Strawberry U-pick during the COVID-19 pandemic

Strawberry U-pick with Kids during the Pandemic
Strawberry picking at Quinn Farm

Strawberry U-pick is one of our family’s favourite summer activities and the kids are always anxiously waiting for the end of June to feast on tons of delicious local-grown strawberries.

Quinn Farm was the first farm we visited when we arrived in Montreal and we try to visit it at least once a year. It is located in a cute little town called Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot and it is only a 45-minute drive from downtown Montreal. One of the reasons we like going there is because it is highly organized and structured to receive families with small kids. They also have a shop where you can find freshly picked fruits and vegetables and lots of locally grown or made products.

Strawberry picking at Quinn Farm

The other reason why we love the strawberry season is that we can stock up and have enough strawberries for our favourite recipes. We don’t buy jam anymore, all the jam we eat at home is made with the strawberries we pick. We freeze it in small containers so we can enjoy a taste of summer all year long.

Strawberry picking at Quinn Farm

Of course that during our last visit to the shop I couldn’t leave empty-handed, so I brought home a small jar of Apple Butter,  one of Onion Confit and a Dutch Apple Pie that was still hot from the oven. They all taste delicious!!!

We were worried that due to the Pandemic all the Strawberry U-pick farms would remain closed and 2020 would be the first year without Strawberry U-pick. To make sure I was aware of any change I visited their website almost every day for the past few weeks.

Strawberry picking at Quinn Farm

I was so happy when I saw that they would be able to reopen the site (of course with a few changes). I think you’ll agree with me when I say that the pandemic has rapidly changed the individual freedoms that many of us took for granted. That’s why we do our best to teach our Little Ones to be grateful to all the little things in our life, such as a trip to the ice-cream shop followed by a stop-over at the park.

Strawberry picking at Quinn Farm

In order to disperse crowds, only people who have reserved and paid online will be permitted to pick their own strawberries. Some activities in the play yard are closed as well as the picnic areas. Visitors can take a tractor and wagon ride to the field if they choose (while respecting social distancing).

You can book your visit one their website. They open the booking calendar only 3 days in advance.

The prices are:

Admission – $8 per person (everyone 2 years and over)

4L basket – $12

2L basket – $8

A basket of fresh picked strawberries

You need to purchase at least 1 basket, as you can’t just pay for admission.

Special measures in place to make the visit safer:

  • Keep 2 meters between your family and other guests and staff;
  • Do not consume any food on site (no picnics, no sampling of fruit);
  • Do not gather or loiter anywhere on the farm;
  • Plan to only have 1 person per family enter the store;
  • Wash your hands before and after your visit;
  • Avoid touching things unnecessarily everywhere on the farm (products in the store or objects on the farm);
  • Plan on using a card and the tap option on our debit/credit terminals.

Our impression

We knew that it would be an unusual experience, very different from what we are used to. On a normal visit, we eat lots of strawberries while still in the field then we go to one of the picnic areas to have lunch. The kids go visit the farm animals and also slide on a super cool tube they have there. Since we knew that no food was permitted on site, we did not take anything with us, just a snack for the ride. And we didn’t allow them to play on the slide.

Checking the animals at Quinn Farm

It was difficult for the kids to understand that they could not eat any strawberries while we were in the field. For a couple of times the 2 older ones said that they really wanted to eat at least one strawberry. It was hard to hear that and to accept that this is our new normal. The kids patiently waited to get home and they each had a big bowl full of clean strawberries.

Overall, I think it is worth a visit. You will be able to distract a bit and will take home hundreds of delicious strawberries!

Click here to check the list with the best summer activities in Montreal.

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The Top 8 Things To Do in Montreal (Summer Version)

Discover the Top 8 things to do in Montreal with the kids as soon as life goes back to normal!

Summer is for sure our family’s favourite season. There is always so much to do in Montreal and surrounding areas that sometimes we have all the weekends of summer planned out before it even begins.

