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Category Archives: Baking

Wedding Vows, Exotic Spices and Slow Cookers

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Wow, what a crazy month! April was a complete whirlwind with the end of school, finals and our crazy two month planned wedding! Everything worked out amazing and the ceremony and the dinner after were wonderful. I got to hang out with the fam and my new in-laws who are also amazing. Now things are getting back to normal post-honeymoon and I’m still on vacation! No school until next week! Woo! Well, school has started but I haven’t found the time to blog until now. So,here I go!

Flowers at Granville Island

Flowers at Granville Island


I have some food related plans for the summer including perfecting pizza dough (wedding gift pizza stone!), making doughnuts, fondue experiments (wedding gift fondue set!) and getting into my cookbooks! I just reorganized all the books in the house which took all day with bookshelves in three rooms and they are in some semblance of order now; fiction, mystery, science fiction and crime fiction alphabetized. I still have to work on the non-fiction though, at hour five of the organizationathon they just got shoved in.

But as far as the cookbooks are concerned, the top of my list is my bread one (Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads) and like every other food blogger on the planet, Jerusalem! I have already made a few items but have barely cracked this beautiful ode to Middle Eastern cooking! I have been interested in that region’s cooking for a long time so I am loving the book so far.

Sunset on Harrison Lake during the honeymoon

Sunset on Harrison Lake during the honeymoon

My new obsession is za’atar, the spice mix used throughout the book. I got it for a specific recipe and have been putting it on everything! After searching for it at a few grocery stores, I found it a great middle eastern store on Main st called Yek O Yek (to the Vancouverites out there, if you haven’t been there, go now!). I should have just gone there in the first place. They had several sizes of containers of the spice which is mix of several dried herbs including varieties of thyme, oregano and sumac. I got a big container for five bucks and I’m so glad I went for the big size because it’s almost gone! It is great on rice, tossed on salad, mixed with breadcrumbs and crusted on tofu, stirfries and my most recent indulgence on hot buttered popcorn! It would also be yum mixed with plain yogurt for a dip or in a hearty stew or soup! I love it! So when, I started this post a few weeks ago, I was going to post a za’atar inspired recipe but unfortunately I’ve used up almost all of it so that recipe will have to wait.

The view from our room!

The view from the beach!


But I do have a couple of other ideas up my sleeve. The other day me and the man were window shopping and I saw a very cheap cookbook, Now, I have a fair amount of cookbooks but I don’t buy them very often (before Jerusalem it had been a long while). I prefer to get them out of the library and use them more for inspiration than for actual recipes. But when I saw this book, I knew I would be able to get some real use out of it. It’s called “Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker” by Robin Robertson and it has a million (well, 200) ideas!

My husband bought a slow cooker a couple of years ago and I can think of tons of meat based recipes to make in it, but when I though about veggie stuff, I was like, chili….Then I was out of ideas! This cookbook has essentially blown my mind with recipes for things I never would have associated with slow cookers. How about cake? Dips? Bread? There’s recipes for all this stuff and it’s all vegan! I dove in and have a couple recipes inspired by some in the book.

They’re not all winners and some have a bit of a 70’s vibe but hey, I like the 70’s, I like the nightlife, I like to boogie, on the disco rooooound! Anyway, I used some recipes from the book as the inspiration for these but tweaked them a bit. Now, bear in mind, your slow cooker may be a bit different than mine so you might need to keep an eye on things (for the cake anyway).

Vegan (fat-free) Apple Spice Cake (adapted from “Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker”)

Apple Spice Cake (sorry about the lighting)

Apple Spice Cake (sorry about the lighting)

1 3.4 c. all purpose flour

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1 t ground cinnamon

1/4 t ground ginger

1/4 t ground cardamon

1/4 t ground nutmeg

1/4 t ground allspice

3/4 c. brown sugar

1/3 c. soy milk

3/4 c. applesauce (I used unsweetened but it’s up to you)

1 t vanilla

2 apples, peeled and diced

2 T marmalade (I used ginger but again any type will work)

confectioner’s sugar for sprinkling

-Line your slow cooker with a double layer of parchment paper

-combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, and the wet (except the diced apples) in another

-mix together (the batter will be pretty thick)

-press into cooker, spreading evenly and top with diced apples. Place a tea towel over the cooker (with the lid on) and cook on high for two hours, check for doneness after an hour and a half. Lift out the cake when down and sprinkle with sugar! It’s nice and spicy (with flavour not heat) and would be good with coffee or for breakfast or just for snacking!

