Bake Club: Focaccia

Last year I gave Basically’s recipe for focaccia a try and it was the easiest bread I ever made. It was crispy and chewy but salty. Bon Appetite likes very salty food. Flipping through Dessert Person by Claire Safitz, I found her version of focaccia. I thought it would be great with the soup I was making for dinner. It’s been -35C to -40C for a while and a hearty vegetable white bean soup just soothes me.

I watched her video to see how she made the bread first. I never got the stretch she did because her recipe made it seem like pancake batter. That was just too runny so I added more flour. Then I got the stretch…ish. I no longer have high hopes for this book. And quite frankly, I am finding it disappoints. I really wanted to love this book. I don’t think it was tested enough or maybe the Canadian ingredients and measurements are just soo different. For example, she said two tablespoons of kosher salt or 17g. I weighed out the salt. One tbsp. of Canadian kosher salt was 19g. If this isn’t the biggest reason to buy a scale, I don’t know what is. I shutter to think what it would have been like if I didn’t weigh it. So my Canadian baker friends, weigh everything for an American recipe.

I followed her instructions and rested the dough for 10 minutes before mixing again. I am skeptical that this was necessary but I did it anyways.

I poured the olive oil innto a bowl (use a big bowl, I under estimated.) then put the dough in the bowl for its first rise.

I used a damp towel to cover and let it sit for an hour – this sucker over flowed the bowl!

Then it went onto a half sheet. 13″x 22″ Do not used anything smaller or put it into a large pan, the type you use for lasagna or a sheet cake. This sucker is going to be big! I put it in the fridge over night, covered with plastic wrap. In the morning I let to come to room temperature before drizzling oil and toppings. Dessert person recomends garlic and olive oil. Her book says potates and rosemary. I know what I like so I used Mozzarella Fresca, its herb infused oil and tore Kalamata olives.

Not everyone in my family is an olive fan, so I only put them on half the bread. But sprinkled the entire pan with flakey salt.

It smelled so good.

I baked it for the allotted time. and it came out crispy and chewy, light and fluffy in the middle. I don’t think I will every make any other focaccia recipe again. This one was amazing and the hubs raved about it with every bite making those hilarious yummy noises.

I think the recipes in this book are hit or miss. So far I have baked two recipes that are stellar. The rest are fine or problematic for this Canadian baker.

Here are the ingredients and I recommend giving the video a watch.

Ingredients: 1 (1/4 oz / 7g) envelope active dry yeast 6 cups bread flour (24oz / 780g) 2 tablespoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt (0.6oz / 17g) 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (5oz / 110g), plus 1/4 cup for topping plain focaccia and more for oiling hands Optional toppings and Flaky salt, for sprinkling the top.

Question 8 of 52

Write about a person you admire. What qualities do you have in common with this person?

I spent several days thinking about this one. I don’t have one person I admire, but there are qualities I really admire in people. This isn’t the first time someone asked me this question. Five years ago after I helped a teammate complete 500 miles, his wife sat across from me a peppered me with questions like I was interviewing for a job. At the time I thought it was odd, only learning later this is a cultural difference between Americans and Canadians. We use small talk to find commonalities and then talk about those. Americans (in my experience) will ask pointed questions – like a job interview – to find out more about you. One of the questions she asked me was ‘who was my role model?’. Then asked ‘to be successful do you think you would ever move to New York City? Again, weird. I am Canadian with zero desire to be an American or live there. I like the idea of having a winter home at Big Sur or on Maui but move to a place that is devoid of nature? No thanks. I suppose it boils down to how you define success. Success to me embodies those qualities I admire, not financial worth.

Speaking to her I realized I don’t have a role model. I do live my life to be a good example for my children. How can I expect my offspring to behave in a certain manner when I don’t? I live my values and when I find someone else who lives theirs, I admire that.

