Amsterdam Awaits

Helloooo friends! I feel like every time I write a blog post I want to start with, “and yes it has indeed been an age, hasn’t it”, in my posh British accent, as I simultaneously twirl my handlebar moustache and gently yet emphatically stamp my lionhead-topped cane. And yet….I’m not British, have zero canes, and thank god no moustaches. But I just wanted to share that image with you, so that you can enjoy it as much as I am right now. You’re welcome!

I’m trying out something new today: rather than write a whole bunch of stuff (which I love), I’m just going to post some pictures (which I also love, so it’s kind of the same). <Aside: I tried to make it a slideshow but then you wouldn’t get to read all my pithy captions, and what is life without pith!> I somehow never get around (“somehow”) to posting pictures from trips so I thought I would start with somewhere fun: Amsterdam. And with that, I introduce you to my first travel-log blog! Continue reading

Layer Cake

Living in the Carribean is kind of awesome. 

Beach scenes, Petit Anse

Mojitos and piña coladas at Esther’s


If you’ve ever lived in someplace rather dreary (I’m looking at you, Vancouver and most of the United Kingdom), you’ll understand me when I say that waking up most mornings to bright sunshine might be the best thing ever. 

The sunsets aren’t bad either


The local food here is pretty great, the people are super friendly, there’s geckos everywhere, and I get to drive like a maniac in my cute little car. But alas, not everything is geckos and sunshine – Ted the cockroach makes an occasional appearance, and being in a state of perma-sweatiness is a bit tiresome. On the whole, though, life here is good – some of the challenges, especially when it comes to food, force me to be a lot more creative than I would be if I had access to a huge supermarket with multiple ‘world food’ aisles. 

World food aisle, traveler’s edition


And it would be great for blogging (if I ever had time to blog, that is), because I can almost never find all the ingredients for a recipe so I’m always ad-libbing! Every blogger’s dream. 

Last weekend it was my friend’s birthday, and I’ve been planning his cake for months. There was talk of a 50 layer cake last year in return for what I’m sure was a minor favour (a deal that I never agreed to in the first place, I might add), and I knew he had forgotten all about it. I figured a crepe cake would be sufficiently easy but also impressive enough. I found a great recipe for the crepes themselves here, but the reviews of the chocolate cream weren’t ideal. So I found a recipe for homemade Nutella! Did you know there apparently is a huge market for vegan Nutella? Neither did I, but there you go. Being not vegan, I decided to go with this recipe from Bon Appetit (yes, I’m loyal, #BA4lyfe). 

Crepe time!


Due to slightly foreseen circumstances (nuts are bizarrely expensive here, the ones that you can get anyway), I used almonds instead of hazelnuts. I also used quite a bit more sugar than the recipe called for, which is unusual for me, but with the almonds it just didn’t have the right amount of sweetness. I only have a magic bullet and not a food processor so I hedged my bets and bought half ground almonds and half flaked. I did as the recipe directed and blended all the almonds but honestly they didn’t even get that fine – note that a magic bullet is really not the way to go if you want to make nut butter. But then I thought that maybe if I added all the liquid ingredients with some of the almonds it would help grind them a bit more, which seems counterintuitive but I think they just needed something to loosen them so they didn’t all clump! This was such a great idea, everything blended really really well – it still had some texture to it but as if I was going to sit there and strain it (if I had a strainer) after I’d spent so long grinding it. Long story short (not): I changed this recipe a lot so I’ll put my updated version below in case any one else is similarly constrained by space and ingredients and just can’t wait another day without homemade Nutella. 

Okay so maybe I need to work on my swirling game


I will say that putting together a crepe cake is maybe not the best thing to do in the heat, because I almost dropped it after building all the layers because the Nutella became so soft! It was also surprisingly heavy. I ended up getting 20 crepes, so the crepes plus a layer of almond Nutella between each one is 40, plus the whipped cream on top makes for a 41 layer cake, and all the accolades to match!