This is going to be a two recipe post! Making up for lost time. So, I am an oatmeal lover and love steel cut oats. The only thing is,they take about half an hour so sometime I don’t have time in the morning. Enter the slow cooker, you just have to get it together the night before and you will wak up to a hot breakfast and a delicious smelling kitchen. So, this was also inspired by the slow cooker cookbook and by finding a can of cranberry sauce left over from Christmas! You may be in the same boat so use up your leftover canned fruit, I think any type would work, maybe peaches or pears too!

Apple-Cranberry Slow Cooked Steel Cut Oats

1 3/4 c. steel cut oats

1 can cranberry sauce

5 c. water

2 peeled, diced apples

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t ground cardamon

1 t vanilla

1/3 c, brown sugar

-spray the inside of the cooker (this was a sticky one because I didn’t spray mine!)

-combine everything in the cooker, give a little stir and set it for low for eight hours. That’s it! So easy.

It’s not super sweet so you can add more sugar when it’s done if you want. Hopefully these recipes will get you dragging out those slow cookers from the cupboard and looking at them in a different light. So, more on za’atar next time!


Happy Belated New Year!

Well, Christmas kicked my butt and now I’m back to school and it’s getting crazy again! So, I’m going to get right to the recipe. I made this pie at my harvest dinner with gravy and without the gravy at Christmas. (I used the powdered stuff, oh the shame!)

Mushroom Pie with Roasted Vegetable Gravy

The Christmas Spread

The Christmas Spread

The Gravy (can be made ahead or in tandem with the pie)

3 mushrooms, halved

1 onion, rough chopped

2 carrots, cut into big pieces

2 celery ribs, chopped large

1/2 bunch parsley

2 bay leaves

1/4 c. red wine (optional)

1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. butter or vegan margarine


salt and pepper

-preheat oven to 375

-toss veggies with oil and roast until tender and beginning to caramelize about 25-30 minutes

-scrape veggies and caramelized bits into a medium sauce pan (this would be the time to deglaze the roasting pan with a little wine if you like)

-cover with water and add the parsley and bay leaves

-simmer 2-3 hours (you can make the pie during this time)

-strain the stock into something that’s easy to pour out of (I used a big measuring cup)

-use the flour and butter to make a roux (a roux is a traditional sauce thickener, melt the butter and whisk the flour in over low heat, stir fairly constantly to avoid burning until the roux is caramel colour)

-pour the stock into the roux slowly, whisking while you do so until the stock is gone and/or you achieve the thickness you are looking for in a gravy

-add salt and pepper to taste


The Pie

1 ib assorted mushrooms (I used button, oyster, portabello and shittake but you can use whatever you like) sliced

2 potatoes, peeled, large diced and parboiled

1 small onion, diced

1-2 T minced garlic

1 c frozen peas

1 t sage

1 t  fresh thyme, chopped

1 t parley, chopped

salt and pepper

hot sauce (optional)

1 pie crust (top and bottom)

-prepare pie crust (i used the recipe on the veggie shortening package and it turned out awesome, but use whatever recipe you like for a nice flaky crust or buy ready made dough, whatevs!)

-saute the garlic, onion and herbs

-add the mushrooms and saute

-add the potatoes and peas and season to taste with salt and pepper

-if you have already made the gravy you can add a little to the mushroom mixture

-place the unbaked crust in a pie pan fill with the filling, heaping it up a bit if you need to. Cover with the top crust and decorate with the extra dough if there is any

-bake at 400 for 45 min or until the crust is golden brown

-slice and top with the roasted veg gravy

Enjoy! Hopefully, I will be posting more often soon! Maybe Valentine’s Day?

