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Forever ago, when I was at art college, the school cafeteria sold thick slabs of cheese toast for a dollar. It was about all I could afford, which was convenient because it was also what I loved the most. Open faced grilled cheese. It reminded me of my mom’s tuna melts, minus the tuna, and my grandma’s hot dog melts on hamburger buns that would go all crackly in the oven. Cheese toast is perhaps as comforting as it’s possible to get. It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you need a recipe for – and yet it’s so much more than just cheese on toast.

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These don’t have to be sprinkle doughnuts, but since the cousins were over this weekend, I thought there ought to be sprinkles. I figured their young minds were at their memory-storing prime, and if I was to instill fond memories of making doughnuts from scratch at their aunt’s house, who let them cook the holes and scraps and douse them in cinnamon sugar to eat while the doughnuts were cooking, I’d better get on it. Doughnuts aren’t difficult; the yeast-raised kind (these) are made with a simple dough enriched with butter and eggs, then patted and cut (I can’t resist doughnut cutters when I see them) and cooked in a shallow pot of oil – no need for more than an inch or so. Some grandmothers cook theirs in lard or shortening; I’ve never done this, but someday I’ll give it a go just to say I did. For now, I find canola works perfectly.

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Everyone seems to need some comfort this week. I can think of few better delivery vehicles than a warm biscuit, especially on grey days when the snow falls in big, wet flakes and there are too many cases of the sniffles and the sads. I turned on the oven almost absentmindedly this afternoon, not having a clue what I was going to make, but sure that whatever came out of it, including the warmth and good smells, would make us all feel a bit better.

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You probably won’t be shocked to hear that I tend to use this space as my own personal recipe file, and it always surprises me when I look up something I make with some frequency and find it’s not here. Case in point: these nubbly, crunchy-edged scones, which are made with oats and – red lentils! Which turn a pale yellow as they’re cooked and mimic oats, blending right in as if they were meant to be there. If you don’t tell anyone they won’t even know – I promise. I brought some in to CBC this morning, and even though the topic was pulses, no one guessed they had lentils in them. Of course lentils are nutritional superheroes, bumping up protein and fibre like crazy – far more than whole grains do. And isn’t that what everyone wants for breakfast? A good dose of protein and fibre, but also something delicious you can nibble with your coffee?

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Happy New Year, friends! I’m back, still trying to fix this place up, but it’s an improvement, no? I hear the search functionality is not operating as it should, so I appreciate any feedback you can give as I try to complete this overhaul and get everything in working order. If I could just call a time-out, that would be awesome. But we still have to eat. The week between Christmas and the New Year we traditionally live on leftovers – chunks of cheese and crackers from Christmas parties, chunks of cake and tins of cookies that take up the countertop for the entire month of December, ham and turkey and mincemeat in the fridge. And eggnog – every year I buy it thinking we should have some, and every year no one drinks it. So I use it up in waffles and scones, and it’s perfect for baking with, being essentially sweetened, spiced milk. But here it is January 1 and I still haveContinue reading

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If you’re the type to devour a sleeve of salted crackers with cold butter, pull up a chair – these pre-buttered crackers are for you. To eat by the stack. I’ve always been a fan of homemade crackers – although most of us have made a batch or two of cookies in our lifetimes, we don’t tend to run toward crackers. And yet the dough is just as easy – often more so; and the results just as delicious compared to the store-bought boxed kind as homemade cookies are, gooey and warm from the oven, in comparison to the carboardy ones that often taste of their own packaging. Homemade is better – and cheaper still – and perfect for piling on cheese boards (party season coming up!) or nibbling in bed or crumbling into soup. I confess I ate the majority of these straight from the cookie sheet, and didn’t bother with dinner.

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Today seemed like a good day to make pumpkin scones – not only because it’s Sunday, it was a late night (Halloween) and an extra-long morning (daylight savings), but because there was a half a can of pumpkin puree in the fridge, and I will go to great lengths to keep food from winding up in the compost bin. Also, on mornings that require some recovery from the night before, I don’t go running to plates of greasy bacon and eggs, but to soft-centred carbs with craggly edges that I can nibble with copious amounts of coffee. I was not neat when I brushed these with cream and sprinkled them with coarse sugar (I use Turbinado – sugar in the raw) before sliding them into the oven, thus the dark sugary polka-dots. Also, I like splattering things. It’s my attempt at being artistic and Jackson Pollok-y in the kitchen.

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On Friday, with so much zucchini/tomatoes/onions/spinach/chard in my kitchen I didn’t know where to put it all, I called an emergency after-work minestrone party. I made two batches: one in a giant pot, and another in the slow cooker. (The secret to minestrone that does not turn to mush in the slow cooker: add the zucchini, pasta and greens during the last half hour.) This kind of soup hardly warrants a recipe: saute onion, celery and carrots, add garlic, then a drained can of kidney beans (or black-eyed peas) and one or two thin-skinned diced potatoes, chicken stock and a bunch of chopped overripe tomatoes (or toss in any whole ones that might be lurking in your freezer) or a can of diced (or stewed, or whole) tomatoes, bring it all to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just tender. Add a chopped zucchini, a handful of green beans with their stems trimmed off (if you have them), a handful of small pastaContinue reading

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Growing up, when our dog (a bearded collie named Sundance) was getting old, I remember my horror when I realized why my mom was buying smaller and smaller bags of dog food. It feels a little like that here… we’re in the final stages of tweaking the back end of the new website and moving everything over, at which point most of the photos won’t fit the new layout, and so posts are getting fewer and further between – more stuff means more to move, and resize. And I’ve been in Edmonton all week – I just got back – but I did bake a batch of muffins on Sunday night before I left, to bring with me in the car on my pre-dawn drive out to Viking, Alberta, and for Mike to tuck into W’s insulated lunch fish (it’s a fish) to relieve some of the guilt I always have over going away. These are good muffins – ones we used to go toContinue reading

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