March 20, 2009
First, the blog news: I’ve got a new blog home! (Well, almost–we’re about 95% moved in and unpacked so far. . . we’ve still got to add a virtual top coat of paint, rearrange some html furniture and hang some digital pictures before the rest is up and running over the next week or so, but everything is on site and functional!). Please drop by to check it out, and don’t forget to change your Google Reader, other subscription info and blogrolls (it’s also much easier to subscribe to this new site, so hope that helps–and note that the page tabs are now across the top of the page, not on the right as in this site!). I’ll be transferring over there for good by next week. And now–ta da!–here’s the new home of
The site was set up and arranged by Blain Smith of 13 Infinite. It’s been a pleasure to work with him on this–Blain’s communication style is easy and relaxed, yet always professional. He’s also been very accommodating and incredibly quick about responding to all my emails regarding the site (not to mention very patient with my sometimes endless questions and requests!). If you’re looking to set up a new blog, I’d highly recommend him.
Next, the cookbook news: my cookbook finally has a cover!
(I’m guessing you might recognize some of those photos? And I know, the red, white and blue looks very patriotic,no?) 😉
Finally, the Double Giveaway News!!
I am very excited for this giveaway because it’s the perfect melding of my new blog, my new cookbook, and a product I love!
In honor of the cookbook’s cover being finalized, I decided to throw another giveaway to celebrate–add a new blog home, and it’s really a reason to party! (Get those chandeliers and lampshades ready!)
So here’s the scoop:
WHAT YOU CAN WIN
PRIZE ONE: ANYONE IN NORTH AMERICA CAN WIN (again, a HUGE apology to my overseas readers–shipping costs prohibit overseas delivery. BUT I DO PROMISE THAT THE NEXT GIVEAWAY WILL ABSOLUTELY INCLUDE ANYONE ON THE PLANET!)
Win a quart-sized jug of Coombs Family Farms Pure Maple Syrup!
[This is a photo of the glass bottle I received–the quart jug prize is four times this big!]
Yes, the prize is the same amazing maple syrup I wrote about in my previous post. And when the people at Coombs Family Farms heard how much I loved their syrup, and how much my readers wished they could taste some, they said, “Okay! Let’s give some away!” Who am I to argue? I said, “YEEEE-AAH.”
With a full quart (about a liter) of pure maple syrup, you can bake every maple-based recipe on this blog, and probably all the maple-based recipes in my new book, too! And I can’t wait for one of you to sample this extraordinary product as well, and tell me what you think!
PRIZE TWO: THOSE IN THE TORONTO AREA CAN WIN (to ensure freshness, it has to be within the general Toronto area, or you must be willing to meet me within Toronto–I am really sorry it can’t be everywhere! sniff!)
A custom-baked chocolate layer cake from the Sweet Freedom recipe–made to your specifications!
After I posted about the cake I made for my friend Eternal Optimist’s birthday, I was touched by so many positive comments about the cake. This is the same recipe I used for several years when I baked birthday cakes for kids with food sensitivities to wheat, eggs, dairy and refined sugar–and was a regular hit with the kids and adults alike (low-gluten, but not gluten free). The 9-inch layer cake serves 10-12 people comfortably.
Now, I’d love for a lucky reader to sample this chocolately, moist and light cake, too! And you get to design the frosting/filling, plus whether you’d like a message on the cake as well. (We’ll choose a mutually convenient delivery time so that you can even plan to serve the cake to family, friends, or party guests!)
Here’s what you can choose:
Chocolate layers with vanilla pastry cream filling and chocolate buttercream frosting
Chocolate layers with all chocolate–filling and frosting
Chocolate layers with sweet potato truffle filling and chocolate frosting
Chocolate layers with chocolate filling and sweet potato truffle frosting (the cake in the photo above)
Message of your choice in any color frosting (or no message–it’s up to you).
I’ll deliver the cake freshly baked and frosted so it’s ready to serve!
