Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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All the New Foods & Drinks I Made This Year!

One of my goals for 2015 was to “make 15 new food or drink items that I’ve never made before”. And I managed to blow this one out of the water, with 19 new food items!

Chocolate buttercream frosting 1-Jan-2015
sweet and spicy pecans and cashews 12-Jan-2015
caramelized onion, mushroom, apple and Gruyère puff pastry bites 12-Jan-2015
cucumbers with salmon whip and dill whip 12-Jan-2015
slow cooker gingered chickpea and tomato stew 12-Jan-2015
cheese puffs 12-Jan-2015
homemade sour mix 12-Jan-2015
Swiss cheese beer bread 4-Feb-2015
potato, cheddar & beer soup 4-Feb-2015
beer marinated pork chops 4-Feb-2015
brown ale potato galette 12-Mar-2015
black bean & mushroom tortilla casserole 12-Mar-2015
spent grain dog biscuits 28-Mar-2015
rice pilaf 29-Mar-2015
BBQ short ribs 14-Jun-2015
grilled potato skins 4-Jul-2015
blondies 14-Sep-2015
ameretti 23-Dec-2015
roasted beets 24-Dec-2015

As you can see from the above list, I started the year off strong by making a new item on New Year’s Day, and then 6 new items on Jan 12 (for my birthday party). I also owe several of these items to the fact that my friend Amy and I started home brewing beer and our first batch was rather undercarbonated so I found some recipes that used beer as an ingredient to use up the under carbonated beer. And just as I typed  that I realized that I forgot to include all the beer I made on this list, as they are totally drink items that I’ve never made before!! They are:

  • winter ale
  • blonde ale
  • stout
  • hefeweizen

So that’s 23 new items I made this year! Go me!

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I’m cooking beets for Christmas dinner. Wait, why did you think I had a big knife and red on my gloves?

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Christmas Baking 2015

For the official record1, the following baked goods were baked at the annual Snow family Christmas baking extravaganza 2015:

My Mom:

    • Tiger Cookies

Tiger cookies

    • Cranberry Nut Clusters

White Chocolate Nut Clusters

  • Fake Nanaimo Bars2

Fake Nanaimo Bars
Nancy (my sister):

    • brown sugar jam cookies

Jam sandwich cookies

  • cheese crackers

Daniel (Nancy’s friend):

  • lemon squares
  • almond crescent cookies

Beth:

  • shortbread cookies
  • amaretti
Ameretti

Amaretti dough

Ameretti

Amaretti cookies – pre-baking

Ameretti

Amaretti cookies – baked

Ameretti

Amaretti cookies – close up

  1. My blog is the official record. []
  2. Which I’ve been referring to as “Parksville Bars”. Parksville is the town next to Nanaimo. []

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Tomorrow is Christmas Baking Day

My baking plans for tomorrow include:

  • shortbread cookies, the cookies that I’m legally obligated to make every Christmas
  • amaretti, which I’ve never made before but expect to be delicious!

I will report back once all the baking is complete!

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Everyone Deserves Access To Healthy Food

As you may recall, my friend Dr. Dan, in addition to his more-than-full-time job as a professor at the U of G, also runs a non-profit organization called Farm 2 Fork (F2F), in which they

“develop tools to help address food insecurity in the City of Guelph, and beyond. In 2012 and 2013 the students developed Farm To Fork – a website that links people who can donate food to the real-time needs of food banks and food pantries, to improve the quality and quantity of food donated. In 2014 the students worked with the Guelph Community Health Centre to develop programs for the Garden Fresh Box program – a program that brings fresh local fruits and veggies to people who need it. This year the students worked with the national charitable organization Meal Exchange to develop tools for their Trick Or Eat campaign. This campaign – which runs in Canada and the US – sees thousands of university students collecting food for the food banks during Halloween.” (Source: D. Gillis, personal communication that I was too lazy to paraphrase and besides, he said it so eloquently in that email!)

