Friday, December 31, 2010

Historical Fiction Challenge 2011

I seem to have rotten luck with New Years' Eves. Over the last two years I have been saddled with colds - the headaching, fevery, coughy, and all around icky kind - that cause me to miss out on December 31st's night of partying.

Today, donned in a housecoat, I considered how to improve my blog for 2011. Coffee Tale Reviews was created in July 2010 and since then I have met many bloggers who partake in reading challenges. Until today I have shied away from these challenges (reading 100 books in 12 months sounds ever so intimidating). So, instead of getting ready for a night of New Years partying, I decided to search the blogosphere for a 2011 book challenge that fits me just right.

That is when I stumbled across Historical Tapestry.


Love is a complicated affair.

Susan Mallery's Irresistible tells the tale of two young Americans who pledge to avoid relationships and love at all costs.

Walker and Elissa, partners in an "it's-not-a-relationship" relationship, are brought together through a series of unfortunate events. Car troubles, bad dreams, overexcited children, unpleasant grandmothers, and restaurant jobs lead to increasing contact between the couple. Elissa's past as a struggling single mother and Walker's ex-Marine lifestyle create commitment issues for the pair, respectively. As this is a romance novel you know what eventually 'should' happen. However, I'll save you from any spoilers.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Picture Me Wednesday - 2010 In Review

This week I searched my photo archive for a picture that summed up my experience of 2010. I couldn't find just one. Instead, I've created a top five list of photos that illustrate some of the finer (and memorable) points of the year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tune in Tuesday

I recently stumbled across G-Reads - a lovely book review and music promoting blog. Each Tuesday she hosts Tune in Tuesdays, a meme which highlights favourite old or new songs... and I couldn't resist joining in!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

BBC's Book List

Apparently, the BBC thinks most people have only read 6 out of the 100 books listed below.

After reading this list, I realllly want to get brushed up on my 19th century British literature. I've read 26 out of the list.

How many have you read?

Double Chocolate Cranberry Chunkies

Sweet Sunday Yummy Lit Review:
Double Chocolate Cranberry Chunkies

Over the last few weeks I have been remaking the cookies that I fell in love with during 2010. What can I say - I wanted to make sure that I only served the very best cookies to company, friends, and family during the holiday season.

One of the cookies I've been making by the batch this week has not been featured on Coffee Tale Reviews... yet.

The Anglo Files

I am currently reading The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British by Sarah Lyall. I have continually picked this book up, flipped through a few pages, and then placed it back onto the desk. Have I finished it? No.

At a surface glance Lyall's book is interesting and comical. She describes her experiences as an American woman immigrating to England, all for love I might add. She chronicles the dating fumbles of Englishmen, the English penchant for alcohol (which she claims would be considered alcoholism in North America), England's love and care for animals over children, and a faulty political system. She claims that England is typified by a culture abounding in homo-eroticism, a love for spanking (she says it reflects a childhood fetish), and a profound belief that sex must occur before the formation of a relationship.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Picture Me Wednesday - 2010 Week 5

Last week I went to a Carrie Underwood concert. I must admit that I am not a country music fan.

1. I do love American Idol and a lot of Carrie's music.
2. I have a friend who is addicted to country music.

3. I was able to score front row, side of the stage tickets.

How could I say no?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Long Distance Baking

Gingerbread Cookies:
Not a Sweet Sunday Yummy Lit Review

Have you ever baked with a friend over the phone? I never thought of it until E rang me during my gingerbread cookie baking session. I didn't quite feel like putting a stop to my baking nor telling him to ring another time. Instead, with phone rammed between my shoulder and ear, I had a halfway across the world 'baking-with-friends' experience.


Dear followers and readers alike,

I'm back. I'm back back. Back for good... or at least into the unforeseeable future.

Last Tuesday I completed my degree requirements at university. I won't become totally certified for a few months, but I like to think that as of right now I am done. It's a crazy concept.

After writing 20-page term papers and studying for a final exam, the very last thing I wanted to do was crack open a book or sit in front of my laptop to write out a blog post.