HOW TO ENTER:
Entering couldn’t be easier–simply click on over to my new blog home, take a look around, then let me know either:
1) what more you’d like to see on the blog (any other features you’d like me to add? Something you’re missing from the old blog? –etc.) OR
2) what you like best about the new blog if you can’t think of anything you’d like to be different.
FOR A CHANCE AT TWO EXTRA ENTRIES, simply mention the contest on your own blog, if you have one, and link to this very page on the new blog (ie, this page).
Don’t have a blog? You can still earn two extra entries! Simply browse through the Recipe Index on the new DDD and choose a favorite recipe that uses maple syrup (some of the links haven’t been shifted to the new blog yet, so you might still be in the old blog when you click on a recipe title–I’m in the process of changing them all over). Then comment again, letting me know which one you like best, and why–and you’ll be entered two more times.
Please be sure to include a valid email address so I can get in touch with you if you win.
Please post your comments on the new site to be eligible to win (that way I can keep track of all the entries in one place). 🙂
HOW IT WILL WORK:
Once the contest closes, I’ll choose two winners from a bag of names. The first Toronto-area name I withdraw will win the cake. Then all the other names go back into the bag for the maple syrup draw, and the second name I choose wins that.
DEADLINE AND ANNOUNCEMENT:
Deadline for entries is midnight, March 31, 2009, Toronto time.
Winners will be announced first thing on April 2, 2009 (I wouldn’t dare post contest winners on April Fool’s Day!).
I loved baking up a storm for the previous giveaway, and was thrilled with Lisa’s kind words about the Sweet Freedom goodies.
I can’t wait to get baking on this cake for you this time round as well. And even if you can’t win the cake, you’re still eligible to win the syrup–so you can then bake your own delectable treats!
HAPPY SPRING, EVERYONE!
February 21, 2009
[Okay, so the post title is a bit obscure (I was alluding to Four Weddings and a Funeral)–but with the Oscars coming up in a couple of days, and with my having seen, hmmn, let’s see–a total of “zero” of the movies, I wanted to make reference to that grand little Golden Guy in some way or other in this post. ]
It’s almost time for midterms at the college where I teach, so I’m afraid I’ll be MIA from the blog for a little while (not to be confused with the recently balloon-bellied, singing-at-the-Grammys, went-into-labor-and-gave-birth-the-next-day MIA). But before I bid you all adieu, I thought I’d mention three festivities leading up to said exams.
Shindig One: The most recent celebration we enjoyed here in the DDD household was an intimate birthday dinner for my friend Eternal Optimist (consisting of just the EO, the HH, and me).We three enjoyed a spectacular, yet simple meal of Potato-Miso Soup (Alisa’s uniquely delicious recipe: satiny smooth, rich and slightly yeasty from the hint of miso–in fact, this was the second time I’ve made this in a week!); trusty Tagine of Quinoa with Chickpeas, Olives and Prunes (always a hit around here); garlic sautéed rapini and collards; and a special b-day cake (chocolate layers with sugar-free chocolate buttercream frosting (both from Sweet Freedom) and the Sweet Potato Frosting I wrote about a while back.
[Alisa’s Creamy Potato Miso Soup]
It was grand to spend a leisurely evening together fêting a dear friend. The EO also brought along her own pooch, another border collie cross, and The Girls were in heaven. (“We love having our friends over, too, Mum! Except next time, there should be a cake that we can eat as well.”)
Shindig Two: In addition to the birthday, the dinner was also occasion for a spontaneous mini-celebration in honor of the cookbook finally reaching the publisher. After numerous delays in formatting and glitches with the cover, it’s finally on its way! My publishing rep called yesterday to confirm that she received the files and their part of the book’s production will begin next week. YIPPPPPPEEEEEE!! (Of course, this means it will still take about three months before the book is in print, but it is out of my hands at this point). I can’t even begin to express what a relief that is! So we had a little toast in honor of Sweet Freedom last evening as well.