Last summer during the big BLM protests, the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen (BA) went through a very turbulent time. I loved BA. I followed the videos, read the magazine, did the BA baking challenge to enhance my baking skills. Then it came out that Conde Nest (the parent company of BA) and BA were practicing racists. One of their staff members called them on it and asked for their resignation. Sohla El-Waylly called people on their shit and demanded change. She didn’t expect change so she was prepared to walk. But walking was scary. Her chef husband Ham was laid off earlier in the year due to Covid-19. She was supporting the family. If she lost her job, they would have to resort to plan B. Living in Jersey in the Father-in-law’s basement. She and Ham talked it over and decided living counter to your values does irreparable damage. She took the leap and watched BA crumble because all of the BIPOC chefs also left and some white chefs left in solidarity. Meanwhile, Sohla was offered a column with Food52 and NYT Cooking, a video series on Babish (where she gets over a million views each episode – suck that Conde Nast) plus five different cookbook offers. She accepted one and it will release 2022. How is that for landing on your feet?

I admire the risk she took. The unknown is scary but compromising values makes life unbareable. I worked one place and was forced to compromise my values day one. Day two I was actively looking for another job. It took a bit and my soul was sucked out almost completely (dementor style) but the horizon was so much better.

I learned that making choices out of fear is the worst possible thing you can do for you and the people who love you. These are the qualities I admire and I try to live them everyday:

  • Advocate for the oppressed and the underdog
  • Choose kindness
  • Lift up people around you
  • Refuse to compromise your values
  • Choose love over fear
  • Love yourself because you matter

My friend reminded me over Christmas that you are no good to people if you don’t put on your oxygen mask first. Take care of you and then you are able to help others. You can’t give from a dry well.

So no, I don’t have one person I admire. I admire qualities in people. There is a long list of people in my circle who live their values and refuse to compromise. When you say no to someone and they get angry, that doesn’t mean you should have said yes. Stand by your values.

How about you? What do you admire in people?

Stay healthy friends!

Bake Club: Grunt

I am not sure this counts as baking because it bubbles away on a stove top making a grunting sound but its made with a sweet biscuit dough so I think it counts. Traditionally it is called Blueberry Grunt and is a long time Canadian Maritime treat with unclear origins. Some say Arcadian and some say Newfoundland but the recipe can be found in all the maritime provinces. I was invited to a Newfie kitchen party in my 20’s and had it then. I have been making it since but as usual, I stray from tradition. I use whatever berries or rhubarb I have in my freezer. Last night it was smoothie leftovers of strawberries and blueberries.

Five cups of frozen berries into a large saucepan with a lid. Add 1/2 cup of water and one cup of sugar. To that I add the juice of half a lime and all the zest from the lime. Essentially this is jam. Bring it to a boil, cover with lid and reduce to a simmer while you make the sweet biscuit dough.

My mom bought me a Danish whisk for Christmas and I had never seen one before. I did some research and learned it was for heavy batters like bread, muffins and quick bread batters. It claims not to over work the dough and keeps raisins from hiding in pockets of dough. It binds everything together without streaks of flour and there are no wood spoons to clean off all that tough batter. I put it in my baking drawer next to my rolling pin. When I was pulling out my measuring cups and spoons, I decided to give this whisk a try.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have no words. This was the easiest batter I every put together and the texture was beautifully smooth and supple. It came together fast – I’d say twice as fast as if I used a spoon or stand mixer. It’s heavy and feels good in my hand. I highly recommend picking one up to add to your kitchen gadget collection.

I used the whisk to pull together 2 cups of flour, 2 tbsp. of butter, 2 tsp. of baking powder, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 cup of milk. Drop spoonful’s of dough over the simmering berries and let it bubble away for 15 minutes with the lid on and no peeking. You will hear grunts and sputters but that is normal. RESIST the urge to peek. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and remove the lid. Let it sit for a while because molten fruit juice will blister your mouth – just speaking from experience. Eat it warm. Adding a sprig of fresh thyme or rosemary to the simmering berries is a way to elevate your game. Cinnamon can be a nice addition too. This basic recipe can benefit from different herbs and spices or is excellent on its own.

This keeps well in the fridge for a few days but do yourself a kindness and heat it up before you eat it. The best cold winter dessert ever.

Let me know what you think! And stay healthy friends!

Question 7 of 52

When you’re feeling confident, what emotions do you experience?

