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It hardly feels as if we’ve had winter this year – sorry if you live somewhere where it does, with blizzards and sleet and such – but I actually love the winter, sticky snow and sleet and all. The coziness of it, the open invitation to hibernate, the lack of pressure to get out and do something while it’s nice out. Not that I’m complaining about the sunny days either – people have been hanging out on patios on the regular – it just feels weird. February is normally soup month, and root vegetables and winter squash. And now suddenly it’s March! And this brilliant red soup – made so by the combination of orange squash (or sweet potato) and purply beets – is bright and citrusy with orange juice, or a bit earthier without. That’s the beauty of soup – you can toss whatever it is that needs cooking into your pot without much need for precision.

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Today seemed like a good day to have a pot of beans simmering on the stove. As a sort of comforting reminder that we’re home, that the house is being warmed from the kitchen out, steaming the cold windows, and that we have time to let them take their time. And because a pot of beans provides potential for more – for a pot of something bigger and more nourishing that will feed a handful of people who are important in our lives. It means a starting point for me to experiment with without any particular plan. Yes, I can read a lot into a bean. What happened to this particular pot of beans had, as usual, a lot to do with what I had in the fridge. The thing about kale is that three and a half bunches of it take up a lot of space in the crisper, but you can cook it down to hardly anything. And the thing about leftover crustyContinue reading

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We’re in Tofino at the moment, eating as many summery things as possible – including but not limited to: Dungeness crab we caught ourselves (to great excitement from the cousins) using the scraps left over from our roasted salmon and trout, fresh halibut, lingcod and fish tacos, strawberries from Port Alberni, locally cured bacon and sausage, jelly doughnuts named after the mayor, kale and tiny yellow tomatoes from Catface mountain, peaches, Damson plums and blueberries from the Okanagan, Bamfield Seaweed Salad, eggs from Nanoose bay, Humboldt shrimp, goat cheese and fresh garlic from Salt Spring Island, bunches of fresh basil and as many blackberries as we can pick and carry home. And the restaurants. There are so many good things to eat here – one of our favourites has always been Shelter, a comfortable space with beautiful woodwork and a fireplace and consistently good food. Yesterday we went after the beach – they do a late lunch – and ordered the daily soup, made withContinue reading

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I only have the photo I took of this soup with my phone – and not a great one at that. Even then it had already been pilfered, skimmed of its sliced mushrooms, which looked so nice floating on the surface, and of its green onions. There wasn’t much left but shredded chicken, torn cilantro and a few strips of red pepper, but still I have to share. (It’s far prettier here, my launching point, although not quite the same.) Mike looked up from his bowl and said, “you must be happy with this one.” I kind of love that it has no rice or noodles – no filler. Although you could certainly pile some into your bowl and ladle the soup overtop. My kitchen is humming slowly along.. I have an oven now, and countertops! But no backsplash, and there are issues with the fridge that prevent me from actually emptying things into it. But we have ice! I’ve never had ice in myContinue reading

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I take a lot of pictures on my phone. Right now there are approximately 4,375 on there (no exaggeration) and yet they’re not quite good enough to post here. And so I finally knocked one thing off my to-do list that has been hanging out there for at least a year (I have plenty of years-old to-do items, sadly) and got up to speed with my phone, which means I can finally (maybe) try to catch up on Instagram and not have to lug my regular camera around and then have to connect it to my computer to upload images.. so archaic! Look at me all cutting edge! So this post serves as a test, to see if the new toy is up to snuff. I did also want to share this soup. We had three turkey dinners this weekend – a tryptophan triple header. The first was at our house, with friends who have no family in town, which involved me making the stuffingContinue reading

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The last hours of summer. Time yet for butternut squash soup? It can’t go without saying that the novelty of not having a kitchen has officially worn off. It’s no longer like camping, and I’m tired of having cold noodles swishing around my feet when I have a shower. (On account of doing our dishes in the bathtub.) No longer nestled in the protective bosom of summer, when people expect you to be at the beach and not answering your email, I wake up early every morning in a full-on panic that it’s September! It’s mid-September! It’s almost late September! and then kick my coffee consumption into overdrive, thinking that caffeine levels somehow incrementally translate to productivity. This of course is not the case, and by mid-afternoon I generally come to the realization that I’ve had approximately a litre of coffee and half a muffin, and dive into a pizza for dinner, swearing tomorrow I’ll do better. I’m sure it’s mostly my Pavlovian need forContinue reading

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Working for the weekend is never as fun as when the Expo is in town. For the past few years I’ve been charged with keeping the celebrities and their agents well fed in the gold room – the past 4 days have been a bit of a crazy fun no sleep cooking marathon, but getting to hang out and chat with Danny Glover (who – have I mentioned? – kissed me), Bill Paxton, John Ratzenburger, Matt Smith and the like made it totally worth chopping eight thousand bunches of kale (for this salad, which C-3PO loved!) and peeling about as many sweet potatoes for pots of soup I’ll tell you about soon. But there was another soup – ham and split pea was requested by Barry Bostwick – ironically, I think I’ve posted twice about the Expo, and both times it was pea soup by request. Previously by Tia Carrere. (If I were to guess what a popular food request from big LA movie starsContinue reading

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Chowder

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a cookbook writer. No lie. I know I’ve told this story before, of how I learned to read with a stack of cookbooks, and have had a few (or more) beside my bed ever since. And how my heroes were Elizabeth Baird and Lucy Waverman and Rose Murray and Jean Paré – all of whom were Canadian home cooks bringing good food to the masses, pre-Food Network and interwebs. Times have changed… recipes are rarely clipped out of the newspaper anymore, but more of us (so many!) are writing and sharing them. They’re emailed/pinned/liked rather than written on cards to pass along, which is perfectly okay, but I admit I’m a little nostalgic about it. What’s the future of cookbooks? When Elizabeth Baird wrote her first back in 1974, 6 cookbooks were published that year. SIX. These days there are so many, and they’re all beautiful. I can’t keep up. And here I am working onContinue reading

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Mexican Lime Soup 1

This cold has grabbed me by the collar and slammed me up against the wall. And yes, I’m resorting to chicken soup, spiked heavily with lime. Which comes in very handy considering how much stock I currently have in my freezer. In December I shot fifty soups for the next Soup Sisters cookbook, due out this fall via Appetite by Random House. Teams of other volunteers were rounded up to cook as I styled and shot, but while most of the excess was delivered to shelters, the short days meant a loss of light and many containers came home with me to be photographed in my kitchen. As you can imagine there was plenty of leftover soup hanging around my fridge. This one stood out – it’s simple and tasty – just chicken, onions and broth, no noodles to interrupt by slurplily splattering all over your chin, necessitating extra Kleenex. But really what I love is the crumbled feta and sliced avocado combined with theContinue reading

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