Not Crocker, Not Gone

I know, I’ve said it before, I am not gone and the blog is not forgotten. Last time I said it, I disappeared for a year!

The last few years have been a crazy whirlwind and rollercoaster, and all those things that indicate a life in major transitions. If you’ve followed me over the years, you will know my father was diagnosed with and passed away from a brain tumour. Obviously this was a huge event in my life. This past year brought about another huge set of changes, but this time for the better. I am finding myself again, maybe for the first time, and while it has been a tumultuous process, the support of my wonderful friends and family has been absolutely invaluable.

I am finally finding myself settled again and am so happy to get back to Not Crocker. First things first, I have to reimage the site. As I can imagine you’ve noticed most of my photos very unhappily disappeared. Unfortunately an update in the summer and a hostile site takeover resulted in most of my images going missing. I am digging through my hard drives as well as my archives, but some are irreversibly gone. Those that are missing  for good… well I will just have to remake them! But you can see, I’ve already started making the effort to get the site back to its former glory. It will take time, but will certainly be worth it. I am happy to be back to you fine folks.

Took a little break, will be back. Cookies, cakes, cooking, oh my!

Took a little break, will be back. Cookies, cakes, cooking, oh my!

Let’s get baking, cooking, and being awesome.

Checking in, plus you get to hear about stuff!

So, this has been a pretty busy week for me, I’ve not had a chance to make anything particularly special, whether for dinner or for snacks. I did however start my job at the… (drumroll) National Film Board of Canada! Huzzah! I am so thrilled to have accepted a 6-month contract with the NFB to work as a Production Coordinator for this digital studio. Things are off to a slow start, but I am learning a lot and really excited to see things take off.

Also, I’ve had my first dental experience in far too long and it went great! I’ve never had a filling and I just finished getting three, no muss, no fuss! I haven’t had my mouth numbed like that since I was a really young kid and they had to snip my little gum-bridge to make my teeth move together (sorry for that image). Anyway, my dentist is deep in the West End side of Robson, so I just walked back up Robson to home with half my face feeling like it had melted away. I think I looked fairly normal, but I kept checking “discreetly” to make sure I wasn’t drooling. None of the thousands of fancy shoppers gave me a second look, so I think I am okay.

Anyway, all of this to say that I am sorry I’ve been MIA, and I don’t have anything to post yet. But I am getting back into a working rhythm and will be sure to start posting again quickly! I hope you are all enjoying your spring, we’ve finally got flowers and leaves on the trees here in Vancouver!

One Year of Food!

One year of Not Crocker down and many more to come!

As many readers know, it has been an interesting year full of ups and downs. I started this site during the second semester of my Master of Publishing coursework, kind of a ridiculous thing to do considering how demanding the workload was but it was a nice distraction and gave me a place to publish all the recipes for the cookies and cupcakes I was bringing in for my colleagues. With the personal stress in my life, my father’s diagnosis of brain cancer and his passing, Not Crocker has been a place where I can create beautiful things, relax, and share. I’ve fiddled around with the formatting, post schedule, and style of baking and cooking a lot over the past year and I am still figuring out what works for me, but all along the way I’ve enjoyed watching the blog grow!

I’ve gotten the chance to participate in the wonderful Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I’ve been featured on some incredible websites, and I’ve started to find my place in the dynamic food blogger community.

Thanks to all you wonderful readers who come back time and again for recipes that have become favourites. So much love to the family and friends who have been avid supporters of Not Crocker from the beginning.

Without further ado, here is a Not Crocker retrospective! Let’s take a look at my first post!

St. Patrick’s Guinness Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream!

So, these were incredibly delicious, the Guinness Chocolate cake was a hit with my colleagues and I may or may not have gotten a professor a little tipsy with the amount of liquor. It was a fun way to start a blog that was mainly initially dedicated to my baking for my friends. Since then, I’ve included all my cooking and baking endeavours, with over 150 posts in the last year. Here are some of my favourites and some reader favourites for everyone to enjoy!

Coconut French Toast

This was one of my earliest hits. This post went up on Tastespotting and EXPLODED my site for weeks. The traffic has died down a bit for it but it was a regular draw for Sunday brunchers looking for something special to whip up. I created this as an ode to the Honeybuns of my father’s childhood. The mixture is sweet and custardy with a nice buttery coconut flavour.

