One year ago at this time, I was a busy working woman who planned outings to luxury hotels for afternoon tea, regularly attended baking and cooking classes, and planned my meals on a week-to-week basis.
These days, I consider myself to be more of a human pacifier who plans one-handed meals that can be eaten without any knives or forks, like bananas, granola bars, yogurt, and toaster waffles.
My signature Chanel-and-coffee scent has been replaced by the odor of pee stains, milk spit-up, and sweat.
No, it’s not glamorous being a new mom.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t dream big.
And so here is my Christmas wish list. I crossed most of the items off last year's wish list, so why not again this year?
Kuhn Rikon stainless cookie press and decorating set: True pastry chefs will cringe to hear me say this, but there is nothing I hate more than filling a piping bag and then washing it. I've taken to buying the disposable kind but that can get expensive. Is this kit the answer to all my troubles? Will it truly live up to its expectations and let me fill it without any problem? And can I wash it easily by hand or in the dishwasher? Chances are it will let me do all these things and more, after all, it's Swiss-made and you know they don't steer us wrong.
BakerBots Baking's Giant Cupcake cake: My God, is this not beautiful? The polka dot ribbon, the cherry on top, the pink icing. I'm falling into raptures just thinking about it. I'm not sure I would eat it even if someone bought it for me to preserve its beauty. But you should buy it for me anyway.
I will put it in the middle of my dining table as a centrepiece, put candles all around it, and stare at it all day with reverence and only speak in hushed, respectful tones. Come to think about it, kind of like a shrine. Dont get your drawers all in a knot. Just saying.
Macarons tower: Forget a Christmas tree this year, I want a macarons tower in my living room. The ones to your right can be ordered from Toronto's Bobbette & Belle. You can even customize the colours. If I had one of these towers I would hoard it all to myself and eat one every single day after my morning cappuccino. So don't go getting any ideas that I would share.
Digital candy thermometer: I can't flippity flipping make any type of flipping candy or bark or caramel because I don't have a flipping candy thermometer. And no matter how many times I try to determine that my candy has reached the appropriate hard crack stage by sticking my fork tines in the liquid, or coating the back of a spoon I can't get it right. I don't know why it's taken me this long to admit defeat, but I need a candy thermometer.
Greaves sour cherry fruit spread: I buy this sour cherry jam every time we go to idyllic Niagara-on-the-Lake on a day trip or a weekend away. Well, that's not happening any time soon, and I can't find this at my local gourmet store or anywhere else in the city for that matter, so it remains the elusive fruit spread. And no, regular cherry jam just won't do. Neither will strawberry jam, so please do not suggest the possibility. My English muffins and cream cheese are lonely without it.
Bonnie Gordon School of Confectionary Arts French pastries course: I've taken one of her courses before and have often referred to that day of making and decorating cupcakes as one of the best days of my life. After my son's birth and wedding day, of course, but the fact remains that day passed in a happy blur of flour, colourful fondant, and sparkling dragees. Bliss. I sang show tunes all the way home even though there was a winter storm. So when I received the email about this new course, in which I could finally learn to make macarons and flavoured guimauves I jumped up and down in my computer chair. Until I realized it's a two-day affair and I don't have any babysitters and I probably shouldn't be spending money on treats I don't have time to make. Still, a girl can dream.
Lifetime supply of Starbucks' Holiday Turkey Sandwich: When my son wakes up after his morning nap, I feed him and pack him into his stroller for our daily walk. More often than not, I am starving and don't have anything in my fridge, so I'll stop at the neighbourhood Starbucks to get lunch or a coffee. The first time I tried the Holiday Turkey Sandwich, straight out of the refrigerator without even being warmed up, my taste buds began humming the tune from Chariots of Fire. It's genius. Roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing - STUFFING! - nestled between two pieces of whole grain bread. If I have one complaint it's that when it is warmed up, the lettuce gets soggy. But I will happily stuff my complaints in my back pocket if it means eating this sandwich all year-round. Starbucks, won't you consider my humble request?
Dinner at Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck:
Heston Blumenthal, you are one crazy cut. The proprietor and chef of one of the world's best restaurants -- despite a food poisoning scandal this year -- is a genius. Who else would serve a garden full of edible insects at a Mad Hatter-themed tea party? Or a bowl full of meat shaped as fruit at a medieval-themed dinner party? Or edible chocolate candles and cutlery for dessert? As "mad" as his ideas sound, his guests are always appreciative not only of the concept and the fact that he can pull it off, but the fact that his food tastes delicious. Just once I'd like to sit in his restaurant.
Dinner at Solo per Due, the smallest restaurant in the world: Now this, this would be the ultimate coup. Securing a table for two at the world's smallest restaurant. In fact, it would be the ONLY table at this restaurant. Situated in the heart of picturesque Italy, about 68 km north of Rome, the restaurant is in a building which "dates from the nineteenth century and is situated in a very evocative historical location; in the grounds there are the remains of a Roman villa." Hot dayum. After a stroll through the garden or an aperitif in front of a roaring fire, you can summon the staff by ringing a silver bell and the chef will spend the evening cooking for you with local ingredients. What's on the menu? I have no idea. Nor do I really care.
A granite island:
What was it that Virginia Woolf wrote? That every woman must have an island of her own? Just kidding, I know that it was a "room of her own" and I wholeheartedly agree with her. As a writer, I need my own private space. And the same holds true when I am cooking or baking. The kitchen is my domain. Not because I subscribe to any antique notion that the woman's place is in the kitchen but because I love to bake and cook and like to be in control at all times. But I need more counter space. And my fantasy of a heavenly afternoon includes a vision of myself rolling out dough on a vast granite island. And lots and lots of cupboard space. Hubby, are you listening?