Author: Sweet Pepper

An Apple A Day

 

OK, so we know the drawn out dregs of January doesn’t exactly seem like an apple-ish time of year. After all, aren’t apples and all their crisp, honeyed glory an Autumn thing? This winter, we’ve been astounded by all the amazing apples cropping up. So – to prolong Fall’s fresh glory, and fight the winter blah’s with crunch, juice and flavour – we’re putting on a Spartan-tacular, Fuji-licious, Royal Gala of an apple sale.

What do you need to know?

There’ll be a different apple on sale every single day starting today, January 26th. What kind? You’ll have to check our social feeds or drop by for the delicious details.

Our store’ll be studded with other apple-tizing treats. Until February 1st, enjoy #SweetDeals on:

 

Applesnax Apple Sauce ($3.99 / 6x113g)- Canadian, organic and gluten-free 6-packs of snack-tacular apple sauce. The kids are gonna have to fight you for these.

 

Nutiva Chocolate Hazelnut Spread ($6.99 / 369g)- This organic spread is the perfect foil to Fujis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rolling Meadow Yogurt and Daiya Greek Yogurt ($2.99/500g and $1.69/175g) – Whether you do dairy or you don’t, these yogurt (or no-gurt, as the case may be) sales, are the perfect excuse to make these Apple Pie Yogurt Parfaits from @aseasyasapplepie. This recipe includes a salted caramel drizzle. Need we say more?

 

Mornington Medium Goat Cheddar ($7.99/200g) – With outstanding depth of flavour, this certified organic, Canadian-made goat milk cheddar is complex and creamy, and perfectly paired with Braeburn or Fuji apples.

 

 

Pine River Caramelized Onion Cheddar ($5.49/180g) – Granny Smiths, Thornbury Golden Flax Bread and a slather of butter and you have yourself a grilled cheese worthy of center plate.

 

 

 

 

Bob’s Red Mill Oats ($7.99/907g) – The perfect excuse to try these Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats by @thatcleanlife – a recipe that’s even more delicious than it is easy. And it’s really, really easy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know how they say an apple a day keeps the doctor away? It’s a thing! Read more about that here. Or just take our word for it. Whatever your reasons, you’ll want to get in-store and get some! Ready, set, apple!

We are going on a food holiday…

If the holidays were happening on a desert island, these are the products we’d pack to be ready for anything, from surprise visits from Uncle Allan and Aunt Bonnie to setting a sweet holiday spread. If our island had a pantry (and a fridge, and a freezer, you get the picture), these are the essentials we’d stock them with.

 

Camino Hot Chocolate Mix

 

It’s like a hug in a mug, covered in chocolate! Camino’s Organic Fair Trade Hot Chocolate Mixes are on #SweetDeal for $2 off right now.

 

 

So Delicious Coconut Holiday Nog

 

Whoever thought to kick up already rich and creamy nog by making it coconut-based is seriously a genius. Bonus: your vegan friends will be chuffed! Try it this season at 2 for $7!  

 

Gardein Holiday Roasts

 

You know how many vegetarian recipes promise to be loved by vegetarians and meat eaters alike? Well, this one actually is. Definitely treat your plant-based guests to one of these, and stuff a few extra in your freezer. They’re wicked easy to cook up once the leftovers are long gone and you find yourself craving holiday flavours.

 

Fiasco Holiday Gelato – Cranberry and Pear Sorbetto, Egg Nog

 

Tart cranberries. Slow poached pears. Rich, indulgent, frozen dessert. Egg. Nog. Need we say more? Grab a spoon at our soup counter… at least one of these babies ain’t making it home.

 

Alvéole Honey Tasting Box

 

What if you could taste the terroir of Toronto’s Junction, Leslieville, Cabbagetown, and Rosedale ‘hoods? Alvéole’s flight of premium grade honeys is that opportunity, each jar flavoured with the flora of this sweet city. This is a gift you’ll want to keep for yourself, but you *should* really use to flaunt how simultaneously cultured and cool you are.

 

Sweet Potato Kitchen Holiday Cookies

 

Listen, if Santa can’t get through them all, you’ll just have to step up and devour our holiday cookies. For the sake of the children. On #SweetDeal (3 for $5!), they are sweet satisfaction (and frankly, survival). So stock up. For Santa. Yeah. Santa.

 

Real Sweets Apple Pie

 

If you neither competed on nor auditioned for The Great Canadian Baking Show, you’re going to want to have one of these pies on-hand. You may or may not have the time or talent to produce a pie of this calibre… we ain’t judging. We’re just sayin’… these locally made, all natural, all butter crust pies (made with simple Non-GMO and organic ingredients to boot) are unreal.

