Sunday

In the Kitchen: Lemon and Walnut Biscotti



Before we start, I must warn you - until I don't have to wear multiple sweaters under my parka, I will continue to complain about the existence of this neverending winter. On that note, going outside is the worst so I've spent a lot of time recently baking and enjoying the sweet comforts of home.

Because I've been reading Joyous Health (#15 on the life list) and religiously drinking lukewarm lemon water, our fridge has been stocked with drawers filled to the brim with the sunny, citrus treat. I've only made biscotti twice before but remembering how quick and easy it was then, I participated in some weeknight baking this past week. Biscotti is baked twice and the hardest part of the recipe is resisting from nibbling after the first bake. The second bake gives it a greater crunch and some nice colouring but it's really the lemon zest that wins my heart in this one.

The original recipe I used called for orange zest and pistachio but I suspect that any citrus zest/nut combo would work just as nicely. Does anyone know if grapefruit zest is a thing? It always smells so delicious in bath and skincare products but I'm not sure about the popularity in baking. Please advise.

Enjoy!



Lemon and Walnut Biscotti

Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • Lemon icing, recipe below

Directions: 

1. Using a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and combine on low speed.

2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Gently stir into the wet mixture before adding the lemon zest and walnuts.

3. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. On a lined baking sheet, separate the dough into three separate logs. Roll and slightly flatten so each log is approximately 6-inches long x 3-inches wide and about 1/2-inch thick. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the top of each log is slightly cracked. Let it rest in the sheet, out of the oven, for 30 minutes.

4. Using a sharp knife, diagonally slice 1-inch pieces. Arrange back on the cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes before flipping cookies over and baking for 8-10 minutes more. Let the cookies cool on a baking rack.

5. Once cooled, combine approximately 1 cup of icing sugar with a few teaspoons of lemon juice. Whisk with a fork and drizzle over the cookies or dip one end in, if you prefer.

Tuesday

February Recap



Can someone wake me up when winter's over? It's hard to believe that this season is still in full force with no end in sight. February flew by and yet at the same time, dragged on endlessly with cold, bitter winds and never ending snow.

In my family, February is aptly named "second Christmas" as we celebrate almost 10 birthdays over the course of the month. My birthday fell on a Saturday this year which meant that I spent the entirety of the weekend immersed in completely on-brand activities—a.k.a. the happiest 48 hours possible—filled with Saturday morning brunch, flower shop visits, games night with friends, cuddling with family and my favourite (new-ish) tradition: birthday cake baking.

For the past few years, I've spent a part of my birthday baking myself a cake. Based on reactions, I suspect it's a strange thing to do but I love the challenge of it and it's about as high-effort as I'll get these days when it comes to baking. This year's cake: Bobbette & Belle's chocolate cake recipe from Toronto Life Cookbook 2012. The fixings: momofuku milk bar's birthday frosting and birthday cake crumbs. The verdict: two enthusiastic thumbs up (quoted from 1995's classic film, Clueless).

Surprisingly, scalloped frosting wasn't as tedious as I thought it would be. Jordan Ferney has a great step-by-step tutorial on Oh Happy Day! that's super handy. Admittedly, I was a little bit sloppy with the scalloping as I was rushing through it but I think the wow factor of a taller, 6-inch cake really helped to mask that.



Besides that, I've been trucking along on my to-dos and am happy to report that I'm making a small dent in my life list already! A few highlights from this past month:

8. Learn how to knit. - I am now confidently knitting and purling. So far I've only been able to make headbands and while I'm not entirely sure which one the "knit" stitch is vs. the "purl" stitch, they're all very straight and even which I suppose is a good thing!

12. Get a score of at least 10 points in Flappy Bird. - Well, that was a short-lived fad. My all-time high score of 13 was achieved shortly after my post and I haven't touched Flappy Bird since!

16. Find somewhere that sells kusmi tea's strawberry green tea and hoard it. - It's sold at McEwan's!

18. Go golfing at least 4 times this summer. - I joke about being a golf widow all the time but I'm slowly beginning to see its appeal. In the past month alone, we have been to the indoor simulator TWICE. 9 holes at Pebble Beach, and 9 holes at Cabo del Sol, virtually of course. Does that count?

26. Take a SkillShare class. - I'm in the midst of Mary Kate McDevitt's hand-lettering course right now and am a bit stuck already! Quick, what's a cute phrase that's between 6-8 words long and has lots of pictures associated with it?



That's all for now, but follow my adventures on Instagram for more! And by adventures, I mean flower arrangements and things propped up against a white wall.

