Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Well I guess my last few posts, spaced very dramatically apart over the last couple years were a suggestion that poor NotCrocker was left on its own. I’ve been around, checking in, but largely just figuring out life. And it’s been alright. I produced a short film, am still doing that. Flew to London and most recently I’ve started a new job, and am finally getting back to things that make me happy. It’s been a crazy 2-3 years. Truly, since I’ve moved to Vancouver, my whole life has been a bit topsy-turvey. I moved to Vancouver in August of 2011, packed into the moving truck with my dad at the wheel, it was the exciting start to a new adventure. We arrived, settled into my new place and struck off on my new life. I’ve met some incredible people in this city. My Masters program was a huge part of my feeling settled and part of something. My best friends are those I met in the program, women whose drive and intelligence inspire me. And since finishing coursework, the jobs I’ve held have all been an amazing source of learning and growing for me. I loved being part of the NFB team, and while I am sad to move on, I have been really enjoying my new path.

In the midst of all the newness, my dad was diagnosed with and passed away from cancer. It was a traumatic time, and it changed me a lot. My dad and I were close, he was a wonderful man who really shaped who I am, and how I go through the world. His passing taught me a lot about myself, lessons I am still learning, really.

All to say, a lot has changed, but my love for NotCrocker has remained. I’ve baked and cooked plenty over the last couple years. I’ve made cakes and cookies, casseroles and salads. I’ve come up with new combos and tweaked old, I’ve just not had the energy or brainspace to focus on this, something just for myself. NotCrocker is my space, it’s always been where I’ve come to be creative. The last couple of years were a bit of a suck on my resources, and I feel that a lot of myself was swept under the rug while I was busy serving other interests. Enough of that. I am going to, admittedly slowly, start posting again. And I am excited. I’d love suggestions for recipes, requests, new things to try!

For today’s recipe, I am channeling my deep, deep love of rhubarb. Seriously folks, I love rhubarb. I love dipping a stalk in sugar and taking a bite. Rhubarb just tastes like summer. I even like rhubarb and strawberry pie… and I barely like pie as a rule, so that’s pretty special. The tangy, brightness of rhubarb just goes so well with buttery-sweet baking. My mom caught wind of my desire to have some tasty rhubarb treats and when we ended up at my sister’s place that weekend, my sister proceeded to whip up a delicious crumble. She chopped up the extra rhubarb and we popped it in the freezer so I could take it home and do some baking of my own. Well, of course I forgot it, and only now, two weeks later, have I hunted down my own in Vancouver. To start, Rhubarb Coffee Cake!

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Campfire Bars – Butter Baked Goods

My mom’s 60th birthday was yesterday, December 21st and we kicked it off (and her time in Vancouver) with a surprize visit from my sister, a trip to Cavalia’s Odysseo and dinner at Sula. It was an incredible day, and truly it was also a celebration of my mom’s retirement which began on Thursday! Odysseo was incredible, the horses were beautiful and so well trained. There were often 20 horses on the stage and as many people, moving around without problem. The acrobatics were incredible, as is to be expected from a Cirque du Soliel show. The set was incredible, with a hill climbing up the back, the set was like a real field. It’s hard to describe the vastness of the set, but trust me, it was amazing and I would recommend anyone to go.

Also, and probably most importantly, after my sister, mom, and I finished our dinner, Kellie went up to pay for her part while I went to the washroom. Kellie mentioned that I, her sister, would be paying the other half. The cashier said, “Oh nice, are you all sisters?” Well my mom was just tickled! She does look young for 60, and clearly they thought she was young enough to be a sister to us, her daughters in their 20’s! There mom, now EVERYONE knows!

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Family Classic: Cherry Surprizes

Oh goodness, it has been a long time since I’ve posted! Not for lack of baking, it’s been a busy baking season, so I have loads of posts coming up. I love the Christmas season, I’ve had a lot of stuff going on, including going to the Stuart McLean Christmas show last weekend, which was absolutely lovely. At work we’ve implemented an awesome Christmas Calendar of fun. Last week I was responsible for Cookie Wednesday, my offerings are pictured below the recipe (the other cookies and bars picture will come up later this week) and on friday, Kat and Kathryn brought in hot chocolate and Baileys which made for an indulgent morning. To add to my Christmas joy, we had a Christmas/winter-themed trivia night with the NFB-Bads at Teri and Brian’s apartment which was incredibly fun. And finally, to make the week full of joy, Karen, Kat and myself lunched at the Vancouver Christmas Market, which is a German market. Awesome!

Also, I rearranged our tiny little living room to accommodate the Christmas tree, and it makes the space look huge! Huzzah!

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Magic Bars… Double Brown Sugar Cookie Bars

Honestly, I am in a bit of a state. I cannot believe that we are a week away from December and just over a month from Christmas. Oy, this fall has flown by. I need to finish getting Christmas presents. I need to tell people what I want for Christmas. I need to make stacks and stacks of gingerbread houses for my gingerbread house party. I need to make my Food Blogger Cookie Exchange cookies and send those out. I need to do SO MANY THINGS.

