I can’t remember the first time I made these. I make them every year – and now, on the verge of cookie month, when I went to look up the recipe here, I couldn’t believe I haven’t shared it yet. Sorry, guys. For fans of the sweet-tart, these are it – a double whammy of pucker, with a layer of cranberries suspended in lemon filling. A smattering of coconut adds some sweet chewiness. I like that I can make them ahead of time and stack them in the freezer – in fact, freezing them first makes it easy to cut them cleanly, and they thaw nicely while sitting out on a plate. All they need is a shake of icing sugar.

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When there’s nothing else you can do, bake. I feel like baking the world a batch of cookies. Is Halloween far enough in the rear-view mirror to warrant a chewy peanut butter-chocolate chunk cookie? Related: If I add some oatmeal, does it classify more as lunchbox/afternoon snack than holiday cookie platter fare? We’re about to embark on cookie season, but although this is the very friendliest kind of cookie, it’s not particularly festive. (Or is it? For the record, a stack of these would be well received by me any time of year.) Peanut butter and chocolate are two of my favourite things, together even better. Chewy in the middle, with a crispy edge and big puddles of chocolate. This is the type of workhorse cookie I bake when I need a good stash of something to have on hand for the hungry and sad, for lunches (W’s school has no nut allergies), and to freeze for another day when we might need more ofContinue reading

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I thought I had figured out the ideal chocolate chip cookie, that the perfect formula had been squared away and would never need revisiting. I made a batch to bring to CBC earlier this week, and since we were discussing the science behind chocolate chip cookies, I decided to make a thinner, chewier batch to contrast my thick, chewy portraits of perfection. For the sake of radio conversation. Guess which plate most everyone in the studio and newsroom went for? The thin ones with the rumpled edge. It’s like everyone had been replaced by thin cookie loving aliens who just didn’t know any better. It turns out there is no one true chocolate chip cookie – just a few favourites you can keep tucked away in your wardrobe of chocolate chip cookies. My current favourite, a mash-up of recipes (sometimes I just alternate) by Anna and Ashley, has been in such heavy rotation that it hasn’t occurred to me to this version in years. IContinue reading

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We’ve had a lot of jam this summer. Cherry to start, and peach and apricot, moving on to blackberry and combinations of such. Blackberries haven’t been in season early enough for the past ten years or so we’ve been spending a chunk of middle summer in Tofino, but this year and last we’ve been spending a chunk of every day picking them. My typical routine involves walking down the road for a (locally-roasted) coffee, drinking it on the log out front, and then filling my empty cup to the brim with ripe blackberries on the way home. My favourite jams are made with berries and stone fruits, all of which get along splendidly together in whatever ratio you happen to have attracting fruit flies on your countertop. The beauty of jam is that you can toss all that fruit into your pot, or slice it, or squish it, and add half or so as much sugar as there is fruit (a more typical ratio isContinue reading

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I’m a sucker for pecan pie in bar form – but particularly when someone else makes them, uses birch syrup, then brings them along, right in the pan, with a knife to cut them into squares on the dock, on a fishing trip on Great Slave Lake. Birch syrup is something you likely don’t have on your shelf – but yes, you can go ahead and use (real!) maple syrup instead. Birch is similar, made with the sap of birch trees rather than maple – its flavour tends to be more complex, and some say not as sweet. And because it requires 100-150 L of sap to produce 1 L of birch syrup (vs about 40 L of sap to make 1 L of maple syrup) and the tapping window is shorter than the opportunity to harvest maple, it’s pretty pricey. But if you live up north rather than out east, it’s more likely what you’re pouring over your pancakes.

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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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