30 April 2006

Cooking by Proxy: CBBP #1: Apple fritters with maple-chocolate syrup

When Tania told me that she, Ivonne and Sam were planning on bringing Blogging By Post to Canada and wondered if I'd join in, I jumped at the chance. I've also thrown my hat in to host a future event.

This is such a great thing for several reasons: Canadian foodblogs and Canadian foodbloggers are popping up everywhere, we represent a good cross-section of the country--east and west coasts and the bits in between, both official languages, urban, rural, veg and carnivorous, and of course our passion for food (and writing about it) ranks up there with everyone else (but then, I'm very unapologetically biased).

Here we are, with the
first Canadian Blogging By Post, hosted by Sam, with a suggested theme of chocolate...mmm...chocolate.

What to do, what to do...

I want to highlight my part of the world's food traditions--good hearty meals, using great, fresh, simple ingredients...farm-to-table, back garden to kitchen table. Unfortunately, apart from chocolate cakes and chocolate puddings, I really couldn't think of something that used chocolate in a way that complimented local fare.

Then, I remembered a maple-chocolate syrup recipe I came across a while ago.

Many people think of la belle province when they think of maple syrup--and rightfully so: Quebec produces something like 80% of the continent's (if not the world's) maple syrup; Ontario produces quite a bit of the sweet stuff, and has been ranked second or third in production. There are a number of sugar bushes in the area and my dear friend Kim has re-patriated her family's patch of sugar maples.

Okay, I've found a syrup...now I need to put it on something (well, I don't, the syrup is awfully good on its own). Then I remembered a classic, local pairing...apple fritters and maple syrup all golden brown and warm, sometimes with a dollop of whipped creme. It's a staple of the local market.

Fritters are incredibly easy to make. All you need to do is peel, core and slice an apple, coat the slices in a very simple batter and deep fry until golden brown.

I'm still not 100 per cent yet--my stupid human trick is the ability to stand on my bad foot for about five-10 seconds before the pain gets to me (or I fall over--whichever comes first). I am feeling a lot better...and I missed tinkering in the kitchen, so I made a curry (will blog about it later). It took me longer than usual, and I was tired from standing, so I decided that dessert (said fritters and syrup) would be a cooking by proxy opportunity, with the
exbf as my kitchen minion.

Today's learning was: when you core an apple, use a cutting board...not your hand, thigh nor any other body part (groin, forehead etc).

Sigh...it's always an adventure with him. But he did very well.

The fritter recipe is from the great
Edna Staebler's Food That Really Schmecks and is her mum's recipe. Unfortunately, this wonderful book has been out of print for a few years so, if you want a copy, you'll have to either find it in a forgotten corner of a book store or hunt for it through a used bookseller or in rummage sales.

Apple Fritters from Edna Staebler's Food That Really Schmecks, p158
2 or 3 apples
1c flour
1tsp baking powder
0.5tsp salt
2T sugar
1 beaten egg
1c milk

Putting it together
Peel, core and slice the apples into 0.25" rounds. Set aside.

Sift together the flour and baking powder.

In a bowl, mix together the egg, sugar and salt. Alternate in the flour and milk, mixing well between additions--if the batter is too thin, add a bit more flour as you want it fairly thick.

Heat vegetable oil to 375F.

Dip the slices into the batter and fry until golden brown on all sides. Be careful about how you handle them: if you prick the fritter, it will absorb oil. When done, blot them on kitchen towels.

You can eat them plain, with sugar, cinnamon sugar, honey, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, maple syrup, ice cream or any or all of the above.

The recipe for the chocolate-maple syrup can be found on Epicurious.com at
this link.

I, of course, decided to gild the lily and serve them with vanilla ice cream and the chocolate-maple syrup.

Yummy yummy yummy.



Timmys count:

Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 43 cups, 7 free coffees

28 April 2006

Cooking by Proxy: Feast: Easter Supper

It started with the usual intentions. Every Easter I put together a feast, whose focal point is something I've never made before. This year it was prime rib. I'd made roast beefs before...but there's something about a nice, juicy hunk of prime rib.

