A 2012 Photo Essay

Wishing all our family, friends, fellow bloggers, Facebook friends, the Twitterverse, and  everyone involved in the food and wine industry, success, happiness and good health in 2013.

Providing photographic evidence that Michael and I do more than just eat. I have captioned some of the photos – to read the longer ones, click the picture to make it big.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

This is a gluten free recipe, but it is hardly calorie free, and it is the calories that make this moist chocolate cake so delicious.

I received this recipe from my work sensei, Claudette, who shared it with me after I  experimented with quinoa in my Quinoa and Apple Salad.  That salad was a huge success, so why not try quinoa for a sweet treat?

This recipe heavily relies on the cookbook Quinoa 365: The Everyday Super Food for the ingredients. I highly recommend visiting their website (or better, buying their book) and seeing some other fabulous recipes while learning about the health benefits of quinoa. Of course, surround the quinoa with butter, eggs, and cocoa and I’m no longer sure the health benefits are as fabulous as they should be, but you’ll feel all warm and cozy, loved and hugged when you eat this cake, and that in my book, is worth every single calorie.

You will need the following hardware:

A blender or food processor
Saucepan with lid
2-cake pans – small ones. Not E-Z-Bake Oven small, but about 8″ will do
Parchment paper
Bowl – the size you use to eat popcorn in when PMSy.
Whisk
Wooden Spoon
Fork
Spatula
Stove top
Oven
Electricity

I’m sure there are other great brands of quinoa, but this is the one I bought back in May when I made the quinoa apple salad. It keeps well!

You will need the following ingredients:

2/3 cup white quinoa
1 1/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Don your favourite apron and then….

Put the water and quinoa in a saucepan, bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the stove, remove the saucepan and let it sit, covered, another 10 minutes. Fluff quinoa with the fork, and allow it to cool.

Preheat your oven to 350F. Butter two cake pans, round or square, or, live on the edge and butter one round and one square one.  Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. This is a step I usually ignore, but this is a sticky cake, and highly recommend you do this.

In a blender or food processor, add your 4 eggs, milk, and vanilla. Whir a few good times to combine. Add the cooled quinoa and butter and blend until really smooth. When you think it’s done, whir a few more times to be sure. As Michael says, “You don’t want bits of quinoa stuck between your teeth when eating cake.”

Mmm. Quinoa batter!

In your big bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. Add the batter from the blender and mix well with spoon.

Lovely dunes of cocoa powder.

Split the chocolatey batter between the two pans, scraping the bowl empty with the spatula, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a wooden stick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on racks in the pan. Wait until they are completely cool or your will have a crumbly mess to deal with (but the crumbs are delicious, so all is not lost if you lose patience) (not that I would know).

You can ice this cake if you want, but it is dense and sweet enough on its own (to my taste). It is like a fudgey brownie.

The original recipe comes with storage options, but I can absolutely guarantee you won’t have left overs to freeze, or if you do, it won’t last in your freezer up to the recommended 1 month.

Do NOT expect your cake to be this high. One slice looked a little, er, flat. So I stacked two pieces on top of each other.

 

Laurel’s Pumpkin Pie

Yesterday in my Facebook timeline I got the delightful news that Cally’s Teas talented baker, Laurel, would be making pumpkin pie to order for Thanksgiving weekend.

As I was on turnip puff and dessert duty for our family’s Thanksgiving dinner this happy news about the pie made me do my autumnal “I get pumpkin pie and I don’t have to bake it” dance. You will have to be satisfied by reading my dance description:

  • Attire self in nutmeg coloured leotard.
  • Hot glue fallen poplar leaves, Mountain Ash berries and late blooming chrysanthemums to leotard.
  • Lift one leg, point toes, and wiggle leg about, but not too vigorously to prevent injury to knee.
  • Drop leg, lift other leg, point toes, drop leg, massage cramp out of calf.
  • Lift leg again, cautiously point toes, and wiggle leg about.
  • Simultaneously lift both arms towards the sky and praise gourd saints with thanksgiving.
  • Sway back and forth.
  • Grab chair-back. Regain balance.
  • Be a pumpkin. Be a tree. Don’t bend quickly. Save that knee.
  • Rest.
  • Put the kettle on.
  • Eat pie.

