write write write write write

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Sometimes it takes a while for my brain to settle into writing mode. Back when my blog was my only reason to write (with the limited intended audience of only my future now-where-did-I-leave-that-recipe self and my mom (Hi Mom!)), it wasn’t a big deal to have writer’s block. Eventually I’d hit a creative high and churn out eight articles. Then I wouldn’t think about writing again for two months.

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Now it’s a little different. Having a creative day job is incredible… But what am I supposed to do when I’m staring at a blank Word document and nothing is coming to mind?

(Or worse, when I’m staring at a page of notes and statistics, but I can’t strain them into a cohesive, engaging thought piece?)

Cookies. The answer is cookies.

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We’ll ignore what this is doing to my waistline for now (the Whole Life Challenge is coming!), and I’ll happily type while I drink cup after cup after cup (after cup) of earl grey tea, and eat these gingerbread reindeer.

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Vegan Gingerbread

My eternal favourite. Incidentally vegan.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • pinch all spice
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together oil and sugars. Add molasses, almond milk, and vanilla and keep mixing until pretty well combined.
  2. Sift in all remaining ingredients. Stir until well-mixed.
  3. Spoon the batter out onto a sheet of Saran wrap. Press into a flattened pancake of dough, wrap it up, and put it in the freezer for at least two to three hours. (Pro tip: If you make two Saran wrapped batter pancakes, you can probably get away with only an hour.)
  4. Just before you’re ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet (or 2) with parchment paper and set aside.
  5. Pull the batter out of the freezer, and unwrap it (but leave it on top of the Saran wrap). Roll it out with a rolling pin (or wine bottle) to about 1/4″ thick, and use your favourite cookie cutters to make shapes. If it’s sticking to the rolling pin, use some flour.
  6. Place the cut out cookies on the prepared baking sheet, about an inch apart.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookie looks dry.
  8. Store frozen (baked or not – these keep super well!)

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[Endnote: After taking my lunch break to relax and write this piece under no expectations, I managed to get on with it, and I ended up with my third and final semi-readable piece in a series on commuting by bicycle. This is greatly entertaining to me, because I am outrageously unqualified: the last time I commuted by bicycle, I was probably six years old and riding to elementary school, with my mom walking next to me.]

oh hey, 2017.

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Another year has passed, and it was crazy and fulfilling and awful and mind-blowingly incredible.

I feel like I grew up a little last year.

And then again, maybe not—I didn’t keep up with this blog as much as I would have liked, and I left the salads I packed for office lunches in the fridge all too often to go out for a burger.

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I got excited about getting a little fitter, and then I got even more excited about chocolate mousse.

I tried to be a better person.

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This year, I won’t set resolutions. I love the path I’m heading down—I’m going to just keep on keepin’ on.

Though it wouldn’t hurt to make a few more batches of chocolate chip cookies.

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Here’s to all the good behind us, and all the great that awaits. Wishing you and yours the very best for 2017 and beyond.

Gift Basket Cookies

I made these to use up some of the random gift basket chocolates I had. You can also use regular chocolate chips.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups chocolate bark and chocolate almonds, cut into chunks (you can also substitute chocolate chips)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until completely incorporated. Mix in vanilla.
  3. Sift in all dry ingredients (flour through salt). Stir until you can’t see any dry powder anymore.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon onto prepared cookie sheets, leaving about an inch and a half between cookies.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the centre is dry.

house building // home building

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I fell off the wagon again. I apologize.

For about a month there, I was working 60 hours a week, and desperately trying to complete my final project for my Editing Certificate. All I was doing in the kitchen was boiling water for fluorescent chicken noodle soup and earl grey tea, in combination with grabbing handfuls of leftover Halloween candy.

Things may have been a little dire.

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But! Then I finished school—for the foreseeable future, no less—and I made up for lost time in the kitchen.

I didn’t post anything in a timely manner, but, baby steps.

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In the new year, I will be back to the usual hectic scrambling to organize my fundraiser for the Heart & Stroke Foundation, learning and teaching and failing and succeeding at circus, and writing and writing and writing and reading too many articles on writing on medium.com.

In the meantime, we’re gingerbread-housing the shit out of this joint.

And yes, I’m aware that it’s after Christmas, and that sentence doesn’t really make sense.

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Sometimes I need a little reminder.

Heps for Hearts: A Night at the Circus

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Shit just got real.