Well...we know what happened earlier this month....it kind of put a damper on my cooking plans all month. Oh well...not one to be put off by a thing so minor as the inability to stand without a goodly amount of assistance...I employed The Fussy Eater as my kitchen minion for Easter Supper.

Then it hit me. Within minutes of releasing this post I was hit with a horrid, horrid...something (I'm sure some are claiming it to be Beanie's revenge for making him wear the ears). I'm calling it a cold...others are calling it something else. Whatever it was (and still is), it knocked me out quite nicely. When my darling dearest arrived, I was bundled on the chesterfield, fading in and out of consciousness...knowing what sort of state I was in, he came bearing chocolates and Cepacol lozenges.

I'd simplified my menu after my tumble...I simplified it even more after I realized I had caught something. Prime rib from my favourite butcher, garlic mashie, peas, onion jus, horseradish and Dijon sauce and a gingery-jammy raisin bread pudding for a sweet.

My darling does cook--he makes a very nice pasta and a lovely lasagne...not to mention a very potent sherry trifle. He was nervous about entering my kitchen...I didn't know why, nor did I know what he was expecting...the knives are sharp, but they don't have minds of their own...and it's not as if it was a complicated menu....sigh...men...

The Fussy Eater was a very apt minion, he carried out the instructions wonderfully. Everything was nicely done and delicious. I'm trying to convince him for an encore performance...

I normally take a whole slew of photos for a Feast posting; quite honestly, the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. I had enough energy for two pictures and then ate some supper, nibbled on some pudding and then fell asleep.


Timmys count:

Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut

Now: 43 cups, 7 free coffees

27 April 2006

One more thing: LOTR

I forgot one very important thing in yesterday's LOTR: the Musical review ...

The actors playing Strider and Boromir (Evan Buliung and Dion Johnstone, respectively) are quite yummy in their own rights ... even though Boromir's make up reminded me of a cross between Eddie Grant and Worf from Star Trek....which is really too bad....

Here's a link to the cast list:


Timmys count:
Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 43 cups, 7 free coffees

26 April 2006

Where's the food?

Yeah, yeah yeah…it’s the biggest thing to happen to Toronto’s theatre scene since whenever.

Huge, gorgeous sets. Little, teeny (okay not so teeny—they are taller than 5’) Hobbits. Beautifully crafted costumes. Original script and score. Big, scary monsters. An insanely huge budget.

The Fussy Eater, Annette and I made the long, wet journey to Toronto, met up with Jen and KW to see the latest Mirvish spectacle (pronounced spec-tackle), a
musical adaptation of J.R.R Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings.

Two thoughts battled for dominance when Jen and I renewed our subscriptions last year: LOTR is going to be amazing…or…LOTR is going to be amazingly awful. Hey, I have to be honest: anytime when someone decides to take a well-known and widely-loved story that’s been turned into half-a-day’s worth of cinematic popcorn munching and turn it into a 3.5 hour musical, I have to wonder.

The sets were absolutely amazing—gorgeous, well-designed and functional. The lighting designer created the most amazing effects. Costuming was beautiful. The special effects (especially the Balrog) were so incredibly well done. Some of the actors—specifically the ones who performed on stilts and springy thing—left me thinking “how are they doing that?” I think the stand-out performance (for brilliance) was Michael Therriault as Gollum.

There are some not-so-great, if not awful bits: CHORAL DICTION PEOPLE! Imbalanced sound (too much orchestra, not enough vocal), overly-directional mic-ing, pedantic scripting and of course the chick who plays Galadriel should turn in her crown at the stage door and go back to doing really bad Christina Aguilera karaoke. I’m serious.

But this is not a theatre blog. It is a food blog. Which raises the question:

Where's the food?
Here’s the way I look at it. Hobbits seem to have this inability to go no more than a couple of hours without eating—JRR himself lists six meals: breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, tea and supper—which is perfectly reasonable…yes, I am part Hobbit. Couple this with the years and years this story spans (Gandalf spends that time researching the ring), you’d think there’d be more food on stage.

Granted, there are the pub scenes…but what else? I mean, if I were going on such a mission, I’d be filling my rucksack with bacon and fruit and cheese and everything else in my confession for the
You Are What You Eat Meme. Maybe I lost it in all the figure-eights the cast ran on stage, but I don’t remember the Hobbits packing so much as an apple.

