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It’s funny how people have this thing about parsnips, like it’s one of the world’s most unrecognized (and despised) root vegetables, yet when you mention a recipe with parsnips people say oh! I love parsnips! I figured I’d best get this recipe in before the imminent onslaught of butter, sugar and mincemeat. This was my contribution (along with all of the photos!) to the latest Soup Sisters Cookbook, this one geared toward families and getting your kids into the kitchen. Soup is, after all, the ultimate starting point for the beginner cook – measurements don’t need to be precise, and you can play around with ingredients that are in season or whatever you happen to have in your fridge, and if veggies were wrinkly going in, no one will know. I’m a particular fan of soups you can purée and sip at your desk or take in your insulated to-go cup when you’ve had altogether too much coffee. And you’ll feel like you’re winning atContinue reading

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Yes, you can totally grill lettuce! Not just romaine. And it’s stunning. Such a fun alternative to the usual summer salads. I got a shipment of living lettuce from Inspired Greens last week – gorgeous heads of lettuce grown in Alberta greenhouses and harvested in their pots, sold not in clamshells but in sturdy thin plastic cones, with their roots attached. They’re grown to adolescent size – a bit bigger than baby lettuces, so they stay fresh for ages, especially if you store them in a short glass of water in the fridge. Honestly, I try growing greens in my garden and patio containers with limited success every year – they wilt and bolt and never grow to be big and full and robust – and this is a bit like having a micro-garden on a shelf in my fridge. Far less frustrating.

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Thankfully in the midst of a near-daily Stampede fried food extravaganza, my fridge is full of greens. They grow so well here in Alberta at this time of year, and so that’s what my CSA box was full of when we picked it up this past weekend. Bok choy, rapini, gai lan (I think!) and other bags of greens we couldn’t quite identify but are nevertheless tasty. I chopped some of them up with the head of bok choy, which makes for a great salad in that one end is thick, watery and crunchy, like celery, and the other is dark and leafy – it’s like getting two veggies in one. I added some other greens, the entire bunch of cilantro, some chives from the garden and grated carrot to break up all that green, and doused it in an Asian-inspired vinaigrette made with oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and garlic. (Lime would be good too.)

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I’ve been staring at these photos for a good twenty minutes, wondering if I should bother sharing them – they don’t do the dish justice, partly because I left the broccoli on the stove a bit long while doing other things, and partly because mulched broccoli isn’t particularly photogenic. But it was delicious, and a totally different thing to do with broccoli. I’ve been mildly obsessed with the concept of broccoli rubble since reading about it over at Deb’s – the rough chop of it, the quick sauté in garlicky oil, the shower of Parmesan. (And maybe because it sounds a lot like Barney Rubble?) I’ve always been drawn to just about any kind of grainy salad – I figured broccoli would hold up to chewy wheat berries quite well, and some salty crumbled feta, and lots of pepper, and a fried egg. I wish I had some walnuts to toast and toss on top. I devoured this thing, and I don’t regret it.

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Falafel is not something I grew up with, but something I grew to love. Like most of us, I fell for it at street stalls and takeout joints – it’s not the sort of thing I thought to make at home, until about five years ago, when I discovered it’s about as easy to make as a batch of hummus. Truly! If you have a food processor, you can make falafel in about five minutes. It requires a can of drained chickpeas (cheap), some garlic, onion, cilantro, salt and spices – go by taste and pulse it all into a mulch, adding a few tablespoons of flour to help bind the mixture together. (Any kind, really.) You can make them perfectly smooth, or leave some texture, which is what I do. A bit of baking powder lightens them up a bit.

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Apparently Albertans love their turnip puff. This is believed to have originated in the original Best of Bridge cookbook series – made with rutabaga, turnip or winter squash (or try a combination), the veggies are mashed and mixed with a bit of butter, brown sugar and egg, which makes it puff up slightly as it bakes, giving it a lighter texture. Some people assemble it ahead of time, refrigerate and bake it when they need it. I made it yesterday for the Eyeopener, and fed the leftovers to my dad, a longtime root vegetable non-enthusiast. It was a hit both times. If you haven’t had rutabaga before, it’s a brassica vegetable also known as a yellow turnip or Swede (short for Swedish turnip) – it’s big, about the size of a coconut, and purply, making it look like a large turnip. They’re believed to be a cross between cabbage and turnip, but taste more like mellow winter squash – raw, they’re crunchy and snappy, andContinue reading

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I feel a little sheepish offering this up as a recipe – most of the time you don’t need a recipe for a salad – but I still struggle with creative salad combinations, and so here it is. It’s getting to be the season for winter salads made with kale, Brussels sprouts and winter squash, and I particularly love roasted squash in just about anything – not least of all doused in something vinegary. And I love bowls filled with a jumble of tasty things, and having some cooked quinoa in the fridge to turn into lunch at my desk, and how brilliant pomegranate arils look scattered over just about everything. I’m having a wee panic that we’re a week (A WEEK) into November already, and am trying to resist calming my nerves with copious quantities of raisin toast. Delicata has a thin skin you can eat, so there’s no need for peeling – you can swap in just about any squash, roasted by theContinue reading

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Yes! Because it’s officially summertime (yes, I know it’s still 8 degrees some places – sorry about that) and there will need to be picnics, and why not pack up some kimchi pancakes and a wee jar of dipping sauce to nibble in the grass? The thing about picnicking, besides being awesome, is that really most food is portable, and you don’t need to stick to baguettes and cheese and cold pheasant, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I had a big jar of kimchi in my fridge that wasn’t going to eat itself, and since there are not a ton of opportunities to use kimchi from day to day (I know there are, it’s just not one of my default condiments), I decided to use a bunch of it in a batch of pancakes. Which, by the way, are different and delicious, even if you don’t love kimchi.

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It’s okay, I think, to adopt other families’ culinary traditions when it suits you. Having not grown up with a Ukrainian baba, and having married into a Ukrainian family that doesn’t cook (!!!), I’m perfectly happy to learn the art of perogy making with a friend who learned from her own baba Nettie, who was the type to turn out thousands of them with her crew for a church supper, celebration or fundraiser in Saskatchewan, or just to fill the freezer to feed the extended family from week to week. It’s particularly fitting that this year marks the 125th anniversary of Ukrainian settlement in Canada. I love any opportunity to cook with my favourite people – the best part of Thanksgiving is the crammed and chaotic kitchen – and getting together for other reason than to mass-produce perogies by hand while catching up on what’s going on with who, while getting well floured in our sock feet sounds like a pretty good kind of dinnerContinue reading

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