When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rustic Peach Pie (gluten-free, vegan)

Ahh, the last weekend of summer holidays -- how is it possible that we're here already?  Those feelings of wistfulness associated with the realization that our leisurely days together are coming to an end keep creeping into all of our hearts today; it's hard to say goodbye to what has been a wonderful summer. But there is some excitement and an eagerness to discover the new adventures September will bring all of us, too, as we fill backpacks with school supplies, organize new schedules, and imagine what we will learn and become through our upcoming experiences.  I find these transitional times of year always seem to hum with promise.

We've been enjoying these last few official days of  freedom with shenanigans in the yard and pool and family barbecues together featuring some of our favourite summertime foods.  Yesterday we spent a really nice afternoon and evening here at home with Matt's brother Nick and his wife Krista, whose lovely (and fun!) wedding we attended just a couple of weeks ago.  Because I had a basket of beautiful, ripe peaches sitting on the counter in the morning, I decided to make rustic peach pie for everyone for dessert, and it was a perfect finish to the dinner Matt cooked on the grill.  This sweet treat is quite easy to make, but impressive in flavour!

Rustic Peach Pie

For the crust:

2 cups blanched almond flour
1 tbsp arrowroot flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp water

For the filling:

6 good-sized peaches, peeled and thinly sliced*
1 tbsp arrowroot flour (you may need a little more if your peaches are especially juicy)

+ 1 tsp coconut sugar for sprinkling on the crust

*To easily remove the skin from the peaches, plunge them into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds, then remove them and plunge them immediately into a bowl of ice cold water.  The skins will then simply peel away as you rub them under your thumbs.

In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, arrowroot flour, cinnamon, sea salt, and baking soda.  

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and water until well combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until you achieve a uniform ball of dough.  Place the dough in the freezer to chill for approximately 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 F.  Prepare the filling by placing the sliced peaches in a mixing bowl and sprinkling them with the arrowroot flour.  Stir the peaches gently until the arrowroot flour is well incorporated.

Place a piece of parchment paper on a flat work surface.  Place the chilled dough on the paper, then place another piece of parchment paper over top and roll out the dough.  You should end up with a circle about 12 inches wide; the pastry will be thin and the edges will be uneven.  Remove the top piece of parchment paper and then transfer the bottom piece and the rolled out pastry to a baking sheet.

Tumble the peach mixture into the centre of the pastry, leaving about a one and a half inch border of crust all the way around.  Gently lift the parchment paper all the way around the circle to fold the edges of the crust over, just to cover the edge of the fruit.  (The centre of the pie should not be covered.)  If the pastry breaks at all, simply smooth it back together with your fingers, as the dough will be quite sticky and easy to repair.

Sprinkle the edges of the pastry and the peach filled centre with coconut sugar, then place the pie in the preheated oven.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown.  

This peach pie is delicious served slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla coconut milk ice cream on top.  We all agreed it was just the thing to help us bid a fond farewell to those wonderful, relaxed summer evenings for now.

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Worth Keeping In Your Pockets -- August 2014

Hello there!  Things have been all crickets around here lately, I know....  I hadn't really intended on taking a mid-summer break from writing, but the draw of the sunshine and the pool and the very enjoyable company of two funny, interesting boys has been too much to resist lately.  I've become a little brain-lazy over the past few weeks, which admittedly has actually been a nice change from my usual status of brain-overdrive!  But just to let you know that I haven't completely disappeared, I thought I'd pop in today and share some summery things with you in an August edition of Worth Keeping In Your Pockets.  I hope you've all been enjoying a wonderful summer just as we have been.

Grilled Corn on the Cob:  We are loving the bounty of fresh summer produce available this time of year, both from our own backyard garden and from the local farmers' market.  Everything just tastes so good! We've been lugging home bags full of ears of corn in recent weeks and preparing them in the most delicious way:  by grilling them on the barbecue.  If you've never grilled corn before, it's very simple:  husk the corn, brush it all over with a little olive oil and sprinkle it with sea salt and pepper to taste, then place it on a grill that's been preheated to medium-high heat.  Grill it for ten minutes, turning the corn every two minutes or so to cook it evenly on all sides.  There will be no pots to wash afterwards, and the corn is tender-crisp and bursting with flavour when it's cooked this way!

Boyhood:  Matt and I saw the touching and true-to-life film Boyhood at a local theatre this weekend and we were both so glad we did.  It chronicles the everyday yet significant moments in the life of a boy and his family as he grows from a six year old to a high school graduate. The really remarkable aspect of the movie is that it was actually filmed over a twelve year period, so viewers are watching the same boy grow up for real before their eyes.  Boyhood really drives home just how quickly childhood passes; I left the theatre feeling wistful and wishing that I could slow the passage of time and the growing up of my own boys, one of whom turns thirteen this week.  (Thirteen!!!)  If this film is playing in a theatre near you this summer, it is well worth seeing.

Lavender:  We have lavender plants all over the place in our gardens; Matt and I both love breathing in its pretty and calming scent as we walk by.  I'd like to have a reminder of this simple summer pleasure during the cold, snowy months, so I've cut fresh stalks of lavender to hang in the house to dry. I plan to use the dried flowers to make lavender sachets to tuck into clothes drawers or under pillows this fall, and to mix with oats or epsom salts for a soothing soak in the tub.  Maybe you might like to remember to do this with your lavender, too!

Wind Chimes:  I've got my eye on this whimsical set of spoon fish wind chimes from Etsy as a lovely late-summer addition to our backyard garden.  The artist has made such clever use of old spoons in this piece, and the smiling faces and sweet sounds of the little fish are sure to brighten up a quiet corner of the yard. I've been finding many unique and useful things while browsing Etsy lately; if you're interested, you can find my favourites list here.

Stationary Bottle Opener:  It's always nice to enjoy cold beverages outdoors during the months of summer relaxing and entertaining, and this great little gadget makes it easy to find a bottle opener whenever you need one.  If you mount this cast iron stationary bottle opener on your deck or on a convenient wall indoors or out, you can open bottles effortlessly.  I gave one of these to my dad and we now have one of our own as well -- it's such a simple thing but a really great idea!

A Handwritten Note:  We're still in full-on summer mode here, but we can't deny that a new school year will be here in only a few more weeks.  We've been reading through a large package of information that arrived from the high school for Noah, and we soon need to go and purchase his school uniform for the first time. The idea of starting high school courses has Noah feeling excited and a little nervous, too, so it was a really nice surprise for him last week when he received a handwritten postcard from the principal of his high school telling him they were looking forward to seeing him in September.  The personal note made him feel noticed and welcomed.  In an age where electronic communication is faster, easier, and almost always the preferred method, I think it's good for all of us to remember that sometimes a good old-fashioned handwritten note can really make someone's day.

That's all for now!  I'll be back again soon...  Enjoy these last few weeks of August and the beautiful summer weather while it lasts.  :)