Monday, January 28, 2008

More Toppings Please!



When we were younger, my cousins and I used to bake the oddest concoctions using the Easy Bake Oven set. The set came with these mini pans that resembled metallic Petri dishes, instant cupcake mixes (Just add water! - the package exclaimed), generic cake toppings and a little pink stove that would use the heat from a 100 watts light bulb from your mom’s favorite lamp to bake your goodies. All you had to do was drop in your cupcake mix in a pan, mix it with some water and pop it in the “oven”. Once the sweet smell of cake filled the room it was time to lay on the toppings (chocolate spread, sprinkles), and very thickly thank you very much! We never did really read the proper Easy Bake Oven’s instructions, and since we were always so eager to see and to eat the finished product, even if it was just a pile of blobby chocolate sitting in a small crusty pan that hadn’t been cleaned from its previous use, we never did find out just how long you were supposed to leave it in with the hot light bulb to have that “perfect soufflĂ©” effect! Our noses were powdered by the cupcake mix, my dog was always running away with our dirty pans, chocolate sprinkles peppered the playroom or were lodged in the living room carpet and mom always dreaded the next time that light bulb oven would come out from the closet again. As I look back at it now, my cousins and I didn’t have a qualm about the types of toppings that we were putting on our treats (we even invented our own!) or how the finished product looked or tasted like (the sugar rush alone was worth it!).

My brother and I, much to my cousins' degust and much to our taste buds' delight, would play the “boy version” of the Easy Bake Oven game which consisted of eating practically anything, at a reasonable heart burn limit, that could fit on a piece of toast. Whether we melted jelly beans in the microwave and had them smeared (that glass plate was impossible to clean afterwards!), threw slices of processed cheese with blueberry jam on the top or mixed sweetened Heinz ketchup with pieces of raisins to be served on cinnamon and raisin toast, we always giggled at our silliness but never frowned at either one’s topping suggestions or creations.

In a world filled with the overwhelmingly sneering decisions to make between bars of chocolate from the Ivory Coast and truffles from Austria, or on the proper serving/cooking etiquette of Hollandaise sauce or the right amount of cinnamon one should find on their cappuccino, I like to reminisce about the fun and uncontrived way our little Easy Bake Oven and toasty treats made my cousins, my brother and I feel – happy, gratified and completely open-minded.

Do you remember the last time you truly felt that way? Not limiting your craving that is.

Is a person only truly free from their societal obligations (from that stuffy dinner table that is) until one feels that spreading peanut butter directly on a barely peeled banana as something completely normal and creative? Perhaps watching someone else’s total shock and dismay as you ask your waiter to grind your pumpkin pie into your chocolate pudding is half the fun that many of us would like to experiment.

What are/were your secret sweet tooth recipes/cravings? Would you dare to share them with me?

Look out later this winter for the launch of the Coco Vanille’ Tail at your local BeaverTails pastry store. This dark chocolate and vanilla icing combination is the perfect indulgence (if not the best nostalgic one for those who played the same baking games I did) for the sugar hunter out there. Let me know what you think of it?


Regretting nothing,
Justin


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

When Snow Falls

The taste of the sugar left on my lips from that bite I took from my Mother’s BeaverTails pastry. The red cheek bones I developed from the brisk cool windy air. The sounds of skates slicing the ice I skated (waddled?) on. My runny nose. That beige one piece snowsuit that would make any three year old want to pee as soon as they wore it. The impressive and looming look the Ottawa Capital’s Parliament Building held over the skaters on the Rideau Canal on a cloudy and snowy day. My nose is still runny;

“Could I have another tissue mom?*sniff*”

“Dad, wait! I want to see the alien ice sculpture again!”

My surprisingly strong and large German Sheppard Cleo pulling my little brother, me and our family’s belongings on the little red wooden sleigh scaring all the festival goers as we slide by!

“Mom can I have another hot chocolate and a beaver tail please…please…”

Sliding down the “oh so scary ice slides” holding on the bubbled tubes for dear life! The sun that day bounces radiantly on the crisp blankets of snow in all the local parks. My dad wiping my face from all the sugar and the ring of chocolate around my lips left from my third (and “FINAL!”, because mom feels I am being too jumpy at this time) hot chocolate and pastry combo. Peeling off my snowsuit …crawling into bed still wearing my itchy hat (just because I want to remember this day when I wake up the next morning). My belly filled with sweets. My mom kisses me good night. My dad kisses me good night and wipes the remaining sugar pellets from the corner of my mouth.

