Friday, September 28, 2012

Chocolate Cake, Croissants, Walnut Bread


Life doesn’t always go according to plan. There are always those little misunderstandings, those little accidents, those little sip-ups that can’t be avoided. Despite this fact, I would like to believe that most things happen for a reason.


Two weeks ago, I took my G2 road test. I had planned the weekend out given that I was to pass my road test on Saturday. On Sunday, I would drive to my favourite bakery to pick up a Chocolate Coffee Cake, some croissants, and bread. I would drop the Chocolate and Almond Croissants and the Walnut Loaf off at home for my mom’s birthday, deliver the cake to my best friend Jenny as a belated birthday present, and subsequently give her a ride to work.


That was the plan, anyways.


I had fully, wholeheartedly expected to pass, so it’s not hard to imagine how humiliated I felt when the road test administrator asked me to pull over and cut my test short. “Practice more and then take the test again,” he advised. My faced burned with embarrassment.


I am not a bad driver. Compared to some of my friends who have their G2 licenses and have given me rides, I’d say that I can drive with the same amount of skill. I can accelerate, brake, change lanes, and park like the rest of them.


The only thing that differed is that I never took driving lessons from an instructor; I learned how to drive from my mom. In retrospect, her instruction was geared towards driving safely in real life and lacked the specific focus of passing a defunct driving test.


I didn’t pull up the handbreak every time I parked. I assumed that I wasn’t supposed to change lanes unless the administrator told me so because he said that I should only follow his instructions. I assumed that it was okay to turn right on a red light given that I fully stopped first. So I failed.  


On Sunday morning, I woke up (relatively) early and set out to pick up the pastries from my favourite bakery. Without a license, I was subjected to the old-fashioned way of traveling: taking the bus. Failing the road test still stung, but the Chocolate Croissant and the Walnut Loaf definitely ameliorated my lack of a license. 




Two days ago, I took the test againr, after three lessons with a driving instructor. It turned out that the road test administrator I had had, Number 305, was notorious for failing people. I went to a different test center with apparently nicer drive test administrators and passed without a problem.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


I’ve heard that senior year of high school is supposed to be one of the best and worst years of our lives. On one hand, we’re now the oldest students at school and can walk the halls with an air of superiority possess three years of social wisdom. On the other hand, senior year is a tumultuous time during which we make the decisions that will affect us for the rest of our lives.


Senior year is that time in our lives when grades are (supposed to be) more important than catching up on the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory, when participating in extracurriculars trumps hanging out with friends, when blogging takes a backseat to all those SAT prep books that are staring me down. Senior year is crunch time. It’s time to make all those years of good study habits and hard work worth it.


Senior year will be the reason that I will have to curtail time spent blogging. I wish that sleeping didn’t take eight hours each day, or that I could do with less, but alas, I am only human and sleep is the one thing that I do the most.


In the meantime, please enjoy these Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, which I made for one of my mom’s old friends who we hadn’t seen in a while. My friend T- helped me make these and it was quite difficult for us to resist devouring the whole bunch, but fortunately, we restrained ourselves after consuming three cupcakes. 



Click below for the recipe. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mozzarella, Tomato, and Onion Tart



In our household, days spent together as a family are few and far between. Ideally, summer would be the time for family excursions, but this past summer, I was away from home for the better part of five weeks. My older brother worked nine to five, my cousin went to summer school, and my parents went on a two week vacation sans kids. We were all busy.  


On one of the rare occasions that my brothers, parents, cousin, and I were available for the same evening, we went to my aunt and uncle’s house for an extended family dinner. The morning started out with a Mozzarella, Tomato, and Onion Tart for breakfast. I figured that spending the day together as a family was a weak but plausible excuse to make a tart just for the sake of making a tart reason to celebrate.



One by one, family members shuffled into the kitchen. My dad came by and grabbed a slice of the tart. My mom nibbled on a corner. Then my older brother barrelled into the kitchen and claimed the largest remaining slice. My cousin came upstairs and took the second last slice. Then, finally, my younger brother woke up and came downstairs to polish off the rest of the tart.


There’s nothing like a Mozzarella, Tomato, and Onion Tart to bring a family together (or at least into the same room albeit at varying times).


 
Click below for the recipe.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Guest Post: Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies


Hello, everyone! I'm Elizabeth from Four and Twenty Blackberries. Kyleen and I are posting on each other's blogs today, so be sure to check out her Bailey's Chocolate Cheesecake on my blog.

*          *          *

I decided to make these Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies one Sunday to bake one last time before the school week started. I do not normally bake or cook Monday-Thursday, so I try to make as many recipes as I can on the weekends.


Although I don't have nutella very often, I loved these cookies and they were a great way to end the weekend and start yet another week.