Wednesday

On Growing Older and Wiser

Photo by Christian Peterson

I became a year older over the weekend and have been spending the past few days deep in thought about the meaning of life. It's not really quite as dramatic as it sounds but the closer I get to milestone birthdays, the more time I spend trying to recall and check off mental lists I made somewhere along the way of where I want to be and what I want my life to look like.

The past year was really good to me and if I really had to sum it up in one visual, it would probably look something like this:



Despite the everyday stresses and sudden surprises that popped up, my memories of 27 are filled with a lot of fun and a lot of joy. I made a conscious effort to redirect my negative energy into positive things like people, hobbies (but mostly flowers), and dipping a toe every once in a while to test new waters. Most days I'll still find myself slumped over in a heap of blankets, constantly tired, constantly wanting to wear pajamas but there's a certain excitement in learning, exploring and building. On that note, I've decided on a written list this year to keep myself in line, 28 things for my 28th year.

1. Reflect more.
2. Plan less. Sometimes. It's okay.
3. Learn how to use Adobe Illustrator.
4. Take a beginner's calligraphy class.
5. Send a letter with a calligraphed envelope.
6. Send flowers to friends.
7. Figure out a better system for organizing photos.
8. Learn how to knit.
9. Knit a hat for my dad.
10. Buy matching nightstands.
11. Commit this article to memory: How to Be Happy.
12. Get a score of at least 10 points in Flappy Bird.
13. Host a sit-down dinner party for 6 or more.
14. Take more photos with friends.
15. Read the whole Joyous Health book.
16. Find somewhere that sells kusmi tea's strawberry green tea and hoard it.
17. Learn how to poach an egg.
18. Go golfing at least 4 times this summer.
19. Rethink carnations.
20. Spend more time outside.
21. Document Mom's recipes.
22. Make momofuku milk bar's crack pie recipe and see what the fuss is all about.
23. Buy personal stationery.
24. Read 3 new books.
25. Have a picnic with friends.
26. Take a SkillShare class.
27. Have 1 date night per week.
28. Grow out bangs.

(Photos by Christian Peterson, after a long afternoon figuring out the best way to evenly throw confetti in the air)

Currently Playing: Summer Rewind



We're currently in week three of the polar vortex here in Toronto and every day as I step into the bitter winter wind, I often wonder just how close I am to a mental breakdown. Some days, I quietly weep to myself while others, I debate to myself the practicality of wearing snow pants to work. Needless to say, times have been bleak but fortunately, I've mastered my commuter playlist with the happiest of songs to convince myself that somewhere, some place, summer still exists. How have you been coping?!

Janglin - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

Summer Holiday - Wild Nothing

Honey Come Home - The Head and the Heart

Mushaboom - Feist

Funny Heartbeat - Kisses

Keep the Car Running - Arcade Fire

Bedouin Dress - Fleet Foxes

Carried Away - Passion Pit

Friday

Flower Girl Friday: Mini Bud Arrangements


Surely the first full week back at work deserves a treat to kick off the weekend. May I suggest these mini arrangements? Cheap and cheerful (and quick to make), these little buds are simple and unfussy, yet perfectly sweet to keep you company through these cold, winter days. 

I picked white freesias and star of bethlehem as my focal flowers, complimented with light filler and wax flower and a pop of colour via the billy balls. The star of bethlehem hasn't bloomed yet in the picture but when it does, you'll see tiny white flowers with a black dot centre.



Approximate time: 20 minutes

Cost: under $15, makes about 3 bud arrangements

What you'll need for each arrangement:
  • 1-2 stems of green filler—pick something light with smaller leaves
  • 3 stems of freesia
  • 2 billy balls
  • 2-3 stems of wax flower
  • 1 stem of arabacum star of bethlehem
  • 3 small bud vases or jars
  1. Prep: select the stems you'll be using and prep them for the arrangement by cleaning off any leaves or foliage that will sit below the water line. You'll want the height of the flower arrangement to be somewhere between 1-1.5x the height of your vessel. Trim accordingly.

  2. Arrange: start with your star of bethlehem, held loosely between your thumb and forefinger. Bring in a stem of freesia, at a slight slant, so that the stems start to spiral as you add more to the arrangement. Alternate adding in the freesia stems, wax flower and filler. At this point, don't be afraid to pull stems up or down to adjust the shape to your liking. I always prefer an asymmetrical look so I added the billy balls in last off to one side.   

  3. Trim: Once you're happy with the look, continue holding the arrangement in your hand and trim off the excess stems. Gently insert the arrangement into your vessel, again adjusting the stems to your liking.