Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Blanket Fog Affect

(Hungry mouths beat the camera to this loaf)

When you ignore your blog for three months a lot can happen. For instance, you can turn up in Vancouver on UBC campus, suddenly a student again and loving it -- not to mention the sushi and all that caffeine charging you from the cafes stamped on every corner. Then suddenly you best pal has a baby and you're creeping on thirty and feeling sentimental before you stash a bunch of junk in your van and drive to California to bob in the waves and watch sunsets and forget you're almost thirty because everyone you meet is offering you money, dinner, advice, and a bag of Jelly Bellies. When you're finally back sleeping in your own king-sized bed it's almost a let down because September keeps winking at you and there's a new job, which sucks you like a whirlpool the minute you step in through the school doors because the whole staff already knows your name and the students actually come to the library to read and when you suggest titles, they're actually interested and actually take the books out and actually read them.


And that's what it's been like.

Which is probably why I took a nap yesterday afternoon. I never nap. But it felt good. Even waking in a puddle of drool before dragging, no ripping, my lazy carcass from the king felt good. I think I'm ready to slow the pace and feel a little less frenzied and a little more regular. After all, it finally rained. An entire September without rain and constant sunshine is enough to throw anyone into a bit of a whirlwind.

So I made White Fog Bread, which involves quinoa and apparently hearkens from Eastern Canada, an entirely foggy place. Each loaf is divided into three pieces so you can tear off a hunk (if you're an east-coast working man), put it in a lunch pail, and head out for the day.

White Fog Bread
 From Beth Hensperger's Bread for All Seasons

1 cup water
1 Tbsp yeast
pinch sugar
1 cup warm buttermilk
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
3 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups white flour

Combine the yeast and water in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, stir together the buttermilk, oil, honey, salt and quinoa. Mix in the yeast mixture and the whole wheat flour. Add the remaining flour half a cup at a time.

Knead for 3-5 minutes.

Let the dough rise until doubled (1.5 to 2 hours).

Shape the dough by dividing it into three parts. Divide each of those three part into another three pieces. Shape each piece into a long rectangle then roll it up to form a fat square. Fit three squares into one greased bread pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces.

Let the loaves rise until doubled -- another hour. Then bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Let the bread mostly cool before slicing it, if at all possible.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mermaid Cake

Mermaid Cake
The promised mermaid cake. Turns out regular blogging was a lofty promise. Of course I hadn't factored on a subtropical October. Lounging on the deck; throwing rocks at the river.. and making mermaid cakes. It's a tough life. 

Meet Mermaid,  kind of an Ariel-meets-Raggedy Ann.

I have to confess, making this cake took precedent over all other 3-year-old party plans. This is including the ridiculous amount of time I spent wandering the bulk candy aisle at Superstore. And of course, I had to make two giant sheet cakes in order to produce enough cake to make two layers, because I love a cake with a filling. This mermaid wasn't just a pretty face, no she was delish: Vanilla cake; Buttercream frosting; and Joan's filling.

Joan's Pudding Filling 
 (If you mention this filling to Joan she'll look at you blankly, feigning ignorance due to high sugar content)

1 package instant vanilla pudding
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream, low fat or regular

Prepare pudding but instead of 2 cups milk use 1 cup milk and 1 cup sour cream.
So good I could eat this straight from the bowl. Actually, I did.

On a related but somewhat awkward note: Mermaid boobs. I went with a discreet smarty bikini-style top with licorice straps. I think it worked.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thanks for waiting..

If you're still following us, thanks. We've had a long hiatus. Too long, but we're almost back, almost.. And we promise to return with great goals of regular posting, updates, exciting glimpses into our lives and kitchens. The drama! The excitement!

I'm going to give you a teaser. This is the spider cake creation from Finn's birthday bash last June. Because every post needs to have a picture. And the Spider Cake deserved a post. It was awesome. And this weekend I will be attempting (cue suspenseful music): The mermaid cake Stay tuned.

Spider Cake

Monday, July 23, 2012


Last week I had two amazing seafood feasts. I'm trying to decide which was better. The first was a solo meal -yup, just me, and a crab (no, not Mike), and a deck overlooking the sea. Three days later I was sitting on a patio with my sister, dishing in Kitsilano at Chewies over crabcakes and a plate of raw Fanny Bay oysters. Yup, raw oysters. I was a raw oyster virgin, and Rach, experienced in the area of oyster slurping, held my hand through it all. The first was a bit rough, but the third... The third oyster slid down quite nicely.

