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Who needs a healthy dose of veggies after that long weekend chocopalooza? (I do.) Something crunchy and cruciferous, to give my jaw a workout. Something to provide a nutritional ballast against all that ham, all those cinnamon buns, and so many handfuls of eggies. And so it was good timing that a few food blogging friends had organized a virtual cookbook launch for our mutual pal Mairlyn, who recently launched a cookbook of Canadiana, Homegrown.

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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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Like most people, I like to dip one kind of food into another kind of food. My goal, usually, isn’t to treat said dip as a condiment, but to trowel out as much as my dipping vehicle can structurally tolerate. (Crispy toasted pita chips are great for this – just cut them in wedges and bake them until golden. If you like, brush them with oil and sprinkle with dried herbs and/or salt first.) Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you want to look at it) the dip world is highly populated with mayo and sour cream-heavy dips of the French onion sort, which while delicious, don’t have much in the way of nutritional virtue. This Syrian dip of roasted red peppers, walnuts, garlic and pomegranate molasses, however, is worth treating like more than a condiment.

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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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I know – it’s even more clich√© to compound quinoa with kale when January is still in single digits, but having eaten my way through most of the holiday leftovers, I’m now attempting to fill my bowl with things that are better for me than cheese and chocolate. (OK, I’m keeping the cheese.) Pomegranate arils (the juicy seeds, which you can eat whole) are common in grainy middle eastern salads, which I find gratifying to put together, and I’ve found if I have some quinoa (or barley, rice, wheat berries) precooked in the fridge, I’m more likely to use it. Don’t think of it as leftovers so much as dinner insurance. Or your own homemade convenience food. A ripe avocado in the bowl demanded to be used immediately, and kale is good and cheap right now – I keep buying bundles, then have to use it in order to reclaim precious fridge space.

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I know… it’s such a cliche to be serving up kale on the first Monday of January. But I had a bundle of dinosaur (or lacinato) kale in the fridge that needed using before I head out of town. I realize the last thing the internet needs is another kale salad, but I needed a kale salad. And I like kale. And I love roasted squash. And I love chopped, salted, toasted almonds scattered by the handful over things. And I had a jar of ginger-miso dressing on account of a magazine story I’m working on about miso. This is how dinner comes to be around here.

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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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This is a combo I never would have thought to try. But when you buy a watermelon the size of a small animal, you start seeking out new uses for it – usually this is not a problem, as watermelon is a popular snack around here, and makes for a fine smoothie or all-fruit slurpee (its high water content makes it easy to puree) and I’ve been known to make a batch of watermelon-mint mojitos and watermelon lemonade. It turns out it makes a fascinating addition to hummus – it lightens it, making it taste fresh and almost juicy, rather than heavy and creamy from the olive oil and tahini. Not that there’s anything wrong with traditional hummus, of course – but I found the combination of fresh watermelon and cilantro and spices made it a brighter, summery version of the usual, and easy to plow through with thin tortilla chips on the patio with a pitcher of fruity sangria.

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As per my previous post, I’m currently enamoured with all things curried – and with using my masala dabba, which when I hold in my hand and dip into by the stove makes me feel like part cook, part abstract painter, and which turns out curries I didn’t realize I was capable of. Also? I must have curry on the mind because this very weekend I’m flying to London to go to lunch at Fifteen and MEET JAMIE OLIVER. My apologies if I drive everyone crazy with my Jamiepalooza this coming Monday. (Also? I have a 5-10 minute Q&A with him – what do you want to know??) All of which is to say I couldn’t resist another curry – I’m not even going to apologize for it, because this particular one is made with Brussels sprouts, bacon and paneer. If you’re a frequenter of Indian restaurants you may recognize peas and paneer, or spinach and paneer, but this. It’s dense and chewy and crunchyContinue reading

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