Gluten Free

Early Days and Canned Applesauce

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Canned Applesauce with Cinnamon

With Family Day upon us, I asked Steve’s oldest sister Laurel what she remembers doing together as a family in those very early days when Martin’s Apples was just a fledgling business. This is what she remembers, “I have memories of picking apples every day in the fall, after school (it seemed like every day, at least!). I remember it was quite amazing when we made that old shed into a cooler and we had a cold place to store our apples. Before that, I remember storing apples (russet; Dad’s favourite back then) in our basement under the old kitchen/study, because it was cooler there. I also have memories of polishing apples in the driving shed before we went to market the next day. One Friday evening in particular stands out in my memory. It was a cozy fall evening and we were all out there together sorting and individually shining each apple for a very large order* that was being picked up. Janet (another sister) and I ate an incredible amount of apples that night.” *This order was for about 20 bushels of apples, which would be the equivalent of around 2200 apples! 

It’s hard to imagine polishing each apple by hand, but there you have it! The Martin’s took pleasure in having an attractive product from the very beginning. I have a personal attachment to that cement pad that housed that first apple cooler, because some years later it became the foundation for our mobile home; our first abode when we married. It was tucked in the orchard, partway down the “bush lane”. It was a very romantic location for a young couple’s first home, I thought. I have many good memories of living in our orchard bower. 

The Martin family has also reminisced about picking up the Melba apples that had fallen from the tree in the back yard before they could mow the lawn. These apples were then turned into applesauce for their large family. Incidentally, that old Melba tree is still standing and is the only apple tree left from those days. It was in the back yard before the orchard was planted. In an earlier post, I mentioned that creamed potatoes and sausage were two of the quintessential foods of our Mennonite culture. There is another one that should be added to that list, and that is applesauce. There are many families that eat it two, or even three times a day. It is on their table morning, noon, and night, usually as dessert. 

The apples of my eye!

Traditionally, applesauce is made by washing (don’t peel) apples, cutting them in quarters, and cooking them in a bit of water. Then the hot apples are put through a strainer, and sugar or honey is added. The sauce is funneled into jars, covered and steamed for 20 minutes. Sometimes I like to make a chunky sauce that I don’t preserve, in which I peel the apples, core and cut them, and cook them in about an inch or so of water until soft. I mash them with a potato “stomper” as we used to call it, add desired amount of sugar (or not), and let it cool. You could also use an immersion blender, or a pastry cutter. Be aware that if you choose not to add sugar to your canned sauce, your applesauce will turn brown in the jars after it’s been sitting for awhile, since sugar is a preservative. 

A lot of people use the first apples to make applesauce. You can do that if you wish, but if you wait until the apples are riper, the sauce will be much sweeter and full of flavour naturally. Most apples can be turned into sauce. I think a blend of apples makes the best sauce, just as it does in fresh cider. 

There are several types of strainers; the old-fashioned cone ricer that my mom used, the basket-style that is pictured here, and a high-falutin’ Victorio strainer. Take your pick! 

This post is sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm. The recipes, views, and stories are my own. 

Canned Applesauce


  • 1/2 bushel of apples (Macs, Empire, Cortland, Crispin, Jonagold are all good)
  • sugar, honey or other sweetener to taste if desired 
  • water
  • canning supplies*


