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.

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….

Basically: Focaccia

I cheated. I know I swore to uphold the recipe and follow the instructions EXACTLY but I didn’t. I added a touch more flour than it called for because I am a bread baker and learned from a grandma (not mine) who knew by the feel when the dough was ready. I will explain in a minute.

The Basically recipe arrived a day early because this bread takes hours to rise and proof and rise again. You can find this recipe here.

I read the recipe through and was happy I had everything I needed in my pantry, including the yeast (bonus, it hadn’t expired yet!). It began with proofing the yeast and feeding it honey. All the things I do to start my bread. I waited patiently for it to bloom. It begins to get foamy and bubbles up to the surface.

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I love the smell of bread yeast. It’s sweet and fragrant just like homemade bread. I weighed out the flour and added it to the yeast liquid. I mixed and it did not form a shaggy dough. It was still gelatinous like gak. I knew something was wrong. I reread the measurements, I got those right. I KNEW this was wrong. It didn’t look like their photo nor did it feel like bread dough. It was GAK.

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ALL WRONG! I wondered what the heck was happening and I think there may be a difference in measures – Canadian vrs American. Plus I am at a high altitude and their recipes are for sea level…well, I am a touch higher by 2500 feet, so I made the executive decision to add more flour. I incorporated about a 1/8 of a cup. Still not shaggy but workable and it looked more like their images. I added it to the oil, just like it said too. THIS LOOKED LIKE TOO MUCH OIL! Oh well, too late.  The dough looked right just swimming in oil. It could be because of the shape of my bowl, but fingers crossed and I hoped it would turn out okay. I had doubts about its ability to rise.

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It told me to put it into the fridge for about 24 hours. I took a sneak peek at 11:00 p.m. before bed.

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I had hope! it was rising! Now we wait…

The next morning I pulled it out and it had risen more and was sticking to the top of the plastic (serious guilt at this point for using single-use plasitc. I am going to purchase a silicone lid for my bowls.). Seriously, use a large bowl for the rise.

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I prepared the pan and dumped a tbsp of oil in the bottom – weird but I think this will give it the fried bread texture.

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I used the fork method as directed but it is fooling no one. This is kneading with forks. I prefer the hand method but this is a no-knead bread.

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I turned it out into the pan and poured the leftover oil over the top. I popped it into the warm oven with the heat off so it could prove.

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The wait began. I left it in for about four hours, maybe slightly less. It spread and filled the pan. This surprised me because I haven’t had bread dough spread like this before.

It sprung back too quickly so I knew it hadn’t finished proving. But. FOUR HOURS!!! So I preheated the oven to 450F and baked it for 30 minutes. I expected the texture to be smooth because nothing seemed correct.

I finished it off with melted garlic butter but four cloves is excessive for a family with garlic allergies. I used a half clove and it was perfect for us. The crumb was light and airy. I was gobsmacked. It was perfect. This was a very easy bread recipe, it just needed a lot of wait time. Definitely a keeper. In spite of the stress and doubts, it turned out perfectly. This is theirs. I think I nailed it.

Let me know how it worked out for you!

Basically

I am a rabid fan of the BA Test Kitchen. Chris Morocco and Carla Lally Music are, in my opinion, WIZARDS. They are magic and I basically worship them. The kitchen has a myriad of other chefs and I watch ALL of their segments each week, but I get super excited when Carla does back to back or they blindfold Morocco and he has to figure out just by taste and touch what the hell is in the recipe and recreated. That man is a SUPER TASTER. I follow all of them individually on Instagram and have chatted with Morocco on occasion (I squeal like a teenager when he replies to me) I am a super fan.

I learned a lot about cooking from my mom and baking from my aunty Mary Poppins (not her real name but her cookies were the best thing EVER). When I had a young family, I learned the science of why things are done a certain way from Martha Stewart. Humblebrag – baking is my superpower. Pies and cookies and my strength. I understand the science and I have a feel for it. I also love to bake. It is fun, relaxing and very satisfying.

Last week Basically ( a section on Bon Appetite magazine that basically teaches new cooks how to do it) announced they are doing a 10-week baking series.

Excuse me?

Ten weeks/Ten recipes of basic baking recipes to teach someone how to do it plus start out easy and work your way to something complicated.

This intrigued me.

