Poached Pears

Looking for an easy, elegant dessert to serve on New Year’s Eve? Look no further!

Poaching is a great way to use fruit when it’s either off-season and less than perfect, or just a bit under ripe. The fruit is cooked in a flavorful liquid – usually wine – that is sweetened with sugar and/or honey, and flavored with any number of ingredients. This cooking process sweetens and softens the fruit, so you’re actually quite a bit better off starting with firm and under-ripe!

This is a great base recipe, but feel free to experiment with it. You’ll find flavor combinations to try at the end of the recipe- or just run wild with your own imagination! Poached fruit is great when served as slices on top of cheesecakes (or other desserts), on ice cream… served in halves or as whole fruit. A whole poached pear, perched in a martini glass and drizzled with a little chocolate is a statement kind of dessert!

This recipe is from my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker.

Poached Pears

4 Large, firm pears
3 cups fruity red wine (We used Winehaven’s “Sangria” for this)
Sugar 3/4 – 1 cup 175-250 ml
Flavoring items of choice *

Peel the pears, leaving the stems on – it’s prettier that way.

In a medium saucepan, combine your wine with sugar, bring to a boil. Cook, stirring until all sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat down to low, add flavoring items of choice. At this point, it’s a good idea to taste the syrup to make sure that the liquid is sweet enough for your taste.

Add the pears to the pot. If they float, laying a small, heat proof dish on top to weigh them down works well. Cover the pot and allow the fruit to cook through to desired softness – this may happen in 10 minutes, it may take 40-60 minutes. Just poke it every once in awhile to see how it’s doing.

Once pears cooked through, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cool, move to fridge to chill for at least an hour.

When ready to serve, remove pears from poaching liquid. To make a sauce to serve with the pears, return the poaching liquid to the stove top, simmer until reduced in volume and thickened.

* Flavoring items of choice: Vanilla beans (cut in half, lengthwise), whole cloves, zest/juice of citrus fruits, tea bags, cinnamon sticks, mint leaves, rosemary… whatever you feel like using! I recommend not using too many different flavors – I like to let the flavor of the fruit shine through. For this recipe, we used one vanilla bean, and the peels of two clementine oranges.

* Liquid variations: Wine – red, white, rose, champagne, mead – any type that you like drinking. Favorite spirits, such as rum, whisky, and brandy can also be used. Fruit juice or water can be added for extra flavor, or to cut too-strong flavors.

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

The Toilet Paper Wars

My husband has a habit of leaving approximately 2 squares on the toilet paper roll, just so he doesn’t have to be the one to replace the roll on the holder. I find this annoying, so when he does it, I’ll take a new roll out, and just not put it on the holder. (Mature, I know.)*

A short while ago, we both took toilet paper passive aggression to all sorts of new levels. So, in honor of The Bloggess visiting Minneapolis this week, I finally give you the story of The Toilet Paper War.

DAY 1:

That morning, I was faced with another all-but-empty roll of toilet paper on the holder. I took out a new one, put it on the edge of the sink, and didn’t think much of it.

The next time I went to use the washroom, I found that he had tied the end of new roll to the remaining sheets on the old roll, still on the holder. This was new…

So, I carefully undid it, used some paper off the new roll, and then tied the end to the old roll… looping it under the holder, so he would know that I had seen it..

… so he did it again.

… so I tied a big-ish, pouffy florist-style bow and attached it to the old roll. In my mind, I was thinking: “If he wants to get into passive aggression through bow making, I’ll win. Just watch me!”. I had NO idea that this was just the start of a “cold”war over bathroom tissue.

I took a photo of that bow and posted it to a private Facebook group of friends. The plan was that I was NOT going to say a word to him about it, and see if he would “break” first. As such, I needed to tell SOMEONE.

So, I let my friends know:

“ If he does it again, I may just use all that remains on the new roll (minus 4 sheets or so) to make a HUMONGOUS bow, and tie it on. An almost empty roll, attached to an almost empty roll. That would be a win, right?”

… and was immediately told that I have the best marriage ever. Pretty sure that it wasn’t sarcastic, either!

