Sunday, January 23, 2011

Linzer Cookies!

Sweet Sunday Yummy Lit Review:
Pecan Linzer Cookies with Strawberry Filling

On Wednesday night I decided it was high-time to go back to baking cookies. While flipping through Martha Stewart's Cookie book for ideas I stumbled across the Linzer cookie. I knew I found the cookie of the evening - no questions asked. Stewart's Pecan Linzer Cookies with Cherry Filling (I opted for strawberry) called out to me. I've always wanted to try my hand at Linzer cookies. They appeared like a good midnight challenge... but they're really quite simple. Well, with a good baking book's directions, that is...

On page 137 of her Cookie book, Stewart says:

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon pecan halves
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup cherry jam, strained

1. Sift flour and baking powder together into a bowl. Place pecans, confectioners sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor until finely ground (* I did it the old-fashioned way with a knife... by the way, finely grinding whole pecans by hand takes a looooong time). Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

2. Add butter and granulated sugar. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and egg. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, mix until combined. Halve dough; shape into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic, refrigerate until firm - at least two hours.

3. Preheat oven to 375* F. Working with one disk at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate 20 minutes (* It was getting late... no extra fridge time for me!). Cut out centers of half the squares with a 1/2 inch fluted heart cutter. Space 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake squares and hearts until pale golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.

4. Meanwhile, heat jam in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced and thickened, about 7 minutes. Let cool.

5. Sprinkle cutout cookies with confectioners' sugar. Spread jam onto uncut squares, top with cutout ones. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.

I want to be able to tell you how yummy these cookies are after they've been jammed, sugared, and assembled... but sadly, I still haven't tried one (it's late Wednesday night as I type this). The individual pieces taste really good, so I can only imagine it all together!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Little Break

Dear Readers and Followers,

If you've read my recent "What I'm Loving Wednesday!" post you may have already figured out that over the next little while I will be preoccupied with non-baking/reading/blogging aspects of life. I'm super excited to spend time with E, and most likely there will be very few posts during the next four weeks. Sorry!

Take care,

Ms. C

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

You can participate here.

1. I love that right now E is en-transit to an airport in London. The downside of having an Englishman as a bf? -- I haven't seen him since 1 October 2010. I miss him terribly. I can't wait to pick him up at the airport tomorrow!!

2. I love that in my crazy excitement on E-Eve (yes, I've renamed this Wednesday - can you tell I'm excited?) I planned a baking extravaganza. I know I won't be able to sleep much tonight, so instead I'm planning to bake... lots and lots of cookies! I haven't made cookies since the lead-up to Christmas, and anyone who knows me knows that this is a verrrry long period of sans-fresh homemade cookies. Expect a Sweet Sunday Yummy Lit Review this week if I still can't sleep after baking.

3. I love that my room has a nice little stash of wrapped presents.

4. I love nail polish. I'm the girl who always has painted toes... but I've been without over the last month. Not anymore!

5. I love the festive-feeling in my home. I love decorating for the holidays. Not only do we have a Christmas tree in December and an Easter tree in April... but a few little things are now up for February, including a 'romantic tree.' I swear, it's not as tacky and/or erotic as it sounds!

6. And, on a literary note, I love the latest book I'm reading. I've decided to tackle more of nineteenth-century English literature and read Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford. However, don't expect a review anytime soon (sorry!). I don't think I'll be having my nose in a book over the next few weeks.

Happy Wednesday & thank you for visiting! :-)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wordsworth Classics Reading Challenge 2011 - North and South

The first time I read North and South was during the Fall of 2010. Elizabeth Gaskell's work was on the syllabus for one of my university courses and, due to time constraints, I had to read through it very very quickly. After finishing my classes (and joining the Wordsworth Classics Challenge 2011) I wanted to read more Victorian work... and I thought a thorough read of North and South would be a good place to start.

North and South depicts a wealthy southern family's move to the manufacturing town of Milton during the 1800s. Gaskell expertly describes tensions between northern and southern regions of England, religious denominations, the education system, science and technology, and society's increasing scrutiny of the role of mothers in a child's upbringing. Gaskell's work both highlights these themes and, through doing so, provides a pertinent window into nineteenth-century English society and culture.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


The other day K brought to my attention a new ad gracing the local city buses. The ad was very simple - a yellow background and white text. The ad was for survivors of sexual abuse.

But, here's the kicker that has led me to my keyboard --- the ad was for the BC Society For Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse.

When K told me of the ad I immediately searched for the website. I wanted to know more. It's not that I haven't heard of male sexual abuse - university courses on gender, family, and sexuality have amply exposed me to the issue. What was new, was that I was seeing and hearing about this issue out in the open... in our contemporary society... outside of the classroom.

