Kitchen fails and successes: recipes (just for the successes, don’t worry)

We had a lot of these.

And so I made this.

It very nearly turned into a pearsauce fail, as I overfilled a gigantic pot with pared pears and then discovered that even my presumably strong triathlon arms could not stir effectively all the way to the bottom and the smell of scorching alerted the nose to Trouble. At which point, sweating and fighting with the mountain of pears, I very nearly gave up and abandoned ship (er, kitchen). The weather had gotten cool just before school started, but this past weekend was hot and humid, and being stuck inside in a fog of steam is not the best way to celebrate a sticky late-summer day. But I persevered. And learned my lesson: haste makes waste. Transferred fruit to smaller pot. Cooked up smaller batches of sauce, and eventually canned what you see above: two canners full of tasty sauce. Add in the two canners of grape juice put up the previous evening, and count me totally done for the season.

As soon as the lids started popping, I banished the canner back to the basement. There’s still a touch of room in one freezer for small batches of preserves should inspiration strike.

Funny thing is, at the end of the day, I still had two baskets of not-quite-ripe pears sitting on the counter. And so yesterday I made something different for the kids’ school lunches this week.

Here’s the recipe for Fruit Custard Bars (adapted from Simply in Season):

Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Cream together 2/3 cup softened butter and 2/3 cup sugar. Add 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and 1/2 tsp vanilla, and continue to beat until combined. Then stir in 1 and 1/3 cups whole oats. Press into pan, and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together 2 cups of plain whole-fat yogurt, 1 cup of sugar, 2 eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla. Pour over baked crust (I didn’t bother to let the crust cool, just pulled it out of the oven after 20 minutes, and poured the custard over top).

On top of the custard, arrange 6 cups of fruit. I used thinly sliced pears, and stewed some plums that were going soft in the fridge, and added those, too. Sprinkle the fruit with sugar and cinnamon, and pop the pan back in the oven, still at 350, for 45-50 minutes, or until the custard is relatively firm. It won’t be as firm in the middle, but should get firmer upon cooling.

Cool on rack, then transfer, covered, to fridge, and cool for another 45 minutes before cutting into bars. Keep the bars stored in the fridge (mine are still in the pan, in fact). It makes a big pan of bars that taste much like a fruit custard pie. The kids were excited to take something other than a cookie to school, though this treat is a bit messier and requires a fork. Here’s hoping the forks return.


While in food-mode, I must pass on this recipe for Quinoa-Bulgar-Spelt Salad, also adapted from Simply in Season. I ate the leftovers for breakfast yesterday, after my long run, and it felt like I was fully nourishing my body. On a side note, our family has decided to “go vegetarian” for a month, so I am on the look-out for more recipes like this (not that the kids ate a bite, I must confess; we took it to our neighbourhood street party, where they downed hot dogs and hamburgers and desserts, and guzzled pop! Odd that none of them tried mom’s quinoa salad offering …).

I plan to blog more about “going vegetarian” soon. Your recipe suggestions are welcome!

Meanwhile, here’s how to make Quinoa Salad:

Start with 3 cups of uncooked grains/legumes in any combination. I used 1 cup of quinoa, 1 cup of bulgar, and one cup of spelt. (I plan to try the recipe with lentils or black beans or even leftover brown rice, too).

Cook the grains/legumes according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine a variety of chopped seasonal veggies and herbs, in the amount of roughly 4-5 cups. I used thinly sliced red onion, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper, zucchini, and carrots, along with a bunch of stemmed and chopped fresh cilantro and fresh basil.

Combine cooked grains/legumes with veggies, and pour over top a dressing made with the juice of 1 lemon + 2 limes, plus 1/4 cup of olive oil, plus salt and pepper to taste. I also added 1 tbsp of cider vinegar. You could use all vinegar and no lemon/lime juice. Or just lemons, or just limes. Or throw in some feta–that would be grand! Whatever you’ve got on hand. Because that’s the kind of salad this is. Expansive. Accepting.

Monday morning: swimmingly
Big words


  1. I am almost done my preserving for the year. This past weekend was the first since we moved that I didn’t do anything and it felt so good! Mostly jams which seemed enough a few weeks ago, but we’re already digging into them! (My Mom said she made us some raspberry and red currant jams to top up our supplies.) I also put up pickles, peaches, cherries, and a few jars of caesar pickled beans for winter entertaining.

    I wanted to do apple sauce, but my mom said she’d make us some (bless) and once the baby is born, I know that Kevin’s folks will bring down prune plums for us so I’ll be doing a bit more then, but it feels so good to be almost done.

