The business of business

January 14, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Somedays I wish that bartering was still an acceptable form of currency because I am a terrible business woman. I just can’t take money from people, and if I do, this weird immense sense of guilt overcomes me.

This feeling has been a part of me since I can remember.  Whenever I babysat, I would often give a back a bunch of the money stating that they gave me too much. And if they didn’t accept it?–Well then I would just leave it on their counter.

Really, the only time I have felt ok with accepting money is when it was through working for a corporation.

So, when I became a certified yoga teacher I failed because I couldn’t charge people the money.  That’s also one of the reasons why I don’t like selling my baked goods.

Recently, a few people have asked me to bake them some cakes which excited me.  I love baking and decorating cakes and need an excuse to practice my skills without all the calories of having to eat an entire cake.

The most recent cake I made was for a baby shower.  She gave me creative license but wanted something baby themed. I decided to go with a button and onsie motif topped with little baby shoes on top.

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I wish I could make cakes all the time. I had a blast making it.

 

 

Sometimes Downers can be a good thing.

November 23, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Wow, my last post was probably one of the most dull posts that ever was. All I can say is that I am very sorry. I don’t know what is wrong with me but I have been feeling extremely drained for the past two weeks.

This exhaustion that I am experiencing is odd because I have always been someone who needs very little sleep. Oh well, such is life I suppose so I shall trek on.

The weather in Whistler has been getting colder and colder. Last night, while I wasn’t sleeping, I heard the constant howling of the wind and rattling of the trees outside. Just the sounds alone sent chills throughout my body. Today, however, didn’t feel so cold so my daughters and I wrapped ourselves up in layers of clothing and ventured out to the market.

At the grocery store we scored some great deals, which included fresh organic cranberries. In light of the upcoming American Thanksgiving I decided to bake a recipe I saw a few months back. To my surprise many other food blogs posted the same recipe today–collective food conscience perhaps? Whatever the case this would be a great dessert alternative for the standard pumpkin pie.

The recipe was featured as a Tuesday’s with Dorie choice in september. I won’t retype the recipe here but, rather, direct you where you can find it (Superfluous: TWD- Cranberry Upside-Downer).

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Whether you are in America celebrating the holidays or in Canada give this recipe a try. It is sure to be a hit and proves that sometimes Downers can be a good thing.

Yo-Yo Diet? More like a No-No Diet.

September 29, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Dieting is something that I do not do. It’s not because I don’t want to do it. Consider the following and you will understand.

My husband and I tried to do the Wild Rose cleanse a few years ago and it was a disaster. The cleanse had strict diet restrictions that included the following: no tropical fruits (ie bananas) and one serving of fruit a day; no sweets (ie honey, maple syrup, dried fruit); no fermented food (soya sauce, miso, anything vinegar based); no peanuts; and the list goes on.

These restrictions were a huge problem because we constantly felt like we were starving. We would eat endless amounts of veggies and in turn our hunger pains continuously consumed our stomachs.

Needless-to-say, my husband and I were dying by the end of day one due to what felt like starvation so we snuck out to Dairy Queen which proceeded to be one of the most satisfying meals that we had in a long time.

There was only one problem with our failure to complete the cleanse; we told everyone we were doing it and we didn’t want to show defeat. There is way too much pride between my husband and I. We needed a plan to save face.

After gorging on our burgers and ice cream, we decided that the next day we would try the cleanse again.

The next day we encountered the same hollow pain in our stomachs but this time it was worse because we were going on the ferry from Victoria to Vancouver. For us, the ferry always means eating at the Pacific Buffet.

We knew the buffet would prove to be a challenge but we had an incentive to stay on our cleanse. My husbands co-worker would be travelling with us and we didn’t want to admit failure in front of him–especially since he had previously scoffed at the cleanse.

An hour before the ferry ride, my husband and I filled up on falafels wrapped in lettuce leaves and carrot sticks. It left our stomachs feeling unsatisfied and unprepared for facing the dreaded temptation of the buffet.

On the ferry the dilemma appeared. Would we give up our pride and admit defeat to everyone or would we let our stomachs feel the gut wrenching sting of hunger?

Of course, we sold our pride for the comfort of a delicious feast and it was worth it.

While I don’t do diet and will probably never attempt to do another cleanse, my husband and I like to eat fairly healthy. Quinoa is one of the super foods that has started to get some press lately and a long-time hippie food staple.

If you haven’t had quinoa you are missing out because it is one of my favourite things to eat. And, for those of you who don’t eat meat it is an excellent source of protein. So get in the kitchen and experiment with quinoa.

