Rogue Bagel

Since moving, I have never felt more interested in domestic activities like cleaning and baking.  It might be having a new, fresh apartment with a great big open kitchen – or it could be the cost of prepared items up here, baked goods especially – but I’ve been wanting to try all kinds of new recipes.  This past week, I was perusing a lovely cookbook entitled Canada’s Best Bread Machine Making Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt.  In it, I came across a section devoted to bagels.  Having never made a bagel in my life, but having eaten probably hundreds of them, I figured that I could perhaps make it through this type of recipe with relatively few injuries.

Now, I don’t profess to be a traditional breadmaker, but I’ll make the heck out of some bread machine recipes.  And so, for the past month or so, I’ve been testing out new bread making recipes like crazy.  I’ve already made some country white bread, some cornbread – which was and still is delicious by the way – and two types of bagels.  Allow me to share my delicious bagel creating experience with you…

First, I usually choose my recipes by what’s in the cupboard.  I’ll go out of my way to make something that requires me to do some shopping if I’m really interested in it, or in a planning mood, but typically when the mood to bake strikes me, I have to find what’s available at the time and go with it.  And so, my first attempt at bagels were…

Mocha Bagels

 In order to create these delicious goodies, you will require the following:

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 2 tsp bread machine yeast

Since I don’t drink coffee, and Ian doesn’t use the instant variety, I substituted the water and instant coffee granules for 1 1/4 cups of cold leftover coffee.  This is actually good, since typically breadmaker recipes should not utilize cold ingredients if it can be helped.  However, if you prefer a flavoured type of coffee, such as Irish Cream or French Vanilla, you can substitute that as well.

The breadmaker I use (thanks AC!) requires that the ingredients are placed in the pan in the following order:  liquid, dry, and finally yeast.  Therefore the leftover coffee went in, followed by the sugar, salt, chocolate chips and finally the flour (I used all-purpose).  I created a little depression in the pile of flour and carefully added the yeast, ensuring that it stayed out of the liquid.  If you’re a baker, you know that you don’t want the yeast to touch the liquid until the mixing stage.  If you’re not a baker…well…now you know.  The pan is placed into the bread machine, and the Dough Cycle is selected.  After about an hour and a half, your dough is ready to go…sort of…

Once the dough was ready, I lightly dusted the counter with flour and covered the dough ball with a large bowl.  Becoming dough is hard work.  It needs about ten or fifteen minutes to rest and think about what it’s trying to accomplish.

After its short resting time, I rolled it into a cylinder shape, about 12 inches long.  This will require more practice, since the ends of the cylinder should technically be the same thickness as the centre.  As such, I ended up with some bagels that were smaller than others – but no matter!  I cut the dough into 12 portions.  Then I realized a week later that the recipe actually called for 8 portions.  Oops!

Don't be misled...there are 8 portions here, but 4 bagels were already formed!

Each portion is easily rounded, and I put my thumbs through the centre of the dough to create the bagel shape.  This is also known as the donut shape, but let’s be honest here…donuts are fried bits of deliciousness that are on a level I’m not ready to attempt.

A sad looking bagel...

Once all the bagels are formed, they again feel the need to think about life and what they are about to become.  So I covered them with some dish towels (I recommend clean towels…unless you like other flavours in your bagels), and let them rise in a draft-free, warm place for 30 to 45 minutes.

Hmm...we're going to be bagels soon...just breathe and relax...

After rising, the bagels looked a little like this…

We don't really look that different we?

So while my bagels were considering the meaning of life, I got a pot of water boiling on the stove and added 1 tbsp of sugar to it.  Once risen, each bagel was held under the water for about 20 seconds…one at a time.  I know, I know…cruelty to starch…the horrors!  In any case, the bagels got a wee bit puffy…probably from all that contemplation that led to a torturous bath in boiling water…

Help me! Heeeelp...ugh! Gulp! Gurgle!

