How to Make “Heavenly Scent” Holiday Pomanders

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Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles
and all the years you have lived.”

~Helen Keller

A Holiday Decoration to Delight the Senses

The first pomanders (from the French pomme d’ambre, “apple of amber”) were balls made of perfumes and they were one of the earliest forms of aromatherapy. Modern day pomanders are often made during the holiday season by studding oranges or other citrus fruits with whole dried cloves and curing them in fragrant spices. They can be left out to scent and freshen the air, used as beautiful tabletop decorations or tree ornaments, or placed in drawers to keep linens and clothing fresh and pleasant-smelling.

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Apricot Brandy White Fruitcake

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My homemade Apricot Brandy White Fruitcake

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.
In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

~ Julia Child

The Great Fruitcake Debate

The ultimate fruitcake—no, I’m not talking about me. I’m talking about that ubiquitous dense cake filled with nuts and dried fruit which materializes everywhere around the holiday season. The debate about fruitcake seems to know no neutrality: most either love it or despise it. I once fell into the latter camp—the fruitcakes of my youth were all dark, dried-out spice cakes containing bits of strangely coloured unidentifiable things. I could never abide it. Naturally, I concluded that I detested all fruitcake. But I was wrong.

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My Dream Apples: The Delicious Ambrosia

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The spoils of the autumn harvest are overflowing the stalls of our local farmers market like a giant cornucopia: cabbages, kohlrabi, kale, all varieties of winter squash, pumpkins, beets, parsnips, carrots, onions, potatoes, cauliflowers, brussel sprouts, broccoli and cases of Roma tomatoes. But, while I love all of those veggies, it’s the apples and pears arriving directly from the orchards of British Columbia that excite me most.

Although apples keep incredibly well all winter, harvest time is the best time to eat an apple. There is no better tasting apple than one which has been recently picked from the sprawling, cradling arms of the apple tree, one still fresh with memories—memories of singing in the spring rain, of greeting the fiery dawn, of snoozing contentedly in the dappled summer afternoon sunlight to the humming of happy bees, of basking in the magical starry light of the Milky Way, dreaming sweet apple dreams. Newly harvested apples are loaded with such sweet memories, vivid memories not yet faded—memories they will generously convey to anyone who is ready to receive them.

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Can the Average Joe Make Decent Homemade Soba Noodles?

This post is humbly dedicated to my Japanese friend, Takami

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“Love learning for its own sake,
and connect a wide array of ideas
from different fields of study and disciplines.

~ Robert Green

A Culinary Experiment: Making Soba Noodles

My partner and I are not professional cooks, but we do enjoy a fun culinary challenge. We’ve wanted to try making fresh homemade soba noodles since we came across a recipe for them in our pasta-making cookbook. Soba (そば or 蕎麦?) is the Japanese name for buckwheat. It is synonymous with a type of thin noodle made from buckwheat flour. Soba noodles are served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or in hot broth as a noodle soup (Wikipedia).

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