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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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We’ve been exploring different parts of our province this summer, checking out places I’ve been meaning to visit that don’t require a huge driving commitment. Turns out there’s a whole lot more to see around here than I thought. I had heard mention a few times over the past year of a provincial park I’d never visited before – Writing-on-Stone, which is south of Lethbridge, almost at the US border, and apparently quite stunning. We took a drive. It was long, but beautiful-I love driving through the prairies, especially when we get the chance to pass grain elevators. There aren’t many left. The drive took us through Nanton (Bomber Command Museum! epic candy store with antiques in the back!) When we were getting close, I had to keep checking my map; the landscape still looked like barely rolling, grassy farmland. There was no sign of hoodoos or badlands – until suddenly, at the turnoff indicated on my map, there was. The ground dropped away toContinue reading

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I made this out in Tofino over spring break. I meant to tell you immediately, but then didn’t… and even though it’s far from the weekend now, I’m thinking about it and don’t want to forget again. This is like cinnamon buns for those intimidated by the thought of making cinnamon buns… you start with balls of dough, dip them in melted butter and cinnamon sugar, then pile them in a Bundt pan to bake, then pull apart and eat by the bite. It’s like a pile of Timbits, amalgamated with butter and sugar. You upend it onto a plate, letting any excess stickiness contribute to its gilded sides, then splatter it with a quick icing sugar drizzle and a fork. If you’re not so much into making dough, you could start with the kind of frozen dough they sell at the grocery store to bake your own loaves and buns, but it’s worth giving this smooth, sweet dough a go.

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Today’s forecast: a fierce southwesterly, piles of cookbook edits, earaches all around coughs that won’t quit. On the upside: a batch of warm muffins. Welcome to spring break in Tofino. We’ve run out into the storm twice for essentials – coffee, Pringles (I’m easily convinced when under the weather) and meds – and both times had to retreat out of our wet clothes back in to PJs upon walking in the door. The second time I cranked the oven on first, before taking off my yellow rubber rainjacket, craving the warmth and comfort of a working oven plus a buttery, crunchy-topped muffin to go with my rained-in coffee. Generally I make muffins with grainier flours and healthier oils, but have you seen it outside? It’s a day for cupcakes passed off as muffins. And yes it’s pouring and blowing, but things are green and growing… In the freezer there was a flat of blueberries left over from last year – the very best kind forContinue reading

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Sorry I’ve been neglectful of you guys this week – I’ve been off meeting and eating from Toronto to Richmond. Today I’m still digesting noodles and soup dumplings and what feels like half a dozen pineapple buns from the Lido, but today I have a baby shower to bake for. I’ve been planning a Meyer lemon tart, but since tart pan rings and bottoms have a way of losing each other in the basement, Meyer lemon scones it is. And curd, just to up the ante. Meyer lemons are here – they’re bigger (or sometimes, smaller) and smoother, with a slightly orange tinge, which can be credited to their breeding; a Meyer lemon is a regular lemon crossed with a mandarin orange.

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People often ask me what pizza dough recipe I use. The truth is, most formulas for pizza dough are the same – flour, yeast, water, olive oil and salt. The key ingredient not many recipes call for is time. Yeast doughs are a lot like people – the longer it’s alive before it’s baked, the more character it develops. Which means mixing up a batch of dough on Thursday if Friday is pizza night will make all the difference in the world. Let it hang out in the counter, on the fridge – wherever it won’t get into any trouble. Punch it down when it needs taming. The next day, you’ll see its potential in the stretchy bubbles interspersed throughout the dough. Which I apparently took no photos of, I was so preoccupied with the stretching and the topping. And the chilling of the wine – do you know this trick? Wrap a bottle in wet paper towel and put it into the freezer toContinue reading

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The Fairmont Empress on the inner harbour in downtown Victoria is always stunningly beautiful – but it’s even more so in the fall, when the ivy-covered walls begin to change colour. The Empress hosted the launch of In the Dog Kitchen yesterday with a tea paw-tea for dogs and their owners; it was a blast, albeit a rainy one. We had dog treats (Elvis’ bacon & peanut butter cakes! Turkey dinner doggie biscotti! Grrrranola bars!) made by the chef, and a photo booth with a wee replica of the Empress and little dog-sized fascinators, pearls, mink stoles, bow ties and vests for them to dress up with. So much fun. (My new iPhone won’t let me send photos from my phone to my computer to post here, but you can see all the evidence and hilarity on my twitter feed.)

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Every once in awhile, I decide I’m only going to do things that are awesome. And I forget that even with superhuman optimism, a lot of things aren’t awesome, and you can’t forgo invoicing and homework and laundry in favour of making things or playing with new projects on the internet. But I have stuck to my new rule of only eating baked goods that are awesome – life is too short for bad bread. Right? And although I do enjoy a good muffin/scone/cookie/cinnamon bun any time of year, there’s something about cooling weather and crunchy leaves that demands something freshly baked alongside your coffee or tea. (Related: no kitchen yet. It’s moving at glacial speed. But I have a sink! Update soon.) Eons ago, I got to the point where I could mix up a batch of scones from memory, knowing just how much flour/sugar/baking powder/butter/cream would yield a perfect carb vehicle for anything from berries to chocolate chunks. A scone truly is theContinue reading

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