Monday, October 20, 2014


Oh, Canada indeed! A few weeks ago we went to Sault Ste. Marie, AKA "The Soo," (a town that straddles the border between Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Canada) for Warren's birthday. The colors were unbelievably vivid, especially when we got into Canada. The rolling hills looked looked like a sea of gorgeous fire.

We didn't spend much time in Sault Ste. Marie and instead chose to drive up the coast of Lake Superior  where I immediately made Warren pull over (you know how I'm always making Warren pull over) because I saw this:

I mean, if you don't stop for that, what will you stop for? And thank goodness we did because it ended up being the best kind of tourist trap, filled with all sorts of crazy wooden statues, totem poles (naturally), and a path of painted moose tracks. Creepy and amazing, right?

We also learned that maple leaves make great accessories.  

It's kind of impossible to describe just how gorgeous it is up in the Great White North. Because Lake Superior's coast is kind of a dreamboat. It basically looked like this:

For miles and miles and miles. It also abounds with waterfalls:

And little lonely side streets covered with blankets of fallen leaves:

Good job, Canada.

Every year in lieu of gifts we try to do something fun for our birthdays (this year we happened to be in Peru for my birthday--which was a pretty great follow up to the year before, when we happened to be in Hawaii). Last year for Warren's birthday we went to the lovely Bruce Peninsula, another Canadian gem.  Next year, Warren's heart is set on Canada's Polar Bear Park, which is, oh, 30 hours north of us. We'll figure it out. 

Anyway, I really wanted to take him to see the famous Ojibwe pictographs at Agawa rock (because, come on, how cool is that!?) but we found out too late that the park service had taken down the protective chains and closed the sight for the season. 

If it wasn't so stormy, we would have braved inching along the precipice to see the paintings (they're painted on the flat face of the cliff in the photo below). We'll just have to go back another year, I guess. 

PS: Those ropes you see in the above photo? Just a thoughtful gift from the park service, just in case you need to heave yourself back onto dry land after falling into Lake Superior. Those waves were not messing around. 

But no worries, we ended up hiking for a few hours around Orphan Lake, which was muddy but fun and had insanely picturesque vistas comme ca (which you may recall from Instagram).

I also took pretty much every opportunity to pose like a gargoyle on said vistas.

But really, that view!

Warren took every opportunity to skip rocks and look like a lumberjack. I feel like this is a great candidate for an L.L. Bean catalog. Like: no big deal, just super casually skipping rocks in my lumberjack shirt, folks. 

I'm sure one day L.L. Bean will thank me for documenting a perfect flannel-clad moment such as this. Oh, and I love this action shot because of that perfect little splash.

Of course, there were more waterfalls, because Canada believes in being amazing. 

While the Soo is a bit of a haul from us, it was totally worth it. Even if the weather forecast predicted snowflakes (yes, it was that cold in early October). Luckily, Warren had his lovely knitted cap he bought on a Peruvian island filled with knitting men. I forgot to post photos of it during the summer but, believe me, it was awesome. Just like Canada! 

Do you have any fun birthday traditions? Also, do you think we should attempt Polar Bear Park next year? There are no actual roads to the place but that shouldn't be a big deal...right?

Friday, October 17, 2014


No Bake Boston Cream Pie | An easy version of this classic treat!

Warren's all time favorite dessert is classic Boston Cream Pie. I had never heard of--much less tasted--Boston Cream Pie when I met Warren and was slightly disappointed to find that it was, in fact, not a pie at all. Because you know how I feel about pie

No Bake Boston Cream Pie | An easy version of this classic treat!

Nonetheless, I took it upon myself to learn how to make a Not A Pie Boston Cream Pie From Scratch. 

All I can say is: foolish. 

I tried to learn how to make Boston Cream Pie From Scratch at a time when I didn't know you could make brownies from scratch. Because brownies came from boxes. Preferably, boxes from Costco, where all good things originate (see: croissants, ginormous double chocolate muffins, and rotisserie chicken). 

No Bake Boston Cream Pie | An easy version of this classic treat!

Oh, how wrong I was. No. Boston Cream Pie From Scratch required not just one 9-inch cake pan, but two. It required fussy pastry cream that I ruined three or four times before getting it Just Right. Boston Cream Pie From Scratch also required a chocolate ganache that seized three or four times before I gave up and squeezed a bottle of Hershey's chocolate syrup on top of the whole mess and called it a day. 

