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Tater tots, Tang, and potato chip casserole: Brian Francis, "Caker Cooking"

Can you really make apple pie with no apples, apple sauce, or apple products of any kind? How about combining pineapple, bananas, Life Savers, and maraschino cherries and calling it a salad? If these recipes make your eyebrows raise or your stomach grumble, meet Brian Francis. He's the creator of "Caker Cooking," the latest featured blog in our Canadian blogger series.

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Tell us about yourself. What do you do? Where do you do it?
You know that loner guy in the leather jacket on the motorcycle? The one with the brooding good looks and a sense of mystery? The one everyone wants to be friends with? Yeah, well, that’s not me. I work, write and look through coil-bound cookbooks on Saturday nights. I also have a tendency to befriend seniors. 

Your blog is called Caker Cooking but the subtitle reads, “It’s not about cakes.” What is a caker and how do they cook?
A caker (short for the Italian term “mangiacake”) is a Canadian Anglo Saxon who cooks with Cheez Whiz, tater tots, cream of mushroom soup or any other processed food. Think casseroles. More specifically, think crushed potato chips on casseroles. Cakers are all about convenience. Our food is usually beige or grey. Sometimes, there are vegetables in it. But it’s rare. And only if the vegetables are canned.

When and why did you start blogging? 
I started Caker Cooking in 2011. I’ve hosted a caker-themed Christmas party for the past 16 years or so and had all these recipes. So I figured, why not put them on a website? Part of my blog is also about educating cakers that they’re cakers. Many of them don’t know. So my blog also provides a public service.

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You are also a fiction writer— your book Natural Order made the Top 40 list for Canada Reads 2014 while your first book, Fruit, made it all the way to the final round. How does your approach to writing change for your blog versus your fiction? Do you have a different voice?
Absolutely. The blog voice is a lot different. I generally tend to write novels that are first-person. I guess it’s because I like stepping into the role of a character. I can get a little obsessive about nailing a character’s voice. It’s challenging for me. So, in a sense, the blog voice is a character, as well. I think of him as “Caker Brian.” 

You encourage a lot of feedback from your readers. What is the best (delicious or terrifying) suggestion you have received from a reader? 
Recently, a couple of readers sent me the recipe for Candle Salad. Well, not that there’s a recipe; it’s more an assembly of ingredients. It caused quite a sensation. There was a banana, a maraschino cherry and mayonnaise involved. I’ll leave it at that. 

Do you eat all caker all the time? 
No. I’d like to live a long life.

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If someone was hesitant to try caker cooking, what recipe would entice them to a lifetime of cakery? 
Tang Pie. Seriously. It’s the best thing ever. It’s just powdered Tang, sour cream, Cool Whip and some sweetened condensed milk. Your eyes will roll back into your head. Promise. Plus, it’s packed with Vitamin C. Maybe.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? 
It’s really important to keep your head down. I spent a lot of time thinking I needed to be someone else in order to be a writer. I don’t. I just have to be myself. It sounds corny, but it’s true. Write what you want to write, but make a sincere effort to ensure people feel welcome to join you on the journey. 

All images courtesy of Caker Cooking.

>>Check out Caker Cooking

Read profiles of other Canadian bloggers:

Obscure CanLit Mama by Carrie Anne Snyder
Le Blog du Rob by Rob Watson
The Art of Doing Stuff by Karen Bertelsen
Man on the Lam by Raymond Walsh
Ironic Mom by Leanne Shirtliffe
Clockwork Lemon by Stephanie Eddie
OffQc by Kevin Felix Polesello


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