How to Cook and Eat Crab

1) Take crab - the fresher the better. Plucked from its happy home moments before your plate? Perfect.
2) Boil water with a pinch of sea salt
3) Pop crab in for 10 minutes
4) Crack those legs, suck those juices. Savour - and push aside the herbed butter. A crab this fresh doesn't need anything except your adoration.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

1 Ingredient Ice Cream

Today we finally had summer. Finn looked at me, slightly cross-eyed with exhaustion, but happy "Mommy, today was awesome. I had THREE water fights." Watching Finn, the newly minted 5-year-old "water fight" is entertaining. Two thirds of the time he is stoic, he is dodging, he is spraying - but the other third of the time is spent alternating between high pitched shrieking and the occasional wail. Water fighting against your 8-year-old  and 10-year-old buddies, while mostly awesome, has a few drawbacks. You're a little slower on the super soaker re-fill, and a little behind in the dodging. You occasionally find yourself in a chilly deluge. And of course your mean mommy makes you use hose water, not the requested warm tap water. She was brought up on water fights; being sprayed down by her siblings, and of course the biggest bully- Dad, who was always good for a bucket full of cold water on the head. Water fights are good for you - character building really.

Here's a different kind of summer awesome - 1 ingredient Ice Cream. Yes, you're clever, you've already got that ingredient figured out. Bananas. The ingredient always at the top of my grocery list, right after milk.

I saw the recipe for 1-Ingredient Ice cream on Apartment Therapy and made a mental note to try it. It combines my love of ice cream with my love of bananas. A no-brainer, really. Since then I've seen a few clever additions - a scoop of peanut butter or nutella, a dash of cocoa. But of course that would make it 2-ingredient, or even 3-ingredient ice cream.

So for the coolness of this post I've stuck to 1-Ingredient. Bananas. Yup, that's it, and it tastes great, creamy and delicious with kind of a gelato texture. And the kids don't know it's good for them . Perfect. Of course, since it was so healthy I figured a handful of chocolate chips was a requirement.

Recipe? Take some bananas. Slice them. Freeze them - about 2 hours is perfect, if longer like I do because I forget they'll just take a bit more time in your food processor or blender. Blend (processor or blender with a bit of side scraping). Eat. Log onto your computer. Go to this post and tell me how much you love me in the comments section.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chipotle Caesar

We're still learning about deer, it seems. Upon moving to the cabin (yes, in the woods) last July, one primary impression of deer formed in the minds of my dearest husband and I. Deer are cute. Trite, but fundamentally true. Deer wandered through our property in a small herd, two big (parents) and three little (offspring). As we began our new life in the country it seemed fitting that we should spy in on the goings-ons of this deer family. The image was so simple, beautiful, and natural -- all characteristics we'd anticipated of our new home. When Caleb or I, or I or Caleb, would spot a hooved and antlered soul wandering out from the woods, the alarm: "Deer!" would be sounded and we'd rush out to the deck for a closer glimpse.

While our working definition of deer was taking shape, another classification was hinted at; warnings were given. My Aunt was the first. "They're dangerous," she told us. We laughed.

"It's true," my brother echoed, later. He cited a story of a man attacked by a rampaging buck.

Weeks went by before Caleb was confronted by the stag (okay, some sort of male deer). It hobbled out from the bush, weaving like a drunk-test failure. One antler torn and bleeding, the buck stopped short to lock eyes with Caleb before it pawing the earth and beginning its charge. Fortunately, the railing of our deck provided protection and afforded Caleb enough time to duck in through the front door. Safely inside, he peered past the curtain to watch the buck stagger back into the bush.

The possibility of violence had reared it's deerish head. I remained unconvinced until one dark morning in November, from the seat of my bike I watched two bucks crash horns across Lochside Drive (picture that terrible scene in Bambi). A shadow was cast. Deer...who were they?

As the year wore on our misgivings faded with our remembrances of long summer days and minted mohitos. Deer joined the backdrop of our lives. They grazed through our field and out again. No longer exclaimed upon, and no longer watched for evidence of Hyde-like behaviour, the deer had simply been forgotten.

We turned our efforts to improving the house -- a new shower was installed -- and playing with the yard. With the master's path nearly completing it's route about the house, we turned our eyes to a garden. It took a number of days before an area was cleared and the grass broken to soil. We were nearly ready to begin. We had the seeds. I'd bought garden gloves. We'd enlisted help. It was time to fence.

Here is were I pause to reflect upon what we knew of deer: deceptively cute, potentially dangerous. Deception, potential: these words remain central to my now expanded understanding of deer. These are the traits we failed to account for when we cut the beams for our fence and dug them into the earth. While the beams was a good start (the logs were solid and well supported and stood about ten feet tall), we went wrong with the string. At the time, it seemed best to avoid buying costly fencing equipment such as chicken wire or bamboo or any type of filler, really. Instead, we elected to run crisscrossing lines of coloured thread between the posts. Our garden now looked like it belonged in a compounded from a dystopian society. Uncertain about the strength of the string, we added intersecting branches to the fence. The holes were small and impenetrable, we thought.

Happy with our work we planted and watered and waited. It wasn't long before the kale and lettuce pushed through the grown. The wheat (a madcap expriment) was doing particularly well. We waited and waited, but the greens didn't seem to be getting much bigger. Examining the soil in the kale box one afternoon, Caleb refelcted that it almost seemed as if something had gotten in for a nibble. A rabbit we thought, or a cat. Did cat's like kale?

Deceptively cute, potentialy dangerous.

