April 17, 2011

April 17

We are leaving in a few hours, so this morning we took it easy.  We walked to Starbucks and had some coffee and breakfast.  We packed (it didn't take long) and did our final clean and now we are sitting pretty trying not to make a mess.  We have a good-bye bbq tonight (which seems really selfish, we are not leaving for THAT long) at my mother's house.  Hopefully time passes fast.

April 14, 2011

April 14

In case you missed that, it's snow.  In April.  Thank god it's warm and sunny in Paris.
On another note, I am going crazy right now. The trip is too far away to do anything worthwhile, and I've got crappy weather and too much time on my hands. HELP!

April 12, 2011

Yesterday I...

Had TH for breakfast before I went for a walk with my husband and dog
had lunch out with my sisters
went on a 10km walk in the country
ate Jim's for dinner while watching the premiere of Top Chef Canada.

We've been eating out a lot.  There is NO food in the house.

April 10, 2011

Today was...

a very nice latte (my own)
a reorganized office
2 jars of blackberry syrup for oma and opa
a rainy walk
homemade pasta for dinner
a very interesting st. louise gooey butter cake
and this song stuck in my head all day, why is it so good?

April 8, 2011

Bear Mountain Hike

What happened today really was a series of unfortunate events.  Everything started out fine, well a little behind schedule, but it didn't end up mattering.  I changed our hike at the last minute to this challenging and long one.  We were going to hike Chadsey Lake but decided to do Bear Mountain instead.
Lesson number one, Natasha is usually right.
Things were okay, for the first 500 meters until we made our first wrong turn, walked 10 minutes to a dead end (but did see a cool mine), then turned around and came back out and up the alternate (but vastly steeper) path.
You look tired Tashy.
Lesson number two, if it's hard today, you are going the right way.
We walked for a long time through some shrub, over dead-growth and down paths that weren't really, all the while following the pink tape indicative of the correct route.
Eventually (read 1.5 hours) we hit the snow line, something we hadn't anticipated.  We were determined to get to at least the 5 km viewpoint and pressed on, through deeper and deeper snow until we finally had to give up, knee deep was my limit.

We had some fun running down the snowy hills, as Natasha put it while she ran full tilt by me "it won't hurt when I fall!"
Before we were out of the snow however, we encountered our biggest problem yet.  The dog ran away.  He. Ran. Away.  Maybe you don't understand, I thought I was going to be arriving home to Shane without our dog.  I wasn't panicked, I was far to agitated for that.  We ate a FULL bag of chocolate easter eggs while we were calling his name for FORTY-FIVE minutes.  45 agonizing minutes he was gone.  Then, amazingly, he found us back, happy as a clam, scaring us half to death as he raced between us from behind.  I couldn't be mad, I couldn't be glad, I was shocked, terrified and relieved.  So unfortunately for him, he sealed his fate, he is NEVER hiking with me again.
Lesson number three, these evil eyes can not be trusted.
On our way back down the mountain we noticed a few things we hadn't seen coming up, a beautiful waterfall, a really cool teal coloured car from the 50's upside down, a picket fence from the 60's lining a small section of the trail, a less steep and much softer forest floor that Natasha even commented on.  Suddenly, about an hour earlier than estimated, we were at the bottom.  We looked around, we weren't where we thought we should be.  And then I noticed it, the path we had just come out of was not the path we had hiked up.  There were two paths, one hidden by the other, one steep, rocky with a stream of water running down it (the first place our shoes got wet) and the other covered with a soft carpet of leaves.  Jesus.
Gross Tash, why are your shoes muddy?
 Lesson number four, explore all options.

We were glad to be home.

April 7, 2011

April 6&7

Yesterday we celebrated our 1st anniversary.  An entire year passed under the bridge, I hardly noticed.
Today was an amazing day, the sun was absolutely beautiful, I was sure to do a lot of walking today.
I hung a load of laundry to dry on in the sun!
Shane made mom and me omelets.
I made this pasta with anchovies instead of bacon.
I cleaned out the house of sweets, thank goodness, now I can bake with a clear mind.
We leave in 10 days, incase you didn't know.

April 5, 2011

The last two days

I did quite a bit of cooking.
Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
Our favourite meatloaf.
Banana Pudding (not very good)
A rift on these chili-garlic egg noodles.
Devils food cake. for 14 days! (!!!)
Rosemary-Lemon Shortbread
THE BEST coffee cake.

It's Shane's last day at work today.  Thank god.
My cookbooks arrived today.  Thank god.
They are as follows:
The Bread Baker's Apprentice
Vij's At Home
Rustic Fruit Desserts

Yeasted Chocolate Coffee Cake

I don't even want to start talking about this coffee cake, because the injustice of my words makes me sad.  This is a bread I just can't stop eating.  The dough is so buttery and sweet, it tears off in little shreds.  It's light and fluffy and loaded down with chocolate and cinnamon.  It's crispy on the outside and so smooth on this inside.  I can't wait to make this again and again.  This one is a showpiece, a way to brag without saying anything.  A friend with a new baby, a new neighbour, heck even coffee with your momma.  Show her what's up and serve with a beautiful cup of french press coffee, she'll notice for sure.

