Hiatus

November 1, 2010

I have decided to take a blog hiatus. It’s likely not a permanent retirement, but I would like to create a little time off for an undetermined chunk of time. I feel bereft, I will miss my blog.

Allow me to introduce you, in the meantime, to a cozy little place called forty-sixth at grace, the subtitle is a savings account for things I like.

Be seeing you soon.

xo Dawne

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Back to the Grind

October 4, 2010

A Fine Grind

Today is the first day of my new job – back to professional attire, healthy packed lunches and structure. I do like me a little bit of structure. My new position will be a great professional challenge, eventually to be filled with exceptional pastries and top notch coffee.

One of my favourite smells in all the world is freshly ground and brewed coffee. It’s both comforting and exhilarating, wouldn’t you agree? I love my morning coffee so much that sometimes, most times, I start looking forward to it the day before. Like last night, knowing I would be enjoying my coffee with the much-missed Parkside Runners. This morning was a reunion of sorts, and a simultaneous calming and revving of the nerves through conversation and caffeine. Oh yes. I’m back. And feeling inspired and determined, professionally and personally. I’m super excited about the following: new job; fitness and nutrition potential; a select few new articles of clothing; the fall and crunchy leaves; baking cookies for new and old friends (and family – my dad, mainly, as he’s an oatmeal raisin cookie fiend); stews; rain boots; cashmere; making kimchi; cosy evenings and cold dark mornings; writing new recipes; wooly scarves; halloween with its tricks and treats. I had to end it there, to be reasonable. There’s so much to look forward to. But, first, back to work. Back to reality.

Sweet Things

September 13, 2010

 

Sweet

 

I wanted to let you know that I’ve been thinking about agave and sugar and other sweet things. There’s a lot of bad press out there on agave and I’m aghast that it’s taken me this long to write about it. I gave agave the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to believe the hype. Though it does sound healthful and too good to be true. I have a sugary house – granulated, brown, raw cane, light brown, date, coconut, coarse, maple, raw, rock, stevia, vanilla, icing, berry. And agave, molasses, corn syrup and glucose. And honey. Oh, honey. There’s some from the Okanagan called Dew Fresh, it’s from Osoyoos and Oliver, and it is the BEST honey I’ve ever had. What have I been eating it on? Um, a spoon. And see? This is why I started my blog, so that I wouldn’t succumb to spoonfuls of sugar of any sort. And that’s the point: moderation. You’ll have to read some articles to decide for yourself if you want to continue using agave.

When I’m baking with my blog in mind I experiment with alternate ingredients. I believe in eating well, most of the time. I believe in food, whole foods. I love how food brings people together, and is always reason enough for celebration. All of my friendships are based on food. If you don’t love to eat we probably aren’t friends. If you don’t love to cook, that’s okay, I’ll do the cooking. I’ll continue writing recipes that are healthy-ish. You will now see all sorts of sweeteners*, including agave, used on Baker’s Balance. In some recipes, one sweetener is easily swapped for another, so use the sweetener that you prefer. It’s been a slow time coming, like molasses in the winter.

Read more on agave:

Marion Nestle

Doug DiPasquale

Sally Fallon

* I never use Splenda or Equal or any of those…

Ravenously Thirsty

August 19, 2010

Ice Ice Tea Baby

I think I might be the rare person who likes to get too hot. The summer heat suits me, I tend to not feel wilted, luckily. And, thankfully, our old house stays cool. It stays cool in part due to shady trees in the yard and in part to Michael’s diligence in opening every last window that can be opened. There are at least two that cannot, will not, open for one reason (painted shut) or another (only held on by just the latch). I revel in stepping out into a morning that is blood temperature. I feel exuberant driving with windows rolled down, left arm out the window, hair untied and whipping while singing along to Flashdance. Last week at the farmers market it was hot, so hot. There was a charming young gal with an iced tea stand – her teas were thoughtful, delicious, fresh and refreshing and not too sweet. Julie claimed ravenous thirst and our shared iced tea made us happy and cool, if only just for a moment.

Makes one large pitcher

2 tablespoons good black tea, I used 49th Parallel’s Organic Golden Assam

3 lemongrass stalks, split and smashed

1/2 bunch of mint

2 tablespoons agave

Brew a pot of tea and add bruised lemongrass and mint. Meanwhile, pour agave into pitcher. Once tea has steeped, discard leaves, lemongrass and mint and strain into pitcher over the agave. Cool and serve in a tall, ice-filled glass. Garnish with a stalk of lemongrass and fresh herbs. Drink deeply. Rinse and repeat.

