A Dough For All Day

Sometimes you feel the need to center your day around baking.  Or maybe you have company and want to wow them with your amazing baking prowess.  These things happen and it’s important to have a battle plan.  On major time saver is the amazing versatility of bread.  Specifically, we’ll look at how we can make several bread products with only one dough. Continue reading

Embracing Fall (With the Help of Scotch and Pecans)

Me and Autumn have a tricky relationship.  We don’t always get along.  But the fall season does have a few things going for it.  Some nifty flavours, for example.  And temperatures that mean my lovely wife doesn’t mind when I have the oven cranked all day.  So I guess I can get behind Autumn.  And if the dismal weather and cold get you down, how about pie to brighten your day.  Because pie brightens any day. Continue reading

A Philosphy of Arms

In a heart that is one with nature though the body contends, there is no violence. And in the heart that is not one with nature, though the body be at rest, there is always violence. Be, therefore, like the prow of a boat, it cleaves the water yet it leaves in its wake water unbroken.
-Master Po, Kung Fu (1972)

The image of the Warrior Scholar is a pervasive one.  There is the Bushido code of the Samurai, there are the Shaolin Monks of china and the Chivalric code of Knights.  There seems an idea that having a “code” makes you a better warrior.  Does it, though?  Or is it all some mystic bull crap? Continue reading

Genesis of a Recipe: Brioche

There are some recipes that every serious baker should have.  Pie dough, for example. Or a good chocolate chip cookie.  A cake to bring to parties is also useful to have on hand.  The recipe I’ve been giving thought to lately is Brioche, a rich, buttery bread.  Brioche is versatile, being commonly used in a variety of sweet and savoury applications.  Useful and delicious. Continue reading

Speak Softly…

We discussed last week a few reasons why someone would want to carry a weapon.  Mostly I left out the self defence aspect.  There is evidence, much of it anecdotal, that having a weapon is a beneficial in a self defence situation.  I have met people who have told me that simply drawing a knife or firearm was enough to deter the attacker.  There is a danger to this, though.  It is not enough to have the weapon.  It is not enough to be able to draw it quickly and without exposing yourself to attack as you do.  The most important part of carrying a weapon is the willingness to use it. Continue reading

A Knight in this Day

There is nothing in the world to which Nature, wise mistress and benign mother of the universe, with greater genius, and more solicitudinous regard, than for the conservation of one’s self provides him (of which Man is, more so than any other noble creature, demonstrating himself very dear of his safety), as the singular privilege of the hand, with which not only does he go procuring all things necessary for the sustenance of his life, but if he arms himself yet with the sword, noblest instrument of all, protects and defends himself, against any willful assault of inimical force; nonetheless following the strict rule of true valor, and of the art of fencing.
-Ridolfo Capo Ferro da Cagli, 1610

I saw something interesting the other day.  I saw a man not get arrested.  On its own, this isn’t so interesting.  Why, I bet you’ve seen several people not getting arrested today.  What made this interesting is that he was wearing full military camouflage and army boots.  He wore a twelve inch combat knife which, at the time I came around, was in the hands of one of the three police officers who were firmly escorting him off the bus.  Of course I hung around to watch. Continue reading

Angel Food of Blackberries

Blackberry season has sprung up once more.  Late August is when they finally ripen to perfection and this seems to be a damn fine year for them.  Seriously, they’re huge.  Something must be done with them, something delicious.  Like Cake.  Angel food cake specifically.  It’s simple to make, guaranteed to make a splash at parties and with lots of room to add ingenuity.DSCF2619

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In Defence of Gluten

And we’re back after a couple of unexpected weeks away.  What better time to dive into controversy?  Gluten, the devil food.  The foodstuff that will no doubt cause the end of all civilization and the Judas to all bakers everywhere.  No one in their right mind would go anywhere near it…  No wait, I got my notes mixed up, those statements apply to cakepops, gluten is awesome and I’ll not hear anything against it. Continue reading

Phoenix Arts

A student and friend of mine pointed me in the direction of an interesting article today.  The gist of it centered around the “last master” of a traditional Sikh Martial Art called Shastar Vidya.  It’s a weapon art, that was all but stamped out by British occupation in the 19th Century.  Nidar Singh now seeks students to pass on this dwindling style of weapon play.  Sadly, his story is not unique.  One of the first things a conquering nation often does is take the weapons away from the natives.  We have seen this numerous times throughout history.  Rather than focus on this aspect of time I want to examine what arose from the ashes of imperialist oppression. Continue reading

Knightly Knife Defence

I came across something that frightened me the other day.  A certain Western Martial Arts school was offering a workshop on Fiore’s dagger plays.  That isn’t the worrisome part.  No, the part that gave me pause was that they were advertising it as being conducive to modern knife defence.  Now don’t get me wrong, the grappling system as taught by Fiore d’ei Liberi in the 14th century is an excellent art.  If taught in the right way it is an invaluable tool for self defence.  However, there are a lot of traps you can easily fall into that makes teaching irresponsible.  Continue reading