How do you define emotions? This is hard for lots of people. I eat my emotions so I don’t feel them. Well, not so much anymore but eating disorders come back to haunt you and then boom, you are back in the game again.

I think the answer is happiness and joy.

When I do something because I feel confident, it brings true joy. Confidence is about trusting yourself to do what your intuition tells you to do. When that occurs, magic happens and there are sparks of joy and happiness all over the place. I feel really good about it. I felt joy a few times this year. It isn’t a permanent state of being and don’t try to make it that way because it can feel common place. It shouldn’t feel common, it’s special.

I walk around fairly confident in who I am and knowing my abilities. Being comfortable in my own skin took a while but I am there. When I add abilities and use it to complete a project and all goes well? I feel joy.

At some point in the beginning of 2020 I was watching a video series on dough lamination. Alex the French Guy Cooking breaks things down to the molecular level to understand the science of baking. At the time I thought “that looks really hard and complicated, I don’t think I could ever do that.” Fast forward to December 2020 and there I was telling myself I can do hard things and make croissants. A year earlier I didn’t have the confidence. Now I trust myself in ways I didn’t before. It took two days, but I made perfect croissants. They were light and crispy on the outside, tender and flakey on the inside and I could have sold them in a fine French patisserie. I used the recipe from Duchess Bake Shop. Followed all six pages of steps. and the result?

Oh yeah……….. I felt on top of the world. I called my mom and showed her (thanks facetime) I shared it with my friends on Instagram and call my best baking pal to show her. I felt pure joy, happiness and elation.

Confidence is one of those things you have or you don’t . The more you measure your success by your standards, the more you will feel confident. I don’t need outsiders to give me confidence. I need things to work out how I envision them and have it meet or exceed the standard I set. It sounds lofty but I don’t set unrealistic standards because I love the feeling of doing well. Am I wrong about the definition of confidence? Maybe, but it works for me.

What about you? What emotions do you feel when you are confident?

Stay healthy friends!

Bake Club: Bagel Nightmares

I love bagels. Claire Safitz posted a a how-to video on NYT Cooking. It was a recipe from her new cookbook Dessert Person. Only it wasn’. She is a liar. Well…. It wasn’t the same recipe and this caused me stress because I felt like I was doing something wrong. I watched the video then read the recipe. I decided to follow the recipe in the book because so far – the recipes were fantastic. I figured I had nothing to lose. Except I had some issues, complications and problems.

The first one was finding barley malt syrup. No luck. It might be because I am in western Canada, or it might be because its a pandemic, I could not find any. The recipe did say molasses would be a good substitute. I had that – no problem. I used 100% bread flour as directed. My yeast was now a year old – and in my freezer. I had doubts.

I made everything like she directed and the dough was stiff. I had to let it rest a few times along the way just so I could knead it. If I had used my mixer like directed in the book (the video advised not to use my mixer) I would be shopping for a new stand mixer. The dough was that stiff – and very dry. Her video showed a shaggy but definatly wetter dough – ‘Add more flour as needed’ ummmmm Okay – sure it is dry here on the prairies but for the love of all things delcisious – not that dry!

I set it out to rest and rise – nothing. Okay – so my yeast was dead. I kinda expected that. I made everything the way the book advised. left it overnight, did a float test – it did not float – even after the suggested warm up time of 15 minutes. No floating. I popped them into the boiling water and when they floated after 3 minutes – I pulled them out and set them on a rack.

I sprinkled sesame and flake salt on them and baked for 15 minutes as directed. a few got a bit dark but they baked up nice. Cutting them was a another story – hole LEE! These suckers were tough. They were super chewy but SO DAMN DELICOUS!

Okay – I will try again but with new fresh yeast.

I tested and proofed the yeast – so frothy!

Followed the book again – damn the dough is tough. I could barely knead it. It looked like dried up brains. I left it to rise and headed straight to google to do research. I watched her video again. She used baking soda in the boiling water – omits it from the book. Her dough was soft and pliable. WHY???? I did some more research and learned Canada has higher quality flour than America. Canada has a standard that requires it to be 13% protein. This results in higher hydration than their American counterpart. American flours vary from 8-13%. Their bread flour is 13% – the same as our all-purpose flour. WHAT THE HELL??? I then started watching Montreal style bagel recipes and found they used bread flour but had more water. The baking soda makes a softer crust – chewy but penetrable with human teeth and no need for a chain saw to slice it.

