Sunday, November 30, 2008

Angels


Gloria Chadwick of Cookbook Cuisine actually made me speechless with this award.



Gloria awarded Ivy of Kopiaste Val of More Than Burnt Toast and Equal Opportunity Kitchen with this distinguished award that came with the following rules:

1. The rules of this award are not to be taken lightly--which means you can't give it to someone just because they did something really sweet for you.
2. This award is to be given to bloggers that have shown they are angels by doing something humanitarian and heavenly to help others.
3. You don't have to receive the award in order to give it. Feel free to copy it and bestow it on someone who is worthy of it. If you think they're an angel, they probably are.
4. The award must be linked to a post about an organization or good cause you would like more people to be aware of.
5. The rules for this award are to be shown when giving the award.

As Ivy, Val and I embark on this journey of encouraging other bloggers to help us as we do whatever we can to not only build awareness to world famine, affecting approximately 900M worldwide (shocking isn't it) but also to encourage you to purchase the products we currently have for sale and join in with several of the upcoming surprises we have in store. On behalf of BloggerAid and the coalition of international food bloggers, it is our mission to be able to hand over a substantial cheque to the World Food Programme and know that each of us is doing the very best we can to help others.

In accordance with the rules, I would like to share this award with someone who has put an incredible amount of effort online in gaining support for a charity that has and continues to touch her life. I would gladly share this award with Barbara Harris of Winos and Foodies for her work with LIVESTRONG: The Lance Armstrong Foundation .

Barbara has long been an inspiration for me. When I say long, I mean only as long as I've known her and that really isn't much longer than a few months. Even through her own challenges, Barb knew I'm planning a trip to Australia and offered me a room in her home. How many people would do that? Recently, on her blog, Barbara relayed a wish list through a friend. I never stopped thinking about Barbara's wish list and since it's already been on her blog, I think sharing it with you will help you see why she's absolutely so deserving of this Angel award.

"I wish I could tell you I'm free of cancer.
I wish I wasn't starting more chemo tomorrow.
I wish I wasn't afraid of the side effects.
I wish I didn't have to see the fear in my children's eyes.
I wish I didn't have to hear my son say 'I feel so helpless'.
I wish Bryan didn't have to cook dinner 'cos I know he doesn't enjoy cooking.
I wish I had an appetite.
I wish I didn't have to cancel lunch in Sydney with Fatemeh.
I wish I'd been able to swim in the ocean with my sister last week when she visited.
I wish I didn't know words like Folfox and Avastin.
I wish I didn't know my CEA.
I wish I didn't have blood tests every week.
I wish I didn't have to press the button in the elevator marked Oncology.
I wish I could beat the cancer.
I wish I didn't think about my children's future which may not include me.
I wish Bryan and I will grow very old together.
I wish the will to live was enough to overcome my genetics.
I wish I will have the energy to continue blogging.
I wish you will understand when I am too sick to reply to your comments and emails.
I wish you will understand when I visit your blog and don't leave a comment.
I wish one day I could tell you I'm free of cancer."



Thank you Gloria for your recognition of the work we're doing with BloggerAid. For those who have heard a bit of the buzz and those who are visiting for the first time, please join us at The BoggerAid Forum where we can exchange ideas and information about making our world a more humane place.

Our first event and fundraiser are now in full swing. Please check here for more information and how you can help.

For those ordering angel keychains, cell phone charms and bookmarks, the date for guaranteed arrival overseas from Canada to most countries is shipping before December 8th and to the U.S. before December 15th. StumbleUpon

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting - Daring Bakers - November





The hosts for this month are Dolores from Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity , Alex , Brownie of Brownie and Blondie , Jennie of Foray into Food , and Natalie, the alternative baking expert of Gluten A Go-Go .

The challenge this month is Shuna Fish Lydon's signature caramel cake recipe Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich. Additionally, a second option was added - Alice Medrich’s Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels, with LOTS of variation. Guaranteed to keep us all on a sugar-induced high all month!

