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a predilection for the sweeter things in life...

Updated: 2018-03-21T05:23:16.162-07:00




gf chocolate cupcakes with raspberry-blueberry-vanilla swirl buttercreamNo worries people, no unicorns were harmed in the making of these cupcakes.My baby is 11 years old and this is the 2nd batch of gf chocolate cupcakes I made for her birthday.  The first batch was with a simple vanilla buttercream and she brought all 24 to share with her class on her birthday.  Her pal is Celiac as is another child in the class so I made sure to make everything gluten free (and no nuts of course).  My daughter is allergic to nuts and so are several children in the school.extra shiny bling from colourful dragees. I don't like their crunch but they sure are prettyThis 2nd batch of cupcakes was for her birthday party on the weekend.  We went to The Luminous Elephant and she and her gal pals made bath bombs, sang karaoke, nibbled on snacks and ate these Unicorn Cupcakes.  there are no artificial colours in the buttercream frosting! I used organic blueberry and raspberry powders for intense flavour and gorgeous natural colourSome of the girls were in her class and had tasted the 1st batch; so I asked which they preferred.  They all chimed at once "these!" The frosting tastes SO good!  I had butterfly pea flower and could have made a blue buttercream too and now I'm slightly disappointed I forgot to use that too. Oh well, 3 colours is enough lol!In fact, I have green (spinach powder), orange (carrot powder) and red (beet powder) but was hesitant to use veggie flavours because y'know kids might detect the veggies in their buttercream! Maybe next time I'll be more daring haha!the tri-coloured swirl effect was so prettyGF CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH UNICORN BERRY-SWIRL FROSTING(adapted from Barefoot Contessa's "Beatty's Chocolate Cake")1 3/4 cups gluten free flour [I used Namaste gf flour]2 cups organic evaporated cane sugar3/4 cups cocoa powder 2 teaspoons baking soda1 teaspoon baking powder1 teaspoon kosher salt1 cup organic buttermilk [or 1 cup organic milk & 1 tablespoon lemon juice mixed with milk to acidulate]1/2 cup avocado oil2 extra large free range  eggs, room temperature1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract2 shots espresso in a measuring cup; topped up with hot water to make 1 cup coffeeSPECIAL EQUIPMENT:2 Muffin tins24 large/extra large paper cupcake linersPreheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 2 muffin tins by lining with 24 large-extra large cupcake linersSift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the hot coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.UNICORN BERRY-SWIRL FROSTING4 Cups confectioner's sugar3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature1 tsp vanilla extract1 Tbsp milk1 teaspoon organic raspberry powder1 teaspoon organic blueberry powderIn an electric mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy and smoothAdd the confectioner’s sugar 1/2 cup at a timeAdd vanilla extract and gradually add milk until the buttercream is at a consistency that is not too stiff. Continue beating for 5-7 minutes at medium speed until light in colourDivide the buttercream into 3 different bowls.  In one bowl, add the raspberry powder and mix well until combined.In another bowl, add the blueberry powder and mix well until combined.Prepare a large pastry bag by scooping the 3 different coloured buttercreams insidePipe/swirl the buttercream on the tops of the cooled cupcakes[...]



250 g cream cheese50 g unsalted butter100 ml fresh milk6 egg yolks1 Tbsp lemon juice1 tsp vanilla extract60 g cake flour20 g cornstarch1/4 tsp salt6 egg whites1/4 tsp cream of tartar140 g granulated sugarSpecial Equipment: 1 8-inch x 3-inch round cake tin; 1 larger 9 or 10-inch round cake tin for the water bath.DirectionsPreheat oven to 325F.  Melt the cream cheese, butter and milk over medium heat in a saucepan, stirring occasionally. Remove mixture from heat and pour into another bowl. Mix in the egg yolks, lemon juice, vanilla and combine well. Sift in the dry ingredients; folding in the flour, the cornstarch and salt (see below for a video on how to combine the ingredients.In a stand mixer, whisk egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Slowly add in the sugar and whisk until soft peaks form, approximately 6-8 minutes (speed 8 on Kitchenaid)Take 1/3 meringue and fold into the cheese mixture, then fold in another 1/3 of meringue. After incorporated, pour the batter back to the remaining 1/3 meringue and FOLD GENTLY.  Use an 8 inch diameter by 3 inch tall cake tin lined with parchment paper (line with a circle on the bottom and a strip along the sides, ensuring that the parchment strip extends well above the rim of the cake tin.) Pour the batter into the lined cake tin. Create a bain marie (water bath). Place the filled cake tin into a 9 or 10 inch diameter cake tin lined with a small kitchen towel to ensure that the bottom bakes evenly. Fill the outer tin with hot water so that the cheesecake rests inside a water bath. Bake cheesecake on lower 1/3 of oven in the water bath for 1 hours 10 minutes or until set and golden brown at 160 degrees C (325 degrees F). Turn off oven and leave door ajar so the cake can cool inside for one hour.Remove cheesecake from the oven; remove from the bain marie and allow to cool on a wire rack. Using your hands, gently turn the cheesecake upside down allowing the top of the cheesecake to rest onto an open hand. Gently peel the parchment paper from the cake and set right side up on a cooling rack. Optional: sift powdered sugar and matcha onto the surface of the cheesecake. Refrigerate if desired; or serve warm with whipped cream and fruit allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="" frameborder="0" height="266" src="" width="320">I made a matcha flavoured Japanese cheesecake too! [...]



LEAFY ELSTAR APPLE PIE WITH ALL-BUTTER CRUSTSaid the 10 yr old upon tasting the pie: "Mommy, your apple pie exceeds expectations!"Yes, it was a mighty fine pie and I'd make it exactly the same way again and again!It all starts with the Apple.  In my pie are Elstar apples, which is a variety originating in the Netherlands in Elst in the 1950s.  It is a cross between Golden Delicious and Ingrid Marie apples. We picked these in Abbotsford at Willow View Farms last week. They are excellent apples eaten out of hand as they are crunchy and sweet.I have an aversion to soggy crusts.  If you’re like me this recipe will please you because it does everything possible to mitigate the soggy pie crust scenario.I used leaf cutters for my top crust because I didn’t feel like struggling with a braided lattice again. It took me only 10 minutes to make this top crust. The crowning glory is the little bird cut-out.  I was tempted to use a Totoro cut-out but it just didn’t look right lol!A brushing of egg white and sprinkling of evaporated cane sugar ensures a crunchy crustThe recipe called for baking at a high temperature of 425F for 15 minutes and then turning the oven down to 350F for 45 minutes.  After the time was up, I added another 15 minutes because I saw the bottom crust wasn’t browned enough.  The best thing about using a glass pie plate is that you can easily monitor the bottom crust during the baking process.The top crust of overlapped pastry leaves are absolutely delicious and crunchy with the sprinkling of sugar.The filling is simply apples, cinnamon and sugar.  No extra butter or lemon juice is neededELSTAR APPLE PIE WITH FLAKEY ALL-BUTTER LEAFY PIE CRUST FOOD PROCESSOR ALL-BUTTER PIE CRUST2 1/2 Cups all - purpose flour (12.5 ounces; 350 grams)2 Tbsp sugar (25 grams)1 tsp kosher salt (5 grams)2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 - inch pats (10 ounces; 280 grams)6 Tbsp cold water (3 ounces; 85 milliliters)PREHEAT OVEN TO 425F (400F convection). If you have a sheet pan or a pizza stone/tile, place it on your oven rack to heat.Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.  Scoop out two thirds of the flour mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse twice to incorporate. Spread butter chunks evenly over surface. Pulse until no dry flour remains and dough clumps, about 25 pulses. Use a rubber spatula to spread the dough evenly around the bowl of the food processor. Sprinkle with remaining flour and pulse until dough is just barely broken up, about 5 short pulses. Transfer dough to a large bowl.Sprinkle with water; using a rubber spatula, fold and press the dough until it comes together into a ball. Use your hands to form a ball.  Divide ball in half. Form each half into a 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling and bakingELSTAR APPLE PIE FILLING (REPLACE WITH GOLDEN DELICIOUS IF YOU CANNOT FIND ELSTAR)8-10 large Elstar apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamonPlace the sliced apples in a saucepan with the cane sugar and cinnamon.Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the apples are translucent and have released their juicesIf there is a lot of juice in the bottom of the pan, scoop out most of the juice into a small bowl.  Create a cornstarch slurry with 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water.  Pour the slurry into the juice and stir.  Then add the mixture back into the pan of apples.  Heat, stirring constantly until the apple filling thickensAllow filling to cool in the pot until ready to fill pie crustsELSTAR APPLE PIEdouble-crust pie dough (above)1 egg whiteextra evaporated cane sugarcooled apple pie fillingRoll out one of the pie crust disks between parchment or plastic wrap to fit the bottom of a 9 inch glass pie pan.  Roll the edges under itself to fit the pie pan. Make a decorative pattern in the dough with fork or fingers along the rim.Brush the b[...]

