Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Where to Begin

It's mid November.  And it's full on winter.  I know we had autumn... I remember the leaves.  I remember admiring them as I drove past them every day, vowing to take photos of each and every tree.  And I remember noticing one day that the leaves had turned brown, and most of them were blowing across the road and collecting in ditches.  The gallery of photos I imagined never came to be.  I remember the first frost, and the panic when I realised that Halloween was two days away and we hadn't bought any candy yet.  I know there was a Thanksgiving dinner.  But it all seems to have passed in the blink of an eye.

And that makes me feel all panicky inside.  I've tried to be more intentional with my camera, but sometimes there doesn't seem to be anything worth capturing.  Day to day life is usually pretty ordinary.  And then I remember that it's not just about the events...the birthdays, the holidays, the family outings, the sporting's also about the routines that make up our days and weeks.  These ordinary, mundane things make up a large part of our lives, and they deserve a spot in our memory keeping too.  Even if it means a quick shot with a cell phone because the real camera isn't handy.

Waiting at the train station for our girl that commutes to the city for school.  Packing lunches and making dinner.  A Trader Joe's surprise after hubby's trip stateside. The dropping price of gas, and a weekly Costco trip.  Homework and traffic.  Sunset by 5pm, and discovering a new tea shop.  

More food.  Eating is a big part of the story, after all.  If you've never made smashed potatoes, you need to.  SO good.  And leftover fried rice is the tastiest way to clean out the fridge.  Early morning baking, and loading the dishwasher.  Seasonal coffee cups and dogs in sweaters.  Frosted Flakes for lunch, because no one was around to see me eating it.  Hockey games and the first snowfall of the season.

I did manage to get a few photos on Halloween.  Do you like how the towel matches the pumpkins perfectly?

We created a Halloween window display like the one we made last year.

There were a couple of birthday's.  One of the birthday boys wanted steak dinner and fudge instead of cake.  The other one chose taco night for his celebration.

The kids put their Christmas tree up over the weekend.  Now the pressure is on to get a few more Christmas decorations up around the house.

Yesterday we had the first snowfall of the season.

Which meant homemade hot chocolate.

And tonight it's snowing, again.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Leaves and Pumpkins

We're more than halfway through autumn, and there are now more leaves on the ground than on the tree branches.


And more pumpkins.

Teenagers that humour their paparazzi mother.

Cornstalks and bruised fall skies.

I almost didn't bring my camera to the pumpkin farm... I'm glad that I did.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Autumn Colours, and Pumpkin Bacon Bars

Remember what I said about capturing all of the spectacular fall leaves with my camera?  Well, the leaves have been pretty amazing these past few weeks but the photos just didn't happen.  I've admired autumn from the inside of my car, framing beautiful shots in my minds eye while driving back and forth to school, work, hockey, and the grocery store.  Yesterday I noticed that a lot of the fiery reds and brilliant yellows are making way for shades of gold and bronze.  The show is almost over, so I give you autumn as shot from my mobile phone.

We celebrated Thanksgiving around work and hockey schedules.  Despite the rush, it was an enjoyable long weekend.  We had a traditional turkey dinner and there were plenty of desserts, compliments of my Mom. 

Fall Chrysanthemums, Pumpkin Spice Lattes (thanks to my future daughter-in-law), and dogs in sweaters.

Gingerbread Biscotti.  I'll be sharing this recipe soon.

Until then, I have these Pumpkin Bacon Bars to share.

Sweet pumpkin on top of a shortbread crust, sprinkled with candied bacon.  And that's no ordinary shortbread, it's shortbread made with bacon fat.  Yep, the same bacon fat that makes Saturday morning fried potatoes so wonderful.  

I started out making the candied bacon.  It was as easy as coating a few bacon slices in brown sugar and cinnamon, then letting them bake in the oven until they were crisp enough to crumble.

A simple batch of shortbread, and a sweet pumpkin layer that took no time to mix up.

Pumpkin Bacon Bars.  Because bacon makes everything better.

Pumpkin Bacon Bars

For the candied bacon:
6 slices bacon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon.  Toss the bacon slices in the sugar mixture until well coated.  Bake in 350°F oven, turning a few times, until crisp enough to crumble.

For the crust: 
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup bacon fat

For the filling: 
1/3 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cardamom

Preheat oven to 350°F.  

Use a pastry cutter to combine the ingredients for the crust.  Once it's crumbly, use your hands to work it until it holds together in a ball.  Press into the bottom of a greased 8 x 8 pan.  Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.

For the filling, combine the brown sugar, flour, salt and spices.  Whisk together with the pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.  Pour over the shortbread crust and spread evenly.  Return to oven and bake 15-20 minutes until the centre is just barely set.  

Allow to cool completely in pan before cutting into squares.  Top with candied bacon.


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