Everyone keeps their own guilty pleasure comfort food in their kitchen for times of need. My mom keeps licorice, just in reach, just in case. One friend never leaves the grocery without restocking her supply of roasted nuts. Another always has at least five kinds of cookies in her cupboard for emergency situations. A guy I knew in University had two packages of processed cheese in the fridge and white bread in the cupboard for grilled cheese, day or night. Everyone has needs.
Once upon a time, seemingly in a completely different life, I was an early riser. I was one of those much dreaded “morning people” actually. I would be up before the alarm had a chance to wake me, out of the house at some strange, ungodly hour and rather enjoyed being the first to arrive at work. Weekend mornings I never slept in or (God forbid!) took naps in the afternoon. I can remember myself on Sunday mornings long-ago, up drinking coffee at around 6am, planning the comings and goings of the day that lay ahead. Continue reading “Catnaps and Coffees”
My name is Jennifer and I am addicted to coffee…
For me coffee has always represented a rare species of mysterious devotion. When I was young I was not allowed to drink this bitter, warm beverage that the adults in my life sipped after dinner or with breakfast as though it were the nectar of the Gods. I recall at quite a young age, my grandfather making me toast sticks (toast with peanut butter, cut into narrow sticks that somehow tasted so much better than regular-shaped toast with peanut butter) at the breakfast table in his kitchen; him sipping coffee and me sitting right up close to him, sniffing his coffee and wanting, more than anything, to be granted just one taste. Continue reading “My Coffee Addiction (and a contest!)”
I truly enjoy cooking. Simply being in my kitchen makes me smile. I don’t need fancy chef’s knives or stainless steel appliances to make me happy. What I have in my kitchen these days is good enough. As long as the stove and oven are in respectable working condition, I have some small amount of counter space and good ingredients; I’m one happy camper.
Leith and I spend most of our Sundays in our cozy apartment, him on the floor in the living room with his Hot Wheels and remote control R2D2, along with a few cooking pots and Tupperware. I’m in the kitchen, with my head in the oven, or my hands in a bowl.
It started to snow on the same day we decided to decorate our gingerbread house. As I sat at the dining room table with Leith, listening to Christmas music, watching him lopsidedly pipe icing and randomly stick candies and chocolates onto the house, minute flakes of snow began their meandering, lackadaisical summersaults from the sky. I’m not sure what caught my eye first: the huge maple trees’ limbs dancing in the park across the street or the flecks of white that went whirling around those limbs. Which ever it might have been, it all made me smile.
Mothers are notorious for making their children look dumb. They are truly exceptional at it, mostly because moms are smart and children are morons. It is when these children are dumb and stubborn that you get into trouble. I happened to be one of those (dumb and stubborn) children. Seriously, are you even remotely surprised?
When I was in grade school my mom taught me to make Nanaimo bars. They were my first dedicated foray into the world of baking; they were a recipe I could pull off a batch of without too much fuss and they always tasted delicious. I would tint the middle layer of icing pink for Valentine’s Day, green for St. Patrick’s Day and purple for Easter. Sometimes I even added sprinkles or flavours. They were just so amazingly delicious and completely versatile. I would take batches of them to school dances, fundraisers, birthdays, picnics and end-of-school parties. I managed to do this through almost to the end of high school without any problems arising… without feeling like a right idiot, at least. Everyone loved them.
I doubt that there is anyone out there who hasn’t heard about my over-active olfactory sense. Smells are such strong representatives of my most powerful memories that sometimes I find myself weeping over a whiff of a chilly autumn breeze or smiling maniacally after smelling my son’s sleep-warmed hair.
In fact, I just packed away a bunch of his way-too-small-for-him clothes and smelled each and every piece before folding it and packing it away in a box in his closet. I found myself in a puddle on the floor of his room with a yellow onesie pressed to my face, wishing he was still little enough to fit into it. Whoever said “they grow up so fast” was absolutely right, and I hate them for it.
Chocolate has long been touted as a “cure-all” for any form of despair in my family. Need to experience feelings of love and adoration but don’t have a warm body to cuddle? Eat some chocolate. Have a bit of a headache that just won’t go away? Chocolate will, in most cases, cure it. Lying in a sick bed and need something to warm you up and make your day that much better? Grab some hot chocolate…or have someone bring you some (even better!). Need something to comfort you when you’re just feeling out-of-sorts? Grab something nice and soft and smooth like…you guessed it: CHOCOLATE. It’s the best thing to pick you up when you’re feeling…meh.
Deep breaths. Count to ten, Jennifer.
My most vivid memory of maple syrup is from when I was in grade school. Growing up in a household that proudly boasted a bedraggled original printing of the Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook allowed me to, at a very early age, discern the versatility of maple syrup – and the pleasure of it as well. Growing up in the same house as my mother only served to profoundly reinforce this particular philosophy.
Recently I showed up at a friend’s house for dinner, and by the look on her husband’s face when he opened the door, I knew something was very wrong. Actually, allow me to rephrase that. Something was very wrong with me. He stammered a quick hello, smiled (laughed, if we’re being honest here) and let me in. I handed him the box I was carrying and rather self-consciously removed my hat, coat and scarf, peeking out from under my bangs at his still slightly dubious smirk. In my head I took imaginary stock of what he could be gawking at so malevolently.
Did I have paint in my hair? Something huge and disgusting stuck in my teeth? Only half of my makeup done? All were distinct possibilities.
Finally I squared my shoulders, took a deep breath and asked him what the heck was the matter. He smiled (laughed…see above) and turned to his wife who was coming down the hall at that moment. She smiled at me, warmly, and turned me towards the hall mirror. I went white. Seriously – I had turned white in the few scant hours since I’d last looked in the mirror. Somehow the icing sugar from the pastries I had made that afternoon had ended up all over me. And I uh, forgot to look in the mirror before rushing out the door, the guilty-party-pastries boxed up for dessert.
Of course I laughed it off and managed to clean myself up in their hall bathroom before joining the rest of the dinner party. It (I) became a running joke that evening – everyone coming up with their own names for the light and airy pastries that had caused all the ruckus.