Wednesday, December 16, 2009




Another year rolls to an end, knee deep in the holiday season, time for a bit of sentimental reflexion. I look back over the past year with a bittersweet tenderness, tears in my eyes. I have suffered great loss, upheaval, life and death. I have welcomed old friends once thought long lost with open arms and 30 long years of confidences, secrets, and joy. I have watched my sons grow up, one find his calling in life, his confidence and his passion, the other just beginning his long road of discovery, still at a standstill, my child still.

I have plunged deep into the murky waters of food blogging, the waters hazy with doubt and circumspection, yet once I got used to the water, snapped the goggles of determination over my eyes and got to know the others splashing loudly or floating lazily along I realized how enjoyable it can be and I allowed myself to be carried along by the current. I have braved the challenges of yeast and French macarons, thrown caution to the wind, risking disgruntled comments and the evil eye by baking far too often, creating more baked goods than one family can reasonably consume, I have dragged my sister kicking and screaming into the realm of the baking addicted.

I have made new friends through food blogging and tightened bonds across the continents, we feel like sisters now. Sisters who have shared courage and secrets, given advice and encouragement, these sisters who have led me by the hand along the sometimes bumpy, occasionally gloomy path of discovery and self-realization towards the warming, comforting shelter of self-assurance and contentment, sharing virtual picnic lunches and laughs whenever needed. Where would I be without them?

We wend our way through life’s realities trying hard not to go all maudlin, balancing out the downs with the ups and shrugging our shoulders, letting a chuckle or a sigh escape momentarily from our lips, laughing out loud as often as we can. We turn our faces towards the future and dream of flying off to somewhere exotic, our own island where we can live out our dreams.

And meanwhile, we live each day as we must, as we can, and I drown myself in my family and friends, enjoy the little pleasures along with the grand, the exciting, pacing our lives from stepping stone to stepping stone. The loss of a beloved brother has, in its place, brought my sister and younger brother and I much closer together. The successes of one son bring comfort that the other will surely find his way. The utter thrill of finding long-lost friends outshines the few who have been lost along the way. The sisters and friends I have made in the world of food blogging have replaced much of the self-doubt and difficulties with challenge and fun.

I approach the end of a very difficult year, a time of emotional turmoil and grasp onto the best of what I have received. I may not celebrate traditional holidays as most of you do, but I try and find something to celebrate in every little thing, every little event. We create our own special occasions, treat ourselves to gifts and pleasures whenever we feel the urge or the need. I find joy in baking, writing, sharing with others and hope to continue sharing these things of the heart for many years to come. Chatting with friends, sending little surprise packages to each other or planning visits, laughing with my sister, curling up with Marty and JP in front of a rugby match or silly movie, enjoying a good book with a cup of steaming coffee and a slice of cake, a successful attempt at a new recipe, these are the little pleasures of my life, what makes each day worth celebrating.

Sometimes the simple things are always the best, and truly, sometimes we just want to kick back and enjoy time with the family, no time for fiddling or fuzz. I offer you two great recipes for the mad holiday season: a wonderfully flavorful Sweet & Sour Glazed Oven-Baked Chicken dish, easy and quick and prepared in advance, and a rather plain yeast Kuchen Bundt coffee cake studded with our favorite, chocolate chips, a warming and comforting treat for the morning after the crazy cooking and festive nights.

I would like to send this Kuchen Coffee Cake Bundt to Susan of Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting.

"Come Now, I'll help you spot the yeast. After all, you've been a good girl this year!"

I would also like to send this bread to Cindystar who is hosting December’s Bread Baking Day #25. She chose the most appropriate theme of “Baking Under the Tree” and this Kuchen is perfect for that early morning snack while the family opens their presents.

Marinate overnight and all you have to do it pop it in the oven and prepare a side dish or two.

2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 largish shallots, minced
½ tsp ground ginger
½ cup (125 ml) red wine vinegar
2/3 cups (160 ml) light soy sauce
1 cup or more (400 g) apricot preserves or jam
¼ tsp both salt and pepper
Chicken pieces for 4 – 8 people

In a small saucepan, heat the oil then cook the shallots over medium heat until soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ground ginger until dissolved, then stir in the red wine vinegar and boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

Add the soy sauce and the apricot preserves, the salt and the pepper and stir until smooth and the jam is dissolved. Lower the heat and simmer the marinade, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Place the cleaned chicken pieces (excess fat and skin removed) in a wide shallow bowl or even a large sealable plastic baggy or two. Pour the marinade over the pieces making sure the pieces are covered with marinade. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap or seal the plastic bags tightly. Place in the refrigerator for several hours or, at best, overnight.

The next day; preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Prepare a large, shallow baking pan by lining it well with aluminum foil, even overlapping two extra strong pieces of fail and folding over two or three times. Lightly oil the foil (this is important).

