Basically: Bars

I made it through another recipe with almost all the ingredients! I am enjoying this project so much, I can’t even!! Every Sunday morning another recipe pops up in my inbox and I read the entire recipe first. Then I read it again thinking about the ingredients. This week was Tahini Billionaire Bars. First off, Tahini is a weird ingredient for me. I have used it in hummus but that is about it. It isn’t sweet so using it would tone down the sweetness in the butterscotch. Apparently, you can use any nut butter as long as it is unsweetened. Fair enough. After tasting this, I would substitute peanut butter but this is really good as is, just super sweet. Cut the bars smaller than they call for because it was just too much sugar. It tastes like you can eat the whole piece but then it gets to be too much and you lose interest about halfway. Maybe that’s just me, maybe not. I will let you decide.

The first step was making the shortbread. I didn’t have sesame seeds so I made it without. I have to confess, this layer was an ORDEAL. The dough kept sticking to my hands as I pressed it into the sides, it became too soft. I suppose I could have stuck it into the freezer to chill it but it was a Tuesday night and I didn’t want to be at this for hours. So I swore and smooshed. The recommendation was for a 9 x 9 pan but spreading was thin, the corner was overdone. You can’t tell with the other layers tho and my family eats anything.

The second layer was problematic too. I started it WAY BEFORE the bottom layer was cool and out of the oven. HA, so much for reading the instructions twice. I have made butterscotch before so I dived in with a lot of arrogance. (The difference between butterscotch and caramel is brown versus white sugar – the more you know!)

The butterscotch was perfect, I could have added all the cream from the one cup container, it could have taken it. Now I have a 1/4 cup of cream in my fridge and keep forgetting to use it in my coffee. I let the caramel cool slightly while I waited for the shortbread to come out of the over, reversed I know but too bad, so sad.

I added the butterscotch and put the two layers in the fridge for an hour. Too hot, I know but whatEVER, stop judging.

After an hour, everything was firm and cool to the touch. I kept it in the fridge while I melted the chocolate. I didn’t have the fancy bittersweet 60% blablabla… WE ARE IN ISOLATION PEOPLE! So I used my standard chocolate chip use in cookies chocolate. It was fine. Good enough for snacks, good enough for this. Back into the fridge for 30 minutes and then I cut into them. That was the hard part (Other than the crust layer) These suckers need a firm hand and a sharp knife. Use a serrated knife and saw. I didn’t. I cut, I didn’t crush it like they said it would happen, but I didn’t use boujee chocolate so maybe that was the difference. I cut this into 16 squares, then after tasting, I cut into 32 rectangles. Trust me. I also didn’t sprinkle sesame seeds all over the top because WE ARE IN ISOLATION PEOPLE! And I didn’t want to go to the bulk barn for just that. Hopefully, I have the stuff for the next recipe, I heard a rumour it has carrots and carrot juice. Where the heck will I find carrot juice??? Wish me luck. Meanwhile, I nailed it this week in spite of the problems. Judge for yourself and imagine tiny little sesame seeds all over the top.

Theirs vs Mine

They taste as good as they look. What are you making this week?

Simple things

Well how are you all doing? I think you extroverts are struggling more than us introverts, sorry about that. I have a few group chats happening with various friends, one friend is hosting a dinner party for all of us to cozy on up to Zoom while we munch away on our dinner and drink wine. I am less inclined to want to chat and visit but I know it’s important to my pals who need the conversation to keep them energized.

I have been home for nine days with the hubs, my two adult kids and my pal Cap. We connect over meals and have long newsy chats after work while dinner is being made. I like this scenario. It reminds me of staying home with the kids when they were small. I make sure I check on my parents regularly and that keeps me up to date with the sibs. I am not adventuring other than going outside at noon with Cap and going for a quiet walk in the neighbourhood so it feels like I have been away for along time. It’s only nine days yet it seems like I have endless time to do things. How is it possible that days are longer and minutes are 5x longer than last week? Why do I have so much energy?

Well, limiting human contact is energizing for me. I am not tired from the daily buzz and conversation at work. When I ‘come home’ after work (walk upstairs) I feel like I have enough energy to do a million things. I visit with the famjam, I try out new recipes (I made fresh pasta on the weekend). I am reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle (read this book especially if you are trying to find your way). I am watching Belgravia, Julian Fellowes’ new series (I like it!) I am doing art. I am writing. I am also sleeping like the dead! I go to bed at 10 and sleep until 7 now. That is a minimum of 8 hours sleep.

