Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Toasted Coconut Cookies, whew

Well we’ve had summery, lovely weather for the past few weeks. Yesterday afternoon the weather broke and we are slated for a rather drizzly week to come, but I am alright with that. The intermittent rain is just one thing I love about Vancouver; cool days to break up the hot ones is my favourite kind of summer!

Lots has happened in this last week. First, I found out that I’ve been chosen for a wonderful graduate award (that I am not sure if I am allowed to formally announce yet). They are flying myself and the other recipients to Toronto in the middle of June to attend a Board of Director’s dinner. I need to write a 5-minute speech to say at the dinner and a bio about myself in case my story is picked up by media, crazy! Anyway, I have been so fortunate to have such wonderful references for opportunities like this, as well as the job opportunities that have come about, so I definitely have to thank my wonderful former-boss and friend, Johanne, my internship supervisor, Lindsay, and my lovely and talented best friend, Caelin!

Also, I’ve been in straight-panic mode lately about our impending move from our amazing apartment. When I sent in our second year’s worth of cheques last year sometime, our landlord had told us that they’d like to retake the place in September of 2013. We were sad about the date but were so thankful to get to live in this wonderful spot for two whole years. Anyway, this whole week I’ve been determined to find us a great place so that we can move this summer instead of having to hustle out of here last minute in the fall. On a whim, a whim that my mother suggested, I emailed Marta (our wonderful landlady) to confirm that they were still needing the place for the fall. WELL, I’ll be damned if she didn’t email me back to say that we could stay for another year. HUZZAH! We are so love this location, the apartment, and now we are getting to know our neighbours. And, to make things better, she mentioned that they’d like to swap out the carpet for laminate (this carpet is terrible!). So, things are great. My husband said, when I called him about the apartment, “We are so lucky, well no(thinking of my dad), but this is one great thing.”

These are bribery cookies. No, donation-solicitation cookies. No, donation-encouraging cookies. Okay, so they are cookies that will sit beside a sign that tells the story of my dad, his battle, our loss, and the Spring Sprint that is yet to come. We are in the last leg of our fundraising campaign and I’d love to top out our fundraising at $5000 (we are at $3,500). So, I am bringing cookies into work and into trivia to encourage people to either donate-to or join our cause.

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Chocolate Chipotle Cookies- kicky treats

I am knocking on wood while I type this, but it looks like summer has arrived in Vancouver! It has been gorgeous all week and is slated to be in the mid-twenties for the weekend and into next week. I will take all the doses of summer that I can! Gen and I have even planned a picnic for today at the beach and we are really looking forward to getting outside and getting some well-deserved sunshine.

I can’t believe it’s already been a week since my mom was here, actually it feels much longer, like her visit hadn’t even happened! I keep thinking how excited I am for her to get here, even though she just left. BUT she is coming back, hence my continued excitement. Kellie, the girls, and mom arrive on the 23rd of May. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone, including all of our other friends and family who are flying in/boating in for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s Spring Sprint on the 26th. I can’t believe how quickly the event has come, and I am so looking forward to being part of this important event. Again, if you are interested in donating or knowing more you can click here now, or click the image to the right of my posts.

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Baked Coconut Rum Balls with Kraken Rum

I am just terribly embarrassed, wouldn’t you know it, I fell again. These boots, that I love so much, will be the death of me. My knee that had just recovered is now bloodied and bruised. Ooph, what a day! The funny thing is, these aren’t boots with any real heel, they are just out to get me.

In less terrible and embarrassing news, I’ve been asked to be the media representative for the Vancouver Spring Sprint for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. I am pretty thrilled about the opportunity, and am still not sure what it will involve. So far, I know that I will be doing some interviews, and I’ve had to answer some questions, so there is that. And, I made rum balls with my favourite spiced rum, The Kraken Black Spiced Rum.

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Lemon Poppy Seed Scones with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze

Ugh this is terribly embarrassing, so prepare! I took yet another spill in the EXACT SAME SPOT across the street from my apartment. This time though, I was holding my umbrella and bashed in my other knee. I am thrilled to have a fresh wound on my right knee to distract from the furiously itchy scabbing happening on my left. If I fall another time in that spot, I am certain they are going to erect a plaque in my honour. Genesis thinks this whole thing is hilarious, and really, so do I. There are no real defects in that stretch of sidewalk that I am getting caught up on, it is just me, the corner, and clumsiness.