As many of my friends and family know, over the past decade my mom has had two strokes, and my dad has suffered two heart attacks (and in August this year underwent a septuple bypass). It’s been on my project list for a long time to run a fundraiser for the Heart & Stroke Foundation, for their amazing work in research and patient support.

And now, it’s happening. I’ve even got a website.

I guess that means I can’t back out now.

So, on Saturday, February 4th, 2017, I will be hosting Heps for Hearts: A Night at the Circus at West Coast Flying Trapeze. I am excited, overwhelmed at the amount of planning these things take, and so incredibly terrified that it won’t match the vision that I have in my head.

Which is why, while I’ll be plugging ticket sales soon (okay, if you want them now, get them here), right now I’m asking for help. If you happen to own or work (or know someone who works) at a business near Pitt Meadows, British Columbia that could donate, please reach out! I’m looking for catering (appies and drinks), equipment rentals (lighting, sound, tables, and chairs), and silent auction items. We’ll be promoting all sponsors in event communications, and may even be able to throw in a flying trapeze class or two. Please send me an email at kimmie@westcoastflyingtrapeze.com if you’re interested and able to help!

And, of course, please share – and attend! – this event.

Heartfelt thanks,
Kimmie

wake me up in 2020

homemade eggnog

Like half of America and 99.7% of the people I follow on Facebook, I am shocked and disheartened and confused about the results of the US election.

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I don’t want to make this a thought piece on what it means (to me, or to the world, or about the state of the union) that Trump won, because there are enough of those on medium.com and Thought Catalog and everyone’s Facebook everywhere.

whipped egg yolks and sugar

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Instead, I am taking the weekend to myself. I am signing out of Facebook, curling up with my dogs, and finishing re-reading We Need to Talk About Kevin. I’m turning on my bed heater and lighting apple spice candles. I’m making homemade eggnog, and I’m heavily spiking it with Spicebox Whisky (because Trump. Seriously, America?)

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homemade eggnog

Homemade Eggnog, two ways:

Earl Grey Eggnog

Ingredients

  • one cup whipping cream, not whipped
  • two cups milk (I used 1%)
  • one tablespoon loose leaf cream earl grey tea
  • six eggs, separated
  • three quarters cup sugar, divided
  • half cup Spicebox Whisky

Directions

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream and milk to scalding (just before a boil).
  2. Steep the loose leaf tea in the scalded milk for at least 5-10 minutes. If you’re cooling the eggnog before serving, you can leave the loose leaf tea in with the eggnog to develop even more flavour.
    Note: I used a loose leaf tea man to keep the tea leaves out of the milk. If you don’t have one, you can add the leaves in loose and then pour the eggnog through a sieve before adding the egg whites (step 7).
  3. Separate the egg yolks and whites. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with two tablespoons of sugar until they make soft peaks.
  4. In another clean bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until it is a pale yellow.
  5. Temper the egg yolks by pouring in a little bit of the spiced milk, and stirring until well mixed. Then pour the egg yolk mixture back into the main milk pot. Stir well.
  6. Stir in the whisky.
  7. Fold in the egg whites and serve (I prefer my eggnog warm, but you can also let it cool in the fridge before serving).

Traditional Eggnog

Ingredients

  • one cup whipping cream, not whipped
  • two cups milk (I used 1%)
  • two cinnamon sticks
  • one vanilla bean (or just the pod, if you have leftovers from using the beans for another recipe… may I suggest shortbread?)
  • about a teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg
  • pinch of cloves
  • six eggs, separated
  • three quarters cup sugar, divided
  • half cup Spicebox Whisky

Directions

Follow the directions above, but steep with the cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and cloves instead of the loose leaf tea.

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do what you love, love what you do

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I feel like I’ve mentioned a lot lately that I currently have four jobs and am going to school, and I’m getting slightly worried that people think that I think that I’m better than everyone else because I work harder.

That’s not true.

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I’ll admit to having that horrible, purpose-defeating pride about doing so much and sleeping so little that is making North America read like a pretty depressing statistic of over-worked, under-paid robots. But I don’t (usually) feel overloaded. Not because I’ve been doing this for so long that I don’t know anymore what it’s like to relax, but because my jobs are my downtime.

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I love the social aspect of circus: I’ve met my partner, my adopted sister, and some amazing friends through it. I love the physical aspect: I will never get enough of pushing my body until my muscles ache and I can’t breathe and I can just lie on the mats and watch the metal hoop spin above me. I love the brave, adventurous souls that I teach, from the 8-year-old blonde girl with the freckles who always wants to do just one more triple falling angel to my mom’s 70-year-old friend who swung on the flying trapeze for the first time.

