pumpkin granola with cacao nibs

west van & granola (14)west van & granola (3) The west coast smelled like fir trees and cedars – likely due to a small wind storm that hit shortly before our arrival, but I’m happier romanticizing it as part of Vancouver’s charm. On a too-quick trip to hug my aunt and cousin, we managed to climb most of the way up a mountain, see a couple shows, try a bunch of beer, and enjoy some impressively sunny November weather.

West Van seemed even prettier than I remembered (“Oh my gosh, you can see the mountains from here! And the ocean from here!” etc, etc…). Or, maybe it is so beautiful out there that I just can’t help gushing. With coniferous breezes and palm fronds waving by the seawall, it seems instinctive to inhale as deeply as possible. (Woah, did I just get a little yogic/life coach-ish on you? Blame Vancouver.)

So, four days on the other side of the country did us good. Vancouver smelled like firs and cedars, and fresh baked granola every morning.

I credit my aunt with introducing me to homemade granola a few years ago. It comes together so quickly, and is such a versatile thing to bake that it quickly became a staple in my kitchen repertoire. Variations are endless, which is part of the fun. This warm spiced pumpkin and cocoa nib combination is one I have been enjoying a lot lately. I hope you do, too.west van & granola (5)

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Autumn Aglow [Pumpkin Coconut Macaroons]

mapleonthetableAutumn fades rather quickly. The trees go from leafy green to nude in the blink of an eye if you don’t stop to pay attention. SONY DSCphoto (9) It’s a transition that I love; the colours, that brief but perfect time we call sweater weather, the seasonal treats. One of the loveliest sights for me is the sugar maple in our backyard. When the leaves become bright orange and the sun is out, our house is flooded with warm light. For a couple hours a day, a couple weeks a year, autumn is aglow.SONY DSCThe oranges and reds have since fallen to the ground, and snow is on the way, but these macaroons are sure to continue brightening the season.bruce pitSONY DSC

Recipe after the jump

Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Gratitude

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My silly twin in action. No one takes me seriously at home.

I know I’m not being original in proclaiming my love for all things pumpkin once fall arrives, but I figured (Canadian) Thanksgiving was an appropriate time to fawn over my favourite season and its treats. Autumn is just so wonderful: sweater weather, the breathtaking trees with their coloured leaves, sunny days and the crisp air, warm comfort food, pumpkin galore…I did scrounge the grocery stores here for pumpkin purée, but no luck so I don’t think we’ll be tasting a pumpkin pie this weekend. That’s really quite alright, though, because I am in España!
These coffees were actually the last thing I made at home before hopping on a plane over here — my lovely mother, (silly) twin, and I sipped our lattes and enjoyed my last fall morning in Ottawa until next year.

When I first started spending (wasting?) my money at Starbucks I could only handle the flavoured coffees, and pumpkin spice was my favourite by far. I would anticipate that day in early September when pumpkin was back on the menu. I don’t have anything against Starbucks, I just can’t afford to maintain that habit– so it was pretty thrilling to enjoy a homemade pumpkin spice latte, that also tastes a lot more like coffee and less like syrup.

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I’m so grateful for the exciting experience I have been having so far, the great people I have met, and my super supportive/loving/overall excellent friends and family — some of whom are coming to visit me soon; I’m grateful for that, too!! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in Canada! Enjoy your dinners, the long weekend and those marvellous fall colours. I’ll be at the beach!

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20121005-145127.jpg Pumpkin Spice Latte