Bake Club: Cornflake Chocolate Chip Cookie

I joined Christina Tosi’s Bake Club. I decided to try her famous Cornflake Chocolate Marshmallow cookies right out of the gate. I read her recipe and watched her do this on a lot of different videos. I used this recipe. In theory and in taste it is the perfect cookie. I made it. I read the reviews and learned there is something not right about the recipe because it couldn’t possibly be my skills. It was everyone else that was a terrible baker…not me. I will get to that, but first, let’s go through the process (no matter how disastrous the end result was for me).

Step one: Make the Cornflake Crunch (Warning: this stuff should be called crack. It is addicting.)

I made this the day before because it needs to be at room temperature before you use it. I crushed cornflakes and added powdered milk, sugar, salt and melted butter. I tossed them together and spread it out on a silpat lined baking sheet and baked it for 20 minutes.

It tasted familiar but also like nothing I have eaten before. After it cooled I stored it in an air-tight container.

Dang it was good. I would be happy snacking on this. Forget carrot sticks….

The next morning, I began the mixing of the cookie batter because it needed to chill for a while. The reviews said to freeze it, but I trusted Christina and only chilled them in the fridge.

THIS WAS MISTAKE NUMBER ONE.

The first part of the instructions call for beating the life out of the butter, sugar and eggs for 10 minutes. TEN MINUTES! So I did.

This stuff was so light and fluffy you could make clouds with it.

Then I needed to add the flour and mix until almost combined – that took less than one minute. Next add the Cornflake Crunch, marshmallows and mini chocolate chips.

Simple enough. I took my large cookie scoop as instructed and scooped out tightly packed balls of dough and lined them up on a sheet pan to chill a minimum of 30 minutes. I chilled them for four hours because I had errands to run.

The batter made enough for 24 balls. EXACTLY 24 balls. I had weighed the ingredients for precision and was very impressed. The dough tasted promising, like the cookie would be delicious!

The recipe directed me to bake for 18 minutes in a 375F oven.

THIS WAS MISTAKE NUMBER TWO

This yielded flat lacy dark brown cookies. nothing like the cookies in the picture. Luckily it was only six. I shortened the time to 13 minutes and it was a bit better. Then finally to 10 minutes and they were lighter in colour but still really spread out. Super crispy on the outside. Just like the reviews said it would be.

I think the oven was too hot. They taste good, but super greasy and not cookie like at all. I was so disappointed. I had high hopes and wanted this to be a successful return to baking. Now I have a box of toffee with cookie crumbs instead of cookies.

They look nothing like Tosi’s, so my inclination is to say lower the temperature of the oven to 300F or even 350F and bake for 10 minutes then check them. I am not sure if I will try again unless I find the recipe from her cookbook.

I will give bake club another try. I think I will make birthday cake next. It is grandpa’s birthday tomorrow, he would have been 97 and he hated cake. So if it turns out terrible, he won’t mind.

Simplicity

It’s been a while since I have been here. All is well and I hope things are moving along for you too. I have fallen into an easy routine of sleep, eat, work. Not much has changed except I don’t go out. I have driven three times this month. Three. Very strange for a gal who used to commute daily to and from work and then travel to some piece of solitude in a forest somewhere with my dog. I went to a nursery for a curbside pickup, I scouted some green space locations for work, twice. That is all. It feels foreign to operate my vehicle. I long for the day when I can go on a road trip and sit in solitude again.

My baking obsession has made way for my garden obsession. I made babka on the weekend and I feel solid on my bread skills. I know what to look for in yeast, textures and slowly getting the hang of proving. I am not an expert but past Robyn can sure learn a lot from present Robyn.

In case you are wondering, Babka is chocolate bread and worth the three days it takes to make.

I have been drawn to Pacific Trail documentaries. I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed years ago and have always thought that type of quest would be good for me. When I drove from Edmonton to Big Sur, I spent enough alone time to figure things out and learn what makes me tick. What I didn’t do was act on those gut instincts. I suppose it’s all a process. I wasn’t brave enough then, but I am now. I finally acted on some of those inner voice lessons. After watching a few of those Pacific Crest Trail documentaries, I learned a few things:

