Thursday, 15 December 2022

Fruit Cake Taste Test


Do you love fruitcake as much as I do?

(insert cricket FX)

Well, for the three people that do, I recently did a fruitcake taste test. I sampled 7 commercial brands plus 2 homemade versions - including my grandmother's made with mashed potatoes. I don't consider the mashed potato thing all that caker. Maybe if they were instant mashed potatoes.

If you're curious about the results, head on over to my author blog and dig in.

Happy Caker Holidays!

Sunday, 20 November 2022

Bazaar-o-Rama 2022 Week 3


Well, it wasn’t quite the bazaar bonanza I was hoping for this week. I’ve had some problems finding bazaar listings online. Someone needs to start a website devoted to bazaar listings. And that someone is me. I’ll make my millions yet. In any case, here’s this week’s round-up.

Turkey Pies

It’s a little-known fact that the rock group Warrant originally called their “Cherry Pie” hit “Turkey Pie.” But the lyrics, “She’s my turkey pie, Put a smile on your face, Ten miles wide, Looks so good, Bring a tear to your eye, Sweet turkey pie” were deemed too controversial. These pies were 4 dollars each and they better have bottom crusts. That’s all I’m saying.

Knit Bell Ornaments

We had these on our Christmas tree in the 70s. I wouldn’t be surprised if these bells are the exact same ones. Some of these bazaar items have been circulating for generations. These were 25 cents for the pair.


I went to an Italian bazaar and picked these up for my Italian husband. If only to prove to him that bazaars aren’t just cabbage rolls and peanut butter marshmallow bars. These were 5 dollars, which seemed a bit expensive. But over the years, I’ve learned to never question an Italian about their food. Especially if you’re someone who grew up eating lasagna made with cottage cheese and Ragu. 

Candy Cane Ornament

There aren’t nothing you can’t make with a pipe cleaner and some imagination. This year, I’ve decided to make propellor bead pipe cleaner ornaments and attach them to my Christmas gifts. I can already hear the recipients. “You shouldn’t have, Brian. No, you really, really shouldn’t have.” This was 25 cents.


I’m not sure if I’ll be able to head out into the bazaar world next weekend as I’m going out of town. So, this may be the last Bazaar-o-Rama post of 2022. If it is, thank you to both of my readers for joining me on this journey. And here’s to Bazaar-o-Rama 2023! In the meantime, I’ll start working on that website.

Sunday, 13 November 2022

Bazaar-o-Rama 2022 Week 2

This weekend, I drove three hours to a bazaar. But I had a good reason. My hometown church was having its annual bazaar. This is the OG bazaar that started it all for me. I hadn’t been back in years and it was nice to chat with women who had known my mom. I also landed some great deals. As Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.” Now if I could just score some ruby slippers…

Mailbox Ornament
To make this handmade mailbox ornament more historically accurate, I'm going to insert a note that reads "BEWARE Y2K!!!" This was 25 cents.

Clothes Hanger

One Christmas, my grandmother from Saskatchewan came to visit. I have a photo of her wearing a housecoat and a hairnet, making these clothes hangers. This explains my soft spot for these hangers. And why I wear hairnets. This was 1 dollar.

Butter Tarts

“You better get those tarts quickly,” I was told. “They’re selling fast.” They only had the raisin variety left, which was fine with me. I don’t believe in tart discrimination. I paid 7 dollars for 6 tarts. The crust was perfection.

Hand Chopper

It’s a fact: I’m a terrible chopper. Whatever I chop ends up differently sized. But thanks to my new chopper, I’ll have the most symmetrical nuts in town. This was 75 cents.

Frozen Soups

I went to another bazaar on my way out of town. They were selling a variety of frozen soups. I bought pizza soup and lasagna soup. I’m married to an Italian and can guarantee these won’t go over too well. They were 5 dollars each.

Chili Dog

Like running any other marathon, it's important to take the time to fuel up when bazaaring. This chili dog really hit the spot. So did the heartburn an hour later. But Jack and Diane would’ve approved. It was $3.50.

