(Moon Rise by David Haworth)
I want to learn astrophotography. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to be an astronomer so perhaps this is another hobby that can become a creative outlet and let me explore astronomy. I used to ask for a telescope every year for Christmas when I was a kid but my parents couldn’t really afford it so I just gave up on it. Lately I just really want to get back into Astronomy. If I save up I can buy a telescope for my birthday next year.
In the meantime I found a good introduction to astrophotography; a guide on how to start right in astronomy; and some basics on how to choose a telescope. For some inspiration, check out this 24 hour photography of the sky by Chris Kotsiopoulos.
And if all else fails, make earl grey cupcakes that look moon-dusted and sparkle-y. I’m not really into cupcakes but lately I’ve found a lot of good recipes for interesting desserts and most result in cupcakes. I’ve decided to be OK with it as long as the recipes are creative and interesting.
(Salted Caramel and Chocolate Stout Whoopie Pies at Endless Simmer)
I often find myself easily distracted. It’s hard for me to resist a well-crafted hyperlink. I started out the morning checking on my Amazon order status. They have The Universe DVD’s, all 5 seasons, on sale for $65. Even though I find the show more suited to Americans raised on Spike TV and TNT, it does offer some scientific value. Once you get past the ‘everything in the Universe is trying to kill us’ emphasize, the series has something to teach you.
I also ordered:
- Earth: The Biography
- Nova: Telescope - Hunting the Edge of Space
- The Story of Math
- Inside the Milky Way (2010)
- How the Universe Works
I figured those should keep me entertained while I knit my dad’s sweater. I have a long stretch of 8 weeks at camp between my days off in August and Thanksgiving in October.
I thought about Thanksgiving and remembered that I should tell fellow beer drinkers about Canadian Beer News. It helped me find Sherbrooke Liquor’s Heartstopper Hot Chocolate Stout which I decided would pair nicely with Spiced Mayan Chocolate Coated Walnuts.
Of course then I found Howe Sound Beer’s (@howesoundbeer) Pumpkineater ale and Phillips Brewing Company’s Longboat Chocolate Porter. At that point I was wishing I was home in BC where I am able to taste such delights. Finally, I found a recipe for Guinness and Bailey’s Irish Cream Cupcakes. I figure cupcakes are OK and long as they’re made with booze.
This is how I get distracted. From science to beer to beer filled desserts I’ll probably never eat but which I can still appreciate. If I do try one of the recipes it will probably be the Salted Caramel and Chocolate Stout Whoopie Pies. I love salted caramel and chocolate stout so it’s a win all around.
(click the picture for recipe for Espresso Stout Cupcakes)
I was re-reading an older article on Pumpkin Ale and got sidetracked wondering about how to acquire some Midnight Sun Espresso Stout. Somehow that led to finding a recipe for Espresso Stout Cupcakes. I decided they are definitely worth breaking my no-cupcake rule for because they combine beer and espresso and chocolate. I had to think about it for a moment and look at the monitor from the corner of my eye because something this awesome is usually a trick.
Once I felt confident these cupcakes were indeed real I happily continued hunting for news on Granville Island Brewing’s Imperial Chocolate Stout, Kitsilano Maple Cream Ale (my favourite) and Pumpkin Ale. All of which, I feel, I should be consuming in modest quantities this fall. The Steamworks Brewing Company also makes their Great Pumpkin Ale that is worth checking out.
For my 2 days off this weekend I’m planning on watching Gosford Park. It seems to come up a lot on my recommendations list. I read up on it at the IMDB and the movie definitely seems like my kind of movie.
I had planned to download the 4th season of Eureka but for some reason it wasn’t released to iTunes Canada. I downloaded the first season of Haven instead. I had seen the 2-hour series premier when I was visiting my parents last year and enjoyed it. What’s not to like? Haven has the beautiful scenery of Nova Scotia (my retirement island), weird and creepy stories, and it’s based on The Colorado Kid by Stephen King. What’s not to love? I’m going to re-watch the 2-hour series premier tonight as a warm up.
Today has the potential to end being particularly fantastic. Here’s why:
- I received my first pay check after 9 months of miserable unemployment and I got to say… it feels pretty sweet. It helps that I get paid for a job I actually enjoy which doubles the amount of satisfaction I can possible feel.
- I got the green light from ICBC to transport my car home to Saskatchewan. No fussing with insurance and it will only cost about $60.00.
- I get to spend the rest of the night creating my own personal Led Zeppelin playlist which I will surely share with you, dear reader. It may not be to your liking but I’m going to share it anyway. Builds character and listening to Led Zeppelin is good for your soul.
- Today was fun and it’s kind of nice when, at the end of the day, you can say that work was fun. Maybe tomorrow it won’t be but for today it was and that’s enough. Even the camp food tonight was pretty tasty which is just shy of a miracle.