Poor little things.

At least Peter Jackson got it right and we saw sausages being fried up on mountains, pieces of fruit pelted at Pip and baskets of roast chickens floating in the flooded tower.

How on Middle Earth did our heroes survive without even a day’s worth of food to tuck into?

Okay…the real question is how did *I* survive a 3.5 show without a snack?

Answer: Knowing LOTR The Musical reputation for being really, really long, I put a chocolate-mint doughnut a la Tims in my purse before I left…just in case. At second intermission, spectacle-goers looked at me after I hobbled out and snarfled down a very flat doughnut, but I didn’t care. I was hungry (and given those seats were going for $120 each, you’d think that the Mirvishes would have had a little snack for us—just a little one. A Hobbit-sized one)—and a hungry, tired and achy Jasmine is just not fun…

Anyway, the production is still being tweaked, so maybe the producers or directors will figure out a way to get more Hobbity food on stage.

I hope so.

Three and a half hours is an awfully long time to go without a snack.


Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 43 cups, 7 free coffees

24 April 2006

Meme: Recipe collection

Several moons ago, Ceendy over at Sour Cream Timbits tagged me for the recipe collection meme. It's taken me a bit longer than I hoped to get to this, but I've finally put my answers together:

From where do you obtain the recipes you prepare?
Hmmm...you know, I've never really thought of their origins. I suppose they are rooted in a number of sources: people in my life (my mum, my friends), various bits of prose (cookery books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, authors who describe meals in novels), restaurants either by asking for recipes or deconstructing them at home, and (of course) TV:
Food Network and PBS are two main sources.

How often do you cook a new recipe?
It depends upon how busy I am. If I'm swamped, I stick to the same couple dozen recipes stored in my head. Otherwise, it will be anywhere from one to four times per week.

Where do you store your favourite recipes?
The Fussy Eater laughed at me when I told him that I have a recipe database on my computer. In it are the "tried and true" originals, developed over years by my mum or me--along with some of the hundreds or thousands of amassed ideas (currently five metal boxes filled with newsprint and printouts). Only about 90 recipes are entered...I have no idea how many waiting.

I've also chicken-scratched some of my favourites in my big yellow exercise book--appropriately splatteredd and splatered with bits of egg, chocolate, vinegar etc etc etc...it's also where I scribble my food notes and research, not to mention the Chinese and pizza takeaway orders.

A few are in email, waiting to be printed and boxed.

Then again, there are the bookshelves.

How large is your recipe pile? Is it organized? If so, how?
The database is cross-referenced by a number of ways: category, ingredient, source, alpha...

The clippings are organized in boxes by category.

Books are divided into two bookcases. One is primarily reference material:the first shelf has general texts (most have recipes--whether ancient or new) such as
On Food and Cooking, the Penguin Guide, historical memoirsbiographies/memoirs; the second shelf is pretty much devoted to herbs, spices, oils and vinegars; the third shelf has drinks and a magazine holder of little booklets and what nots. The bottom two shelves are reserved for cats: I don't look and what they've done to their space and they don't barf in my shoes--it's a mutual understanding thing. The other bookshelf contains cookery books, file in alpha order by author and then chronologically by publishing date.

What is the oldest recipe in your "to try" pile?
As old as I am, less a day.

Are you really ever going to make all those recipes in your to-try pile?
Realistically: no--but they are there, jic.

Do you follow a recipe exactly or modify as you go?
It really depends. For example, I'll substitute powdered gelatine for leaves, two teaspoons of extract for one vanilla bean. If the recipe falls under related to other things I've done, I'm more apt to using the author's words as guidelines, but not law. If it is something I've never done before, I'll follow it word-for-word and then change it the next time.

What is one new recipe that you're scared to try?
What's there to be afraid of? It is only a set of words...

Tag at least one new food blogger for this meme ("new" as in only blogging a few months).
Sam at
Sweet Pleasure.

Tag at least one food blogger you visit regularly but never interacted with.
Hmm...I generally post comments to the blogs I read (may not do it weekly, but still)...so: n/a

Tag at least one food blogger you constantly visit and leave comments.
Zoubida at
Kitchen Culture.

