Saturday, March 31, 2012

One Hour

I'm posting this early today as, for Earth Hour, everything will be turned off in my home. By candlelight I will contemplate the indescribable wonderfulness that is our planet. Our great, big blue marble. Apparently our society is rife with anxiety, at least 50% of us. Here's an opportunity to just sit and breathe.

As for the mystery... it's a small pebble. There are so many of them on just Cherry Beach. Who knows how many other planets there are out there? Well, maybe Stephen Hawking does, but the thought leaves me in awe. We are caretakers, no matter how many others are out there, of a very special place.

I don't often pick things up as I think nature's treasures are best left where they are.

But this one spoke to me. I'll be wrapping it in silver wire and wearing it as a pendant to remind myself always to treat our planet with all the love and respect I can.

Friday, March 30, 2012

About a Month too Early

I hope they survive the return to normal seasonal temperatures. This was the progress two years ago, a month later in the calendar (I took these pictures about 10 days ago).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Old Pecky, and Some Friends

Warm weather means the chip van is back at Cherry Beach. It always reminds me of Roddy Doyle's book, The Van. Well, the gulls get very excited, no wonder, so I sat a while and enjoyed the light on them, which was quite beautiful.

In my family, a seagull is always referred to as "Old Pecky." This comes from an incident where I was sunbathing on a beach on Lake Huron years ago, only to be woken by a sharp peck on my calf. Some gull thought I was carrion I suppose. Hey! I was most offended and teased mercilessly when I reported the story. Ow. Old Pecky indeed. I'd like to know where the flag is for that pole.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


What is it?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Not an Issue

I had my favourite sort of shopping trip today, where I just needed to pick up some ordinary supplies, but I got to tick a lot of things off my list. Chair cushions for my studio and a thermos were on the list, but socks were at the top. I laughed out loud to see "How to Care for your Socks" printed on the back of the packaging, which included the suggestion that I not iron them.

Not going to be an issue.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Big Cake Project 2012, Part Four

One more thing: the chocolate. We used the following: Callebaut 70%, Soma's cocoa powder (a sniff test comparing it to other generic cocoa powders is amazing - the Soma product is just so rich and layered), and Lindt for the tile work. Some generic couveture, unsweetened and more Callebaut white chocolate were used for the tiles.

All in all, 15 pounds of chocolate were used.

Big Cake Project 2012, Part Three

And now for the structure.

The tiles were made of chocolate, either melted dark chocolate or coloured white chocolate. The cake was a devil's food cake, very rich and chocolatey. In between the three layers, we smeared chocolate frosting.

Over the three sanwiched layers, we poured several layers of ganache. In all, four pounds of dark Callebaut chocolate and four cups of heavy cream were combined to make this protective ganache layer - my personal favourite part of the entire cake, I mean it's like truffle in spreadable form!

Pieces of parchment paper were laid on the fondant-covered cake board before the cake was built. This protected the cake board and you can see below how clean it was when we removed the paper.

Ganache was piped in shells around the base of the cake, and here you see how it dried.

We put the tiles in place and here was the finished cake. It was the heaviest cake we have ever made, rich and densely moist.

And here it is at its destination in the Croft Chapter House at the University of Toronto, where it was enjoyed by approximately 70 to 80 people.

And, just as a reminder, the original plan:

Thanks for reading along! We're already excited about next year's project! Thank you so much, Laura and James, for another fun and tasty collaboration. xoxo

Big Cake Project 2012, Part Two

We taped acetate over the colour printouts of the tiles. We then outlined the tiles using melted chocolate on top of the acetate. The finished chocolate tiles would be easily removed from the acetate.

These nifty little icing holders dispensed the melted chocolate with no mess. They're a cool alternative to icing bags, but I'd still use a classic icing bag for very fine work and maximum control.

The chocolate outlines...

Flooding (filling) the outlines with softer, melted white chocolate, tinted with the required colours.

We used powdered tints to shade the white chocolate.

Big Cake Project 2012, Part One

So this was the inspiration: Motawi tiles of Ann Arbour, Michigan. They are great proponents of the American Arts and Crafts style and quality.

This was the plan for the top of the cake.

We taped up a colour mockup, including side panels.

Fun with colours.

An actual Motawi tile of mine was our little mascot.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Foggy mornings...

... became even foggier...

... the new first-thing drink... hydrating with fresh ginger slices in hot water.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, chocolate ganache, chocolate tiles... We're almost there. Watch this space.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Foggy Night

The company was excellent. We saw Potted Potter. Our group was mixed in its reactions. I laughed a lot, but if you see this be sure to take a Harry Potter nut with you, preferably a 12-year-old. Dinner after at Sushi Supreme at Yonge and Wellesely and they keep astounding us with really good food at insanely cheap prices. Four of us were stuffed for $56, before tip. We left $20 each, bemused and delighted. Lots of green-clad revellers out and about, darting like mysterious leprochauns through the fog that has ingulfed downtown Toronto. I love nights like this.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Little Nostalgia

I posted these orginally in February, 2008. Time for a revisit I think, as I've seen a lot more movies this year, and intend to see even more, more regularly.


10. My car will always appear freshly-washed.

9. If I pick up a ringing phone and no-one says anything, I should probably not spend half an hour saying "Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?" (k... that sounded a bit sarcy!)