  1. I like a comfortable bed and find tenting exhausting. Sure there was a time when finances prevented me from comfort camping in a hotel and I enjoyed the stars and wilderness and loud nature quiet, but sleeping on the ground or in a trailer is not my thing anymore. I’d rather be in a cottage with a front step that overlooks nature.
  2. Self exploration is a gift. It can be found through meditation, walking in nature or just sitting alone. You don’t need to walk 2668 miles from Mexico to Canada to to learn about yourself. But it can teach you what you are made of.
  3. I have spent enough alone time with myself to learn I need more alone time. I cry deeply and it cleanses something within me. It happened on a rock watching whales at Devil’s Slide, standing in the ocean at Chesterman Beach, paddling down the river at Saunders, poking my finger in a bullet hole on a church in Freudenstadt, lying in a hospital with kidney (almost)failure. Each time there was an awareness that I was part of something bigger than myself.
  4. The world isn’t going to go back to the way things were. A new way will happen and no one knows what it is yet. Accepting new things will ease transition.
  5. Living simply is easy and restful. Those people on the Pacific Crest Trail learned that by mile 1500. You don’t need much. I don’t think my family needs multiple cars. If we move somewhere more urban we won’t need any. If we move back into nature we will need a couple. I am leaning towards a more urban life where I can walk to nature, the market or the grocery store, the library and (this is where I am trying to think of what else I need but am stumbling) but I will have to drive to work unless they let me work from home forever.
  6. Making food with your own hands is satisfying and meaningful. We ate out once in two months. Was it worth it? No. The food we make is so delicious. We waste less and plan more. We also snack less – or I do, I can’t speak for my family. I make delicious baked goods and we sample that once a day rather than eat like we will never see food again. When I do for myself, I feel comfort in knowing what is in my meal. Simple. Fresh tastes amazing. The green onions on my growing table taste so good in rice, eggs and on sandwiches. I grow it and cook it and eat it. Simple food is satisfying, I can’t think of another word that works better.
Three harvests so far, #4 is for sour cream and onion biscuits.

I suppose I am consoling myself that my vacation has been cancelled and I won’t be traveling out of the country for a very long time. I live a simpler life now and decided to take a vacation in my back yard where I will stand in my garden and let tears cleanse me. Being alone in peaceful silence or loud neighbourhoods will have to be enough this year. I have enough fire wood to sit under the stars and the aurora borealis and poke the coals to enjoy a favourite pastime. Not having disappointments or drama or big expenses won’t be missed this year. A simple vacation is what I need this year.

Basically: Galette Fail but Pizza Wins

This week’s recipe was the Triple Treat Onion Galette. A onion and garlic pie if you will. I know promised to follow the recipe exactly as shown but I didn’t. I didn’t have onions or garlic or scallions. Flour has become a precious commodity and making something my garlic allergy daughter can’t eat and son won’t eat seemed like a waste of flour. So I made pizza dough. It is galette shaped. And that is all I have to say about that. When I had high tea at the Grand Floridian eons ago, I had an onion tart that was delicious. It was a savoury jamy tart and I quite liked it. I imagine this gallet would be similar but on a larger scale. So maybe one day I will make it when I have an abundance of supplies, but for now, I am not risking it.

Instead we decided we wanted pizza and by we I mean my adult children, more specifically, my son. This was where I would spend my precious flour.

I normally make pizza by pouring in a bottle of beer instead of yeast. It is an easy way to get a rise and is quick. We don’t have any beer left and the liquor stores are closed so I made pizza crust the old fashion way, with yeast. I searched the Bon Appétit website searching for BA’s best pizza dough but found this one instead. I had all the ingredients, I read through the instructions and it said I could make the night before and keep it in the fridge. Perfect! That way we could have pizza for family movie night, a long ago tradition we had when the kids were younger. We would make homemade pizza watch a movie, have half-time (a tradition that dates back to family night movies with my dad. At the half-way mark, he would pause the movie, we would get snacks, do any business we needed to and then settle back into the movie, something I continued with my kids. They got to pick their treat, usually root beer and cream soda, popcorn or chips, smarties and reese peanut butter cups.)

The pizza dough was easy especially since I have been watching copious amounts of bread dough videos. Shout Out to Everyday Food, Oh Yum, Preppy Kitchen and my beloved Bon Appétit! I learned that my Kitchen Aid will knead the dough….wait…I have been kneading my bread by hand forever. I rarely used my dough hook before and now I know how to use it properly.

The dough was so lovely it brought a tear to my eye.

This is the recipe from Bon Appétit.

After the dough is mixed and is a shaggy ball, begin kneading. Normally I did this by hand to feel the dough, but the dough hook gives me a better result. It takes about 10 minutes of kneading with the dough hook and gradually adding flour about a tablespoon at a time until the dough climbs up the hook and is tacky, not sticky. This was the loveliest kneaded bread I have ever produced.

I stuck it in the fridge over night and it doubled in size. Normally I would prove it for an hour in the warming oven or a warm spot.

I split the dough in half and formed a circle with my hands, just like they do at Panago Pizza. I made the circle too big, next time I will measure. I preheated my pizza stones and placed the dough on the hot stone. I moved quickly to add the sauce toppings and cheese. Baked it for about 10 minute snad then rotated top for bottom to get even browning.

My kids said, and one is a pizza tasting expert, “this was the best crust they ever had”.

Now I just need to perfect the sauce.

What are you guys stress baking this week?

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?

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.

Image result for evil queen snow white's scary adventures

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.

Basically: Tea Cake

This week’s recipe from Basically knocked my socks off. It’s an Earl Grey Yogurt Cake. You can find it here. This is one of those things that reminds me that Canada is sometimes culturally different from the U.S. A tea cake to me is some sort or bread/bun yeast confection. But this is a quick bread. Either way, I never would have made this had it not been part of the challenge.

