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Saturday 14 December 2013

Custom Gift Certificates Available!

Hi dear friends,

I wanted to remind you that you can purchase Gift Certificates as gifts and its easy! 
Gift Certificates can include both names and a brief message from you!

Simply head to the Winter Schedule and Fees page and Select "Basic Class Fee - $60 in the Paypal section. Then just add in a memo with the name(s) of the folks you want the Certificates for and I will customize them and send you a PDF of the file for you to print right at home! Alternatively, I am more than happy to print and mail/deliver them to you in time for Christmas :)

I like to extend my most warm Christmas greeting to all of you. May your time together as family be rejuvenating and refreshing and the joy of Christmas shine on you all this holiday season!

Love, Katie

Thursday 17 October 2013

Recipe of the Day - Grandma Jennie's Meat Pie

You may or may not know that my Grandma McLennan (dad`s mom) was a famous baker and cook. She worked in logging camps from a young age and through all her years of experience came to perfect some of the simple dishes that my family loves. I grew up eating this perfectly prepared simple fare and took for granted how soul satisfying and delicious foods like berry pie, hearty stew, cloud biscuits, and ginger snaps could be. So when my grandmother was getting a little older we realized that we need to save her legacy in some way. My mother and father took on the job of helping make a recipe book. It ended up including recipes from many of the local cooks in the Muskoka area where she spent most of her life feeding people. Her recipe book is still for sale as at the museum in tiny town of Dorset Ontario.

This recipe is one of my all time favourites and made ahead and frozen is a quick and easy meal for the family, perfect for a cold Autumn night. About this pie my grandmother said: "I use beef, pork or moose, or a combination. they are all delicious. Finely chopped carrots are also a nice addition." I put the carrots in the recipe below.


Tourtière (aka meat pie) Although ground meat is quick to brown, cooking it slowly and for a longer period of time is what gives this pie its full flavour despite the simple ingredients. Tip: Pastry is cooked through on the bottom when the pastry slides freely in the pie pan when given a little sideways jerk.

Filling Ingredients:
1 recipe Jennie's pastry or enough for a 9” double crusted pie (recipe below)
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 cup onion diced
1 cup carrot, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground sage (or 1 tsp rubbed)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

1. Brown the meat slowly but thoroughly over medium low heat. Add onion, carrots and garlic and continue cooking until carrots are soft. Add the water and seasonings and vegetables if desired, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

2. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes adding water 1/4 cup at a time to keep the mixture from burning or sticking. Thicken with 3 Tbsp flour of flour whisked into 1/2 cup of water. Cook a few minutes more until thickened (mixture should be moist but not soupy) and season to taste.

3. Remove from heat and cool. Spoon into flaky unbaked pastry shells. Trim excess and moisten the edge of the pastry shell. Cover with second shell, press edges together and crimp the edge of the pie to seal. Brush the top with milk (golden crust) or a beaten egg mixed with a little water (for a shiny crust) cut a steam vent in the top and bake at 350'F for 50-60 minutes or until pastry is golden and the mixture is bubbling.

Do Ahead: To freeze meat pies or chicken pot pies simply allow the filling to cool fully, assemble the pie and place on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, remove from tray and wrap well. Frozen pies can be stacked in the oven. To cook the pie later preheat oven to 350'F. Place unwrapped pie in oven and bake for about 1 hour until hot in the middle and golden brown.

My Pastry - Dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.

Ingredients - Makes enough pastry for 1 double crusted pie
2 cups flour (either all purpose (A/P) or half pastry flour half A/P)
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup lard or shortening
1/3 cup water

Ingredients - Makes enough pastry for 2-3 double crusted pies
4 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp salt
1 lb cold lard or shortening
7/8 cup cold water

1. Work the fat into the flour using a pastry cutter or quickly with cool hands until the pieces are no smaller than 1/2” (about the size of a Lima bean). A good way to do this is to coat it with the flour. This makes it easier to handle as you rub the fat into the flour. Try to raise your hands above the bowl as you do this, allowing the rubbed in mixture to fall back in, collecting air as it does so. This helps to lighten your pastry. Add the water and mix together with your hands just until the dough forms a ball. Do not overwork the dough.

2. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for a bit (about half an hour). If its hot, put it in the fridge. At this point the pastry is also perfect for freezing and can be kept in the fridge for a week or the freezer for several months.

3. When ready to use, cut the dough into portions about the size of a soft ball. Flatten each into a disc as it makes it easier to roll. It is now ready to be rolled out for anything you like!

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Summer Photo Recap

It was a busy and very fun summer and I thought I'd just post a bunch of pics rather than try to recap in depth...

The summary of events goes like this - Brother married to a beautiful new sister (I now have 9 in total), other brother and wife visited from out west and it was awesome to see them! Family from Maryland came up in May, June and July for super fun / epic weekends, Tricia grew and we finished the prep work for adopting / fostering again... praying our family will grow again soon ;) We got two barn kitties that are turning into the best cats ever and we had enough veggies from our backyard garden that we didn't need to buy vegetables at the grocery store for a full 4 months!

Thanks for tuning in :)

Monday 19 August 2013

Public Class Schedule - Fall 2013

 Well here it is at last, the Class Schedule for the Fall.

PS - Remind me to tell you about my best veggie garden ever... 
So much food and so much fun!

Public Class Schedule Fall 2013
Great Indian Class everyone... thanks for the fun!!

Date: Wednesday October 9th 6:00-9:00 pm
Theme: Mexican Fiesta
Where: London House Bed and Breakfast


Date: Thursday November 14th 6:00-9:00 pm
Theme: Viet/Thai (Southeast Asian Flavours)
Where: London House Bed and Breakfast


Date: Tuesday December 10th 6:00-9:00 pm
Theme: Appetizers for Entertaining
Where: London House Bed and Breakfast

To Pay using Paypal or Learn More about our Classes See Info and Fees
To learn more about our Class Themes
To see our venue visit London House

Tuesday 23 July 2013

The Best Vanilla Cake Recipe

I don't normally re-post from other blogs but today is an exception... because at the moment I am baking my brother's wedding cake (literally it is in the oven right now). He is getting married to the beautiful Jessica this Saturday and I was asked to make their cake... I was more than happy to oblige.

Here is a picture of what they would like to serve their guests...

Do you know that not all cakes are created equal? 

After some serious searching in books and on this here internet I found the following post on a blog called All Sorts of Pretty. Such a lovely site but also containing the perfect vanilla cake recipe. I doubled it in order to make 2 x 10" layers for my project but you won't find a recipe like it very many places. The biggest difference is using all room temp ingredients except for the butter which gets added cold in cubes straight to the dry ingredients. This is genius!! It is a little more complicated than your average recipe but just read it through once and you'll be good to go. A note on the icing: I am doing the cake above so in order to achieve the colour I want I am using coffee but I will still be adding vanilla to the recipe. PS - the cake is out of the oven and looks glamorous and just perfect!

The Best Vanilla Cake Recipe

Posted on Monday, May 13th, 2013 - Written by Katy
The Best Vanilla Cake Recipe by Sweetapolita (via All Sorts of Pretty)
The method for creating this cake is very specific – it calls for weighing your ingredients in grams rather than measuring in cups.  You’ll need a timer as it calls for adding the butter at specific 10 second intervals and then beating the batter for 3 minutes before adding the egg mixture in 20 second intervals.
Some people might find this tedious and opt for a box cake instead, but I love this kind of process and found the cake itself to be far superior to anything you’ll find in a box.  The cake is light and fluffy, while also having more density than boxed mix or any other cake I’ve baked.
The Best Vanilla Cake Recipe by Sweetapolita (via All Sorts of Pretty)
The Best Vanilla Cake Recipe by Sweetapolita (via All Sorts of Pretty)The icing for this cake is so light and fluffy, plus perfectly sweet and vanilla flavored from using a scraped vanilla bean.
The Best Vanilla Cake Recipe by Sweetapolita (via All Sorts of Pretty)The recipe calls for beating the butter for 8 minutes, then with the rest of the ingredients for an additional 7 minutes.  It turns out so airy and light, you may be tempted to steal a fingertip-full from the bowl like I did.
The Best Vanilla Cake Recipe by Sweetapolita (via All Sorts of Pretty)