I went to a beautiful brunch/lunch that lasted 5 hours yesterday. It was a partial reunion of MPubbers, and it was so wonderful to see some of my favourite ladies again. On the way back from brunch, around 5:00pm, my friend Heather and I emerged from the train station to an immense crowd of people, at first we brushed it off as a Saturday crowd, excited about the weather. But we quickly realized that we were in the middle of the MASSIVE 420 celebrations in downtown Vancouver. As we hustled through the throngs of people, I couldn’t help but wonder what the poor tourists wandering this area must have thought. The smell of weed followed me all the way down to my apartment, where I ran into the purple teletubby cruising with some friends, looking for a bite to eat. In all, it was an interesting Saturday.

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Sunshine Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf- Willing summer to come!

Well, I’ve officially completed my second week at the NFB. I am still doing a lot of learning but have had the chance to get my toes wet with some contracts, so that’s been fun. While I am really excited about my position, I would love to get a chance to work on the creative side, there are a lot of things tossed around that I would love to get my hands on. Anyway, things have been going well, aside from the fact that I had a ridiculous tumble on Monday that left my knee in a bit of a mess. I was walking across the street towards a corner-crazy (hanging out, yelling at traffic). I was wearing my newish boots that were still a little slippery on the edges and right when the man asked me “How far are you going?” I slipped my right leg under my left and came down hard on my left knee. I got up quickly and hustled it down the street, trying to ignore the searing pain. Fortunately, I didn’t do any lasting damage, just a small lump, significant bruises, and some really impressive scrapes. I was pretty thrilled though that my new jeans were no worse for the wear.

In any case, I am fully ready for summer, I have a few new pairs of capris, a new pair of sandals, and the deep desire for a tan. Sadly, as with the rest of Canada, we’ve been having a second winter of sorts. Fortunately, we are in the paradise of Canada and our second winter consists of drizzly days rather than snow drifts. In an attempt to bring about some sunshine I baked up some lemon poppy seed loaves! I am not usually a fan of citrus desserts—my many, many recipes show a trend towards chocolate—but I’ve been craving a little brightness. And, wouldn’t you believe it, THE SUN CAME OUT! Seriously, I whipped this loaf up on Tuesday night, brought it in on Wednesday to work and the sun raged straight through Wednesday afternoon through Thursday night!

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Hot Cross Buns! (Yes, I chocolated these, you can go the traditional route!)

One of my favourite things about Easter was searching for treats with my sister. We established our own rules: no looking for eggs when you came out of your bedroom, you bee-line for the kitchen;  when the hunt was underway, you stick together, entering rooms and searching areas at the same time; no sampling the winnings during the hunt; when we finally felt like everything was found (to the best of our hunting abilities… apparently we often missed ones, much to the joy of our parents) we counted every last egg, bunny, marshmallow figure, and split it evenly. We took this fairness in hunting very seriously. We were serious about splitsies.

Our awesome mom kept hiding chocolate for us every Easter, straight through our teens. When my sister (who is three years older than I) moved away for school at 18, I was worried that my hunting days were over. Fortunately, dad got on board for Easter egg hunting… fortunately may not be the best word. Dad was ruthless! He was not part of the very structured system that Kellie and I had established. He was a competitive, chocolate-crazed Easter monster! He snacked on the ones he spotted on his way out of bed in the morning, then we ran from room to room, dad shoved me out of the way, stole candy from my basket, and gorged himself throughout the hunt. I remember at the end of that first year of hunting with dad I was defeated and bewildered, and I came away with a very dismal haul. I tried to explain to dad the “proper” way to conduct yourself at Easter but it was clear, the rules had changed! The next year I was much more prepared. I scouted chocolates on the bookshelves in front of my bedroom, snagged a couple in the bathroom and was much more aggressive as we made our way around the house. We had a lot of fun.

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Hot Cross Cookies!

With the excitement of both Gen and my new jobs I’ve been kind of in a mental flurry. I feel like I should be preparing for my first day next week but have no idea how to do that! I have organized my pens, gathered my schedule books, bought some new clothes and shoes, and have tried a bunch of casual work makeup looks. I’ve also signed off a stack of forms, giggled like a schoolgirl, and baked a lot of cookies. A LOT of cookies. We’ve been sending batches to Hospice Vancouver and that last batch (Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies) was perfectly timed as that very morning they received $950,000 to complete their funding drive! Now they can get on track, become fully staffed, and fill out the programs that mean so much to families like mine. Today’s cookies went to Gen’s work, as it was his last day at IGA! He starts his new supervisor position today!

