Get Baked In the kitchen

November big cook

This is actually only about the apple cake…

So Toby likes to cook – and often likes to make a big pot of something. And it’s been a while since we’ve had people over so I thought we’d have people over for a late thanksgiving feast. Except Indian foods. ‘Cause that’s something Toby is particularly good at. So I’m not sure why we tied it into thanksgiving – because even US thanksgiving is next weekend. Oh maybe that’s when we were going to do it but then some people couldn’t make that date…anyway. Back to the story. That isn’t actually about the big cook part.

Toby made 3 different meat curries: butter chicken, beef curry, and a meatball curry. And then three veg: my absolute favourite saag paneer, daal and a mushroom curry.

My iPhone skills are not nearly good enough to take pictures of curries that look good so you’ll just have to take my word for it (and our guests’ word for the mushroom curry being amazing; no way was I going to eat it!).

One friend brought samosas, another brought homemade naan (sooooo good). Indian sweets came with another friend and another brought a lemon panettone. And another brought a batch of home-made Manhattans *swoon*

So… what was I gonna do? Toby originally asked for pavlova (his favourite) and a chocolate layer cake. So that’s what I was going to do. Until a couple of days before the dinner when we pulled out this binder full of his mom’s recipes from a while ago. Some obviously from when he was a kid because they include such gems as (for a different recipe):

…I like to use apricot jam because it is not sweet, Toby likes raspberry jam because it is sweet.

At least he was a normal kid!

There are also a few curry recipes in there, including one I remember from the very first time I ate at the house in Ancaster: egg curry. Toby says it’s a very British thing.

Anyway, I was flipping through and asked about “apple cake.” Toby immediately went misty-eyed and asked that I make it instead of the chocolate cake. (Note that the pavlova was likely never in danger of being superseded).

So – it’s a lovely, super straightforward recipe. And I have my amazing mother-in-law’s permission to include it.

Too many apples; and also used cinnamon sugar from The Spice Trader from last year’s advent calendar.

Ingredients and instructions:

Butter (or otherwise grease well) a 9″ spring form pan.

Oven at 350*

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

Cream the butter well. Then add sugar and eggs and mix until smooth.

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Add the flour and baking powder and mix again until smooth.

ORIGINAL NOTE: Pour mixture into pan, it is quite thick

MY NOTE: The batter will be really thick. Really. There is no pouring here. Scoop it out of the bowl and into the pan; make it even though don’t press down too much.

  • 3-4 large tart apples – peel, core, slice into eighths. Press into the dough round side up.

MY NOTE: The original says in a circular pattern so I started on the outside and then filled in the spaces with smaller pieces. I should have taken more pictures!

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar

Mix and sprinkle over the apples

Bake for 1 hour

  • 3 oz butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

Mix well together; pour over the cake and then bake at 325* for 1/2 hour more.

This is what it looked like out of the oven.

Toby got an advance taste:

You can kinda see the layer of the base then it gets a bit smooshed where the apple is and then the top bit

I was worried it was a bit dry. Because I followed the recipe to the letter. Which I actually do know I should NOT do for times etc because every oven is different and runs hotter or colder or whatever. So I worried. Because that is what I do.

I was thinking about what I could do and my brain immediately went to salted-caramel. Please tell me it’s not just me lol

And then of course, Joy of Cooking to the rescue and I attempted to make salted caramel sauce for the first time.

Joy of Cooking cover compilation from Joy of Cooking

The recipe itself was pretty simple and straightforward but I really think a lot of cookbooks would be a lot more helpful if they included a little more help along the lines of, for example here, “err on the side of pulling it off the heat a little early because once it’s too late, well, it’s just rubbish.”

It looks lovely – especially in my vintage glass jar. And it smelled divine. And tasted ever so slightly burnt. Sigh. But also 🙂

So a big lesson re-learned: Timing really is everything sometimes; the key is to know when it matters.

And also your friends will probably eat whatever you make because they know you did your best and even “slightly not exactly right” baked goods taste great when made at home with good intentions.

Around the house In the kitchen

Random cleaning chores

It occurred to me, probably as I seem to be inundated with “spring cleaning” e-mails, that there are some things that I really ought to schedule into my life. The things that you don’t think about on a day-to-day basis.

This happened to me also because I was reading a short story about bugs in a ceiling light fixture and looked up and there was a bug casting a shadow in the family room light fixture so I took down the five fixtures on that floor and gave them a good wipe and dusted the bulbs and stuff. And felt very accomplished.

So I googled “monthly chores” and “seasonal chores” and poked about a bit.

Somethings that I haven’t thought about cleaning:

  • baseboards
  • curtains / blinds
  • screens – like computer, tablet, phone
  • the in-house garbage cans
  • light fixtures

Things I have thought about cleaning or have actually cleaned in the past but can’t remember the last time I did:

  • the dishwasher
  • the ovens
  • the coffee maker (this is fine, I just got a new one!)
  • the outdoor bins
  • pillows

I am grateful that we have someone who comes to our house every other week and does a really good clean of the bathrooms and kitchen and also vacuums and gets all the floors clean.

So I made a new page in my journal for monthly chores, so at least I have someplace to start! I guess I will also have to do one for “seasonal chores” – I mean, I don’t think I need to clean the ceiling light fixtures monthly….but maybe they do attract a lot of bugs. I’ll have to monitor!

So – cleaned the dishwasher on 6 March. We pretty much run the dishwasher every day. Toby cooks a lot (yum)! and we’re mostly still working from home so there are lots of coffee and tea mugs and water bottles and lunch plates etc.