Marie-Hélène's Apple Cake


Marie-Hélène's Apple CakeSweet SeptemberAPPLE PICKING AT WILLOW VIEW FARMS IN ABBOTSFORDELSTAR APPLES! A VARIETY OF GOLDEN DELICIOUS AND ORANGE PIPPIN, THE FLESH IS CRISP AND SWEETWE SNAGGED A FEW OF THE REMAINING PEARS LEFT ON THE TREES FORTUNATELYNESTLED IN THE CROOK OF THE PLUM TREE WAS A BIRD'S NESTBLUE DOLL PUMPKIN! THE FLESH IS DEEP ORANGE AND I'M MAKING SOUP WITH THIS BABYWE PICKED SOME PLUMS (OF WHICH THERE WERE ONLY A FEW REMAINING IN ARM'S REACH), BOUGHT SOME SQUASH AND SOME CORN TOOPREPARING THE BATTER FOR THE APPLE CAKE: EGGS, EVAPORATED CANE SUGAR AND VANILLAI HAVE 3 VARIETIES OF APPLES PREPARED FOR THE CAKETHE APPLES ARE LEFT IN LARGE CHUNKS SO YOU CAN REALLY TASTE THE DIFFERENCES IN THE VARIETIESTHE BATTER IS POURED INTO A SPRINGFORM PAN FRESH OUT OF THE OVEN!THIS APPLE CAKE SMELLS OF FALLENJOY THE RECIPE! IT'S EASY AND MAKES USE OF A GOOD NUMBER OF APPLES; HIGHLIGHTING THE QUALITY OF THE APPLES AND THE DIFFERENT VARIETIES.  SERVE WARM WITH VANILLA ICE CREAM OR PLAIN WITH A CUP OF TEA.MARIE-HELENE'S APPLE CAKEfrom Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table3/4 cup all purpose flour3/4 teaspoon baking powderpinch of salt4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)2 large eggs3/4 cup sugar3 tablespoons dark rum1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooledCenter a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.Peel the apples, cut them in half, and remove the cores.  Cut the apples into 1 to 2 inch chunks.In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy.  Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend.  Whisk in the rum and vanilla.  Whisk in half the flour and, when it is incorporated, add half the  melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter.  Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in teh apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter.  Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s evenish.Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan.  Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan.  (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.)  Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature.  If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack.  Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.[...]

Foraged-Blackberry No-Churn Ice-cream & Totoro Choux au Craquelin


What to do with the many buckets of FREE local blackberries you've picked along railroad tracks, parks and roadways in Vancouver? How about Foraged Blackberry No-churn Ice Cream?Your leaf or mine?How about stuffing Choux au Craquelin with that blackberry ice cream?Cream puffs are dead easy to make. ¬†Top it with craquelin and you're good to goThe craquelin are perfectly round and crispy on the top.I made some crńóme p√Ętissi√®re with which to stuff the choux au craquelin.Here are my bowls of whipped heavy cream and the blackberry ice cream mixture ready to combine for the no-churn blackberry ice cream. ¬†I had pureed the blackberries and sieved out the seeds for a beautifully smooth texture.Heavy Whipping Cream is whipped stiff and then incorporated with your ingredients to lighten the texture of the ice creamI used a whisk to combine the mixture without deflating the whipped creamOlive thinks that the Totoro Choux au Craquelin was cuteThese went over well at my family bbq. ¬†Good stuff! Make good use of all those free blackberries![...]



What kind of witchcraft is this?I've never had a gluten free bread that has this amount of chew in it.  While mixing the dough you can imagine my skepticism that the ingredients would turn out looking like proper bagels.  I even had fewer hopes of them tasting like bagels let alone tasty ones.Well, maybe because I topped them with black sesame seeds they assisted in making them smell positively heavenly coming out of the oven fresh.  I couldn't believe the nuts and cheese came together to create these tasty bagels!Wthout further ado, these can be whipped up in a pinch in your food processor (which I think is probably the easier and cleanest method.)  I did mine in my huge 6 qt Kitchen Aide stand mixer and thought that the dough was probably better incorporated in a smaller machine because the dough kept pasting itself to the sides of the mixing bowl.FATHEAD KETOGENIC BAGELS1 1/2 Cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I used the pre-shredded stuff in a bag)2 oz full - fat cream cheese, cut into pieces1 Large egg1 1/2 Cups almond flour 1 tbsp of baking powderoptional, for topping: 1 Tbsp black sesame seeds, poppy seeds, anything you love sprinkled on bagelsPlace the mozzarella cheese and cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, stir well.  Place the mixture back in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute more.  Scrape the cheese into a stand mixer or food processor.  Add the egg and mix/process until smooth.Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix until a dough forms. At this point, it won't look like normal bread dough.  It will be very sticky and soft but it should all hold together well in a big mass.  Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap with a rubber spatula and wrap well.  Put it in the freezer until your next step.Preheat oven to 400 F (rack in the middle of oven).  [I used the convection feature of my oven at 375F.]  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.When your oven reaches the right temperature, remove the bagel dough from the freezer and divide it equally into 6 pieces.  [You can also make 4 huge bagels or 8 mini bagels; but you will have to adjust the baking time accordingly].  Using plastic wrap, roll each portion into a snake and seal the ends together forming a ring. Alternatively, you might want to oil your hands and form them with your oiled hands.  Place the bagels on the parchment paper and top with your favorite topping, pressing the toppings into the top of the dough gently so they will stick.Bake for 12-15 minutes or until they are golden brown. [On the convection setting, it took them 12 minutes at 375F].  Allow the bagels to cool. While warm, they are soft; but they will stiffen up once they cool down.  Place the bagels in a plastic bag or plastic lidded container to store in the refrigerator or freezer because there's a lot of cheese in them.  Split them in half and toast in the toaster...smear with cream cheese or grassfed salted butter for a treat**NB: variations of savoury and sweet bagels can be created by incorporating things like chopped green onions, bacon pieces, cinnamon, shredded cheeses etc You are only limited by your creativity.  Keep in mind they will no longer be ketogenic if you add things like raisins and other carb-heavy items in your dough. But who even likes raisins in breads anyway? ewwww. lol. [...]



Would you like some muffin with your gratuitous slab of salted grassfed butter?The 10 yr old got braces a couple of days ago and is so grouchy that she can't eat her favourite foods.  She's been complaining about her sore teeth and even decided to divvy up for her friends her salt water taffy and Hi-Chew collection that she recently purchased on our trip to Cannon Beach and Portland.  I decided to make a little treat for after rhythmic gymnastics summer camp.  She's there M-F for 5 hours each day for 3 weeks this summer and when she gets home she's hungry! Chock full of healthy carrot and banana, I was able to also reduce the sugar by replacing with coconut palm sugar.  You might want to use maple syrup or honey instead.The muffins are moist and don't need frosting or butter...but what the heck--I'll stick a chunk of cold salted butter on top for the kid 'cause her metabolism can handle it.  You know what happens when salted butter hits a hot muffin right?  It looks amazing and it tastes so good.These Carrot Banana Muffins make a small batch because we don't have a lot of sweet tooths in our household (oh the irony.)  They make a great snack for after school/sports or even a tasty breakfast with coffee or tea.and yes, the salted butter is one of those things that you have to do one of these days if you haven't already tried it. SMALL BATCH CARROT BANANA MUFFINS (makes 6-7)2 organic bananas1 organic carrot, grated1 free range organic egg6 tablespoons virgin coconut oil1/2 cup coconut sugar1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste1 cup all purpose or gf flour1 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon pink himilayan salt*optional adult add-ins that a 10 yr old with braces won't like: nuts, craisins, coconut, chia, ground flaxseed & other such healthy junk1. Preheat the oven to 350F2. Prepare the muffin tin by lining with paper liners or silicone molds.  I used silicone muffin molds.3. Using the Muffin-method, prepare your batter: In a bowl, combine the flour, soda, grated carrot and salt.  In a separate bowl, combine the bananas, egg, coconut oil, coconut sugar and vanilla.  Using a handheld immersion blender, blend all the wet ingredients.  Alternatively, you can simply mash the banana by hand and mix the rest of the wet ingredients with it.4.  Make a well in the dry ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients in the well and combine gently until just mixed.  At this point add optional chunky ingredients if desired. Don't overmix.5. Fill your muffin cups 4/5 full with the batter.6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the muffins test done with a toothpick*Gild your hot muffins with a totally gratuitous slab of grassfed salted butter if you wish[...]

