Post-Hump Day post: We’re Special, K?

This week, now that we can slowly face the Internet again . . .

> freecycle-aeron-chair-marshmallow-sofaWe laughed at “Me-cycle” requests like these two (from the same person) for an office chair and sofa from the Toronto Freecycle group. As the holidays approach (okay, let’s face it, these requests can happen any time of the year), it’s interesting to see these outlandish requests for something pricey but free.
> We ate lahmacuns (alternatively spelled “lahmajoun”, a.k.a. Turkish pizza or “pide”)
> We couldn’t stop watching this mesmerizing show of a great graphic artist drawing logos (courtesy of The Girl).
> Our current word/phrase: “I like the flavour, but not the labour,” says the Girl, about foods that she likes (pomegranate, pommelo) and even about foods she doesn’t like (lobster, artichoke). Think about that during this holiday season of preparing foods.
> Funniest thing we heard on the radio/tv: this line from an imagined RomComCon: “I hope to go to the Canoe Pavilion with you. We can go out in the middle of the lake and get rained on.” (This, from one of the best originators of “fake news”, who unfortunately, now have to stamp almost every story with “SATIRE” in ALL CAPS, in case people can’t distinguish it from truly evil fake news in the world.)
> We learned that millennial moms love cloth diapers (just like non-millennial moms from years ago!). Granted, we never spent $$$ on “collectibles”, but it’s great to see that buying cloth diapers is addictive!
> We found this great web page about the most amazing-looking cakes.
> We found this interesting article that confirmed what we’ve always suspected: buttons that don’t work.

kelloggs-cereals> Finally, post-U.S.-election activity should include:
> understanding why it’s important to not normalize Trump
>
protesting with your wallet (here are alternatives to Trump-family-related businesses)
> seeing the ridiculousness and humour of the situation
> And buying Kellogg’s products!

#832: The weekly chef

Cheesy beef potato pies

The Girl has always been interested in cooking, and always tried to help out, from a young age. We have a good collection of cookbooks, but now, with the help of The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook, she’s become an even more remarkable dynamo in the kitchen.

Peeta’s Cinnamon Bakery Bread

With not a lot of help (unless I aid in the chopping, to speed things along), she’s managed to cook up quite a few complicated dishes on her own. Past offerings have included cheesy beef potato pie (at left), the Cinnamon Bakery Bread (below), ginger-carrot-butternut squash soup, buttermilk biscuits, pasta salad, shortbread . . . and the list goes on. Last week’s offering? Moist chicken in basil cream sauce. When I was 10  years old, I managed to re-heat prepared chicken on the stove, keeping it unburned, most of the time.

Now that we have a great little cook offering to make supper once a week, no one goes hungry in this arena.

Indulgence in 5 minutes (or less)

One of my all-time faves

One of the joys of the Internet—besides the availability of photos of mischievous and/or deliciously-cute kittens—is the quick spread of easy recipes. I remember in university when it seemed that everyone had a copy of the urban-legend-status “Neiman Marcus $250 Cookie” (which is a good cookie, but doesn’t quite live up to its hype). All of a sudden, anyone could be a great baker.

Nowadays, it seems that the one doing the rounds is the 5-Minute Cake-in-a-Mug, aka “The Most Dangerous Cake in the World”—dangerous to your hips because now you’re always only five minutes away from having cake.

We got this recipe from a friend a while ago, and we have to keep the recipe hidden from a certain someone in the house who claims that he has no willpower, and would make this all the time. It’s so easy that kids can whip up cake for themselves in five minutes (or less, depending on how powerful your microwave oven is, and how hungry and frantic they are in throwing the ingredients together).

Normally, this is where I'd insert a pic of my cake-in-a-mug, but then it would look too tempting, and that combined with the simplicity of the recipe at left, would make you completely lose all control, wouldn't it?

Wanna make the whole experience even faster? Pre-mix the dry ingredients and keep it ready in a container in the pantry, which is what we do for often-used homemade mixes like pancakes, waffles, and favourite cupcakes. Then all you have to do is add the wet ingredients, and voilà, you’re down to four-and-a-half minutes! Just make sure to keep your cookie mix hidden from spouses who have no willpower.

Five-Minute Cake-in-a-Mug

1) Mix these first four ingredients in a mug.

> 4 tbsps. flour
> 3 tbsps. sugar
> 2 tbsps. cocoa powder
> 3 tbsps. chocolate chips

2) Add these ingredients to the mixture and stir well.