- Only 2 more months until October. You know I’m excited. I even have tasty new pumpkin recipes to make. I have apple recipes too, of course.
I contributed dessert to tonight’s supper of BBQ’d steak sandwiches. The sandwiches were great but I outdid myself on the delicious tonight. The recipe is, “Grilled Pineapple with Butter-Rum Glaze and Vanilla Mascarpone”, from Bobby Flay’s cookbook, “Boy Gets Grill”.
I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. Firstly, I halved the recipe as I only needed to make 3 servings. Also, I diced the pineapple instead of grilling in rings. I did that because I needed the pineapple to fit inside my carnival glass dessert cups. I omitted the blueberries and dusted the dessert with cinnamon. I didn’t add blueberries because they are not in season and yes I know that’s ironic considering I used pineapple and that doesn’t even grow in Canada. It’s complicated.
I love this dessert because traditionally, fruit was served as a dessert after a meal. It’s a nice, slightly sweet dessert that is a bit spicy with some creamy goodness. What it’s not is sickeningly sweet like cupcakes or pie.
If you’re curious as to why my pictures are a bit askew, blame it on the borrowed point and shoot camera I’ve been using. I say it’s artistic license but really I just do what I can to keep the camera steady.
1 cup of dark rum
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 vanilla bean
8 oz mascarpone
1 ripe pineapple, peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch-think rounds (I diced mine)
Cinnamon for dusting
- In a small saucepan, add the rum, butter, and brown sugar. Simmer on low-heat and stir to melt butter and dissolve sugar. Keep stirring often for about 10 minutes or until sauce has thickened and reduced slightly. Remove from heat and let cool. You can make the sauce ahead of time and leave it in the refrigerator for a few days.
- Cut a vanilla bean lengthwise in half and scrape the seeds into a bowl containing the mascarpone. You can scrape the using the tip of a small knife. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a sharp knife just small enough to easily scrape the seeds out of the pod with little waste. Mix the vanilla seeds with the mascarpone together and set aside or store in the refrigerator if making a day ahead of time.
- Heat the grill to high.
- I put the diced pineapple in a grilling pan and brushed the butter-rum glaze on the pineapple. If you’re going to grill the pineapple in rings you can brush as you grill them. Grill the pineapple for about 3 minutes on each side. For the diced pineapple I brushed on more glaze then shook the grilling pan after 3 minutes to turn them over and grilled for an additional 3 minutes. You know the pineapple is done when slightly soft and caramelized.
- Remove the pineapple onto a serving platter. I put the pineapple into dessert cups and added 2 tablespoons of glaze to the bottom of each cup. Add the pineapple to dessert dishes, dollop with the vanilla mascarpone. Dust with cinnamon. Bobby Flay actually adds blueberries instead of cinnamon, so you can do that if you wish.
It’s pineapple week because not only do I have a lovely pineapple, I also have a new bottle of Appleton Estates Rum. In order to use this bounty of lusciousness, I have 4 recipes coming up this week that all use pineapple, rum, or both; mostly both. Before you think that rum or pineapple aren’t very Canadian, I submit that Canada has a proud history of rum running and most famously, the fish for rum trade between the province of Newfoundland & Labrador and the islands of the West Indies. Though I am a British Columbian, I was proud to live in St. John’s, NL and experience the most wonderful people on the planet, who of course, made sure I was properly Screeched In.
In case you’re wondering why my pictures have been a bit lacklustre lately; my camera isn’t working with either of my MacBooks so I’ve been using an old point and shoot until I can figure out what the hell is going on.
We went out for Mother’s Day and I got to indulge in good rum and fine brandy. The dinner went well considering I don’t like eating out at restaurants, especially on holidays. It also meant I missed Game 5 between the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks. I got to make dessert though! It’s coffee panna cotta with caramelized walnuts. It is very rich because it is made with the addition of mascarpone cheese instead of just cream and milk. Mum’s are worth it though and if you’re a mum, well, happy Mother’s Day :)
Coffee Panna Cotta
6 oz. Mascarpone cheese
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons ground espresso (I actually used Starbucks’ Pike Place Roast)
2/3 cup of sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
caramelized walnuts, for decoration
6 small molds or ramekins that can hold about 1/2 cup each
Non-stick parchment paper used for baking
- In a medium sized saucepan add the mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, ground espresso, sugar, and vanilla.
- Put the saucepan over a low heat and stir the mixture occasionally until it thickens but don’t let it come to a boil. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and set aside to let the mixture rest and cool for 20 minutes.
- In a small saucepan add the milk and gelatin. Set the saucepan over a low heat and stir the milk until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
- Stir the milk mixture into the base mascarpone mixture until well incorporated.
