The Discovery of Scallegged Nogtoes

fullsizeoutput_177aBarker’s vile, bone-deep, pupil-dilating hatred for scalloped potatoes was injected into his psyche early in life.  He can’t remember the first time he was served scalloped potatoes, but he is confident that after the first taste of those thin compressed cardboard disks covered in the paste of a semi-edible chemical concoction, his reaction was extreme in the worst possible way.

And so it was with eggnog.  A slower, denser, bloated form of milk, somehow related to eggs but by which way, he wasn’t sure.  Even an association with Christmas couldn’t make him like the stuff.  It was a mutant dairy product that couldn’t even be saved with generous doses of rum.

But then, everything changed for Barker.  Within one four hour window of time– a window into which shone the brilliance of culinary enlightenment, he discovered a joy which led to an infatuation with scalloped potatoes and eggnog.

It was marriage that brought him to the door of Mother-in-law Mildred for Christmas.  Upon arrival at his bride’s ancestral home, he was presented– within a matter of hours– with a plateful of scalloped potatoes and a glass of eggnog.  Knowing his long history of repulsion towards both, one might think it would make for a most awkward situation.  What would happen?  Would he force them down to be polite, and then worry about enduring the agony on every subsequent visit?  Or would he put his tongue down, refuse to consume, and offend someone who could make his life miserable for the next number of decades?

Neither happened.  A third, more unpredictable outcome ensued.  For you see, Barker failed to recognize that he was actually drinking eggnog and eating scalloped potatoes.  

The reason for this lack of recognition was simple.  Both the scalloped potatoes and the eggnog were real versions of the real thing.  Made from scratch.  Made like they were meant to be made– not mass produced in some cavernous factory in New Jersey or bought during a frenzied 50% off sale in the Walmart grocery department.

The scalloped potatoes were made with actual potatoes, actual grated cheese, actual garlic, actual flour, and all the other actual foods that went into their making.

The eggnog had real eggs, real cream, real milk, real sugar, real nutmeg and was cooked over a real stove in a real pot and stirred by a real person.

Barker’s newly discovered enjoyment of eggnog and scalloped potatoes could have been the happy ending to this story.  It wasn’t, for Barker began to wonder (as was a tendency of his):

Why does the International Food Corp. want to radically assault our culinary cultural norms by producing foods which share nothing more than a name with their original form? 

After weeks of agitation and mental anguish, he was out for a walk on a dark night– a walk in which he stepped into a pothole he’d never potholed before.  Immediately, as he lay within the broken asphalt, he was struck with a rare form of mental clarity.  He had his answer:

The minds of humanity have been tricked by a simple reality– that chasm between the idea of something and the actuality of it.  As long as we think we’re eating scalloped potatoes or drinking eggnog– providing it’s laced with salt and sugar–– we’re good with it.  Add to this the convenience of do-nothing food preparation, and you’ve got a sure-fire product.

The next time Barker went to the grocery store, in an act of profound defiance against the tidal pull of manufactured food, he bought himself a potato peeler.

Homemade Eggnog

This is the most simple recipe I have found, particularly if you are averse to raw eggs and having to wait extended periods of time before drinking the stuff.  For my first batch, I halved the recipe and ended up with plenty for four.  (It’s VERY rich, so you only really need small cups of the stuff.)

Makes 6 cups.


6 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup rum
Freshly grated nutmeg, for serving

What to do:

1.  Separate egg whites and yolks.
2.  In a bowl, whisk the sugar with the egg yolks into a paste.
3.  In a pot on the stove on medium heat, add the heavy cream and milk.  Warm until small bubbles form around the edge of the pot.
4.  Pour some of the milk mixture into the egg/sugar bowl.  Whisk, then pour back into pot.
5.  Keep at medium heat and stir until thickness desired. (This may take a while, depending upon the amount of heavy cream you’ve used.)
6.  Add rum.
7.  Cool outside (if winter) or in fridge.  In retrospect, I may try drinking it warm.
8.  When serving, sprinkle with nutmeg.
Note:  You can add whipped cream to thicken at the end.