Day Off Baguette

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School is all done finally, grades in and transcripts sent off! Now it seems I have a little too much time on my hands! Luckliy my favourite magazine has come to the rescue; the latest issue of Saveur is dedicated to baking with “Make This Bread” emblazoned across the title. I decided to give it a go. So I made the four hour baguettes on the cover and they turned out pretty great.

The Finished Product

After a few stalled attempts with the yeast I had on hand (I guess expiry dates do mean something) I bought some new stuff and got going. I always worry that the dough won’t rise enough when I make bread but after the first ten minute dough rest I knew it was going to work. There is nothing like pulling that dough out of the bowl and feeling it come alive under your hands when you knead it! The recipe called for a baking stone which I don’t have so the crust wasn’t quite as crusty as it could have been. My baking sheet worked fine though. You have to add ice cubes to a cast iron pan in the hot oven to create steam so that was fun! I only took pictures of the finished product and I couldn’t get very good light in the kitchen when they were done (it was almost 10). I also couldn’t get the flash to turn off so the pics aren’t quite what I wanted.. On the bright side, my boyfriend gets home around 930 so it was nice to give him some fresh bread when he walked in.

I think I might try making a loaf with a starter next time; I’ve never used one before and have wanted to try it out for a while. There is a bakery in the Black Forest (which I can’t believe is a real place but here’s proof) which has been using the same starter for 500 years which is kind of gross and amazing at the same time. I also think there will be some pizza dough in the near future. Well, this is just a quick post which will hopefully inspire some baking!

Celebration Cake

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It’s the day after my last final exam and I decided I was going to make a cake to celebrate. I don’t bake that much as it takes skill and attention to detail, not to mention having all the right ingredients. I’m more of fly by the seat of my pants type of baker which usually gets mixed results (i.e. not that great results). Savory cooking lends itself much more to experimentation and substitution; although experienced bakers can also do this. I am not an experienced baker. One of my goals this year is to make more bread and get better at it. Cakes are also on my list, I would love to make a Black Forest one day! This particular recipe is one I have been meaning to make for a couple of years, actually now that I have looked at the magazine’s date (May 2010), almost exactly two years. It’s from Saveur magazine, which I may have mentioned is my favourite food mag. It’s from an article they did on olive oil, and the name Orange Scented Olive Oil Cake sounded strange and interesting.

Boiling Away

I love citrus flavours, especially in desserts. I usually tend to favour lemon flavours but why not oranges? Oranges are probably my second favourite fruit, after cherries (which are strictly for the summer, boo hoo). Oranges are available all year long of course. I think because they are a bit pedestrian and common their deliciousness can get overlooked but I love them. I crave oranges and probably eat at least one a day. Not only am I protecetd from scurvy but I love the juicy pull of biting into a cold orange. They must be cold! Christmas mandarins can be room temperature but they must be eaten only in the last three weeks of December, (possibly first two weeks of January) that is my law!

I am hoping to do a lot of cooking and baking and pickling and jamming (the food kind not the acoustic guitar garage kind) this summer as I am taking a break from school and will be just working. I have been working and going to school year round for the last two years so I am excited for the break!

Anyway, I keep all of my food mags and love to reread them and there was the orange cake recipe again so I deceided to give it a try. The ingredients are very basic and it’s pretty uncomplicated. The triple boiling and syrup making of the oranges sounds labour intensive but it’s really not. I don’t have a food processor so I used my blender which worked but was a bit annoying, if you have a food processor you should use it. Here is the recipe. It’s baking right now and it smells amazing! I didn’t make the glaze but I might heat up some apricot jelly and pour it over top or I might make whipping cream, I’m undecided.

The Mess

The Finished Product

Cake on a Ledge (After Tasting)

It just came out! It’s a lot puffier than the picture in the magazine but I figure that’s better than it being flatter! It tastes delicious! Not too sweet and very orangey, I think a chocolate glaze would be awesome with it actually. I put the original picture that inspired me up on my Pinterest account and I think I’ll keep doing that for future recipes. Check out my boards and follow me. I’m keeping the orange syrup that was left from the recipe, I think I’ll try and incorporate it into a cocktail!

I will get going on my Middle Eastern food goals soon. Now that school is done I can spend more time blogging! Yay!

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