Solace in Sustenance

Posted on Jan 21, 2009

I woke up this morning on the wrong side of the bed. I stomped to the shower, scrubbed my scalp raw while grumbling about how decent people don’t get up before the sunrise everyday and glowered at my red, dampened reflection in the mirror. Tempted to drape myself in black, I donned a pink cashmere turtleneck at the last second in an attempt to cheer myself up.
It didn’t take.

I got to work, slammed a few drawers, stomped around haphazardly for a while and tossed some papers on my desk. I wandered into my co-worker’s office and snarled "I’m in an awful mood today". And turned to go. I hadn’t been looking for justification or for encouragement or even a bright response. I had just needed to tell someone that today was not going to be my day.

Apparently this week is one of the most depressing of the entire year (how is it that we are already depressed when the year has hardly begun??). Something about how winter is still looming infinitely in front of us, we’ve already failed our New Year’s resolutions and Christmas debts are piling up.

I think for me it has more to do with the fact that I get up long before the sun has breached the horizon and don’t tend to get home from work until it has sunk beyond the horizon. I forget what it feels like to feel the sun on my cheeks and how it feels to need to wear the sunglasses that have hibernated at the bottom of my bag.

So I try to cook "sunlight" into my foods. I cook with fruits and vegetables that remind me of the warmer days of spring, summer and even the early fall. Apples, peaches, pears, berries all play featured roles in my desserts while squash, vine-ripened and sun-dried tomatoes and roasted corn headline in my main courses. I think eating fresh fruits and vegetables helps me keep my head from clouding over when the forecast calls for frigid temperatures and little or no sun.

After eating one piece of this apple coffee cake I felt much better. It cheered me up, filled up my stomach and set my brain on the right track for the rest of the day.

Read More

Summer Sentimentality

Posted on Jul 13, 2008

I am having a torrid love affair and I’m all hot and bothered by it.

Let me at least try to explain… The affair began on Canada Day, July 1st. And no, it had nothing to do with "Mmm… Canada", I promise. Since that afternoon it has carried on, much to my dear husband’s vexation. You see, he knows…and he is tormented by it.

I can’t help it and I will keep on with it until the flame dies out. You’d be sure to notice its effects if you took one look at me, walking down the street, smiling like a crazy person while the sun blinds me, my clothes stick to my skin and the heat addles my brain. I’m in love and I quite simply cannot get enough.

Both S. and Leith are plagued with sleeplessness while I on the other hand, sleep like a baby – could it be the effects of my wandering heart? Neither of them can comprehend why this love makes me so happy, and strangely neither is insistent that I give it up. They just wish I wouldn’t gush about it quite so often.

This forbidden love of which I speak? The hot, humid weather of the summer. I have a renewed love of warm weather, of summer and of being outside. I think I spent too many months indoors last year and my body is just now getting used to the idea that I do not have to confine myself to a hospital room for the next three months. Recently S., Leith and I were at the beach, watching the ducks, wading in the water and simply enjoying the summer weather. That was when I fell in love. I actually stopped, hugged and kissed S. and told him how happy I am, just to be outside. I know, I’m crazy, but you don’t know what you have until you lose it, and sometimes you don’t know what you’ve lost until you get it back again.

Read More

My Favourite Mistake

Posted on May 26, 2008

I have been posting a lot less frequently than I would like to lately. So many things have been keeping me away from my wee MacBook laptop in the past few weeks. Nothing exciting unfortunately, it’s just that I haven’t had the opportunities I would like to have to sit and write, or stand and cook and then sit and write, as it were.

With the weather warming up (finally!) I have been craving fresh, light citrus desserts. I thought for a nice treat I would make some gorgeous teeny tiny lemon tarts with meringue tops. Yes. Those would be perfect for a warm spring evening.

Only they weren’t. To start, they weren’t very lemony. The crust, while delicious, unfortunately did not work well with the not-so-lemony filling. And don’t get me started on the meringue — it looked haphazard at best and down right horrible at its worst. They did smell good however and I appreciated their (the tarts’ that is) effort, even if they did look as though they had been drawn by an extremely un-artistic 3 year-old (no offense to 3 year-olds or their talent!). And, strangest of strange, there was a huge amount of filling left over from the original recipe. I used maybe 1/10 of it making the tarts, and I figured I’d put the remainder in the fridge thinking I might make more tarts the next day.

The next day, after I’d finished making the horrible, deformed-looking tarts I was not sure what to do with the left over filling. Then I thought about a cheesecake recipe I had made once that was quite similar and decided that I would mix the left over filling with some mascarpone and cream cheese and make a cheesecake with it. Hmmm. So that is how I came up with this lemon cloud cheesecake recipe. It still might need a bit of tweaking, but it was good. Good the day I made it after coming out of the oven and cooling for about an hour or so, but much better the next day after being in the fridge over night.

I love it when mistakes in the kitchen turn out so deliciously!

For more citri-fied desserts, be sure to check out Helen’s blog for this month’s SHF round-up on Friday!

Read More

Tarting it Up

Posted on May 15, 2008

My fingertips are red from all the strawberries I have been eating lately. Once spring begins to bring the fresh, warm breezes to tickle my cheek and the sun begins to stream through the windows early in the morning I begin to reach for berries…especially of the “straw” variety.

I can eat them freshly washed with the stems still intact. I love them dipped in white or dark chocolate. Filled with sweetened cream cheese, with ice cream or angel food cake. I love them in breads, in pancakes and in milkshakes. They’re delicious in pie, cobbler and coffee cake. You name it, strawberries make it better.

When at an Italian restaurant one evening a few summers ago I ordered a light dessert after an amazing, but a little heavy meal. The waiter had suggested a bowl of fresh strawberries with a little brown sanding sugar and some perfectly aged balsamic vinegar. I had never had this combination before and I was a bit surprised at the flavours. Once you get past the initial thought of vinegar on berries it is all good. The flavours play off of each other so magically it’s almost hard to believe you would ever eat the two separately again.

When I had three pints of strawberries languishing in my fridge recently I kept thinking back on that wonderful dessert. I also remembered a bottle of white balsamic vinegar that was begging to be used in a delicious, interesting recipe. Pairing white balsamic with a beautiful, unctuous custard was the best thing I’ve done in some time.

Next time I’m making balsamic ice cream and serving it with strawberries…that says delicious to me!

Read More