Yield: One 2-layer, 8-inch round cake
For the Fluffy Vanilla Cake:
  • 5 large egg whites (150 g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 cup whole milk (237 ml), at room temperature
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons (12 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (345 g) cake flour, sifted 2
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (17 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 12 tablespoons (170 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 24 even pieces

For the Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting:
  • 3 sticks + 2 tablespoons (375 grams) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 3 cups sifted (475 g) confectioners’ sugar (icing, powdered)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
For the Fluffy Vanilla Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment, and flour two round 8-inch pans.
  2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, whole egg, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter one piece at a time, about every 10 seconds, ensuring it’s cold (you can keep some in refrigerator while you’re adding pieces). Continue to mix on low until the mixture is a fine crumbly texture. Add milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. Fold once or twice to ensure the batter at bottom of bowl is incorporated.
  5. Divide the batter in two, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh to ensure 2 even layers.
  6. Bake until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs when inserted into the center, about 30 minutes. Be so careful to not over-bake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and then set the timer for 5 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
  7. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best eaten the same day as baked.
For the Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting:
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy.
  3. Best used right away.
  4. You can eliminate the vanilla bean and use a total of 1-1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.

  1. Place bottom cake layer on cake plate or 8″ round thin cake board and spread 1 cup of frosting on top with a small offset spatula.
  2. Gently place 2nd cake layer face down on top. Place a generous scoop of frosting on top, spreading evenly with a small offset spatula and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. Chill until set, about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from refrigerator and apply a final “coat” of frosting.
  4. Store in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in refrigerator for up to 5 days. Best eaten day 1.

Sunday 30 June 2013

Salsa Verde for my Friday Class Girls!

(Green Tomatillo Salsa)

Whether you choose the verdant, slushy, herby freshness of the all-raw tomatillo salsa or the oil-colored, voluptuous, sweet-sour richness of the roasted version, tomatillos are about brightening tang. Makes about 1 Cup


8 ounces (5 to 6 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
Fresh hot green chiles, to taste (roughly 2 serranos or 1 jalapeno), stemmed
5 or 6 sprigs fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Scant 1/4 cup finely chopped onion

Instructions - For the All-Raw version:

1. Roughly chop the tomatillos and the chiles. In a blender or food processor, combine, tomatillos, chiles, cilantro and 1/4 cup water. Note: If your tomatillos are canned or frozen, omit the water).

2. Process to a coarse puree, then scrape into a serving dish. Rinse the onion under cold water, then shake to remove excess moisture. Stir into the salsa and season with salt, usually a generous 1/4 teaspoon. 

For the Roasted version:

1. Preheat a broiler. Roast the tomatillos and chiles on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until darkly roasted, even blackened in spots, about 5 minutes. Flip them over and roast the other side, 4 to 5 minutes more will give you splotchy-black and blistered tomatillos and chiles.

2. In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillos and chiles, including all the delicious juice that has run onto the baking sheet. Add the cilantro and 1/4 cup water, blend to a coarse puree, and scrape into a serving dish.

3. Rinse the onion under cold water, then shake to remove the excess moisture. Stir into the salsa and season with salt, usually a generous 1/4 teaspoon.

I have found them locally in a couple places... I have bought canned at the Asian Grocery, Loblaws and I have found fresh or frozen at Latin Groceries. Frozen is my fav as then I don't feel pressured to get cooking. Once I got a whole case of fresh from a restaurant I was helping at and froze them whole in big bags, now I have a forever supply.

Friday 24 May 2013

Funniest video I have watched in ages....