So, here I am one week later.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Picture Me Wednesday - 2010 Week 4

As an university student, and a slightly superstitious one at that, I have acquired a few studying patterns. I need cheerios before I look at my workbook in the morning. A warm cup of something (coffee, tea, hot chocolate... anything... well, almost anything) should be within reach 24/7. I'm usually always cold. So, it also helps to have a late night studying partner that likes to keep my feet warm. This is where my puppy comes into play....

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Navettes Sucrees

Sweet Sunday Yummy Lit Review:
Navettes Sucrees

Last night I debated what to make for this review. Delicious cranberry/chocolate cookies... or these unique and slightly odd looking French Christmas cookies. In the end, out of a desire to look maybe a bit more 'international,' I decided to go with the French.

I'm once again using the Canadian Living cookbook. On page 57 it says...

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, separated
3/4 tsp vanilla.

In bowl, whisk together flour, 3 tbsp of the sugar, and salt. With fork, cut in butter; stir in egg yolks and vanilla.

On lightly floured surface, knead dough until smooth and holds together. Press into disc; wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Roll by 2 tsp into 2-inch long logs. In small bowl, whisk egg whites. With fork, dip each log into egg whites, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Roll in small bowl of remaining sugar.

Bake for 20-22 minutes at 325*F.

I should have known from the moment I opened my egg carton that things would not go well. Cracked eggs. Yes, there sitting in my carton was two cracked eggs. My baking time immediately became pushed back as I decided to clean the carton, clean the eggs, and then try to separate the eggs.

Now, I know how to separate eggs just as well as any other cookie baker... Well, maybe not Martha. Anyways, I really know how to do it. But last night it just would not work. I'd crack the egg open and the shell would splinter into a million pieces. I crack another egg and the yolk would automatically break. It took me four eggs to get the job done.

And then kneading the dough... the ingredients are so very dry that it takes a lot of kneading to get it all to stick together. Make sure you're not tired when you attempt this recipe. By the end of my kneading, the dry ingredients were well combined. But the end product looked a lot like a brain sitting on my kitchen table.

Also, these cookies really stick to your baking sheet after a dip in the egg white mixture and a quick roll in sugar. Be ready to scrape your pans... hard.

And, of course, the most important part... how do they taste?

Navettes Sucrees are sugary on the outside with a hard brittle like shell, and cakey and moist in the inside. The different consistencies almost make me want to call it French Twinkies... but I think I would offend French bakers everywhere with that analogy.

My final verdict? These cookies are a lot of work. They don't make me go 'mmmmmmm' with an explosion of intoxicating flavours after the first bite... nor after the last.

Maybe, if you really feel like being 'international,' give them a try... But, as of right now I am just a little bit regretting my decline to the cranberry/chocolate cookie that I oh so craved.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Picture Me Wednesday - 2010 Week 3

Welcome to winter!

Okay, well it is still technically November - the time of falling leaves, the last kick of pumpkins, and general Fall-ish things.

But lately it has been cold. -17 degrees cold. Snowy, to boot.

They said it would be the worst Canadian winter since the 1950s and I *think* they may be onto something.

It feels like winter. It looks like winter. And thanks to Yummy Lit, it even smells and tastes like winter treats.

So, for Picture Me Wednesday this week I decided to capitalize on the snow.

This was taken at the very beginning of the snowfall. It was early morning and the sun was just cresting through the snow clouds. It was then that winter truly started - not a date on a calendar marking the end of Fall, but the beginning of our snowfall, bitter cold winds, and need for warm delicious drinks.

Oh, and the sound of winter?
That can be found here - Carly Rae Jepsen's Mittens. I found this song today and fell in love.

PS - I promise that next week I'll stop obsessing about weather patterns!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Brown Butter Babies

Sweet Sunday Yummy Lit Review:
Brown Butter Babies

I realized earlier this week that it has been an exceedingly long time since I donned an apron, tied back my hair, and tackled a cookie recipe. So, with Sunday's Yummy Lit Review looming at my doorstep, I knew I had to tackle a new cookie creation. That's right -- after a month of no cookies, I'm finally back at it!

This morning I tried out a recipe from last week's baking magazine, Canadian Living. On page 27 (in case you're in my neck of the woods and would like to check out the hard copy) it says we'll need:

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp each of baking soda and salt
3 tbsp granulated sugar
30 walnut halves (I just used cut up walnuts, definitely not 30 and definitely not halved)

In small saucepan, cook butter over medium heat until brown and nutty, about 5 minuets. Let cool.