Having made sure that my oven was preheated to 400° F, and preparing my baking pans, I baked the bagels for about 15 minutes.  They got a little burnt on the bottom, but then, remember I accidentally overlooked the fact that 8 portions were to be cut, not 12.  Also, my oven seems to bake at a little higher temperature than it should – I think.  So I’m sure 12 bagels could be made, provided you don’t leave the little guys in for so long.  Despite the overdone bottoms, they were still delicious!  In fact, it was even a little tasty because of the burning…you know, like if you char up a nice burger…veggie of course!

The perfect wake up...chocolate and coffee!

The bagels were so good, that we decided we wanted to keep some for a while rather than eat them all up.  The best way to have them ready for when the mood strikes to munch them up is to cut them in half, and then freeze them in a large freezer bag so that they’re ready to be popped into the toaster.  Turns out great every time!

The first attempt at bagels was quite successful, so I decided to give it another go with a different flavour…drum roll…

Cheesy Onion Bagels

The technique for making the bagels is exactly the same, so follow the instructions above if you’re attempting these…you’ll need the following:

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1/2 cup grated old Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp minced dried onion
  • 2 tsp yeast

I used onion powder in place of the minced dried onion, and to give it a little kick, added 1/4 tsp of dry mustard and a Tex Mex mix of cheese that had some jalapeno peppers in it.  What a result!  They turned out fantastically…no burning…probably due to only making 8 this time, and also because Ian jumped ahead of me and raised the baking rack in the oven.  Works like a charm…


I’m definitely planning on trying more of the recipes.  Though, now that I know the formula,  I may get a little adventurous and create some of my own recipes as well.  I’ll keep you all informed of my progress…


Incense and Peppermints

At Christmas, indulgence of traditional treats becomes the norm.  There’s always lots of homemade goodies to be had:  cookies, cakes, candies, pies.  Sometimes you need to break a little from tradition when you are helping to put together something for a Christmas dinner.

In preparing for my very first Christmas dinner in Iqaluit, I was told that I could bring something for dessert.  I was excited, since I haven’t been able to do much baking in recent months.  But what to make!  Having just moved into an apartment in the past week, I knew that I had access to all my cookbooks again, so I had lots of options to choose from.  I wanted to do something a little different, and so instead of a pie or cookies, I decided that a cheesecake would be a nice ending to a holiday meal.  I narrowed it down to a peppermint recipe that would have to be modified based upon what I could find in the stores the day before Christmas Eve.

I present to you…Peppermint Cheesecake ~ The Light and Sweet Edition (modified from the Kraft Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese Cheesecakes book.

The first challenge of this recipe is that some of the items called for would probably not be found in the local grocery stores – particularly so close to Christmas.  Things not normally stocked would probably have been snatched up by other local bakers, and baking items were quickly running out.  Luckily, I managed to find most of what I needed, and was able to wing it for the rest.  The second challenge is that I have never made a no-bake cheesecake before – I’m must more proficient at the baked version.  So this was definitely a new experience…but regardless, would hopefully be a tasty outcome.

The Crust

The crust would be created by combining 1 cup of chocolate wafer crumbs and 3 tablespoons of melted margarine in a bowl, and pressing the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan.  Unfortunately for me, the store did not have chocolate wafer crumbs available.  Fortunately for me, I have a rolling pin and loads of plastic baggies.

Creating my own chocolate wafer crumbs

After crushing the chocolate wafers into crumbs, mixing them with the melted margarine, and pressing the mix into the pan, I baked the crust for about 10 minutes at 350° F, and set the pan aside to cool.

Yummy chocolate base

The Cheesecake

To create the cheesecake itself, I required the following ingredients:

  • 1 envelope unflavoured gelatin (about 15 mL or 1 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 45-g milk chocolate bars, finely chopped

Despite the fact that my package of Knox Gelatine suggested using 1/2 cup of water to dissolve in, this recipe only called for half that amount.  After allowing the gelatin to soften in the water, I heated it gently over low heat until it dissolved.

This gelatin is NOT dissolved...keep stirring and heating!