Master Mind Game

For any millennials reading this, Master Mind was a game people played before D batteries were invented. I’m creating my own board game where people debate various hot topics. I’m calling it Master Debater. The tag line will be, “Stay home tonight and Master Debate.” This was 2 dollars.

See you next week for a round of more bazaar treasures!

Sunday, 6 November 2022

Bazaar-o-Rama 2022

It’s been a long two years, but I’m happy to say that bazaars are back, baby!

I can’t tell you the joy I felt the other day, stepping into my first church basement since COVID, and smelling that percolated coffee. To mark this momentous occasion, I’m resurrecting Bazaar-o-Rama, my annual church bazaar tour, on Caker Cooking. I don’t know if most bazaars are coming back, but I’ll do my best to hunt them down throughout November and post my treasures.


So, what did I score on my first week out? 

Lifesaver Ornament

“Do you think the Butter Rum Lifesavers are still okay to eat?” I asked the lady behind the table.

“I don’t think so,” she said.This was 25 cents.

Shower Cap

At first, I couldn’t figure out how to put this on. But thanks to the internet, I’m now walking around my house looking like Little Edie. Just when the neighbours thought I couldn’t get any gayer. This was 6 dollars.

Noel Fridge Magnet

This is a perfect way to remind yourself that it’s Christmas every time you go to the fridge for your third round of eggnog. This is also a great gift for anyone named Leon who reads bottom to top. This was 25 cents.


These handmade mittens fit like a glove and were a steal at 6 dollars.

Clothespin Angel

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who see a clothespin as something for hanging clothes. And those who see a clothespin and say, “Hold on a minute. Let me get my tulle.” This was 25 cents.

Ink Drawing

My best find! This signed print shows the intersection of King and Sherborne in Toronto, the city where I live. It’s signed by the artist and dated 1972. I’m going to get it reframed and it will be worth millions. This was 2 dollars.

Jar Opener

This comes in handy when you have arthritis and you’re trying to open a jar of pickles. It also comes in handy if you’ve had a gummy and you’re trying to open a jar of pickles, a jar of Nutella, a jar of peanut butter and a jar of Miracle Whip.

Old New Brunswick Kitchens Cookbook

There’s a recipe in this for Pressed Pig’s Feet. It begins, “Ask the butcher to leave toes on.” I’m sorry, New Brunswick, but you lost me there. This was 25 cents.

Assorted Cookies

There was a Cookie Walk at this bazaar. Which means you select the cookies you want. I made sure to pick up a Shortbread with a Maraschino Cherry sliver and a Chocolate Haystack. One dozen cookies were 6 dollars.

Booze Infused Cakes Cookbook

This book is guaranteed to have your guests proclaiming, “Thiz cake is juzzz great!” This was 25 cents.

Irish Soda Scone

Every time I go to this bazaar, they have Irish Soda Scones for sale. Every time, I buy one. Every time I taste it, I don’t like it. Some Irish traditions are hard to break, I guess. This was 75 cents.

What will I find on my next bazaar outing? Stay tuned to find out! 


And if you want more Bazaar-o-Ramas from days of yore, check out my posts from 2014, 2013 and 2012.

Saturday, 8 October 2022

Macaroni Salad Taste Test


Recently, I was on CBC Radio's The Next Chapter. The host, Shelagh Rogers, mentioned a macaroni taste-test I conducted. You can can out my investigative report by visiting my author site. While you're there, check out the results of my recent apple cider taste test, as well. The excitement never ends!

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Edibles Christmas Angel

With bazaars cancelled again this year, I’ve been serving up bazaar craft ideas and classic recipes all month long. Sadly, we’ve arrived at the final post. But I’m leaving on a high note.

When I was growing up, all drugs had a bad rap. And kids who did drugs wore lumberjackets, smoked Player’s Filter and kept their eyes hidden under a fringe of hair. They also carried switch blades and were named Mitch. 


