The Fantastic Bake-a-Long: Shortbread

My day was fine but ended in a tangle.

Exercise:

I got up this morning wondering where I wanted to run my 7.5km mission. I decided on a local lake that was more than that, but figured I’d do the whole thing anyways using 4 and 1 intervals. My walking buddy had breakfast plans so I headed out on my own. It wasn’t as busy as I expected, but was wonderfully shady most of the way around. I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to lose 250m of the path🤪?

Oh well, I was slow, but got the 10km done:)

This evening I got out for a walk up the hill I live at the bottom of. I managed a 6.7km loop. Hopefully this exercise and a better eating day will get me back on track. I feel like all I’ve done lately is eat!

Baking:

It’s sure a good thing I read Emma’s blog this morning as I had managed to forget that I needed to bake today! The fantastic bake a long is hosted by Tracy and is one of my favorite days of the month!Kate was the star baker this month and chose shortbread cookies. Shortbread cookies were one of the first recipes that my nan introduced me to baking when I was a child and I have to admit I’ve been avoiding them (much to my dad’s sadness) since I can’t bake with real butter. I just don’t think they will ever live up to my Nan’s. This recipe was different from what I’m used to. First it had more flour in it than I am used to and it had a much lower oven temperature and longer bake time.

The recipe was super simple and can be found Here. The recipe took no time to come together. The changes I made were to use 3/4 cup of Earth Balance Vegan Butter Spread and I used a combination of xantham gum, buckwheat flour, sorghum flour and arrowroot starch for the flour the recipe called for. Otherwise I followed the recipe closely. They did turn out, but they don’t melt on your tongue like my Nan’s did. I think I will try her recipe as I feel like there’s too much flour in this one.

I got two dozen cookies out of the recipe and they are safely in the freezer where I can’t eat them all!

Knitting:

I have spent a lot of today knitting the sleeves of my sweater. I have gotten very close to the end- only have about 1/4″ on each sleeve before I start the ribbing. Unfortunately I have a big tangle of yarn:( This always seems to happen when I’m knitting from both ends:) Where is my mom (the expert knit detangler) when I need her?

Well I’m going to do my rug time while watching a movie, so I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

Have fun!

AJ

Fantastic Bake Along- Maple Nut Scones

It was another lovely day:). I could get used to this doing whatever I want🤣

Exercise:

My run was to be at a local park that is all uphill, both ways!!! I got there and decided that perhaps it would be wise to just walk today as my quads and calves were still very sore. I don’t want to do anything that will keep me from running for a longer period!! I walked the perimeter route with Brenda and Dennis and then came home after grocery shopping and walked part of the inlet trail to finish up my 8km for the day. There must have been a race for the local middle school kids as there were chalk messages all over the inlet path. It was neat because I recognized some of the unique names of children I have taught! This one was my favorite:)My legs actually felt okay walking, though I’m still in pain trying to go up or down stairs. I must have really done a number with those lunges! It has until tomorrow morning to recover!

Baking:

I am once again doing the Fantastic Bake a Long that Tracy hosts. She is the star baker this month and chose these Maple Nut Scones.

I always enjoy making scones as they are a quick baked good that goes well with tea, though my gluten free, dairy free ones often seem dry and I also often make them too thin. I was curious to see how these would turn out for me.

I, of course, had to make a few adjustments to the recipe due to my allergies. I will tell you about my substitutions, but otherwise I just followed the recipe exactly.

For the flour I used Bob’s Redmill Cup for Cup flour. I like this brand as the results are usually good when I don’t have time to make up my own flour mixture.

I didn’t have any vegan cream as I’ve only found that in the US so far, so I used regular coconut milk in the scone recipe and vanilla almond milk in the glaze.

I also used Earth Balance Vegan Buttery spread for the butter. This is by far my favorite butter substitute so far:)

The recipe went together quickly and I am happy that I remembered to make them smaller and thicker at the last moment.

