Apples, Apples, Apples & a recipe for Apple Cheddar Muffins

There’s no doubt about it – apples are in season at the Calgary Farmers’ Market right now! We all have our favourites, that’s for sure, but if you’re looking to do more than just bite into a refreshing snack – do you know which apple is best for the job?

I took a moment to chat with Chris Souto of Souto Farms to learn a bit more about the plethora of apple varieties they carry at the market. They currently have 10 varieties of apples to choose from; read on to learn a little bit about each one!

Honey Crisp – This delicious eating apple is a top seller at Souto Farms; it is the crispest, biggest and hardest to grow. The results are worth it though for this sweet, tart, juicy favourite. (Season: early September – late January).

Ambrosia – This medium sized apple is a crisp, sweet eating apple. It also happens to be Chris Souto’s favourite! (Season: mid September – late May).

Pink Lady – Another medium sized eating apple, the Pink Lady is tart, but full of flavour and super crisp. This later season apple isn’t harvested until November. (Season: early November – late May).

Gala – The Gala is an older generation eating apple. It’s sweet, with a medium crispness. The Ambrosia is slowing taking over the place the Gala used to hold at Souto Farms. (Season: early September – late May).

Mac – Most people are familiar with the classic Mac; it is one of the older generation apples that Souto Farms carries. Its softer texture and tart taste make it best for cooking, though in season it’s still an enjoyable eating apple. (Season: late August – late May).

Granny Smith – This apple is super crunchy and very tart! It is another older generation apple that is very popular in cooking. (Season: mid October – late May).

Aurora – This small apple is slightly crisp, and the sweetest that Souto Farms carries. It is a great eating apple, but also makes a wonderful apple sauce. (Season: October – mid January).

Golden Delicious – The Golden Delicious is a classic. It is a very, very old generation apple that is sweet, crisp and perfect for eating. (Season: late September – late May).

Spartan – Another old generation apple, a bit sweeter than a Mac, but still tart, the Spartan is good for eating. It may be small, but it’s still slightly crisp and makes a great snack. (Season: late September – late May).

Empire – With a slightly  crisp texture, small size and sweet taste, this old generation apple is a nice eating apple. Maybe less popular that the other varieties, but still delicious! (Season: mid October – late December).

All this apple research had me seriously craving some elaborate apple creations – but sometimes simple is best, so I decided on this simple Apple Cheddar Muffin recipe. Who doesn’t love apples and cheese, anyway? Right?

Ingredients in a rowApple Cheddar Muffins

Market sourced ingredients:

*Sylvan Star Cheese has more than just cheese! They’ve also got a selection of eggs, yogurt, organic milk and goat’s milk – basically a one stop shop for dairy!

**While Beeland has a huge variety of honeys, especially this time of year, I chose their basic all-purpose clover honey for this recipe. It’s the best value in cases where honey isn’t necessarily the star of the show!

Other ingredients:Muffin Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour*
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 3 Tbsp oil (olive or vegetable)

*While I used baking supplies on hand in my home, you can source many flours and other baking ingredients from Blush Lane Organics at the market!

First, preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease your muffin pan, or line with muffin liners. This recipe makes 12 muffins.

Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl (flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices). Toss in the cheese and mix until it is evenly distributed.

Whisk wet ingredients together in a separated bowl (eggs, honey, molasses, oil, and yogurt). Stir in the grated apple and mix until is it evenly distributed.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently stir until just combined.

Muffin bowls1
Might not look like much, but the smell of the apples at this point made my mouth water!

Pour the batter into the muffin pan, and bake about 30 – 35 minutes. Cool the muffins in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. I like these best served with a pat of butter, but you could also go big and melt a fresh slice of cheddar on yours. Try your best not to eat them all at once!

Muffins done

Fresh and Natural Home-Made Sports Drink

This is a guest post by our partners at Poppy Innovations

home made energy drinkHydration is an essential part of exercising. And when you really exert yourself, a sports drink is in order right?  Right!