At least it is sunny, my paper is coming along nicely, and I live in a city I love. Mom gets here for a visit in less than a month, and I am going to do some awesome tub renoing (redoing the caulking) next weekend, which I am strangely excited for. So things are moving quickly, but stuff is happening and that is great. Also, I had my contract extend at the NFB for another session, so that’s great news as well, and I am happy to get to stick around.

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Almond Puff

Oh sunshine and daylight savings, I love you both. Waking up this morning at 7:45am to sunshine and feeling well-rested was GLORIOUS. I’ve been happily working away at my thesis, and pondering a trip to Fort McMurray to visit my sister and her family. Hopefully I will get to go this coming weekend, in lieu of my trip for Thanksgiving. It would be so nice to see my sweet little nieces in person again, as well as meet my new dog niece and of course see my sister and my brother-in-law.

As I sit here, typing up this beloved recipe, smelling the ham and black beans Gen has cooking on the stove, and anticipating my piece of almond puff after dinner, I feel so crazy lucky to be living in Vancouver, doing something I enjoy. I mean, I’d feel luckier if all the people I love were in the immediate vicinity, but as it is, life is good.

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Chewy Rich Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Oh fall bring such wonderful things. The leaves all got together and decided that yesterday was the day to start their mass-drop. As I walked home, I kicked through piles of gold and red. The scene right now from my window is autumnal perfection, a rainbow of trees from green to fiery red.

Another great thing brought about by fall, was a wonderful visit from one of my favourite people, Lauren P.! Lauren was in town for her graduation and she brought her mom! Lots of beers, smiles, and good times were had. The weather cooperated, a conspirator in our plot to woo Lauren back to the West (best) coast. Her mom felt the lure of the better half of Canada, but ultimately they hopped their plane back to Toronto yesterday afternoon.

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Fruit Pizza, like Momma Crocker makes it

Oh Vancouver and your fickle weather. Our summer seemed over a couple weeks ago as it started to cool off and the days became, almost suddenly, shorter. The fall feeling of sloth and the need to hunker down all cozy-like washed over me and while I was sad that we were losing our sunny mornings, I was happy for the coolness. THEN, well, then last week was a glorious burst of heat and sunshine again. I was caught unprepared because the mornings still felt like fall and I’d throw a sweater on to go to work, our office is cool, and then I’d leave the office in the evening and step out into a hot summer day.

But now we are back to fall. We are into day two of thick fog, though it only started in the afternoon yesterday. I like it, it is like a blanket over the city, tucking us in for a little nap. I mean, I am not going to like it come Monday when the fog-muted sun fails to wake me, but right now, on this quiet Sunday morning, I am digging it.

Looking back on summer, I am excited to share a childhood favourite of mine, that also happens to be an adult favourite too. The recipe was given to my mom by my wonderful Auntie Janice. She’s shared a few recipes with us that I will be using on here eventually, because they are all incredibly tasty (including a Grape Salad and a cheese ball that I distinctly remember being awesome).  Quick segue, my Aunt Janice and my mom are in Florence right now! Which is unthinkably exciting. They are having a lovely time, I got to speak with my mom yesterday. They are great friends and I am so happy that they are on this adventure together.

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Peanut Butter Cookies

I am certain I drove my colleagues crazy on Friday as I tirelessly watched and relayed the details of the Calgary/Southern Alberta floods. I watched as my old apartment building was surrounded, feeling relieved to know that our dear friends had finally evacuated. I saw the river waters swallow up some of my favourite areas of the city that I called home for 6 years and I thought of the incredible loss those communities are suffering. I hope that Calgary is able to recover quickly, together. I truly hope that they are able to host Stampede, in whatever form, to combat the already overwhelming loss of spirit and money resulting from this tragedy.

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Chocolate Kitchen Sink Cookies

One thing I love about coming home from trips is seeing what kind of organizational innovations Gen has achieved in my absence. This trip I came back to my knives standing on-end inside a pitcher, the cutlery mixed in the holder (rather than divided), and all the pots stacked on the stove, clean but not put away. He did buy a Costco pack of new tupperware, which I am thrilled about, so that’s good! And really, the kitchen took just a few minutes to straighten out, I really kind of like my kitchen roulette.

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Buttered Nipple (Butterscotch and Irish Cream) Cupcakes

I go to trivia ever Wednesday with a great group of friends. We used to attend trivia at a bit of a rowdier, louder bar but have since found Moose’s Down Under. This bar truly makes us feel like home, we know all the staff, they know us, and Corina, the owner is absolutely fantastic. Erin runs the trivia night and does a wonderful job. Anyway, it is an awesome way to get together with all our friends once a week and I thought that there would be no better place to bring some donation-encouraging mini cupcakes! I made up the poster below and baked up two shot-themed cupcakes, the Piña Colada cupcakes and Buttered Nipple cupcakes. I offered the cupcakes in exchange for a donation of any amount, and the wonderful trivia goers answered in full-force! We made $240.70, including the jackpot that the winning teams (they joined together to guarantee a win) donated to us. I was so thankful for such a supportive group of people and for Corina letting me set up there!

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Anyway, we had a great time and are really looking forward to the Spring Sprint this coming Sunday, May 26th. My sister, mom, nieces, and a bunch of our wonderful friends are coming into town for the walk, so it is going to be a great time!

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