Masterchef Australia is back and I love it just as much as ever. On the program, there is something called a mystery box challenge where the contestants are given a limited number of ingredients to work with and are judged on their creativity and the deliciousness of the dish. Right now, I feel like I am in a mystery box kitchen. We are moving from our apartment at the end of this month and I have been working hard to use up all of the ingredients that we have left in our kitchen. I’ve been doing pretty well so far, slowly making my way through all of the grains and cans of beans that I usually stock up on but as it dwindles, I am having to get creative. I realized that I had an abundance of sesame related things: tahini, white and black sesame seeds laying around and that was where these sesame squares came from. I probably would have never thought of them without the pressure of wanting to not let anything go to waste.
It’s amazing how quickly cravings and habits form. I remember when we went to Asia and I started eating curry, fish and rice for breakfast. At first, my stomach would turn. I was used to milk and sugary cereal. It was so strange. After just a few days though, I started looking forward to my roti canai, and later to my miso soup, rice and pickled vegetables. These days I am pretty much on an oatmeal kick. Oddly enough I love to add some granola to my oatmeal. I know it is an oat-on-oat situation but I love the contrast between the crunchy texture and toasty flavour of granola along with the other seeds and nuts that I also add to my bowl. So, having granola in the house is always a good thing in my book. I try to change up the spices, nuts and fruit that I put in my granola (got to keep breakfast exciting!) and this time I decided to make a second batch of granola based on Local Milk’s recipe. Her granola is the clumpiest that I have ever made. While I love muesli-esque granola, there is something special about the texture of granola clumps (does anyone know what I mean? Maybe because they are usually pretty hard to achieve?). Using her recipe as a base, I decided to make gingerbread granola: deeply spiced, molasses-y, filled with pecans, and dried blueberries and cranberries. It’s the perfect accompaniment to my oatmeal on snowy winter mornings.
It really feels like autumn here now. The trees are golden, the apples and pears have taken over the markets, and there is a clean, crisp feeling to the air. Today we went to see the larches. They look like coniferous trees but turn yellow at the end of September. I’ve heard a lot about how beautiful they are, which made me vaguely skeptical as to whether they would live up to all of the hype, but they were truly spectacular. A bright blue sky against the golden larches is a new autumn memory for me. In retrospect, these muffins would have been the perfect snack to bring along on the hike. They are everything I want this time of the year: warm spices, tart apples, and a sweet treat. On top of everything, these healthy breakfast apple muffins are golden too, coloured by my apparent new obsession, turmeric.
This weekend we decided we would drive up to Lake Louise and do a little hike. It wasn’t going to be a hugely long hike but it’s a long drive and I knew it would be a long day, which calls for snacks. The problem is, by the time the weekend rolls around there is very little food in the house. Luckily I had all of the ingredients I needed to make granola, which is a classically delicious snack for the road but I certainly did not have the time to bake granola, let along preheat the oven. So instead, I toasted some oats in a pan, tossed in whatever granola-worthy ingredients I had in the cupboards and we were set! I had 10 minute muesli on my hands and I knew that a whole new realm of possibilities had opened up.