 

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Cupcakes

This post was the first with a new camera, resulting in clearer pictures. I actually quickly moved on from that camera to another and things have just gotten crisper from there! These cupcakes are INCREDIBLE. Seriously. Made with fresh strawberries, you could easily eat them plain. My dear friend Caelin still demands that I figure out how to ship her some to England.

 

Beer Bread

A huge favourite for all my readers, beer bread is an easy, buttery, delicious quick bread that makes lives easier and more beer filled! This first went up to rave reviews and is a consistant top-read for everyone coming to the site. This bread whips up in minutes, is crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. You can add some cheese, spice, and deeper, darker beers to the mix to create incredible variations. A slice smothered in butter is the ultimate comfort.

 

Brown Sugar Scones

These are my mom’s recipe and one the simplest, most incredibly delicious baked goods out there. There are a lot of word to describe these, most of them start with mmmmmmmmmmm. Honestly, there is not a lot to say other than, “go make a batch.”

 

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is such an easy and delicious dip for any occasion. The sharp flavours of the buffalo sauce with the creaminess of the cheese and ranch make for an awesome combo. My friends Heather and Tobias are crazy for this dip, and I am right on board! This dip, along with my Jalapeño Popper dip are go-to party foods!

 

Rum Cupkrakes

These cleverly-named (by my husband) cupcakes went crazy after Kraken Rum posted them not once, but twice to their Facebook and Twitter. These mini rum cakes pack a deliciously buttery, boozy punch. I prefer to use Kraken Rum in mine to give it a little extra depth of flavour, and come on, look at that bottle!

 

Butter Chicken from scratch

One thing I always prefer to do is to make my meals from scratch where I can. I’ve made mayo, bread, cranberry sauce, curry spice mix, pita, and a whole lot more. I decided one day that I wanted to tackle one of my favourite dishes, and wow, totally worth it!

 

Blackberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Blackberries and cream cheese are awesome on their own and are a super team in this muffin. Lightly sweet with a punch of flavour, these are some of the most delicious muffins I’ve ever made. I am excited to try to sort out the original inspiration muffin, but in the meantime these are a fave!

 

Finally a surprize reader favourite has been my Muffin Pudding (or Muffin Bread Pudding).
It seems that I am not the only one who gets stumped about what to do with stale muffins. Who knew that something so hairbrained could turn into a delicious dessert that people look for every day!

These are just a small selection of some of my favourite recipes and the favourite recipes of the readers. Please feel free to cruise the post index at the top or through the categories at the side for most recipes to try and love!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Sigh, well let me tell you a quick tale. A tale of two failures if you will.

First, I was all geared up for St. Patrick’s Day, and had set about making some Chocolate Bailey’s Irish Cream Fudge from scratch (ie: no condensed milk, marshmallow, etc.). I had watched Alton Brown’s video about how fudge comes together and was all set up to make an amazing treat. I had all the ingredients going on the stove, they were coming together, looked as they should. But I made a fatal mistake, over cooked it and created instead a monstrosity of chocolate, Bailey’s, sticky-hard sand. Ugh. So, I decided to repurpose this failure to create delicious thumbprint cookies with a delicious Chocolate and Bailey’s centre. No, the butter cookies spread more than intended and the ‘filling’ clumped out and was just terrible. Big failure all around!

So I had something glorious planned for today but after the miserable fudge issue and then the half-hearted cookie attempt I am left with nothing more than kind words and lots of love!

I hope you all have a lovely Sunday and I will be sure to make up for the failures this week!

Tweaking and making the BIG shuffle

So I’ve been contemplating this move for some time, and have finally decided to move over to a self-hosted site. I did it on the stupidest day possible, a Saturday when I get a ton of traffic! I am sorry to those who came to the site for the hour or so that I was figuring things out, but I’ve gotten it mostly sorted now. I am taking a break for the night and plan on tackling the CSS issues tomorrow!

That’s my news for today! If everything falls down and crashes in the next few weeks… well I will figure it out as it comes!

A reflection on loss

It’s funny how each person processes a devastating loss differently. I get a lot of comments from friends and family about how strong I am in the face of the loss of my father. My husband too has heard this and while we both agree that I have been able to push on despite this gaping hole in my life, we both also know that I too have moments of utter, debilitating sadness. I know that it was my father who gifted me with the ability to approach serious situations with practicality and lightness, but that can only last for so long (generally until I am alone in bed, looking through pictures or listening to music or thinking or desperately trying not to think).