Put about two inches of water into a very large kettle. Wash and quarter the apples, placing them in the kettle until the kettle is about 2/3 full. Cover  the remaining apple quarters with water in a large bowl until kettle is free again. Cook the apples until soft and puffy, starting them at a boil, then turning them down to a low boil. Stir to keep from scorching on the bottom of the kettle, especially at the beginning. Meanwhile heat empty clean quart jars in the oven on 250° for at least 10 minutes to sterilize. Put snaplids into a little pot, cover with water, and boil for 5 minutes to soften the rubber. Turn down to simmer. Prepare another kettle or crock with the strainer over it, and ladle the hot apples into the strainer in batches. Rotate through strainer until the pulp is dry. Scrape out the junk and repeat process until all the apples are used. Add desired amount of sweetener to the sauce (I usually add 1 – 2 cups per kettle); stir and taste. Funnel the sauce into the sterilized jars, filling to middle of the neck (about 1/2″ from the top), then wipe the rim of the jar, carefully fit the snaplid on the top, and screw on the ring just until tight. Fill a canner half full of warm water, set jars in the water, and top up the water if needed. It should come to the base of  the jars’ necks. Cover the canner and turn the burner to high. Once the water is boiling, turn heat to medium-low, and continue steaming for 20 minutes. When timer goes off, turn off burner, set lid ajar, and let the jars sit in the water for about 10 minutes to settle. This keeps them from spitting juice after they are removed. Remove carefully and set on a towel to cool. Listen for the pings and pops as the lids seal; such a sweet sound of success! Let sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Remove rings, being careful not to disturb the seals, wash up and store in a cool place until ready to eat. Enjoy plain with pork chops or with a sprinkle of cinnamon, a slice of cheese or chocolate cake! 

*Most hardware stores have canning supplies. The basics are a canning kettle with a rack, jar lifters, jars, snaplids, rings, and a funnel. There are kits that include a magnetized lid lifter that I have found useful.

One half bushel of apples yields approximately 11 litres or quarts of sauce

Spud, Leek and Sausage Chowder

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After trekking to the foothills of the Great Pyrenees Mountains with my last soup recipe, I thought we’d stay close to home for this one. A simple form of it originates in my childhood and has great memories attached.

Spud, Leek and Sausage Soup

If you were to ask anybody in this area what the quintessential Waterloo County Mennonite foods are, you would hear a resounding “Schnippelde Grumbarra und Vascht” (sliced (and creamed) potatoes and sausage). The vascht may be served in various forms; farmer’s sausage, summer sausage or bag sausage. The Schnippelde Grumbarra may be sliced or shredded, with fried onions or without, but always, always imbued with heavy cream. On cold winter mornings, my mom would fry up a few onions, then add sliced potatoes and hot water, add some salt and cook them until they were tender. Meanwhile, she brought some Schneider’s Red Hots (wieners, for those who aren’t famiiar with this iconic tube steak) out of the freezer and heated them in boiling water. When the potatoes were soft, she added cream until the mixture had the consistency of a cream soup, and ladled it into our thermoses. She stuck the wiener into the middle of the potatoes and off we trotted to school, anticipating our homemade hot lunch. It was brilliant; the potatoes took on the distinctive taste of the wiener and we thought it was delicious. At noon the only question was whether to eat the wiener whole, or chop it with our spoons. Such a weighty decision for youngsters! 

I have made this chowder many times over the years, remembering my childhood lunch delight with nostalgia. I would take a big crockpot of it to market on cold winter days and plug it into the back of our truck to heat for the morning. There was nothing that quite took the chill away for a little while at least, like a cup of hot soup and coffee. I have made it with ham, bacon, and chicken, but my all-time favourite meat addition is sausage. I always have home-canned sausage on hand, so it’s also very convenient. Plus, it uses lots of winter vegetables, including the lesser-known leeks. You can use less of one vegetable and more of another with no problem, as long as you have at least nine cups of chopped vegetables in total.

Winter Vegetables for Spud, Leek and Sausage Soup
It’s such a satisfying feeling when I can use a ton of homegrown vegetables and meat like this!

Leeks are a member of the onion family and look like a green onion on steroids. They have a mild sweet onion/leek flavour and the pale green rings add pretty colour to whatever dish they’re in. You want to wash them thoroughly, since they are grown under the soil like onions or carrots. Most often they are grown in raised beds, so that the plant can grow downwards further, thus producing a longer white stem. I use the white and pale green part, slicing until I start seeing dirt between the rings.

This post is sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm. The recipes, views, and stories are my own.

Spud, Leek and Sausage Chowder


Spud, Leek and Sausage Chowder

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 3 leeks, sliced into rings 1/4″ thick (about 3 cups)
  • 1 – 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups washed and diced potatoes (do not peel)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil flakes, or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 2 – 3 cups sliced farmers sausage (or you may use ground fried pork sausage)
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 cup sour cream, plain yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup flour or potato starch (*GF) if you wish to thicken the soup
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Melt the butter, then put all the vegetables in the kettle. Saute for about five minutes. Add the chicken broth and basil. Cover, bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer on low boil until the vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally. If you wish to brown your sausage slices, this is a good time to do that. It takes more time, but adds flavour. Add the sausage, then the milk. If you plan to thicken the soup, whisk the flour/potato starch into the sour cream, yogurt or buttermilk, and add to the soup once it’s hot, stirring gently. Taste and add desired amount of salt and pepper. Heat and stir gently until thickened. Do not boil it hard at this point or it will separate.

*GF denotes gluten-free

Tuscan Chicken, Bean, and Squash Soup

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Tuscan Chicken, Bean and Squash Soup

With this record cold snap upon us and holiday leftovers lurking in our fridges and freezers, it feels like January is a good month to feature soups. Not that I believe soups should only be left for those times when you clean out the fridge, although that is a great incentive. I am a great proponent of soups being made with intent.

In keeping with that conviction, when I roasted a chicken for our Christmas dinner with both of our parents, I slung the carcass back into the roaster after removing most of the meat, filled the roaster half full of hot water, added a few bouillon gel caps, salt and pepper, and roasted it again for another 2 hours. That makes a mighty tasty stock, let me tell you. I had added onions and some vegetables to the chicken earlier, so I figured I didn’t need to add more for the stock. My stock turned out a deep rich colour and flavour, and I stuck it in the freezer in anticipation of the Moment of Soup.

Homemade chicken stock. Chill to remove the fat layer easily.

This week, with the Great Freeze upon us, I knew it was going to happen. The intense colour and rich flavour of the chicken stock reminded me of a dish I had in the tiny country of Andorra. Wee Andorra is tucked between France and Spain, at the foothills of the Pyrenees, and we had booked a chalet in the mountain. This was on a European trip with my sister and her husband for both of our 25th anniversaries. We had so much fun and made so many memories on that trip!

We were climbing and winding our way up to the chalet, faithfully following Ginny Penelope Sauder (What? Don’t you name your GPS?). All of a sudden, she said we had arrived at our destination. We stopped and looked around. There was a rundown little shack tucked in the ditch beside the road, but it certainly didn’t look like the kind of place I want to live in When I Arrive. We deliberated, consulted a map, consulted each other, consulted our Heavenly Father, drove this way and that, and laughed as another carload of obvious tourists drove up, stopped at the very same spot, got out and looked in bemusement at the shack, then piled back into the vehicle and kept on driving. We decide we would continue upwards and sure enough, there was our chalet at the very top, beyond the sphere of GPS Land! This was at the end of April, and there was quite a bit of snow up there, but the cherry trees were blooming. I’ve always wondered if they had a cherry crop that year. But I digress. The hosts were warmly welcoming, there was an inviting fire blazing in the hearth with beaten tin panels surrounding it, and the food was superb! I had a delicious chicken stew in which the meat perched atop a pile of vegetables in a pool of the most delicious broth. It must have been good; how often do you remember a broth five years later? I did, and when I saw a recipe for a Tuscan Chicken Soup, I knew that was a perfect way to showcase it.

As usual, I added and changed this and that, and this is what came out of my pot. I was pretty pleased with it. We have dried beans at our store and I actually soaked them and used them for the first time ever! We Canadians don’t take our beans as seriously as our US neighbours do, generally speaking, although they are gradually making inroads into our fair country. And I still had a butternut squash here, so I chopped it into the soup as well. It added that special extra touch to the soup, I thought. I tossed a handful or three of fresh spinach into the pot at the very end, just to pretty it up and add more vitamins.



