A good day

My Mom and I ran 14km, and afterwards we agreed that, should we have to, we could probably do it again after a glass of wine, a batch of cookies, and another week. We are wary about the looming 16km that threatens us from the future–the future being next Sunday–but whatever. Sweating that much is satisfying. Once you're past the initial annoying sw-ack (sweaty back) and you're moist all over, it's sort of like a steam room. And hobbling around the house with my Mom post-run and all of Monday, whining about our respectably sore ham-strings calves and asses...just let me tell you, it's fabulous. Dad has to be sympathetic, cause he hasn't run yet. And it also means I can make a really fun sandwich for lunch, and eat 4 cookies.

Open-Faced Corn and Red Pepper Baguette
1 demi baguette, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 the kernels cut from a cooked cob of corn*
1 roasted red pepper, sliced in half lengthwise
A chunk of hummus hummus
A generous scoop of grain dijon
Some slices of brie cheese
*When you're cutting the corn from the cob, try to keep the "sheets" of corn intact. It makes it easier to lay out on the sandwich.
Preheat the broiler and toast the baguette slices gently. Maintain broiler temperature, remove baguette slices. Spread both sides with hummus and dijon. Lay the corn "sheets" out, top with red pepper and brie. Broooooooooil til melty and delicious.
Eat slowly, in bed, dropping kernels here and there.

And then later, I went outside to check my tomatoes, which are growing wild-style. More like wild-animal style, actually. It's practically a ravine. A ravine carrying luscious jewels of antioxidants and skin-clearing magic. And then I took a picture of those on my bed too, because I like wrinkled sheets.


Things I've been eating a lot of this summer,

as I've certainly been filling up my writing time with eating–the proof is in this lack of a blog.

Raw beets: grated onto salads, as learned from my friend Andrea. Especially salads that also include pumpkin seeds. Before last November I'd never eaten a beet, which was tragic. Pathetic, really. I was reading a recipe for a bloody mary the other day, and it suggested that I cook up a bunch of carrots, fennel, tomatoes, and a BEET with a bay leaf and then puree it with all those other fixings- worcestershire, hot sauce– some Guinness, even– and let it cool off. I don't know how I feel about such a thick alcoholic drink. It's a drunken veggie smoothie. Huh.

Potatoes: I found these beautiful potatoes that were blue all the way through. Par-boiled, wrapped in a sort of foil pouch with olive oil, some salt and pepper, and crushed garlic, then barbequed for ten minutes or so to finish them off. Those are the dressing staples, but oh– some red pepper flakes, or lots of lemon juice and oregeno, or capers and parsley tossed up with them afterward. Or PESTO tossed with them afterward. Homina homina homina homina homina. With some sour cream scrambled eggs in the morning.

Homemade granola: I find that an entire bowl of it is a little overpoweringly patchouli. But a big handful of it to top off my Shreddies in the morning, plus some of these huuuge blueberries my Mom has been picking by the fifteen-pound bucket-full...mercy. I know that cereal doesn't sound like an overly inspiring breakfast, but please beliiiiieve me when I say that this is the perfect nibbly for a Tuesday morning.

Really Granola Granola
The basic recipe is the oats, the butter, and the honey: the added ingredients switches every time I make a new batch, but this is the combination I've liked the best so far.

4 cups of large flake oats
1/4 cup honey, warmed up for easy pouring
4 tbsp or so of melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup of chopped almonds, toasted
1/3 cup of chopped walnuts
1/3 cup of raisins
1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/3 cup of dried dated, chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
This is all fairly estimated. Mix the 4 cups of oats with the honey, butter, and cinnamon until the oats are moistened and clumping but not wet. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 350ºF, rotating the sheet once halfway through cooking and pushing stuff around with a spatula once or twice.
Toast the nuts and seeds all on the same sheet at 350ºF until fragrant. You can toast them at the same time as you're baking the oats, but not as long. Maybe ten minutes.
Let all your various pans cool off a little before you mix it all together. Throw your dried fruit in, toss it around. Mhm mhm mhmmm.


Camp camp camp

is taking over my life. The most inspiring thing I've had as of late is a combination Maltesers and Coke zero, which my friend Coca put me on. It gives a nice buzz for about two hours, but is unfortunately habit forming.

