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 Mar
Kitchen Reno Update
My tag line has never been so accurate. After two full days of demolition, the support wall is down and the support beam is up (it's NOT an I-beam after all). The whole area is lighter and brighter, but this new open concept has one drawback. From now one, we must close the bathroom door -- unless we want passersby to catch a glimpse of us performing ablutions at the sink. As with any old home, there are always surprises. Turns out the wall we took out was more of a "moral support" wall than an actual load-bearing structure. This explains why the dining room ceiling was 2 inches lower than the kitchen's. With the support beam now properly inserted, the two ceilings are once again the same height and the pine floors in our bedroom above no longer sag. Bonus! Best of all, I've said good-bye to the horrid circulating fan -- and it's decade-long accumulation of grease. You know it's bad when the contractor's soft-spoken assistant feels the appliance warrants comment. Not only has this reno proven my housekeeping skills to be somewhat lamentable, it's shown I will never make it as an architect. I've lived in this house for more than 15 years and never realized the dining room is 24 inches wider than the kitchen. No wonder my reno drawings wouldn't line up. Initially I put this down to my questionable math skills, but the real culprit was my impaired powers of observation. And if that's all I have to report, you know it's going pretty smoothly. Below are some snapshots to give you an idea of what's happening and the level of chaos that has crept throughout our dwelling.
How to cook dried beans - The Messy Baker
11 Mar
How to Cook Dried Beans
How to cook dried beans - The Messy Baker Last month, I looked at how to debone a chicken as a faster-than-you'd-think way to save money and reduce salt in your diet. This month, the money-saving, salt-smashing culinary technique deals with how to cook dried beans and legumes. And no, the kitchen reno hasn't made me lose all sense of proportion. The biggest objection I hear about cooking your own beans is, "But it takes soooo long!"  Well, yes and no. Sure soaking and boiling takes time, but you don't have to stand there and keep watch. Your active time -- picking out stones, pouring water, draining -- is only a few minutes. The beans can soak while you sleep and cook while you do other things. Like laundry. Hmmm. Not sure that scenario helped my case. Anyway, if you look at the amount of labour involved, cooking your own beans -- even chick peas -- isn't all that time consuming. Just think of them as a stock item you always have on hand and not a single ingredient for a specific meal. I've been cooking and freezing big batches of beans for more than a year now and not only notice they taste better than their canned counterparts, the texture is far less mushy. This won't matter in a pureed bean soup, but a bean salad? Why it'll turn you into a food snob. The videos below, courtesy of Rouxbe Online Cooking School, run for less than 7 minutes combined and provide all the information you need about soaking, cooking and testing beans.  The only trick I can add is to freeze them in 2-cup batches, since this is approximately the amount in a can of beans.
09 Mar
Kitchen Reno

Hang onto your pot lids. It's going to be a bumpy ride. I don't know whether to cue up Springsteen's Wrecking Ball or Mellencamp's When the Walls Come Tumbling Down. But regardless of my musical selection, tomorrow morning the fun begins. And just after we fixed...

04 Mar
Honey and Cumin Braised Carrots
Me: How much broccoli should I cook? Andrew: How much Cheez Whiz do we have? Me: How long to you want to remain married? Andrew:  [...] Okay, moving onto safer territory -- carrots. I got the idea for these after dining in a restaurant when the accompanying vegetables outshone the forgettable duck confit. While the poultry disappointed, I was so impressed with the sweet yet savory carrots I had to recreate them at home. I usually find cooked carrots a source of frustration. Plain are boring but when I jazz them up with ginger, certain extended family members complain they're too spicy. But these? They should make everyone happy -- even without Cheez Whiz.
03 Mar
Chocolate Chip Mousse
Easy Chocolate Chip Mousse - Late on Sunday afternoon I did the unthinkable. I made chocolate mousse without high-end chocolate. Company was coming.  The oven was occupied with Apple Roasted Chicken. And I had very little time to devote to dessert. So, I opened the baking cupboard and grabbed the first thing I saw -- a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips. What can you do with chocolate chips, a stove top and half an hour kitchen time? Make mousse. And dang, if it didn't turn out more than a little okay.
01 Mar
Sparkling Ginger Daisy

Sometimes things fall together so smoothly you just know it's meant to be. Months ago, Diva on a Diet told me about Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur. Alas, it is unavailable in Ontario. So when I went to the Roger Smith Food Writer's conference in New...

25 Feb
When recipes fail

Dull winter days. Steaming hot bowls of soup. A hunk of cheese and a slice of bread makes it a meal. Wouldn't you just love the recipe for this delicious, nutritious, palate-pleasing cold weather solution? Well, I'm not giving it to you. Not because I'm mean or...

24 Feb
Dried Apple Breakfast Bars
Winter in Ontario. It either comes in cloudy grey lined with depressing slush or dazzling blue edged with blinding white snow. But there's a new colour this season. Red.Very fitting for a Canadian-grown fruit. These Red Prince apples are a new variety grown just a couple hours away from me -- in ski country no less. Here the Jonathan meets the Golden Delicious. And this is truly a prince of an apple. You can bake with it, cook with it or just eat it as is. Me? I decided to try something I'd never done before. I dried mine. Pretty, aren't they? The resulting dried apples are at once sweet and tart. A bit like a dried cranberry. Only without the added sugar. The brilliant red skin even makes them look a bit like cranberries. But the tiny blocks shown above are just plain old apples, slowly dried in the oven. They're so tasty I had to stop myself for gobbling them by the handful.
22 Feb
Leaky Pipes

Technically, our leak wasn't as bad as this photo. Emotionally? I felt like I was the Dutch kid asked to stick his finger in the dike. One false move and lives would be lost, houses swept away and my name would forever be synonymous with...

19 Feb
Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

EJSGHPK2KBS4 Huh? What is that gobbledy-gook in the previous line? If you thought this was going to be about oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, be patient. Apparently, this cryptic code is the high-tech way one "claims" their blog on Technorati. For some reason it refuses to recognize...

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