Tag anyone else you want.
Sarah Lou at
One Whole Clove.



Timmys count:
Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 41 cups, 7 free coffees

23 April 2006

Daily Planet's Edible Mindbender - Answers

The other week I posted the questions to Daily Planet's Edible Mindbender--here are the answers:

1. By weight, how much cereal does the average Canadian eat annually?
The equivalent of a WBA welterweight boxer (56.6kg)

2. What does craving meatloaf and mashed potatoes say about you?
You're a straight shooter.

3. How much were people willing to pay for a stale brownie that was gussied up by being plated on a nice dish and dusted with icing sugar?

So now you know....


Timmys count:

Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 41 cups, 7 free coffees

20 April 2006

Cooking by Proxy: Creamy custards

When I started this vanilla journey, I thought I’d bypass vanilla custards. But then I thought of all the lovely, creamy, sweet, velvety smooth custards and custardy-like things in life: pouring sauces like a lusciously soft crème anglais, decadent pastry creams, set custards like crunchy-topped crème brûlée, jiggly-wiggly crème caramel (gee, there are a lot of “crèmes”)…and then there’s one of the most wonderful things a custard can become: ice cream.

Okay, how could I not do sweet custards?

Custards are simply a milk (or cream) and egg mixture that’s been thickened by gentle heating, either on the hob or in the oven.

When choosing which type of custard to do, one thing stood in my way…the fact that I couldn’t stand. Sigh.

Okay, before I go on much longer, here are some different custard recipes for you to try. They are based on recipes from LaRousse Gastronomique:

Vanilla Crème Anglais

250g vanilla sugar
a pinch of salt
8 extra-large egg yolks
500ml full-fat milk or light cream
1 vanilla pod (split and seeds scraped) or 2 tsp real vanilla extract

Boil the milk—if you are using the vanilla bean, add it and the seeds before taking the pot to the hob. Take the pot off the heat and allow to cool until hand-hot (when cooled, remove the pod). If you are using the extract, add it after the mixture has cooled.

In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt and egg yolks until the mixture reaches a ribbony stage. Slowly add it to the cooled milk and mix well.

Put the mixture back on the hob (either on top of a double boiler or on a medium-low flame). Stir the custard constantly until it comes to a simmer. DO NOT LET IT BOIL. By this point, the eggs will have cooked sufficiently and the custard will be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Sieve the creamy mixture to remove any bits of scrambled eggs. Serve warm or cold.

Vanilla Pastry Cream

1 split vanilla pod
500ml full-fat milk
3 extra-large egg yolks
75g caster sugar
40g cornflour

Split and boil the vanilla pod in the milk; keep the pot on the hob, but remove the pod.

Beat the yolks with the sugar until it turns white in colour. Then add the cornflour.

Gradually add in the boiling milk to the egg mixture while whisking constantly.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return it to the hob; let boil for one minute while whisking vigorously. Sieve to remove any scrambled eggs and pour the custard into a bowl and let cool before using.

Crème Caramel
500ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod, split
2 extra-large eggs plus 4 extra-large yolks
125g vanilla sugar

Boil the milk with the vanilla pod.

In a bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.

Remove the pod from the boiled milk, gradually add the hot liquid to the sweetened eggs while whisking quickly. Pour the custard into caramel-coated ramekins and place them in a bain marie in a 375F oven for 40 minutes or until the custards are lightly set.

Remove the ramekins from the bain marie and let cool completely. Turn out onto a dish before serving.

Okay, back to this post.

Yeah, this was an opportunity to do some
cooking by proxy.

For Easter supper I decided to simplify things a bit and do a bread pudding—partly because of the custard sauce it makes. A few days earlier I watched an episode of Nigella Bites where she did a ginger marmalade sandwich pudding and thought it would be perfect. Of course, I had to change a few things—I didn’t have all the ingredients she mentioned, so I improvised a bit.

The Fussy Eater was my kitchen minion for the entire supper. This was the first time we’d cooked together—prior to this I’d call him in to get things that were too high for me to reach or too heavy for me to carry, or simply to taste something.

