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It’s true – I often make things just for their name. Or the fact that they’re British (as if the food itself also has an irresistible accent) – especially when they’re called something that I generally associate with another completely different thing. Also: I’m a sucker for butter and Lyle’s Golden Syrup – particularly on toast, but really how could anything made with it not be spectacular? I also have a soft spot (many, actually, mostly in the thigh area) for things made with butter, brown sugar and oats. So. When I learned eons ago about the existence of the British flapjack – a bar cookie made without eggs or flour, making them dense and chewy and grainy, the most buttery-sugary kind of granola bar possible, they had to be made. And again. And then I realized I should probably share.

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Now that January is over and done with, I can trot out another batch of cookies, can’t I? They chewy, puddl-y kind that get even better if you leave the dough in the fridge and bake them off a few at a time, stretching them out over the better part of a week? I’ve become hooked on this method – of having a stash of dough at the ready to bake a few for those who could use some perking up, with the added benefit of smaller batches (read: fewer for me to gorge on myself). Bringing cookies is the best way to win friends and influence people, not least of all those who come home from school tired and hungry – and there is no electronic anything that will ever take the place of warm cookies welcoming you when you walk through the door. (It should be noted that this dough is just as delicious baked straight from the mixing bowl – refrigerating itContinue reading

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About a week ago I got onto the subject of church lady food – finger sandwiches and dainties of the I remember the small group of elderly ladies assembling on trays for my grandma’s funeral out in Ontario years ago, and I imagine have done on many occasions since – and it was decided that we should have a church lady-style wake for David Bowie. It was a pretty great way to spend a snowy Saturday night in late January. Late last year we assembled a sort of a cookbook club and called it Bite Club – it’s like traditional book club, only with food and cookbooks – isn’t the food the best part of book club anyway? So that was the group who came and brought egg and ham salad with pickles and mayo and the crusts cut off, cherry-cream cheese pinwheels, funeral potatoes, custard and lemon and Bakewell tarts, cookies and Shepherd’s pie and gingerbread, and an enormous tight pants peanut butter pieContinue reading

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I keep buying bags of lemons, thinking one day I’ll make a pan of lemon bars. They used to be in regular rotation – I’d make them so often I knew the recipe by heart – sometimes plain, sometimes with cranberries, coconut, blueberries or chopped rhubarb scattered over the base before the filling went on top. Everything goes well with lemon – especially a buttery shortbread base. I offered to bake a few things for a small memorial service – a little something to go with coffee and tea – and lemon bars seemed a good fit. The occasion reminded me of my grandma’s funeral, and of the small group of ladies in the old, high-ceilinged, whitewashed church kitchen, baking and arranging small squares – dainties – on trays. Nanaimo bars, matrimonial slice, those peanut butter marshmallow bars, butter tarts, triangles of egg salad sandwich on white bread and tuna on brown. I imagined how many times they had done this over the years –Continue reading

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It’s nice to have go-to recipes you can pull into service on those days when you’ve been invited somewhere for dinner, or someone could use a little cheering, or you want to score a few brownie points with your editors/doctor/teachers. Most of the time, I’d choose a brownie over a cake or cookie. But it has to be the right kind of brownie – dense and fudgy, with a crackly top. Generally I prefer no nuts in mine, nor chocolate chunks or chips, or even frosting. I like my brownies straight up, preferably warm, straight from the pan.

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Those of you who have been hanging around here for awhile probably know that for the past decade or so, I’ve spent about a third of my November in Jasper for Christmas in November at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. (I also ingest about a third of my annual calorie intake during those ten days.) I don’t exaggerate when I say it’s one of the highlights of my year. How could it not be? There’s no event like it, really – like grown-up sleepover camp with gorgeous cabins and ironed sheets and endless food, wine and cocktails. I know it’s a bit early to be discussing the holidays, but then again not; I figured I’d talk about it ahead of time for those who aren’t in the know, rather than field emails from people exclaiming their regret that they have to wait until next year to join the fun. Jasper is one of the most beautiful places I know – and for the past 26Continue reading

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I feel like I’ve been neglecting you guys as much as everyone-thing else these days, and I want to bake you a batch of cookies. Perhaps it’s because the days are so long, the nights so hot and short, the birds holding their morning raves outside the window promptly at 5 am, that makes June seem so manic. I’ve had more projects on my plate than usual lately, and wound up on crutches last weekend – a totally undramatic injury triggered by standing up from the table out at Mount Engadine Lodge after dinner of bison short ribs and crispy, cheesy polenta. They’re known for their moose population out in the marsh between lodge window and Rocky Mountains, and I kept jumping up, hoping to catch one in the setting sunlight. So when people ask how it happened, rather than tell a tale of cycling or mountain climbing, I have to confess that I indeed injured myself (torn tendons or something in my knee –Continue reading

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I grew up with a strong resentment of fig Newtons -and in fact figs in general- they represented all that we were so cruelly denied as children of a doctor who seemingly valued fiber above all else. I begged for Oreos, but the packaged cookies we got were either fig Newtons or Arrowroot cookies – yes, those flavourless oval ones with the baby on the front of the box that, designed for teething toddlers, dissolved upon contact with saliva. I reluctantly ate them anyway, since they were at least cookies. Fig Newtons though – riddled with seeds, they were what dads who wore beige cardigans with elbow patches and Wallabees ate with their tea. I’ve since made my peace with figs, but have still never craved a fig Newton. Of course, if you consider what homemade chocolate chip cookies are to store-bought, you can imagine how much better these are than the fig Newtons of my youth. I think they were originally from 101 Cookbooks,Continue reading

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I have a confession to make: these. Those peanut butter-butterscotch chip-rainbow mini marshmallow lovelies that remind me of parties at my great Aunt’s house, when she put out plates of dainties that included these and Nanaimo bars – the ones I’d swipe the quickest. I still do. I used Easter as an excuse to make them – everyone needs some pastel colours in their weekend, right? – because I still haven’t managed to reconcile the fact that I’m a grownup and I can make a batch of peanut butter marshmallow squares anytime I want and eat the whole thing myself in front of the TV. It gets worse: I love them frozen. Like so many desserts of their ilk, I have in the past attempted to hide them from myself in the freezer, falsely thinking that their frozen state would deter me from eating them until they’re gone. (This doesn’t work with brownies, either.) Frozen, the marshmallows take on a chewy texture, the butter andContinue reading

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