Now, my dear readers, you know I rarely have a “short story”, and today is no exception. It goes like this:

Michael is spending Thanksgiving with his Mum and sister in Calgary this weekend. Here in Edmonton, this year it turned out the only people around our Thanksgiving table would be my Mom, my sis and me. We tossed around a few ideas about what to do about Thanksgiving dinner.

My sister volunteered to make the turkey and do the dishes. I volunteered turnip puff and dessert. Mom would get the stuff in between. We were set. Then I read a Facebook friend’s post  about some memory of my sister and a microwaved turkey. When I asked my sister about this she was quite dismissive and vague.

As a society, we have had enough to worry about with the E. Coli. We don’t need to start messing with microwaved turkeys.

And as you can imagine, suddenly a full turkey feast didn’t sound so appealing. We compromised by deciding on taking a Chinese take-out, followed by a late night slice of pumpkin pie, keeping at least a little bit of Thanksgiving tradition.

Now to the pie. Here’s a picture of Laurel’s pumpkin pie. Although at this point in time I have not tried the pie (using ALL OF MY RESTRAINT and repeating the mantra, The Pie Must Be Shared. The Pie Must be Shared), Laurel has elevated baking to levels I have not ever experienced. With Laurel, you know baking is not just a job. She puts her heart and soul in her baking. She’s a happy person. Her baking makes us happy. It’s a grand thing.

And, my oh my, here’s the cream. I think it’s 80% MF (it’s heart friendly because it’s organic). If you squint, you can see where I “tested” it:

This Thanksgiving weekend, I encourage all of you who read this to take pause and think of at least one thing you are grateful for.

I am grateful for many, many things including silicon spatulas, Advil, music, clinker bricks, telescopes and wine. But most importantly, I am grateful for my husband, my family, my friends, and each of my readers, from near and far. This blog has given me exposure to things I never would have dreamed of. It gives me energy and makes me happy. And for that, I am grateful.

Hugs to all of you. xo

 

City Market

This morning I was in the mood to go shopping at the City Market downtown. Mood, in my case, means I have a wallet with cash on the ready, because as we know, the City Market is not into debit machines or credit.  This is a good thing because, then, instead of buying practical food items, I would buy things like wooden chess boards and pretty earrings and honey from all types of flowers, a bag of salty peanuts, a flat of blueberries because I’ll think I’ll make a dozen pies and freeze them.

First stop was the Prairie Mill Bread Co. I actually passed by, then I could hear someone, *cough, Donna* scolding me for using white bread in my grilled cheese sandwich and thought I should get some 5 million grain bread back into my diet. I did a u-turn and spent some minutes discussing the bread with Owen, and decided on a modest 9-grain bread, which he promises is a favourite. (And it is… I had some already.)

Second stop was the Jam Lady to buy a jar of Blazing Carrot and Garlic Zinfandel jellies to eat along side some assorted cheeses and a glass of wine at home on the patio. I was easily talked into a third jar by the Jam Man (to get the $6.50 price) of Muscato Thyme jelly, which I was told would be nice served with a provolone, or served with pork. Sounds multi-purpose and practical! So I bought it. (And it is…. I had some already – served along side a pork breakfast sausage I bought later at Acme Meat Market).

Now, you can’t go to a farmer’s market and not buy fresh vegetables. I found myself inside Kuhlmann’s tent, and started with a sample of some fresh peas… right out of the pod! Oh how I ached for my Baba’s farm at that moment. But I shook of the sudden pang of melancholy, remembered all the hard work involved with a garden, and happily started to select my veggies – first a bag full of peas, then carrots… and what have we here? Beets! The incandescent light bulb in my brain goes off, and I decide I also need potatoes and dill. Kuhlmann’s had it all… ingredients for borscht! But now I need bacon…

Feeling a bit anti-establishment decide to shun Safeway, Save-on and Sobey’s (what’s with the S’s anyway?) and decide to check out Acme Meat Market. Located on the corner of 76 Avenue and 96 Street, it has been around since forever, and is an honest to goodness butcher’s. Remember the days when you could see in behind the meat counter at Safeway? You would be able to see sides of beef hanging and men in white chopping and sawing meat? Well, Safeway has things to hide apparently, but Acme Meat Market has it all out in the open. I ordered thick cut bacon, pork chops and breakfast sausages. All looked so delicious I had to restrain myself from buying standing rib roasts, steaks, lamb chops, hamburger and whole chickens.