Well, F2F is currently running a fundraiser to support those students. While F2F started as a class project, students really have gone above and beyond – they’ve volunteered hundreds of hours of their time, sometimes even volunteering over the summer instead of taking on full-time jobs to, you know, pay for tuition and living and suchlike. If you donate, the money will go to support these students with things like computer equipment, stipends, and travel to go present about/meeting about/etc. the project. If you donate by the end of December the Dean of the College of Physical & Engineering Science at the University of Guelph will match donations, dollar for dollar, up to $5,000.

So while you are thinking about your end-of-year donations, why not consider donating to F2F?

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What recipe are you known for amongst your friends and family?

Here we go with using the Dec 2014 blogging prompts.

What recipe are you known for amongst your friends and family?

Shortbread cookiesI make the best shortbread in the world. I learned my Great Granny Snow’s secret recipe from my Aunt Wendy. Why Great Granny chose Aunt Wendy from among all her granddaughters to teach, and why Aunt Wendy chose me from among all her nieces to teach, is a mystery, but I believe it’s ‘cuz Aunty Wendy loved me the best! (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on that, Aunt Wendy).

Now, there are two things about this recipe. One thing is that it is really all in the technique. I could give you the list of ingredients (even the super secret tip about one of the ingredients) and the instructions, but you wouldn’t be able to make these cookies. When my Aunt Wendy taught me this recipe, she showed me something about the dough that I have never told anyone and never written down. And it is the key to making the best shortbread in the world.

The second thing is – I don’t even like shortbread.

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New West Food Truck Festival

The donut race wasn’t the only blogworthy eating that I did this weekend. Saturday was the Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest in New Westminster. For 6+ hours, Columbia St (a.k.a., right outside my front door) was lined for as far as the eye could see with 70 food trucks (plus 30 other “food outlets”1.) And the street was packed – it seemed like every truck had a line at least 15 people long and many much longer2. Apparently, an estimated 90,000 attended!

In addition to all the trucks, there was entertainment, like a “chalk zone” for kiddies to draw on the street with sidewalk chalk, dance lessons from a swing dance group, and not one but *two* busker tents hosted by the Arts Council of New West. As you may recall, I’m on the board of the ACNW and on Saturday I did my boardly duty of volunteering at one of the busker tents. Which basically meant being around the tent in case the buskers needed anything and mostly just enjoying the music. Here’s one of them – a father-daughter pair named Roland and Emma Nipp:

During my volunteer shift, I had my dinner #1 – an Australian meat pie from the Aussie Pie Guy3 Omg, that might just be the best meat pie I’ve ever eaten!

I had great intentions of photographing all my meals, which lasted exactly one photo:

Aussie Meat Pie. So delicious. new West Food Truck Fest.

At the end of my shift, Daniel and the kids showed up, and we went off in search of their dinner (and my dinner #2). There were sooo many options that it was hard to choose, but in the end Daniel got a pulled pork sandwich (I can’t remember from which truck) and the kids and I settled on some tacotinas (for the kids) and a burrito (for me) from Arturo’s. Next up was ice cream from Rocky Point Ice Cream, but I was too full to have any! The kids, however, seemed quite enjoy their salted caramel ice cream!

After that, we decided to head to my apartment so the kids could play with the cats and, much to my surprise, you could hear the music from the busker’s tent in my place. It was a clear as if they were performing *in* my living room!

In conclusion: A++. Would food truck again.

  1. I think that refers to the tables of farmer’s market vendors selling food stuffs that were also on the street. []
  2. Some of my friends waited 45 minutes at the Bannock Wagon to get some bannock. Mmmm, bannock. []
  3. As always, I have no affiliation with any of the business mentioned in this posting! []

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I came here to kick ass and eat donuts – the Inaugural PNE Donut Dash 5k race

PNE Donut DashExcept that I didn’t really go to the race to kickass. Because I was really there for donuts. And cotton candy. And a race medal with an adorable running donut on it.

This morning my friend Julie1, her friend Jen, and I participated in the first ever PNE2 5km Donut Dash. The premise of the race is that you run through the PNE fairgrounds before the park opens and you will “be reenergized with tasty Fair treats throughout the course, including mini donuts, cotton candy and more!” (source). Having now done the race, I would like to contest both the phrases “throughout the course” and “and more!”