I had to bake mine a little longer- about 18 minutes, but that was my only change, through I should have waited longer to put the glaze and nuts on, but I was just too impatient to try them!

They turned out amazing! I have to admit I ate two today😣. I will need to take the rest to work so I quit eating them. I tried them warm and cold and they were good both ways. I’ve never had such flakey gf/df scones before!! I think this just became my go-to scone recipe and I am already wondering if I could change the flavoring and still have them turn out. Something to try for sure!!!

Crafting:

I got 1/3 of my rug square done today. I just couldn’t concentrate on it as I had a knitting project I wanted to finish! I know Kathy would like a progress picture, but I think I’ll wait until I finish this square.

Reading:

As I was working on my rug, I finally got back to listening to Great Expectations by Charles Dickens on LibriVox. I feel as though I probably have read this, but I obviously don’t remember much so I’m enjoying it.

Knitting:

I have been very busy knitting today as it is getting to the end of the month and I had only done one project for HPKCHC this month, plus I wanted to get to a new number in my stash!

My friend Brenda had made a sleep sac back in November and when she saw how much white baby yarn I had (after I gave her a skein for a project) she suggested I do one too. I needed to either do two stitch patterns or two colours. Well I tried doing stickinette and double moss stripes and then stockinette and basket weave stripes and didn’t really feel like either showed up well, so I looked and found the same yarn in yellow and went with yellow and white stripes. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure about this project, but now I am super happy about it! It reminds me of summer sorbet, but it would be great for a winter baby as both the sac and cap are knit holding two strands of dk yarn so they are thick and warm! I used the pattern Baby Cocoon and Cap by Kim Kotary which is a free pattern on ravelry. I only changed it by holding two strands instead of one and doing stripes. I used Cherub baby dk yarn.

I love the end result and I love how quickly it Knit up!! Done in a day:)

Other than knitting and baking all I really got accomplished was my tub drain cleaned out of my hair and my dishwasher loaded and turned on:(. I guess one of these days I should really do something important around the house, rather than my hobbies🤣

I saw this on Facebook- maybe I should try following it?

Well, that’s it for me today.

Have fun!

AJ

Fantastic Bake Along- Rosemary Muffins

What a day – nice things and a first!

Edit: I couldn’t figure out what I had done to bug everyone so no one was reading my post, until I saw that it hadn’t actually posted 5 hours ago like I thought it had🤣

Exercise:

I knew I needed to do my 9km run yesterday morning as I wouldn’t be doing it today, so I headed back out to the dyke. It was a nice morning and there were lots of runners out! I wasn’t anywhere near fast, but I did it and I was proud of myself for that. I’ve come a long way when I don’t think much about going and running 9km:). I passed a girl at the end who was driving me nuts! It was a busy trail so I was staying right, but when I went to go by her, she sped up. I’d have to get behind her when another group was coming towards us. This happened twice and I’d had enough so I put on the turbo jets and passed her. It felt kind of good😂

Unfortunately that was my only exercise yesterday:( I’m going to need to do that plank/push-up/squat challenge again next month I think:(

Crafting:

I got my rug time done while I was listening to my first ever podcast- The Everyday Marathoner featured Kate the Great who is part of my Squad Runner team, so of course I had to listen!

I thought for sure I would get a baby toque done yesterday, but I didn’t even get to pick up the needles.

Baking:

It was time for the Great Bake Along again yesterday. Rosemary muffins were definitely new to me! For this reason I was so glad that Brenna chose them as I’m not sure when the last time I made savory muffins was!

The Recipe was easy to follow and went together quickly:). I, of course, had to make some changes. My three cups of flour is a mixture of buckwheat, sorghum, millet, tapioca starch, and potato starch along with some xantham gum. I used Yoso vanilla yogurt, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and omitted the goat cheese completely. My dough was very thick, and I had to smooth the tops with my wet hands, but after baking for 20 minutes I was super happy with how they came out.

