Merci, Beaucoup!

About 11 years ago a book came out that got everybody talking – “French Women Don’t Get Fat”.  The author, Mireille Guiliano, was on every talk show evangelizing the virtues of eating the French way.  It is a conundrum as France flows with Camembert, croissants, rich sauces, and steak frites.  I just have to add that it is NOT fair that French women get to eat great food, stay slim and are some of the most stylish ladies in the world.  The book became a # 1 New York Times best seller, and in a nutshell it shares the secret of French women – that is, they don’t eat more than three bites of anything and they savour each of those bites.Beaucoup Bakery & Cafe visit - Kake2Kale Continue reading

For the Love of Tennis!

My teen idol wore shorts and a headband. No, it was not Richard Simmons but a blond Swedish god. A tennis god, Bjorn Borg. Everything about him appealed to my shy, self-conscious teenage self; his lean physique, his flowing blond locks, those piercing blue eyes, his deadly two-handed backhand and his graceful moves on the court. Because of him I took up tennis and found I was pretty good at it, not like soccer (I hate running, especially into people) or volleyball (not good for pianists as I once sprained a finger when the ball hit my hand at a bad angle and I couldn’t play piano for two weeks).

Strawberry and White Chocolate Muffins by Kake2Kale.com

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Choco Chip Cookies to Chase Away the Blues

I haven’t had such a disheartening day in a long time.  Lately I’ve been asked to audition more and acting is something that I’ve done in the past, but have taken a break from it to focus on other pursuits.  I had prepared for this audition well and by the time it was my turn to go in I had been stewing in the waiting room with the other actors for well over an hour.  It didn’t go the way I had hoped and I left feeling like a failure.   Once I got home I put on some Harry Connick Jr. music, a mood lifter for sure, and then headed to the kitchen to make these baked treats.

These chocolate chip cookies are the perfect indulgence to soothe my soul without having to say “I shouldn’t have” afterwards.  For our followers, you might recall that I recently confessed to breaking a five day liquid fast by eating half a bag of Chip Ahoy cookies, not my proudest moment.  Since then, I have made thousands of cookies and have a few “go to” recipes.  Lately, the avocado is having its moment in the spotlight.  So much so that global demand for this once exotic fruit, (yes, it is a fruit) has skyrocketed.  No longer is it just for California rolls and quacamole, but it is topping quinoa salads, sandwiches, as well as being grilled, made into fries, used for chocolate mousse and now baked into cookies!

chocolate chip cookie Kake2Kale.com

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Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

“There’s a party goin’ on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years
So bring your good times and your laughter too
We gonna celebrate your party with you…”

Celebration” by Kool & The Gang is the perfect song to celebrate our one year anniversary of Kake2Kale!  Well, it is the perfect song for any celebration.  It came out in 1980, the year that our family moved out to the West Coast and the rest, as they say, is history.  This song was part of the soundtrack of my life as I acclimatized to a new city, school and friends.

Kale Lime Cake by Kake2Kale

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The Best Ice Cream Sandwich in the World?

Cookies are something I have a weakness for.  Many moons ago, when I was entered into the Miss Chinatown beauty contest, I was about 10 pounds heavier than I wanted to be, so I went on a 5-day-liquids-only fast.  On day 4 of this fast, a friend left a pear in my sight and I felt like Eve beholding the forbidden fruit.  I held the pear in my hands as if it was a new-born baby.  I brought it up to my nose and inhaled its intoxicating, heady “pearfume”.  I was playing with fire!  Before I knew it, I brought this devil fruit to my lips and almost sunk my teeth into its flesh….then I came to my senses.  Close call!  When I made it to the end of the five days, can you guess how I broke this fast?  Not with a delicious juicy pear, no, it was with a Chip Ahoy cookie, and then another, and then another, until I had polished off several.   It was not the proudest moment of my life.  And neither was the actual pageant, but I will save that for another post.

Cream Sandwiches - Adventures with superfoods from Kake2Kale.com

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Lemon Sunshine Cake

Easter is upon us. For me, it is a reminder that we can all have a fresh start.  After days and days of grey, gloomy wet weather, that stretch into weeks with nary a ray of sunshine, you think you can’t bear to put on your trench coat and rubber boots yet again.  Then, all of a sudden, the days grow longer and the sun pokes its head out more; tulips, daffodils and fragrant hyacinths are in full bloom.  And that is when I feel the stirrings in my heart of new possibilities.

