November 10, 2014

Toasting to October

I have more photos on my computer of food than of myself. A few years ago I attempted a challenge to take a food photo every single day. The funny thing is that now I look back on food photos I can relate to exactly what I was feeling, doing and thinking at the time through those photos, as one would do with vacation or family photos; it is strange and wonderful how much food can give us memories and feelings like that. I have done these recap "toasts" in previous posts like this and this one. So let's look back at October:

Pumpkin cinnamon rolls

You can't live through an October without eating or drinking something with pumpkin in it. During one recent trip to the grocery store I dashed to the baking aisle to get canned pumpkin and the shelves were cleared. "If they don't have any pumpkin I will be very upset!" I exclaimed. Luckily, they had moved most of the cans to a seasonal display, so I avoided leaving empty pumpkin-handed. Once you open a can of pumpkin, you have to use it all up, so after pumpkin cookies, muffins and even pumpkin pasta sauce, I made pumpkin cinnamon rolls with this recipe. Pumpkin adds such a hearty and flavourful density to baked goods. 

Gatineau Park Quebec

Thanksgiving was quite different this year after recently moving significantly farther away from family; however, I am thankful for new things, places and adventures. I have realized that these things can be more overwhelming than I thought; holidays remind me of this even more. Luckily, we had somewhere to go on Thanksgiving and I brought some pumpkin spice cider that I picked up at Loblaws. Seriously though, for a cheap alcoholic cider, you can't go wrong with Growers. The photo above was taken in Gatineau Park about 15 minutes from my house. It's a vast and gorgeous park perfect for exploring. 

Grower's Pumpkin Spice cider

Speaking of "growers" (ha!), there are so many good root and winter vegetables in season. Yes, I said the "winter" word. I have made a lot of recipes lately with cauliflower, sweet potatoes, cabbage and beets. My husband came home with a huge bag of Ontario beets from the Byward Market the other day. Apparently he walked past a colourful farmer's stall on his lunch break and then turned around and went back to buy some golden and red beets. I personally think the best way to make beets is to simply boil them. They are not bad roasted either, like we had for dinner the other day mixed in with roasted chicken and potatoes. They certainly add a lot of colour to otherwise "beige" looking meals. Unfortunately, that wonderful colour seems to get everywhere.

Roast chicken and root vegetables

When you move to a new place, you have to suddenly figure out the "Halloween thing." It's a good way to get a sense of your neighbourhood: Who are the over-excited decorators, lights off shut-ins or dedicated same-route-every-year treat trekkers? To be honest, the only reason I buy a pumpkin every year is to roast the seeds. I don't have kids and don't go trick or treating, but I still like the tradition of carving a pumpkin and scooping out the seeds even if no one sees it. This year's pumpkin was an ode to Olaf from Frozen. Frozen is like Lion King was when I was growing up: kids love it and want to be everything about it. 

Olaf pumpkin

The Halloween party we were going to go to sold out weeks in advance, so now I have a better sense of how to celebrate in my new neighbourhood next year: buy tickets early and stock up on lots of candy. We actually got quite a few trick or treaters to our door. The post-Halloween candy sales were kind to us as well this year. Even adults need a little treat. 

Halloween candy

While some people self medicate on sweet things, there are times when I prefer a little vino. I read that the pilgrims who walked the Camino trail in Spain left their old clothes at the end or burned them to signal a "new start" in their lives. I am toasting to a new month with Hermanos Lurton Toro wine ($16.90): a Spanish wine that was sent to me to review. It made my Friday the other week when an LCBO rep came to my door with wine! I eagerly tucked into it that night and liked the smooth and balanced red taste with a hint of sweetness. It pairs well with hearty roasted foods (beets maybe?), lamb, pork and spicy chorizo. This was my first foray into Spanish wines and I liked how strong and bold it was for a red. Spain is on my list of future travel destinations and I would be happy to explore their beautiful country, drink their lovely wines and maybe go on a pilgrimage of my own. Food and Wine magazine calls this kind of wine "the country's most significant red grape."

Hermanos Lurton Toro wine

Toro is located in the Western part of Spain close to Portugal. It a place of rich history where Christopher Columbus acquired financing for his trip to the Americas. Made from 100 per cent Tinta de Toro or "tempranillo," it is a variety of black grape that is known with full-bodied, Spanish red wines. They usually have a tart, cherry-like flavour. It is an early ripened wine as evidenced in its name, as the Spanish word "temprano" in the name "tempranillo" means "early." In the case of the wine, it ripens several weeks earlier than regular Spanish wine. It is also common in this region to find vines that are between 80 and 100 years old. 

Hermanos Lurton Toro wine

I will be back soon with more recipes and posts to share. I can't believe it's almost the holiday season. I will be taking many more food photos and remembering the year that was like I normally do, through food and wine.

Disclosure: I received the bottle of wine for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own based on my own experiences.

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