Before the race, I wasn’t too sure about the idea of eating a donut in the middle of a run – I find it hard enough to stomach my electrolyte/fuel gummies on a run, let alone having a pile of deep-fried dough in my belly, so I probably shouldn’t complain that there wasn’t a tonne of treats on the race course. Actually, if anything, what they really needed more of was water stations on the route – given that we are in the midst of a summer-long heat wave here in Vancouver, a single water station on a 5 km route was definitely not sufficient. I thought I was maybe going overboard bringing my water bottle belt on a mere 5 km run, but in retrospect I was quite glad I did!

PNE Donut DashThe race started on a track at Empire Field, but you quickly veered off that and onto a pathway, and then it was off through the park. I was originally hemming and hawing about whether I was going to run by myself at a fast pace or run with my friends who were planning on a slower pace with some walk breaks. In the end, I choose the latter and I was glad I did because not only is it nice to hang out with friends, but there were apparently 1300 runners in the race and the pathway was quite narrow for the entire route, so I think if I’d tried to run at a faster pace, I’d have been frustrated the entire time being stuck behind slower runners and walkers.

PNE Donut Dash

It was kind of fun running through the park – I haven’t been to the PNE in ages, so it was neat to see the different booths and rides and games and dinosaurs. Because there are dinosaurs there apparently. There were also bunch of kids dressed up as pirates and mermaids and some sort of showgirl-type thing but with hot pink Converse hightops, all of whom were ready and willing to high-five the passing runners. Somewhere around the middle of the race we finally reached our first treat station – cotton candy! There were people handing it out in plastic bags (see the photo) – I insisted on getting the blue cotton candy, which for some reason seemed much more rare than the pink. Then we didn’t see another treat station until the 4.4 km mark3, where we finally reached the mini-donuts, which were also being handed out in little bags4. And from there it was just over a 1/2 km that we had to carry our haul to the finish line, because seriously, who can eat a donut and also run?

When we came to the finish line, I decided to go for a little “sprint”5. I passed a little boy who was maybe 6 or 7, who then decided he was going to race me! So he and I ran for the finish line and he actually veered at me to try to cut me off! Fortunately, despite being short, I still have significantly longer legs than a 6 or 7 year old and managed to get aside to avoid being run into but it only took a couple of strides to catch up and run alongside so that we ran across the finish line at the same time6.

At the finish line, they were giving out the medals and all of the people holding medals at the start of the line had medals with red ribbons, but I could see the guy at the back had blue ribbons. So, because I do always like to be different, I bypassed all the medal giver-outers at the front and went to the last guy in line and asked for a blue one. I said “Does the blue ribbon mean anything?” and he just shook his head, and handed it to me. Then he ran off because he noticed the little boy who I’d crossed the finish line with had walked right past all the medal giver-outers without getting a medal. So the little boy also got a blue ribbon.

PNE Donut DashAfter the finish line, they had fancy mini-donuts – dipped in chocolate with sprinkles on them – that they were handing out one of to each runner. Sadly, they were a bit on the dry side and we honestly wondered if they were just day olds that they dressed up! The sugar-covered mini-donuts that we were given along the race route were much better. Happily, the cotton candy was delicious! I’m sure it was because I insisted on getting the blue kind.

All in all, it was a pretty fun time and I have now earned 3 medals towards my goal of earning 5 medals this year. Next up: Montreal half marathon – more than 4x the distance of today’s run and significantly fewer donuts expected… though I do plan to indulge in some poutine, a Montreal smoked meat sandwich, and some glorious, glorious spruce beer while I’m in Quebec – just not during the race!