How Badly Do You Really Want That Recipe?


Our aunt had a chronic limp.  No one knew why.  There was plenty of speculation.  Rusty nail.  War wound.  Equestrian accident.  She never said.  She just limped.  And limp she did until her last day upon this earth.

There was much we didn’t know about my aunt.  Her name, for one.  We called her Aunty Flo.  Was it short for Florence?  Flower?  Flowina?  We never knew.  And she never said.  Her birth certificate was reportedly destroyed during a locust infestation when she lived somewhere on the American plains.  So, even after her death, when her extended family went through her meagre possessions, no birth certificate was found.  Nor was the truth about her real name.

After her death at the ripe old age of 90 plus or minus five years, my sister and I volunteered for the task of pouring through her belongings.  We were in search of one thing in particular.  We could live with the mystery of her given legal name.  We could live with the real reason behind her chronic limp.  But we couldn’t live without her ginger cake recipe.

Aunt Flo was not a woman of wealth.  She lived frugally within the familiar walls of the family house she was born and raised in.  Other than her legendary brief stint living in some non-specific town upon the American plains allegedly married to some unspecified mail order groom, she’d live her life in this old house.

Whether it was her meagre finances or family tradition, every Christmas, Aunt Flo would give the same gift to all of us, year in year out– a ginger cake made from the secret family recipe that had reportedly been passed down through five generations, always entrusted to the eldest daughter.

Unlike other tedious family traditions, the ginger cakes were something we actually looked forward to.  That’s putting it mildly.  They were actually the single most important aspect of our Christmas, treasured beyond any other gifts showered upon family members.  Diamond jewelry, that Mercedes Benz, all-expenses paid trips to Italy.  They all seemed trivial when held up against the wondrous ginger cakes– the taste and texture going beyond the capacity of language to fully capture.

And so, when our spinster Aunt Flo passed on without a daughter or son for that matter, we worried that the recipe may be lost forever.  Then again, we held out a faint hope that it might be found somewhere in her belongings.

Alas.  To no avail.  After combing through her scrapbooks, bank statements, and letters, no recipe was found.

“It had to have been written somewhere,” my sister said.  “Her memory was terrible in those last few years.  But the ginger cakes were still wonderful.”

The recipe and its fate may have remained a mystery for good, had it not been for a receipt found in a corner of one of her old purses.  It was from Bart’s Tattoo Emporium in Council Grove, Kansas.  The scrawled handwriting on the receipt was difficult to decipher, but we all concluded, the smudged ink across the flimsy paper read, “Foot Tattoo, Paid in Full.”

“At least that explains the limp.  Why would someone want to get a tattoo on the bottom of their foot?” I asked.  Aunt Flo had an enigmatic side to her I never suspected.

“Isn’t it obvious?” my sister replied.  “She had the ginger cake recipe tattooed onto the bottom of her foot.  That way, she’d never lose it, even if she did lose her mind.”

In a bizarre sort of way, this made sense, and prompted me to ask my sister, “So, how desperate are you to get that ginger cake recipe?”

With a look of determination that unsettled me, my sister took a deep breath, and said, “I’ve got a shovel and a headlamp.” 

The Ginger Cake Recipe  (Don’t ask how I got it.)

4 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 Tablespoon of ginger powder
2 cups of Thompson Seedless raisins
3 Tablespoons of finely chopped preserved ginger (Dalton’s brand is good)
1 1/2 cups of butter
1 cup molasses
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 eggs

11” circular coffee cake pan

What to do:

1.  Heat in a saucepan to a boil the butter, molasses and sugar.
2.  Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl.
3.  Add heated stuff to the dry ingredients, then stir in the eggs one at a time, stirring rapidly and making sure each egg is fully mixed in before adding the next one.
4.  Pour into a greased, floured coffee cake pan.  (You may also want to cut out a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom.)
5.  Bake for approximately 1 hour at 325 F.  It’s done when a chopstick comes out clean.
6.  Let it cool for about half an hour.  Then, run a knife around the edge of the pan to make sure it’s not sticking.  Invert onto a cooling rack.
7.  Go to a tattoo parlour and have this timeless recipe tattooed on the bottom of your foot.  It may cause you to limp somewhat, but knowing that it’ll be always with you (barring the loss of your foot) should be comforting.