LEMON MERINGUE TARTS (Paleo, GF, Refined sugar free)


A tiny slice of the 4"Lemon Meringue Tart I made Am I in the minority? do you salivate like Pavlov's Dog when you see a lemon meringue pie cross-section like this?Did you also purchase a huge bag of coconut flour at Costco, like I did...only to let it sit in the cupboard unopened until close to the expiry date?  Fear not! do what I did--I froze the coconut flour to extend its freshness.This coconut flour crust is crumbly and a perfect foil to the lemon curd.  Yes, it will have distinct coconut flavour; so if you don't like coconut flavour, don't use coconut flour or bother with this recipe because the whole point is to use up your coconut flour and make a gf/paleo tart!you can strain your lemon curd through a sieve but I couldn't be bothered and left it a little bit lumpy.  It was all good; I didn't notice any textural problem as using a whisk makes the curd pretty smooththe best part is the piping of the meringue onto your tarts and then bruléeing themI burnt a hold through my fave towel as I left my mini brulée torch on the counter with a small flame on. Don't do that.  Be safeLEMON MERINGUE TARTS (GF, Paleo, Refined Sugar-free)(Adapted from The Kitchen McCabe)Makes four 4" Tarts[NB: don't make crazy substitutions because the whole point of this recipe is to avoid gluten & refined sugar.  You cannot substitute regular flour for the coconut flour as the absorption rate is much higher for coconut flour.  Use the highest quality organic ingredients possible.  You may end up with a lot of meringue so you can create huge swirls on your tarts if you like meringue. Sugar and flour are cheap; this tart isn't cheap to make considering the large amount of honey and the other quality ingredients that take the place of those refined ingredients.  You're worth it though!]COCONUT FLOUR CRUST:1 cup coconut flour1/2 teaspoon sea salt4 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup1/2 cup coconut oilLEMON CURD FILLING:3 large eggs, at room temperature4 large egg yolks, at room temperature1/2 cup honey1/2 cup fresh lemon juice1/4 teapsoon sea salt4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small piecesMERINGUE:1 cup honey2 egg whites1/4 tsp sea saltFOR THE CRUST:Preheat the oven to 350 degreesF.Place the coconut flour and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk together to break up all the lumps. Add the maple syrup and stir in until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add the coconut oil to the mixture and work into the flour with a pastry cutter or spoon until the a dough forms and there are no pieces of coconut oil remaining.Divide the dough into 4 balls (approximately 1/2 cup) and press each ball into a 4" tart pan with a removable bottom. Bring the dough up the sides and use the tips of your fingers to press the dough into the tart pan ensuring even sides. Place the tarts on a baking sheet.Bake the tart shells in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden brown across the bottom.Remove tarts from the oven and fill each one to the top with lemon filling.FOR THE LEMON FILLING:In a saucepan, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, honey, lemon juice and salt until smooth and fully combined. Heat on medium/high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 4-5 minutes.Remove from heat and whisk in the chunks of butter.Divide evenly between the cooked tart shells.Place tarts back in the oven for an additional 4-5 minutes to set the filling, removing before the crusts get too dark (watch closely - coconut flour browns quickly).Remove and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until cold.FOR THE MERINGUE:Place the honey in a small saucepan and heat on medium/high heat to 230 degreesF. While the honey is heating, place the egg whites and salt in a bowl and beat until they reach soft peaksOnce the honey has reached 230 degrees F, very slowly pour it (bubbling) into the egg whites as [...]



Organic Vegan Matcha and Cacao CakeDabbling in the Dark Arts:  vegan baking! ;)I'm detoxifying from my 8 days of over-indulgence in Cancun, Mexico at one of the best all-inclusive resorts I've visited.  The Club Med we stayed at had so many activities that there was something for everybody: archery, trapeze, sailing, SUP, tennis...We did it all...and of course I spent the first 2 days sleeping on the beach just to catch up on missed relaxation time! The food was very good too!  I tried my best to eat healthy, gf & all that.  By the 4th day, I was pretty much sick of the buffet lines and was mostly eating from the salad area.  But hey, what's a vacation if you don't eat dessert right?  I had my fair share of flan and tiny portioned dainty cakes & desserts too.  Skip to the recipe on the bottom if you don't want to hear about my back woes! lol.Organic Ceremonial Grade Matcha is sifted over the cake after removal from the springform panI think I was pretty good with my workouts though!  I worked out every day except for the day we went to visit Tulum.  On the last day, I worked our for 2 1/2 hours in the morning and I was pretty much practicing IF.  I was doing fasted workouts:  weights, kettlebells and some cardio on the elliptical or treadmill to finish up. Then I would join my fam for lunch at the buffet for my first meal of the day.  I was down to 2 meals because frankly, I wasn't that hungry considering each meal was a buffet bonanza.  Unfortunately,  on the last day, I tweaked my back reaching for the two 25 lb dumbbells.  I felt a sort of a pop (ugh).  It was not great on the plane ride home and upon waking up in Vancouver on the first day back home, I could barely walk.  Yesterday I did some self-adjustments (lying on the ground, knees up, pushing/pulling on my knees alternately using my own musculature, mobility and strength to try to realign my spine & pelvis).  Today I visited my friend who is a chiropractor and I'm feeling a lot better but I've got to keep up those stretches.Since my garden's frozen, I used dried rosebuds to decorate. The petals are crispy & add a floral scentMy GP's advice is to try low carbing it to lose more weight (it's dang difficult with Hashimoto's disease) despite my working out several hours every week consistently. Also, I have a feeling he's going to be putting me on iron supplements again.  I try to eat more protein because of this (I'm not vegan...sorry, it would compromise my health which is pretty wonky as it is).  My blood work I had done recently showed I was iron deficient :(   I told him I was losing lots of hair for the past year and bit and ya know, I used to have tons of hair before all my thyroid issues.   It sux.  Everything about Hashi's sux. Especially trying to figure out on my own what works and doesn't work with feeling optimally healthy.  I know for sure I've built up lots of muscle this past year.  The other day, I had to scratch my tricep area. Dang if I didn't feel surprised as I hit hard muscle! ya! No batwings for this English teacher.  One thing I'd like to avoid is having the waggling triceps I've witnessed in my youth as teachers wrote on the blackboard. *horrors!* lolA hot sharp knife creates a clean cut with this frozen raw vegan cakeThis raw vegan nice-cream cake is a good start to me re-igniting that low-carb lifestyle I used to lead. It's been so hard with trying to be gluten free that I didn't think I could take away even more from my diet.  My fave cruciferous veggies which was my primary diet prior to Hashi's have been put on the "moderation" list now because of all the goitrogens.  This cake has nuts, which my kid is allergic to...but I'll be working on another (better! new improve[...]