Shindig Three: Despite mountains of marking, I’ll be peeking in periodically at the Academy Awards, that shindig to beat all shindigs, that tribute to all things silicone and Juvéderm and Botox, that massive glitterati ego-massage that will take place on Sunday evening. From the Barbara Walters interviews to the Joan Rivers gaffes to the melodramatic and slurred acceptance speeches, I love it all. And even if I haven’t actually seen any of the movies, who cares? That’s not what the Oscars are all about, anyway!
Before I depart on break, I thought it might be fun to leave you with a little midterm quiz of your own to ponder while I’m away (and the best part–it doesn’t matter whether you know the answers or not!). I’ll reveal the “correct” responses when I get back (though with a bit of sleuthing, it should be fairly easy to find them before then).
[Chocolate birthday cake in all its uncut glory]
A Diet, Dessert and Dogs Mid-Term Quiz
Instructions: Please answer each of the following questions. Note that this is an open-blog test; answers can be found in previous entries. Please double space your answers.
1) DDD stands for:
a) The 2009, eco-friendly version of the pesticide “DDT”
b) Pamela Anderson’s bra size (now that she’s had a breast reduction)
c) a cutsie way to refer to “3-D” movies
d) the name of this blog.
2) “NAG” refers to
a) the HH’s endearing nickname for me;
c) a healthy way of eating that includes whole, unprocessed, organic foods.
3) Ricki’s favorite food is:
d) all of the above
a) Lon Chaney
b) Lewis Carroll
c) Love Chocolate!
5) Complete this phrase: “Rocker Guy (He of the —)”
a) broken guitar
b) off his rocker
c) rock collection
d) black leather pants
6) Ricki loves blogging because:
a) of all the amazing people she’s “met” in the blog world
b) it’s always fun to read other blogs and learn about new foods
c) reading your comments on her blog is the high point of her day (truly)
d) YOU GUYS ARE SIMPLY THE BEST!
I’m sure you all got an “A”! Have a great time at the Oscars, all, and see you in a week or so! 😉
Last Year at this Time: My Favorite Mistake: Savory Filled Breakfast Crepes
© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs
February 12, 2009
As always, thanks for reading. I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!
“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]
* * * * * * * * * *
Just a quick note to share some exciting news: my recipe for Orange-Infused Chocolate Almond Cake is featured in this month’s Clean Eating magazine!
When I was asked by the folks at the magazine to create a recipe for a healthy, fudgy chocolate cake (that met the Clean Eating requirements, of course–basically the NAG diet that I follow anyway), I was thrilled and got to work! I actually submitted the recipe last summer, but that’s how far in advance the schedule is planned. I didn’t want to mention anything until I saw it in print with my own eyes. . . and now it’s finally here–yay! Wow, did their food stylist ever make that cake look gorgeous (the pic above is mine, not theirs–the magazine version is much more attractive!)
For those of you who can get the magazine where you live, it’s the March/April issue, with a bowl of Black-Eyed Pea Stew on the cover and the banner headline, “Try Our Chocolate-Almond Cake: Enjoy a Second Guilt-Free Slice”. And while my recipe was mentioned on the cover, to see my name credited, you have to squint really hard, then look at the teeny, tiny, teensy weensy little print along the fold to the right of the recipe (which is on the last page of the mag, in the “Happy Endings” section).
For those who are interested, the magazine is based on the philosophy/diet of Tosca Reno, who wrote the book Eat Clean. Some of the articles in this particular issue include 5-ingredient entrées, nutritious snacks, allergy-proofing your home, risotto by Food Network host Aida Mollenkamp, and antioxidant berries, goji and acai (and no, I have no personal stake in the magazine–I’m not affiliated with them in any way except for having developed that recipe for them).
I wish I could reprint the recipe here, but I can’t, as Clean Eating purchased the recipe rights as well. But I think you can at least get an idea from the photo above!
New recipe next post, I promise 🙂
PS Vegan/Vegetarian readers take note: while 22 of the 68 recipes in the magazine are vegetarian, most do contain eggs or dairy (mine doesn’t, of course!).
