Hot Polka Dot
21Apr/11

Feather The Nest.

Outside tiny birds fly distracted and twitterpated snatching up twigs and absconding with string to prepare nests in your eaves trough. Inside we feather our own nests with knick knacks, baubles and trinkets.

I've made my nests of airy threads of spun sugar atop pillows of velvety Caramel Buttercream crowning moist Vanilla Bean Cakes. An egg would be so lucky to hatch here!

Because It's Spring again.

Because I had my first robin sighting of the year.

Because I'm on a sugar high.

Because I want you all to know how much I appreciate you.

I made you a little gift inspired by today's cupcakes.

It's a bird's nest necklace made of twisted silver wire and shiny turquoise beads on a dainty cable chain. Made with love by yours truly so it can be Spring all year long.

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26Sep/10

Project Food Blog #2: The Classics.

“Ready to tackle a classic dish from another culture? Pick an ethnic classic that is outside your comfort zone or are not as familiar with. You should include how you arrived at this decision in your post. Do your research then try to pull off successfully creating this challenge. Try to keep the dish as authentic as the real deal, and document your experience through a compelling post.”

I represent a diverse combination of cultures from around the world. On my dad's side there's Irish, Scottish and possibly a little Native Canadian mixed in there somewhere, but we're not too sure. On my mom's side there's Dutch and Indonesian.

I could have chosen to make any classic dish from any culture, but that wouldn't be as meaningful. Sure it would probably be delicious and I'd learn a lot about it, but I'd prefer to learn a bit about my own culture and, in turn, learn something about myself.

I'm pretty familiar with Scottish, Irish and Dutch food so I opted for something a little outside my comfort zone and also very challenging. Though I am part Indonesian I've never tried any Indonesian desserts like this Kue Lapis Legit (Indonesian) a.k.a. Spekkoek (Dutch) a.k.a. Thousand Layer Cake.

Through my research I found out that this cake was born out of the colonial period in Indonesia when Dutch settlers were melding with the native people. Both cultures influenced each other and out of the diverse sharing of traditions came this cake. Dutch baking methods collided with Indonesian spices.

The symbolism of the layers is poetic. Two cultures, both unique and beautiful, both contributing equally to make something sweet. Everyone has their layers and we would be lucky if they were made of sugar and spice and everything nice.

I like to picture my beautiful Indonesian great great grandmother baking this cake with her loving Dutch husband. It's a sweltering morning on the island of Sumatra and the lazy breeze sends the scent of this new cake whirling through the settlement past banana trees and around mischievous monkeys. She hums a curious tune to herself as she adds the final layer to the cake while he puts another log in the oven.

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24May/10

Delicious on a Dime.

I love slapping people in the face with my mad design on a dime skills.

They admire my kitchen utensils and I'll be so proud to announce, "Aren't they nice? I got them from this little store called Dollarama. Maybe you've heard of it."

Or someone will compliment my skirt and I'll be all too pleased to play the guess-how-much-it-cost game. I always win at that game.

Or I'll get asked where I bought my necklace or the framed print on the wall and I'll answer proudly, "I made it myself."

I'm not cheap. I'm thrifty. There's a huge difference. When I go shopping and I see something that I like but it's a little pricey I'll more often than not think, “That's nice but I could totally make that myself for half the cost.” So I do and I love it. I love seeing a beautifully decorated vignette in a magazine then pull it off in my own living room with Ikea furniture and thrift store accessories. I love seeing a trendy new style from a fashion show then whipping it up myself with clothes and accessories diligently sought out and bought at a fraction of the designer cost.

The same goes with food. No where does it say that to make delicious and equally fabulous gourmet food you have to shop at ridiculously overpriced grocery stores or markets. I shop at Superstore and I often buy discounted No Name, no frills brands. I am no food snob, that's for sure. I also find it strangely exciting to plan recipes as inexpensively as possible without sacrificing quality.

This Caramel Corn is perfect for that. It's made with ingredients that most people already have stocked in their cupboards. It's pretty surprising what you can make with a little sugar, corn syrup, butter and water. Then you add some popcorn, nature's Ramen noodles, and that's an amazing snack.

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13Apr/10

It’s a Good Thing.

I've just realized that all this time I haven't been properly creaming butter and sugar. Many cookie recipes start out by telling you to “cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy”. I read this and thought, ok cool thirty seconds should do it. I the peek inside the mixer with satisfaction and say, that looks pretty fluffy.

Wrong!

Martha has shown me the light. In this recipe she asks you to cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy for not one, not two, but five minutes. I was like, what?! Seriously that long? Well alright. If you say so, Martha. And then something magical happened. My butter and sugar became one harmonized ingredient and fluffed like nobody's business. It's a good thing.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's not like I've been ruining countless batches of cookies before this epiphany. There's lots of evidence to the contrary. They all turned out just fine, apart from that one sheet of peanut butter cookies I tried to shape like four leaf clovers for St. Patrick's Day, but they still tasted just great if a little lopsided. You never saw those. Be grateful you didn't.

So I guess we learn something new everyday. I've learned to obey the greatness that is Martha Stewart. But then again, maybe I didn't. I changed a lot with this recipe. I'm sure the original recipe would be delicious without my tweaking, but I wanted a bit more lemon flavour and a pinch more crystallized ginger. That's ok right? Forgive my insolence Martha, but I made them yummier. Now please don't hurt me.

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5Apr/10

The Pros and Cons of Food Blogging.

Sure it seems glamourous with all the chocolate, lemon curd and brown butter, but I'm here today to expose to you the hidden reality of food blogging. I present the pros and cons. It's a delicate balance maintained only by the most unbalanced of people.

Pro: There's always an impressive supply of tasty treats in the house to satisfy your cravings.

Con: You tend to have to exercise more to compensate for said cravings.

Pro: You have an overwhelming urge to make everything pretty and who doesn't like to be surrounded by pretty things?

Con: Another urge that seems to go hand and hand with this one is the need to photograph all the pretty things before they leave your kitchen or, at least, before it enters your mouth. Just ignore the obsessive lady in the apron with the camera securely attached to her face and wait patiently for your cookie.

Pro: Your Kitchen Aid mixer gets quite a lot of use and, I mean let's face it, inspires a sense of childish glee whenever you turn it on. I seriously squealed the first time it creamed butter and sugar together.

Con: You need to do at least two loads of dishes everyday. I have a tiny dishwasher, but I suppose I should be grateful I have one at all.

Pro: You always have a chance to try new things and experiment in the kitchen.

Con: Sometimes those new things become unsuccessful things and your experiments go awry.

Be assured that these Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies were not one of those. They turned out quite thin and crispy which would normally not be preferable, but the satisfying crunch surprise of the candied honey roasted peanuts was a unique way to reinvent a trusted family recipe.

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