On Friday, my Dad and brother Nathan drove into the city and stayed overnight. Nathan is going back to university for his second semester and my family recently cleaned out their storage shed and dropped off some boxes of my old stuff. To say that Trevor is pleased is definitely an understatement, haha!
In the morning, I pulled out a recipe I had tried a few weeks ago. I think Trevor was sick of my usual tofu/veggie scramble at the time, so I decided to surprise him with pancakes. They didn’t last very long then and they didn’t last very long this time either. After commenting how good they were, Dad even wandered into the kitchen to see how I was making them.
On our last trip to Bulk Barn, I was checking out the baking section. I love buying chocolate chips there because there are so many different varieties. Milk chocolate, semi-sweet, dark and bitter, white, mint, candy coated and then I found the most perfect kind – peanut butter chips!
I love peanut butter and chocolate, so when I saw them, I knew immediately that I had to make chocolate peanut butter chip cookies!
A couple weeks ago, I stopped off at Costco after work. I was planning on picking up some groceries and check out some delicious free samples, when I found myself wandering down the baking aisle (bad habit). It was then that this beautiful box of brownie mix caught my eye.
The best part? I thought that it only came with three brownie mixes. For $7.49 that’s a pretty decent price since most brownie mixes are at least $2.99 at any grocery store. When I got home, I immediately opened the box to make a batch and discovered that there wasn’t just three bags, but four.
The mix instructions are pretty standard to follow – eggs, water and oil. I couldn’t find my square brownie pan, so I used a round 9″ cake pan instead. One of the options on the side of the box is to make thicker brownies, using two brownie packs instead of one pack. I stuck with the one pack option….for now.
The brownies baked perfectly. They were moist, chewy and definitely full of chocolate. I added the remaining bag of chopped walnuts to the mix, since I love crunchiness in my brownies, but next time I can omit that, as the three kinds of chocolate chips adds enough.
Would I buy this mix again? Heck yes! $7.49 is a great deal, and I don’t always have chocolate squares onhand to make brownies from scratch, so this fits the bill nicely and makes a delicious snack to go with a hot cup of coffee
Last Sunday was probably the most beautiful day in Toronto, despite the thunderstorm we had in the early morning. Thanks to so many generous supporters, we were able to sell donated baked goods to the residents of Toronto in the name of the Japanese Red Cross Society.
The Amaranto Cafe is normally closed on Sundays, but the owner, Elizabeth, opened the shop and let us take over her store. With so much food donated, she kept running to the back and grabbing more cake stands so we could display everything properly and that no dessert would be missed. It poured rain outside for most of the morning, but it didn’t stop people from coming in. During some of the quiet moments in the store, volunteers filled trays with goodies and took to the streets armed with umbrellas.
There were also quite a few heart-felt moments during my shift. A family of four came in and spent $68 on baked goods while their two young boys told us how they were helping Japan because “the ground moved and water came in.” Their mother informed us that the boys had been saving their money for Japan and this was the perfect event for them to donate at.
A couple hours after my shift ended, I kept checking back on twitter, as everyone was tweeting about the event with the tag #bakeforjapan. It was here that I was able to see what else was going on at the other locations around the city. Some of the silent auction items were incredible, including a vanilla and matcha sushi cake that looked amazing and so realistic. The art auction items were very impressive and I would have framed and hung them up in my apartment in a heartbeat. Musicians and bands were set up in larger locations to draw people in. It was all so magical and surreal. (More twitter photos can be viewed here).
My green tea whoopie pies were gone by the end of my shift, but there were still plenty of cookies on a stick floating around the store. Our team leader, Kristina tweeted this photo later on and when I noticed my cookies in their hands and the look on their faces, I got a little teary-eyed.
There are moments where I wish I could have done so much more, but my mom reassured me that I at least did something. I volunteered my time to help out and I stepped out of my comfort zone in terms of baking things that I had wanted to try, but were still new to me. I was able to marvel at the other creations and efforts of all the other bakers around the city and meet other wonderfully dedicated volunteers. Looking back at all that went on on Sunday and it makes me feel proud to have been a part of it.
Amaranto Cafe made a total of $1,700 on Sunday. So far a total of $12,826.80 $20,660 has been raised from all the different locations, but you can still donate through the Toronto Bakes for Japan website until Friday or directly through the Japanese Red Cross Society.
Big props to Heena and Niya who took this idea, got the word out and made everything possible.
And remember: “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” (Howard Zinn)
EDIT: Hundreds of bakers, dozens of volunteers, thousands of baked goodies, over the course of two days and six locations and word on the street is that we have surpassed our $10,000 goal. Thank you Toronto for opening your wallets and hearts to us in the name of helping people in Japan. In the next few days, there will be a more defined amount of money, but I am so proud to have been a part of this amazing event!
Here is the second item I have made for Toronto Bakes for Japan. Tomorrow morning, I’ll be at the Amaranto Cafe to help sell these and many other goodies with the other volunteers.
Although these aren’t really deemed “healthy” with all the butter and icing, I decided to go with whole wheat flour again to offset all of the sugar. You are still welcome to use regular all-purpose or cake flour if that is what you prefer.
The green tea powder was purchased at Ten Ren, an excellent tea shop in the GTA.