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I think perhaps those who say it’s too expensive to eat properly don’t know about latkes. I don’t understand myself why it requires Hannukah to remind me of their delicious existence once a year. There are plenty of ways to make a latke – you can mix your grated potatoes with egg or toss them with flour, or both. You could use sweet potatoes and spike them with curry powder. But if what you’re after is a simple, crispy-edged potato cake, all you need to do is wash a thin-skinned potato (don’t bother peeling it), grate it onto a paper towel or two, sprinkle with salt, squeeze out as much moisture as you can (this will keep them crisp) and cook flattened spoonfuls in a hot pan, drizzled with oil. A dab of butter doesn’t hurt. Who doesn’t love crispy potatoes with butter? Flattening them with a fork until you can almost see through them will help them cook through without being gummy on theContinue reading

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NYT mac & cheese 1
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I apologize in advance for the photos, which don’t do justice to the deliciousness of this M & C. Thankfully, the winter solstice is coming, and then we’ll start to see more daylight after 4pm. So this mac & cheese. It came from a book I’ve had by my bedside for months, that I finally picked up the other night and read a story out of. It’s a compilation of the best food writing of 2006 (probably the year I put it beside my bed), and the story I read on this particular night was written by Julia Moskin for the New York Times. (I have to say – I like her photo better. More cheese?) The difference between this particular recipe and the bazillion of other macaroni and cheeses out there: you blend up the cheese and milk and then bake it with raw macaroni, rather than boil the noodles and mix up a white sauce with loads of grated cheese in it, whichContinue reading

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Individual-chocolate-fondues- text

It’s chocolate season. Dive in. The boys and I have started a new tradition since September – every Friday afternoon when they finish school a few hours early, we go somewhere special; a trip to a surprise location, somewhere fun and maybe even educational. One of our more popular outings was a chocolate tour of Calgary. A few Friday afternoons ago we spent a couple hours tasting our way through chocolate shops around the city. At the main Bernard Callebaut location across from the Stampede grounds, you can do a self-guided tour of the chocolate factory. We talked and tasted at Epiphanie, bought cocoa nibs at Coppeneur and learned about where and how cocoa beans are grown, and how chocolate is made. Important info, as W plans to own a chocolate factory when he grows up. It’s easier to connect with the source of our eggs, meat and bread than the source of our chocolate. Tonight, we’ll curl up on the couch and watch Semisweet:Continue reading

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Gingerbread cookies 1

W has been asking to listen to the Johnny Depp Christmas song. I inquired as to which that might be. “You know, the one that says ‘let’s be Johnny Depp’!” I eventually deciphered it: “voices singing let’s be Johnny Depp! the halls with boughs of holly…” If this weekend had a flavour, it would have been gingerbread. On Saturday, one batch was enough for W and 6 friends/cousins to roll, cut, bake and decorate. The thing I love about working with gingerbread dough: as you reroll and cut the scraps, rather than get dry, tough and crumbly, the dough gets wonderfully smooth and leathery; I’m quite certain no kid has complained about the finished product. On Sunday, my sister made a whole neighbourhood of gingerbread houses – one for each family to decorate. The were connected and reinforced with molten sugar so as to structurally tolerate a maximum candy load. On Sunday night, baths were necessary to rid everyone of excess icing.

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Mincemeat Crumble Squares 1

You know it’s December when you find yourself eating shortbread for breakfast. This can’t last. We had our Upscale Bake Sale today as part of the CBC/Suncor Food Bank Drive, so it’s safe to say my baking frenzy has already begun – I’ve pulled out those recipes that only come out once a year, and am pondering what will keep and travel well, and what’s easy to make in large batches. I’m a mincemeat fan, and while there’s nothing wrong with making pastry to roll and fill and top and bake, it can be a bit much when you’re charged with making 11 dozen of the things. So if you’re going for ease and large batches, these crumbly squares are a streamlined alternative. Also? They’re completely fantastic – date squares without the sticky date filling, but a slightly tarter, more complex mincemeat instead. I like these even better than traditional date squares. I do. That’s not chocolate milk in the photo, by the way, it’sContinue reading

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Hoisin pork lettuce wrap salad text

Busy! Busy! Busy! I saw someone write “Dec 3” on a label this afternoon, and wondered why they were dating something in the future. Then I realized it was today. I may have fainted. Good news! We trudged out into the wild near Bragg Creek on the weekend and hacked down our very own tree (Mike loves any excuse to channel his inner Clark W. Griswold) and even managed to stand it upright and cover it with lights (after only one late night trip to the store and a long wait in line) and although our house looks like a snow globe, with dirty dishes and laundry and Christmas packaging instead of snow, that someone has just shook up – I’m getting excited about the next few weeks and the possibility of sliding into a cozy Christmas. How was that for a run-on sentence? So here’s a dinner I’m a tad proud of McGyvering – it came about as a means of using half aContinue reading

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SONY DSC
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I made these a couple years ago, but came across the photo the other day and forgot how pretty they were. I’m not much of a gingerbread fan, but I love these – the cream cheese frosting makes them, I think. This Christmas I want to make them with wee gingerbread men on top, instead of stars. I meant to do that two years ago, but never did. Once in awhile, when I make something really good, Mike says “but we’ll probably never have this again”, meaning that as a food writer I’m always testing new recipes, never building on a repertoire of really good stuff that I make all the time, like normal home cooks do. I told this to Rose Murray a couple weeks ago, and she agreed – her son always said “you never get the good stuff twice”. Although I do love trying new things, sometimes I forget to remember the good stuff. Here you go – short and sweet –Continue reading

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