As it turned out, he was having some of the same thoughts as I was. The next time I went to use the washroom, this is the sight I was greeted with:

I posted the photo to my friends, and the fun began… Including one suggestion that I slip him an Ex-Lax. (Yes, I have weird friends)

“I was expecting the old roll to be on the holder, and the new roll to be on the sink. So obviously one of you *did* change the roll.” – Stacey, 2:57pm

“You know what, you’re right. I was so focused on the fact that they were tied together, I didn’t notice. Now I have no idea at which point this happened. I’m thinking he may have done it after I tied *MY* first bow. I’ll have to ask him, when we’re finally discussing it. Actually, yeah – it would have had to be on his second bow, because I wouldn’t have been able to loop it the way I had on MY first tie. – Me, 3:02pm

“So if he actually did change it, but tied it together all pretty like that, then I guess you “won” the PA toilet paper challenge. ;-)” – Stacey, 3:05pm

“I did… damnit. I was looking forward to my next bow!” – Me, 3:06pm

“Damn. I gotta find me a man who does shit like this ;-)” – Josie, 3:07pm

“God, I’m such a jackass. He’s out back – took the day off to work on the car…. So I just went out to “check on things”, and bring him a snack. We have a bunch of dried fruits in blue bags. He ate it before asking what it was. Yup. a big, FAT prune. Haha!” – Me, 3:11pm

“That is beautiful…ROTFLMAO!!!!” – Desiree, 3:13pm

“So, if it’s not a passive aggressive competition any more, keep it going as a bow competition. Or a “who breaks first and laughs” competition :-D” – Pamela, 3:14pm

“I almost broke when I had to say “It’s a prune”.” – Me, 3:15pm ·

“LOL I just chuckled out loud here in the office when I read the word “prune”.” – Heidi, 3:16pm

“ It is SO wrong that I can’t wait for him to use the can again. I’m guessing he’ll say something this time… but if he doesn’t, I’m taking a photo of whatever he does with the roll.” – Me, 3:19pm

“Hmmmm… have you any mineral oil or cod liver oil in the house?” – Heidi, 3:19pm

“We’re going to a movie in a bit, I don’t want to do anything that will make being stuck beside him a punishment for ME!” – Me, 3:20pm

“OMG he just came in. He’s washing his hands in the kitchen, and I am trying SO hard not to laugh”. – Me, 3:26pm

“SO WHAT IS HE DOING NOW??????” – Heidi, 3:30pm

“I DON’T KNOW! He was washing his hands, and now nothing!” – Me, 3:31pm

“Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude! I have to leave work soon! I need an update! You’re going to go in there and he’ll have a whole papier mache zoo going on.” – Heidi, 3:40pm

As it turned out, he had gone out back to take the car for a test drive. When he came back, he had the mail with him – including a corset I had ordered for an upcoming event. He helped me into it, and even followed me to the bathroom as I checked it out in the mirror… and he DID NOT EVEN GLANCE at my most recent work of passive aggressive bow making art:

Little did I know, that was the moment that he decided that this had gone from something “cute and funny”, to a CHALLENGE. In his mind, it was now ON.

The best? This was late afternoon, and had started before lunch. Neither of us had yet said a word to the other about it. I’m still shocked that neither of us even smirked at each other. The toilet paper war was temporarily put on hold while we went to a movie and ran some errands… And the discussion online continued…

“ I love how you guys are TPing your own bathroom. After the movie, maybe it will creep into the hallway, then outside. Who needs neighborhood hooligans? 😉 – Stacey, 4:35pm

“ I was thinking of leaving a roll in the bed next to him when I wake up tomorrow” – Me, 4:54pm

“If you do, it should so have a TP rose on it……. :)” – Pamela, 5:01pm

“I wonder if he’s trying to figure out what the TP game is but doesn’t want to ask. :-)” – Stacey, 5:16pm

“So we’re getting ready for bed, I go to use the washroom, forgetting about the toilet paper thing. I have NO IDEA when he had time to, but he made his next move. He must have opened a package of tp that wasn’t in there earlier … and placed rolls EVERYWHERE. one on the faucet, two on the toilet, 2 on the towel rack, one on top of a mirror, one balanced on the corner of the medicine cabinet. Didn’t have my phone to take a pic of the ridiculousness, so I passed on making a move. I came upstairs, he went down and came back up … still not so much as the hint of a grin over it from either of us. NO ONE is acknowledging it in any way! LMAO! ” – Me, 10:01 pm


I woke up earlier than he did, and was finally able to snap a photo of his previous night’s move… but was greeted with even MORE of it than the previous night:

“LOL! Porter TPed the hell out of the bathroom last night. In addition to the 9 rolls all over the place, he draped 2 long banners of it from the back of the toilet and the roll holder, up on the mirror, across the bathroom, draped low… it’s kind of magnificent. I can’t take a picture from in the bathroom though, and I’ll feel like he wins if I “acknowledge” it within his view (taking a photo from outside of the bathroom). So this morning before he got up, I individually “mummified” every one of his bottles, toothbrush, razor, etc that’s in the shower. Bwahaha!! He’ll have to unwrap them before showering (or they’ll get gross), which means that he’ll have “acknowledged” my work by undoing it… and I win. Right?” – Me, 9:26am

