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Lemon Cake for Three

My mother, in her infinite wisdom, has always said that people will come and go in your life in times when you need them most.

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If you really think about who your friends were during certain stages of your life, it’s true. For whatever reason, the universe sends them your way for a period of time, and even if you’re not the best of friends forever and ever, you still appreciate them being there for at least a little while.

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Then there’s friends who were always there, but life suddenly makes them even more important. Things like having babies or going through break-ups really allow these people to step up to the plate for you. You appreciate the universe more than ever for sending them your way.

Ever since my cancer diagnosis, I’ve had a lot of friends like that. Real life friends who are by my side when I need some girly hang outs. The kind of friends who are more like family and know me well beyond my diagnosis. Then there’s online friends. Yes, online friends! The ones who I can e-mail or text about anything at any time of day and I know they’ve got my back somewhere on this big continent of ours.

There’s also new “cancer friends” I am making through the magic of the internet. Those who have been or are going through the trenches with me. Who send an e-mail saying “yeah, the side effects from that drug are awful,” and they just get it.

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And then there is a friend like Kayla, who I’ve been connected to for years now, and suddenly find myself connecting with now on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. We no longer live in the same city, but she was the first one I told about my cancer diagnosis.

You see, I knew she’d understand.

When Kayla went through cancer and chemotherapy three years ago, I was horrified. For so many reasons. She had been trying for a baby, but instead ended up on chemo. I wrote about her experience, which you can read here.

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It’s clear to me now why Kayla is still in my life. The universe knew I’d need to keep her around.

So what does this have to do with cake?

Well, when she came to visit me over the weekend, I had to make her something! Kayla is a Newfoundlander with an, ahem, “picky” sense of taste. But she is a girl who knows what she likes, and lemon cake with white frosting is what she has every year for her birthday. Lucky for me, her birthday is next week, so I got to bake her a cake!

The base of the cake is this Martha Stewart recipe. When it comes to things like cakes, I know I can never go wrong with Martha.

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I made a few slight changes. I didn’t include a layer of frosting in the middle because I was too lazy to cut my cake in half. Next time though, I would include it!! My palate is a little off from chemo and I’m quite sensitive to sour and citrus flavours. I found the syrup that I soaked the cake in was a little strong, but everyone else who tried it said it’s what brought out a natural lemon flavour to the cake. The cake itself is dense like a pound cake, but soft and sticky because of the syrup soaked throughout.

Really though, the icing is the most important part here.

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I made boiled icing!

I mentioned boiled icing in a previous post and was surprised by how many people commented they’d never heard of it. I’m sure there are variations of it you’ve probably tried, but perhaps my idea of traditional boiled icing is a regional thing?

I used this recipe from Zesty Cook because he’s a Maritimer, and if it is indeed a Maritime tradition then he’d know how to do it best.

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Boiled icing is just made by reducing water, sugar, and corn syrup on the stove and mixing it with beaten egg whites. It results in a sweet, sticky, and incredibly fluffy icing that tastes just like marshmallow fluff. The Martha Stewart recipe recommended adding lemon juice to the icing, but I thought it made the whole thing too tart. Instead I stuck to the classic sweet version, and it offset the sourness in the cake wonderfully.

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As for Kayla and I, we had a great visit on Saturday, including an outing for lunch. There is no doubt she is a cancer superhero after her ordeal, but even more amazing is that she produced one healthy, super-smart baby boy shortly after treatment. And get this – is now pregnant with twins!

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The universe certainly works in mysterious ways, and I’m happy Kayla now has an excuse to eat cake for three.

Christmas 2010: The Food

Hope everyone’s Christmas was merry! Even if you’re not into the Christmas thing, hope your Saturday was at least stellar ;)

We’re missing a sister this year so it didn’t feel quite the same. But she’ll be here for New Years to party. Which in my opinion is way more important ;) Muhaha.

My mom and I were up early Christmas morning worrying about things we still had to prep for dinner. We got started right away while the others slept.

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Mom assembled her layered salad. Something my sisters and I request every year and is one of our favourites!

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A layer of iceberg, sweet peppers, celery, red onions, carrots, peas, mayo dressing, cheese and bacon. Peas may sound strange in a salad but it is SO DANG GOOD.

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Meanwhile, I was assembling The Wife Saver. Aka “savory bread pudding.” Called the wife saver because it can be made the night before and just thrown in the oven on Christmas morning.

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Much like this savoury bread pudding I made last month, but with the addition of spinach and green onion.

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Recipes for some of these dishes to come in a future post!

Mom also assembled a meat pie to add to our brunch line-up.

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Mom’s meat pies are a mix of chicken, pork and beef slow cooked in spices and put into a pie crust.

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My whole family makes meat pies every year for Christmas. As a kid, I always loaded them up with ketchup. But this year, I’m obsessed with the fancy relishes I keep finding in my mom’s fridge and pantry.