The Perils of Pavlova


Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that the road  to making a Pavlova is full of potholes, pitfalls, sharp corners, unexpected drop-offs, and potential sink-holes.  But not to worry!  Don’t let the high probability of complete failure discourage you from trying to make this dessert to impress friends, relatives, or people you don’t even know.

To help you along your way, I’d like to offer not only some cautionary notes, but also a list of accompanying excuses you can use when your Pavlova goes all to hell.  The fundamental principle is, “Show confidence in the face of catastrophe.”

Top Five Reasons Why Your Pavlova Ended Up as a Catastrophic Mess and Accompanying Excuses You Can Use

1.  If your initial meringue doesn’t stiffen as you beat, there are a number of potential causes.  You may have had soap residue on your mixing bowl from improper rinsing.  Not to worry.  Just blame it on a new natural soap product you’re trying out made from lavender and hemp extracts which you don’t think work nearly as well as your old cleaning product made with bleach and battery acid.

2.  Don’t get any yolk in your egg whites.  Or shells for that matter.  Or hairs, or bits of plaster falling from your popcorn kitchen ceiling.  The egg whites must be pure for mixing. If your meringue doesn’t whip up into stiff peaks, you can always blame those darn genetically modified Frankenchicken eggs.

3.  If you’ve been mixing for twenty minutes, and rather than stiff peaks, your meringue looks like a Florida swamp, you can safely conclude you did something wrong.  At this point, there is an act of desperation which may work.  You have nothing to lose.  Add the white vinegar.  This may help.  Or it may not.  You can also add the cornstarch.  If it still doesn’t form stiff peaks or even semi-stiff peaks, you know it’s time to head to corner store and buy a bag of Skittles to satisfy your sweet cravings and to the liquor store to buy a bottle of something to drown your sorrows at being a Pavlova Pig’s Ear.  Later, you can also drunkenly mumble about certain desserts being highly over-rated.

4. If you bake your Pavlova and it starts to look like a miniature replica of the Qattara Depression, you know that someone in your house (and maybe it was you) was peeking at it by opening the oven door.  If it was you, you can always blame the oven. Any failure, at this point, can be blamed on the oven.  You don’t need to really explain what the exact problem is with the oven.  It’s just that technology is complicated, so there’s probably some reason it messed up for you.  Plus, the beauty of blaming technology is that it can’t argue back (unless you have one of those new AI oven models, but let’s not go there.)

5.  If you over-bake your Pavlova, and it comes out all crispy crunchy through and through, or if you under-bake it and it’s just mush inside a slightly hard crust, you can always blame Albert Einstein.  He had some ideas about time warping, and you can always say that your failure to get the cooking time right had everything to do with the Theory of Relativity.  That’s all you need to say.  It’s unlikely anyone in your house has a PhD in Physics, so they’ll all nod in agreement, feigning an understanding which none of you have.

So, there you go.  Fly at it.  Go ahead and make that Pavlova, armed with a quiver full of excuses. You have nothing to lose.

Just Because You Can Do Something Doesn’t Mean You Should

fullsizeoutput_162bCall it misguided scientific wizardry.  Skill over practicality.  Just because you can do something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Just ask Dr. F., who claimed to have successfully spliced an assorted collection of DNA to create a truly unique creature.  The DNA in question was taken from a common, everyday domestic goat– not the majestic mountain variety but the stay-in-my-pen and climb on stuff variety.  It was then combined with a wild salmon to produce a creature so unique, Dr. F. was unable to come up with a suitable name.  He settled upon the horrendously unimaginative name of the Salmon-Goat.