> 1 egg
> 3 tbsps. milk
> 3 tbsps. melted butter or oil
> 1/2 tsp. vanilla

3) Microwave on high for 3 to 5 minutes.

#891: Keeping the dream alive

It’s one thing to keep up the façade about Dora the Explorer, but it’s much more meaningful when a child keeps the illusion of Santa alive for a younger sibling. This is a glimpse of the goings-on in our household concerning the jolly old man this past Christmas:

The Boy: Does Santa really exist?

The Girl (hesitating): Do you think he exists?

The Boy: I think so.

The Girl: Then I think he does, too.

Then on Christmas Eve, she reminded him to leave cookies (we didn’t have cookies, so we made do with lemon pound cake) and milk out for Santa, and a carrot for the reindeer, and write a quick note. And when he fretted that Santa wouldn’t be able to come visit us because the friend’s house where we were staying was only equipped with a woodstove and not a chimney, big sis and our friend quickly came to the rescue: “Oh don’t worry: Santa knows to come through the window when there isn’t a chimney.”

The next morning, a letter appeared on the top of the wood stove, written in as neat cursive writing as a nine-year-old can manage:

“Dear O,

Thank you for the cake and milk and carrot for my reindeer. You have been a very good boy this year. Hope you have fun skiing today!

–S.”

And though I teased the Girl that maybe next year, Santa should block print his letter so that a five-year-old can read it more easily than cursive writing, of course, I was immensely touched; she had put in so much effort to keep the dream alive for at least a little while longer.

Sugaring off: Day 28

Since mentioning the Tim Horton’s bowtie and thinking of Halifax this week, I’ve been having memories of yummy pastries from my teenaged days. What really stands out in my mind besides the less-sophisticated bowties were the wonderful cream horns from a French pastry shop on Quinpool Road (my first taste of good French pastries other than from a grocery store bakery), and the white chocolate mousse cheesecake from, I believe, the now-defunct Silver Spoon. Dee-lish.

I’ve been thinking of delectable pastries because I’m preparing my list of things that I will want to eat on my big day back to sugarland. However, it has been suggested to me by the Beloved Husband that I should concentrate on the “good” sweets like fine pastries and desserts, and stay away from the “junkie” sweets, like cheap chocolate bars and sugary candies. I believe he might even have mentioned that he has in mind for me his own list of appropriate sweets. A fine and noble suggestion, but I do feel that after 30 days of deprivation, I should have the right to stuff my face with any kind of junk for just one day.

I mean, I certainly won’t look a gift cream horn or mousse cake in the mouth, but it would be nice to throw in a handful of gummy Coke bottles too.

Sugaring off: Day 15-16

In my haste, I had made the decision to enter this bet during a month when two special occasions involving cake would occur. So here it is, the exact midpoint of our little bet, and I was denying myself a birthday sweet. And I do believe that the Beloved Husband has taken pity on me.

After a lovely surprise meal of sushi, he brought out a little tray containing three small squares of mousse cake. Then came a little speech about how in screenwriting, they talk about a story being like a clothesline, in that it needs to be propped up in the middle or else it will sag. We were at the middle of the experiment, he said, and a little propping up or support was reasonable. I’m sure there was a bit more to that analogy, and it must have sounded really good and signficant, but mostly what I heard was “Blah, blah, blah, have some cake, blah blah blah . . .” So, after 15 days of no sweets, and an assurance from the BH that this would not constitute a failing on my part of the bet, I took little bites, sampling three flavours of mousse cake (taro, green tea, and coffee).

Now, if you’ve never had a pastry from an Asian bakery, you really must, because the beauty is that Asians don’t make desserts too sweet. Western-style cakes and pastries done in Asian bakeries are rarely overloaded with icing and fondant; they have just the right amount of non-sweetness with even a tinge of saltiness in the buttercream icing or cake batter or mousse. So as my first sweet treat after 15 days of non-sweet, an Asian-style mousse cake was just the perfect transition piece.

And you know what? I didn’t devour it and dive in uncontrollably like I thought I would. I savoured it slowly, and really had to force myself to finish the equivalent of one whole piece. The flavours sat just right on my tongue, and did not overwhelm. It was just perfect. And I didn’t want anymore than that.

What that proved to me is that with a non-sweet transitional dessert, I really did have control over myself. But I’m also positive now that when the real end of the experiment comes in 15 days, and the world of utter sweetness is opened up to me again, I will no longer have that deep craving that I once did. I think that I’ve overcome the biggest hurdles, and am now confident that I won’t overdose and go into a sugar coma, come Day 30.