Here is a recipe for Chocolate Quinoa Cake that I saw in the newspaper a few months back. I perforated the top with a toothpick and then spread melted chocolate over it. My husband described it as very fudgy and couldn’t believe that there was quinoa in it. It is a great choice for all those people who are on a gluten-free diet as there is no flour.

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Serves 8-16

  • 2/3 cup white or golden quinoa
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1-1/2 cups white or cane sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease two 8-inch round or square cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups of cooked quinoa and the butter and continue to blend until smooth.

Combine sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake on the centre rack for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. (I baked it in one 8-inch pan with high sides for 50-60 minutes).

Cool completely in the pan before serving. Frost if desired. (I perforated the top of the cake with a toothpick and then spread melted chocolate over top).

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze for up to a month.

Lemon Juice perfume?–No. Double Lemon Cake?–Yes!

February 20, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I have the pleasure of hosting some great people at my house.  One of these people is my best friend Tonija, who is also my cousin and very much like a sister to me.

My family is quite a close knit family and every summer seven of my cousins and I would be crammed up in a house together.  Those summers were the best.

Tonija and I would do crazy things.  We would make crazy perfumes that contained toothpaste and lemon juice and try to sell them; we would have tea parties with cups containing more cream and milk than the tea itself; and we would bake.

And even though we were six, the kitchen was one of our favourite places to be.

Tonija and I would sit at the kitchen table with vegetables strewn everywhere.  We pretended to have a cooking show and make a whole bunch of silly dishes while giving detailed instructions to our viewers.

As we grew older and were able to use the stove we started making cooked sugar on the elements.  Then one day we actually got to bake cookies.

This love of baking is still present so whenever Tonija and I get together we have to bake.

One of Tonija’s favourite desserts is lemon cake and that just so happens to be my husbands too!

With a whip of some butter and a mix of some batter we had double lemon cake.

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Double Lemon Cake
Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of one lemon plus cold water to measure 1 1/2 cup water
  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • Lemon curd
  • Meringue frosting

Method:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Prepare cake pan by greasing a 10 inch round cake pan.

In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a small bowl zest a lemon and add sugar, mix together and set aside.

In a measuring cup squeeze one juice of lemon and fill with cold water till it measures 1 1/2 cups. Place in fridge.

In a bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment cream butter on medium speed. Once butter is creamed add sugar and mix until fluffy.

Scrape bowl down. Add egg and beat until just incorporated.

On low add flour mixture and lemon water. Alternate between dry and wet ending with dry.

In a separate bowl whisk egg whites till foamy. Add cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form.

Fold egg whites gently into the cake batter.

Pour into prepared pan and place in a preheated oven.

Bake for 40 minutes turning once at 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place on wire cooling rack. After 10 minutes remove from cake pan and cool on wire rack.

Prepare cake:

Cut cake in half. Place meringue frosting in a piping bag and on one layer of the cake pipe a circle around the perimeter. Then take lemon curd and spread evenly.

Carefully place other cake layer on top. Ice cake with a crumb coat. Put the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Take out cake an put second coat of frosting.

If desired cover top with lemon curd.
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The Caramel Cake — Daring Bakers challenge

November 30, 2008 at 9:35 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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So, I am not a Daring Baker but I saw so many delicious Carmel Cakes that I just had to make it. This is my first time I have ever made caramel and I was a little scared. Let’s just say that I tried to make marshmallows one time and it went totally awry (cleaning those pots was very fun!).

But I decided that I should just face my fears and go for it. Also, the family and I are going over to my hub’s Uncles’ house for a late American Thanksgiving dinner and this cake would be perfect.

The cake smelt delicious and I can’t wait to dig in to it. My hubs kept on asking if he could have a piece for breakfast this morning. Oh how I love him.

Caramel Syrup Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup water (for “stopping” the caramelization process)

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting Ingredients

  • 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe above)
  • 2 each eggs, at room temperature
  • splash vanilla extract
  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature

Caramelized Butter Frosting Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste

Caramel Syrup Method

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.
When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.
Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

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Making of the caramel!  I actually did it (or at least I think I did it).  It took a long, long time and a lot of forearm work with the whisking action.

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting Ingredients

Preheat oven to 350F
Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep)
9-inch cake pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.
Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.
Sift flour and baking powder.
Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}
Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.
Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it. Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.
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Pre-baked and baked… mmm mmm mmm!

Caramelized Butter Frosting Method

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.
Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner’s sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner’s sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.
Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.

To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light.

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Ta daa! I added some hazelnuts to try and beautify the cake and poured some extra caramel on it. So hopefully it tastes good!

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