October days are glorious when the leaves change to all of those beautiful autumn colours. It’s a wonderful time to be a kid running around as much for fun as to keep warm. As the temperature drops and the days grow noticeably shorter, it’s time to start simmering hearty soups and stews and baking apple pear cranberry crisps.

Farmers markets around Halton will be working hard right up to Thanksgiving weekend when many close up shop for the winter. Why not take your kids to a local farmers market and let them meet the people who grow their food?

It needn’t be an expensive outing. Look for bargains amongst the in-season fruits and vegetables. Buy a few apples or maybe one last melon. How about that huge zucchini you can grate to make a couple of zucchini breads? There’s usually one new fruit, vegetable or unusual flower to be found.

Remember, Thanksgiving truly is a day where we give thanks for the good things in our lives and for the hope that things will get better with time. It can be a time for creating new traditions starting with food.

Too often we feel we ‘need’ to cook the traditional turkey dinner with all of the trimmings. Not so! How about cooking a small chicken, or mac and cheese, or a really hearty vegetarian chili? Serve side dishes like mashed potatoes, and a salad made from cucumber, tomato and cooked beets or frozen Italian blend vegetables tossed with your favourite dressing.

Dessert could be an apple crisp with any extra berries or fruit (except banana) that you want to add. Try peeling, coring and cutting up 6 apples and 6 pears. Place them in a shallow baking dish. Add 1 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries. The grate ¼ cup cold butter over the fruit and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. In a bowl, mix together 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 3 cups of regular oats (not instant) and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over the fruit mixture. Then, top with ¼ to ½ cup grated cold butter. Bake in a 350 F oven for one hour.

Check to see if the fruit is cooked by inserting a knife. The apples should feel soft. If the top begins to brown too quickly put tin foil over the baking dish. Let the crisp sit for about 20 minutes before serving because it will be very hot!

Serve this dessert warm or cold as it is or with ice cream or whipped cream on top. Any leftovers are called breakfast and can be served with milk or yogurt on top to get 3 healthy food groups into hungry mouths.

It may be time to start a new Halloween tradition as well. Making your kids’ costumes from great finds at Value Village helps keep the cost of trick or treating down and it’s a fun way to spend time with your kids while teaching them valuable skills like budgeting, sewing, and safely using a glue gun. The local dollar store is a great source of inexpensive glue guns, fabric paint, beads, jewels, and ribbons.

If you’d rather not have your kids collecting all kinds of candy why not invite a few of their friends over in costume to decorate Halloween cupcakes? Bake up a batch of cupcakes, buy icing and Halloween candy from the nearest bulk food store. Plastic sandwich bags make perfect mini piping bags. Just pick up icing tips when you’re at the dollar store. Then, make some hot chocolate for all the ghosts and ghouls to enjoy.

Each of us has a creative side. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to explore it. We won’t always get things right the first time, but hopefully we have fun and learn something along the way. What better way to teach our kids that they don’t always have to get things right the first time. In fact, most of us do our best learning when we get something wrong the first and even second time. It’s trying again that builds resilience and determination. What wonderful gifts to give your kids.

Have a great idea or want to try a new recipe but you’re not sure how to go about it? Why not come to a Drop-In Session to find out who else has tried your idea or recipe and what they found worked. Usually the hardest part is asking for that little bit of help to get you started.

Hope to see you soon at the WCH!