On Track

August 12, 2010

Nutrition Pyramid

Wow. I need to get my nutrition back on track. After returning from holiday I had two back to back weddings. One was Courtney and Chris’s, a beautiful event at the Stanley Park Pavilion. I did attempt to out dress the bride, but Courtney was gorgeous. Her wedding required a fair bit of prosecco and some late evening coffee to keep me dancing through the jet lag. Thanks for the coffee, Julie. The second wedding was Katie and Jacobo’s which, delightfully, was held at our house. Katie looked so lovely, it was fun and intimate and, the best part, catered by La Taqueria. Actually, the best part was Katie’s pastel tres leches. It’s life changing. Katie left a big, soaked slab of it in our fridge. Not good. But so good. I find I enjoy three milk cake best in the morning, ice cold. So you see where I’m at, nutrition-wise. I am running on nothing. Love isn’t all you need, people.

I have heard, and I believe it to be true, that nutrition is 80% of fitness. I’ve also heard that if you must choose between eating well or missing a workout in a day, take the miss on the workout and maintain your nutrition. I kind of did the opposite, though I’m not to be blamed since I was in Paris, capital city of all things delicious. I think my fitness level is more or less intact, given the non-stop biking and walking throughout Paris. This does not mean I’m not freaked out about Crossfit. I tackled hot yoga yesterday, thanks Jen G. It was, as usual, an amazing start to the day. I know once my fridge is stocked, not with three milk cake and taco leftovers, that my energy levels will return to their usual high. And I know it will only take a few days. I’m kind of excited about it. Today is day two and I feel better already. I’m going to spend the morning reviewing my blog and the afternoon in the kitchen getting organized.

Salt Spring Island

July 12, 2010

Sunrise on Salt Spring

I spent the last few days on Salt Spring Island with the Parkside Runners. Interestingly, we did not run. We were there to celebrate the end of Courtney’s single life, she’s getting married soon! It was relaxing. We went to the market, drank coffee and ate. I loved cooking and baking on the wood stove at the cabin. It was kind of like being pioneers. Except for the running water, electricity, Nespresso machine and iPods.

Fawcett Maywood

Clean Cleaning

July 8, 2010

(Almost) Good Enough to Eat

You know me as one who bakes and cooks, not so much as one who cleans. It’s not that I keep a pigsty, not at all. It’s just that, more often than not, there’s something that has higher priority than cleaning. On occasion, I love to turn up my uncool mixed tape of an iPod and clean clean clean. But this feeling doesn’t overcome me often, this feeling of wanting to scrub and tidy. However, I enjoy a clean house a lot. When my house is clean I feel as though there’s potential. Maybe it’s more that I feel inspired. For the longest time, perhaps as long as ten years, I have wanted to use up the dredges of my toxic cleaning sprays and powders and concoct my own less eye-burning cleansers from such humble ingredients as baking soda*, vinegar** and essential oils. This is not something I could rush since there’d be no sense in disposing of harsh cleansers without using them. The filthy state of working too much this past year resulted in me cleaning even less than usual. This is not as grimy as it might sound since, for me, home less + not cooking = less mess. There was low product consumption. Suffice to say that my caddy with rubber gloves and scrubbies has stagnated. In fact, they were kind of looking vintage. A few days ago was the last day of using a tub cleaner that caused me to involuntarily hold my breath. How noxious. Here’s to potential!

Pickled Lavender Cocktail for Glass

1 cup water

1 cup distilled white vinegar, no need to break out the fancy stuff

1/4 teaspoon lavender essential oil

This kind of smells like lavender pickles, if there was such a thing. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a spray bottle for a virgin cleaning cocktail. If you have a penchant for quick evaporation and a proper cocktail, use half water and half rubbing alcohol. There’s something to be said for a homemade cleaning concoction that wipes glass to a sparkle and transports you to the South of France with one spritz. As with store bought glass cleaners, I’ve found that you can use this on glass, mirrors, stove tops, counter tops and spinning tops.

Creamy Tub Scrub Frosting

1/2 cup baking soda

2 tablespoons dish soap

A few drops of lavender oil, or another antiseptic essential oil such as tea tree or rosemary or…

I don’t even know where to start with this one, I love it so much. The smell  – delightful. The opposite of wanting to hold your breath. And, once mixed, it has the consistency of frosting. That is so appealing.  It seems as if you are going to clean, say, your greasy and grubby stainless stove top with creamy dollops of lavender icing! The luxurious texture of this tempted me to taste, as if I was frosting vanilla cupcakes. Just for the record, I didn’t. And, I’m not exaggerating, it’s the best product I’ve ever cleaned said stove top with. It wasn’t at all necessary to don my crusty rubber gloves, so that made scrubbing easier. Once all your scrubbing is done you will find that you need to use a fresh cloth rinsed in clear water for final wipe down so as not to end up with a foggy stove. Measure baking soda into a bowl, and using a fork, mix in dish soap and essential oil. Add more or less dish soap to achieve a lovely, frosting-like creaminess. I store mine in an eye-rollingly cute vintage jar with a glass lid. This worked sparkling magic on my pots, tubs and whistling kettle.

