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I forgot how much I love a creamy, sloshy rice pudding. It’s the sort of thing I make semi-regularly, but never with a recipe; I resurrect leftover cooked long grain rice, or use short grain if I make it from the beginning, but it’s always thick and diner-style, and I’m usually the only one to eat it. I forgot how delicious a runny rice pudding is when it’s ice cold; like melted ice cream, sweet and rice-flavoured, and in this case spiked with cardamom. It’s fantastic. The recipe comes from Noorbanu Nimji and Karen Anderson, a couple of gems who just released a new cookbook – A Spicy Touch – the theme of our cookbook club (Bite Club!) the other night. It was hot, approaching 30 in the afternoon, and something in the back of my mind reminded me that cold rice pudding spiked with cardamom would be a very good idea. Of course they had a recipe for it.

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I haven’t made an enormous batch of granola for awhile. I had been missing it. Not so much the jarful on the shelf as the panful on the stove, nibbled from by the small handful over the course of the day. And then I was reading up on turmeric, that brilliant yellow powder that gives curry blends its colour and which appears to be a thing these days – another ingredient people are beginning to recognize for its nutritional prowess and find new uses for – and it occurred to me it would be a good addition to my usual granola. In its powdered form, it’s easy to work with – although fresh turmeric, if you haven’t seen it, looks a lot like ginger – it’s a rhizome; in the same family, but slightly smaller and with brilliant orange flesh once you scrape away the ultra-thin skin – much like an intense carrot. It’s not as sinewy as ginger, and so easy to grate orContinue reading

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When I started this place back in 2008 and posted dinner each night, it wasn’t always a recipe – because who follows an actual recipe each night? More often than not it’s a matter of shuffling through the fridge and constructing something out of what’s there – what needs to be cooked, revamped or salvaged, or what’s comfortably in your repertoire, like the scrambled eggs and brown beans my mom always fell back on when we were kids, or the eggs on toast. A lot of proper dinners don’t require a recipe – and when it’s the sort of thing that makes use of whatever scraps you have in your fridge, it’s not helpful to adhere to a strict formula.

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I know – it’s even more cliché to compound quinoa with kale when January is still in single digits, but having eaten my way through most of the holiday leftovers, I’m now attempting to fill my bowl with things that are better for me than cheese and chocolate. (OK, I’m keeping the cheese.) Pomegranate arils (the juicy seeds, which you can eat whole) are common in grainy middle eastern salads, which I find gratifying to put together, and I’ve found if I have some quinoa (or barley, rice, wheat berries) precooked in the fridge, I’m more likely to use it. Don’t think of it as leftovers so much as dinner insurance. Or your own homemade convenience food. A ripe avocado in the bowl demanded to be used immediately, and kale is good and cheap right now – I keep buying bundles, then have to use it in order to reclaim precious fridge space.

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I came back home from Miami with a pound of grits in my bag, just because I could. Grits are popular in the southern states – they’re made of cornmeal, simmered until thick, just like cream of wheat. (Did you love cream of wheat as a kid? I still do. I rarely have it, in order to preserve that taste of nostalgia.) You can simmer your grits with milk to make it creamier, and add soft roasted garlic or minced jalapenos to spice it up, or a big handful of grated aged cheddar in this case, to provide a bed for buttery, spicy shrimp. I always forget how quickly I can cook up a pan of shrimp – with butter, garlic and a shake of dry barbecue rub, they’re done in under three minutes. How much faster can food get? And while I have a pan buttery and hot, it’s too tempting to crack in an egg to catch those flavourful bits. More drippy yolkContinue reading

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I know I’ve been pretty vocal about my love for barley around here. I love that it’s local, high in fibre, dense and nutty and chewy, and great for simmering with dry lentils for a hefty salad. I love that you can buy it in flour form to make pancakes and chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cake. And I love that so many farmers grow it around here. So when Alberta Barley asked if I would help spread the news of their very first cookbook, Go Barley: Modern Recipes for an Ancient Grain, I was more than happy to. It comes out next month, but I have an advance copy to give away – remember when we did Free Stuff Fridays? I miss that. So even though it’s Tuesday, let’s get back on that horse. Some of you know the drill – leave a comment below, and I’ll try to remember to make a (random!) draw at the end of the week.

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I just realized granola recipes outweigh cinnamon bun recipes on this site about 8:1. I’ll work on closing that gap sometime this week, when our agenda will mostly consist of couch sitting, tobogganing and playing Connect Four. Meanwhile, have some more granola. I made a couple batches spiked with pumpkin, molasses, cinnamon and ginger for a friend to give away to people she likes – hers was nut-free, with pumpkin seeds and shredded coconut, but when I made some for myself I threw in some pecans. It’s crazy simple – all you do is mix old-fashioned oats with nuts (if you like), seeds and coconut, then with a slurry of pumpkin, brown sugar, honey, molasses and spices – make it as spicy (or not) as you like.

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Barley Chocolate chip cookies 1
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When there’s nothing else you can do, bake cookies. I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies in the tiny kitchen of the palliative care ward my friend Rachael was in 5 years ago, for the strangers who shared our space for those days and weeks, who came and went and sat and walked the halls carrying hearts raw with sadness. We’d go downstairs to Starbucks in a weak attempt to refuel, and on one afternoon I kept walking, out the door and across the street to the grocery store, where I bought butter and sugar and flour and eggs. I rummaged through the kitchen normally reserved for families and friends of patients to store and reheat food brought from home, digging out a bowl, spoon and makeshift measuring cup. The apartment-sized oven coughed itself on, then released the aroma of baking into the stale hospital air, bringing with it a sense of comfort and calm. As I walked through the halls with a plateContinue reading

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It seems everyone is making baked oatmeal these days – or maybe just Molly and Jeanette (hi!) – but each time I see it I think – I should give that a try with red lentils. And so this morning when I woke up to grey, and (yet more) snow on the ground, watched the neighbour scrape ice off the car windshield, and had to return from the bathroom to retrieve wooly socks to protect my feet from an ice-cold floor, I grumpily decided that this might be the day to give it a go. When I wrote Spilling the Beans with my junior high school BFF Sue, baking possibilities opened up when she mentioned her habit of stirring a spoonful of lentils into her morning porridge to boost fibre and protein. Genius, I say. Those dry red lentils (they’re orange, really) are split through their middles, and when cooked, perfectly mimic oats. Only they’re far higher in fibre, and of course the bean-grain comboContinue reading

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