I am not sure if I had mentioned this previously, but the way my dad told me terrible news was always in the form of a joke of sorts. When my mom was in a car accident in 2008, my dad called me late at night, around midnight-1am. I had just returned from a late-night curling game (we are wild!) and was settling into my dorm room with a movie before bed. Dad called and was surprised to find me up, “What are you doing up so late?!” I, not realizing how weird it was for him to be calling so late, decided to sass him back, “Why are you calling so late?!”

“What are you doing up so late?”

“Why are you calling so late?”

And so it went back and forth a few times, each sassing the other. Then, my dad broke the news that mom was in an accident. She’s okay now, but was seriously injured, requiring physio, screws in her hand and foot, and having to suffer under my watchful eye over the Christmas holiday.

In November of 2011 my parents were slated to come for a visit from Friday to Monday. Much to my surprize they arrived on Wednesday afternoon, surprizing me at school. I thought it was another of my family’s surprize visits, this time gift me two extra days with them in the city (later I would get 6 weeks as a result). They found me in the Harbour Centre and asked if I could go for a beer as they had something to talk to me about. My mind raced, what in the world could they be so solemn about. Ridiculously, my mind went to divorce. This is particularly ridiculous if you knew my parents at all. The love between my mother and father could supply a thousand cupids; hand holding, bum pinching, sweet looks and more, were still a daily occurrence 28 years into their marriage. I thought to myself, “Why would they take this trip all the way to Vancouver just to tell me. No, Stacey, that’s crazy.”

Anyway, we made our way to a pub up the street on Granville, them hand-in-hand. We sat down at an awkward little bar-height table, perched on stools and ordered beers and some appetizers. Dad looked at me and said, “Stacey, you were right all along. I have a brain tumour.” I laughed because it was silly. Then I started to cry because I realized that he was being serious. Mom’s eyes were welling up and I sat there, eyes brimming over with tears, trying to comprehend what that meant.

What it meant for my family was having mom and dad return to Vancouver for six weeks of radiation through December and January. It meant a beautiful Christmas, jammed into our tiny little one-bedroom apartment, my youngest niece sleeping in the tub. It meant getting to spend more time with my parents than I’d been able to for a few years. It meant mom, dad, and I getting to know more about the inside of the Vancouver General Hospital than we’ve ever wanted to. It essentially meant that in a years time I was going to lose my father, a man who has shaped who I am: my humour, my patience (and occasional lack-thereof), my interests and talents.

It is nice to look back on the time we spent together here in Vancouver, because despite the terrible circumstances, it was really good to be together. Looking back on my childhood and adolescence growing up with such amazing parents is also so wonderful. Right now though, just months after losing my father, all I can look back to was the time we spent together in the hospital in Whitehorse, leading up to his death. That too was good time, in that we were together. But it was also kind of terrible. My father had to lose his strength, his ability to use his left side, and eventually his ability to speak. He continued to be the funny, kind, loving father and friend that he always was, but it breaks my heart to think of how he suffered. We had to watch this powerful, amazing man have his strength taken.

I am a puddle of tears as I write this, because it is devastating. Thinking about those weeks we spent together and the fact that it culminated in my father’s passing is absolutely devastating. There is a hole in my heart, in my life and the lives of my mom, sister, friends and family, that will never be filled. My dad was only 61 when he passed away. When he first went into the hospital’s palliative care unit, the neurologist told us he had 2 weeks. Four weeks later, his GP told us that because his body was in otherwise great health, it was hard to say when he would pass. The brain tumour was the only thing to take him from us.

My sister and I are going to get scans of our own to set a baseline for our brains. Though the type of tumour that dad had is not supposed to be hereditary, our family has had an unusually high occurrence and we want to be safe rather than sorry, again. Anyway, this is why I am doing the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Spring Sprint. And I am so thankful to all of the incredible people who have decided to join me. Our team, somewhat unofficially, now has abut 15 people coming to Vancouver to walk together in the memory of my dad, my aunt, and in honour of the wonderful Katey Norton. That’s amazing, it is going to be a beautiful walk together, I know dad would love it. I am thrilled to get a chance to support the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada and I hope that we continue to work up some wonderful donations so that one day, nobody will have to go through what we have gone through.

Again, if you are interested in donating to the Hook, Line, and Sprinters for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, click the image above. Canadians affected by a brain tumour benefit from your generosity which funds education, information, and support as well as research into the cause and better treatments for brain tumours.

Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Spring Sprint: We are the Hook, Line, and Sprinters

Alright, alright, I promise to you that I will get a recipe post out today, and another 2-3 this week. I know I’ve been slow on posting lately, but trust me it is because it is really busy at my internship and then I come home and feel like a schlump. I will stop schlumping and start posting again!

Also, I am participating in the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s Spring Sprint that is raising money for research for brain tumours, as well as programs to support those and their families who are dealing with this terrible form of cancer.

As you may know, this foundation is close to my heart as we lost my amazing father to brain cancer almost four months ago. His youngest sister died from the same tumour over a decade ago, so this disease has become all too familiar.

If you are interested in supporting our cause, click the link below to donate to our team, the Hook, Line, and Sprinters (named in honour of my Dad and Auntie Barb’s love of fishing).
Anyone from anywhere can donate, and it truly goes to something wonderful.

Donate Here!

Thanks for the support, love, and readership!

I will also include a link to the right of the page that will stay there as this post gets archived.

Who Killed Mom – Fantastic audiobook offered for Freeeeeeeeeeeee!

Hello glorious readers,

This isn’t about food, at all. Brace yourselves.

This summer I had the honour to organize, direct, and do the initial edit on a wonderful audiobook. The book in question is Who Killed Mom by Steve Burgess. Steve is a brilliant writer whose work is filled with charm, humour, and a bit of an edge. The book is aptly subtitled: A Delinquent Son’s Meditation on Family, Mortality, and Very Tacky Candles.

Steve and I shuttled ourselves an hour on transit to the welcoming home of Carlyn Craig, of Post Hypnotic Press where we hunkered down to record. And what a pleasure, Steve’s voice is gorgeous and his emotional reading of the book made it all the more moving. I was in the midst of dealing with my father’s illness at the time and found myself choking up at Steve’s mention of his struggles and laughing out loud at the many moments of humour that everyone can find even in these dark situations. It truly is an incredible book that all readers will appreciate, funny, moving, and familiar.

who-killed-mom-250

The critics have loved the book as well, see below just a few of the rave reviews that Who Killed Mom has received:

Who Killed Mom? more closely resembles a poignant, darkly humorous but very loving memoir of [Steve Burgess‘] parents, his mom especially, and the kids who had to let her go, not an easy thing to do. I found it hard to let her go too.”

Toronto Star

“His first book is a great effort after almost 20 years in the freelance trenches, a very funny book worthy of a Leacock Medal for Humour. If I could, I’d nominate Burgess and Who Killed Mom? for the 2011 short list. I just hope Burgess has more books on his hard drive to share.”

The Globe and Mail

“Who Killed Mom? brims with uproarious anecdotes and one-liners. Whether he’s relating how an ice cream product saved him from a gruesome death on the Trans-Canada, sizing up the rebranding efforts of a woeful Manitoba motel, or depicting daily life in a retirement community, Burgess infuses his tales with plenty of laughs. But beneath the book’s hilarity is a penetrating examination of eternal themes: family, mortality, fate, and the enduring value of love.”

—CBC Books

Well, now the audiobook is being offered in sections for free from The Tyee! You can also buy the full version of the book from Post Hypnotic Press! You can also buy the physical book from Amazon if you are not so much a listener! The audiobook (both the free parts and the paid full version) has an additional essay written by Steve reflecting on the writing of the book and discussing some events since.

I hope you enjoy, this book has a very firm place in my heart, and I hope it finds its way into yours as well.

The Tyee audiobook series, Who Killed Mom (this is the first two chapters, you can find the rest of the parts in a column in the article).

Buy from Post Hypnotic Press

Buy on Amazon!

Oh heck, and follow Steve on Twitter, he is full of funny!

Oooh gorgeous stamps!

Well, this is not food related but it does have something to do with Not Crocker! I was cruising Etsy, looking at lovely things and came across these GORGEOUS hand-carved stamps. I quickly wrote the seller an email and over a series of months and them moving off Etsy, I finally got myself a stunning stamp! I am probably going to stamp all over Vancouver this week, showing off my lovely new doodad. I also ordered one for my dear friend, Caelin. Tyr of this is just to say knocked my stamp, as well as Caelin’s, completely out of the park. The designs are incredible and the owl they created for Caelin is so magical!

Tyr’s website is this is just to say

and go like their Facebook page! Tyr deserves a world of love!

Please check out all of her incredible work, order some stamps and send me stamped-up snail mail!

Whisking up good times!

Whisking up good times!

An owl for Caelin.

An owl for Caelin.