They tasted good with butter on them, but they tasted even better with hummus!

You should definitely check out the other people doing the Great Bake Along! Tracy’s muffins look amazing!

Sorry I can’t put links, I’m on my phone, about to go for a run!

Socializing:

I did some sewing for Lyndsay yesterday afternoon as her son had blown out the knees on all his pants so I turned them into shorts:)

We decided to take another one of our colleagues out for dinner and a drink because she had had an unpleasant parent experience on Friday. Well, it started with dinner at Taps and Tacos which I’ve been wanting to try. I had the carne asada corn taco and the tuna poke. Both were good, but took forever to come and that was after we had waited twenty minutes to get a table! I can’t believe I forgot to take photos of my food, I must have been having fun. I thought the night was over at that point, but it was just beginning. We then proceeded to hit all four brew pubs in a row!

It was definitely something that I’ve never done before!! It was also a lot of fun to hang out with Lyndsay and Corianne though. They are very comfortable to be with. I can now also say with complete knowledge that Yellow Dog Brewery has the best cider out of all the Breweries!

Well, my run is about to start, even though I’m tired!

Have fun!

AJ

Fantastic Bake Along- Crazy for Caramel!

The Fantastic Bake Along, hosted by Tracy is one of my favorite parts of the month!

This month was definitely tougher though as I was the “star baker”. I really don’t think I would ever call myself that as my recipes only turn out about 50% of the time😂

I have spent a lot of time the past two months trying to figure out what I wanted to make. A lot of what I consider my “go to” recipes call for ingredients that most people wouldn’t have and I really didn’t want to make anyone have to go out and buy a bunch of stuff for this one recipe. Plus these ingredients are often crazy expensive:( My second consideration was that I really wanted to do something caramel as that is my favorite flavor and I was kind of hoping someone would want to do a different caramel recipe and then I would end up with a new recipe🤣

I at first made up my favorite ice cream- carmelized pear ice cream and though it worked without an ice cream maker, it wasn’t really “baking” and pears aren’t in season so maybe not everyone would have access. (I have been enjoying this ice cream in the House way too much!)

The next step was to sit down with my cup of tea and all of my cookbooks and see what each had for caramel. It was a lovely afternoon and in a relatively newly acquired cookbook, Sweet Eats for All., I found a recipe for caramels. These were always my favorite Halloween candy and I have sorely missed them! I decided to try it out as my mom said I shouldn’t do a recipe o had never made😂

I liked that there weren’t that many ingredients- sugar, coconut milk, corn syrup, nondairy margarine and vanilla extract. I also checked with a friend who lives in a less than cosmopolitan area and she assured me that even she had access to all of those things. It was a go!

I gathered the ingredients.

I had no idea if my corn syrup was the same as what was called for but it’s what I had. I figured if it didn’t work I would try it with the agave syrup I had.

I liked how you just dumped:

1 cup sugar

1 cup full fat coconut milk

1/2 cup light corn syrup or agave

Into a pan and turned it on.

I stirred until it was at a full boil, added the 1/2 cup of non dairy margarine or coconut oil (I used Earth Balance buttery spread) and then left it alone. I discovered two things at this point:

1) it’s really difficult to not stir something that is boiling in a pot!

2) I don’t own a candy thermometer.

Oops I guess I should have realized this sooner! I saw it said it would be about 15-20 minutes so I let it boil for 15 minutes.

I brought it off the heat, added the 1 tsp vanilla extract (love mine from Mexico!) and poured it into my greased pan.

I let it sit for a while and then slipped it into the fridge. Well that may have been my mistake or maybe I let it boil too long, but it came out of the pan in one lovely golden chunk of caramel and then I had to put it in a bag and break it apart with a hammer because it was so hard, a knife wouldn’t cut it!