While the gelatin was cooling down a smidge, I mixed my cream cheese and sugar.  The unfortunate thing was that as a last-minute shopper, I was unable to find blocks of cream cheese, and could only find the spreadable light cream cheese packages.  I crossed my fingers and hoped that the spreadable nature of the cheese would not turn my dessert into disaster.  Once the room temperature cream cheese and sugar was mixed well, I gradually added the gelatin, milk and peppermint candy (which I previously crushed up using my handy-dandy Magic Bullet – these things are really handy!).  This eventually gave the batter a lovely pink hue.  The batter was then chilled to allow it to thicken slightly.

Mix that batter up well!

In the meantime, I whipped up the cup of whipping cream, and chopped up the chocolate so it was ready to go into the rest of the batter.


Once the batter had thickened up a bit, it was time to fold in the remaining ingredients.  First the whipping cream…

Folding the whipping cream into the batter allows for a nice marbly effect

Then the chocolate…

Mmmmmm...more chocolate...*drool*

Once everything is mixed up nicely, it’s time to pour the batter on to the crust.  Make sure the batter spreads evenly and tap the pan on the counter if you need to get rid of bumps.

Not too much longer now...

Refrigerate until firm and try not to go to the fridge every hour to drool over the cheesecake – you’ll just end up wasting power from opening the fridge multiple times.'s just going to look like this every time you check...

Once the cheesecake has chilled and firmed up (I suspect it took a few hours, though we left it overnight), you can garnish it how you see fit.  I mixed up some vanilla whipped cream (mix 1 cup whipping cream, 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tsp vanilla) and crushed up some more peppermint candies.

My decorating skills leave a little to be desired, but I filled one of those many plastic baggies that I have with the whipped cream and used it as a piping bag with minor success.  The end result was quite tasty though – all in all, no-bake cheesecakes aren’t as difficult as I thought.  Just have to remember to keep them in the fridge when they aren’t being cut or eaten!

Merry Christmas!

Pour Some Sugar On Me

My name is Suzanne and I am a candyic.

What the heck is a candyic? you ask, confused.

Well, I recall reading a rant from a former coworker of mine (hi Brandon!) that discussed that you really shouldn’t attach “holic” to items that you’re addicted to.  For example, chocoholic.  This would suggest that you are addicted to chocohol, when really, it’s chocolate.  And so, I believe candyholic would be the incorrect word to use in this case.  However, by now, I think you have the point.

I am addicted to candy.

Uh, but Suzanne…aren’t you diabetic AND an anti-dentite? you ask…still confused.

Why yes, that does happen to be the case on both accounts.  However, my addiction to candy started way before I became diabetic and much sooner than I decided I was an anti-dentite.  And let’s face it.  Those of us with addictions know that we are often powerless against them.

I feel sorry for those addicted to drugs, cigarettes or alcohol.  It’s not nearly as fun as being addicted to candy.  Take a look at some of my favourites [all images courtesy of Sweet Temptations]…

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Come on…admit it.  Your mouth is watering now, right?

I’m not the biggest fan of hard candy.  And that really chewy taffy-like stuff either – I could do without it.  But gummy candy…jelly beans…the occasional chocolate bar…yum!  I love all flavours…fruity, cinnamon, licorice, sour.  I feel a craving coming on.

Mmmm...bulk candy and chocolate...

That’s one of the things I miss the most about the south so far – not having access to one of my favourite stores in the world, Bulk Barn.  It’s a wondrous place with an aisle devoted solely to candy, and another to chocolate and nuts.  Of course, I certainly appreciated their other aisles, like the pastas and flours and spices and baked goods decorating aisles, but let’s face it.  If I was wanting to make a Bulk Barn run, it sure as heck wasn’t going to be so I could skip the candy aisle.

