Hello Blog Friends! Spring has sprung all over the food blog world it seems, and here on Vancouver Island that means lots of sunny breaks and drizzle. Sunday morning at the Merville 15K race, just north of Courtenay, I had a beautiful run through the farmland up there. The snow was practically glowing off the mountains and it felt positively tropical at times. It was almost entirely flat so it was a great race for getting some fresh air and appreciating this island of ours.
And you have to at least appreciate the freshness of rain if you’re going to live here. The dampness combined with the wind off the water can still leave a chill in your bones this time of year, so dishes like Soup Addict’s Chicken Coconut Curry Soup and Karista’s Winter Vegetable Cobbler are still making appearances in our meal plans over the next few weeks.
Speaking of Karista, we are honoured to be one of her nominees for an ABC Award (Awesome Blog Content). Every time Karista posts a recipe, not only is it completely her own creation but it is usually colourful, nutrient dense and made with classic comfort food techniques. So naturally, I’m having a bit of a Wayne’s World meets Alice Cooper kind of feeling about the whole thing. This blog is a personal passion, a record of the simple pleasures of our lives, but I hope it might also inspire someone out there on the interwebs to experiment in the kitchen, treat themselves, and taste just about anything once. That would in fact be a spiritual bonus, the icing on our cupcake, the marshmallow in our hot chocolate, the funfetti in our funfetti cake. Plus, anyone who gives us an accolade along with a pork recipe is a good friend to have.
The rules are we are supposed to reveal some things about ourselves using the ABCs and then pass the nomination on to five blogs we think are ABC-worthy. So, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, scroll down to the bottom of this post! If not, there’s a reason I brought up dessert – read on!
I first became obsessed with flourless cookies after trying the flourless peanut butter cookie with coarse sea salt at habit a few months ago. It’s chewy, dense, and soft, without any of the dreadful powdery texture in soooome people’s floured peanut butter cookies. Then my sister sent me the link to these flourless fudge chocolate chip cookies from Savoury Simple and I knew we’d have to test them out during my trip to Kelowna back in February. There is an important lesson here: anything a floured cookie can do well, a flourless one might be able to do better.
This double chocolate cookie gets its incredible texture from the egg whites – they form a meringue-like crackled top that dissolves as you bite into the brownie-soft middle. We added a small amount of chocolate chips to ours, and Lake Country Harvest dried cherries to a few of them. They were addictive and very sweet and I’d like to try them again with some more adventurous variations. I had been contemplating walnuts, a touch of cayenne and a few cracks of sea salt on top and then we happened to split a Bubby Rose Beezlebubby cookie last week and it is confirmed: don’t argue with sea salt, cayenne and dark chocolate because they are never wrong. Unless you are a milk chocolate loyalist, which is a serious freaking tragedy but I will try and get over it.
When I got back from my trip, habit’s baker had broke her arm and I had to take matters into my own hands. As usual, a suitable addiction could be found on Epicurious, though I nixed the chocolate chips and added extra chopped peanuts to ours. I’ve varied the baking time on these cookies a fair bit and I tend to hover around the 10 minute mark with a two minute on-the-pan cooling time once I take them out of the oven. My oven is a little hotter and older than most though, and I’d always prefer an undercooked cookie.
So take your hand out of that 10 kilogram Robin Hood bag of flour and back away slowly – if you like simple, salty-sweet desserts, you might never go back.
The ABCs and some blog nominees:
A – Apples. Mr. ST hates the texture of raw apple. I love them and eat one every day. He does, however, enjoy the texture of cooked apple. So I can’t get him to eat cabbage, blue cheese, walnut salad but I CAN get him to eat spinach salad with bacon, roasted apple, pumpkin seeds and maple vinaigrette. Fair trade, I say.
B – Blackforest Cake. On top of our wedding cupcake tower, we had a 5-inch blackforest cake from Cakes etc. (which tasted heavenly but we only got one bite because we forgot to cut it until the open bar had taken a toll on the crowd and soooome people were already digging in. With scoop spoons from our candy bar. It was a good party).
C – Cats. We have two. Sweetpea and Ziggy.
D – Duck fat. I have a big ‘ole jar of it in the back of my pantry from when my Mum and I made duck confit together about a year ago. If you’ve never roasted new potatoes in duck fat, you absolutely MUST.
