Saturday, July 28, 2012


A couple months ago, I stopped actively blogging. I was still baking and cooking and eating and taking pictures and writing about it, but I detached myself from the blogging community. I stopped checking my comments and browsing through other blogs. At first, I told myself that it was only for a couple weeks or a month or so while I worked on my summatives. (Because as a high school junior who goes to a full-year school, this means I have eight different worth-oh-only-thirty-percent-of-your-grade-no-big-deal assignments going on at the same time.) But then summatives turned into exams and then literally the day after I wrote my last exam—biology—I left for a three-week summer program in the US.

one of the rooms in one of the libraries on campus.

I studied psychology at the university. Whenever I was not:
  • sitting in class (either sweating profusely or chilled to the bone because our professor couldn’t decide on which room—the one with no AC or the one with—had better AV);
  • watching fireworks on a random Monday night (or rather, trying to catch glimpses of fireworks through silhouetted tree forms—who puts on a firework show BEHIND trees...?)
  • writing an awesome paper about resisting social influence (while allowing myself to be peer pressured into going to the highlighter dance instead of finishing up writing my paper)
  • climbing a tree in the arts quad (which is kind of a big deal because I have an irrational fear of heights)
  • learning how to (kind of) do the polonaise
  • eating waffles drenched in maple syrup and melted butter at literally every meal (because the waffles are the best-tasting thing at the cafeteria );
  • cleaning out my new semi infected ear piercings (for which I had to purchase a $75 tube of ointment—a tube I could have received for free back home in Canada)
amongst other things, I studied. I updated my blog with new posts every now and then, but otherwise, I left it alone. I just felt as if I didn’t have the time.

my friend's dorm room.

But time is a tricky thing. It’s not about having time. It’s about being able to prioritize and do the important things first. For the past three months, school and grades were the center of my life. But now that I’m finally done with structured commitments, I’m not really sure what to do first. I’ve literally been living with a daily to-do list, a list that carries over the previous day’s unchecked items, since I came back from the US. I just can’t seem to organize my thoughts otherwise. I still need to study for my pivotal upcoming senior year, but now that I don’t have school to anchor my day to, I’m trying to rebalance my life. 

The first thing that entailed rebalancing my life: actively blogging again. Honestly, blogging just wasn’t as fun when I was doing it by myself.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Flourless Chocolate Orange Liqueur Cake

Sane people, they have limits; they know where the line is; they know when to stop. They know that after a quadruple batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies (half of which was frozen and half of which was baked), a Blueberry Pie, and four dozen or so Spritz Cookies all in the span of two days, it’s time to get out of the kitchen. Insane people, on the other hand, see gorgeous pictures of chocolate cake Marialuisa’s blog and then decide that they have to make it.

Obviously, I am insane. Hi, my name is Kyleen, I am seventeen years old, and I am a bake-aholic. I know it’s unhealthy; I know that my jeans won’t forgive me; I know that I won’t be a size two much longer if I keep going through life like this. Yet, I can’t help it, I really can’t. 

Not one hour after my older brother and my dad had polished off the blueberry pie (for dinner, no less), I was in the kitchen again. As I pulled ingredients out of my baking cupboard, my older brother strolled into the kitchen.

“What are you making now?” he asked in a deadpan voice.

I replied that I was making a Flourless Chocolate Orange Liqueur Cake and claimed that it was for Mom’s birthday (which, coincidentally, was a couple months ago...).

“You know, you should really stop baking since Mom and Dad are paying for all of it. I mean, haven’t you baked enough this weekend?” he said, glancing at the box of spritz cookies that sat on the counter.

I gave him a sheepish smile. “This is the last thing, I promise.”

Upstairs, the vacuum whirred. An unusual sound at our house, where my brothers seldom do chores, but I didn’t question it because the drone drowned out the sound of my electric mixer (or at least I hoped it did) As I furtively whipped eggs for the Flourless Chocolate Orange Liqueur Cake, I stole a glance over my shoulder towards the entrance to the kitchen, hoping that I could get the cake into the oven before anyone tried to stop me. Just yesterday, Dad had mentioned that the electricity bill was sky-high, even though I only ever baked during off-peak hours. If he walked in the kitchen, the show would be over.