In large bowl, beat brown sugar with cooled butter until fluffy. Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir into butter mixture in two additions.

Roll by rounded 1 tbsp into balls; roll in granulated sugar. Place, about 3 inches apart, on parchment paper-lined baking sheets (*I use Pam instead). With bottom of glass or measuring cup, press to scant 1/2 inch thickness. Press walnut half into centre of each.

Bake in 350* oven until golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Lt cool on pans on racks for 3 minutes; transfer to racks and let cool completely.

They say these cookies are for Christmas. I say, not so! When I took the first bite I wasn't sold on them. They are very sugary. There's something about them that does remind me of a Christmas cookie in the style of speculaas or gingerbread... but none of the required spices are in this creation.

After an enjoyable phone call and a second cookie I'm thinking they're not so bad after all. Maybe my good mood rubbed off on my cooking rating? I'm not so sure. They're pretty, I will give them that. But in the taste department they are nothing to rave home about.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Picture Me Wednesday - 2010 Week 2

It's pouring outside... windy... the trees are bare, the sky is gray, and, quite frankly, it looks a lot like the middle of November. There is even snow forecast for this week!

I'm nostalgic for the summer. I'm nostalgic for my favourite beach in BC. Thankfully I live pretty close to it, but if I were to venture down this afternoon I would freeze myself.

So, what's a girl to do? Live vicariously through pictures. Here's the spot that I oh-so-much love.

The beach at sunset on a late June night. What more could I ask for?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Brownie Buttons with Candy Cane Icing

Sweet Sunday Yummy Lit Review:
Brownie Buttons with Candy Cane Icing

Mmm Christmas baking! I knew when I saw these babies advertised I had to give them a shot. Who doesn't like peppermint infused chocolate treats? Actually, I do know people who aren't fond of this combination. I've secretly never understood them (sorry!). To me, peppermint and dark chocolate make the best marriage.

Here's our recipe from the Canadian Living: Special Cookbook Issue

1/2 cup salted butter
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp butter, softened
2 tsp milk
12 mini candy canes

In heatproof bowl over saucepan of hot (not boiling) water, melt butter with chocolate until smooth. Remove from heat.

In large bowl, whisk eggs with sugar; whisk in chocolate mixture and vanilla.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt; whisk into chocolate mixture to just blend. Spoon by 1 tbsp into foil or paper-lined mini muffin cups.

Bake in 350* oven for around 12 minutes. Let cool in pans on racks for 5 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool.

Icing: Meanwhile, in bowl, beat together icing sugar, butter, and milk; pipe or spread over brownies, leaving a little brownie showing around edge. Sprinkle candy canes over tops.

* this book also provides a handy nutritional guide for all of their baked goods. This brownie is listed as having 88 calories.

These are really good. Better than good, even. The chocolate is rich. The icing is creamy in an oh-so-good way. And the peppermint!

I must say, at first I was a bit confused as to how to chop up a candy cane. I could picture bits flying everywhere as I mangled the candy with a large kitchen knife. One alternative was placing the candy in a bag, grabbing a wooden rolling pin, and beating the heck out of it. I can agree with the individual who proposed it - this would most definitely help alleviate any anger. But, it's almost Christmas... and despite the fact that I have a lot of homework, I'm not necessarily anger ridden. Plus, I enjoy playing around with a knife every so often.

Also, for those who may attempt to make these yummy treats - watch out for the baking time. The recipe calls for 12 minutes, but I've come to the realization that unless you want slightly un-cooked brownies, make sure they're in for 15.

Bye-bye until next week... I think it's time I pick off the extra candy cane bits from my apron.

Happy Sweet Sunday everyone!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Plot for 'Smut'

K and I have been discussing the intricacies of plot... and, quite frankly, I couldn't let this gem of a question fade into nothingness.

K asked:
"Have you ever read smut books and the page before smut happens your thinking "so your going to..." And then BAM. And yet you're still thinking wtf?""