I'd never tried working with caramel - this would be a challenge into new realms and techniques that I'd never thought about. My baking style has always been - here's the recipe, put it together - into the over - finished, you have cake. This month's challenge gave me an opportunity to learn "technique" - imagine the concept and delve into uncharted territory (for me). At times I felt like Captain Kirk of the Starship Caramelprise - watching out for sputtering caramel for fear of combusting.

CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature



So the GF changes to the cake would be:

2 cups of gluten free flour blend (w/xanthan gum) or 2 cups of gf flour blend + 1 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 - 1 tsp baking powder (this would be the recipe amount to the amount it might need to be raised to & I'm going to check)

I'll let you when I get the cake finished, how it turns out and if the baking powder amount needs to be raised.

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.



Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.



Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

CARAMEL SYRUP

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.


Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}



Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

(Optional) GOLDEN VANILLA BEAN CARAMELS
- makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels -

Ingredients
1 cup golden syrup
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened

Equipment
A 9-inch square baking pan
Candy thermometer

Procedure

Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.

When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.

Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.

Variations

Fleur de Sel Caramels: Extra salt, in the form of fleur de sel or another coarse flaked salt, brings out the flavor of the caramel and offers a little ying to the yang. Add an extra scant 1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt to the recipe. Or, to keep the salt crunchy, let the caramel cool and firm. Then sprinkle with two pinches of flaky salt and press it in. Invert, remove the pan liner, sprinkle with more salt. Then cut and wrap the caramels in wax paper or cellophane.

Nutmeg and Vanilla Bean Caramels: Add 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg to the cream before you heat it.

Cardamom Caramels: Omit the vanilla. Add 1/2 teaspoon slightly crushed cardamom seeds (from about 15 cardamom pods) to the cream before heating it. Strain the cream when you add it to the caramel; discard the seeds.

Caramel Sauce: Stop cooking any caramel recipe or variation when it reaches 225°F or, for a sauce that thickens like hot fudge over ice cream, 228°F. Pour it into a sauceboat to serve or into a heatproof jar for storage. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for ages and reheated gently in the microwave or a saucepan just until hot and flowing before use. You can stir in rum or brandy to taste. If the sauce is too thick or stiff to serve over ice cream, it can always be thinned with a little water or cream. Or, if you like a sauce that thickens more over ice cream, simmer it for a few minutes longer.
(recipe from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert)

Verdict: I discovered something - I'm not a huge fan of caramel in cakes and on the overall found the amount of sugar a little overbearing. I'm glad to have tackled the challenge - I learned something that I'm sure will serve me well in cakes to come. StumbleUpon

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Butternut Squash Soup


There's no more denying that winter is coming. The irrational side of me was hoping that with enough wishful thinking I would be able to will winter away. Nothing like a few days of snow to kick me out of denial. So, what better to do than make soup?

I had been starring a bunch of squash soups, like Sunita's Roasted Butternut Squash, Peppers and Leek Soup, Alosha's Winter Squash Soup with Gruyere Croutons (I still plan to try the croutons), Recipe Girl's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Apples & Garam Masala. All of them look terrific and am adding links to them here for both your reference and mine.

In the end, I decided to go with a recipe posted by Zen Chef at Chefs Gone Wild. Originally from France, Zen Chef works in New York as a personal chef for some rich dude. Reading his blog, you get to live vicariously through the him while he shows you the kitchen side of a home in the Hamptons.


Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Apple Compote

(serves 8)


For the soup:

2 small butternut squash (1 1/2 lb each), skin removed, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
Salt and pepper
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
4 cups chicken stock

This is my first (maybe second) time cooking with squash. So, I wasn't sure exactly how to work with it. I peeled it:


And cored it:

And then cut it into cubes. In a large stockpot, melt the butter and add the onions. Cook until tender but not coloured, about 10 minutes.

