All posts tagged: features

Favourite things

When I was in grade three, I had the honour of having my toothy grin featured in the “Saltspring Says” section of the the local newspaper, which keeps folks abreast of cougar spottings and development scandals. The question posed to me and a few other kids was something like “What is your favourite part of Christmas?” The obvious answer: presents. I was eight. But I knew that would not print well, so I said “Surprises and tobogganing”. Surprises being a euphemism for presents and Christmas morning. Tobogganing showing a complete denial of the fact that I lived in a rainforest. For years I looked out my bedroom window on Christmas morning fully expecting the miracle of a Chirstmas eve snowfall had happened. My mum told me it happened to her once, so it could happen to me. Nevermind that she grew up in Saskatoon. Instead I saw the same muddy creek running through our swampy backyard. Occasionally a thick frost would be there and before my eyes fully came to focus I would see a silvery cedar limb and think: snow! …

Little Cake on the Prairie

You may not want to talk about Christmas yet, but people are getting ready. Choirs are practising their harmonies and sugar plum fairies are trying out their tutus. And in a foil wrapped package in my cupboard, my favourite Christmas sweet is softening and ripening. Vinarterta is best aged for 3 weeks, so I cracked open the Christmas baking this week when I had a few days off. It’s a layer cake made of cardamom flavoured dough pressed into cake pans and brought together with a prune jam flavoured with cinnamon and vanilla. Once aged, the cake is soft enough to slice into tiny squares like a fruit cake. It adds beautiful stripes to your Christmas baking plate. It’s one of my very favourite things to eat. This recipe came into my family in the 1960’s somewhere on the chilly plain of Sakatchewan from a church-going woman of Icelandic descent. My family is not Icelandic but smart enough to know a great recipe and so my grandmother baked it, and after her my mother and now it’s a bit of a family tradition. This cake is now quintessentially …

The power of Elvis

It was a busy summer. If I’m honest, I feel a bit worn out. But everyone has some things that gets them through the week. Here are mine. 1. Tea in my favourite mug, which I bought here. When I drink from it I remember rummaging through the heaps of beautiful pottery stacked outside the artist Susan Crowe’s studio on Hornby Island, each piece decorated with spider webs, fallen pine needles and rain drops. Like some kind of outdoor tea party for grown-ups. I’m a big-time mug snob so I care about things that normal people don’t think of. I care that the inside is pale, so the rosey taupe of a perfect cup of milky tea shows its true colour. I care that the tea-colour contrasts beautifully with the blue glaze on the outside. I care that the rim is thin for the right sip-feel and the shape feels nice in the hand. I like that there is no handle. My steely hands can take the heat. The payoff of being a mug snob is that …

Not ready for cinnamon

As the internet explodes with autumy snacking cake recipes, I feel the need to tell you about one of my favourites. And put a plug in for my favourite autumn fruit: the pear. Apples get all the attention with their snappy bite but I sometimes find them a bit sharp. Pear has a subtler note, a dedicate skin and pleasing grainy mouth texture. Also, can I say that I’m not ready for cinnamon? How about a little pear with nutmeg & vanilla. This is a perfect September cake. We are not resigned to gingerbread yet. It was a happy day last Tuesday when a dozen conference pears turned up in our CSA box. I pulled out a recipe for French Apple Cake written out in my teenage scroll. I believe the recipe originally came from here. It has a custardy topping that gets baked onto the cake until it’s bubbly and caramelized. I don’t know whether it’s actually French in origin, but it’s a keeper. French Pear Cake 1 lb of slightly under ripe pears, sliced …