Category Archives: Food

French Kiss Kiss – Sweetness Sundays

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French Macarons Are A Sweet Trend, 4/6/2010. Photo Credit: Tony Bock/Toronto Star

In recent years, there is one sweet patisserie treat that is not only as beautiful to look at as it is to savor, and is also endlessly suitable to personalization. It synonymous with the luxurious life and real culinary credentials, simultaneously attaining an almost iconic image as well as a modern gustatory revolution. The French Macaron is just such a creation, with a deep rooted history, and a modern enthusiastic following at the same time. As early as 2010, they started popping up in my Toronto area bakeshops as something you could pick up on any given shop day. 

LOVE Ceramic Macaron Sachet – Fragrance Object by Hideminy, Etsy.

Valentine Jewelry Macaron Necklace by Miniature Patisserie, Etsy.

This is no easy feat, particularly for what is, when you come right down to it, a sandwich biscuit.  I somehow can’t imagine an Oreo cookie starting such a revolution on the European Continent as the Macaron has in the United States and Canada both, as of late.

Dreamy Macarons Facial Scrubs [2 Pack] by Mrs. Browns Bath Bakery, Etsy.

French Macaron Hand Soap [2 Pack] by JAKEALA, Etsy.

There is just something so fragile and special about a Macaron that cannot be mass produced. It is this fragility, the candy like colours, and the endless combinations that make up the lure of the Macaron. Movies like Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, starring Kirsten Dunst have given a new spotlight to the over-the-top decadence and girly prettiness of this petite confection.

Blueberry Macarons [Box of 12, Custom Orders Welcome] by Madeline Bake Shop, Etsy.

Parisian Macaron Stand for French Macarons/Cupcakes/Wedding Cake – Peach Cake Stand 16″ by The Roche Studio, Etsy

 
If you look at a well made French Macaron, not to be confused with what North Americans call a Macaroon [a moist coconut based drop cookie], you will see the subtle beauty of the treat.  Put together from two smoothly topped baked round wafers, with a crumbled edge called the foot, these pieces share many of the characteristics of a meringue.  Powdered sugar, egg whites, and ground almonds make up the basic recipe, but endless flavor concentrates and colorings make them absolutely breathtaking to see.

French Macarons – Set Of Three [Felted Merino Wool] by woollyduck, Etsy.

DIY Felt French Macarons [Felt & Instructions For 18 Felt Cookies] by sweet emma jean, Etsy.

 
The exterior wafers of the Macaron have a natural opalescent shimmer over the surface, almost evoking images of fairy wings, and they are soft and moist and melt in the mouth in the most delicate of ways.  I rather predict that the cup-cake craze, while not over, will give way to the pleasures of the Macaron very soon. Similar to cupcakes, the filling, or ‘icing’ between the two wafers can take many forms.  It can be a delicious butter-cream, jam or preserves, or ganache filling.

French Macarons – Pastel Pink 10×10 Size [Home Decor] by Filamento TGS, Etsy.

French Macarons/Macaroons Fine Art Photograph 8×10 Size [Home Decor] by Keri Bevan Photography, Etsy.

While traditional flavors are vanilla, chocolate, and raspberry combinations, cutting edge pastry chefs are busy inventing brilliant alternative flavors from the familiarity of lemons to the sublime Matcha green tea flavorings. Whether flavoring the wafers or the filling, they are served in a sandwich mode, with two rounded smooth ‘caps’ with the foot facing the filling, and a thin but ample layer of filling piped or spread in between. 

Macaroon Cakes Upcycled Tea Towel Cushion/Pillow Cover by Emma Mount, Etsy.

French Macarons – Hemp And Organic Cotton Cushion 12×12 by Sarah Smile Design, Etsy.

The popularity of the French Macaron in North America is blossoming, and confectionery shops have windows full of towers of these jewel like biscuits and special long narrow boxes with ribbons, ready for Valentine’s day sales.  French Macaron are a much sexier and cleaner on the fingers ‘eat’ than an icing covered giant cupcake, with just 88 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, and 11 grams of carbohydrate for each delicate and sweet sandwich.  The average small specialty cupcake has 178 calories, 5.3 grams of fat, and a whopping 32.5 grams of carbohydrate in all that over-sweet sticky goodness.

Raspberry And Pistachio Ganache Macaron – Silver Plated Ring [Polymer Clay] by Pink Island, Etsy.

French Macaron Necklace With Eiffel Tower Charm by Plushable, Etsy.