Add the curry powder, ginger and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the squash, season with salt and pepper and saute for for 1 or 2 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk and chicken stock, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer (Clearly even sized cubes are not my forte...My knife sucks).


Cook until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.


For the apple compote:

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 vanilla bean, seeds only
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 cup apple cider

While the soup is simmering, toast the coriander seeds and cumin in a small pan, until fragrant - about 2 minutes. Finely grind in a spice grinder. Cook the butter in a small saucepan until golden brown and add the apples and the vanilla seeds and cook until caramelized.


Add the apple cider and cook until evaporated. Add the spices to the apples and puree in a food processor until smooth.

Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with the spiced apple compote and a little scoop of sour cream.


Verdict: The soup was quite good. Between the compote and the soup itself, it felt there was a party going on in my mouth and all of Autumn was invited. If I were to make this soup again, I would probably use less than a full tablespoon of Madras curry powder. That stuff is potent. Even when I put the curry into the pot, it was so strong, the smell made me cough. Certainly the compote and sour cream balance this out. Mind you, judging from the colour of my compote, I probably over-cooked it. But it was still enjoyable.

I served 3 bowls of it (we had a guest for dinner) and still had about 5-6 portions left over. I put a large portion of the leftovers in the freezer. The rest, I kept in the fridge and "repurposed" for dinner a couple of nights later.

This time, I borrowed from one of my favourite blogs, A Good Appetite. Kat made a Cream of Tomato Soup in Puff Pastry. I borrowed the puff pastry portion and made my soup into a Butternut Squash in Puff Pastry.


Kat's recipe for this is:

Preheat oven to 450 F. Roll out your pastry dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out 4 circles slightly larger than you serving bowls or ramekins. Divide the soup between the four bowls. In a small bowl beat the egg. Brush the beaten egg on the pastry circles. Place the pastry, egg side down, on each bowl pulling a little to make it taut. Gently brush the top of the pastry with more egg being careful not to push it into the soup. Place the bowls on a baking sheet & then into the oven. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes until the pastry is puffed & golden (don't open your oven too early or the pastry might fall.)

The end product was really good.

It's kind of an interactive soup because you can break apart the puff pastry as desired. Maybe it's the kid in me, but I really like a bit of interaction with my food while eating it.



Happy Thanksgiving to all of our neighbours to the south!!! StumbleUpon

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

BloggerAid:Products are now available for purchase


We are happy to announce that PayPal is up and running and we can start raising money through the BloggerAid initiative for the World Food Programme! For more details about this initiative, click here.

There are currently 3 products on the left sidebar of the blog.
1. Angel Keychain - $5.00
2. Cell Phone accessory - $8.00
3. Bookmark - $12.00


For purchases being shipped to North America, shipping charges are $3.00 for the 1st item and $0.25 for each additional item. For purchases being shipped outside of North America, shipping charges are $5.00 for the 1st item and $0.25 for each additional item.

When you decide to purchase, just click on the relevant "Add to Cart" button and a screen will pop up where you have selections to make. The program will guide you through quantities and whether you want to continue shopping or check out. The price of your purchases can be provided to you in your own currency through PayPal.

We should mention that the reason for the delay in getting the PayPal account operating is that we ran into some challenges with ensuring appropriate shipping charges. The current system available to merchants using PayPal outside of the USA is limited. As a result, we're having to find some creative ways to work around these limitations. For the full details about the limitations, scroll to the bottom of this post. But, the short story is that if you're ordering different products (e.g., both an angel and a bookmark), you will be overcharged on shipping. This does not occur if you are ordering multiples of the same product (e.g., 2 angels). Not to worry though. We will refund the appropriate amount so that you will not be overcharged on shipping.

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Shipping Complications:

When you order say 3 of one item, the shipping calculator works fine. If you order 3 of one item and say 3 of another item, the calculator doubles up on the shipping and charges an additional base price ($3 or $5) again rather than the additional item charge ($0.25). The only way we can get around it is:

1. Purchaser places order
2. If multiple product types have been purchased, Giz will refund the overcharges. This will appear as a credit on your credit card or PayPal account (depending on how you pay for the product).

