Category Archives: Snacky Stuff

Grandma’s Cherry Snowballs

My grandma is an awesome lady — I wish I knew her better.

She’s still alive n’ kicking, but my grandma has Alzheimer’s disease and hasn’t recognized me  for a long time now. I visit her occasionally and I see her at family dinners, but I could and should visit her more often.

Especially since my grandma has one of the kindest hearts and sweetest dispositions you could ever hope to find in a person — she loves animals and people and I remember someone in my family once telling me that the most terrible cuss they’d ever heard her say was “hell’s bells”!

From what I know from the stories she’s told me, she grew up just a block from where I grew up and attended the same school (back when it was a high school — by the time I went there it had been switched to an elementary school and the high school had been moved to a bigger building down the hill).

I went to the same university as she did, but she majored in social work while I did an English degree.

My grandma even belonged to a sorority (back when sororities did charity work instead of drinking with frat boys) and worked with the YMCA to help underprivileged children.

I remember once she gave me a bottle of pale green glittery nail polish for Christmas, and, upon seeing it, my teenage self exclaimed, “Grandma, this is wicked!

“Oh… well,” she said, “If you don’t like it, I can always take it back.”

Then I had to explain to her that wicked meant awesome, kind of like how bad can mean good. I think she was a little perplexed, but accepted the fact that I liked her present after all.

Haha!

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Parkin & Cake Trials in Pastry School

So, here’s one of the reasons I’ve had cake on the brain:

Whadya think?

I think it looked okay-ish. Tasted great, but looked pretty amateur — I’ve gotta improve my masking and frosting skills.

Y’know, like, when you make something and you think, “This is pretty good…” and then not even 10 minutes later you think, “This is pretty good… but I should have done THAT!” — that’s totally how I felt about my cake project.

It’s comprised of a mocha sponge cake brushed with coffee syrup, layered with chestnut liqueur-infused ganache, and covered in chestnut whipped cream.

My chocolate-coffee-chestnut cake came into being because last week everyone in my class had to make their own cake project and present it to our chef for dissecting and tasting. While my creation definitely wasn’t the prettiest of the bunch, chef gave it top marks for taste and texture.

Besides — I know what I can do next time to make it look a lot better!

This parkin recipe I’m posting today is pretty much the exact opposite of what I was trying to do with my cake project — my cake was supposed to be elegant and sweet, while parkin is a down n’ dirty spice cake snack of the people.

I didn’t realize this before sifting through recipe books and planning posts for the month of November, but parkin is one of the festival foods commonly associated with Bonfire Night in England (which is, sadly, something I missed by about 10 days).

It’s weird timing that I would come across this recipe now, just because of the Occupy movement that’s been hitting major cities — little is it know that the movement actually started in Dataran, Kuala Lumpur, before igniting the high profile protest in Wall Street.

There’s even an Occupy protest happening in Vancouver right now, although I’m not totally sure what it’s supposed to accomplish.

While it would have been good to have a solidarity march for Wall Street or something, there’s not quite enough social inequity and crazy right-wing politicians in Canada to justify a full blown Occupy for any length of time.

Especially considering that the people who’ve pitched their tents on the Art Gallery lawn downtown don’t really seem to have any clear demands, other than to legalize raw milk — a stupid, irresponsible demand to which I’m 100% opposed.

Also, some of the protesters have been going to our local mayoral debates and heckling the candidates. I mean, good job, geniuses — the political change you want will come way faster if you interrupt democratic process.

Ugh.

The other weird thing about the Occupy movement is how the Guy Fawkes mask has been appropriated for the cause.

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Pumpkin Poser Macaroons

Happy Halloween, my lovelies!

What are you dressing up as this year?

Due to circumstances, mostly work and school related, I don’t get a chance to wear a costume and go out to party this Halloween.

The closest I got to being spooky was wearing my fancy cat ears to work on Saturday night and having a coworker draw a triangle nose and sloppy whiskers on my face with red and black whiteboard markers.

I think that’s one step above the last minute cut-two-holes-out-of-a-sheet-and-be-a-ghost costume… or one step below, depending on how ghetto it is to draw on your face with whiteboard marker.

Yeah, I got some stares. I got some compliments, too. Win-win?

Anyways, this year’s Halloween-themed treats are a little less gruesome than last year’s — no blood splatter, no bones — just cute, little pumpkin poser macaroons.

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Oat n’ Walnut Crackers

Life is about balance.

You can eat diabetes-inducing, artery-clogging, oh-god-it’s-so-good! Peanut Butter Cakewiches one day, then make healthy crackers with ground oats, whole wheat flour and natural, cold pressed apple juice the next.

Then you can enjoy them with apple wedges and soft cheese. Maybe a glass of dry white wine on the side… right?

That’s my idea of balance.

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♥ Adzuki-Mandarin Roll // タルト ♥

This adorable cake roll comes from the city of Matsuyama, located on the smallest of Japan’s main islands, Shikoku.

Matsuyama is a must-see city if you ever have the good fortunes of visiting Japan.

Originally, I traveled there for one reason, just to visit Dōgo Onsen, but ended up finding a lot more reasons to love the place!

Old fashioned trams, peaceful and lush public parks, an ancient castle atop a hill in the middle of the city, a sub-tropical climate, and easy to walk around!

Dōgo Onsen is the jewel of the city, though — it’s a 1000-year-old, traditional Japanese bathhouse (open to the public) and model on which the enchanted bathhouse in Spirited Away was designed.

You can just go to bathe in a get-in-and-get-out style, or you can get the Dōgo deluxe treatment: a special robe, a semi-private bath, and then a private room on the 2nd floor with tea and snacks afterwards.

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♥ Mitarashi Dango // みたらし団子 ♥

For those of you who aren’t already used to Asian snacks, this recipe might seem a little weird at first.

Trust me when I say, though, that the hardest part about eating mitarashi dango is finding the two kinds of rice flour that you need to make them! Try to buy the flours at your local Asian grocer or in the gluten-free section of your local supermarket.

Anyways, dango are simply Japanese dumplings — they’re soft, a little chewy, and only very slightly sweet.

You can find different kinds of dango all over Japan, since they’re sold in supermarkets, convenience stores, tea houses, and as street food.

Although, if you’re ever in Japan, make sure you definitely do not actually eat your street food on the street!

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