Monday, January 30, 2012

Semestered...

To all those people who attend semestered schools:


You don’t know how lucky you are that you go to a semestered school. Sure, you might perceive the fact that learning the same four subjects everyday for a couple months might be “boring”, but have you tried dealing with eight different subjects at a time? There’s always something due for every class and if you aren’t compulsively organized, it’s so easy for a test or assignment to slip your mind.


Not only does doing a full-year mean that you have eight different classes worth of homework at the same time, but trying to remember your schedule is twice as hard. Mistakenly showing up to your biology class when you’re really suppose to be in accounting might be acceptable if it was September (and you were a little freshman), but doing it when you’re a junior? Just embarrassing.


Of course, if you went to a semestered school, you would only have to face those people you embarrassed yourself in front of for several months before starting new classes. Definitely a bonus for all you accident-prone people out there who walk into walls (as opposed to the classroom door) and trip over chairs and desks (as well as your own two feet).


The most enviable part of taking semestered classes: the fact that you can only have up to four exams at a time. Wait, what’s that? You’re jealous that we full-year students don’t have exams right now? Well, I certainly won’t disagree that having two half-days at the end of January is a wonderful thing. While you semestered students and the seniors at our schools are writing English and Advanced Functions exams, I might be traipsing downtown with my fellow foodie Tammy in search of Sour Cherry Pie and Chocolate Croissants for lunch. Then we might decide that we’re still hungry and eat Burgers. Not wimpy McDonald’s burgers, but big, honking, juicy cheese burgers. All while you semestered folk are writing exams.


But I’d definitely choose to have half as many exams twice. As a student who takes eight courses year-round, I will have seven (SEVEN!?!??!) exams come June, as well as eight different summatives, all due at the same time.


Sometimes, I wish I went to a semestered school.

Sincerely,
Frustrated Full-Year Student

Friday, January 27, 2012

Daring Bakers Challenge: Cheese Biscuits


Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!

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So, I’m not going to lie: I completely forgot about the December 2011 Daring Bakers Challenge. It literally slipped my mind. Usually, I check the Daring Bakers forum at the start of every new month and then plan my weekend baking extravaganzas accordingly. But December was crazy.


My December was a whirlwind of gray mornings, rain, and last minute assignments that had to be completed before school broke for the holidays. In between that huge English essay I had to write about Oryx and Crake, chemistry tests, French tests, history assignments, accounting quizzes, dragonboat practices, and baking/cooking club sessions, blogging and baking were relegated to the back burner.


It’s January now, and although life is busier than ever, I feel as though I’ve learned to prioritize better (minus all those afternoons that I decided to pleasure read instead of doing homework). Thanks to my compulsive list-making habits, I write down everything I need to do in my Moleskine agenda (a Christmas present from my lovely brother Kyle) and plan for the upcoming weeks and months.


But, of course, there’s never enough time. There’s never enough time to bake, there’s never enough time to blog, there’s never enough time to hang out with friends. But I do it anyways. I make time to do these things because they are important me.


Making these Cheese Biscuits? Definitely something important to me. I haven’t made biscuits in ages and this Daring Baker’s challenge was a kick in the right direction. Audax’s recipe is really easy to work with and produces light, airy biscuits in less than half an hour, including cooking and dish-washing time. I have to admit that I prefer a slightly heavier, richer biscuit, but these Cheese Biscuits were lovely eaten with a slice of ham.

Click below for the recipe. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Citrus Poppy Seed Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Inspiration comes from a lot of different places. I might be flipping through a cookbook and suddenly see a recipe that I absolutely have to try. Or maybe I’ll be clicking away at my computer, salivating at all the delicious foods that other bloggers have posted about on their blogs. Sometimes, it happens at the market when I see a product on sale. Inspiration can be found anywhere. 
 

The inspiration to make this Citrus Poppy Seed Cream Cheese Pound Cake stemmed from a new plate—a new loaf plate from Anthropologie to be exact. I’m in love with the clothes, dishes, and other knick knacks from Anthropologie; everything is just so gorgeous. My mom has an affinity for Anthropologie too, so when she went down to the States a couple weeks ago, she brought back some dishes from the store. I fell in love with the loaf plate immediately; I loved the simplicity of a classic white loaf plate etched with a whimsical design. 