An Easter favourite of mine has always been hot cross buns. I remember back when my sister was a newspaper carrier she brought home a batch of homemade hot cross buns from her supervisor’s house. They were fluffy, lightly sweet, with amazing spices. I am not in anyway a fan of currants, so the traditional buns have always fallen short on my enjoyment scale, there is only so much eating around those that you can do. Then! THEN! I few Easters ago I came across Cobbs’ chocolate chip hot cross buns and I was hooked! Add chocolate to pretty much anything and I am on board, AND they didn’t use currants! For the one Easter that I lived across from Cobbs I made a point to pick up few dozen of these amazing buns and haven’t had them since!

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Double Dark Chocolate Guinness Cookies! A late St. Patrick’s Day offering

St. Patrick’s Day is always fun and is a really easy holiday to bake for: a generous dash of Irish Cream, a splash of Guinness, a finger of Jameson’s and you should be set. Unfortunately this St. Patrick’s Day I ruined that batch of fudge and failed to make successful repair cookies. To combat this failure I had a delicious pint of Jameson-infused beer and went about my day. Not that I was dwelling on the loss of that fudge or anything (maybe a little) but I still wanted to make an awesome treat with an Irish kick. Looking back at my first post, the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes, and remembering that I had told my trivia team that I would bring cookies, I thought, “I bet I could make Guinness chocolate cookies!” And off I went to bake my heart away.

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Blackberry Cream Cheese Muffins

There are a lot of magical little places up in the Yukon. I was fortunate to work at the incomparable Alpine Bakery, and have struggled to find bread of that quality in either Calgary or Vancouver. There are incredible cafés, restaurants, and shops that would stand out even in the largest cities, and we are always thankful to have these gems in our small town. One such gem is the Chocolate Claim. First, they sell some of my favourite earrings from Lara Melnik, but they also have two types of muffins every day that are sure to knock your socks off (they also used to have a cranberry bread pudding muffin that is as close to heaven as I’ve been, I am not sure they still make it). When I was working at the Yukon Transportation Museum I used to go out of my way a few days a week to get a coffee and muffin. One of my favourites was their Raspberry Chocolate Chip, it had the perfect balance of tart and sweet. My ultimate favourite which seemed to appear less often was the Blackberry Cream Cheese. Their muffins were massive and packed with berries. But the best part was on top there was a hunk of cream cheese, baked into the muffin and lightly crusted with sugar. That nugget of cheesey goodness POPPED with the flavour of the muffin.

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Salted Dark Chocolatey Cookies

One thing I love about Vancouver, particularly our location in the middle of downtown, is that you encounter such a variety of people all the time. Yesterday I popped into Marketplace IGA, I was standing in front of the dairy case, making world-ending decisions about whether I should or shouldn’t buy cottage cheese when a man with a walker insisted on moving me from my place to do the same. It was clear that his cottage cheese needs were more urgent so I wandered off to ponder other purchases. When I meandered back to the dairy case, mind made up, I was approached by an older lady. I quickly moved out of her way, assuming that she too couldn’t wait for cottage cheese, when she lightly grabbed my elbow. I turned around and she, in the sweetest, most elderly, heavily-French accented voice asked for my assistance. She guided me over to the yogurts and asked if I could help her. She was gazing hopefully up to the top shelf, and I realized, she can’t reach! This sweet, petite French woman really wanted the strawberry yogurt but she was about a foot short of laying her hands on it. I snagged her a tub and she enthusiastically thanked me. Day made. I got to be a friendly giant!
Then, as I wandered home from the store, enjoying the sunlight and mild weather that the few-blocks walk afforded me, I decided to take the alley behind our apartment instead of wandering up past the construction site and around the corner. This is regularly a busy alley, with a restaurant and bank on one end and a business and two apartment buildings making up the rest, so I’ve never felt worried about it. Well low and behold, in the middle of the day in a nice part of town(‘s alley… okay makes sense), I come across two flanneled gentlemen clearly exchanging drugs, money, and whatever else. Curses Vancouver, from sweet little French lady to nefarious flanneled gentlemen in the span of 20 minutes! Anyway, I nonchalantly cruised past them, glancing back only to check for cars while crossing the alley to my building. What can you do, not everyone is content to be outside in the sun, some people just need to flannel up and make mischief.

Please don’t take away from the story above that I am against flannel. I support flannel in the appropriate time and place, though really those gentlemen weren’t helping flannel’s cause.

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