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Apparently it’s Labour Day weekend in a few days (HOW!), which means part of me is plotting what to bring to the parties our friends hold every year to see out the summer, and part of me is getting used to the idea of getting back to a regular schedule next week. I’m also doing my annual kitchen purge, after coming home from Tofino and wondering why we have so much stuff. This includes the stuff currently occupying our freezer and cupboards – including bags of pasta shapes I’m always drawn to at the Italian market, that seem to multiply in the dark recesses of the pantry.

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A couple months ago now I went to Yellowknife and went fishing for pike. I caught a 12 pounder (estimated – it was big) and got to judge the World Shore Lunch Championships – an event where dozens of chefs and fishermen gather to cook whitefish like they would onshore – over an open fire. It’s something we experienced before the competition, on the aforementioned fishing trip on Great Slave Lake. Our guide steered our boat toward a rocky island – they’re all rocky there, with so little in the way of soil that the spindly trees cling for dear life to the rocks they somehow sprung out from. He cleaned the three or four pike we kept right on the mossy ground cover, tossing the head, tail, spine and entrails over one shoulder for the gulls, the perfect filets directly onto the soil and moss. One of the group gathered them up into a stainless steel bowl and took them down to the waterContinue reading

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People often ask if W is a picky eater. He must be so adventurous! they say, but he’s not, really. Although he went straight from boob to barbecue ribs and one of his first meals was Pad Thai, he regressed and went from loving black bean soup to hating it, and thinking all vegetables were pure evil – such a cliché, I know. He somehow knew at two to be ecstatic at the sight of a pizza box, and wanted anything that came in a colourful package. We had one dinnertime standoff that involved grape tomatoes and both M and W sitting at the table for (what seemed like) hours before it ended with tears and a whole lot of dramatic gagging. (To this day raw tomatoes are the one thing he gets a free pass on.) The thing about kids is that they’re a lot like grownups. They may have more sensitive palates and a more limited idea of what they like and whatContinue reading

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I have a soft spot for the Earls Tin Palace of my teenagehood, the hip new restaurant that opened up on 4th St just in time for the ’88 Winter Olympics, when I was 17 and just starting to go out with my friends for cheese sticks, potato skins and mocha Kahlúa pie. Where we’d go as a family when we ate out, and which was gutted by mud and rebuilt after the 2013 floods. Lately we’ve been going for happy hour – for $3 sleeves of draught, half price wine and $2 tuna tostadas. This week they launched a new series of cooking videos – with recipes – and asked me to check out the first (tuna tostadas!) and give it a go at home. It’s not the sort of thing I normally make, which is part of the reason I was happy to give them a try. There are enough elements in this recipe to dissuade the average home cook, but each isContinue reading

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Guys! I survived Stampede. What a week – so much to tell. And somehow now we’re fully immersed into summer. Heading to the coast is still altogether too far away, so I’m pretending to camp here – I have an open flame in my kitchen, after all. And a grill, and some good cast iron. For now, I’ll just pretend I went fishing.

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I’ve never been to India, but I consider myself a curry enthusiast. And I’m fascinated by Indian cuisine. A month or so I spent some time in the kitchen with Mrs. Nimji, an eightysomething neighbour (of sorts) who just happens to have self-published what is now considered the bible of Ismaili cooking, having sold somewhere in the neighbourhood of a quarter million copies. I loved just being in the kitchen with her, watching how she toasted her spices and snipped her almonds in the button-up housedress she used as a full body apron, keeping her outfit immaculate underneath. She gifted me a jar of her own garam masala and my own masala dabba, a round tin filled with smaller round tins filled with spices, which is like the Indian version of an artists’ palatte. I’ve had it on my countertop, admiring it but not quite ready to delve into it until this weekend, when I got to hang with one Vikram Vij, who y’all mayContinue reading

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Steelhead Trout 2

We went to Seattle for a few days last week for spring break. I had never been, and decided it was time to go, if for no other reason than to see something green growing out of the ground. The morning after we arrived, the first thing we did was hit Pike Place Market – the original Starbucks, of course – very cool to see the original decor, and the lineup took no longer than any other Starbucks, although coming out it was already starting to wind down the street. The market was – as the kids seem to be saying these days – totally beyond. Stall after stall selling tulips, overflowing their white buckets – a dollar apiece, or a dozen for $10. Curios shops, magic shops, book shops and candy shops, with a gum wall out one back door along a cobbled street for a dose of weirdness. (The gum wall is a back alley wall where people in line for the theatreContinue reading

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I just got back from a quick (36 hour) jaunt to Vancouver that included the opening of Whitecap‘s hip new office in Gastown (around the corner from Meat & Bread! And Revolver!), breakfast with one of my favourite people at the new Forage in the Listel, lunch on the steps of the VAG with one of my favourite food bloggers, and dinner at YEW in the Four Seasons (it was also Dine Out Vancouver) with Ned (whom some of you may know I did a few seasons of a not-on-Food-Network cooking show years ago). Which all sounds very glamorous now that I type it out here, and I suppose it kind of was, except that I’m really not all that glamorous, even when thrust into a swanky hotel. (I hope that didn’t come across as a humblebrag, but people have been asking what I was up to in Vancouver, and that was what I was up to… that and buying far too much coffee andContinue reading

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Fish and chips, from scratch! Easier than it sounds, and so satisfying – there really is nothing like it, fresh and crunchy from the hot oil. A great thing to make when it’s warm enough outside to open the windows! If you can get your hands on a bag of Billingsgate fish & chip batter mix, buy it and use it in place of the flour – if not, no worries. It will still be delicious. I made chips the easy way – using that new method I learned from Cooks Illustrated. I put them on, sliced the fish, dredged and fried it, and the whole lot took under 30 minutes and made a great many people very happy. I made a wobbly mayo to go with, using a generous spoonful of grainy dill Brassica mustard. And the mushy peas – boil peas, then mush them with a dab of butter, splash of cream, and salt and pepper. Yes, I realize it’s not authentic, butContinue reading

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