Bake Club: Babish Cookies

I am one of the 9 million people who watch the BCU (Babish Culinary Universe), I started when he only had 6 million viewers last fall. I enjoy his humour and his odd English language choices. Twice a week I tune in to watch. Never have I ever made one of his recipes before but this time he made a basic cookie dough that could be used many different ways. We all know I love a good cookie.

After looking up the recipe here, I realized this was not an afternoon type of event. The first step required to make a batch of browned butter and then let it cool. I stuck it in the fridge over night to proceed with the cookie making the next afternoon. Look at that dark yumminess. I put it on the counter the next morning to let it come to room temp.

The first step has you creaming it together with sugar then add eggs. This recipe doesn’t have vanilla – which IMO- it needs. I didn’t add it but when you don’t use vanilla, you can tell its missing.

I then added the dry ingredients and and found this to be a very dry dough. The recipe recommends you let it hang out in the fridge for a while – up to three days. I thought it was too dry after a couple of hours so I let it sit in the fridge for the full three days. It really needs to hydrate. I found it to be much more pliable after hydration. I am not going to lie, I was a little concerned about getting all the fixin’s in if this thing was going to be so crumbly.

Thankfully, it came together just fine – still dry but it held together when you squeezed it.

I decided to make the kitchen sink version. He used kettle corn, chopped nuts, candy and other things I can’t remember. I sent the hubs to buy cookie fixin’s and he came home with Mint Areo balls, Kit Kat Chunk, Chocolate Chips and Almonds. – all his favourites.

So I chopped and tossed everything in.

I scooped with my largest cookie scoop – about a 1/4 cup measure and baked them at 375F for about 15 minutes. Less time than Babish did and I am glad. I prefer a softer cookie.

The result? Pretty good. I think using browned butter makes all cookies next level awesome. You could taste the nuttiness from it and I used regular salted butter because I love the salty/sweet combo it gives you. This is a big yes. The kitchen sink ingredients that the hubs chose were excellent. I loved the almonds and will add that again – I thought about pistachio and think that would also be really good. I would have put caramels in this – maybe next time.

How about the cookie base? It was not chewy, it is more of a crunchy cookie. It tasted good – but needed vanilla.

Will I make these again? I don’t know, it took me four days. FOUR DAYS for a cookie that was good but not spectacular.

Will I keep watching Binging with Babish or Basics or any of his BCU? Heck yes – this guy is hilarious.

What are you baking this week?

Stay healthy friends!

Edmonton Tourist: Vacation Plans

I lost my glass of water and spent about thirty minutes looking for it. You know where it was? Sitting in the water dispenser waiting for me. It was full. I don’t remember filling it.

The phone rang this morning and it was my colleague. He needed a report I was supposed to run. I thought I had run it and I looked in the file – nope. There was no record of downloading it either. Sent it to him and thought about my week, what did I do all week? I don’t know. I remember feeling like I got lots done – I just can’t tell you what it was.

This is what mental exhaustion looks like. I have been here before. Thankfully, it isn’t bad yet. I know I am not the only one who feels this way. There are layers stacked upon us – pandemic, the premier, residential schools, rogue rule followers, restrictions, fear – and it is a burden for some, too much for others. For me, it’s draining and I am not reenergizing myself enough.

Every person I talk to wants a vacation, the kind where you go somewhere and do things that bring comfort. My vacation won’t be until July and even then, I am not going anywhere. I will be fully vaccinated by then and that makes me grateful and emotional. I am 15 months into this pandemic and still work at home daily. Occasionally I go into the office because I need a scanner, printer and inventory items, it its rare. Yet all I want to do is stand in the ocean for about an hour or 50.

Since I am not going to the ocean this year I think I need to plan something so I don’t feel like I have wasted my vacation. I have been kicking around some staycation ideas and honestly – I just realized I will be able to do stuff. Real Edmonton Tourist stuff. Half the fun of a vacation is the planning so I am reaching out to YOU. Any Edmonton suggestions?