It isn’t all good though. When a fellow at work asked how I am doing I replied, “Living the dream in between panic attacks”. It is a scary time and it frustrates me that many people aren’t taking this seriously. I personally know three people who are showing moderate to severe symptoms and one is in hospital with Covid-19 pneumonia. We don’t know if he will be okay. I worry about my family and what if they pass it on to my mom or me? Then what? I did learn a valuable lesson in January when I was grieving. I learned to feel all the emotions and not stuff them into your socks. So I felt all those emotions from fear to anger, sadness and pain. It comes back around to joy and happiness. I pay attention to little things and laugh out loud at them. Kermit dancing to Stevie Nicks is one of those joys. My son’s gallows humour is another. My daughter is hilarious and is sharing stories she is writing for school. She will be a great writer one day. My dog plays tricks on me then laughs. His laugh is all it takes to lift my spirits.

I cobbled together enough ingredients to make the next Basically Baking challenge! I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying that! I have learned so much from it. Food has become a simple pleasure. We are mindful of waste and are even collecting veg scraps to make broth with. I wish it was warm enough to sit on my deck. It keeps snowing so that won’t be for a while but going for walks alone in the woods works just as well. Lynden my tree and I have been communing. The energy transfer is intense and I love every second of it. Of course I still meditate every day, now twice a day, today was 1120th consecutive day of meditation. Without it…I don’t want to think about the state of my mental health. I crave it every day.

I realized it is the little things that get me through. I think after this I won’t go back to big splashy things. I think the simple way is better for me, my mental health and my soul. Just a reminder if you need a place to go when things get to be too much, hang out for a while at the Edmonton Tourist Community. There are some lovely people there.

Stay healthy friends.

Basically: Biscuits

I think this may be my last week to bake something new from a recipe for a while. I couldn’t get all the ingredients for this week’s Sour Cream and Onion Biscuits. I had a 3/4 of a cup of greek yogurt. I needed 1 and 1/4 cups of sour cream. There wasn’t any at the store, nor was there plain yogurt. I did have milk and vinegar, so my plan was to supplement fake buttermilk. Molly Baz, the recipe creator did a few instagram stories talking about substitutions. Past experience told me I could use milk or yogurt, but there was a tang to sour cream that seemed important to this recipe, so I added a tablespoon of vinegar to 3/4 cup of milk. I ended up with slightly more dairy than the recipe called for but I did that because milk is obviously looser than yogurt.

I followed the rest of the recipe except I didn’t have 8 scallions, only 5. Life in the time of rations. This was fine, and maybe the next time I make this I will still use 5 scallions because it was more than enough. The batter came together very nicely. Using a light hand to not over beat makes a massive difference.

Everything came together quickly and I turned it out onto a cutting board for easy clean up. The next step was to fold or laminate into thirds using a bench scraper. I don’t have one. I thought about buy one because I have want one for a very long time. All things considering, it didn’t seem to be the time to spend needlessly on tools that could be substituted. So I used the back of my chefs knife. It works fine. The dough is sticky so flour up your hands and work quickly.

I also don’t have a kitchen ruler, but back in my quilting days, I measured different parts of my hand so I could do quick measurements in a store when buying fabric. I know from my thumb knuckle to the tip is one inch. The span of my hand from pinky to thumb when fully stretched is 8 inches. This recipe needed the dough to be 8″ x 4″ I was all over that. I folded three times. Then I cut it into eight pieces.

By leaving them squarish and not round, there are no scraps to rework and the less you work the dough, the less gluten you create therefore leaving everything tender. I used the knife to cut them away from the board, I should have lightly floured the surface but didn’t and it was still fine. You were supposed to use parchment because it prevents spreading but in the instagram story, Molly Baz used a silpat liner, so I used mine. I don’t like using single use things very often.

I basted them with melted butter and sprinkle a bit of sea salt over the top. I would skip the salt. It isn’t a secret that Molly Baz likes salt. These don’t need the extra. Plus Who can get flaky salt in Edmonton? Seriously – if you can, tell me where.

