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There are certain unhealthy things you have to pull out of the closet once a year and make just for the sake of the day – or season – and most Canada days I make Nanaimo bars and butter tarts – so frequently, in fact, that I begin to crave both around the end of June. Ditto mini doughnuts – having grown up in Calgary, the first week of summer always smells like the midway. I’ve always been one to forego candy apples and cotton candy in lieu of fried dough in its many forms – this year I decided to combine the two holidays and make a batch of beaver tails, which have been around since the seventies, and if you’re in eastern Canada are as Canadian as any doughnut. (Mini or not.)

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I am a fan of the onion ring. Done well, they’re glorious things, crisp and golden, with a sweet onion that hopefully doesn’t slither out when you bite into it. I rarely order them, unless I know they’re going to be good – it’s a high fat investment for something sub-par. And I rarely make them at home, but once in awhile I do – when there are people around to share, and I have a few nice, sweet onions that I don’t want to smother in the bottom of a soup or stew. They’re simple to make, and you only need about an inch of oil in the bottom of a small pot – there’s no need to heat vats of oil or invest in a deep fryer. They’re cheap – and look what you get. Just-fried and paper towelled, showered with salt and brought straight to the table – with a quickly stirred together aioli of lemon juice, mayo and mustard – willContinue reading

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It’s true – I often make things just for their name. Or the fact that they’re British (as if the food itself also has an irresistible accent) – especially when they’re called something that I generally associate with another completely different thing. Also: I’m a sucker for butter and Lyle’s Golden Syrup – particularly on toast, but really how could anything made with it not be spectacular? I also have a soft spot (many, actually, mostly in the thigh area) for things made with butter, brown sugar and oats. So. When I learned eons ago about the existence of the British flapjack – a bar cookie made without eggs or flour, making them dense and chewy and grainy, the most buttery-sugary kind of granola bar possible, they had to be made. And again. And then I realized I should probably share.

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Have you ever had a banavalanche? A mass of frozen bananas unloading from your freezer each time you open the door? Fortunately I have a drawer freezer at the bottom of my fridge now – which means the bananas overflow into the ice cube tray, making all our ice taste like banana. Which is a sign it’s time to bake something. I toss a few whole (solid) bananas in a bowl of warm water to thaw, then squeeze them out one end (like milking a cow) until their super soft innards slither out into the mixing bowl. But I feel as if I’ve finally hit my banana bread quota, and the two of us have to take a break for awhile – and so I dug out a recipe for muffins sweetened with honey that I made out in Tofino one time, and (possibly because we’re typically out there at this time and my subconscious self is homesick for the place) made a batch.

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These don’t have to be sprinkle doughnuts, but since the cousins were over this weekend, I thought there ought to be sprinkles. I figured their young minds were at their memory-storing prime, and if I was to instill fond memories of making doughnuts from scratch at their aunt’s house, who let them cook the holes and scraps and douse them in cinnamon sugar to eat while the doughnuts were cooking, I’d better get on it. Doughnuts aren’t difficult; the yeast-raised kind (these) are made with a simple dough enriched with butter and eggs, then patted and cut (I can’t resist doughnut cutters when I see them) and cooked in a shallow pot of oil – no need for more than an inch or so. Some grandmothers cook theirs in lard or shortening; I’ve never done this, but someday I’ll give it a go just to say I did. For now, I find canola works perfectly.

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This! I ate it all. To be honest, I didn’t really have a clue what bar-style pizza was until I happened to see a tweet from Serious Eats, and I happened to be starving, and the tweet happened to have an embedded photo of an ultra thin-crusted, cheesy, crispy-edged pizza in it. So I deduced that a bar-style pizza was more appy-sized, with thin, small wedges that were more convenient to eat with a pint. Thin enough to maybe fold in half, like people do in movies set in New York. I thought I had a handle on pizza – I have my go-to crust recipe that I know by heart and like to make a day ahead to give the dough a chance to develop some flavour. I occasionally swap in a batch of chewy no-knead bread dough. I toss it on the grill sometimes, and I know the cast iron pan trick, and I’m down with pita pizzas – a staple of ourContinue reading

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As the daughter of a gastroenterologist and fibre enthusiast, I have long been a fan of the bean, pea, chickpea and lentil. My BFF and I schemed up and wrote a book about them, in fact. (That I may or may not have ever mentioned won a Taste Canada award for best single-subject cookbook that year.) So I’m very excited that the World Health Organization has officially declared it the International Year of the Pulse – which is kind of a big deal. And a great thing for our Alberta pulse growers – did you know they grow in the prairies? In fact, Saskatchewan is the world’s #1 exporter of lentils. It’s true! (I love this Resolution of the General Assembly, with its very sincere and official-sounding words leading into each reason the world should love legumes: Noting, Desiring, Recognizing, Believing.) Which is why I just got back from a couple days in Toronto – I went to help celebrate the launch yesterday, and catchContinue reading

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I grew up with a strong resentment of fig Newtons -and in fact figs in general- they represented all that we were so cruelly denied as children of a doctor who seemingly valued fiber above all else. I begged for Oreos, but the packaged cookies we got were either fig Newtons or Arrowroot cookies – yes, those flavourless oval ones with the baby on the front of the box that, designed for teething toddlers, dissolved upon contact with saliva. I reluctantly ate them anyway, since they were at least cookies. Fig Newtons though – riddled with seeds, they were what dads who wore beige cardigans with elbow patches and Wallabees ate with their tea. I’ve since made my peace with figs, but have still never craved a fig Newton. Of course, if you consider what homemade chocolate chip cookies are to store-bought, you can imagine how much better these are than the fig Newtons of my youth. I think they were originally from 101 Cookbooks,Continue reading

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Someone asked me for this recipe the other day, and so I did as I usually do – Googled it on my own blog, as if I were flipping through a recipe box. And it didn’t pop up. I searched, even in the sad, unmaintained index (sorry about that guys) and couldn’t find it. Could it be that I’ve never shared this recipe? One of our most loved, decades-old, party nibbles ever? That even my 24 year old nephew, who otherwise subsists on Mr Noodles, burgers and Sriracha, has mastered making from scratch? These are, hands-down, the best spiced nuts I know. They’re sweet-tangy-salty-rosemary-y, and perfect for nibbling, for giving, and for chopping to throw over salads. They’re super easy to make, and lovely as a gift. If you’re going to hand over $15 for a bag of pecan halves, this is the very best way to treat them once you get them home.

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