I drift away looking forward to next year’s Ottawa Winterlude Festival.

And the one after that!

Every year, just as the New Year creeps around the corner and the first snowfalls have settled in, these are the thoughts, smells and sentiments that run through my head and get me so excited about the upcoming Winterlude Festival. The festival is mostly celebrated on the then frozen seven kilometer Rideau Canal all the way to Dow’s Lake in the Canadian capital where thousand of festival goers and a lot of skaters converge. It also happens to be one of BeaverTails staples and crowning momentous glories. Hence, the company I work for has deep nostalgic roots within the Ottawa boomer X, Y and Nintendo generations. And guess what, of course, I humbly succumb to them every year…

No matter at what age I attended Winterlude I always enjoyed it. Either I was being pushed around in my red sleigh by my dog or surrounded by my college friends sharing (or not) a nice warm beaver tail freezing in our designer jeans, walking arm in arm with my mom to view the beautiful ice sculptor competition at Confederation Park or dancing to the house beats of Much Music’s now defunct Electric Circus show, lining up in front of the BeaverTails booth to talk to my high school friends working at the counters at the time or introducing new friends from out of town to the pastry staple of the festival, continuously falling on the ice as I attempt to skate (yes, I still can’t) or crawling into bed looking for warmth after spending a whole late afternoon and night gorging on BeaverTails pastries and gulping hot chocolate (this was last year), I always had great fun!

Thank you Cleo for pulling me around on that sleigh! It must have been heavy with the whole family’s skates and picnic basket in the back.

Thanks mom for getting me all those treats.

Thanks dad for keeping my face clean.

*yawn* *stretch*

Good night!

I can’t wait for Winterlude 2008!!!

Regretting nothing,
Justin

Monday, January 7, 2008

Because I Am!

As I sat at a dining table surrounded by my friends during our regular Saturday game night, I looked at all the treats that were available to us; bacon pizza (four large boxes), various types of juices and sodas for the various types of vodkas, fried corn and potato chips and, of course, my personal favorite, a box of dark chocolates (which I horded mercilessly that night). There was hardly any room on the table for the dice or for the “proper dinning etiquette” for that matter. All eight of us devoured the treats at such a rapid rate that it would have shocked any nutritionist, and guess what, we loved every moment of it and never mentioned the word “gym”, “oh so fattening” or “regret” during our mouthful conversations!

I walked home that night with a large smile on my face and a few crumbs left in my left eyebrow. I giggled at myself as I brushed them away, and guess what, I never allowed for that nasty guilty feeling of gluttony to over take me.

Earlier last year, I was overwhelmed by a world of fad diets, vague and sometimes incomprehensible nutritional information and trans-free products (Oreo Cookies just don’t taste the same people!) so I stomped my foot down (yes, I was in a supermarket grocery store aisle that day) and shouted out YES!

YES, I will enjoy what ever food I find delicious that day.
YES, I will ignore vague nutritional information from those who can’t explain it in the first place.
YES, eating various types of chocolate concoctions ESPECIALLY during the Holidays is not something to dread.
YES, I will answer in the affirmative that my plate is filled with sweets at a buffet to that person who sneers at me as they nibble on their “oh so boring” carrot stick.
YES, I will be unapologetically addictive to foods that I thoroughly enjoy.

So YES, so there…There it is. My statement. The statement that allows me to enjoy all my culinary experiences and to be part of the BeaverTails head office team in Montreal! (Yes, those wonderful makers of the pastry in the form of a beaver’s tail smeared with any imaginable topping.) My co-workers and I share the same philosophy about food, especially sweet ones, and we love to come up with creative new BeaverTails pastry flavours for the most ardent and addictive BeaverTails fans out there. If you are a fan and you are finding it difficult to come out of the closet as an addict of BeaverTails pastry and/or treats of all kinds, here are some simple steps to help you step out of nutrition’s heavy dark shadow;

1. Enjoy what you eat and have! Remember that guilt is self-imposed!
2. You look great when you’re happy!
3. Your epitaph will (hopefully!) not list your eating/spending habits for all to see!

Thanks for taking the time to read my first entry! I look forward to reading your comments and hellos!

Regretting nothing,
Justin