With heavy bags and aching arms, I managed to get all the goods home. Now with two large iced coffees working magic on my blood stream, I have the energy and gumption to start on the borscht for tonight’s supper.

Wishing you and yours a lovely summer’s day!

 

Random Post of Stuff

Life has been happening and I’ve had to be responsible and engaged in said life activities so spending time here hasn’t happened.

But here I am! I’m here! If only just for a second. So what can I say about the food world that will tease and tantalize and make  you keep coming back here even when I’m not posting with regularity. (Have I ever posted with regularity? No. I don’t fool myself. But it was nice to say).

Let’s start with a Canada goose. It’s a bit off the topic of food (although I think there was a discussion somewhere at sometime about culling flocks of geese to help feed the poor) (did I dream that?), but I know for a fact, this Canada goose is enroute to Edmonton from Regina and is plotting a sneak attack on an unsuspecting friend. It’s a long story, and you really don’t want to know. Trust me.

This picture of my Mom (left) and Auntie Anna (right) makes me laugh because it reminds me of those wildlife cameras left in the woods and some woodland creature walks right up to it and checks out the lens. Another picture unrelated to food, but both family members are clutching glasses of wine, so on that count, it fits.

This is a fuzzy shot of our favourite sushi restaurant in Victoria (Japanese Village). That is the famous Sammy-san on the right. I was trying to be subtle about taking the shot, and that is why you have Michael’s shoulder in the picture. I haven’t the guts to boldly walk up to people and say, “Hey I want to take your picture”.

Last trip to Calgary brought us to Jelly Modern Doughnuts (as seen on You Gotta Eat Here). Here are some kid-friendly versions (in shadow for dramatic effect).

Above are the left overs of an afternoon tea-spread at Cally’s Teas on Whyte Ave. I can’t say enough nice stuff about this place. Michael and I both got our own little pot of tea – brewed to perfection and we did not have to fuss with the leaves, that was all taken care of for us – and we selected the most delicious raspberry jam tarts I’ve ever had. They were teeny and adorable and so delicious, we ate them without any thought to saving them on “film” for posterity. For the gents, this place is not all frilly and la-de-dah, and you will fit in quite comfortably with your hairy arms and dungarees (as you can see in the picture).

An important part of my life is about to step through the door at any moment, so I should prepare myself and channel my best June Cleaver. And so you don’t think I’m that domesticated, June and I are both saying the same thing, “I’ll cook, but you clean”. I want her cheekbones. (pause). June is not saying she wants my cheekbones. Just so we are clear.

And to keep this post with the theme of randomness, this picture has me laughing every time I see it.  So I’m posting it here so I know where to find it for future reference.

Iced Coffee

There is my life before iced coffee (BIC) and after iced coffee (AIC). And I will tell you all this: My life AIC is a very happy, wide awake, and possibly full of future heart palpitations and the jitters, because I have become OBSESSED with the stuff.

There are two iced coffee camps. Cold brewed. Hot brewed. To me, it doesn’t matter. I’ve tried both, and love both. The problem is, until recently, I have only brewed one cup of (hot) coffee at a time using a Melitta-type cone filter over my breakfast coffee mug, and this does not leave any left overs to make iced coffee.  This will have to change. And very soon. I feel a trip to Ikea coming up very soon to invest in an inexpensive French press type of deal so I have iced coffee available on tap, all day, every day.

The hot brewed method is very easy. Brew your coffee. Chill it. Pour it over ice. Add milk (or cream if you dare). Sweeten to taste. Stir. Drink. Repeat. And repeat again.

Cold brewed is also easy, but takes time. The Pioneer Woman explains the steps very well, and shares an equally if not surpassed love of iced coffee. I encourage you to check out her blog here: Perfect Iced Coffee.

 

Jelly Modern Doughnuts

Dear Edmonton:

Don’t make me move to Calgary. Open one of these stores or git working on a super-super-high-speed train from Old Strathcona to 8th Street and 14th Avenue SW, Calgary, NOW.