 Macarons have reached epic popularity in France, being offered on the menu at McDonald’s restaurants in that country.  This new status of the french treat is making waves in the fashion world, as well as art, sculpture, and crafting.  Pastel colours are all over the runways, and the garments seem to look as delicious and light as the cookie itself.  There are heaps of photographs of French Macarons, in wild and enticing colours, as well as ‘fake’ props for your home, soaps, toys, and accessories.

Set of 2 Funny Macarons In A Pretty Box – Tea Party OOAK Art Doll Sculpt by Sandra ArteagaA, Etsy.

Sweet Treats Dessert Hand Embroidery Pattern [PDF] by Wild Olive, Etsy.

So much of what we eat, and crave, has to do with what it looks like.  Seeing the sheer volume of jewelry, trinkets, dollhouse sized treats, and non-edibles inspired by the lovely French Macaron, you can see that people have fallen in love with this iconic ‘cookie’, and though they may be a bit complicated for the baking novice to master, they are actually not impossible to make right at home. It takes a bit of practice with the piping bag to get the exterior meringues to shape up perfectly and match in size, but then you have the fun of eating all your ‘mistakes’, which may be the best part.

French Macaron Trinket Box – Mint Green/Pistachio Polymer Clay [Limoges Style] by The Mermaid Articles, Etsy.

Macaron Mercerie Sewing Accessories PDF Pattern [Pin Cushion, Needle Case, Scissors Fob] by Quilting Gems, Etsy.

So grab a great recipe for a French Macaron from a cookbook or the internet, flavor it any way you like, be it pomegranate and orange, or espresso and match tea, and whip up a batch of sweet French Kisses for your loved ones this Valentine’s Day. Now if I can just sort out a vegan version of this amazing treat. That would be truly fabulous my darlings!

Vanilla Macaron Perfume AMUSE Perfume Oil [Spray or Roll On] by Theme Fragrance, Etsy.

French Macaron Water Transfer Nail Sticker Set by Js Utopia, Etsy.

Cleaning Up With Kindness – Found On A Friday

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SewEco Reusable Snack Bags on Etsy

As a newly born “vegan”, I am looking for ways to reduce my carbon footprint, reduce my use of chemicals and natural resources, and still maintain that fabulous air of geek chic that I have cultivated for myself. Sometimes, there are challenges in the way of finding that perfect new time-saving and Eco-friendly object of desire for your home, but luckily, that is not always the case. Here are a few fabulous finds that you can easily put to work in your home and they will make you feel all green and fuzzy all over.

SNACKABY Eco Friendly Dishwasher Safe Reusable Sandwich Bags on Etsy.

The first area where you can make a quick and easy change is swapping out all those plastic sandwich and snack baggies you use in your own, or your children’s lunch kits.  Yes they are convenient, but they cost a fortune and end up in the trash.  There are heaps of options that you can make yourself, or take advantage of the many fabrications and expert touches that can be found on Etsy. Many of these bags can be cleaned in the dishwasher, and certainly in the washing machine, and have well “Serged” edge details that will stand the test of time. Unlike bulky plastic containers that are forever losing their lids, and take up room in a lunch bag or backpack, these collapse flat, and are perfect for smaller snacks like dry cereal or raisins, without offering a challenge to little hands.

Inspired Stitchery Unpaper Towels, Selection Of Colors on Etsy.

Paper Towel is another product many of us are forever buying, and once used, tossing out. Unlike a kitchen cloth, which may harbor bacteria after a single use, a paper towel offers the ease of a clean wipe for window cleaning, and can be used in a variety of ways. So how do you replace something so indispensable? You buy or make yourself some reusable toweling that does the same job but can be washed endlessly, maintaining it’s lint free surface, and absorbency.

Sew Happy Designs by Abby Custom Reusable Cloth Paper Towel Roll With Snaps on Etsy.

Personally, I wash all my lettuce and leafy veggies like kale as soon as I come home from market. I then place the leaves on toweling, and roll it up before placing it in the fridge crisper compartment or a storage bin. This is a huge waste of paper towels, but it makes perfect sense for a re-usable thin toweling that can be used week after week.

Kootsac Reusable Bulk Food and Produce Bags on Etsy.

We have all been a party to the movement to replace plastic and even paper grocery bags with cloth or canvas reusable bags, and many of us have embraced this change. But take it a step further and you can replace a few other shopping bags on your trip.  For instance, if you buy bulk foods, particularly dry goods, nuts, or candy, you are likely forever looking for that roll of plastic bags and twisty ties near the bins. How about using your  very own cute baggies that you can easily stash into those reusable grocery totes.  You can use them over and over, and they won’t add any weight to your scales or garbage to your bins at home.

The High Fiber Reusable Produce Bags on Etsy.

Similarly, you can get yourself some reusable vegetable bags that can go from market, right into the fridge when you are in a hurry. Made of linen or mesh, you can pop these directly into the fridge and not worry about things going mushy in an air-tight plastic bag, and they look really cute too.  Easy wash and stash for your next shopping trip, they are the perfect thing for veggie lovers.

Clean Sypria Wool Dryer Balls by Tara Fletcher-Gibbs on Etsy.

Want to replace your fabric softener and have some fun at the same time? Pick up a handful, a half dozen, or more of these fabulous all natural wool dryer balls. They average about the size of a tennis ball, and can be found in colored or natural tones.  They are safe for handling around the kids, and can be scented with natural oils to impart a yummy scent to your laundry loads.

Moss Creek Wool Works Wool Dryer Balls on Etsy.

They actually do more than just soften your clothes, they draw in moisture to speed your drying process, therefore reducing the amount of energy you use per load. Reducing static naturally, they contain no harsh chemicals, and are safe for your household pets to play with should one roll away. They are especially perfect for drying cloth diapers, and can even do double duty for play when teaching your toddler about colors.

Sew Much Style Reusable Eco Friendly Bowl Covers on Etsy.

My final kitchen miracle worker is one that is equally stylish and very smart, whether you are baking bread or storing leftovers.  Bowl covers have been around for a long time, they usually resembled mini-shower caps, but were still plastic which become greasy and aged poorly over time. When looking for a plastic wrap replacement, or even to foil the aluminum foil trap, using fabric covers is the perfect option. They breath a bit to let out excess gasses and prevent spoilage, but still keep things crisp and fresh.

chez-sucre-chez Bowl & Container Covers Set [Various Sizes & Colors Available] on Etsy.

These are just a few of the great Eco friendly and washable kitchen essentials, and a laundry essential that will save you time, money, and most importantly your conscious when it comes to reducing your environmental impact. They may seem like small things, and maybe they are, but they are just a small part of a bigger trend.  All of these items are produced by hand, made by crafty artisans that believe in their products and are more then happy to work with you to meet your needs. Many will create custom orders just for you, and you can often find very local products made in your own area to reduce your shipping costs too. There is no reason why your kitchen can’t be the center of your new Eco conscious self, just as it it the center of your home.  Fabulously kind and chic items like the ones featured above are not only great for your personal use, but make brilliant gifts for friends and family too. I love finding a reason to blog on Fridays!

Sweet Treats From The Backyard – Sweetness Sundays

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Colourful Carrot Mix Organic Seeds at Cubits on Etsy.

 The message is out there, but are we listening? When you hear the term “buy local” in reference to your food, how local are you thinking? Would you say local is your country? Maybe it is your state or province, or even your town. All better options than buying something shipped in from afar, something sprayed in wax, grown with preservatives, and hauled in from overseas or across borders.  In most places in the world, there are limited local options, but in others, where we have seasonal weather and a variety of soil conditions, we can think about growing much much closer to home. As in at home, as in “our own backyard” or a small planter on our balcony or patio.  Today’s sweet post is about the sweet treats and sweet pleasures of growing your own.

Organic Watermelon Radish Seeds at Cubits on Etsy.
Organic Easter Egg Blend Radishes Heirloom Vegetable Seeds at Nimble NiteCap Seed Co. on Etsy.

I love vegetables, I always have, and if it was up to me, I would be happy to eat salads and baked squash and grilled zucchini and eggplant all day long. For various reasons, that is a dangerous proposition for me, but my love of vegetables, the fresher the better is a reality.  Where did it start? Well, I honestly think this one goes back to my childhood and a lovely cottage in Muskoka, Ontario. I was a very lucky kid to grow up with a place to go to every weekend and all summer long, there were very few rules, lots of things to do, and we had a huge property, even by today’s standards.

Organic Alibi Hybrid Pickling Cucumber 30 Seeds at Black Ridge Trading Post and Gardens on Etsy.
Radicchio Rouge De Verona Organic Seeds – Red Italian Chicory at Florentine Garden Seeds of Quality on Etsy.

While we spent winters buzzing about on our snowmobiles, building giant snow forts and sculptures, and ice skating on that frozen solid lake, summers were another story entirely.  Very early on, my parents squared off two very large garden plots, perhaps 12’x12′ each. Maybe larger, it is hard to remember. My mother planted and tended to cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, pumpkins, sugar snap peas, and other wonderful vegetables.  As kids, we would think we were very sneaky indeed, yanking small sweet carrots from the garden, running for the lake and washing them off, and eating them as we sat on the dock, dangling our feet in the water. If you have never had a carrot fresh from the garden, you are missing out on nature’s candy.

2011 Tomatoes – White Currant Seeds, Naturally Grown, Organic Seeds at Frog Pond Gardens Organic Seeds on Etsy.
Organic Heirloom Peacevine Cherry Tomato Seeds at Kenyon Organics Heirloom Seeds on Etsy.

My mother would carefully collect all those small cucumbers and heaps of green tomatoes, and she would pickle them in huge batches. We would have garlicky dill pickles and green tomatoes, bread and butter pickles in jars by the dozen all set out in the ‘cellar’, a small room in the basement. My mother actually had to find ways to use the tomatoes, there were just too many for one family. Everyone got gifted, and she even tried some very odd culinary experiments. I remember a Green Tomato Pie, sweet, not savory, that she assured us tasted just like apple pie. In retrospect, it is more likely true than not, since Tomatoes are actually a fruit.

Organic Seeds – 3 Packs of Your Choice at Hollis Plus Hunter on Etsy.
Vegetable Garden Organic Seed Pack at Hollis Plus Hunter on Etsy.

At the end of the season, we would decorate the exterior of the house with the pumpkins and squash we had grown. My mother had a great sense of humor, and always kept aside any vegetables that looked ‘odd’, often resembling faces or other body parts.  I remember a huge carrot that looked like a woman’s legs crossed at the knees, it sat on the ledge above the kitchen sink.

Organic Garden Seeds, 6 Organic Heirloom Seed Packs Of Your Choice at Hollis Plus Hunter on Etsy.
Organic Heirloom Purple of Sicily Cauliflower Seeds RARE at Kenyon Organics Heirloom Seeds on Etsy.

If you have access to a backyard, hopefully you have a compost container out there, if you do, you are likely brewing up some of the best natural fertilizer than can be had.  If you have a small patch of land, even just a few square feet, you can create a little patch of heaven in your own backyard. Some neighborhoods offer community gardens, places where you can sign up for a plot of land, often at no cost, to grow some fresh food for your family. 

Organic Heirloom Broccoli Romanesco Seed RARE Gourmet at Kenyon Organics Heirloom Seeds on Etsy.
Organic Heirloom Blue Pumpkin Jarrahdale Seeds RARE at Kenyon Organics Heirloom Seeds on Etsy.

My point is, there is no reason to buy heaps of ‘long distance’ semi-fresh foods when you can grown at least a few of them in your own backyard.  Have a picky eater in your house, a child that claims to ‘hate’ vegetables? School programs that have children participating in a vegetable garden project often find that kids are far more likely to try foods they have grown themselves.  The faster you can get a food from garden to table, the higher it is in nutrients, and the better the flavor. Refrigeration is death to the flavor of the tomato, mushrooms that are washed are tragically ruined, and carrots are meant to be heavy and juicy, not dry looking and frail.

Organic Heirloom Onion Red of Florence Seed RARE at Kenyon Organics Heirloom Seeds on Etsy.
Organic Heirloom Sugar Snap Pea Seeds at Kenyon Organics Heirloom Seeds on Etsy.

So let’s see, you can save money, grow without pesticides and herbicides, you can have vegetables and herbs literally at your fingertips, your kids are more likely to eat the veggies you grow yourselves, and you can reduce the carbon footprint caused by the long-distance shipping of perishable goods. WIN – WIN! Not  only that, but you can grow the things you like best, the varieties you treasure, and you can go organic in the true sense of the term. There are a handful of Etsy sellers that have the most magical and lovely Organic Seeds for stunning varieties of veggies available for purchase, and now is the time to start thinking about your spring garden.

Organic Heirloom Eggplant Diamond Seed at Kenyon Organics Heirloom Seeds on Etsy.
Organic Heirloom 3 Beet Variety Seed Blend – BEST SELLER at Kenyon Organics Heirloom Seeds on Etsy.

First things first, know your zone.  Find out what will grow in your area of the country, and what is less likely to thrive. Second, plan your garden size, and where you will put it, then watch to determine the sun exposure vs. shade in the average day.  Find a local garden supply store that supports home gardeners.  Plan for the supplies and tools you will need for your garden. Don’t think you have to buy everything, up-cycle is the key to making this a great project.  Use an old cake sever as a trowel,  if you need to grow some seedlings before directly planting in the garden, find  a series of small cups or glasses that can be used, or even use a cardboard egg crate as a perfect seed starter. Reclaimed boards or wood scraps can make great stakes for your plants or can make the perfect box frame for your garden, helping keep weeds out without chemicals.

Organic Parsnips Harris Model Heirloom Vegetable Seeds at Nimble NiteCap Seed Co. on Etsy.
Organic Victoria Rhubarb Heirloom Vegetable Seeds at Nimble NiteCap Seed Co. on Etsy.

After you determine how much space you have and what you are planning to grow, get the best seeds you can find. Order yourself some of these non-biologically engineered hearty organic seeds, all found on Etsy.  These pictures are positively mouth watering, and I just can’t wait for spring so I can set up a planter and grow some carrots on my balcony.  I am not good with flowers, but something tells me a few chives and carrots will look great in a long trough planter on my balcony. 

Organic Spring Lettuce Mix Heirloom Vegetable Seeds at Nimble NiteCap Seed Co. on Etsy.
Organic Carrot Cosmic Purple Heirloom Vegetable Seeds at Nimble NiteCap Seed Co. on Etsy.

Some of these seed types are rare heirloom seeds, and they are only available in small amounts, but they will give you an idea of what is out there.  It is truly remarkable to see the sheer range of colours and shapes in a single vegetable family, and each colour had it’s own unique nutritional benefits.  Some seeds cannot be shipped by mail across certain borders, so make sure you can get the product you want shipped to you before you make the purchase. The friendly vendors at Etsy are almost universally thrilled to answer any questions you may have, and when it comes to those who sell seeds, they have often grown the varieties they sell personally, so they are the best people to ask.  Bet you can’t get that at the local Walmart

Organic White Pumpkin Seeds Casper White Pumpkins at Cubits on Etsy.
Organic Long Island Improved Brussels Sprouts Heirloom Vegetable Seeds at Nimble NiteCap Seed Co. on Etsy.

Even if it is just something you jot down on your ‘something to do someday‘ list, having a look at these pictures will help to inspire you to try your hand at home gardening.  If you are a seasoned gardener, or ready to give it a good shot, then it won’t be long before spring arrives and you will have a chance to tastes these sweet treats from your garden, and savor the flavor that can only come with knowing you grew something with a little elbow grease, a lot of love, a the sun, soil, and seeds that are the recipe for fabulous garden fun.

Organic Round Zucchini Squash Heirloom Vegetable Seeds at Nimble NiteCap Seed Co. on Etsy.
Organic Jalapeno Pepper Heirloom Vegetable Seeds at Nimble NiteCap Seed Co. on Etsy.


Note: All images in this post and products mentioned are copyright/intellectual property of the respective Etsy vendor indicated under the image. Please contact vendors for more information about specific products and prices.  No infringement is intended.

Organic Perfection Savoy Cabbage Heirloom Vegetable Seeds at Nimble NiteCap Seed Co. on Etsy.
LiMa beAn Heirloom Seeds From Our Organic Garden at Pailanita on Etsy.

A Trip Down Grocery Lane – Time Travel Thursdays

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Groceries ART BLOCKS – Set of 21 Ephemera Art BLOCKS 1950’s Magazine Advertisements by Suzanna Scott, Sushipot Parts on Etsy. $145.00 USD.

I was born in the early seventies, that means the big 4-O is coming soon, but even I remember a time before grocery stores became giant tributes to mass consumption of over produced and over packaged goods. Most people dread the “weekly” trip to the grocery store, some people go out less than weekly. Our food has become so laden with preservatives that shopping carts are now immense, ready to hold all those giant boxes and bags that can shelf sit for decades.  Many of my friends and family have turned to shopping on-line, with a standard order delivered right to their doors at great expense, but it is a busy family’s savior in a time pressured world.  We now have so much waste, so much to recycle, that taking out the garbage can be more labor intensive than cooking up dinner.

Vintage 1946 Grocery Shopping Advertisement – Mother Daughter at French Frou Frou Antiques on Etsy. 10″x13″. $12.95 USD.
Vintage 1950 Mother Daughter Grocery Advertisement at French Frou Frou Antiques on Etsy. 10″x13″. $12.95 USD.

So when did it all go so horribly wrong? I am by no means the best at being ‘green’, I am not a vegetarian, and I am not someone who is the most socially aware, but I would have to be blind not to see that we have gone in a direction that is going to be very hard to change.  The old Corner Grocery Store is almost extinct, and that is a shame.

Corner Drug Store Vintage Photo of A Woman Standing In Front of a Drug Store at Romance Writer on Etsy. 3 3/8″x3 3/8″. $2.50 USD.
Girl Buys French Bread & Spaghetti from Retail Market Shop in Snow – Antique Photograph at Snaposaurus on Etsy. 3.5″x2.5″. $4.25 USD.

 In Canada [where I hail from] and the United States, the mega-sized grocery and drug store combo is a dominant feature on the landscape of most suburban shopping centers.  We don’t really even question it when yet another Big-Box shop opens around the corner. However, there was a time when small corner grocers were essential to a neighborhood, and many shopped for fresh goods on a daily basis.

Large Vintage Wire Shopping Basket with Handles – Old Country Store at Antique Beans on Etsy. SOLD.
Vintage Light Blue Grocery Store Shopping Basket at Planet Alissa on Etsy. Estimated 1970-1980. 16″x10 1/2″x9″. $20.00 USD.
Old Vintage Metal Store Display Tag for Fruit Flavor Certs Candy Breath Mints at Leora’s Magic Carpetbag on Etsy. 2 1/4″ Across. $9.99 USD.
Old Vintage Metal Store Display Tag for Dentyne Spearmint Gum at Leora’s Magic Carpetbag on Etsy. 5 3/4″ Across. $12.99 USD.

We drank out of glass bottles, which we returned. Dry goods were sold in paper boxes lined with wax paper, or tins that would be re-used.  Ice cream came in a paper box. Bread, produce, and meats were wrapped in paper and tied with a string. Your home ice-box didn’t hold as much, and things did ‘spoil’ as you would expect fresh food to do.

Vintage Sky Flakes Cracker Tin – Add To A Collection or Use To Store Special Items at Artsy Gemini on Etsy. 7″x4 3/4″. $4.50 USD.
Vintage Spice Tins & Extract Bottle – Lot 2 at UnAbashed DeStash on Etsy. 5 Spice Tins/Boxes, 1 Bottle. 1940s. 50s. 60s. $30.00 USD.
Vintage Spice Tins – Lot 1 at UnAbashed DeStash on Etsy. 7 Spice Tins/Boxes. 1940s. 50s. 60s. $35.00 USD.

So what, you may ask, is my point? Well, sometimes we need to take a look back in time to remember that most families had all their needs met by their corner store, and that the more we package and preserve, the more wasteful we have become.  For many, a look at vintage grocery ads, items, and containers in a wonderful way to remember the days of their childhood. For others, a reminder that for all our “progress”, we have taken a huge backwards leap in taking care of Mother Nature.

Set of 10 Sample Size Grocery Products Rare Collectibles at Antigua on Etsy. Boxes and Talcum Powder Tin Contain Product. Circa 1960s. $100.00 USD.
6 Vintage Jack And Jill Strawberry Gelatin Dessert Boxes at Antionettes Vanilla & Vintage Finds on Etsy. 3.5″x3″x1″. New Old Stock, Never Used. $8.95 USD.
Vintage Chocolate and Food Extracts for Vintage Snacks at Violet’s Steamer Trunk on Etsy. Original Price Tags On Some Items. Range in Size. $11.00 USD.

My family is rather unique in that I come from a ‘Grocery Ancestry’ of sorts. On my father’s side, his parents owned a corner grocery store on St. Clair Avenue in part of Toronto’s most well known early residential areas. He grew up working the store, and as he tells it, bribing the delivery drivers to let him drive their trucks long before he was of age.  On my mother’s side, her father and his partner had a ‘pop’ bottling plant in Thunder Bay, Ontario where they bottled such favorites as Nu-Grape and Sun Crest.  My maternal grandmother also had her time working in a butcher shop as a young woman before she married my grandfather.  You could say my love of the corner grocery store is almost a genetic trait.

Vintage Coca-Cola Bottles, Set of Coke Bottles in Original Carry Carton at Kona Boutique on Etsy. Holiday Style Cardboard Holder Included. $19.99 USD.
Vintage 7up Green Glass Soda Bottle at Antoinette’s Vanilla & Vintage Finds on Etsy. Circa 1950s. 7 oz. Bottle. 8″ Tall. $6.95 USD.
TWO VINTAGE Sun Crest Soda Bottles at Dee’s Attic Treasures on Etsy. 10 oz. & 7 oz. Bottles. Bottles From Atlanta, GA. $18.00 USD.

 Most people, I imagine, have had some connection to a corner store at some point in their family tree, there were just that many small shops serving the community.  Today I want you to remember those days, before the mega-ginormous food outlets, and remember all the families that relied on the small corner stores for their livelihoods and as a main food source for nourishing their families.  The stunning art blocks at the top of the post are the perfect way to honor that heritage in a new and eye-catching way. If you collect old photographs or glass bottles, you can find some of the best on Etsy. Vintage packaging and ephemera remind us of a simpler time and are great photo props or serve as inspirations for decor and artwork projects.  An old soda crate can become a great way to organize your craft room or studio.  This Time Travel Thursday, I ask you to think outside the “Big Box” grocery stores.

