My December started off with the most epic of recipe fails for She Bakes Here. It was a recipe that was supposed to yield puffy, dark chocolate cookies, only my end result was flat, crispy and very messy little bricks that kind of resembled cookies. I thought something was up when the dough had more of a consistency of very thick brownie batter than dough you should be able to roll and flatten with your fingers, but I thought I could still salvage it with some extra flour and then some time in the fridge to firm up. Nope, the end result was huge disaster. The dough was sticky and a pain to scoop, and then the baked cookies stuck to my non-stick silicone baking mats and crumbled while cooling on the counter.
Trevor offered some sympathy with the idea that at least the cookies smelled good and were still edible, but I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone. As therapeutic baking can be, it can also be a little frustrating if the end result is not what you were expecting. Especially when it’s an online recipe.
This little disaster freed up the remainder of my Sunday, so in search for a reason to leave the apartment and avoid doing the dishes, we decided to check out the Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District. The last time we visited that Market was in 2011 and had thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Since it was December 1st, we also figured that this would be a good way to put us in a festive holiday mood despite all the rain we were experiencing.
I may be addicted to vanilla beans.
It started innocently enough. Back in August, I was given a few vanilla beans by a good friend (and awesome cook) and I felt so intimidated that I didn’t look at them for two months. The beans lived in their little glass vial in the back of my spice cupboard and became a precious commodity in my kitchen. Every time I opened the cupboard door I would see the vial and it would taunt me and mock me for not thinking of a worthy recipe to use them in.
The pressure of seeing these beans everyday became too great and last week I finally caved. The first step was to Youtube how to slice vanilla beans properly to ensure that no precious seeds would be wasted. There are some great photo tutorials out there, but I always seen to work best with video, so Youtube it was. And yes, I’m one of those people who use Google and Youtube like a verb.
A couple days ago, my Dad sent me an email appropriately titled “Its here!!!!!” with two photos of my parents’ front deck covered in between 2-3 feet of snow. As much as living and working in Toronto can sometimes drive me crazy, I will take the winter here any day. I’m yet to see a flake of snow this season (knock on wood), but that’s not to say that it hasn’t been cold. There were a couple evenings where we slept with an extra blanket on our bed and when it hasn’t been raining (I know, sorry), the wind has been so strong that I thought my feet were going to be lifted off the sidewalk.
In preparation of this snow that is most likely coming our way (thanks for the warning, Dad!), my winter jacket, scarf and mitts have all been pulled out and I purchased a new pair of waterproof winter boots to make waiting for the bus seem a little warmer. I’ve already made use of my winter jacket and mitts, but I’m holding out on the first snowfall to really break in the boots properly.
A couple days ago while making supper, I found myself trapped in a Google-searching hole (similar to getting lost on IMDB or Wikipedia) and I searched “baking with tea.” As a self-proclaimed tea lover/hoarder with an overflowing section of our kitchen cupboard dedicated to tea and coffee, I’m surprised I haven’t considered adding tea to my baking sooner. Now that the weather is cooler, I’ve re-introduced the daily ritual of a hot mug of tea and paired with a warm blanket and a good ebook, I can’t think of a better nightly ritual.
Is it just me, or does anyone else get super bummed out after daylight savings ends and we are forced to set our clocks back another hour? I know it’s only one hour and in the grand scheme of things, I really needed that extra hour of sleep on Sunday, but now that the sun is setting earlier, the days are feeling really short. I’m finding myself rushing to get home after work just so I can enjoy the precious 20 minutes or so of light I get in my kitchen before night sets in. And taking food photos after work? Not going to happen anymore. When we lived in central time zone Saskatchewan, we didn’t have to change our clocks, so even after 3 years this time change is still throwing me off.
Luckily we’re still yet to get all the snow my prairie friends have been dealing with, so I’ll take a little time change over having to pull out my winter boots any day. As a kid, I remember trick-or-treating in the country with my winter jacket under my costume and this year’s Halloween was pouring rain. These city kids don’t know how good they have it. Winter is definitely looming and the one thing I’m not looking forward to the first city snow fall. So in an attempt to hold onto the goodness of fall for just a little bit longer, I’m bringing you another pumpkin recipe. An actual pumpkin recipe.