Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I've been enjoying holidays with my family, wrapping presents, making herbed salt for gifts (sooo good, I'll post a recipe soon),
watching lots of Netflix, eating Matt's spiced cookies, visiting friends and now we're off to have Christmas with our families. We're having an amazing break, just what we needed.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!


Saturday, December 10, 2011

the cookie exchange.

I don't really have a sweet tooth. I don't love baking sweets and you will rarely see a recipe for a sweet treat on here. That said,
Matt's sister is having a cookie exchange today and Matt committed to making eight dozen cookies. Yesterday our place smelled dreamy, these cookies are really good, like really really good - they are like a combination of spicy and sweet, crispy and chewy with a slight peppery undertone.
The recipe is from America's Test Kitchen cookbook and Matt didn't change a thing. I packaged them up and wrote up labels with packaging from my favourite little neighbourhood store, Urban Source.

Molasses Spice Cookies
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for dipping
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened but still cool
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup molasses
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1/2 cup sugar for dipping in 8- or 9-inch cake pan.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in medium bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.
3. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter with brown and granulated sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and add yolk and vanilla; increase speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Reduce speed to medium-low and add molasses; beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to lowest setting; add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl down once. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at bottom. Dough will be soft.
4. Using tablespoon measure, scoop heaping tablespoon of dough and roll between palms into 1 1/2-inch ball; drop ball into cake pan with sugar and repeat to form about 4 balls. Toss balls in sugar to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are browned, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 11 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking and lightly squashing the dough with the bottom of a cup. Do not over bake.
5. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then use wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack; cool cookies to room temperature and serve. (Can be stored at room temperature in airtight container or zipper-lock plastic bag up to 5 days.)
Matt did the following variation

Molasses Spice with Orange Essence
Add 1 tsp grated orange zest to the dough with the molasses. Process 2/3 cup sugar with 2 tsp grated orange zest in a food processor until fragrant, about ten seconds, then use got rolling in place of the plain granulated sugar in step 4.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I have a confession to make. I preach Shop Local, I'm a small business owner and many of my friends are too. I grocery shop at the local family owned grocery store and the farmer's markets. I love local independent gift shops, toy stores, clothing stores and craft fairs. 

That said, I will shop at Costco for almond butter, organic eggs and almonds. If I'm near a Walmart I'll stop to buy my makeup for less. I've bought books, toys, shoes and more from Amazon.  

I always felt a little embarrassed about it, but justified it simply for dollar and cents. I've had a bit of an awakening tonight. These two infographics were really eye-opening to me and it hit me hard. Shop local, buy better, buy less. 

I want Hannah to grow up going to amazing book stores, magical toy stores, stores where people know your name and remember you - the way I did growing up in Toronto. If I don't support the little guys, that might not happen. I'm going to work really hard at shopping smarter.

Hope you find these interesting. Thanks Åsa for sharing.

Fantastic infographics after the jump. 

Monday, December 5, 2011


There are so many craft fairs in Vancouver during the holiday season. I went to Made It two weekends ago, Got Craft this past weekend and now my favourite craft fair of the year is coming up this week!

Toque 2011 - Western Frontʼs Annual Fundraising Craft Sale
Friday, December 9 from 6-10pm
Saturday, December 10 from 11am-4pm
Western Front, 303 East 8th Avenue, Vancouver

Proceeds from Toque support the Western Front Society, an artist run centre and non-profit registered charity. Held in the 1920s heritage setting of the Western Front in Vancouver, this fundraiser is a great way to support your artistic community.

This year they will have cocktails and snacks, on-site book binding by Publication Studio and an outside surprise by Tin Can Studio. Raffle prizes to be won including a beautiful Linus Dutchi bike courtesy of Whoa! Nellie Bikes and a kidsʼ craft table on Saturday courtesy of Collage Collage.
I always start my Christmas shopping at Toque, with a glass of wine in hand and good friends. Here are a couple of my favourite purchases from the past few years.

* images from Simply Read and Banquet Atelier

This song is making me happy these days.