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Once in awhile all I want is a shallow bowl of really plain spaghetti with red sauce – like the kind you get in the can, only not as mushy and with more flavour – the sort of thing I imagine would have been served in an Italian neighbourhood eatery in Manhattan in the 1950s. Something I could mop up with crusty, buttery bread and wash down with red wine. Something uninterrupted even by meatballs. (Which isn’t to say a batch of good meatballs wouldn’t do really well here.) Having been MIA for the past three dinnertimes, and about to leave town for 10 days (yes, the boys will join me for some of it) I simmered a pot of red sauce to somehow maintain my presence when Mike inevitably makes spaghetti for himself and W for the next few dinners or so. I know, they could easily open a jar and be perfectly fine, but simmering a pot of sauce somehow alleviates some ofContinue reading

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pumpkin stuffed with everything good 4
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How could you not stuff a pumpkin with everything good? Especially when it’s a week before Halloween and you already have foot-long icicles hanging from your roof. I met Dorie Greenspan last year in Austin. I recognized her son first, sitting on the arm of her chair in the hotel lounge. They had been (and still are) opening a series of pop-up cookie shops called Beurre & Sel, and I had more than a little cookie crush. Whomever I was with – someone blocked out of my memory by the brightness of that Dorie sun – introduced me, and we had a short chat, and I smiled all the way back to my room. The next evening I was at a party – with about 500 other people – when I spotted Dorie chatting with Jacques Pépin a few yards away. She turned and caught my eye, and the two of them came through the crowd, directly toward me. I assumed she was coming toContinue reading

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It’s my sister’s birthday today. (The one who lives across the street.) She’ll spend the day going to work and soccer and the usuals, and I wanted to do something small to make her day better. She adores pumpkin pie – something we don’t have in common – but she hasn’t been allowing herself to eat it over the past few months, as she’s been busy losing almost 100 pounds. I know! I’m so proud of her, and not only for that accomplishment. She loves granola, so I thought I’d make some that tasted like pumpkin pie. A dollop of plain or vanilla yogurt could be like whipped cream almost, couldn’t it? With a drizzle of maple syrup? I’m just now realizing that although I made it for her, it’s still sitting in my kitchen, so it will require an early morning sprint across the street in the snow if delivery is going to be made in time for breakfast. Happy birthday Ali! We loveContinue reading

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This! Want. I came across it while cruisin’ The Kitchn, trying to research the best way to open a fresh coconut, and the idea of it stuck – I can’t recall the last time I craved something as much that wasn’t a burger. And so tonight, even though I had been up since 4, had a sick kid in bed watching obnoxious cartoons and Mike called to say he was working late and would go straight to watch game 7 at the pub, and it would have been perfectly acceptable to eat apple slices and eggs on toast for dinner, I made this – just for me. I’m sure the original version – made with lots of lemon, garlic, ginger and sun dried tomatoes – would be perfectly fantastic, but once I got going I couldn’t not add a spoonful of curry. But it turned out more than a curry – there was more complexity to it, and the lemon was predominant. Next time IContinue reading

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One of the most popular search terms people use to get here is “leg of lamb slow cooker”. Apparently I posted about it sometime back in 2008, and there are a great many people who want to know how to cook leg of lamb in the slow cooker. I’m glad to know this – there are few better – or simpler – meals than a melt-in-your-mouth leg of lamb, slow cooked while you go about your day.

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Dill pickle soup

I love what I learn from Twitter. I toss out questions into the Twitterverse and see what comes back. I ask how people use ingredients, what their favourite things to eat are, and settle dinnertime debates – the most recent: do they call it Kraft Dinner in the states, or just macaroni & cheese? The answer: KD is all Canadian – and we eat more of it than they do. My mind = blown.

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Some people carb load the day before a marathon; mine is triggered by the first snowfall. Or by an email from a friend late on a Saturday morning: if you don’t happen to have plans tonight, want to come over for spaghetti? I love the idea that you can just call friends up and have them over to dinner without making a big deal of it. You can pick something up at the store while you’re out, or just make more of what you’d be eating at home anyway, and not worry about how the house looks. I keep meaning to do more of this. It was my New Years’ resolution, in fact – one that was broken halfway through January.

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When I was pregnant, I didn’t have cravings – I had aversions. I envied those women who craved cheeseburgers and ice cream and got a free pass to eat them in stretchy pants at their leisure. For me, the smell – or even thought – of most food, and particularly meat, was nausea-inducing. I finally understood how those people who could go through a day and forget to eat felt. I didn’t want much of anything, except perhaps the occasional slurpee and sour things, like lemonade. A friend who had gone through the same sent a list of foods that weren’t as bad coming back up. Among the worst: roasted chicken and chicken soup. Totally not fair. One day while grocery shopping in Vancouver, a lady passed me with her cart, slumped over the bar, pulling apart and eating a deli chicken with her fingers. I had to run, not walk, to the loo.

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When you’re a kid, having sisters is not that exciting. They borrow your clothes and pretend they’re you when a boy calls. But when you’re a grown-up, having sisters that live in the same city is pretty grand, especially when they’re good cooks. I may have mentioned before that my youngest sister is a fantastic cook. (Not the one who lives across the street – although she has fed me well, it’s not as much her thing.) She always brings stunningly delicious things to family dinners, and this time it was her first attempt at a no-bake cheesecake. (A great idea, I think, when the oven is full of a turkey.) I admit to some cheesecake snobbery – I generally dismiss no-bake cheesecakes, but this one was not set with gelatin, but was a soft mixture of cream cheese, whipping cream and pure maple syrup, with thinly sliced roasted pears on top. (I love her use of red-skinned pears here.) She used a Martha StewartContinue reading

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