Food Stuff Life

Broken Mixer Heartbreak

When something lovely and infinitely useful enters your life, it winds tough roots around the very foundation of your existence. Especially if it involves your favourite way to spend almost every waking minute of your time.

That’s how I felt about our Kitchenaid stand mixer as soon as it arrived. It was beautiful, shiny and faultless. It was heavy like a monster and strong like bunny legs. Who knew these things could break at all?

But it did break; suddenly, and mysteriously, and thankfully while under warranty. Thanks to Kitchenaid’s crackerjack customer service policies, a new one is on the way, and I’ll only be mixerless for a week.

Talk about a crappy week.

I’m near the end of it, and I’m thankful for that. Am I thankful that I spent one of those days sick in bed? I have mixed feelings about it, and of course that pun isn’t intentional. This is serious business and I am sad. I’ve learned a few things:

  • Bread machines can mix dough, too! They have a cycle for it and everything. I’ve known this, but I’ve never believed it. I mean, it also has a “Jam” cycle, and that has to be a lie, right?
  • This pie pastry recipe, which is fantastic despite the fact that the word “whisk” has an h in it, is just as fantastic made with a handheld pastry blender. It just takes a whole lot longer.
  • Shredding chicken with forks makes me angry now that I know there’s an easier way.
  • I almost had to buy brown sugar instead of making it. Hey, did you know the shocking story about how brown sugar is made? Here, let me ruin your life too:
  • When I have a lot of ideas I could carry out that don’t even require the use of a mixer, all I want to do is make cookies.
  • I miss that mixer so much.

For now, the broken mixer sits in its prime spot on the counter. I’ll take a picture of old and new together in case I need to make false claims of being a frivolous rich person in the future (I won’t). And then I’ll have something to do with my hands again.

Update: the shiny new mixer arrived the day after this posted, and of course I took the photo. I am whole again.

The difference is one mixes better.
The difference is one mixes better.
Food Stuff

How not to make your own lollipops

I thought about trying something new. Ever thought of making your own lollipops? I hadn’t. Then I came across a beautiful recipe for flower lollipops. Aren’t they gorgeous? The answer is yes. Gorgeous. A quick check of the recipe told me that I already had most of the supplies, and that they would be quick enough to make that I could get a few tries in before the big day in case I didn’t nail it the first time. Always make room to screw up! I decided to skip the flowers for my first few tries, narrowing the margin for error a bit. And after a fruitless search for suitable molds, I also decided to try creating a mold out of corn starch, which widened aforementioned margin right back up. This video demonstrates the magic that I attempted. I picked my colour (blue) and flavour (champagne) on a lark and went for it.

Boiling sugar
The prettiest, angriest part of making lollipops.

I try to follow recipes carefully on my first try, but this time I got carried away and added the colouring and flavouring right from the start, despite the clear directions to add those at the end. Although I haven’t quite achieved perfect lollipops, I don’t think this was the problem. I think my mistakes were made later. My favourite part of the lollipop-making process is watching the sugar change as it boils. It’s about 86% frightening, and 24% distracting. That equals 110%, which is how much attention you need to pay to your candy thermometer at this point. Not boiling the sugar/water/corn syrup mixture will result in weird pockets of sticky, delicious gel, and boiling for too long can alter the colour as it approaches the caramel stage. I allowed both of these things to happen (yay)!

Freshly-poured lollipops
The greenish hue of the final product really shows here. Green is just blue with a bonus colour!

The first time, I misread my thermometer and poured out my lollies too early. They looked lovely, unless you had the audacity to touch them. On my second attempt, I ran upstairs to charge my iPad, like a double dummy. When I got back to the stove, the hard crack stage was history, and we were fast approaching blue carmel. I poured it anyway, and a few minutes later I had a tasty, edible lollipop! They came out greener than I was expecting, and the corn starch side of the lollies took on a weird crinkly texture. I’m assuming both are due to the overboiling until I can determine otherwise. I can’t wait to make these again, but I’ve learned my lesson: Never, ever go upstairs when making lollipops.


A year in a floating home

Max on the deck, as seen from above
Even the cat loves living on the water!

Now that March is past us, it’s been over a year since my boyfriend and I moved into our floating home. Since then, I haven’t gone a day without spontaneously declaring my love for our little Serenity out loud.

Being by the water is incredibly relaxing. I spent my entire summer on the deck, looking over the edge and into the water. I learned about jellyfish, and discovered that herons hang out in trees fairly often, and I even locked eyes with an otter or two. A cormorant almost bumped into my face once (clumsy cormorant). Living in a floating home really does put you closer to wildlife.
But it’s not just what lives in the water; it’s the water itself. It’s that silly feeling you get at high tide in the rain when you can’t help but think that the ocean is filling up. The rippling reflections that project the familiar movement of water onto the ceiling and walls, even when the blinds are drawn. The gentle movement of the house that only draws attention to itself during high winds or in the nearby passing of very big ships. It’s peaceful, and quiet, and it softens the edges of our lives.
Aside from that, it’s just life in a house. Our house. And I would only trade it for a million dollars if I could turn around and use some of that money to buy the house (and some sweet bathroom renovations) right back.

Twenty Thirteen

I can sum up last year easily:

We bought a house. It floats on the ocean and makes my life good.

That takes care of most of it.


Mysteries of the unknown, again

I’m moving in 15 days and I’m a little worried about how not anxious I am about it.

Arrangements have been made: we have a fantastic moving company lined up, as well as reusable moving boxes that will be delivered next week and picked up at the new place two weeks thereafter. I’ve got time booked off from work, and just enough bath bombs to last the duration of my stay at the old apartment. Although the big work has yet to be done, we’re pretty well sorted.

The packing and the cleaning have to wait, but I still feel like I should be doing something to prepare. There’s also the fact that I know very little about living in a floating home. That’s part of the appeal, of course! I’ve longed to be closer to the water all my life, and soon I’ll be as close to it as I can reasonably get. Oceanfront, my ass! Ocean on!

I longed to live in the city for most of my childhood; I think that’s a natural result of being transplanted from the Lower Mainland (if you’re not from around here, that roughly translates to “Vancouver”) to the middle of the woods at the age of nine. Suffice it to say, the roots didn’t take, and I obsessed over getting back to Vancouver, and 10 years ago I finally did it for real. And now, the concept of trading the hundreds (or thousands; I have no brain for spatial mathematics) of eclectic neighbours for a marina where there are exactly four other households while being a mere bridge crossing away from me beloved East Van is all manner of attractive. I can’t figure out what the catch will be. There’s got to be one, and I can’t think of one, and all my googling has come up with nothing.

Will there be big weird spiders that can talk? Or maybe all floating houses are secretly haunted by angry mermaids? I won’t know for an entire fortnight.