Summary: Use more water. Use baking soda. Use less bread flour because we don’t have enough left in the pantry.

This is what happened.

I mixed tablespoons of fancy molasses and 1 1/4 cups of 110F water. 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast and set aside until it foamed – about five minutes.

Meanwhile mix 2 cups of Canadian AP flour and 2 cups of Canadian Bread flour, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Whisk together and make a well in the centre. Whisk the yeast mixture and add to the flour. Pull it together with your hands – add more water as needed. I ended up using another 1/4 cup of water to get the dough to come together. It was soft and pliable like bread dough should be.

I did not add flour to the counter – I kneaded it until smooth. The one on top is the hydrated dough. the one on the bottom is Claire’s version (Canadian ingredients in an American recipe). I kept kneading until it was smoother.

I divided the dough into nine portions per batch. Rolled them into balls and let them rest while I did more research. No one – and I mean NO ONE including Fairmont’s famous Montreal Bagels let the dough sit overnight in the fridge. Claire says do it – I say don’t bother. So I got my pot ready. I filled the pot with about 4L of water – and brought it to a boil. I added molasses until it looked like strong tea. Montreal version use honey and a pinch of salt. I like the dark colour you get from the molasses.

I punched my finger through the centre of the dough ball. and stretched to get a 4″ring. I couldn’t do it with the 100% bread flour – it was too tough. (traditional Montreal Style – roll into a log and wrap around your hand. Pinch dough together.) I covered with a damp towel and put three into boiling water. These fellows floated! New yeast for the win.

After boiling for 2 minutes a side, I transferred to a rack with a towel underneath. Sprinkled with sesame seeds and salt. Placed them on a bed of cornmeal and repeated the process until one batch was ready for the oven. I baked at 450F for 15 minutes. Same as before but none of the bagels were too toasty this time. I think that had to do with the dampness of boiling correctly.

I repeated the process with the 50/50 flour bagels.

I let them cool and then did a side by side visual and taste test. Both were easy to cut – thanks baking soda. Both had a chewy texture expected from a bagel. Thanks bread flour. But my recipe was just that much easier to chew. PLUS it was a bit more tender and had a nicer crumb. the 50/50 is on the left. They puffed up more while boiling.

I had one of the 50/50 bagel for breakfast – lightly toasted with butter. Damn…. it was delicious. I froze half the bagels and will eat the other half for breakfast this week. I won’t be following Claire’s bagel recipe again – mine was really good. Next time I make bagels, I will find a Canadian Montreal Style recipe and compare that for fun.

Stay healthy friends!

Question 6 of 52

Write about a time when you did something you were afraid to try. How did you feel afterward?

I have been afraid to try lots of things. I still fear snorkeling and scuba diving but I will deep dive without equipment because I trust me, just not equipment. I have no desire to jump out of a plane – I don’t know if that is fear or common sense, but heights have been a problem for me for my entire life. Glass walkways paralyze me. I am way better than I used to be and that is all Murdoch’s fault.

Murdoch was a guy I met when I was 20. I didn’t end up being his cup of tea but he sure was mine. I learned a lot of practical outdoor skills from this guy. We were camp councilors in 1988. That summer was one of the best experiences of my life. I regret not bringing that courage with me into the early 90’s. I eventually got back to it but it did damage my soul. Courage was always in my back pocket, it just took me a while to find it again.

All councilors participated in a leadership training weekend. We all did things that challenged our comfort zones. We each had different demons we needed to face. I was fine with performing and loved it. I was terrified of heights and avoided it. There were a series of Initiative tasks we needed to participate in. A scenario is given and the group needs to problem solve a way to over come it. Getting me over a ten foot wall was one of them. I had fear and shame around my body weight because a boyfriend I had (and eventually married only to divorce his ass immediately) was constantly harping and shaming me about how fat I was. Dude….I WISH I was that fat today. I was thin. I was very muscular and could move a piano. I cycled endlessly and had strong legs. I could paddle up and down the North Saskatchewan river. Was I a size 2? no. I was a size 10. I wasn’t a petite fairy princess, I was a 5’9″ outdoor adventurer. The team I was with accepted me for who I was. They got me over the 10 foot wall – I had baggage and shame about it for a long time but they did it. They were supportive and loved me for me. This is the important part of the story. They loved me for me.

