Tag Archives: japan

Maple Bourbon Apple Butter – Review

Apple picking at Puddicombe Farms

Apple picking at Puddicombe Farms

We went apple picking late in the season this year, so the selection was waning when we arrived at Puddicombe Farms.  The most plentiful trees were the Mutsu trees, and since these apples are ideal for baking we happily filled up our bags.  Mutsu apples were first grown in Japan and are named after the northern Mutsu Province.  They’re a cross between a Golden Delicious and an Indo apple, and are a nice balance of sweet and sour flavours.

Apple picking at Puddicombe Farms

Apple picking at Puddicombe Farms

The weather was so warm it still felt like summer and we peeled off our layers of fall clothing as we walked up and down the rows of trees. 

Apple picking at Puddicombe Farms

Apple picking at Puddicombe Farms

I’ve always wanted to make my own apple butter.  I first discovered this buttery jam years ago while on a detox and was impressed with how rich the apples tasted without the use of sugar.  Flavour and consistency varied a lot between brands and I eventually I became addicted to the dark, sweet Wellesley apple butter, made with Ontario apples.

Food In Jars Apple Butter

Food In Jars Apple Butter

For my first attempt at apple butter I tried Food In Jars Maple Bourbon Apple Butter recipe.  I like her recipes in general because she uses syrups or juice instead of sugar.  After cooking the apples for about an hour, they’re pureed and baked in an oven for 2-3 hours which brings out the sweetness and should give the sauce a darker, richer look.  I think we probably should have baked our sauce a bit longer, as the consistency tasted closer to baby food than jam, and feel as though the colour was too light as well.  I would also add double the amount of maple syrup, bourbon and orange zest because I couldn’t taste these flavours at all, which was a shame because they sound like a delicious combination!  Overall, the apple butter still turned out nicely and I’m planning to give some jars away as gifts come Christmas, but I’m still on a quest to make that rich apple butter that I first fell in love with.


Dead & Pancakes: The Best & Worst B&Bs


My favourite pancake recipe

Pancakes were the first food I ever learned to cook.  Every Sunday, my dad and I were allowed to take over the kitchen and make breakfast.  The recipe was from this nondescript kiddie recipe book, but I’ve been using the same recipe ever since.  I still love making Sunday morning pancakes, but I also bring along this pancake mix whenever I go camping or to a cottage. There is nothing more comforting then waking up to the smell of fresh pancakes.

Classic Pancakes

Calories include 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3 servings
Calories 521 kcal


  • 1 1/4 cup sifted flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Real maple syrup


  1. To make the perfect pancake batter, mix all the dry ingredients into a large bowl, and create a little hole in the middle for the egg to sit.
  2. Whisk the egg gently while slowly adding the milk, soon you will have the perfect lump-free pancake batter!
  3. Start with a nice hot skillet and melt the butter, a teaspoon at a time, turning the temperature down before cooking.
  4. Using a ladle pour approx half a ladle full of batter into the hot, buttery skillet.
  5. When the batter begins to bubble, gently flip the pancake with a spatula, monitoring the temperature closely to avoid burning.
  6. Place the cooked pancakes in a toaster oven on low to keep them warm.
  7. Top with real maple syrup.

Here is my classic pancake recipe, presented in all of it’s worn glory:

Pancake Recipe_DSC0461

Having just watched the line dancing zombie splatterfest Dead & Breakfast, I’m reminiscing about some of the best and worst B&B’s I’ve stayed in during my travels.

Dead & Breakfast

Dead & Breakfast                                                                                        Photo courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

As my boyfriend can attest to, I love – love  – breakfast buffets.  One of the more unique breakfast buffets that I had the pleasure of devouring was in Japan.  We stayed in this quaint, traditional inn called a ryokan in the town of Hakone.

Washitsu (traditional Japanese room)

Washitsu (traditional Japanese room)

Each room had authentic sliding doors that are called fusuma and we slept on tatami mats that were originally considered an item of luxury (fancy!).  For breakfast we were treated to a complete Japanese breakfast, buffet-style.  I’m not quite sure what I ate, but I do remember the delicious fish, it was so fresh that it melted in my mouth.