I love Earl Grey tea. It’s my go-to hot beverage in the afternoon. I love the floral notes mixed with the black tea. I buy high quality tea because it’s worth it. Loose leaf Twinnings in the tin is my favourite. I’ve made other recipes with Earl Grey, but they have always been steeped, never have I seen a recipe that calls for loose leaf tea. If you face trepidation like I did, rest assured it is worth it and is amazing.

The other thing I learned is streaming the oil into the batter makes it very light. I suppose whisking everything for the full minute helped too.

I set the timer and whisked the eggs and sugar together. One full minute was 45 seconds longer than I would have normally done it and it was worth it. I then added the 3 tbsp of tea and 2 tsp of vanilla.

It was so fragrant!

Then I added the dry ingredients. I’m still not used to separate bowls but I understand why it’s recommended. It keeps the batter light.

Then I drizzled in the oil, while I kept whisking. Honestly that was tricky but the tip to put a kitchen towel under the bowl was smart, use a damp one to keep it from sliding around.

I sampled the batter at this point and made the executive decision not to offer the whisk to anyone. I selfishly kept it to myself.

Having a prepared loaf pan was also smart. I have a 9″ pan but they warn against something too small and recommend holding back a 1/2 cup of batter.

I sprinkled sugar over the top, something I wouldn’t normally do and checked the oven temperature.

A little on the high side. Molly Baz talks about tips in the Basically instagram story. She recommends closing the oven door when you take baking out to test for doneness. That helps hold the temperature in. I learned this last week. Interestingly enough, I now stress over oven temperature. I never used to before.

In it went for one hour. This is theirs:

This is mine. It smells heavenly and tastes better than it smells.

Give it a go and let me know what you think.

Edmonton Tourist: Winter Patios

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There are a couple of places in Edmonton that offer winter patios. Two are standouts for me, Café Bicyclette and Little Brick. Both offer roaring fires and delicious coffee. I am more of a coffee girl than a cocktail girl, so the winter patios that offer alcoholic libations are off my list. If you happen to know of other yeg winter patios, please drop a comment in the box below or shoot me an email and let me know.

I had a medical appointment early in the day that required the hubs to drive and chauffeur me around. After I finished I suggested we head to a winter patio because it was only -14C and was warming up! He is always game for any of my hair-brained schemes so he obliged.

We arrived just after 11:00 am and the thermometer had risen to -10C, perfect for a fire but when we looked at the patio it was empty. He asked me if I still wanted to go or did I want to try Little Brick? I had not had coffee yet and I said, let’s get some coffee and maybe a bite to eat.

We walked into a jam-packed house of people speaking French and eating brunch. Café Bicyclette is located in Edmonton’s French Quarter and as French as the hubs is, I speak more of the language than he does and my French is limited to cereal box and hockey French.

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He looked at the menu and said I think the Pain Perdu French Toast -I agreed as I usually do. Rarely we have different things and I suppose that is what happens to couples to live together for a quarter-century, you kind of morph into the same being with the same likes. Their coffee is some of the best in the city but I noticed they get it from Ace, a local coffee roaster. I really need to get there and have it live and in person. (Hey Dad…we need to have a date!)

We placed our order at the counter and they gave us a number so they could bring our meal out to us. I asked them what are the parameters for the patio to be open because I always seem to miss it. Francois replied, oh, I can open it up for you! So he went in the back and send out someone else to start the fire and get the sofa cushions for us. We stood at the high bar while we waited. Our coffee arrived and I sipped and watched.

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When the cushions were out, we grabbed a few wool blankets from the box at the door and joined the fellow outside. The woodsmoke was lovely. I am not a rookie to outdoor winter fires. Insulation is the key. Place a blanket under your bottom, one behind your back and neck and one over your legs. We stayed there until close to 1:00 p.m.

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I drank my coffee and the french toast arrived. I cut it all at once like I am 3 so I wouldn’t have to fuss on my lap, springing my dinner all over the floor. I love eating here. There is a lot of traditional French Candian fare, their poutine is some of the best in the city. I have had crepes and croissants but this french toast was likely the best thing I have ever eaten here. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, this would be it. Event the watermelon mint salad was over the top delicious.

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The patio is charming with old wooden windows defining the space. We sat alone by the fire until the end when a gal and her dog stopped to enjoy the fire. You could see the remnants of the Flying Canoe Festival, (the ice slide and ice sculptures on the outdoor bar.).  I was content to stay longer but the hubs was cold. He caught a chill and became hypothermic…. reluctantly I agreed to go.

I was so pleased to know the staff was happy to open the patio just by asking. I will make sure I ask the next time it appears closed. I think I will make my way to the Little Brick next and invite a friend who just celebrated her 50th birthday. She seems the type who likes to sit outside and enjoy a fire.

There is a website that lists local winter patios. Check out Winter City Edmonton for all the info. Here is what I found. Maybe I will explore more patios before spring comes.

Winter Patio Locations

Get out and explore people!