Monday 24 September 2012

Eat More..More...More....

When I was growing up, chocolate bars fell into three categories: old person, quality and quantity.

I wouldn’t touch an old person chocolate bar unless I was suffering from extremely low blood sugar. These included Big Turk, Coffee Crisp, Cadbury Fruit & Nut, York Peppermint Patty and Lowry’s Cherry Blossom.

Quality bars were on the small side and more about overall taste satisfaction. But since I didn't give a crap about quality, I usually bypassed these bars, as well. Quality chocolate bars included Snickers, Mars, Crispy Crunch, Skor and Caramilk.

The quantity category bars, however, were all about how much sugar bang you could get for your buck. These bars were about the satisfaction of walking out of the convenience store with a chocolate two-by-four in your hand. Needless to say, quantity bars reigned supreme for me. These included Mr. Big, Oh Henry, Sweet Marie and Eat-More.

Eat-More was a good choice when I was looking to spend a chunk of my Saturday afternoon gnawing on something. This homemade version tastes pretty close to the original. In fact, many taste testers told me it was better − after they finished chewing, that is.

This recipe comes from a Best of Bridge cookbook, a successful Canadian cookbook series.

¾ cup honey
1 cup peanut butter
10 regular-sized marshmallows
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peanuts
3 cups Rice Krispies

In a large pot, bring honey and peanut butter to a boil over medium heat. Stir constantly. Add marshmallows and chocolate chips, stirring until melted. Remove from heat and stir in peanuts and Rice Krispies. Press into a 9” x 13” pan. Cool and be ready to eat…more!

Source: That’s Trump: More Recipes from The Best of Bridge

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Church Lady Casserole Challenge

Recently, I was asked participate in a Church Lady Casserole Challenge with four other food bloggers: Mimi makes vintage Weight Watchers recipes, Retro Ruth blogs about all things mid-century, Yinzerella dishes up recipes from a plastic, guacamole-coloured box and Erica tests out retro recipes. We all dug deep into our collections and passed along a recipe for someone else to make.

I got stuck with the super-exciting-sounding “Potato Casserole,” courtesy of Mimi. Look, I’m the last one to throw stones at anyone’s culinary habits, but come on. How good could a potato, white bread and Velveeta casserole be? Besides, I’d already featured Schwartzies Hash Browns on the blog and if anyone knows cheesy potato goodness, it’s cakers. Right? 


Fellow cakers, we have been beaten. Potato Casserole kicks Schwartzies’ ass to the curb. This is simply the best potato casserole I’ve ever tasted. It's like I fell in love with it. When I was away from it, I couldn't wait to get back to it. I put it under my pillow at night. I even considered dating it, but that’s a whole other blog post.

Just do yourself a favour and put Potato Casserole on your bucket list. You won't regret it. So long as it's not thong season, m'kay?

Check out the other casserole recipes made by my lovely colleagues:

Lazy Bride’s Dish (made by Erica)
Anything Anytime Casserole (made by Mimi)
Sausage Apple Noodle Casserole (made by Ruth)
Cock-A-Doodle Casserole (made by Yinzerella)

Any guesses which casserole was the one I submitted? 

Just look at all the burnt cheesy goodness.
Potato Casserole
10 medium or 8 large potatoes, peeled, diced and cooked
1 large onion, chopped
4 slices fresh white bread, cubed
½ pound Velveeta cheese, diced (half the box)
1 tablespoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons parsley flakes

Mix all together and put in 9” x 13” pan. Melt 1 cup margarine in 1 cup milk. Pour over potato mixture and cover with foil. Refrigerate overnight. Sprinkle with 1 cup crushed Corn Flakes or Ritz crackers before baking. Bake at 375° uncovered for 45 minutes. Serve hot.

Source: Our Best Home Cooking, Polish Civic Hall Association of Pittsburgh

Monday 17 September 2012

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

In my second instalment of Writers Cooking Caker, I’ve asked first-time novelist Grace O’Connell to step away from her quill and ink jar and into the kitchen. Grace is the author of Magnified World, a haunting and magical story about a young woman coming to terms with her mother's death.

Now, let it be known that cakers love their balls. Already on this blog, I’ve featured Rice Krispies Golf Balls, Porcupine Meatballs, Snowballs and Dancing Mothballs – although in these health-conscious days, most cakers are trying to cut back on their mothball intake.

