Let them eat cake!

After seeing this post from The Kitchn, I decided to make my own birthday cake this year. I’m not even supposed to have chocolate (allergies), but I am a firm believer in the everything-goes-on-your-birthday policy. As the chef/baker in this house, I didn’t feel confident assigning a gluten-free cake to someone who wouldn’t know what even a ‘scant teaspoon’ meant. Gluten-free is tricky business in the first place, not to mention the fact that I was combining two recipes in an attempt to adapt what I wanted to gluten free.  They both had sour cream as a common ingredient, but that was about it. One used 3 eggs, one 5, so I compromised and went with 4. After shrugging my way through the rest of the recipe, I put it carefully in the oven and hoped for the best. What came out was one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. It was dense and fudgy, and the saltiness of the chopped pistachios cut the sweetness of the icing nicely.

Yes, I highly recommend making your own birthday cake.


Carnival Cookies!

Yup. That is popcorn you see up there.

I don’t quite know what to think about these cookies. They are from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday. I was really excited to make them because although there’s no dairy or added sugar, (or even eggs!) there is popcorn, chocolate chips and peanuts in the dough! There wasn’t a picture for this recipe, so I had no idea what these little guys would even look like.

Turns out they look like macaroons, but taste, well, rather odd. Not bad, but I wasn’t scarfing them down either. I had to make some substitutions (quinoa puffs instead of oats), but I think the flavour that throws me off are the bananas. There are 3 mashed bananas in a recipe with few ingredients that only makes 24 small cookies. I found the flavour of them overpowering and incompatible with the popcorn. The popcorn gets a little soft in the cookies, kind of like marshmallows.

I would like to make these again, but I think I will use add-ins that work with banana bread: walnuts, chocolate, coconut etc. Made with healthier options, they would make a great and quick breakfast snack – or maybe even a granola bar.

Gingerbread Weasley Burrow

Every year during the holidays, my family makes a gingerbread house. Normally I participate more in the deconstruction rather than the construction, but it’s always a highlight for me. This year, after seeing the Lego set for the Weasley’s Burrow, I thought, what a great gingerbread house that would be. There are photos and instructions available online (sometimes from professional bakers/prop-makers/architects), but I am lucky to have a dad who is both obsessive and awesome. He created his own template and (due to a sudden emergency – what’s Christmas without one?) did all the work himself.

I’ve already been on the lookout for an idea for next year and, ever the competitor, I’m tempted to give one a go myself. Perhaps a family wide, long-distance bake-off is in order!

Resolutions 2012: Use it up

Sometimes I need a little kick in the butt to get out of my buying-with-a-plan-but-not-actually-using rut. Putting together the supplies for my Daily December project, I was shocked to see just how many craft supplies I have trucked around with me over the years. So in 2012, I’m resolving to either follow through on all those plans, (big or small) or to clear things out:

1. Cook out of my beautiful cookbooks rather than endlessly searchingTastespotting. I’ve already cleared out any titles I never really used or involve ingredients I don’t really eat. I’ve kept only the ones I love to sit and look at; except that isn’t really their purpose is it?

2. Scrapbook my way through my craft supplies, until everything runs out (movie stubs or paper – whichever happens first). If there is anything left over, it will be donated to an appropriate charity.

3. WEAR MY VINTAGE CLOTHES. I AM NOT OPERATING AN ARCHIVE. (The all-caps are directed at me, not you). I either need to frame them or wear them, but not just let them wither in the closet. There are a few things I am going to give away  – I have just the right people in mind for them – a few I might sell, and the others I will wear.

4. Sew from my fabric stash only, using the patterns I have amassed. I have more patterns than fabric, but I don’t like the idea of having a closet full of fabric either.  I have some specific sewing goals as well, but there are too many of those to list here. I’m so excited to be sewing again!

I think it’s going to be a busy, but delicious year!

36 hour cookies

I tried out 36-hour cookies this weekend. According the New York Times, this is THE cookie recipe you have been waiting for and you’re going to need to extend that wait for another 36 hours. Luckily for me, one of my favourite gluten-free bloggers converted it.  I halved the amount of sugar and butter (I don’t like an overly-sweet cookie), added walnuts, but followed the rest of the instructions exactly. I did have a moment where I considered using quinoa and bean-flours and flax seeds, but decided instead to get over any healthy inclinations I was having. These are cookies after all. I sneaked in a bite of the dough and was shocked to discover that it actually tasted good! Those who have food allergies will appreciate what a feat this is! Normally g.f. goods taste fine once they are cooked but certainly not during the dough stage.

I dutifully wrapped up the dough and put it in the fridge to wait. And wait and wait and wait. 36 hours is a long time, but I assure you it was worth it. The vanilla, the brown sugar, the sea-salt on top….you could taste them all in each bite. Crunchy but not too crunchy, chewy but not too chewy, these really are my perfect chocolate chip cookies. Thank you, Thank you Gluten Free Girl!


Cozy fall eating

It was Canadian Thanksgiving last weekend. I was really looking forward to cooking something other than the traditional turkey dinner. There was no crack of dawn farmer’s market run for the appropriate sized bird. There was no jostling for oven time between dishes. It was great and delicious. I made Martha Stewart’s mushroom tart and orange cranberry sauce as well as a curried pumpkin soup. I put cranberry goat-cheese on the top of the tart, but really you could use anything (I’m already plotting another one with chorizo and sun-dried tomatoes).

For dessert, I made baked apples stuffed with walnuts, pecans, gluten-free ginger snap crumbs and marzipan, served with chai gelato. It was just the indulgent comfort food I was looking for. I found the recipe for that on Tastespotting.

So today I would like to say Thanks. Thank you to all the people create and post content online. Thank you for inspiration and ideas, explanations and stories, and – best of all – tutorials and how-to’s for everything from enabling a macro in Power Point, to sewing a blind hem, to baking stuffed apples.

And thank you for reading this blog.