I took it to work the next day and though everyone commented on how hard it was to start with, it quickly took on a caramel texture in your mouth and had a great taste!

I really hope that this gives people an idea of what can be created without gluten or dairy.

Happy baking!

Here are the others trying this recipe out and I can’t wait to hear how it goes for them!

Sorry I’m on my phone and can’t cut and paste each address:(

Have fun!

AJ

Fantastic Bake Along- Mary Berry Gingersnap Edition

I’ve had a pretty good day:)

Exercise:

I actually couldn’t go for a run today because my shoes are still drying from yesterday! Of course this just made me want to go for a run even more!!

I got a workout in this afternoon. I did each of the following exercises for 50 seconds with a ten second rest and repeated each twice.

Shuffle squat, plank butt kick, sprint, jumping jack with dumbbell press, back lunge with front kick, high knees, sumo squat to narrow squat with bicep curl, fast feet, moguls, front lunge with dumbbell press, twisting mountain climbers, dumbbell reach with curtsy lunge, single leg bench squat, squat, narrow squat, sumo squat, plie squat, dips, roll ups, v ups, bicycles, oblique crunches. I was a sweaty mess by the end, but felt great:)

Baking:

Once again I am participating in the Fantastic Bake Along which is hosted by Traci at It’s a T Sweets Day. I was just starting to wonder when the next one would be and along it came. I’ve been craving ginger snaps so this one had perfect timing! I also love that it tells me what to bake:)

The recipe was a little different for me as it was all in grams, but I just pulled my food scale out and got to work:) It was great to use it again as it’s been a while.

The recipe can be found Here:). It was super easy to put together and it was such a lovely dough to work with! Literally it was four steps- put butter and syrup together and melt, put dry ingredients together, mix the two, put onto cookie sheet. How easy can it be?!?! The dough wasn’t sticky or heavy and I used my ice cream scoop to put it onto the cookie sheet so the cookies actually look pretty too! My cookies only took 12.5 minutes to bake though! They come out crisp and are a perfect dipping cookie!! I of course made them gluten free using a mixture of potato starch, xantham gum, white rice flour, sorghum flour, buckwheat flour and millet flour. I also used earth balance butter substitute. I really don’t think these made any difference to how they taste as they are yummy! My mom is going to be upset she missed them. They even remind me of the ginger snaps my grandma used to have in the cookie jar when I was little.

I’m sorry I have to cheat a bit, but I’m on a phone, so I’m going to use a picture to show you who else participates in the Fantastic Bake Along! Please check them out:)

Shopping:

I took my friend Kathryn to the ULS book sale first thing this morning. It was a bit of a wash for me as the picture book section of their big sale was gone the first day, but Kathryn had some success! There were of course books I wanted for my teaching, but I’m trying to behave myself! I also found a cookbook I liked and I’m now kicking myself for not buying it while it was 30% off!

I was supposed to take Kathryn her Christmas present but it only made it as far as the counter. I’ll have to make sure I see her again! She, of course, being the incredibly organized person she is, remembered mine.

A gorgeous agenda that I will enjoy every day for the next year! I was spoiled! I absolutely love the front cover and I know I’ll have fun setting it up later tonight:)

Reading:

I’ve been listening to Wives and Daughters on Librivox as I was knitting today. I just can’t shake the feeling that I’ve either seen this as a movie or read the book as it seems extremely familiar. I just can’t place from where and it’s driving me crazy! I’ve stuck with it as I want wifi to download another book. Maybe I’ll do that at coffee tomorrow.

I’ve also started my free ARC of Baby It’s Cold Outside by Kait Nolan. I’ve read all of her books and have enjoyed them. I’m only 20% done so far, but it’s already grabbed me more than the book I have been slogging through.

Knitting:

I got to start my new project today and it feels great to be using up yarn that I bought last year and to be working on a sweater!!!😀. It’s going well so far, though it did lead to some naughtiness.