I am happy to report that we are still together.

The only note on the pudding I have is that the dish I used was a wee bit too large and the sandwiches weren’t snugged together as they should be…it doesn’t effect the taste, but adds to the “mountains and lakes” look….

Raisin Bread and Butter Pudding
Unsalted butter
1 raisin bread loaf
Ginger marmalade or ginger conserve
4 extra-large egg yolks plus 1extra-large whole egg
3 Tbsp vanilla sugar plus a couple of extra spoons for sprinkling
250ml double cream
100ml heavy cream
350ml full-fat milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Putting it together
Preheat the oven to 350F and butter a 1.5 litre pudding dish (or a lasagne pan, whichever you have on hand).

Make butter and marmalade sandwiches, then cut them into triangles. Arrange them in the pudding dish—personally I like them all point side up—the tips get nice and toasty and it sort of looks like a mountain range—but arrange them in whatever way you wish.

In a jug, whisk the eggs with the vanilla, sugar, milk and creams. Then pour over sandwiches. Let the bread soak up the mixture for about 10 minutes. Just before putting it into the oven, spread a little more butter over top the crusts that poke out above the custard and sprinkle a tablespoon or two of sugar over the dish. Let bake for about 40-45 minutes until the custard sets and is slightly poofy.

Remove from oven to cool (the poofiness will go away). You can serve it “as is” or with some crème anglais.


Timmys count:

Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 41 cups, 7 free coffees

18 April 2006

When Good Eats just isn't enough

For those of us in Canada, with extended cable, Discovery Channel's Daily Planet is airing a series called Gourmet Sciences Week--different segments looking at different foodie things. The site features Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream by Heidi at 101 Cookbooks along with other recipes, and a fun little quiz.

Today's episode featured Grant Achatz from
Alinea and something about peach flavourings (yes, I was distracted as it aired so I don't know what was said...)


Timmys count:
Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 40 cups, 7 free coffees

Cooking by Proxy: Pizza

One of the things I miss doing is pizza-making--Pretty much every Sunday I bring out the flour, add a frothy head of yeast bloomed in sugar water, a pinch of salt and some eggs, pound the living daylights out of it, add some toppings and bake.


Needless to say, I really can't do it right now. I tried doing some dishes but I couldn't get more than a few dishes and some glasses done.

So, how's a gal to satisfy a craving for home-made pizza?

Cooking by proxy.

The exbf never made pizza from scratch before--he's one of the many who'd prefer to call a 310-number or go to the grocery store and get some pre-packaged freezered offering.

Making pizza is quite easy--yes, it takes some forethought, but it really is quite easy to do. Make the dough, put stuff on it, bake it. Ta-da!

It was quite good -- tomato sauce, salami, various veg (mushrooms, onions peppers, olives) and lots and lot of cheese.

He still prefers to call up a delivery service--not because of the effort, but because of the tactile stickiness of the dough. I didn't know this before, but he really doesn't like the feeling of raw dough. Oh well, you can't convert everyone. I honestly don't believe he will willingly make one again...without my prodding.

Hmm...I feel a pizza craving coming on...


Timmys count:
Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 40 cups, 7 free coffees

15 April 2006

Hippity hoppity...

...okay...not sot hoppity.

More like hobble-ty.

But that doesn't matter because The Fussy Eater was volunteered to be my kitchen minion for Easter's Cooking By Proxy (aka the Hobbling Easter Eggstravaganza...without the eggs). Will blog about it later.

Anyway, a certain, special person who works at a certain, special place sent me this:

My very own Cadbury clucky bunny (tee hee)! I thought I'd make her feel at home and surround her with lots of Cadbury Eggs: mini-Caramilks and mini-Cremes and full-sized peanut butter and Wunderbar eggs. And of course I tested her cluckability...perfectly fine. I am so happy!

Oh, and before I hit "Publish Post" I thought I'd give you a shot of the latest kitten indignity: It's the Easter Beanie!

And yes, I wore the ears at work on Thursday.
And no, no one batted an eyelash...I believe the comment was "We expect that of you."

Happy Easter!


Timmys count:

Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 40 cups, 7 free coffees

13 April 2006

Things that happen...