All I could do is laugh and shake my head.... oh smut books.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Picture Me Wednesday 2010

This week a light bulb went off in my head. OK, maybe not so much a light bulb but one of those cute little comic-book thought bubbles with "Photos!!" emblazoned in it. It was at that moment that Picture me Wednesday was created.

I love taking pictures. My friends will know that my trusty Sony camera is usually within reach or stowed deep within my handbag *side-note: I have a thing for handbags*. I figured I needed a new home for photos, and what's a better home than a blog?

Come on by Coffee Tale Reviews for Picture Me Wednesday. They say a photo says a thousand words, let's see if it is really true.

This week's photo theme: Stuck in the middle with you
(Remember that song? The video's kind of atrocious but the music's good!)

I found this table in one of Vancouver's many food courts this week. A Christmas themed Starbucks cup, transit newspaper, and something like 10 bags of Nibs were scattered across the deserted surface. Christmas cups and leftover Halloween candy? I knew I had to take a picture.

I don't know what else could sum up the second week of November better - that in-between time of getting over Halloween candy hangovers and the beginning rush of Christmas cheer.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

So this is November

I miss the blogging world. I miss reading a book for enjoyment. I miss blogging about books. I miss drinking coffee just because I love the taste and not for its potent qualities. Can't the end of November come faster and bring along the end of my semester?!

I saw my research books stacked up on the table tonight and had to take a picture... these are just some of them in my room right now.

However, November mornings are very very pretty here.

Gone French

Sweet Sunday Yummy Lit Review:
Spiked Egg Nog French Toast

Tuesday morning I went all-out French.

French Dark Roast.

French toast.... a la spiked egg nog.

That's right, Spiked Egg Nog French Toast. I became determined to try out an older recipe on Pinch My Salt after browsing blogs during Monday evening. I must admit, the thought of egg nog in combination with French Toast most definitely helped me get out of bed.

I probably like rum just as much as all the other university students. However, I'm now running on a five year rule of no alcohol during days that involve studying, writing, or some kind of academic style work. Which means during the semester I nevvvver drink. I carried this rule on into my French Toast.

So, without further ado, here is the recipe adapted to be sans alcohol and to serve (sadly?) one person:

1 egg
1/3 cup store bought egg nog
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 slices of bread

Whisk together eggs, egg nog, vanilla, spices.
Heat the pan.
Dip bread into the egg mixture, allowing to soak slightly.
Butter the hot pan and place bread on it.
Cook until golden brown.
* If you need to serve more people or realllly want that rum, head on over to Pinch My Salt.

All I can say is Yummmmmm. This was amazing. It tasted like Christmas. Heck, it even smelt like Christmas. I'll most definitely be making these again in December... and perhaps January if I can still find Egg Nog.

Make some of these delicious morsels to welcome in Winter and the holidays this year... and check back here often - I have a feeling Sweet Sunday's are soon to become dominated by festive Christmas goodies!

Hope you all have a Sweet Sunday.

PS - what is your favourite French Toast style?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkin Seeds

Sweet Sunday Yummy Lit Review:
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Over the last few days I have adapted my blog to include non-literary review postings as (until December) it is near impossible for me to read a book for personal pleasure. However, do not fret - I am in the midst of reading a verrrry long Victorian novel for class which may just make its way onto CTR.

Sweet Sunday has transformed this week. Instead of solely providing cookie reviews, I will also create and review other goodies. Muffins, cupcakes, cakes, breads... roasted pumpkin seeds? Well, they do involve the use of an oven.

This weekend I decided to tackle pumpkin carving. And, after diving into my pumpkin and retrieving a handful of seeds I knew I had to try to make something with them.

I wasn't quite sure what could be done with the seeds. Even turning to the internet did not lead to a whole lot of ideas. However, I did find a recipe for roasting pumpkin seeds at Rachel Ray's website. Here's what she says to do:

1. Clean, toss with extra virgin olive oil and salt.

2. Spread out onto a baking sheet.

3. Heat the oven to 350* F, toast for 30-40 minutes.

4. Give them a shake every once and a while to make sure they're toasted evenly.... or take them out when they are starting to brown.

I followed the recipe word for word. I cleaned the seeds and left them to dry overnight. This afternoon, mixing them with evoo and salt (sorry, I just dumped the oil and pinched the salt, no exact measurements here!), I put them into the oven for 30 minutes.