Deep into a Sunday afternoon, lazy from a nap, Caleb steps out onto the deck. There is a moment of calm before he looks to the garden. In that glance he takes in the absurd lines of colour, the mangle of sticks, and a brown body curled in the lettuce box, finishing its own afternoon nap. With a leap Caleb is on the gravel, running, shouting, ready to strangle the deer with his bare hands. But he's no match. No match for the deception of stillness, in a flash the deer is moving, or the potential for maneuvers, the deep steps through a small space between one pink and one yellow string in a hoof beat. With the flag of his tail flying, the deer vanishes into the thickness of the forest.

Since, we've added a layer of chicken wire to our dystopian fence and when the deer come visiting, it isn't 'deer, comes see,' that we shout.

I bought the lettuce for this salad at Michell's farm.

Chipotle Caesar


Cut up some bread into pieces, toss it in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped herbs. Spread it on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes at 300, or until the bread is cruchy.

Dressing (Adapted from the Rebar Cookbook):

1 head of garlic roasted
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dijon
2 Tbsp pureed chipoltes
1/3 cup grated asiago cheese
1 cup olive oil

Put all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and process unitl smooth. With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil. It should emulsify as you pour.

Choose your favorite lettuce, tare it into bite sized pieces, toss with dressing and garnish with croutons and more grated cheese. Yum.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Happy Birthday Rachel!

Happy Birthday Rachel! While I know that our  4 years apart is constant, it still doesn't register that you're old enough to be 29. So Happy 29th Dear Sister. I'm sure that Caleb spoiled you, and catered to your every whim. You still have valuable birthday hours left so I hope you savour them. It's days like today when I wished that I lived in town with you. I would be standing on your doorstep right now, oblies in hand, off-key 'Happy Birthday' on my lips. But alas, I will have to tempt you to coming to the Wack to pick up your birthday oblies. I am hiding them in my freezer for you, so yes, come see us. Please. If only to eat oblies (tea biscuit topped with a mocha butter filling dipped in chocolate - who else is tempted?)

I'm a procrastinator, I respond to deadlines. So this is me - squeaking just in time for your birthday deadline. As per your request I made oblies, a Victoria- or at least a Pacific Christian School- 1980s favourite (I have many oblie related questions - What is the origin of the name oblie? Do they exist in the rest of the world? Are they Dutch? Google gave me nothing). Grandma would oblige and make these for birthday school treats -it's only now, as mother who has had to provide daycare and preschool birthday treats to share, in addition to party cake, that I realize the wisdom of having Grandma step in to lend a hand in the treat department.

I've cut and pasted Heather's recipe, graciously provided in our comments section a few years back. Sorry Heath, I should have given you a heads-up before posting this. For those that don't know Heather you might pick up in her recipe that as well as being an expert baker, she is a geologist. She makes this sound a bit too easy, I can easily picture her nibbling a biscotti cuppy as she single-handedly pipes mocha filling onto tea biscuits. My attempts weren't so pretty, I have come to terms with not being great at anything requiring fiddling - and these do. So mine didn't look quite so symmetrical or have as 'even' profile as I remember Grandma and Heather's.. but they sure tasted delicious.

(Warning: Some, those without the sweet tooth gene that seems to be our Dutch inheritence, might find these a tad sweet).

Heather's Oblie Recipe
OK. Eating a biscotti cuppy as I write. Those suckers make the best Christmas gifts! Or, in this case, 'we forgot to give Jamie's teacher a Christmas gift' gift.
Anyhow- here's the oblie recipe (pronounced ooobley, and no, I don't know why) Makes about 40 cookies.

2 pkgs Maria biscuits (tea biscuits, get those, though, the right thickness and size)

Cream 1 cup butter, softened.

Add 2 level tbsp instant coffee, dissolved completely in a tiny bit of water

Add 2 cups icing sugar. Beat by hand until thick and smooth, like peanut butter.

Put into a large freezer Ziploc, smush down towards one corner, cut a 1 cm hole out of the corner and pipe mixture onto the cookies. Perhaps about 2 tbsp onto middle of each cookie? You'll get a feel for it after a few batches ;) Use a table knife to smooth the cream out towards the edge of each cookie, leaving a peak in the middle. The whole thing should look like a Hawaiian volcano- low slope, even profile. All this should be done as quickly as possible before the butter starts to get all melty.

Freeze on a baking tray.

Melt 350g semi-sweet choc chips and a bit of shortening in double boiler, so it's smooth and runny. Put whole almonds in a pile on the countertop, as many as cookies you made.

Dip cookie, upside-down, in chocolate so all cream is covered. Immediately plunk an almond on top, trying NOT to get chocolate on it. The almond is the la-di-dah finger-hold so you can eat these without getting incriminating chocolate evidence all over your fingers.

Once they're all dipped and topped, put them in the freezer again on the tray until really solid. Then they're containerable.


Haley's notes - I used about a tablespoon filling per cookie. I'm skipping the ziplock and just using a teaspoon next time, the ziplock/mocha filling turned into a disaster in my hands. I also didn't get the chocolate consistency quite right, mine was a bit thick. I needed to do a quick spread in addition to the chocolate 'dip.'