- Pour the mascarpone mixture through a strainer into a large measure cup or bowl that has a lip.
- Pour the mixture into lightly oiled molds or ramekins then set aside to cool before refrigerating until set. I put them in the refrigerator for 6 hours but some people put them in overnight.
- To serve, loosen the panna cotta from the ramekins or molds and flip over onto dessert plates. I just ran a sharp paring knife lightly around the circumference of each ramekins and it did the trick nicely.
- To caramelize the walnuts, add 1/2 cup of sugar and 3 tablespoons of water into a small saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and then let boil until sugar turns a golden brown. Please be careful though, as boiling sugar is extremely dangerous. I’m not ashamed to admit I wore eye protection.
- Anyways, once the sugar has caramelized add the walnuts to coat. Remove walnuts carefully with a fork and lay them on a piece of parchment paper to cool.
- Before serving coffee panna cotta add caramelized walnuts to the top of each serving, to decorate.
I’m thinking about starting a food blog. If I’m going to rant about cupcake culture but not do anything about it, then it’s meaningless. Right? If I do decide to start the blog, I would have to “fly casual” since I’m still unemployed and money is tight. I’m up for the challenge though. I don’t know if it would be very popular since I’m rather eccentric. However, I think it’s important to always bring forward one’s values and ideas regardless of how they are received. There is no change without dialogue.
I’ve been working on a craft project for Mother’s Day. My mum has requested a cross-stitch wall hanging of Golden Retrievers. We have a Golden Labrador Retriever named Sandy and she is a really awesome dog.
But anyways, I’ve been working on this old school cross-stitch design so I haven’t been doing much knitting. However, I did find time today to make Triple Chocolate Espresso Bean Cookies. They taste absolutely divine! I think the addition of whole wheat pastry flour and chocolate covered espresso beans really helped cut down the sweetness. Perfect. They are rich and soft and a great cookie to eat with lunch.
The pictures below are of the last 3 knitting projects I completed during the Yule holiday. I finally got around to taking pictures of them. Not that I was lazy, I just didn’t have a good way to take pictures of hats until now. Enjoy!
a vegan food survey from some crazy vegan food blog.
1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Non-dairy what now? Sickos. I drink farm fresh milk from cows. I have evolved. Soy milk tastes like cardboard and no amount of flavouring and sugar will ever make it taste better. I will take real milk over manufactured soy/almond/rice milk any day.
2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
Maple Creme Brulee
Walnut & Molasses Loaf
Molasses Cornmeal Bread w/Bacon (a Canadian recipe my sister requested)
3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Let me think… artery clogging butter or pancreas killing caramel… Well since the popcorn is already going to kill my pancreas I feel the need to balance it with artery clogging butter (and salt).
4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
hmm… I usually don’t fail at what I attempt to cook or bake. Recently I tried to make Prairie Grain cookies but added butter instead of margarine. They spread and didn’t turn out. I don’t get the chance to brag or boast about much but I do have a talent for cooking, baking and growing things. I have a wicked green thumb. It’s all about Love.
5. Favorite pickled item?
Cucumbers pickled with a whole lot of garlic and dill.
6. How do you organize your recipes?
I own a lot of cookbooks. Some are just foodie pr0n and some are valuable for having relevant recipes for everyday living. Usually after I read the cookbook I’ll flag the recipes I want to make with post-it notes. Then I decide if the ingredients can be grown or are made in Canada. Then I decide which season the recipe belongs to. Then I’ll organize the cookbooks either by author (such as Bill Granger) or by country (Canada, England, Australia etc.).
7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Trash unfortunately. I don’t have access or permission to create compost.
8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)?
I assume this means whole foods so strawberries, coconuts, and wheat. Strawberries because I love strawberries and they provide vitamin C. Coconuts because they contain good fats, help replenish electrolytes, and contain water for hydration. Wheat so I can make some bread for energy.
9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
Every year for my birthday while growing up in Victoria, B.C., my parents would take me to the Lantern House restaurant where I got to go into the kitchen and make my own birthday pizza. I even have a picture which I’ll have to scan and upload.
10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
Well if it’s vegan it’s not really ice cream now is it? eh…meh. My favourite ice cream is homemade strawberry.
11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
Not to be picky but is this more about favourite gadget rather than traditional appliance because it would be hard to top the refrigerator or stove/oven. I mean life would not be much fun without them. I’m going to assume that this question is more about gadgets so I’m going to say the blender because I really like making smoothies.
12. Spice/herb you would die without?
Spice = Cinnamon (since Vanilla isn’t technically a spice). Herb = Rosemary
13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
Bill’s Food by Bill Granger
Bills Open Kitchen by Bill Granger
Cookwise by Shirley O Corriher
14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
Strawberry. Your going to pick up on my love of strawberries by the end of this meme.
