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Monday, April 27, 2009


Everyone has a baking disaster, right (RIGHT?)? Except I'm sure (almost positive) we never share them, and by "we" I mean all of you. I haven't seen all that many in blogland...besides someone showcasing others' (cakewrecks). I have a few saved for just that special moment. Thought I might as well start here...Macaroons.

(edit: as I am about to publish this, I notice one of my favorite blogs just published her disaster! Woohoo! I'm not alone! Aaaand, donuts are something on my list to try baking next...or...soon...we'll see)

They're all the rage lately, it seems, so I thought I would give them a whirl. They're in my new cookbook too, so I just another reason to try them. Whoa. Not what I was hoping for.

As I am writing this, hubby just popped one in his mouth, and said "these are good", surprised, because of all my sighing and complaining while making them I guess. I'll try one later when I am not so mad at them. How come nothing looks like the photo they include in the book!?

Here are my problems with this attempt:
*My oven sucks, and I have to telepathically know how it's going to behave each time I bake (recipes I make often, I have penciled in the oven's particulars, as I learn them).
*Not a fan of the almond meal taste...on UNBAKED MACAROONS! (my first tray of cookies didn't bake through, but were dark on top, and looked nothing like the ones in the photo - I was confused.)
*Finished product looks nothing like the photo, which is probably my fault anyhow.
*Don't like the taste of white chocolate ganache - I used Nestle Melts, so maybe I need to use proper eating chocolate next time. I hate those Melts. Nothing but trouble, every time I use them.

The recipe is easy though, so maybe I will give them another try...with a different recipe...or when I have the skills to pay the bills.

I have no tips to offer, other than bake them through, and give them enough room to expand. They are not fun to peel off baking paper while half baked. And I might try the tip of leaving the egg whites thicken overnight at room temp...sounds gross, but seems to be the way to do it, though my meringue whipped up nicely.

Good luck! Tell me if you've made them, and how they turned out...




Thursday, April 23, 2009


Wow, that was fast! I've already had my long awaited surgery! Had it technically yesterday now. I slept all evening, and now I am awake...of course. Couldn't manage to sleep the whole night, but hopefully I get tired again soon. I've been so good at sleeping since Jan 15, that I don't know if I will ever be able to make it a day without a nap again.

Anyhow, now the real work begins. I've stood, and taken a step or two, but I think the crutches will be a staple for a little while yet. But standing, by myself, on TWO legs felt incredible. I was so excited to have surgery, I barely slept last night, and it has not disappointed! I can feel that the pins were in fact hindering my motion, and I feel so good now that they're gone. I also feel vindicated that I have not been exaggerating the feeling of my joint just "stopping" at a certain point, and no matter how much physio I did. I feel glad that the dill-weed doctor was wrong, and I am on my way to a normal life again!

Though the road to get here was llloooooonnnggg (and I've barely begun to heal), I've learned a lot about my tolerance! I thought for sure this lack of exercise and getting around was going to depress me, but I've managed to stay on top, despite the frustrations (though I am taking anti-depressants for the nerve pain...). There have been bad days, though, definitely. And I am sure there are a few more to come. I know, big deal, I only broke my ankle, not like I've overcome anything amazing, but pain and frustration are relative, I say, and this has not been easy with all the extra nerve problems I've had.

I'm thankful that my ankle was the only injury that happened, and I will never take walking for granted again.

Ok, now to the fun stuff. They asked me to come in HOURS earlier than I needed to, and I ended up watching terrible morning show tv for 3 hours in the waiting room, not even admitted yet. Then, the gown I get doesn't quite do the trick, especially since I am on crutches, and cannot hold the gown together (which tied at the FRONT!!!) like everyone else was able to, and thus everyone else waiting saw a terrible show of a crippled girl flashing. I was NOT impressed, but you just get over the shame of it all by not looking anyone in the eye, and pretending it didn't happen. Thank goodness I was allowed to keep my underwear on! Ok, seriously, we can't wear our own t-shirt for surgery on an ANKLE?

Anyhow, all went well surgery wise, though I am quote sore again. But nothing that a few days rest won't cure. I am all wrapped up in a thick wad of gauze and padding, and I have another 2 weeks to wait to get the stitches out. That means 2 weeks of showering in a garbage bag again, which I was hoping I would never have to do again, but, I guess I now know what I am doing.