Bon Appétit usually cooks and bakes with ingredients that I don’t tend to have on hand in my pantry. Sometimes I will go and gather ingredients to give the recipe a try. I am never disappointed. I decided I wanted to try this baking series and see what I can learn and how complicated do they make things. For example, am I going to have to dirty every single bowl in the house to make a cake? Are there tools I don’t have that they recommend? Like yes to all the questions I have. I am not so sure following their instructions – even if there are videos – is going to be a snap. But I am willing to try because I think it will be fun plus I need to try new foods, stuff that is healthier with less sugar etc. I have decided to take you along with me for the ride.

Today (Sunday, February 9, 2020) Basically dropped the first recipe. Buckwheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies. It told me a needed a few tools that I didn’t have. I decided to buy a new scale (mine has been brought to the mudroom to weigh out Captian’s food), and an oven thermometer. My oven is 20 years old and this past holiday season was a struggle to get the cookies right – I knew I needed a thermometer. I suspect 350 is actually 325 and that just won’t do. I am heading to the Bulk Barn to buy buckwheat flour – definitely an ingredient I don’t have. I am also going to look at their kosher slat. Mine is course – I will see if there is finer salt or maybe flaky salt for the cookie tops post-bake. I have everything else.

When Basically announced this series was coming, they gave a few other recipes to try to tie over my excitement. It’s like they knew me. I landed on Lemon Pound Cake to test to see if I might find this a fun project.

I followed the instructions exactly.

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I brought my butter to room temperature by putting it under a warm bowl.

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I zested the lemons without getting any pith in the bowl.

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I used a HAND MIXER – this I didn’t love. I prefer my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. The motor is going on my hand mixer so it may die before the series is over.

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Mine

I made the glaze even though I normally wouldn’t have. I did everything the way they told me to and I think I recreated the cake perfectly.

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Basically’s

My peeler needs to be replaced, it wasn’t as sharp as it needed to be but seriously – they look pretty close to identical.

My family ate two pieces each – so it passed the taste test.

Catch up with me next Sunday to see how the cookies went. If you are doing this with me – comment below or over on Facebook. We can talk about problems and successes.

WE CAN DO THIS!

Pie

It is a big weekend here in Canada. Most people will celebrate Thanksgiving, and by celebrate, I mean eat turkey and pie. I invited my parents to join us for Thanksgiving dinner back in September. They are continuing their adventures overseas and are currently in France somewhere near Versailles.

Thanksgiving Days Past barely registers a blip on my radar. We always went to my grandmother’s home and family would come from across Canada. It all changed once my grandfather died. I didn’t really want to go anymore because the dynamic was different. I still went for a few more years, but then I stopped getting invited, so I stopped asking to come. There are three times a year when I think of grandpa most, Canada Day, his birthday and Thanksgiving. Those were his favourite holidays.

I am back to loving the holiday dinner again. It was wonderful having my parents join me and my family. We sat around the table and ate turkey, cabbage rolls, stuffing, carrots and homemade rolls. I destroyed the cranberry sauce by burning it to a crisp. There was a time when that would send me into a panic, and I would make the hubs run to the store for fresh supplies. This year I said, “oh well, no cranberry sauce this year”. This proves to me that my meditation practice and mindfulness techniques are working for me.  I did make homemade pies because pies are my superpower. I am much better at baking than I am at cooking. Some people say there isn’t a difference, but I disagree. I do think some people are good at one or the other.

I am a baker.

Usually, I am somewhere in British Columbia in the fall and manage to visit a pumpkin patch and purchase a few sugar pumpkins, my favourite for pies. I travelled to Smokey Lake Pumpkin fair looking for said pumpkins but honestly, the pumpkin selection was terrible. The alpaca wool selection was AMAZING! If you are looking for wool, that is the place to be, if you are looking for sugar pumpkins, not so much. I heard a rumour Safeway has some sugar pumpkins – or at least they are called pie pumpkins, I will investigate the difference but I have tins of ED Smith pumpkin in my pantry so I think I will just simplify my pie for the weekend. After all, Thanksgiving is over for me.

I have had requests for more recipes sprinkled into my blogs. So dear reader, I share my Pumpkin Pie with you. But first – pie alternatives.

Pie alternatives

  • You can bake the pie filling in a casserole dish or pie tin without the crust for a gluten-free experience or for those people who just don’t want the crust. This is one of the few pies that will still behave like a pie without the crust.
  • Sprinkle white sugar over top and use a torch to brulee it. The secret to a great crackle top after you torch one layer, add another layer of sugar and torch it again.
  • Crush pecans or your nut of choice and sprinkle on the bottom before adding your pie filling. I like to toss the nuts in maple syrup.
  • Adding ¼ cup of cream cheese adds richness and tang if that’s your thing. Sometimes I like to do this and will include orange zest.
  • Pie filling spread over phyllo pastry and rolled into a log. The spiral it into a greased pie dish. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sanding sugar. You’re welcome.
  • Add pie filling to your cinnamon buns before you roll them up for baking. This takes cinnamon rolls to the next level.

