I am a fruit fiend at this time of the year. One of my favourite weekly rituals is to go the farmer’s market and choose the best-looking produce that I can find. Obviously, this includes a variety of fruit, straight from the Okanagan Valley. I tend to go for berries, which are beautiful, juicy jewels that make my oatmeal and yogurt so much better and stone fruit, which I love eating on their own, as a snack. Despite the fact that stone fruit are far less reliable than berries- is there anything worse than a mealy peach? – they are my absolute favourite. I typically don’t cook or bake with my summer fruit because they are so delicious raw but when I was faced with making a light dessert for a BBQ last week, I couldn’t think of anything more delicious than a stone fruit, hibiscus fruit salad.
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.
I acknowledge that this is the second loaf cake that I have posted here in less than a month. The last one, a pear and dark chocolate gem, is perfect as a special occasion treat. While it might look understated, it is a knockout filled with chunks of dark chocolate nestled in a brown butter cake batter. This blackberry apple cake, on the other hand, is for snacking. It’s amazing how two cakes that look so similar can be made up of such different ingredients. While I certainly love making indulgent desserts every once in a while, it’s way more essential for me to have somewhat healthy, homemade snacks that I can eat throughout the day. Every day between meals, I may eat some pickles, nuts, or squares of dark chocolate (sometimes all within the same snacking session). But, the best weeks are when I have prepared something like this blackberry apple snacking cake. It’s a perfect sweet treat that feels extra special and indulgent but that I know is actually made up of pretty great ingredients.
I finally got to go skiing last weekend. There is no other activity that I can think of that gets me outside in the fresh air, for a whole day, during the winter time. I can’t tell you how good I feel to be outside, in the sun and the snow, in the mountains where everything smells good, and moving. It’s such a luxury over these winter months. With skiing comes the need for snacks. Mostly the snacks are needed on the long car ride home when you finally sit down and suddenly realize that you are deeply tired, hungry and thirsty from all of that moving and fresh air. My go-to snack is granola bars. They are easy to keep in my ski jacket pocket, nutritious, filling, and have just the right balance of sweet and savory that I crave at times like those. I have been making versions of these granola bars ever since the Smitten Kitchen cookbook came out. There is a date and almond version in her book but I decided to make some apricot sunflower granola bars this time instead. I have tons of sunflower butter in my fridge and I thought it would be a nice change.