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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Stouffville’s Strawberry Festival

My little town has a big event every year – the Stouffville Strawberry Festival. I think it’s a great idea and event. I joined the committee this year as I wanted to be involved in something big for the town. Got a small portfolio – managing the ‘Social Media’ but in actual fact, it’s just Facebook. I manage and keep the Facebook page current; promoting the events and creating excitement for the festival. At this point we have only 101 fans, up from around 5 in March!

The Festival is starting tomorrow but the big days are Friday, which is also Canada Day, and Saturday. When I drove by Park Dr today, I saw they were setting up for the carnival. The sight of it got me excited about the festival last year and it did the same thing to me this year! Smile

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I’ll blog about the event after it’s over. I imagine I’ll be quite busy during the festival from both working and enjoying it with my family and friends!

In the meantime, if you’re on Facebook, you can check out the festival here: http://www.facebook.com/StouffvilleStrawberryFestival

or www.strawberryfestival.ca on the web.

UPDATE: Post-event blog post here.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2011 in Life

 

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Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake

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I made a simple cake for tea the other day, a Dorie Greenspan cake – Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake. Blueberries were on sale that week – $1.99 a pint – and they were sweet not tart. Eating them with (or in!) cakes is my favourite way of eating many blueberries at one go!

This cake is called a plain cake – “no crumbs, streusel, nuts, icing or filling” – but it is not plain in taste. It is very moist, with blueberries in almost every bite, and has a strong caramel flavour from the brown sugar. There’s also a hint of cinnamon.

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Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake
adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon plus a pinch of salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar (I didn’t pack it)
1/2 cup whole milk
1 pint blueberries – fresh, preferably, or frozen

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter an 11-x-8-inch baking pan and place it on a baking sheet.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and the 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they form firm, glossy peaks.

Put the butter and sugar in the mixer bowl and beat on medium speed until creamy. Add the egg yolks and beat 2 minutes more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the dry ingredients, then all of the milk and then the remainder of the dry ingredients, adding each new batch as soon as the previous batch has been incorporated.

Using a large rubber spatula, stir in about one quarter of the stiffly beaten egg whites. Gently fold in the rest of the whites. Still working with a light hand, fold in the blueberries, and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it is golden and a thin knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and cool in the pan for about 30 minutes before dusting the top with confectioners’ sugar and serving warm. (I served mine the next day and warmed it up in the microwave.)

 

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Baking, Food

 

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Port Perry

I found out recently that I live only 40 minutes away from a local tourist town. The town is Port Perry and it’s well known for it’s “picturesque, Victorian-era downtown, with many clothing stores, restaurants, cafés, bookstores, galleries and antique shops.” (Wikipedia) A stroll in downtown Port Perry ends at a park which fronts a lake. I went for a quick trip with my friends on Friday. We stopped at a bakery that is famous for its butter tarts and had lunch at one of the pretty cafés.  I definitely have to make another trip there and stay longer this time. I don’t even remember the name of the cafe we ate at but it sells a very good roast prime rib au jus sandwich and carrot cake!

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Posted by on June 18, 2011 in Life

 

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Field Trips

The end of the school year is pretty fun for students – they get to go on field trips! Little Guy’s class visited a farm cum education centre at the end of last month and it was a very good trip. They learned about rabbits, goats and chickens as well as making chicken feed and grooming a pony! I went along as a parent volunteer to help the teacher manage the class. It was also an opportunity to meet the other parents and know who Little Guy’s friends are. Kindergarteners are cute!

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Today I went with Big Kid’s class to the Toronto Zoo. I volunteered to go to help and also, I haven’t been to the Toronto Zoo before. Each adult had to watch over 4 kids but I teamed up with Mr. M since it was my first time there. Watching over 8 boys at the zoo is not as easy as watching a group of kindergarteners at the farm, that’s for sure! From the start till the end, Mr. M and I would be calling at one or two of the boys who likes to run ahead of the group. “Charlie! Come back here!” “Danny! We go as a team!” The boys had a good time and I think they enjoyed all the exhibits. Their only disappointment was not being able to watch the sharks and stingrays as that exhibit requires an additional admission fee and parents were told not to send money with their children that day.

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We were there for more than 4 hours and by the time we were on the bus heading back to school, my ears were ringing and I had developed a headache! But I didn’t mind. I had spend a day out with my son, saw a Komodo dragon with him, met his friends and got to know 3 other parents. Smile The only thing is I didn’t manage to make this week’s French Fridays recipe (Roasted Rhubarb)!

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2011 in Life

 

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Homestyle Char Koay Teow (Fried Rice Noodles)

Char Koay Teow, one of our beloved hawker food back in Malaysia. Flat rice noodles fried in a hot wok with shrimp, eggs, bean sprouts and Chinese chives. It’s oily but so delicious! It could be eaten for breakfast (like in the picture below), lunch or dinner!