I put them in the oven for 22 minutes, I could smell them at 20 minutes and took them out. It was on the cusp of over browning. They were perfect at 20 minutes. Watch your closely. The recipe said between 18 – 22 minutes.

You can tell where I dripped butter. These things are the flakiest most tender biscuits I have ever had. The flavour reminds me of sour cream and onion chips. Happily I love those. The flavour is strong and fantastic. I will always make these agin once the stores get back to normal stock levels.

This is what Basically’s look like versus mine. In spite of the substitutions, I think I nailed it.

You are Mr. Roger's Helper

I work from home now. I like a lot of things about working from home. The commute is easy. I don’t have to wear business attire. It is very quiet and I have a window that over looks my garden. Sure it’s only been a day, but so far I like it.

My co-worker Cap goes outside a lot. I suspect he is taking smoke breaks, but whatever, he still gets his work done. He doesn’t wear pants, I am also okay with this. I share this space with three other adults. One is taking on-line classes with the University of Alberta. They haven’t got it all fine tuned and its a bit chaotic, but at least it is continuing. One is retired, but volunteers with Meals on Wheels. Their new protocols mean less hugging in gratitude and more verbal gratitude for continuing to bring food to the infirm. The other one is on a break and is returning to school in the fall, hopefully.

We went to gather some food last night after dinner. The stores are pretty much empty of food and people, but I was able to get what I needed. This reminds me a lot of the books I have read about war time rations. I am grateful I listened to stories of my grand and great grandparents. I understand about rations and economizing. I think I will need to do a lot of this. Protip: Cabbage is a great soup filler and it was the only vegetable available last night. We are not there yet. But we might get there sooner rather than later.

Here is a wonderful side effect of this pandemic, people have been extra ordinarily kind. From smiles and hellos, to not taking everything off the shelf. I only took two packets of yeast, that will yield me 12 loaves of bread. I left some for other people. I am set until May. The helpfulness of tech support to get me up and running was wonderful, sure its their job but do you know what kind of patience it takes to answer stupid questions because people don’t read? Kim and Nathan, my tech support were amazing. Stop being stupid and impatient people. This isn’t about you. It is about all of us working together for a common goal, survival. This of this a World War III, only this time we are all on the same side.

My daughter was wondering what kind of PTSD we will have when we get to the other side. You know what she means, its like the how the survivors of the depression in the 30’s hoarded bread clips or rubber bands because you never know when you might need them. She thinks she will always practice the two metre distance from people, or will forever wash her hands for 20 seconds singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. As an introvert, I was born for this self isolation thing. I don’t have to host a social gathering? SCORE! All the parties are cancelled? YES! I can stay home and pet my dog? I am living the dream!

But in all seriousness, please listen to your health authorities. Ours is excellent. She speaks from a knowledge of science and answers hard questions. She isn’t sneaky and she practices what she preaches. She came down with a cold, so she self isolated and tested negative for Covid-19. I can’t tell you how proud it makes me to see women of science leading our country in times like this. They are the calm, factual guiding lights. I wish I could say the same for our elected leaders, this is not the time to force through budgets and fire doctors and lay off nurses. This is not the time for fake facts and lies. Anti-vaxers are going to have a tough time when they release a vaccine for Covid-19, science is on one side and they are on the other. Good luck with that.

I have noticed a heavy increase in my blog post Mr. Roger’s Helpers. I don’t know who needs to hear this, those words were meant for children because you are adults and need to be the helpers now. That means you reassure your children. You stay calm and learn the facts. Stay home to protect others. You are the helper. Ask you neighbour if they need something, support food banks if you can, help tutor students online or stop being so demanding. The facts are we are in this together. Stand up and lead, if not your community then lead your family or your group of friends.

You are the helper.

If you find you are overwhelmed and you need a place to catch up, come visit the Edmonton Tourist Community on Facebook. We have been checking in, and being a shoulder for each other. If you need to stop being the helper for an hour, do it. We are open and can listen. Hang in there friends, we are in this for the long haul if you want to believe it or not.

Basically: Brownies

Brownies are, without a doubt, my dad’s favourite chocolate treat. I didn’t share these with him. I will likely make him his own pan for Father’s Day or his birthday because these didn’t last long in my house.