Warren, of course, gobbled the whole thing up and I realized that all he really wanted was instant pudding with chocolate syrup. Knowing such a thing before attempting Boston Cream Pie From Scratch would have saved me approximately thirty hours of my life and countless ganache-related breakdowns. 

No Bake Boston Cream Pie | An easy version of this classic treat!

And this is also when I realized that I never needed to make Boston Cream Pie From Scratch ever again. Which I haven't. (Though I do make these Cake Batter Oreo Stuffed Cheesecake Bars on the regular. Go figure.)  

Because, as it turns out, No Bake Boston Cream Pie is far simpler than Boston Cream Pie From Scratch, and just about as tasty. Bonus: no nervous breakdowns are necessary to make such a treat. Hop on over to The Collaboreat and see just how easy this lovely treat is to make!

Follow the fun on Pinterest

Strawberry Rhubarb Slab Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Slab Pie | Club Narwhal

Cake Batter Oreo Stuffed Cheesecake Bars

Cake Batter Oreo Stuffed Cheesecake Bars | Club Narwhal

No Bake Pink Lemonade Icebox Cake 

No Bake Pink Lemonade Icebox Cake | Club Narwhal

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Pink Lemonade Baked Donuts | Club Narwhal #cookingforacure

Things I remember about my mother: 

Her beautiful smile. Her fabulous embroidered Mexican mumus that she wore to the beach and around the house. Her ever-present can of Diet Coke. The delicate gold dove necklace she wore every single day. The way she drove with her knees, sometimes, if there was a really good part going on in a book she was always reading, even while driving, especially on long distance road trips. 

Pink Lemonade Baked Donuts | Club Narwhal #cookingforacure

How she watched I Love Lucy reruns and Love Connection and always let me braid her hair. How she hated cooking. How she once dumped a pan of coffee cake--her signature dish, and not only because it was the only thing she made well--on my brother because he was being surly and we all laughed and laughed. 

Pink Lemonade Baked Donuts | Club Narwhal #cookingforacure

Like so many other lovely women, my mother died of breast cancer when she was far too young. I was just a child, too little to really understand what was going on but old enough to know that it was a terrible, terrible thing.

Pink Lemonade Baked Donuts | Club Narwhal #cookingforacure

My mother was no great cook. She had seven kids to deal with so Stoffer's frozen lasagna was as good as it got. She would probably shake her head at my current state of domestication but I also think it would please her to no end that I made her a batch of frivolously dainty pink donuts smack dab in the middle of fall. They are whimsical, just like her, and fun--and oh, how my mother adored fun.

Pink Lemonade Baked Donuts
It is true: these donuts can't dull the pain. They can't even cure cancer. But they were made with love to honor my mother, and the many, many women who have battled/are battling the beast that is breast cancer. I also hope they cheer the bastions of brave souls who are holding these womens' hands the whole, long, terrible way. My heart is with you, always. 

I am honored to join these fabulous bloggers to Cook for A Cure. Check out their stories and recipes below. 

Pink Lemonade Baked Donuts | Club Narwhal


Adapted from Tutti Dolci

For the Donuts

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
zest of one lemon
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-2 drops pink gel food coloring

Preheat oven to 425 and spray a donut pan. Put water in a glass measuring cup and sprinkle with yeast. Set aside until the yeast is frothy, about five minutes. Meanwhile, mix the lemon zest and sugar together in a small bowl. Use your fingers to massage the zest into the sugar, infusing the lemon scent with the sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon-sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the buttermilk, eggs, butter, and food coloring to the glass measuring cup with the yeast mixture. Whisk to combine. Slowly pour the buttermilk/yeast mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients are just combined (avoid over mixing). 

Pour batter into a gallon ziplock bag and snip off a corner. Squeeze batter into each donut round until 3/4 full. You can also spoon the batter into the donut rounds. Bake for 6-7 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool donuts completely on a wire rack and top with glaze (recipe below). Repeat with the remaining batter (makes 12-16 donuts). 

For the Glaze

1 teaspoon milk
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
drop or two pink gel food coloring
2 cups powdered sugar

Put the milk, lemon juice, and food coloring in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 seconds and then stir in the powdered sugar. Heating the liquid ingredients gives the glaze that perfect sheen (and gives them that crackly feel when you bite into them). The glaze should be very thick in order to give good coverage. If it is runny, add more sugar. 

Dunk cooled donuts face-first into the glaze and top with sprinkles.