#accolades


Note that it is CRITICAL to put the cake in the fridge after you build it to let it firm up, and that you want to leave it in the fridge right until you’re ready to eat it because obviously the Nutella will get very creamy and slidey at room temperature!

Island Almond Nutella


  • I cup whole almonds (I used roasted unsalted)
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 1/2cup sugar 
  • 8oz semisweet chocolate 
  • 1/2cup (1 stick butter), room temperature 
  • I cup heavy cream
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee

  1. Melt chocolate in microwave or bain marie on the stove. 
  2. Put 1/4 whole almonds, 1/8 cup sugar, 1/4 stick of butter, 1/4 cup of cream and a pinch of salt in the magic bullet and blend. If it doesn’t blend to a smooth consistency, add more liquid. 
  3. Put your blended almond paste in a large bowl and repeat with the rest of the ingredients, putting the vanilla in the last batch. 
  4. Once all the almond paste is blended, add the melted chocolate and coffee and stir. It should be quite soft. Taste for sweetness – if you want it sweeter, add some icing sugar. I also thought putting in some rum or bourbon would have been delicious but note that it won’t set up as hard so just keep that in mind. 

N’awlins Style

Last June (last month? yesterday?), my friend and I bopped on down to New Orleans for a few days, mostly so I could eat all the things. I feel like spending 4 days in Louisiana makes it okay for me to call it N’awlins and to talk knowingly about boudin and gator.

IMG_2845-001

It was June in the South, so of course it was sweat-drippingly hot. I got there a few hours earlier than my travelling companion, so I decided to hit the gym in advance of all the eating I knew I was going to do. I had scored some sort of hipster guide to N’awlins while I was in Nashville, so I rated how much I wanted to try each of the city’s specialties (I’m serious about food, yo).

IMG_2798Once my friend arrived, we stopped at a wine-by-the-glass sort of place en route to dinner (not at Emeril’s but I had to take a picture, didn’t I! Emeril = OG), where I indulged all of my Louisiana fantasies: boudin, alligator, and fried, fried mac n’ cheese perfection.

Continue reading

On Finding Your Passion, and Rhubarb

Have you ever wanted to do something so so badly but just never seemed to find the time? Yeah, that’s blogging for me. I love it, love feeling creative and writing and seeing when people like what I write (or not, haha) and just putting something out into the world that seems authentically me. And yet, I never seem to have time for it. There’s TedTalk after self-help book after webinar about finding your passion and doing what you love and all that, but sometimes in order to get to your passion, you have to wade through the rough times first. And other times, just because you’ve found something you’re passionate about, that doesn’t mean that you should automatically decide to do that as a career for the rest of your life. I like to draw – but I draw for shit. If I ever want to eat again, I should definitely not become an artist.

I was watching this TedEx talk the other day by Terri Trespicio called, “Stop Searching for Your Passion“. I both want to find my passion and pursue it, and also sometimes feel guilty and self-indulgent for wanting this. I have some people telling me that I should follow my passion and other people tell me I should just do something that will help me earn a living so I can follow my passion on the side. I think I’ve come to the right decision for me, but listening to this TedEx talk put some of these issues into perspective. If you are struggling with this sort of existentialist crisis (and who isn’t, amIrite), give it a listen.

On another, more food-related note: Continue reading

Flashback to…Christmas 2015

K so back to Christmas. I know…I know! Everyone was doing Christmas posts starting from like…November 1, and even before that (all to get the Christmassy pins into Pinterest’s algorithm in time to reap the benefits of the no-doubt frantic holiday pinning frenzy), and then even after that, to do the Christmas wrap up. So sue me, I’m two months late, but that means this will be a new and exciting topic, yes? All part of my plan to keep my posts from stagnating in a sea of well-written Christmas cheer…

Anyway, this past holiday season I made ALL THE THINGS. The holidays are the best time, because aside from family and friends and all that wonderful stuff, I finally have time to cook pretty much anything I want in the kitchen. All the unhealthy things. All the time consuming things. All the three-course-meal things. You get the point.  Continue reading