I have no recipe on offer today. I did slip into the kitchen last night to make a sweet potato and chard gratin – I needed vegetables, but also comfort in the form of warm food and bubbly cheese. Mike offered to order pizza, but I needed a few minutes at the kitchen counter to decompress after a day of meetings and work. And I love this stuff. The three of us – Mike, my sister and I – gathered around the dining room table with our laptops (or in Mike’s case: hockey on TV), a baking dish of this and a bottle of wine; Ali worked on her masters’ application and I hammered away at Blog Aid details while trying to pull together an article for Swerve that is just not coming together in the kick-ass way I wanted it to, dammit. Today and tonight was another flurry of work, and since most of it took place on the computer, we tossed a few racksContinue reading

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I love it when I wind up making something completely off my radar, simply because circumstances dictate I use up a random collection of ingredients. This morning I had my photo taken for next Friday’s Swerve magazine (!) and so I needed to appear 1) cleaned-up and presentable, and 2) like I was right into it in the kitchen. So I rummaged around pulling out bakerly things, like a wad of pastry from the depths of the freezer, and whipped egg whites and sugar into a bowl of meringue, thinking I could strike a Nigella-esque pose with it (I didn’t). When the photographer left, I had a well-crimped (albeit horribly overworked, as most props are) pie crust and a bowl of meringue. My laptop on the table, I quickly searched for a buttermilk pie recipe, thinking that a custardlike filling would be a) quick, and b) a good way to use up those yolks. A maple version came up. I decided to top it withContinue reading

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Damn but I do love me a Nanaimo Bar. I might have skipped this month’s Daring Bakers challenge, citing an unusually overloaded week (multiple article assignments, an out-of-town class, Blog Aid, traffic reporting on CBC, miscellaneous meetings and tying up of loose ends, an unpleasant, expensive and far-too-drawn-out audit) if the assignment wasn’t Nanaimo bars. They’re just my thing. So I couldn’t let my comrades down. I’m not sure at what point I fell so head over heels in love with Nanaimo bars. It was during my childhood, surely. I don’t recall anyone making them from scratch; it could be that they were the elusive store-bought chocolate treat that made them so appealing. (My parents could be described as granola-types, who bought Bran Buds and hardcore multi-grain bio-bread, made extra-lean ground beef burgers heavily subsidized with oat bran, and sent me to school with a big old carrot for recess snack instead of a much-coveted Fruit Roll-Up. Things changed as we grew up and theyContinue reading

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Have you seen Amélie? (If not, please do.) There’s a part at the beginning where they introduce her and her parents by describing first what they hate and then what they love. As good a litmus test as any, I think. Amélie loves dipping her hands deep into bags of beans and grains. She hates it when drivers in old movies don’t watch the road while they’re driving. Amélie’s Dad hates clingy swimsuits and likes to take everything out of his toolbox, clean it, and then put everything back in. Likewise her Mom likes to take everything out of her purse, clean it, and put everything back in. (She hates it when her fingers and toes get all wrinkly in the tub.) I imagine if I were to be described in this manner it would go something like: She hates it when people eat black licorice within fifty yards of her. She likes to take everything out of her freezer, clean it, and then putContinue reading

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I roasted lemons! Cut organic ones into wedges, sprinkled them with sugar and blasted them until they turned soft and fleshy and oozed tart, caramelized juice. Then popped them into a jar, poured hot simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, brought to a simmer) overtop and tucked in a vanilla bean (a rosemary sprig might have been a good idea too) for good measure. So I just had to pop in and tell you about it, even though it’s far too dark to take a decent picture and Mike is patiently waiting for me to start a movie (One Week), because nothing excites me on Saturday night like applying heat to a citrus fruit in a way I hadn’t considered before. And I thought you might get a special little thrill out of it too. My activity relates directly to an article I’m working on on preserved lemons, which I admit I never fully understood. I wish I could tell you how to makeContinue reading

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As I may have mentioned, since Christmas we have become the before and after school caregivers of an almost 7 year old bottomless pit. Not that I’m complaining. But I have been short of extra minutes this week, and so baked a batch of insurance against hearing “I’M STILL HUNGRY” every five minutes between 7:30 and 8:30 and from 3:30 till 6. Today I spent the afternoon in meetings regarding Blog Aid, and although I wish I could share the exciting details, I think I need to hammer them all out first. But it’s been a week, and besides the design, copy and photos, it looks like we have almost all the logistics worked out too. And yet somehow my to-do list for tomorrow is even longer than it was today. (Aren’t they meant to get shorter?) And now I’m sitting here blankly staring at my computer with no idea what to type. So since I have a story on preserved lemons due tomorrow, I’llContinue reading

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I’ve not been in the kitchen for the past two days – to cook, anyway (save for the four batches of Baklava Biscotti I made late last night to feed the Olympic torch-watching hordes early this morning) – and to spread hazelnut honey (ingredients: honey, hazelnuts) on toast to balance like a lid on my cups of coffee and tea while hammering away on the computer. Speaking of baklava – you know when something a bit obscure comes along and then it shows up again and again in quick succession? That was baklava today. I made the biscotti, and after the show this morning had enough time to eat the stumpy ends in the photo before running off to a meeting that ran late, into another meeting that ran until 3:30. Halfway through that meeting, someone pulled out a box of baklava. And then sent the leftovers home with me, which meant I was trapped inside a car at rush hour with nothing but aContinue reading

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I got a great email from my mom, who is currently blissfully kayaking and walking on the beach in Costa Rica and thus behind on her internet consumption, including my blog updates. It read: When dogs get hurt, they have to be kept from licking their wounds and making it worse. People too sometimes. Stop licking or we’ll have to put a cone on your head. Too bad that wouldn’t fit inside a fortune cookie. It may be my new mantra, posted on my fridge or bathroom mirror: STOP LICKING OR WE’LL PUT A CONE ON YOUR HEAD. (Which isn’t to say I’m still licking – as you know I’m on to bigger things. But, you know, my Mom knows me pretty well. And I thought it was a great analogy, if a little behind the times.) There wasn’t much cooking done this weekend as I was more or less attached to my computer, working on Blog Aid. We ate roasted pepper and tomato soup,Continue reading

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