  1. You may recall Julie from the zombie obstacle course race and the Longest Game for CF. Clearly, our friendship is based on doing awesome sporty things together! []
  2. That’s the Pacific National Exhibition for my non-BC readers. For my Ontarian readers, it’s like the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition), except more Pacific. I was about to say “except we understand there is more to Canada than just our city *cough* Toronto *cough*”, but then I realized that it has the word “national” in it, so maybe we are saying we are the whole country expect not because it’s just the Pacific part? Or that Toronto is being redundant because it’s says “Canadian” and “national”? Anyway, my heads hurts now, so suffice it to say that the PNE is like the CNE – a big fair with all sorts of exhibits and games and food and whatnot and this footnote is way longer now than a footnote should be. I think I’m still on a sugar rush for the donuts and cotton candy that I had for breakfast. []
  3. hence my comment that it wasn’t really mini-donuts “throughout” the race course. []
  4. And that was it for treat stations, hence my contesting the phrase “and more!” []
  5. I say “sprint” in quotation marks, as it wasn’t *that* fast, but it was faster than we had been going. []
  6. I was going to let him win, but after he tried to knock me off course, I changed my mind! []

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PNE Donut Dash 5 km

And speaking of race medals, another race that I’ve signed up for is the PNE Donut Dash 5 km race on August 23rd. And while getting to have mini-donuts and cotton candy throughout the race course is appealing, I’m really signed up for it because the race medal has a picture of a smiling donut running on it. And who doesn’t want to add a medal with a picture of a smiling donut running on it? Look how happy that donut is!

Of course, now that I think of it, he’s probably running because he knows that the people in the race are going to try to eat him, so he’s actually running for his life! So it’s actually a little weird that he’s smiling.

Another thing that is weird is that in this race, you don’t get a timing chip unless you pay an extra fee of $5. Usually, when you sign up for a race the cost of the timing chip – which records when you start and finish the race so you know how long it took you – is included in the registration fee. But that’s not the case for this race and, being that I’m cheap, I rationalized that it wasn’t really worth even $5 given that  (a) my running watch will tell me how long I took to run the race and (b) they are giving you donuts and cotton candy along the course, so I’m not going to be expecting to set any land speed records that day. As long as they give me my adorable medal, and I get a mini-donut or two along the way, I’ll be a happy camper.

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15 New Food Items That I Made This Year

As previously mentioned, I’ve already completed my goal to Make 15 new food or drink items that I’ve never made before  in 2015 – in fact, I’ve actually surpassed my goal by making *16* new items. I got myself a nice head start by having a birthday party where I made 6 new items that I’d never tried before. Then I racked up a few more items by having made a batch of home-brewed beer that ended up suboptimally carbonated, but since I didn’t want it to go to waste, I looked up recipes that involved beer – those, plus making dog biscuits from the spent grains of another batch of beer totalled another 5 items, which meant I only needed to make 4 other things to hit my goal of 15!

So, for the record, the new things I made so far this year that I’d never made before were:

15 Food Items Made Date Comments
1 Chocolate buttercream frosting (for Daniel’s birthday cake) 1-Jan-2015 I got a lot of compliments on this!
2 sweet and spicy pecans and cashews 12-Jan-2015 Very tasty!
3 caramelized onion, mushroom, apple and Gruyère puff pastry bites 12-Jan-2015 These were a HUGE hit!
4 cucumbers with salmon whip and dill whip 12-Jan-2015 No one seemed all that into these
5 slow cooker gingered chickpea and tomato stew 12-Jan-2015 Pretty good!
6 cheese puffs 12-Jan-2015 Got this recipe from my niece. They were amazing!
7 homemade sour mix 12-Jan-2015 Needed this for a drink I wanted to make, but couldn’t find it in any store
8 Swiss cheese beer bread 4-Feb-2015 Really easy and super tasty!
9 potato, cheddar & beer soup 4-Feb-2015 This was OK (though I’m not a huge soup fan, so YMMV)
10 beer marinated pork chops 4-Feb-2015 Pretty good!
11 brown ale potato galette 12-Mar-2015 Pretty good!
12 black bean & mushroom tortilla casserole 12-Mar-2015 I quite liked this
13 spent grain dog biscuits 28-Mar-2015 made these from spent grains from home brewing. My brewing buddy’s dog loved them!
14 rice pilaf 29-Mar-2015 I didn’t really like this.
15 BBQ short ribs 14-Jun-2015 These were amazing!
16 grilled potato skins 4-Jul-2015 I’d make these again!

I’ll continue to keep track of any other new things I make for the second half of 2015 and see how high a number I can hit!