Two of these old forks came from my Granny's farm... one belongs to The Fan and the other is mine.  With this magic fork, I don't really need fancy kitchen gadgets.  It's true.  

This old fork with its bent tines scrambles perfect eggs, flips bacon in the pan, makes perfect fluffy omelettes, helps dredge world-famous chicken fingers, cuts dry ingredients into wet mixtures, stirs nuts into the brownie batter and well, you name it.  

If you have a Secret Weapon of your own, I highly recommend finding an old fork at an antique market and asking him to bend the tines just a bit.   You'll be surprised how many times you reach for it.  

For example, when whipping up a batch of banana French toast on the weekend:

I just don't even think I could do these things without that fork.  If they start selling these at Williams-Sonoma, remember: you saw it here first.

cupcake tutorial

How to make perfect cupcakes using a mix.
Because even Saucy doesn't always have time for scratch cupcakes (and if she does, she uses this cookbook).

Pick your mix. Don't pay any attention to the package directions. Saucy is serious about this. It's her way or the highway.

You will need: one package of cake mix (use the good kind... Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines), three large eggs, one half cup of butter or margarine, and one cup of water. Saucy usually bakes with butter - she's a butter fan - but for a batch of cupcakes from a mix, margarine will do just fine.

Melt the margarine in the microwave.

Dump everything into the bowl of your mixer. Mix on low speed for a couple of minutes, scraping the bowl a couple of times. Then fire that bad-boy up and mix on high speed for a minute or so.

For this batch, Saucy is making red velvet cupcakes. She added about a tablespoon of vinegar and many, many drops of red food colouring. Actually, paste food colour (like Wilton no-taste red) is best for this if you can get your hands on it.

Cool them on a rack absolutely and completely before you do anything to them. You knew that.

In case you are wondering what Saucy's filling is, it's just a nice smooth mixture of some chocolate buttercream and vanilla buttercream leftover from the cupcakes for the bake sale, whipped up with some real cream until light and fluffy. It's very light and not too sweet. Really.

Red velvet cupcakes need cream cheese frosting! Saucy mixes one 8 oz package of cream cheese and one cup of butter or white margarine* (both softened to room temperature) in the stand mixer and gradually add four cups of icing sugar. A pinch of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla never hurt anybody. When it's all blended in, pour a tablespoon or so of whipping cream while the mixer is going full-tilt and the frosting gets super creamy. That's good.

Check out Saucy's really big piping tip, it's parked on the biggest pastry bag she owns - its 20" long.

And no, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you... she put a little blue food colouring into that frosting because she lurrves blue and red together. It's just snazzier.

* White margarine is sold in Canada at Real Canadian Superstore, Extra Foods, Loblaws, OK Economy or Zehr's... it's just margarine without the yellow colour and that's a good thing if you want really white frosting or a really pure colour.

bake sale tips

The bake sale made over six hundred dollars.  Yes, you read that right.  Six hundred.  Dollars.  An amazing band of mothers converged upon the school kitchen early this morning to accept, package and price the contributions.  I will tell you one of the secrets to a successful bake sale: price accordingly.  People will pay for nice baking.  They really will.

Tip two: nice packaging is key.  The Fan ran out to the Dollarama for clear cello bags and everyone sorted, packaged and ribboned up that baking.  It was really pretty.  We didn't put the prices on stickers or chunks of tape, we wrote on the tip of the ribbon tail.  That way, we reasoned, if the item didn't sell and we found ourselves in the most unfortunate position of slashing our prices late in the day, we'd just snip off the old price and write on a new one.

Nobody wants desperate baking.

Man, those cupcakes were gone in an instant.  Priced at two dollars each!  The cherry chip Easter cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and marshmallow bunnies were a big hit.

Truth be told, the carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting went dead last.  They were supremely delicious... being Buddy Budderson's favourite I made extras to have here at the house.  Those little gummy carrots are available in the Easer aisle at Dollarama.  I just think healthy carrot cake filled with raisins and coconut can't compete with:

It's just unfair to make them compete, isn't it?  Carrot never stood a chance.

Other bake sale tips:

You should avoid using nuts or having contact with nuts in your baking area.

You might want to offer a few gluten-free or vegan options.

Things that really sell well are simple but cute items like chocolate and candy dipped Oreos and pretzels.

Use a variety of brightly coloured sprinkles and frostings. A bright table looks more eye-catching and unified.

Have bags and packages on hand to encourage your customers to buy plenty.

Start the day with an assortment of small bills and change as a "float" to make change when you get your first customers.

Make an attractive sign to advertise your table and make sure that it indicates what group or charity it will benefit. You can also put "donations accepted" on your sign an people will take the hint.