This is a lengthy recipe, and rather than trying to give it to you in my words I'll let Martha do the talking, she's the pro anyway.

Yeasted Chocolate Coffee Cake.

April 3, 2011

Espresso Pudding

This espresso pudding is really easy, so easy anyone can do it.  This includes you Steph, I challenge you to make this.

Espresso Pudding

I found the recipe here, and altered it considerably.

You could, as this recipe does, use strong coffee in place of the espresso powder, by reducing the cream by half a cup and including half a cup of coffee.

2 c cream (or half and half, or a combo)
1 Tbsp espresso powder
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
50 g (1/4 c) brown sugar

3/4 c heavy cream
1 Tbsp sugar
1/3 tsp vanilla

Bring cream and espresso powder to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Watch closely to avoid it bubbling over.

In a small bowl combine the cornstarch, salt and brown sugar whisking well to get all the lumps out.

Once the cream has come to a simmer, add the dry ingredients and whisk a lot until the mixture come to a boil.  Let boil, stirring constantly for one full minute.  Take it off the heat right away.  Pour the custard through a strainer to get rid of any lumps.

Pour into serving dishes and place plastic wrap touching the tops of the pudding to avoid a crust forming.  Refrigerate at least three hours, or until cold.

Whipped Cream:
Combine all ingredients, whip until stiff peaks form.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

April 2nd in Vancouver

We (Steph, Tash and I) were going to visit Capilano Suspension Bridge, but the night before I looked at the admission price...$30 freakin' dollars per person!  So that changed our plans real quick.  We ended up at the very cool (and free!) Lynn Canyon.
 I see two other people have cameras too.

 Cool florescent mushrooms

 After our walk we headed over to Moja coffee in North Van.
We had stellar americano mistos.  The beans were roasted on site I believe.
 We had a really great dinner at Burgoo Bistro, I will go ahead and recommend the Dob Diablos. (not pictured)
 We walked around Commercial looking for dessert.
And we finally settled on some unsatisfying gelato.  The end.

April 2, 2011

White Butter Bread

Do you think it is difficult to make bread?  Have you ever tried?  Maybe you have and it hasn't worked out, I know I've been there for sure.  Luckily bread that doesn't turn out still tastes good, and is useful in a number of other applications, like bread pudding or croutons.  Bread is a learning process, it's ever evolving.  It can be time consuming (up to a few days) or it can be SO easy, like my soda bread or this no-knead bread I've been known to make, both of which can be made in about an hour.  Since I started baking 3 years ago I've come along way, and that includes bread making.  Now while I don't make all our breads, and some seem to be more trouble than their worth, I almost always have some of mine sliced up in the freezer.

One day when I have a nice kitchen with some natural light I'd like to show you a step-by-step guide because I've found that pictures to go along with words help tremendously.  I'll leave you with this white butter bread recipe because I do believe with a little bit of confidence and practice, anyone could make this.

White Butter Bread

Makes 1 loaf of bread, can easily be doubled

2 1/4 tsp (1 package) dry active yeast (important to use this type of yeast)
1/3 c warm water
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp butter, room temperature
1 1/3 c warm water
480-600g (4-5 c) all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp melted butter, for tops

In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the yeast with 1/3 c warm water.  Be sure that the water is actually warm, not hot.  If the water is to warm it will kill your yeast, but if it is not hot enough the yeast will not be activated.  The temperature feels slightly warmer than room temperature on the inside of your wrist.  With a thermometer the temperature should be around 95-110 degrees F.  Mix the water and yeast and let the yeast bloom for at least 5 minutes.  If the yeast does not bloom your bread will not rise, all you are looking for is a little bit of movement, bubbles or change in the water.

Add the sugar, salt, butter and additional warm water (same temperature as before) mix gently to combine.

Slowly add about 2.5 cups of flour to the batter, mixing with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Add remaining 2 cups (I used whole wheat here) of flour, mixing.  

Place the bowl in the stand and using the dough hook knead for 10 minutes.  You need to watch the dough, adding flour by the spoonful until it comes off the sides and is not to wet.  You can alternatively knead the dough by hand.

While the dough is kneading, oil a large bowl and a 9 inch loaf pan.  Set aside.  Once the dough is ready transfer it to the large bowl and cover with plastic wrap, let rise for an hour in a warm place until doubled in size.

After an hour punch the dough down and place on counter top.  With a rolling pin roll into a 12 inch square with even thickness.  Slowly roll the dough up tightly sealing the seams firmly.  Tuck the ends of the dough under the bread and place into prepared loaf pan.  Cover the loaves again with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about an hour.

With the rack in the lowest position in the oven, preheat to 425 F.  Bake the loaf for 15 minutes, then cover the top with aluminum foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

Remove the loaf from the oven and place on a wire rack.  While it is still hot brush the top of the loaf with the melted butter.  Let cool completely before digging in.

April 1st

We celebrate four years of our relationship.
We went out for wings and beer the night before.
I: got soaking wet biking to the store in the rain.
Made awesome white bread. (with a bit of whole wheat flour)
Made a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
Made a really good cheddar broccoli soup. (cooks illustrated)
Made a strawberry sorbet.
Looked after my little patient.
And then there was this calzone Shane made the night before!