E – Eastbound and Down. Horrifyingly offensive HBO comedy produced by Will Ferrell. Currently a guilty pleasure.
F – Fall. Easily our favourite season; When we met; When we were both born.
G – Germany. Mr. ST’s family is German. And mine is French. Proceed with any European military history-based jokes you like.
H – Halifax. Our favourite Canadian city.
I – Iberico ham. Way way way better than prosciutto. We ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner while honeymooning in Spain.
J – Jason Mraz. My favourite male singer songwriter and basically the soundtrack to my teenage coming-of-age. Until he sold out and started doing commercials for the state of California, over-selling his “hot geek”-ness and making appearances in every single wedding’s playlist somewhere. Sigh. The only constant is change.
K – Killers. One of my favourite bands of all time. Still bonking myself on the head that I was too financially disciplined to put concert tickets on my Visa when they came to town.
L – La Coruna. Possibly our favourite stop in Spain, this little town was unkind to tourists but served us the biggest, baddest seafood platter of our lives. Also where we learned how to eat barnacles (with sewing pins!). Arrrr, maytee!
M – Maui Where my clan took a family holiday for Sister and Brother-in-Law ST’s wedding. First and last time I ever need to go to Hawaii. Shocking, I know.
N – Nineteen. The age I was when I met Mr. ST.
O – Oregon. We left part of our heart here.You should go.
P – Patience. One of our major opposing features. He has lots. I’ll be working on this forever.
Q – Quinoa. The main grain of choice in our household. Anything rice can do, quinoa can do better. Except maybe sushi. Just don’t.
R – Rootcellar. Our favourite place to spend a Saturday morning. Has the most variety of produce that is B.C. grown, organic or both.
S – Steamers. The pub where my girlfriends and I spent many a night splitting pitchers of beer, listening to local bands, and crushing on the wide variety of men this now defunked place used to attract. Including Mr. ST
T – La Taquisa. Stroll down Cook Street. Hold hands. Breathe deeply. Turn your faces to the sun. And then get a million of their tacos. They’re only two dollars each.
U -Ulla. To us, this is one of the best new restaurants to join the Victoria dining scene in recent years. Refreshing, decadent, French-West Coast style.
V – Vietnam. If we could drop everything and hop a plane tomorrow, this is where we would go.
W – The Whole Beast Salumeria. We have already waxed philosophical about our love of charcuterie. Here’s where they make it happen in Victoria.
X – We have no answer for this one. And it took us hours to come up with this list so we are not ashamed.
Y – Yogurt. Superfood I cannot live without. Specifically Liberte’s Krema Coconut Greek Yogurt.
Z - Zest. Lemon, lime, orange….I love adding zest to dressings, noodle salads, desserts, breading, just about anything. Especially if you’re a salt addict, I highly recommend.
And now, since I am the blog-addict in this household, the responsibility falls to me to bestow the Awesome Blog Content on some of my favs:
The Healthy Everythingtarian: Holly is frank and nerdy and sophisticated and honest and makes amazing food you can feel good about eating. Often times, she’ll show you how to eat well with minimal effort. Also, she’s a runner who puts more emphasis on the feeling of running than the performance of running, so I love her.
How Sweet It Is: If you haven’t visited Jessica’s site yet – why not? She is insanely creative and prolific, churning out foods for any time of day faster than I can bookmark them. She is responsible for the red velvet white chocolate brownies I made at Christmas time. They are now a recurring food dream.
The Guilty Kitchen: Liz and Adrian live in Victoria, they love food and they blog about beer and sharing meals with friends and growing up and having dreams. What’s not to love?
Savoury Simple: Lives up to the name, although I have found plenty of sweet inspiration here too! Nearly every post is something I wish I had heard of sooner, and most of the time I have all the ingredients handy.
SoupAddict: Do I really need to explain this one? What I love most about SoupAddict is technique. There are lots of lazy shortcuts when it comes to soup that don’t impact the final taste. What I love about SoupAddict is that all her recipes come with a distinctive flavour and story, and she takes the time to try out different techniques and really let her freak flag fly. Also, she helps us get our veggies. So she’s good for you.