Later that weekend, the final event was the zip line on the ropes course. You had to traverse over a single wire with your safety line firmly in place to get to the platform. In my head it was 100 feet high. I think it was 50 feet high it was likely only 20 feet high. Either way, for someone who was scared her body would let her down, this was a big freakin’ deal. I hid down at the beach so I could avoid it. I was petrified. I watched the fellows build it all spring and I didn’t trust the equipment, more importantly, I believed my boyfriend when he said I was too fat to do anything. I had firm abs for crying out loud. (DON’T LET PEOPLE TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE).

Murdoch found me at the beach and he sat beside me. We were close. Very good friends. I wanted to be his girlfriend but I wasn’t his type. I blamed being fat, but I think it had to do with confidence. I was pretty worried what people thought of me and I was always trying to please everyone. He told me I had to do it. Everyone did. It would be the final decision whether I would stay or go. I wanted to stay. I loved it at camp. I loved how the people made me feel. I felt important and special and most of all, accepted. He promised me he would be beside me every step of the way and help me if I needed it. I reluctantly agreed.

We walked to the ropes course and he strapped me into my harness. I trusted him. Then we climbed up to the traverse. I connected my carabiner and began the slow process of hand over hand. Murdoch was right behind me. My team was on the ground cheering me on. My palms were sweaty, my ears were ringing. All I remember is how shaky my arms and legs were. My fear of falling and not being able to pull myself up was real and deep. I was too heavy to save myself (If I could go back in time and beat the crap out of my boyfriend I would. How dare he treat anyone like that.). I made it to the platform and Murdoch helped switch the carabiner to the zipline. My hands were firmly on the bar that would take me into the tree canopy. Murdoch and the camp leader Brian were kind to me. They could see the fear in my eyes but I made it halfway already so I was less fearful. Brian said, “on the count of three, I want you to jump off the platform. Jamie will catch you on the other side.” I nodded my head and gripped the bar. Murdoch whispered in my ear, “you got this”. Brian started the count, One. And I jumped. It took them by surprise but once I got there I wanted it over with. It ended up being fun but I never did it again. I wasn’t that proud of myself again until I completed my first half marathon. Doing something people tell you can’t do is exhilarating.

I took a lot away from that experience. It wasn’t until I began thinking about leaving my first husband that I got the true benefit from that moment. Courage to do hard things. I am more than what people think I am and most importantly, I am what I think I am. I can do it and don’t bother telling me I can’t because your opinion doesn’t matter.

I have no idea whatever happened to Murdoch. I think about him occasionally and wish for him to have a spectacular life. He made a real difference to me. I hope he is happy and fulfilled. I couldn’t be who I am without him. I am grateful.

What about you? What were you afraid to try? Stay healthy friends!

Bake Club: Poppy Seed Almond Cake

I remember my grandma always having a bundt cake on hand to serve when we came for a visit. The visit was called ‘coffee’. I never drank coffee but I always had the cake. My grandma was a good baker. I mentioned before that I received a couple of cookbooks for Christmas. I spent so many weekends trying out Duchess, I had neglected Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz. She is the phenom who stared in the Bon Appetit series Gourmet Makes where she would try some food and recreate it, things like Doritos or Skittles. Nine times out of ten she nailed it or improved upon it (according to her test kitchen colleagues. Where she really excelled was with pastries and desserts. That is what her cookbook is all about.

I read this book from start to finish and I think she has weird ingredients. Spelt and miso in baked goods are not things I have on hand in my pantry. I need to plan ahead when I decide to make something of hers. What I do like is the companion videos that go with some of her recipes. She has her own series produced by her publishing house Penguin. I have watched every video she has released so far. Including the satire video by Novympia. Hilarious because Saffitz isn’t the most cheerful person and she complains a lot. The best part is her being surprised by the instructions in her cookbook. All very funny and on brand.

