I Don’t Like Curry

One of my very favourite things to do is to buy an item I have no idea how to prepare, then spend an afternoon looking up different ways to cook this item. I usually find a few I like and then combine them and hope it tastes good. Sometimes it’s decent, other times it’s raddichio, and on some other really special occasions, I send a OH MY GOSH I AM A CULINARY GODDESS text to a friend.

This weekend I made something new. I have no experience eating or cooking with curry, so it scares me a little. The smell is upsetting to me. But because I am stubborn and I decided I was going to like curry, I bought some. I also bought a butternut squash and some coconut milk because none of my life choices make sense, apparently. I cook with squash on a fairly regular basis (it’s the Mennonite in me), but coconut milk is new. So hey, why not find a recipe that combines all of these things? OKAY! COOL! The results were I AM A CULINARY GODDESS spectacular, so I had to share.

This is the first time I’ve ever published one of my slightly made up recipes and I’m feeling a little vulnerable. It’s going to be long. It might not make sense, but it’ll be entertaining. I promise.

Curried Apple & Butternut Squash Soup Continue reading

>The Great Cake Experiment: Fondanteded

>Tonight was the riskiest part of the experiment: fondant. Let me start off by saying that fondant does not look edible, and it’s really not that great tasting. It tastes like sugar in playdough form. I felt like I was breaking some sort of school rule when I sampled some.
It comes in a brick and you are supposed to knead it (but not too much, or it gets sticky) and then roll it with a rolling pin. I decided to skip the kneading (why? I have no idea. I was getting a little cocky before I even started) and when straight to rolling. This here is the hard blob-o-fondant:

It worked fine, other than it made rolling it out into an ab workout. This either means I don’t need to exercise today, or I should really start if mere icing preparation causes me to feel the burn. Now came a challenge. Move the large, flat piece of icing onto the cake. Hmm ok, HOW? The distance is too great!

I did figure it out but experienced some sticking and tearing. And then it looked like a ghost:

At this point in time I looked at my mother and said, “Um…how…?” and then attempted to smooth out the icing. The top is no problem, but the sides caused some trouble. The icing decided to fold and buckle in some places and tear in others. Observe:

BOO TO FONDANT. I admit that I almost had a little, “I tried my best!” moment. I then told myself that it was ok, and I can’t be perfect at anything and everything artistic (although I will try my darndest). I think the biggest problem was that I overworked it, and it was beginning to dry out and crack. I will fix this by kneading first before rolling, to heat things up a little. Then came the fun part: colouring the remaining fondant!

A little pink, a little green, a little white, some really cute cookie cutters and some syrup to glue them all together and……

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(I’m trying to make this dramatic….)

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 TA DA!!!!! It actually turned out much much cuter than I thought it would, and I’m fairly happy considering it was my first go with the stuff. Some of the flowers were strategically placed in an effort to hide the flaws in the white fondant. This picture actually looks worse than the real thing:

 From another angle:

Bird’s eye view:

Things I learned:
1. Kelly green colouring gel + a little bit of lemon yellow colouring gel = an ok lime green
2. Knead before rolling to avoid drying out
3. Even “big” mistakes can be covered up by extremely cute flowers
4. Cake boards covered in tinfoil look chintzy and will be replaced with a pretty glass cake plate for the real deal
5. Fondant sticks to itself using water or syrup. It also sticks to fingers that have water or syrup on them.
6. If you put the syrup away before you remember to stick the letters to the board, spit works just as well (EW EW I know that’s gross, but no one is going to eat the letters anyway. Relax).
7. This was fun, and with practice I know it will be ridiculous amounts of fun
8. The Bean is way cuter than this cake.

>The Great Cake Experiment: Ganache’d

>Today is the day the poo pucks get decorated and hopefully turned into something that doesn’t resemble a poo puck. I took pictures of what I did today:

Here are the poo pucks shaved down to make them flat and cut in half. You might notice that the insides of the poo pucks are GOOEY. I blame the faulty toothpick-in-centre-to-check-doneness method. Gluten free baking is also iffy most of the time. I blame that (because it couldn’t possibly be due to my impatience).
I then brushed each layer with the syrup (the orange stuff). Then used this ganache:

 I spread ganache in between each layer and stacked those bad boys. I failed to take a picture of this step, but here is the cake with ganache on the outsides and top, just before “hot-knifing”:

 The cake is has now been “hot-knifed” with a hot knife (ooooOOOoOooh, now it makes sense!):

 Cleaned up and put on a cake board, ready for fondant to be added later tonight!

Things I’ve learned:
1. Ganaching a cake is ridiculous amounts of fun. The cake starts off looking lumpy and gross, but the ganache fills in the cracks like putty, thus making the poo pucks look straight and perfect.
2. Anything smothered in chocolate and cream looks more appetizing.
3. Ganaching is messy but worth it. Going to be a lovely smooth surface for fondant!
4. The new countertops and backsplash look pretty with this cake!
5. Ganache is already a ridiculous word, yet saying it over and over only makes it more ridiculous

This is getting increasingly more and more fun. Am I delusional?

