I Know Nothing!!!

This last week I have been in the kitchen making 500 jars of jam for one company.
To say I've been out of the loop is an understatement.
Imagine my surprise when Gramma J pointed out my book was available for pre-sale on Amazon.
And a bunch of other sites around the world.
Now you can see the cover at least!

When Did I Get a Cottage???

While poor Johnny continues to look for Lola 
(they were best friends and Johnny always took care of Lola), 
life has carried on for the rest of us.

Last week, I was told over and over again by a new visitor,
that I had a lovely cottage. 
Now, to me, the cottage is the art shack out back being built 
by my husband with the wood burning stove to keep us warm.

"Your house is like one of those little cottages they show in 'those' magazines"

She doesn't know I work for 'those' magazines.

But, here is what I know...
My house is not grand.
My house is not glamorous.
My house is not perfect.
My house..
is full of love
and happiness. 

And I also know, that on a chilly night in November, they are not in their backyard roasting hot dogs, bacon wrapped scallops and home made marshmallows on an open fire with a dog and five..I mean four funny chickens.
If this is cottage living...fantastic.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Test...

I've been pinning these days.  
It's addicting
I've found two cookie recipes claiming to be the best chocolate chip cookie ever!
So, I had to test this out.

The New York Times claims that leaving the cookie dough in the fridge for 72 hours, will make a better cookie.  So, I did that.
Frankly, I'm surprised there is any dough left in the fridge after three days.
Sure, I had a nibble or two.

The thing about chilling your dough is, it's then really hard to work with.
You have to cut it.
But then, you have flat cookies - right?
I tested this too.

The recipe I picked has nutella in it.  
It also has sea salt on top, but because these were from my little girl and her friends, I left that out...for now!
so, here we go...

Test one:
the simple flat cut versus the balled up version.
flat cut has a simple swipe of nutella between to pieces - like a sandwich
balled up version has a tiny teaspoon of nutella inside the centre.

How to get nutella inside:
Cut a slice of dough, cut in half again, then stack them on top of each other.
Press a hole in the centre and build up a wall of dough on the side.
Spoon in nutella.
Press the walls together over the nutella.

To be honest, it's a bit of work doing the balled up version, and I was really hoping the simple flat cut would be the winner.  Or, at least be a tie.
flat on the left, ball on the right.
In the oven....

...out of the oven.
Hmmm.  Clearly the balled up cookie is more appealing.

The flat cookie looks good, but the balled up version has that home made lumpy look to it.

Taste test. 
And I kid you not, after all this taste testing..I get a call from my publisher - they are having a cocktail party for me in Toronto in two weeks.  Halt any further taste tests!

The verdict...

Everyone picked the balled up lumpy version.  
So the extra effort was worth it.
Plus, the three day chill really made them crunchy on the outside and chewy in the centre.
I applaud the New York Times for their knowledge of chilled dough, and Monique for her knowledge of good cookies.  

I made some plain balled up cookies without the nutella, 
added a few pecans then after they were baked, sprinkled some pink sea salt to the top...
that was the winner for me!
You pick...and do let me know.
Recipe - click here to jump to it...

Keeping Up...

This city has gone jam mad!
I'm trying desperately to keep up with the orders these days.

And I've also been..

...having some extreme fun with cupcake papers.
It was a huge project for HGTV.ca and it's done.
I can't wait to show you, and will keep you posted on the story launch.
I've also been...

...revisiting the macaroon cookie.
It's a terribly good place to go.
I wanted to test out a few theories that different bakers suggest.
Turns out, they were right!
In my fridge right now, is a huge chocolate chip cookie dough ball.
I'm testing out the New York Times 'best chocolate chip cookie' recipe.
But, I'm combining it with the nutella chocolate chip recipe.
It has to sit for three days.
I'll get back to you on that one too.
Thank you all for your sweet notes about Lola.
I loved that little bird so.
You overwhelmed me with your kindness.
This is why I come here...to blog land.

A Goodbye Story...

A year and a half ago, I brought home five chickens.
They were 72 hours old.

Lola was by far, the most beautiful.

She was social, and loving.
People say chickens are useless, that they have no sense...
Lola came when called, liked to be pet, and loved hanging out.
She was our favourite.

She liked to sneak inside.
When she was young, and when she was full grown.
It's only fair...the dog was always eating her food!

She managed to get in two magazines.
This shot by my friend Kim Christie for one of Fifi's magazines.

And this one shot by my other friend, Janis Nicolay for BC Home.
Only Lola would hop up to sample the fancy pineapple cocktail we were shooting.
Such a girl.

The last egg Lola laid, was over a year ago.
We figured she came to us to make us smile, so that was enough.
She could live her life and be happy here.
But life had other plans.
A very large tumour had been growing for the last year.

And, on Saturday, it became to much for her.
So I held her while she fell asleep and I said goodbye.

Party Party Party...

My girl turned 5.  
It's been three days of parties.
Friends, family and then school.

The theme was 'fairies'

...and pink.

..remember this guy...

He fluttered over the table next to the giant flowers and floating mushrooms.
hmm, that takes me back to high school..

The tiny dancers got their wings and floated on the marshmallow icing.
12 giddy girls, screaming and laughing.
My sister doing sticker nail art, my niece crafting her heart out.
And then..moving on to day two..

20 family members.
I impressed them with my first attempt at macaroons.
They weren't so hard!  
I'm going to see if my Pinecone camp friend wants to have a macaroon day with me.
She's going to want to go gluten, dairy and sugar free though.
forget it, anyone else interested?

Then, day three.  The actual birthday.
It's a school day, so I decided to give baby caramel apples a try.
A mom at school told me about this.

scoop them out with a melon ball scoop and poke in a stick.

Dip them in caramel sauce.

well, in reality, this wasn't such a great idea.
The caramel doesn't stick to the exposed apple.  It all stayed on the paper.
So, I pulled it off and wrapped it around the tops like a scarf.
There was a chill in the air today, so it seemed appropriate.

I then drizzled chocolate over them.
All were devoured, and I will admit, I ate a few, dropped two, and threw away the truly ugly.
Ok, I ate the truly ugly ones too.
They are only one bite.

I'm a thief...

I've stolen all the coffee crisps and am now moving on to the aero bars.
what are you taking?