It's not the best solution but it's the best PayPal can offer and we want to make sure you have a secure shopping environment.

The good news is that PayPal is currently beta testing a more efficient system and have added us as one of the first (outside of the USA) to implement it once it's available. It won't be tomorrow, but since we're now on practically first name basis with our friends at PayPal, they know we're not going away and we have their number.

If you would like a clarification of any of this or have other questions, please feel free to email Giz at bloggeraidgiz(at)gmail(dot)com. You should be able to leave a colour preference message. If not, please just send Giz an email and your wish is my command :). StumbleUpon

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Brownies Galore!


I promised myself that I would take pictures of the brownies I baked last weekend before we enhaled them all. But after a few days of "oh yeah, I still have to take pictures of my brownies", all I've got to show for it this picture:

But, you can find beautiful pictures of the brownies cut up over at For the Love of Cooking, which is also the original source of this recipe.

Cocoa Brownies with Peanut Butter Chips
1 1/4 sticks of unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup of white sugar
3/4 cup PLUS 2 tbsp of cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1 cup of peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and make sure rack is in the lower third of the oven. Coat an 8 inch baking pan with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. I would recommend the parchment - it makes life easier.

In a large heat proof bowl, combine the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt. Set the bowl in a large skillet of water and simmer over medium low heat. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted and mixture is hot to the touch. The mixture will look slightly grainy. Remove from heat and cool until warm. Add vanilla and stir with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time mixing thoroughly after each one. When the batter looks well blended, smooth and shiny, slowly add the flour and stir until it's combined thoroughly, then stir vigorously for 30 strokes. Stir in the peanut butter chips. Pour into the baking pan and place a few more peanut butter chips on top.Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. I needed probably closer to 30 minutes.

Pam at For the Love of Cooking made this recipe for a friend who loves rich chocolate. Definitely a good recipe for rich chocolate lovers because this one is more on the rich side. I thought it was good but didn't find that the peanut butter chips held up much to the flavour of the chocolate. Not that I'm complaining about the chocolate flavour.

If you don't already visit For the Love of Cooking, I definitely recommend you check it out. Pam has a load of great recipes and beautifully crisp pictures. I'm mainly a lurker on her blog, but visit it regularly.

I'm submitting these brownies to Ben's I Love to Bake Event.



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Since we're on the topic of brownies...I figured I would share an older post that never made it to publication. These brownies were "guilt brownies" that I made a while back for my supervisor. I was very stressed at the time and probably a bit high maintenance. So, I decided to give him a reason to not hate me by bringing him some brownies (I think my plan worked).

This recipe comes from the same cookbook as the Double Chocolate Cake I made a while back.


Such an innocent-looking book, eh? You'd never know the sheer number of calories you may be tempted to eat by this book alone.

Hershey's White Chip Brownies

4 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 2/3 cups white chips

1. Heat oven to 350 F. Grease 13X9X2 - inch baking pan.

2. Beat eggs in large bowl until foamy gradually beat in sugar. Add butter and vanilla; beat until blended. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; add to egg mixture, beating until blended. Stir in white chips. Spread batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake 25-30 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares.

Ok - not the most beautiful presentation for the blog.



But I did wrap some up nicely for my supervisor.

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I also wanted to share with you some picture of a knitting project I started. I figure if I post a picture of the project, I'll be less likely to not finish it. You'll hold me accountable, right?



This gives you an idea of the parts that I've completed.


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We also wanted to acknowledge and pass on some awards that we've recent received

Thank you to Val from More Than Burnt Toast for awarding us with "A Perfect Blend of Friendship" Award.


We'd like to pass this award on...

1. Ann and Jack from Redacted Recipes. They're on a (hopefully) temporary hiatus from blogging at the moment. But we're definitely still thinking about them and hope they're doing well. Not to worry, though, their archives will keep you busy.