I chose Poppy Seed Almond Cake as my first foray into Dessert Person. I watch the video here before I read the recipe and began baking it. My first thought was “this recipe is backwards”. Normally you would cream the sugar, eggs, butter and flavourings together first. Then add milk and four in stages. This recipe you combine all the dry in the stand mixer then add all the wet all at once. It is a very easy and forgiving cake.

Flour, sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt all wen in first. I weighed everything because American measurements are slightly different from Canadian measurements and I wanted this to be accurate. It’s been a hot minute before I have used poppy seeds and almond flavoring, so those were the new purchases for this bake.

Then I added the milk, oil, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts.

I didn’t even have to break up the eggs before I added it to the bowl. I was highly skeptical. Then I mixed it on medium high for 2 minutes (set the timer).

It was about the consistency of pancake batter. I poured it into a prepared bundt pan. I used Pam and then floured it. But I don’t think it needed to be floured. I have a non-stick pan and Pam does a great job. Flouring the pan left flour clumps on the finished cake. So proceed with caution.

It baked for a long time, 90 minutes. When I pulled it out, there was a crack on the top (normal) and a nice brown crust (also normal). My cake tester came out clean.

Leave the cake in the pan for about 15 minutes. This is an important step. The steam in the cake needs to release to improve the structure of the cake. The pan will support it while this happens. Pop it out too soon and your cake will break or crack. After 15 minutes turn out on a wire rack over a lined baking sheet. This will catch the crumbs and the glaze drips.

The glaze was simple. Using the whisk attachment for the stand mixer I combined melted butter (weird), orange juice, icing sugar, vanilla and almond extracts. I poked holes all over the cake so it would absorb the glaze. Then I used a pastry brush to apply the glaze. It took and absorbed about five coats. I used all the glaze and you can scoop up the stuff from the bottom of the pan that drips off. I didn’t I was sticky enough.

I let it completely cool because in the video Claire and her mom talk about the odd dense section of the cake and Claire and her mom surmised it was from not letting the cake cool enough before cutting. I had let it cool 2 hours before we cut into it and I still got that strange dense section. It doesn’t affect the taste but it gives an appearance of an under baked cake. My advice is to let the cake sit overnight.

My daughter wanted you to know her review: It was good.

*Edmonton Tourist’s Note: I have made three more since this day. I have been baking treats for my parents lately because mom isn’t up to it and treats are nice. They both said it was the best cake they ever had – and it was Dad’s mom who was the famous grandma in this story – so that is high praise. I did let the cake sit over night and two things happened. It tasted better and there wasn’t that weird ‘under baked’ section of the cake. I also tried it in two loaf pans. This was smart. I froze one and ate one. It baked a little better in the loaf pan and I didn’t get the flour residue. Today I am trying orange blossom instead of almond – because dad want more.

So there you have it. It is one of those old timey cakes that grandmas used to serve for ‘coffee’. It was good – very moist and tender. One of the easiest cakes I have ever made not from a box. I will put the ingredients below because she shares them on her video.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 cups or 465g granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp or 17g poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp or 6g baking powder
  • 1 tsp or 3g kosher salt
  • 3 cups or 390g AP flour
  • 1 1/2 cups or 360g of whole milk
  • 1 1/3 cup or 288g of neutral oil (I used canola)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp of almond extract

Glaze

  • 3/4 cup or 90g of powder sugar
  • 1/4 cup or 57g orange juice
  • 2 tsp melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Question 5 of 52

Write down five things that define who you are, listing them as “I am ____,” statements. Take a few minutes to think about each one. Which quality feels the best?

On my Instagram profile I describe myself as a risk taker, truth teller and dream maker. It has taken me a long time to get there. Most women write: I am a wife and mother. I always felt that implied you are a possession. That may be true for me but not everybody. I worked hard trying to figure out who I am. I was always someone’s something but what was I to me?

