Category Brampton

Bucket List Job: Carl Laidlaw Orchards

Since I will probably never live on a farm, the next best thing just might be working on one. I recently had the privilege of working at Carl Laidlaw Orchards during their apple harvest. On such an exceptionally beautiful farm, the job perks were bountiful.


Photo contributed by Laura Kelly.

Best bosses ever. Mark and Laura. I think anyone who knows Mark and Laura – from employees to farm guests to family and friends – would agree they are such sunny-souled, kind-hearted people.


Laura and her sunflowers.


Mark in his orchard.

Awesome staff. Supportive and so fun to work with. Sorry to miss the farm dinner. Nice working with you all.


Top quality, farm-to-table products. Pick your own apples and pears. If you think you don’t like apples, you haven’t tasted a ripe, juicy apple plucked from a Carl Laidlaw Orchards tree.


As the season progressed, I snacked on a different variety of apple every week, each with its own unique characteristics; the flavours and textures were brilliant. How can I go back to boring, red delicious grocery store apples, now that the season is over?


Freshly picked corn, squash, pumpkins. Aren’t these ghost pumpkins adorable?


Freshly baked pies and gorgeous, gourmet flatbreads.

Pretty candy apples. Artisanal jams, salsas, mustards, and honey, including Mark and Laura’s very own small-batch honey produced from hives right on their farm. Heaven for a foodie like me. Nothing like selling a product you love and then coming home with it.

Laidlaw Honey

Enjoyable tasks. Chatting with the customers as I checked them out. Teaching them what Mark and Laura taught me about the apples. Getting hugs from our happy, wee visitors.

Spending the day making candy apples. Just call me the bee whisperer – the friendly little chaps thankfully found the candy sweeter than me (we gave them a taste of their own).

Picturesque space. Charmingly nostalgic thanks to Laura’s ultra creative touch. Described on instagram as “if Kate Spade opened an apple orchard”.

I loved working in the barn – every corner was picture perfect. With the doors wide open on both ends of the building, I was protected from the elements but felt like I was in fresh air all day long.

Breathtaking surrounding. Stunning orchards rolling down to the scenic Credit River.


Photo contributed by Laura Kelly.

Best commute. Through farmland accented with cricket’s song.

Hard to pick what I loved best about my job. Maybe the terrific customers, whose love of the farm brings them back year after year, and whom Laura and Mark greet with a warm farm hug like they are part of the farm family.

And so, for those of you who scratched their heads when I said I was working on a farm, now you know. What a pleasure it was to work at Carl Laidlaw Orchards. The harvest is over for this year. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to visit next season. Follow Laura’s blog for updates (

Thank you, Mark and Laura. Warm farm hugs to you too, and Spencer and Margo. xxxx Olive.

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An Apple a Day: Local Apple Season Has Begun

Have you got a hankering for cinnamon-scented apple crisp (recipe here), served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream?

Mom's Apple Crisp

Mom’s Apple Crisp

Maybe a slice of cheddar cheese and homemade apple pie (recipe here), piled high with juicy apples in a flaky crust?


Mark’s Apple Orchard Pie * Photo: Laura Kelly, Carl Laidlaw Orchards

Leaning toward something on the savoury side? How about a steaming bowl of apple squash soup (recipe here)?


Laura’s Apple Squash Soup, Carl Laidlaw Orchards

or honey-drizzled apple and cheese tartine (recipe here) to enjoy with a glass of wine?

Eleonora Gattesco Roberts

Fall Fruit & Cheese Tartine with Honey Drizzle * Photo: Eleonora Gattesco Roberts

Perhaps, after all that summer indulging, you just want to sink your teeth in a freshly-picked, crisp apple.


Local apple season has begun! Gather up your family and friends and visit an apple orchard. Visit my post, Happy Under the Apple Boughs: Carl Laidlaw Orchards, for a glimpse of what this beautiful orchard has to offer.


Carl Laidlaw Orchards

Enjoy the fall colours, sunshine, and fresh air. Pick your own apples; come home with rosy cheeks and a bounty of apples.


Learn the proper way to pick an apple so you don’t damage next year’s crop. Ripe apples separate easily from the stem; gently lift the bottom of the apple up towards the sky and twist gently, so you don’t remove any of the branch (and next year’s apple) from the tree. Make sure to thank the farmer before leaving.