I took out the filter and washed it. Took out the spray arms and soaked those in soapy water while I wiped down the rubber seal and the sides of the door – how the heck does the side of the door get so gross?!? For all the general wiping I just used a cloth and some random “all purpose cleaner” I got in some eco-friendly cleaning subscription box of stuff I once got seasonally that has now sadly gone out of business.

Then I reassembled all the parts, put a bowl of white vinegar on the top shelf and ran a sanitizing cycle.

until next month anyway…

What’s next?

This week’s focus I think will be catching up on all the mending – Q has a few stuffies with ribbed seems and a couple pairs of trousers that need mending as well.
Also I need to get going again on the basement. I’ve gone through the shelves under the stairs, so next up is the actual suitcases. How many suitcases do we need really?!?

Get Baked In the kitchen

Apple turnovers

30 September 2021

Toby and I talk about food sometimes and one of the things we’ve concluded is that most cultures have some similarities regarding food. Almost everyone has a “meat on a stick” for example. We live near Greektown in Toronto so there’s always souvlaki around; there’s also Turkish kofta, Ukranian patychky, Thai satay, Japanese yakitori, Peruvian antichuchos, Spanish pinchos morunos, American corn dogs 😉, okay, you get my point. And now I’m hungry.

Almost everyone also has a “hand pie.” They run the gamut from hearty empanadas to sweet crostatas; from fish pastels to pop tarts; from spanakopita to pastizzi and, of course, Cornish pasties.

Turnovers are another hand pie and our best friend went apple picking with his kids and sent Toby home with some apples. I also had some puff pastry in the freezer and well, apple turnovers it is! Joy of Cooking apple turnovers to be precise.

Picture of mason jar of salt; plastic tubs of sugar and flour; a lemon, an egg, a cinnamon jar, a pile of apples and tenderflake frozen puff pastry
This will be apple turnovers

Not sure why we have the puff pastry but as it is so not worth making from scratch it’s a good thing we do!

Next comes rolling out the puff pastry. I should have taken more pictures of what it looks like out of the box. The box in the photo above comes with two bricks inside. Once you roll out one of the bricks it looks like the picture below:

Rolled out dough

Cut that into four quarters and then fill:

Pile apple filling in the middle. You’ll put too much. It’s okay. Just do it.
Fold over; wash with egg; cut slits on the top; press edges together with a fork

Ta dah! Out of the oven and cooling a little before delivering to friends. Because if you’re going to make four apple turnovers you may as well make a dozen and deliver some to other people…

Food In the kitchen Review Toronto

Praising Black Gold (aka coffee)

Since Friday July 19, I’ve done my best to stop drinking coffee (all caffeine really because 99% of my caffeine is consumed in black gold form) by about noon. The first few days I strayed till 1 pm or so but since then it’s been finished by around 11:30 am.

No real change in sleep (which was the experiment) BUT it really is only one part of the equation (snoring, heat, beer all add up on the other side). No real change in mood either.

So why am I posting do you ask? Because I knew I was only going to be consuming a much smaller amount of coffee than before I figured I was going to be sure it was GOOD coffee, and not just the free unlimited stuff I have access to at work.

Sparkplug Coffee gets delivered to the house. I have used my french press every freaking day for the last couple of weeks and have enjoyed my coffee so much. I will probably never cut coffee out completely – I enjoy it too much – but I am actually enjoying it more when it isn’t so much the “quantity” of the stuff but the “quality.” Who’d a thunk it?

The most recent limited edition was called Mad Bastard. They describe it as a “blend of premium Arabica beans from Colombia and Brazil.” It’s a medium roast and tasty! I can’t wait to see what the next blend will be!

Logo from the sparkplug coffee website

In the kitchen

Tomato sauce

My grandmother has an awesome garden. Which means we’re lucky enough to end up with lots of veggies sometimes and there was a basket of tomatoes left over this weekend.

Me: What are we going to do with the tomatoes?
T: Why don’t you make tomato sauce?
Me: like to can? We have 1 basket of tomatoes. That’ll make 1 jar. If I’m lucky.
T: but it’ll be an awesome yummy jar.

So there you have it. Clearly, I’m easily swayed by Toby.

fresh ripe tomatoes
fresh ripe tomatoes

Take some tomatoes. Rinse them off. Then quarter them and throw them in a pot:

smushed tomatoes
smushed tomatoes

Mash the tomatoes with a potato masher. Bring to a boil. Stir often. Wait about 10 minutes. Everything should be pretty soft.

Then put them in a food mill thing. It’s that thing on the left. I hope I’m using it right. It’s been ages since I’ve even assembled it. A fine sieve would work just as well.


Pour the liquid back into the pot and heat to reduce:

tomato juice
tomato juice

Once the thickness is to your liking, add 1/2 tsp citric acid to the bottom of each 500 mL jar. Fill to 1/2 inch of the top. Clean the lip, add the lid, add the ring. Tighten to just tight and then add to the canning pot. Once it comes to a boil, wait 35 minutes. Hopefully you had more than one basket of tomatoes and you ended up with more than one 500 mL jar of sauce:

one lonely jar of tomato sauce
one lonely jar of tomato sauce

Well, one jar of sauce and not nearly enough for another jar so Toby bought some tortellini and we used the extra tonight. First he fried up onions, garlic, and pancetta:

IMG_6804Then added the sauce:

IMG_6807And let it all cook together for a while before adding the tortellini:


Yum! Served with some freshly shaved parmesan and there’s enough left over for me for lunch!