So many people are silent (or snicker and raise eyebrows) when male sexual abuse is voiced as a concern. A raped man? I can't even recall a media story on this issue... or a novel, for that matter. A man with a black eye? "Oh, he surely got that in bar fight," we all assume. It is refreshing that these presumptions are beginning to be challenged in our society... and in large part due to third wave feminism.

Some of you may know that I am a self-declared feminist. Feminism, and particularly Jessica Valenti's work, brought me out of a bout of self-destructive behaviour a few years ago. Feminism addresses tough gender issues such as sexual reproduction rights, eating disorders, and male sexual abuse.

So, here's my Shout-Out:
Thank you, third wave feminism, for bringing awareness to male sexual abuse. And, thank you for empowering people to be themselves without excuse.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Yesterday, I finished reading Elie Wiesel's Dawn. It is a short read of just over one hundred pages, and yet I found myself continually putting the book down and walking away. One hundred pages in three days, I almost feel ashamed... almost.

Dawn chronicles the lasting effects of the Holocaust for Elisha, an eighteen year old Jewish freedom fighter assigned to kill an English officer in Palestine. Wiesel's work is highly metaphorical, strongly emotional, and exceedingly dark. Wiesel parallels the actions of freedom fighters in Palestine to the atrocities of the Holocaust. Notions of murder and humanity echo within both Wiesel's portrayals of Elisha's exposure to Nazi atrocities in a concentration camp and the actions of Jewish freedom fighters in 1940s Palestine.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Zodiac Schmodiac?

Earlier today I noticed many Facebook friends profusely stating their love for given zodiac signs. Statuses like "I am so not a Taurus, Gemini defines me!" made me wonder what exactly was going on. One Google search later and I had the answer.

On 13 January 2011 global news reports claimed that the age-old zodiac signs may possibly change in the near-future. Apparently, the world's orientation with the sun has shifted, leading to the need for a new zodiac sign... Ophiuchus.

Why they decided on a name that sounds like a bad bowel disease I will never know.

Were you impacted by the potential changes?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop
The Book Blogger Hop is back for another weekend.
You can participate here

This weeks question is: Why do you read the genre that you do? What draws you to it?

A: I don't 'specifically' read one genre. I like to read all over the map. My bookshelf contains non-fiction history works, feminist critiques, nineteenth century English literature, inquiries on Jihad, chick-lit, folktales, horror, and contemporary adult fiction. I'm pretty sure I have other genres floating around on my shelves, too.

Reading a variety of genres means that I am never bored with one theme, I am never stuck in a reading-rut, and I am always open to new ideas. I suppose the one genre that I do avoid, however, is fantasy and science fiction. I find these tales much too implausible.


I’ve been feeling down and I can’t exactly put my finger on why. I feel like I have been trapped in a whirlwind. My intuition has been going haywire. Maybe this is how life greets a graduate? Maybe I miss university life… or something else? I don’t know.

So why am I throwing all this out onto the web? Well, I've recently heard of a new writing exercise. It sounded like an interesting and creative way to spend a weekday night… and spew pent-up emotion.

The deal? Write a piece of fiction/non-fiction or poem/list (basically anything) with each sentence of your work starting with a letter of the alphabet, in sequential order. In the end you’ll be left with 26 sentences.

Confused yet? Hopefully you won't be after you read my entry. And maybe, just maybe, you'll want to make one of your own. If you do, feel free to add a link to your post in the comments - I'd love to read what you come up with!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thank You :-)

Chelsey from Deep in the Heart of a Texas Girl has awarded me with the Stylish Blogger Award. I recently stumbled across Chelsey's lovely blog and instantly fell in love with her posts on fashion,shopping, single-girl life, and commentary on The Bachelor (my own guilty pleasure). Thank you so much for the award, Chelsey!

There are a few rules to the award:
Share 7 facts about yourself... and... pass the award onto 15 other stylish bloggers.

Well, here we go!

Picture Me Wednesday - 2011 Week 2

A sprawling grass field. Evergreen trees on a crisp January afternoon. A little red house. Windows covered in black paper. Deserted.

I'm not sure what the story is behind this house.
But, I have a feeling it could tell a really interesting and suspenseful tale.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Safe Haven

I bought Nicholas Sparks' newest novel, Safe Haven, when it was first released in September 2010. My university studies meant that I wasn't able to crack open the book until recently. Let's just say that I spent a good few months staring wistfully at the novel's spine in my bookcase. But, after finally completing the read, I'm not even sure where to start with my review.