The half-way recipe for Basically is Camouflage Chocolate Fudge Brownies. These are rich and fudgy and cheese cakey and easy. They are rated as a level two Basically recipe but that is because of the number of steps. More doesn’t mean hard.

I needed a win this week because the shortbread from last week was a fail. It tasted good, but the method and ugliness made it a flop.

I have entered into a habit of opening my email Sunday morning in bed to read Basically. I read through the recipe twice because squinty sleepy eyes miss stuff. I had everything but the cream cheese. I miss those carefree days of having everything I need in the pantry. I went to the store early and bought cream cheese, some bread, things for lunches…because as soon as you say “I am going to Sobeys”, the entire house wakes up as yells, “CAN YOU PICK UP SOME….” So much for a quick trip.

I got home, made lunch, cleaned the kitchen THEN I began at about 3:00 p.m. Sheesh…

I prepped the pan, then added cream cheese to the double boiler to soften. It didn’t soften well. I have better luck in the microwave, but the rule was to follow the instructions EXACTLY to see what new insights I learn. I learned that cream cheese softens better in the microwave about 25 seconds at a time.

I whisked together all the ingredients and divided it into two bowls, one plain and one with cocoa powder. This tasted just like cheesecake. That is a win! I love cheesecake but never have it.

The next part was weird. 10 Tablespoons of butter. Why can’t we just do grams or one half cup + (whatever the measurement is?). The other tricky part is butter comes in 454 gram bricks here, not sticks. WTF(udge) is a stick? Glad you asked, I asked Google.

Butter Measurements When looking at a standard stick of butter1 stick or 1/2 cup butter is equal to 4 ounces, or 113 grams.

Basically (see what I did there?) one pound of butter is 454 grams. How do you measure out 10 tablespoons? I also asked Google.

5/8 cup butter141.8 gram10 tbsp
Crimeny crickets. That is not easy so I pulled out my scale and weighed out 141.8 grams of butter. Into the double boiler that went.

The strange part was all the ingredients went in. I didn’t melt the butter first. I think it would have been easier to do it that way. But I followed the instructions and poured the sugar, cocoa, coffee and salt into the double boiler, stirred it up and it became awful then glossy, just like it said it would. Then I stuck my (CLEAN) finger in it to see if it would scaled it – still part of the directions. (Honestly, I learned this step from my mom. Stick you pinky in there to see if it’s hot enough, especially for tomato soup – weird tangent but here we are) Second time the charm and it was too hot, just like the recipe called for.

I added the chilled eggs and flour – this was stiff but came together lovely. I scooped out 1/2 of batter, forgot to leave it in a warm spot by the stove… Poured the rest into the prepared pan.

It was thick. I smoothed it out into the corners with my offset spatula. Then I dollopped the other two cream cheese mixtures on top in a random pattern. Finally adding the reserve brownie mixture which was stiff and cold by this time making the process laborious. But it worked out.

I baked it or 25 minutes in a preheated 325F oven. It was floppy but set. Do not expect it to be like cake, its not. It is more like fudge. The chocolate filled the house and it smelled so good! I let it set and cut it into 16 pieces. After tasting one later when it cooled I realised my error and should have cut it into one piece. One is all you need. But I shared it out and it lasted until Wednesday. Damn….it was really good.

This is Basically’s and the other is mine. I think it was a complete success!

Next week is Sour cream and onion biscuits. Oh…yeah….

Chaos and calm, but how are you really?

I hope you are well. Chances are you are not infected with Covid-19, but you are still affected by it. Me too, but I am not scared and I hope you aren’t scared either. It feels like I am living in some strange alternate reality or dystopian future but I am not and neither are you. My life has taken on an air of caution, as I am sure, yours has too. Work was bonkers as we mobilize to cancel and/or postpone events. Keeping people in the loop is an important part of keeping anxiety levels low. Not knowing is harder on some people than others. A lot of you have sent me notes asking me to take precautions and wish me well.

Thank you. I mean that sincerely.

It a world where everyone is nosey to the enth degree, there is a surprising lack of questioning going on. You may be shy, so I will start.

How are you? No, really? How are you? Are you stressed because you are holding your family together? Are you the one people look to for fixing and managing things? Is your rock letting you lean on them a bit? Are you alone in this?

First of all, you are not alone. The world is also right there with you. Tell me how you are doing.

……………

Okay, I will start.

