Friday Favourite - Molasses Butter

There are a ridiculous number of happy moments and miniature squeals of glee in my head on repeat since my latest trip to Nova Scotia. They keep me happy. One moment, one memory that I've acted on nearly daily since then is the molasses butter.

Never heard of it? Neither had I. Pictou Lodge served up little bowls of molasses butter with their biscuits instead of your average, boring bread basket. And it was awesome.

So awesome that I accosted the Chef Thomas one morning on his way into work and begged for some at my breakfast in an hour and he kindly obliged me. So awesome that I've made it three times in the 10 days I've been home. So awesome that it takes all your power to not eat it straight from the bowl with a shiny spoon.

I have no idea how they made it, but here is what I've been doing.

Molasses Butter

1/2 cup salted butter (unsalted if you prefer, but I like it better with salted)
1-2 TBSP Blackstrap molasses (use fancy if that is what you have, but you will probably want more molasses then)

Whip the butter. Add the molasses. Whip until evenly incorporated.

So far our favourite way is indeed on biscuits. But I can tell you that it tastes just fine on a muffin or some fresh bread. And, in case you were wondering, it makes a wicked grilled cheese sandwich. Substitute for regular butter on the outside of your sandwich. The edges caramelize and the molasses bring a depth of unreal flavour to the table.

Homemade With Love (Weekend Reads)

Both the joy and annoyance of knowing someone writing a book is the anticipation. As an author I know the work, struggle, and excitement of producing a book. The time lag between the emotions of writing and the actual publication. Then the revisiting those emotions. When you know someone else going through these things the empathy is strong. So is the joy when that book is given to the world.

Jennifer Perillo recently published her first book, Homemade with Love. A testament to her from-scratch cooking as much as it is to love. It is filled with both stories and good food, the kind that make you wish you had doughnut pans and a food processor and extra long arms to hug everyone. I've had the book for about a month now and have made at least a half dozen recipes (including the incredible Golden Vanilla Birthday Cake seen above and currently covering half my cake stand). All have worked wonderfully and tasted like they cared about me.

The book is, of course, tinged with both happiness and grief. This is the book Jennie always wanted to write. And then her husband suddenly died, plunging her and her girls into an unimaginable world. She writes of her grief in snippets in the book (more so on her blog, In Jennie's Kitchen). What you see in the book - even in the photography - is the light that comes from food, from making and sharing food cooked with love. And that light can shine through grief.

One day I hope to meet Jennie in person, to cook with her and laugh over wine. I have a feeling she has a lot to teach me - about honest motherhood, food, and dreaming big. We can talk writing and 5 year old girls. And I will toast her and this wonderful cookbook, one of my favourites in a long while.

Take some time today to laugh with your partner and share a piece of homemade cake.

Friday Favourite - Lotta Jansdotter Cake Stand

Behold the cake stand. Take note that it is empty. Very empty. It should not be empty. Yesterday was my birthday and there was no cake. I am about to go rectify that situation by baking my own cake. In the meantime, however, I can admire my favourite cake stand. So much Lotta Jansdotter goodness from Fishs Eddy. It almost makes up for no cake. Almost.

(Lest you think I am embroiled in a hug of self-pity, just know that I really just like cake. A lot.)

Sharp Knives, Boiling Oil (Weekend Reads)

Cooking with my kids is something I do almost daily. I started when they were toddlers, more or less as soon as they could stand beside me in the kitchen. We've included knives from the beginning, and so much more. I thought I was pretty great, cooking with them. I wrote about it many times, I spouted off advice to anyone who would listen. I thought I was a bit of a rock-star mom. Then I read Sharp Knives, Boiling Oil by Kim Foster.

If I am a rock star mom then Kim is the royal family, the Queen Mum. She makes potato chips from scratch and then volunteered to teach a preschool class in a Harlem public school how to cook. Then she lived to write about it.

And by teaching these kids to cook I don't mean she set about to mix up some chocolate chip cookies or press the button on the food processor to make hummus. She made dumplings and spring rolls, pastry, cheese, stocks for soups, and all this after starting with meatballs. She is equal parts brave and insane.

I love her so much.

Sharp Knives, Boiling Oil is her self-published e-book documenting her year with the kids in the Harlem public school. But it also about documenting her changing relationship with her oldest daughter and her own relationship with cooking and enjoying food.

Kim is honest, funny to the point of downright hysterical, and speaks what the rest of us only think when it comes to personal criticism and relationships. I would kill to drink wine with her if only to hear her voice. And get all the stories that didn't make the book.

This book also includes recipes and some intensely personal admissions. I literally laughed and cried - what a cliche - through the book. But I did and so will you. And then you will want to make Chocolate Kumquat Spring Rolls and sit around the table with your family and a roast chicken. Because that is what Kim does, she makes cooking and people real, so real that you need to become a part of it too. Just like the kids she worked with did.