Hot Polka Dot
1Feb/12

The Last Cookie.


When you bake cookies it's like some kind of earth-shattering domestic phenomenon. The house fills with the intoxicating scent of fresh baked love all gooey with melted chocolate chips, chewy with oats and sweetly studded with dried cranberries.

Suddenly people from all corners of the home come out of hiding and follow their noses to the source of their mutual adoration. Like hounds who've caught the trail of prey, noses to the ground, tails wagging.

In the course of the next few days, hours, or in some cases minutes, the cookies are greedily devoured. No crumb is safe, no chocolate chip left behind. Gradually the batch is thinned out, the plumpest cookies picked off one by one like lambs to the slaughter. What was once twelve becomes eight, then six, then four and finally one. One lonely cookie sits in what now seems like an immense jar. Once stuffed with its brothers and sisters, the jar is now empty save one survivor.

Days pass and there it remains. The relief of being spared the all too recent massacre wears off and he's left wondering why he wasn't chosen. Was he too small? Was he over-baked? Was he lacking in chocolate or cranberries? No, this isn't fourth grade kickball.

No one wants the last cookie because no one can bear to put an end to the deliciousness. No one wants to be the one responsible for depriving the others of all that sugar and love. Once the last cookie is reduced to crumbs you know it will never fill that void inside when you crave another and realize that's it.

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14Jan/11

When Life Gives You Lemons.

In a family you operate like satellites that orbit around the home. When one moves the others shift to compensate. So when Lee starts working a late shift and doesn't get home until 2am some nights we all have to make some adjustments.

I miss him in the evenings and I stay up late to welcome him home. It doesn't feel right to go to bed alone. It's dark and cold without my personal heater. Go to bed late, wake up late. Being that it's winter I run out of daylight so I haven't been able to find the time to bake much.

You have to make the best of a bad situation. Cake helps. Sandwiches too. And texting. Lots and lots of texting. Strangely I've been finding myself watching a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but that's neither here nor there. I'm not responsible for the bad late night reruns I watch while in a semi-comatose state.

So when life gives you lemons make Cranberry Pomegranate Lemon Yogurt Cake.

That's how that goes right?

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6Oct/10

Apples and Cranberries and Pears! Oh My!


I must have The Wizard of Oz on the brain or something. Imagine if Dorothy, Scarecrow and the Tin Man had encountered these fearsome fruits on their journey along the yellow brick road. I'd say that's preferable to lions, tigers and bears.

But then again, that would probably make for a pretty lame movie. More like Veggie Tales than the story we all know and love.

Maybe if Dorothy could have tasted this Pear Walnut Salad or this Apple Cranberry Chicken she wouldn't have been in such a hurry to get back to Kansas. I'm betting Auntie Em didn't know how to make Apple Cheese and Potato Cakes like me. Just saying...

As promised here are my recipes for the entrée of my Autumn Dinner Party. I could have separated them into three different posts, but why leave you in suspense? I'm not a cruel person. Also they're best enjoyed altogether, so here you go!

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26Apr/10

Words of Wisdom and Pudding of Rice.

I'm not sure that I've ever told you that I'm not professionally trained in the kitchen. I think that goes without saying, but I thought I'd just put it out there. I'm mostly self taught though I've gotten loads of good experience with my family. My mom taught me how to make lumpless gravy and my dad showed me how to make a mean lasagna, among other things of course.

I don't think you need to go to a fancy culinary school to learn a thing or two about food. Anyone can be a cook and a darn good one at that. Like most worthwhile things in life, it takes time, practice and an open mind.

Here are a few things that I've learned through my trials and tribulations in the kitchen...

Don't ever, under any circumstances, leave a pot of milk alone on the stove. It will always boil faster than you think it's going to and bubble over into the burner below. Let me tell you if you've never smelled the sickly sweet and sour smell of burnt milk count yourself lucky. It's right up there with burnt hair and baby poop.

It's best to whip cream in a cold bowl with cold utensils. Something about the low temperature creates the best stiff peaks. I imagine that with all that whipping the friction might create a lot of heat as well so it's good to counteract that with chilly tools. Julia Child even suggests to put ice under the mixing bowl but that's a bit overkill in my opinion.

You don't need a fancy schmancy egg separator to divide egg whites from egg yolks. I don't even use the egg shell method either since I've had a few too many pierced egg yolks that way. I just use my own hands. They're much softer than pointy egg shells and much less expensive than egg gizmos, plus they have these built in movable parts to allow the egg white to flow through the cracks, aka fingers.

Less is more. I'm not trying to tell you that you should have one cookie instead of two. I wouldn't presume to have that kind of power over your portion decisions. I mean that the best recipes are the simple ones. Why complicate a good thing with oodles of ingredients that only end up masking and muddying the flavours? Think of the best combinations. Chocolate and peanut butter. Strawberry and banana. Lemon and blueberry. Cinnamon and nutmeg. Tomato and basil. Onion and garlic. Don't mess with a good thing people.

It's important to have fun in the kitchen. I know most of you probably have to cook everyday and you might even struggle to make things interesting for every meal. Don't stress! The moment you start to stress over food is exactly when it becomes a chore. Experiment a little, try something new once in a while, don't be afraid and, above all, keep it fun. I listen to music a lot in the kitchen and I'm not scared to admit that I dance... and sing... a lot... in my pajamas. There, I said it.

And without further delay, the moment we've all been waiting for. Cranberry Orange Rice Pudding. Would you believe I've never tried rice pudding before? It's sad but true. Today was the day and, let me just say, what a good day that was.

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21Apr/10

Ode to a Broken Spatula.


Oh spatula, poor spatula...

You were nothing fancy, but you were my favourite. I didn't tell the other spatulas for fear of making them jealous. We kept that secret to ourselves. You were so beautiful with your comfortable bright orange handle and your one convenient rounded silicon edge.

You were always there when I needed you, waiting and ready to help me out with countless culinary creations. You were there to fold egg whites into chocolate. You stood by me when I poured cake batter into round pans. You even let me use you to lick clean my mixing bowl when I happened to make a particularly scrumptious frosting.

But today, yes today was different. Today I pulled open the drawer where I let you sleep and snatched you out to mix together these rather delicious scones. Not 10 seconds into mixing, with a sudden and final loud snap you broke clean in two.

You lived a long useful life considering I bought you two for a dollar. I miss you spatula. I'm sorry I broke you.

Yours truly,

Lindsey

PS: Thank you for these amazing Cranberry Orange Scones. Your final epitaph. Your legacy. Your masterpiece. Something to remember you by, though they'll not last very long.

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