Meat Loaf

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Meat loaf and mashed potatoes were a standard in the Clarke household. Meat loaf is a comfort food with European origins. It takes a while to bake, but is easy to prepare and tastes wonderful! (Seriously, this dish is AMAZING.)

The recipe below makes enough meat loaf to serve 6-8 adults. I used 2 lbs of ground beef and I couldn’t fit the whole mixture in a single loaf pan! I ended up filling the loaf pan about ¾ to the top and then using the remaining mixture to form a second, smaller loaf which I cooked on a baking sheet. The freeform loaf turned out so beautifully that I think I’ll do it with the whole mixture next time!

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Meat Loaf

  • meat_loaf_pan1½ to 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1 cup of fine bread crumbs (or Corn Flake crumbs)
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 ½ tsp. of worcestershire sauce
  • 1 onion finely chopped (or onion salt)

[Combine all ingredients in a large bowl]
Bake for 1 hr. 15 min. at 350°F

Topping (optional)

  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp ketchup

Mix ingredients and pour on top of loaf before baking to form a savory-sweet crust.

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In Loving Memory

I am sad to announce that Audrey Lois (Bell) Clarke passed away last Saturday, April 9th after a long and difficult fight with Alzheimer’s Disease. She passed peacefully, surrounded by family and the wonderful staff of Parkview Home.

Audrey was born July 14, 1929 in Regina, Saskatchewan to parents Charles Hubert “Bert” Bell and Augusta Sophia (Magee) Bell and siblings Donovan Claire and Grace Noreen. She is preceded in death by these family members and also her husband, Leslie Clarke, who passed from Alzheimer’s Disease in 2005. She is survived by her children Susan, Colleen, and Mike, grandchildren Shawna, Daryl, Daniel, Taylor, Toria, Nate, and Rebecca, and great-grandchildren Devin, Abbey, Avery and Bryce.

Audrey was a proud mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She was famous for her chocolate chip cookies and apple pies. Her memory will live on through her family and her recipe box.

Visitation will be 6:30-9:00pm on Wed April 13th at the O’Neill Funeral Home in Stouffville. The funeral will be Thurs Apr 14th at 2:00pm at the Stouffville United Church. Maps and details can be found on the O’Neill Funeral Home website or by calling 905-642-2855.

In lieu of flowers, make a donation to the Alzheimer Society or Parkview Nursing Home.

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Butter Tarts

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Today is the big day: it’s the Etsy Bake-Off!

In my real life/day job, I am a senior software engineer at Etsy, the popular online marketplace for handmade and vintage goods. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that Etsy employees are phenomenally crafty, artsy, and musical. We share our skills with each other throughout the year via the Etsy School program and each spring we show off our talents at an Art Show, Talent Show, and Bake-Off.

butter_tarts_3I chose to make Grandma’s butter tarts for the bake-off this year because they are a unique foreign delicacy here in Brooklyn. That’s right: butter tarts are Canadian! For my American readers: butter tarts are basically miniature pecan pies, but sometimes without pecans or with raisins instead. I made classic pecan butter tarts (and a couple of nut-free, raisin-free tarts for my nut-allergic, raisin-hating Canadian colleague, Gordon).

While I normally wouldn’t bother making a crust from scratch, this event is kind of a big deal, so it’s time to pull out all the stops. The only problem is… Grandma Clarke’s butter tart recipe doesn’t include a crust! Rather than using a simple shortcrust pastry recipe from another pie in the recipe box, I hunted down somebody else’s Grandma’s butter tart pastry online. I have used this crust to make butter tarts before and it’s just perfect. I think the key is adding a bit of vinegar to your ice water.

The tarts turned out great! I overfilled them a little, but hopefully the mess comes across as charming and rustic to the judges. Wish me luck!

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Butter Tarts

Crust

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I run a pretty low-tech operation here… can you spot the wine glass I used as a pastry cutter?

Crust recipe from The Crepes of Wrath (but you can use any pie crust). Remember to prepare your crust at least a few hours ahead of time! Roll your pastry very thin (¼ inch or less) and cut circles about 1 inch wider than the diameter of your muffin tin. Grease the tin(s) generously with butter or cooking oil.

Filling

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • raisins (or pecans, walnuts, etc)

Cream butter & sugar
Add eggs and remaining ingredients
400°F 7 mins
325°F 15 mins
Makes 16 tarts*

* I had enough crust for 32+ tarts, so I doubled the recipe. I ended up making 24 tarts and saving some pastry dough for later.

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Turtle Brownies

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It’s that time of year again: the Etsy Bake-Off is next week! Last year I took home Best Cookie with Audrey’s Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies. In the year following the big win, I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for baking at work. I made butter tarts for Canada Day, butterbeer golden snitch cupcakes for a Harry Potter party, and a variety of cookies and muffins just for fun. I also won a prize for Best Savory Dessert at the Harry Potter party (for my Deviled Dragon’s Eggs) and started my own baking blog (you’re reading it)!

The competition is strong and the pressure is on. My big show-stopper will be Grandma Clarke’s butter tarts. Butter tarts are a Canadian dessert that many of my American colleagues won’t be familiar with. I’m hoping that they will garner some points for novelty and Canadian charm… in addition to just being damn delicious.

Not to put all my [deviled] eggs in one basket, I will also be entering a batch of brownies. Entering a second item in a different category (butter tarts fall under Pies, while brownies are Other) increases my chance of winning overall and diversifies the awards for which I am eligible.

I have a solid brownie recipe in my own repertoire, but I wanted to see if Grandma Clarke had any up her sleeve before committing to my standard brownie.

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Enter the Turtle Brownies. Inspired by Turtles chocolates, these brownies are topped with pecans and caramel. I also included walnuts and chocolate chips. The result is sweet, gooey, and delicious…

But maybe too sweet to be the big bake-off winner! Furthermore, I wanted my second dessert to be simple and these brownies were quite a bit of work: melting and drizzling caramel is annoyingly time-consuming. For the sake of my own sanity, I’ll be reverting to a simpler brownie for the bake-off, so that I can focus my efforts on the butter tarts… and rehearsing for the Etsy Talent Show!

Erin and I will be performing as Bassooninator again this year. Wish us luck!

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Turtle Brownies

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3×3 is an appropriate size for a single brownie, right?
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup walnuts (if making plain brownies)
    OR
  • ½ cup pecans
  • 12 caramels
  • 1 tbsp milk (if making Turtle brownies)

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My attempt at a “drizzle” of caramel
Heat oven (350°F).
Grease pan 9×9.
Mix sugar, shortening, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl.
Stir in remaining ingredients.
Spread batter in pan.
Sprinkle½ cup chopped pecans over batter before baking.
Bake 20-25 minutes until toothpick in centre comes out clean.

Icing
Heat 12 vanilla caramels and 1 tablespoon milk over low heat, stirring frequently, until caramels are melted.
Drizzle over warm brownies, then cool.

Cool completely.

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Vintage Candlewick miniature cake stand from OpenTwentyFourSeven on Etsy