Dorie’s Cookies – Cranberry Five-Spice Cookies

Cranberry Five-Spice Cookies

I baked up a storm the last two weekends, helping stock the bake sale table at the craft fair my mother organizes every year. I made three selections from Dorie’s Cookies this year, including the Cranberry Spice Cookies that were one of this month’s selections. I took out some squash that I’d frozen to make the variation of the Sweet Potato Pie Bars, but my mother got hold of it and turned it into several delicious creations of her own, instead. Luckily, I’ve got a really big squash ready to roast, so I’ll make those bars some time before the holidays.

Peanut Brownie Sablés

I also made the Peanut Brownie Sablés and the Melody Cookies (in snowflake form!), along with several batches of cookies from other cookbooks and recipe cards. I managed to taste a couple of cookies along the way (thank goodness for broken cookies!), but I was in production mode, so didn’t take great photos of any of them.

Melody Cookies, masquerading as snowflakes

I am going to have to make all of these again, at a time when they’re not earmarked for sale – they were all so delicious that I was sorry all I got was a share of the very few broken bits when they were unpacked. The Cranberry Five-Spice Cookies were especially lovely, because they’re not sweet – amongst all the sugar bombs on the table, they made a nice contrast. I loved the way the butter and cranberries played against the spices. It’s a perfect cookie for a grown up dessert tray or a grown up cocktail nibble.

Cookie Mix and Match Bake Sale Table

I may not have gotten to eat many cookies this weekend, but I’m going to steal one of their ideas for my next cookie swap – the mix and match table was a huge hit!

November’s Dorie’s Cookies goodness can be found here and here at Tuesdays with Dorie.

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A Late Summer Round-Up

Informal Installation

August means vacations, farmers’ markets, days at the beach and in the woods. But there’s also a surfeit of festivals, performances, and events this month. So when your vacation days are spent, your fridge is full, and hungry bears take precedence over hikers, there’s still lots left to do.

Here are a few of the things that caught my attention:

The PNE is more than just mini-doughnuts, Superdogs, and gravity-defying rides – it’s also a musical treasure trove. Their Summer Nights series is a mixed bag of nostalgia acts and current bands, with great seating (if you get there early) and an unbeatable price – it’s free with admission to the Fair. This year’s highlights include Culture Club and A Tribe Called Red.

The Museum of Vancouver has another intriguing exhibition running this summer and fall, All Together Now: Vancouver Collectors and Their Worlds. I love the way their curators stretch stretch the boundaries of what a museum is supposed to contain. This show includes a seed bank, fly fishing gear, action figures, and drag wear.

The Vancouver Mural Festival may be over, but its legacy is the art it has left in its wake. Make your own Mount Pleasant walking tour, using the mural map as your guide.

And then, there’s Pet-A-Palooza, for those who think that free samples aren’t something that should be restricted to humans.

There are also festivals, markets, and performances happening all over Metro Vancouver over the next few weekends. It can be hard to decide what to do. I had that problem this past weekend. I ended up at the Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival. On Friday, I’ll tell you why.

Spring Things

Persea Fumée

It’s been an busy season so far and there’s lots more to come, at least there is around here. The photos scattered through this post are from two of the events I’ve attended this month – the Avo Showdown and the Lick My Plate launch. Now I’m looking forward to fun with food, stimulating presentations, and more than a little art appreciation over the next few weeks.

Lick Your Plate treats

Tomorrow, the Heritage Vancouver Society hosts the first in the Shaping Vancouver 2016 series – What’s a Neighbourhood? In the face of so much change in our city, what are the things we should be preserving or encouraging to maintain and promote community in our neighbourhoods?

AvoShowdown entries

This coming weekend, you’ve got a chance to weigh in on the Vancouver Public Library’s future. Whatever comes of these sessions, that future should include physical books. They’re still the surest way to guarantee equal access to knowledge, especially in a climate of growing income inequality.

Lick Your Plate swag

The weekend after, there are two events I’m excited about – the Parker Art Salon and the East Van Hop Circuit.

The Parker Art Salon is a chance to view and buy art from the studios at 1000 Parker Street, with a little less chaos and much warmer weather than November’s Culture Crawl. The Hop Circuit is a self-guided tour of 13 of my neighbourhood’s craft breweries, with some samples, insider tours, and food trucks. Both are within walking distance for me, cycling distance for many, and transit for everyone else – I wouldn’t drive if I were you, the parking alone will just make you miserable. Between the two events, I think I’ve got that weekend covered.