We have a great assortment of locally grown winter and greenhouse vegetables at Martins, as well as dried beans. My husband Steve does a great job of stocking our shelves with high quality produce to supplement our apples, pears and cider. 

I didn’t like beans as a child and would always pick them out and gift my sister with them. I have learned to like eating them in moderation and am intrigued by the many varieties. These are called Jacob’s Cattle after the biblical account where Jacob asked his conniving father-in-law for all the black, striped and spotted sheep, goats and cattle as his wages after working fourteen years for his bride Rachel. They are pretty and I liked the texture of them.

This post is sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm. The recipes, views, and stories are my own. 

Tuscan Chicken, Bean, and Squash Soup


Tuscan Chicken, Bean and Squash Soup

  • 3 – 4 cups chicken broth or stock (your own or purchased)
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped or sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 medium potatoes, unpeeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup of dry beans, soaked for 2 hours in boiling water, or 2 cups of canned beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped butternut squash
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon regular or smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning or Herbs de Provence
  • 4 Roma or 2 medium beefsteak-type tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 – 4 cups chopped roasted chicken
  • 1 – 2 cups of washed fresh spinach leaves


In a large kettle, simmer broth, water, celery, carrots, onions, potatoes garlic, beans and all the seasonings. Add the squash cubes and tomatoes after about half an hour. Simmer at a low boil until the vegetables are soft but not mushy. Add chicken and spinach and heat for about 10 minutes more. Test for salt. As with most soups, it is even better the next day. Chase that chill away!



Candy Apple Cheesecake

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What’s your favourite dessert to order at a restaurant? Cheesecake? Crème Brûlée? What if I told you that I have a dessert recipe that contains the best elements of both of those? The crackling burnt sugar of the crème brûlée on top of the creamy smoothness of a vanilla cheesecake, with a bite of delicate apple surprising you every now and then. Could anything be more alluring than that?

Candy Apple Cheesecake
Candy Apple Cheesecake

This summer my family had our second annual backyard campout at my sister’s place. It can only be called a campout because we eat and play outside two days in a row and have a campfire in the evenings. We, um, all go home to our beds at night. Don’t laugh; someday you will understand. Maybe. Anyway, we were planning the food and I asked my sisterchicks what dessert we should have on Sunday noon with our grilled hamburgers. Without missing a beat, one of them replied, “Crème Brûlée”. Of course! Who doesn’t have Crème Brûlée with hamburgers at their campout? It seemed totally normal to us and furthermore, it was providential, because I had a lot of egg yolks in my fridge left over from a Pavlova I had made earlier. And so it was, and the Crème Brûlée slid deliciously down our gullets that hot sunny September noon in my sister’s back yard.

I made this delightful cheesecake for my daughter-in-law’s birthday party on Sunday. It was a hit, even though the crust was a little soggy and the cheesecake had flattened due to water leaking through the required foil wrap. I eliminated the water bath the second time I made it and it seemed okay without it, so you don’t have to worry about a waterlogged cheesecake. It is unapologetically decadent for those occasions when you want an unapologetically decadent dessert. This particular cheesecake has a lighter, less cakey texture than most due to the custardy filling method. I used gluten-free gingersnaps for the crust and that added the perfect amount of spice. Add the crackling sugar topping… I’m telling you; this baby is gooood! Good enough for Christmas, in fact.

Candy Apple Cheesecake

Candy Apple Cheesecake

For this dish I chose to use Crispin (also known as Mutsu) apples, because they hold their shape nicely when cooked. Plus the flavour and crunch of them is phenomenal right now. I love to eat them fresh too. The Crispin is a large, firm, yellowish-green apple. 

Note: Various people have asked me which culinary torch I would recommend. I have the Orblue Culinary Torch and have been extremely pleased with it. I can’t wait to try it on a meringue. 

