Props for the Ham

First of all, apparently a Ham is not really supposed to be called a 'Ham' unless it is the leg (Derek has done some thorough research).
Secondly, this is Derek's first attempt at Christmas Ham (even though ours is not the leg). It has been a tradition for his Mom to do a wonderfully home-cured Ham each year (along with Black Cake and a couple of other mouth watering Trinidadian delicacies that I won't mention yet). This year they (Derek and his Mom) decided to do it here in Toronto. I had nothing to do with this venture, it's all Derek and I think that it's impressive enough to merit some Blog space!
Derek cured it using a big needle and all!!! Quite a process all told. Sometime I'll do a more in-depth look at meat curing but for now just know that it requires time and space in the fridge for a couple of weeks (at least) and patience for those waiting to indulge.
Derek cooked it today and here is the result (notice the incredible tasty crackling on the top!!!)

I'm proud of Derek (xoxo) and my belly is happy!

Birthday Cake

Tomorrow our daughter turns 9. Wow! Birthdays are a big deal in our house, much bigger than Christmas (we don't do much in the way of gifts at Christmas for example). One way that I like to mark the day is to ask the birthday person what they would like to eat. Tomorrow's menu will be Lasagna and vanilla sponge cake with chocolate icing. (Our kids haven't figured out that they could ask to go to a restaurant yet but hey, I'm not knocking it!)

I found a new cake recipe to try. Looks good and promises to be the best birthday cake (once again, Smitten kitchen is my current, ultimate fave!).
I will be making my own icing (ie. my own recipe) which I am adding here. Warning, remember the not measuring thing from the previous post? Well, here's the proof:
Chocolate icing:
about 2 cups of icing sugar
about 3/4 of a cup of cocoa (maybe more)
between 1/4 and a 1/2 cup of room temp. butter (unsalted)
between 1/2 and 1 1/4 (yeah, that's right...) cream (milk in a pinch) or sour cream
maybe a touch of vanilla or splash of coffee or liquor of choice - to taste.
Squish butter until the lumps are gone. Sift icing sugar and cocoa into the butter bowl. Slowly (by about 1/2 cup portions) add in cream and mix after each addition until you get the icing consistency that you want.
Ok, so good luck with that one. I don't have a mixer of any kind (stand or hand!) and although I know it makes me one of a dying breed (or too cheap to cough up the dough for a stand-mixer), I'm doing it all by hand. It's actually a good work-out.
The cake looks fantastic. I think that this is the first time that I've used actual Buttermilk (rather than using reg. milk and adding vinegar to sour and thicken it). The proof will be in the pudding when we taste it tomorrow...

Bechamel Heaven

Bechamel sauce can be a bitch but Oh So awesome when you get it right. I've been making Bechamel since grade seven or eight Home Ec. class. However, as time passed I got a little over confident and decided that measuring signalled a lack of skill in the kitchen. As a result, my Bechamel has yielded varying degrees of success... that is until I rediscovered the joy of simplicity (and recipe) in the Fannie Farmer Cookbook (hello?) via Epicurious.

Really, what was I thinking. Who doesn't measure, especially when making Bechamel. Anyway, I'm humbled and my family is happy. No more lumps, no more adding milk 'cause it got too thick, no more scrambling to add flour after the fact because Wanda didn't measure! The results have given us wonderful scalloped potatoes and homemade Mac and Cheese (Awesome). It's surprisingly easy but the best comfort food evah!
Which brings me back to the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. My first experience with Fannie was in University. I had taken a job cooking for a couple in their eighties. They were wealthy, citoyens du monde who absolutely floored me one day when they casually told me that they had been friends with Jean Paul Lemieux!!! (what the what?!) They insisted on being served tea (on a silver tray of course) at 4pm and dinner was served at 7pm (with the table set formally and food served in silver). The job taught me a lot about trying new things though. I never knew ahead of time what I would be cooking and I only used the cookbooks that they had available and, you guessed it, Fannie Farmer was in their library! I'd like to take a look at that book again...

Christmas Baking

I decided to call this blog 'When I'm not at Work' because what I do when I'm not at work is so much more about me than my work is. Baking took a back seat until the last few days but I've seriously made up for lost time. I got a great recipe for Rugelach from Dorie Greenspan's blog.

A beautiful though simple pastry slathered with Apricot preserves, sprinkled with pecans, raisins (in my case - I didn't have currents) and great chocolate (Bernard Callebaut dark in my case). I've never tried the recipe before but it turned out great (with some small adaptations).

Next on my list was lemon squares and I found a wonderful recipe on the Smitten Kitchen blog. I always find that lemon squares lack enough lemon (they should make me pucker just a bit) custard and often the crust gets too hard. This recipe had a provision for those who find there is too much lemon stuff (whatever it's really called!). This was the recipe for me!!! It turned out so well that I'm going to make it again.

My last recipe was 'Cappuccino Flats' that I've had for years from an old 'Better Homes and Gardens' recipe book. It's a favourite that, for some reason, I only make once a year. It's a luscious chocolate, coffee shortbread that is dipped in chocolate post baking. Yummmmmmmm....
Cappuccino Flats (Better Homes and Gardens)

2 squares (2 oz.) unsweetened choc.
2 cups All-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter (unsalted)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp instant coffee crystals (I used instant espresso powder 'cause it's what was in the pantry)
1 tsp water
1 egg
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate
3 tbsp shortening

Melt unsweetened chocolate. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Mix flour, cinnamon and salt.
In a large bowl beat shortening and butter until soft and mixed. Add sugar and brown sugar and beat 'til fluffy.
Stir coffee crystals in water 'til dissolved. Add coffee mixt., melted choc. and egg to butter/sugar mixture and beat well.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat 'til well mixed. Cover and chill 1 hr (although I've been known to skip this entirely). Shape into two 7 inch logs, wrap and chill overnight.
Cut into 1/4 inch slices. Placed on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 - 12 minutes, 'til edges are firm.
Remove and cool.
in a heavy small saucepan heat chocolate and 3 tbsp of shortening over low heat until melted. Dip on half of each cookie into chocolate mixture. Places on waxed paper to cool. Makes about 50 cookies.


Recently I've been inspired by unrelated but significant life circumstances. The first being jaw and teeth related. I've had Amelogenesis imperfecta since I've had teeth and more recently this has progressed into TMJ problems. Presently, I am seeing specialists and going through tests for both issues. A friend suggested that blogging my experiences might be helpful both to me and to others who might be out there going through similar experiences.

My second inspiration has been my recent (really, where have I been) discovery of some wonderful food and cooking related blogs and websites. They are beautiful!!! I've loved cooking since being on my own and baking just went with the territory. For those that know me and have been enjoying my food (any food really) with me, you'll know that this is something that I've been wanting to do for a long time. Here we go....

Powered by Blogger.

Archivo del blog

About Me

My photo
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

My Favourite Cookbooks

  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
  • The Silver Palate Cookbook
  • More-with-Less Cookbook
  • Moosewood Cookbook

About Me

My Photo
Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
View my complete profile



Blog Archive



FBC Member