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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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Amid a flurry of baking – I have another book manuscript due in a week – I decided that we should have something that’s not a scone/cookie/cinnamon bun to nibble on (crazy, I know), and I’ve been meaning to make another batch of roasted chickpeas since having the very best ones I’ve ever eaten at Rostizado in Edmonton. I could have happily eaten their crunchy/spicy/tangy bar snacks all night, and when I asked what made them so crazy good, they showed me a bottle of a Mexican spice blend that as far as I could tell contained merely chile powder, salt and lime. I could do this. Roasting chickpeas is really easy – all you do is drain a can really well and pat them dry as best you can – moisture is what keeps anything from getting nice and crispy – then sread them out on the darkest baking sheet you own (it will conduct heat more efficiently than lighter ones) and drizzle withContinue reading

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The apples are coming. The peaches are here. I know it’s early – someone said August is like the Sunday afternoon of summer – but bins of apples are arriving in farmers’ markets alongside late summer peaches – and both make me want to eat fritters. This colossal Sundaynightitis and the mere suggestion of shorter days and cooler nights triggers my need for comfort food something fierce. These photos should be out in an orchard, on a rustic wood board with apples that still have their stems – and maybe an ever so slightly curled leaf – for optimal effect. But it’s one of the last of the vintage dinette tabletops – the pink and blue so many art directors I know shudder to see peeking out from under my food – and at the bottom, a scrap of the material that’s now on our ceilings. And I’m getting all sniffy at the thought that the table might not be going back – I’m thinkingContinue reading

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Ponchiki Collage
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Q: What do you get when you cross a Russian doughnut with a Timbit? A: Ponchiki! I had never heard of these dense, cheesy fritters before yesterday, but they seemed appropriately Russian-Canadian-snackable to serve up while planted on the couch glued to hockey or snowboarding or luge. We’ve already started to call them Those Little Russian Doughnuts. They’re made with farmers’ cheese, a dry, crumbly cheese that looks like ricotta would had it been pressed a little more. Ricotta would work just as well – I added some sour cream to the farmers’ cheese to moisten it a bit. Some recipes I came across called for raisins in the dough – I used currants, which are more easily dispersed and seem like an ingredient my grandmother would have used. Not that she was Russian – they went into her butter tarts. But someone’s Russian grandma must have used them. Perhaps when I’m a grandma I’ll make Russian ponchiki. And Ukranian peroghy and Belgian beef carbonnade,Continue reading

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