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.

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.
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...

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