Walking and More Baking During Covid-19

….at times the streets are empty and it’s an eerie feeling

Today, however, was a beautiful sunny day. The dog walkers were all out and mostly they were alone with their pet. A few people that were walking together were clearly couples who were probably cooped up all day together anyway.

Everyone was very respectful of the acceptable distance between people and when someone came down the street in my direction, either I or the other person stepped off the sidewalk and continued walking on the road. Funny how a few months ago this would have seemed anti-social and weird.D5-FAD72-E-F46-E-4-AF0-82-FE-F7771149-B69-A
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Even in the grocery store people go about their business quickly. People seem to know what they need and they spend as little time as possible in the store. In my local grocery store there are no empty shelves and there was a lot of toilet paper today. The cashiers are all separated from the customers by plexiglass shields at the cash and they all wore gloves. There was tape fixed to the floor with six feet between strips and people observed the social distancing rules.

As soon as I got home I washed my hands, something that I’ve always done but now I’m super diligent about it.

The other thing that both my husband and I have started doing again is bake. Today we started the dough for bread that we will bake tomorrow and while I was in the mood I made an almond cake. We had the cake for dessert tonight with some strawberries and cream. Being aware of the Corona 15 (the 15 pounds that many people will gain during this pandemic) we ate only one slice and then I froze the rest for another day.5-BFA4-CB1-2-CCD-4759-98-D4-5326-D41-ADCF7
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Tea Biscuits and Doodles

….trying to keep busy and watch less TV

My husband finally got bored watching TV and felt well enough to play in the kitchen. For some reason he’s had a craving for tea biscuits so he started to research for a recipe where we had all the ingredients. I haven’t made biscuits in a long time but I do remember that they were pretty basic with simple ingredients. It’s amazing how many variations of tea biscuits there are out there. Some called for evaporated milk and lemon soda pop and of course there are all kinds of add ons like raisin and cranberries.

We finally decided on a classic recipe. My husband also made his own clotted cream and we had a wonderful afternoon tea break with hot biscuits and cream. The only thing missing were the fresh berries to go on top.11-B17042-A48-F-4028-ABAF-7-E15-D9-BEE793

Later in the evening I went on the internet and found a new site hosted by Mo Willems, the children’s book author and illustrator. It is very much geared to children but I enjoyed his show ‘Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems”. Check it out if you like to doodle and/or if you have children who like his books. He demonstrates how to draw Pigeon, Piggy and Elephant.

30 Day Creativity Challenge – Day 1

…Happy New Year everyone!

Lorraine over at All About Words is encouraging all of us to get creative with her 30 day creativity challenge. Today I did something that I haven’t done in awhile and that is bake a cake from scratch. I was going to a New Year’s Levee today and it was the perfect excuse to pull out my new Kitchen Aid mixer and try a new recipe that I saw on-line.

Everything went very well until I tried to remove the two cake pans from the oven. As soon as I opened the door the rack fell and the pans slid sideways. I managed to remove the pans but the cake batter from the larger pan oozed out onto the counter. That could only mean one of two things; the oven wasn’t working or I accidentally turned the oven off when I put the cakes inside. Luckily it was the latter problem. I re-re-heated the oven and started again.

Thankfully the second time the cakes came out perfectly. I iced them with freshly whipped cream and put raspberries and blueberries on top. As a final touch I dusted them with icing sugar.A4895866-CCF9-4F1C-B149-185C0704BB9A

Share Your World – May 21, 2018

….thanks to Cee for hosting Share Your World

What household chore do you absolutely enjoy doing? (can be indoor or outdoor)

This one’s tough because I don’t like doing chores. If I have to choose I’d say that I enjoy working in the garden. The best part is being outdoors. For indoors, my favourite thing to do is bake, if that’s even considered a chore. Sadly I’m doing very little of that these days because I can’t eat what I make.

Create a sentence with the words “neon green” and train”.

The high-speed train created a neon green haze as it streaked across the steel tracks.