Crispin (Mutsu) Apple

This post is sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm. The recipes, views and stories are my own. 

Candy Apple Cheesecake



Candy Apple Cheesecake
Candy Apple Cheesecake
  • 1 3/4 cups gingersnap crumbs (approximately 255 gr) (you can use gluten-free cookies if you wish)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter


  • 3 (8 ounce or 250 gr) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of whipping cream (do not whip)
  • 10 large egg yolks (you can freeze the egg whites for another use)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely diced firm apples (I used Crispin)
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar (for the brulée)


Preheat oven to 350° F. Get out a 9-inch springform pan. With a rolling pin or food processor crush the gingersnaps into fine crumbs. Melt butter in a medium bowl. Add gingersnap crumbs and sugar and stir together with a fork. Press firmly into ungreased pan. Set springform pan on a baking pan and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool while you make the filling.

Lower the oven temperature to 325° F. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese for 4 minutes, making sure to scrape sides and beaters to incorporate any lumps. Add 1 cup sugar, vanilla, and salt, and beat for another 4 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the cream on medium low heat until it is hot, but not boiling.

Beat the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl until they are thick and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. While beating the yolks, pour cream slowly into the bowl, beating all the while, so that the yolks don’t curdle.

Beat the cream cheese mixture on low while adding the yolk/cream mixture slowly to it. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times to eliminate any lumps. The batter is pretty thin. Peel and chop apples and fold them gently into the batter by hand. Pour the batter over the cooled crust, smoothing top.

Bake for 90-95 minutes. It is done when it is turning golden and is mostly set in the middle, yet jiggles slightly when you shake it gently. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly to cool down. Let the cheesecake cool gradually for 1 hour in the oven. Remove cheesecake and finish thoroughly cooling on a rack before covering and refrigerating it for at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve, gently loosen sides of pan and transfer cheesecake carefully to serving plate. Sprinkle the 3 tablespoons of sugar evenly over the top of cheesecake. Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar or you can try putting it 6″ under the broiler for a few minutes, but watch very carefully! It burns easily. If you use the broiler method, don’t put it on the serving plate until the caramelizing is done. I like the control I have with my torch. It will take several minutes to do the entire surface. The sugar is done when it starts to liquify and turns a dark golden colour. Let it sit for a few minutes to harden. Cut with a knife dipped in hot water and cleaned between every slice. Garnish with thin apple wedges, broken gingersnap cookies, pomegranate seeds, frosted cranberries, or whatever you wish!

Note: I did try the waterbath cheesecake method again, and I will confess that the end result is a creamier cheesecake. If you choose to try it, here’s how. Lay three pieces of heavy-duty foil on your counter. They should be about 5″ larger than your springform pan on all sides. Set your pan in the middle of the foil, then carefully fold up the foil around the sides of the pan. Begin curling the top edges of the foil together, and keep curling until you can curl them around the very top rim of the pan. Tuck any stray edges up under the curl. You don’t want to have it hanging into the cheesecake. Bake the crust normally without the water bath. Heat water in a teakettle. When the crust is done, set it into a large pan or roaster with deep sides that is big enough to hold your pan. Pour the filling on top of the crust. Set the pan in the oven and carefully pour the hot water around the sides of the pan. Bake, cool in oven, then take the pan from the water and remove the foil for the last cooling outside of the oven. There you go!

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

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One of the first sets of cookbooks I began collecting as a young girl was the Company’s Coming set, produced by Jean Paré. She had great, easy-to-follow recipes, beautiful pictures, and easy conversation throughout. A lot of my first masterpieces date back to this collection, and certainly my love of trying new recipes grew through it.

This is my collection. I won’t show you all the cookbooks below and above it, or in my drawers. Does anyone else read cookbooks like novels, from cover to cover?

My Jean Paré collection, well-loved and well-worn.