2. Adam at Baking with Dynamite, who seems like an all around great guy. Adam posts some delicious recipes (thanks Adam, now I'm craving oatmeal cookies) and great advice. As a former bodybuilder and almost newly minted chiropractor, he's a great resource on healthy living.

3. Nikki at Canary Girl, who may be losing her mind, but had a great Thanksgiving dinner in the process.

4. Bunny from Bunny's Warm Oven. Bunny (and sometimes Carol) make delicious-looking homestyle food that have me wishing I could stop working and cook/bake all day.

Also, thank you to our adopted blogger, Hopie from Hopie's Kitchen for awarding us with an E for Excellent.


Turns out we're bad adoptive bloggers that totally dropped the ball on Hopie's event. The roundup for her Energy Food Challenge is posted today.


Hopie's mom (along with 10,000 other people) is biking 109 miles to raise money for blood cancers. Hopie's mom raised almost $10,000! Go Hopie's mom!!! Hopie posted a roundup of high-energy recipes for her mom's biking journey.

We'd like to pass the award on to...

1. Katie at Good Things Catered. Katie is one of the first food blogger I started reading almost a year ago and is still going strong today.

2. My French Kitchen, who has a beautiful blog. Her plating and the artistic flare on her blog are really inspiring.

3. Jonny and Amy at We Are Never Full who seem like a really fun couple. Their version of an average meal would be the equivalent of a full out event at my place. But, a person can always dream.

4. Kristen at Dine and Dish, a fun blog with really practical dishes. So practical, in fact, I'm making her tilapia for dinner tomorrow.

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Last but not least, we wanted to mention that things are progressing with BloggerAid.

We're still working on PayPal. We're having a problem setting up the account properly as a result of glitches on the Canadian version of the system. The goal is to get it resolved tomorrow.

Also, check out Val's blog for more details on our plans. StumbleUpon

Thursday, November 20, 2008

BloggerAid: Because We Can Help


To say that we live in a time of uncertainty is stating the obvious. As optimistically as we face each day, we are also reminded that our world is taking a bit of a roller coaster ride. In some way, each of us is affected – some, more than others.

Do I want to ring a bell of doom and gloom? Absolutely not!!! What I do want is for us to remember that as food bloggers, the fact that we’re cooking, baking, taking pictures and sharing our creations with one another means that we still have enough food on our tables. How lucky we are!

The concept of “enough food on the table” is certainly not shared by everyone in this world. The aid that was present for many from the “have” countries may not be so readily available. We’ve already seen the price of essentials such as rice and flour soar. If we have little control, imagine what happens to those who were without control to begin with?

Ivy from Kopiaste, Val from More Than Burnt and Equal Opportunity Kitchen have decided to join forces and create a concrete force of international bloggers who will stand up to be counted, called BloggerAid.

BloggerAid_ribbon

Each of us brings a particular skill or passion to the table as do each of you. What does that mean to each individual blogger? It could mean nothing more than helping create awareness or it could mean a greater involvement in helping to raise money for the World Food Programme , the United Nations' frontline agency in the fight against global hunger. We want you to join us. We have several ideas in mind. Below are just a couple of them.

How to make a difference:

You’ve already seen Ivy and Val sponsor events for World Food Day in which they put out a call for a conga line to feed the world. Bloggers were invited to submit a recipe and picture that could feed at least 6 at the end of which the hope was to virtually feed a town, a city, a country or as far as the food could stretch. Ivy followed up with an event to express gratitude.

ivylogo ivy_logo2

Now Equal Opportunity Kitchen invites you to BloggerAid: Because We Can Help; an event that has the specific theme of creating awareness about food hunger.

Beginning today and ending at midnight on December 28th, we are inviting you to lend your support by submitting a recipe that you would feed a hungry guest visiting your home during the holidays.