I love writing and communications and social media marketing. I often get sucked into a rabbit hole on the internet of things to learn about how to measure engagement and what Ryan Holmes has to say about LinkedIn and whether or not I should try to curb my propensity towards polysyndeton. Then I get that over-stimulated feeling where I WANT TO READ ALL THE THINGS and I can’t so instead I flip back and forth between tabs and barely process anything other than frantic nerd joy.

I’m working on that.

Finally, despite my schedule, I’m so glad that I’m making time to blog again. Thank you to everyone who continues to visit this page and read my ramblings and try my recipes. I love the freedom and creativity I’m allowed here: my own platform with no purpose, loose guidelines, and terrible segues.

Also, I love lemon poppyseed muffins.

(See what I did there?)

lemon poppy seed muffin

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (I use European style) at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 and 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • about 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan and set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Stir in poppy seeds and lemon zest.
  4. In a liquid measuring cup, squeeze lemon juice. Add enough milk to make 2/3 of a cup. Add in the vanilla.
  5. Stir 1/3 of dry mix into butter mixture until just barely combined. Add 1/2 the liquid, and then alternate adding and combining until everything is in one bowl.
  6. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Bake for about 22-24 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

on niches and not following advice

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The most frequent blogging advice that I see is “find your niche and stick to it.”

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When I started this blog, I was a vegan. Then I ate with no restrictions for a while, and then I became a Whole Life Challenge devotee, spending 8 weeks at a time 3 times a year eating practically paleo. Usually I post about dessert; occasionally I post about proper meals; sometimes I post about travel; a couple times a year I post about circus.

Clearly, I have not found my niche and stuck to it.

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But maybe I’m being a little close-minded with my attempt to categorize this blog. Instead of choosing a niche and posting within it, why can’t I go backwards and choose my niche based on my existing and future posts?

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This blog is for the loves-to-eat-baking-but-also-wants-to-be-healthy-and-active audience. The I-want-to-lose-5-pounds-but-oh-look-there’s-pie! niche. The gluten enthusiasts, the lovers of terrible jokes, the reveurs.

Sorry, that last one was a reference to The Night Circus. This blog is also for the avid readers out there.

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And in this particular moment, this blog is also for anyone who wants to make butter chicken and naan bread from scratch.

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And if you aren’t that person, maybe you should be.

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Naan Bread

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups warm water (think baby bottle temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, pour in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar on top, and let it sit for about ten minutes until the yeast is foamy.
  2. Stir in the Greek yogurt and olive oil. Sift in the flour and salt.
  3. Knead with the hook attachment on low for a minute or two, until most of the flour has been absorbed. With floury hands, pull the dough out of the bowl and knead a couple more times by hand until the flour is gone.
  4. Lightly oil the bowl, put the dough back in, and cover with saran wrap. Put it somewhere warm for about two hours, until the dough has doubled in size. Around the hour and a half mark is when I suggest going and making the butter chicken and rice.
  5. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Don’t use any oil or butter; you want it to be dry.
  6. Pull the dough out of the bowl, and divide it into eight roughly equal-sized pieces.
  7. Twirl each section like a pizza crust until the dough has been stretched into as thin a sheet as you can make it without creating holes. If you don’t know how to do this, use a rolling pin. I won’t tell.
  8. As they’re ready, place each naan on the hot pan. When you can start to see through the dough that it’s cooking (it becomes whiter rather than translucent) and it starts to bubble, flip it over. This takes a minute or two. You can also start to lift it with a spatula – the bottom should be golden, and possibly probably blackened in spots.
  9. Cook it on the second side for another minute or so, until it’s lightly browned.
  10. Keep going with the remaining pieces. Serve right away with the butter chicken… or just butter.

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Butter Chicken

Serve with rice. I’m not giving you a recipe for rice. Also, a little cilantro for garnish would be nice if you’re feeling fancy (or trying to impress someone… just saying).

Ingredients

  • 4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 to 1″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup whipping cream (not whipped)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

I suggest putting the rice on just before starting the curry.

  1. Mix all the ingredients from the chicken to the garlic in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Stir until they’re well mixed, and keep stirring occasionally until the chicken is mostly cooked (white on all the sides).
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Bring to a gentle boil, and turn the heat down for medium-low.
  3. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the curry has reduced to a thick sauce.
  4. Serve over rice with naan on the side and a sprig of cilantro to garnish.