Here are some things I am looking forward to:

  • Outdoor Farmer’s Markets – I avoided them last year but it’s no secret how much I love them. I think I will visit 124th Grand Street and St. Albert for sure.
  • Whyte Avenue Art Walk – that runs every Saturday until August 1. Maybe I will find that raven I have been looking for.
  • Al Fresco on Fourth – patios, outdoor vendors, art, parks, say no more – this is a thing for me. Saturdays downtown on 4th (104 street) (I think I need more Saturdays…)
  • Fort Edmonton Park – it has finally reopened and I am very interested in exploring the indigenous exhibit and checking out what’s new after refurb closer for the the past two years.
  • Public Art tour – my friend and I explored a downtown section of public art and murals a few years ago – I want to checkout the art around Old Strathcona next. I bet she will come with me again because that was a lovely day and completely worth doing again. This time I will drive and instead of coffee we should go to a craft brewers for lunch.
  • Craft Beer Tour – I think I will do a road trip and visit different tasting rooms – this will need some thought and planning especially around drinking responsibly.
  • Part of me wants to drive to Jasper for the day and part of me doesn’t. I will play this by ear as the vacation approaches. My tenting days are over – who are we kidding – my camping days are over and I am not ready for a hotel stay yet. So Jasper must be a day trip. I have done it before and always loved it. This way Captain can come too.
  • Stanley Milner Edmonton Public Library, now that it is open, the new library is a place I haven’t been to yet. I think it needs to be on the list. Oh and borrow an actual book with paper pages. It’s been ages since I have done that.
  • Brunch – this is the number one thing to do that I have missed most this year. My go-to favourite place is Cafe Bicyclette but maybe I need to branch out and try someplace new. The fear is I won’t like it as much… but vacations are for risk-taking. Where do you suggest?
  • Neon Sign Museum -I love this place. The problem with summer is by the time its dark enough to see the neon in all it’s glory it’s 10:00 p.m. but, I will take one for the team.
  • The Sugar Bowl – I want to call my friends, sit on the patio and eat popcorn. I miss friends. I have a feeling everyone will be trying to sit on patios with friends this summer.

Well, that is eleven things. I need to save some time to rest and sleep – maybe read a book or two. Tell me some best places to visit in Edmonton and that includes brunch spots. What am I missing?

Stay healthy friends!

Pain and Shame

My head is reeling from the news of the mass grave found at the Kamloops residential school. I can’t seem to focus on anything else. There were children found as young as three and UIDs in children under 10. Sounds like geocide to me.

I think about the families I worked with in my classroom years ago. Native parents learning to be parents after five generations of no one knowing how to parent because they were removed from their families. Many died, all were emotionally and mentally abused. Too many never returned home. The shame I feel as a white Canadian and former Roman Catholic is insurmountable.

So what I have been doing about it? I have been educating myself. I follow First Nation content, I read and learn. I share out their stories and I listen. I don’t offer ‘my take’ nor do I tell them how to feel. I stand in support and help where I can. I invite you to do the same.

Join me and donate to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. So much healing needs to happen.

https://www.irsss.ca/donate

Question 21 of 52

What is your greatest strength?

As an empath I think my ability to be vulnerable. You wouldn’t think so, I never did either until I received an email the other day that made me cry.

I was interviewing people for a job position and in walked this brilliant young man who had everything going for him. I could feel his sadness. I asked why with his resume stacked to the roof was he asking for this job. He said “I need a break”. He thought I was going to say no thanks, but I looked at him and recognized him as me. So I hired him.

He told me in that email that he was on the verge of ending everything and I gave him that glimmer he needed. As we got to know each other I would share hard things and he said that changed his life. You can recover and heal from trauma and move on with your life. He told me I changed everything and he was grateful.

You don’t always know the impact you have on people. We circle around people, say and do things that alter people good or bad, I always think its good. Even the bad stuff you learn from and in some ways you learn more than you would have if it was good.

I will likely never see that young man again but I think of him often and always with huge love for him. He is changing the world with his greatest strength – vulnerability.

Rubber Boots and Marigolds

Spring is trying to get here on the prairies without much success. I think we may have had summer because we had one day where it was 26 C. Then the snow came and it the weather is struggling to stay in the teens. I have been watching the overnight temperatures very closely and decided to risk it. I planted my garden.

There are people who won’t plant until the full moon after the last frost but honestly that is mid June and then stuff stops growing mid August. I don’t know about you, but I am not spending $$$ for two months worth of flowers. I typically plant Mother’s Day weekend, but held off this year. I am glad I did. The snow gave a deep soaking drink to my shrubs and trees. This weekend they came to life. I figured it was a good as time as any to get the show on the road.

I took Friday off and went to my favourite greenhouse – Wallish – and shopped INSIDE THE GREENHOUSE. This is big for me. I am starting to feel comfortable in public again. I masked up and in I went. Now don’t get me wrong, I would not have gone near the place if there was a line up to get in. There wasn’t and the place wasn’t very crowed with the busiest day of the year being Saturday. I came armed with my list and began the delightful pattern of shopping row by row.

I wanted Stocks in the worst way, and they were sold out. I wanted Calendula and they didn’t plant any this year. I wanted Teddy Bear Sunflowers and there were no sunflowers of any variety. Okay – plan B.