Remember to thank your customers! Ask them to tell a friend about your sale.

help! bake sale pricing suggestions

Y'all remember how much Saucy lurrves to dip pretzels in chocolate, right?

Today she and The Fan were at it again, this time for the bake sale at Loopy's school later this week.  Loopy was tied up with her report on Japan so Saucy had to call in another drizzler.  The first batch were dipped in milk chocolate and topped with crushed chocolate Smarties candies and drizzled with pink chocolate.

The second batch was dipped in dark chocolate and decorated with candy sprinkles and shaved milk chocolate... mmmmm.

Rold Gold pretzel rods dipped in milk chocolate, drizzled with pink chocolate and topped with Easter sprinkles... the salty n' sweet combo is delicious.

Dipped in pink chocolate topped with bunny rabbit sprinkles and drizzled with milk chocolate... are you in sugar shock yet?

Dipped in white chocolate and drizzled with milk chocolate and topped with milk chocolate shavings.

And since Saucy knows you remember her doing this dipping business for a few years now she is assured that you will know she is not copying the Twisted Sisters in any way... except for the price point.  The brand retails for $2.99 per pretzel twist and $2.50 per pretzel rod (available at Shoppers Drug Mart), and Saucy's are the same size.  

Dear Reader, what would you pay for a jumbo dipped and drizzled pretzel?  Please let me know, for the bake sale.

something special

Meet Bonnie the Easter Bear and her bunny, Jellybean. They are off to live with a special little someone just in time for the holiday. Loopy and I just put the finishing touches on them this weekend. Jellybean is sewed tightly into Bonnie's arms so he won't get lost on their long journey. I really wanted to sew those two little chicks down but Loopy insisted not, she thought they might be a little scratchy and they should come off after Easter, and so that was it. They're just resting there for now but their little scratchy chick claws are hanging on to Bonnie's fur for their very lives!

Bonnie came to our studio around Valentine's Day but she was a lonely, lonely bear... no matter what we did, she was inconsolable. We just couldn't sing to her all the day long and she's one of those bears that wants to be lifted and carried around everywhere... you know the type. When Loopy suggested that Jellybean should be Bonnie's constant companion, I knew she was onto something.

Jellybean Bunny also needed someone to take care of him because you know, he got his name from eating his weight in jellybeans, (which is only problematic at this time of the year really... especially around here where the jellybeans aren't that fresh) and he is prone to awful tummy aches because of it.

Here's hoping that Bonnie and Jellybean have some fine adventures from the very day they are discovered in an Easter basket.

signs of spring

This weekend saw some sure signs of spring... starting with a very sweet random act of kindness.  Even before Jerri-Lea posted this on her blog, I knew this was the handiwork of Super Mom and Cutie Pies.   What a sweet way to usher in a new season!

The next sign of spring was the tackling of spring cleaning... with the snazzy new Deluxe Steam Mop that Loopy and I absolutely had to have when we laid our greedy magpie eyes upon it at the Home Show this weekend.  Veto bought it for us straight away, Loopy promising to clean with it and Veto and I both knowing full well that it was a passing fancy for her, but she did help use it twice already... she appreciates a clean floor just as much as I do.  I must admit, it is a pretty sweet ride for a mop.

The next sign of spring is the appearance of the Easter decor.  Don't eat those jelly beans, I store them in a ziploc and bring them out every year.  They're about four years old.  They were that colour when I bought them and I've never found any that pretty ever again.

Apparently flocked Easter bunnies can get red eye.  Who knew?  Actually it's a little creepy.  They've gotta go.

Help yourself if you want some of these candies, they're fresh.  The little green ones are tic tacs. Man, I lurrve me some tic tacs!

Another sure sign of spring: puppies!  Our friends got not one, but two little basset hounds.  Check out the ears on Sophie (below).  You can't check out much on Oliver (above), he was censored... but he's awful cute in that bed of his.  And we thought Duke was a cute puppy!

Sophie wants to know if spring has arrived at your house.  Let her know.  She's all ears.

reeeally? with saucy and loopy

The following is a dramatization of the events as they actually occurred this week at the giant bookstore. May I present the first bloggedy-blog installment of Muppet Theatre:

Obnoxious Pompous English Guy
is a customer and not an employee
of the giant bookstore with the
comfy chairs and fancy coffee.

Well of course you may have a word,
English Guy... what could
possibly be on your mind?

Is this dude for reals? The only books we sat down
with are the ones Loopy is buying.

Again, is he for reals?

Gosh, looking around, now I notice
this place is quite a mess.


At this point, Loopy
(portrayed by the very talented
Prairie Dawn) chimes in:

.... and scene!

This reenactment was brought to you by the giant bookstore, four cups of coffee, a mouthful of tightened braces, a five a.m. wakeup call to drive to the airport and six Advil between us! Oh, and our Muppet toy collection.