Traditional Japanese Breakfast - Hakone, Japan

Traditional Japanese Breakfast – Hakone, Japan

Luckily, I have never been barricaded by a swarm of zombies, but the B&B in Bolivia definitely lacked appeal and stands out as one of the worst places I’ve stayed.  I needed a last minute accommodation in the small town of Sorata, nestled high in the Bolivian mountains.  This was supposed to be one of the nicer B&Bs in the town, full of “European charm”.  Perhaps they meant Eastern European charm as my room was so sketchy that I slept in my sleeping bag and kept my knapsack packed, avoiding all contact with anything in the room.  The security features weren’t exactly reassuring either.

Travel Photos_Bolivia_DSC3931

Lock for my hotel room door – Sorata, Bolivia

Needless to say, I didn’t stay for breakfast.

Sushi: A Cultural Representation

Despite my half Japanese background, I only discovered sushi in my early twenties.  Recently, I traveled to Japan where I truly gained an appreciation for the cuisine and now I believe I will never tire of the endless combinations of rice, fish and seaweed.   Why do I love sushi? Trying to pinpoint any reason of taste is difficult.  This is because flavour is only one of the elements.  Sushi also represents culture and ritual through colour, balance and texture, and it is meant to engage not only your palette but to be “eaten by the eyes.”

The definition of sushi is “to sour,”  referring to the origins of the preparation method.  Traditionally, 1300 years ago, salted raw fish would ferment in between layers of rice.  Decades later, vinegar replaced the fermentation process and the resulting sour taste is closer to the sushi we eat today.

The three basic types of sushi are nigiri sushi, vinegar rice formed into a long box shape topped with raw fish; sashimi, sliced raw fish; and maki, sushi rolled inside or around pressed, dried layers of nori (seaweed).

Rice and fish are an integral part of Japanese culture, with rice considered a sacred food and where approximately 3000 different kinds of fish are consumed each day.  The waters around Japan are world famous fishing grounds and the Japanese take full advantage of their fresh, local produce. Rice and fish have been staples in their diet for centuries, and with such a strong appreciation for their food, the preparation of ingredients becomes as important as the final presentation.

Like in Japanese art and architecture, discipline, balance and elegance are represented in their cuisine.  To begin making sushi, the cooked rice is transferred to a wooden tub with sugar, rice vinegar and salt, and then fanned to a precise temperature.  The vinegar breaks down the stickiness of the rice and dissolves the sugar, which in turn coats the rice to become sticky again .  The amount of sugar controls the sour taste, while toppings, or “gu,” such as wasabi, nori, fukube (gourds) and pickled vegetables, provide balance for what the Japanese believe are the other four tastes to a balanced diet — hot, salty, sweet and bitter .  Other gu, such as Japanese cucumber, are used in maki to bring a firm, crisp texture, while colourful carrots and snow peas brighten the roll.  These contrasting textures, colours and flavours are elements that must be balanced in each dish.

How the sushi is consumed is an important process. When eating multiple plates of sashimi if moved must be returned to the exact same position on the table, showing respect for the chef.  When eating nigiri sushi, the leaner cuts of fish such as hirame or kasugo must be consumed first to keep a sharp palate, leaving fattier fish such as salmon for the end, as the rich fat globules will stick to the tongue and soften the taste buds.  Nigiri is always presented in twos for an aesthetically balanced presentation.

As the number of sushi restaurants continues to rise across North America, we must keep in mind that sushi is more than the popular California rolls & maki.  I only began to understand the subtleties of a great sushi meal after one particularly delicious spread in Hakone, Japan.  There was such care and discipline behind my meal, that I took a moment to sit back and take in the presentation, slowly absorb the tastes and textures and only then did I fully appreciate the origins of sushi.

Zschock, Day. The Little Black Book of Sushi: The Essential Guide to the World of Sushi. Page 8.Peter Pauper Press. 2005 Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sushi Zschock, Day. The Little Black Book of Sushi: The Essential Guide to the World of Sushi. Page 13.Peter Pauper Press. 2005 Zschock, Day. The Little Black Book of Sushi: The Essential Guide to the World of Sushi. Page 22.Peter Pauper Press. 2005 Lowry, Dave. The Connoisseur’s Guide to Sushi: Everything You Need To Know About Sushi. Page 4. The Harvard Common Press. 2005 Lowry, Dave. The Connoisseur’s Guide to Sushi: Everything You Need To Know About Sushi. Page 4. The Harvard Common Press. 2005 Lowry, Dave. The Connoisseur’s Guide to Sushi: Everything You Need To Know About Sushi. Page 267. The Harvard Common Press. 2005