I saw Portulaca and thought why not? I will tell you why not, I got home and realized I no longer have a yard that supports full sun plants. So we will see how those poor devils do on my deck. I saw Dianthus and remembered planting in years ago in the best garden of all time behind the worst house of all time. I moved – I wish I could have brought my garden with me. I bought a few more perennials like Creeping Phlox and Carpathian Bells and then cruised the annual section for sweetpeas, petunias, violets and marigolds.

Marigolds have been a favourite of mine since I was a kid. My mom planted them along the south side of the house in full sun and there was a mass of marigolds. It was lovely. I have always had in them in my garden since. My son feels the same way.

When my son (25) was three, he had a pair of Tonka Truck boots that he loved more than anything. He wore them everywhere. When he finally outgrew them, he would not let me give them away so we kept them on a shelf under the stairs.

Often we would go to different greenhouses for ‘field trips’ and Hole’s Greenhouse in St. Albert was a destination one day. I was looking at planters feeling depressed about the cost – because we were poor. I mean struggling so I sometimes took after my great aunt Sister Dominica (yes she was a nun) and pinch bits off of plants to root them or pop a seed head off and take that home to propagate. This one particular day, Lois Hole (greenhouse owner and former Lieutenant Governor of Alberta) came over to me and started chatting about planters. I confessed my inability to purchase any and she smiled at me and said, ‘any container that can hold soil can be a planter.” I thought about what I might have at home that would work. Before we left, I let my kids each pick out a six pack for their garden at home. My son picked marigolds for his garden.

When we got home I was putting things away and I thought of my son’s rubber boots. I drilled holes for drainage, stuffed the toes with broken plant packs and had my son fill the boots with soil. Then we planted the marigolds. I showed him how to water the flowers and deadhead them so they would continue to bloom all summer then in the fall we let the flowers go to seed and carefully save the seeds for the spring.

This year as I was planning my garden, I asked my son what he wanted in his garden (the rubber boots) and did he want to try something new. “Marigolds, and don’t put anything else in there or you can’t use them.” Marigolds it is. We have moved from the first house with the amazing garden but the boots came with us. Every year for the past 22 years, they have stood on the step of my porch filled with marigolds. I imagine one day I will have a few more boots from future grandkids sitting there with marigolds too.

Stay healthy friends.

Question 20 0f 52

What kinds of things hurt self esteem? How can you discourage these activities?

It’s easy to blame someone for your lack of self-esteem. This maybe true for children who depend on the adults in their life to be truth tellers and caregivers (not care takers). Once we become adults it is important to stop looking backwards and blaming the adults in your life for where you are. Reconciling with yourself is life changing. Acknowledging the adults in your life were not what you needed but who you got and its up to you to make the most of it. Be the adult to yourself that you always needed. Once you move past blaming and resentment and start accepting, you can move past the things that hurt your self-esteem.

Anger, hurt and blame maintain chaos. Acceptance and moving past by self-care is peaceful and freeing. It took a long time to get here. Once you can be the adult you needed, its easier to be the adult others need. Fill your well so you can give to others.

Edmonton Tourist: Little Libraries

My daughter planned an adventure outing for Mother’s Day. She gave me rules and then told me nothing.

“You need to choose five books to leave your collection. Be ready at 10:00 a.m.”

Okay – I can do that, thinking we must be going to a used bookstore or flea market. She did say it was neither of those and then my curiosity piqued. I chose my books and was in the car by 10:00 a.m. She was driving. I was given a clue: You have never been here before and dad says you will love it.

First stop was Starbucks. She bough me a skinny vanilla latte. It tastes better when your kids buy it for you. Then she drove in the direction of the French Quarter.

We crossed the bridge on 82 Avenue that crosses Mill Creek Pool and we turned left. I asked for the address so I could help navigate.

“There isn’t one, you just get to know the general area and then you see it.”

Weird, but okay. Then she pulled over and parked. “Do you know yet?”

I hadn’t the foggiest idea what was happening. She reached into our collective book bag and pulled two books. She opened the car door and waited for me to get out. We walked about 25 steps before we stopped in front of a Little Free Library. She confessed to feeling nervous because it felt like snooping in someone’s home uninvited.

I opened to door and we we began looking through the books – well first I was excited so I immediately placed my book on the shelf. We found nothing that interested us so we decided to go to the next one.

I had a million questions.

  • How did you find a list of little libraries?
  • What gave you the idea?
  • Had you ever used one before?
  • How many are there in Edmonton?

She watched a youtube video of a fellow who decided to visit little libraries in his town. This reminded her of stuff I like to do in Edmonton. Why had it never occurred to me? I love books, I love exploring my city. I love everything about this project.