2020 is certainly an atypical year. First of all because it will be the first time in 5 years that we don’t have to spend weeks packing due to moving. Yes, we’ve moved every summer for the past 5 years! Definitely the worst moving experience was the last one, on summer of 2019. At the time I was 38 weeks pregnant of our third child and we had only one week to paint and organize the home to receive the new baby. It is crazy, isn’t it? Secondly, as we are not moving, we hoped that we would have more free time to do lots of fun activities with the kids, but then COVID-19 happened and you know the rest!

I’m sure you’re with me on this one when I say that it was not in the plans to face the daily challenges on how to juggle our lives between work, homeschooling, health, connections with friends and family, and stay sane!

Well, but the truth is that COVID is going to stick with us for a little while and summer is almost around the corner. And that means that we will have to adapt our plans a little and get a bit creative.

And then it hit me, since we will not be able to stick to our plans, why not make a list of things we want to do and places we want to visit when all of this is over? So we sat together and the kids loved making some additions to the list. And at the same time it was very nostalgic and brought back a lot of good family memories.

If you ever plan to visit Montreal stick with me here because our list of The Top 8 Things To Do in Montreal will keep you busy and entertained during your stay in this vibrant and marvelous city.

Are you ready? So, let’s go to the fun part:

Activities

Go to a Montreal Impact soccer game

Montreal Impact hosts its games at Saputo Stadium and it is an amazing experience. Since it is a smaller stadium, you feel very close to the action.

Strawberry U-Pick

Every summer we try to go at least twice to Strawberry U-pick. The kids absolutely love to pick some strawberries and eat tons of them while still at the farm. And the best part of Strawberry season is that we get enough strawberries to make and stock up on Strawberry Jam for the whole year.

We went Strawberry picking during the pandemic.
Check it out!
Strawberry U-pick - The Top 8 Things To Do in Montreal
Strawberry U-pick - The Top 8 Things To Do in Montreal
Strawberry U-pick - The Top 8 Things To Do in Montreal

Apple Picking

Montreal has hundreds of farms within a 45 minutes drive where you can apple pick. That is why we try to go to a different farm each year. It is a fun and delicious day-trip. Usually we arrive early at the farm, pick some apples during the morning (when the sun is not very hot) and then we sit by a tree and have a delicious picnic. Apple Jam and Apple Pie are two of the recipes we make with the apples we bring home.

Pataugeoire

If you are a parent from Montreal a pataugeoire is a huge part of your summer’s afternoons. Pataugeoire is a wading pool and is where my kids like to go every afternoon after summer camp.

Tulip Festival

The Tulip Festival is not in Montreal and it does not happen in the summer. It is, in fact, an annual festival that happens in Ottawa in the beginning of May. It has already become our tradition to go every year on a family trip to Ottawa and visit the festival. Ottawa is stunning and it gets even more beautiful with thousands and thousands. But if you don’t want to travel, the Botanical Garden has also a beautiful garden full of tulips.

The Tulip Festival in Ottawa

Jazz Festival

The Festival International de Jazz de Montreal is an annual jazz festival held in Montreal. There is even a section dedicated only to the Little Ones with a giant piano (the kids can jump from one key to another to make a song) and a lot more.

Just for Laughs Festival

Just for Laughs is a comedy festival held each July at the Place des Espetacles. It was founded in 1983 and it is the largest international comedy festival in the world.

Orchestra at Mont Royal

The Mont Royal is our favourite place in the city. Can you imagine listening to the most prestigious symphony orchestra in Canada and one of the best in North America while looking at the breathtaking views from the top of the Mont Royal? I don’t think life can get any better! It happens that one evening per year (around mid-July) the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal hosts a free concert at the Chalet du Mont-Royal. I know what you are thinking, it is impossible to miss it.

The Montreal Symphony Orchestra playing at Mont Royal
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Super Easy Orange Cake

easy orange cake

This easy orange cake recipe is very moist and it is so simple to make. It’s perfect for breakfast, tea time or as a simple dessert.