 

Pie things to keep in mind:

  • The type of pumpkin you use is important. If you are not roasting sugar pumpkins, then use ED Smith or Libby pumpkin purée. NOT PUMPKIN PIE FILLING. The difference is huge and worth it.
  • Use one tin of evaporated milk and supplement with whole milk or half and half. I have used full cream, as in whipping cream and that was decadent. Never use skim or 1% milk, the pumpkin custard needs fat.
  • Crust – I use butter to make my crust, cold butter. I blind bake by docking the crust and using pie weights – I use kidney beans I use over parchment paper – I reuse the kidney beans for every pie crust blind bake, I think my beans are several years old.
  • Crust part II – feel free to use a frozen deep-dish crust. I do sometimes because it’s quick. To make it taste like homemade, thaw completely and transfer into your pie plate. Same rules as above.
  • Always bake your pies on a baking sheet. It saves your oven from spills but more importantly it helps brown your bottom.
  • Nutmeg is the devil… I never add it

Pumpkin Puree

Cut and seed pumpkins. Cut into manageable chunks and place flesh side down in a roaster. Add one cup of water to the bottom. Preheat your oven to 400F and place the pumpkin on the center rack for one hour. When done it will be fork-tender.

Remove flesh from the outer shell and mash in a bowl. It is at this point I place into two cup mason jars and process. I make about six jars of pumpkin. My pal Captain loves pumpkin, so I always reserve some for him. Apparently, pumpkin is good for dogs and they love it. Don’t add salt or sugar until you are ready to use in recipes.

 

Pie Filling (for 2 pies)

 

4 eggs

1 can (398 mL) EDSMITH Pumpkin OR two cups of your own fresh pumpkin puree.

2 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar

1 tbs (5 mL) ground cinnamon

2 tsp (1 mL) ground ginger

1/2 tsp (1 mL) salt

1 ½  cup (175 mL) milk. Use one tin of evaporated milk and top up with milk or cream of your choice.

Beat eggs lightly in a medium bowl.  Add the pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt – stir until well combined. Blend in milk. Pour filling in pie shell. Whisk together egg and water – brush the egg wash on crust.

Bake at 425°F (220°C) for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (180°C) and continue baking 30-35 minutes longer or until knife inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool. Best served the next day – this lets the spices mingle. I serve with brandy cream (whipping cream, brandy and icing sugar – all to taste and whip until soft peak stage).

Edmonton Tourist: Bountiful Farmers’ Market

There is a new indoor market in Edmonton I was curious about it. I have been to other cities with indoor markets like Seattle or Vancouver. I like the atmosphere of these places. Edmonton has a year-round indoor market in Old Strathcona. The Strathcona Farmers Market is busy and bustling with long-time favourite vendors. The new Bountiful Market is similar but not as bustling as the other ones I had been to. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the lack of people crashing into me. I think this is because of the wide isles. The number of people there had to be as many as found in Strathcona. The cars were parked as far as the eye could see in either direction on 97 street plus the parking lot was full.

The place smelled clean and not of fish or farm. It was bright and airy with a variety of stalls that I hadn’t seen before. Often you go to the City market or 124 street and you can find the same vendors. This all seemed new.

I arrived as it opened with my pal Andie in tow. Our first stop was coffee for here but I just looked around and chatted with her when she wasn’t chatting with people she already knew. People say I know a lot of people but Andie knows twice as many as me. The crowds hadn’t begun to build so it was easy to talk to vendors. I liked the way the stalls were built. Each had a frame and a sign. It was consistent and pretty. I had no idea how important that was until I experienced it. It made the space inviting.

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Most vendors were set up for taste samples. I tried everything from gin – deep regret that I didn’t buy it. I will need to go back to buy some- to gelato. There were pretzels and perogies plus endless fruit and vegetables. The flower vendor had the loveliest peonies available. It made me think of a friend of mine and her lovely garden. She should consider selling cut flowers at different markets.

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We stopped often and spoke to everyone. I sampled things that were delicious and tried some things that I wish never entered my mouth. But that’s how it goes and why you should taste before you buy. My taste isn’t for everyone.

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It excites me that we have another indoor market in Edmonton and on the south side that’s close to me. Soon all the stalls should be filled and then this place will really be hopping!

