smile, darling


The other day I had to get a corporate headshot done.

I did a bit of modelling when I was younger (and skinnier… funny what a baking blog will do to you), but it’s been a few years since I’ve had to sit in front of a camera and try to turn off my thinking face.


I had my makeup done for the occasion, which was less because of the photo session and more because it’s free and I try to seize opportunities to get tips from professionals so I can do my own stage makeup, but while it’s fun to sit there and have someone do everything for you, it makes me kind of anxious. I spent the first half of the day wearing no makeup, and then in the afternoon I felt a bit like it was spatula-ed on. My freckles were less pronounced. My eyebrows were filled in and dark. My lips were this rich berry colour.

I missed my own face.


But I can never tell if the makeup actually doesn’t look good, or if I’m just not used to it. Maybe I just prefer everything to be healthy and natural – just like these cookies.

(Best segue ever. Right?)



Healthy Cookies


one third cup ground flax seeds
one third cup almond meal
one cup quinoa flakes
one banana, mashed
one quarter cup dark chocolate chips (I used mini)
two tablespoons maple syrup
one teaspoon cinnamon

optional: about 3 ounces additional dark chocolate and a teaspoon of coconut oil for dipping


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well combined – I had to get in there with my hands.
Scoop out spoonfuls and roll into balls. Press them flat on a cookie sheet and try to make them resemble cookie shapes.
Bake for 20 minutes, and let cool on the sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a rack.
If dipping in chocolate, melt chocolate and coconut oil in a mug, stirring frequently and being careful not to burn. Dip completely cooled cookies, and place on a baking sheet in the fridge to let chocolate harden.



And, because why not, my corporate headshot (un-retouched, because in the final version he got rid of my remaining freckles and – speaking of natural – I’m not sure I’m okay with that), by Roger Mahler:


cheesy peasy

When I was little, I always wanted to use up an entire pen.

It never happened. Between losing pens and acquiring new ones (I seem to have a slight klepto tendency with pens), I don’t think I ever made it through half of the ink. And then last year, in the middle of a cheese-making class, it finally happened.

It was a lot less exciting than I thought it would be. Because I didn’t have a back-up, and couldn’t take notes.


Now that I look at how many notes I did actually take, isn’t that hard to believe that I ran out of ink. But I did have a few moments of blind panic, and I kept momentarily stealing the girls next to me’s pens to scribble something down. At one point one girl tried to tell me that what the teacher was saying was already in the booklet we were given (which was half true – but my notes were very detailed). I looked at her, smiled, and kept writing.

The class was put on by Save-On Meats in the downtown east side of Vancouver. The teacher, David (Dah-veed, as in the French version of the name, which for sure made the class more legit), lives in the Gulf Islands making cheese from his neighbours’ goats, and occasionally comes to the mainland to teach others how to make cheese. Pet goats not required.


We made our own paneer, and David demonstrated how to make cheese curds, soft yoghurt cheese, and the starting base for Camembert. While he talked, he drank from a glass of whey, which is the stuff that collects on the top of yoghurt.

…also known as the stuff I always pour down the drain.

Apologies for the over-exposure... I was new to using my camera.

It appears that David is currently taking a break from teaching, but if you’re in the Vancouver area and looking to learn something new, I would suggest Save-On Meats or The Dirty Apron Cooking School.

this little piggy…

I was going to start this off with a shocking statement and all that, but I happened to glance at the permalink below the post title as I’m writing this, and it appears I already have a post named “this little piggy.” I’m not sure what that says about me.


Anyway. I would really like a miniature pig.

(I’m not sure what that says about me either.)


I think this started when I was having a drinks with a friend and she said she was looking to buy a burro (for those of you as confused as I was, it is not only the Spanish word for donkey, but apparently the name used for a miniature donkey). To go with the burro, she was planning to buy a miniature goat.

I’m starting to think this says more about my friends than it does about me – or perhaps my choice in friends says a lot about me? All this is getting confusing. I’ll stop.


Back to the point: I would really like a miniature pig. I informed my friend (the one who is searching for a burro and miniature goat), and her reaction was “you know pigs eat humans, right?”



Not really? as in I didn’t know that, but really? as in you want to buy a burro and a miniature goat, but you’re judging me for wanting a miniature pig? Also, I’m pretty sure pigs don’t eat live people. They wait until they’re dead. And seeing as I had this whole thing where I figured if I died on my work trip in China they could just ship my body off to Tibet to be eaten by vultures, pigs eating my already dead body isn’t necessarily concerning.

Although I might feel differently if it were my pet… I really don’t want to think about Russell eating me.

But really with pigs it would just be karma, because bacon is delicious.


Bacon Jalapeño Cheese Cornbread


one and a half cups cornmeal
two and a half cups milk
two cups all-purpose flour
one tablespoon baking powder
one teaspoon salt
half cup sugar
two eggs
half cup vegetable oil
two cups cheese, grated (I used an herb gouda)
six strips bacon, fried, cooled and chopped
one jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced


Combine cornmeal and milk in a large mixing bowl and set aside for five minutes to soak.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line and grease a 9×13 pan.
Sift dry ingredients into cornmeal mixture. Add eggs and oil, and stir well – about five minutes (a stand mixer makes this much easier).
Fold in cheese, bacon bits and pepper. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean; about 30 minutes.


a vacation is in order


On Monday this week I got such a bad blister I bled all over my heels and had to wear flip flops for the rest of the day.

