Mocha Pecan Torte

My youngest brother graduated from the paramedicine program at CONA yesterday. This is what I made to celebrate.

You will need…

6 egg whites, room temperature

6 egg yolks
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp crushed instant coffee granules

1/2 cup flour
1 tsp cocoa
1 1/2 cups ground pecans

1. Beat egg whites until stiff, set aside.
2. Beat yolks well. Add sugar, vanilla, and coffee; beat again. They
are very naughty egg yolks. Fold into previously cowed egg whites.
3. Gently fold in flour and cocoa, then fold in pecans.
4. Bake in two greased 8-inch pans at 350/180 for about 25 minutes. Cool.

2 cups whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar (I used less)
1 tbsp instant coffee
1 tbsp boiling water

1. Dissolve coffee in water. While that’s cooling, beat cream and
sugar until quite stiff, then beat in the coffee. It will be a very
violent day. Spread between layers of cake and on top and sides.

Optional extras:
Toasted pecans
Fried pecans in butter and brown sugar
melted chocolate drizzles
caramel sauce (cream, brown sugar, cornstarch and butter; boil and
then simmer until thick)
All of the above


I didn’t start out to be a potter.

Five years ago, I wanted to be a medievalist. I was in grad school, learning as much Latin and codicology and palaeography and textual analysis as I could cram into my head. I read things like Hildegard of Bingen’s Scivias for fun[1]. And most of all, I liked food.

I mean, I’ve always liked to eat food, and to make it, but at that point my particular obsession was the social context of food. What we eat, and how we eat it, and who with, and when, and why. I wanted (but never found the right excuse) to write a paper about the concurrent rise of cities and fast foods, so I could make a pun in the title about burghers. I was considering a PhD thesis about the introduction of forks to medieval England.

And then I finished my MA and decided that was enough of that for now, and went home to Newfoundland and got a retail job to tide me over until something else came up, and then started playing with clay, and between one thing and another that year in Toronto seems very far away most days. And then it struck me at lunchtime that I still spend my days working on ways people serve food, but from a different angle.

[1] It actually is fun, if you can get a translation in the language of your choice, to read Hildegard of Bingen’s Scivias. Y’know, if you have a thing for long and rambly religiously-inspired acid trips.

Lean Manufacturing

Went to a lean manufacturing seminar today. Some government department or other offers it to larger-scale operations, and has started tweaking the presentation for craft businesses, so the Craft Council asked for a couple of volunteers/participants/guinea pigs to take part and give some feedback.

The presentation itself was alright (a few things to think about, and a lot of things that don’t apply or are impossible as long as I’m working in a group studio but which I’ll keep in mind for the future), but the food was great. Tea, coffee and hot chocolate when we came in the door, then another tea/coffee/chocolate break with lemon poppy seed cake. Lunch was some sort of pasta-veg-cheese piece of wondrousness, with salad and bread (good bread, too) on the side, and peach raspberry crumble, mint chocolate cake, and ice cream for dessert. In the afternoon there was another hot-beverage-of-choice break, with three kinds of cookies.

I am *totally* taking as many seminars as I can. I haven’t eaten this well in days.