Fall is my favourite time of year. I adore the crisp cool weather, the changing colours on the trees and the smells of burning leaves, freshly baked pumpkin pie and roasted turkey dinners; all things that autumn brings. This time of year always inspires me, and when I feel inspired I love to cook and bake. This past Saturday I woke up with a plan, and that plan involved making magic happen in the kitchen so I set off to the market to collect my ingredients.
The Covent Garden Market has not received enough attention on City Mom. We are really lucky to have such an eclectic, quaint and convenient market so close to home. There are so many fabulous things to see and do at the market and some amazing food vendors. I started out by purchasing a Halloween costume for little S at a 100% Canadian children’s clothing vendor called Happy Wear. All the clothes are made here in London. It feels so great to buy and support locally.
Next I explored the food vendors. I scoured store after store and became inspired to make my two menu choices completely organic. This is not something I normally do. I buy some organic items here and there at my local grocery store but (due mainly to the cost and availability of organic ingredients) I usually go for the more cost-friendly option of non organic so I was rather surprised when I fell in love with a store called Homeopathy London in the northeast corner of the market. I found everything you could ever need to care for your family in the organic, enviro-friendly format from chlorine-free diapers to complete skin care lines for women. There was an entire section devoted to babies & children with names like Seventh Generation, Erba Organics, Weleda & Green Beaver Company. It was confirmed for me that cost truly is a big factor when buying organic. For example a 32 pack of Broody Chick 100% natural, fully compostable diapers is $27.95 in comparison to $17.97 for a 140 pack of Pampers Baby Dry at a store like Walmart. Obviously you get what you pay for and the more expensive choice is clearly the better one for your child and for the environment but you need to have the budget available to shop in this manner. I long for the means to shop like this on a regular basis.
But I digress…back to my dinner. I found all of my dry ingredients in this store, my fresh organic vegetables at Havaris Produce and my meat at Field Gate Organics. After a quick validation of my parking voucher (parking is offered free for two hours on weekends and thirty minutes on weekdays) I was heading back home to create my masterpieces. I’m sharing the recipes because they were both so delicious and perfect on a cool Fall evening.
Autumn Beef Barely Soup
2 lbs ground beef (I used extra lean)
1 large onion chopped
½ cup chopped celery
3.5 cups water
29 oz beef broth*
1 cup barley
29 oz canned diced tomatoes
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
*I used 1 tsp of Better Than Bouillon organic beef base to 8 oz of boiling water as an alternative to the beef broth.
1. In a Dutch oven, cook the ground beef, onions and celery over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the water and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Add barley and simmer for 10-20 minutes.
2. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 1 to 2 hours.
This recipe yields 3 quarts and is perfect for freezing. Thaw in fridge. Place in a saucepan and heat through. There, two meals already sorted out for your busy week ahead.
Chocolate Pumpkin Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups sugar
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
15 oz canned pumpkin*
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup canola oil
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
*I used a 15 oz can of Farmer’s Market Organic pumpkin pie mix as an alternative to the pumpkin pie spice and canned pumpkin.
1. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In another bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin, water and oil; mix into dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in chocolate chips.
2. Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 70 – 75 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 – 15 minutes before removing from pans.
This recipe yields two loaves. Wrap one in foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.
Note: Soup is best enjoyed with a glass of red wine and pumpkin bread with a hot cup of coffee. Mmmmm! Happy eating and Happy Fall!