>The Great Cake Experiment

>Recently my sister-in-law asked me to make a cake for my niece’s first birthday party. Actually after finding out how much a professional cake would cost, my sister-in-law asked me to make a cake for my niece’s first birthday party. I do have cake skills[z] but they are nowhere near professional (but I’m cheap!). I am doing a trial run to get it just right before the big day.

I decided it would be a great time to teach myself how to use fondant icing. You know the really smooth stuff that looks awesome yet inedible? Yes. People make cakes like that all the time, right? Right! I’m creative, no problem, right? Right! PLUS, I have a book that told me how to do this. Simple! Here is what the book says (oh so easy, step by step!):

1. Bake the cake
2. Make ganache
3. Make syrup (ie boil some jam and water and strain)
4. Cut cake into even layers
5. Brush syrup onto each layer
6. Assemble the cake by putting ganache in between each layer.
4. Ganache the rest of the cake
5. “Hot-knife” the ganache to make it super smooth
6. Let cake sit over night
7. Roll out fondant
8. Place on cake
9. Secure edges. Smooth icing.
10. Smooth icing some more, this time using smoothers
11. Trim icing.
12. Use smoothers
13. Decorate
14. Massacre oops I mean cut the masterpiece into pieces
15. Watch everyone eat what you have worked on for endless hours

It is day 1, and I am on step 2. It took approximately 3 hours to get to this point.

Things I have learned so far:

1. Using a gross gluten free cake mix will turn what should be lovely, fluffy tiny cakes into dense, caved in poo pucks.
2. Ganache is super fun to make. Heat up some cream and pour it over chopped chocolate. Then whisk. It will be grainy and then all of a sudden, BAM! smooth velvety creamy cream and chocolate. I may have squealed with glee.
3. The term “Hot-Knife” is also a method of smoking cannabis.
4. I have no idea what I’m doing
5. This is not the first time I’ve undertaken huge projects I know nothing about
6. Each of the steps in this book have multiple sub steps that are not necessarily simple. That is many steps.
7. People who write books about cakes are LIARS.
8. I am easily influenced by book-writing cake-making LIARS.

It’s a good thing this kid is cute.

>Betty Crocker would have trouble

>My week long hiatus from blogging is because I was pretty sick. It wasn’t fun. I don’t want to talk about it any more.

This week has been busy with preparations for the cottage this weekend. Mom wanted to bake her famous secret family recipe cookies (I’m sure you’ve tried one before…I hear they’re quite fantastic) gluten free this time so that I (and Annie) could have some. However, she was finding herself tired and employed me to mix the dough. I’ve discovered why these cookies are a secret family recipe, and get ready, because I’m about to share the secret….ready?

The recipe is completely illegible.

Just a list of ingredients (some misspelled) in a strange order (not normal cookie ingredient order) with no instructions other than how hot to bake them. Mom then starts giving me all these whacked out instructions that no one would ever write down because they’re just plain weird (yes they are, Mom) and she ended up doing most of it any way. Secret family recipe can stay secret. Mama Bast, you keep making those cookies because I don’t want to go through that again.

>"What about Twix? Do you like Twix?"

>Today was a very eventful day. I baked cheesecake for Dawn’s birthday and small group. Cheesecake seems unimportant, but today was the second time I have ever eaten cheesecake in my LIFE (the first time courtesy of Jessimeca…hey, do you still read this??). Mom and I discovered that you can recycle tinfoil. That was pretty monumental this morning. We also ate some extremely good salad for lunch. Again, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but man, it was some mighty fine salad.

That is all I have to write about today, but I leave you with a challenge that I really hope you’ll consider. This is inspired by my newest friend, Thomas. It worked for him, so maybe it will work for you. Start a conversation with a complete stranger using the following line:

“Do you like Kit-Kats?”

>I’m warning you, this is going to be obnoxious

>

Alright, so this is something only a seasoned Celiac can appreciate. My mother (the best mother in the world) found PURE UNCONTAMINATED OATS!!!!!!!!!!!11 Yes, that phrase deserved multiple exclamation marks and 1s. Oats are gluten free but always grown/processed in gluten-containing environments. But there are PURE UNCONTAMINATED OATS!!!!!!!!!11 now. This is exciting. Last night I had porridge for the first time in sixteen years. SIXTEEN YEARS! That’s older than some people! And of course, I took pictures…

here they are! (Mom: “Are you seriously taking a picture of the oats?)

and now they’re boiling (Mom: “Amanda, that is ridiculous.”)

here we go, I’m really excited (Mom: “I can’t believe I’m taking a picture of you eating oatmeal. I didn’t even do this when you were a baby.”)

mmmmmmm oatmeal! (Mom: “OK seriously, you need to find something better to do!”)

So far, so good. No sickness. Lets hope this lasts. I want to try my mother’s famous cookies. I’m sure I’ll have pictures for that too.

>success

>Today I went to IKEA with my parents. I didn’t wear my mom’s pants. That is an accomplishment for some of us.

I am happy to report that the rumors are true. There are two -yes TWO – different kinds of gluten free cake in the freezer at IKEA. Torte, actually. Mmmmmmmm next time I’m taking a c-c-c-coolah.

I bought a pillow. I also noticed that there are large numbers of good lookers at IKEA. Lots and lots. The only downfall is that they are all with girlfriends or fiances picking out furniture to start their lovely catelogue lives together.

And now, some fun with grammar: