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For god’s sake let me turn off the Great British Bake Off.

It’s the darkest doldrum days of Canadian winter and I’ve been baking cakes this week.

It’s those damned U.K. crooked-teethed bakers in an emerald field‘s fault.

Welcome to my test kitchen.

Chocolate cakes. I’ve been baking chocolate cakes and internally ruminating about making cinnamon buns and hot cross buns. Warm, comforting scents waft in swirls, mixing lightly with tinges of pine smoke from the woodstove. Currier and Ives and Norman Rockwell would stand proud.

Maybe my sugar craving is psychological lust in disguise… porn in a more socially acceptable guise. Maybe I’m a man whose mind lies in the erotic X-rated gutter looking for sexual connections to everything, I don’t know.

I know I love chocolate. I love chocolate cake. But I don’t need to eat chocolate cake.

What I need is to run more and bike more and swim more. That’s not a New Year’s Resolution. But it should be.

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There was a movie a while back called WAITRESS, where Keri Russell made pies in a diner, lots of pies. She’d make a different pie every day – a pie that matched her mood and what was happening in her world… pies like :

BAD BABY PIE – Quiche with egg and brie cheese with a smoked ham centre… (made when she becomes pregnant by her abusive husband.)

MARSHMELLOW MERMAID PIE – From when she was in her mermaid stage. “Biblically good!

I HATE MY HUSBAND PIE – “You make it with bittersweet chocolate and don’t sweeten it. You make it into a pudding and drown it in caramel …”

One day, setting a piece of Strawberry Chocolate Oasis pie in front of Old Joe, her favourite customer (Andy Griffith), he oohs and ahhs in ecstasy at the first forkful, and she says, “It’s just a pie“.

Just a pie! It’s downright expert. A thing’a beauty … how each flavor opens itself, one by one, like a chapter in a book. First, the flavor of an exotic spice hits ya … Just a hint of it … and then you get flooded with chocolate, dark and bittersweet like an old love affair …

Just a pie. Just a chocolate cake. Not just just anything.

Yup Old Joe, it’s like a chapter in a book.

My cakes are filled with messages and meanings that go miles beyond the floury-sugary material ingredients blended together; cakes with memory fillings, creamy whipped childhood playgrounds and frosted wedding ceremonies and family-layered funeral gatherings.

Food – especially sweet food – is special in our lives. It’s like the weather. Good. Bad. Indifferent. We talk about it constantly.

Yup, Old Joe, it’s like a trip to an exotic spicy locale that invigorates and inspires you.

My cake tastes better when it travels too. It’s both literal and metaphorical.

Doesn’t any food you eat when you travel taste better than the same thing eaten at home?

A plain old havarti cheese sandwich on a crispy sourdough baguette gulped down at your kitchen table magically tastes so much better when sitting on the Spanish Steps in Rome, or on a massive rock parapet overlooking Machu Picchu.

Food mingles with personalities and visual perspectives on the horizon like fine sparkling wine pairs with fresh fruit.

My cake will transport you down an elm tree-lined journey into your past and a meal you shared with your best childhood friend in your backyard.

Treasured Mom moments.

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The power of cake.

Now that a new year has dawned, I think I’m drawn to making cakes because I’m celebrating the birth of a new seasonal effect, the lengthening of daylight. I’m looking outwards to the exciting creation of experiences, activities and new life stories.

But I’m also connecting with past wonders and the sometimes sweet, sometimes spicy memories of family dinners, weddings, funerals and celebrations.

Or maybe… just maybe… I truly am addicted to sugar.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

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