Easter - Lemon Sunshine Cake from Kake2Kale 2

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Valentine to a Golden Birdie

It wasn’t love at first sight, not even second sight. My “date” was quite verbose, but I was seduced by his vulnerability, the ease with which he stripped his….heart bare (clothes stayed on). Once I fell into his grasp, I fell hard for him. My husband knew of this love affair, and was fine with it because the object of my affection is a book, The Goldfinch. I devoured it for hours at a time, good thing I don’t have kids, otherwise I would surely have Child Services knocking on my door. I was swept away by the raw beauty of Donna Tartt’s writing, and how the main character wooed me into his inner life. The story unwound itself page by page and wrapped itself around me in sensurround. The Goldfinch in the title of the book refers to an actual painting that became very dear to the main character, but please go read it for yourself if you haven’t already.

I wanted to make an edible Valentine to The Goldfinch, and thought something lemony would be fitting. I decided to create golden cupcakes that are tart and sweet, which is one of the book’s messages, that is – even though your life may be sour, sweetness can still be found. Because the book is so substantial in content and length I wanted my cupcakes to be dense and substantial, almost like a pound cake quality.  For the love of The Goldfinch, below is my Valentine cupcake recipe.

Sweetheart Muffin Kake2Kale

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Gastown Grazing

One of Kale’s favourite foodie activities in Vancouver is hanging out in Gastown for a progressive dinner with friends.  They hop from restaurant to restaurant for different courses throughout the evening.  It can be called a dine-around or dinner crawl, depending on their mood; but the places are spontaneously selected and no two evenings are the same.  That’s the fun part!   For those of you less familiar with Vancouver, Gastown is a stylish, historic neighbourhood in the city centre and considered a hub for unique dining.  Since most of Kale’s gastronomic experience of Gastown is nocturnally-driven, she thought a progressive lunch would be a good Kake2Kale challenge.  And, to up the ante,  Kale wanted to find comfort dishes, with superfoods, that can be eaten in a bowl. At first, I was skeptical and thought we could only eat pasta and soup. But Kale convinced me to be open and surprised by what we might find. I’m glad she did, and without any plans, here is how we grazed our way through Gastown on a rainy January afternoon!

Flying Pig
The Truffled Cauliflower Gratin with 4 cheeses on the menu of the Flying Pig restaurant peeked our interest. Kale and I knew we HAD to have it.  As we were giving our order, the server suggested we order the brussel sprouts as well.  They were served in boats, which was bowl-like enough for us.  Wow, the brussel sprouts were outstanding. They were roasted with capers, which brought a brightness to the earthy flavor of the sprouts.  The cauliflower, however, was a little underwhelming as they were under cooked.  Please bear in mind I am not a restaurant reviewer, but I do know what I like.  The cheeses were yummy though – white cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan.  Cauliflower and brussel sprouts are both cruciferous vegetables which have indole-3-carbinol and promotes a healthy balance of good estrogen.  They also have anti-tumour properties and are high in fibre.  So we were off to a good start!

Gastown 1 Kake2Kale

Jules Bistro
For a romantic meal where you feel like you’ve been whisked away to an intimate, pretty, little jewel (pun intended) of a restaurant in France, Jules Bistro is the place for you.  More importantly, the food is delicious as well!  We ordered a bowl of mussels with a leek cream sauce, which turned out to be light and flavourful.  The sauce was sooo delicious, and I couldn’t stop dipping chunks of baguette into it.  We went in search of our next course after being fortified with protein, Omega 3’s as well as minerals – like calcium, zinc and iron – from the mussels. Continue reading

Christmas Cranberry Cinnamon Buns

 

When I think about the people who have influenced me in my interest in food, I have to think back to when I was a teenager.  You may be thinking my Home Economics teacher, but you would be wrong.  We were only allowed to cook after we passed all the modules on food knowledge ie. the four food groups.  I was so bored with the theory that, by the time I got to cook, I was only able to make Jello chocolate pudding which is barely considered cooking and that was on the last day of the term, so I never even got to make the second recipe, a  grilled cheese sandwich.  Who came up with this curriculum, Pee Wee Herman?

Then one weekend, a very special lady came to visit us from England.  Mrs. Fisher was the wife of my Mom’s piano teacher when she had studied music in London.  I loved her accent, her gentle manner, and her elegance.  But above of all, it was her passion for food and sharing it that made an indelible impression upon me.  She taught cooking as a form of therapy to the mentally challenged, and gave me a crash course on the weekend of her visit.   What stood out was the lesson on baking bread.

Shortly after she left I had a sleepless night and decided to exercise my newly acquired skills.  I looked up a recipe for cinnamon buns.  And, in the stillness of the night surrounded by  silence I handled the smooth mound of dough, turning it and pressing the heel of my hand into the yielding dough.  I repeated this movement over and over until it felt like a chant performed by my hands.   The art of baking is far superior to yoga in my mind!

cranberry bun 2 kake2kale

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Getting our Hands Dirty in SoMa

How would you spend a couple of hours on a drizzly, gloomy day in Vancouver with a good friend?

Binge watch Game of Thrones?

Find pins to add to my Pinterest boards?

