March 12, 2014

You know those days when you're desperately craving something, but you can't quite find the right thing to ease the craving? You can eat and eat and eat, but nothing is just quite right and the hunger remains. The Bloggess illustrates it perfectly here, in a conversation where she tells her husband she's craving heroin. I can relate.

All day today, I've been hiding under the blankets, both from the blizzard outside and storm inside my head. I'm tired and achey and have slept all day between episode of Downtown Abbey, David Attenborough specials and Nicolas Cage movies. (God bless Netflix.) I have desperately wanted something sweet, but not just anything sweet. Jellybeans and chocolate bars and ice cream weren't cutting it, I wanted… cake? Something baked. I dressed and showered and scanned Pinterest for a recipe to solve my problems, but every recipe that caught my eye required some ingredient that I didn't have on hand, and well, did I mention there's a blizzard? I abandoned the computer and went back to bed.

Until later, trying to make myself do something - anything - I found myself on Pinterest again, this time searching for something else to help my friend Tia with a new idea for, I found the answer to my problems: brown butter chocolate chip bars. A happy cross between cookies and brownies, and I had all the ingredients in the house.

I was down in the kitchen within five minutes of finding the recipe, and eating them straight out of the pan in another thirty. They're fast, simple, and very satisfying. And probably better for me than heroin.

The recipe came directly from Buns In My Oven and as I have now stuffed myself and gone back to bed, I will let her explain how to make them, and why they're amazing.

**Author's note: I've also recently revisited a post of mine from around this time of year, a couple years back. I got a rather unfriendly note from the {Popular Canadian Pasty} company, telling me I didn't have the rights to use their name. I invite all of you to recreate your own {Popular Canadian Pastries} at home, rather than buying them from such an unfriendly group of people.**

January 15, 2014

That title up there is just because I couldn't think of what to call this post. We're well into January now, and frankly, I never bother with New Years because I have a New Year's curse. Shhh, let's not talk about it.

I know these pictures make no sense in the context of the post. Have some patience and read to the end!

On the subject of curses, I should maybe tell you that my pretendix is tentatively, possibly, maaaaybe getting fixed. I am very hesitant to be enthusiastic about this, because although fixing the pain that I have been blogging and harassing medical professionals everywhere about for YEARS now would dramatically improve my quality of life, I've also been told many times that some doctor knew exactly what the problem was and that it would be treated in short order. I've been treated for stones, gravel (gravel?), distension, cysts, fibroids, a "significant flaw", among other things, and had my problems blamed on my everything from renal colic to endometriosis to a car accident I had when I was 18.

Yes, that's Aidan. He's almost as tall as me, and has green hair. I know.

So what is this magic bullet, you ask? And what magician and miracle-worker of a doctor finally had me in his field? I'm seeing a pain management specialist. I know. Although ultimately, his goal is to determine the exact problem and find a solution, and we're on our way with that, his job is to MANAGE MY EFFING PAIN, regardless of what is causing it. Why did no one tell me there were doctors who did this?

Part of my face fell off, in the shower. Ben and I have determined it was the result of a battle with coyotes armed with ebola rifles. Not in the shower, that's silly.

Understand, the treatment course at the moment is not exactly pleasant. He jams a rather long needle into pretty much the most painful place on my body, (which my body chooses to deal with by instead telling me he's injecting something into my knee, which causes me to panic and ask him repeatedly if he's really in the right spot) and does something that feels sort of like he's filling a water balloon. Through a syringe. INSIDE MY HIP. The water balloon part is mostly weird, not so painful. The urge to kick him is strong. And then, he leaves, tells me to get my jeans back on and hop off the table and then he'll come back and discuss our plans, and I shimmy back into my jeans and discover that I have forgotten how to stand up. He helps me to Recovery, they give me cookies, I go home and take painkillers to manage to the pain of my pain therapy and go to sleep. But. BUT! You thought I was going all negative there, didn't you?

I MADE THIS. Behold my sewing prowess.

He did this weird torture experiment on me in the beginning of December. And my pretendix only bothered me once, in all of December. ONE TIME. IN A MONTH. So worth a day of wonkiness. SO worth it.

Keep your fingers crossed, maybe a few more months of this, combined with my physiotherapy, and I'll be all sorted out. Go 2014! In other news, we had actual snow this winter, the giant tree that used to hold the boys' swing fell on my entire yard, I made a pretty coat, a mess of my face, and some kick ass empanadas that I'll tell you about them later. Because I'm not actually a food blogger, and sometimes my posts have to be about something else.