“Mum, if clean eating means ‘cleaning out your bowl every time you eat,’ then I think we could write for that magazine, too. Or maybe we could just be taste-testers. Much better than eating snow, I’m sure.”
November 26, 2008
I had intended a lovely post today, in honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving long weekend to the south of us. But time constraints (read: massive, unwieldly pile of essays and assignments to mark) have prevented me from following through. So I’ll just have to wait till the next batch of holidays in December to post about some new, frost-and-snow inspired, treats.
Instead, I thought I’d pull together a few recipes from previous posts that are suitably festive for a holiday table, or the breakfast table the following day (I’ve also got a few detox recipes on the blog–I’ll let you seek those out yourselves, as required). Most of these are fairly quick to make as well, as long as you’ve got the ingredients on hand.
Hope everyone enjoys some togetherness with friends and family, great food, and a bit of time to relax and play.
See you after the holiday!
“Mum, will Elsie be able to play again after the holiday? I mean, it’s just so boring with her out of commission. . . ”
Main Meal Dishes:
- Cranberry Preserves
- Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Bites
- Brussels Sprouts Even My Honey Will Eat
- Sweet Potato and Ginger Salad
- Cauliflower, Parsnip and Bean Mash
- Quinoa, Roasted Beet and Walnut Salad
- Sweet Potato and Carrot Casserole
- Sweet Potato-Cranberry Hash
- Chocolate Pecan Pie
- Holiday Bundt Apple Cake
- Butter Tarts
- Butterscotch Mousse Pie
- Decadent Chocolate Pâté
October 17, 2008
DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT THE NEW SITE BY CLICKING HERE.
[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days. For this fourth edition, I’m focusing on Coconut. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. This is the last entry on coconut.]
I’m loath to admit it, but I’m one of those people who can’t leave well enough alone. I’ll be decorating a cake and think, “Oh, it just needs one more flower on there somewhere. . . ” until the top of the thing could pass for a Jackson Pollock with the words “Happy Birthday” meekly peeking through the splotches. I’m like those middle-aged women (oh, wait, I actually am a middle-aged woman) who don huge, dangly earrings and then wonder if they wouldn’t be complemented by a massive pendant necklace. . . oh, and this lovely, chunky bracelet. . .and must top it off with that favorite equestrian-themed scarf–and can’t forget the cute doggie brooch, of course. As a student, I’d sit planted at the desk and revise my in-class essays over and over, right up until the very last second when the bell rang (I mean, what if I had left early and later remembered a comma splice I’d neglected to fix?)
And then there’s that cringe-inducing conversation–you know, the one with your One and Only that goes something like this:
Scene: Evening. Ricki and the HH lounge comfortably on the sofa, engaged in animated conversation.
HH: . . . And then the guy says, ‘Yeah, maybe the sandwich on its own is good, but it’s the dill pickle that really makes it great!!”
Ricki: Ha ha ha ha HA AHA!! Oh, HH, you are just the funniest!! “The dill pickle really makes it great!” Hee hee. [Leans over to touch his arm].
HH: Har har hee hee. What a laugh, eh? Yep, the dill pickle. . . [stretches his arm around her shoulder.]
Ricki: Hee hee, soooo funny. [Smiling with adoration]: Oh, HH, I love you.
HH: I love you, too. [Smiles]
Ricki: [Pause]. Um, you know, I’m just wondering about something.
HH [Looking suspicious]: What?
Ricki: Well, you know, I’ve just noticed that I’m always the first one who says, “I love you.” Why is that?
HH [No longer smiling]: Well, that’s not true.
Ricki: Really? When’s the last time YOU said it first?
HH: Um, I dunno. . . last month, probably.
Ricki: No, honey, I’m sure it wasn’t last month. Because remember our anniversary? And remember when the next weekend, we went out with Gemini I and her hubby? Well, when we got home, we were sitting on the couch like this, and–
HH: [Heavy sigh] And you know, we were having such a nice moment there. I guess you just couldn’t leave well enough alone, could you?