How did they turn out? Sadly, just alright. I have never roasted pumpkin seeds before... or even tried them for that matter... so I had no idea what to expect.

If you do try your hand at these, make sure to check them frequently. I tried a seed twenty minutes into the process and it was super tasty... However, at thirty minutes I find them to be a bit dry. I should have taken them out sooner... oh well, it was a learning process to say the least.

What do you do with your pumpkin seeds? I have one more pumpkin to carve this week, and I'm still open to seed-baking suggestions.

Ohh, and here's my finished pumpkin!

Hope you all have a Sweet Sunday.

Evaluations, New and Old

On Saturday night I decided to re-watch Tremors. I remember when the movie first came out - all of the neighborhood children were afraid of those big worm-like things living underground. I found it amusing as a child... I guess I've always had a weird sense of humour.

Re-watching the movie tonight led to reevaluations. Was it still amusing? Not really. Scary? Nope. Funny? Definitely not. I guess not everything gets better with age, including opinions on films.

However, K informed me of a humorous site a few days ago. After a few good (and well-deserved) laughs, I thought I would pass it on to you. Visit Not Always Right to discover the amusing, hilarious, ridiculous antics customers get up to in the retail world.

I assure you that browsing through this site has a lot more entertainment value than sitting through 2 hours of Tremors.

Enjoy :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Back on the Hop

Ahhh another book blogger hop! I haven't participated in Jennifer's hop since September. I'm super excited to get back into the groove.

This week's question is "Where is your favourite place to read? Curled up on the sofa, in bed, in the garden?"

I think a large part of where I like to read depends on the weather. During the summer months I love to read out on my patio, soak up the sun, and enjoy a cold glass of ice water. But, more often then not, you'll find me on the couch with a big mug of coffee. Coffee, comfort, a book, and awesome views of BC's snow covered mountains just outside my window make the perfect afternoon... or one of them ;)

Happy book blog hopping everyone and thanks for visiting!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Foreign Tastes?

This week's Booking Through Thursday asks readers to: "name a book (or books) from a country other than your own that you love."

I somehow think that if I were American this question would be harder.

Why, you ask?

So many of my favourite books come from America! A favourite Canadian book.... sadly, I can't even think of one.

I'm a sucker for romantic tales, so anything Nicholas Sparks writes is on my list of favourites. I happen to prefer his older work, like The Notebook or A Walk to Remember, over his new novels which I find have taken on a more mysterious and edgy vibe.

Where are your favourite books from? Are you a reader of home grown fiction or do you have a more international taste?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Black Cats and October Stars

Sweet Sunday Yummy Lit Review:
Black Cats and October Stars

First off - I finally have a computer-camera connection! And, I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the end of a week of crazy due dates, late night research, and laptop drama than making a fresh batch of Halloween cookies.

These cookies are brand new to me... well kind of. See, there's this old Christmas Cookies recipe in my family. But it's Christmas Cookies - usually in the form of Christmas trees, Santa, stars... you get the picture. However, venturing into food coloured icing and spooky cats were uncharted cookie territory for me... until last night.

Here's the cookie recipe:

Combine in a bowl and set aside:
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cream together in a mixer:
3/4 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (or almond)

- beat in the flour mixture until smooth
- chill for one hour or until firm
- roll a small amount of dough 1/8 inch thick (keep remaining dough in fridge until ready to use)
- cut into desired shapes
- put onto greased cookie sheet
- bake at 375* F for 8 to 10 minutes
- remove to wire racks to cool

And the Icing (from The Baker's Bible, p 454):

3/4 cup icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Red, Blue, and Yellow food colouring

Mix it all ingredients together, add a few drops of the colouring until the desired shades are reached.

These cookies were so much fun to make! Messy, and a bit time consuming, but fun nonetheless.

Getting the right colours might be tricky... at least it was for me. I went to the grocery store expecting to be able to buy black and orange food colouring. Instead I discovered that you can only buy the primary colours (and green, too). So, as a heads up, to make black combine a few drops of red, blue, and yellow food colouring. To get the exact shades will take a bit of time... especially if you haven't ventured into the art world for quite a while.