They gave me some morphine pills for the pain before I left, and a little snack, but I was pretty hungry. Now, anesthesia can make you nauseous, but I have never felt that. Morphine on the other hand did make me feel quite nauseous while I was in the hospital, and didn't eat for 2 days because of it. But I also took morphine pills when I got home, and I was fine. We stopped at McD's for a can see the road I am heading down....which I ate slowly, and didn't near finish before the nausea set in. I warned the hubby he may have to pull over. But I managed to keep my lunch inside me. So we stopped for him to do a few errands. I started to feel sick again, and as soon as he started to drive home, I was again fighting to keep my lunch.

We were not more than 30 seconds from home when I started heaving out of the window, and coating the side of the car. He managed to pull over to a drainage ditch, and I yaked for the next few minutes onto the road. As he pulled over, the coffee he bought promptly dumped down my leg, and I could do nothing to get the burning drink off me, since I was hanging my head out the window, barfing. So, nice ending to an exciting day, huh? I haven't puked since I was in grade 12 (10/11 years ago) and had the flu, and was just bragging about that fact a few days ago. Serves me right. It wasn't horrible though. It was like a chocolate cheeseburger.

So we get home, and Adam washes the car off for me, and washes the coffee from the floor mats, and we decide to head to the beach. He wheels me, as I can't walk just yet, and we come across a little jem of a creature - the echidna. SO CUTE! Luckily, I had brought my camera; unluckily the batteries were dead. So, I took out the battery, and rubbed it between my hands to get a shot or two, and repeated the process (good trick to know if you need to get a few more shots from your camera - heat up the battery with your hands). I managed one flash shot, and the rest are blurry, since it was getting dark, so not a good photo in the bunch, but what a treat! Those little guys are adorable, and I've never seen one in the wild before. I've seen all the other elusive creatures in the wild, like koalas, wallabies and kangaroos (not so elusive), crocodiles, and even platypuses. This little guy didn't seem to have a care in the world, and we could get really close to it. So cute.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tiramisu Cupcakes

This comes from my new favorite book. This was about the only recipe Adam decided he wanted to try (he's not so much of a sweet tooth - more of a savory tooth), so of course, any excuse to bake something, I jump on.

This recipe is great, and really easy. It's perfect to make the day before, because the more time spent in the fridge, the better. Save the chocolate shavings for just before serving though. And the "cake" part of the recipe really is like a lady finger - it's a fairly crunchy cake, so just perfect for Tiramisu. I also used Kahlua instead of marsala.

Vanilla Buttercake
90g butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c caster sugar
2 eggs
1 c self-raising flour
2 tbsp milk

Mascarpone Cream
250g mascarpone cheese
1/4 c icing sugar
1 tbsp marsala
3/4 c whipping cream, whipped

Coffee Mixture
1 tbsp instant coffee
1/3 c boiling water
2 tbsp marsala

50g dark eating chocolate, grated

1. Preheat oven to 180C (160C Fan forced) or abour 350F. Line muffin tins (makes about 6 large, or 8 or so medium.

2. Beat butter, vanilla, sugar, eggs, flour and milk in small bowl with electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium, beat until mixture is changed to a paler colour. Divide among the cases; smooth surface.

3. Bake cakes about 20 -25 mins. Turn onto wire rack and cool.

4. Make mascarpone cream. Combine mascarpone, sifted icing sugar & marsala in bowl, fold in whipped cream.

5. Make coffee mixture. Combine coffee, water and marsala in small bowl; cool (I actually think you need more coffee mixture, by 1/2 or less, because it doesn't seem to be enough for the 6 larger cakes I made - we still had some crunchy areas)

6. Remove cake from cases. Cut each cake horizontally into four pieces. Brush both sides of cake slices with coffee mixture. Join cake slices with cream mixture.

7. Spread tops of cakes with mascarpone cream; sprinkle with grated chocolate. Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving. (I leave the chocolate shavings until just before serving, otherwise they kind of soak into the cream).

* Mine did not stand nicely on their own plate. I put more cream inbetween the slices, I guess. I put them into small bowls instead - and martini glasses for the photos because I don't have any see-through glass dessert bowls.


Cupcakes Cheesecakes & Cookies

A few weeks back I bought myself a little make myself some little treats. I've been looking at cookbooks dedicated specifically to cupcakes, but then I saw this book - 3 books in 1 - for the same price as 1! You don't have to tell me twice. I'd been wanting a book that had great recipes, as much as it had some decorating tricks and tips / ideas. For any Aussies reading this, it's a good mix of recipes and presentation techniques. And a good deal. I've spent hours at Borders, trying to decide between about 4 books. Then came across this one in QBD, and it was cheaper to boot!


