Blog Post List

This blog post list contains the most recent blog posts from The Messy Baker in reverse chronological order. You can also browse by recipe category or use the search function.

Easy Roasted Lemon Potatoes - The Messy Baker
27 Jul
Easy Roasted Lemon Potatoes

I have decided to strike the following phrase from my vocabulary: How hard can it be? It gets me into trouble. For example: Hey, honey, I need a new stove. Why don't we just knock down a wall and add an eat-in kitchen while we're at it....

24 Jul
Lemon Pie Ice Cream
Looks can be deceiving. Plain old vanilla ice cream? No. Guess again. It's actually lemon. With some orange thrown in. I based this ice cream on my father's favourite lemon meringue pie recipe, which calls for condensed milk. With a bowl of oranges threatening to dissolve into a green powdery heap before my eyes, I salvaged the best looking one and added it to the mix. The results? An exceptionally creamy Philadelphia style ice cream with a light citrus flavour. No eggs. No firing up the stovetop. Just a few minutes with the microplane -- important factors in this relentless summer heat.
22 Jul
Grow Great Grub – and a giveaway
Before a certain family member thinks this is a guilt trip, let me state for the record it isn't. I'm simply stating facts. Fact: My grandiose plans for a communal family garden got kiboshed in early spring when my sister announced her engagement. With a great big honkin' white marquis, a dozen tables and a hundred chairs scheduled to sprawl across the planting area mid-July, we had to rethink vegetable patch. Fact: Weddings trump gardens. Fact: I'm okay with that. Really. Why? Because in an attempt to find out how to maximize the small space left uneaten by the tent, I discovered I can grow blueberries. And I love blueberries. Thanks to Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces by Gayla Trail,
19 Jul
Cake Fit for a Garden Wedding
To quote Eddie Izzard, "Cake or Death? That's a pretty easy question. Anyone can answer that." Well, far be it from me to argue with Mr. Izzard, but there was a point late last week where I would have accused him of posing a trick question. The minute my sister Allison announced her wedding back in February, Mom and I volunteered to make the wedding cake. When Allison said she didn't want icing flowers, impossibly smooth royal icing or fancy piping, I thought we were getting off easy. A bit of ribbon, an armload of  flowers from the garden, and voila! Wedding cake. To avoid decorating the cake at the last minute and provide my sister with the "fairy-like not wedding-y" look she wanted,  I decided to candy the flowers. How hard could that be? After all, the pansies I candied in April only took a morning and are still going strong. But April wasn't humid. And all my July attempts resulted in a soggy, sticky mess. And I'm not just talking about the flowers.
15 Jul
Salted Watermelon Sorbet
Sometimes simple is best. No gooey sauces. No sugary sprinkles. No toasted flakes of anything. Sometimes all you need is a tiny pinch of salt. Last week, over Watermelon Agua Fresca, Andrew told me that as a child one of his favourite memories was eating big slices of watermelon sprinkled with salt. As a kid, we too slurped our way through the oppressive summer heat with watermelon. Only all we did was spit the seeds at each other and hope no adult noticed. Within days of our conversation, I came across a recipe for watermelon sorbet that called for a dash of fleur de sel. Taking my cue from the agua fresca, I swapped lime for the original lemon juice and added a hint of vodka to keep the sorbet nice and smooth. But I kept the salt just as is.
12 Jul
Linda’s Chocolate Lover’s Oatmeal Cookies
The word "gifted" can get me all riled up. When used to mean "naturally talented" I have no qualms. In fact, I rather like it when applied as an adjective to child prodigies, musicians, artists, mathematicians, healers and even plumbers. And believe me, plumbing is a gift not bestowed up on me or any of my immediate family. To me, "gifted" is a useful, generous and surprisingly handy adjective.  But it's one rotten past tense verb. My inner grammar teacher wants to rap knuckles and assign lines when someone says someone gifted them something when they mean they were given a gift. And being forced to write two someones and a something in the same sentence doesn't help the cause. And yes, it's ironic that acts of generosity can make me grouchy. So, let me demonstrate the correct use of the word via  food.
08 Jul
Browned-Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies - A while ago I solicited recipes for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie. A lot of suggestions rolled in. Conflicting opinions on walnuts, oatmeal and chefs flew through cyberspace. Some people loved Alton Brown's recipe. Others called it "cakey" and touted the ever-popular David Lebovitz. Thomas Keller's name cropped up frequently, while a small but vocal group swore on their grandmother's baking pans that Cook's Illustrated's browned butter version was the best. Make that The Very Best. Ever. So I did some research into the various options. Some recipes called for chopped chocolate. But with chips readily available that just seemed like extra work. Other recipes used bread flour, which I don't stock. So I nixed them. Many demanded an extra yolk. Needless to say, I was a little put off by this requirement since I hate wasting food and never know what to do with an extra white. Two or three? Make meringues. But one? However, I adore browned butter and hunted down the Cook's Illustrated recipe. Even though it called for that pesky extra yolk, it used ordinary flour and included my beloved walnuts. So I was willing to sacrifice some albumin for the cause. Then I read the instructions.
07 Jul
Candied Flowers — Part 2
FlowersDrying1 Ten days left to my sister's garden wedding and I'm beginning to panic. My mom and I are making the wedding cake, and planned on decorating it with blooms from our gardens. But none of the flowers are paying any attention to their carefully co-ordinated schedules. In an ill-advised burst of speed, the rambling rose has galloped through its bloom phase like a Kentucky Derby contender. At this rate there will be no perky Dorothy Perkins hovering overhead as my sister and her groom greet guests. Sure, the long-lived lavender is fine, but the ephemeral lilies? Not so much. And while the hollyhocks look just dandy right now, will they  be able to stand guard along the wedding path come the Big Day? I guess we'll find out. So yesterday, I decided to preserve as much prettiness as I could -- regardless of whether or not the flowers are fit for consumption. Having recently written an article on how to candy flowers, I was up to the challenge. But as I ventured beyond the edible flower limitation, I learned that some flowers candy better than others.
05 Jul
Watermelon Agua Fresca
Those who know me will be shocked to learn I have joined a gym. Yup. Me. In a gym. I have yet to receive confirmation, but somewhere out there a fat pink pig is soaring high above a frozen section of Hades and giggling. Thanks to my older sister's encouragement, I now have a bright red gym bag, a stainless steel water bottle and some very unsettling knowledge about my body composition. No surprise on the weight and body fat percentages, but I was flabbergasted to learn my body doesn't have enough water. And drinking large quantities of H20 throughout the day is not something I do. Tried it. Failed. Many times over. So, I figured there had to be a better way to hydrate, and it turns out watermelon just might be the answer.
01 Jul
How to Temper Steak
I knew I was missing a step. Despite  learning how to heat a pan to perfection and fire up the grill without burning off my eyebrows, I struggle with producing a medium-rare steak. Oh, technically, I know how to use the palm method to determine doneness, but my results are hit and miss. Turns out the reason behind my inconsistent results is, as always, impatience. I'm too disorganized busy to temper steak. Confession time. I usually grab the steak from the fridge and slap it on the heat. I've even been known to thread ice-cold beef kebabs onto skewers thinking it wouldn't matter because they're small. Wrong. Especially since I don't like well-done steak. Fortunately, Joe at Rouxbe Online Cooking School has shown me of the error of my ways. And just in time for both Canada Day (or Dominion Day for Andrew) and the Fourth of July.

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