Cashew Maple Condensed Milk Cake



1 can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup maple milk
4 eggs
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely chopped cashews

Frosting + Toppings:
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
½ roughly chopped cashews

C + M + CM + ♥ = CMCMC

This recipe is made for the rare occasion when you have leftover maple syrup in the fridge and a spare can of condensed milk in your pantry. Throw in a hodgepodge of other ingredients, mix with a lot of love, and, soon enough, you will have baked a no-brainer cake. The maple Greek yogurt frosting strikes the balance between tangy and sweet, jazzing up an otherwise basic condensed milk cake. Any nuts would work well in this cake. I went with cashews when devising this recipe, because 1) those were the nuts that I had on hand, and 2) who doesn’t love a palatable palindrome? Bake at 350º for about 30 minutes, and let cool before frosting the layers. Perfect as a mid-week pick-me-up or for weekend tea time.

Comet Cookies: Citrus-Scented Chocolate Açaí Berry Pistachio Cookies



⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅔ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean caviar
1 egg
1 tablespoon flax seed
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon coffee grinds
½ teaspoon baking soda
1¾ cup flour
1¼ cup chocolate-covered açaí berries
Salted pistachios
14 tablespoons butter, divided
Orange zest

It’s Not Rocket Science

Baking these out-of-this-world bonbons is no rocket science. All you need is a little gumption and less than half an hour of self-restraint (believe me, those tantalizingly tempting chocolate-covered açaí berries will taste light-years better in these cookies than by the fistful on their own) to concoct comet confections in your kitchen.

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Monkey Marshmallow Brownie Bites



Cocoa powder
Greek yogurt
Peanut butter
Mashed banana
Mini marshmallows
A drizzle of honey

Go Bananas

Does “two-bite® brownies” ring a bell? You know, those little monsters that should actually be named “pound-down-by-the-bag® brownies”? I venture that these brownie bites are even better. A bold claim, I know, but how could peanut butter and banana not make brownie bites better? The combination is incomparable. Married with mini marshmallows that impart a chewy texture, behold a match made in heaven.

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“Oat” Cuisine: Life as a Dining Hall Gastronome

dining hall oatmeal ; best consumed between long stretches of text and time

I do not mind dining hall food most of the time. Maybe it is because I have spent cleaning crew weeks without kitchen access, subsisting on granola bars, almonds, and apples, but when there is a skilled grill staff, a stocked salad bar, and tubs of cereal when all else fails, I cannot complain about the occasional day when Scheherazade casserole (thankfully discontinued, as far as I can tell) or other dubious concoctions are the main offerings.

Yet, there are days when I find myself dreaming in flavours that I once took for granted. Pieces of sashimi as slippery as sin and succulent scallops, seafood delight all year-round. Marbled tea eggs simmered all day in pork broth that invite you in like a mother’s embrace. Caramelized onions that fill the whole house with a mouth-watering aroma. An array of brand-name cereals with the perfect yogurt complements divvied up in a daily family communion. Fragrant green tea leaves and soothing Twinings™ Earl Grey tea bags that, along with hearty conversation, fuel Sunday morning teatimes. And, above all, I crave fruits. Creamy avocados sliced over salads and sandwiches or scooped out and scrambled with eggs fluffier than cumulus clouds—my kryptonite. Peaches bursting out of their velvety skins that dribble juice down your hand—my nectar and ambrosia.

I remember the first peach I had in college. It was freshman year. I had happened to be eating in my future house’s dining hall, and had spotted a basket of peaches tucked away on a table in the corner. I practically pounced on it. They bore signs of jetlag, but I did not care. The peach bruised at my fingertips as I built up to that first bite, a moment of great anticipation; the seconds following, of bitter disappointment. It was an experience comparable to, I imagine, eating a hairball. I finished the peach on principle, before retreating to fantasies of peach jam and peach cobbler and peaches in their purest form, plucked straight from the tree on an Okanagan family vacation.

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Flashback: Roman Holiday (with a Genovese Twist) (08/10/13)

In anticipation of my forthcoming next adventure across the Atlantic, I have been regularly revisiting my first foray into Europe and into the blogosphere two years ago through my Flashback series. Enclosed below is the final post in this particular series, an excerpt of a blog post about gallivanting through Genoa and roaming in Rome.

Right away, it struck me. 

The colours. After weeks of passing buildings of marble and slate and brick commuting to and from work in London, there was something enchanting about these Italian buildings tinted delicate pastels, transformed into jewel tones by the sunset. Arrayed in the colours of gelato – pale peach, pistachio green, roasted chestnut, burnt orange, persimmon red, saffron yellow – they formed scenes that could have come straight from a Giotto fresco.