...when you're stuck on a chesterfield because you can't stand for very long.

The ankle is getting better--much of the midnight purple bruising is gone, leaving both sides of my foot a middling greeny-blue. The swelling has lessened, but if I push myself too far (which happens more often than I care to mention) my ankle puffs up like a Mae West. I'm still achy. I can flex my food a bit and lateral movement slowly returns.

All this means is when I get home from work, I get into my jammies and plunk myself on the chesterfield, leg elevated, laptop on the coffee table.

I've learned to type sideways while lying down.

The Fussy Eater visits regularly and makes comforting sounds and brings me nummy prezzies; last weekend he did three loads of laundry for me. The
exbf makes my meals/is the minion to my "cooking by proxy" cravings and helps me with houseworky things.

Like the dishes.

Let me say this right now. The exbf is as okay as he ever was.

I didn't realize the skill and coordination levels needed to do the dishes...and not get cut...by a steaknife....in the left nostril.

I wasn't there when it happened...because I was on the aforementioned chesterfield practicing my new typing skills.

All I know is that he came out of the kitchen saying something about how the knife was safest in a waterglass because it wouldn't hurt his foot and then the knife wound up up his nose when he was doing the supper dishes.

No...it didn't make sense then either.

Oh, and if you are wondering about the violently pink bunny biscuit...it has nothing to do with this post...it's just the Easter treat our office caf gave away with their ham dinner plate. I couldn't get over the colour. It was weird...like last night.



Timmys count:
Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 40 cups, 7 free coffees

12 April 2006

Daily Planet's Edible Mindbender

Okay all you foodie-sciencey-fan-types...

This week's Daily Planet Mindbender has a foodish theme. If you can answer the following questions correctly, you might win a snazzy Daily Planet-branded prize (a jacket, I think):
  1. By weight, how much cereal does the average Canadian eat annually?
  2. What does craving meatloaf and mashed potatoes say about you?
  3. How much were people willing to pay for a stale brownie that was gussied up by being plated on a nice dish and dusted with icing sugar?

If you want to play, here are the rules (yes, you have to be a legal resident of Canada to enter) and here's the page with the multiple choice answers. You have until 18 April to submit your entry.

Best of luck!


Timmys count:

Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut

Now: 38 cups, 7 free coffees

10 April 2006

Cooking by Proxy: TSIR #1 - cardamom-almond panna cotta

I'm just not that girl. You know the one...the girl who's happiest eating out nightly, the one with a shopping trolley filled with factory-made frozen entrees, the one who'd prefer that someone else do all the cooking.

By default I almost became that girl--
my rather sudden reacquaintanceship with concrete last week has pretty much left me unable to stand, unaided, for any real length of time.

For the first few days I survived on takeaway from two nearby restaurants--a pretty good Vietnamese place and Harvey's (when did Harvey's get rid of their apple pies? anyone?). Fine for a couple of days, but not fine for a couple of months.

Then I had an idea.

I call it "cooking by proxy."

The exbf calls it "Jasmine sits in a chair and tells me what to do and how to do it."


The exbf is a good cook--he makes my most favourite shepherd's pie on this planet. He makes a really good chilli and a yummy stirfry. (And before you ask, The Fussy Eater will have his turn at being my kitchen helper...just not quite yet (busy with a work project)).

We're currently working things out...I'm learning that there are different methods to mincing garlic and he's learning that my knives are very, very sharp...all-in-all, a win-win situation.


This is my first cooking by proxy post...which is also this month's cardamom post...which is also my contribution to Barbara's
The Spice Is Right foodblogging event (how's that for multitasking?).

This particular experiment is called cardamom-almond panna cotta.

A few weeks (months?) ago I saw a post about cardamom creme anglaise and thought about turning it into a panna cotta. Cardamom, of course is that lovely little green pod first used 2000 years ago in India--both for its medicinal and culinary properties. The cardamom I use is from my auntie's plantation in Kerala...yeah, I'm lucky that way.

I based this recipe on the one in The Silver Spoon, replacing the vanilla bean with the powdered seeds of a cardamom pod and adding some almond extract. The end result is really lovely--sweet and lightly almondy with the slightly eucalypt, bittersweet flavour added by the spice.

