22 Feb

Snowshoes!

I’ve been talking about snowshoeing for a long time but I’ve never gone because winters in Essex County tend to be dry and have huge temperature ranges so that any snow that does fall melts in about the time it takes to make a snowman.
Not so much this year, with temperatures on par with Iqaluit and more snow than we’ve seen in, um, ever.
So this past family day long weekend I bought my first pair of snowshoes (on sale, by the way) and headed off into the winter wilderness. I’m trying to take advantage of this weather as much as I can.

Snowshoes

Hiking in Essex County is boring since it’s flat as the prairies down here, but for some reason hiking through snow is way cooler. I tried navigating my way through a forest (challenging, with all the fallen trees and thorny bushes) and through a farmer’s field (far easier but not quite as interesting), places that I don’t venture to in normal circumstances.

Snowshoing in Flat Essex County

I got a pair of these TUBB’s women’s 25″ trail walking snowshoes. Nothing too intense. They work really well and I sink maybe 3 inches in about 12 inches of snow, so not too shabby.

I’m itching to use them again. It’s an awesome exercise that’s more fun that work (which is how I feel about hiking in general). I put in a solid 4 hours of hiking last weekend because the weather was perfect.

Snowshoeing in the woods

The BIG disappointment is that not a week after my exciting snowshoe purchase we got a big warm front and the clouds have opened up to rain. The snow is melting folks and I don’t like it. I’m holding out that the winter is not over yet (March is a fickle little month) and I’ll have a chance to use my snowshoes again this year.

Snow Angel in Essex CountySnowshoeing in Essex County

I’m not ready for winter to be over. Because that means spring. Sam doesn’t like spring.

If not, there’s always Algonquin. Snowshoe road trip! Winter 2015.

14 Feb

Valentine’s Day – repost

This post is from 2012, but me feelings about valentine’s day still hold true.


Valentine’s Day was probably my favourite day as a kid. I don’t care what anybody says, nothing beats celebrating Valentine’s Day between the ages of 6 and 12 in the good ol’ grade school days.

You spend an entire weekend afternoon writing out valentines on those little perforated cardboard cards to everyone in your class and sealing them with kisses.

You make sure to scrutinize each pre-written message so that your friends get the “Best Friends” cards, your crushes get the “Be Mine” cards, and those kids that you don’t even talk to get something generic like “You’re A-okay valentine!”.

Or maybe just the girls do this. Yeah, it’s probably just a little girl thing.


This card would definitely have been reserved for the grade school ‘love of my life’

At school you make a little paper bag with a heart and your name on it and you go around spreading the Valentine’s day joy into each person’s bag. Everyone is excited and happy and running high on the sugar from candy hearts.

I’m not gonna lie, I still have most of my valentines cards from grade school. I don’t even keep cards from my family and yet those cards from kids I don’t even see anymore are still hiding in the nightstand at my dad’s house.

That atmosphere of excitement is entirely lost when you reach high school and you’re not friends with everyone anymore. People start dating and it feels like Valentine’s Day is just for couples and you feel left out of the fun. But it’s even more distant when you’re in a relationship and you feel pressured to go over the top for Valentine’s Day with flowers, and fancy dinners, and heart-shaped jewellery.

But for me, it’s about small thoughtful gestures, random acts of kindness, and candy. And of course the paper valentine’s day cards.


This year Matt and I plan to stay in and order take-out and relax with a house full of dogs (we’re dog-sitting 2 other dogs this weekend). Luckily Bagigis found her valentine too:

Bagigis and Corbyn

11 Feb

The French Baker Cookbook Review

The French Baker Cookbook (2)

The French Baker: Authentic Recipes for Traditional Breads, Desserts, and Dinners by Sebastien Boudet

I was really excited to review this book because I the only thing I love more than baking cookies is baking bread. And the only things I love more than baking bread is eating it.

What I Didn’t Like About the Book

There was a lot of detail that was left out of the recipes. It wasn’t challenging for me to put the pieces together because I have years of experience with baking a variety of breads, but someone new to baking would surely be confused. Even I had questions regarding re-feeding sourdough, shaping loaves, and kneading.

Bottom Line: when it comes to baking, this may not be the best book for beginners.

The French Baker -Baguette Recipe (2)

What I Liked About the Book

The book itself is gorgeous. The pillowy hardcover, the matte pages, the beautiful photos of rustic French food, markets, garden, and towns. The writing is romantic, describing the baking process passionately and painting an idealistic picture of French food culture. The author tells a story rather than just providing recipes; I like that.