Over a violently boiling pan of water, I melted my chocolate and butter. I shoved the bowl of melted chocolate and butter into the fridge to cool and went back to whipping the eggs. As soon as the eggs became thick and pale and ribbon-y, I pulled the chocolate out of the fridge, which was still warm enough to burn my hand (perhaps I have thin skin). Nonetheless, I poured the chocolate into the whipped eggs and prayed that the eggs wouldn’t deflate on contact and that the chocolate wouldn’t solidify into granules of lumpy hardness. Working quickly, I folded the mixture together, poured the batter into a 10-inch springform pan, and shoved it into the oven. I let out a sigh of relief and glanced towards the entrance of the kitchen. Mission completed: the cake was in the oven. They couldn't stop me now.

Then, ten minutes later, I realized that the delicious aroma of the baking cake would be impossible to conceal.

Click below for the recipe.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Brown Sugar Snickerdoodle Apple Butter Thumbprint Cookies

I think that having a best friend is quite possibly one of the most beautiful things in the world. But between going to different high schools and jobs (in Jenny’s case, anyways) and summer plans in different countries on different continents, my best friend Jenny and I don’t get to hang out quite as often as we’d like.

So we talk on the phone quite a lot. To be completely honest, I don’t use my phone all that much. I just can’t be bothered to call or text someone when what I really want is to see them in person. That might seem apathetic, but I guess I’m genuine (or lazy) like that. Jenny’s usually the one who calls.

One night, after I’d whipped up a batch of Brown Sugar Apple Butter Snickerdoodle Thumbprint Cookies, Jenny called. During a lull in the conversation, I squealed. “Ooh,” I said half-excitedly. “Remember when you told me you made those Snickerdoodle Cookies like two years ago? And you said they were kind of hard...?” I said, my enthusiasm for the cinnamon cookies quickly waning after uttering that last sentence—it’s quite obvious that I don’t edit my thoughts and emotions together before I blurt something out. Best friends tend to have that kind of effect. “Well I made them again today... and they tasted pretty good, but they were kind of hard.”

“I know,” Jenny replied understandingly. “Mine were okay when they came out of the oven, but then they got really hard when they cooled down.”

“Yeah, never mind,” I said. “They’re pretty hard. That’s just about all I have to say about them.”

“It’s okay,” Jenny responded knowingly.

Because we all need a friend who understands what life is like when the only thing wrong with those uber delicious cookies is that they’re just a tad bit too hard.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

update: eighteen

That feeling of utter satisfaction that comes with crossing something off a to-do list is awesome. You feel your burden lighten and suddenly you can breathe a little easier knowing that at least you’re partway to the finish line in a marathon of never-ending tasks. Compulsive list-makers unite!

A couple weeks ago, I crossed two more items off my eighteen before eighteen list. Between exams, Jenny and I finally had time to have a proper sleepover. We caught up with each other, stayed up late, and watched the requisite chick flick.

And because she is the most awesome best friend ever, Jenny dressed up with me for no reason to fulfill another item on my list. Decked out in heels and sundresses (which honestly weren’t all that dressy and should not have solicited honks from passing cars), we walked from her house to Starbucks to buy iced teas.

As a belated birthday present, Jenny made me macarons. And because she knows that I like brown paper packages tied up with string (...these are a few of my favourite things...), she wrapped it in brown paper and tied it with string. Kind of late, yes, but one of the best presents I’ve ever received. It’s also a reminder that making homemade macarons is on my baking bucket list. 


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Challah Things...

Raspberry Lime Cream Pie

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
—Thich Nhat Hanh  

After I finished writing my last exam, I couldn’t stop smiling. I smiled as I highfived my classmates, congratulating them on finishing the year. I smiled as my friend Tammy and I accompanied our other six-foot-six friend Daniel on his quest to acquire a pair of Birkenstocks in his size. I smiled as we sat in my favourite crepe place, waiting impatiently for our food to arrive. I smiled for the mere sake of smiling.

I only briefly stopped smiling when I saw the tattoo artist pull out a needle from a sterilized plastic bag and proceeded to pierce my ear lobes and cartilage. But I smiled afterwards, showing off my new piercing to a group of my friends as an explanation as to why I couldn’t go swimming with them at David’s.

And then I frowned when one friend thought it would be appropriate to cannonball (i.e. jump into the pool in such a manner that water is splashed everywhere) while I was taking a picture of the group with an $800 camera. Maybe he thought it was funny, but I honestly thought I was going to either drop my camera or trip while backing away from the water and then drop the camera (or concuss my head).

I smiled again when I saw a slice of this Raspberry Lime Cream Pie waiting for me in the refrigerator. I smiled as the perfectly balanced tart and sweet cream melted on my tongue. I smiled as I bit into a fresh, juicy raspberry, the flavours of summer and sunshine exploding in my mouth.

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