Mother’s day weekend and collateral baking damage

The sun stayed out for Mother’s Day in Toronto and it was a pure decadence to wander around the neighbourhood and be treated to 2 dinners out. I began the morning with a breakfast experiment that had been setting up from the night before. The recipe claimed to be some sort of fancy french toast- but really it was bread pudding dolled up with lots of berries and some creme fresh. I tried to cheap out with the whole wheat bread sitting on the counter, and it was OK,  but I do think using a nice italian bread or brioche or old croissants would have been much more satisfying. I still have plenty of leftovers and I can’t think of where/whom I can pass them on to. Here is the full recipe and it looks great–I suppose I should stop fiddling with things and go by the book at some point. (warning- just don’t try to make it healthy with whole grain bread!) FRENCH TOAST- Overnight

Later, Lindsay treated me to lunch. We have found an “all you can eat Sushi” spot that is actually quite amazing. At $12.99 it is hard to beat. If you are in Toronto, try it out– California Roll on Bayview.  Even Maddie the 2 year old loves the seaweed salad , edemame and rice. She handles chop sticks better than some adults I know.

In the evening we took a neighbourhood stroll and ended up at one of those fresh ground, organic and locally sourced burger joints that opened up last year next to some grotty old school noodle joints. Still it’s fun to see all the variety out there. Madeline insisted on pedalling her miniature bike the entire way. Since she is still pretty shrimpy and the bike is very low, it was quite a feat to keep her on track through the craggy sidewalks and over the street car tracks. 

There are two junk stores that we pass by everyday. It’s hard to believe that purchases have ever taken place in either store, but I must say the fully lit windows in the evening looked weirdly magical tonight. It’s difficult to assertion any regular retail hours since the hand lettered signage is spare on details, but every once in a while a pile of junk ends up on the sidewalk signalling they are open for business.

And finally, bedtime brought out the Gramma Wood wig. It’s a family favorite. This legendary matriarch of the Harker Family, Ione Wood, dyed her hair red almost to her last days on earth. She was one amazing woman and  she always sported good shoes, a matching purse and a professionally styled hair-do that had been sprayed to last a week. The wig apparently came in handy after swimming. For some reason little kids cannot resist it’s charms. She was Gramma Wood to all who knew her, regardless of actual family ties. I miss her always and suspect that she is somehow watching over all the kids still, and likely squirrelling away liquorice and quarters for the next time we all meet. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


a perfectly imperfect day

Last weekend I made  my way out to the suburbs to spend a glorious day of baking with my new friend Gaiti that I had first met about 5 years ago soon after she was first married. She has an adorable active son and an amazing business where she gets to do her favourite thing…baking for ” The Cupshoppe ”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I packed up 2 year old Maddie in the car and stuffed some favourite pans and fresh cream in my bag. As I pulled in front of the house, Maddie threw up all over her twirly purple dress. After pulling everything off except her diaper and shoes we were able to locate some large sweat pants and a dinosaur shirt to clothe her. She was remarkably compliant and good-natured in spite of it all. Gaiti’s 4 year old son Ayaan and Maddie spent much of the day staking territorial claim over everything in sight and at one point Maddie yelled at the top of her lungs in a glass breaking volume that was truly impressive. Ayaan ever the charmer wooed back her affection with a peace-offering of a talking Elmo.

In the meantime Gaita made the most amazing chicken curry full of ginger, tomatoes, and amazing spices. I am still dreaming about it. We ate it so happily that I forgot to take a picture until only a small serving was left. We also poured over recipe books, wedding albums and life in general.

After lunch was cleared away we were finally on to the task of creating the Creme Brûlée tarts. The pastry was perfectly yummy and flakey (if not beautiful) but the creme needed time to cool. The day had sped by and we divided up the 8 tarts and I packed up the car. The sink-washed twirly dress had dried on the line and Maddie was once again princess worthy and the two kids had become happy companions.

An hour later, I poured the runny creme into a tart shell, dotted it with raspberries, skipped the sugary topping and ate it prematurely…( also eaten too fast for a picture). Perhaps it would have set if left for 3 hours or better yet overnight, but sometimes delayed gratification is over-rated.  Running and dripping all over the plate, it was the perfect way to enjoy the end of a lovely old-fashioned sort of day.

For an expert approach to creme brûlée baked in a traditional way check this out