You can find it here:

  • 3696 97 Street, Edmonton
  • 9am – 5pm every Friday, Saturday, Sunday — all year.

For more information visit Bountiful Farmers’ Market and say hey to the Trouble Monk people, their gin is delicious.

Perfect Poach

It was a Christmas miracle. The most perfect poached egg I have ever created. My daughter let me know it was better than the one she had for breakfast Christmas Eve morning at a restaurant. It was visually beautiful, tender and tasty. All the things you hope for your own poached egg when making Eggs Benedict.

Fun Fact: In 1894, Lemuel Benedict, a Wall Street broker, who was suffering from a hangover, ordered“some buttered toast, crisp bacon, two poached eggs, and a hooker of hollandaise sauce” at the Waldorf Hotel in New York. *Does anyone know what a hooker is in reference to hollandaise? A vessel? A measurement? A gal to join at breakfast?

I have been trying for years to achieve the perfect egg to lay across my back bacon (Candian Bacon for you out-of-towners. No, we do not call it Canadian Bacon, its back bacon and its nothing like bacon. Its ham.) I have tried the vortex method – stirring the water to create a vortex, but you can only cook two eggs at most using this method. I have tried baking them in ham cups in the oven, delicious but easily overcooked plus I miss the tang from the vinegar in the cooking water. My eggs always come out shaggy. Then one day I found the secret!

I was watching Bon Appetite on Facebook – I love the test kitchen videos. Brad from It’s Alive is hilarious. Priya is new but is my favourite. I love Carla and her blind instructions. Andy is just really great to look at. Don’t even get me start on Claire and her series on replicating store-bought stuff. She made Skittles from scratch people, FROM SCRATCH! Then there is Molly. She is pretentious, but she is always right, so I listen to her. She was bang-on about the Caesar salad so I figured she would be correct about eggs benedict for a crowd. Who can poach a dozen eggs at once? Molly can. She is a genius.

You can watch the video like I did. I didn’t expect it to be so spectacular. Cracking the egg over a sieve was amazing. You lose the watery bits of the egg white but not enough to lose the egg.

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I dropped it into the water (laced with salt and vinegar). It was just six eggs I was making, only three of us for breakfast Christmas morning, I cooked them for longer than three minutes. I like my eggs almost firm. My girl likes them runny – so that was fairly easy until her egg kept cooking and wasn’t running at all. So she will get a three-minute egg when I make Christmas Breakfast for my parents when they return home from Europe.

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LOOK AT THAT PERFECTION!!! This was an egg without the sauce. I made more the next day and used up the back bacon and added cheese. I put another half English muffin on top and called it a breakfast sandwich. Eggs done this way are magical.

Thanks, Molly!

 

Peanut Butter

Who was the person that taught you to bake? I had many teachers. Mostly my mom was my teacher. Sundays were spent in a high volume extreme bake-off. We would make a list the previous week and then shop for all the ingredients. The list would include dinners for weeknights and several batches of tarts and cookies. You could easily find 20 things in the freezer before nightfall. Organization skills were my mom’s superpower. I take after her. I can knock off 150 cookies 4 dozen tarts and a pot of soup before noon.  Well, that was today. I drove home from a Red Deer work thing, called my mom and rolled up my sleeves to power bake. I was done by 1:00 pm and started at 11:00 am. 

Fast paced was not something that described my grandmother. She was slow and methodical. She did one thing at a time. Multi-tasking was not something she was interested in. Where my mom taught me how to knock off a lot of things to save time in the future, my grandmother taught me about relaxing as you do one thing. Both methods have a place in my life. I have to admit to following my mom’s method at work and at home the most. But every now and then a slowed relaxed baking session is delightful. 

My grandma made little step stools from mandarin orange boxes that were available at Christmas. We used them for sitting in front of the TV, standing to reach things in the pantry but I used it to raise me up at the counter so I could ‘help’ bake. 

My mom let me use tools like beaters, crack eggs and measure milk. Grandma never let me do those things, but she did let me watch. Mom let me lick the beaters or sample the batter. Grandma didn’t but I stole batter when she wasn’t looking. Mom let me open the oven door so she could put trays of cookies in the oven. Grandma made me stand back far from the hot oven. The experiences were polar opposite but there was one thing grandma let me do and that was to press cookies. 

