January 25, 2014

frozen


I experienced frozen pipes for the first time this week.  No water.  Washing up using a pot which I heated up on our stove.  All in all, not much fun.  I have truly come to appreciate the modern conveniences which I took for granted until this winter.  Things such as water and electricity and the internet.

How did we deal with our frozen pipes? you may ask.  Well, first Mr. A got our space heater and put it near the pipes in our basement that connect to the outside and we jacked up the thermostat.  It may have worked, but a couple of hours later and we still didn't have water.  Problem was we aren't professionals and the last thing we wanted was for the pipes to burst, because that's about ten times worse than frozen pipes.

So I used my veto and called a plumber.  I had to call 4 places until I found someone who could come quickly (ie. the same night).  It seems there were a lot of other frozen and burst pipe issues elsewhere in the city.  I felt a little bit better knowing weren't the only ones who didn't think to leave our faucets on in this frigid weather!

Anyhow, the plumber, bless his heart, came just before 9pm.  He charged us a boatload but he got our water back in about 5-10minutes.  Golden.  I was so happy.  Turns out Mr. A was pointing the heater in the right place, but it might have taken a full day to thaw the pipe out that way.

For the next two days, we left the water on (a very small amount) all day and night in basement sink to avoid another run in with frozen pipes and we've continued to keep the space heater on down there.

Here's to modern plumbing and running water. :)





January 12, 2014

red lentil dal


Have I mentioned that I love soups?  There's nothing better to eat in the wintertime I'd say.  I've posted a few soups in the past.  The vegetable barley is by far my favourite, but the Red Lentil Dal is a great way to (literally! ;) spice up your soup repertoire.  Plus, it's super fast and simple to make, and lentils are very good for you because they're full of protein and fibre.

Here's the recipe!

Red Lentil Dal (Soup)
adapted from Food.com

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups mung beans or 1 1/2 cups red lentils or 1 1/2 cups yellow lentils
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1/2-1 lemon

Directions:
1. Rinse the lentils thoroughly.
2. Bring to a boil with the stock, turmeric, chilli flakes, cumin, cardamom and bay leaves.
3. Let simmer until the lentils are very soft (around 30 minutes), then remove the bay leaves.
4. Sautee the garlic and ground coriander lightly and add to the soup.
5. Let simmer for another 5 minutes.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste.  

I like to add a little dollop of yoghurt on top.  I think it goes perfectly with the dal. :)

Enjoy!



January 05, 2014

starbucks gingerbread loaf dupe, donut-style




You know that gingerbread loaf that Starbucks brings out every holiday season?  Oh, it so good!  I love it. But they only have it once a year.  In previous years this was a sad thing, but this year I found a dupe recipe, oh yeah!

If you're wondering, the dupe recipe did call for a loaf, but I wanted to try my new donut baking sheet, so I made 6 donuts with the dough, and there was enough for 8 mini-cupcakes too.

read to be baked up

all baked up!


icing on top
the extra mini cupcakes. bonus!


Here's the recipe!

Gingerbread Loaf, Donut-Style
adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farine

Ingredients for the gingerbread:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon baking soda

Ingredients for the frosting:
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar


Directions for gingerbread:
1. Preheat your oven to 350˚ F. Grease and flour a donut pan (9x5"), plus 6-8 mini cupcakes.  Or just use one loaf pan.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and salt, then set aside.

3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.

4. Mix baking soda into applesauce and stir into creamed butter mixture. Add flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

5. Pour batter into prepared pans.

6. Bake at 350˚F for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

Directions for frosting:
1. Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and orange zest. Slowly beat in confectioner’s sugar.

2. Once the cake has cooled, evenly spread the frosting on top. 

Enjoy!


January 01, 2014

happy new year! & sugar cookies


I made these sugar cookies for Christmas and then we had an ice-storm which killed our power for a couple of days.   

the ice storm's after-effects

So I'm blogging about them now.  But truth be told, these cookies are great for any occasion, not just the holidays.  You can also freeze them (all will be explained below) and then slice and bake them when you have guests drop by and you're in a pinch.

Also, it's January 1st, so I'd like to wish you a very happy new year!  Thanks for dropping by! :)

one log rolled
the dough of my poppy seed variation, ready to be rolled out
all wrapped up and ready to be refrigerated
cutting up the log into cookies

sugar cookies! all baked up and ready to be enjoyed!

and my fun poppy seed and cardamom variation (my favourite)

Here's the recipe!

Sugar Cookies
adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
Makes about 5 dozen

Ingredients
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar, for rolling
Optional ingredients for a fun variation:
2 tbsp poppy seeds 
1 tbsp ground cardamom 

Directions
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the egg and vanilla, and beat to combine.  Add the flour and salt, mix on low speed until combined.

If  you are choosing to go with the fun variation, add the poppy seeds and cardamom now and mix on low speed until combined.

Turn out the sought onto a clear work surface.  Divide in half and roll each piece into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Wrap in parchment paper, making sure to cover the ends of the roll completely.  Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.  If you are option to freeze them and bake them later, this is where you can also wrap the parchment-wrapped logs in plastic wrap, and then place them in the freezer (they can be kept in there for up to 3 weeks).

Preheat the over to 350F.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper (or a silicone mat).  Let dough stand at room temperature until soft enough to slice, about 15 minutes.  Roll dough logs in the sugar, coating them evenly, and slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.  Place about 1 inch apart on prepared sheets.  Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until golden around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes.  Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!