8. My grocery purchases of the day will all fit into one fairly light, brown paper bag.

7. Apparently it's cool to drop everything and dance around with inter-generational family members to 50's rock classics.

6. No matter how long it takes me and my fellow FBI agent to save the world, we'll never have to stop to pee, sleep or have a snack. Oh - we might have to sleep, as long as the evil guy is on roof, about to sneak in with the machete.

5. When I fall in love, I will suddenly spend an inordinate amount of time with my new mate roller-blading, walking along a beach, jogging, washing his dog, cycling, and having pillow fights.

4. My children will appear to be channelling smart-mouthed, stand-up comedians.

3. That if I have suffered an affliction and need to retreat from the world for a while, that I shouldn't rent a magnificent house on the shores of a lake, especially just after fall leaves have gone and before the snow arrives... oh, and especially one in which something a tad disturbing recently happened.

2. A spontaneous bonking session with my impossibly-handsome new boyfriend will never be marred by thoughts, of "Fuck, I didn't shave my legs... plus I think there are knickers on the bathroom floor."


1. If the police have just left saying "There's nothing to worry about now ma'am", I should not proceed to take a shower.


10. My car will be impossibly small.

9. If my phone rings, I will just turn and watch it until it stops, as I lean against the window jam, smoking a gauloise.

8. I won't ever spend time grocery-shopping. Instead, I will be seen spending most of my time cooking in my impossibly small kitchen and then having endless, graphic, all-nekkid sex among the leeks and baguettes.

7. Family? What family?

6. Jean Reno will terrorize me, seduce me, and then buy me a black leather coat, by which time we will have forgotten which evil nemesis we are fighting.

5. When I fall in love with Colin Firth, we will hurl affectionate profanities at each other and eat fish and chips after the concert, gazing at each other in the unflattering light of a naked lightbulb.

4. Children? What children?

3. My flat will be impossibly small and in need of a good paint job.

2. Knickers on the floor (especially granny pants) will never be a deterrent for my lover (Colin Firth).


1. If the police have just left saying "There's nothing to worry about now miss", I should proceed to take a shower... with Colin Firth.

Friday, March 16, 2012

In Which I Visit my Favourite City Beach at Sunset and go all Bashful

The great film director John Ford remarked that a wide scenic shot should be framed to show a horizon either very low on the screen or very high.


Mr. Ford, I cannot be tamed by mere rules!

And of course, no visit to Cherry Beach would be complete without the little shack being photographed by yours truly.

A couple squatted down to talk to a swan. I can't abide photographing people for my blog without their consent, but they're pretty unidentifiable and it's a sweet picture. If they ever happen to stumble across my blog, I hope they'll forgive my intrusion.

The ambling along the shore as the sun set did me a world of good. And then I looked up at those wonderful trees, and thought of our eerily warm winter and crazy spring-like March, and felt so bad for the trees and shoots and what we're doing for the world that I felt a need to hug one. I felt a need to hug one for my own purposes too. And so I did.

And then I felt a little shy as some people came along, and I pretended to be photographing the bark. Except I really did!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Do you use Your Good Stuff?

I enjoy using my mismatched cups and saucers and delighting in their different patterns. Some are very delicate. I use them as there's no point in protecting them like they're museum pieces. And if I break one? Well, that's just an excuse to go and find another pretty thing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Barmy Charm to the Max

From what I'd seen on YouTube, Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester seemed a little barmy. No worries, I like eccentrics. What we got when we entered Koerner Hall (again, what a venue!) was a night of irrepressible charm.

Raabe and some university friends founded the ensemble with an eye to presenting well-known but also much forgotten music of the 20s and 30s. The program contained such hits as Night and Day and a host of German songs that, of course, I had never heard of. The musicians are excellent and, at the mic, Max himself is a natural performer. He doesn't have a great voice, but he knows what to do with it. His patter was very dryly funny, delivered with an incorrigible wink in his thickly accented voice, and a very easily raised left eyebrow (my favourite gesture on a man). As he paused from singing to let another musician take the spotlight, he would retreat to the grand piano, and lean elegantly against it, clad immaculately in full evening dress, in the manner of a German Fred Astaire.

The songs were funny, rollicking, dreamy and moving and I was variously in tears and in laughter all evening. The rest of the audience was also in heaven. Koerner Hall had added another performance the previous night due to popular demand. I know when the Palast Orchester returns that I'll be there.

Here's a lovely little video of a song they did as the first of three encores. We didn't have the dirigible.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sugar Beach Sunday

It was a stunning Sunday, and it promises to be even more so for another week or so. The creepily mild March we are having brought Torontonians out in flocks on Sunday, and I was one of the few who stumbled happily to Sugar Beach to sit in the white chairs under the pink umbrellas and gaze over Lake Ontario and a large ocean-going freighter, unloading its raw sugar to the Redpath Refinery.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Scents, Sunlight, Tastes, Colours

In other words, a stunning Saturday.

A couple of weeks ago I tasted the delicious broccoli, ginger and lemongrass soup at The Sandwich Box on Adelaide Street West. I attempted a recreation this morning, and it's different but it's good. I don't have quantites. I warmed onion, fresh ginger root and lemongrass in olive oil, added lots of broccoli and vegetable stock.

I had the first large mugful as I pondered cake plans.