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Anyway, back to reality here in Canada, we could only find this dish in restaurants that sell Malaysian food. The taste could be pretty authentic if you’re lucky but it’s expensive. I might as well make it at home and fortunately, it’s quite easy. Ready the ingredients as shown below and have a wok on hand.

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Have the oil in the wok hot and put in a generous amount of chopped garlic. That’s the secret ingredient to char koay teow – the garlic. And the chives. Add in the shrimps and fish cake and stir-fry quickly till the shrimps are opaque. Put in the bean sprouts, and a sprinkling of water if the wok is too dry, and give them a quick toss to cook. You want the bean sprouts to be still crunchy. Push all the ingredients to the side of the wok and put in the noodles. Pour a tablespoon of light soy sauce, a teaspoon of thick (dark) soy sauce, some salt and pepper, and another sprinkle of water. Quickly toss the noodles to combine. Push everything to the sides again. Now the fun part – crack the egg into the middle of the wok. Cover the egg with the noodles and leave it! Stand back from the wok and just let the egg cook under the noodles. How long to leave the egg depends on the heat of the wok. You want to let the egg cook enough so that when you toss the noodles, you’ll see big pieces of eggs, not tiny bits clinging to the noodles. You don’t want hard pieces of eggs either. After about 30 seconds, or when the yolk is almost cooked, break up the egg and toss the noodles. Throw in the chives and toss to combine all the ingredients. Do not overcook the noodles or they’ll be too soft. Turn off the heat. Scoop up the noodles and deposit into a plate. You should have something like this:

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I still can’t get the exact taste as the char koay teow in Malaysia and it’s mainly because of the seasoning – the soy sauces I use here are different. I couldn’t get the same noodles too, the rice noodles here are thinner. And I don’t have the traditional wok that contains heat so well that the food cooks faster and better. Oh well, it’s good enough. ;-)

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2011 in Cooking, Food

 

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French Fridays with Dorie: Cola and Jam Spareribs

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is ribs marinated with Chinese 5-spice powder and ground ginger. Chinese 5-spice and ginger? I’m not so sure about that! They are both strong spices and I don’t like Chinese 5-spice powder very much. However, in the spirit of adventure, I went along. The ribs are first rubbed with the spice mixture and then marinated in a mixture of apricot jam, orange juice and lemon juice. The cola gets pour in at the last 45 minutes of roasting. My ribs were marinated overnight in the dry spice rub only as I didn’t have the jam and juice and could only get them the next day. Instead of apricot jam, I bought a bottle of orange jam with orange peel that was on sale. I like the slight bitterness that the orange peel imparts. The second change I made was to use back ribs instead of spareribs.

Baking the ribs was easy but it was a hot day that Tuesday. It was 29C in the afternoon, humidex at 38C! Each time I open the oven door to baste the ribs I would wince! Finally, after almost 2 hours, the ribs were done. There were still a lot of liquid left in the pan. I wonder if it’s due to the pan being small – I used a Pyrex glass pan and the ribs were touching the sides and each other.

Tasting time and …. meh. The ribs were a little sweet and a little bitter and that’s about it. The flavour was mostly on the skin. The flesh beneath was tender but just tasted of pork. Sorry, Dorie, I prefer my ribs to be more flavourful. Dorie didn’t give much description about the ribs so I’m not sure if this is the way it’s supposed to turn out. I haven’t cooked enough ribs to know. It seems more braised ribs than barbecue ribs…

There was almost one rack left over. The next day I pulled the meat off the ribs, shredded them and cooked them with BBQ sauce. Yum! ;-)

I’m going to go read what the other FFWD members think about this recipe. Click here and join me.

 
 

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French Fridays (Catch-up): Spinach and Bacon Quiche

I skipped quite a number of weeks of French Fridays with Dorie (FFWD) beginning the week(s) before my vacation, during and after my vacation. I’ll catch up whenever I can on the recipes I missed like this one. However, this quiche was made mostly because I had to buy a packet of bacon for the bolognese sauce I made earlier and I wanted to use it up! After checking FFWD and AMFT for recipes with bacon, I separated the bacon according to the required number of slices for the recipes, wrapped them up and froze them.

This quiche requires 4 slices of bacon, 10 ounces of spinach, just 2 eggs and 2/3 cup of heavy cream which I substituted with half-and-half. There’s also a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top. I didn’t have to make the tart shell from scratch as I had a Tenderflake frozen pie shell in the freezer. A simple quiche to put together although you do need time to prepare the spinach and cook the bacon till crisp.

Big Kid doesn’t like quiche because he doesn’t like the soft custard but he liked this quiche. The proportion of solid ingredients is more than the custard in this quiche. I like it this way too. This quiche is also a good way to eat lots of spinach! Here you go, Popeye!

(Spinach and Bacon Quiche was the FFWD recipe for the week of May 12, 2011)

 
 

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