Thank you, Mark Laidlaw (Carl Laidlaw Orchards).

Contact your local orchard to find out what fruit is ready to pick (they ripen at different times). It’s a good idea to review their farm etiquette before visiting.

For a list of local orchards in your area, visit:

Grown in Peel:

Grown in Halton:

My local favourites are listed on my farm directory but call the orchard directly for updated hours of operation for 2015.

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Holiday Traditions: Crawford’s Village Bakery

UPDATE: Crawford’s Village Bakery is closing November 30, 2014. 

My first memory of Crawford’s Village Bakery is of the sweet fragrance of their still warm pies as we stocked them in the Cheeseboard Café’s cooler when I waitressed there back in the 80s. Alison made frequent trips to Crawford’s to keep up with the demand for their delicious, freshly baked fruit pies, like Strawberry Rhubarb and Cherry. I fondly recall the elderly lady who routinely struggled to get to the Cheeseboard just for a prized piece of Blueberry Pie.


My favourite memories of Crawford’s are the trips my Mom, sisters, and I used to make there every holiday. At Thanksgiving we’d pick up our order of Pumpkin and Dutch Apple Pie (my favourite!).


At Christmas we ordered Butter Pecan Pie and our Easter order often included Quiche.


Mom and I loved to browse the shelves for gourmet goodies to embellish our feast,


stuff in Christmas stockings, or hand out as charming hostess gifts.


(Top photo) Suc’ Aromatisé flavoured sugars from France – can’t wait to try the Violet. (Middle photo) Martin Pouret French mustard, Safinter Smoked Spanish Paprika, and Terre Exotique Flower Salad from France. (Bottom photo) Guelph, Ontario’s Kitchen Connaisseur.

Our cookie trays included Aunt Maud’s Christmas Fruitcake. Lucy Maud Montgomery was related to the Crawfords. Elaine and Kelly Crawford published Aunt Maud’s Recipe Book from Lucy’s original recipes, which were passed down through the family. You can buy it at Crawford’s.


Mom always placed a festively-shaped, handcrafted Chocolate Sucker on each grandchild’s plate.


We often picked up little treats for ourselves to enjoy later like German Chocolate Brownies. In those days, we’d linger over a homemade lunch that Crawford’s used to serve in the adjoining room.


(Photo) German Chocolate Squares, Butter Tart Squares, and Date Squares.

I still adore going to Crawford’s for pies and gourmet goodies, cherishing the traditions that Mom and I started. Crawford’s was founded in 1967 by Bob and Elaine Crawford who still run it today, with the help of their daughter, Kelly, and friendly staff.


(Top photo) Some of the happy bakery staff: Angela, Katie, and Jennifer. (Middle photo) Andrea, the talented jam and jelly maker. (Bottom photo) Corry, one of the lovely chocolate ladies.

Throughout all of these years, the quality of Crawford’s products has remained consistently excellent. We have never been disappointed.

The classic fruit pies (Blueberry, Cherry, Dutch Apple, Strawberry Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb Cream Cheese, and Butter Pecan) are usually regularly available throughout the year. Summer seasonal pies (available on certain weekends) include such delights as Luscious Lime, Lemon Chiffon, Double Lemon, Lemon Sour Cream, and Blueberry Lemon Crumble.


Luscious Lime Pie

Apple is available all year until summer’s celebration of Peach. Raisin Pie is available by special order. Butterscotch Pie is baked about six times a year, usually around a holiday or long weekend. Pumpkin and Crimsonberry are available weekly except during the summer.


Crimsonberry Pie

Lemon Meringue is available on weekends only from fall to spring. Mince and Mincekin pies (pumpkin with a bottom layer of mince) are the joys of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Crawford’s usually features lighter pies at Easter to celebrate spring. Stay tuned to Crawford’s Facebook page for pie schedule announcements. All pies are lovingly made from scratch with a perfect crust and delectable fillings. Crawford’s pies remain the gold standard for pies in our region and are worth every calorie!

The shelves are brimming with artisanal treats and fine imported products like olives, oils, vinegars, pastas, and sauces.