I am abundantly happy. Strange I know, but as an introvert, this time of allowing is energizing for me. I slept eight hours for the first time in, hmmm… I don’t know. Maybe since my kids were little and I had less worries.

I phoned people this week. Also strange because I hate talking on the phone. My pal and I chatted and caught up for two hours yesterday! We had the best visit. I called my mom this week. I chatted with people who usually only get an email. My niece and I caught up! She lives in California and her job is in hiatus because of the pandemic but we had a great visit and the lovely side effect is she sends me photos and notes. One side affect of this pandemic is talking to people. It feels like love.

I am cooking and baking! I love to do this. I didn’t for a long time but currently I love it again. We bought stuff to make rather than strain the freezer and canned food aisles. I have yeast and flour, things and stuff. We will be fine. In stead of tossing stale bread, I made banana bread pudding with rum sauce. FYI it tastes as good as it sounds. I made a batch of pasta e ci ci. It was warm and tasty. I watched Andy on Bon Appetit and re-created it.

We sat around the house and visited with each other. There are four adults and one dog in this house. Our schedules are busy and sometimes we don’t see eachother for a few days. We had long newsy catchups PLUS, we were laughing in ways we haven’t done in a long time. We remembered things my grandpa said. My Grandfather called himself Potow, Pioneer of the old west, and he was filled with depression and war stories of rations and lack. He was also a giant fibber. We laughed because we all have a catalogue of his stories and recipes in our memories to save us from this socially isolated time. Need a recipe for bear grease and macaroni? I got you. Need to decide where to put your outhouse in relation to the house? I got you. Need to know what to do when guarding prisoners of war with no bullets? Don’t worry, I have tips for that too. He would be in his glory right now with all kinds of advice because he lived through something similar and now his wisdom can be shared with new generations of people.

I think this time is going to be challenging for many people. We don’t know how long it will last but if China is any indication, it will be a long time. So now its your turn. What is going on with you? Let’s talk about it. So that leads me to this this thing I just started. Over on Facebook I created a community of Edmonton Tourist readers. It is a private space where you can chat about anything. The only rule to follow is kindness. It is a space where we can gather and chat and ask questions, learn new things and laugh. A place where you don’t have to be glue that holds it all together. Think of it as an old fashion barn raising or quilting bee. It is a space that is open to all genders, race and religion. I don’t know if you need this or if this is going to be a thing, but it felt like something I could do. You can join and chat or join and watch. Whatever your comfort level, you are welcome there. It may just be me there alone for a while but I am comfortable alone in my own skin so I am good. I am keeping it private because some people need that but feel free to bring along a friend if that makes you feel better. I will start with conversation starters but this is our space, not mine, so you can start conversations too. We can talk about books, recipes, things you heard at the grocery store, how you are struggling or something fun that happened. It’s all good.

This is where you find us. Edmonton Tourist Community. You are very welcome to come. I hope to see you there.

Edmonton Tourist: Hiatus

Where I wish I was…

The world is a strange and curious place lately. I hear healthy people say things like “everyone is overreacting” “Why is everyone panicking?”. I am part of the demographic that is at high risk for infection. This means I am thinking carefully about where I go and who I spend my time with. The last time I had an infection, my daughter called it the time I died. I was so sick my kidneys shut down, and organ failure caused other significant issues. I only ever remember being that sick one other time, and that was when I had red measles when I was a kid. I was so sick the doctor CAME TO MY HOUSE. My dad thought I was dying. Honestly, I thought I was dying. Being that sick is not something I recommend. I am the main provider for my family. Three other adults depend on me to support them while they go to school and look after the home. I rely on them, and no one wants to let each other down.

My intuition is telling me to slow down and self-isolate. This means all non-essential social gatherings and events. What makes it essential? I don’t really have an answer for that, but I am sure I will recognize it once it happens. I am still going to work because, so far, the risk is low. I eat at my desk and don’t visit the cafeteria. I am NOT A HUGGER, nor am I affectionate – so I have that going for me. I am a bit of a germaphobe, not as bad as my workmate, but pretty damn close.  Honestly, I feel better than I have in ages, years even. I am not overly concerned, but I will be taking precautions.

