Getting things done with a toddler in tow just isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. My son is now 16 months old and he’s such a bundle of energy. He races through the day, from activity to activity, and most of those activities are pretty destructive. Yesterday morning, as I tried to do dishes, he was behind me in the kitchen, spilling his breakfast of rice krispies all over the floor. Then I tried to pick his toys up in the living room and he snuck up behind me and pulled all the DVDs off their shelves.
I’m trying to write a biography for this here blog and it’s strangely hard. Writing about yourself, eugh. I do have an amazing photo that illustrates how long I’ve been cooking though. It was from an article about my parents’ environmentalism (You can tell we lived in a boring city when caring about the environment was big news).The caption says “Cam and his daughter Nicole, 6, prepare a vegetarian dinner for the family.” I swear that I can remember having this photo taken, even though it was oh, two decades ago.
So there you have it, I’ve been grating cheese for at least 21 years now!
The nice thing about cooking for so long is that you start to look for recipes outside your comfort zone. I always find yeast bread recipes a little intimidating, so I mainly stick with pizza dough. But yesterday someone posted a photo of sticky buns on Instagram and I was immediately inspired. I’d pinned Dinner with Julie’s ultimate sticky buns recipe when she posted it last week, and I just happened to have all the ingredients already. I won’t post the recipe here since my rule is that I’ll only repost a recipe if I make at least a couple changes to it and I followed hers to the letter. They were perfect – Will said they were the best cinnamon buns he’d ever had! – so just follow her recipe. Mine aren’t quite as pretty as hers, but pretty good for a first try!
A few notes:
- I used honey instead of the corn syrup because I never have corn syrup in the house, and it was fine. Sometimes I find honey overpowering when used as a full sweetener, but it just lent a nice stickiness
- After I’d formed the buns, I covered them in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge overnight. Before I baked them, I covered them with a tea towel and let them hang out near our radiator to warm up again.
- They do rise quite a lot, so don’t worry if they look a little sparse when you first put them in the pan!
- Since it makes two pans, I covered and froze one, so next time I want them in the morning, I’ll just thaw them in the fridge overnight and bake them first thing
- The dough was quite easy to work with. The only tricky bit was incorporating the softened butter into the dough, but I just kneaded it on my counter until it was evenly distributed in the dough.
Now that I’ve got sticky buns figured out, I’ve going to try some other kind of sweet bread. Maybe one of those braided breads with jam in the centre? Yum!
Last week I had my very first MRI. No need to panic you guys, it was for a psychology study that an internet acquaintance was recruiting for. One of the first questions on the questionnaire to qualify was, “Have you ever been claustrophobic?” and my immediate response was “Pssh, no! I love small spaces. I’m like that cat that hides under the bed when it gets scared.”
But it turns out that MRI’s are a whole new ballgame in terms of inducing claustrophobia. For one, you’re basically strapped onto the bed. Logically I know this was so I wouldn’t move and blur the images, but it just made me instantly anxious. How was I going to get out if there was like, an emergency? And then it’s also VERY VERY LOUD. Picture construction noises, but happening all around your head, for 10 or 20 minutes at a time!
The MRI technician was definitely more of a researcher than a clinical psychologist and I just didn’t find him particularly reassuring. I confessed that I was finding it more nerve-wracking than I initially thought it would be, and his response was just, “Oh are you? Hmm.” like I’d just been sharing my weekend plans and not the fact that being in the MRI was making me feel crazy. As they set me up for my second session, he said, “Are you going on any holidays this summer? Maybe concentrate on that.” And since I’m not going on any holidays, I decided to think about my favourite thing. And what immediately came to mind was… grocery shopping. I knew I would have to stop for groceries on the way home, so I mentally walked the aisles of a grocery store, thinking about what I’d like to get for dinner and what I should cook for my first post here.
My love of grocery shopping is probably partially an appreciation for order and routine, but I think a big part of it is based in nostalgia. Going to a rural high school meant that I took a two hour bus ride home every afternoon, except on days when my mom came into town to get groceries. Those were my absolutely favourite days; to be rescued from the nausea-inducing gravel roads was one thing, but then to get some delicious snacks out of the deal, the best! And my mom was really good at grocery shopping. Unlike my dad, who preferred to assign everyone one item to ostensibly speed things up (“You! Orange juice. You! Hamburger buns! Meet at the cash in five minutes!”), my mom knew that you needed to go down every aisle, in order.
So as the MRI buzzed and clicked and hummed around me, I thought about the produce section. I pictured bags of fresh cherries and stacks of fuzzy peaches, rows of Ontario asparagus soaking in water. I decided I needed to make something that would complement the fresh fruits that are just slowly coming into season here. And I knew it was time to make some granola.
Officially this is my mom’s recipe for granola (but “Pamplemoussi’s Mom’s Granola” just doesn’t have the same ring to it). I have tweaked it a bit though. For instance: she loves raisins, I do not, so I used currents instead (although I only added them after baking so I could keep half the granola current-free).
Preheat oven to 325°. Combine in a bowl:
- 3 cups oats (quick cook and regular oats both work)
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 cup almonds (although any combination of nuts will work here. Pecans and macadamia nuts are particularly delicious!)
- 1/4 cup melted butter (or coconut oil, canola oil, etc if you want to be vegan/healthy about it. This time I did half butter and half coconut oil which really adds to the coconutty flavour)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
Pour the liquid over the oat mixture, stir until coated. Spread out on two cookie sheets, and bake for about an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so. If you want to add raisins (yuck) or dried fruit, add them once everything else is cooked. Voila! My favourite thing to eat it with are fresh peaches, but these Ontario strawberries were pretty darn good too.