Two days ago I had no intention to write a review for this book. Actually, a hour ago I thought this was a quick little read before I ventured into more hard-hitting literary work. Seems I was mistaken.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Brown Sugar Muffins

Sweet Sunday Yummy Lit Review: Brown Sugar Muffins

This Wednesday I was in a muffin-making mood. However, I soon realized that I don't have baking books with muffin recipes. I began to hunt through my favourite baking sites in search for the perfect recipe.

Before I tempt you with yummy muffin pictures, I have a question... how come there are so many recipes that call for oil in muffins? I found a few delicious looking muffin recipes, only to discover that oil was used in the recipe. I didn't really feel up to baking with oil... even if Martha Stewart told me so.

Then I found Brown Sugar Muffins. Deborah of Taste and Tell, a great baking/cooking blog, lists Brown Sugar Muffins as one of her favourite muffins from childhood. The recipe looked so simple, and the end product so tasty, that I had to give it a try.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Secret Kept

Tatiana de Rosnay's newest work, A Secret Kept, vividly depicts a Parisian son's search to discover the truth behind his mother's sudden death which occurred over 30 years ago. De Rosnay examines a family's deepest secrets of love and betrayal. Themes of death and attraction are intricately connected to each other and abound within de Rosnay's work.

A Secret Kept is very emotional. It is not so much an emotional experience for the reader. Instead, the content and descriptions within de Rosnay's work are laced with deep emotional overtones and significance for the characters within her story. Illustrations of desire, passion, raw sexuality, guilt, grief, and hatred bounce off of the many pages of this novel. It is a dark tale and one not to be taken lightly.

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

This week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books asks: What book influenced or changed your life? How did it influence / change you?

A: The Diary of Anne Frank. I avidly read through this book as a young girl. It was one of my first experiences reading a work concerning the Holocaust, and I shortly became addicted to learning about the time period through both historical accounts and fiction. My attraction to Holocaust studies has lead to an university degree and volunteering at a Holocaust education centre. I'll shortly be reviewing a few works on the Holocaust, as well.

How did a book influence you?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Literary Blog Hop

Literary Blog Hop

I'm super excited to be back in the blogging and hopping mode... it's been 3ish months since my last Hop!

Before linking up for the Literary Blog Hop, hosted by the wonderful ladies of The Blue Bookcase, I seriously questioned if my blog qualified as "literary." While I do have non-literary posts, I also discuss a fair bit of hardcore literary works. There's also a huge stack of them on my bookshelf waiting to be read ;)

This weekend The Blue Bookcase asks: How did you find your way to reading literary fiction and nonfiction?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

You can participate here.

Tonight I love Ingrid Michaelson's music.

A few months ago I heard The Way I Am on the radio. I loved the song but I never picked up on her name.

While surfing the net a few hours ago I stumbled upon more of her music. Her songs are catchy, lyrical, and calming.... and I absolutely love her outfit.

Side note: Ironically, at dinner tonight my fortune cookie said that someone from my past would come back into my life "very soon"... hmm.

Sweet and Yummy, Where Art Thou?

I have a confession. I'm tired of baking cookies.

Well, not really baking - its more the consumption part of the equation that gets to me. This past holiday season cookie-d me out. I cookie OD'ed. I find it even shocking to write, let alone come to terms with these sentences.

Picture Me Wednesday - 2011 Week 1

You can find some of the most gorgeous views of B.C.'s snow covered mountains on crisp January mornings. I stumbled across this panorama during a recent drive to the countryside and had no choice but to stop and take a photo.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Whoso List to Hunt

There's just something about poetry - it can say so much and yet so little at the same time. It is blatant, to the point, and metaphorical. It is a complex and yet beautifully simple form of art.

I adore poetry and yet it is not something that I frequently read. But with a snowstorm heading towards my town, the fireplace roaring, and coffee in hand (yes, at 10:30 PM), I've fallen into a poetry kind of mood.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Her Fearful Symmetry

Audrey Niffenegger portrays individuals who risk everything in order to be with those they love. But what happens when their plans fail to succeed? When you reach someone and they are no longer emotionally available? Is there a happy ending?

Niffenegger uniquely examines issues of love and commitment within her newest novel, Her Fearful Symmetry. She chronicles obsessive relationships between three couples: two twins, a man with OCD separated from his wife, and another man who clings to the ghost of his deceased girlfriend (literally). The novel begs the reader to suspend rational judgment. While Her Fearful Symmetry is an eerie and sometimes suspenseful tale, it is overpowered by a long and drawn-out plot.

Wordsworth Classics Reading Challenge 2011

I've decided to take on *one* more reading challenge for 2011.

After completing a nineteenth century British history class last month I have the biggest urge to read material from that time era. The Deranged Book Lovers' Wordsworth Classics Reading Challenge 2011 provides me with the perfect motivation to do so.
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