Montreal got several feet of snow overnight. The city was draped in a heavy blanket of white and, for once, the city grew quiet. It felt like one of those elusive snow days. You know, one of those magical childhood days where school was cancelled and your mother let you play outside all day long. I spent most of the morning cuddling up next to the heater with blankets before I got the courage to bundle up and go for a walk.
I am so glad I did.
I live right next to Mount Royal Park, the biggest park in Montreal. It features a "mountain," which gives a glimpse of downtown Montreal from the top (though the mountain is more of a big hill than an actual mountain). At two o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon, the mountain was almost completely deserted.
The park always seems to transport me to a place outside the city. It is private, heavily wooded, and the sound of traffic is lost in the wind. It's the perfect escape from city life, even though it is situated in the heart of the city. I guess you could call it Montreal's version of Central Park.
It was snowing heavily so any small paths that had been carefully trudged were quickly disappearing. More than once I strayed from the path and got lost among the trees (Ooo, what's that shiny thing? I should take a picture of it!). Most notably, I ended up climbing a steep, slippery hill in powder up to my waist, clutching my camera high in the air with one hand and pawing at the ground with the other. I may not be the most practical person you'll ever meet, but that camera stayed dry. Well, at least until the wind came up and covered it with the entire contents of a snowy branch (poor camera).
The steps leading to the top of the mountain were treacherous. Partially because none of the 200 individual stairs were visible, but mainly because the railings were as slick as ice. Though, the snowy view of the city was worth every mutter under my breath on the way to the top. Believe me.
The sun quickly began to set, my snow-soaked clothes were starting to freeze, and so it was time to trudge my way back home. After my two and a half hour walk, I stumbled back into my apartment and cuddled back up to the heater with a mug of hot tea and warm thoughts.
I don't think snow days should be productive or stressful. Instead, I think they should be taken advantage of and enjoyed in much of the same way as a child. Even though you may not be having snowball fights or building forts, its nice to spend some time out enjoying the weather.
These pear chips have been caramelized with their own sweet fruit sugars. I like to make (and eat) fruit chips because each chip offers something a little bit different. Some are crisp and crunchy like a potato chip. Others are extra sweet and chewy, reminding me of these baked apple chips. Pear chips can be a side to any meal and make the perfect midday or midnight snack. You might forget these are healthy because they taste so good.
Yields about 5 cups
5-6 medium sized pears, variety of your choosing (I used a mixture of Bosc and Bartlett)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.
Slice the pears approximately 1/8 inch thick (if you are lucky enough to have a mandolin, use it!). Place the pear slices into a large bowl and mix in the lemon juice to prevent the pears from discoloring.
Cover all baking sheets with parchment paper and spread the pear slices in a single layer on a top. Try not to overlap them too much (they will want to stick together). Sprinkle on the sugar, if desired. I strongly suggest covering the baking sheets with parchment so the pear slices will not stick to the pan. The pears also release a lot of juice that will caramelize so parchment also makes clean up a dream.
Bake in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Every 30 minutes flip the slices over to ensure even baking. You will know they are done when they are caramelized and beginning to brown. Allow the chips to cool completely on the baking sheet before peeling off. The pears also have a tendency to become moist and sticky, so leaving them to dry out on the counter for a few hours is a good idea.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.