Inspiration also spurred from the block of cream cheese that had been sitting in my fridge for longer than I would like to admit. A typical pound cake uses butter, but I love that this recipe also uses cream cheese. The lemony, orange-y flavour of the pound cake is merely enhanced by the tangy cream cheese.

Click below for the recipe.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Homemade Coconut Cashew Butter

Making your own nut butters is so addicting. Watching the golden nuts blend and grind and eventually turn into a smooth paste is so reassuring.On that day when you should be studying for a biology genetics unit test, a chemistry quantities test, an accounting quiz, finishing various applications for jobs and the like (DEEP BREATH IN), make Cashew Coconut Butter.


You might be knee-deep in textbooks and papers (and when I say you, I mean me), but this cashew coconut butter? So. Good. A total stress-reliever, especially when ingested by the generous spoonfuls.


Click below for the recipe.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spiced Cherry Coconut Super Muffins

Spoiler: There's a reason why these Spiced Cherry Coconut Super Muffins are called super: they taste delicious and are completely butter-less, sugar-less, egg-less, oil-less, and flour-less.

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Baked goods are like outfits: if you have enough base material to work with, pulling a decent outfit out of the closet after rolling out of bed or whipping up a batch of brownies on a whim is almost no effort at all; everything you need is right there. When I was twelve and it became evident that baking was not just a pastime anymore, my mom cleared a whole cupboard in the kitchen for all my baking supplies. No longer did I have to grab a cup of sugar from here and a dash of salt from there; all my flours, sugars, spices, powders, dried fruits, chocolate and the like were located together in one cupboard. 



Several weeks ago, I realized just how cluttered my baking cupboard was. I had decided to make a Lemon Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake for my best friend Jennifer’s birthday lunch at a Teppanyaki restaurant. As I stuck my arm deeper and deeper into the depths of my baking cupboard, vainly trying to feel my way to the graham cracker crumbs (which I knew, I knew, were somewhere in there), I pulled out bags and bags of other supplies. That cornmeal my mom bought ages ago for those Honey Cornmeal Muffins, the oat bran I forgot to add to the 100%Whole Wheat Rolls, the dried tomatoes leftover from the Thyme Sundried Tomato Pumpkin Seed Pesto—only the beginning of a very long list of items gathering dust (figuratively, anyways) in my cupboard.

I immediately took an inventory of all the goods in my cupboard which weren’t basic baking materials. Dried fruit, grains, oatmeal, seeds, nuts—I couldn’t believe how much stuff I’d been harboring unknowingly. As I stared at the list, I decided to bake muffins to use up all the ingredients. Healthy muffins, I decided definitively, after noticing that basically everything on the list was wholesome and good-for-you.


And so began the journey to develop a Spiced Cherry Coconut Super Muffins, a muffin so healthy that even I would eat it for breakfast. Ignoring my homework, I sat down and wrote down a simple muffin recipe. Instead of using butter, eggs, sugar, or oil, I used cashew coconut butter, apple butter, applesauce, mashed bananas, and yogurt. In place of empty caloric white flour, I substituted cornmeal, oatmeal, oat bran, and flax seed.

The next day, I made a small batch of test muffins using the recipe I’d written. The muffins were unbelievably delicious and even more so the next day, after all the flavors had a chance to mellow out and marry. I was surprised that the muffins had turned out so moist and flavorful the first time I made them. I had planned on trying different combinations of ingredients, but the success of the first batch convinced me otherwise. After all, why ruin a good thing? 

* Jes from Pencil Kitchen nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award, which recognizes new-ish blogs with less than 200 followers. Jes's blog is amazing; if you need convincing, check out this really epic pink ombre layer cake she made for her friend's birthday. Thank you for the nomination; it really made my day. 

After accepting,
  • thank the Liebster Blog Award Presenter on your blog (and link back),
  • copy and paste the award on your blog,
  • spread the love and nominate 5 other blogs,
  • and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

Sabine, of Simply Baking. I look at her blog and then marvel at the fact that she's fifteen. I mean, I didn't even start until I was sixteen. Foodies are just getting younger and younger these days, huh?

Dulcie and Sarah, of Two Tarts. I can't wait til I'm nineteen so I can (legally) make and drink all this and this.

Kale, of Tastes Good To Me. The layout of her blog is so amazing.  

Marialuisa, of Decocinasytacones. Try her easy chocolate cake. It's. So. Good.

Stephanie, of greenthyme. All her recipes are so wholesome and showcase in season vegetables.



Click below for the recipe.

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