    Can I do a request? My eldest just started school–all day kindergarten!–and I’m faced with packing lunches for the first time. I’d love some hints/suggestions. He’s going to tire of sandwiches pretty darn quickly…

  2. I must know what caesar pickled beans are!

    I never do jam. I bow down before those who do jam.

    School lunches … now there’s a good blog topic. I should to a post on those. Offhand, I’d suggest tortilla wraps in place of bread sandwiches (hummus; any meat or cheese); cheese and crackers; hummus with pita and veggies for dipping (though that can get messy); and don’t forget leftovers! That’s been a hit this year at our house. We have small thermoses, and just put in a serving of whatever’s leftover from supper–in fact, put it in the thermos while clearing the supper table.

  3. I made p-apple sauce this weekend too. I will definitely try this recipe, though I still have a pan of crumble to eat my way thru…

  4. I made p-apple sauce this weekend too. I will definitely try this recipe, though I still have a pan of crumble to eat my way thru…

  5. If you’re feeding fewer, just halve the Fruit Custard Bar recipe, and bake in an 8×8 pan.

    I love having a pan of crumble to eat my way through. In my opinion, it counts as a healthy breakfast. 🙂

  6. Thermoses! Great idea. His school has a hot lunch program that we might sign him up for, but we’ll see how this month goes. He doesn’t start full day until next week and there is a Pro-D day in there, too, so he’ll only be having eight lunches at school. I do like the idea of a hot lunch, especially soup, but their menu isn’t terribly inspiring.

    Left over crumble?! I can’t even imagine. 😉

  7. p.s. Here is the recipe for the caesar beans: haven’t tried them yet, so can’t vouch for the taste, but they looked and smelled good making them. My sister and I made a double batch and then split them.

    My canning life started with jam, so it seems so easy to me. Although my mom used to jam all the time, it was our mutual friend Jessica who taught me how to jam. I’m only just starting to venture into other things.

    Also, what do you do with frozen plums?

  8. I stew the plums, come winter, and eat them over porridge/ground seeds in the morning. The kids like them on waffles too.

  9. On vegetarian meals – we haven’t ever made the 100% leap with kids, but we hit 70% somewhat consistently. A lot of our meals look similar to your recipe side bar, but some of our main dish favorites (by at least 3 of 5 tasters) are:
    – homemade baked beans and garlic bread
    – minestrone soup (lentil, kidney beans as protein)
    – tofu marinated in tahini, garlic&soy sauce mix, roasted/grilled & served with the sauce
    – french lentils simmered with cumin & tumeric
    -potato salad w egg in it
    -lentil, cabbage, carrot/apple salad w vinegrette & cumin seeds
    -chickpea spinich soup (curry/cumin spiced), chickpea cauliflour soup (herb spiced), chickpea wild rice w nutritional yeast soup (sage/mustard spices)
    -sweet potato, refried bean & cheese quesidillas

    Best of luck with your month trial!

  10. These are all great suggestions, Leah!!! Thank you.

  11. Also, I’m very curious to see your recipe for the nutritional yeast soup!

  12. Ha – maybe that was poorly written (or perhaps not?). Its chickpea/wild rice soup w nutritional yeast in it. Fortunately not the main ingredient! Anyhow, I love sharing recipes, so just in case this is what you wanted – this one is the fav chickpea soup of all my kids, either slightly or fully pureed, I usually often it for leftovers:

    1 T olive oil
    1 1/4 to 1 1/2 c red onion
    1 1/2 c celery (or celery root)
    3/4 c carrot (or squash)
    2+ garlic cloves
    1/2 c wild rice
    1/4 t salt
    ground pepper to taste
    1 t dry mustard
    1 t dried thyme
    1 t dried oregano
    3 1/2 c cooked chickpeas (reserve 1 c)
    4 c veg stock
    3 c water (or more stock)
    2 bay leaves
    2 T nutritional yeast
    1 T fresh sage
    1 T fresh thyme

    Chop veggies, heat oil in soup pot over med heat, add veggies, crushed garlic, rice, dry spices. Cover & cook & stir occasionally ~ 6 minutes til veggies softened . Add chickpeas (reserve 1 cup), liquid, bay leaves. Bring to boil & then reduce heat to simmer ~45-55 mins, until rice is fully cooked. Semi-puree to add creaminess, then add reserved chickpeas, yeast, fresh herbs, salt & pepper to taste and cook thru for a few minutes. If fresh herbs not avail add 1/4 t dried sage & extra 1/2 dried thyme with rest of spices earlier in cooking.



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