Hello my friends! Welcome to the month of May and all the good things that lie ahead. There’s much news to discuss so let’s get right to it … enjoy the meal.

Cream Puff Goes to School:  Week 3

Dscn1768_1 Saturday’s class was all about muffins and tea cakes. We continued to focus on one of the aspects of the course that I am enjoying the most:  using our hands. As our instructor emphasized repeatedly, our hands are the best baking tools we have. He encouraged us to continue to feel the dough and the batter. We even mixed the muffin batter by hand which was messy and fun. I will admit that I have become a slave to my Kitchen Aid mixer so learning to rely on my hands has been challenging and rewarding.

While I wish I could talk to you at length about both the muffins and tea cakes, I cannot. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling well on Saturday so I had to leave early. However, I was there long enough to witness the use of another questionable product. This week it was clear, artificial vanilla extract.  I have one question:  Why?

WHY???

When there are so many quality vanilla products so readily available to us these days, why would you want to use artificial clear extract? Because I left early I didn’t have the chance to question the instructor on this point. You can be sure I will do so next week! In the meantime, the use of this product brought on such malaise that I had no choice but to visit Jasmine at Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and read her series on vanilla. My faith has been restored. Merci, Jasmine!

Before I left class I did manage to collect my bran muffins. While they were good, they weren’t anything to write home about. (Maybe it’s the clear artificial vanilla extract …) I must admit I’m a bit spoiled when it comes to muffins as I am in possession of what I consider to be the greatest muffin recipe out there. No worries … I will be sharing it with you very soon!

So ends Cream Puff’s account of Week 3. My apologies for the lack of content for this week’s lesson. Stay tuned for Week 4!

The May Eat Local Challenge

I certainly don’t want to beat anyone over the head with this, but as mentioned previously on this blog and countless other, May 1st marked the beginning of the Eat Local Challenge sponsored by Locavores and coordinated by Jen of Life Begins at 30.

For my family and I, eating locally grown food isn’t that much of a challenge since gardening holds a place of great importance in our lives. When my parents and grandparents came to Canada, they brought with them their affinity for growing fruits and vegetables. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of my grandfather sometimes tucking a sprig of basil in my pocket, or of my father fashioning me my very own "watering can" … which was literally a can wired to the end of a stick! I simply cannot imagine a life without a garden, or at the very least easy access to fruits and vegetables that are grown locally.

This is why I’m taking part in the May Eat Local Challenge. Jen prepared three questions for participants to answer so here are my responses:

1) What is your definition of local for this challenge:

Anything grown in Ontario  … remember … "Good Things Grow in Ontar-ee-oh!" (You have to be an Ontarian to get that one!)

2) What exemption will you claim:

Chocolate!

3) What is your personal goal for the month:

My personal goal goes beyond this month. From now on, I want to pay more attention to the people who are growing and producing great food right here in Ontario.

The Flavour of the Month for May 2006

Because of my participation in the eat local challenge, I had initially chosen Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables for the May 2006 Flavour of the Month. I had the opportunity to dine at Chez Panisse last June and it was a meal I won’t soon forget. But as I began looking at the recipes, as tempting as they are, I realized that there just aren’t enough locally grown vegetables available in May (here in Ontario) for me to do the cookbook justice. It just didn’t feel right.

Instead, I have returned to my first choice for flavour of the month:  Out to Brunch by Donna Dooher and Claire Stubbs. This lovely book documents the gorgeous brunch dishes served at one of Toronto’s most beloved restaurants … Mildred Pierce. And it celebrates the meal that I think epitomizes the month of May, the brunch. Whether it’s Mother’s Day, a wedding or just a beautiful Sunday morning, May is a great month for brunch. So please come and visit me through the month for an assortment of brunch dishes that are guaranteed to please.

Canadian Blogger by Post

We’ve arrived at the last bit of news for this post. If you’re a Canadian blogger, then you know that Friday May 5th is the day to post your entry for Canadian Blogger by Post. Your entry should be chocolate-related. Don’t forget to e-mail Sam at Sweet Pleasure: Plaisir Sucré who is coordinating this event. Put your blogger package together and Sam will let you know who the recipient is. You can then post your package on May 7.

C’est tout for today, my friends.

Ciao!