Hmmm. This irresistible tendency to push the boundaries manifests itself in my prowess in the kitchen as well (no, no, I’ve moved off that scene of me and the HH now! I’m talking about cooking, silly!). I love to tinker with recipes and will frequently alter them considerably, even without trying them in the intended form first. After a lifetime of baking (okay, minus the first 6 years of my life), I’ve more or less discovered what works and what doesn’t. And if I attempt something creative that doesn’t quite meet my expectations, I don’t take it personally (unlike my reaction to the HH’s lack of amorous expressiveness).
One of the issues that’s come up in discussions with the recipe testers for my upcoming cookbook is the matter of substitutions in the recipes. Of course, when the testing process began, I assumed everyone would follow the recipes to a “T.” However, in reality, it’s not always possible for everyone to acquire the exact ingredients; or they might not have everything on hand; or they might not own the perfectly-sized pan. It got me thinking, “how often do I follow a recipe exactly?” The answer? To quote the infamous book title, less than zero. (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration; maybe it’s just a little less than less than zero, more like a little more than never).
But you know what? That’s perfectly fine. Really, if you feel comfortable with cooking or baking and want to introduce minor alterations, that’s terrific; the result may in fact be something even better than the original. The trick is knowing what to substitute, and when it will work. Spelt for all-purpose? No problem. Agave for sugar? Fine, with adjustments. Cherry for pumpkin? Probably not. And chocolate for eggplant? Well, that’s just wrong. (Though, of course, you might like to actually combine the two for a terrific result instead).
When I read about Claudia’s tantalizing Strawberry Coconut Coffee Cake on Vagrant Vegan, I knew immediately that I had to make it. True to form, I adapted the recipe to my own needs and on-hand ingredients, using Sucanat instead of sugar, spelt instead of wheat, and so on. I also decided to bake the cake as an 8 x 8 inch square instead of a 9 x 13 rectangle, as it’s just the HH and me here (and we don’t give The Girls anything too sweet). Then, when I finally went to bake it, I realized strawberries were already out of season–but I had frozen raspberries in the house; why not use those? (and besides, don’t cooked raspberries just impart the most sensational fuchsia hue?).
In the end, my version isn’t exactly like the original, but this cake still turned out spectacular. I think the base is a perfect coffeecake batter, one that can handle many deviations and still taste great (which is, after all, the mark of a winning recipe). The cake itself isn’t too sweet, and it offers up a juicy burst of tangy raspberry in every bite. Since coconut is one the HH’s favorite foods, he was drawn by the aroma as it toasted in the oven, and couldn’t wait for his chance to taste it. The verdict was unequivocally positive–he gobbled up a piece and then asked for another.
“That was delicious,” he enthused. “Maybe the cake on its own is good, but it’s the coconut that really makes it great!” I could have kissed the guy.
He smiled. “I love that cake!” he said. What? Did he say, “love”?
“Um, you know, I’m just wondering about something. . .” I started. But then I quickly shoved a large chunk of cake in my mouth and swallowed it.
With all of the pink in this recipe, I’m submitting this post to the Power of Pink Challenge for breast cancer, hosted by Jen of the Beantown Baker. Having recently learned that someone I care about is battling breast cancer, I’m happy to be able to contribute. The challenge is on until the end of the month if you’d like to submit something pink.
Raspberry Coconut Coffee Cake (adapted from Vagrant Vegan)
TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.
Like most coffee cakes, this one can serve as both dessert or part of a quick breakfast. The cake is good on its own, but the coconut really makes it great.
September 23, 2008
DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT THE NEW SITE, BY CLICKING HERE.
One of the shared quirks of most Canadians is our propensity to focus on the weather (well, that, and our internationally-recognized, world-renowned politeness. Oh, but please do excuse me for interrupting that train of thought with a parenthesis–how very rude! I do apologize).
