Warning: this is a kitchen project I got a little overexcited about. Kind of like rendering our own lard. We made sea salt. I’d never have thought of it, but Ashley walked us through the process recently, and the idea stuck. It turned out to be a perfect indoor project when the sideways rain forced us to come in and dry off. I’m on my fourth batch now; fifth if you count our first one, which we forgot about as it neared its final stages and we turned on a movie. You can go about your business as you make salt, but as you get used to how quickly it cooks down, particularly toward the end, you’ll get a sense of when to stick around. I’ve become preoccupied with bringing my water jar to the beach and have soaked myself a couple times attempting to get the very best sample from an incoming wave. And it has quickly become the norm these past couple morningsContinue reading

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So here’s the thing. We’re in Tofino, having decided to take off and find some green over spring break. We found it – lots of it – but also found that construction crews somehow severed the wire that was our internet connection, and the oven is broken. First world problems, I know. But that’s how it came to be that I’m sitting in my car in the rain, having trolled the town with my laptop, looking for an internet connection so I could answer some emails, send some files and post this, what with all the wireless access coffee shops being closed in the evenings. I found a lovely strong signal behind The Shelter – thanks guys! – which means I have a perfectly valid excuse for going for breakfast lunch and dinner while we’re here so that I may check my email. Mike is no doubt wondering what happened to me. Then again not, as he does know me quite well. As always weContinue reading

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I used to have a Belgian Grandma named Elza who played a lot of solitaire. (On the other side of the family – no relation to my (only) Grandad.) Unfortunately I have no memory of her cooking. I have somewhere a three-page hand-written receipt on foolscap for Carbonnade of Beef, and I know she used to make braised red cabbage, but having lived the last of her years in the southern states and not wanting to fly, I don’t think she ever made it for me. I never got her recipe. Then again, I have no idea if it was any good. My pal Sue is now the authority on braised red cabbage in my world. She makes it with Okanagan cherries she dries herself every year, but not completely – she leaves some moisture in them, so that they’re a little bit squishy and juicy, like a raisin that has been plumped in booze. Because they aren’t completely dry, they need to be frozen.Continue reading

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I’m a little smitten with quinoa salads right now, y’all. Maybe that’s not new. I’ve always loved a good tumble of quinoa with black beans or chickpeas or sautéed leeks or kale. Usually with feta. OK, so totally not new. This one though? Totally is. The same but different. I know apples are out of season. Most everything is. But I’m starting to grow little green things in my kitchen – like sprouts and basil – and either would be fab torn and tossed into a quinoa salad. As green things begin to poke out of the ground, you can pluck them and toss them in. That’s the beauty of these beany, grainy salads – anything goes. This is one I did awhile ago for Swerve, and I can’t get enough of it.

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I know, I’m jumping on the bandwagon. But every year it’s the same: I forget how much I love Irish soda bread, those big, dense, rustic loaves that are really like enormous biscuits, only a bit tweedier with a light, crunchy crust. And I’m a sucker for all bread served in wedges. See? It’s like a big biscuit. You cut in the butter, or rub it with your fingers. Warm wedges make perfect vehicles for butter and jam in the morning, and when else can you get away with eating biscuits for dinner? I don’t know what all the hubbub over baguettes is about – soda bread is far easier on the teeth, and a wedge balances perfectly on the edge of a bowl of soup, stew or chili. And takes very well to a handful of grated cheese, if you’re so inclined. Just sayin’.

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I know you guys are all gaga over one-dish dinner ideas, and I’ve got a good one for ya. Everyone devoured this, and Mike asked if there was any way it could be put into regular rotation. It seems to me the sort of thing that might make most husbands happy, if I may generalize here. Again, my inspiration came from desperation – to use the last of two tubs of baby spinach and some mushrooms that had not quite shriveled up and died. It could have taken a handful of grape tomatoes, or some chopped red pepper; any number of wilting veg would do well here. W always begs for cheese tortellini, one of his first toddler foods that still seems toddler-ish in my mind, but not here. It came together in under 20 minutes and the result was like an upscale Hamburger Helper of sorts. It should be noted that it took less time to prepare than HH, and didn’t come out ofContinue reading

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I’m home! Although it may seem to the rest of the world as if I’ve never left, but between traveling and conferences and colds and flu in between, I feel like I’ve hardly been in my kitchen (except to make soup). I have a real and proper dinner simmering away on the stove right this minute, and if it turns out and I manage to take pictures before devouring it, I’ll share it with you. Meanwhile I promised a friend some muffins. A good muffin is a wonderful thing. Once you have a good formula you can do anything with it – make it savoury with cheese and garlic and herbs, or add fruit or nuts or berries or chocolate. I do like my muffins to have a little tooth – without grains they’re a little too cupcake-like. These muffins in particular are made with oatmeal, which is soaked for a bit in buttermilk or thin yogurt (or even thinned sour cream) to soften beforeContinue reading

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This is what I left the boys with a Tupperware container of when I left them to drive up to Edmonton today for the BlogWest conference. Here’s hoping I don’t come home to it still in the fridge and a stack of pizza boxes in the recycling bin. It was one of the last recipes I made for the Soup Sisters cookbook – a Hungarian Goulash contributed by the awesome Anna Olson. I must admit – beef stew is not my thing, having grown up with flank steak stew that reminded me of rope cooked in stewed tomatoes. (Sorry mom.)

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