Replacing electrolytes is important and that’s what a sports drink provides. But would it surprise you to learn that many sports drinks contain half the amount of sugar you should have per day?  Read the label and it’s likely to include high fructose corn syrup, brominated vegetable oil and artificial colours. With obesity on the rise, especially in children, it’s important to make healthier beverage choices.

That doesn’t mean you should only drink plain water for the rest of your life. In fact, you can make your own natural sports drink at home using healthy – and easy to pronounce – ingredients! Here is a simple and delicious recipe for a home-made sports drink that will provide all the positive benefits of a store bought one, without the unhealthy ingredients.

Natural Sports Drink Ingredients

2 cups coconut water from Blush Lane Organic Market

1/4 cup fresh orange or other citrus juice from Blush Lane Organic Market

pinch of salt

1 tbsp honey from Beeland

Add all ingredients to your water bottle, shake, and let chill in the refrigerator. Shake before drinking.

Experiment with other flavourings of juice and herbs.

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Article submitted by Poppy Innovations – offering cooking classes for all ages at the Calgary farmers Market!

Easy Easter Feast

A few things hop to mind when you think of Easter: chocolate bunnies, egg decorating, and ham.  Sure, there are other things that make up Easter, but in terms of food, these three things are pretty prominent.  We wondered how best to offer useful (and delicious) information and landed on: How to Roast a Ham.  It’s dead simple and is a sure-fire way to make every tummy at the table happy.
Plus, we just visited Greg and Bonnie Spragg’s pig farm.  When they offer you a ham, you don’t refuse.  In fact, you thank them gleefully because it’s the most beautiful ham you ever did see.
Ham Collage
Market-Sourced Ingredients

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Remember when we said it was simple?  You can’t get a whole lot simpler than three ingredients.  Yes, we know those ingredients don’t include brown sugar and mustard.  There are a few pretty traditional (and still yummy) ham glazes kickin’ around, but we wanted to give you something a little more off-the-beaten-path than the Cola or Pineapple Ginger recipes.  Plus, the only fruit that’s really “in-season” right now are apples and that’s just a little too close to the old-fashioned ham and apple sauce dinner we used to get at Grandma’s.  Why not try something a little different?

Preheat oven to 325F.  Using a very sharp knife, score fat in a diamond pattern.

Meanwhile, stir amber honey with blueberry balsamic.

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Place ham in a shallow roasting pan just big enough to hold it. Roast in centre of preheated 325F oven, uncovered, allowing 18 to 20 minutes per pound for a bone-in ham.

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Roast ham for 45 minutes before beginning to baste generously with the mixture.  To form a rich glaze, continue brushing with mixture every 15 minutes. Save any remaining glaze. Remove ham to a platter and tent with foil for at least 15 minutes.

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If you want to make a bit of a sauce for your ham: add 1 cup of vegetable broth and any remaining glaze to the pot you roasted the ham in. Stir pan bottom vigorously to scrape up all of the flavor-packed browned bits. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat burner on the stove (you can transfer from roasting pan to smaller pot at the point to make it less cumbersome). Then reduce heat to medium and boil gently, uncovered and stirring often, until slightly reduced, from 5 to 10 more minutes. Pour over sliced ham. Meat will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for a week or more.

Now, we know that ham is often served with traditional sides, like scalloped potatoes.  And if you’re an accomplished or ambitious cook, homemade scalloped potatoes are the bomb.  But as we can guess, you’re all very busy and since we’re selling this as an Easy Easter Feast, we suggest checking out the vast and tasty selection of ready-made agrio boxes at the Cherry Pit.

Agrio Boxes Capture

They offer everything from roasted or quick saute vegetables to easy dress and shake salads, all made in-house by their very talented vegetable butcher.  Easter dinner could not be easier.

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Want to learn more about Greg & Bonnie Spragg?  Check out our farm feature!