The most pressing question one might ask about Dr. F.’s successful bit of genetic engineering was, “Why bother?”

If the truth be known, it was really the milk he was after.  A milkable salmon, producing salmony goat’s milk, would create a whole new culinary craze for the lactose intolerant.  No more soya milk would have to be endured.  Or almond milk, for that matter.  The possibilities were catastrophically outstanding.

Unfortunately, one major oversight encountered was the horrendous impracticality of milking a salmon twice a day.  It was just a downright difficult thing to do– first corralling the fish, wrestling it into submission for milking, only to produce a few ounces of milk before returning the salmon to it’s habitat.  Eight hours of milking produced one bottle of milk.  To make the operation economically viable, he calculated he would have to charge $8,743 per bottle of Salmon Milk just to break even.

Instead of trying to find a buyer for the most expensive bottle of milk known to humanity, Dr. F. pursued another one of his dreams, channelled his energies into developing a signature recipe which he would serve out of a food truck parked by the cemetery in Wells, British Columbia.

Dr. F.’s recipe certainly can be made with pale substitutes for the real thing.  But if you can get your hands on a few ounces of Dr. F.’s Salmon-Goat Milk, your tastebuds will thank you for the rest of your life.

Salmon Goat Cheese Polenta

(Adapted from a recipe by the Cookie Rookie with some changes incorporated from a Michael Smith recipe.)

• 4 salmon fillets totalling 12 ounces or so.

• 2 tablespoons dijon mustard

• 2 cups cherry tomatoes

• 1 cup fresh parsley, hacked and chopped to tiny bits

• 1/2 cup fresh basil, treated just as harshly

• 1 clove garlic, sliced and diced

• 1.5 cup bread crumbs 

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1.5 cups corn grits for the polenta

• 1/2 cup of frozen corn 

• 4 cups of fresh water

• 5 ounces of cheese made from Salmon-Goat milk (You may substitute goat cheese if you have to.)

• salt and pepper to the amount that seems right to you

What to Do

1. Lay parchment paper over a baking sheet.

2. Combine the parsley, basil, garlic, bread crumbs , olive oil, and salt in a food processor. 

3. Lay the salmon fillets on the parchment paper and scatter the tomatoes around the empty spaces between the salmon.

5. Spread 1/2 tablespoon of dijon mustard onto each piece of salmon.

6. Spread the herb mixture over the top of each piece of salmon and press it down to make sure it sticks to the salmon.  (Good luck with this one!)

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 450 degrees F. or until the salmon is cooked and flaky throughout.

8. While the salmon is cooking, get your polenta going.  This is ridiculous easy, so if you’ve never made it before or even heard of polenta (like me), don’t sweat it. In a large heavy pan, bring the water and salt and pepper to a boil.

9. Stir in the polenta and frozen corn to the water, then turn your element down to a simmer. Stir pretty frequently as this thickens up quite quickly from my experience.  When it’s as thick as you want it, turn off the heat and stir in your Salmon-goat cheese.  

10. To serve this, blob some polenta into the serving bowls and top with a chunk of salmon and a few tomatoes. This strange combination turns out to taste pretty good . . . actually, it’s quite great, so I think you’ll enjoy it.  Don’t be fooled by the apparent lack of food volume, making you think there won’t be enough to fill you up.  Not a chance.  This dish is incredibly filling, particularly if you’ve eaten a bag of chips while you cook.

Tricked and Treated

IMG_0869You don’t want to run out of candy at 8:09 pm on the night of October 31st.  Just ask Byron O’Donahue of 241 56th Ave. SE.

He’d just moved to the neighbourhood and figured he was prepared.  On his way home from work, he picked up two boxes of mini-chocolate bars plus a bag of suckers, just in case some large group like a junior marching band or baton twirling team all decided to trick or treat together.  He didn’t mind polishing off any left-overs.

Byron’s doorbell rang for the first time at 4:30 pm. 

By 5:06 pm, he was already onto the second box of chocolate bars.  

