The way to a man’s heart and a smidgen of mine – my first crush and sugar cookies

Featured Recipe: Sugar Cookies

sugar cookiesI was three and a half, and he was three…he was the boy next door (literally), and I was a toddler with a spirit for adventure. Because of that spirit for adventure I had child locks on my bedroom door to stop me from escaping, but those things were no challenge for me and one summer day I managed to break loose and make a dash for the front door. His mom was in the kitchen and he was in the backyard so I broke him loose as well and took him along on my adventure. Since I was the older of the two I knew enough to hold his hand so he didn’t get hurt. We headed off to my great grandmother’s house (aka Nana’s house) about a half kilometre away, and by some miracle we made it there. Now the normal reaction of a grandmother having two toddlers show up on her door step would probably be to call their mothers (who at this point are panicking thinking their children have been kidnapped), but not my Nana. Nope she invited us in, served us some calico tea and sugar cookies. Our lovely tea service was interrupted by a phone call by my mother, who had alerted the police of our missing status. Not the first or last time the police were contacted or involved in one my childhood escapades. I loved my Nana’s sugar cookies, but I can’t seem to find the recipe right now, so I’ve baked up a batch of Alton Brown’s sugar cookies instead and they are quite good. My Nana put a raisin in the middle of her sugar cookies, I can pass on that now a days. And resort instead to a little bit of royal icing, which is more the style my mom made when we were kids. On Valentines Day we always used to bake up sugar cookies in heart shapes and decorate them with icing and cinnamon hearts. That summer my family moved to a new neighbourhood, but that wasn’t the last time I’d see him, as in grade school we’d meet again and for a short time I even had a crush…my first crush.

Cookie Tips – so I made Alton’s cookies in Calgary where it is extremely dry, so I had to add a splash more of milk to keep the dough together. You absolutely have to chill for 2 hours…so don’t bother trying to cheat on that. And use the icing sugar instead of flour for rolling out…this is key.  I also added the seeds of a whole vanilla bean to the mixture, and the result was delicious!

Click here for the recipe Alton Brown Sugar cookies

The way to a man’s heart and a smidgen of mine – My Papa and an early introduction to ginger

Recipe Featured: Rice Paper Tuna Rolls with Mango Ginger Dipping Sauce

tuna rollsMy Papa, my great grandfather on my mother’s side, was a generous and kind man.  By trade he was a Ford Mechanic, and most people who knew him tell me he had a knack for taking apart a car and putting it back together with less pieces than it came with.  He had his own shop which was central in our hometown and right next door my great grandmother, Nana, had a teashop where folks could hang their hat while waiting for their car to be repaired.  But by the time I was born those days were long behind my Papa, and his full time job as far as I could tell was telling me stories.  While perched atop his knee I sipped a Canada Dry Ginger Ale through a straw and figured out what splendid thing I would share with him that would cause him to open the large red glass candy jar next to his chair and offer me a candy.  There were only two occasions in my life when I was allowed to Ginger Ale (or any kind of pop), the first was as told here at my Papa’s house, and the second is when I was deathly ill with stomach flu, the former being my favourite.  Now ginger is not a fresh ingredient I was aware of until much later in life, and to be honest it wasn’t until I was introduced that I even realized ginger was a flavouring of plant origins.  I always thought it was something that those smart folks at Canada Dry created. However, now more enlightened, I think these early memories of ginger influenced it as one of my favourite flavours, and I enjoy it most in its natural form.  And to this day when I get sick the one thing that comforts me most is a glass of Ginger Ale.  There are many recipes for Ginger Ale, but my opinion Canada Dry has got that right, so why mess with a good thing. I’ve decided to come up with my own recipe that uses a bit of ginger in it.  Those moments with my Papa were such loving moments I feel true comfort remembering them.  I’m sure my Papa never had sushi, rice rolls, and I’m not even sure he would have had mango or avocado.  So what I’m sharing here is a truly evolutionary use of ginger for Papa’s little Port Dover girl.  

Click here for the Rice Paper Tuna Rolls with Ginger Mango Dipping Sauce.

The way to a man’s heart and a smidgen of mine – Love, tradition, and blueberry pancakes

IMG00430So recently I had a couple of experiences regarding love and romance that have inspired introspection and lead me to decide to do a feature called ‘the way to a man’s heart, and a smidgen of mine’. It is much more personal than my other blogging, but I think the road of exploration will reveal some comfort foods you’ll enjoy and unearth some of my food exploration how my comfort foods broadened from basic chicken and dumplings to include international food treats. All of my relationships with men haven’t been perfect, in truth the first relationship I had with a man (my father) was tough to say the least. And of course they say that is one of the most important relationships for a young girl. But despite the challenges in that relationship, I have some positive food memories with him and I’d like to share with you. As to the other relationships with men I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have some really loving and wonderful men in my life (some family, some partners, some friends). But whether it be a challenging relationships or just a splendid one they all make for interesting stories, and because I love food so much, I’d like to share those relationships with you through the lens of food memory. In some cases I think I’ve got a couple creative recipe ideas to highlight some interesting parts of my relationship experience as well.

So to kick off the feature I’d like to share with you a recent story. In the last couple of years I have shared a growing relationship with one of my uncles. He has been helping our family immensely by taking care of my dad, who is not well. I respect my uncle endlessly and despite his own challenges he has really been present in our lives and helping us out over the last several years. He plays a significant role in my life, and my best memories are from our breakfast tradition. We’ve been doing it for a couple years now – each time I come to town to visit he takes me out one morning for breakfast (without fail, every time). Those moments we have together talking, chatting, me pushing the boundary on how much girl talk he can handle, him sharing advice with me on everything from real estate, to golf, to romance. These are my most treasured moments. What we always struggle with in those breakfasts is the world’s biggest breakfast quandry – eggs or pancakes (or savory sweet)? And we’ve now mastered a plan whereby we get our eggs…but we also share one or two blueberry pancakes. So in honour of our blueberry pancake tradition I’d like to share with you a recipe from Martha Stewart Living that is perfect for blueberry season and includes some of my favorite ingredients cornmeal and buttermilk. Cornmeal – Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes (click link below for recipe). I’ve included a few Gayle modifications in the notes. I made these pancakes today and shared them with a friend…they were pretty yummy. A bit of room for improvement in my pancake cooking style, and I need a much better pan…but when the fresh local blueberries pop open in your mouth it is delightful!

Click here for the recipe for Martha’s Blueberry Cornmeal-Buttermilk Pancakes.

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