If you are having guests over and want to make a last minute treat, this is the ultimate no-brainer recipe.  I mean, really, it’s too easy!

easy orange cake

As a busy parent, it’s always nice to have a go-to recipe that can save your life in a chaotic day. This easy orange cake recipe has saved me countless times.

Before finding this recipe, I tried a few orange cake recipes but they all were a bit too dry or not orangey enough for my taste. What I like about this recipe is that the glaze adds just the right amount of moisture to the cake. As a result, you will get a cake that is light, fluffy and very moist. The whole family will love it.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole big orange (not peeled)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Oil
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 tbsp Baking Powder
  • A pinch of salt

For the Glaze

  • 150gr icing sugar
  • 40ml orange juice (it’s best to use fresh squeezed juice)
  • Orange zest (take the zest of the orange you are going to squeeze)
easy orange cake

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Wash your orange and cut it in pieces, doesn’t need to be too small
  • Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and set aside
  • Blend the orange in pieces, eggs, sugar, oil and
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in 3 steps/parts, blending for a few seconds each time
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan
  • Bake for about 30 min or until your toothpick comes out clean!
  • Mix all the ingredients for the glaze and pour it on the cake once it’s already cool.

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #withmylittleones.

More cake recipes:

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Traditional Brazilian Brigadeiro Recipe

brigadeiro balls

If you know anything about Brazilian cuisine or if you have a Brazilian friend, you probably already know what Brigadeiro is. And for sure you also know that it is Brazil’s most popular sweet treat!

brigadeiro balls

If you don’t know what Brigadeiro is, don’t worry, you are not the only one! I’m here to help you change that, but be prepared, it will change your life!!

Brigadeiro is a bite-size chocolate sweet. Some people say it tastes like chocolate fudge, others say it tastes more like truffles. I’ve also heard that it is similar to a soft caramel. Personally I think they are more similar to chocolate fudge.

Traditionally, they are made of sweetened condensed milk, chocolate milk powder and butter. The most popular way you can find the brigadeiro is hand rolled into balls and covered in chocolate sprinkles. 

brigadeiro balls in a stand

Before moving to Montreal, we owned a pastry shop in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Back in 2009, when we started our business, there were only a few variations of Brigadeiro being sold.

  • Classic, made with  chocolate milk powder,
  • The white version, that actually doesn’t contain any chocolate and
  • “Beijinho” made with coconut (the husband’s favourite!).

In the past few years, brigadeiro has become very commercial and lots of different new flavors have been invented. They are now being called “gourmet brigadeiros”.

Gourmet Brigadeiro is an amazing new concept, it puts together the art of confectionery and the tastes and aromas of top quality ingredients such as the best chocolates from all around the world.

They can come in a sort of different toppings and in sophisticated flavours. Pistachio, lime, passion fruit, dark chocolate, Crème Brûle, Churros, Nutella, Champagne are a few examples.

brigadeiro balls

In Brazil, no celebration is complete without brigadeiros. Honestly, I don’t remember ever going to a party that did not have brigadeiros.

At the parties, the brigadeiros are usually placed on platters near the cake. By the time everyone gathers around to sing happy bday to you! it is VERY common to find some empty paper cups left by the ones that could not resist until the “happy bday” song to eat them. (I must confess, I’m not proud of it, but I’ve done it before!)

brigadeiro balls

Here I’m going to give you the Dark Chocolate version, my favorite. The bitter taste of the cocoa powder and chocolate 54% make it less sweet and perfect, in my opinion.

While the brigadeiro requires some patience, it is not at all difficult to make.  After you roll them and cover with sprinkles, you can put them in small candy cups. 

Here at home the kids love to help rolling them in the sprinkles. If you have kids too, ask them for a little help, they will love this bonding time. And of course that some brigadeiro balls will be lost along the way (if you know what I mean!!!). J Have fun and enjoy!

brigadeiro balls
brigadeiro balls

Ingredients

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 100gr heavy cream (I use the whipping Cream 35%)
  • 30gr cocoa powder
  • 20gr good quality dark chocolate between 50% and 70%
  • 10gr butter, plus more for rolling balls
  • Good quality chocolate sprinkles (or any other type of sprinkles you like).

