Holiday Gift Guide 2014

It’s that time of year again my friends…really, the BEST time of year. I like to start celebrating the holidays as soon as Halloween is over. I know a lot of people don’t get that, and that’s fine (to each their own), but for me, getting into a holiday kind of mood helps me get through the bleak winter months to come. I don’t necessarily focus directly on Christmas either, just being with friends and family, snuggling, warm and cozy nights at home, good food and lots of celebrations. Pretty much from now until the end of January is “the holidays”…or winter, as everyone else puts it. I like mine better…:)

Down to the business of The Holiday Gift Guide 2014. This year’s guide will be much like last years, in that it is separated into categories for easier scrolling. Happy Holidays yo!

For the Chef:

Duh…one of my books!


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Pumpkin Muffins

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Are we right in the middle of fall? I know a lot of my readers are from all over the US and weather can vary, but here in Canada, at least this week, it’s beginning to take that turn…you know…the polar vortex. One day it’s beautiful and sunny out, pleasant, balmy temperatures (still in a t-shirt even!), and then the next day, BLAMMO! It’s below zero and you are wearing two pairs of pants to drop off the kids for school in the morning. It’s not just me right? Being that I can’t fit my butt into most jeans, and I’m too lazy to wear much more than stretchy pants and leggings, and you have to layer that shit up in the cold weather! Soon enough I’ll be bundling in to the biggest, fluffiest sweaters, scarves and mittens I can find and you won’t even be able to tell it’s me…except for the orange curls flying out of my hood. 
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Chocolate Chia Pudding

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Even though I’ve had a bag of chia seeds in my freezer for well over a year, I couldn’t bring myself to use them in anything until yesterday. It’s not that I don’t enjoy chia seeds, because even though when suspended in liquid and placed in your mouth, they remind me of tiny fish eggs, I still have an odd attraction to them. Nor is it their flavour, which can only be described as virtually impossible to detect. Forced to make something up, I’d say it is very subtle and similar to poppy seeds.

The main reason I haven’t used them in anything is because I rather like the idea of using them as thickener but I just couldn’t figure out a way to use them. Do you grind them fine and add to breads and pastries?  Although I have made chia seed pudding before, this has to be the best one yet. I have to give the credit to the Silk Creamy Cashew here though, as it really does deliver on it’s promises of being, well, creamy. I’ve made cashew based recipes myself before, as well as cashew milk, but nothing beats the convenience and price of buying it ready made. I’m not sure about the US, where everything seems to be half the price of Canada, but cashews (organic, unroasted) here are CRAZY expensive. It would cost me the same or more to make my own carton of cashew milk. Besides that fact, I know most people just do not want to make their own nut milks, either because they are intimidated by the process or don’t have a blender that they trust. Ready made “milks” often have all sorts of added things I don’t want to consume, but Silk is probably one of the best brands around. The ingredients for the Original Silk Cashew Milk are: Cashewmilk (Filtered Water, Cashews), Cane Sugar, Sea Salt, Almond Butter, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, Gellan Gum, Natural Flavor, plus a bunch of vitamins and minerals to fortify it. No Carageenan! 
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Turkey Pot Pie

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In Canada, Thanksgiving comes fairly early in October, which means we get started on our Holiday cheer a lot earlier than the rest of America. This also means we get to eat some turkey (because it’s pretty much impossible to find a whole one the rest of the year), although if you are like me, you reserve the turkey for days that are not holidays. I much prefer a nice, succulent prime rib for holiday dinners, or a big ol’ fatty goose. But the day after Thanksgiving? Oh you’ll find me near the turkey section of the grocery store for sure, because that’s when it goes on crazy sale. 15lb turkey? Yeah, I scored mine for about $17, which is what I usually pay for my free range, local chickens.
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Doughnut FRYday – French Crullers

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After all this doughnut making lately, coming so soon after two full years of paleo baking with, let’s face it, not fun to work with ingredients, I’m resolving myself to starting over in my baking education. Sure, I can bake a mean cake (like, the best fucking cake you’ve ever had), but when it comes to working with pastries and ratios and the basics of the science behind it all, I’m still a newb.

On Tuesday, I decided to make a cream doughnut, based on some rather old recipes from a really old cookbook I have. But let’s just say that…well, they sucked. They would have made a great bagel probably…tough, chewy and dense. You don’t know baking disappointment until you’ve worked for over an hour on a dough, heated your deep fryer, made icing and gotten everything ready. The minute the dough went into the fryer, I knew they were garbage.
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