Archive for the 'Cooking & Baking' Category

Gwyneth Paltrow is a Fraud

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

In an attempt to improve my achy joints I decided try to go wheat free for a month. Trying to improve one’s bad joints is a noble pursuit to be sure, but a girl still needs to eat. Specifically, a girl still needs brownies.

In desperate need of a chocolate fix I decided to try Gwyneth Paltrow’s spelt brownie recipe. A friend gave me her cookbook last year, qualifying the gift by saying, “I know you find her annoying and she is a smug bitch but I have to admit that her recipes are really good.” Not one to turn away a cookbook, even one penned by a smug celebrity, I kept the book and have enjoyed some of her offerings. Regarding her brownies Gwyneth claims that, “These are about as healthy as brownies can get, with no flavor sacrifice.”

I have to disagree. Flavour was sacrificed. I noticed. Maybe someone who hasn’t eaten a brownie in a really, really long time (and I suspect Ms Paltrow may be one of those) may not notice, the same way I sometimes panic mid-bite into a veggie burger because I worry that I was given a beef burger instead. I’ll thrust it at The Sweetie, asking him to test it. He’ll take one bite, do a fake cough and say,”That is definitely veggie, it’s just been so long that you have forgotten what a real burger actually tastes like.”

Having enjoyed a batch of regular brownies a mere week ago, I know what a flavourful brownie tastes like and the concoction I made last night was sorely disappointing. They weren’t terrible, I’ll give them that, The Sweetie even commented, “They aren’t bad, kind of similar to yours but with a lot of sawdust thrown in.” But let’s be real. If you bake with spelt flour, agave nectar and maple syrup instead of eggs, sugar and butter, flavour will be sacrificed. There is no need to fib.

Maybe I shouldn’t be taking cooking advice from a celebrity, even an Oscar winner who hangs out with renowned chef Mario Batali and splits her time between London and New York, as she is quick to point out on the dust cover. Maybe I should be a little more suspicious of someone who can look this intense sniffing a box of cherry tomatoes.

I enjoy tomatoes as much as the next person but you won’t catch me looking this soulful around a pint of produce. Maybe I just don’t feel as much. It could be that all the white flour and non-organic produce I have been eating has clouded my emotions. I guess the point of this no wheat experiment should focus more on healthy choices and less on finding brownie alternatives. In the meantime, however, as I am missing loaves of bread and steaming bowls of pasta, I would appreciate it if people kept the lies to a minimum.

Comfort Food

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Back in the fall when I was growing a Buddha belly I decided to go on a diet. I managed to lose ten pounds and then December happened, the season of shortbread, wine and chocolate. It comes but once a year, I rationalized to myself and ate with abandon: cookies for breakfast, cheese at every opportunity and bonbons on an hourly basis. I told myself that I would be sick of all the indulgences by the time January rolled around and vowed that as soon as I finished feasting at the annual New Year’s Day Dim Sum blow out I would eat salads again. Then January arrived, that awful month when I am running on empty in the serotonin department and find myself crying under the covers with a pie. I was all over the pasta, loaves of bread and every sugary item I could shove down my gullet to muffle my irrational sobbing. Now it is February, and like those pets who disappear in a hurricane and somehow limp back to their owners months later, the pounds have returned.

Today I am debating whether to go to the gym or bake The Sweetie his favourite oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. When I bake a batch he always reaches for a cookie when they are still too hot, then grunts like a caveman and pretends that his hand is burned. It makes baking them all worthwhile. I have tried to expand my cookie repertoire but The Sweetie always complains that they are not like his favourites. This morning he had a nerve root injection into his spine at the hospital. He was a brave little soldier and what kind of wife would I be if I opted for the elliptical machine instead of baking him a tray of cookie medicine? Obviously I have to do the right thing and keep that sports bra balled up in the back of a drawer for a little longer.