Sincerely,

Walsh Cooks
xo

PS: Jelly Modern Doughnuts is located in Calgary, on the corner of 8th Street and 14th Avenue SW. Please click on the link and check out their menu. In my most serious voice: “People, we are talking salted caramel doughnuts. Peanut butter cup doughnuts. Maple bacon doughnuts.” *weeps with joy*

Toast!

Our old toaster still toasts, but its uneven browning and tendency to arc electrical bits into the air made me think it was time to replace it.

I’ve been accumulating Air Miles forever… but understand I’m not a crazy collector. When I signed up I had visions of redeeming my points for an around the world trip,  fine hotels, food, wine, chauffeur service, chocolate mints left on my pillow each evening… you know… that sort of thing. And after about 5 years of collecting, I decided I was ready to redeem my miles and go on that trip of a lifetime… so I excitedly sat at my computer, logged in to Air Miles, and had a look at my points balance, and started shopping!

But what’s this? No matter how many times I clicked, I discovered I had only enough points accumulated to go see a movie. A matinee. In Edmonton. Not even popcorn.

*sigh*

So I put Air Miles out of my head. Not worth it I thought. And now, another 5 years later, with a toaster acting like a Tesla plasma ball, I thought, “HEY! An Air Miles Toaster!”.  And sure enough, I had accumulated enough points all these years for a toaster.

But not any toaster. Oh no.

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to… the Dualit Toaster! Ta dah!

It weighs a ton and occupies our only vacant corner of our kitchen counter. The old toaster could be tucked away in the cupboard. This one demands to stay on the counter top in its shiny reflective glory (see if you can find where I tried to smudge out my reflection – I looked like someone in a house of mirrors tent at the exhibition and wanted to keep this blog PG rated).

I am in love with my oldie worldie toaster. We have to manually plunge the bread down, and when the timer finishes ticking (rather loudly), we have to manually lift the toast out. It’s a step back in time, but I’ll tell you this… it produces the most evenly toasted bread I have ever seen in my life.

Stay tuned. If inspired I’ll write a user’s guide to toasting bread.

Transcend Coffee

Today was too gorgeous to stay indoors, so we did a wander through Old Strathcona and ended up Transcend Coffee by the Garneau Theatre just off the High Level Bridge, on 109th Street, south of Saskatchewan Dr.

This location is busy, and can often be difficult to find a seat. We always manage to get a seat. But I still get seat anxiety every single time I go. Michael and I tag team. One orders coffee, and the other scans the joint looking for a vacant table, looking at customers who are getting ready to leave, and measure up the competition to see who we will be fighting with for a valuable seat. So far, it’s never been violent or impolite. In fact, it’s never been competitive, but then, other seat-finders may have seen the determined manic whites of my eyes and stood clear. 😉

Transcend is now selling their own pastries – things like Cuca de Banana (think banana bread in a muffin form, but much, much better), and the eyebrow raising Savory Squash Brioche. We didn’t try either today, but did notice the man’s beside us, who ordered the Savoury Squash Brioche. The pastry has squash seeds on top. Just saying.

At this location we love the availability of water-on-tap, both fizzy and still. It’s nice and refreshing to have this while waiting for coffee, and as palate cleanser while enjoying the coffee, and to have one more, just to sustain us for the walk home.

Michael had his favourite, the Flat White. This is an Australian/New Zealand invention. Best way to describe it is a small latte served in clear glass. Michael grew up with milky coffee – hot milk with instant coffee and sugar. A Flat White would be a gourmet version of this. Here’s an interesting article about the Flat White as written by the Telegraph that helps explain things a bit more.

I always have Transcend’s regular coffee, and today picked the I.P. a favourite. But dear Transcend people, inasmuch as I love your coffee, love your shops, and adore your staff, PLEASE get decent coffee mugs. Your thick, heavy ceramic mugs are akin to serving champagne in a plastic sippy cup.

At $3.50 for a cup of coffee, and with all the love, care and attention put into the bean and brewing, I would expect a bit more thought behind the mug.

Transcend Coffee (Garneau) on Urbanspoon