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Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Good grief, I haven't started the Daring Baker challenge and the chocolate is going fast. It doesn't last long in hot sticky weather so it's probably for the best.

Right Jenny?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wild Dash

Even though the occasional bear would wander through the neighbourhood, we rarely saw them. They tended to be more interested in garbage cans and would bound away when noisy humans rounded the corner.

Skunks are a different story. We were the ones who would bound away hastily when the whiff or flash of tail came across our path.

In the summer time hot humid days would break out in shattering thunderstorms that soaked and cooled everything. The hot muggy air made moving unbearable and before any of our cars had air conditioning, we would keep the windows rolled down so we wouldn't cook when we used the car. Once you've had the experience of searing your skin on hot vinyl, you always left your car windows open.

So it wasn't unusual to go out in the evening to roll up the windows because of threatening thunderstorms.

One evening my mother asked me to watch from the doorway while she went to close the car windows. The unmistakable whiff of skunk was in the air but we couldn't figure out where the critter was hiding.

No one wants to run into a skunk.

Carefully and slowly, my mother looked left and right before strolling to the car. It was dark outside and we didn't want a skunk to pop out and surprise her. Cautiously, everything moved in slow motion.

From my vantage point on the top of the stairs, nothing much was happening for a bored teenager.

Just as my mother finished rolling up the windows I screamed...


She snatched up her dress in two handfuls and made a panicked mad dash for the house... where I was holding on the doorframe to remain upright and gasping for air while laughing.

The panicked look on my mom's face gave way to anger... I think. I was laughing too hard to remember.

I was in so much trouble. Well earned I'd say.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bear Breaks into Bakery

Being Canadian entails more wild life encounters than many countries.

Here, we had a school lockdown; not because of crazed lunatics with weapons but because there was a bear in the neighbourhood. No child could be allowed outside without adult supervision to ensure their safety.

Bears make news because they are generally shy and avoid people... unless they are hungry.

One of my aunts had a bear step on her hand when she was blueberry picking. She was stunned but calm and the bear went on his way.

Berry picking is a higher risk activity because both bears and humans want the juicy fruit. If you visit a blueberry patch and see plants stripped clean of berries, rest assured a bear has been visiting.

My grandparents have a cottage in blueberry country so they have seen plenty of bears.

The story that is most legend was when a bear stepped on my aunt's head.

My two aunts were playing in a pile of discarded brush and sticks. They had created a fort underneath and were hiding inside. All of sudden they heard a thumping running noise; a bear cub was running away, terrified, from some people. He ran over the pile of brush and his paw broke through to step on my aunt's head. He scrambled down to the entrance of the fort to head inside and came face to face with my terrified aunts.

They screamed at the face of the bear peering into the fort. My grandmother heard their screams and came tearing out of the cottage.

Thankfully the bear took off and no one was hurt. We still laugh at that story.

This news article about a bear breaking into a bakery triggered some of my bear recollections. Unfortunately there was no video of the event but I did track down a video of a bear at a Subway restaurant.

Bear Breaks into Bakery

TOBERMORY, Ont. - The owner of a bakery in Tobermory, Ont., has had a few sleepless nights after a black bear broke into the shop.

The bruin was first discovered last Friday enjoying some cookies as he sat atop a freezer at the Little Tub Bakery.

The Ministry of Natural Resources set a trap.

The owner of the shop says he woke up early today to loud noises as the bear got caught in the trap.

Wayne Hadcock says it was hard to get back to sleep because the bear was banging his body against the cage, trying to escape.

The bear is now in the custody of the Natural Resources Ministry.

Original article can be found here

This video shows a bear visiting a Subway restaurant in British Columbia, Canada.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Well Baked Tart

Like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, I'm late once again for a challenge. But I made it... or rather Jenny and I made it.

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

I was pleasantly surprised by this challenge, in fact, everyone around the table seemed surprised. Jenny and I were very laissez faire about the whole thing and no one was expecting too much satisfaction out of the dessert. Surprisingly, the recipe rated a solid eight out of ten.

When I think of tarts, I think of oozing fillings with a pie crust. The frangipane in the Bakewell Tart was more like-cake than custardy. Could this be because it was gluten free? I have no idea.

Bakewell Tart... er... Pudding

Sweet shortcrust pastry

225g (8oz) gluten free flour mix*
1 teaspoon (5 mL) xanthan gum
30g (1oz) sugar
110g (4oz) salted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract (optional)
45-60ml (3-4 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside. Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.


125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) gluten free flour mix*

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle, don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour. Spoon the mixture over the jam.

Assembly Instructions

Place ball of dough on parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and squish down with your hands. Then use rolling pin and roll pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When pastry is to desired size and thickness, transfer it to tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Blind bake the crust for about ten minutes until golden and slightly puffy. It will not puff as much as a wheat flour crust. Remove from the oven and spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 20 minutes.

Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking. The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish. When you slice into the tart, the frangipane paste will be firm and cakelike. The crust should be crisp but not tough.

*Gluten Free Flour Mix
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cups potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca flour

Lessons Learned

1) Teamwork makes a challenge easy.

2) I may not have time for a challenge, but always will have some time to socialise.

3) The tartiest thing about this challenge were the two cooks.

4) Keep your guests' expectations low. That way they are pleasantly surprised. Keep 'em hungry too and they'll eat anything.

5) I owe some kids bribe money for trying some of the weird food we served.

Hop over to the Daring Kitchen to see the buzz this month. The original recipe will be posted at The Daring Kitchen and on the host blogs.

Thank you Jasmine and Annemarie!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day

When I was little, I lived on a border town with the United States. One of the best parts of living there was the chance to see fireworks on the 1st of July and on the 4th of July. Today I'm far from a neighbouring American town and I miss the excitement of the holidays so close together. Nonetheless, Happy Canada Day and I'm off to see the fireworks.