But, after a fun adventure with food colouring, I now have a cookie jar that practically screams Happy Halloween. Spooky black cats and red, orange, and yellow stars make the perfect festive cookie treat.

Hope you all have a Sweet Sunday,
Ms. C.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Blown Fuse

A few days ago, while I was patting myself on the back for starting a paper on the earlier side, something very very bad happened. See... I have this laptop. It's older and even a bit slow, but I love it nonetheless. I still love it... even though it happened to die midway through my paper. After hitting the save button in Microsoft Word I heard a weird fizz noise... and then my screen went black.

As many of you are fellow writers, students, or just lovers of literature, you can imagine what I felt when my trusty HP laptop just wouldn't turn on.... and all of my documents, tons and tons of work written with the help of coffee, just seemed to disappear in an instant.

Thankfully I managed to get a computer technician to take the hard drive (or some such thing, I'm not tech savvy) out and retrieve all of my past work.

But now I don't have my HP... the laptop I bought during my first year at university... the one I was planning to use while writing my last ugrad paper. I can be a tad sentimental sometimes.

And it also means I had no way to upload pictures of baked cookies this Sunday. Though I have to admit, it has been a rough week and I haven't ventured into the kitchen a whole lot. Even if there was a camera-laptop connection I'm afraid there wouldn't be much to show.

I hope to get programs running on a new laptop shortly. Until then, happy Sweet Sunday (minus the sweetness).

OH! and Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cocoa Ginger Crisps

Sweet Sunday Yummy Lit Review: Cocoa Ginger Crisps

Over the past two weeks I have had E living with me. While we had a great time looking around the city during the day, at night I was privileged enough to dress him up in baking gear and acquire a brand new baking buddy. One of the recipes we tried out was Cocoa Ginger Crisps, a spicy chocolate biscuit.

The Cookie Bible says I will need:

1 cup butter/margarine, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
1 egg
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons plus 1 1/4 teaspoon Cocoa, divided
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat butter, 1 cup sugar and egg in large bowl until fluffy. Add corn syrup; beat until well blended. Stir together flour, 6 tablespoons cocoa, baking soda, ginger, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Cover; refrigerate dough about 1 hour or until firm enough to handle.

Heat oven to 375* F.

Stir together remaining 1/3 cup sugar and 1 1/4 teaspoons cocoa in shallow bowl. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar-cocoa mixture to coat. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until cookies flatten. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

These cookies were a pleasure to make. There's something therapeutic about rolling brown balls in sugar and cocoa, turning them from a dull brown to a sparkly iridescence. After 10 minutes in the oven they flattened out into a soft, yet crispy texture... and they were ever-so yummy!

To cap it off, the recipe yielded around 4 dozen cookies... just enough to share with CurlyJ and her husband the following night during a trip to Vancouver.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Munro's Books

Last weekend I travelled with E to Vancouver Island. It was a lovely day of sunshine, music, comedy, museums, and (of course) a trip to one of BC's oldest bookstores. Located in Victoria, Munro's Books provides visitors with all the selection of Chapters and the quaint warmth and coziness of a traditional old-fashioned bookstore. It's even been described as "the most magnificent bookstore in Canada, possibly in North America" - I'm not lying, either - check out their website at

It is impossible for me to leave a bookstore of this magnitude without a few good finds. Due to my current inability to read anything that has not been prescribed by my university I restricted my shopping experience to two books.

My finds? The Anglo Files by Sarah Lyall and Germany 1945 by Richard Bessel. I can't wait for December when I can crack open the spines of these works with a big mug of coffee in hand.

Delays, Travels, and Life

First off - sorry for the almost-two-week delay. The past 14 days have been a whirlwind. I had places to go, jobs to attend, coursework to complete, people to visit, and a blog to write. I kept on promising to myself that I would get back to you all sooner rather than later... but that didn't seem to happen!

I've come to the realization that I am unable to provide literature review updates on a regular basis during the next two months. My courses and volunteer hours coupled with life as a 20-something gal just don't coincide with reading novels or non-fiction works for personal pleasure. But please continue to visit, you never know (heck, even I don't know) when the next random ramblings or literary critiques will be appearing.