Click below for the recipe. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Canada's Baking and Sweets Show


The day after I got my driver’s license, my best friend Jenny and I went to Canada’s Baking and Sweets Show. For the first time in my seventeen years, I could finally debate upon whether to take the car or to take the bus. 


As much as I wanted to drive, I figured that parking would be a hassle and that taking the GO Bus would be quicker, so I chose the latter.

What lies.


There is a reason Toronto is clogged with cars and that reason would be that the bus system. It took almost three hours to get to the show center. 


(Granted, I got off two stops late and had to walk half an hour backwards, but that’s still two and half hours of my life that I subwaying to the GO Bus terminal, waiting for the bus, and then actually riding it.) If I had taken the highway, I could have gotten to the International Center in forty minutes, give or take.


By the time I finally found Jenny at the show, I was hungry, thirsty, and exhausted. We walked around for an hour, bought some kitchen tools, and left. I had bought a roundtrip ticket and therefore wanted to take the bus, but Jenny wanted to take the train, which she claimed was much faster. So she bought a train ticket and we settled down in the train shelter to wait for the train.


Forty minutes later the train still hadn’t come, so we went down to the bus station. It turns out that the train we wanted to take only ran during rush hour and that we had been waiting for a train that would never come. I smiled drily, thinking that a deserted train station was exactly where two young girls should be at night.


Despite the fact that I’d spent more time waiting for the bus than actually at the show, it was a splendid night. Just taking in all the gorgeous cakes, cupcakes, and decorations was enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. (I was a little bit sick and thought it wise not to consume any sweets.) But next year, I’m taking the car. 


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Raspberries


I love early mornings. I love staring down the day and knowing that I have ten more hours of daylight to be productive. I love the potential. On the flipside, I hate waking up for those early mornings. Waking up is incredibly difficult, infinitely so when I haven’t had enough sleep. Such was the case on that one Sunday morning I finally decided to go see the sunrise.


At 5:45AM, I quietly opened my bedroom door and padded down the stairs and out the sliding door in the kitchen. As I made my way over to the park, I couldn’t help but notice how serene the streets were. The sunrise was gorgeous, pale pinks and blustery blues all swirled together in a vivid mosaic in the sky. As exhausted as I was, I felt calm and happy.  


That evening, I received a call from my friend Daniel. He was leaving for boarding school in the US and he wanted to hang out once more before he left. The next day, Daniel came over and we proceeded to make two miniature Flourless Chocolate Cakes with Chocolate Ganache and Raspberries, one to eat and one for him to take home to his parents.


The last time I made this cake was for my piano teacher. He, of course, got the whole cake while I was stuck with the crumbs. Needless to say, I was incredibly excited to try the cake. The first bite was pure euphoria. Immediately, the sensations I had while overlooking the sunrise came rushing back. I felt tranquil, like I was chocolate-induced coma.


Really, food that tastes this good should come with a warning. Good luck at boarding school, D. I know you're going to make the most of it. 

Click below for the recipe.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Banana Streusel Cupcakes


Learning is fatiguing. Just as hard manual labour puts a strain on the body, active learning tires the brain. The school year had definitely worn me out, but after a few weeks of rest, I had felt ready to begin my studies again.


Lately, I’ve been exercising my mental capabilities to the point of exhaustion. After a month of fumbling with different activities, I’ve fallen into a routine (a routine which is about to be disrupted with the beginning of the new school year tomorrow). After a mild tennis workout in the morning, I return home, take a shower, and eat lunch. Then begins a day of reading. If I’m not reading a psychology book, then I am studying biology or ploughing through Tolstoy’s War and Peace. If I’m not completing my summer reading for English class, then I am studiously working my way through an SAT Literature prep book.

It’s a hard life, but someone’s got to live it.


On one occasion, I had been reading and studying for nearly four hours. I felt restless and my mind was groggy. I was reading the words on the pages in front of me, yet, I couldn’t consciously absorb any of the material. As my eyes scanned the page, I became rather alert at the last paragraph of one of the examples:
“...I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout...”


Wait, WHAT? There was no way that the ever so politically correct College Board would endorse cannibalism; there had to be an explanation. I quickly circled my answers to the multiple-choice questions and read the explanation.

It turns out that the excerpt was from A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (1729) which was written during a time of famine in Ireland. Swift was satirically criticizing society “with the aim toward reform”.


Well, then. That makes a whole lot more sense. Obviously, I needed to take a break and let my mind rest. That’s where these Banana Streusel Cupcakes come in. They’re dense and rich, with a subtle banana-y taste that kind of creeps up on your taste buds. The streusel topping has pretty much become a cult favourite at our house, so sprinkling it atop these banana cupcakes was a no-brainer. If you’re as into streusel as I am, feel free to double the topping recipe. 

Click below for the recipe. 

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