By 6:12 pm, he’d already broken open that last resort bag of suckers.  As the numbers of remaining suckers in the bag dwindled with wave after wave of costumed kids pounding on his door, he contemplated cracking the suckers in two to make them go further.  But who would get the stick, and who would get the short end of the stick?

At 7:45 pm, Byron checked his watch and hoped that maybe there was a curfew in the city.  Or maybe the weatherman had predicted a tornado to sweep through town so everyone started trick or treating early.  This had to stop soon.

He was wrong.  They kept coming, and at 8:09 pm, Byron gave out the last sucker. 

He contemplated turning out the lights and hiding in the basement, but then he’d heard stories of what happened to vacant houses on Hallowe’en.  The thought of cleaning raw egg or shaving cream off his siding, or pulling the streamers of toilet paper out of his trees was not appealing. 

At this point, there was only one thing left to do.  Byron headed for the kitchen.  The next three groups of kids who rang his doorbell and shouted, “Trick or Treat!” watched in amazement as Byron dropped cans of beans, a tin of coconut milk, and a packet of dried lentils into their loot bags.  “You can’t get any sweeter than this!” he said to the next group as he poured a cup of white sugar into their pillowcases.  Byron followed this by dropping a lump of solidified brown sugar into the bag of a lone kid in a ninja costume.  “Try using your ninja powers to break up this lump,” he said.

They kept coming.

The kid who got the half-bottle of soya sauce looked somewhat perplexed, as did the next twenty or so kids who got something in their goody bags they’d never gotten before– a box of salt, a shaker of oregano, bags of raw pasta, a bottle of olive oil, a partial tin of cocoa powder, individual tea bags. 

They kept coming.

As his cupboards emptied, his level of desperation rose.  The fridge was next.  He was out of eggs, so he didn’t have to face the dilemma of handing out something that could be used against him.  A carton of milk– “Make sure you keep it upright, just in case,” half a cabbage– “We wouldn’t want to forget about pet rabbits on Hallowe’en, would we?” (He closed the door before the kids finished telling him he didn’t have a pet rabbit.) A bag of frozen peas– “Hurry home before they melt, or you’ll have to boil them up and eat them tonight.”

At 9:58 pm, his fridge was empty.  Almost empty.  There were two cans in the door.  He stared at those cans, his mind waxing and waning, pushing and pulling with the greatest ethical dilemma he could ever remember facing. 

“No.  I can’t,” he said out loud finally.  “If I did, it would make the news.”  So, instead of handing out two cans of beer to the next trick or treaters, Byron cracked them open, threw back his head, and drained them.  When the doorbell rang, he went to the front door with two empty cans.  “You can get something for these,” he said, dropping them into the bulging goody bags.

It was 10:02 pm when he heard the pickup truck pulling away.  “That’s got to be it,” he said with a sigh and a flick of the outside light switch.

What Byron did not hear was the rumble of a bus pulling up to the end of his driveway.  They’d been delayed by a flat tire, but now, the bus door swung open, and out streamed all thirty-two members of the Nose Hill Junior Marching Band and Baton Twirling Squadron. 

The Secret Life and Loves of Sourdough

IMG_0735“The Secret Life and Loves of Sourdough.” Never has a documentary film had such an impact upon the life of an individual– nothing short of a religious conversion, an epiphany, and the attainment of enlightenment all rolled into one.  Fifty-three minutes that radically altered the course of a life.

Sourdough.  He would be transformed by the infusion of sourdough into every conceivable aspect of his life.  Sourdough was the elixir to elevate his mundane existence into one that could only be described as nothing short of extraordinary.

Sourdough would whiten his teeth, thicken his hair plus give it that spunky wave across his forehead he always dreamed of.  It would grant him the explosive physicality of a wrestler doing a back flip off the top rope and executing the perfect take-down, not to mention the endurance of someone who would do two Barclay Marathons before breakfast– a breakfast of sourdough croissants.

