It’s February already. Not even February 1st. But February 7th.
We are already a quarter of the way through February.
This freaks me out a little because it feels like, once again, the year is in danger of slipping by too quickly! So I thought it would be a good idea to check in with my word for 2016: minimize.
I’ve slowly started going through my office to clear out things that don’t bring me joy or that aren’t useful. I have a nice big bag down by the front door waiting for the next Big Brothers pickup that I keep adding to bit by bit. This month I want to finish my office and start on my bathroom. I know, the bathroom seems weird but, I’m a hoarder of makeup, bath stuff and hair goop… that I NEVER USE! I used to work for a national drug chain – we got a lot of samples. Scary part? I haven’t worked for them in over SIX YEARS! So yes, a clear out is past due!
So part of minimizing was doing more of less and so far, I’m doing ok. I renewed my lapsed Vancouver Art Gallery Membership and used my free member pass to take an old friend for my first visit of the year. I also made sure to go to the AGO on my own while I was in Toronto in early January for the Turner exhibit, which was a treat for me!
I’ve made an effort every weekend of the year so far to spend time with friends and to minimize the amount of work I do. Basically, I think my rule for the year, especially outside of busy periods, is that there won’t be any work on the weekend unless I feel like it. I have permission to do other things and not feel guilty about it. A bad case of burnout has shaken me and made me realize how much I need to recharge – not just for my sanity, but to just do better work! I’ve also gotten into a routine with using Asana to track projects and to do lists and that has made a huge improvement to my productivity during the week so, working on weekends shouldn’t be so necessary anymore!
And I’ve managed to do a lot more out of the house with SamTheDog. So, all in all… not bad but I could do a lot better!
In fact, yesterday, I spent three hours drawing and listening to podcasts, about six hours doing fun stuff with Sam on our own and with friends (he was bone tired today!) and an hour in the kitchen making these apple raisin tarts. It was such a glorious Saturday!
So let’s talk about the tarts. These were a complete experiment and I caution you on this recipe because it really was unscientifically put together and not tested multiple times. But they were so good! It came about because I had six apples in my fridge that had seen much better days and were beyond eating on their own.
I really wanted an apple-y raisin custard to top pancakes with and that’s how these started out but six apples made way more pancake topping than I can use quickly. I thought the remainder would make for a perfect, simple apple tart filling with a streusel topping. They’ve got a little cardamom for a touch of peppery sweetness to offset the maple and Summerland Sweets Apple Pie Syrup. (note, you don’t need to use the Apple Pie Syrup as it’s not easy to find outside of BC – you can sub maple syrup instead) The filling was inspired by this rhubarb apple maple crisp recipe.
- 6 medium apples - I used Galas because they needed to be used but a tarter apple would have worked really well too.
- 2 Tbsp butter
- ½ cup raisins
- ⅓ cup + ¼ cup of Summerland Sweets Apple Pie Syrup or maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp of maple sugar (sub brown sugar if you don't have maple sugar
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp cardamom
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp flour
- 12 tart shells
- ⅓ cup of flour
- ⅓ cup of brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp butter
- Peel, core and quarter the apples. Cut into slices and roughly chop into pieces.
- In a large frying pan or saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and add the apples and raisins. Stir slowly till the apples and raisins are coated with butter.
- Stir in ⅓ cup of syrup, the maple sugar, cinnamon and cardamom and let the apple mixture slowly cook until the apples start to soften - stir occasionally - don't let the sugar mixture burn
- In a separate bowl, quickly whisk an egg and then add in the remaining quarter cup of syrup and continue to whisk until the mixture is well combined and smooth. Add to the cooking apple mixture along with 1 tbsp of flour
- Stir well until the flour is well combined into the apple mixture and the mixture starts to thicken and gently bubble
- The apples should be soft and raisins plump - remove from heat
- Preheat the oven to 375F
- In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and cut in the butter with a knife or pastry cutter. Use your hands to combine all three until the mixture resembles pea gravel
- Layout 12 tart shells and fill with the apple mixture - set aside any extra filling and use to top pancakes, oatmeal or a bowl of ice cream!
- Top the tarts with the flour and sugar streusel
- Bake for 20-25 minutes in the oven until the pastry is golden and the tart filling is bubbling
- Let cool on a wire rack and then enjoy!