“He’s making breakfast, so I was able to snap a quick photo. He must have seen the shower, because now he’s getting really fancy with braids and knots. Not a word or even smile about it from either side! We’re having a normal weekend morning, too. Got up, went to the farmer’s market, spent about an hour in the kitchen together, cleaning up the fridge, he washed dishes as I cut up produce and made some soup stock… LOADS of interaction. Still not even a hint about this. LOL! I think he may be winning. I have no idea how to top this ” – Me, 9:57am

“It’s hard to “win” when you aren’t sure what the game is, but remember–you got him to change the TP roll in the first place, so you already won. If he “wins” the “let’s TP the house” contest, that’s OK. :-)” – Stacey, 10:02am

“I suggest a wreath effect, with lots of floral style bows that are then affixed to every sconce, and then small bows on the shower hooks.” – Desiree, 10:07am

“Wait. Are you guys each UNdoing what the previous person has done? Or are you just building on what is already there? You could remove your shower curtain and replace it with one made from toilet paper.” – Nicole, 10:14am

“We are headed out to run errands, I will take your suggestions and run with them when we get back! CANNOT tell how much willpower it took to NOT ask if we need tp when doing shopping list together!” – Me, 10:21am

“When you’re shopping, just go and find the biggest pack of toilet paper you can find and put it in the cart. Don’t make eye contact and don’t say a word. Does he have a place in the house that is “his?” Ie: a desk or workbench? When he’s out or asleep, I’d lead the TP from the bathroom to whatever it is and then completely cover that in TP.” – Michelle, 10:24am

“You guys are insane. I love it.” – Vicki, 4:44pm

“He has since wrapped the scale, so I wrapped the hand towel. Still not so much as a word.” – Me, 6:16pm

“So we were getting ready to go out, I was in there doing hair and makeup (omg difficult!), he was upstairs getting dressed. So, as I finished up, I rigged a roll to fall on him when he opened the door. Went and got dressed, he used the washroom… I didn’t get to see what happened, but there’s no way that it DIDN’T fall on his head. Still not a word.” – Me, 6:36pm

“I can’t believe that neither of you can hear the other cracking up :)” – J.M, 7:13pm

“You two are crazy, I love it.” – Diana, 11:16pm

“He wrapped the door handle on the inside of the bathroom, so I wrapped the shower head, bath faucet, and tap handle.” – Me, 11:59pm

DAY 3:

I woke up to find that my husband had found the opportunity to make his move at some point after going to bed: He had wet a strip of toilet paper, and just applied it to the wall in a straight line.

As he slept in, I followed with the move I’d been looking forward to for the past day:

“He just went down to the washroom… I’m guessing this all ends today. LOL. The bathroom is only very barely functional now” – Me, 9:03am

“He took it beyond the bathroom! Just went downstairs to find that he’d wrapped my keyboard! Unfortunately, I was VNC’d in to that computer at the time, so now I’m worried that he saw this thread. If he sees me “acknowledging” it to a private group, does that count? Crap, I think I may have lost the game!” – Me, 9:48am

That would end up being the final move of the “Game”. We were running out of space to do anything in the bathroom, and with the next day being a workday… yeah. It all had to come down. I waited as long as I possibly could that evening, but he held out. I was going to have to be the one to address it. After three full days of neither acknowledging the growing, uh… installation… in the bathroom, it killed me to be the one to crack!

Sitting there, watching TV, I just brought it up, out of the blue. “I guess this means that I lose, but we’re going to have to clean up the bathroom tonight”

He busted out laughing, and we got to work disassembling our passive aggressive toilet paper art. (No worries, none of it went to waste – the bathroom had recently been cleaned, so we piled up all of our bows, swags, and braids into a shopping bag for use.)

You know, before we met… I guess I had some pretty standard ideas about what marriage was supposed to be. Reality – with my particular husband – is about a million times more fun than I ever could have pictured.

* He wants me to state that it’s the opposite, and he thinks that*I* leave 2 squares on. Um, no. Sorry sweetie!

Edited to add:

I forgot that he had gone in with a wide angle camera to take some better photos, before we took it all down…

Shot Tectonics – The Science of Layered Shooters

Layering shots is not only a pretty way to pour delicious drinks, it’s also a lot of fun. A bit of flavor mixology, some math, some experimentation, pretty colors… that’s always a recipe for entertainment! It’s a shame that it seems to be a technique that’s gone out of favor – the fast paced environment of today’s clubs has put a kibosh on the previous popularity of layering. Bah! Let’s bring it back!