This video has to be shared... I cannot get enough of this! A dad re-enacts an actual conversation he had with his power tripping two year old, complete with clip in his hair. Its too much!

I dont usually laugh out loud all by my lonesome, but this is a serious exception.

Friday 26 April 2013

A year to Celebrate!

This year has flown and this month marks a full year since the official start of The Kitchen Door Culinary Classes. What a great year it has been... so many new faces and friends have come from each class, not to mention some incredible food (24 classes worth)!

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has joined me for a class. You have made my job easy and fun and a source of joy for me. I would also like to thank anyone who has been interested in classes or who has been there to help me iron out the details of running a website and using Paypal effectively. My mom always told me that being a life learner was just as important as finishing school. Starting a business has reminded me just how much there is to learn :)

I also owe a humongous thank you to my mom and dad, Melanie and Andy McLennan who own and operate London House Bed and Breakfast. Without the use of their facility and the wonderful support they have given me, this year of success could not have happened. I have also had a fabulous group of dishies join me for classes so I want to give a shout out to Maggie, Shannon, Annica, Katie and Melanie to name a few. I also have to thank my sister Bethany for all the help looking after my little lady so that I can get to work on time, Beth you're a life saver!!

Now you may be asking what's next for this year? The truth is I am looking forward to finding out too! My goal is to be available to teach privately and run a public (open to anyone) class every other month. That means there is a class approaching for May. So, this coming Thursday May 30th will be a SUSHI class! Let me know if you are interested by emailing me at

Here's to another great season of cooking and eating together!


Katie Franks Chef
The Kitchen Door Culinary Classes

Monday 4 February 2013

Love Abounds

This past year has been the most challenging and exhausting of my life. I am a happy joyful person full of love for others and when Ryan and I felt called to adopt I knew I was being led specifically to the work of mothering whomever God gifted me with. What I didn't yet know was that when our prayers were answered my capacity for love would be stretched and moulded and I would be changed. When you adopt a child you never assume the road will be easy, easy is not the motivator, love is. I cannot imagine loving my daughter Tricia more deeply or passionately and even as I type these words it brings tears to my eyes to think of how hard she is to love sometimes. Of course all parenting is hard work, no doubt every parent wonders if they have what they need from day to day, but when you are called to parent a broken child, a child who is suffering from trauma at a core level you wonder if you have what you need hourly. Being the caregiver to a traumatized child is in itself traumatizing, causing suffering under the weight of the anger and abuse unfathomably coming from a tiny little person.

But here's the thing, the most amazing part of this journey is considering our own adoption into God's family. We are His broken adopted children whom He nurtures and supports and endures with in order for us to come to a place of peace. He desires for all of His people to come to know him as their adopted dad who loves them unconditionally, irregardless of where they have come from and what pain they have suffered. He offers us unconditional love, grace and a peace that passes understanding. How beautiful is that? Christ took our pain on, our problems and deficiencies and illnesses, all of it! He is my hero, my model of what grace filled parenting looks like. Because guess what? Love endures all things, it is patient, love is kind. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. How incredible is that? Talk about a parenting mantra!

The bottom line is that I am broken and empty but as I call on God He keeps sending me help. He provides me a husband perfectly matched to me and who lifts me up daily. He brings me friends, sisters and brothers who know me, know my hurts and want to help even if that means they are just washing my dishes when they stop by or playing with my daughter for a few minutes while I type this email. These beautiful people don't run away from our difficulties, they come alongside and under and support and lift and love. Often people say they don't know how to help when they don't know anything about healing from trauma. I tell them they are already helping by sticking with us, hugging us, laughing with us, crying with us and praying for us. This is what my church means for me, it is a group of people and wherever they go , whatever place they find themselves in, they change it into a time and a place where love abounds. Sundays are a blessing where we fellowship and worship and learn but it also a time when we bring the crazy of the week and have a place to put it... we put it down, we sing it up, we hug it out, we laugh it off and we give to one another. 

I thank God for all of you daily... because His love Abounds.