I must say the exbf did really well with this. He, of course, can't partake because the texture squicks him out (anything vaguely pudding-like is off his books)...which means I must commit the ultimate sacrifice and snarfle them all for my self.

This recovery thing is hard work, but someone's got to do it.

Cardamom-almond panna cotta
1Tbsp unflavoured gelatine powder
125mL milk
560mL heavy cream
100g castor sugar
7mL almond extract
seeds of one cardamom pod, powdered

Putting it together
Bloom the gelatine in two tablespoons of cold water.

Put sugar, cardamom and cream into a saucepan and place on the flamed hob. Over a medium-low flame, bring the mixture to a simmer while stirring constantly. Take the sweet cream off the flame and pour into a one-litre measuring jug. Stir in the milk, softened gelatine and the extract.

Pour the mixture into six individually-portioned ramekins and set in the fridge for about six hours or until set.


Related posts:

The Spice Is Right: Ancient Spices round-up Part I

The Spice Is Right: Ancient Spices round-up Part II

The Spice Is Right: Ancient Spices round-up Part III


Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 34 cups, 7 free coffees

08 April 2006

Squeamish eyes need not spy....

...upon this photo.

Thanks to those who posted and emailed me notes of cheer and concern--it's very sweet of all of you. The photo was taken a couple of days after my fall. The bruising on the other side isn't as strong, but the aches are still there, as are what I call "secondary owies"--my calf, my wrist and hand--probably how I landed.

The nagging pain that emanates from my right ankle drains my energy. I tend not to take painkillers during the day because they knock me out (we're talking regular strength Advil, nothing stronger)...not a good thing when trying to be a productive human being.

I do my best to stay off of it. I did well on Thursday, but was in more pain on Friday. The swelling subsides daily, but I know I won't be able to wear my "fun" shoes until the summer...my strappy red heels, my black peek-a-boo open toed stillettos...not even the more sensible ankle boots nor perfect (and I mean *perfect*) navy blue pumps. Yes, I am very girlie when it comes to matters of footwear.

On the bright side--I am now officially between classes! My final assignment of term is a mere memory. I have no idea how it will be received as much of it was drafted while in a woozy state. I have three weeks "off" until the next class starts...

Did I mention the treats?

I've also been the very happy recipient of convalescent treats :)

The piccie on top is of the contents of a sacful of treats from my favourite chocolatrie...below is the "sugar bomb"-- the sweetest and creamiest eclair I've eaten in ages.


Timmys count temporarily suspended.

05 April 2006


Doctor: "Okay now wiggle your toes."

Me: "Ow." (three toes move)

Doctor: "Okay, now flex your foot to the left."

Me: "Okay. Ow."

Doctor: "You can start."

Me: "I am."

Doctor: "Oh."

Yes, that is a picture of my right foot. Yes, that is a Tensor bandage. And yes, those are my Hello Kitty PJs.

Long story short, yesterday I fell down and sprained my ankle...badly.

Nothing's broken, but I've done quite the job on both ligaments that run in the ankle mechanism: six weeks recovery is booked on my calendar. The exbf lent me one of his walking sticks and gave me some tips:

  1. Don't leave it in a path -- accidents and all that.
  2. If you need to use both hands, hook it like *this.*
  3. Use it to push the automatic door buttons, so they open up without you having to push/pull it.
  4. When you walk, don't follow House's example.

Here's what I learned about the walking stick in my first day:

  1. I can poke people with it.
  2. I can use it to trip the motion sensor in the elevator so the doors don't close on me.
  3. I can use the hooky end to pull things off of high shelves.
  4. My arm gets sore quickly.
  5. When going upstairs (at home), it's easiest and fastest to not use the walking stick but to crawl on all fours.
  6. When going downstairs (at home), it's easiest and fastest to use the walking stick (bumming it down is fast but I bump my foot too much).
  7. I can poke people with it.
  8. I can hook people with it (Don't walk away from me when I'm talking to you *hook*)
  9. People don't like to stand within cane's reach of me.
  10. I can use it as a scepter.
Most of my colleagues have gone out of their way to help me. People are always offering to go to the fax room, get me coffee, get my mail, get some ice... I've had people I don't know, but usually see around, ask me what happened.