Then, there was the colour of the sea. The languid Ligurian Sea, lazy and azure, is framed by rows of boats rocking gently to and fro, cradled by the sea, against a backdrop of the verdant Apennine Mountains. Famous for its historic role as a key port city, the bygone home of dukes and birthplace of such notable explorers as Christopher Columbus and John Cabot, Genoa has since lost much of its commercial significance, with the advent of airplanes and the wave of globalization driving Italian-based waterborne travel closer to desuetude.

And it shows. However ornate, the Genovese architecture is not entirely well-preserved. Just a few streets away from the row of august palazzi where dukes once lived is the intersection of dingy alleyways that comprise the red light district. But for the most part, the city appears unaltered since its Renaissance days. I stayed somewhere in between the two aforementioned areas, in a charming building with butter yellow walls and a staff with sunny dispositions. There, I met an American taking a roundabout detour on the way back from Morocco, an Australian couple honeymooning far from their Melbourne home, and a Spaniard with a knack for storytelling late into the night. United by our varying degrees of fluency in English and our wanderlust, we traded travel stories and marvelled at this beautiful city that, at least for the time being, was ours to share.

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Flashback: Le 14 juillet à la Ville Lumière (07/18/13)

In anticipation of my forthcoming next adventure across the Atlantic, I have been regularly revisiting my first foray into Europe and into the blogosphere two years ago through my Flashback series. Enclosed below is an excerpt of a blog post about a whirlwind 14 juillet weekend in Paris.

 On my way home, I ducked into the air-conditioned refuge known as Tesco. While picking up some nectarines, I spotted a prepackaged Salad Niçoise on a nearby shelf. There was nothing particularly eye-catching about it. The tuna was in unappetizing clumps. The limp green beans looked more grey than green. It was the label “Salad Niçoise” itself that had drawn me in. In my mind, I conjured up an image of my last meal in Paris the previous weekend. It had been a simple dinner of Salad Niçoise, washed down with a toothachingly sweet chocolat froid à l’ancienne. Best of all, the garçon indulged my French without a whiff of condescension, unlike the somewhat supercilious garçon at Le Café de la Paix two nights ago. But to get to that, I have to start from the beginning.


As an inveterate Europhile, I came to Europe this summer with romanticized notions of the cities that I was to inhabit. I was fully aware of the fact that my vision of London was a glamorized one and, with that in mind, London in many ways met and even surpassed my expectations. But much as I consider myself to be an Anglophile – blame it on all those British history books and classes and nights of watching Sherlock and Downton Abbey – my romanticization of Paris was beyond compare.

My love affair with France began at an early age. While I had never visited France before last weekend, I had been fortunate enough to have grown up in a world infused with French culture, thanks to my parents’ time in France and my own childhood years in Quebec. Elementary school French language classes were exhaustingly repetitive and heavily reliant on mind-numbing, albeit entertaining, videos (Téléfrançais, anyone?). However, luckily, I had some fantastic French teachers later on, and by high school, I had fallen in love with the French language.

Adding to that, central to American romantic comedies is the Parisian romance that is falling in love with Paris itself: that promise that once you step onto the streets of Paris, the historic architecture will enrapture you, the impossibly flaky pastries will entice you, and the chatter of locals sipping wine al fresco late into the night will enchant you as you amble down a sun-drenched side street leading to the Seine. The sunset will be reflected and refracted off the river in a thousand shimmering planes of crimson and gold, setting the entire city ablaze, lighting the flames of romance between couples and stoking the fire of inspiration for aspiring artists.

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Flashback: Alohomora (06/17/2013)

In anticipation of my forthcoming next adventure across the Atlantic, I will be regularly revisiting my first foray into Europe and into the blogosphere two years ago through my Flashback series. Enclosed below is an excerpt of a blog post about the magic of London.

est magicae.

It only seemed fitting that after visiting the enchanted studio where the Harry Potter books were transfigured into films, I would dedicate my next blog post to magic.

But the magic to which I am referring is not, as some might expect from me, the magic of hexes and jinxes, of Quidditch and Quodpot (the most popular wizarding game in the United States. See Kennilworthy Whisp, Quidditch Through the Ages, Chapter 8).

This magic does not come with flying sparks and exploding leather balls. Granted, it does come with the occasional ability to defy gravity, as these levitating Covent Garden-dwellers demonstrate.

It is the magic infused in acrid pipe exhaust belched out of double-decker buses and the curried notes of fragrant Indian street fare; the same magic that rings with the pounding of feet on pavement, that stings and smarts with the chilly blast of air channelled along the river. It is the magic embedded in and intertwined with all things tangible and intangible in this sublime city.

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