On Tuesday I realized that my hip was finally feeling better… but my lower back was killing me.



On Wednesday I broke my diet and ate 5 peanut butter cookies in seven minutes. Then I felt sick for the rest of the night.

On Thursday I wore my underwear inside out.

On Friday I couldn’t for the life of me find the arm strength or the brainpower to get through my circus choreography, and our coach started swearing at us.



Thank the Lord this week is over. I’m pretty sure I need to relax on the beach with a trashy novel, a cute bikini, a Kentucky mule and – just for good measure – some boozy sorbet.


Blueberry White Wine Sorbet


one pound (454 grams) blueberries
one bottle (750 mL) white wine (I used Therapy Vineyard’s Freudian Sip, which I totally picked for the name, but happens to be a sweet blend)
three quarters cup water
two thirds cup sugar


In a saucepan, combine wine, water and sugar. Bring to a boil and stir for one minute; the sugar should all have dissolved. Remove from heat, add blueberries and let sit (covered) for an hour. I smashed my blueberries a bit with a spatula to help them absorb the liquid.
Blend (in batches if necessary) and strain into the prepared bowl of an ice cream maker.
Make ice cream according to the manufacturer’s directions.


needed: hip replacement


Last week I went to physio, because my right hip has decided that despite my brain’s intentions, it has done enough work and is now settling in for an early retirement. Since I’m still spending a large amount of my free time contorting myself around and through objects of varying stability two storeys in the air, I’m trying to coax my hip back into working shape. Which brings me to IMS.

This feels a little bit like cutting off my nose to spite my face.


IMS, which stands for intramuscular stimulation, is kind of like acupuncture for white people. My physio, a little woman who looks a bit like Elaine from Seinfeld but is infinitely scarier (don’t get me wrong, she’s super nice, but as far as I know Elaine never came at anyone with 4-inch-long needles), in my first consultation just moved and pushed and pulled my leg in different directions, and gave me some stretches to do at home. She also said that she thought I would be a good candidate for IMS, but since I seemed a bit nervous, she told me to book a double slot for my next session, and we could do some more assisted stretching and then maybe toward the end of the session do some IMS if I felt comfortable. But when I showed up for round two, she immediately handed me a waiver to sign, with a “I”ll give you a few minutes to read that over while I go get the needles.”



She then proceeded to stick said needles into my back and butt and hip and thigh, and tap and poke and wiggle. I was getting muscle spasms all over the place. I couldn’t stop making noises. Most were reminiscent of dying animals. I was all over the whimpers, sad moans, giggles, and – mostly during the wiggles – ouch!es varying in degrees of hysteria. At one point I apologized for being so vocal (it’s just a coping mechanism; things didn’t even really hurt, but they felt really, really weird and I didn’t know how to react other than to say ouch while giggling hysterically), and she told me I was actually doing quite well compared to some of her other patients. But then she decided to stop, even though there were “quite a few more places” she’d like to poke, because she was sensing I was reaching my limit.


When it was over, she had to tell me there were no more needles in my leg, because even after they were gone I could still feel them. For the rest of the day I felt like someone had either massaged the muscles way too hard, or I needed a massage. It was a weird feeling.

Anyway, to recover from all of that, I ate muffins. After all, that’s what we signed up for with this blog, isn’t it?


Lemon Ricotta Muffins


one cup sugar
half cup butter
juice and zest from two lemons
one egg
one cup ricotta cheese
two cups pastry flour
half teaspoon baking powder
one teaspoon baking soda
half teaspoon salt
optional: top with a tablespoon of sugar and sliced almonds


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan with paper cups and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in lemon juice and zest and egg, and then stir in ricotta until reasonably well mixed.
Sift the remaining ingredients into the bowl and fold gently until just barely combined.
Spoon batter into muffin cups and top with a sprinkle of sugar and sliced almonds, if using. Bake until the top is a golden brown, about 22 to 24 minutes.


summer reading list


This feels like the year where I go around harassing people to read more. Actually, that’s been most of the years of my life, but I’ve been extra pushy about it this year. Everyone got books for Christmas and their birthdays and just for hanging out with me too often. I’ve been trying to get everyone to tell me their favourite books so I can speed-read through them, and then maybe or maybe not judge the recommender based on whether or not the books are enjoyable. This tactic resulted in the discovery that my massage therapist had never heard of Agatha Christie, so I gave him my old copy of Crooked House. My massage therapist is very much of the I’m-a-man-and-I-do-crazy-athletic-and-manly-activities type.

My copy of Crooked House happened to have a cover photo of some spilled pills and ballet slippers.

To give credit where credit is due, he emailed me to let me know that he is carrying the book around in his bag, and he may even open it. I gave him permission to hide it inside another book.

For those of you whom I can’t pass off embarrassingly-covered books to in person, here’s my summer reading list. Send me yours as well!

I promise not to judge.


Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Limitless by Alan Glynn (please don’t judge a book by its movie)
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
The Game by Neil Strauss
How to be Single by Liz Tuccillo (like Eat, Pray, Love but better)
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie