Monday, August 19, 2013

Next Time: Strathcona

Let's chat one more time this summer about cafes. Just one more time. Anyway, it's that time for lamenting when we're all trying to hang on to the last breeze of summer and psyche up for all the pumpkins and apples and squash.

I'm going to lament in this post about a neighbourhood that we casually strolled through in Vancouver, one that I promised myself I would visit again the next time around. It's the beautiful neighbourhood of Strathcona. Beautiful houses, quiet streets, a huge park, cute corner stores that double as cafes, not to mention a beautiful young lady bicycling down the street selling gourmet, Popsicles. It's like a neighbourhood that I dream of living in "when I grow up" whenever that may be. We spent our last day in Vancouver camped out on a bench, napping, re-living our two week adventure that seemed to pass by way too quickly.

We only managed to visit a few places in Strathcona, and sampled only one coffee -- from The Wilder Snail. Our perfect bench was right across from this grocery store/cafe. It kept us caffeinated and satisfied with gourmet, locally-made energy bars and hot drinks, as we waited patiently, our backpacks stuff to the brim, for time to pass so that we could make our way up to the airport and say good-bye to Vancouver. 

We also strolled by Union Market which I've heard so much about -- namely their treats. I had read about addictive chocolate macaroon bars and irresistible cinnamon buns, but seeing as our stroll was later in the day, the only treats to be found were a few sugar-dusted orange cookies. At 75 cents for two, they made for a perfect strolling snack. Cakey and light, with a big hit of orange and slight almond flavour, these treats didn't last too long, and I was wishing that we had bought more. They'll always be next time .. right?

To curb my Strathcona cravings until the next time I visit Vancouver, I made a batch of orange scented, almond cookies. I kicked it up with some ground cinnamon and nutmeg and instead of dusting with powdered sugar, which I didn't have, went for a sprinkling of crunching demerara sugar. If you're in the mood, adorn each cookie with some flaked almonds and powdered sugar like the original recipe. I think I'll try it like that next time.  Perfect way to console a summer longing that will have to wait until next year.

Spiced Orange Almond Cookies
adapted from Shutterbean
makes about 20 smallish cookies

3/4 cup of ground almonds
2/3 cup of brown sugar
zest of an orange
1 cup of spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of orange juice
demerara sugar, for sprinkling

1. In a large bowl, combine the ground almonds, brown sugar and orange zest. With your fingers, rub the zest into the almonds and sugar to bring out the oils.

2. Add the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix well. Add the egg, olive oil and orange juice and mix to combine. You should get a fairly sticky dough.

3. On a parchment-lined sheet, drop spoonfuls of dough making sure that you leave about 2 inches between each cookie -- they expand quite a bit. Wet your fingers and flatten each cookie. Sprinkle with coarse sugar (or flaked almonds)

4. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until the cookies get golden brown and your house spells like oranges. Enjoy with your coffee.

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