Coke and Maltesers
1 bag of Maltesers or Whoppers
1 can of Coke Zero, or Coke if you prefer

Alternating sips and bites, finish both very quickly. Ignore tummy ache and appreciate flood of adrenaline that carries you from lunch time to 4 o'clock pick up time.


Shelf life potential rarely reached

I should be sitting at my computer writing on here all day, but what happens is I get hungry and things go downhill from there. Tonight I spoiled my dinner with about 8 handfuls of
Kirkland trail mix: a jumble of M&M's, raisins, and salted peanuts. You start out with a fairly well-balanced mix, but by the latter half of your handfuls, you've sifted out the raisins and peanuts and are eating straight M&M's. Girlfriend, I thought to myself, You Need This Energy. You Do. Keep Eating That Chocolate. Uh, Trail Mix. The Trail Mix.
In spite of being fairly stuffed from my energy cocktail (M&M's), I still ate dinner. And now I'm making brownies. My dad wanted some, and I am a good daughter. And I love ice cream on warm brownies, and with strawberries, and also scooped straight from the carton. For years we've made brownies from a packaged brown powder bought in bulk from Costco. But then I decided I was much too fancy for that, and set about trying to make brownies on my own. Multiple failures were had. Apparently you must be a chemist to make brownies properly. Usually, I ended up with hot, chalky, slightly browned flour. I went back to that boxed mix four times in tears, and it always took me back. What a toxic relationship we had.
But fluffy, lame, from-the-box-brownie no more. Mark Bittman, my main man, has giveth me a fudgey, cakey (but NEVER puffy or stiff), adaptable brownie, which really suits my whimsy for added ingredients.

The First From-Scratch Brownie Recipe I've Ever Had Success With
Adapted From Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.
2 ounces of semi-sweet bakers chocolate, chopped
8 Tbsp of butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Preheat the oven the 350ºF.
Combine the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. Stirring constantly, whisk the butter and chocolate together until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove from heat, whisk until chocolate is completely melted.
Pour the chocolate mixture into a bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Add the eggs one at a time and mix in well. Gently fold in the flour, salt, and vanilla. Scrape the batter into a greased pan. Bake for twenty or twenty-five minutes. Brownies should be a little underdone in the center just after baking.
I on;y made these yesterday, but they're already gone. Next time I'll have to make them in secret so I can snap some pictures.
Instead, here's my friend KChan in the fridge.


Some days

Few things depress me more than failed baking.
I'm not proud to say it, but today I cried over a miserable, soggy pie crust. Having never made pie crust before + having a fairly lax attitude towards a thing so peasant, so common as measuring ingredients = my vision of a glorious, golden pie crust sliding quickly into a puddle at the bottom of the dish. It was worse than failure: the sodden pile at the bottom looked akin to a pile of snot. It was a bake-ular meltdown followed by an emotional one.
But then there are things like mothers and Tenderflake frozen crusts in the freezer. There are things like thick slices of bread studded with olives, rosemary winking between your teeth. But most soothingly, most hearteningly, there are things like meringue.

I must admit: even though I had the frozen crust, the Key-Lime pie I was going for was sadly–even strangely–un-limey. Mark Bittman, you used to be my second-dream-man. You wore those striped t-shirts with a blazer with such awkward panache I could've kissed the shiny spot on your waxy bald head. But this Key-Lime pie was underwhelming. Not disappointing: its texture was lush, and its color was a pleasing, happy celery. It just...it just lacked any spirit. Any get-go. Any ZIP. But then, today so did I.

The meringue, on the other hand, was like a back rub. The zippy whirrr of the electric mixer, the powdered sugar making me sneeze (into my arm, relax). And oh! Honey! Those browned peaks like little kitten ears, like Willy-Wonka landscapes!  My kitchen confidence was bolstered, but it's going to take another batch of Macadamia-Ginger Cookies to restore it completely.