AvoShowdown contestants

And just in case you need a little incentive to (a) add to your cookbook collection and (b) get canning/fermenting/preserving, the folks behind Well Preserved have released a cool zine-style bonus package for their upcoming Batch Cookbook. Once you’ve pre-ordered the book, you can find the download link, here.

AvoShowdown appetizers

At the very least, April’s already shaping up to be a delicious month, if what I’ve tasted so far is any indication.

Avocado Parfait

A Medley of Taste – Simply Delish Soup and Salad

Calico Bean Soup

As I told you on Tuesday, Kevin and I did some shopping at the Fraser Valley Food Show last weekend. We’ve been happily eating our way through our finds ever since.

Today, I have something of guest post from Kevin, reviewing one of the products he was especially eager to try, Simply Delish Soup and Salad:

Simply Delish Soup

On Saturday April 2nd, I went with Teresa to the Fraser Valley Food Show. As someone who has been celiac since my birth in 1971, and who has been vegan for almost a year and a half, I was a bit skeptical about finding much that I would like at the show. I say this even knowing full well how much things have changed for people with celiac disease since the 70s and for vegans in the last five years.

The place that immediately caught my eye was Simply Delish Soup and Salad. Their display booth was outstanding. I couldn’t stop looking at their pre-packaged soups, as they looked incredibly pretty. I believe everything but one item was both gluten-free and vegan. The service was friendly but not overbearing. Brad was very helpful in explaining their product and I thought it was cool he was aware of Teresa’s One Wet Foot blog. I ended up leaving with their Calico Soup.

I initially thought that $9.00 was a lot to pay for this pretty package of beans and spices. Once I realized how much soup it makes, I realized I was wrong – it makes a lot of soup for $9.00. Teresa even helped me do some quick math about how much it would cost otherwise. Usually one pays a lot extra for convenience, but not here. The soup couldn’t have been easier to make – just put it into a slow cooker and add water. As someone who likes convenience with vegan/gluten-free cooking, I can’t even begin to explain how much I loved the simplicity of this.

Often with pre-packaged vegan and gluten-free food, not only is it over-priced but it’s also loaded with unhealthy ingredients. This soup couldn’t be farther from that – the nutrient value is extremely high in this soup. I can’t recommend this soup enough. I was happy to hear that Brad & Chelsey sell their product in Vancouver, as we plan on having much more of it in this household.

Medley of beans in the slow cooker

I agree with Kevin’s assessment – we enjoyed a delicious soup with minimal effort – we threw in some diced celery and carrot, as we had it on hand, but I suspect it would have been just as enjoyable without. I also added some salt just before serving. Brad and Chelsey don’t add any salt to their products, which I appreciate for two reasons – salt makes dried pulses tough and I like to control the amount of salt in our food. We like just enough salt in our food to enhance the flavours.

There’s a place for soup mixes like this in our lives – made with healthy ingredients, guaranteed gluten-free and vegan, great as is while easy to customize, and perfect for days when hands on cooking isn’t feasible. They’re a great addition to our pantry.

Overhead shot of calico bean soup

We received no consideration for our review of this product. It’s part of an occasional series of posts highlighting locally made products that we buy and enjoy.

G-W Portraits: Vivienne McMaster

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Each time I do a G-W Portraits interview, I’m struck by the way in which each participant brings something new to the three simple questions I ask them. Vivienne McMaster brings a photographer’s eye and a transformative perspective to her answers. She spoke about the “evidence of community” that can be found all around Grandview-Woodland, on sidewalks and in community book exchanges, in gardens and on the verges.

Vivienne’s work can be found at Be Your Own Beloved, along with links to her e-courses, workshops, e-books, and more.

You can find the rest of the interviews in this series here: G-W Portraits

Spring Into Action

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The clocks went forward an hour on the weekend and the lighter evenings are waking me out of winter hiberation mode. Which makes it a good time for a round up, don’t you think?

Here are a few things that have caught my newly refreshed eye:

I haven’t yet made time for the Vancouver Art Gallery’s current show, MashUp: The Birth of Modern Culture, but I need to correct that soon. It seems like everyone I know has been making multiple trips to the exhibit – the whole gallery is devoted to this exploration of contemporary cultural production and it’s too much to absorb in a single visit. If you’re in Vancouver before it closes in June, you should block it liberally into your itinerary.

Last year, I brought a recipe to the AvoShowdown, competing against a number of Vancouver bloggers. This year, the general public is invited to submit a recipe – 16 competitors will face the judges on April 10th. You can find all the details here: Call for Recipes – Avocado Showdown. I’m looking forward to attending as a spectator this time around!

