blueberry layer cake (& we must defund the police)

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Currently in Toronto there is motion that has been put forth by Councillor Josh Matlow and seconded by Kristyn Wong-Tam to reduce the police budget by at least 10% and invest in community resources. Mayor John Tory then submitted his own motion (which as mayor, appears directly on the agenda) in order to bypass defunding of the police, taking the sympathy of councillors that may have otherwise supported the motion to defund. Unfortunately, this is not an acceptable compromise and one that will likely lead to an increase in police budgets if body cameras are implemented. Read Anthony Swan’s breakdown of Tory’s motion here and act now by referring to his page here. 

Again and again advocates have been hitting a wall of reluctance to defund the police by those in political power. Why do people have such differing opinions on defunding the police? I found one answer articulated by Sandy Hudson’s (co-founder of BLM Toronto) article in the Huffington Post –  much of it has to do with different communities have fundamentally different experiences and relationships with police, first of all in the quantity of interactions, and secondly in the nature of those interactions.

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black lives matter: links

So the making of this post does not count as “action” – my blog does not have a following and thus the reach of this post is limited. Rather, this an assemblage of links for myself for the purposes of locating them again when needed in discussions (the number of tabs I have open is getting a bit silly these days). I thought it would be appropriate to tidy it up and share it on the blog as well.

There are many great resources (like this – formerly the BLM Carrd, now a linktree!) out there. What this includes is a reading list with some Canada-specific readings and an action list with Canadian places to donate as well as a quick discussion of registered charity status with regards to making donations (something that has come up in conversations I’ve had).

PLEASE NOTE: I made this blog post prior to to the development of the BLM Canada section of the BLM Carrd. Thus at the time I thought it was helpful to assemble some Canada specific readings and organizations. Now that the BLM Canada section has greatly expanded, I would recommend you first defer to the recommendations of that document for resources and places to donate!

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mango cardamom lemongrass ice cream

mango cardamom lemongrass ice creammango cardamom lemongrass ice cream

Growing up, mango was my favourite ice cream flavour, especially as it was an occasional treat at some restaurants. At home I would acquiesce to strawberry.

This mango ice cream is rather different from the one I used to love, infusing the base with cardamom and lemongrass. It’s not an intensely mango ice cream to avoid overwhelming the other flavours – rather it comes across creamy and fragrant, with a gentle layering of fruit for brightness.

Certainly different… though this ice cream does have the similarity of being my current favourite ice cream!

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salted dark chocolate and almond bars

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Homemade granola bars and I have had a long sordid and crumbly history. Recipes that I came across often relied on honey as an important binder which meant that it was used in quantities that semi-obviated why I wanted to make my own granola bars in the first place – I wanted to make something much less sweet! When I tried to reduce the sweetness, the recipes I made trembled at the sight of a knife, crumbling into pieces once I tried to cut them into bars.

A couple of years ago I thought that I had finally come across a granola bar that didn’t crumble and wasn’t too sweet, as it used more nut butter as a binder. But when I tried to make them a second time, full of confidence, huzzah for hubris! as they too crumbled on me.

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pomelo, coconut & yuzu cream puffs

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Growing up, I always ate pomelo with my grandpa because he was the only one willing to peel them. We’d score the top – always needing to cut deeper than expected to get through the pith – and then wrestle out the fruit from the centre (you can find some photos of the pomelo peeling process here) keeping the peel in one piece. My grandpa would then put a plate on top of the peel to help it dry flat into a flower, and thereafter it would spend a couple months dangling somewhere in the kitchen.

Nowadays I can peel my own pomelos (and I sometimes even cut my own pineapple! how I have grown), though I still look forwards the arrival of pomelos every winter.

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white cheddar & za’atar scones

cheddar za'atar sconescheddar za'atar scones

My introduction to Bouchon Bakery  by Thomas Keller & Sebastien Rouxel began with my sister waxing poetic on everything she had made from the book. Even the chocolate chip cookies were probably the best cookies she had ever made.

This scone recipe is a riff off of their savoury bacon cheddar scones, and they are probably the best scones I’ve ever made.

What’s that – a good scone? Yes – a good scone: i.e. the perennial struggle! There are many things that I tend to make terribly over and over again, scones one amongst them. There have been tough scones, flat scones, scones that are just straight up proper paperweights.

These scones are actually, like, good scones – baking up light while tasting like blocks of butter and browned cheese and herbs.

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olive paste & feta babka

olive paste & feta babka
olive paste & feta babka
olive paste & feta babka

For me, part of hashtag-quarantine-cuisine is reacquainting myself with the contents of my parents’ cupboards.  Such as a tin of black olives with a best before date of Feb 9, 2011 (or perhaps Aug 2, 2011 – I never remember whether the day or month comes first – but either way we can assume 11 refers to the year). I asked someone to try an olive for me. Surprisingly, or rather unsurprisingly, the olives tasted fine.

After meeting my family’s approval for consumption, I still had some reservations of eating them straight. Or perhaps more accurately, I don’t often eat canned olives as a snack, so they ended up being chopped into a paste via food processor. Spread onto a butter-enriched bread dough with crumbled feta produced this savoury babka.

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my (current) favourite hands-off whole wheat sourdough

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this loaf in several words: 67% whole wheat, 80% hydration and minimal interaction

I had put together this post over the summer as I was getting very consistent results with my usual sourdough loaf (though not the loose craggy crumb I dream of!). And if I’m to continue following along current pandemic-baking trends, sourdough is up next, given that many have trouble finding yeast plus newfound time to nurse slow-growing loaves of bread.

But this is a, hmm, casual sourdough, shall we say? It was something I developed when facilitating my inattentiveness and impatience was a priority. The features: single rise and some cheating with the shaping. I really mean the “minimal interaction” part.

I titled this post, “my (current) favourite” back in the summer when I wrote it. I revived my sourdough starter recently (hello again Barty!), and the loaves that I’m making now are not this bread. I’m taking a slower pace, and a renewed interest in techniques that I generally avoided. Like practicing shaping without deflating. Oh and kneading, something I dumped as soon as I was able to in my rather tenuous and unimpressive bread-making journey.

So, my go-to loaf from a different time and a bit of a different world. Not ardently whole wheat (67%) and definitely not too serious.

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almond pear cake

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pear almond cake

I realise that by now much of the Northern hemisphere is well into spring, but my sense of the seasons is arrested back in winter… probably because I’ve barely spent any time outside. The windows are open to get a bit of fresh air in, but I’m still craving heavy warm foods.

This almond pear cake is more definitely a winter-y/fall cake.

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green curry banana bread

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It seems that right now banana bread is taking off! While I’ve never been too big a fan of banana bread, there are exceptions. For example, an exception flavoured with Thai green curry paste and crested with a crispy coconut fragipane of sorts.

I’ve been making banana bread with this flavour profile for years, inspired by a green curry banana bread that was once on the menu at milk bar. Over the years, on the rather rare occasions I’ve made banana bread, I’ve transposed the combination of Thai green curry paste and coconut from one banana bread recipe to the next until I settled on my current favourite. Then four years ago I threw some leftover coconut fragipane cream overtop and all of a sudden, I had a new motivation to make banana bread.

I’ve titrated the curry paste to be just enough to taste and to warm the mouth with each bite. The banana bread itself is on the fluffier and softer end of the banana bread spectrum, which I find a virtue, though still moist.

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