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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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This. Life is all about the crispy bits. I love going out for breakfast, but we rarely do; Calgary is a city of weekend morning lineups, which when you’re twentysomething are social events in and of themselves, but after 40, standing in line for anything begins to lose its cool. Also: rarely nursing a hangover or having stayed out until 4 am, I’m never hungry enough to warrant an enormous meal of eggs and potatoes and meat – or a short stack of anything – until it’s late enough in the day that everyone has moved on to lunch. As a bonafide grown up (apparently it’s so), I instead like to take it upon myself to pack up the car and drive somewhere with clean sheets, deep tubs, good coffee, no breakfast lineups and the option to go back upstairs and crawl back into bed afterwards. Having lived in Calgary since the ripe young age of grade two, I spent much of my childhood inContinue 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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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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Every September, I come to a screeching halt and resume eating warm oatmeal for breakfast in the morning in place of my standard summer pie/crumble/piles of granola with berries and yogurt. This year was more abrupt than usual, when we went from a sunny 25 degrees to zero overnight, with enough snow to crush nearly every tree in the city. Early mornings in the dark combined with enough wet snow to keep us shoveling off everything beyond the front door and going from flip flops to damp, cold socks really requires some extra effort to adjust to being awake – at the very least, plenty of espresso and a bowl of something warm. (Half a foot of snow a week into school is also a free pass to get a pain au chocolat at the coffee shop, just FYI.) Oats are my usuals, although I recently discovered that quinoa can be eaten for breakfast in the same way – warm with brown sugar and raisinsContinue reading

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The apples are coming. The peaches are here. I know it’s early – someone said August is like the Sunday afternoon of summer – but bins of apples are arriving in farmers’ markets alongside late summer peaches – and both make me want to eat fritters. This colossal Sundaynightitis and the mere suggestion of shorter days and cooler nights triggers my need for comfort food something fierce. These photos should be out in an orchard, on a rustic wood board with apples that still have their stems – and maybe an ever so slightly curled leaf – for optimal effect. But it’s one of the last of the vintage dinette tabletops – the pink and blue so many art directors I know shudder to see peeking out from under my food – and at the bottom, a scrap of the material that’s now on our ceilings. And I’m getting all sniffy at the thought that the table might not be going back – I’m thinkingContinue reading

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