Braided Lattice Apple Pie!Humble PieBraided Lattice is insanely time-consuming. ¬†When my daughter walked by the kitchen and asked me "hey, are you making that pie for someone?" I was attempting to weave the braided lattice pie dough that was akin to wrangling cooked spaghettini. The delicate strands would stretch each time I moved them. ¬†I was not feeling the pie love.I replied "no, it's for you guys""Yay! ¬†I can't wait! it doesn't matter what it looks like'll taste great! I can't wait!"Out of the mouth of my babe.I stopped trying to weave the triplicate braid & lattice combinations.And into the oven the pie wentLots o' butter!¬†I was eager to try a new recipe for a pie crust that could handle lattice-work. ¬†I did my research and found a recipe on Serious Eats that sounded promising. It had a higher ratio of butter (how could that go wrong in any way?)Cold cubed butter! 2 sticks!I think I was too ambitious. ¬†I even planned to do the Sous-Vide method for pre-cooking the apple pie filling. ¬†What the heck was I thinking? ¬†Squash the butter cubes.¬†Almost immediately into making the crust I nixed the sous-vide idea and decided to just do it on the stovetop. ¬†It was wise as the actual sous vide part would add another hour to the prep time.The huge chunks of squashed butter are very visible here.Use the technique of making a quick puff pastry. ¬†You're doing the laminated technique here nextRoll out the dough with plenty of flour.This laminating technique looks harder than it actually isCut in half and wrap in plastic wrap. ¬†Pop it in the fridge!Roll that out¬†The dough is quite strong and stretchy...quite promising for lattice-work!The pre-cooked apples I used consisted of granny smith and gala. ¬†After I realized my kids don't care about the weaving, I just gave up and popped that pie in the oven so we could get it in our pie-holes sooner!Though I saved plenty of time forgoing the weaving...and I didn't do the sous-vide part, we still had to wait 4 hours for the pie to cool before cutting into it. ¬†Good things come to those who wait!PIE CRUST RECIPE FROM SERIOUS EATSOld Fashioned Flaky Pie Dough8 ounces all-purpose flour (1 2/3 cups; 225g), plus more for dusting1/2 ounce sugar (1 tablespoon; 15g)1 teaspoon (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight8 ounces unsalted butter (2 sticks; 225g), cold4 ounces cold water (1/2 cup; 115g)For the Dough:¬†Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes (this size is important, as smaller pieces will melt too fast) and toss with flour mixture to break up the pieces. With your fingertips, smash each cube flat‚ÄĒthat's it! No rubbing or cutting. Stir in water, then knead dough against the sides of the bowl until it comes together in a shaggy ball. Dough temperature should register between 65 and 70¬įF (18 and 21¬įC); if not, refrigerate briefly before rolling and folding (see note above).Make the Layers:¬†On a generously floured work surface, roll dough into a roughly 10- by 15-inch rectangle. Fold the 10-inch sides to the center, then close the newly formed packet like a book. Fold in half once more, bringing the short sides together to create a thick block. Divide in half with a sharp knife or bench scraper. Dough temperature should still be somewhere between 65 and 70¬įF (18 and 21¬įC); if not, refrigerate briefly before proceeding (see note above)For a Double-Crusted Pie:¬†Using as much flour as needed, roll one piece into a 14-inch circle and drape across a 9-inch pie plate; it will be super easy to lift by hand. Dust off excess flour with a pastry brush, using it to nestle dough into the very corners of the pan. With scissors or kitchen shears, trim the[...]



SO, this is me lesson prepping for tomorrow's Creative Writing 11 Book Chat tomorrow. ¬†I had my students select a Canadian Novel for an independent project which culminates in a Tea 'n Cookies Book Chat with their peers.Silly me...I asked what they'd like me to bake and they said "Totoro Cookies!" ¬†I don't know why I was hoping they'd all say "CAKE!" --but they didn't. ¬†Ah well. ¬†They're not for me to eat anyway!I used matcha powder to create tiny leaf cookies to rest on Totoro's head. ¬†With the leftover matcha dough I made some larger leaf cookies 'cause I didn't want to make any more of those time-consuming tiny leaves anymore ūü§£I added black sesame paste to a blob of cookie dough in order to make the tiny black sesame sprites. They were so cute but something about grey cookies is so unappealing to many people. ¬†I guess they don't look appetizing being the colour of soot!Raw cookie dough is so tasty-looking to me. ¬†I prefer how it looks to the baked product because you can see the crisp lines and Totoro's cute expression very clearly. In case you want to make these with a totoro cutter, be aware that they cost $$$. ¬†All you have to do is google it and you'll find plenty of styles of Totoro cutters to buy. ¬†Before I bought a cutter, I used a cardboard template that I cut out. ¬†I traced the cookies with a knife and they were tedious but they turned out well. ¬†Alternatively, if you're crafty you can cut up an Arizona Tea can and create your own personalized cookie cutter. ¬†I have a pusheen one that I made like that because I'm too cheapie to pay money for more cutters. ¬†Totoro Vanilla Butter Cookies¬†2 Cups unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)1 1/2 cup granulated sugar2 Large egg¬†2 tsp pure vanilla extract5 Cups sifted all-purpose flour1 1/2 tsp teaspoon coarse saltOPTIONAL: 1 teaspoon matcha powder (for the matcha leaves)OPTIONAL: 1 teaspoon black sesame paste (or ground black sesame seeds) (for the soot sprites)Preheat oven to 350degrees F.Put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in whole egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour and salt and mix until combined.Halve dough; shape each half into a disk. Place one disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate. You can use the other half for the optional coloured decorations or soot sprite cookies. ¬†Continue making cookies with the remaining refrigerated dough.Roll out dough and cut with a template or cutter. ¬†Transfer cookies to parchment-lined cookie sheet.OPTIONAL LEAVES & SOOT SPRITES: ¬†take a handful of dough and add 1 teaspoon of matcha powder to it, kneading until thoroughly combined. Roll out and cut into tiny leaves to decorate Totoro's head. ¬†Take a handful of dough and knead in 1 teaspoon black sesame paste and knead thoroughly until combined. ¬†Roll out and cut into soot sprites.Bake for 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned (Totoro's ears will get brown first, so watch them) ¬†The soot sprites will take only 10-12 minutes and the tiny leaves take 7 min.Let cool on wire racks. Store in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.[...]



Basho's gone, but you can make these Mini Mochi Cupcakes yourself!Do you miss this tiny Japanese cafe on E. Hastings street?  Well, cry no more because you can easily make these mini gluten-free Japanese sweets.  Just pull out your knitting needles, knit a cozy for your potted succulent plant and whip up some matcha tea to go along with your sweets.This mochi recipe is highly adaptable; you can add your own unique flavours.  Stay tuned for more flavour possibilities!MINI MOCHI CUPCAKES: MATCHA & CHOCOLATE1 lb glutinous rice flour [I used Mochiko]1 T matcha powder2 T cocoa powder1/3 Cup vegetable oil2 Cups milk2 Cups sugar3 eggs, beatenPreheat oven to 350Degrees F.  Spray 2 mini-muffin pans with non-stick spray.Combine flour, oil, milk, sugar and 3 eggs in a mixer and beat until well combined. DIVIDE the dough in half into separate bowls.Add matcha powder to one bowl and mix well.  Add cocoa powder to the other bowl and mix well.  Pour into prepared muffin tins.Bake for 15-20 minutes (mini-muffin pans) or 30-35 minutes (regular-muffin pans). I ended up with 3 trays of mini-muffins! The recipe makes a lot of mini-muffins.  You can easily halve the recipe though.  Check often while baking because muffin pans vary and thus so do the bake-times. Mochi muffins are done when they are just slightly golden brown around the edges. Test by inserting a toothpick. Remove muffins from pan after allowing to cool slightly.  Set on a cooling rack to cool.  Invite your friends over who miss Basho for tea and mochi![...]

Happy Lunar New Year!


Celebrate with cake!Happy Chinese New Year!¬†Gung Hay Fat Choy! ¬†¬†Sun Neen Fai Lok!It's the year of the rooster...and today married Chinese people everywhere are handing out red envelopes to kids. ¬†So the kids are raking in the money$$$My kid's birthday party is today and she wanted a DQ ice cream cake, which means pretty much nothing for me to blog about. ¬†So I made my go-to cake for all-around snackin' while the kids indulged in their oreo blizzard ice cream cake. ¬†This Coconut Chiffon Cake is made from coconut oil instead of veg oil or butter, which gives it a nice light coconut scent and flavour. ¬†Because I'm gluten intolerant (hello Hashimoto's suck) I used my current fave gf flour mix that I picked up from Costco in the States. ¬†Costco Canada doesn't carry it here in Vancouver which is a shame.¬†I wish you Health, Wealth & Happiness this Lunar year and may your celebrations be filled with a good amount of cake too!Gluten Free Coconut Chiffon Cake with berriesCOCONUT CHIFFON CAKE(adapted from¬†Cook‚Äôs Illustrated¬†Master Recipe for Chiffon Cake)1 ¬Ĺ cups organic evaporated cane sugar1 1/3 cups gluten free flour (measure unsifted) [I used Namaste flour¬†I picked up at the Costco in Bellingham]¬†2 tsp gf baking powder¬Ĺ tsp salt7 large eggs, 2 left whole, 5 separated (at room temperature)1/2 cup coconut oil1 tbsp vanilla extract3 tablespoons psyllium husk powder¬Ĺ tsp cream of tartar3/4 cup water1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325¬įF. Whisk sugar, GF flour, psyllium husk powder, baking powder and salt together in large bowl (at least 4-quart size). Whisk in two whole eggs, five egg yolks (reserve whites), water, coconut oil and extract until batter is smooth. ¬†I used a stick blender to blend the batter smooth.2. Pour reserved egg whites into large bowl; beat at low speed with electric mixer until foamy, about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar, gradually increase speed to medium-high, then beat whites until very thick and stiff, just short of dry, 9 to 10 minutes with handheld mixer or 5 to 7 minutes in standing mixer. With large whisk, fold whites into batter, smearing any blobs of white that resist blending.¬†3. Pour batter into ungreased large tube pan (9 inch diameter, 16-cup capacity).¬†4. Bake cake on lower middle rack in oven until wire cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, 60-70 minutes [mine took 70 min]. Immediately turn cake upside down to cool. If pan does not have prongs around rim for elevating cake, invert pan over bottle or funnel, inserted through tube. Let cake hang until completely cook, about 2 hours.¬†5. To unmold, turn pan upright. Run frosting spatula or thin knife around pan‚Äôs circumference between cake and pan wall, always pressing against the pan. Use cake tester to loosen cake from tube. For one-piece pan, bang it on counter several times, then invert over serving plate. For two-piece pan, grasp tube and lift cake out of pan. If glazing the cake, use a fork or a paring knife to gently scrap all the crust off the cake. Loosen cake from pan bottom with spatula or knife, then invert cake onto plate. (Can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature 2 days or refrigerated 4 days.)[...]