Bad sign

It's a guilt-inducing business, thinking of your parents before you were their kid. If their old photos are any indication, you've made them much more boring. They had the same reckless go-about in their pictures that I hope to achieve, though caution and a healthy dose my Worry-Wart from my mother keep me otherwise contained. They even look a little drunk in this album of a barn dance; is that a cigarette in her hand at that 1940s gangster party? 
My Dad, for instance, used to have colored hair, and a great tan. He looked like an old-timey movie star with his big smile and hair so slick it put his dress shoes to shame. A dashing Davy Crockett in the photo where he and his own father hold us a moose in the middle of the wilderness: a grin and one hooded, mirth-misted eye just visible under the brim of his bucket hat. A modern and suave charmer. My Mom always said that Dad was a babe, albeit strangely dressed. 
It is reassuring that my Dad's penchant for pleated shorts and patched sweaters wasn't carried on in honor of my brother and my childhood. Rather, he has clung to his salmon pink shorts since the tender age of twenty-three or so. Having found a look he considered comfortable and dashing (in 1970), he suctioned to it, and as far as my sisters or I can tell, he vowed never to let go. Not even in the face of three daughters, a stylish son, and two different wives, pleading gently (or bluntly, in the case of a social event) with him, Please Dad/Dan, That Coat Looks Like A Rug. I accept no blame for his dressing ability: I really did the best I could with the material I was given. I accept full responsibility for his sweet tooth though. Or full reprehensibility, should I say.
"Katie, do you know what day it is?"
My Dad's voice booms from the direction of the kitchen island, and I wince. Six thirty this morning is an awful, sweaty time. Having grown accustomed to my house in Victoria, which we never heated (central heating costs a lotta $$$, so we harvested warmth from the stove while our banana loaves were baking), this home is unbearably hot. The things you can buy with a disposable income! So I was tottering down the stairs, hair stuck unattractively to my neck with sweat, my eyes practically crusted shut with salt, and not thinking clearly.
"Uh..." I blinked a grain of pus away. "Friday?"
"Friday Key Lime Pie Day." He responded, pursing his lips. He was throwing in one of his Pie on Demand coupons I had given him for a birthday. I see how it is.
Unfortunately, what neither of us saw was that it was not Key Lime Pie Day. It was Macadamia-Ginger Cookie Day. I wasn't feeling the pie, which is strange. Strange like a swarm of locusts. I love pie. There is nothing in the world better than pie. I don't eat birthday cake. I eat birthday PIE with a pint of ice cream (lactose intolerance be damned). SO you can see that I was alarmed, and felt that my kitchen feng shui needed some alignment before I was going to venture into my reason for living.

Macadamia-Ginger Cookies
Apparently, I was vibing in the kitchen, as I had a vision of a cookie that I wanted, and I achieved it first try. Something cakey: fluffy, even. With zip and a crunch. These cookies were heavenly. Yielding and sweet without being puffy. They eld their own. If Cyndi Lauper was a cookie, these would be her in her lipsticked, prom-dressed glory. A little frilly, but also completely, unforgivably sassy.
Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
8 tablespoons of chilled butter
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 cup of milk, plus more if needed
3/4 cup of chopped macadamia nuts, plus more if the batter can cope
3/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp all-spice.
Preheat your oven to 375º.
I combined the ingredients in the food processor, mimicking the method for making scones. You can do this recipe the old separate the wet/dry way, but I like the food processor because it reduces the risk of overmixing this delicate batter, which would make it tough.
So: place all the dry ingredients in the food processor, pulse once or twice to mix. Cut the chilled butter into pieces and add to the processor: pulse until the butter and sugar are well blended.
Add the vanilla, milk, and the egg. Pulse to blend. If the batter is tough or dry, add bits of milk by the spoonful.
Drop little balls-o-batter onto a greased cookie sheet, and bake until the edges are lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes.
Let em' love you up.


The way I want my life to look

  • White dishes. Mismatched textures and edges, but all white. Wish dishes.
  • Antique silverware.
  • Hardwood floors.
  • Natural light.
  • A polaroid camera present.
  • Veggie gardens without slugs (slugs have their place though. They could be considered cute).
  • Cake stands, plural. A big blue one, a smallish orange one; more.
  • Baking dishes: lots. Silpat lining with MADE IN FRANCE embossed.
  • Pitchers full or flowers or lemonade or homemade iced tea.
  • Tea from teapots.
  • Handmade hot chocolate mix.
  • Blankets and pillows.
  • An always full cookie jar.
  • Bowls bowls bowls: pretty metal ones and matte free form white ones and maybe a few cream ones and at least one sassy hued one.
  • Lots of wine.
  • More beer.
  • Burritos, salsa, chips.
  • Cookbooks.
  • Bookshelves with rotating fare: lots of trips to second hand bookstores.
  • Farmer's markets.
  • Fresh bread.
  • Homemade mayonnaise.