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Thankfully in the midst of a near-daily Stampede fried food extravaganza, my fridge is full of greens. They grow so well here in Alberta at this time of year, and so that’s what my CSA box was full of when we picked it up this past weekend. Bok choy, rapini, gai lan (I think!) and other bags of greens we couldn’t quite identify but are nevertheless tasty. I chopped some of them up with the head of bok choy, which makes for a great salad in that one end is thick, watery and crunchy, like celery, and the other is dark and leafy – it’s like getting two veggies in one. I added some other greens, the entire bunch of cilantro, some chives from the garden and grated carrot to break up all that green, and doused it in an Asian-inspired vinaigrette made with oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and garlic. (Lime would be good too.)

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We’ve been traveling around Alberta a lot lately, discovering new places we didn’t know existed. This past weekend, we found ourselves in Elkwater, a tiny camping-cabin community in Cypress Hills interprovincial park, which overlaps the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan. In Elkwater there’s an eatery called Camp Cookhouse and General Store, which is just the best place ever. Exhibit A. Exhibit B.

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Is it weird that I get more excited about winter salads than the summer ones? I love hardy salads that give my jaw a workout. (At least part of me is working out, right?) Every winter I vow to keep a grainy, beany salad in my fridge to prevent myself from living on bagels and raisin toast (a hazard/benefit of having my office in the spare bedroom), and in fact, these kinds of salads actually improve after a few days in the fridge. Also- feeling virtuous over lunch is enough to keep me feeling more or less on the ball during the afternoon, sometimes propelling me out to do a power walk. Eating healthy things begets eating healthy things (and doing healthy things). I even organized my office this weekend, which was a monumental task. I blame the salads. I love adding chopped apples to salads – not only are they always around, they add sweetness, tartness and crunch to just about any salad, fromContinue reading

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I feel a little sheepish offering this up as a recipe – most of the time you don’t need a recipe for a salad – but I still struggle with creative salad combinations, and so here it is. It’s getting to be the season for winter salads made with kale, Brussels sprouts and winter squash, and I particularly love roasted squash in just about anything – not least of all doused in something vinegary. And I love bowls filled with a jumble of tasty things, and having some cooked quinoa in the fridge to turn into lunch at my desk, and how brilliant pomegranate arils look scattered over just about everything. I’m having a wee panic that we’re a week (A WEEK) into November already, and am trying to resist calming my nerves with copious quantities of raisin toast. Delicata has a thin skin you can eat, so there’s no need for peeling – you can swap in just about any squash, roasted by theContinue reading

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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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The first of the locally-grown greenhouse tomatoes and cukes and romaine are here! We’ve even eaten our first asparagus stalks. In April! So crazy, this year. I know you probably don’t need a recipe for a salad, but you might like the idea of it – fattoush is a Mediterranean toasted pita salad that’s easy to assemble and makes the most of spring greens and those first pops of mint in the garden. Romaine is typical, as is cucumber, tomatoes and purple onion. I like making mine with ribbons of cucumber – simply use a peeler to cut it into thin ribbons – and fresh cilantro. And instead of the usual croutons, you bash up toasted pitas into the mix, adding a satisfying, toasty crunch.

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Who needs a healthy dose of veggies after that long weekend chocopalooza? (I do.) Something crunchy and cruciferous, to give my jaw a workout. Something to provide a nutritional ballast against all that ham, all those cinnamon buns, and so many handfuls of eggies. And so it was good timing that a few food blogging friends had organized a virtual cookbook launch for our mutual pal Mairlyn, who recently launched a cookbook of Canadiana, Homegrown.

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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 know… it’s such a cliche to be serving up kale on the first Monday of January. But I had a bundle of dinosaur (or lacinato) kale in the fridge that needed using before I head out of town. I realize the last thing the internet needs is another kale salad, but I needed a kale salad. And I like kale. And I love roasted squash. And I love chopped, salted, toasted almonds scattered by the handful over things. And I had a jar of ginger-miso dressing on account of a magazine story I’m working on about miso. This is how dinner comes to be around here.

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