I am going to use this time to catch up on reading, and I have a stack of books that are begging me to read them. I am going to bake and freeze things because baking is fun. I love making bread, savoury and sweet things. Comfort food will be nice to have since eating at fun bistros, and restaurants will be one of the places I avoid for a while. Soon my garden will need me, and I am looking forward to growing things. I have a lime tree in my front room that needs some TLC, so I need to do some research on how to love it a little bit more. My blog is going to change for a while. I hope you understand. The support you give me is amazing, and all the notes and emails you send are appreciated. Let me know where you are going and send me photos! I am making a list of places I need to visit once this craziness calms down.

Do I expect everyone to follow suit? No. I am not the WHO or a credible health organization, but I do read their updates and listen to Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s daily updates. This is important information for my area and maybe yours but pay attention to credible sources. I need this for my job but its good to know for my home life. The time for “not believing in science” is over. Facts are important and will save lives.

The bottom line is to listen to the facts and make good judgements. Subscribe to your library’s ebook borrowing system, eat good food, drink clean water and wash your hands for crying out loud. Stop being gross not just during this world pandemic but forever, okay?

This will pass.

Stay healthy everyone.

Basically: Shortbread

I have started to enjoy waking up early on Sunday mornings to find the new basically recipe in my inbox. The email has the ingredient list and an equipment list. I scroll through to see what I need and what I already have. Then I link to the directions and read through the entire page to see what I need to be aware of and how much time I need. The recipe for the week was Roasty Toast Pecan-Caramel Shortbread Cookies and you can find it here. Mmmmm caramel. As I scanned through the list I noted I didn’t have dulce de leche but I did have a tin of sweetened condensed milk. I had never seen dulce de leche in the grocery story here, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t there. A quick google search showed a recipe for Compliments (Sobeys) brand squares with Compliments dulche de leche. I could buy some if I needed it. But making my own is easy enough.

ET Note: This entire recipe was a fail at various steps along the way. But the end result was tasty.

To begin the procedure for dulce de leche, I filled my dutch oven with water and set it to simmer. I then transfered my sweetened condensed milk into a mason jar. I do this for two reasons.

  1. cooking in tins can created explosions and is not the best choice for health reasons.
  2. I can see when the caramel it the right colour and done to my liking.

I kept a watchful eye on the pot over a three hour period. I added water every hour to keep the milk submerged.

Would it have been easier to purchase dulce de leche? Absolutely. Should I have? Meh… I didn’t want to go to two different shops and Molly from Basically said “even better if you make your own”. I needed to go to Bulk Barn to buy pecans and nonpareils (Who among you knew what nonpareils are? I only know them as their common name, sprinkles so that took some research). While this was simmering away, I left the hubs in charge of it and left for the Bulk Barn. I learned from the Bulk Barn gurus, I can bring my clean containers, have them weigh it and mark my jars, then I can fill them with all my bulky items! This makes me happy because of my quest to reduce single use plastics! I filled a jar a quarter way with pecans and another jar with turbinado sugar, white nonpareils were empty and I am not enamoured with food dye, so I chose the sugar which is an option in the recipe, so far not cheating.

I came home to this.

And submerged the jar into cold water to cool it down. While that was happening I toasted the pecans for the 3 minutes as directed and promptly burnt the pecans. I had bought the perfect amount so I needed to go back to the store. Was I happy about this? Not a chance. Plus we were doing taxes and that also made me angry.

I toasted the new bunch and chopped them finely because I do not have a food processor. This was apparently not a problem for the recipe other than I needed to assemble everything is a different order. I will get to that in a minute.

This was about 10 minutes of chopping.

I went to the BA forum and looked up the order of the recipe when not using a food processor. I needed to cream the butter, sugar and the dulce de leche.

Then add the flour, salt and add the nuts.

Getting this into a log and into the fridge was fussy.

Wrapping up in the parchment and leaving it in the fridge for 90 minutes was oddly specific.

When it was time to pull it out, I basted more dulce de leche on it and rolled it in the sugar.

Somehow I didn’t read the part where I needed to chill it again. So I sliced it up and baked it.

These looked NOTHING like the Basically version so I went to the forum to see what I did wrong.