I had to go buy new needles as the needles I needed were already in use for other projects. I decided to support my local yarn shop which was probably my mistake. I’m good at ignoring things in Michaels and Walmart, but my LYS has an amazing sale bin- 50% off!!!!! I got the three sets of needles which were expensive enough, but then I also picked up six more skeins of yarn. Don’t tell my mom or knitting buddy please!!!!!

I did manage to resist the silk yarn as there was only 240meters and I’m trying to avoid making more cowls this year!

I also got two more yarns into my Ravelry stash today:). I’m moving right along. My dream would be to have all of my yarn in my Ravelry stash and know exactly how many balls/skeins I have. I know I would be motivated to see the total go down, but I have so much yarn that I think this might just be a pipe dream:(

Well I’m up to knitting stockinette in the round so I’m going to throw on a Hallmark movie and get back to my knitting:)

Have fun!

AJ

Bake, Read, Bake, Read…

A day that didn’t go as I planned which is unfortunately common when dealing with my family, but was still enjoyable!

Exercise:

I slept in this morning but went with my plan to run regardless of the time. It was so nice to run in daylight that I went out with no plan! Somewhere in my brain perhaps I was planning a ten k because I went out the hilly way first, but it just didn’t happen. I wasn’t fast, or particularly strong, but I was out there! At one point I calculated I had to do an hour today and an hour tomorrow to make up for the runs I missed this week and I immediately knew, that wasn’t happening!🤣 I’m happy with my 6.? km:)

I had no other exercise today though. That is becoming a too familiar refrain so I’d better get on that!

Reading:

I finished two books today, though I suppose one would be classified as a novella. I find it so difficult to tell the length of a book when I’m reading on my phone!

All You Need by Lorelei James.

This is the second book I’ve read in this series, though I don’t remember anything about the first! I didn’t even recognize any of the names in the book😞. This is the third book in this series. It tells the story of Annika, a PR executive at her family’s big company and Axl Hammerquist, a hockey player, new to the Minnesota Wild team.  All has a bad reputation and Annika is forced (through family pressure) to pretend to be his girlfriend to improve his image.

This is a relatively common premise in romance books and I was glad it didn’t follow the usual plot pattern.  I don’t want to spoil the plot, so I’ll just say there are some twists and turns. Besides the plot I enjoyed the two main characters. They are well developed and interesting. I can’t say I loved the background characters all the time, but it wasn’t horrible enough to ruin the story for me. I also liked how the timeline was more natural. In a lot of romance novels they seem to meet, fall in love, breakup and reconcile all within a matter of weeks, but this novel takes place over seven months, a much more realistic timeline, I think.

As I was reading, there was something that annoyed me, but for the life of me, I can’t remember it now. I’m going to have to start taking notes!🤣. I do remember that I didn’t like how the solving of one of the pivotal stumbling points was never explained!

I would recommend this book to fans of sports romances or hockey romances because that is a large focus of the book. However, readers who like a strong, business woman heroine would also enjoy it.  If I have the chance to read another book in the series, I definitely would!

The second book I read was The Christmas Fountain by Kait Nolan. It was a lovely seasonal short story. I have read almost all of Kait Nolan’s stories. This was an ARC given to me in exchange for an honest review that I will post on Amazon in a few days.

The story is of Mary Alice, a local grade three teacher in Wishful, and Chad, a new ER doctor in town. They meet after a friend’s drunken accident and there are instantaneous sparks and interest. A sweet romance ensues:)

I liked how Chad is a strong male hero who goes after what he wants, but isn’t a brute and shows a very sweet, caring side to Mary Alice. I didn’t mind Mary Alice, but I found it slightly unbelievable that she hadn’t even talked to friends after her breakup. She did better after her fight with Chad however, so I forgive her. I also really liked how this book intertwined the characters from Kait’s two series and gave an update on some of my favourite past characters.  The relationship, events and characters are very realistic for the most part, though the timeline is yet again, very quick!   I just don’t think I’d know I was in love within a few weeks, but maybe that’s just because I’ve never experienced that.   I really loved the character of Chad and would like him to be real! As well, the fountain sure didn’t play a central part which is what I was expecting from the title. I suppose it did its part when it was supposed to though.

If you like small town romances, medical stories or just a fun seasonal story, I would recommend, The Christmas Fountain by Kait Nolan.

Knitting:

I finally got a project finished this month. It’s just a simple child’s Cowl that I knit on my lunch hours and sewed up today.  I made it as a donation to the school’s Christmas Market which is a big fundraiser at my school. Hopefully it will sell! It did count for the Horcrux class on the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup on Ravelry so I got it entered on there:) My next project will be a plain garter knit striped scarf to use up all the ends of yarn I have at school.

Baking:

I spent most of the day baking. I had planned to make a bunch of things for my friend’s birthday tea tomorrow and then remake the winners for the staff’s Italian luncheon on Monday, but I’ve changed my mind.  When I told my friends I would bring the food ( the birthday girl doesn’t know there’s a cake for her), their response was so sweet!

“Aw, thanks AJ.I’ll happily be part of your test kitchen 😁”

In comparison, when I take stuff to work, I often hear stuff such as, ” oh where’s the gluten, or imagine how good it would taste with gluten added.” I get that they’re teasing me, but it’s definitely growing thin so I decided to bake for my friend’s tea and then just buy two desserts for the staff luncheon. I love to bake, but I think I’ll save it for people who appreciate it or who at least say thank you!

The first thing I made today was the applesauce cake from Connie’s Creations. I am part of the Fabtastic Bake Along hosted by Tracey. This is my second month participating and I’ve enjoyed it both times, though today I seem to have completely misunderstood ( I thought we were to make the applesauce cake) and messed up my earlier post about it ( forgot to put in links to all the other blogs partcipating😞).  All I can say is I’ll try to do better next month!  Since I already posted about that recipe- all I will say is that it was yummy and easy!

From here I moved onto a chocolate cake by Oh She Glows. I know my audience and my friends love chocolate! Here is a Link to a blog that has the recipe. It is her Double Layer Chocolate Fudge Cake. It was simple to put together though I ended up just doing one layer in my springform pan.  I also chose to put buttercream frosting on it rather than the avocado simply because I didn’t have an avocado. 

I’ll grab one to

Oreos of it all decorated. I need to grab a tube of coloured icing to write on it. I was feeling pretty good about the cake until I saw a blog today with an amazingly fancy looking cake, now mine looks plain and boring in comparison😞🤣

From chocolate cake, I moved onto Maureen’s pumpkin loaf. It went together super quick and baked up beautifully!

Finally I made some custard. I cheated and used Bird’s Custard mix which means I used 3TBSP of that, 3 TBSP of sugar and 2.5 cups of milk and had custard in minutes. I love creamy desserts so I’ll enjoy the break from chocolate tomorrow!

They will be prettied up with some blueberries in the morning.

That was all I had time for today, but I’m hoping to make some open faced cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches and some scones tomorrow. We’ll see how the day goes.

Work:

I met up with my friend Lyndsay to start my report cards today. Starbucks was crazy!!! It is taking me about 45-60 minutes to write each report card.  It’s a new report card to me and so far, I think I’m going to have a lot of parentscoming in holding it and asking, “so how is my child doing?”  One of my greatest pet peeves!! I’m hoping they speak up about not liking this report card as it doesn’t seem very parent friendly to me!

Family:

The rest of the evening I spent with my parents. Didn’t do anything exciting, just hung out and chatted. I’m still on the quest to get tired of them. I always hate transitioning! I understand my students so much better now!  I hope I get to see them tomorrow morning again, but we shall see:)

Well I’m off to bed as I have an 8am run in the rain.

Have fun!

AJ