Sunday, December 28, 2008

Chocolate biscotti

Seems I hadn't posted this chocolate biscotti recipe afterall when I posted the cranberry-almond and gingerbread biscotti recipes a few Christmases ago. They make a nice 'set' and, at this time of year, I make mini-versions for the Christmas tea circuit.

Chocolate Chunk Biscotti
1 1/2 c white flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chunks
2 eggs
3/4 c sugar
1/3 c melted butter
2 tsp vanilla (plus optional: dissolve 1 Tbsp instant coffee granules in vanilla)

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix wet in another with whisk. Add liquid to dry. Mix until soft dough forms. Transfer to lightly floured surface. Form into a smooth, non-sticky ball. Divide dough in half; roll each into foot-long log. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool on pan for 30 minutes. Transfer each log to cutting board; cut diagonally 3/4 inch thick. Stand cookies upright with space between them on cookie tray. Bake again for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on rack.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cranberry-pecan loaf

Just like most families, we've got some traditional recipes that we haul out for the holidays. I've previous posted my chocolate, cranberry-orange and gingerbread Christmas biscotti recipes, but just realized I hadn't yet posted this one.

Nothing particularly Bay of Fundy-ish about this loaf (though we do have wild and cultivated cranberries growing around the bay) - it's just a nice, festive loaf to give as a Christmas party hostess gift.

Cranberry Pecan Loaf
3 c white flour
1 1/2 c sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/8 c shortening
2 tsp grated orange peel
1/2 c orange juice (or, if using dried cranberries add an extra 1/4 c orange juice)
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 c coarsely chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen) or dried cranberries
1 1/2 c chopped pecans (or mixed nuts)

Sift dry ingredients. Cut in shortening until well blended. Mix peel with juice and egg. Add liquids to dry, mix to just moisten. Fold in berries and nuts. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 - 45 mins for fresh or frozen cranberries, 10 minutes more with dried cranberries. Let cool overnight for easy slicing. Makes one large loaf or two small (such as with my twin toblerone-shaped pans, pictured above).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Big moon & crazy winds = wild tides!

It's been a crazy couple of days of 'natural effects' here in the Bay of Fundy. The moon this weekend was in much greater proximity to earth than it normally is. Usually it's orbiting at an average distance of 384,400 kilometres (238,855 miles) around the earth but on Friday it was 17,000 km (10,560 miles) closer to earth than usual.

Not only is that enough to make the moon look bigger and brighter, but it also strengthens the moon's gravitational pull - causing even higher tides in our already high-tide bay. Also it's been wildly windy for the past couple of days.

Sadly for me, I was traveling away from the Bay during this convergence of natural factors (just the kind of weather I enjoy!!) but my friend Trish from Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, was wandering about with her trusty camera. Here's one of her images of the town's waterfront area during the height of the tide. Not to fear, that church is actually quite far from the water's edge, it's just Trish's zoom lens collapsing perspective and making the church look like it might just float away on the tide!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

We like our trees BIG here in Fundy

Most rural Bay of Fundy residents make an annual trek to the woods each December to chop a fresh tree for the holidays. Allergy issues aside, it's always great to see a 'real' tree...reminds me of the debate between our region's real maple syrup and fake 'table syrup'.

Great to see 'real' win over 'plastic' in the Fundy city of Saint John, New Brunswick as well. Check out this massive (3-storey high) fir tree outside the entrance to the New Brunswick Museum in courtyard of Market Square (Uptown Saint John) ~ now that's what I call one purdy Christmas tree!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Funny Fundy face

My niece and I were recently out exploring a Bay of Fundy basalt beachscape when we came upon these two holes 'drilled' in the rock. Couldn't resist the temptation to create a happy face with the materials we had at hand - shells and seaweed. Simple fun at the seashore! Should amuse the next, assuming the tide doesn't wash it away in the meantime.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Fundy-themed gift idea

It seems that everyone (including gas stations and cell phone services) is in the business of proffering Christmas gift ideas so I though I'd get in the game. In addition recommending that you support our many potters, weavers, painters, jewelry makers, etc. around the Bay of Fundy, there are also many writers whose books might interest you.

Here's a delightful one just released in time for Christmas:
A Maritime Christmas: New Stories & Memories of the Season.

It's a fun collection of maritime-themed stories edited by well-known folklorist, Clary Croft, and published by the always fabulous regional book company: Nimbus.

I picked up this book for a family member (who shall remain nameless...shhhh, it's a secret) on the weekend and took it for a little test drive. My favourite story is the one by Chris Mills. In When Santa Came to Gannet Rock, Chris tells of the season he and a co-worker were stuck in a Bay of Fundy lighthouse. They use their radio to help steer Santa toward Gannet Rock while local children listened in. The kids get involved by calling in with messages of encouragement for Santa...too cute!

For other Fundy-themed book ideas, check the Books & Poetry tab.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Garden of Lights & Festival of Trees

As winter approaches here around the Bay of Fundy, there are many community celebrations. Here's an enchanting one in St Andrews: the annual Season of Light & Wonder.

St Andrew's fabulous garden, Kingsbrae Garden, is an enthusiastic participant with its Garden of Lights & Festival of Trees. It's a great chance to explore the sparkling evening gardens as they nestle in for winter. Garden visitors can also bid on their favorite decorated Christmas trees, with all donations going to the county food bank. The Garden's lovely cafe is open throughout the festival with its regular weekly chef's specials as well as a festive menu of seasonal treats (love the mulled cider and gingerbread men!). Enjoy the season!

Photo credit: Stephen MacGillivray, courtesy of Kingsbrae Garden.
If you know of a Fundy community winter event - preferably one that lasts more than a day, that would interest our blog readers, please email me with a photo & description -

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sri Lankans learn about Fundy

As a keen Bay of Fundy groupie myself, I often come across Fundy-themed articles and blog references especially by travelers.

It's always great to see visitors' perspectives of our bay. Take, for example, this article that appeared in the Sunday Times in Sri Lanka this week. It's a nicely researched article (whose writer actually visited Fundy). I was amused, though, that our friend from Sri Lanka noted the importance of wearing a coat to the beach - seems she found it a bit cold here (perhaps compared to Sri Lanka) even in summer!