My Best Baking Books, a Top Ten List

I think a lot of people tend to get a little lost when it comes to recipe books.  It’s entirely understandable too.  There is a whole lot out there and so much of it is crap.  I’ve been asked a couple of times for some recommendations so here they are, my top ten favourite books on baking that are currently in my library: Continue reading

On Defense of Self and the Case for Swords

There was a time when swordplay was considered self defence.  Now, if you were to draw a sword in order to protect yourself, there is a great chance that the threat wont be taken seriously.  This of course, forces the defender in to using lethal force, a less than ideal situation in my mind.

I am a pacifist at heart, despite my martial training, though I would be willing to fight if the situation called for it.  I would argue, in fact, that my martial training gives me a greater freedom to be a pacifist.  Having a range of combative options grants greater ability to get myself clear of harm without significantly harming an antagonist.  I have heard other, far more strict pacifist argue that they would never fight back in a self defence situation, but I have a hard time understanding that particular point of view. Continue reading

A Pastry Mandala

Tibetan Buddhism is a fascinating philosophy.  Truly, it’s a subject worth looking into if you’re not already familiar with it.  An area of particular interest to me in any philosophy is that of its meditation practices and there are some neat ones to be found in Tibetan Buddhism.  The Sand Mandala is one such practice.  A sand mandala is an elaborate sand painting that is ritualistically created and then destroyed.  There is a host of tradition in how they are made and taken apart afterwards and it’s so fascinating to me that such an elaborate work is made for the purposes of destroying. Continue reading

A Weighty Issue

I’m not sure why but people seem to think that Medieval Martial Gear is unbelievably heavy.  I mean, I guess it makes a certain kind of sense, the equipment is after all made of metal and metal is heavy.  Armour is heavy enough, though not nearly so much as most might imagine.  You can feel the weight, but they myth that if you fell over in armour you couldn’t stand up again is just that.  Swords though, are not very heavy at all. Continue reading

Great Brownies that Just Happen to be Gluten Free

Gluten free is a popular form of baking.  Gluten itself has a lot of stigma attached to it, and while some people are certainly sensitive or allergic, I feel this is undeserved in most cases.  But there’s not much can be done about that, so let’s hop on the bandwagon, shall we? Continue reading

The Highlander Game

Games are an important part of culture and many of them are variations on several “Mother Games.”  There is a version of tag that involves hunting a target while you are hunted by an unknown foe.  There are various other rules involved, but those are the basics.  Some time ago I figured that this would be a great base for a sword fighting game.  All I needed was a framing scenario.  I found this in the movie Highlander.  A movie that most sword fighters seem to have some affection for and it’s easy to see why.  It’s a simple set up, being about a race of immortals who absorb the power of other immortals by cutting off their heads.  The tagline for the move is, “there can be only one.”  It’s appeal lies partially in it’s excuse to have secret sword fights in a modern era.  There was one movie and a spin off t.v. show and THAT WAS IT.  Anyway, if you’re not familiar with Highlander, check it out.  It’s good cheesy fun. Continue reading

The Real Life Duel

Western Martial Arts is a funny thing.  It’s a resurrected Art, for one thing, as opposed to having a living tradition.  Thus we see that throughout almost every historical self defence system it is assumed that a gentleman would carry a sword at all times.  This is no longer strictly true.  Since self defence is the essence of any martial art, let’s look at the “true” art of defence. Continue reading

A Sourdough Safari

Day 0

Bread has been around for a long time and yeast has ever been an important part of bread making.  Time was, if a baker wanted to buy yeast then he had to get it from the local brewer as it is only quite recently that yeast has become available commercially.  Most makers of bread chose instead to capture their own wild yeast, a practice that is less common today.  So it is in the spirit of tradition and adventure that I intend to embark on a grand safari to go forth and capture wild yeast and its companion bacteria lactobacillus to make my own sourdough starter. Continue reading