  1. I am a risk taker. Fact. I take risks and try new things. I like to experience things rather than watch it happen.
  2. I am a truth teller. Fact. I often say, I am not the friend you want, I am the friend you need because I tell it like it is. Not everyone wants to hear it. I have a couple of friends who are treasured because they are that person for me. I usually say ‘OOOOOOF’ because it is like a punch to the gut, but I always need to hear it.
  3. I am a dream maker. Also fact. I take my dreams and work on making them a reality. They don’t all come true because sometimes you learn it wasn’t a good idea so THANK GOODNESS it didn’t work out. But mostly I can make my dreams come true. I went back to school at age 43 and changed my career and life. I worked hard on my capstone project and turned it into a charity and running project that raised $10,000. I have traveled the world and seen things I had only dreamed of. I am currently working on my dream to retire early and travel across Canada from Tofino to St. John’s.
  4. I am a seer of the in between. I can see things that are in between the obvious or hear the unsaid and can truly understand someone. I have a knowing. If you have the knowing, you understand. Not everyone does and that is okay. Listening to it has changed my life.
  5. I am kind. Kind doesn’t mean doing what other people want or expect of you. It is showing compassion and understanding. Not ripping into or criticizing someone. – I do that sometimes and always regret it but I am human and not perfect. Everyone is living a life that you don’t understand. Their choices may not be your choices. There is a reason for that. Their purpose to learn from their experience not yours. Just because you did something that didn’t work for you, don’t expect someone else to learn from it. They won’t. Be kind and let it go.

There you have five things that define who I am. All of those things help me be a better mom, wife, friend and coworker. But those are only labels.

What about you? Do you know who you are? Stay healthy friends!

Bake Club: Rhubarb Galettes

Back in the summer I asked facebook if anyone had an excess of rhubarb they were willing to share with me. I have a tiny new plant that doesn’t produce much yet. I love rhubarb, it tastes like summer to me and is basically a weed here on the Canadian prairies. A good friend had a bunch and my sister-in-law(SIL) said I could take some of hers.

I took both. My SIL said ‘What are you going to do with all this rhubarb?’ Obviously eat it. I froze two large bags. Last week I was thumbing through my Duchess Bakeshop book (tired of hearing about this book yet? You can buy it here.) and found Rhubarb Galettes on page 165.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t follow the recipe exactly and if I did – I am sure it would have been spectacular. But mine was delicious all the same.

I have three bundles of pie dough in my freezer. Each bundle makes a double crust or 24 tarts. This is my grandmother’s recipe I gave here in the Butter Tart recipe. It is one of the most forgiving, flakey crusts I have ever made. Plus I had enough and then some of rhubarb in my freezer. What I liked about this recipe was the method. The pretty rounds used for the galettes. Most instructions have rough edges or torn pieces to make to look very rustic. I prefer pretty edges.

I made the topping and set it aside:

  • 1/4 old-fashion rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp of butter (I used salted because that is what is in the pantry)

Then I made the filling and set it aside:

  • 3 cups of fresh or frozen rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 3 tsp of cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

I had thawed the pie dough in the fridge the night before then rolled it out on a lightly floured surface. I measured a small plate and bowl to find a 6″ diameter and used it as a template to cut the circles. I got three circles on the first roll, combined the scraps and cut two more then combined the scraps for the sixth round. They are craggy but… whatever, so much for pretty. I placed them on a silpat liner because there was going to be leakage.

I used a 1/3 cup measure to divide the filling between the galette rounds. Then I pleated up the sides of the dough before I added the topping.

What I should have done was add the topping then pleat up the sides. I then baked them at 375F. What I should have done, was chill them for about 30 minutes so they would hold their shape better. Then apply an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. The rhubarb is tart and it needs a tad more sweetness to the crust. But overall these were delicious.

They kept a room temperature in a pie safe for three days. The family enjoyed them. The crust was crisp on day one, soft and flakey day two. I think I liked day two best. None of these turned out pretty like the photo in the book – or in her shop. That is why I think chilling the crust is key because I had a breach when the pie crust laid down to rest.

One day I am going to give Duchess pie crust a try. She uses a combo of vegetable shortening and butter. That makes me curious.

I think about this galette and the different possibilities for filling, like apple or berries. Something that gives you the taste of summer in the middle of a cold winter.

Stay healthy friends!