 

Aura Cacia Bath Salt Packets

 

Guests are gone. Bath is drawn. Relax. Detox. Bring either the gelato or the pie into the tub with you…

 

 

 

One With Nature Soaps

 

As if you needed more reasons to buy these triple milled, Non-GMO, cruelty-free Dead Sea soap bars… these Sweet Stocking Stuffers are #SweetDeal right now!

 

 

Natural Factors Vitamin D Softgels

 

What does vitamin D do? The nutritionists at our new Natural Apothecary know. And our moms know. It’s so important that mom nags us about it every winter, and stuffed our stockings with it. As grown ups, it’s our responsibility to carry on the tradition. Here’s to the things we know are good for us… but don’t quite know why. And here’s to $4.99/bottle on #SweetDeal, too!

 

Let’s Talk Turkey: To Brine or Not to Brine?

Let’s talk turkey.

 

Often the centrepiece of a big holiday meal, it’s kind of crucial. It’s also easy to overcook and/or underflavour. So what’s a cook to do? Brine the bird! Brining is your ticket to a moist, delicious turkey. Read on to learn the difference between wet and dry brining, and the pros and cons of each.

 

Option 1: Wet Brine

 

Advantages:

  • relatively easy
  • proven effective
  • relatively quick
  • communicates to nosy/snobby relatives that you’re working hard to make the best meal possible

 

Disadvantages:

  • requires a lot of space
  • cooling your large pot of brine outside in the city of trash pandas is risky business

 

Basically, wet brining (aka what almost everybody means when they talking about brining a bird) is the process of submerging the turkey in salted water for a few days. The bird stays moist and juicy during cooking, and is infused with the flavours of salt and whatever else you’ve added to the brine… and you don’t end up with a dry, bland turkey situation. In fact, for that extra turkey flavour, some people like to brine their turkey in turkey stock – so if you’re so inclined, you can pick up some fresh organic made in-house turkey stock and take things to the next level!

 

The trickiest part of a wet brine is finding a container big enough to contain the bird and the liquid, and then making sure you have enough room in your fridge for it. If you’ve got that sorted, you’re good to go!

 

  1. Place a cleaned (cleaned, dried, giblets removed) turkey into a pot big enough to hold it and 4 L of water.
  2. In another pot, warm 1 L of water and stir in 1 cup of kosher salt (or ¾ cup of table salt), until totally dissolved.
  3. When the water is cool enough to touch (you don’t want to scald the bird), pour it into the pot with the turkey. Add another 3 L of water, and any aromatics you want to include. We like to throw in a bunch of sage, black peppercorns, and a few bay leaves.
  4. Cover the pot (if the turkey is floating, weigh it down with a plate or something so it’s totally submerged), and leave it in the fridge for at least two and up to 24 hours.
  5. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it, and pat it dry.

 

Option 2: Dry Brine

 

Advantages:

  • a novel technique (impress your foodie friends)
  • takes up less space
  • doesn’t require any follow-up (is immediately ready to cook)

 

Disadvantages:

  • gives critical family something to pick on
  • involves leaving an uncovered raw turkey in your fridge for days – so if you have little kids who are old enough to open the fridge and grab things but not yet old enough to respect boundaries, you might have a problem

 

A dry brine is basically the same thing as a wet brine, only without the water! All you do is rub the salt and spices directly into the turkey, and then leave it in the fridge overnight or for up to three days.

 

  1. Clean and dry your bird. Remove the giblets.
  2. Mix together 3 tbsp salt, ¾ tbsp ground black pepper, and about another 1½ tsp dried spices (we like to go hard on sage and thyme, but you do you).
  3. Sprinkle 2 tsp of the salt mix into the cavity of the bird.
  4. If you’re feeling fancy, carefully lift the skin from the breast of the bird, and rub another 4 tsp of the salt mixture into the breasts (under the skin).
  5. Sprinkle the remaining salt mixture onto the skin of the bird, focusing on the breast and the legs.
  6. Place the turkey breast-side up on a baking sheet or roasting pan and leave it uncovered in the fridge for 12-72 hours.

 

After Brining:

 

Whichever technique you use, once you’re done with the brine you can cook your turkey as you usually would. Brining can often shorten cooking time (the salt helps to break down the muscle proteins, so the bird is less tough before it even goes into the oven), so we’d recommend checking for doneness (with a meat thermometer) about an hour earlier than you’d think.

 

In Conclusion:

 

These are both really good techniques, and I personally can’t wait until I have the opportunity to cook two turkeys simultaneously, so I can dry-brine one and wet-brine the other and decide for myself which is better.