So why is it that I have this addiction?  How come I’m able to say no to so many other things, but not candy?  Perhaps it’s because it’s the only thing I really don’t say no to.  Those that know me, know that I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life…don’t drink coffee…rarely drink alcohol…have never done an illicit drug in my life…so really, candy is one of my only, if not the only vice I have.  Perhaps it’s not the best choice considering the circumstances, but it’s not like I live on the edge in any other way.  My candy consumption varies too…come Halloween time, I typically do consume a bit more.  Same with Christmas.  And every once in a while I just get that craving that I can’t satisfy any other way.  You know what I’m talking about…

Now that I’m sufficiently thinking of candy again, I think I’m going to have to make an Iqaluit-wide hunt for something to satisfy this craving.  Thank goodness it’s Christmas…shouldn’t be too difficult.  😉

Gimme Shelter

It’s amazing what we take for granted.

As a Canadian, with a large family and a fairly comfortable life, I never thought that housing was going to be a major concern at any point in my life.  That’s not to say there haven’t been struggles, but there were always options – fairly reasonable ones at that.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered just how dire a housing crisis can make it for a person moving to a new city for a new job opportunity.

daily dose of imagery, 2005

For those of you who have been following our other blog, I’ll Have Nunavut, you’ll know that Ian and I are in temporary accommodations for another two weeks…and then…?  Well, that all depends on what happens during that time.  Things are not completely bleak.  We still have some avenues to explore, but we are actually some of the luckier ones.  If we are able to find a place to stay, we will be able to afford it.  There are so many out there who are not even able to make enough money to afford a basic apartment. Continue reading

The Motorcycle Song (The Significance of the Pickle)

Perhaps this is a little misleading.  I have no intention of discussing a motorcycle.  But I will discuss at length, the process of making pickles.  Pickles are delicious.  They are often used as a barometer for a woman being pregnant…you know, if a woman craves pickles, she must be pregnant?  Why is that?  I love pickles – all the time – and I’m not pregnant.  Truly though, pickles are delicious little bundles of salty, often garlic-infused goodness.  And I’d like to talk about my adventures in pickle-making.

The story begins one very early Saturday morning at my aunt’s house.  She has made pickles before…many times.  Her homemade pickles are legendary and delicious.  Truly, I would be learning from a master.  At 7 AM, Ian and my aunt set off to the St. Jacob’s Farmers Market to purchase the needed supplies.  I remained at her home and took care of my nephew, as my brother and sister-in-law who were visiting from Niagara were off in a different direction.  An hour later and a bushel of pickling cucumbers heavier, they returned and we prepared for our day.

Half a bushel of pickling cucumbers...every pregnant woman's dream...

There are many steps involved in the creation of pickles.  Perhaps not many, but they’re extremely labour intensive.  And repetitive.  And sometimes hot and steamy.  But not in a good way.  Onwards and upwards…

Step One:  Clean the pickling cucumbers to prepare them for yummy deliciousness.

I’m going to say that the easiest method to do this is to soak all the pickles in a large Rubbermaid tote, filled about halfway with cool water.  This usually helps to get much of the grime and dirt off of the cucumbers easier.  Using any and all manner of soft-bristled brush, scrub the cucumbers lightly, ensuring that dirt particles are removed, but the skin is not.  Bring friends.  This is not a task for one person to complete.  It’s possible, but you will surely go insane from repetition.  This is the easiest method, as it is the only one I’ve ever done.  Apparently you can wash cucumbers in a washing machine, but I don’t recommend it for two reasons:  1) the cucumbers can bruise easily, and 2) that’s the easy way out.  I figure, if you’re going to make you’re own pickles, you may as well go all out.  If not, hop on down to the local supermarket and grab some Vlasic’s or Bick’s…you lazy bugger.

Clearly, cleaning pickles makes one go crazy...

Step Two:  Sterilize mason jars, sealers and lids.