Friday, April 17, 2009

All Forms of Art

Wow. As Adam said to me this afternoon, "condescension must be an art form". I agree. It doesn't seem to be something you can learn, you have to be born with it in your soul, because try as I might, I can't do justice to the jerk I saw today. What a...JERK. Good thing today I was in a good mood, and good thing I am fairly optimistic, and good thing Adam was there so I had someone to secretively roll eyes at.

Today was my 13 week appointment. The doctor I saw this time was a complete douchebag! He tells me, as best as I can remember "well, if you think you're ankle will be anything like it was before you broke it, you better forget that idea". And didn't stop there. He felt he needed at least three (from memory) sentences to explain this to me. Wow, what nice way to break the news to someone. Someone who until now has never been told they will not have all use out of their ankle again.

Like I said, good thing I was in a good mood today.

I had a split second where all the blood rushed to my head, and I felt like bursting into tears, but then thought better of it. And also realized what a troll he was being to begin with, and he's probably just mad at the world, and it's being taken out on me. So good thing I can play ball too, and I just smiled and nodded saying, "ok, I see" as often as needed.

I don't believe him anyhow. I'm not in denial. I expect pain, discomfort and swelling for a long time to come, probably for the rest of my life, but you'll have to kill me first before I give up on rehab. I've been there before with my back injury, being told I would never again be able to snowboard, and do other sports. Well, it took a few years, but I was back at it. I'm good at physio - I actually do the exercises, and I have no doubt that things will be fine sooner or later. I am choosing to believe this doctor had other problems he was dealing with which made him so completely rude and insulting.

I decided to push it a little further, and actually ask a few questions. All I get is grunts and condescention again. Hello, you're the freaking DOCTOR, WHY do you think I am asking YOU!!!!!!!!???? Because I know everything about bone growth & breaks? Ug, some people. In my 29 years on earth I've finally learned that people are jerks because someone was a jerk to them. They are rude and obnoxious because of something that's wrong in them, not me. Try not to take it personally (and I tend to take things personally).

All I can say is thank goodness I was in a good mood today.

Phew, after all was said and done, I have finally been booked in for surgery! They will be calling me within the next few weeks to get these blasted screws out. Then the real work can begin, but I am excited....


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sad Anniversary

My Grandfather died a year ago today. I think about him and my surviving Grandmother every day. I miss them so much, Grandpa being in heaven, and Grandma back in BC (Canada). I was reading my old blog from today's date, and thought I would re-post the same verse I noted then:

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.
But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer;
and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

I am trying not to let things get to me, and worry about things out of my control. I am so thankful for my faith. It's times like these when I see how God really does carry me through. We'd have no hope without Him.

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you, And in His excellency on the clouds. The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms;
Deuteronomy 33:26


Banana Muffins

Finally decided to use my over ripe bananas for some good. I usually freeze them to use later, but that takes some organization on my part, and for the last few months I have let organization fly out the window (we don't have a freezer in our kitchen - it's down 17 stairs to the garage, and I ain't descending and climbing 17 stairs for 11 cents worth of bananas).

Here is the yummy recipe for Banana Muffins, from the "Big Red" Betty Crocker Cookbook.

1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup bananas, mashed (about 2-3 medium bananas)

Streusel Topping
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp cold butter
Mix flour, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly.

Pre-heat oven to 400F. Grease bottoms only of 12 medium muffins cups with shortening, spray with cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.

Make streusel topping and set aside.

In large bowl, beat milk, oil, egg and bananas with fork or wire whisk until well mixed. Stir in flour, sugar, baking powder and salt all at once just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy). Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle with about 1 tbsp of topping.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. If baked in greased pan, let stand for 5 minutes in pan, then remove from pan to wire rack; if baked in paper baking cups, immediately remove from pan to wire rack.

At the last minute I decided to add some choc chips to the mix, and still added the streusel topping since I had already made it. They just taste all that much better with the chocolate :) Oh, I also didn't have enough banana, so I grated up an apple to top up the mashed banana.


Friday, April 10, 2009

12 Weeks

Here are the 12 week photos. I have not really noticed any improvements in the last 4 weeks, and my nerve pain is slowly returning too. I have still not heard from the pain clinic either. I see the ortho specialists again next friday, so I will raise my concerns again. And I will hopefully be booked in for surgery as well. I am learning to not get my hopes up though.

I am really starting to have a hard time with all this. I never thought a break could be this problematic. Some days are better than others, but I don't really feel like going out at all anymore, and would rather just stay in bed and not be a burden to everyone. I am working, so at least I have that to keep my mind occupied too.