Very carefully she rolled out peanut butter cookies on a baking sheet. they were all the exact same size and evenly spaced. It always looked as if she used a ruler to measure the distance for consistency. Once all the round balls were on the sheet, it was my turn. She had a set of glasses that my aunt thinks were duralux. Small juice glasses with a starburst pattern on the bottom. It was my job to dip the glass in flour and press the cookies evenly – not too hard and not too soft. When I made these cookies with my little gram, we used a fork dipped in flour. I pressed the fork into the dough, dip in flour and press again in a cross fashion. This was more fun than eating the cookies. I have been searching ebay and vintage glass sites forever trying to find that particular pattern. My aunt told me they shattered easily so maybe there are none left in existence? At any rate, in my mind’s eye, all peanut butter cookies ever made have that pattern.  I made some today using grandma’s recipe. Because I love you, I am sharing the recipe – and all the variations with you. This isn’t the Kraft Peanut Butter recipe that uses egg, sugar and peanut butter. My recipe has flour to make it a proper cookie with a subtle flavour of peanut butter because let’s get serious, too much peanut butter is too much is too much peanut butter and who needs that? 

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1 cup salted butter (does anyone use unsalted?)
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter (smooth because my son always thought the crunchy part was bees – save the bees people!)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar – I use dark, not golden. 
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375F
  2. Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars together in a bowl; beat in eggs. (I use a mixer to get the right texture. Mix until it looks fluffy and is lighter in colour than when you started. 
  3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir into butter mixture. Put dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour. (I sift directly into the butter mixture. I don’t usually refrigerate unless the dough is too soft and I can’t roll into a ball,)
  4. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and put on baking sheets. (I use an ice cream scoop and don’t roll) Flatten each ball with a fork (dipped in flour to prevent sticking), making a crisscross pattern. Bake in a preheated 375 F oven for about 10 minutes or until cookies begin to brown. (Forget the brown part – 10 minutes or until you can smell them.) One sheet at a time please!

This recipe makes 110 cookies. So I like to mix it up. The first tray of 35 is traditional with fork pressed method. The second tray I roll the balls in sugar then flatten with a flat-bottomed mug or cup. The third tray I add chocolate chips and drop without flattening. 

Pirate Cookies were a favourite of mine, to recreate those, mix 1/2 cup peanut butter and 2 cups icing sugar for a buttercream frosting and thin as needed with milk. Sandwich the cookies with the frosting in the middle. So sweet but extra decadent. Serve with milk and a splash of tea unless you are an adult, then its tea with a splash of milk. 

18 for 18: St. Albert Farmers’ Market

I love the rain. I woke up to buckets of rain falling from the sky and thought about my plans to visit the St. Albert Farmers’ Market with my mom. I immediately thought to bring my lovely umbrella that I do not get to use nearly enough! I packed another umbrella for my mom. I live as far from St. Albert as humanly possible for an Edmontonian. It is a good 40 Minutes from my house. We hopped onto the Henday ring road and made our way north. I had a vague idea where to find the market because google. I learned about the shuttle service from the village transit centre but we decided to take a chance on parking close to the downtown core. I am sure the rain kept the crowds away and we did score a sweet spot across the bridge. It was a perfectly lovely day for a walk.

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Everyone who has told me about this market raves about how amazing it is. Truth be told, it is pretty fantastic. Great selection, interesting vendors, and bigger than any market I have been to in Canada. Obernai, France is the biggest one I have ever been to.

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We tasted nifty things and saw very talented artisans showing their wares. I met some interesting Babas and Guidos, old-school farmers who invent their own tools and sell them or cook for days so you can recreate a Ukrainian feast in your own kitchen. A few garden markets had tomatoes, rhubarb, herbs and berries and two different craft breweries were on hand with samples. But my favourite? There was a birdhouse that was called ‘Train Station’, it reminded me of the front porch where I sat with my grandpa while he told me stories of the wild west and how he was a pioneer (all fabrication of course but that was part of the fun) and I loved that little birdhouse.

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I spent money on a wired knife gadget that did amazing things if you practice and I bought a new willow wreath for my fence. It is an exact replica of a wreath I bought the year I moved into my house in 2001. I needed a new one because it had disintegrated and just looked like a pile of sticks.

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My mom bought fresh Arctic Char and we reminisced about eating it when we lived in Yellowknife, she bought craft beer for my dad and she also bought the weird knife gadget from that guido farmer who I thought was a genius. We walked up and down the streets for about two hours, stopping to listen to music or chatting with vendors. I even ran into an old friend who looked fantastic. I loved everything about the morning and was so glad I made the trip. It is too far for me to go to every weekend when there are great farmer markets in closer proximity, City Market comes to mind, but I will go again and perhaps on the next rainy day.

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If you haven’t visited, think about it. Go early and stay long. Details can be found here.