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I may be spoiled for pasta now. On the first morning of our first day in Italy, we walked to the Academia Barilla, an institute in Parma dedicated to the preservation of Italian food culture. (And to that end, the Academia Barilla Gastronomic Library houses a collection of over 11,000 cookbooks dating back to the 16th century – it’s open to the public and can be accessed online. More on that later, because WOW.) We were set up with little piles of flour and dark-yolked eggs, and mixed up dough the way you see them do it on TV – not in a bowl, but by making a little volcano out of the flour and cracking the eggs in, then stirring/corralling the eggs as they try to escape from ditches in the flour until it all comes together into a smooth, yellow dough that’s oh-so satisfying to run through a pasta machine into smooth, thin sheets, then cut into piles of ribbons or fill withContinue reading

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We’re taking turns catching colds around here. As I write this I’m wrapped in a blanket with a stiff neck (my mom keeps telling me to wrap a wool sock around it, like my grandad did, and I just might) and a mug of warm lemonade (yes!), sneezing approximately every 3 minutes, my face fixed with that expression you get when you’re just about to sneeze. (This cold is such a cliché.) We’re anticipating a high of -19 tomorrow, not that we’ll likely leave the house anyway after getting up at 5 to watch the gold medal hockey game. My ambitious plan is to make doughnuts and bellinis – or perhaps fizzy wine smoothies – and plenty of coffee. But later in the day, when everyone is cold and sleepy and huddled on the couch to catch the last of the Olympics, a batch of mac & cheese will be in the slow cooker. Oh yes it will. I wish it was in there now.

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I’m officially ready for a long winters’ nap. This past weekend was the official start of the season of leftover party food, mince tarts, cheese balls and Christmas crack for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all snacks between – however, I am responsible for the care and feeding of another human, and feel like I should give him the occasional proper meal. Also: I find we all get a little squirrelly when we subsist on shortbread and Toffifee. W and I just taped a cooking segment together in my mom’s kitchen, cooking with Barilla pasta – and I tried a recipe I likely wouldn’t have otherwise made, and the results were devoured by everyone present, including W and his cousins, who were still there from a sleepover and watched, giggling, from under the camera stand and lights. W hadn’t slept and intermittently burst into tears, but was excited to get to be in the kitchen with me – he wanted to call it the crazy pirateContinue reading

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It’s pasta time. Also: wooly sock time and turning-on-the-furnace time. I saw my very first bin of pumpkins at the grocery store. We discussed Thanksgiving plans at dinner tonight (and ate roasted turkey, in fact). It was dark by 8:00. I’m fine with it. Really. I’m OK with pushing aside fragile greens in favour of beets and Brussels sprouts. I’m ready. Summer is lovely, but at some point you have to stop making the most of brilliantly warm and sunny days or you’ll never get anything done. I’ve had enough of it being too hot to sleep. Bring on the seasons.

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The other day, as we were driving somewhere or other, W announced that he had an Idea. “You should teach cooking, mom!” he said excitedly. “Like you should be a teacher, and show people how to cook!” I explained that I did this already, at a few cooking schools. “I know you teach grown-ups,” he said with an eye roll, “I mean kids. You should teach kids how to cook.” Not a bad idea, I told him. “You should teach me how to cook,” he added. “You haven’t taught me yet.” Which took me by surprise – I’ve been cooking with him, showing him how to chop and flip pancakes and make over-easy eggs and whatever else happens to come along, since he was so little he had to sit on the countertop to knead pizza dough. But what he had in mind was a more structured cooking class, where the students sit and listen and the teacher demonstrates. I told him I’d teach himContinue reading

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We spent the long weekend at home, puttering. Staring at gaping holes in the ceiling and barely (if at all) functioning kitchen appliances and broken windows and walls that are easier at this point to paint than to clean and making a ginormous to-do list for it all. Considering the domino effect that starting to change this and that has on a house, it seems kitchen renos are not only unavoidable, but imminent. Which of course means no kitchen for awhile. TRY NOT TO PANIC. We got used to the idea of eating out by doing it this weekend. Since we were mostly trying to find homes for things, cleaning/organizing/yard work-ing, I didn’t cook a whole lot, but did use up a big bunch of spinach by making gnudi – sort of like larger, lighter, lumpier gnocchi – and sauteing the little dumplings in browned butter. Spring, hello. I love gnocchi, and it’s even fun to make, without the need to own and manipulate aContinue reading

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It’s about time for our mac & cheese of the month, isn’t it? I’m away this weekend, in Toronto and then Hockley, at the very first Food Bloggers of Canada conference, and so in my absence I left some frozen meatballs and a casserole for the boys (which I fully expect to find in the fridge on Sunday), and I’m leaving this mac and cheese for you. My sister texted it to me, having seen it on Food52… she knows there’s a good chance that if she texts me something, it will show up on the dinner table. (See: Shakshuka.) She always comes up with good finds – I should have her curate DwJ on the side. The genius of this particular mac & cheese, besides the fact that there’s no cheese sauce to make, is that it’s baked on a rimmed baking sheet (read: all surface area), making it all crunchy top, no soft innards. If you’re all about the cheesy, crispy bits, you’llContinue reading

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Weekends are made for waffles, don’t you think? And brunch is one of my favourite reasons to gather; I like doing it at home even better than going out. You get to stay in your PJs – or upgrade to yoga pants – and woolly socks, and lounge about with whomever you feel like being with first thing in the late morning. I find it almost impossible to not make waffles; the plain kind are fine, but this past weekend I upgraded ours with toasted pecans, and then started playing around with fillings and sauteed bananas and salted caramel. There are so many ways to dress up a waffle. And since you have to cook them one at a time anyway, it makes sense to accessorize them as you go – and giving everyone a little something to do in the kitchen somehow makes a party more fun. After all, they’re going to be in there anyway. So I mixed up a bowl of theContinue reading

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I may have to start a Mac & Cheese of the Month club, considering how many formulas I have lined up on my must-make list. We can call this the official Mac & Cheese of March. March to it. For the past few weeks, Alice has filled any spare time I might otherwise have had – the manuscript was due at the end of February, and I’m now plodding through approximately half a bajillion photos to edit by mid-March. Since meals around here are often whatever I happen to be working on at the time, there have been plenty of tea party leftovers for dinner. Yesterday the boys I live with requested something other than a jam tart – specifically mac & cheese, from a box. I almost relented, but then decided to give this recipe a try – I made the whole thing in a skillet, which allows you to cook up any number of ingredients, from bacon, ham or sausage to veggies (thinkContinue reading

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