Wow. I really have let this go a while.
I could say all the normal things. I've been busy. My day job, family, dogs, house, etc, etc have all been too demanding.
While all the above are true, it's not the real reason I haven't been writing.
I'm not motivated to do so, plain and simple.
The real reason I started this a couple of years ago was to share. It wasn't to make money. It wasn't to meet new people. It wasn't to make a name for myself or anything else. It was simply to share good food, good info, and good moments.
I let that get away.
All of a sudden there was that pressure to post "X" number of times a week, to join this "group of the month", to get to this conference, to tweet non-stop, to not fall off the face of blogging earth.
In fact, all of those things probably have been keeping me away.
Believe me, I'm not saying any of the above is bad, it's just not working for me.
My passion for local food is still extremely strong. However, I'm cooking less extravagant things these days, keeping it simple, hardly worth a post from me to tell you to cook up those greens with some olive oil, garlic, and salt.
My passion for keeping my local habits is high, tempered with the moderation I always approach it with. Yes, there's frozen pizza in my freezer. Yes, often we cook that frozen pizza, and pair it with a side of local greens. There's a balance here for everyone, keep finding yours.
Don't be dissuaded by blogs, writers, critics, who turn their nose up at anything that's not local, organic, etc, etc, etc. It's not always possible to cook everything from scratch, avoid a drive-through. There will be bloggers who respond and say, "Sure it is". Hats off to them, it's not the life that most people lead or are able to lead. Many of us food types are blessed to live in areas where farm-fresh food is readily available. Others live in parts of the country where Wal-Mart (sadly) is their only choice in a location they can afford to get to.
In other words, do what you can. It's never all-or-nothing. Movements very rarely take hold if they are. Tackle little bits at a time - local berries first, then maybe greens, and work your way up to meats and grains. Slowly, your habits overall will change entirely.
I guess that last tangent was simply because of the "all-or-nothing" approach I see written about out there quite a bit turns me off. It's another reason I stopped writing quite a bit. The judgement level in the food world is high. Give people props for cooking, in general, instead of chiding them for using a mix. If someone wants to post more about cupcakes, who CARES if they're "out of vogue". Hell, cupcakes are tasty, it doesn't mater if they're "in-style".
This all leads me to our Canada Day cookout and the cake I made. I'm not a huge fan of holiday-themed post, and in this case, the holiday has even passed us by. However, this would be great for the 4th of July, or any other time you need a great summery cake. There are versions of this cake ALL OVER the internet that call for store-bought sponge/pound cake, strawberry gelatin mix, and Cool Whip. I thought about taking the easy route for a moment, and couldn't do it. I couldn't use all the artificial ingredients involved. A few years ago, I wouldn't have thought twice. However, baby steps got me to this point, and further. I'm glad I took the "from-scratch" route. It was totally worth it.
Canada Day Cake
Source: Canadian Living
Honestly, this isn't just for Canada Day, this can be for any summer afternoon. It's not difficult (especially if you have a stand mixer on hand) and it's completely worth the time involved. I think next time I may add some liquor to the sponge cake, I think that might be divine!
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 5 eggs, separated
- 1 pinch cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon grated orange rind (or zest, either works)
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 8 cups strawberries
- 3 cups whipping cream
- 1/4 cup icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Take your flour and salt, and sift them together. Return them to the sifter and put it aside.
- In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer (highly recommended), beat egg whites until foamy, sprinkle with your cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.
- Bit by bit - add half of your sugar, beating until stiff glossy peaks form.
- In another bowl, beat egg yolks and the other half of the sugar until the mixture thickens.
- Stir in the orange rind and juice into the yolk mixture.
- Take the yolk mixture and gently fold into egg whites.
- Sift your flour mix, a third at a time, over the egg mixture, gently folding until well combined.
- Transfer the batter to an ungreased 13x9 cake pan (I liked mine with parchment to make it easier) and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-to-25 minutes or until spongy to a light touch.
- Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- If you have the time, wrap and store in fridge for 1 day, or you can use right after it has cooled. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
- Hull and then slice all of the strawberries.
- In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, whip your cream, stir in icing sugar and vanilla.
- Use a large serrated knife, cut your cake horizontally making two layers.
- Place one layer, cut side up, on a serving tray, and spread about 1/3 of the whipped cream on top.
- Spread a single layer of strawberries on top of the whipped cream.
- Place the top layer or your cake, cut side down, over the berries.
- Spread remaining cream over top and sides.
- To decorate, spread strawberries in a thick band on either side, and create a maple leaf in the middle with the rest, or simply cover the top in strawberries in whatever kind of decoration you like!