One of my first books within the set was Soups and Sandwiches and I think my favourite recipe in the book was, and still is the Cauliflower Cheese Soup. It slides so easily down the gullet, it’s soothing, yet has a wonderfully full flavour. The toasted bread cubes on top add a delightful contrasting crunch. One day last week, one of my sisters was asking how to make it, and as mom and I were telling her how, our own hunger for it grew as well. I knew we still had some lovely heads of cauliflower at Martin’s, so I went home and quickly cobbled the soup together. The cauliflower is done now, but you can use frozen as well, and we still have tasty Bright’s cheese and Eby Manor milk, as well as the root vegetables, pears and apples. Remember this soup recipe next year when it’s cauliflower season and come on in to Martin’s!

Mom got her last little box of soup out of the freezer, and my sister made it too. So all three of us enjoyed it that night. As my husband was eating it, he commented three times (I was counting) on how good it was. Three things help to make this soup exceptional. A. The cauliflower is cooked in the chicken broth = Hello, flavour! B. You need to use a good quality medium or even sharp cheddar. More equals less with cheese; the sharper the flavour, the less quantity you need. C. The bread cubes on top. They lift this soup waaay beyond the ordinary. If you have homemade chicken stock, it hits the soup right out of the ballpark into the neighbour’s lawn. I didn’t have any this time, but it was still really good.

Cauliflower is in the cabbage family. It is generally started inside from seed, then the seedlings are transplanted outside after the danger of frost is over. After the heads begin forming, the plant leaves are tied around the head to promote “blanching” or whitening of the heads. To keep cauliflower white while cooking, do not add salt until it is done. 

Cauliflower Cheese Soup



  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, about 6 cups chopped (frozen cauliflower can also be used successfully)
  • 3 cups of chicken broth or stock (check ingredients for GF)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 – 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup flour (use 1/4 cup corn starch or potato flour to make this gluten-free)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups milk 
  • 1 1/2 cups grated medium or sharp cheddar cheese


  • 3 cups of stale bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes or coarsely grated (omit or use gluten-free bread to adapt to GF)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • fresh parsley, chopped


Cook cauliflower in chicken broth until tender. Do not drain. Cool a bit, then run through blender or use immersion blender in the pot to your desired smoothness. We like a few chunks in ours. I love my immersion blender for things like this. 

Meanwhile, make the white sauce. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onions and garlic and sauté until clear and fragrant. Mix in flour, salt and pepper. Whisk in milk by degrees, and stir until smooth. Heat on medium heat until it begins to boil, stirring frequently. You can be browning the bread cubes in butter either in a 350° F oven or in a skillet while this is thickening.

Turn heat to low. Add cauliflower, stir, then add cheese and stir again. Heat just until hot but not boiling. Ladle into bowls and top with a little sprinkle of cheese, fresh chopped parsley, and the buttered toasted bread cubes. Be comforted and well.





Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast

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Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast
Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast on a bed of spinach
I grew up fishing. I fished with my dad, my grandma, my grandpa, and my siblings. I recall getting up as the sun was just beginning to peep over the horizon and going with Dad down the long hill in the woods behind us to the river. Back then it was probably the only thing in the world that could get me out of bed early voluntarily! Then we would wade through the long, dewy grass in the flats beside the river; the long fronds as high as my waist. Often we caught only shiners, small perch or rock bass or sometimes, ugh, a sucker. But every now and then, oh joy of joys!, we would catch a nice black bass. Then we would trek back up the hill with our catch (or not!). Dad would expertly filet them and Mom would dust them simply in flour, salt and pepper to pan-fry them. Boy, oh, boy that was tasty. Even though we were a large family, Mom and Dad made sure we got away on a vacation most summers. Usually it was to a cottage area, and Dad always made sure it included good fishing. As a result of these childhood experiences, nearly all of our Kraemer tribe loves fish to this day.