E-mail us at: bloggeraid (at) gmail (dot) com
Send us your name
Your blog name
The URL to your post

The post you’re submitting should appear on your blog between today and December 28th. Please include a link to this post as well as the BloggerAid ribbon near the top of this post. However, it’s not imperative that you have a blog. If you’d like to participate, just send :

Your name
A picture of your recipe together with the recipe

Email to:bloggeraid(at)gmail(dot)com

Now - for the more concrete part…

Our goal is also to move toward a more concrete way of helping those who are less fortunate than we are. Specifically, we are working toward raising money for the World Food Programme (WFP).

You will notice several gift items at the bottom of this post. We will be selling items created by Giz. These items can be purchased from and sent anywhere in the world. They would make for great presents for the holidays! For your convenience, we will be putting up an easy purchase option (PayPal) in a few days. With each purchase, a donation is being deposited to a bank account monitored by Kopiaste, More Than Burnt Toast and Equal Opportunity Kitchen. These items will be updated regularly so keep coming back to see what’s new. We'll also keep you posted on how much we're raising. We CAN help change the world.

Here are samples of the current products available (prices are listed in Canadian dollars):

Keychain: $5.00*

(available in gold or silver peuter)

angel_cropped

Cell Phone Accessory: $8.00*

(colour customization is available)

group_cellphone_charms

place_setting_cp_charmgreen_heart_cp_charm

Bookmarks: $12.00*

(colour customization is available)

fourbookmarks


book_marks_in_books

bookmark3

Yes – food-themed charms are available! We’ll let you know as soon as PayPal is up and running. If you know anyone that might be interested in these products, please help us by passing the link to this post around ! Feel free to contact Giz at gizmar1(at)hotmail(dot)com if you have any questions.


*Additional shipping charges apply. They're all light weight products so shipping should be minimal. StumbleUpon

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Christmas Cake Part I and a MEME




Canadian Living gave this cake a 5 star - good enough for me. This is actually part I of this post. Wrapped in rum soaked cheesecloth, it will sit in the fridge for a month before cutting and icing. Part II will come closer to Christmas.

Ingredients:

2 cups (500 ml) currants
2 cups (500 ml) mixed candied peel
1-1/2 cups (375 ml) coarsely chopped candied pineapple
1-1/2 cups (375 ml) red candied cherries halved
1-1/2 cups (375 ml) seeded raisins (Muscat or Lexia)
1 cup (250 ml) brandy or rum
2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) each ground allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup (175 ml) butter, softened
1 cup (250 ml) packed brown sugar
1/3 cup (75 ml) strawberry jam
2 tbsp (25 ml)fancy molasses
5 eggs
1-1/2 cups (375 ml) chopped walnut halves

Preparation:

1. In large bowl, combine currants, mixed peel, pineapple, cherries, raisins and 3/4cup (175 ml) of the brandy/rum; cover and let stand for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.



2. Line base and sides of 13 x 9 inch (3.5 L) metal cake pan with double thickness parchment paper. Set aside.

3. In bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt - remove 1/2 cup (125 ml) and toss with fruit mixture.



4. In separate bowl, beat together butter, sugar, jam and molasses until fluffy; beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in remaining flour mixture all at once just until incorporated. Add fruit mixture and walnuts; stir to combine. Scrape into prepared pan, smoothing top



5. Set shallow pan on bottom rack of 300 F (150 C) oven; pour in enough water to come halfway up sides of pan. Bake cake on centre rack for 1 hour. Lay foil loosely over cake; bake until cake tested inserted in centre comes out clean but a little sticky, 45-60 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack.



6. Remove cake from pan; peel off paper. Soak double-thickness 16 inch (40 cm) square of cheesecloth in remaining brandy, wrap around cake. Wrap in plastic wrap then foil. Refrigerate for 1 month (Make-ahead; Refrigerate for up to 3 months). Cut crosswise into 6 bars


Nuria from Spanish Recipes has tagged us with this meme.
This Meme has very simple instructions:

*List the Last 10 people who have commented on your blog.
*If you appear on my list, you are tagged and have to do this meme on your own blog too.
*So - who were my last ten commenters?

