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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mon Petit Choux Pastry

Taaa daa!

The Daring Bakers are up to it again. This time with Chocolate Eclairs from the fantabulous book Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme written by Dorie Greenspan. Our enthusiastic hosts this month were Tony Tahhan and Meeta of What's For Lunch Honey. You can check out their blogs for the recipe.

The Daring Bakers have been abuzz with rave reviews about Pierre Hermes' work... and I have to admit I'm pretty impressed with this recipe. There seemed to be a lot of fussing with chocolate BUT each chocolate component was an absolute eleven on the scale of one to ten. The chocolate pastry was silky smooth and the glaze had a lovely pronounced cocoa flavour.

The chocolate needed to be well whisked to be smooth for the sauce and pastry cream. It was well worth the effort.

The pastry was another story. It presented many problems and generated a lot of discussion on the Daring Baker forum. Many bakers stated the eclairs were very eggy. With those comments in mind, I followed the recipe faithfully. Most of mine collapsed, were too moist in the centre, and smelled very eggy. I'm not sure if the recipe originally uses smaller eggs or the number of eggs stated were really too many. As my son stated, the pastry tasted of scrambled eggs. It was a little less eggy the next day but not enough to be acceptable.

Changes I Would Make
1) Use fewer eggs and use some egg whites to give the pastry strength or switch back to a more reliable choux pastry recipe.
2) Flavour the pastry cream with vanilla if using straight chocolate.
3) Flavour the choux pastry.
4) Don't let the cream puff get frisky with the eclair.

Ahh, mon cherie. What an elegant figure you have. So slim, so petite. I am intrigued....
Oh la la, you play coquette and turn your back. Never mind, a little taste of your lovely shiny chocolate. No one will notice...
Yes, mon petit chou, I am almost there...
Mon dieu, you 'ave egged me on most 'eartlessly. You 'ave seduced with the most amazing chocolate but you 'ave a heart of scrambled eggs!

Absolutely a make again for all the amazing chocolate components. Definitely not a make again recipe for choux pastry!

Friday, August 22, 2008


I like men.

Since I’m a woman, admitting I like men isn’t an earth shattering revelation. Even though it’s tempting to explain this statement away by nature, that explanation does not do justice to the why and how I like men. And from what I’ve seen and heard, not every woman likes men.

Someone told me once that if something happened to her husband she would never want another one. How sad I thought. But I would never want another one either… I would want at least two!

I love watching my sons at Scouts. They run around and play with expressions of wild delight mixed with terror when they are in danger of being caught in the game. I am so grateful for my husband and the other men who create that energetic space for young boys. It is a privilege for me to occasionally be a witness but never a participant. If I were their leader, they would all have their shoes tied properly, warm sweaters and they would walk, not run.

When I was in a student council office at university, a group of male students spoke about their sports injuries. Around the room the stories spiraled, each one potentially more gory than the previous one until one young man stated solemnly, “Rips and tears are more manly than breaks.” I realized at that moment that I was not going to be a mom who took away her son’s stories.

Today my husband has been showing me how much he loves me by mowing the lawn and doing various household fixes. I’ve discovered that the more manly and potentially dangerous an appliance, the greater a chance that it will be used. What man would chose a Swiffer over a shop vacuum? How many men will grill slabs of meat over hot coals and potentially exploding grease but rarely boil an egg? It also helps to say machine or tool, not appliance. Women buy appliances. Men use machines.

I admit I have never changed a tire and I don’t hold doors so that men can walk through before me… unless they are escorting an elderly grandparent or fractious young child. I appreciate when the door is held open, the chair is pulled out for me or a gentleman stands to greet me. Every small courtesy builds my case for men.

I am not naïve. I have had encounters with men who were clearly less than gentlemen. But I have to thank my father for being a gentleman and a loving father. Anything less than the standard my father set I gave a very wide berth. My sister and I discussed how we like men and we assume that they will like us. How can you not like them? They are so endlessly fascinating and fun.

One of our friends dropped by while my husband was using the shop vacuum and according to my husband, being seen using a shop vacuum is cool. I hugged my husband with a big affectionate smile. He grinned at me and said “I like my shop vac.” Yep, that’s one more reason to like men.

Monday, August 4, 2008


We are all watching the Olympics with an eye to cheering on our athletes. One in particular that we have been watching is Nick Tritton of Perth, Ontario. He conducted Judo workshops to fund raise for his training, tournaments, and all the other expenses that go into being an elite athlete. Our son loved learning from him and just being in the same space. We happily drove through snowstorms to participate in the training sessions.

Nicholas raffled off his old gis (judo uniform) with his name embroidered on it to raise money. My son was lucky enough to win one. Someone from this family will be wearing it when we watch him fight!

If you want to know what an Olympic athlete is doing and thinking leading up to the games, check out Nick Tritton's blog. Very cool.