Other than your cell phone what can you always be found with?

When I travel anywhere or go visiting I almost alway carry my camera with me.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

This past week I enjoyed spending time with my family. On Wednesday I took my father to the Apple Store to buy a new iPad and on Friday I accompanied him to the ultrasound clinic (he’s fine, thank-you). On Thursday our daughter, Gaelan and our granddaughter came to Toronto for a visit. While Gaelan was visiting her friend I took Winnie to our other daughter’s place and we spent a couple of hours in the park and had a bit of lunch. Later in the day, when Brendan (Winnie’s father) finished work we all enjoyed a BBQ dinner of burgers, corn and salads.

On Saturday I went to Andrea’s place and helped her paint the apartment in the basement of her house. On Sunday she invited my husband and I back to her place for another BBQ. It’s the season.

Today, which is the holiday Monday here in Canada, my niece came for a visit with her husband and baby boy. After they left I spent a couple of hours in the garden, weeding and cleaning up the beds, getting them ready to plant. Now I’m exhausted but I got a lot done and that always make me feel like I’ve accomplished something.

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365 Days of Art – Child’s Play

…..day 18

Today I drove to Hamilton to spend the day with my granddaughter, Winnie and her mother, Gaelan. I brought some apples with me and together we made applesauce. I peeled and quartered the apples and Winnie’s job was to put them into the pot. She did a great job and she included her own version of quality control by tasting every piece before dropping them into the pot.

When the apples were stewing, Gaelan and I continued to get the ingredients ready to make an apple cake that Jodi from The Creative Life In Between posted yesterday. We made it almost exactly as written except that we didn’t add the glaze because we thought there was more than enough sugar in the cake. While the cake baked I played with Winnie in her playroom.

One of the things that she desperately wanted to do was finger paint. To my daughter’s credit, she has a very strict rule when it comes to painting and that is that everything in the playroom has to be put back where it belongs so that there’s a nice big empty space on the floor for painting. Winnie was very reluctant to do this so the paints didn’t come out. When it was time for me go home she was quite upset because she didn’t get to paint with her Oma. Gaelan told her one more time that she had to clean up first and this time she listened. With our help the floor was emptied of all her toys, a plastic sheet laid out and she was undressed and covered with a plastic paint jumper. Gaelan spread out finger-paint paper and scooped out four colours of paint onto individual paper plates.

We had so much fun. I know why Gaelan completely undresses her before starting this activity, including her socks. Of course she wanted Oma to get right in there with her and I managed to get paint on my sweater but it washed out pretty easily. We worked on one painting together where I painted the flowers and she painted the ground. The other paintings were done solely by her.

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Of course when we were done, Winnie went straight into the bath tub and we said our good-byes, this time without any tears.

P.S. The cake was delicious by the way. Thanks for the recipe, Jodi!

Memories of my Mother and a Cake Fit for a King

…. Mother’s Day has never been the same for me

Mother’s Day is always a bitter sweet day for me. My husband and my children go out of their way to  make the day special for me but not being able to buy a gift for my own mom or have her over for dinner leaves me feeling like something is missing in my life. The first few years after her untimely death were the hardest. I think about her every day.

To honour my mom I thought I would share some memories I have of her as I was growing up.

Mom always worked. When we were little she worked at Appleby College serving dinner to the boys. When she came home at night we would anxiously await to see what “leftovers” she’d bring to share with us. Not that Mom wasn’t a good cook, she was but she cooked ‘different’ food and what she brought home was ‘Canadian food’. Besides after working all day I’m sure she was pleased not to have to cook all the time.

Mom was definitely an entrepreneur. She worked side by side with my dad when they started their own catering business and then managed a Becker store together. After a couple of hold ups in the store my parents decided to open their own business that was less risky. What better than a fabric store. Did she know anything about running a fabric store? No, but she knew how to sew and so did all her daughters.