Four on the Floor Hardwood Swab

I’m not keen on washing floors. Not keen at all. Mops don’t do a great job. There’s always wet, grey and hairy debris lurking around the baseboards in gritty groups after swabbing. Or is that just me? Nothing, nothing beats the back-breaking, red-knee inducing, down on all fours, floor washing with a bucket and a rag. Insert a Cinderella sigh here. A clean floor doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I revel.

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

1 tablespoon dish soap

You probably know to combine above into a large bucket with hot water. If your bucket is on the super size, add another splash of vinegar. A clever suggestion, not from me: Drop in a mint tea bag or two for a breath of fresh floor.

* This is a did you know? Did you know that baking soda is alkaline? And bacteria cannot live in an alkaline environment.

** Vinegar is one of the all-time best antiseptics and antibacterial products ever. I read it on the internet so it must be true. Here’s some percentages to make it even more believable: Vinegar kills 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold and 80% of germs and viruses. That leaves 1% – 20% unaccounted for. Huh. Something to think about.

Serve Myself

July 1, 2010

July 1st

With a dramatic amount of sadness I have decided to leave my job and today is the first day of my joblessness. Or I should say the first day of the rest of my life. What is the matter with me? I should be so happy. Instead of dwelling on all I am leaving behind I should and will think about what lays ahead. I don’t know what that is yet. There is a good chance that I might get to keep a great and material aspect of my job, which I’m super happy about. If it pans out it will allow me to see all the people that I’ve grown exceptionally fond of so I won’t have to miss them. It’s interesting and a little bit creative and involves things and I love things. I will have more time to bake and cook and blog. I am going to France with my longtime and dear friend Pam – what fun! Just writing that fills me with envy, but then I remember that it’s me going. I think I might start assembling a healthy cookbook. I will see my family and friends more. The usual blah blah blah I’m going to eat better. But it’s true. There is so much I want to do, more than this. I know you don’t feel sorry for newly unemployed me, I just wanted to update you if I haven’t already. Onwards. And Happy Canada Day.

Put the kettle on.

April 8, 2010

Tea for Me

Tonight, here I am sitting on my sofa. Cozy. I can hear the schht schht schhtt of rain that is uniquely the soundtrack of Vancouver. And I want want want chocolate. I do not want for chocolate in my house. I cannot count how much I have. You would be shocked to know that I have at least 10 kilos. Probably more. So, in times like this, when the weather is blustery, chocolate calls and I’m trying hard to be good, I will put the kettle on. My tea of choice in the evening is called Indian Citrus Ginger and it’s loaded with dried bits of ginger, lemongrass and citrus. I have, for the time being, distracted myself into not eating chocolate. Plus, now that I’m seated again, I’m not embarrassed to tell you that I’m too lazy to get up. Even for chocolate.

Instead of Chocolate

Hock, Stock & Crock

March 25, 2010

As Thick As

I really can’t say why I felt like making and eating split pea soup on a sunny spring day. Its very stick to your ribs character calls for it to be made in the dead dark of foggy winter. Nonetheless, I wanted to go out and about yesterday, and I didn’t want to concern myself with cooking dinner when I got home. This was a job for my super Crock Pot.

Makes about 8 cups

1 ham hock

16 oz dried split green peas, rinsed and picked through

1 medium onion, chopped

2 ribs of celery, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons sea salt

6 cups of chicken stock or water

Put all ingredients into your Crock Pot. Turn it on to high for five hours and breeze out the door for the day. When you come home your dinner will be almost ready. Pull out the falling apart ham hock from the thick as pea soup pea soup and set it on a plate until cool enough to handle. When cooled, shred the ham and stir into your hearty split pea soup. Most enjoyable!

Update: okay, this recipe gets really thick overnight. You could easily add another 2 cups of stock or water if you like. Michael disagrees. But I must tell you, he scooped the soup onto his toast and cheese (he’s not eating clean, he only clean eats by default and his toast was white bread from a bag. I know, right?) that’s how thick it is. So, thin as you please.