Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I hate small food.

Kitkat’s culinary skills have always left me in awe. Tasty treats inside sugar bubbles not only make my teeth scream for more, but leave me as wide-eyed as a child when they get their first bottle of gin for Christmas. Kids do get excited about that don’t they?

From a pair of Fluevogs on a cake pillow to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre reproduced in sponge layers and ganache there is nothing the man can’t do while making it look easy. Martha Stewart is similarly inspiring with her “good things” that she seems to make with next to no effort.

For the most part though, I like Julia Child and her “forget about making it look like it belongs in a magazine” approach when it comes to cooking. My pies might bubble over the odd time but that just means I filled them up real good.

Occasionally however, I will forget the last time I tried my hand at something fussy like using a needle to poke all the bubbles out of an aspic before it sets or making chocolate leaves, and think, ‘sure, I can do that’. Foolishly adding as an afterthought, ‘this won’t take long’ and/or ‘it will be fun’.

Enter the world of small food, specifically, mini butter tarts. Why would I buy the ‘two bite size’ variety when I can make pastry and melt butter and sugar all on my own? Christmas carols on the iPod and rolling pin in hand I set to work. Dough and filling preparation were easy as pie. Pardon the pun. Even cutting the rounds and putting them in the mini muffin pan was doable, if a little taxing on the first few test runs.

Using the tines of a fork to make a little pattern around the top was a bit finicky, but with flour to keep it sticky free, off I went. All the recipes I read said not to fill more than a third of the tart lest it overflow during baking. In those tiny cups though, that looks downright stingy so I went to the halfway mark.

Sure enough, the cup runneth over, as it were, and out of the oven came butter tarts securely cemented into their cups. I let them cool for about an hour and ruined two trying to pry them from the sugars grasp. It was not to be and while they tasted fine, I couldn’t very well ask everyone to gather round the tray with a spoon and say “have at ‘er”.

I was thankful for the frigid weather we are having however, when out of desperation, I set them outside for a quick freeze. Once solid, I gave the pan a solid smack on my butcher block and then took a knife to flake the caramel off the pan and voila! I had freed my treats.

The crunchy bits were placed in the tarts for a little extra something and they turned out to be rather yummy. My ensuing batch of shortbread though was of the scotch variety and the gingerbread men remained royal icing free. One high maintenance endeavour as year is enough for me.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Embargo Complete, More Numbers

For no other reason than ‘just because’, I imposed a jeans embargo on myself for the 30 days of November. I found denim to be my default choice for casual wear and wanted to change things up a bit. Even on official dress down days at work, I opted instead for khakis or a dandy pair of plaid slacks.

Yesterday, as I slipped on my favourite pair of A&F Baxter boot-cut low rise jeans, I noticed they were snugger than usual around the thighs and buttocks. Surely after 7 months of cycling I wasn’t getting heavier! Even though it is much easier to justifying my daily intake of tea biscuits, cake and pie, my twice daily 35 minute spin class must be burning something.

The jeans snapped up no problem-o and were quite loose on my whippet thin waist. Further investigation was required. I am normally not one to parade around the house in my gitch, total lie, do it all the time, but I had not checked out my gams for a while. The guns ~ POW POW ~ you betcha, so I trooped off to my full length mirror and I can actually say I have nice thighs and the golden globes are a little more voluptuous!

Back in the day, I used to do squats, leg presses and the like, but always had a backside as flat as a griddle and legs that looked like twigs. I guess cycling is what I should have been doing all along! I even have what they call the ‘tear drop’. Now, I’m not saying I have monstrous, vein popping slabs of beef a la Draper or Schwarzenegger, but for someone whose brother used to say “those legs are lucky, lucky they hold you up” and be quite proud of himself, I am rather pleased with the boilers.

That is what they are now called, boiler #1 and boiler #2. They are the engines that drive me to work and the name has a nautical je ne sais quoi about it. Instead of coal, they are stoked with protein and run rather smoothly, even in the wind and rain.

I am a little concerned about what will happen during their winter break, but am going to keep riding as long as I can. Working on the 19th floor might turn out to have it’s benefits ~ the boilers will be kept pumped and toned!