Local products include The Garlic Box, Credit Valley Gold Honey, and Temple’s Sugar Bush Maple Syrup.


And of course, Crawford’s homemade Jams, Jellies, and Sauces. Oh, I think I’ll make my Dad’s day and pick him up a jar of Crawford’s Chili Sauce and a Meat Pie.


I bought my son an old-fashioned Chocolate Cake from Crawford’s for his birthday this year and it was really good. Crawford’s handmade and dipped Chocolate Truffles are far too tempting to resist!


Leave enough time to hunt for a vintage treasure to buy amongst the antiques that have replaced the little café. Check out the Lucy Maud Montgomery Museum in the same space.


Businesses like this, run by families like the Crawfords, are an absolute pleasure to write about. Thank you to the Crawford family for years of continued excellent service.

Call ahead to reserve your favourite pie or to place a chocolate order.

Open 7 days a week:
Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and Sundays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Open Thanksgiving Day, Easter Day, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve.
Crawford’s Village Bakery & Distinctive Foods
2809 Bovaird Drive West
Brampton, ON (Norval)
Telephone: 905-451-0347

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Simple Pleasures on the Farm

I try to contain myself but I just can’t help revelling in the gifts of every season: fireflies lighting up a summer’s night, the first crimson leaf to fall, the first snowfall, or the fragrant bouquets of lily-of-the-valley that my husband surprises me with every spring. He handpicks each stem from an abandoned garden.


I try to capture the right moment, when the trees are bursting with blossoms, to embrace my family underneath one so that we can be showered with petals. These are momentary pleasures that pass all too quickly. It’s important to me to slow down and breathe them in.

Photo contributed by Laura Kelly.

That’s why I love the blog simple pleasures on the farm. My friend, Laura Kelly, has an exceptional talent for capturing the simple but beautiful pleasures of the life she shares with her family on their picturesque farm, Carl Laidlaw Orchards. There’s always a captivating story to be told whether it’s the return of the bluebirds or Laura’s evening date with Mark strolling through the blossoming orchard, hunting for hidden treasures of wild asparagus. How romantic! Through stunning photography and honest, nostalgic writing that touches your heart, Laura shares the magic of the orchard with her readers.


You may remember I featured Laura and Mark in my post Happy Under the Apple Boughs: Carl Laidlaw Orchards. She and Mark are fabulous cooks too. I have posted some of Laura’s recipes on my blog: Laura’s Farmhouse-Fusion Apple Squash Soup, Mark’s Apple Orchard Pie, and Easy Blender Hollandaise Sauce.

Laura is so creative. I am glad she is sharing her talents and treasures through a blog. I don’t want to miss one post, so I have signed up to receive them by e-mail (scroll down to the bottom of her blog).  I just had to share with you. Enjoy!

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Easter Feast: Part Two

UPDATE: Crawford’s Village Bakery is closing November 30, 2014.

Happy Easter! This week, I’ve got notes on my ham and tips on potatoes and homemade desserts for your Easter feast, including a treasured heirloom recipe I served at our family Easter last weekend. Please scroll to the bottom for the recipe.

But first, here are some ways to put a little spring in your step this Easter. Easter is in full bloom at Terra Greenhouses – just look at the sea of gorgeous pink or blue hydrangea blooms.


And of course, there’s no place like Springridge Farm for Easter fun. Click here for what you need to know before heading out to Springridge Farm’s Easter Festival, held on Good Friday April 18, Saturday April 19 and Sunday April 20, 2014: (be sure to check out the video link). Say hello to the baby chicks.

Every Easter, Starsky Fine Foods sells these adorable baked lambs that make a sweet table decoration.  And look at the colourful Easter palms.


You can find pussy willows at Herridge’s Farm Fresh Market, which opened yesterday.


By the way, the quiches we ordered last week from Crawford’s Village Bakery were as delectable as their pies: Crawford’s famous pie crust filled to the brim with a generous, flavourful custard that wasn’t too rich.