Curl up by the fire and devour this year’s Man Booker prize winner?

Polish my silverware (this would take 5 minutes)?

Nope, {Kale} and I did none of those, instead, we donned our rain gear and braved the wild terrain of South Main Street, also known as SoMa in Vancouver.  It is a multi-ethnic neighbourhood that is rapidly shedding its rundown image and becoming trendier by the minute.  Old junk shops, used book stores, and second-hand stores are giving way to funky new eateries, one-of-a kind designer boutiques, and modern food shops.  There are still lots of original shops to find, and hopefully the hip and the modern won’t crowd them out.

{Kale} and I headed to SoMa with the sole purpose of finding superfoodie fare that we could only eat with our hands.  Because some say that foods taste better when eaten with your hands.  So, armed with {Kale’s} hand sanitizer, we went ready to get our hands dirty and to give our taste buds a thrill.

SoMa Vegie Pie 2 kake2kale

First stop was a shop that I have driven by numerous times and have always found their name, Yek O Yek, amusing. How can you forget a name like that!  It is a Mediterranean grocery store that also sells pastries and serves hot food.  While perusing the pastries our eyes immediately landed on a pastry version of Princess Leia’s hairstyle.  It even had the requisite superfoods in the filling – cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots.

It is simply called the “Veggie Pie”. Because the filling is rolled into the filo pastry there is quite a good ratio of pastry to filling. My motto is – “you can never have too much pastry”.  We declared it simply delicious when we took a bit.  What a great deal as it was only $3.99 and the serving was generous.  Once the pie was devoured, we pushed on.

SoMa Salmonito kake2kale

The Fish Counter drew us in, because we could see people happily eating in the window.  That is a good sign in and of itself.  It is half seafood shop and half fish & chips counter.  But besides fish & chips, they also serve tacos, Oyster Po Boy’s and more.  For the sake of this post, we ordered the Salmonito, as it was one of the few items not deep-fried.  This tasty tortilla was stuffed with superfoods, from the omega-3 rich salmon, to a slaw made with fennel, onion, and cilantro.  The crunch of the slaw balanced out the tenderness of the fish.  Even though we shared the Salmonito, it was a handful, as they were very generous with the salmon!

SoMa Candied Smoked Sable Fish kake2kale

While we were waiting for our Salmonito we perused the seafood shop and saw they had a candied smoked sablefish…intriguing.  Who hasn’t tried candied salmon?  But sablefish?  So we got a small piece and to be honest, it tasted very similar to candied salmon.  Nonetheless, it was still scrumptious.  We got our omega-3 dose for sure that day.

SoMa Bird's Nest Baghlawa kake2kale

We saw this eye catching treat at Yek O Yek, called Bird’s Nest Pistachio Baklava, and just had to have it.  It is aptly named, as it looks like delicate little eggs in a bird’s nest.  It is a variation on the usual baklava that we normally see, with layers upon layers of filo, ground up nuts, honey and butter.  This bird’s nest was less rich but just as satisfying, with the finely wrought circle of crispy filo cupping the honey drizzled whole superfood pistachios.  Finger licking good!

SoMa chocolates kake2kale

The final place we bumbled into was Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France, a mouthful to say, but if you are a serious chocolate connoisseur, this is the place pour vous!  Having chocolate was the perfect way to our day, especially dark chocolate as it has a host of antioxidants, minerals and increases serotonin, which lifts your mood.

Once you are inside the shop you feel transported to a special place where you know they don’t take chocolate lightly.  The décor is sparse in the compact space, with just a handful of chairs and tables.  The chocolate is the star, whether in a display case or in wide-bellied glass jars.  The owner makes them by hand and she really knows her stuff. You can tell she is passionate about what she does and it comes through in her chocolates.  {Kale} and I decided to try her drinking chocolate (made with dark chocolate) with almond milk.  I wanted to be adventurous and so I asked for my drinking chocolate to be infused with jasmine, as I love jasmine tea.  My expectations weren’t too high, as I thought the pairing would be a little mismatched, but to my surprise the slight floral note to the chocolate was very uplifting.  But I must say, though we each ordered the half size, it was plenty rich.  {Kale} and I probably could’ve shared one order and be satisfied.

We each had a milk chocolate square. {Kale’s} was the coconut, almond and fleur de sel, and mine was the same but without the coconut.  It was the perfect thickness, and melted in your mouth with the fleur de sel cutting through the sweetness of the chocolate.  What a wonderful way to bring our hands-on adventure to a close.  With our friendship and our bodies nourished, {Kale} and I bid a fond farewell and knew that not even the relentless Vancouver rain could dampen our spirits that day.   C’est magnifique!

Eat healthy, live great! {Kake}

p.s. The places we mention above are just a small sample of places to explore in SoMa, which makes me want to go back sooner for another adventure.