Posts Tagged ‘Just Like Grandma’

With the sun shining and the temperature soaring into the high 20s, it’s hard to believe its already Fall.  I love the changing of the seasons, especially when the weather is so mellow.  As the sun glistens on my bike ride home, I soak in the rays while admiring the leaves starting to turns.  Even better, the farmer’s markets are bustling, bursting with produce.

Who doesn't love peaches and raspberries?

Who doesn’t love peaches and raspberries?

I’ve been home visiting my parents, and this past weekend we celebrated my mother’s birthday. She is a raspberry addict, so her birthday dessert just had to have an infusion of raspberries.  We had a beautiful basket of peaches that were perfectly ripe and also needed eating, so I decided to combine the two for a special treat.  I happened upon a recipe for raspberry peach crisp from Averie Cooks and it seemed like the perfect choice to combine the peaches and raspberries for our celebration.

The crisp itself was delicious, full of bold flavours that complimented rather than overwhelmed each other.  The raspberries’ tartness stood out beautifully with the smooth peaches, a delicious combination I’ll most certainly have to try again!  I loved the fresh flavours along with the ease of assembling – it took a mere 10 to 15 minutes.  And who doesn’t love a crispy oatmeal topping?

Raspberry Peach Crisp

Raspberry Peach Crisp


Fruit Filling

2 1/2 heaping cups diced peach chunks (about 5 medium ripe peaches)
1 1/2 heaping cups raspberries (I used fresh, but the original recipe says frozen is just fine)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Crumble Topping

6 tablespoons salted butter, cold
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup old-fashioned whole-rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch pie dish.

For the fruit filling: In a large bowl, add the peaches, raspberries, granulated sugar, and cornstarch.  Toss gently to combine and place in pie dish

For the crumble topping: Place the brown sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until small pea-sized clumps form. Sprinkle the crumble on top of the fruit filling.

Place pie dish on a cookie sheet (in case there’s an overflow as it’s cooking) and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until bubbly. Crisp is ready when it is bubbling vigorously along the edges of the pie plate and the topping is golden browned.

Cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm or cold with ice cream or whipped cream.

Bon appétit!   Catherine

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Baked Beans

Sitelle and I have been negligent of Gourm(eh?) of love.  Sitelle has a good excuse, being in the Gambia and all, while I have just been over-run with my thesis.  But my thesis is now off with my external examiner(!), so I’ve had a little more time to breathe, sleep, and most importantly cook.

When I was little, my grandparents used to throw a Christmas carolling party for our extended family (we’re talking fourth cousins being invited here).  It was an evening of good cheer and off-tune carols, with a delicious potluck feast.  One of my favourite dishes was my grandmother’s baked beans, with just the right balance between salty bacon and sweet molasses.  Baked beans are one of my absolute favourite comfort foods, and I still dream about her baked beans.

I got fed up with canned pork and beans the other day.  So I thought, how hard can it be to make baked beans from scratch?  And indeed, making the beans is easy enough – its all the time in between that tries one’s patience: soaking of beans overnight, boiling the beans for at least an hour, and then baking them slowly for four to five hours.  The end product, however, is certainly worth it – both in abundance and in flavour.  (Although admittedly, not quite as delicious as grandma’s!)

The recipe below is slightly modified from the Joy of Cooking. 

Baked Beans

(serves 6-8)


2 cups dried navy beans (or white kidney beans)

1/2 cup beer

1 onion, chopped

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup chili sauce

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon salt

A few slices of bacon



Soak the beans overnight.  Drain then cover with fresh water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then simmer slowly, covered, until tender, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 250 Fahrenheit. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking water.  Combine the beans in a greased casserole with the remaining ingredients.  Lay the bacon slices over the beans.

Bake the beans, covered, for 4 to 4 and 1/2 hours.  Uncover for the last hour of cooking.  If they become dry, add a little of the reserved bean water.

Bon appetit!

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While some were escaping a falling stage at Ottawa Bluesfest, this past weekend I attended the Stewart Park Festival – a three-day musical treat in the charming town of Perth, Ontario.   Stewart Park is a long tradition in my family, complete with large family picnics.  Between good music, family galore (at last count, I visited with over 28 family members), and lazing in the sun on the cottage dock, the weekend quickly evaporated.

Cottage food combines the best of simple and delicious.  My grandmother’s stuffed zucchini is one such delicious cottage tradition.  The recipe is ever-changing, incorporating vegetables in the fridge that need eating, but always manages to taste delicious (and while a little finicky, it is super easy to make en mass) Because really, who does not love zucchini stuffed with bread crumbs and topped with bubbling cheese?

Stuffed Zucchini

(serves 8-12)


6 zucchini, ends trimmed

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon olive oil

Herbs to taste (be generous – I love a combination of thyme and basil)

A vegetable or two, finely chopped (I used a tomato and half a red pepper here – also great with mushrooms)

About 1/3 of a loaf of stale bread (fresh is fine too – although your stuffing will be less crispy), cut or grated into small pieces

Splash of Worcester sauce/tobacco (if you would like to add heat)

Grated old cheddar cheese


Drop the zucchini in a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until al dente, about five minutes.  Remove from the water with tongs, and cut each zucchini in half lengthwise and widthwise, creating four “logs”.  Allow to cool slightly before hollowing out the zucchini seeds.  Retain and finely chop about half the zucchini innards.  Place the zucchini logs on a large baking sheet.

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add the herbs and vegetables and cook until soft.  Stir in the breadcrumbs, Worcester sauce, and the finely chopped zucchini innards and continue to cook stuffing for five more minutes.  Carefully scoop the stuffing into the zucchini cavities and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.

Bake in a 400 F oven for 10-12 minutes.   Broil for an additional minute or two, until the cheese is bubbling and the stuffing is crisping. Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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Split Pea Soup

My cousins and I used to spend our summers, roaming wild at our grandparent’s cottage.  My grandmother was the star chef, at times feeding over 20 mouths daily.  After a ham roast, the bone would inevitably be made up into melt-in-your mouth pea soup.  The following is thus an ode to Grandma’s pea soup and cottaging in general!

I, unfortunately, did not have a leftover bone – instead I had leftover storebought ham.  I’ve made this recipe on those cold winter days where you need stick-to-your-rib soup without the ham, and unless you have a bone, I actually prefer it this way.  If you want to jazz it up, add a few teaspoons of curry powder.

If you have time, soak the split peas over night; they will literally triple in size and cut down your cooking time by an hour.   If you are making this on the spur of the moment, just be sure you can withstand delicious aromatic smells emerging from the kitchen!


Split Pea Soup

(5 generous servings)



1 tablespoon olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

3 stalks of celery, finely chopped

3 large carrots (or a large handful or so of mini-carrots), finely chopped

2 cups split peas


2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons dried thyme

(1 cup diced ham – optional)

Salt and pepper to taste


In a large sauce-pan, saute the onions, celery, and carrots for 10 minutes or until quite soft over medium heat.  Add the split peas, thyme, and bay leaves, and cover with water until 1 inch above peas (2 inches if you didn’t presoak).  Simmer over low heat until the peas are starting to fall apart, about 30 minutes if pre-soaked or 90 minutes if not.  Add the ham, season as desired, and serve with your favorite crusty bread!

–       Catherine

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