Arrange the chicken in one layer on baking sheet then pour the marinade over the pieces. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until cooked through and beautifully glazed and browned.

I served the chicken with a wild rice risotto.

Adapted from the original Unusual Old World and American Recipes, the pamphlet that came with my dad’s original Bundt cake pan (@ 1965)
A homey, comforting cross between a bread, a brioche and a cake, perfect with a mug of hot cocoa (with mini marshmallows, of course) or a cup of café au lait on the morning after.

2 packages active dry yeast (4 ½ tsps, 15 g)
¼ cup (50 ml) warm water
¾ cup ( 200 ml) warm milk
½ cup (8 Tbs, 115 g) butter softened to room temperature
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 cup (150 g) flour
4 eggs (I use large)
2 ¼ cups ( 330 g) flour
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips or more if desired. You can also add 1 cup chopped pecans.

Grease your Bundt pan well with softened butter.

Warm the water and the milk together until just warm to touch, body temperature. Dissolve the yeast in the warm liquid in a large mixing bowl. Blend in the 1 cup of flour, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and let sit until doubled, about 20 minutes.

In a separate mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Add the creamed mixture into the yeast starter and stir well to blend. Stir the spices and salt into the remaining 2 ¼ cups flour then stir into the dough. Fold in the chocolate chips, stirring until the mixture is smooth and well blended.

Pour the batter into prepared Bundt pan, smoothing so it is evenly distributed. Once again, cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour to 1 ½ hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Bake for 45-55 minutes, depending on the oven. Do not allow to brown too much on top or will be dry inside. The cake should be risen, set and golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before loosening from the sides of the pan and carefully turning out onto a wire cooling rack.

Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar and a hot drink.


Deeba PAB said...

Sorry this has been such a challenging year Jamie, but am glad you chose to flow with the current. Else how would our fabric have had such a vibrant and colourful weave. You will not believe it but I have a chicken waiting to be cooked for tomorrow, but als, no apricot jam, or this would have been marinating just now. The cake is calling my name & looks very probable tomorrow! I have chips, you see sistah!!

♥♥♥Ria♥♥♥ said...

You left me drooooooling here! LOVE LOVE LOVE the chicken, looks so succulent! And the kuchen looks so delicious!Love your pics, esp the one with fork and knife in the background! Lovely entry!

Happy cook said...

You are one of the strongest person i know in the blogsphere.
I love that kuchen budnt. Wish i had a slice with my cuppa.
If you ask my hubby he will sure choose the glased chicken.
Hugs jamie.

Colloquial Cook said...

Mhhhh were I to break into your house at the dead of night to eat your food (it's Hilda's idea, fais pas les gros yeux) I don't know what I'd attack first :-) love the yeasted Kuchen. But then again, the glaze. Hmm.

Jamie said...

@Deeba - You know how much you count...

@Ria - Thanks, hon!

@Happy Cook - Thank you that means so much to me. Hugs to you.

@Colloquial Cook - Hilda's idea? But I love it! Come on over for eats! And the glaze is pretty darn tasty! On y va!

Junglefrog said...

Sorry for all the troubles you had over the past yearand I sure hope that the coming year will have better things in store for you!
Your chicken looks amazing as that the cake! Makes me want to come and get a slice right away. love it!

Mary said...

The world of blogging is so much better off for having your voice among us. I'm so glad you took the plunge. Your meal sounds luscious. I can't wait to try that chicken

Jamie said...

@Junglefrog - Thanks, Simone, and whenever you'd like.

@Mary - Thank you so much.

Bruce said...

Hi Jamie. You certainly have had an emotional year. Here's to 2010 being filled with only good things for you! Great writing as always and love the chicken recipe - going to have to try that one out. "the B"

Kerrin @ MyKugelhopf said...

Another wonderfully written post here, filled with so many different emotions, and you captured each one so beautifully.

I love so many things here - the silverware napkins, the blue and white bowls, your endless baking adventures, Norman Rockwell,... and most of all, being among the new friends you have made through blogging.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A beautiful post! An emotionally filled year...

That chicken recipe sounds terribly good and your Kougelhopf looks divine!



5 Star Foodie said...

You definitely had to deal with a lot this year, and I hope the next year will be a happier one for you. The glaze sounds wonderful with apricots! And the bundt is such a great dessert!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a lovely post Jamie. I know it's been a difficult year, but you've survived so beautifully and gracefully. Blogging has all brought us wonderful new friends. It wouldn't be the same without you. You've been brave to share your life and we've loved every minute of it. I hope the new year brings you all of the best that life has to offer.

Your chicken and chocolate chip bundt cake would be perfect for dinner tonight. I only wish you were next door and we could pop over and say hi.

Cindystar said...

Sure it will be the most delicious festive breakfast of the year!
I wouldn't know what to have first: a cup of coffee with that cake or my present?
My best wishes for a joyful Christmas and a new better year!