We tend to talk about the weather, attempt to predict the weather, fume about the weather, complain vociferously about the weather, aim to forestall the weather, dread the weather, boast about surviving the weather, try desperately to ignore the weather, occasionally (like two days a year) rejoice at the weather, discuss and ponder and ruminate about the weather. . . basically, we are obsessed by the weather. Why?
Well, I suppose, it has something to do with our ancestors and early settlers whose lives really were ruled by the vagaries of snow, sleet and wind, or the whims of Mother Nature–one false move in January in Peterborough, and you ended up dead. These days, of course, we’ve got heating and insulation during the winter months, but it seems we’ve inherited the predilection to stress about the weather all year round.
This past weekend, for instance, the air was gloriously warm but maddeningly humid. Now, why couldn’t we simply combine the temperatures with the sunshine of a crisp February morning, and call it a summer’s day? I’m really a warm-weather gal, despite my lack of any athletic or outdoorsy skills or prowess. I am happy to sit outside in the back yard, read a book or magazine, or simply watch The Girls wrestle on the grass when the weather is felicitous.
When people first find out that I was born and raised in Montreal, they inevitably comment, “Oh, well, then, you MUST be a skier, right, with all that snow you get over there?” Sadly, no. I do not ski. I do not skate. I do not snowmobile on a lake. I do not like the snow on ground, I do not like it where it’s found. I do not like the cold or snow–I do not like it, I wish it would GO. (Ah, yes, once again, I must apologize for going off on a rant. And to Dr. Seuss, too, of course.)
Now that fall has almost arrived, the climate is beginning to evoke thoughts of cosy sweaters, fuzzy blankets, knees tucked up before the fireplace. When we take The Girls for their walks along the trails, the barren trees on either side of the paths span above our heads, branches reaching across to touch each other as if holding hands. Carpets of brown, red, and orange leaves crinkle below our feet as we stroll along. There is, I must admit, something rather appealing about it all. In addition, autumn is the harbinger of Holiday Season–for some, as early as the end of the month.
The other day, my friend Eternal Optimist asked about recipes for Rosh Hashanah. The Jewish New Year falls on September 28th this year, and she was looking for new recipes for baked goods, as her son recently became vegan and most of her current recipes contain eggs and dairy. I thought about the traditional Rosh Hashanah recipes focusing on apples and honey, and remembered a cake my mom used to bake when we were kids. The recipe was from a Mazola Corn Oil recipe card, and (along with a hefty portion of corn oil) featured both apples and honey in a huge bundt cake embracing thinly sliced Macintoshes between layers of fragrant, moist honey cake, so that it kind of resembled a cross-section of the Canadian Shield when cut, the strata of golden, caramelized fruit nestled between tender, tawny cake. Well, of course, once I thought of it, I simply had to re-create that cake.
I couldn’t find my mum’s recipe, so I made one up based on a vanilla cake I created a few years ago, adding brown rice syrup as a stand-in for honey, paired with cinnamon and Sucanat-dusted apples. Here, then, is my version of the childhood favorite. This cake is perfect for any holiday celebration, as it could easily serve a crowd. It’s not overly fancy, so if you’d like to dress it up a bit, glaze it with your favorite glaze or dust with confectioner’s sugar, if you choose. The fruit filling is generous and bountiful, just like the harvest in autumn, and might even make you forget the cloudy, stormy, chilly air outside while you indulge.
Since this cake was based on one my mom used to make, I’m submitting it to the “Making History” event hosted by Allan at Recovered Recipes. The event asks you to find (and photograph) an old recipe card and post the outcome of the recipe. My version of the old recipe is one that my mom used to make, which I found in a handwritten baking book:
[Yep, that’s an old recipe, all right. . . ]
And here’s the updated version!
Holiday Apple Bundt Cake
I’ve been known to enjoy a slice of this for breakfast–add a handful of nuts and really, isn’t that a balanced meal?