Empanadas, bitches. This is the second batch, because the first batch got eaten immediately and I didn't get a chance to photograph it.

December 23, 2013

Last month, I went on a kind of mad gingerbread bender. I recreated the Grasmere Gingerbread I loved so much when I was in the Lake District, and I share the recipe here and with all my bakerly-inclined friends. At that time, one of those friends suggested I should do cinnamon rolls next, because she was craving them and needed a good recipe. It sounded like a good idea, I made a mental note to keep an eye out for recipes and went on my merry way.

About two week ago, maybe three, I was in the car with Aidan. Aidan likes to listen to the radio in the car - the radio specifically, not just CDs or music from my phone. I'll admit, I don't always enjoy his obsessive flicking through stations to find the song he wants to hear, and we don't have entirely similar taste in music.

Baby you a song
You make me wanna roll my windows down and cruuuuuuuuise
Down a back road blowin’ stop signs through the middle
Every little farm town with yoooouuuu
In this brand new Chevy with a lift kit
Would look a hell of a lot better with you up in it
So baby you a song
You make me wanna roll my windows down and cruuuuuuuise

Shudder. But then I remember being fourteen and begging my mum to let me try to find 'If I Had a Million Dollars' on the radio, and I try to let it go.

How does this relate to cinnamon rolls, Irene? You're rambling.

Shh, I'm getting there. A few weeks ago, the DJ on the radio was talking about a fire in some subway station, I think in Toronto, and it was right next to the Cinnabon in that station and EVERYWHERE smelled like Cinnabon for days, and it was amazing, and Aidan turned to me and said, "What the heck is a Cinnabon?"

I was momentarily very sad that my child did not know the wonder of hanging around at the mall eating cinnabons - for those of you who don't know, Cinnabon is a chain that basically ONLY sells cinnamon rolls - really sticky ones, dripping with cream cheese frosting, and they're massive, and close to a thousand calories each. Yikes. And then I remembered that my kids are both pretty culinarily spoiled, and felt better, but I couldn't get the recollection of delicious sticky cinnamon rolls out of my brain. I've craved them now since that moment. I searched for recipes, read many, rejected most as sounding too dry, or too bready, or too fruity. Finally, I found one I felt might live up to my now-upsettingly-high-expectations. And then I didn't have cinnamon in the house. And then I had a couple of busy days where I couldn't spend hours babysitting rising dough. And then my oven broke. Really?? REALLY.

But yesterday. Yesterday, the oven was fixed, I had the recipe, I had the ingredients, I had the time. And I made cinnamon rolls. And they were AMAZING.

The recipe for the rolls themselves was rich enough that I hesitated to make the cream cheese frosting the recipe called for. It might be overdoing things. And then, as I pulled them out of the oven, golden brown and sticky-sweet, Anik reminded me of the brown butter frosting I had drizzled over cookies in the past. Perfect! Sweet enough to top them without overpowering them. (And frankly, I could eat a bowl of just that frosting, it's excellent.)


For the rolls:

1 cup of warm water
2 cups + 2 teaspoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of active dry yeast
½ cup of milk
½ cup of butter
1 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs
4 to 5 cups of all purpose flour
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
¾ cup of seedless dried raisins

For the frosting:

½ cup of butter
1 cup of icing sugar


For the rolls:

Measure 1 cup of warm water into a large bowl. Stir in 2 teaspoons of sugar and the active dry yeast. Let stand 10 minutes then stir well.
In the meantime, combine the milk and ¼ cup of butter in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until liquid is warm and butter melts. Remove from heat. Stir in ½ cup sugar and the salt. Add the mixture to the dissolved yeast mixture. Add eggs and 1½ cups of flour. Mix well. Stir in an additional 3 cups (approximately) of flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning the dough to grease all sides. Cover; let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured board. Divide in half and shape into an 18 x 9 inch rectangle. Melt ¼ cup of butter and brush the rectangles with melted butter. Combine 1½ cups of sugar, seedless raisins and the cinnamon. Sprinkle half of the sugar mix over each piece of dough. Roll each up to make 18-inch rolls. Seal edges firmly. Cut each roll into 12 pieces. Place, cut side up, (so spirals are visible) in 2 greased 9" round cake pans. Cover; let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes, or until done (golden brown). Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

For the frosting:

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. When the butter is completely melted, swirl the skillet until the butter becomes a light caramel brown color, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately remove the skillet from the heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. Whisk in powdered sugar, and drizzle icing over still-warm cinnamon rolls. Eat immediately. :)