In this recipe, the best of both worlds – sweet and sour – come together as beautifully as a Barbra and Neil duet.  Best of all, you can pour this sauce over anything: rice, hot dogs, Cool Whip. I even dabbed a little behind my ears.

Here’s Grace’s recipe in her own words:

The meatballs are made with ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, etc. and baked in the oven. Pretty standard. The sweet and sour sauce though, is pure caker:

1/2 cup ketchup (yep, that's the first ingredient for this exotic wonder)
1/2 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from a lemon-shaped bottle, preferably)
1 cup white sugar (it's what's for dinner)

Combine the above ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2-3 minutes. Dissolve 3 tablespoons cornstarch in 1/4 cup cold water. Stir that mixture into the sauce. Cook gently and stir until thick and clear (It should be kind of goopy, but also smooth. If that makes sense. Viscous? Is that the word?). [Editor’s note: I don’t understand most words over two syllables.]

Pour it over your meatballs, add some Uncle Ben’s rice and you've got a classic caker dinner.

You certainly do, Grace. And your sweet and sour sauce made my eyes roll back in my head. 'Nuf said. Catch Grace and her Writers Cooking Caker alumna, Dani Couture, at Toronto's Word on the Street Festival this Sunday, September 23.

About Magnified World

What's a girl supposed to do after her mother kills herself by walking into the Don River with her pockets full of unpolished zircon stones? Maggie removes the zircon stones from the inventory of the family's New Age shop and opens up for another day of business. Then her blackouts begin, as do the visits from a mysterious customer who offers help for Maggie's blackouts and her project of investigating her mother's past in the American South. Is Maggie breaking down in the way her mother did, or is her "madness" a distinctive show of grief? Nobody really knows, not her father, her boyfriend or her psychiatrist, and especially not Maggie, who has to make some crazy decisions in order to work to feel sane again. A vivid look at the various confusions that can set in after a trauma and an insightful, gently funny portrait of a woman in her early twenties, especially relatable to readers who grew up in the eighties and nineties, Magnified World dramatizes the battle between the head and the heart and the limitations of both in unlocking something as complicated as loss.

More info.

Friday 14 September 2012

Apple Head Doll Competition

Image courtesy of
Oh, autumn!

It's the favourite time of year for cakers. It means hand-knit acrylic sweaters, church bazaars, Stove Top Stuffing, and, of course, apples. But since cakers don’t eat apples (at least not in our pies), we make crafts with them.

Announcing the first (and probably last) 
Caker Cooking 
Apple Head Doll Competition! 

Simply make an apple head doll and email me the photo when it’s all dried up and wrinkly. I’ll post all the photos on Caker Cooking in late October and the public will vote the winner.

Note: the apple head dolls will be judged only on their heads, not their bodies. 

The winner will receive a gift pack of four fantastic cookbooks from the friendly folks at Random House Canada, including Marshmallow Madness, Tiny Food Party, Real Snacks and Little Old Lady Recipes.

What’s involved in making an apple head doll? 
Well, an apple. And a knife. And a little time to dry out. Check out for step-by-step instructions on how to make one and to see some samples. I’ve also created an apple head doll Pinterest board to get your creative (apple) juices flowing.

If you’d like to participate (and, really, why let all those good apples go to waste?) simply email cakercooking at gmail dot com no later than Sunday, Sept. 23 at midnight to say “Count me in!” Then I’ll email you back with all the specifics. And although I probably won't get this many, I'm going to cap it off at 25 participants.

Yes, there are rules and regulations, so please read over those.

I'll be making an apple head doll, too. But I won't be in the competition. I wouldn't win, anyway. I'll be lucky if mine even looks human. But I'll document the progress of my apple head so you can follow the train wreck magical transformation of my apple.

Good luck!

Monday 10 September 2012

Impossible Taco Pie

By now, I’ve featured two other "impossible" pies on Caker Cooking. The first was Impossible Tuna Pie, which was, in fact, possible, so long as you had a box of Bisquick and a blender. The second was Impossible Pie, which was also possible, so long as you had Bisquick and a blen…Hey. Wait a minute. I think I just made a connection. Give me a few days to think it through.