The Eastside Flea has moved from Commercial Drive to Main Street and have a bigger, permanent home. If you’re a vendor, they’re looking for all sorts of goods purveyors for their grand opening on April 16th & 17th.

The Femme City Choir brings their new show to the York Theatre on June 5th & 6th – I’m telling you now because it’s best to get your tickets early. Their shows sell out.

Food and community find perfect expression in the Food Connection Friends Potluck Dinners. For folks in and around the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, they hold regular potlucks and DIY food workshops. There’s one coming up this Friday, March 18th, in fact.

But the big question this week is would you rather celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by rocking out to Pogues tribute band, Shane’s Teeth, at the WISE Hall’s annual St. Paddy’s Day Bash, or are you more into the nostalgic (and nearly as lively) sounds of the Irish Rovers? Just let me know – I’ll be sipping on a Guinness while you decide.

Operation Whirlwind – A Holiday Inspiration Pass Adventure

Pass

December is a busy month, with year-end gatherings, holiday celebrations, and special events. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, baking and cooking in anticipation of Christmas, but the holidays took me out of the house just as much.

This year, though, I had an extra reason for running from one side of the city to the other. After waiting more than three years, it was finally my turn to receive Vancouver Public Library‘s Inspiration Pass. Mine came into effect on December 9th, giving me until just before Christmas to visit as many of the attractions available as possible.

Beatty

Considering the time of year, I think I did quite well. I skipped the garden tours, as the weather was stormy for most of the time I had the pass. I also skipped the Park Board offerings, choosing to concentrate on museums, exhibitions, and performances.

I went to UBC one day, Vanier Park another, then tried to fit in as many of the others as I could.

Aquarium

Some of the highlights:

Speaking of c̓əsnaʔəm, it was very instructive to visit so many exhibits on First Nations culture in a short space of time. The Museum of Anthropology and the Museum of Vancouver had sister exhibitions that explored the reclamation of the c̓əsnaʔəm village site by the Musqueam people, with a third exhibit showing at the Musqueam Cultural Centre gallery (which I’ve not yet seen). The MOA and MOV exhibits centre the voices of Musqueam people, while taking responsibility for their institutions’ role in recasting the belongings of a living people as the artifacts of a dead culture.

Anthropology

At the Museum of Anthropology, in particular, there is an ever-increasing emphasis on the institution as a repository rather than a collection. On the tour I took part in, the guide emphasized that the rights and stories of the items we viewed still belonged to the families who produced them. It’s a welcome change from the museum tours of my childhood, which presented them as the remnants of a vanished culture. They’ve also transformed the way their vast holdings from around the world are presented, collecting and displaying European artifacts in a manner that does not hold them above or apart from those of any other culture.

So, when I made my way to the Vancouver Art Gallery, I was very glad to learn that there was an exhibit of coastal First Nations art there, too. The pieces displayed were part of an unexpected gift to the VAG, which has extremely limited holdings of First Nations pieces. There was an acknowledgement to that effect and on one side of the exhibition floor, strong contemporary pieces by Robert Davidson were allowed to stand alone. On the other, historical pieces were paired with vast photographs by Christos Dikeakos serving as commentary. It felt like the VAG was very much at the beginning of the process that’s been undertaken by MOV and MOA. Even the exhibition notes felt sparse in comparison to those for the exhibitions on the floors below, especially those for the show that centred artists like the Group of Seven and Emily Carr, with a number of works that were dominant culture observations of First Nations coastal communities and cultural productions.

The closeness of my visits highlighted these issues, which then followed me to Roedde House, a museum that recreates a middle class Victorian family’s environment. This was an unexpected benefit of the Inspiration Pass and a welcome one.

The downside of getting the pass when I did was that I was only able to go to one performance, as my loan period extended into the Christmas week closure of many performance groups. However, those who get the pass in the off-season can’t see performances, either, so I’m not complaining.

Victorian

I’ll end with a few observations:

  • I’d love to see the pass program extended to some of our smaller institutions, like theatre companies and repertory cinemas. One of the goals of the pass is to encourage Vancouverites to get subscriptions to our cultural institutions, so it would be nice to bring up the profile of these ones. I could envision one choice being a movie at either Vancity Theatre or The Cinamatheque and another being one play from a list of theatre companies.
  • In the same vein, I’d like to see the program stretch a little further into East Vancouver. The volunteers I spoke to at the Beatty Museum of Biodiversity had never heard of The Cultch, can you imagine? Let’s get Westsiders to cross the city, too.
  • Since performance groups largely shut down during the warmer months, it might be nice to have the option to go to a baseball or soccer game instead.
  • Finally, I’d like to see some more flexibility from some of the participating institutions on how groups of four are made up. Goh Ballet allows four adults to come to a performance, but the Vancouver Symphony insists that only two adults and two children can be allowed as a group of four. For those of us who have elderly parents and grown up children, nieces, or nephews, that’s a shame. It also doesn’t take into account non-generational families and groups of friends. I’d like to see that change.