Drip Cake: Chocolate Quinoa Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (gluten free)


Made my own Birthday Cake. Yes I didūüėÜ6 inch GF Chocolate Quinoa Cake layers and Vanilla Bean ButtercreamThis is my favourite part of making a cakeDecorated with my fave goodies: matcha macaron, Lindt chocolate balls, drag√©es, a mini KitKat and mini Coffee Crisp and crushed macaron shellsThe chocolate ganache was perfect. I threw drag√©es on the side of the cake too and they stuckūüôĆIt's late November and the only thing blooming in my garden are these little purple Daikon flowers. ¬†I just let the daikon go to seed and never did harvest the daikon (so bitter!) ¬†The flowers sure are pretty...and edibleScroll down past the recipes to watch a video of me assembling the layersBEST EVER QUINOA CHOCOLATE LAYER DRIP CAKE WITH VANILLA BUTTERCREAM (GF)adapted from¬†Quinoa 365: ¬†The Everyday Superfoodmakes 3 6-inch layers2 1/4 cups cooked quinoa (see note below for instructions to cook quinoa. No substitutions)1/3 cup milk4 large eggs1 tsp pure vanilla bean paste3/4 cups coconut oil, melted and cooled (you can use unsalted butter)1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar1 cup unsweetened organic cacao powder1 1/2 tsp baking powder1/2 tsp baking soda1/2 tsp salt*3 6-inch cake tins (you can make do with 2 pans and after baking the first batch, make the last layer after cleaning the pan)Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. ¬†Spray the tins with coconut oil spray or non-stick spray. ¬†Line with a round piece of parchment paperIn a Vitamix, heavy-duty Blender of Food Processor, combine: ¬†milk, eggs, vanilla paste. ¬†Blend until combined. ¬†Add 2 1/4 cups of cooked quinoa and the melted coconut oil and continue to blend until smooth.Dump in the sugar, cacao powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the Vitamix. ¬†Blend well to combine. ¬†[NB: if you are using a regular blender, you will encounter problems with the thick batter and may not be able to totally break down the cooked quinoa grains. In this case, you should use a food processor]Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared cake pans. Gently tap the pans on the counter to get rid of air bubbles and smooth the tops evenlyBake in the centre of the oven for approximately 25-30 minutes.Test the cakes for doneness with a toothpick or cake tester.Allow to cool for 5 minutes. ¬†Remove from the pan and allow the cake layers to cool completely on a rack.¬†Frost with Buttercream (see recipe below). ¬†Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes. Make the ganache (see recipe below) and allow to cool as the cake is in the fridge. ¬†Drip chocolate ganache over the cold buttercream. Decorate with your fave chocolates and bling‚ú® it up with dragees if desired.Cake layers can be stored sealed in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.¬†COOKING QUINOA Note: ¬†Bring 2/3 cup raw, rinsed white or golden quinoa to boil in a heavy saucepan with 1 1/3 cups water. ¬†Cover, reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. ¬†Turn off heat and leave covered saucepan on burner for another 10 minutes. ¬†Fluff with fork and allow the Quinoa to cool.Rice Cooker Method: ¬†Cook rinsed quinoa as you would rice, following manufacturer's instructions and the indicator lines for appropriate water levels. ¬† ¬†I made 1 cup quinoa and found it had enough leftovers to make another dish.VANILLA BEAN BUTTERCREAM¬†(makes just enough for a nearly naked cake; or just enough to frost this little 6 inch cake)3 cups confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)1 1/4 cups unsalted butter [I used Kerrygold]1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste1 tablespoon milkIn an electric mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy and smoothAdd the confectioners' sugar 1/2 cup at a timeAdd vanilla bean p[...]

Gluten Free Oatmeal-Banana Bread


My 9 yr old's Gluten Free Oatmeal-Banana Bread...all made in the Vitamix!I'm the only person in the household that avoids gluten because of my autoimmune disease...Hashimoto's.  One of the things I miss a lot is a really good Banana Bread...full of gluten. There's something about the texture of gluten-full banana bread that I miss!  But lucky for you I hit upon a lovely oat flour banana bread that is not only super easy to make (in one container!) but has an amazing texture and flavour.She made mini doughnuts too! They were absolutely delicious with my espresso...and my 15 hours of markingMy homemade gf flour blend is great for cakes and I usually add psyllium husk powder to help with the texture (this works really well, by the way).  But sometimes I don't want to buy all those flours and have all those bags half-full of varieties of flours.  It's a pain because you have too much of one and not enough of the other!  My 9 yr old loves anything mini and cute.  Here is her little Mouse Chef for to  my one shot of espresso.  The kid's mini banana bread doughnuts were so moist and gave me energy to power through 15 hours of marking. geeshMostly all of the gf baked goods I buy in stores and gf bakeries are too dense or heavy and I don't know about you but sometimes gf flour is pasty or painfully grainy.  I have yet to find a really good gf bread that's chewy, crusty and slices well (still working on that!)  I've had great success with my own gf flour blend when I bake cakes but a recent spate of moths found in my cabinets had me throwing out everything.  I think the rice that I had stored in the cupboard had brought in some moth eggs. They even got into sealed plastic containers! ew.  Anyway, I store my oats in a sealed plastic container in a different area of the house and I thought they would make a perfect substitution for my usual gf flour blend.  There's something satisfying about grinding your own oat flour and only having to wash one container.  And only ONE flour! yay! And case in point...avoid those moths from the multitude of half-used flours you need to make your own flour blend!  Bake your loaves until they have lovely cracks...don't be afraid to bake longer by up to 10 minutes because sometimes your bananas might be big so your batter might need the extra baking timeAs a treat for the kid because after all, she did all the mixing and baking (and all I did was grind the oat flour)...I took a few of the mini banana bread doughnuts she made...and the next day coated them with a white glaze and cake sprinkles! Can you spot Mickey Mouse on Hello Kitty? yes, I only had red Mickey Mouse cake sprinkles so put 2 heads together for Hello Kitty's red bowSo not only is grinding your own oat flour in a Vitamix easy, but it is also a resounding success flavour-wise.  To boot, it's way cheaper than gf flour or bagged oat flour.  The oats add an amazing nutty flavour and you'll find yourself wanting to experiment with oat flour in other baked goods too (like me!) Let me know in the comments if you'd like more Vitamix recipes (which I can do because I use it a lot...but I have no idea if people actually want that?)GLUTEN FREE OATMEAL-BANANA BREAD MADE IN A VITAMIX2 Cups oat flour**[see note for how to use the Vitamix to grind oats into oat flour] (If you are Celiac, you should buy certified gluten free oats. Some Celiacs may be sensitive to gf oats too so play safe and maybe replace with a gf flour blend if you wish. I used Trader Joe's Rolled Oats) 1/2 cup gluten free flour blend [any gf blend will do but I used "Namaste GF Org[...]