Sourdough would permeate every cell of his body, altering his DNA to be shockingly similar to George Clooney’s, only with a better sense of style.  His mind would be altered, giving him a sense of robust confidence to speak with an articulate authority not witnessed since the illustrious political career of John George Diefenbaker.

He wasn’t exactly sure of the science behind it all, but that wasn’t the point.  What mattered was belief.  Oh, sure, he had his theories about internal bodily fermentation which just made so much sense.  It was all about belief. 

His fanaticism was inflicted upon members of his immediate family who endured sourdough pancakes the consistency of semi-gelatinous kevlar, sourdough muffins with a texture reminiscent of a camping sleeping foam, and sourdough brownies that, in spite of the butter, melted chocolate, and excessive amounts of sugar, were deemed inedible even by the family’s pet goat.

The only success, and it was a minor victory, was with his sourdough bread.  Why only a minor victory?  The crust was only able to be sliced with the assistance of a circular saw.  But once sliced, the taste was something else.  And although the promise of personal transformation through consuming sourdough was never fully realized, he persisted with sourdough Christmas cake, sourdough angel food, and sourdough fritters.  And never once before his life was cut short by a fatal slippage of the circular saw while preparing a sourdough tomato sandwich, did he come to the realization and ultimate truth about sourdough:

You can pretty much make anything with sourdough, but this does not mean you should.

A Legendary Sourdough

IMG_0731Legend has it that it all began with some wild Yukon yeast blowing in the wind and landing in a bowl of flour and water belonging to none other than a prospector by the name of Jack London.  From this sourdough sponge, he baked bread that inspired a literary marvel, originally titled, “The Fermentation of the Wild.”

Failing in his fortune seeking and suffering the effects of scurvy, London left the Yukon only after gifting his sourdough to his favourite dance hall girl, Scarlett D’Angelo (likely not her real name).  She maintained the sourdough with tender care, employing it most effectively in a flapjack she appropriately named, “The Hangover Basher.”  Her cure for the common hang-over was legendary, earning her a place of high regard among many a tippled prospector.

With the gold rush winding down, she left Dawson City with a fortune thanks to this sourdough magic.  Taking up residence in her abandoned place of residence was a young bank clerk by the name of Robert Service.  His meagre salary from the bank barely afforded him enough to eat, so he supplemented his diet with bread baked from this inherited sourdough.  There is no need to tell the reader of what became of Robert Service, who left the bank and was then hounded by literary fame and fortune. 

From this point, the sourdough was passed on through a number of keepers, including Bonny Thompson, a hairdresser who lived briefly in Dawson City before moving, along with the sourdough, to Estevan, Saskatchewan where it resided for the next five decades.

Upon Bonny’s death, her will was read, and such was the first instance in recorded history in which a sourdough was mentioned in a will.  It remained in the family, moving about the country until ending up in Red Deer, Alberta where the dough was granted an honorary degree by Red Deer  College.

Sourdough Pizza Crust

1.5 cups of sourdough starter

1.5 cups of flour (I used whole wheat, but you choose.)

5 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

These quantities are estimates.  Variations will occur depending upon the personality of your sourdough starter.  Is it a stick-in-the-mud gooey, or a sloppy sloshy slurry or somewhere in between?

Just a warning on this crust.  It’s not your average doughy, squishy, melt-in-your-mouth type of crust.  It’s got character, which means you have to really sink your teach into it and chew for all you’re worth.  The reward is a tasty chewing experience like no other offered by the pizza chains.

  1.  Mix all of the ingredients adding extra flour or oil or whatever it takes to give you a pizza dough consistency.
  2. Let is rest for 30 min. or more.  It won’t really rise during this time.  You’re just giving it a bit of time to recover after the trauma of being transformed.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 500 F.
  4. Roll out the dough into a pizza shape of your choosing onto a sheet covered in parchment paper or a generous application of spray oil.
  5. Bake the crust only for 7 minutes.
  6. Take it out, brush it with oil, then add whatever toppings you wish.  The toppings I really like include tomatoes, mushrooms (all rolled in oil), goat cheese and dried herbs like basil or oregano.  There are, as you know, an infinite number of possibilities for toppings.
  7. Return the pizza to the oven.  The baking time will vary (as everything seems to involving sourdough), but I baked mine only for an additional 8 minutes and it was done.  The crust starts to really brown or maybe even tend to black, then you know it’s ready to go.