Planetarium

Many of the people I know had no idea that the Inspiration Pass was available to any resident of Vancouver with a VPL card. I’m not sure I should have told them, because they’ve all put a hold on it. There are eight passes per library branch and the number of holds keeps creeping upward. I wouldn’t be surprised if they reach 1,000 for each branch before long.

I’ve put another hold on the Inspiration Pass at my local branch. I estimate I’ll get it again in three-and-a-half to four years. Luckily, my partner has a hold on one, too. He’ll get it in two years or so. That’s not so long to wait.

G-W Portraits: Tara Sawatsky & Kevin Sauvé

 

Grandview-Woodland is home to a number of non-profits and many community activists, cultural workers, and civic sector employees make their home here, too.

Tara Sawatsky and Kevin Sauvé live in a housing co-operative in the Commercial Drive area, do great work, and love Grandview-Woodland.

We spoke on a windy December day (apologies for the sound quality), then headed off to a co-op holiday potluck.

You can find the rest of the interviews in this series here: G-W Portraits

Have you checked out my 2015 holiday cookbook review series? There are copies of 5 great cookbooks up for grabs. You can find the links to the giveaways here and enter until December 17th.

A Little Cheer

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I think it’s high time I shared a holiday round up, don’t you?

Craft Fairs

It’s no secret that I have a soft spot for craft fairs. This time of year they are at their peak. I’ve got a selection of favourites for you.

Make It! is big, comprehensive and worth an afternoon’s browse.

Toque is a fundraiser for Western Front, so it’s not surprising that the wares on display have a fine arts sensibility. It’s always a hit.

Got Craft? still sets the bar for what’s indie and in when it comes to craft fairs. This year, they’re taking the show to North Vancouver.

Shiny Fuzzy Muddy is organized by some of my favourite artists and it’s a small, curated show full of beautiful art, jewellery, and apparel. If you’re thinking about buying yourself a present this year, do it here.

Markets

It’s not all about crafts, though. Holiday markets are a pleasure all their own.

The Baker’s Market is back, just in time for the holidays. It’s a one-stop shop for indie sweets purveyors, so prepare to get all your stocking stuffers out of the way.

The Vancouver Christmas Market imports (literally) the Germany holiday tradition and is always popular. Go hungry.

Speaking of hunger, the Vancouver Farmers’ Market Holiday Market is a great place to shop when you’re hungry, too. There are goods of all sorts, though, so you just might polish off your gift list.

Tourist in Your Own Town

Your condo may be too small to safely install even one string of outdoor lights, but luckily, there are thousands of lights for you to enjoy across the city. Then, work off the hot chocolate at the ice rink.

VanDusen Botanical Garden‘s Festival of Lights is bigger than ever. Tour the grounds, then go for a meal or hot chocolate – they’ve got everything from snacks to fine dining.

See the Capilano Suspension Bridge in a whole new light – well, hundreds of thousands of lights.

Or, keep it simple and go skating at Robson Square. It’s surprisingly magical.

Performance

There are a bewildering number of great performances happening around here at this time of year, so I’m just going to highlight a few.

This year’s East Van Panto is Hansel and Gretel. They’re always hilarious, topical fun.

A Christmas Story, The Musical sounds like fun, too, as long as nobody puts an eye out.

Christmas at the Chan is going to be majestic – five choirs in that space!

It’s the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas. So, why not celebrate with the The Vancouver Chamber Choir?

And finally, Vancouver Cantata Singers are performing at Holy Rosary Cathedral. Experiencing the gorgeous acoustics there should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Have you checked out my holiday cookbook review series? There are copies of 5 great cookbooks up for grabs. You can find the links to the giveaways (as they go live) here.

G-W Portraits: Ange Gleeson

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So many people I know have moved away from this neighbourhood, only to return as soon as life lets them. Consciously choosing this neighbourhood is something that has come up over and over again in the short time I’ve been doing these interviews, so I wasn’t surprised to hear this from Ange Gleeson, too.

She’s one of the people that makes this neighbourhood shine, with a humourous anecdote always at the ready.

We did the interview near Britannia library and before we got started, Ange was chatting with passersby and even sharing the cookies I brought her. It was a reminder of how engaged people are in this neighbourhood. We talk to one another here.

You can find the rest of the interviews in this series here: G-W Portraits