Fairy-tale season

Autumn must be the season when fairy tales take place, as there is something other-worldly about the light and the smell in the air at this time of year.

I'm an ardent fan of summer and its comfortable heat, and I also enjoy the clean, majestic look of a winter landscape, but neither of them holds a candle to an October afternoon when the sunlight is at its most golden.

Rumpelstiltskin did his best business at harvest, and Rapunzel must have let down her hair on an autumn afternoon….

What am I getting at, you ask? Well, as we madly try to enjoy the last luscious bounty from the garden before the frost strikes, and steal a few more moments on the deck to watch the sun paint the clouds, I am struck by just how fortunate we are.

That is, of course, often the moral behind the fairytale.

The photo I have included with this week’s missive is of beans we had from the garden.

Martin mentioned that with produce like that, we could easily pay a visit to the giant.

We don’t need any golden goose, however, for our adventures at home are treasure enough. I can both start and end my day enjoying the bounty of our own efforts, with fruit for breakfast and veggies for dinner.

The concept so popular in wine circles called “terroir” is something anyone who grows anything understands — "the taste of place" you get that distinguishes one product from another.

It works for not just wine, but anything that comes from the earth. The soil and its characteristics impart flavours into any harvest, but I think so does the tender loving care that the farmer offers to the plants.

Such a balanced relationship does not happen nearly as often with people, but maybe it could if we thought more about nurturing and protecting and simply enjoying what is offered.

This past week, we were with a school class showing them some cooking and gardening tips. During the farm tour they took at Paynter's Fruit Market, they were allowed to pick an apple right off the tree.

I got to taste one. The first bite took me back to childhood, when apples were never waxed and the first apples of autumn always had that tartness that made me squint.

It was absolutely delicious, and made more so by the fact that it was a gift. Such a grand act it is to share, and such a great reminder to be thankful for such a simple gift as food.

We cooked with the students and made a simple dessert as part of their Fall Feast. They are only in second grade, but they managed just fine in assembling the Apple Phyllo Strudel Cups we made.

It was a great way to show them how they could be a part of cooking something special, and in season.

As the harvest moon sets on another growing season, let us all toast the bounty we enjoy and drink to the possibilities of fairy princesses or knights in shining armour, and living happily ever after.


  • Makes 12 cups - ** FYI, this recipe has no eggs or dairy or nuts if you follow it as is.
  • 6 medium apples, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup / 75 g dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/2 cup / 125 g brown sugar
  • Zest and Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp / 15 g cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp / 7 g nutmeg
  • 4 sheets phyllo dough
  • 1 tbsp / 15 mL virgin coconut oil (butter can be substituted if you wish)
  • 1/2 cup / 125 g graham crumbs


  • 1 pint / 500 g vanilla yogurt or frozen yogurt, ice cream or whipped cream for topping
  • Preheat oven to 350F / 175C.
  • Combine the apples, dried fruit, brown sugar, spices and lemon zest and juice in a saucepan.
  • Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until tender. (Filling can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Bring back to room temperature before filling cups.)

Lightly grease a muffin pan. Lay out 2 sheets of phyllo and cut into squares that are just a bit larger than the muffin molds. Take one square (both sheets) and stagger the sheets so the corners are opposite.

Brush coconut oil over the top sheet, covering the protruding edges of the bottom sheet too. Sprinkle graham crumbs over top (enough to lightly cover the square). Put the other square of 2 sheets over this, offsetting them in the same way. Brush coconut oil top sheet as before.

Gently lift the phyllo layers into a muffin mood and press it in (using a wooden spoon handle can help push it to the bottom and along the sides). Repeat this for each mold. Then, fill the molds with the apple filling - don't be shy, they can be full.

Bake in the middle rack of the oven for approximately 25 minutes, when pastry is golden and filling is sizzling. (The best test is to lift one up and check that the bottom of the cups is golden as well.) Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing.

Serve with vanilla yogurt, ice cream or whipped cream. Or you can just sprinkle a bit of icing sugar on top to dress it up.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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