Coffee ~ Gingerbread Squares

IMG_8960I’m working on a menu for an upcoming three-day catering job, and my mind is full of all sorts of different baking for this group. Besides their three meals a day, we keep a fresh fruit, baking & beverage counter stocked for them all weekend. Muffins, cookies, coffee cakes, and then always something yummy mid-afternoon, to be sure they don’t feel faint before dinner. This is one of the afternoon treats they’ll be getting, great with a cup of coffee, or a glass of milk. Lots of flavour with the molasses, spice, and coffee, with a familiarity that always pleases. Top the squares with Brown Butter Icing for a lovely nutty finish. Continue reading

Farmhouse Ribs

IMG_7764Summer is full on now, no dew in the mornings, and warm breezes through the night, with lots of eating out of doors, watering of gardens, and chatting in the shade. The cows hunker down in the copses in the valley for the afternoon, flicking their tails, and chewing their cuds. The three horses all gather in our big walk-in shelter, waiting until the afternoon heat subsides. In the late afternoon, we take the dogs down to the beach for a swim and retrieve session, cooling us all down. July on the Gulf Islands is only surpassed by August on the Gulf Islands.

We gather more often for casual meals in the summer, most likely because it’s easier. No one wears much of anything anyhow; flip-flops and cut-offs are our A-list of fashion. It feels easier to drop what you’re doing, come on over, get a cold beverage, and visit while dinner gets ready.

I have no concerns about braising meats in the summer. It doesn’t really matter if the oven’s on low for several hours, as we’ll be eating outdoors anyhow. One of my favourite summer meals is ribs & coleslaw, we usually have some bread or rice to accompany it, and maybe some pickles, and if we’re really being fancy, a tossed salad. The ribs get braised for 3 hours, and can be cooked just before finishing them, or the day before, ready to be glazed with the BBQ sauce.   They still taste wonderful, and the meat falls off the bone. I put out a big dish of them, letting folks take as many as they want, with lots of napkins to clean off sticky fingers.

We sit and talk until dusk, most of the meal is put away, but we’re still lured to stay put, enjoying the few first cooler breezes of the night. These nights the sky is light well past 9:00, but by the end of August, we’ll be finishing our outdoor dining in the flickering light of candles and mini lights, while we watch the stars get brighter above. Continue reading

Molasses Crinkles

IMG_4775The summer is winding down.  Even though the days are still warm, the sun has dropped out of sight by 8PM, and the nights are cold.  I refuse to say it’s fall, as there’s technically still a week or so of summer left.  However, the fragrance of cooked spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger encourage me to think of the arrival of fall and the coziness that comes with it.

These were one of the first cookies I baked unassisted as a child.  I can well remember rolling the balls of dough in sugar and placing them in lines on the cookie sheets, carefully putting drops of water onto the sugared top of the unbaked cookies.  This “crinkles” their tops, and creates a bit of crunch. Continue reading