I must admit that I was pretty foolish today and tried hobbling around...my ego convinced me to over-exert myself...am in quite a bit of pain now.

I now have to rethink my entire April--cancelled my next yoga class (was to start next week); re-org the next road trip (The Fussy Eater has offered to take care of train fare and accommodations so I don't have to drive long distances in one day); most of my cooking plans are on hold (I'll see if I can participate in Tigers & Strawberries's blogging event which was also to be this month's cardmom post) including the batch of cookies I've been craving, Easter supper, my workaversary treats, the vanilla recipe, dinner.


Did I mention it's my accelerator foot? I should also mention that it's my braking foot too.

Stories are circulating as to how I did it -- including "bashing an ATM" because it wouldn't let me choose the $20 option ($60, $80, $100--yes, but $20? no) and one mentioned by my MostMarvellousManager "Well, yeah, I set the bar too high and she couldn't clear it." I asked him if he minded if I used him as the scapegoat: he laughed and said he didn't mind.

So now I'm on a mission to devise a plausible, yet implausible story a la
Frying Pan Alley.

The other bright side is I'm using it as a shopping opportunity. Although I appreciate the loan of the cane, it is one of his family heirlooms and I would never forgive myself if I lost it...so I am bound and determined to get myself a funky, swanky yet somewhat ominous walking stick of my own. Hmmm...must remember that it should have a high pokeability rating...and that bayonette-like ice adaptor.


Timmys count temporarily suspended.

04 April 2006

Feast: Bloggy Brunch

After being guests at each other's blogs for months, Tania (the delightfully creative force behind The Candied Quince) and I finally found the opportunity to meet face-to-face this past Sunday.

I was in Toronto to see
The Innocent Eye Test at The Royal Alex and thought it would be a great opportunity to organize a different type of foodblogger event-- a RL one to meet some of the food bloggers I enjoy reading. Raincheques were issued: Raspberry Sour had a last-minute opportunity she couldn't turn down and Ivonne had a hot brunch date (as I told her, a date with a younger man always trumps a nattering brunch); we'll all meet up at some point, I'm sure.

The venue was one of my favourite Toronto foodspots:
Over Easy--wonderful juices, amazing eggy dishes, pancakes, waffles and everything else breakfasty. During the whole drive down I debated what my meal would be...the full English or the eggs Florentine--it's my usual mental battle when I'm dining there...

For those of you who've never met her in RL, Tania is so warm and lovely -- when she came to the table she said "I just want to give you a hug, I feel I know you so well."

We laughed and talked for two hours--I'm sure we'd still be there if I hadn't looked at my watch (yeah, I was running late and was in danger of missing the show). Conversation centred around a few unsurprising topics: food, writing, blogging. We also talked about our plans and directions--but I won't spill the beans...at least not yet.

I truly hope we'll be able to meet up again and bring more foodbloggers to the table.

And, of course, I brought the camera--here's what we had (from top to bottom): eggs Florentine with homefries, fried mushrooms, blueberry pancakes and sausages. Yummy yummy yummy.



Timmys count temporarily suspended.

02 April 2006


It wasn't me.


Yes, I was in Toronto today...not far from Yonge and Bloor...but it wasn't me.

And if you need a witness, I was brunching with the very gracious
Tania from Candied Quince at Over Easy.

For those of you who don't know what I'm referring to, here's a link to The Toronto Star's
Tim Hortons explosion kills one.

I didn't find out about it until I came home about an hour ago when the
exbf asked me if the bomb in Toronto affected my plans. (What?!)

I also want to know what it is with our home-grown bombers. I mean, look what happened in Spain, London and 9/11--all major centres --transportation, business and military.
But here...our targets are doughnut/coffee shops...

No, this isn't the first time it's happened--for those of you who've forgotten your Canadian history, the FLQ targetted The Second Cup because they didn't translate their name into French.

So what was behind today's explosion? I don't know. And I'm not going to play guessing game as to why...

I just hope it all stops NOW and no innocent people are hurt or killed.


Timmys count temporarily suspended.