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Rhubarb Creamsicles

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I’ve written this post twice, and twice my computer has deemed it unreadable and ditched it on my behalf. And I didn’t even confess anything.

Did anyone see where June went? Because I think I may have blinked and missed it. I know it must be July, because this happened:

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There was a big back yard with a barbecue loaded with cedar planked salmon (caught off the west coast, in Bamfield) and tubs full of beer and boys sitting on the garage roof hurling water balloons at each other, and clusters of girls in cutoffs and flip-flops, walking huddled from yard to park to street corner, whispering. And a dads vs kids soccer game across the street.

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Ah, to be ten and on my first few days of summer holidays.

These popsicles weren’t from this weekend, they were a few weeks back, at Sunshine Farm in Kelowna, where we ate wood-fired pizza for lunch at a long table, and afterward they brought out rhubarb creamsicles, made with cream and rhubarb from the back garden. They were about as summery as you can get, eaten out in the grass, and I imagined making them for our Canada Day festivities, but didn’t get around to it. It’s the thought that counts, right?

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I did something similar last year, and made notes but never posted. (Looking at my dashboard, I have over 400 unposted drafts… and I wonder why I hardly get anything done.) I have grand plans to make them again, and they look very much like our Sunshine Farm rhubarb creamsicles. You could, of course, make creamsicles out of any soft fruit, or add strawberries to your rhubarb, or simmer berries or peaches or plums. If you can stew it, you can freeze it. Preferably with cream.

Rhubarb Creamsicles

2-3 big stalks of rhubarb, chopped
1/2-3/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup cream

In a small pot, simmer the rhubarb, half the sugar and 1/4 cup of water until the mixture cooks down and thickens. Put it into the fridge to chill.

Whisk together the yogurt, cream and remaining sugar. If you like, spike it with vanilla. Pour both mixtures into your popsicle moulds, alternating them to make them a bit swirly, then freeze until solid.

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July 02 2012 | eating out and freezable | 10 Comments »

Carbs for a Cause

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Yesterday was our annual Upscale Bake Sale as part of the CBC Suncor Energy Food Bank Drive.

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Aviv Fried was back this year with enormous quantities of bread and three kinds of scones from his Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, and Brûlée Patisserie brought dozens of mini cranberry loaves.

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Decadent Desserts brought fancy cakes and a gluten-free Yule log Buttercream Bakeshoppe brought cupcakes. Joining us for the first time this year, Yann Haute Patisserie with pain au chocolat, croissants and other flaky pastries, Wild Grainz with freshly baked loaves and shortbread, Sweet Provocateur

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with festively packaged cookies, loaves and buttercrunch, and the folks from Cruffs were going fast and furious custom-filling cream puffs with chocolate-hazelnut, vanilla and strawberry pastry cream.

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Each bakery donated their time and baked goods, and many came down to help and chat with folks coming to buy their wares, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Calgary Inter-faith Food Bank. The numbers aren’t in yet, but when I left they had already tallied up $3500.

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An enormous THANK YOU to all the bakers, volunteers, Suncor Energy and everyone who came down, creating a lineup that snaked under the escalator and past the Starbucks, to buy some baking. It was perfect. I had goosebumps for a full hour.

I baked too – jars of homemade Christmas Granola, bags of Molasses Crinkles, and bowls of Vanilla Bean Shortbread and Skibo Castle Ginger Crunch.

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The shortbread felt like a bit of a copout, but running low on time and wanting to make lots of batches of something delicious, I settled on the simplest, most delicious shortbread, made with Madagascar vanilla bean paste, which is far more inexpensive than vanilla beans, but you still get those little seeds you can see speckled throughout the shortbread. I used my grandma’s cookie stamp, which someone made out of clay. I used to roll balls of dough and squish it down with the stamp; now I slice off a log of dough, then imprint with the stamp and the dough doesn’t crack around the edges. You don’t need a stamp – this dough could be chilled, then rolled and cut into little stars, or sliced and baked as is, or rolled into balls, indented with your thumb and filled with jam, or patted into 9-inch pans and baked, then cut into wedges. It’s shortbread – there are so many things to be done with it.

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Shortbread is perfect for cookie exchanges – tuck into small bowls lined with tissue, then slide into cellophane bags and tie with a ribbon; or fill small glass jars.

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Vanilla Bean Shortbread

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg yolk
1-2 tsp. vanilla bean paste, or 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and salt with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla.

Add the flour and stir just until you have a soft dough. Shape it into two or three logs, wrap and refrigerate for an hour (or up to a few days) or freeze for up to 6 months.

When ready to bake, let sit on the countertop until it softens a bit, then slice 1/4″ thick, press with a cookie stamp (if you like) and bake on a parchment-lined sheet at 350F for 12-14 minutes, or until pale golden around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

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December 08 2011 | cookies & squares and eating out | 3 Comments »

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