Miso-Maple Glazed Japanese Eggplant


Here is yet another fabulously easy go-to no-recipe recipe! Miso-Glazed Japanese Eggplant3 Japanese eggplant, washed and stem end trimmed off1 tablespoon Shiro Miso (White Miso Paste)1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (more or less to taste)1 tablespoon hot water1 tablespoon avocado oilExtra avocado oil for brushingSlivered Scallions for sprinkling (I had to use organic baby spinach lol! It's the only green stuff I had in my fridge)1. Slice the Japanese eggplant on the bias (diagonally) into 1/2 inch slices.  2. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet or shallow pan in a single layer.  Brush the tops of the eggplant slices with avocado oil.  3. Preheat a broiler or crank up the bbq.  If using a bbq, you may want to place the eggplant in a foil-boat or metal veggie basket so that they don't fall through the grate.4. Mix together the Miso paste, maple syrup and hot water to make a paste.  Add more hot water if the paste is too thick to brush.  Stir in the avocado oil.  Brush the miso mixture onto the tops of the eggplant slices.5.  Place under the broiler and broil until golden brown and glazed.  The eggplant should be soft all the way through.  Mine took approximately 12 minutes because I had the rack placed in the middle of the oven.  I moved it up to the top third of the oven mid-point because I wanted it to brown more quickly and I was hangry!  Cooking time all depends on how far away your eggplant are from the top the eggplant carefully so they don't burn.  If you're using a bbq, your eggplant will not char if they are in a foil boat.  However, you can get char on them if you use a metal veggie basket.  6. Sprinkle with slivered scallions to serve.[...]

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks


Um. Do we even need a recipe?This may be more about technique.  Just remember to roast cauliflower steaks to a golden brown. I sometimes bring out the roasted cauliflower too early; when the cauliflower is a little brown on the edges but the majority is still not brown.  I regret when I do that.  It's just not as tasty. Put that pan back in and roast it longer!  The more brown (not black), the better!  There are variables like your oven temperature, the thickness of your steaks and whatnot but here goes anyway. This is what I did.  You may add chunks of onion, cloves of garlic, chili flakes, shaved parmesan, parsley and capers to the pan near the last 10 min of baking if you want to gild the lily.  Golden brown though.  You are not going to have yumminess unless you go golden brown ALL OVER :)'Roasted Cauliflower Steaks1 whole cauliflower, washed and leaves trimmed off2 tablespoons avocado oilSalt and pepper to taste1 whole lemon1.  Preheat oven to 375F (convection) or 400F (regular oven).  2.   Using a large knife, slice the whole cauliflower into steaks about 3/4 inch thick.  Carefully slide the steaks onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Use a spatula to transport the steaks to the pan if you have difficulty keeping the steaks together3.  Brush avocado oil over all the steaks.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.4. Flip the steaks carefully with the spatula and/or tongs.  Brush the other side with avocado oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.5.  Roast the cauliflower steaks--in a convection oven ideally-- at 375F for 20 minutes. If you don't have a convection feature on your oven, bake at 400F6.  After the 20 minutes, remove pan from the oven (rest on heatproof surface) and carefully flip the cauliflower steaks with tongs and/or a spatula.  Return to the oven to roast for another 20 minutes. Check to ensure that the cauliflower steaks are evenly golden brown all over.7.  Serve with wedges of fresh lemon which should be squeezed all over the steaks before eating. [...]



Toisan Pork and Chinese Sausage Joong (Zongzi)My kids are carb-addicts.I have always loved joong (sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves) from New Town Bakery because the fillings most closely approximate the ones I grew up with made by my Poh Poh.  Unfortunately, when she passed away when I was in my early 20s, I lost the source of all the recipes I loved eating growing up. I hadn't had the forethought to ask her for the recipes in my youth and that is my one big regret.  Now, my kids love them all year 'round and sometimes they take joong to school for lunch in their thermoses.  In the morning, I would take the joong out of the freezer, microwave one on high for 3 minutes and then plop it into a saucepan full of boiling water for 15 minutes to ensure it was heated all the way through.  We have always lamented the fact that each joong was too big for each kid; yet one joong was not quite enough for both to share.  I always supplement with extra Chinese sausage because the store-bought joong only had a miniscule little sliver of sausage that the kids fought over. The salt-pork, mung beans and salted duck yolk were parts of the joong I'd pick out because the kids didn't care for it.My mother is not a font of information when it comes to cooking Chinese food.  She is more apt to buy cooked food from the market or go out to eat.  She was a career woman so never had the time to stay at home with her mother to watch her cook or learn the secret recipes.  So, that leaves me to search the internet for Toisan mothers and grandmas online who make what most closely resembles foods of my youth.Fortunately for me, people have documented how to wrap these tricky-to-fold rice dumplings on youtube.  I had no idea how to go about it having never made them with grandma in my youth.  So today was pretty much a test to see if I could do it.  I made a small batch in mini shapes so that I wouldn't be frustrated if I had problems.   Let me know if you want a video of me doing it and I will make one; otherwise there are plenty on youtube if you look.  I learned a few tricks from watching several.I think I was channeling PohPoh because these turned out fabulously!  The sticky rice was perfectly seasoned, the fillings were so tasty and proportional to the rice.  The problem with other peoples' joong--their fillings were chosen for their family's tastes.  My kids hate seafood (dried scallops & shrimp), don't care for dried shitake mushrooms, would rather not eat salted duck egg yolk (though I'm starting to enjoy it as I age) and don't appreciate mung beans (which I love).  The 9 yr old is allergic to peanuts and it seems that every auntie that gifts some joong to my mother makes theirs with tons of peanuts.  It's like biting into a nut-bomb.  I dislike the texture and flavour of peanuts myself and find them quite repulsive (sorry peanut-lovers).  So these mini joong were specifically made for the kids and each one is smaller than my fist.  Each contains: 3 slices of Chinese sausage and 1 piece of salted pork belly.  That's it.  So simple and so yummy. No weird stuff.  Just good ol' pork fat that renders out into the glutinous rice to infuse it with rich flavour.  The fantastic thing about joong is that the fillings are customizable.  You could even go vegan if you wanted to by filling it with red beans, peanuts, firm tofu.  I'm going to try making the sweet joong which is served in my household with maple syrup!  My Poh Poh always put a red [...]



Condensed Milk Pound Cake with Organic Ground VanillaThat Organic Raw Ground Vanilla was very expensive.  Like $54. I had plopped it into the basket when my husband wasn't looking.  Happy Friday!After School Cake Date! I'm baking cake (non-gluten-free!) for my kid today.  It's been forever since she asked me to bake anything.  She's not a sweet-tooth like the 9 yr old.  So this morning when she arose from bed and exclaimed "mommy, you can bake a cake if you want. My friends are coming over after school" I was like "holy smokes!"Since when did "after-school playdates" evolve into "hanging with friends?"Times flies. When I started this blog, it was primarily to document recipes for my newborn (the big kid in question...Bebe is her alias on my blog).  I was hoping to leave a legacy of recipes and stories for her but the blog took on a life of its own as I explored cake decorating and photography and found myself engrossed in trying to make my blog more beautiful. So Bebe is heading to high school in September.   Along the way, I've put the blog on the back-burner as real life (and actual money-paying) opportunities took precedent.  The blog was never meant to earn me any money and I had initially balked at ugly ads...but I gave in.  Cake supplies were expensive!  The blog is still a money-loser on the whole, but it is priceless in connecting me with wonderful bakers and bloggers around the world and I have even met some of them in person! Currently, I just feel more connected to people on Instagram than I do on this blog because there is a sort of immediacy and intimacy that Instagram has that blogs don't.  I like being connected to my readers but I've lost a lot of readers because I allowed the frequency of my posts to slide. This is a choice I made because I had to take time for my health, my life, my kids and career.  I don't regret it. Thank you if you're still following my blog and reading for over a decade! Thus, this morning...upon entering the kitchen I immediately took out some good butter to soften for later. This chunk is unsalted local Avalon organic butter.  Then I spent a good couple of hours contemplating what type of cake I would bake.  I took a nice morning run--and then after coming home and opening my pantry I spied the ridiculously expensive bag of GiddyYoYo Ground Raw Organic Vanilla I had recently bought at Famous Foods.Batter ready for the oven. The ground vanilla looks amazing!I felt no guilt baking this pound cake because I knew I wasn't going to eat it.  In fact, with 7 girls in the house after school, they made short work of eating almost the entire loaf in under an hour.  I have been pretty good with avoiding eating too much gluten and my Hashimoto's disease is quite manageable now.  With regular exercise and a personal trainer to help me resolve my shoulder impingement I'm finding myself feeling way better.  I've been busying myself on Instagram with my newfound love of Smoothie Bowls and Chia Pudding.  I'll be posting something on smoothie bowls soon.  I have accumulated quite an arsenal of toppings for these healthy post workout smoothies.An afternoon snack baked for my kid's friends on a Friday Afternoon.Have a slice with a glass of milk or a cup of green tea.  This Condensed Milk Pound Cake is a delicious start to the weekend!CONDENSED MILK POUND CAKEAdapted from Pichet Ong's Sweet SpotMakes one 8 1/2 - x - 4 1/2 inch cake, about 12 servings1 Cup (8 oz/226g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus m[...]



