Bread Around the World: Injera

To most, the cuisine in the so called “Dark Continent” is something of a mystery.  I fondly remember my first true foray into African food in a little cafe off main street.  Sadly it’s gone now, partially because I think Vancouverites are a little lost in this region.  I know I was at first.  I had a leg up, though, in the form of a boisterous and jovial fellow at the next table over who was all to happy to show me how best to enjoy my experience.  The key was Injera, an Ethiopian flat bread that served as the edible utensil.  The man showed me how to use it to eat the strange (but tasty) cassava paste and delicious goat stew. Continue reading

Enduring Fortitude

“Life is pain, Highness.  Anyone who tells you different is selling something.”

-The Dread Pirate Roberts

The third of the classic Virtues is Fortitude.  It’s also the one that seems to be the hardest to talk about.  In fact I remember quoting Cicero on Fortitude and actually upsetting someone.  The quote was, “All pain is either severe or slight, if slight, it is easily endured; if severe, it will without doubt be brief.”  The nature of pain was called in to question and whether or not life is worth living if you are in constant pain.  According to Cicero (and the Stoics) pain that doesn’t kill you is by definition minor.  So let’s take a gander at fortitude and what it means to a Stoic. Continue reading

Going the Distance

One of the biggest keys in winning any fight, with swords or without is distance.  At its very simplest, if you cannot reach your opponent you cannot hope to win.  So the tallest swordsman wins, right?  Not remotely.  Oh, height helps to be sure, but a mastery of the sword begins and ends with mastery of distance. The trick seems almost geometrically impossible at first, to enter a distance where you can safely strike your opponent without him being able to reach you in return.  It can be done, although it isn’t easy and the movement involved is actually pretty cool. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Fights

I`m taking classes again.  Sword classes.  It`s good to be on the receiving end of lessons once more and I`m having a blast.  And remember kids, any instructor who can`t see the value of being a student as well should be avoided at all costs.  At the end of last class we had an open sparring session and even though I had more than a few great passes, two fights in particular stood out as being particularly excellent. Continue reading

The Basics of Carrot Cake Decoration

In many ways cake is the Holy Grail of baking.  Beautiful cakes are the ultimate goal of most home bakers and it’s where the money is professionally.  Just look at all those fancy cake shows on the food network and you’ll get a definite sense of this.  So we can accept that your goal may be to be the next big name in wedding cakes, but how to begin?  Well how about we start with making a cake and making it all pretty using nothing but the most basic techniques.  We will look at simple masking your cake with icing and also see how to cover it up if you’re just not happy with the results.  After all, you may not get it on the first time, so practice lots.  You don’t even need to eat the results if you find yourself buried in cake.  I know that my neighbours are more than willing to help me out of such predicaments. Continue reading

The Cost of Bread and the Metric System

“The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that’s the way I likes it.”
-Abraham “Grampa” Simpson

Working, as I have for the last month, in a bakery that specializes in bread, I have a few observations.  The first regards the metric versus the imperial system of measurements.  Why anyone would choose willingly to use pounds and ounces to measure anything simply boggles my mind.  The simple act of altering quantities of measurements requires a calculator far too frequently.  But that’s really more of an aside.  The company I work for (being owned by former Americans) uses imperial measurements, but that’s just something I have to put up with.  No, I have another rant planned for today. Continue reading