little mug cakes cookbooks were everywhere in Paris – photo – Karen Anderson
I don’t think Mug Cakes are new. I’ve found blog posts dating back five years with oodles of recipes for them but they seem to have taken Paris by a chocolate brown cocoa powder storm this year. Everywhere I looked little cookbooks were devoted to them. At Le Grand Epicerie de Paris you could even buy a mug fully loaded with the ingredients for the mere price (I jest) of 13.50 Euros.
This post has a recipe I developed for a deliciously ooey-gooey Chocolat-ey Chocolate Mug Cake. It’s easy and fun and ANYONE can make it. I hope you will. Let me know how it turns out for you.
Corner Grocer Goodies – photo – Karen Anderson
Loblaws, Canada’s largest grocer, announced this week that they will add 50 stores and spend $1.2 billion on expanding their network and distribution. Walmart echoed this push announcing $300 million in expansion. Big chains are getting bigger. That is not a story.
The stories in the grocery world right now, for me, are two trends I’ve been watching.
One is happening in a big way south of the border with Amazon dot com. They’ve been a distributor of all things since the 90s and 15,000 dry good groceries for a good part of that. Now, in their home base of Seattle and Los Angeles, if you join Amazon Fresh and pay a fee of about 200 dollars a year, you can order online from a wide variety of grocers and specialty stores for home delivery. As you long as you order by 11 p.m. – for most items – that which you desire will arrive on your doorstep by 6 a.m. the next morning. No wonder Loblaws are looking into e-commerce to broaden their distribution. They might be looking at some very empty big boxes of stores if this catches on in Canada. They’ll have to go some to catch Amazon who’ve been doing e-everything since the 90s and who just spent $750 million on their inventory robotics systems. Now that is a big story but it’s not the one I’m going to focus on.
The trend I’m going to focus on is the opposite of big. It’s small in every way. It’s the revival of the corner grocer.
I’m happy with who I am at this point in my life –
photo by my friend Pauli-Ann Carriere
I’ve never believed in New Year’s resolutions but I do like to think about how I live my life each day.
I’m 53. I hope to live till I’m 100 so I’ve accepted that I am now in the middle of my life should I get my wish to live to be a centenarian.
When I was about three years old I learned my ABC’s. That’s been useful – especially as a writer – but as I toddle my way into mid-life I’ve been thinking about another use for those 26 letters. I think their convenient format can be borrowed to lend structure to this new time in my life – life beyond A is for apple, B is for boy and C for cat.
This alphabet starts at X because…
Mr. Abraham’s cheery home – photo – Karen Anderson
Coconut is a great ingredient and though I love coconut, I think spices are perhaps the greatest ingredient ever given to a cook.
This post allows me to share another savoury coconut recipe but it also satisfies my longing to share my journey to a very special place in Kerala, South India.
When I planned my first trip to India, I planned it around two equally passionate quests; I wanted to meet India’s people and I wanted to go to where the spices grow.
Both of these desires were fulfilled when I found myself at Mr. Abraham’s Spice Garden in a quiet, lush corner in the Cardamom Hills near Periyar. I fell in love with the garden and of course with the garden’s caretakers.
Mr. Abraham’s garden was included in a BBC TV show and book by Monty Don called Around the World in 80 Gardens. I think it’s as close to the Garden of Eden as I’ll ever get. Read on, for the recipe and a virtual tour of the garden and you’ll see why I’ve been back and will keep going back as long as I’m able.
Coconut madness – photo – Karen Anderson
favourite coconut products – photo – Karen Anderson
For about two dollars you can buy frozen grated coconut at Asian grocers – photo – Karen Anderson
Today on CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon
I talked about why the world’s gone loco for coconut and some ideas for using coconut in your holiday baking. The recipes can be found here
and the podcast here
. I’m on at the 17:44 mark in the show.
Read on for a little more background on coconut’s popularity around the globe.
She’s so sweet – Calgary Hyatt Regency Executive Pastry Chef Sabine Gradauer – photo – Karen Anderson
chef Sabine Gradauer’s cake pop centrepiece – photo – Karen Anderson
chef Gradauer is getting ready to welcome 800 guests to the Calgary Hyatt Regency’s Christmas Day brunch – photo – Karen Anderson
A little while ago an invitation to meet the executive pastry chef at Calgary’s Hyatt Regency hotel crossed my desk. I had to delay that meeting until after my annual trip to India and since I knew I would be jet-lagged on my return and that I would have a column for CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon due shortly after my return, I thought it would be a great idea to have this profession chef help me with a recipe to share with Albertans this Christmas.
I knew that in the two weeks I would spend in South India I would see coconuts everywhere so I asked if chef might be willing to create a great Christmas inspired coconut dessert.
I specifically mentioned that the recipe should be fairly easy.
Here’s something I learned from this experience; what a classically trained executive pastry chef from Austria whose lived and worked all over the world thinks of as easy, might not be as easy for you and me.
Ah well, it was a delight to meet chef Sabine Gradauer and if you read on you’ll see how I fared in translating her professional chef’s notes on this recipe for Coconut Snowball Cake-pops into something you can make at home. Hopefully all was not lost in translation.