Gingerbread Army

It has been a bitterly cold week so I decided that today was as good as any to continue my holiday baking in the comfort and warmth of my little kitchen. Plus, it was great to enjoy the scent of gingerbread wafting in the air. It was a long process, but in the end, I had a bunch of new friends smiling back at me.

Gingerbread Men:

1 cup cooking molasses
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter or shortening
1 tbsp baking soda dissolved in small amount of water
1 egg beaten
1 tbsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
4 cups flour

Heat molasses to boiling point, add sugar. Remove from heat, add shortening and dissolved baking soda, cool. Add egg. Sift dry ingredients and stir in. (add more flour if necessary).  Chill and roll out, cut in desired shapes. Bake at 375'F until golden brown - 10-12 minutes.

Royal Icing:

3 egg whites
4 cups icing sugar

Beat egg whites until foamy. Slowly add sugar and stir until completely blended. Add colouring if desired. Icing will cool and harden.


Brrr! Winter Essentials

Well it is officially winter weather here in the Great White North. The last few days have brought on frigid temperatures and lots of the white stuff. Commute times have increased exponentially (did I mention how grateful I am to be able to walk to work), much of the world is now blanketed in snow, and bundled up folks are braving the streets red cup* in hand. Brrr!

So I thought I’d share a list of some of my Winter Essentials.

Coloplast Atrac-Tain Moisturizing Cream

This stuff is intense, like medical grade intense, and boy do I need it. It gets so dry here in winter that my hands often crack due to the lack of moisture…and perhaps because I wash them incessantly. I’m a tad germophobic at times.

Burt's Bees Beeswax lip balm

Staying in line with the hydration theme, this stuff keeps my lips protected and hydrated even in the bitter wind. Tub or tube, they both work for me.

A chunky knit scarf… or any scarf for that matter

I’ve got a closet full of them and they’re one of my best defense mechanisms against the cold. Plus, they brighten up my often drab winter wardrobe. Some of my favourite scarves are souvenirs from places I’ve travelled so it always brings back happy memories when I put them on.


Let’s face it, this is basically a must have whenever coming inside from a frosty jaunt. They especially come in handy during cold/flu season. I don’t know about you, but I always realize that I’m outta the stuff when I need it most. 


I don’t like venturing outside when it is this cold unless I have to. So what to do indoors? I wasn’t much of a reader as a kid but have found that reading is one of my preferred past times now. It’s fun to curl up on the couch and get lost in the pages of whatever I’m reading.

Hot Chocolate

Need I say more?

We’ve got a long season ahead but with the help of these items, I hope it is a bit more manageable. How about you. Any winter must-haves?

*Starbucks introduces their traditional red cups in place of their regular ones during the holiday season. I rarely drink coffee so I don’t really know why I included this – literary effect perhaps?


Holly Jolly Cookies: Whipped Shortbread

Every other year, my extended family gets together for a big family Christmas at one of our respective homes. This year my parents will be hosting everybody, and let me tell you, it is going to be a full house!  Now that most of us cousins are ‘grown ups’ or, at the very least, ‘trying our best to be grown ups’ it only makes sense that we participate and contribute wherever we can. 

This year, my mom asked my sister and I to handle the holiday baking, a request I was more than excited to accept. But, considering that there could be close to twenty hungry mouths to feed, I knew that this would be something that would require a bit of pre-planning and advance work.

So I decided to start early and create a little baking series that I have called, “Holly Jolly Cookies.” My first recipe, a classic Whipped Shortbread. 

Whipped Shortbread:

2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine butter, flour and icing sugar in large mixing bowl. Add vanilla and salt. Whip on high speed for ten minutes. (I think this is the key step, the consistency really changed as time went on). Roll dough into small, walnut sized balls and press with a fork. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are very lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Now I'll just have to try my darndest not to sneak any from the freezer before Dec 24th.


Proudly we Remember

Vimy Ridge Memorial

I was fortunate to travel throughout Europe this past summer. It was my first trip 'across the pond' and I was doing my best to soak in as much as possible. On one of my first days abroad the tour group I travelled with drove from London to Paris. It was a long trek but I was eager to see the French countryside. 

One of the major monuments we drove past that day was that of Vimy Ridge. Now, being only one of three Canadians on board the bus, I didn't expect our tour manager, Stu, to say too much about it. I was pleasantly surprised when Stu, spoke at lengths about the impact the Canadian forces had during this battle in WWI whereupon all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force were involved (for the first time) as a cohesive formation to break apart a critical German line. Many lives were lost but ultimately the Canadians penetrated. Subsequently, the Battle of Vimy Ridge has become a national symbol of Canadian achievement and sacrifice. My heart swelled with pride.

And so today, on this day of national remembrance, my heart swells with a similar pride. Pride for our forces who fought and are still fighting to keep our world safe. Pride for the people back at home who worked hard and made sacrifices while their loved ones were far from home. Pride for the country that I live in and for the efforts made to do what is right.

And so I'll close with the well known poem written by John McCrae in 1915, a Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel, In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies grow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Wake up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.


A Palate of Contradictions

It occurred to me today, while eating my Michelina’s Sweet and Sour Chicken for lunch, that I am a walking contradiction when it comes to food. I’m not an extremely picky food person but I do have some particularities that may downright confuse people.

You see, I absolutely hate the taste of cooked pineapple – it makes me gag. And so when nibbling away at my Sweet and Sour Chicken, I was horrified (horrified!) when I bit down on a chunk of cooked pineapple. Could you even imagine, the audacity of putting pineapple in my sweet and sour chicken? How dare they? Maybe I should take a few more seconds in the frozen foods section to consider the label of pre-packed delicacies I purchase. Uugh, the disappointment.

You may be thinking, “So what, she doesn’t like cooked pineapple…what’s the revelation here?” Well, the truth of the matter is, FRESH pineapple is one of my most favourite foods in the world!

Which brought me to question what other epicurious eating habits I have. So here for your reading pleasure is a little list of my quirky food contractions.

Pineapple: As mentioned earlier, I love raw pineapple and have been known to eat the entire thing in one sitting. Yikes canker sores! But cooked? No way Jose! Can’t stand the stuff. My favourite pizza, however? Hawaiian. Yup, I pick each piece of pineapple off. Crazy, I know.

Tomatoes: On the opposite side of the temperature gradient, tomatoes. I absolutely hate the taste of raw tomatoes but will gladly eat them cooked in any form. Ketchup was my best friend when I was a kid, I could load that stuff on anything. Got a hotdog? Just ketchup please. Favourite chips? Old Dutch Ketchup. Favourite soup? Campbell’s Tomato Soup. As a side note, I bought a can of reduced sodium soup last week and ended up sprinkling salt back into my bowl anyway. I know it is better for my health to stay away from the stuff, but the taste just isn’t the same.

Rice: So I’m not necessarily opposed to rice, but given the choice of bread, pasta, potatoes or rice, I’m least likely to pick rice. The contradiction? My boyfriend is Asian. Let’s just say that planning home cooked meals we both agree on can be challenging at times.

Spicy: Anyone in my family can tell you that I’m a whimp when it comes to spicy food. My eyes water, my tongue hurts and my nose begins to run….and that’s just when someone passes the pepper across the table. But, I love me some Thai food. My favourite Thai eatery is this nondescript little place just a few blocks away called, Ruan Thai. Of course I always order the mildest version possible and the lady who takes my order rolls her eyes every time, but the food is just so delish and flavourful. Glass of milk on the side helps.

So that’s my little list of quirky food contradictions.

How about you? Got any weird eating habits?