The French Canadian Influence
Another day in the North Woods has brought us to yet another beautiful weekend. This weekend we went hiking at Lake Massabesic for a few hours so Chaz and Daisy could get some outside time and enjoy chasing the minnows and watching the ducks. We had planned to go to Canaan this weekend, but decide that adventure would be best served in a few weeks when the leaves begin to change into vibrant fall colors and we could get apples, cider and pumpkin spice goodies while cruising moose alley. So in lieu of a road trip weekend, we decided to do some weekend catch up projects, i.e. buy groceries.
Living in New England has come with a few surprises and we are not at winter yet, of which I actually (at the moment) look forward too. Real Snow, not a dusting of snow. However, I am sure I will miss the Southern Version of snow, whereas we close school for 3 days when the “S” word is muttered. Here, we will bundle up and go to school, even if it’s 6 feet high. Which reminds me, I need to buy the snow shovel. So back to the surprises of New England. I live in an area that has a fairly strong French-Canadian influence, which in itself is really fun. One of the surprises in this is grocery shopping. The french delicacy influence is superb. I can not even begin to tell you how good the sweets are and every aisle at the grocery store has something to do with “crepes”. Do you know how hard it is to find crepe folds in Georgia. It’s nearly impossible if possible at all.
Naturally, most people like to make their own sweets, given a good, cold, long winter and well, cooking becomes a good indoor activity. Well, in grocery shopping, I decided I would attempt to make my Gran’s from scratch pound cake this weekend. I diligently wrote down the ingredients to buy and read and reread the recipe a few times to make sure I was not leaving something off the “to get” grocery list. I went in of course to get only about five things at the grocery store and planned this to be only a few minutes in the store. Give a few minutes or two more as I have not learned the layout of the store. Well, let’s say nearly 3 hours later, I left the grocery store. Did I mention, on almost every aisle is something for making really tasty crepes?
Beside getting side tracked on a sweet tooth mindset, I came across three obstacles. (1) Cheese (we will get back to that shortly) (2) A lot of things are labeled in French and (3) the enormous amount of shelves dedicated to flour. Specialty flour, almond, coconut, hazelnut, buckwheat, brown rice, oat, spelt, soy, graham, rye, semolina and so on. Seriously, I only needed “cake flour” this was not suppose to be a hard task. Cake flour, yet there was not one bag labeled cake flour. Forty minutes later while roaming up and down this aisle, on the bottom shelf, obscured by all other flours, finally I find “cake flour”. I honestly should have gotten 3 bags, never imagined it would take that long to find one simple item that screams out on southern grocery store shelves. Now for the “french” bit, all I can say about that is google translate, pictures and similar words equals a win. Oh, and about the number one listed obstacle, cheese. Let’s just say if your a cheese connoisseur, then you need to come on up. Vermont is nearby so think cheddar, cheddar, cheddar and of course the added Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for desert even if your making a desert, you still have ice cream. Who would have ever thought a grocery store would be such an adventure. I actually can’t wait to try a lot of the flour types and as a side note, staying on the aisle for forty minutes came at reading all the yummy cakes each type of flour had as a recipe on the back labels to make. I am really liking this food vibe here.
Finally, I was able to get back to the house to make Gran’s Pound Cake. I learned a few things quickly here too. Cooking with gas is a completely different beast. Mixing bowls for cakes from scratch should obviously be big bowls not anything like what I had and hand mixers are probably not what one should have if one should make more future cakes. But in it’s time, two changed shirts later, a bath for both me and one for Chaz who was standing underfoot trying to catch all the flying chunks of butter and sugar and 4 hours later, we have a pound cake that actually turned out pretty good and in fact for the most part in one cake shape from the pan. I will attribute the win to the constant repetitive statement my Gran always made when she cooked, and in repetition over the years, “if your butter and eggs are not room temperature, your cake will not be good” I attribute most of the win to the room temperature ingredients.
Days are getting shorter, mornings are already starting in the 40’s so I am sure very soon, I will long for a morning in the 40’s. The long haul of the 9 month winter is just a few short weeks away as we are wrapping up our very brief summer. The northern lights are beginning to really show in the northern latitudes. We hope the coming long weekend will permit a small glimpse into the aurora borealis’s pre fall preview from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Life in the North Woods is all the adventure I imagined and then some.
Signing off tonight from yet another great place in this world… The North Woods. And a bit more of a baker learned.
Till the next post, be very well.