 

Honestly though, one of the best things you can do is make sure you’re starting with a good, healthy animal. All of the turkeys we sell at The Sweet Potato are locally and humanely raised at Yorkshire Valley Farms, where they are pastured and raised without antibiotics or hormones (and eat GMO-Free feed). Combine a great organic bird with some good brining, and then serve it with some wild rice and quinoa stuffing, roasted brussels sprouts, and sweet potato pie and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success any way you brine it!

Smoked Cheddar Recipe Roundup

Do you love smoked cheddar, and want to use it in everything? We’re with you! Which is why we prepared this Smoked Cheddar Recipe Roundup! Please help us by sharing your favourite recipes!

Smoked Cheddar Recipe Roundup

1. Smoked Cheddar Quesadillas: Smoked cheddar, chicken breast cooked, Mexican oregano, cumin and caramelized onion shine in this classy quesadilla. From @GeniusKitchen.

2. For a brunch worthy of celebration, whip up this Apple, Sausage and Smoked Cheddar Breakfast Casserole from @thekitchn.

smoked cheddar apple and sausage breakfast skillet
image by Laura Volo, via thekitchn.com

3. Twice-baked Potatoes with Smoked Cheddar and Thyme turn a simple side dish into a main attraction. From @RockRecipes.

4. What’s better than smoked cheddar and apples? Smoked Cheddar Apple Pie, of course! Check out this divine recipe from Queer in the Kitchen.

5. And for a trendy take on a retro recipe, try this Gluten-Free Smoked Cheddar and Beer Fondue by @Cheeky Kitchen for some divine dipping.

image via CheekyKitchen.com

Great Things in Store

Oh my goodness, it’s really happening. Like… really happening. Our new store, built into a gorgeous, 100-odd-year-old building at 108 Vine Avenue, is going to open in just 30 days.  

We’ve been working on this move for five full years. To the month. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s been a long ride, and there’s been more than a few times in the past few years where we’ve wondered if The Sweet Potato would ever make it to our beautiful new home.

But we’re not wondering that anymore. Over the last four months, stuff’s been getting really real and it’s all so exciting! We’ve never built a new store like this, and figure probably you haven’t either, and so we thought we’d try and give you a little backstage tour of what our construction this summer has been like.

Since things really stepped up in May, we’ve had 30 to 60 amazing folks piling into our beautiful space every day. The team we’ve hired has a superstar grocery track record – over the last thirteen years they’ve built about 15 Longo’s stores (check out our fave one at Imperial Plaza) – and though everyone told us construction would be the hardest part of this whole thing, it’s actually been a total dream.

To give you just a little taste, here are a few of our favourite backstage details:

 

The concrete

So one of the things we learned in this massive renovation is that concrete is usually 6 to 12 inches deep. We had to drill down through it to be able to install proper plumbing for the fridges and freezers, and everyone was expecting a pretty breezy job. Turns out when you’re working with a stunning, old building, sometimes it’s a different story! The concrete was between one and six feet deep in some places, requiring a special super fancy concrete-basher – thank goodness for this awesome dude and his amazing power drill! 

The unexpected thrilling part is that, now that the plumbing is all done, the floors of the new store are a mix of new, old, and really old beautiful polished concrete! 

 

Fire spraying

Did you know that old metal beams (like those on the original ceiling of our awesome new store) need to be seriously fireproofed? For a full week during construction, the inside of 108 Vine Ave. looked like a haunted house, with giant ghostly sheets of plastic draped over everything as the crew covered the beams with cementitious spray. 

When they’re drying, the beams look like they’re caked with two inches of icing, but that spray does the super important job of ensuring that if there’s ever a fire, the beams won’t melt – which we’re all pretty pleased about!

 

Refrigeration unit

This is one of our favourite hidden gems of the store – something you’ll never see, but we think is one of the coolest (pun intended) things about the new space. This bad-boy micromanages all of our fridges and freezers, recycling hot and cold water from the massive refrigeration system to help keep the store cool in the summer and comfy in the winter! How great is that?!

We love swanky gadgets, but what we love most about it is it’s space-aged energy efficiency, which is super important to us given our commitment to environmental stewardship. Check out this gigantic and mysterious machine: 

 

So… when do we get to see the place?

Yeah, yeah, we know!

But for real, while it’s been super fun to show off a bit of the magic, behind-the-scenes work we’ve been doing to turn our new home into something that will do you all proud, what we really can’t wait to do is show you the finished product!

Come spin down the aisles (you’ll be able to pass your fellow shoppers will a fully loaded shopping cart, or stroller, we promise!) and celebrate with us when we open on September 21st, and at our community party on September 24th. We can’t wait to show you what we have in store!