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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.

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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 the slice or cubed and doused in oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, then roasted until tender. You can do this while you’re making dinner – or for dinner, planning on leftovers to keep in the fridge for the next day’s lunch.
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sheet-pan-chicken

I’ve never been one to build dinner around a large meaty foundation, adding pots of starches and veggies to simmer on the side – I like things all together, not least of all because cooking everything in one big pot minimizes dishes.

The thing about soups and stews and other one-pot wonders is that they’re all – stewy. Which is fine, but I firmly believe and will shout from the rooftops (does anyone ever do this?) that roasting is the best cooking method of anything ever, particularly vegetables. I can’t think of a vegetable that isn’t at its crunchy-sticky-caramelized best roasted: tomatoes? Yup. Broccoli? For sure. Squash? Obv. Cauliflower? Totally.

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But here’s the beauty: you can roast chicken thighs in about the same amount of time it takes to roast veggies. On the same pan. Spreading them out on a sheet rather than tucking them into a deep roasting pan allows the heat to circulate, which means they’ll roast instead of steam. And if they start to mingle and get to know each other, all the better.
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jack-skellington-pie-small

Had to make this. It was Sunday, and my birthday, and I wanted to stay in my pajamas. W and I saw this on Instagram and had to make one. We put on some Bowie and did some baking. Beats scooping guck out of a pumpkin.

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We had blueberries and saskatoons in the freezer – perfect for dark, brooding eyes. Other than that, it was just a matter of cutting the face with the tip of a knife. I made an uncooked filling, but find that it can wind up tasting starchy – next time I’d cook the filling first, stirring in some fresh blueberries for little pops of juice. Any dark pie filling would work.
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apple-cake-9

It’s nice when things that don’t take much time accidentally turn out awesome, isn’t it?

When apples are in season, they make me want to bake – pies are nice in theory, but I’m not always in the mood to make one. An apple cake is a lovely thing, especially when it’s more apple than cake, and when you have a buttery dough you can stir together in a few minutes and know by heart, so that in spring it can be berry or rhubarb cake, in summer it can be a peach or plum cake. This is the sort of cake I like best – I think most days I’d choose this over a fancy chocolate tower held together with ganache.

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sourdough-pizza

I get the sense that sourdough starters are starting to come back into fashion – for the most part, it’s the bakers and chefs who nurture their bubbling little jars, texting each other about feeding schedules and storage advice. I started some new starter earlier this summer – the batch I had, with a backup tucked away in the back of the freezer, finally gave up due to neglect.

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I got them going, and then left town – and on the way back from Tofino, we detoured through Edmonton, popping in to Prairie Gardens farm in Bon Accord, where chef Blair Lebsack and Caitlin Fulton of Rge Rd cook farm dinners, they teach classes using the wood-fired cobb oven – pizza, charred salads with tomatoes, arugula and beans and beans from the garden, things like charred greens, braised leeks and Brussels sprouts, roasted herbs, quick pickles, bannock, cooked on a stick over the fire, pastry for spiced apple empanadas and galettes. Christine Sandford is one of the chefs who cooks out at the farm, and she came to make us pizzas with sourdough crust topped with paper-thin yellow zucchini and edible flowers, cooked in just a few minutes in their handmade oven alongside baby corn that we unwrapped and dragged through marigold aioli.

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I’m officially hooked on these one or two day Alberta road trips – especially in fall, when it’s warm but not too hot, the shadows start to lengthen early and everything is turning shades of yellow, orange and gold. W and I hit the road a few weekends ago – we left on a Friday at noon, and I had forgotten how awesome the drive south to Lethbridge is. First stop: the Hitchin’ Post Drive-in in High River. A stand alone burger and ice cream joint in the middle of a parking lot at a roundabout in the middle of town that offers about a bazillion milkshake flavours – in every combination you can dream up. And then – the Nanton Candy Store. This is, to me, the quintessential small town candy-curios store, worth the drive its own self, jammed with enough interesting things to keep me busy poking around while W spends far too much time choosing his candies. The 100 square foot roomContinue reading

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turkey-dinner-dog-treats-2

Lou loves turkey dinner too. There’s so much in the way of turkey scraps, mashed potatoes, veggies and gravy in our fridge – not to mention gallons of stock – that I couldn’t not turn some of them into treats. Dogs are the very best kinds of beings to cook for – they’re infinitely grateful, and care not at all about the texture of the cookies you make, or if they’re a few days old.

You needn’t worry about dog cookies being chewy or crispy or soft in the middle – the harder they get, the better. And you can turn anything your dog loves into a cookie – peanut butter, tuna, cheese… even a can of sardines (so good for their coat!) – but turkey dinner leftovers blend into a perfect, non-offensive-to-the-human-baking-them sludge that can be turned into treats of any shape or size.

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cranberry-orange-muffins-1

Back in the nineties, cranberry-orange everything was all the rage in coffee shops – and when we went to those first few that began taking over our Saturday mornings, Mike always ordered cranberry orange in muffin and loaf form. Although it’s not as common a flavour combination these days, it came to mind on Sunday morning as I puttered around the kitchen and although I didn’t really need to bake anything, slush was falling from the sky outside and I wanted to warm up with the smell of something baking.

Also: second coffee.
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It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and I’ve made this pie twice. As you may know, pumpkin pie has never been my first choice – but I’m starting to change my mind about it. I make at least one a year regardless for the pumpkin pie lovers in the family – and for the most part, since I’m not really the one eating it, I stick to the same recipe. But this year, since I adore coconut milk – and coconut cream pie – and since both Mike and my dad have recently developed an intolerance to lactose, I decided to give it a try in place of the cream or evaporated milk I typically use in pumpkin pie filling. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! For pie beginners, pumpkin is about the easiest kind to manage. Stir together the pumpkin, coconut milk, sugar – I’ve been experimenting with coconut sugar, which is kind of the New Big Thing – eggs, spices – yes, pumpkinContinue reading

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