The Sweetie’s favourite Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:

  • Cream together 2/3 cup butter with 1 cup brown sugar
  • Add 1 egg and 2 tsp vanilla
  • Mix in 1 cup flour, 11/2 cup rolled oats, 1 tsp each baking soda and baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt
  • Stir in 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 3/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • Bake in 375 degree oven for around 10-12 minutes
  • Leave tray on top of oven and wait for a caveman impersonation as your unwitting victims get overly eager and reach too soon for a hot cookie. Snicker.

Pear Bread

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

pear loaf

I have a confession to make. I am not a fan of pears. This admission always seems to provoke incredulous gasps and protests. There is always the indignant, “How can you not like pears? What did a pear ever do to you? What’s not to like about pears?” It is a texture thing for me. They are mushy. Often slimy. They bruise easily. I don’t like that overly sweet grainy sand-like sensation. Frankly, I find them a little pretentious. Perhaps being a small chested, child bearing hipped woman I resent the pear for invoking my shape. This hasn’t interfered with my love of butternut squash, however, which has a similar physique.

The Sweetie gets the same incredulous indignation when he admits that he doesn’t like smoked salmon. People can’t accept it. Rather than being indignant shouldn’t pear and smoked salmon lovers rejoice that there will be more left for them? The Sweetie does love pears though. Knowing this my parents brought over a pile of pears for him. Every day I nag him to eat the pears. I leave them in strategic spots for them to catch his eye, much like I do for myself with my vitamins. I decided to take matters into my own hands and save the pears, feeling heroic for saving something I don’t particularly like. It must be the season making me more charitable. I found a recipe for pear bread that looked enticing despite it’s star ingredient and set to work. It was delicious.

It turns out that pears have taught me a valuable lesson in keeping an open mind, expanding my horizons and overcoming biases. Unpalatable things can be made acceptable if we are willing to bend a little. All you need to do is put them in a cake.

Saturday Morning Party

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

I  have a new sunrise alarm clock that I bought in the ongoing battle against SAD. It is supposed to mimic rising with the sun and trick you into thinking that there will be light, even on the gloomiest of days. Instead of a blaring alarm, you hear a gentle steel band or chirping birds when it is time to wake up.

This morning was beautiful. It was dark when I got up. There is a peace that comes when the rest of the world still seems to be sleeping. I padded around quietly in my ratty old monkey slippers, my coffee cup warming my hands. The cat followed me briefly but was soon bored and curled up to go back to sleep. I felt calm and peaceful and relished the quiet. I made crepes, the mixing and the swirling on the pan feeling meditative and hypnotic. I wasn’t bothered by the ones that didn’t turn out. Momentarily I debated turning the radio on but decided that I wanted to pretend that I was the only person awake for a little while longer. As the sky started to brighten and streaks of  grey began to appear I filled a crepe with Nutella and ate it off my favourite cat plate. Whatever else happens today doesn’t really matter. It has already been a good day.

And then of course there is tonight to look forward to. Naturally I am the second guy.

Found here

September Denial

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

It may say September first on the calendar but I declare September to be the new August. I am determined to remain in a state of denial until the snow falls. I will wear white pants after labour day. I will wear open toe shoes until my toes turn blue. I will continue to paint my nails cheery bright colours. I will eat my weight in peaches. I will have friends over for a barbeque and game of croquet even if we are wrapped in blankets and our trembling fingers can’t grip the mallets. I will make watermelon rind preserve, even though I’m not a huge fan of watermelon or preserves for that matter, I will make it anyway because it sounds summery. I will be so busy having barbeques, wearing summer frocks and making watermelon preserve that i will not notice the leaves changing colour or the days getting shorter.

It is summer it is summer it is summer.

Frozen Fudge Pops

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

The temperatures are soaring up to the high thirties today and with the humidex it is going to feel like it is in the high forties. That is a bit much, even for a heat lover like me. I expect people are going to spontaneously burst into flames on the street. Even if I end up as a sizzling smouldering heap of ashes on the sidewalk I will still take the heat over windchill any day.

To stay cool I will be making frozen fudge pops that I found on Epicurious. I may venture out to the video store later and rent The Thing. I’ll eat frozen treats and watch some carnage in the Antarctic, relieved that I am not freezing in some outpost, paranoid and tormented by an alien being.