In her 30s Mom learned how to be a dental technician, in her 40s and 50s she learned how to operate knitting machines and other specialty sewing machines and she took courses to become a night school teacher. The money she earned from teaching was always put aside for a yearly vacation. Mom and Dad travelled every year. Trips included Germany, Mexico, Florida and numerous islands in the  Caribbean.

My mom liked to experiment with cooking and we had a neighbour who shared many of her recipes with her. Some of our more Canadian meals resulted from this sharing of recipes. She learned to make a great spaghetti sauce and delicious cabbage rolls. She aimed to please her family, especially her husband but if you ever crossed my mother she had a bit of a stubborn streak. I remember one day when Mom served us cabbage rolls (this is after cooking them for years) my father announced that she didn’t have to make them again because he didn’t really like them. My mother was furious. If you’ve ever made cabbage rolls from scratch you know how labour intensive they are. She never made them again, despite the fact that the rest of us liked them.

My parents had to scrimp and save all their lives. My parents finally owned their own home long after I was married and my sisters were in their 20s. One of my favourite stories happened when I no longer lived at home so I heard it from my middle sister. Mom really wanted new dishes and my father kept saying ‘no’ and that there was nothing wrong with the old ones. One day she pointed out how badly the dishes were chipped. My father insisted they were fine and when they broke he would buy her a new set. So my mother promptly broke all the dishes and she finally got her new ones.

I was shocked when I heard this story because in all the years I lived at home I never heard my parents argue. My mom was truly loyal to my dad but she always ‘quietly’ got her point across and I know she defended our decision to go to university. If it were up to our dad he would have had us all working in an office as secretaries. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it’s just not what we wanted to do.

When mom baked she frequently made a cake called Koenigskuchen which literally means King’s Cake. It wasn’t my favourite unless she iced it with chocolate. As I got older I became very fond of it and recently I’ve been really missing it. Maybe it’s because I’m trying not to eat sweets at the moment and I have this urge to bake all of a sudden. I found several recipes on line and played with the those that most closely resembled the one my mother made.

Koenigskuchen or Cake Fit for a King

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of seedless raisins
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup of dried cranberries (some recipes call for dried currants or double the amount of raisins)
  • 1/4 cup rum or other spirit or hot water
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 cups blanched almonds, ground
  • grated lemon rind from one lemon
  • 7 egg whites

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  1. Grease the bottom and sides of a large loaf pan. Dust with flour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the dried fruit with the alcohol or hot water and set aside to soak.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy.

 4.  Beat in the egg yolks and continue beating until batter turns a light yellow colour.Image

   5. Combine the flour and baking powder and beat them into the sugar the sugar and egg

mixture, 1/2 cup at a time.

ImageBlanching and Grinding the Almonds

  • I remember having to blanch almonds when Mom baked and since the almonds I had on hand were not blanched I’m adding instructions on how to do that.
  • First boil a small amount of water in a pot and add the almonds for about 20 seconds. When you spoon them out of the water you will notice that the skins are wrinkled.Image
  • Place the almonds on a paper towel and then slip the skins from the almond with your fingers. Be careful, they’re slippery.
  • To grind the almonds you could use a food processor but I found a food grinder or grater very similar to what we used when I was young.

6.  Stir in the dried fruit with the liquid and the grated almonds and the grated lemon rind.

7.  In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with a whisk or electric mixer until stiff peaks

form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

8.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 1/2

hours or until the cake tester comes out clean from the centre of the cake.

9. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, loosen the edges with a knife and turn out onto a

cooling rack.

10. Prepare the chocolate glaze (my favourite part).

Chocolate Glaze

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate

2 tbsp. butter

1 cup icing sugar, sifted

2 tbsp. boiling water

  • Over boiling water or in a double boiler, melt the butter and the chocolate.
  • Add the sifted icing sugar and blend thoroughly.
  • Add the boiling water to thin the glaze to a pouring consistency.
  • Pour and spread immediately over the cake.