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We patiently waited for the step siblings to arrive to finish unwrapping presents. It was tough! ;)

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I asked for mostly camera stuff this year – including a Canon 50mm/f1.8 lens. I am in love with it already. I can’t stop snapping photos. I’ll do a post on the lens soon too!

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Other gifts included a Snuggie for my Nana, and a cute specialty apron for myself.

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Mom and I did quite a bit of food prep in advance so we wouldn’t have to spend all Christmas day in the kitchen. But we still had a couple hours where all four burners were going.

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And in this household, the booze is always flowing.

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I was DD so I stuck to a club soda with frozen raspberries. Deeelish!

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We added a new dish to our rotation this year and it was a total hit! Scalloped tomatoes. A mix of tomatoes, croutons, basil and cheese. Super simple and waaaay delicious. The flavours fit in well with the rest of the dishes.

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I insisted we have some roasted veggies on top of all the mashed ones. Sometimes I feel like I’m eating baby food on Christmas :P

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My plate!

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A bit of the tomatoes…

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Roast veggies…

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Mix of white & dark meat (later loaded with cranberry sauce) & stuffing…

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Lots and lots of layered salad.

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The annual Christmas table shot!

Last, but certainly not least, dessert!!

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I am so proud of this – a pumpkin roll! I thought for sure my family was going to end up with scrambled cake. Rolling up a sheet cake was a stressful affair. But it held up!

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And boyohboy, it was goooood. Very spicy with lots of cream cheese. Paired with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt.

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And a cup of decaf with a splash of eggnog (new addiction alert).

In all, a fabulous day filled with fabulous food and even better company. Best of all, is knowing I’m still here for another week!

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Fret not, recipes for some of these dishes to come! For now I’m hunkering down for the 30-40cm (12-15 inches) of snow we’re supposed to get tomorrow. Finally – the snow I’ve been wishing for!!

 

Question of the Day: What’s are the best things you ate over the holidays? Mine include pumpkin roll, scalloped tomatoes, meat pie and chocolate trifle. Ohmy!

Family Feasts

Hello friends! How is everyone’s weekend going? I’ve been gallivanting around Toronto eating with my family. My mom is the city from New Brunswick for a week and my sister made it up from Ottawa for the weekend!

First stop on Friday:

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Fresh! This is one of my favourite spots in Toronto so far. As exhibited here, here, here, and here.

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It’s a popular vegetarian/vegan restaurant with three locations around the city. Cramped seating and long waits. But the food is usually worth it!

I met up with my mom and sister here after a visit to the gym. They’d ordered a falafel + hummus appetizer that I munched on.

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The falafel was parsley packed and delicious, fluffy pita bread, and a wonderfully garlicky hummus. Thumbs up!

The fam split a wrap and burger. I tried a bite of the mushroom onion burger and it was amazing.Sautéed mushrooms & onions, tomato, lettuce, alfalfa sprouts & vegan mayo with aged cheddar, gorgonzola or soy cheese.” Definitely getting that next time!

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Sara ordered one of the E3Live juices. It was, erm, interesting.

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I went with something I’ve had before and loved – the magic tofu wrap: savoury coated tofu steaks with tomato, lettuce, cucumber, red onion, alfalfa sprouts, grated carrot & vegan mayo.

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Hit the spot!

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I dunno, you think we look related? ;)

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I ended up having to work all day Saturday at the running store, but we had even bigger family plans for that evening. I have an aunt in the city and she made reservations at a new-to-me restaurant, Granite Brewery. 

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They’re in Halifax too!!

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Famillyyyy!!! Right here in Toronto :D SO wonderful to have us all together for an evening. It seems like these days the only time our family is all together like this is at mandatory holidays or funerals. I recommend getting together with your extended family every now and then for no reason other than to see each other. Maybe for Connectober!

I started with a half pour of raspberry beer. One must try the beer when eating at a place with “brewery” in the name.

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I also tried a half-pour of the blonde ale. Both were pretty tasty!

One thing you must know about my family is that they’re loud. They always tell me I’m so quiet. But I dare any normal-toned person to get a word in edgewise ;)

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Thankfully, I’m a preferred listener, and they’re pretty darn entertaining.

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My family are all blog readers and insisted I take pictures of all the food! Too cute. Here’s my cousin’s chicken curry:

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Heather with her pizza!

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My cajun salmon salad:

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Allan, the budding food blogger:

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Sister Sara with her steak sandwich:

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Then came the best part: cake!

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Several birthdays have been celebrated over the last couple weeks, so of course a cake was in order.

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It was a chocolate cheesecake cake. 

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After being a good girl with my half-pour beers and salmon salad, I had a fair-sized slice of cake and ate it all. You choose your battles when dining out, and this was a battle well chosen ;)

Today is my last day off before going back to the real world on Monday. But Suday is already off to an amazing start! You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about it. In the meantime – enjoy the rest of your weekend! xo

 

Question of the Day: What is your favourite part of a restaurant meal? The appetizers? Bread basket? Drinks? Decadent main dish? Dessert? Clearly, I am all about dessert ;)

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