Warm Up with Coconut Curry Squash Soup

With the chill and cold in the air today seems like the perfect day to post a few of our most popular recipes from our past Harvest Festival! We have two great soups and a stew plus a few ideas to go along with it. 

Our fall cooking classes have also been creating wonderful dishes that we’ll continue to post along the way. Healthy eating never tasted so good 🙂 It’s all those local organic veggies!

Three Sisters Chili





Vegan Double Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe

Here’s a confession … I’m actually writing this post because my next post needs to link to this … plus it’s Vegan Double Chocolate Zucchini Cake! It’s practically our duty to make sure the world knows of this wondrous treat 😉 Sarah, our amazing Cooking Program Instructor, came up with this variation on our traditional recipe. So without further ado …


Note that this recipe has been thoroughly tested by our camp groups and comes out pretty great every time. Even when the Sprouts are making it! Click here for a printable .pdf version.

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A Great Big Harvest Festival Thank You!

Plus a couple of pumpkin pie recipes 🙂  What an amazing Harvest Festival we had on Sunday!  The weather was just right and everyone was having a great time.  There were some beautiful flower wreaths/crowns, great musical instruments and plenty of well decorated lunch bags. 

We would like to thank all the folks that came out and participated in our activities and ate all our food for us (we were worried that we made too much).  Plus we would really like to thank all of our amazing volunteers and special guests for all the help, enthusiasm and entertainment they provided!  We really can’t run these events without them.  Finally, as always, we also want to thank our amazing Program Leaders for all of their hard work and dedication!  They are one outstanding bunch.

Now for what you’ve all been waiting for … The Pumpkin Pie Recipe.  This is a special recipe given to us by our friends down at Colborne Lodge.  The pie filling comes from The Canadian Home Cookbook –  printed in 1877 and compiled by the Ladies of Toronto and Chief Cities and Towns in Canada.  It was assumed that all ladies knew how to make a basic pie crust so no recipe for one was provided … This is where we looked towards new technologies and hit the internet to find Martha Stewart’s basic pie crust recipe. 😉  Interestingly enough this pie crust recipe hasn’t changed much since the Ladies of Toronto and Chief Cities and Towns in Canada put out their cookbook a century and a half ago (although I’m pretty sure the food processor is a relatively new addition!).

We did change a few things from the original version to get a piece of pie that was a little more … mobile friendly.  So I’ll list the original recipe and our pumpkin pie/bar/cookie recipe.

Continue reading “A Great Big Harvest Festival Thank You!”

Not Your Ordinary Peanut Butter and Toast!

Looking for a little snack idea?  Getting a little bored with your breakfast toast?  Peanut butter goes with so much more than just your basic jam 🙂  The standard peanut butter partners we normally think of include jam, honey and bananas.  All of these are tasty treats but have you ever tried adding savoury stuff to the nuts? 

To start we have to talk about the basic peanut butter itself.  The best thing you can do for your heart and your health is to go for the old-fashion plain roasted peanuts only butter.  As we know all that sugar, extra (iffy) oils and preservatives aren’t that great for us … plus I promise you once you get used to the real thing … the junk filled stuff will taste like shortening with a hint of peanuts.  You can also make your own fresh peanut butter at home with plain roasted peanuts and your food processor.

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Warm Up With A Little Sage Tea

Sage is a pungent herb most of us associate with stuffing and turkey but it’s a much more flexible seasoning then most folks think!

Have you ever tried sage tea?  Admittedly it has a flavour that may take some getting used to but it can help with congestion and stuffy noses that often crop up at this time of year.  You can combine it with other herbs or lemon tea to make it tastier if necessary.

Another great combination is sage and squash!  Add sage to your squash recipes for a tasty, savory side-dish.  A teaspoon or two of dried and crumbled or close to a tablespoon of fresh combined with olive oil and garlic then spread over the inside of your favourite squash is sure to please.

For a real treat fry fresh sage leaves in butter (preferably organic sage leaves (and butter of course!) … some store bought types can be a bit bitter) until golden brown and use them for garnish on squash, rice, potatoes or other savory dishes.  Just try not to eat all the sage before it makes it to your plate … oh so yummy!

Soup Season is Here!

There’s nothing like a nice hot bowl of soup to warm you up after a chilly day outside.  Whether you’re cleaning up the garden or going for a hike through one of our amazing parks here in Toronto … a big bowl of soup, ready when you get home, is the perfect way to finish your day!

There are so many variations on the soup theme that it can be tough to decide which soup to make.  Some of our favourites here at the Children’s Garden include Coconut Curry Squash Soup and just about anything with noodles 🙂  Soups are also a great way to eat more vegetables!  You can even throw a handful of greens into most soups to boost their nutrition factor! Continue reading “Soup Season is Here!”

Spring Greens Information and Recipes!

Over the next few months as things start to wake up and grow here in Southern Ontario we’ll see a few very special, local and truly seasonal spring greens popping up.  They’re tasty, extra healthy and make for a great way to celebrate the upcoming garden season … it’s that first taste of fresh, seasonal, local food!

What are the popular early spring greens found here in Southern Ontario?  Well they’re often considered weeds.  Yes we encourage you to eat your weeds!  Others are true delicacies that are native plants to our area.

Collecting these in the city can be a bit difficult and in many parks and conservation areas they are protected.  It is also important that these plants are properly identified before you pick them.  For this reason we always suggest purchasing these greens from your local farmers’ market.  If you would like to learn more, a quick search of the web will find you a number of courses in proper foraging techniques and plant identification.

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‘Tis The Season For Mulled Cider!

There’s some tasty local, organic cider still available at your local farmer’s market these days and what better time for a nice warm treat?  It’s a pretty simple process to mull cider.  The basic version is your apple/cinnamon combo!

Mulled Apple Cider:

1-2 L Local Apple Cider
1-2 cinnamon sticks (2 to 3 tsp, or to taste, of cinnamon powder can be used to speed up the mulling process but the sticks are more fun!)

Pour cider into a medium size pot and add cinnamon.  Turn burner on medium-low and allow to simmer (not boil!) for at least 30 minutes with cinnamon sticks, 10 to 15 minutes with cinnamon powder.  You can heat for longer if you’d like a stronger flavour.

Now for mixing things up a little!  You can also find local pear cider at your farmer’s market at this time of the year.  It mixes well with apple cider or is amazingly sweet as a stand alone drink.  Adding some dried fruit like cranberries can also add a little extra zing 🙂

Here are a few other ideas for spicing up your hot cider drinks:

Mulled Apple Cider with Orange and Ginger – this one calls for unpasteurized cider but pasteurized will work too.

Apple and Sour Cherry Cider:

1 L of Apple and Sour Cherry Cider (often available at Sorauren Farmer’s Market, a few blocks east of High Park)
1 star anise pod
5 cm (2″) piece of cinnamon bark/stick

Pour into small pot, add star anise and cinnamon bark and simmer on medium low for 20 – 30 minutes.

Other spices you can use to mull cider include cloves, ginger, nutmeg and allspice.  Using whole spices, not ground, makes it easier to control how strong the flavour is.

Hopefully this will inspire everyone to drink something warm and local this holiday season!  Get creative and enjoy!

Speaking of creative … Anybody want to hazard a guess as to how long it’ll take the local Squirrels to find the new free buffet?

And before I managed to finish the post … we have our first customer … however … no snacking!  It’s possible, after sniffing about for a bit, that he felt it was too much trouble to get down to the feeders.  After all we’re just up the street from the easily accessed posts where many park visitors put out food for the squirrels and birds on a daily basis.  Why put in the effort when you don’t have too?