Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On Request: Blueberry Cake with Coulis

Earlier today, I mentioned on Twitter that my Mom was baking an amazing-smelling blueberry cake with citrusy accents. I immediately received recipe requests. So tweeps, this is for you!

Blueberry Cake

2 cups of blueberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1/3 cup of milk
1/4 cup of butter, refrigerated and cut into 4 pieces
3/4 cup of sugar
1 egg
4 squares of lemon zest measuring 1 inch per side
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Step-by-step instructions:
Wash and strain the blueberries. Lay them on paper towels to dry.

Add the lemon juice to the milk, reserve.
Pre-heat the oven at 350F.

Place the blade attachment into your food processor. Add the butter, sugar, egg and lemon zest. Turn on the food processor for about 20 seconds to chop up the zest and mix the ingredients. Add the milk and lemon juice mixture into the opening while the processor is still running. Stop.

Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Pulse 3 or 4 times to mix the ingredients. Don't over-pulse. Remove the blade from the appliance. Add the blueberries. Mix delicately by hand. Spread the batter in a greased, 8 inch square pan.

Bake in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes.

Blueberry Coulis

While the recipe above came with its own icing instructions, my Mom likes to mix and match with the following coulis topping recipe instead. It's a gazillion times tastier. (Also, it means I don't have to translate the recipe from the food processor book!)

2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup of water
3/4 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 teaspoons of cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons of water

Combine blueberries, sugar and water, and cook in a saucepan over medium heat until blueberries are soft. Add lemon juice, butter and cornstarch. Cook until mixture thickens (don't worry if it gets a bit bubbly).
Cool slightly before topping the cake.

You should also let the cake cool before adding the topping.

Et voilĂ ! An amazing yet simple concoction that has remained one of our favourites over the years.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

On Time

A whole month has gone by, it seems, and these days more than ever, I am aware of the passing of time. It's not just the minutes and seconds of every day that seem to expire too fast or too slow, it is the implications of those moments.

In the past month, I've seen so many different explorations of "time". Not enough time in a day. Too much time to do something. Having the time of your life. At this point in time. Time goes by. In time. On time. Long-time. Feels like the first time. Time-sensitive material. Timely answers. Bedtime. Timeless magic. Having time to kill. Time standing still. Things changing over time. Overtime. Taking the time. Perfectly timed comebacks. Keeping time. Love that will last for all time. Until the end of time. In the meantime. Timing. Time management. Time-tracking. Time and time again. Time out.

Time to change.

That's the kicker, ain't it? No matter how time seems to be moving around you, it always boils down to deciding whether or not to change (tasks, ways of thinking, position, feelings...).

In the past month, I've had some wonderful times and some stressful times. Emotional times too. I went to the Taylor Swift concert in Montreal with an amazing friend, and also got to spend time with my family. I went to my cousin's beautiful wedding weekend and got to meet, re-meet and simply enjoy the company of my extended family. I took the time to explore Kingston a little bit more, the hidden sights and the touristy ones, alone, with a local friend, and with a visiting long-time friend. And through it all, I had the time of my life.

In the past month, I have also wished that time could just stop for a bit so I could catch up, catch my breath, and catch on. My health symptoms seem to have stabilised for the most part... until I get sudden, painful reminders that we haven't discovered their source or cause yet. Tests have ruled out some of the more obvious answers so now we're left wondering and doing more tests. At least I'm not spending half my day in the washroom anymore, at least not every day. But not knowing what foods to avoid and what is "safe" is definitely a pain - I can't predict when I will feel sick so I've adopted the bad habit of delaying eating to avoid symptoms. Not cool.

One of the tests we did was an allergy test. I've always been allergic to all the common triggers - dust, mold, pets, pollen, ragweed - but I wanted to get re-tested to see if the combination of never-ending allergy shots as a child and puberty might have desensitized me to some of those allergens. I also wanted to find out if I really was allergic to asparagus, as we'd suspected since the age of 2, when I had my first asthma attack after having it as my "new food of the day". Sure enough, some of my pollen allergies had disappeared over time. And I was so allergic to asparagus that I now have a couple of Epipens and am getting a MedicAlert bracelet - at least they're prettier these days then when I was a child! Also, the allergist tested my breathing, which was apparently not under control. Asthma meds have been upped but at least now that the doctor has prescribed additional measures, I can't be lazy about it. Time to turn the negative into the positive!

In the past month, I've also had some stressful times, trying to figure out if Queen's University and the Faculty Association will come to an agreement in time and avoid a strike or lockout. We should know more in the coming days, when the "No Board" deadline is activated. In the meantime, job action measures are creating delays not only in services but in my ability to get work done. It's hard to feel confident about investing time into putting together a thesis proposal when you know that if you have a quick question, you're going to have to wait a long time for an answer - two weeks turnaround time, to be exact. So I've been procrastinating, which no doubt has led to more stress. Tack on the stress of my health issues, making ends meet financially, the discovery of mold (which I'm allergic to) in my apartment (but that my landlord will likely do nothing about) and Pharaoh Ants (which are the hardest to get rid of, though my traps have been quite effective so far) in my kitchen, and you've got a bundle of sleepy, sleepless, restless, nerves. (That's me!)

Over time, stress leads to anxiety and other hyper-emotional reactions, so everything seems to have a heightened impact. Which leads to more stress, of course, and a greater desire for a time out from life. But "in real life", there are no time outs. So it's time to change. Time to buckle up and get my ducks in a row. Yes, work/life balance is important. Yes, a healthy mind thrives in a healthy body. But since I can't seem to control the body part of that equation, I'm going to focus on the mind. I'm going to take the time I need to reset myself - in effect, taking a "real life" time out - by letting others help me manage my time. I'm going to crawl back to Mommy and Daddy and let them take care of me for a little bit of time, and I'm not afraid to say so or ashamed of it.

Because time doesn't stand still.

Time is going by so quickly and I need more time in my day to make sure I get my work done on time. And at this point in time, it's time that I acknowledge the passage of time and take advantage of the little time that I have left to take a young adult time-out before it's time for me to be giving them out. And then, you can be sure that I won't have time to kill.

All in good time!