About Julie

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Yes, you can totally grill lettuce! Not just romaine. And it’s stunning. Such a fun alternative to the usual summer salads. I got a shipment of living lettuce from Inspired Greens last week – gorgeous heads of lettuce grown in Alberta greenhouses and harvested in their pots, sold not in clamshells but in sturdy thin plastic cones, with their roots attached. They’re grown to adolescent size – a bit bigger than baby lettuces, so they stay fresh for ages, especially if you store them in a short glass of water in the fridge. Honestly, I try growing greens in my garden and patio containers with limited success every year – they wilt and bolt and never grow to be big and full and robust – and this is a bit like having a micro-garden on a shelf in my fridge. Far less frustrating.

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I’ve decided that during the summer, all mornings count as weekends, regardless of my to-do list. A relaxed schedule makes it seem like summer holidays, particularly when taking our time with coffee and carbohydrates in the morning. When there’s surplus good bread around, French toast is It. I never follow a recipe – it’s just eggs, milk and bread, right? Perhaps a splash of vanilla in the egg-milk slurry. But this time I came across a new formula that required cooking soaked bread in a hot pan long enough that it developed a crusty bottom, which would then help contain even more custard you poured in as it cooked, and then the whole pan was transferred to the oven to cook evenly through, almost soufflé-style.

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Not sure about you, but my fridge is currently loaded to overflowing. So many things coming out of the garden (and the CSA box, and the neighbour’s garden) with greens on top that almost take up more room than the things themselves – the beets and carrots, mostly. I manage to cook beet greens sometimes, and always hate throwing the carrot tops away, but once in awhile I manage to turn them into a batch of pesto. Yes! They’re green and good for you.

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In keeping with our new hobby of exploring close to home, we ventured beyond the Alberta border toward Saskatoon, a city I love but haven’t properly visited in years. We didn’t realize it was only 6 hours away, and with a route that goes right through Drumheller, we hopped in the car for a long weekend in June. With a population of around a quarter million, it’s neither a small town nor big city – the perfect size for exploring, really. And like most Canadian city-towns it’s currently exploding with good food, new breweries and plenty of good coffee to be discovered. W’s first discovery: phone books! Thick paper ones that listed everyone in the city. It was such a novelty, he lay on the hotel book reading it half the night. The next morning, we hit the Night Oven. Love the name, the place, the bread, the pastries, the coffee. Some of the best bread in Canada is baked right here, baked with heritageContinue reading

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You know that saying, that you should do one thing every day that scares you? I’m not sure who wrote it, but I admittedly always scoffed at it a bit – healthy fear is a good thing, most often triggered for good reason, and pushing beyond that life-saving emotion isn’t necessarily the secret to a successful venture. But. Sometimes you gotta stop staring at your computer, blankly and incredulously taking in the endless barrage of awfulness and just get out and do something already. I posted something on my personal Facebook page a few days ago – an open wish that we could somehow reclaim those viral images of angry people bearing tiki torches and flood the internet with people gathered together, armed with casseroles and curries and baklava and pie — heading to a backyard barbecue or picnic. To have peaceful pluralist potlucks and picnics everywhere, and use those garden torches to illuminate conversation and real connection. To gather people in our communities andContinue reading

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This was a weekend I felt like baking for people. Even before things began to happen, I woke up on Saturday morning wanting to make something for the farmers we were going to pick up our CSA share from, so I turned on the oven without knowing what I was going to make. I didn’t want to default to my usual scones. I pondered muffins. I confess I’m one of those people who enjoys the muffin top more than its stump. I had a tub of sour cream that needed using and some pinkie-thin rhubarb that’s perfect for breakfasty things, and so I started mixing a batch of muffins, changing course halfway through when I decided to give drop scones a go again.

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This post was sponsored by Travel Alberta-thanks for helping me share the things I love about my home province. There are so many good things to eat in Edmonton these days, I can’t keep up with it all. We went for the weekend, and it’s never enough time. One of these days I’m going to schedule an eating week and call it work. Who’s with me? Edmonton food crawl? We could wear stretchy pants and explore by bike? First, I have to tell you (if you don’t know already) about a new multi-tenant eating spot similar to the Simmons Building in Calgary – Ritchie Market houses Transcend Coffee, Acme Meat Market, Blind Enthusiasm Brewing and Biera, a great new restaurant that focuses on pairing food with beer. (And yet I wouldn’t quite call it a brew pub.) Chef Christine Sandford is at the helm in the kitchen-we met her last year when she made us sourdough pizza and baby corn in the cobb oven onContinue reading

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Much of the time, I’d choose a fruit crisp over pie. Not only because it’s so quick to make (and I’m so often the one making it) and because measurements don’t need the same precision, and there’s no worry over whether or not you’ll be able to extract a clean slice, but because I love sweet-tart, juicy fruit, particularly berries and stone fruits, and especially topped with a rubble of butter and brown sugar. It’s the ideal vehicle for vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, which I am an enormous fan of.

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Having acquired a stunning loaf of bread that had toast written all over it, I simmered up a small pot of jam using the handfuls of berries I foraged from my sisters’ back yards (strawberries in Anne’s, raspberries in Ali’s) and the Nanking cherries I shook into my empty coffee cup between the car and our house, and a few Juliette cherries plucked at my parents’ house. I want everyone to know that making jam is not scary, and does not have to be an all day, dozens of jars process. Small Nanking cherries and even bigger but softer, juicier sour cherries can be tricky to handle, not quite firm enough to be pitted for pie. Typically impatient with random cherries, I usually cover them with water, bring them to a simmer and press them through a colander back into the pot to get rid of any pits. As easy as draining spaghetti, really. From here you can make syrup for waffles or cocktails, orContinue reading

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