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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meyer lemon scones 1
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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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Maple Scones 1
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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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As you may have seen on twitter, we’ve slumped into Tofino for some beach time, family time, book reading and kayaking and eating. I’ve mostly stayed out of the kitchen, although having one here – one that looks out over the water, even – has meant getting my baking fix before we head back to the gutted room that will hopefully be our kitchen once again before the snow flies. There are apricots and cherries in the wee one-room Beaches grocery, and I can never resist baking them into something. With browned butter, if possible. This isn’t quite a cake, but it’s not a crumble, either… it most closely resembles a slump – thick batter poured over fruit of any kind, then baked. It’s just enough to hold it together, and the cake part is more sugary-buttery than cakey. You could manage wedges, but it’s more of a spoon dessert, served warm with vanilla ice cream if you can swing it. Or for breakfast withContinue reading

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Our basement has become a virtual coffee maker museum. If you were to go down to my basement storage room, you’d find among the spiderwebs a French press, a vintage percolator I rescued from an about-to-be-torn-down house, a standard drip, a Chemex and an Aeropress, half a dozen bags of good beans and still I can’t make a decent cup of coffee. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I must rely on baristas to make them for me on a regular basis, and that yes, if I saved all the money I spent and put it in a jar I could go on a fabulous vacation every year, but I’d rather have all that good coffee. I’m also coming to terms with the fact that I really like something carby to go with. Generally I like my cookies chewy, with a crisp edge; dry, hard biscotti isn’t my thing, but it turns out crisp, dunkable-in-coffee biscotti totally is. I may even sneak aContinue reading

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ham-mushroom-tart-1
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My youngest sister is a really fantastic cook. She’s a total cake boss and makes other delicious things, like baked yams with piles of butter and brown sugar, roast hams with wedges of Bosc pear, and this mushroom tart, which made an appearance at the last few family dinners and was so good I would have gladly forsaken the turkey (and the stuffing, and the mashed potatoes) for it. It’s a rich, dense, cheesy-creamy-buttery tart – the sort every 80’s quiche aspires to be. If I called this a ham quiche, it wouldn’t do it justice. It deserves more words. It’s no quiche Lorraine. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

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