Dual Personality Rolls


Pictured Above:  A Savoury Roll.  No photo was taken of the sweet alternative as they were devoured before a camera could be raised.  

Sweet drowns out inadequacies.  Savoury is openly honest about shortcomings.

Sweet is a comb-over with a Kool-aid dye job.  Savoury is bedhead with a few passes of splayed fingers.

Sweet is a pickup truck with over-sized tires and a gun rack.  Savoury is a bicycle with a basket and no fenders.

Sweet tap-dances, Moonwalks and heal slides.  Savoury does the Downward Dog.

Sweet delivers an uppercut.  Savoury delivers a back rub.

Sweet is a tsunami of pleasure that overwhelms your senses and leaves you flattened like a lifeless bag of bones in its aftermath.  Savoury is a subtle tap on your shoulder that makes you take notice, but doesn’t knock you off your feet.

This recipe is for one roll, two fillings (not at the same time, however).  You choose which you are: sweet or savoury.

Sweet and Savoury Sourdough Rolls

(Adapted from the Unskinny Boppy)

The Rolls

1/2 cup of butter (cool in the fridge)

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 cup of sourdough starter

1 Tablespoon of white sugar

1 cup of milk

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

The Sweet Filling

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1/2 cup of softened (not melted) butter

The Savoury Filling

Aged cheddar (or other strong-tasting cheese)

French’s mustard


You’ll need about 8 hours or so to make these. (But don’t worry, you’re not working on them the whole time.)

  1. Cut the 1/2 cup of butter into the 2 1/2 cups of flour until it’s pretty much reduced to a sandy texture.
  2. Mix in the 1/2 cup sourdough starter, 1 Tablespoon of sugar and 1 cup of milk and make into a dough ball.
  3. Cover the dough ball and let it rise for about 7 hours (although I’ve gotten away with less).
  4. Knead in the 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.  Add more flour if needed until you have a smooth dough ball.
  5. Roll out the dough into a 1/4” thick rectangle.
  6. Spread either the sweet or savoury filling over the dough.  For the savoury, spread enough mustard to cover, then grate enough cheese to cover.
  7. On the long edge, tightly roll the dough up until you have a long tube of dough.
  8. Cut slices (and here’s the contentious part) between 1/2” and 1” thick.  (You decide what your preference will be.)
  9. Place flat on tin foiled or parchment papered tray.
  10. Cook in 400 F oven for 20 to 30 min.

The savoury rolls are great with soup, while the sweet cinnamon rolls are best eaten on their own all at once in a session of pure gluttony.

The Untapped Potential of a Genuinely Spectacular Failure

It takes a special talent to fail in a genuinely spectacular fashion.  Intentional failure is just a repackaging of rebellion, completely lacking a profound spontaneity with its disingenuousness easily sniffed out.  Intentional failure lacks the mystique of an unimaginable outcome that no one saw coming.

Most important, the genuinely spectacular failure possesses the possibility of being reinterpreted as an achievement.  All it takes is a shift in context.  Take the object pictured below. 


Its humble beginning was that of a sourdough starter combined with a variety of ill-advised ingredients and questionable methodology that all proved catastrophic to the intended outcome– a loaf of sourdough bread.  The result was a brick-like object which is bullet-proof, sulphuric acid-proof, with a density only slightly less than a black hole.  Clearly a freak of invention that defies physics, definition, or logic.  The potential for its use is only limited by the feeble capacities of the imagination.  Of greatest concern to humanity is that this marvel doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.  For now, it is best kept in a secure, secret location, buried in the local landfill, until future civilizations can dig it up and find an enlightened purpose for this marvel of failure.