For many of us in Southern Ontario, the ice storm that battered the area over the last few days has been challenging. The aftermath of the storm left many without power. Road hazards include slick surface, fallen trees, large shards of ice falling from buildings, and numerous broken live power lines. I am one of the few fortunate ones without interruption to power nor property damage. I am incredibly grateful.
I ventured outside a few times but my car firmly remained in the garage. No way would I consider navigating the traffic under these circumstances. The normally short walk to grocery store was long and treacherous with the sidewalk completely covered in thick smooth ice. I could have easily lace up my ice skates and glide over. Little Brother and I tried our best to clear ice off the walkway and sidewalk in front of home. After 5 hours of relentless work, we admitted defeat and went inside for cake and hot chocolate. At first it was somewhat amusing. Ice shattered like toffee when I attacked it with a steel garden spade. But then temperature fluctuated around the freezing point and it started drizzling rain. My hard-earned territory quickly turned back to one solid piece of ice and it stopped being fun.
My hibernation included some cooking, of course. A home cooked dumpling dinner is family tradition on Winter Solstice. I made a filling of yellow chives, ginger, and pork which I seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, cooking rice wine, salt, sugar, corn starch, and lots of white pepper. I easily filled a large tray with cute neatly folded dumplings and we enjoyed a hearty dinner of dumplings and baby bok choi. Of course we didn’t forget about dipping sauce. The combination of Chinese barbecue sauce, Sriracha, and soy sauce was mega flavourful.
I did not forget about dessert either. Since I was already at the Chinese grocery store, I picked up some frozen bean curd and peeled gingko nuts to make a traditional Cantonese sweet soup 白果腐竹雞蛋糖水. I have a strong preference for frozen bean curd because it reliably melts into the dessert soup to create a milky creamy texture. Dried ones are more readily available but too often they’ve been sitting on the shelves for too long that they only break into chunks even after hours of cooking. The fine strands of egg drop added some richness to an otherwise light dessert.
I gave a small boost to my Christmas spirit when I baked two loaves of seasonal treats. A tall poufy loaf of pain d’épices (recipe from Flo Braker via David Lebovitz) is a personal favourite which plays well with sweet or savoury topping. When I am in the mood for a snack, I would smear a thin layer of liver pate on toasted thin slice of pain d’épices and add a dollop of homemade plum jam. If I am lazy, just a plain slice is quite satisfying too. The other thing that I baked was the very festive orange cranberry pecan bread. I can’t remember how many times I made this Grand Central Bakery recipe in the past. It bursts with sweet and tangy flavour. And ridiculously handsome too.
I hope life returns to normal soon for those of us affected by the ice storm. It is merely days before Christmas. In any other year, I would be losing my mind over festivities, presents, and travel plans. This year, I am strongly reminded of the importance of roof over my head, warm house, and all the daily conveniences I take for granted.