The website she found is LittleFreeLibrary.org. It says Welcome to the world’s largest book-sharing movement! The site provides maps to all the registered free libraries in the world. She entered our city and boom:

Look at all those libraries in Edmonton! She picked five in a neighbour that has big trees and no one we know. My girl had never used one before but thought I had. I knew of a few but only stumbled upon them randomly and I never had a book with me.

The next one was a couple of blocks away so we went there next.

The owners of this little library were in their yard so it felt weird but we still opened it and found a couple of great books, left two and walked back to our car.

Each library had something we were interested in or had a book that was on our Edmonton Public Library waitlist or was a favourite we had always wanted in our collection. We hit the jackpot.

The last library was filled with Agatha Christie’s and Harlequin Romances. My girl took one of each because she collects Agatha and she had never read a Harlequin. Honestly – everyone needs to read one once in the summer. It’s a right of passage. She took two and left 13 Reason’s Why and Eat this not that.

We finished the day happy and satisfied. I decided then and there that this was going to be my Dad’s father’s day girt – don’t tell. I finally get what my parents mean by ‘don’t buy me any gifts’. They mean “spend time with me”. This was one of those memories I will never forget and I hope she takes me again next year. I want to build one now.

Stay healthy friends!

Healing

I have talked about the toll the pandemic has had on me. It is mostly fine but this third wave in Alberta is horrifying. Our numbers per 100,000 are the highest in the world. I am grateful I have received my first vaccine dose. The hubs and parents have theirs, my children are scheduled. It is a relief. Almost 2 million (out of four million) Albertans have received their first dose yet the numbers climb because of “freedom” fighters who host rallies and rodeos, or attend massive church services. I can’t begin to understand the way people think.

My family is filled with nurses, academic doctors and scientists. I have grown up knowing knowledge of sciences are not ‘beliefs’ but facts. Science is constantly trying to prove itself wrong – that’s how we know what the facts are. Facts keep showing up. So what I am going to tell you may seem at odds with practical science.

To heal from this chaos, I have a daily meditation practice. Twice a day I sit in silence and meditate. It has been life changing. Recently I hit the 1600 consecutive day mark. For anyone keeping track, that is four and a half years of daily practice never missing once. I am also a reiki and crystal practitioner. I often practice on myself but lately it has become too much so I called my personal practitioner and mentor for a session.

To get the full benefit from a reiki session, I meditate and set an intention to allow my practitioner into my energy space several days before. The day of my session she sits with a grid and energetically connects with me. (I know this sounds like woo woo to many of you – but that’s how I feel about church – its weird to me and I don’t get it – but I respect that it works for you.) She intuitively chooses crystals that connect with me. This is the grid she built:

Fluorite and amethyst were the main focus with hematite aligning everything together. When I decided to call her, I had connected with my crystals as well. I began meditating with fluorite and amethyst completely unaware she had also chosen these for me. Its not a coincidence, its what always happens when we connect energetically.

My session was via zoom because she has moved to a different part of the province and you know – there is a pandemic happening. A reiki session is similar to a massage. In this case there is no touching – obviously – when I practice I can do either touch or not – sitters preference -but touch is far more effective for me. We went through a visualization that made me cry. Then a healing process. I yawn a lot during a session as my body adjusts to the flow of energy. I also get incredibly thirsty for days afterwards and sleep deeply.

A few days post session garbage starts to purge from my system. I often get colds or something else releases. I don’t ever feel sick – my body is releasing garbage that no longer serves me. Sometimes I purge people. They just don’t fit with me and I release the connection. We then fade away from each other without any drama. This time I got a big stye in my right eye. I haven’t been anywhere to catch anything. In fact, that has been the greatest thing about the pandemic – I am never sick. Garbage is oozing out of my eye. It’s fine, not painful, just super ugly and a sticky. I am keeping it clean, using warm compresses and flushing it out as recommended. If it doesn’t heal on its own I will go see my doc on Tuesday. But its already better.

I have watched reiki sessions and witnessed people coughing up flehm or even vomiting. But other sessions have no purges and healing happens to a joint or muscle – depending on what the treatment was. My session was healing on a molecular level. It was deep and I experienced warmth. I was quite flushed when we finished.

I was also calm and felt peaceful. I could have slept for hours and if it was closer to bedtime, I would have done just that.

During this session there was a specific intention and focus. I didn’t even know I needed it until it arrived. We worked through it and now I am excited to see how it ends. I suppose I will know come June. I guess I am sharing all this because everyone heals differently. Some people need to talk, others sleep, some people go to the woods – my point is everyone finds a way to heal that works for them. Reiki and crystals are mine.

Stay healthy friends.