Vintage Wood Divided Soda Crate A-Treat Supplies Storage Primitive Industrial Box at Vintage Jane on Etsy. 17 3/4″ Long, 12 1/2″ Wide, 5 1/4″ Tall. $36.00 USD.
Coca-Cola Crate at Cottage On Cactus Lane on Etsy. Vintage Original. 18″ Long, 12″ Wide, 4.5″ Deep. Perfect for Storage, Decor, or Shelf. $25.00 USD.
Vintage Land O’Lakes Wooden Cheese Box at Uknow Uneed Another on Etsy. 11 3/4″ Length, 3 3/4″ Height, 4 1/4″ Wide. Bottom Opening Hinged. $25.00 USD.

Sweets For My Sweet – Sweetness Sundays

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A short but very sweet post today, all about the heavenly confections that make life, well, sweet. Most people feel comfortable attempting to bake or cook in their kitchens, but making candy and sweets is still a little daunting to even the most seasoned chefs. Candy isn’t like most kitchen arts, it requires a lot of practice, careful control of temperature and timing, and often special equipment for molding or shaping your creations.  It is for that reason most of us find it easier to buy candy at the corner store or market.

Rolled Sultan Turkish Delight, Rose Flavor by ggbytech on Etsy.

If you are lucky and have a local Chocolatier, Confectioner, or Sweet Shop that churns out fresh hand-made goods, you know where this is heading. Nothing beats the real thing. Handmade candy and confections are not only free of all those preservatives and stabilizers that keep those other manufactured ‘treats’ shelf sitting for months or years on end, but they taste so much better. Often you can get unique flavor combinations that are more gourmet and appeal to a smaller group of consumers, you can also interact directly with the sweet-makers. You can ask questions about ingredients and the things that matter to you about your food, such as local suppliers, green practices, and vegan or health specific issues. Today I present to you a virtual sampler of some beautiful hand-made confections that you can order on-line and enjoy with your valentine(s). At the very least, it may send you looking for you own local sweet shops. Have a “Sweet” Sunday.

Sweet Honeydew, Vegan Handmade Hard Candy by Von Dulce on Etsy.

Organic Freckled Strawberry Marshmallows,  All Natural, Gluten and Egg Free, Kosher by The Realist Mermaid on Etsy.

Simple Chocolate Dipped Pear, Handmade Fresh To Order by Sugar Queen Sweets on Etsy.

Pretty In Pink, Pearl Embellished Hard Candy Lollipops – Made To Order by  Vintage Confections on Etsy.

Rocky Road Fudge, Made Fresh to Order by Fudge Face on Etsy.

Cupcake Crystal Hard Candy Lollipops, Pink Bubblegum by Sweet Lollipop Shop on Etsy.

Valentine’s Day Gift Box of Assorted French Nougat Candies in 5 Flavors, All Natural No Preservatives by Kettle Confections on Etsy.

Lemon Mocha Truffles Worth Puckering Up For, Made in Canada – Semi Sweet Chocolate, Nut Free by My Hands Are Busy on Etsy.

Soft Caramels, 1/2 Pound, Sweet Soft and Buttery by Bubble Gum Art Company on Etsy.

 Vegan Chocolate Fruit Cremes, 7 Flavors, Covered in German Chocolate – Made To Order by Hippie Cakes on Etsy.

Cookie Lovers Delight, Hand Dipped and Drizzled Double Stuff Oreos by Sweet Sophia’s Creations on Etsy.

For The Love Of Bundt Cake – Time Travel Thursdays

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Are you a fan of a good Bundt? Cake that is, Bundt Cake, that fancy looking tea-time cake that takes the shape of it’s ringed baking pan. According to the good old Wikipedia, the tern “Bundt” [pronounced as -bunt] seems to derive from the German word Bundkuchen, a ring-shaped cake. The adapted spelling as ‘bundt’ appears in print as early as 1901. So why, you may ask, am I going on about a cake pan? Well, it is Thursday after all, and that means a step back in time to take a look at things too good to be forgotten. The Bundt Pan is a beautiful item in and of itself, with new versions resembling Gothic Architecture, but I am still a fan of the classic style, the one my mother, and grandmother used.

Silver Bundt Pan by The Little Green Vintage Shop.