In the meantime, please enjoy a grande helping of this delicious Impossible Taco Pie. Based on my extensive cookbook research, it seems that cakers love Mexican food more than any other. (See Taco Casserole for further proof.) I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s our passion for iceberg lettuce. Or all things corn. Or that we hang sombreros as décor in our rec rooms. Or maybe it’s simply our revenge on the Italians for labeling us “mangiacakes” in the first place.

Oh, who cares? The bottom line is that this pie is filling, flavourful and goes perfectly when served with a (pre-mixed) margarita. Muchos gracias, Mexico!

1 pound ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 ¼ cups milk
¾ cup Bisquick baking mix
3 eggs
2 tomatoes sliced (see note)
1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400º. Grease 10 inch quiche pan or large-sized pie plate (10 x 1 ½ inches). Cook and stir beef and onion over medium heat until beef is browned. Drain. Stir in seasoning well. Spread into pan. Beat milk, baking mix and eggs until smooth, 15 seconds in blender on high or 1 minute with hand beater. Pour into plate. Bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until knife inserted between centre and edge comes out clean, 8 to 10 minutes longer. Cool for 5 minutes. Serve with sour cream, chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce, if desired.

Note: The recipe doesn’t say what to do with the sliced tomatoes, so I added those when I put the cheese on.

UPDATE: Fellow food blogger, Yinzerella, happened to post her recipe for Impossible Taco Pie the same week as me. But does hers look better than mine? You be the judge. Check it out!

Source: Belleville Shrine Club

Friday 7 September 2012

Caker Cooking Contest Winners!

A couple weeks back, I posted my first-ever Caker Cooking contest. Readers were eligible to win a copy of my recently-released paperback, Natural Order, and a handwritten caker recipe that has yet to appear on this blog!  Bob Barker has nothing on me. 

Five winners were selected at random. I’ve posted their names, along with the recipe they’re getting and where it came from. Suffice to say, five people are pinching themselves right now.

Thanks to everyone who entered – and happy cakering.


Winner 1: Mary P.
Recipe: Cherries in the Snow
From: With Hearts that Care and Hands that Serve, Outlook and District Volunteer Services

There's something kinda dirty about the name of this dish, but I won't dwell on it.

Winner 2: Luisa C.
Recipe: Creme de Menthe Balls
From: From Our Kitchens....With Love, Glen Ayr United Church Women

There's something kinda...well, I won't dwell on it.

Winner 3: Jen W. 
Recipe: Luscious Rum Gateau
From: Guess What's Coming for Dinner, 1977, Mothers and Others

Truthfully, I'd rather not know "what's" coming for dinner.

Winner 4: Tanis M.
Recipe: Chuck Wagon Casserole
From: Simple 'n' Special, St. Paul's United Church

"Simple 'n' special" pretty much sums up my life philosophy.

Winner 4: Mimi
Recipe: Pink Thing 
From: London Newcomers' Cook Book

I can't remember the last time someone served me Pink Thing, it's been that long.

Monday 3 September 2012

Miracle Whip Cake

The world can be a traumatic place for cakers when we leave the ruffled curtain comfort of our homes. We have to adapt to new ways of thinking, especially when it comes to food. We learn that orange juice doesn't come from a powder; that whipped cream doesn't come in a container in the freezer section. And we learn that mayonnaise doesn't come in a jar labelled Miracle Whip.

As a condiment, Miracle Whip holds a place of distinction in most caker fridges. It goes into our spinach dips, tuna sandwiches and into our casseroles. In fact, many cakers still use Miracle Whip as a hair conditioner, which explains the funky aroma we have on hot days.

While using mayonnaise in a cake may not seem all that shocking (it replaces the eggs and oil, after all), Miracle Whip takes it to a whole other (caker) dimension. But when taste-tested among cakers and non-cakers alike, this cake got a big thumps up. It's moist, chocolately and light. I guess miracles really do exist.

2 cups flour
1 cup white sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
pinch salt
1 cup cold water
1 cup Miracle Whip
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together first 6 ingredients and add all at once the cold water, Miracle Whip and vanilla. Mix just until blended and pour immediately into a greased 9” x 12” greased and floured pan. Bake in 350º oven for 40-45 minutes.

Source: Belleville Shrine Club