For the first 10 weeks I was fine to let things like cleaning slide, but I am now starting to get very frustrated. There are so many things I cannot do, and the rest Adam helps with, but he's also busy working, and helping me, and between the two of us, it's been really hard to keep a tidy house. For me, it's the grime and dirt that bother me. I don't care so much if there are clothes on the floor, but the salt spray is starting to coat everything, and I guess I've always managed to keep the grime under control with my regular cleaning. I tend to do a little bit of spring cleaning whenever I clean up in general. So things like cupboards, windows and drawers get a cleaning and an organizing more than once a year. The last time I cleaned properly was before Christmas. And living this close to the beach, a cleaning every 4 months is not sufficient.

Then there is the fact that everything I do is an effort. And I have to ask for help all the time. No one likes to feel helpless, and I feel like I am 5 years old again. Everything I do takes longer, makes a bigger mess, and frustrates me. I am constantly running over my toes, and bumping into walls, and trying to maneuver around cupboard doors and my strategically placed chairs with my wheelchair. I am constantly spilling things in my lap, because I can't get out of the way when I drop something. I get splashed in the face whenever I do dishes or make dinner because I am eye level to the sink. It's so GROSS. I save having showers until after dinner now, since I make such a mess. It's amazing how much harder it is to prepare things at eye level. I do stand whenever I can though. Also, while I am on a rant, you would never believe how sweaty wheelchairs are! Try doing some weights while sitting on a vinyl chair with sides in 28 degree C with humidity, and you'll know what I mean.

I really hope I can get back to it soon. This was old weeks ago, and it's just getting that much more frustrating as the days go on.


Thursday, April 9, 2009


If it's not me, I guess it's my husband. Another trip down the all too familiar road to the ER. Adam has Eosinophilic esophagitis, which is a relatively newly diagnosed disorder, and there aren't really any proper meds yet. He takes an asthma inhaler, but instead of inhaling, tries to swallow it.

Yeah, it's very hit or miss.

Because of this disorder, he typically gets food stuck in his esophagus and tries to flush it down by forcing water down his throat. He's learned to control the gag reflex to a certain extent, so he can force the water down by swallowing. Every so often that doesn't work, and eventually your body makes you throw up. But it's just the food in the esophagus; you don't end up throwing up your stomach contents.

Well, after a half hour of forcing himself to throw up last night, and me hitting his back to try and vibrate whatever was down there loose, we decided to head to the ER. The good thing is he can breathe and talk normally, it's just quite uncomfortable, and of course, he can't eat, or swallow any gulps. He can drink a tiny amount, which trickles it's way into the stomach.

The both of us, along with Sharon (Adam's mom - she had to drive, since I can't right now) sat in the ER for 5 hours last night, with the Dr's trying different techniques. Injecting morphine to relax him, which didn't work. Drinking Coke, which didn't work, and then something a little scary: a pill which dilates your blood vessels, and causes smooth muscle (like your heart) to relax. They say the esophagus is smooth muscle, but that didn't work either, and instead freaked me out. I watched, as this pill dissolved in his mouth, the colour drain from his face. His heart rate dropped to 30 beats per minute, and just as I decided to go and hop my way to find a nurse, he started to recover, his heart rate returning slowly to something a little more normal. Adam said it felt awful, like he was on fire from the inside, and he was sweating like crazy. Not fun.

So, that also didn't work, and they then admitted him, and had a surgeon speak with him. Now, 19 hours later, I'm waiting to hear from Adam. He's getting an endoscopy done, but I guess things are booked up right now, so he is sitting all alone in his hospital room, probably quite frustrated. He feels pretty much fine. So I can imagine how horrible it would be to be in the hospital. It's OK when you have drugs to knock you out, but I don't think he gets anything.

If God is trying to teach me lessons in taking things for granted, He can stop now. I know I don't want to live my life one leg short, and I know I don't want to live my life without Adam. But I also know that He is taking care of us, and hasn't failed me yet.

He's now home, 24 hours later, and sleeping soundly - there was a snoring fellow next to him so he didn't sleep last night at all. Adam said he sounded like an outboard motor :) And we're back to normal, but a little more careful. They didn't find anything but a swollen esophagus. It must have been so inflamed that he was still unable to swallow even though he threw up the blockage. And he made the cut off for discharge with 5 minutes to spare, or he'd have spent the 4 day long Easter weekend in the hospital! Phew!