PAPRIKA-GARLIC CHICKEN BREAST ON A BED OF SWEET KALE SALAD MIXYah. You heard me:  Salad in a bag! And frozen chicken breast (organic)This took absolutely no time to put together.  I swear. Gluten-free, paleo, delish.Don't you just LOVE that Sweet Kale Salad Mix with that awesome dressing and cranberries and pumpkin seeds?  I could eat the salad everyday.  I worry though about how raw cruciferous veggies like the ones in the mix are goitrogenic.  For people like me who have Hashimoto's disease, I've read that we should avoid eating goitrogenic foods.  Since having half my thyroid removed (it was a size of a walnut); I've become sad finding that practically everything I ate before is something that might cause me to have another goiter. I do want to keep that left thyroid as healthy as possible.   So did you know that broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, strawberries, spinach and practically all the cruciferous veggies that composed the main part of my diet are goitrogenic?  Apparently if you eat them raw it's goitrogenic.  Aiya.  Scroll down to the bottom for the recipe if you want to skip my long-winded explanation of why I have to not post a cake pic and recipe today. HeeheeFortunately, and I'm going to just trust the articles I've read because I don't want to give up my fave veggies, and it's convenient to believe so...if you cook them, it reduces the goitrogens.  So we arrive at today's lunch after my workout at Steve Nash Fitness.  Yah.  You heard right.  Since my shoulder impingement is starting to slowly defrost (frozen shoulder! Such an apt term!) I decided to join a gym.  I thought about just joining a yoga studio; but frankly, I love my kettlebells and want to start using them again.  For a whole year, this frozen shoulder has been a pain and I've been afraid to do weights and use my kettlebells.  I had injured it skiing I think.  Frankly, I don't remember it hurting that much when I fell; but the pain increased afterwards over the course of a few months to the point that I couldn't even change my clothes without extreme pain.  I used up all my physio and massage therapy and eventually went to UBC Sports Med to see a specialist.  He essentially told me there's not a whole lot you can do to hurry along a frozen shoulder.  He said eventually it will slowly defrost.  And it did.  But it took just over a year. He told me when it starts to defrost, I should start exercising and rehabilitating the shoulder.  Lovin' Costco's Pre-washed Shredded Veggies in a bag for Juicing and Smoothies! This mix has: beet greens, carrots, kale, broccoli stems, chard...and all you add is fruit. I used a granny smithWith my gym membership I received 3 free sessions with a personal trainer; so this month with my left shoulder having increased mobility, I decided to start the journey back to health.  When I booked my 3 sessions, I was told he was the most educated trainer at the gym. I must have sounded like a difficult case! LOL! She told me that he's an ex pro-hockey player and is familiar with sports injuries too.  I was like "holy smokes! He's gonna kill me!"  What I found out later when I met him is that he is a kettlebell specialist (yay!) and is very well-rounded.  I'm feeling lucky here to have such a knowledgeable trainer *Hi Kyle!*  who is a rock star.   He's created an exercise plan for me to help build up strength in my wonky shoulder and get me back into shape from [...]

Itty Bitty Lemon Meringue Tartlets!


Mini Lemon Meringue TartletsPucker up! Mini Lemon Meringue Tartlets for the New Year!Wishing you all a healthy, happy, delicious 2016 full of laughter and good times!My 8 yr old asked Santa for a mini whisk!  And he came through!From me, she received a new tartlet pan.  So she did a lot of stirring with the new whisk when we made the lemon curd for these little tarts.  She made the tart dough recipe on the back of the WS tartlet pan's box.  Then I made an easy food processor lemon curd recipe and an easy meringueI did the piping because she's not too savvy with the piping bag as of yet.  Instead of a big swirl, I decided to make little poofs to cover the tartlets.  The result: billowy little meringue puffs atop creamy lemon curd that is seriously to-die for! It's perfectly balanced; not too tart and not too sweet and easy peasy.  I'll be making double-batches of this in the future and keeping it on hand for emergencies.  It's one of those lick-the-bowl when you're cleaning up kind of recipes.  LEMON CURD(Adapted from Barefoot Contessa)3 organic lemons1 1/2 Cups organic evaporated cane sugar (or granulated sugar)1/4 lb (1 stick or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature4 Large free range eggs1/2 Cup lemon juice (3 to 4 organic lemons)1/8 tsp kosher saltZest 3 lemons with a zester, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.Add the butter pieces to the processor and pulse in the sugar and lemon mixture. With the food processor running, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Continue mixing until combined.Press the entire mixture through a sieve into a 2 quart saucepan.  Cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.Makes 3 cupsTART CRUST(Adapted from the back of the WS tartlet pan box)2 1/2 cups (390g) alll-purpose flour2 Tbs sugar2 tsp salt16 Tbs (2 sticks/250g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch (6 mm) pieces6 to 8 Tbsp (90 to 125 ml) ice waterIn a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt and pulse to combine.  Add the butter and pulse until the ixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the 6 Tbs (90ml) ice water and pulse twice.  The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky.  If it is crumbly, add more water, 1 tsp at a time, pulsing twice after each addition.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface an divide in half.  Shape each into a disk.  Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.Preheat oven to 350F (180C)Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand for 5 minutes.  Place 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll out 3/16 inch (4.5 mm) thick.  Using the cutter, cut out the tart shells, reserving scraps of dough to re-use.  Place the cutouts on a baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining dough disk.  Re-roll the scraps and make more cutouts.  If the dough becomes too soft to cut, refrigerate it for 15-20 minutes.Center a cutout over one of the wells in the baking pan and using the tamper, gently but firmly press the cutout into the well so that the sides of the tart shell come just above the pan.  Press a cutout into each of the remaining wells.  Dock the [...]



Confetti Corn made better with Bacon!Hey hey peeps! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!Saute your chopped bacon, onion and peppers until softHere's a Christmas side dish that will save you some room on the hob on the day of. Plus, it's so delicious and you can make it ahead and keep it in the fridge until needed.That's a whole brick of cream cheese.  It's're not eating the whole brick yourself, right?  This delicious creamy corn dish is a make-ahead side that I'm preparing for Christmas dinner.  I'll reheat after my turkey comes out of the oven.CHRISTMAS CONFETTI CORN WITH BACON(Adapted from slices bacon, chopped (reserve some for sprinkling on top)2 14oz bags of Frozen corn kernels (I used 1/2 a package of Costco's peaches and cream frozen corn, approx 1.25 kg)1/2 Cup chopped onion, white, yellow or red1/2 Cup finely chopped red bell pepper1 pkg cream cheese, light or regular, cubed (8 - ounce)1/4 cup to 1/2 cup milk (or just enough to loosen the corn mixture)1 tsp sugar1/2 tsp salt1 tsp pepper4 green onions, green parts finely chopped (reserve some for sprinkling on top)In a large nonstick skillet, cook the chopped bacon until golden and crisp. Scoop the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate and discard all the bacon grease except for a thin coating on the pan, maybe a teaspoon or so.Add the corn, onion, and red pepper, and cook over medium heat, stirring every so often, until the vegetables are tender and the corn is heated through, 6-8 minutes. Add the cream cheese and milk, stirring until the cream cheese melts and the mixture is evenly combined.Stir in the sugar, salt and pepper. Add more salt to taste if needed. Stir in the green onions.Serve warm topped with the reserved bacon, red peppers and chopped green onionThis dish can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. Scoop the creamy corn mixture into an oven-safe dish, sprinkle with the bacon and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, heat the corn dish in a 325 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until heated through.[...]

A Very Merry Totoro Christmas to You!