The cake pan shape itself makes any regular pound cake look so very lovely, and a sprinkling of powdered sugar on top really highlights the pattern of any particular pan. One of my favorite tricks from my Culinary School days makes any cake pan stick-proof, so cakes come out perfectly. Simply take a pat of room temperature real butter [or margarine if you prefer a vegan option] and coat the inside of the pan lightly, use a scrap of tin foil, clean paper bag, wax, parchment, or any kitchen paper to spread it easily. My mother saves the wrappers the sticks of butter come in for this purpose, which is totally brilliant of her. She keeps them in the fridge until she needs to grease up a pan. The next step is taking a small amount of flour, maybe a tablespoon or two, and then dumping it into the greased pan, do this over the sink to cut down on mess. Turn the pan slowly in your hands and let the flour ‘stick’ to the butter on the pan base. Make sure all edges are covered, then dump any excess flour out. Instant non-stick pan, especially useful for the vintage Bundt Pan. With all the concerns about new fangled non-stick coatings and health issues, it really is a way to go back to basics, literally.

Vintage Bundt Pan by The Rhubarb Studio.

Of course, you could go out and buy a brand spanking new Bundt Pan at any local Department Store, but why not rescue one with some lovely retro charm and vintage credentials. Not only do they make lovely cakes, but the shape is so iconic, people often hang them on walls, use them as planters, or up-cycle them into light fixtures and other amazing do-dads. The ones I have featured on this page are vintage finds from Etsy. These and others are priced so reasonably, often less than a new one, and have that rustic charm built in.

Vintage Stoneware Pfaltzgraff Bundt Pan by The Vintage Heiress.

You didn’t think I would just show a pile of cake pans without sharing my favorite recipe did you? This one is a family favorite, and despite a year of formal Culinary education, I would pick this cake over some of the most fancy schmancy pastries out there. This ones pulls me back in time to the 1970s, when my mother would whip them up regularly if we were getting unexpected guests at the cottage or if she wanted to fill out a large party buffet. This is what I refer to as “back-of-the-box” cooking. You know, those recipes most of us ignore on the packages of food we buy? Well I suspect this one was actually on the Jell-O Pudding box at one time, and I can just picture my mother in 1978, with four children under the age of five, trying to find fast and easy crowd pleasing fare. This is one of those recipes.

Yes, it is exactly that easy. It may not be vegetarian or gourmet, but it is delicious and inexpensive. It also bakes with a beautiful golden brown colour outside, but when sliced you can see a slightly green tinted moist and light cake. You can bump up the green with a little food colouring, just a few drops of green [if you are so inclined], to make the perfect St. Patrick’s Day dessert.

This cake has a story behind it in my family. It was a loved recipe, that somehow time forgot by the 80s, when the required Pistachio Jell-O Pudding mix seemed to vanish from the grocery shelf. When we rediscovered it in the 90s, the recipe was long lost and no longer on the package. This was before the great big “World Wide Web” and search engines, and we were sure it was lost forever. Then on a family trip to the ‘States’, we happened upon an old bookstore, and my mother and I were browsing cookbooks. My roaming hands fell upon a Jell-O recipe collection book, and I remembered that cake… and wouldn’t you know it, the recipe was in there! We (now quite guiltily) remember scribbling the recipe down on a piece of scrap paper, and hooray we had it again. Now you have it too.

Your New Collection. Vintage Bundt Pans. by Funretro.

Beyond the obviously Fab vintage Bundt Pans that can be found, there are a lot of lovely items other than cake, that are inspired by that great pan shape. Here are just a few adorable finds. Lovely artwork and miniatures, even jewelry. with the availability of the “Mini” Bundt Pan, people are using it for all sorts of things too, like some fabulous hand-made soaps. Any of these would make lovely gifts, but the gift of a home-baked cake for your family may just be the best thing this Valentine’s Day.

Persimmon Bundt Cake And Espresso- Open Edition Print by Janet Hill, http://www.etsy.com/shop/janethillstudio?ref=pr_shop_more on Etsy.

Original Painting -Red Velvet Bundt Cake at Bookclub 9×12 inch by S. Kim Graber, LaurenFaythe on Etsy.

Dollhouse Miniature Food Raspberry Bundt Cake Slice by Fairchildart.

Strawberry Bundt Cake Pendant by Christina Cainan, Mini Mia Accessories on Etsy.

Bundt Cake Pan Pendant Lamp by Spoken Stitch on Etsy.

Set of 3 Handcrafted Goatmilk Soaps Applejack & Peel Bundt Cake Soaps by Marcia, Adirondacks Soaps on Etsy.

White Truffle Raspberry Bundt Cake Candle..Made with all natural soy wax by Danielle, Pookaberrys Candle Bakery on Etsy.