil
Rinse the wheat berries under running water. Place in a medium sauce pan and pour enough water in to cover them by at least 5 cm. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Partially cover the pan and let simmer until tender to the bite, about 25 minutes. Drain and leave to cool before adding to the salad.
While the wheat berries are cooking, prepare the rest of the salad. Place the carrots, shallot, green onions, dates, fresh figs and chilies into a large bowl. Toss to combine.
Add the lime juice and zest, the olive oil and fresh cilantro and basil. Sprinkle in the cumin, turmeric and ground nutmeg. Toss well to thoroughly combine.
Add the cooked wheat berries and toss to combine.
Serve the salad with added sliced fresh figs on top, if desired.
This salad tastes very good after sitting for a bit. It will hold up well in the fridge for at least 2 days.