Most of my kids also love to eat fish, so when my daughter asked what we’re having for Sunday lunch on a rare weekend when she was home from college, I immediately thought of the salmon fillets I had tucked in my freezer for such a time as this. I had also promised to include apples in my next blog, sweet potatoes team superbly well with apples, and the rest, as Dad used to say, is history.

I found a recipe for baked salmon that I tweaked to adapt to the addition of sweet potatoes and apples. And I call it a “roast” because that word rings more sweetly in my ears than “bake” does. It sounds a lot more sophisticated, I think. And salmon is the epitome of fish sophistication, no?


It was simple; once again I made one sauce mixture that I divided between the meat and the vegetables, like I did in my last post. It worked out great; the salmon and the sweet potato/apple mixture roasted in about the same amount of time, and while they were roasting, we “spinached” the plates and set the table. Best of all, it tasted wonderful! Even Steve liked it. He did not grow up fishing. He grew up feeding hogs and picking apples, so guess what he likes to eat? Yup; you guessed it; pork. And apples. In fact, you could substitute pork loin or chops for the salmon in this recipe and it would be equally as good, I’m sure.

Isn’t this just so gorgeously Fall? We’ve got all these goodies at Martin’s. I am so lucky.


Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast
Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast on a bed of spinach

Sweet potatoes grow underground as tubers. I found it fascinating that Steve’s mom grew them in her garden, because I had understood that they are hard to grow. They are high in beta carotene, fibre, and rapidly digestible starch. In other words, they’re good for you, unless you’re highly diabetic. We also love them roasted whole in the oven or microwave and eaten with butter, salt and pepper. Are sweet potatoes and yams the same thing? As a a matter of fact, all yams are sweet potatoes, but not all sweet potatoes are yams. For an explanation of that cryptic statement, click here.

I used a Honeycrisp apple in this dish because you want to use a firm apple that will not turn mushy when roasted. Honeycrisp is an amazing apple that works well for just about everything you want it to do. It has taken the apple world by storm and turned it right side up again. We hear over and over from our customers, “I thought I didn’t like apples, then I had a Honeycrisp”. It is always crisp, very juicy, has a thin skin, and the texture of the flesh is almost like that of a Japanese or Bosc pear. It is also our most expensive apple by far, for several reasons. We call it the Cadillac of apples. Empire, Spy, Gala, Ambrosia, Russet or Crispin (also called Mutsu) all work well for a smaller pricetag.


Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast



Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast
Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast on a bed of spinach
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (or 2 tablespoons from concentrate)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 3 Ontario garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I like grainy brown Dijon)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of dried chili or Cajun spice (optional)


  • 1 1/2 lbs. (4 – 6 pieces) salmon fillets
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, washed, unpeeled
  • 1 medium onion, peeled
  • 1 large or 2 medium firm apples, washed, unpeeled (I used Honeycrisp)
  • 4 cups of fresh spinach, washed and dried
  • poppy seed dressing, or other dressing of your choice



Preheat oven to 450° F. Whisk or shake together all the sauce ingredients. Line two separate baking sheets with parchment or foil. Lay the salmon on one pan, skin side down. I cut my skin off; not half as expertly as Dad would have, I might add. Cut sweet potatoes and onions in 1″ chunks. Lay them in a single layer in the other pan. Cut the apple into 1″ chunks as well, but don’t add them yet.

Spread half of the sauce over the salmon fillets. Pour the remaining sauce over the sweet potatoes and onions and toss them lightly until coated. Put both pans in the oven and bake them for 15 – 20 minutes, based on the thickness of your salmon. While the meal is roasting, set the table and spread 1 cup of spinach on each plate. Test your salmon after 15 minutes by sticking a fork in the thickest part of the fish and twisting lightly. If it flakes and doesn’t look raw, it’s done. If not, give it another 5 minutes. At this point, add the apple chunks to the other pan and roast them for 5 minutes as the sweet potatoes finish. Remove both pans from the oven.