But since becoming legalized in Canada in 2018, there are now more recreational cannabis shops than Starbucks. On my street, anyway. And there’s only so much a Pumpkin Spice Latte can do to take the edge off. In fact, nothing is more relaxing than taking an edible on Saturday night, putting on an Anne Murray LP, doing some crafts, and watching the unicorns prance around the living room to “Daydream Believer.” 

No comment about the mess. I'm an artist, after all.

Originally, this craft idea, taken from my 1976 copy of "Woman’s Day: Best Ideas for Christmas," was called a Candy Carrying Angel. But I’ve decided she needed to catch up with the times. So allow me to introduce you to the Edibles Christmas Angel. Fill her box with goodies and I guarantee this will be your most chill holiday season ever. 

To make your Edibles Christmas Angel, simply roll some cardboard into a cone, cover it with wrapping paper, make a Styrofoam ball head, add some wings, attach her arms, glue a box to her hands, and voila! (Okay, she wasn’t that easy. The arms were a pain to get right. But you’ll figure it out. Eventually.)

Set her in the middle of the buffet table and I guarantee the Edibles Christmas Angel will be the most appreciated – and popular – guest at your holiday party. And yes, Mitch would approve.

Come fly with me.

In terms of a recipe, I recommend Cocktail Meatballs. Don’t let the grape jelly/chili sauce combo scare you. These lil' balls are addictive and perfect for your impending munchies. Just don’t swallow the toothpick. I’m speaking from experience. Get the recipe here


Thank you to everyone for joining me for this special Caker Cooking reboot! I wish you both the best for a safe, happy and vitamin-free holiday season. We’ll see you next year at a bazaar knit table. I’ll be the one crying tears of joy and buying a pair of ill-fitting knit slippers. 

Craft source: Woman's Day Best Ideas for Christmas. You can see their version of the Candy Carrying Angel on the cover. But I think we know whose angel reigns supreme. 

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Paper Bag Holiday Cards

Bazaars may be cancelled for another year, but I’m keeping the spirit alive with bazaar crafts and classic recipes all month long!

When did greeting cards get so expensive? The other day, I was buying a Get Well Soon card for myself and it was almost seven dollars! It wasn’t even one of those musical ones that play “Roll Out the Barrel.” Sorry, Hallmark, but your prices are making me “return to sender.” LOL!

So when I saw the idea for stationary made from paper grocery bags in my 1976 copy of “Woman’s Day: Best Ideas for Christmas” magazine, I thought, “Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours.” Besides, what says “I care (and I also have a lot of paper bags)" more than a handmade holiday card? 

This looks like a space ship. But it's the envelope pattern.

At first, I was a bit nervous as the instructions said to iron the paper bags to get the creases out. I didn't want to burn my house down. But then I remembered I once made Paper Bag Apple Pie and survived. So I figured it was safe.

These can be a bit complicated in terms of the measurements. As someone who failed Grade 10 math, I’m not ashamed to admit there were some tense moments while making the envelopes. But I persevered. A little rum and eggnog helped, too. 

This has that minimalistic look. I wouldn't recommend it.

For the cards, cut them out and then fold over the long edge. Decorate the cards with a gay ribbon or some leftover Christmas wrapping paper. I also accented my envelopes to match my cards. And look at these professional results!

No doubt these cards will be tear-stained as soon as they’re opened by my family and friends. “That Brian,” I can just hear them sighing. “So thoughtful. And so darn cheap.

I only made five as that's how many friends I have.

The best thing about these handmade cards is that you can personalize them with a message that’s unique to the receiver. No more of that generic “Wishing you the best of the season” crap. Now you can really tell someone how you feel. And isn’t that what the holidays are about? 

For my recipe pairing this week, I’m sticking with the paper bag colour scheme and serving up the recipe for Eggnog Dessert. Yes, it looks like a giant blister. But that shouldn’t stop you from “popping” it into your mouth. Get the recipe here. And speaking of eggnog, check out the massive Eggnog Taste Test I did last year.


We have one more week to go! What will be my final bazaar craft? Here’s a hint: I guarantee this craft will have you “flying high.”

Craft Source: Woman's Day Best Ideas for Christmas