Saturday, April 4, 2009


(recipe here)

I did it! I finally did it, and it worked too, which was the bonus! I've been wanting to make Paska for years now. I've gone three years without, I believe, which is more than most Mennonites (of which I am) would wish on their worst enemies. I usually ruin the first attempt of anything I make, for some reason, so I was extremely pleased with these results. And surprised at how simple it really is to make.

Ok, no one ever understands me when I talk about Paska, thinking I'm saying pasTa. This is a traditional Mennonite Easter bread. It's a sweet bread, and boy oh boy do us Menno's know how to do it right. I'm not too sure how the icing and sprinkles are tradition, but they're here to stay nonetheless, and I have NEVER had a piece of Paska without such. Though I know of a few people who like to toast it, and spread on some butter. But if I'm eating Paska, I'm doing it the right way. Icing all over the piece, not just spread ontop of the loaf, and sprinkles galore.

I was very impressed with this recipe, and I am so glad I found it, since all the Paska I have ever known was made in bulk quantities, and had a dozen or so eggs! A household of two, living near in-laws who are not Mennonite, and who I wasn't sure if they would appreciate it, I was glad to find a 4-5 loaf recipe. (PS. they DID appreciate it, so that was good!). I am not a very confident baker, and was quite scared to try such a big undertaking, but I was surprised at how simple the recipe really is.

Yeast recipes don't have to be scary. In my experience (I make homemade pizza dough all the time, and every so often pastries and danishes) dough is very forgiving. I have not ruined a yeast recipe yet, and I only just started baking with yeast about a year ago, or less. I have never attempted anything to this scale either. The recipe made 4 large loaves. I used my Kitchenaid with the dough hook, and then kneaded the last cup of flour in by hand. I then split the dough in two, since I didn't have large enough bowls to let it all rise together. And loaf shaping is something I have no clue about, but winging it seemed to work ok too :)

I hope some of you (sisters!) will take the plunge too, and get baking Paska! It was SO worth it.


Friday, April 3, 2009


I love night photography. But it always seems to look better on my little digital screen than on the computer when I view them. Plus, I am too lazy to bring a tripod half the time, and I don't even actually own one (yet), AND I am still lugging around a wheel chair and crutches, so one less thing to carry is a bonus. But I managed a few good shots from a park bench.

We went down to Brisbane the other weekend for a BBQ, and to do some (window) shopping. It was a really nice weekend, but kind of hard on me. I was very swollen and sore since I spent almost two full days up (up to me means sitting). It was nice to finally DO SOMETHING though, but I think I need to be more prepared when staying at someone else's house. I found it too awkward to have a shower (as I need a stool or chair to lean / sit on), and my wheel chair didn't fit into the cars we were being driven around in, so everything had to be timed with the vehicle that the wheel chair did fit into. You also don't fit into certain stores, and you have to look for elevators everywhere you go, people can't see you because you are 3'6", and then run into you in the isles when they are rushing around.

It's also no fun knowing you are a burden. Adam had to park ages away from our BBQ spot because I needed to be dropped off as close as possible, so he missed the nice close spot. It's also very awkward trying to pack up the wheelchair, and he also ends up carrying it up and down our stairs for me too. I was glad to get out, but I don't know if I'm all that ready to get back to all my normal activities. I sure have taken having two working legs for granted until I broke one of them.

Everything is harder to do, and everything takes longer to do, and I get extremely frustrated. I mentioned in the cookie recipe post how I left a huge mess, mainly on the floor. Well that's because using a wheel chair that is also used to push me around on the city streets tracks mega dirt & grime around the place. And since I am sitting while doing most things, I end up dropping lots of food on me, and the floor. I spilled an entire glass of apple juice on myself the other day. I typically make sure I time my showers for after dinner. Try sitting down while making dinner, and you will see what I mean.

Anyhow, it was nice to get away, but I think next time I might pass. Day trips are about all I can handle just yet...and I guess I now know what it's going to be like having kids ;)


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

After eating store bought cookies for the last 10 weeks or so, I can't bear to eat another. I braved the swollen foot I now have, and left a huge mess in the kitchen - mainly on the floor - and finally made something from scratch. My first REAL baking since before Christmas. These cookies are incredible. I remember baking similar ones when I lived at home, but I couldn't remember the recipe. But I knew the secret ingredient (instant pudding), so I searched online until I found the right one.

I don't think I will ever make another plain ol' choc chip cookie again. These are just too good. And this batch makes tons, so you can save some in the freezer, or just freeze the dough, like I do, and then you can have the cookies one of two ways (frozen and chopped up in some ice cream, or bake them).

Without further ado: Carol's Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chippies! Even though I am a chocolate lover, I prefer the vanilla ones.