I was expecting a tome on how to perfect sourdough, but the book contains more than that, more than just baked goods even. It is broken up into sections including sourdough bread, sweet bread, cookies, desserts, and hearty baker’s meals.

The French Baker Cookbook (1)

The recipes that I made came out awesome. I was skeptical about the baguette recipe while I was putting the starter together, but it came through and ended up being one of the best baguettes I’ve made.

The French Baker -Baguette Recipe (3)

La Baguette

The baguette is France’s most popular and most purchased bread- and it’s the worst f their selection of fine breads! The baguette you normally find in stores and bakeries is a fluffy white bread without crust or colour. But with the help of the poolish method you can create beautiful and tasty baguettes. The Polish people brought this leavening method to France at the end of the 1800s and it is based around letting three-fifths of the bread go through prolonged autolysis of 12 hours. The small amount of yeast creates a snowball effect which begins the whole leavening process and produces airy bread with simple but clear sourdough flavour. The method is perfect for making baguettes.

Makes 5 Baguettes

8 cups (1kg) wheat flour + 5 cups (600g) wheat flour
1g fresh yeast
4 cups (1kg) water
45g coarse sea salt

Day 1

Prepare the poolish by whisking the 8 cups of wheat flour, yeast, and water in a large bowl until you have the consistency of pancake batter.

Cover the bowl with a baking towel and let leaven at room temperature for 12-16 hours.

Day 2

After 12-16 hours of leavening the dough should be doubled in size and will smell really nice.

Pour the 5 cups of wheat flour onto a baking table. Create a dent in the middle and pour the poolish from the previous day into the dent along with the sea salt. Mix and knead the dough (there is no need for autolysis since 3/5 of the dough has already rested for 12 hours with the water) until it releases from the table. Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest under a baking towel for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into five equal parts and shape each one into a small ball. Let rest for a couple of minutes under a baking towel.

Carefully shape the balls into baguettes. If you notice that the dough begins to tear, you can let it rest a little bit longer so it can recover.

Sprinkle flour liberally on the baking towel and place the first baguette on it. Create a fold in the towel as a barrier and place the next baguette alongside the fold.Alternate between fold and baguette until the towel is covered, that way the baguettes won’t touch each other but will support each other.

Sprinkle flour on top of the baguettes and cover them with another baking towel. Let the baguettes leaven at room temperature for 3-4 hours or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 500F with a baking stone if you have one.

If you have a baking stone, roll the baguettes from the baking towel onto a floured pizza peel (or to the back of a baking sheet that has been floured). Otherwise, you can place the baguettes carefully onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Score the flour dusted baguettes lengthwise (carefully and not too quickly as they can lose their structure). Note: never score baguettes straight across.

Bake the baguettes in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Let the baguettes cool down on a rack for at least 45 minutes.

The French Baker -Baguette Recipe (1)

09 Feb

Links for a Sunday Morning

Russell Brand: My Life Without Drugs – The Guardian

Drugs and alcohol are not my problem, reality is my problem, drugs and alcohol are my solution.

The Problem With DOVE – The Illusionists

Dove’s parent company is Unilever, maker of Axe, Fair & Lovely and Slim-Fast

Scientists create stem cells without embryos – The Globe and Mail

If it works in man, this could be the game changer that ultimately makes a wide range of cell therapies available using the patient’s own cells as starting material – the age of personalized medicine would have finally arrived.

Pump it up! Weightlifting ‘cuts diabetes risk in women’ – BBC News

They believe the explanation may be partly down to maintaining a greater muscle mass to act as a buffer against diabetes.

The Intersection Of Nutrition And Mental Health – KathEats

Not only does our society encourage us to eat when we feel emotions. . . but we also have psychological and physiological pathways that reinforce that eating certain foods when stressed makes us temporarily feel better.

What Happens to Your Body When You Do Yoga – Women’s Health

A regular yoga practice can lower your resting heart rate—in and after class.

Downward Facing Drones – The New Inquiry

After several years of intense practice, I became concerned about my increasing eagerness to look impressive and strong in classes, to show off my body’s capability instead of attending to the more nuanced aspects of asana, to hold certain poses for competition’s sake, to actually enjoy the inability of others to do what I was doing.

Can you guess the Sport by the Shape of the Olympian’s Body? – Daily Mail

Project by photographer Howard Schatz has laid bare the wide spectrum of body types belonging to 125 athletes