This is probably pretty important.  Although I like to think that a little exposure to bacteria makes us all a bit stronger, I’m definitely pro-sterilizing stuff like this.  After all, while I am a pickle fiend, I don’t harbour any ideas about eating 18 jars of pickles on my own.  Likely some guests will also partake in our creations, and I’d prefer that they look to me as a culinary goddess…not some sort of mad scientist using biologically engineered pickle weapons as my method for world domination.  However, now that I think of it…hmmm…

Right, but before that tangent goes any further, you can do this in many ways.  Dishwashers can heat up the jars enough to sterilize them.  Or simply boil some water in a big pot on the stove for the sealers, lids and jars if necessary.

Step Three:  Load up mason jars with cucumbers and seasonings.

If you like crunchy pickles – and boy do I ever – you’ll want to make sure that you include some alum powder.  About 1/8 of a teaspoon in each jar will do the trick and this can be added to the jar first.  Interestingly enough, alum powder not only acts as a preservative for crispness, but can also assist in preventing infection in cuts, act as a remedy for canker sores, and increase fire resistance.  That’s one super pickle compound.

Lots of garlic and dill (some from our garden!)

Now comes the fun stuff…the seasonings.  Obviously if you are making dill pickles, you need to add…uh…dill.  We happen to have a mutant dill plant in our garden which is as tall as me, but the folks at the market also gave us some dill to use, so we were set.  The head of the dill plant resembles Queen Anne’s Lace…I think so anyway, so it’s good to drop about one of those in there.  A clove of garlic, and other seasonings should also be added to the bottom of the jar.  I suppose you could add whatever you’d like, but we stuff to plain garlic dill, and for hot pickles, about a tablespoon of crushed chili peppers.

Placing the pickles in the jar is a bit like a game of Tetris…but with more physical exertion.  Okay, maybe not…I’ve seen my mom get pretty animated back in the day when playing Tetris.  Standing the cucumbers up on end is the best looking presentation I think, so that’s the way we did it.  It’s a good idea to use pickling cucumbers of the same general size for the first layer.  Once that layer is complete, add another clove of garlic and some more dill.  Then fill up the jar to no more than half an inch from the rim.  Oh, and one more clove of garlic at the top for good measure.

Placing pickles in a mason jar is an art form

This isn’t an easy process, and it’s a good idea to keep the children far out of earshot.  Plenty of F-bombs were dropped.  Plenty.

Step Four:  Fill the jars with brine.

You’ll want to make sure you have air conditioning.  Or a really nice cool day where you can open your windows.  Otherwise, your kitchen will become a sauna, and you will become cranky.  At least, that’s what happened to me.  But then, if you read this, you’ll know how much of a fan of heat I am.  In any case, here’s what you need for the brine:

  • 3 parts water
  • 1 part vinegar
  • 1 cup pickling salt

You’ll have to put all these in a big ol’ Dutch oven or stockpot.  Boil ’em up, and away you go.  Add brine to each jar up to about an eighth of an inch from the rim.  If you’re a wimp like me, you’ll probably need to use oven mitts or a towel.  Take a sterilized lid and sealer, make sure it’s free of moisture, place the sealer on the jar and tighten the lid.  Don’t tighten it too much – you’ll need to remove it in a bit.

Step Five:  Prepare the pickles for their hibernation

If you place the jars in a pot of boiling water to the level of the brine in the jar for about five minutes, this will help seal them.  Eventually you’ll start to hear the lid seals pop in to indicate that they are secure.  If you want to ensure that your lids don’t rust, it’s a good idea to remove the screw-top lid, wipe down the mouth of the jar and the lid – being careful not to remove the sealer, of course.

Step Six:  Store your pickles

Cool, dark place.  That’s basically how I store all my preserves.  If you keep them out of sight, you’ll be less tempted to break into the jars too early.  You’ll need to store them for about 6 weeks in order for the flavours to incorporate, and the crunch to develop.  However, I have tried homemade pickles as early as two weeks out, and they were still fantastic.  I suppose it all has to do with the size of the pickles – the smaller the cucumber, the quicker they’ll be pickles.

Step Seven:  Enjoy!

Really?  Do I need to explain?

Millions of pickles...pickles for me...

Who knew making pickles could be such lively fun?