Snow Warning

I grew up in Manitoba, where twelve-foot snowbanks and frigid temperatures were considered nothing more than a worthy challenge. But here on Vancouver Island, businesses shut down and chaos reigns if a few snowflakes flutter down.

Last week my physiotherapy appointment was cancelled because of a few inches of snow. I was on the verge of complaining about the wimpiness of Island dwellers, but I suddenly recalled the sheer joy of those long-ago ‘snow days’ when I was a kid and school was cancelled.  My momentary pique vanished in a grin as I imagined full-grown adults peeking out their windows, happy-dancing and crowing, “Snow day!”

A ‘snow day’ in Manitoba in 1966.

I’ve complained about snow before and I probably will again; but the truth is, I kinda like the white stuff (now that I live in a place where it doesn’t stay around for six months at a time). Snow is pretty and sparkly; and it lights up our gloomy West Coast winters.

There are obvious disadvantages, of course.  Snow is cold, slippery, and dangerous to drivers, walkers, and shovellers; but today I’m here to warn you about its lesser-known and much more insidious downside: 

Snow is fattening!

You’d think fluffy frozen water would be calorie-free.  In fact, when you factor in the extra effort of clearing it and navigating through it, it should be a stellar weight-loss tool.

But not for me. Because when it’s snowing outside, I bake.  And when there are freshly-baked goodies, I eat.  And the longer the snow lasts, the more I bake and eat.

Yesterday my kitchen was gloriously perfumed by fresh cinnamon buns.  A couple of days ago there was a decadent chocolate cake.  Before that, peanut butter caramel squares.  And baklava.  And lemon pie.  That’s not even counting all the goodies stashed in our freezer ‘just in case’. And we’ve only had a week of snow.

I noted a few years ago that it’s dangerous to wear stretch pants on road trips. But it’s much worse than that: I’ve been schlepping around in stretch pants all winter, and I’ve just realized my comfy pants have been conspiring with the snow, too. Now I’m afraid to try on my jeans — I’m not sure I want to know what’s been going on behind my back(side).

Get out the forklift; I might need a boost up these stairs…

Book 18 progress: I’m partway through Chapter 1, and Aydan is finding out how hard Stemp’s job really was. But most of my recent time has been spent producing a book trailer for the series — and I’ve just finished it, woohoo! Watch for it in my next post and on my Facebook page!

The Shortbread Grinch

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you made it through the holiday season unscathed and un-stranded by crazy weather.

I’m still recovering from the lingering side-effects of my COVID booster (or something; who knows), so we spent a quiet December. Good food, good medical care, and visits with family left me feeling immensely grateful.


As you’ve no doubt come to expect, I didn’t make it through the season without a generous measure of foolishness. Case in point: The Christmas shortbread.

Every year I do some baking to give as gifts:  Goodies like gingersnaps and snickerdoodles, along with a confection from my childhood dubbed ‘Cherry Flips’ (a maraschino cherry wrapped in almond shortbread, dunked in cherry frosting, and dusted with coconut)… and shortbread.

Tasty though it is, plain shortbread looks bland and unappetizing. So I usually decorate it with red and green cherries in wreath shapes to make it look a bit more festive.  But this year I really wasn’t feeling very well (and to be honest, I was a bit stoned on anti-nausea pills). So I decided to take a simpler approach with red and green coloured sugar.  I experimented with a few different patterns, and decided on one reminiscent of evergreen swags with a red accent:

Festive, yes?

I painstakingly applied the sugar to each cookie and baked the lot of them.  Then, as I was tucking the finished shortbread into gift packages, a terrible thought occurred to me. To describe it in proper Seussian style, it was a terrible, horrible, awful idea:

“These cookies look like a Grinch butt with hemorrhoids.”

Once that mental image is lodged in your brain, you can never un-see it.  (Sorry about that.)

I didn’t know what to do.  On one hand, surely nobody else in the world would think of that… would they?  But on the other hand, I felt vaguely guilty handing out baked goods with diseased butts on them.

In the end I gave away the goodies as planned, secure in the knowledge that my friends and family are much nicer and more refined than I.  Even if they thought the decorations were questionable, they’re far too polite to comment.

Unlike me.

So if you received Grinch-Ass shortbread from me this year, I sincerely apologize.  I promise it won’t happen again. (But my inner twelve-year-old will snicker about it forever more.)

Did anyone else have food-related ‘oopses’ over the holidays?

Book 18 progress: Sadly, none. I was feeling too crappy to work; and I still have to gulp anti-nausea tablets if I’m going to look at computer screen for more than a few minutes at a time. Hoping to report more progress (and less nausea) soon!

Meet Bruce (Almighty)

Our household has a new member!  We’ve christened him Bruce.

This is where I’m supposed to gush about how adorable he is, and fill my post with photos of Bruce napping and Bruce playing and Bruce looking at us with love in his eyes and Bruce, Bruce, Bruce.

So… here he is:

This is Bruce napping, playing, etc.

Awww. Isn’t he adorable?

No, I haven’t lost my mind (any more than usual). I have, however, managed to grow a sourdough culture.  And in the process of researching recipes and techniques I discovered that it’s traditional to name your sourdough starter, since it’s a living organism you have to feed and care for (potentially for years).

That tickled my funnybone, so I decided to name ours after the main character in Bruce Almighty.  It seemed appropriate, since Bruce has godlike powers:  He can raise the bread.  (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

I learned to bake bread when I was about thirteen, and I’ve been at it ever since.  I enjoy fluffy buns and sweet breads, but my ‘daily bread’ is deliciously packed with whole wheat, flax and chia.

Hubby, on the other hand, dreams of a heavy Black Forest rye like the bread he ate as a kid in Germany.  (He’s a Canadian Air Force brat who grew up mostly overseas.)  Thanks to the magic of the internet we found some recipes, and the inaugural loaf came out of the oven on Monday.

I can only describe it as, um… solid. Dark and aromatic and heavy as lead.  If I hadn’t created a loaf like that on purpose, I’d have hurriedly chucked it before anybody could assume that it was a fair representation of my bread-making skills.

Spawn of Bruce

But Hubby says it’s close.  Apparently the weight is correct and the Brotgewürz (bread spice) is good, but this loaf is 100% dark rye and on reflection he thinks the magic bread was probably Mischbrot (mixed bread) or Graubrot (grey bread) or Bauernbrot (farmer’s bread) — different names for similar breads made with a blend of rye flour and white/all-purpose wheat flour.

So Bruce will be kept busy while I try out more recipes.  And as long as I never find him cuddled up on my pillow in the morning, everything will be fine.

Anybody else harbouring family members in their fridge?  (If the answer is ‘yes’, I’m not sure I want to know…)


P.S. Our next round of houseguests arrives on Monday, so my next post will be October 2.  Yikes!  I can’t believe October is that close!

Book 15 update:  Despite the busy-ness of guests and garden, I’m well into Chapter 5.  Looking forward to some good writing time in the next few days!