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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chowder 2

We chatted about chowder on CBC this morning – mostly because they wanted to play the chowder bit from the Simpsons (it’s the little things…), but also because it’s delicious, especially on a blizzardy day like this one. I’m a bit of a chowder purist – I like the creamy ones with corn and potatoes and bacon or sausage – and this time I added some BC wild spot prawns. (If you think a shrimp is a shrimp, give these a try. And they’re sustainable.) If they still have their shells on, save them and cover with water, then bring to a simmer and voila – a free batch of shrimp stock. Look at those shells! A mild or spicy Italian sausage (chorizo would be delish too) seasons the entire pot – I didn’t need to add garlic or herbs or anything but a bit of salt and pepper at the end. I made this in the dark early this morning, so I don’t haveContinue reading

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I can’t sleep. And now I can’t see, because I’ve gone and plucked my contacts out, and my glasses are so old and scratched and bent that they hardly count anymore. I can’t move my head without them falling off, and ordering new ones seems to slip down my list of priorities as fast as my glasses slide down my nose, so if I decide to read or type anything after making that final commitment to blind myself at bedtime, I do so with my face an inch and a half from the screen. Which leaves me with a neckache, which doesn’t help with the not sleeping. I blamed afternoon iced lattes for awhile, and a large snoring dog who’s starting to smell more strongly of river, and pre-dawn wakeups (kids can’t fall sleep when they’re overtired, right?) and now I’m wondering if this is just the way it’s going to be from now on. I went downstairs and ate a bowl of Cheerios, evenContinue reading

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cream of mushroom soup 2
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I have an odd confession to make: I’ve never eaten buttered crackers before. Peanut buttered, yes – my mom used to sandwich saltines with peanut butter, and some of my clearest childhood memories are of squeezing them together so that it oozed out the holes on top, and that the all-natural just-peanuts butter my parents bought never squirted out as smoothly as the Skippy of my dreams. So why did I start, after hearing sad tales of friends downing entire sleeves of crackers with cold butter on the couch in front of the PVR? Do I need another buttery carb in my life? No… but I do like to know what I’m missing out on. So I utilized some of my stash of unsalted butter – which I like for eating, not necessarily for baking – and a sleeve of salted crackers, and got to nibbling. And so I tweeted about my snacky new find, and someone tweeted back: don’t stack them in the bottomContinue reading

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On this day in 2011, I saved a recipe for African tomato and peanut soup with chickpeas, and it has been among the 400 or so others in my drafts folder ever since. This morning, I saved another recipe for African peanut soup with chickpeas. Cycles, anyone? I think I may be becoming predictable – requiring thick, spicy soup in early January as a physical and psychological ballast against the chocolate high that was December. I like that this is hearty and creamy without being cream-of-mushroom-soup-y; peanut butter enriches it and the sweet potatoes, which have been cooked to the point of falling apart, easily melt with the push of a spoon, making a thick base for the chickpeas to hang about in. It could be done on the stovetop, but I tend to overuse my slow cooker when it’s out, rather than clean it properly and put it away. I’m lazy like that – peeling and chopping multiple veggies is somehow easier than washingContinue reading

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As a kid, I looked forward to the arrival of Canadian Living in our mailbox every month. I’m pretty sure I was the only one in my group of friends who read it. I cooked as much as I could, and read about food, and flipped through recipe boxes on my babysitting gigs. My idols were food writers; not the glossy celebrity chefs of this generation, but the home cooks who shared recipes in newspaper columns and magazines – the ones with the cheesy headshots you could write letters to and request recipes of, back when a Google search wasn’t an option. At a time when career choices seemed limited to Teacher, Nurse or Firefighter (and, crazily enough, my guidance counselor’s evaluation determined I should be either an English teacher or a DJ), I wanted to be Elizabeth Baird when I grew up. I even schemed to dye my hair silver and cut straight bangs, but my mom wouldn’t let me. I found comfort inContinue reading

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pumpkin soup w goat cheese
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It seems everyone loves a good squash soup recipe. While I’m out in Jasper, I thought I’d share a really simple soup I made last week – roasted pumpkin and pear – not earth-shattering, but simple and delicious, especially topped with crumbled goat cheese, which kept its shape and then melted into the hot soup. This version is sweet and plain, but you could spice it up with a spoonful of curry paste, and of course swap any thick-skinned winter squash for the pumpkin. Butternut’s nice, and easy to peel. If you find yourself with a particularly nubbly-skinned squash, roast it in wedges – the flesh will peel away easily once cooked.

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Dill pickle soup

I love what I learn from Twitter. I toss out questions into the Twitterverse and see what comes back. I ask how people use ingredients, what their favourite things to eat are, and settle dinnertime debates – the most recent: do they call it Kraft Dinner in the states, or just macaroni & cheese? The answer: KD is all Canadian – and we eat more of it than they do. My mind = blown.

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