I regret that for the majority of my life I had not watched the movie¬†My Neighbor Totoro¬†(„Ā®„Ā™„āä„Āģ„Éą„Éą„É≠)¬†the 1988 Japanese animation written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki,¬†and produced by Studio Ghibli. ¬†Just last year my kids and I watched it at home and thereafter I was smitten.My kids love all things Totoro (and I do too)! ¬†The storyline of the mythical cat-like ginormous creature that befriends the children in the animation had us wanting more Totoro. ¬†I've bought a few items for my kids and I have attempted to make Totoro baked goods (like everyone else on Instagram!)The thing is, I am kind of cheapie when it comes to shelling out mucho $$ for a cookie cutter. Today I decided I was going to make my own cookie cutter using pliers and sheet metal. My hubby said no way; that his scraps from work are industrial and heavy gauge so I won't be able to bend it. ¬†I thought of using a tin tuna can or a pop can but I don't have any pop in the house...just homemade kombucha! ¬†So I just drew a totoro outline and cut it out on a scrap piece of paper. ¬†Then I traced over the dough with a knife; cutting out the totoro shape. ¬†My Totoro Cookie consists of the following elements: ¬†Black Sesame Butter Cookie body, Vanilla Butter cookie tummy, Matcha Butter Cookie leaf, Dark Chocolate fur and White Chocolate eyeballs. ¬†Everything is natural in colour; coming from the different ingredients I used. ¬†The cookie base I used was my trusty ol' Vanilla Butter Cookie dough and I just tossed in the natural flavourings: ground black sesame & matcha powder.Unfortunately, the totoro cookies don't bake evenly because the ears stick out and are a little more brown than the rest of the body but that's okay. I actually like brown cookies because they're tastier--that's caramelization, folks!The most difficult part of the totoro cookie decorating experience is those dang whiskers and fur chevrons. ¬†I contemplated using a fine round tip for my piping bag. Then at the last minute I decided to do everything by hand and a toothpick.This one turned out the best I think. He's a cutie! The matcha leaves melded onto the Totoro foreheads no problem as they baked. ¬†I'll be giving away one Totoro Cookie away with each gift bag of cookies I'm making this year. ¬†Each bag will consist of tiny round sparkly butter cookies in each flavour: Matcha, Black Sesame & Vanilla. I have plans for this Copper Snowflake cutter I recently bought on sale at WS. ¬†It's resting on a log of my Vanilla Butter Cookies that are waiting to be cut and baked off.I was pretty handy this Christmas and made everything by hand...even my Christmas Cards. This is my LawnFawn stamps & die cut set employed in my butter cookie packaging frenzyThe little penguin throwing a snowball at his deer friend is a so cute!See those vanilla butter cookies? Those cookies are the base recipe that all my flavoured cookies evolve from: toss in flavourings and you will have delicious cookies in no time. Easy-Peasy Christmas Cookies!Here is my trusty Vanilla Butter Cookie Recipe once again:VANILLA BUTTER COOKIES1 Cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)3/4 cup organic evaporated cane sugar (or granulated sugar)1 Large egg1 tsp pure vanilla extract2 1/2 Cups sifted all - purpose flour (or gf flour blend)3/4 tsp teaspoon coarse salt1/2 Cup fine sanding sugar or extra organic evaporated cane sugar for rolling cookie logs[...]

Birthday Pie! Flaky All-Butter Crust Apple Pie


Birthday PieOrganic cold unsalted butter sliced in 1/4 inch pieces in my food processor, along with only 2/3 of the flour mixture...ready for pulsing.Several years ago, my friend confided to me that he doesn't like birthday cake (gasp!)I remembered that.Pulse butter and flour mixture until most of the flour incorporated but don't overdo itI might be really crappy with remembering names (not cool when you're a teacher, I know) but I'm good with remembering students' and friends' dietary allergies, food preferences and stuff like that!Perhaps only other teachers can relate to the happiness of seeing an ex-student years later and the corresponding dismay of not being able to access the student's name on the spot. "Hey! Ms K!""Hey!... Hi! are you!'ve you been? what are you doing now?"Ready for the next stepWhen I'm walking to Rain or Shine Ice Cream on 4th Ave, filling my prescription at the drugstore, shopping for groceries or paying the cashier at the checkout in Kitsilano...and an ex-student exclaims "Hey, Ms. K!"  I don't always spit out the student's name that quickly in response.  Usually, one out of 4 times, I'll remember the student's full name on the spot during the greeting.  If I've not recalled the name during the initial greetings, hugs and whatnot, then I'm hooped and I have to ask probing questions to jog my memory.  Often, I KNOW the student but the name still eludes me.  The frustrating thing is 10 minutes after the meeting has passed, my lightbulb will turn on and I'll remember your full name and what English class I taught you.  I'll even remember on what side of my classroom you sat.  The years are all a mish-mash now so that I don't really know your Grad year, but I definitely remember YOU.This is what your butter and flour mixture should look like. Here I'm using the rubber spatula as instructed in the recipe to fold and press the crust mixtureI apologize profusely if I cannot remember your name at that exact moment, but some of you boys are now men with facial hair! I knew you when your face was as smooth as a baby's bottom; when I beat you at arm wrestling in English class and you were shorter than me.  The girls I taught years ago are now women! 3 varieties of apples were employed: Gala, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith I will blame my crappy name-recall on my Hashimoto's disease and the fact that I've taught for 25 years. I know I've taught a lot of students in that time, but just had to figure out how many students have been in my classrooms each year (let's assume a class-size of 25, even though it's been 30 the last decade or so).That's 25 students x 7 classes=175 students each year. 175 students each year x 25 years = 4375 students.I've worked part time for the last 12 years (because of having kids and also from being a tech mentor) so let's say I'll subtract 12 years x (25 students x 3 blocks)=900.That's 4,375 - 900 = 3,475 studentsAfter the initial hot water soak of 10 minutes and subsequent draining and drying, I had the kid toss in the cornstarch and sugar mixture for thickening. I observed worriedly as in the bottom of the bowl a huge pool of apple juices collected despite initial drainage and drying.  I dumped out the liquid and tossed in another teaspoon of cornstarch for good measure.  This however, was not enough to set up the apples after the pie was baked and rested for 3 hours. I would suggest pre-co[...]

Garlic Scapes Potstickers


Garlic Scapes! My fave ingredient for amazing home-made potstickersThese are Garlic Scapes.  They are not hollow like scallions or chives but have a solid core.  They are very mild in flavour and a wonderful addition to homemade potstickers.  I threw in a few stalks of green onion also (can you spot them?) because they just happened to be in the fridge too.See the difference between scallions (green onions) and garlic scapes?  The scallions have a hollow core and the garlic scapes don't.Each package of potsticker wrappers weighs 1 pound.  I buy all my major ingredients in a 1:1:1 ratio.  I generally buy 2 pounds of pork and 2 large bunches of garlic scapes for 2 pounds of wrappers.  The scapes are available pretty much year round at T&T supermarket (most asian supermarkets carry them).  Local scapes are available in the summer at the weekend farmers' markets. I try to fit as much filling as I possibly could in each wrapper. Sometimes this results in a big disastrous mess and the wrapper explodes.  A heaping teaspoon usually suffices.  Ingredients for my filling: ground pork, sesame oil, shaoxing wine, sea salt, soy sauce, white pepper, garlic scapes and a few stalk of green onion.  I saute the scapes with some olive oil until they are soft; then cool them before adding to the ground pork and seasonings.I use a brush to paint some water on the outer edge of half of the wrapper so the wrapper will more readily stick to itself and then pinch the centre to start the pleating process. After the initial central pinch, I pleat towards the centre; usually I use 3 pleats on each side of the central pinch.  If I feel ambitious I try for 4 or 5 pleats!My kids love to help make potstickers.  They generally don't like frozen store-bought potstickers because of the veggies in them (usually chinese cabbage); nor do they always like the potstickers in restaurants because they sometimes have too much ginger.  Mine have a lovely soft garlic flavour (even without any garlic) from the scapes and they're getting their veggies too!  The texture of scapes is quite similar to asparagus (but they don't taste like asparagus). Perfect pleats! yay!  Pleating allows you to cram more filling into each wrapper.  That's what I think anyway. Plus, they're prettier and then you get a 3-sided dumpling that allows you to in the end, get more crunchy goodness from the cooking process.To cook the potstickers, I usually use a non-stick pan.  I add a little oil and the potstickers.  Then I add 1/3 cup water and immediately cover the pan with a lid. Cook on medium heat for approximately 4 minutes, or until the water is evaporated.  Remove the lid and then allow the potstickers to panfry and crisp up.  I generally like to use tongs or chopsticks to flip each potsticker  I always pan-fry at least 2 sides of the potsticker (more crunchy skin!) and I like my potstickers separated; not stuck together in a clump like you may find some cooks do (lazy, lazy hey).  I tell you, the scapes thing is perfection.  We don't make potstickers any other way in my kitchen and my kids won't accept anything else now.  Any left-over potstickers are placed on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, covered with plastic wrap and frozen until solid.  Then, if I remember, I place them into a large zi[...]