How do you like them apples?

Not Far From the Treesummary: stir-fried vegetables with apples and raisins; cauliflower greens; grilled chicken; picking apples for Not Far From the Tree; overgrown gardens; curly hair and burrs; calling in the professionals; heroic hair stylists; information about Not Far From the Tree;

stir-fry It hasn’t been easy to get in on Not Far From the Tree picks this year. So the other day, I was very happy to be on a team to pick apples. The tree was on the edge of a lovely clean patio that bordered onto an unused wildly overgrown parking pad (which bordered onto a public park). The tree wasn’t giant but it was laden with fruit and many of the apples were within reach – with the help of a couple of ladders….

For the first hour, I was on the shed roof. Then, I joined one of the other pickers in the wildly overgrown area to spot her as she climbed one of the taller ladders. One of the things that happens, once you get up into the tree, is that you can’t see the apples (I tried to play on “can’t see the forest for the trees” but just don’t feel clever enough to manage it). So I looked up and guided her to where the fruit was. Little realizing that every time I looked up, my loosely braided hair was falling into burrs. Zillions of burrs. Thank goodness I was wearing a baseball hat!

When we emerged onto the patio, the others pulled burrs off our clothes and without any difficulty at all from the other woman’s straight chin length hair.

Things didn’t go so well for my hair….

I’m very happy to report that I do NOT have a pixie haircut again after all. (And it only took 6.5 hours of labour….)

We are especially grateful to the team of three (Lysa, Angela, and Eva) at the Dundas location of Grateful Head Salon. They worked like fiends to NOT cut my hair!

They were amazing! When we called (after T had worked for an hour and a half trying to remove the mass of burrs, succeeding in removing two large handsful – the photo on the left was taken AFTER many of the burrs were removed), Lysa, the salon owner, said she had untangled dreadlocks so they would take a look to see what they could do. Miraculously, they could take me right away.

I was in the salon for 5 hours (the first 4 and some were to remove the burrs) – three of these wonderful women worked together and/or separately, depending if they had a client or not. I had no idea while it was going on that it was taking that long….

And every time someone came into the salon, Lysa would exclaim, “And you wouldn’t believe how wonderful her husband is! He called us and said, ‘My wife has the most beautiful long hair, but…’. No man has EVER called to make an appointment for his wife….”

At one point in the long afternoon, when we were starting to glimpse a light at the end of the tunnel, Angela (who worked tirelessly alone, in a Zen-like silence, for a large section of time) suddenly started laughing and said, “I keep thinking of your husband going at your hair with pliers. What a guy-like thing to do!”

But of course, it wasn’t my hair that he went after with the pliers. It was those tenacious burrs. He was trying to break them up….

apples Yes, indeed. This particular harvest of NFFtT apples turned out to be very expensive apples….

We’ve decided to be philosophical about the cost of spending 5 hours at the salon. We’re amortizing it over the 25 years that Tot has been cutting my hair. Not to mention that I won’t have to go back in 6 weeks to have my hair cut again. Looking at it that way, the cost is ridiculously low. :-)

But enough about burrs and hair. Let’s cut to the chase: What to do with all those apples!!

We don’t care that the apples have marks and blemishes. It shows that the apples haven’t been sprayed with pesticides!

Before tackling the burrs in my hair, we juiced a dozen or so apples as soon as I got home. The juice was beautifully refreshing.

I suspect that these apples will also bake very well. They are on the dry side but beautifully tart/sweet.

chicken legs On the evening after my ordeal at the salon, we celebrated with grilled chicken (using Ethiopian spice mix that my sister put together when she made Doro Wat for us – we’ve got to make Doro Wat again! It’s delicious!).

I decided to stir-fry some onions with mustard seeds, Swiss chard and cauliflower greens in coconut oil. That’s right, the pale green leaves wrapped around a cauliflower are not only edible, but they’re delicious!

stir-fry As the onions were just about to turn gold, I decided to throw in some sliced apple and raisins. I threw in a splash of red wine vinegar. Then I thought it might be nice to echo the grilled chicken with a little reduced chicken stock from the freezer.

I LOVED this stir-fry. But it made a lot. So even with both of us taking huge portions, there was one more serving left to go into the fridge.

It was poisonously hot all the next day, so we decided we’d have salad with romaine lettuce, green beans, red pepper, oven-roasted potatoes, grated parmesan cheese and a creamy Caesar-ish dressing. I decided to throw the leftover chard/cauliflower greens into my salad (T declined, turning up his nose). Ha. T was wrong. The stirfry was a brilliant addition!! (Sorry no photographic evidence – not even the fork and empty bowl.)

Not Far From the Tree Not Far From the Tree

“Not Far From the Tree” is a Toronto organization that includes a residential fruit-picking program to pick fruit (with permission, of course) that would otherwise go to waste.

There are lots and lots of fruit trees and vines in Toronto!! Bearing fruit that is eaten by birds, squirrels and raccoons. If you have such a thing in your garden and would like the animals to share the fruit with people, please do contact “Not Far From the Tree”. They will send a team of pickers to clean up your yard of fallen fruit and pick the good fruit that is still in the tree. The harvested fruit is divided evenly into 3 portions: one third going to the tree owners, one third going to the volunteer pickers and the final third going to food banks, shelters, and community kitchens.

For more information about NFFtT and how you can donate your time and/or share your fruit, please go to

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grateful head salon - Toronto Grateful Head Salon

Many thanks to Lysa, Angela and Eva for the hours they spent removing the hundreds of burrs from my hair to ensure that instead of having to resort to a pixie cut, I could keep my long curls.

Really impressive was how well everyone worked together and how completely receptive they were to cutting my hair in the fashion that I wanted it cut (boring, no layers). Also impressive was the total lack of push for me to dye away the grey that is coming in.

I also love the shampoos and conditioners they use – natural products that smell fresh and lovely.

LYSA FINA […] Founder and Artistic Director, Lysa Fina, specializes in custom curl-cutting. […] Fina respects the hair’s natural movement and works with your texture to tailor a unique cut for your curly locks.
[Lysa is also an accomplished singer-songwriter.]
ANGELA CREAMER […] Trained by one of Vancouver’s top salons, “Axis”, Angela spent 10 years honing her craft in Vancouver. […] Angela is most at home when working with her clients to achieve a look that they desire.
Angela, a.k.a “Smashy Ruin”, is also a kick-ass drummer.
EVA MOON […] A recent graduate of Marca College of Hair & Esthetics, Eva received top honours with the “Remarcable Award”. She joins our team as Junior Stylist and is apprenticing under Lysa Fina and Sarah White.
An Apprentice Stylist, Drummer, guitarist, writer, vocalist, painter, activist … A star in the making!

There are two Toronto locations in the west end: 231 Roncesvalles Avenue, 1594 Dundas Street West. The salon is open Tuesday-Saturday, except on 1 and 4 July.

Grateful Head was founded by barber’s daughter, Lysa Fina and Rock n Roll Hellraiser, Stacy Stray. The two bonded over their love of music and passion for hairdressing

For more information about the salon, please go to:





This entry was posted in food & drink, NFFtT, whine on by .

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