The Country Ham that I ordered from Heatherlea Farm Market was easy to prepare and I was pleased with the results. Basically, I just removed the skin, trimmed the fat and scored it, then placed the ham cut-side down in the slow cooker, added a bit of water, and let it slow cook until the fat rendered and the meat reached a safe temperature. After I let it rest, I glazed it according to the recipe (see Easter Feast: Part One), let the glaze rest, and then carved it. I have never smelled a more aromatic ham. It was so succulent and tasty straight out of the slow cooker. If you are planning on making this recipe, be aware that the six pound ham just fit in my oval seven quart slow cooker and served sixteen people with leftovers.

What goes better with ham than scalloped potatoes? If you are craving a casserole of thickly sliced potatoes in a rich and creamy sauce with lots of sharp cheddar cheese, I really like Chef Michael Smith’s recipe: Potato Cheddar Casserole.

Herridge’s Farm Fresh Market has Ontario greenhouse rhubarb, a harbinger of spring. Click here for an easy Rhubarb Torte recipe that will make a confident baker out of an apprehensive one and a rhubarb lover out of anyone:


On her blog Cook Me Quick, my friend Carol posted the original recipe for the heavenly carrot cake that the Cheeseboard Café used to serve. Oh, I’ve got lots of good memories of waitressing with friends at the Cheeseboard during my school years; the food was so good that it sparked an interest in cooking in me. The Cheeseboard Cafe’s Carrot Cake recipe can be found here:

Here is what I made for our feast:


Grandma Brown’s Broken Window Glass Cake

Makes one 9” x 13” pan, serving 16 +

I treasure my grandmother’s handwritten recipe for this family favourite we used to serve every holiday. It’s a ridiculously retro dessert but it’s light, refreshing, and appealing to all ages. The colourful cubes of Jell-O look like a church stained glass window. I am reviving this cheery cake to our annual Easter feast with a tip of my Easter bonnet to Grandma Brown.

Grandma Brown preferred strawberry, cherry, and lime Jell-O for the cubes; I like to replace one red coloured Jell-O with grape if I can find it (Walmart) or orange. Make the Jell-O cubes early in the morning on the day before you plan to serve the dessert; they need to chill until firm before you fold them into the filling. Defrost the Cool Whip in the fridge while preparing the Jell-O. Later that day, finish the dessert and let it chill overnight.

Special Equipment:
3 (8”) square pans
1 (9” x 13”) rectangular pan


Jell-O Cubes:
1 pkg. 3 oz. (85 g) grape or orange Jell-O
1 pkg. 3 oz. (85 g) cherry or strawberry or raspberry Jell-O
1 pkg. 3 oz. (85 g) lime Jell-O

1 cup canned pineapple juice
½ cup white sugar
1 pkg. 3 oz. (85 g) lemon Jell-O
1 container (1 litre) frozen Cool Whip whipped topping, thawed or 2 cups whipped cream

2 ½ cups Graham cracker crumbs
¾ cup (scant) brown sugar
½ cup melted butter
Butter for greasing pan


  1. Place the frozen Cool Whip in the fridge to thaw for 4 to 5 hours while the Jell-O sets.
  2. Jell-O Cubes: Prepare the grape, cherry, and lime Jell-O separately; empty each flavour into three separate 8-inch square pans. Add 1 cup of boiling water to each pan; stir well to scrape gelatin granules from bottom of pan and dissolve thoroughly. Add ½ cup of cold water; stir thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap; chill in fridge until firm, at least 3 hours. When firm, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (but leave in pan) and proceed with next steps.
  3. Filling: Empty 1 package of lemon Jell-O in a large bowl; set aside. Place 1 cup pineapple juice with ½ cup sugar in a small pot and bring it just to the boil, stirring frequently; watch carefully and remove it from the heat as soon as the first bubble appears. Pour hot pineapple mixture over Jell-O and stir thoroughly until dissolved completely.  Add ½ cup cold water. Mix well. Chill in fridge to partially set (set your timer for every 15 minutes to stir and check for readiness); it should be partially thickened and cool but still in liquid state.
  4. Crust: Meanwhile, mix crumbs with butter, and sugar; stir well. Set aside about 1 cup for garnish. Pat remaining crumb mixture firmly and evenly over the bottom of greased 9×13-inch cake pan to make a crust; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  5. Fold Cool Whip into partially set lemon Jell-O. Gently fold in Jell-O cubes. Pour into graham cracker crust. Sprinkle reserved 1 cup of crumb topping over top. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve chilled the next day.
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