Oktober Chews

It’s 5:45pm and you’re starving. You forgot about your potato craving and are now regretting you didn’t start peeling an hour ago. The chicken you bought last week is still in the freezer, even though you meant to defrost and marinate it. Your tummy is grumbling even more at the thought of all the food you forgot you could make, so you just go into your freezer and dial 9-1-1 Delisio. “It’s not delivery.”

I have been neglecting food posts lately, so I thought I’d recap all the best meals and snacks I’ve had over the past three weeks as well as any new recipe tricks and ingredients I came across.

Nothing like caramel popcorn! It's a sweet and salty snack that could pass as being better than a bag of chips.
Nothing like caramel popcorn! It’s a sweet and salty snack that could pass as being better than a bag of chips.

Caramel corn is my favourite go-to snack on a Saturday afternoon. It’s crunchy and sweet with just the right amount of salt. All rainy day cravings can be satisfied with a handful (or five) of this flavoured popcorn. Not to mention, Kernel’s Creamy Caramel Popcorn has 3g of fibre per portion, is low in sodium and a great source of Vitamin A!

This Thanksgiving, my family shook up the peas and added red onion and prosciutto into the mix. I don’t normally enjoy green peas, as I find they remind me of baby food. And, well, they sort of taste like mush. Whatever that even tastes like. However, I didn’t pass up on the peas this year! Adding the prosciutto and red onion gave this bland green vegetable just the kick it needed. Since prosciutto is a cured meat, we didn’t need to add any salt to the dish. The salt from the prosciutto and the sweetness from the onion made the peas taste a little more, well, festive! And a lot less like something the Gerber Baby would model for.

October is the beginning of the comfort food season. Thankgiving kicks it off pretty well with pies, squares, cookies, cakes and other treats.
October is the beginning of the comfort food season. Thankgiving kicks it off pretty well with pies, squares, cookies, cakes and other treats.

Also this Thanksgiving, I may or may not have had four pieces of pie over my two day celebrations. There was apple, there was pumpkin, there was blueberry and then there were the other desserts: Pumpkin squares, sunflower butter cookies and pumpkin loaf!

October is a time for adjustment. It’s a transition period that takes us from summer to fall to winter temperatures in a matter of four weeks. Our bodies, I think, mimic the climate changes as they too are transitioning into diets full of rich, comfort foods that keep us warm on the inside when the world outside is starting to sink below freezing.

On Friday, October 25, I worked at the Canadian Cancer Society’s first ever OktoberFEAST event at the Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto. The event featured amazing food trucks from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Ontario’s finest craft breweries, delicious wineries and two great cover bands.

From the beers to the toasted ravioli to the lamb tacos I tried, my taste buds were more than satisfied. There is nothing like devouring delicious food after working hard on an event, or any project for that matter.

Not to mention, OktoberFEAST raised over $35,000 for the fight against cancer. Not too shabby for a first time event, right?

I find when I’m most stressed or tired, I tend to cook more. It’s soothing and sort of makes me feel in control, when things may not be going my way. If I can satisfy my tastebuds and make a unique dish using my own creativity, I consider that to be an accomplishment not even the worst of days can make me forget.

This week, I got creative with yellow split peas. I normally make lentil salad on the regular, but accidentally purchased yellow split peas, instead. So, I added some veggies (mushrooms, kale, broccoli, cabbage and carrots) as well as my favourite spices (hot pepper, salt, basil, black pepper and garlic powder) into the mix. Honestly speaking, my first attempt at making this dish could have used some more salt and a tad more olive oil. Things were a little on the, cough, dry side. So, for day two (I had leftovers), I added some homemade tomato sauce. When I warmed up this creation for lunch the next day, I was in heaven. Mmm!

At work on Halloween, we had a potluck lunch and costume contest. I decided to get creative, again, but this time, with rice! I baked butternut squash in the oven with brown sugar, olive oil and salt. While the orange veggie was baking away, I cooked rice in one pot and quickly stir-fried kale, mushrooms, red peppers and carrots in a pan. When everything was done, I tossed it all into one bowl and stirred it up. Then, I added some hot pepper to taste. Goodness gracious! Was this recipe awesome or what? Not to mention, this butternut squash rice salad was super festive and enjoyed by all my coworkers at our potluck.

What are some of the creative foods you tried this past October?

xo

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