I am determined, however, to regularly update our Yummy Lit section... so if you enjoy yummy pictures and funny stories that accompany my baking adventures make sure to stop by for a Sweet Sunday!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Sweet Sunday's Yummy Lit Review:
Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I opted to bring in the Fall baking season a few days early this year with the leaves already turning red and the return of Vancouver's rainy season. What better way to do that than bring out the pumpkin?

Pumpkin. Some may call it a large, round, thick skinned, and dry fruit. But, put into baking terms, I think I prefer to describe it as bright orange, spicy, and moist (it definitely made some strange noises when I spooned it out of the can)... oh and yummy.

This week I have used a recipe from another blogger - Loaded with baking tips, recipes, and delicious imagery this site is certainly worth a visit!

Bakerella says I will need:

2 1/4 cup self-rising flour
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Whisk together flour and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter.
Add both sugars and beat until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla.
Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined.
Add flour/spice mixture to sugar mixture in three additions. Alternate with pumpkin in two additions, ending with flour mixture.
Stir in chopped pecans and chocolate chunks.
Drop on cookie tray lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Makes about four dozen cookies.
Let cool.

I should note that Bakerella tops these cookies off with Maple Brown Butter Frosting. I opted to avoid this addition.

I'm going to admit that I am a bit torn about these cookies. The pumpkin and added spices make the cookie truly unforgettable - in a very good way at that. But the cookie felt too moist. I'm not sure if it wasn't in the oven long enough (I don't think is the case though - I even did the "insert toothpick - pull out dry" test to make sure). Maybe there wasn't enough flour? Too much pumpkin? Or is it just supposed to be this moist?

Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chunk cookies are good but may need some added help. Have fun experimenting!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

2 Months and Counting

1 coffee addict and compulsive baker.
2 blogging awards.
3 favourite quotes.
8 yummy cookie recipe analyzes.
14 literary reviews.
40 posts.
56 following readers.
60 days of writing.
Countless cups of hot, steaming caffeine.

Happy 2 months, Coffee Tale Reviews!

I have been rather neglectful of this site since the start of September. Though I love reading, writing, and creating new posts I also have a strong and steadfast loyalty to my schooling... and volunteering... and making my new car look extra spiffy. Sometime over the next month I swear I'll establish a good balance of blog vs. student life.

For starters, I have 6 non-academic books in my to-be-read pile, a stack of recipes I can't wait to try, and a visitor from halfway across the world who will be with me in less than 24 hours. I think he may even be featured in one of the upcoming Sweet Sundays!

But, what I really want to say, is thanks for reading, for following, and for leaving me wonderful and lovely comments. This blog wouldn't be half as fun without you.

Thank YOU for two great months :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sweet Sunday Yummy Lit Review:
Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

This week I would like to introduce, for those who have not yet had the good fortune of encountering, the Banana Chocolate Chip Cookie. This cookie is truly divine... a combination of the moist texture and delicious flavour of banana bread all rolled into a bite-size cookie!

Okay, I admit that is a grand statement... but these cookies are truly that. They are really good.

I found the recipe at Taste and Tell who, in turn, found the recipe from The Field Guide to Cookies.

Taste and Tell says I will need:

1 1/2 cup flour
1 3/4 cup rolled old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Add half the flour mixture, mix, and then add the banana and mix. Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until combined. Mix in chocolate chips.

Drop tablespoon sized balls onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 to 14 minutes, rotating halfway through.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

I'll start by saying that I will definitely be visiting Taste and Tell again. It is an awesome blog - very easy to navigate, a good selection of recipes, and entertaining to boot. The recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies is perfect. I didn't have to change anything from the ingredients list or have to adjust the baking time. I even ended up having exactly three and a half dozen cookies.

The downside to these cookies turning out so downright perfect... and being eaten up so quickly by passersby... is that I don't have any kind of critique to give them.

They are good. That's just it.
If you feel like something banana-ish and chocolate-y, give it a shot. You won't be disappointed.

Hope you all have a sweet Sunday!

P.S. Jack Johnson's Banana Pancakes is the perfect song to accompany this baking adventure. I swear these cookies could have inspired the lyrics... if only they were pancakes.

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