Instructions

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine first the cocoa powder and the condensed milk. After well mixed add the butter, cream and chocolate. Cook, always stirring, until thickened (about 10 minutes). You will know that it is in the right consistency when it comes out easily from the bottom of the pan.

brigadeiro batch
brigadeiro batch

Remove it from the heat and let it rest until room temperature.

Put your sprinkles in a plate or bowl. Then, grease your hands with butter and roll the brigadeiros into cherry-size balls.

brigadeiro balls

After that, roll the brigadeiro balls into the sprinkles and place them in paper/foil candy cups.

Now the only thing you have to do is enjoy it and taste happiness in small bites.

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #withmylittleones.

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Apple Cinnamon Bundt Cake

This delicious, fluffy and spicy apple cinnamon bundt cake will be your favorite cake of the Fall season!

Check the video recipe in our YouTube Channel

I love making this cake to share with friends or to have it at home to accompany a nice cup of coffee, especially at this time of the year. With the weather getting cooler and the kitchen full of apple bags from the last trips to the u-pick apple farms, there’s nothing better than making an Apple Cinnamon Bundt Cake.

Sweetened with brown sugar, this cake will melt in your mouth. Apple chunks and cinnamon are in every single bite.

This cake really does not need a frosting.  I just sprinkled on some powdered sugar but you can frost it as you wish.

You can use your favorite apple variety, but I suggest you stick with the most sour ones. A couple of weeks ago we all went to a u-pick apple farm, and in the following week the kids also went u-pick with their school. They brought home 2 bags of McIntosh and that’s what I used for this recipe.

First you will need to gather all your ingredients. Make your mise en place.

The apples must be peeled, cored, and sliced ¼ inch thick

To get a fluffy texture you need to mix the butter with the sugar really well, for at least 5min. this will make a difference in your cake.

After adding the eggs and vanilla extract you can continue mixing until you get a smooth mixture. But after adding the dry ingredients don’t over-mix it or it will make your cake dense.

Every time you add flour to a butter and sugar mixture, you should immediately stop mixing once you no longer see any lumps. When you overmix cake batter, the gluten in the flour can form elastic gluten strands, resulting in a denser and chewy texture.

Now it’s time to fold in the apples with a spatula. It might seem a lot but trust me, you won’t regret it.

Spray a bundt cake pan with cooking spray (you can also sprinkle some sugar and cinnamon at this time) and Spoon batter into it. Then, smooth top with the back of a spoon. 

Bake it at 350F and enjoy the smell of the cinnamon taking over your kitchen! 

Ingredients

  • 220gr Butter room temperature
  • 270gr Dark Brown Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 5gr Vanilla Extract
  • A pinch of Salt
  • 4gr Baking Soda
  • 8gr Baking Powder
  • 8gr Ground Cinnamon
  • 400gr Flour (you can also use 200gr regular flour + 200gr whole wheat flour)
  • 520gr peeled, cored apples  sliced in ¼ inch thick

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • First put aside all your ingredients. Prepare your mise en place
  • Cream butter and brown sugar in the mixer with the whisk attachment.
  • Add the eggs and vanilla extract, whisk well until smooth
  • Switch the whisk to the paddle attachment
  • Gradually add in the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Don’t overmix and stop when you no longer see any lumps.
  • Fold in the apples with a spatula
  • Spoon/pour the thick batter into the prepared bundt pan.
  • Bake for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. The baking times may vary depending on your oven. Keep your eye on the cake after 50 minutes.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the pan, then invert onto a serving plate once cooled and ready to serve.
  • Sprinkle on some powdered sugar.
  • Cover leftovers and store at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Flavor is outstanding on day 2!
  • Check the video recipe in our YouTube Channel

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #withmylittleones.

Check out the recipe for the most delicious Orange Cake!

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