MeetaK said...

the year has not been a good one - for you nor for me and i am looking forward to ending it! you are strong and your sisters are here to support and catch should you fall!

the coolest thing about that cake is i saw JAMIE live while she was baking it - THANK YOU SKYPE! HAHAHA!

Debbie said...

Such a lovely post Jamie...while Lee and I were giving Lisa a total FB makeover and crash course, we signed Lisa up to follow your blog. We sat and read several of the entries that were my personal favs over the past should ask your followers what their favorites were...mine was "as American as apple pie" as I had just started following and your blog hit home with the adventures, trials and tribulations we had with our kids moving around the world. It was great talking to you on Saturday...we will eventually get Lee and Lisa on skype and figure out how to do a 4 way conference call...until we can all meet in person...doesn't matter which continent :) May you continue to go from strength to strength enjoying the love of family and friends that you so deserve <3

shayma said...

jamie, i dont know about the difficulties you have faced, but i do hope 2010 is a better year for you. you seem to have a lot of people in your life who care v much for you- that's what counts, right? it's been a difficult year for me, too- am a newlywed who had had to adjust to moving to a new country-i have a loving husband, but it takes time to adjust-as i willingly gave a lot of things up- career, friends, home etc. the chicken glazed w deliciousness and the yeast cake look so beautiful. a lovely post. x

Barbara Bakes said...

Both the color of the cake and the color of the chicken are gorgeous! I hope the new year brings only good things for you my friend!

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Yummy looking. I love the bundt and I wish I could sink my teeth into that chicken leg!

Elra said...

Your chicken look glisteningly yummy, and the bunt cake is enough to make my mouth watering.

Gloria said...

This cake look awesome and delicious! gloria

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit said...

Lovely post and great antique photos as ever.

Your recipes and your photos of the chicken and cake are wonderful! I want to try that chicken recipe right away!

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Oh Jamie, this is the perfect comfort food! Although 2009 was challenging for you, I'm so glad it was the year you started your blog. May 2010 bring all the beauty and happiness you deserve.

tspegar said...


I awarded you the Lemonade stand Blog award on my blog. Go check it out! xoxo

Katy ~ said...

Jamie, the chicken recipe looks so good. I'm appreciate new and delicious ideas for chicken as we eat so much of it.

Your bundt cake looks divine. Beautiful texture.

Alessio Fangano said...

Reading this post I could really feel the weight lingering on your heart. Sad years leave us with a mouth bitter from tears but remember that this will make us appreciate better the sweetness of a friendly smile and the warmth of a felt hug. We are all there with you, you know that right?
Big Hug!

Cathy said...

Both recipes you've shared with us look wonderful. Ingredients for the chicken are on my grocery list today.

I hope that the coming year will be a healthy, happy and prosperous year for us all.

Heavenly Housewife said...

I want to come over for dinner. The glaze on that chicken is stunning and cake... well, I love cake!
Have a wonderful weekend daaaaaahling, and keep warm and toasty.
*kisses* HH

Laura said...

I love the look of that bundt cake. So homey and yummy looking.

Mowie @ said...

What a wonderful, emotional post Jamie, it makes me think of how glad I am to have met you. The bundt looks divine too!

Hilmar said...

This cake looks sooo yummy. I will make it soon. Love it!

Y said...

That bundt cake looks like an awesome giant cinnamon donut. Great pictures, and great post too. Sorry to hear it's been a difficult year for you!

Joanne said...

I never would have thought to make a bundt out of yeast bread. Looks delicious, as does that chicken.

Sophie said...

2 marvellous recipes , Jamie!! Just so flavourfull is the chicken dish & ooh so fabolous is the kuchen!!

MMMMMM,...did you recieve my Christmas card yet??

Jamie said...

@Sophie - YES I did and it was a wonderful surprise (even if I suspected). I am so behind on everything! Happy Happy Holidays!

Chef E said...

Jamie, I know its not the same, but after loosing my daughter, and then my parents a few years later, the holidays are not easy for me...I try and make them what I can...having posts like this with such wonderful goodies are the sweeter side of my life for now...hugs

Jamie said...

@Chef E - Bless you, my darling! You keep a cheery face and make so many of us smile! Thanks for letting me know that things go on...

Jeanne said...

You mean you snapped on thos goggles and saw that we were all just fish in the same tank? ;-)

That chicken has me positively drooling!!

asiangrrl said...

Jamie, you put the comfort in comfort food. 2009 was a hard year for many. I am hoping 2010 will be a better year for all. Peace and love, my friend.

Barbara Bakes said...

Both recipes look like perfect comfort food. I love your look back. I too often dream of escaping to an island. So glad to have shared this blogging adventure with you. I hope the coming year will bring wonderful new adventures for you to enjoy.


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