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We spent a chunk of time out in Tofino again this summer, something you may have noticed we do every year. (For those who’ve asked, it’s because my parents have property out there.) Their place has turned into something of a second home, one we can settle into for as much time as we can possibly manage at one go. We’re starting to leave shampoo and toothbrushes behind, as if we were in a new relationship that has comfortably evolved to the next level. And because we’ve been coming out for so long, we’ve gotten to know the locals, so to speak. We now have Tofino friends we see a couple times a year, and friends from home have started coming to visit while we’re out there. So really it’s like being home and away, the best of both worlds, which means we often invite friends over for dinner while on vacation. And when we don’t have the house to ourselves, it’s full to overflowingContinue reading

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Guys! I’m sitting in the airport waiting to board a plane to Italy. ITALY! While I have been traveling a lot lately, I haven’t been to Europe since I was 15 and went one summer with my parents and sisters, at which time my only goals were to 1) get a tan, 2) seek out United Colours of Benetton stores in order to source an authentic green and white rugby shirt, and 3) flirt with cute Italian boys on scooters. (Mission accomplished.) I’m ecstatic and nervous, loaded down with work and reading material and snacks for the 9 1/2 hour flight to Frankfurt, and I can’t wait to find out if the pizzas and pastas taste as ethereal as they did to my 15 year old self. Most of my packing time was spent packing up the kitchen, because while I spend my time sitting in Italian trattorias and visiting producers of pasta, balsamic vinegar, Parmesan and ham, Mike’s to-do list includes tearing out theContinue reading

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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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These. Seriously. I’ve had my share of salmon burgers – most of them frozen and shrinkwrapped, tasty but dry. I’ve never fallen in love with a salmon burger until today. These were made with fresh salmon – steelhead trout, actually – roughly chopped, which makes all the difference, texture-wise. Doing it in the food processor would turn them into paste – and using a knife took all of five minutes to produce a loose mixture that barely held its shape as a patty, but cooked up nicely as one, turning golden and crusty in a hot cast iron skillet. In about five minutes. I’m on a bit of a burger bender these days. (For charity, right? It’s the least I could do. Really.) And while I do adore a good beefy burger, I was challenged to come up with some alternatives to the usual red meat – and I’m so glad I was, or I would never have known these exist. They’re moist and juicyContinue reading

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It’s about time to get back into the kitchen, isn’t it? We all have to eat. I haven’t ventured in quite yet, except to pull off assignments that can’t wait (my editors at Parents Canada have been incredibly patient, trying to pull together a magazine with me MIA), and to bake a ham that we’ve been nibbling on for days. I’ll be eating out more this summer, supporting the restaurants that have seen so much damage and loss – of food and power and a week’s worth of customers (or for some, much more). It’s been amazing to see the Calgary community supporting each other with food, working to mobilize food banks and ensure food security during this crisis. Coming up with a new recipe suddenly seems a bit of a luxury, but feeding each other and the gatherings around food – even on a muddy corner, standing around a food truck – has provided plenty of glue that’s holding everyone together. More than aContinue reading

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Stampede scallop salad 1
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It’s too hot for words today, and besides, any words I do have must be reserved for actual paycheck-type work, assignments that come from editors and have deadlines and some days feel a little like homework. OK, a lot. Not that I’m complaining. If I didn’t have homework looming, I’d never get things like laundry and dusting done. Wait – I don’t. I came across this recipe in the Calgary Stampede Centennial Cookbook, which seemed fitting this week. It’s the sort of thing I’d most often flip by, but this time I decided to give it a go, and was glad I did. The seared scallops (I skipped the wasabi) were divine, and I’d never have thought to make a creamy dressing out of fresh peppery arugula and Key lime juice. I love an interesting salad, one that counts as dinner without feeling like “just a salad”, and this is one. Don’t you think Stampede should have an intermission? Maybe a day or two? IContinue reading

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Aside from the idea that this is a fresh and spanking-clean new year (really, what’s different between this Tuesday and last, besides a new calendar on my wall?), mostly in January I want to eat more cleanly, with more of the veggies I’ve so woefully neglected for the past month or two. Since around Halloween, really, and then there were those almost two weeks spent in Jasper, where there was salad, but mostly morning pastries and buffets and martinis and chocolate and cheese. And then it was winter and Christmastime, and wait.. I’m not coming up with a valid excuse here, am I? And today, back at my desk and forced to answer phone calls and emails, and open that stack of mail from the bank and Revenue Canada (which they always seem to send on Fridays or right before Christmas, or on the Friday right before Christmas), I feel like I should also be eating my broccoli. And so I took it as anContinue reading

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There hasn’t been much cooking this week – there have been late nights and early mornings and an emergency dentist visit. I’ve been simultaneously catching up from being away in Austin and getting stuff done before we leave for California. Feel free to hate me – I might. We’re leaving Sunday, all of us, Ben included, and the boys are nearly beside themselves with excitement over going to Disneyland. It’s a requisite visit, isn’t it? For all parents of kids under ten? We go to San Francisco first, which I’m nearly beside myself with excitement over. (Note to self: wear sandals. No wool.) I’ve been on the afternoon show on CBC all week too, which means being in the studio until 6, with not much motivation to cook by the time I get home. On one of those nights-I’m not sure I can distinguish which-I ran some raw, tail-on shrimp from the freezer under warm water in a colander to thaw them while I gotContinue reading

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Feel free to hate me for what I’m about to tell you: we have too much crab. I did work for them, though; with late-night runs down to the dock in the cold rain to haul up the trap in the pitch dark, with a dead flashlight, chasing the spidery little beasts across the slippery dock and coaxing them out of the trap doors into the pink Easter bucket covered with butterflies that has become the Tofino crab bucket. All the while completely freaking myself out and trying not to get pinched. Have you heard the sound crabs make when piled on top of each other in a bucket and strapped to the passenger? Sort of half hissing, half clicking, claws creeping up over the edge in an attempt to pull themselves out. The sound I imagine giant bugs or aliens might make. But hey – for the price of a fishing license and package of hot dogs, I’m not complaining. This week I’ve becomeContinue reading

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