To serve, divide the sweet potato/apple mixture on top of the spinach, then top with the salmon. Pour any pan juices over the fish. We found there wasn’t a lot of juice left over so we drizzled a bit of poppyseed dressing over the spinach. Because we like heat, I also snipped a bit of dried red chili pepper over the fish. Laying a slice of lemon on top would also be gorgeous. Happy fishing!






End-of-Summer Grilled Salad

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End-of-Summer Grilled Salad
End-of-Summer Grilled Salad. Such an abundance of flavours and textures!

This is my farewell-to-summer salad recipe. I made it about a month ago, thinking I would save it to post next summer, but summer is extending waaaay beyond its normal Canadian boundaries, so I couldn’t resist sharing it now. Besides salad is good for you anytime, even if it’s a summer salad teetering on the cusp of Fall. We have all winter to feature beets, apples and pumpkins.

It all began very innocently: I was planning to make Grilled Peppers with Feta for our retail girls because we had such beautiful peppers at the store, and they are amazing marinated, grilled and stuffed with feta. I was telling them about our family’s introduction years ago to the cute, but hot cherry bomb peppers by one of our employees at market. He’s from Laos and told us how to cut off the top, hollow out the inside, sprinkle salt on the edges, then turn them upside down on a paper towel-lined pan to drain. This cuts down the heat factor. Then you stuff them with feta cheese and seasonings. I’ll tell you, our horizons have really broadened with our ethnic friends’ influence! We didn’t grow up eating hot stuff, but we love heat now. I make these cute, flaming delights once a year for our family.

One busy day this fall when I was assisting the girls at the store, I promised to make some for them. They agreed with reserved enthusiasm. I decide that to save time, I would employ the marinated pepper recipe that I love, using both sweet and hot peppers, and cut them smaller. It was a bit anti-climactic because the peppers aren’t very hot this year, due to all the rain they got during their growing season. But the girls loved them, and didn’t need to chase them down with milk.


Then I started thinking about all this delicious marinade, and the leftover peppers that I didn’t use. It hurts me to throw away perfectly good marinade that simply had peppers sitting in them for a few hours. It was a beautiful warm day, the grill was hot, I had other vegetables and chicken breasts thawing in my fridge. I marinated the vegetables in one bag and the chicken in another, and that is the backstory to the End-of-Summer Salad.

Note: You can use whatever vegetables you like that are grillable. That’s the beauty of salads! 


As stated above, peppers are hotter in a dry year. It makes sense that a pepper with a higher water content would be milder, right? Keep them in the fridge in a bag. I have discovered that a grapefruit spoon works wonderfully to scoop out the seeds in a hot pepper.  

For the Grilled Stuffed Peppers, simply marinate them, sear them, and melt a spoonful of the herbed feta mixture in the cavity. So simple; so good. 

End-of-Summer Grilled Salad



  • 2 sweet peppers
  • 2 – 4 hot peppers (I used cherry bombs)
  • 2 zucchini
  • 4 – 6 green onions
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup of herbed feta cheese or mix your own like I did
  • mixed greens, washed and dried


  • 2 – 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup good quality olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Cut peppers into halves, thirds or quarters, depending on their size. Cut zucchini in half crosswise, then again in half lengthwise. Leave the green onions whole. 

Whisk or shake together the marinade ingredients. Place chicken in one zippered plastic bag and vegetables in another. Pour half of the marinade into each bag, turning a few times to distribute it. Refrigerate and marinate for at least an hour, turning several times. Remove from the marinade and grill the vegetables quickly  on medium high heat. Don’t overcook them; you just want to sear them. Brush with remaining marinade. Remove the chicken from marinade and grill on medium until no longer pink inside. Again, brush with remaining marinade. I make a small slit in the fattest part of the breast to check doneness. Remove from the grill. 

To serve, slice the vegetables and meat and arrange on a bed of mixed greens. Add herbed feta cheese, drizzle with your favourite dressing, and say farewell to summer.