10) Katie from Good Things Catered
9) Alexandra's Kitchen
8) Nick from The Peanut Butter Boy
7) Ricki of Diet Dessert and Dogs
6) Ohio Mom from Cooking in Cleveland
5) Cakelaw from Laws of the Kitchen
4) Shambo from Please Don't Pass the Salt
3) Bunny from Bunny's Warm Oven
2) That Girl from Paved with Good Intentions
1) Hopie from Hopie's Kitchen

Now answer the following:

1. What is your favourite post from number 3's blog?

It's pretty tough to pick just one and I constantly drive her nuts telling her she'll be solely responsible for my out of control weight gain but...her Elvis Cupcakes are a formidable contender.

2. Has number 10 taken any pictures that have moved you?

This is a very tough question - all of them take great shots and I'm a Libra - you want me to make a choice?? puleez.

3. Does number 6 reply to comments on their blog?

Ohio Mom is one of the most consistent of bloggers - you can ALWAYS be sure to get a response from her injected with good common sense and lots of humour.

4. Which part of blogland is number 2 from?

That Girl is my neighbour to the south in the U.S. of A.

5. If you could give one piece of advice to number 7 what would it be?

Far be it from me to be giving Ricki advice but if I had to make a suggestion to her it would be to not be so hard on herself by imposing deadlines that could drive her nuts.

6. Have you every tried something from number 9's blog?

I haven't as yet but that doesn't mean it's not in my tagged files.

7. Has number 1 blogged something that inspired you?

Recently when Psychgrad came for a visit, we were inspired to try Hopie's Apple Walnut Muffins . We both loved them and if you hurry, I still have a few in my freezer. I'll even put on a fresh pot of coffee.

8. How often do you comment on number 4's blog?

I visit Shambo's blog quite often. We both share an awareness of the dangers of sodium so I'm always checking to see what she's got on the stovetop.

9. Do you wait for number 8 to post excitedly?

Let's say I'm always intrigued by what form peanut butter will take in the next post from Nick. He just never disappoints me.

10. How did number 5's blog change your life?

Cakelaw continually changes my life by giving me foods to try that will grow my pant size. Well...it's a change isn't it? It's also a compliment that the food she prepares is exciting enough to make me want to replicate it.

11. Do you know any of the 10 bloggers in person?

The only blogger on my list that I've actually met is Ricki from Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

12. Do any of your 10 bloggers know each other in person?

Do I look like The National Enquirer?

13. Out of the 10, which updates more frequently?

Oh gosh - each one of them is great at posting often.

14. Which of the 10 keep you laughing?

Yikes - I think that both Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs and That Girl from Paved with Good Intentions both keep me in hysterics.

15. Which of the 10 has made you cry?

The only tears I've really been brought to from this list is not being able to get my fist through the monitor to grab some of the most amazing home made goodies. StumbleUpon

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Zucchini-Walnut Loaf



Ingredients

3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 large egg whites at room temperature
1 cup sugar or sugar substitute
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp canola oil
1/4 tsp lemon extract (optional)
1 cup grated zucchini, lightly packed
2 tbsp chopped walnuts

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat 2 mini 6x3 loaf pans (I used one larger one)

2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.

3. Whisk egg whites, sugar, applesauce, oil and lemon extract in a medium bowl. Stir in zucchini.

4. Make a well in the dry ingredients; slowly, mix in the zucchini mixture with a rubber spatula. Fold in walnuts. Do not overmix. Transfer batter to prepared pans.

5. Bake the loaves until a toothpick comes out almost clean - 40-45 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 5 minutes, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.



Verdict: It's a very tasty loaf - great with coffee and most comforting when you have a hot coffee and a need to remove yourself from stress. It's not too sweet and just what I needed today. StumbleUpon
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