Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Noah's Ark Cake

For little Owen's Christening, his mom and I decided on a Noah's Ark cake, a special and symbolic design for an important occasion in this little boy's life.  Creating the cake was a labour of love, with each animal taking on a personality all their own...

...those super-cute giraffes with their silly grins and those monkeys peaking out of the portholes just above the waves....

Owen's dad was also Christened the same day, so we put a small tribute to him on the cake as well.

...the lovable turtles, the sly snakes peaking out from behind those elephants (just look at those ears and trunks!) ...

...the super-cute pigs and the hippos and ducks and alligators were a joy to create....

Thanks Cake Avenue for the inspiration.

....and finally the zebras and the lion and lioness.  I finished the design with a pair of white doves, symbolic of peace and love, two things I hope are plentiful in Owen's life. 

The cake itself was alternating layers of chocolate butter cake and white butter cake were frosted in vanilla and chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream and covered in homemade fondant.  The fondant was sculpted to look like rustic boards and a thatched roof, I am really pleased with how it turned out, as was little Owen's family! 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Farmers' Market

A few years ago I read "The 100-Mile Diet - A Year of Local Eating" by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon.  It was a great read and left me with a desire to try harder to eat local food.  I had already made many changes and modifications to the way we ate as a family, including only buying some foods in organic form, avoiding processed food, etc. (More of that is and will be explored in my other blog  Truthfully, eating locally was a new idea for me, even though I had been doing it somewhat for many years because I had been shopping at Farmers' Markets.

As a child living in Amsterdam, my mother would take us to the Albert Cuyp Markt, a daily outdoor market.  In addition to produce, fish, meat and baked goods, this market sold just about everything, clothing, dishes, curtains and material!

The Albert Cuyp Markt in Amsterdam

In London, Ontario, we shopped at the Covent Garden market, a large indoor market in the heart of downtown.  It wasn't until I moved to Kitchener that I really started loving markets - and who could resist with the famous Kitchener Market and the St. Jacob's Markets on my doorstep!  When the girls were little, I would quietly slip out of bed on Saturday mornings, and leaving my family still sleeping I would head out to the market.  Before the busiest crowds arrived, I could stock up on locally grown and produced meats, cheeses, breads, baked goods and of course, fresh-from-the-farm produce.  The German and Mennonite influences made these markets unique and oh, so wonderful!  When we moved to Bradford, the closest market was in Newmarket and I started going there.

The St. Jacob's Market

As my girls started getting older and I was trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life, I tossed around the idea of going back to the world of computer programming.  I decided against that and enrolled in some university courses with the thought of going to teacher's college.  It wasn't easy to concentrate on studying because my mind was filled with the daydream of being a market vendor selling cupcakes and cookies.  When I finally revealed this dream to my husband he encouraged me to pursue my dream and those were the earliest days of Sweet Handmade.  As my business grew, I sort of forgot about my idea to be in the market, but when my kitchen got Health Board Certified earlier this year, Shawn reminded me of my earliest dreams and I decided to go for it.

Look for me with the colourful display!  I have lots of delicious goodies for you!

Lucky for all of us in Bradford, we now have our very own Farmers' Market.  Every Saturday morning from 8 until 1 at the Community Center on Simcoe Road, I am there along with some very hard working local farmers and artisans, including Dingo's Farms Ltd. who sell non GMO, no antibiotic and no hormone beef, lamb, pork, chicken and duck products, Pioneer Brand honey from Schomburg, fresh beautiful flowers from Mid Valley Gardens, Lakeview Gardens greenhouse and garden center, Carron Farms and their produce right from the Holland Marsh, Stephanie's Pies and more! 

Samples of my triple chocolate cupcakes and my chocolate crackle cookies.  Delish!

I am humbled and honoured to be sharing my Saturday mornings (in a parking lot!) with these hard-working people who grow and create the food that sustains us.  Every Saturday morning I have a variety of my most popular and delicious cookies and squares and I have a different cupcake flavour every week, as well as decorated sugar cookies that I switch up each week.  This week I will have cookies suitable for golf loving dads!  I offer samples of my cupcake flavour and at least one of my cookies or squares as well.  I hope this post inspires you to check out your local farmers' market and to support your local community.  If you live close to me, I hope you stop by!