I’m back from Toronto. I miss my clean, empty hotel room with its crisp white sheets and view of the city.
This afternoon I spent a blissful 2 1/2 hours wandering down Queen Street, through Chinatown, past the Ontario College of Art & Design, where everyone wore great-fitting jeans and cute blazers with hip, poufy scarves and rode bikes and had perfect skin…
to Kensington Market.
I bought cheese – Wensleydale, as a coming-home gift for W, who adores Wallace and Gromit and loves to say Wensweydale in the cutest sort of way, and a thin wedge of emmental – at the same cheese shop my mum brought me to when I was little and we lived there. I bought a glossy, tawny sesame seed bagel at the Market Bakery, and walked past the fish mongers, recalling having walked through that same stretch when I was pregnant and had a bionic sense of smell, and the aroma coming from that cluster of fresh fish shops had me hunched over the gutter.
And I’m pretty sure I saw Bob Geldof running to get into his car before he got a parking ticket.
I also saw a bright orange squid bra in Chinatown. Honestly – doesn’t this look like it would feel ultra-realistic? And with tassels! You’d just have to get past the smell…
And impossibly cheap produce – 5 pomegranates for $1? Three heads of lettuce for $1?
I stopped for lunch at Little India on Queen Street, temptingly close to John Fluevog, and ate spinach paneer, curried chick peas, sweet, almost ketchupy butter chicken, lamb something or other and crispy zucchini pakoras. A great deal for $11.
Back home past 7, the boys had eaten so I settled on a wedge of gingerbread I made earlier in the week using pumpkin puree and stout (like Guinness, or any dark beer) and topped with cream cheese frosting. Time to unpack, repack, and get some stuff done before heading to Vancouver tomorrow before dawn.
And wow, look at that, well past midnight already!
Pumpkin Stout Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup dark stout, such as Guinness or Wild Rose Alberta Crude Oatmeal Stout
1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp. baking soda
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
Cream Cheese Frosting (optional):
1/4 cup butter, softened
half an 8 oz. (250 g) pkg. regular or light cream cheese
2-3 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a Bundt pan really well with nonstick spray.
In a medium saucepan (you need room for the mixture to foam up), combine the stout and molasses over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Set aside until the foam subsides and the mixture cools slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, oil, pumpkin puree and ginger. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt.
Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir just until combined. Add half the molasses mixture, then another third of the dry ingredients, the rest of the molasses mixture and the rest of the dry ingredients, stirring after each addition just until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for an hour, until the top is springy to the touch. Cool for a few minutes, then invert onto a wire rack while still warm. Cool completely before spreading with cream cheese frosting.
To make frosting: In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar, milk and vanilla, beating until the mixture is creamy and well-blended. Add a little more sugar or milk if necessary to achieve a spreadable frosting.
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