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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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Gingerbread caramel corn! It had to be done. It’s crunchy. It’s munchy. It’s gifty and eat-on-the-couchy. Perfect for Christmas week, don’t you think? Every time I make caramel corn, I forget 1) how easy it is, and 2) how delicious it is. Just make sure you use a saucepan or pot with enough room for the sugar mixture to foam up (it will about triple in size) when you add the vanilla and baking soda – this is what makes it light and crisp, and not so tooth-breakingly heavy. This stuff will not compromise your dental work. Nor does it require a candy thermometer, which is a good thing if you haven’t found one in your stocking yet. This is the perfect sort of thing to have on the coffee table whilst reading/movie-watching/playing Scrabble, or to bring along a bag of if you’re heading to a skating party. It’s wintertime snack food.

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The countdown has begun. It’s officially that time of year when I convince myself that a slab of dark fruitcake is akin to a power bar, and thus a perfectly acceptable breakfast. (Note to self: make dark fruitcake.) That said, I do try to offset the copious amounts of shortbread and salted caramel with healthy stuff, like nuts. Spiced nuts taste (almost) as Christmassy to me as anything (nearly), and when charged with coming up with recipes to use some of the small appliances they have at London Drugs, all I could think about the T-falActifry, beyond the obvious curiousness about its ability to cook a batch of fries using only a spoonful of oil (it works!) is I BET THAT COULD DO ROASTED NUTS. Never mind chestnuts roasting on an open fire – who can find chestnuts, anyway? – how about spiced nuts roasting as a metal arm gently churns them, something I’m unable to effectively do at the stove, thus my reputation forContinue reading

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I feel like this a lot. A ginormous blonde girl growing awkwardly and taking altogether too much space in whatever room I happen to be in, all hunched and elbowy, sometimes with a bottle in her hand. (Which may or may not account for said feelings of ginormity.) I know you’re already acquainted with Alice, but here’s a new, edible incarnation of the story – Alice Eats: the Wonderland Cookbook. It’s here! I feel like this a lot too.

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There’s something appealing about a snack cake, isn’t there? The fact that it’s relegated to the every day, rather than elevated on a plate for a Special Occasion – and it reminds me of those snackin’ cake mixes my mom rarely bought when I was a kid. (Thanks to her, I learned to make the One Egg Cake from The Joy of Cooking instead.) Also: I find a 9×13-inch pan liberating. A conversation about barley flour on Twitter today reminded me of this cake. (Yes, I talk about lesser-known flours – I commiserate with others who can relate to my cupboard full of ziplocks and containers and half-full bags of assorted flours and grains and beans and lentils.) We all tend to default to all-purpose wheat flour, but of the alternatives, barley flour is one of the more usable in my kitchen. It’s locally grown (barley is a significant Alberta crop), easy to find alongside the other flours on most grocery store shelves, high inContinue reading

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Lara bars 1

Second day of school. I offer this rebuttal: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! We’re making the leap from pie pans to lunchboxes. No biggie. It’s really not so bad – fall is my favourite time of year. I get all nostalgic and organizational and back-to-school pumped, without the teenage angst. (I’ve managed to hang on to my teenage skin, however.) Besides, right now I’m poolside (OK, the inflatable in my mom’s back yard that’s mostly a watery grave for hundreds of bug carcasses), Coke slurpee in hand, and the car thermometer reads 34 degrees. It’s still summer, despite these 6 1/2 hour interruptions in the middle of the day. The difference is I’m back to paying attention, to catching up and clearing out and organizing and noting deadlines in red on my calendar. Schedules constrict, expectations rise and all that. Aaaaaand I was just strafed by a sluggish wasp, who triggered me to grab madly for the bug zapper, upending my slurpee onto my laptop and into my shoe.Continue reading

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Yeah, this happened. And I need to tell you about it. Although I’m somewhat of a wuss when it comes to spicy food, I always have a bottle of Sriracha in the fridge. It’s the red stuff that comes in a squeeze bottle with a rooster on it and bright green lid – known by those who aren’t quite sure how to pronounce it as rooster sauce. It’s spicy, but not overly so (about half the heat of a jalapeno pepper) and easy to use when you need to add a little kick to something. Anything, really. Even caramel corn. We used to make caramel corn ALL the TIME. It’s easy, once you’ve done it. Pop your corn. Simmer brown sugar, corn syrup (or Roger’s golden syrup or honey) and butter for 4 minutes. Stir in a teaspoon each of baking soda and vanilla, which will make it foam up like a science experiment and ultimately have a nice light crunch without sticking to yourContinue reading

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