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Happy-Gourmand

Get ready for winter

Winter is coming. That expression is full of foreboding now, thanks to the Game of Thrones stories.

It signifies the need to make preparations ... appropriate for the times, wouldn’t you say?

With colder weather we tend to head indoors and get cozy. This year, our comfort zone inside will be a lonelier one as we make efforts to stay safe. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have any fun. 

Behind the “new normal” of life during COVID times, we have to find manageable ways of keeping a balance. Food is an important part of that. Many more folks have taken up the concept of eating local and seasonal fare, which was easy to do here in the summer.  

We are at the end of the growing season for most things now, but there is still time to enjoy fall tastes.

Fruit crisps (recipe link) and pies are a delightful way to add some indoor sunshine on these shorter days, and veggie soups and stews (Recipe link) can warm our souls. 

Whether you make them yourself or enjoy the fare at local restaurants and bakeries, you will feel better once these goodies are in your tummy.

Want to share? All these things can be easily dropped off in containers for friends who aren’t in your Bubble. If you’re like me with a small household, sharing is the secret to ensuring there is no waste, in addition to connecting with our peeps. 

Eating fresh is a bit more challenging in winter; I’m not suggesting we should have a diet of root vegetables until the gardens sprout again. But keeping in mind the use of local ingredients helps us stay engaged in our diets, even excited about our food. Having a positive attitude during darker days is just as crucial as eating right. 

And then there are the treats. As a self-declared gourmand, I have no problem justifying a bit of indulgence — “a wee something,” as my mentor Pooh called it.

In the winter season these noshes are more likely to be a bit of baking. 

I am including a favourite recipe here that I got from a live baking video during the lock down: Amaretti biscuits.

It’s an easy recipe to make, gluten-free, and very tasty with a cup of tea or coffee - the perfect break in a busy day. These lovely cookies are nice to offer as a gift, too. 

AMARETTI (makes 18)

  • 2 egg whites 
  • 188 g granulated sugar 
  • 300 g ground almonds (found at bulk stores, or you can grind blanched almonds in a food processor)
  • 1-1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp almond extract (the Chef made a specific mention: “please don’t use a bottle that’s been in the cupboard for 10 years”)
  • 100 g icing sugar, for dusting only 

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper or silicone mats. 

  • Place the egg whites in a bowl and whisk till frothy, then add in the sugar and whisk until soft peaks are formed. (This takes a few minutes — think of it as a mini workout.)
  • Add the remaining ingredients (“NOT the icing sugar, remember,” Chef said with a smirk). Mix with a spatula until everything is incorporated. 
  • Spread the icing sugar on a plate or tray.
  • Portion the dough into 18 pieces — they will be about 30 g each if you want to be exact. Roll them into balls, and drop the balls onto the icing sugar. 
  • Roll the balls in the icing sugar. Let them sit for about 10 minutes, so they absorb a bit of the sugar. Then roll them again, really working to make a coating of the sugar. (Chef said to “carpet-bomb the balls”). 
  • Carefully place the sugared biscuits on your baking trays, leaving space between them as they will puff out a bit. 
  • Bake for 16 minutes, until golden brown, then take them out and let them cook on a wire rack. Store what you don’t eat that day in an airtight container.

But wait, there’s more. As a bonus, I want to share that the wonderful folks who provided this recipe are back online sharing their baking expertise. Bread Ahead Bakery School in London, England, has restarted their online baking tutorials on Instagram. 

You can join the bakers at Bread Ahead live on Instagram weekdays at 10 a.m. PST, or catch up anytime by watching their IGTV feed. If you want to bake as you watch, the ingredients list is on their website for reference. (You just click on the specific item to see the drop-down list.) 

If you don’t use Instagram, Bread Ahead also has a number of baking tutorials on YouTube. 

I hope all these tidbits offer a ray of hope and good cheer amidst the greyer days of the season.

I am sure many of you are like me, weary of the limits on our quality time and favourite activities. Know that I am raising my cup to you with a smile, sending you good vibes and a virtual hug.

We are in this for the long haul. Let us sustain ourselves so we can get there with our smiles intact.



More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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