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Confession: this was lunch, not dinner. Does it count that it was the most memorable meal of the day, and in fact one of my favorite meals of all time? Because we went to Mike’s mom’s for dinner, and my thinking is if you don’t have anything nice to say, maybe stick to the lunch story. Sue went back to Vernon at about noon, so before she left we poached some eggs from the market – todays’ eggs came from one of the colonies, but when the lamb farmers are around we get our eggs from them – so big they have to be staggered in their carton and it’s impossible to close the lid, most of them with a double yolk, each the size and color of a plump dried apricot. I had just baked a crusty loaf of no-knead bread, which we toasted and buttered thick slices of and slid the softly poached eggs on top. (Note: I do not add vinegar toContinue reading

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When Sue visits, we spend the vast majority of our time talking about food, reminiscing about food, flipping through cookbooks, cooking, and of course eating. This weekend we did no cooking for once, but instead spent the day at cookware stores and I finally took her for a Vietnamese sub at Thi Thi, the place that started it all, who still has hands-down the best Vietnamese sub in Calgary. (Satay chicken wins slightly over satay beef.) Later tonight we ditched W and went to Brava Bistro, where we learned that the lobster gnocchi is (miraculously) better than the lobster poutine (we had to try them side by side, for comparative/research purposes) and creme brulee is definitely the Best Dessert Ever.

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This morning my small group of friends who meet for a post-workout coffee every Monday, Wednesday and Friday gathered at my place instead, it being teacher’s convention and the kids out of school. Since there were 5 children of varying ages, the 4 of us and Mike, I made a whole sheetful of tuna melts, using a loaf of good crusty no-knead bread. Lay slices on a cookie sheet and toast at about 400F while you mix tuna, chopped celery and light mayo; divide among the toast and scatter with grated white cheddar (if you have it, or really any cheese you think would go well with tuna) and return to the oven until the cheese melts. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how to make a tuna melt. But then only one of the kids wanted one, and all of my friends were full of the cinnamon sticky biscuits I had made to go with the coffee. So Mike and I munched on tunaContinue reading

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I hope no one was expecting a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner of, say, beef Wellington and strawberries dipped into chocolate fondue, which would of course end up seductively licked off our fingers. A friend emailed me today, concerned with these public dinnertime duties and consequent pressure to cook an amazing romantic meal, and suggested I cook nachos, paired with a fine Kokanee and a Safeway apple pie. But the best part was her suggested narrative (obviously she watches Nigella): My heaving bosom was barely concealed by the lace doily covering them.  The heat of the oven door caused a fragrant drop of perspiration to roll playfully down my neck.  I was immediately taken by the spicy hardness of the roasting chips. The succulent velvety texture of the avocado wrapped itself tightly against the awaiting firm black olives…… Seriously, I’m thinking this website should have guest authors. So since the teacher’s convention is on and my sister is a teacher, my 9 year old niece, Emily, and 5 year old nephew,Continue reading

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I realized today I was starving for more vegetables. In the bleak of Calgary midwinter, that means root veg, which is fine with me. (Actually, just because the farmers’ market isn’t overflowing with produce doesn’t mean that greens, tomatoes, asparagus and the like aren’t always available year-round. But for some reason, in February I appreciate winter vegetables more.) Hands-down my favorite way to cook vegetables of any kind is to roast them. Roasting condenses them, imparts a smoky flavor, caramelizes natural sugars, and creates crispy bits. The small amount of oil you use is the kind we should all be eating more of, and you don’t need to butter them afterwards. I don’t know why anyone bothers with steaming, unless it’s frozen peas. This is something I came up with years ago as a way to consolidate the contents of my fridge and pantry; I have never used a recipe. This is how you make it: Chop any number of vegetables into coarse chunks; whoContinue reading

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In honour of the 20th anniversary of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, I made some Jamaican food for CBC this morning, since the Jamaican bobsled team was one of the most memorable part of our Olympics. Jerk chicken, of course, threaded onto skewers for easy in-studio eating (saved a few for dinner) but I wanted to do something with my new favorite condiment: Pickapeppa sauce. Straight from Jamaica, it’s a blend of tomatoes, onions, sugar, cane vinegar, mangoes, raisins, tamarind and spices that resembles HP and is delicious with crackers and cream cheese, simmered into red beans and rice, spread on roast chicken or pork, and is a great vegetarian substitute for Worcestershire, which contains anchovies. Jerk Chicken Skewers Although the ingredient list is long, these are a snap to put together. If you want to prep them far in advance, freeze the baggie full of chicken and marinate for up to three months; thaw before threading onto skewers and grilling. 1 lb. skinless, bonelessContinue reading

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I actually planned dinner tonight. We were going to have salmon and roasted vegetables with couscous and feta (one of Mike’s favorites, and something W scarfed down an entire bowlful of when he was about 9 months old, although I’m certain he won’t be as enthralled with it now). But the thing about planning ahead is that it is on those days you will open the trunk of your car and find two giant bags of mushrooms leftover from that cooking class on the weekend that must be used, even though they are now frozen solid. Mushroom soup it is. I adore mushroom soup, but rarely make it, unless I am for some reason stuck with a surplus of mushrooms that are beginning to dry up. I wish I had a bit of ham, but I didn’t. That’s OK. I pulled out my favorite mushroom soup recipe, then thought perhaps I should do a little more sleuthing, just in case there’s something more interesting thatContinue reading

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(And leftover party food.) Taught two back to back classes at the Cookbook Company today – this morning we made cookies, and this afternoon, grazing (it has been a grazing sort of weekend) – spanikopita, Vietnamese rice paper rolls, mini toad-in-the-hole, pork satay with peanut sauce, candied pecans, Romesco dip, flax crackers, balsamic mushroom crostini with Asiago, goat cheese gratin, curried mango-coconut chicken in wonton cups, and nut, seed and honey clusters. We finished at dinnertime, and I went straight over to my mum’s with Mike, Willem, my sisters and their kids, to polish off the leftovers from their party last night. The highlight of the evening was mid-meal; we were all lounging around the table, muching on leftovers, and I decided to go down the basement to check on W, who was playing foosball. I walk across the dining room, through the kitchen, and as I reach the top of the stairs hear a chorus of everyone’s voices, all yelling: JULIE!! YOUR BACK IS ON FIRE!!! See whatContinue reading

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It’s occurring to me now that not only is anyone reading this blog getting the inside scoop on our dinner habits, but a pretty good peek at my social life as well. My Mom is having a party tonight to welcome the new curator of the Glenbow museum. She has a far more exciting social life than I do, and always has great parties full of artists, architects and all sorts of interesting people. I’m helping with the food, and I’ll be there too, so between cooking and partying will be in her kitchen from dinnertime on. Mike and W are on their own; they’ll figure it out. A few things on the menu: Romesco Dip You have to try this dip – the first time I did I was instantly addicted! I adore it. The toasted almonds and bread thickens the dip and adds depth to the flavor and body to the texture. I often make a batch on Sundays to keep in the fridge andContinue reading

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