  1. Chilling a second time reduces spreading.
  2. Using parchment instead of silpat also reduces spreading.
  3. Silpat helped to melt the dulce de leche and everything ran off the sides of the cookies.
  4. The recipe didn’t say what to bake it at. I make a guess at 325F because the pecans were toasted at that and that is also the temp I bake my shortbread at. Turns out I was right. I was slightly annoyed they made an error this huge in the instructions – this is a test kitchen after all. But I work in communications so I completely understand how this happened. Always send copy to fresh eyes people, always.

All in all, the cookie tasted good. Would I make this again? Not on your life, however, I would add dulce de leche to a different recipe because it is so darn tastey.

Here is their version vs mine. the result? FAIL.

Next week is fudgy brownies. I am in.

Edmonton Tourist: Disneyland

If you know me at all, you know one of my favourite places to be at any given moment is sitting in a rocking chair on the veranda at Main Street USA in Disneyland. As I age, I am less about the rides and more about details and atmosphere. Sipping an ice-cold lemonade, listening to ragtime music or better yet, the Dapper Dans and watching the world go by. MainStreet is charming. It evokes feelings from my childhood when everything was easy.

The first time I went to Disneyland I was six. My first memory is of my family walking from the parking lot which is now the Esplanade and Disney’s California Adventure, through the front gates which haven’t changed a bit. The Mickey floral is the same and we walked through the left side of the tunnel sweeping us into a whole other universe.

It was clean, smelled of vanilla, and colourful in pale yellows, reds and blues. I held my dad’s hand and took it all in. I can’t tell you what my first ride was. I have no idea. I remember riding Pirates and being scared on Haunted Mansion, sitting beside my mom on It’s a Small World and I was horrified that my uncle was shrunk and never was the same size again after riding Adventures Thru Inner Space. I remember loving the People Mover and America Sings. My first parade was Main Street Electrical Parade and my first character visit was with Mickey Mouse on Main Street and my first crush was Robin Hood.

My last visit was similar to all the visits before. Only this time I was the mom and the parking lot was over by the Disneyland Hotel, that special cast member spot because my niece is one of those Cast Members who work for the Mouse. I walked along Main Street that hadn’t changed and still looks clean, smells of vanilla and colourful in pale yellows, reds and blues. I sat on the veranda sipping lemonade while my girls rode Star Tours endlessly in the same spot that Adventures through Inner Space used to be. I shared knowledge of secrets, retired attractions and hidden pathways that have now become other things.

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Crowds and costs have become overwhelming but somehow with the right planning, I found myself enjoying it all the same way I had when I was six because, for me, the pleasure is in the details. Here are a few of my favourite details that haven’t changed.

1.       The Red and White Lightbulb. At the end of Main Street at Refreshment corner, there are a series of red and white light bulbs at the entrance of the marque. There were not enough spots to have an even pattern of red/white. Walt Disney suggested the imaginears paint one bulb red and white – split it down the middle. This kind of detail impresses the heck out of me.

2.       When building New Orleans Square, the imaginears were sent to NOLA to do some research. They came back with pages of ideas to recreate the area to make it as authentic as possible right down to the brass plaques in the space above some of the doors, this one is above the wall light. In NOLA, these plaques indicated who had fire insurance and who didn’t as a signal to the fire department. Fingers crossed you had one so the firefighters wouldn’t let the place burn.

3.       The Country Bear Jamboree was a favourite of both my mom and me. We loved Big Al and Rufus. Melvin, Buff and Max would chat before the show from their mounts on the wall. In Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, if you look up as you pass through one of the doors, you can see the trio hanging above the door. That makes me smile almost as much as hearing Rufus snore on Splash Mountain.Image result for max melvin buff

4.       There is a Moon and a Sun in every room of It’s a Small World. This is contrary to the song “there is just one moon and a golden sun” but it is a detail that thrills me.

5.       I stood in line for Peter Pan late one night because I like that ride to be my last. It is always a 45-minute wait and kids get bored pretty easy. Parents were all on the phones while kids were swinging from the rails. I tapped a few kids on the shoulder and pointed to the window above Snow White’s Scary Adventure. The evil queen opens the curtains every few minutes and surveys Fantasyland with a scowl. The kids were amazed and showed their parents. There is always something special to see when you are looking up. The ride is undergoing a major refurb right now so finger’s crossed she will still be lording over Fantasyland when it is all complete.

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I know a billion more and it can be pretty annoying going with me as I spew Disney trivia and secrets to unsuspecting companions. But that is all part of the fun for me.