15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
again with this vegan nonsense. Vegetarianism I get; heck I was a vegetarian for awhile but veganism… bah. It’s a culinary and sensual crime against the senses to cook or bake without at least eggs and milk.
16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
ye gods. Gimme beef! (Pasture raised, and grass finished of course).
17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
You know what? The answer is Grilled Cheese Sandwiches :) Fancy recipes are great and fun but I have to defer to my girl Nigella and agree that it’s all about comfort food. My favourite time of day to cook is around 10 or 11 am so brunch. It’s much more relaxed.
18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
Spare mixing bowls and I think a glass roasting dish.
19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Strawberry ice cream; ground Flax meal; vegetable shortening.
20. What’s on your grocery list?
Bee pollen, oatmeal, frozen strawberries, milk, eggs, and chili chocolate.
21. Favorite grocery store?
I prefer the farmer’s market. I don’t like grocery stores. They are really just a necessary evil most of year here in Canada. Nothing grows when it’s -22C.
22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet.
I. would. never. commit. such. an. atrocity.
23. Food blog you read the most. Or maybe the top 3?
I don’t read food blogs. Most are either obsessed with cupcakes which makes me weep for forgotten sensual pleasures and assaulted palates or else they are written by pretentious foodies who bore me to no end.
24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
I will pretend I didn’t read the word vegan and answer with chocolate that is at least 70% cacao and flavoured with vanilla and dried chilies.
25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
Grade A Maple Syrup from New Brunswick. The bottle cost me close to $20.00. It was so worth it though.
26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
I’m not afraid to work with ingredients however I always find it a challenge to make mousse, souffles, or custards. They can be fickle and take a lot of concentration and finesse to get them right. They are my favourite though so worth it in the end.
Today is my sister’s 37th birthday so I made Maple Mousse and Hazelnut Biscotti. The cookie recipe is from the Canadian Harvest Cookbook and the mousse from Food Television Canada. Maple and Hazelnuts; how Canadian :) Throw a puppy into the mix, some really good coffee and it’s a pretty good day…eh?
I’m starting a new project soon; the Odessa hat. I have these black beads which I might use for it but I might borrow some glass beads from my sister.
This is a wound up skein of Debbie Bliss Pure Silk in black. I bought this yarn about 1.5 years ago. I’m not really fond of it but since 3 skeins cost me about $45 I figure I have to knit it up. After a couple of false starts I decided on the Isobel scarf. It’s going alright but I’m not overly enthusiastic about this yarn at all.
I’m struggling with lighting for my camera. I am visiting my parents and their house is very dark; very. In fact the colours are black, gold and red. I love white, grey, brown, and black; call it monochrome lust. I will figure something out but I don’t much look forward to all the trial and error.
I bought new shoes today for the gym. The ones I brought up to camp are good enough (ie clean enough) by camp standards but not for the civilized world. The shoes are black with grey, white and pink trim. I can’t understand why designers insist that women must have pink on their trainers. It’s kind of silly and clashes with my Saskatchewan Roughriders hoodie that I wear to the gym. They’re really comfortable though so I’ll quit bitching and fight my way through it.
It’s my sister’s birthday tomorrow and I’m going to be doing some baking for her. My mum is cooking but I’m making Maple Mousse and Hazelnut Biscotti. I’m sure there will be pictures.
Oh, Happy Hallowe’en. This post actually marks the 5th Anniversary of my blog although the archives only go back to 2006 (long story). Good times.
Eggs, lemons, sugar, cream, flour, salt, olive oil, yeast, water, honey. From those ingredients I made lemon curd, butter, and a loaf of bread. All recipes courtesy of The River Cottage Family Cookbook.
A soon-to-be loaf of homemade white bread to eat tonight with my Mum’s homemade beef stew and tomorrow, toasted with lemon curd and a cup of tea.
33% cream + 10 minutes of endless shaking… (not to mention one very playful Labrador Retriever puppy who thought it was oodles of fun)
equals yay (!) butter!
What homemade butter looks like up close :) Tastes pretty damn good too.
Organic lemons and local eggs mixed with sugar and my homemade butter….
equals w00t (!) lemon curd for breakfast tomorrow morning.
I’m home all snug as a bug in a rug. I’m really tired though since I only got 6 hours of sleep in my car somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. I’m too tired to even knit but tomorrow morning it’s homemade butter, homemade lemon curd, and homemade bread for brunch. I was going to bake the bread tonight but I’m way too tired. I’m just going to relax with a good Canadian cookbook and a hot cup of tea and then call it a night.
I was reading Cold Antler Farm and I saw that Jenny made Birch Beer. I was fascinated so I found a recipe. One thing British Columbia has is a lot of Birch trees so I think I’m going to try this when I get a chance.