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.

29 Jun
Reno Before & After
Clearly my future does not lie in photo shoots for shelter magazines. While the colours look dull and some shots are too yellow, I assure you, in reality the rooms are actually quite bright despite the deep claret walls. Looking back at the pre-reno kitchen I wonder how I functioned in it. To all those people who wrote to assure me that it would be worth it, know that you were right. Very-very-very right. So if I use a lot of exclamation marks in this post, I hope you will forgive me. The kitchen deserves them. I'll return to normal punctuation tomorrow. Promise. And without further ado, here are the before and after shots you requested!
The BEFORE shot was taken standing in the doorway between the dining room and kitchen. I was worried the claret colour from the dining room would be too dark if extended into the second room and had attempted a test patch. When I ran out of paint, the results looked more like a crime scene that a decorating experiment. How bad was it? I kid you not, it actually scared the cat. The AFTER shot:
28 Jun
I’m back!

I'm back. Andrew's back. The cats are back. And we're all pretty please about it. Even the Gerber daisies perked up for the occasion. After three months of camping out in my parents' guest room we're once again residing in our own home. And loving the...

02 Jun
Sinks and solid surfaces
When the new counter tops, with their undermount sink came on Friday, water was restored to the kitchen after a 2-month absence. I'll confess, I was so pleased with the great big 24-inch stainless steel vat (same width as my previous stove!)  I went on a cleaning binge. For a good two hours, I soaked and scrubbed every ungainly item I could find. I'm please to report that as I type, my garbage pails are spotless, the dish rack practically sparkles and my largest pans are totally de-greased. Best of all? At no point did I have to resort to wedging them under the faucet at strange angles or perform contortionist acts to rinse them. Perhaps it was the fumes from the newly varnished floors, but the wading pool of a sink left me buzzed.
01 Jun
Candied Flowers

To celebrate the start of June and the near-end of my renovation, I thought I'd post about one of the more whimsical culinary items I've made recently. Candied flowers. Somehow this clunky term doesn't do justice to the delicate, crystalized petals. And I figure if...

18 May
French Press Coffee
My coffee tastes have changed during the course of the renovation. I've decided I prefer my morning latte strong, rich, and served with an ocean breeze. By someone else. Although  I'm grateful for the use of my mom's stove, I'm less than enamoured with its slow-to-heat elements. Without the aid of a speedy gas stove top, my normally peppy cafetiera has devolved into a sluggish stainless steel pot. Although easy to clean, my mom's smooth electric top stove isn't designed for this coffee system. The results? Mediocre coffee and a bad mood as a 3-minute espresso stretches into a finger-drumming 10. Of course, after several weeks of snail-paced lattes, my coffee expert friend, Kristine Hansen, reminds me that a French press is an easy alternative that requires no stove. While I wade through the forest of boxes in my living room to dig out my Bodum, Kristine, co- author of the Complete Idiot's Guide to Coffee and Tea, has generously agreed to share her tips for using a French press.
Homemade salad dressing - The Messy Baker
10 May
5 Basic Elements of Homemade Salad Dressing

People roll their eyes when they hear I make my own salad dressing. From their reaction you'd think I was weaving my own linen or milling my own wheat. But homemade salad dressing is one of those ludicrously simple items that provides a suspiciously high...

09 May
Mother Tongue

Before children, my mother was an amateur actress. After parenthood, she poured all her dramatic skills into reading us stories. She provided distinct voices for each character, made sound effects and sometimes included flamboyant gestures. She was a tough act to follow. When my less-than-theatrical...

05 May
Dandelion Salad
I am quickly cementing my reputation as the neighbourhood nut. Yesterday I sat on the grass plucking dandelion heads and tossing them into a brown paper lawn bag before they could go to seed. Today? I was out there again, only this time nibbling on the leaves. Living on the windward side of a park in a no-spray municipality means we have a carpet of dandelions where our front yard used to be. When I complained about this on Facebook, in amongst all the weeding advice, my cousin Judith suggested I seek my revenge via a dandelion salad. So today, I went out and sampled the lawn. Here's what I learned.
03 May
Orange Coffee Cake
So much for my vegetable-a-week promise. I look back at recent posts and see a carb-heavy, fat-laden series of desserts. Yes, I've been eating my greens, but not in a way that will make you beg for the recipe. I've been very plebeian about my vegetables, choosing instead to concentrate my creativity on cake. So, it's steamed broccoli, boiled beans and plain old salad while my time in the kitchen is spent searching for the perfect orange cake for my sister's wedding -- light, airy, easy to stack and and with a bright orange flavour. I've created some really tasty desserts, but so far they only hint at orange. Despite adding generous portions of rind and opting for frozen concentrate instead of juice, the cakes end up tasting as if they merely chatted to a bowl of clementines on their way to the oven.
30 Apr
Cookbook Roundup
As the reno inches to a close, items are slowly working their way back into their proper place. My bookcase, for instance, has finally emerged from the midst of the chaos and now stands in the room that has become (and will remain) my office. For almost two months, it gathered dust and got in the way of the contractors, while my cookbooks sat clearly labeled but inaccessible in what was once my living room. As I returned the books to the shelf, I came across some titles which reminded me of my recent whirlwind trip to New York City. The following cookbooks have nothing in common except I met the authors at the Roger Smith Food Writers' Conference earlier this year. I liked the authors. I liked their books. And as April comes to a close, I thought I'd to a quick roundup of some of the titles I discovered while in New York City and rediscovered as I unpack. I didn't plan it this way, but these four books cover all the culinary bases. You'll find pre- and postprandial beverages to bracket the meal, a healthy dinner in the middles, and a big slice of pie to round things out. What more could you ask for?

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