Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Out of Thin Air: Adventures in Beginner Sourdough

Making bread is magic.

Forget card tricks and rabbits out of hats. Bread--especially sourdough with wild fermentation--is where it's at.  Not only for the whole "turning water and flour into food" thing, but for what the process of making bread can do.

It's been a tough year. A tough year on top a very challenging few years. When you're in chronic pain it's hard not to feel in a funk, and trauma works in funny ways. I disconnected with so many things -- when you are unable to change what's really wrong, you try to change everything else. I went blonde! I shifted careers! I stopped posting here!

I've been searching for ways to feel unstuck and recently pledged to use one recipe out of a cookbook I own each week. Um... I definitely have enough cookbooks to last the year.

Slowly over the past few weeks I've discovered what I knew all along -- the kitchen is home, baking is awesome, and the slow concentration and patience that bread making requires connected me back to what I love.

Do I feel better physically? No, of course not. I'm currently on the couch sweaty from pain and I've already maxed out all the meds and creams I could possibly take today. But the little mental victories help.

So here's to sourdough. To baking. For bringing me back here time after time and being a constant in the dark days. I'm glad we found each other again.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How To Make the Cutest Christmas Baking: Part One

Rabbit rabbit, it's the first of December! This means it's only 24 sleeps until the big guy comes to eat all your cookies and milk. So, you better be prepared. Don't worry-- I've got you covered. Here's Part One of some of my favourite Christmas and holiday baking recipes.

Cute, easy, and questionably healthy, you can't go wrong with Santa Strawberries

Santa Strawberries

Gluten free, fat free, but not flavour free -- whip up a batch of these peppermint meringue trees as a gift for those you love! 

Meringue Trees

You can't put these on your door, but you can put them on your plate. And into your mouth. 

Wreath Donuts

Crispy and chewy gingerbread cookies, AND a practical label for your presents. Does it get any better than this? No.

Cookie Gift Tag

Soft, sandwichy, and full of festive baking goodness. A great gift to your tummy.

Christmas Star Cookies

Haven't quite found what you're looking for? Stay tuned for round two, and sign up for my newsletter for new upcoming recipes!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Smarties Brownies (aka Leftover Candy Brownies)

What do you do when you're sick of eating candy?

Turn it into a new kind of candy and eat more of it.

We're just stepping (lumbering?) out of our post-Halloween sugar haze, and the treat bag pickings are slim. Aeros, Smarties, and those little wrapped rice candies abound. The boyfriend circles our son's candy bag like a chocolate vulture, but we're all kind of over what's left. Desperate times.

This recipe is kind of like chocolate upcycling. First we have the fudgiest brownies, baked in muffin tins and drizzled with a thin black cocoa glaze (you can use regular cocoa--no big deal). Top them with Smarties (kind of like M&Ms to you non-Canadians) but any leftover chocolate will do. Just bake, glaze, and sprinkle your way to a dressed-up treat. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

On Where We're Going and Where We've Been

Oh, hey! Bet you think I've forgotten about you.

I haven't. I've been thinking a lot about this space lately. About why I started it, and where I am now. About what it's done, and what I need. Things just weren't working out the way they used to.

So I've decided to make some changes.

When I started this blog I was still a student, bleary eyed and tired, single parenting a small child while in university and working full time. I was a little bit lonely, a little bit bored, and had discovered something new I wanted to share.

Years later, I was writing cookbooks, creating recipes, snapping photoshoots, working with some amazing people on incredible projects, and all of a sudden I had to stop and think -- how the fuck did I get here? I've always been ambitious. But sometimes that can catapult you in a direction you didn't intend. So I stood back and gave it some thought.

And what did I find? That after 5 years, a few different relationships, a new career, and some budding hobbies, things just weren't the same. Coupled on top of that, a hip injury from a car accident made everything hurt and had me realize where I wanted to spend my time.

So what will be here now? I'm not quite sure! Recipes, pottery, household projects (maybe some drop ins from friends) and a much more rounded approach to everything. 

Let's see where we can take this. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Triple Chocolate Cake

This cake takes me back.

One of my favourite pre-career jobs was working at a coffee shop in a kind of transitional area of downtown Vancouver. Not quite nice, not quite terrible. Our customers were a mix of vagrants, office workers, people who were just sort of around, and bands in town for shows. I was your typical barista, young and full of ennui, and rattled off customer's orders while counting down the hours to post-work drinks or my resentment of the skytrain ride home to the 'burbs. Youth.

Coffee shops here are painfully and pleasantly common, but our chain crafted uniquely fantastic hot chocolates, made with real chocolate blended into steamed milk. They came in three flavours: dark, milk or white chocolate.

Inevitably, every time a hot chocolate was ordered, it went down something like this:
"So, do you want that to be dark, milk, or white chocolate?"
"Oh, uh, dark milk."
"That's not a thing."
"Dark milk. There's a comma. It's either/or"
"Oh, dark then, I guess."

I could have reworded it, sure, but this small, constant misunderstanding brought me a lot of joy. I like to think it snapped people out of autopilot and made them listen a little closer. This is probably not true.

If I could time travel, I'd go back to those moments. I could groundhog day that job.

So, let's reminisce together: How do you want your cake?

Dark, milk, white, please and thank you. Layered and blended into an orchestra of cocoa.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Half and Half Cookies (aka Hybrid Chocolate Chip and Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookies)

I've been sitting on this recipe for a while, even though my family unanimously agrees they were the best thing to come out of the oven in 2014.

It feels unfair to not start out the year by posting them, then, so you can get the best thing that will come out of your oven all year out of the way in the first few weeks.

Less to worry and plan about and all that. 

This may all sound ridiculous but these cookies are not your grandma's humble chocolate chip. A hybrid of chocolate chip and reverse chocolate chip cookies, the equally chewy, dense halves finally put an end to debates about what should be baked and for whom. You can munch on one side, both sides, or spilt them apart to share.

They're a bit more work than your standard mix-and-drop chocolate chip cookie, but so good and so worth that little extra effort.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Star Cookie Sandwiches

Are you feeling all holly jolly?

We're totally in the spirit around here, despite the fact that we don't have our tree up yet. We've had a few health setbacks (hello, colds and oral surgery!) and plus our tree is incredibly fake and the storage unit is a pain to get to. But that will change tonight, when we unwrap that sucker and get it all set up.

Of course, trees are great and all, but the one thing that really makes a home feel ready for the holidays is baking.

There's nothing like our little apartment smelling like spices and sugar, and a counter full of special baking to grab and nibble on.

These cookies are inspired by Oreos and shortbread, combining the two into a little holiday cheer. Creamy butter icing sandwiched between bright red shortbread stars -- perfect for Santa or a cookie exchange.

What will you be leaving for Santa this year?


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