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Hey, hi! So I’m in the middle of the craziness that is the Calgary Stampede, and have 8 shows down on the grounds this week – partly because I’ve been asked to do cooking demos for Bush’s Beans, sponsors of the Kitchen Theatre for the past 5 years. As you know, I’m a bean enthusiast, and always happy for an excuse to cook with them – and this time, I challenged myself to come up with something unique using their small pull-tab cans of baked beans, which are being handed out at the kitchen and at pancake breakfasts across the city. I do love baking with beans, and canned varieties make a particularly smooth puree, so I started experimenting with muffins and came up with these. I pureed the whole batter in the blender (or food processor), so you only have to clean one “bowl”, and can pour the batter right into your muffin cups. And because the beans themselves have some fibre and starchyContinue reading

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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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I don’t have many photos of these, but I’m sure you’ll agree that’s OK – most of you likely know what muffin batter looks like, and these were spur-of-the-moment muffins made to a) utilize the glut of blackberries currently taking over our kitchen, and b) convince some of us to stop spending $3 per so-so muffin at the coffee shop down the road every morning. A muffin recipe may seem a bit too obvious, but I’m always surprised at how few good ones I come across out there in the wild. Although stir-together muffin batter is as simple as you can get, they can also be tricky – I like a nicely domed top with a crunchy edge and tender crumb, berries evenly dispersed throughout. When I posted this photo, I had half a dozen requests for the formula within five minutes – a good, basic recipe is a good thing to have at this time of year, when berries and juicy stone fruits areContinue reading

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Have you ever had a banavalanche? A mass of frozen bananas unloading from your freezer each time you open the door? Fortunately I have a drawer freezer at the bottom of my fridge now – which means the bananas overflow into the ice cube tray, making all our ice taste like banana. Which is a sign it’s time to bake something. I toss a few whole (solid) bananas in a bowl of warm water to thaw, then squeeze them out one end (like milking a cow) until their super soft innards slither out into the mixing bowl. But I feel as if I’ve finally hit my banana bread quota, and the two of us have to take a break for awhile – and so I dug out a recipe for muffins sweetened with honey that I made out in Tofino one time, and (possibly because we’re typically out there at this time and my subconscious self is homesick for the place) made a batch.

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Today’s forecast: a fierce southwesterly, piles of cookbook edits, earaches all around coughs that won’t quit. On the upside: a batch of warm muffins. Welcome to spring break in Tofino. We’ve run out into the storm twice for essentials – coffee, Pringles (I’m easily convinced when under the weather) and meds – and both times had to retreat out of our wet clothes back in to PJs upon walking in the door. The second time I cranked the oven on first, before taking off my yellow rubber rainjacket, craving the warmth and comfort of a working oven plus a buttery, crunchy-topped muffin to go with my rained-in coffee. Generally I make muffins with grainier flours and healthier oils, but have you seen it outside? It’s a day for cupcakes passed off as muffins. And yes it’s pouring and blowing, but things are green and growing… In the freezer there was a flat of blueberries left over from last year – the very best kind forContinue reading

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When I was a kid, I thought only girls drank milk. This belief was almost certainly born from our dinnertime ritual: my mom would ask my sisters and I what we wanted to drink as we sat down to dinner. As we came to the table and sat in a row on the homemade wood (railway-tie, in fact) benches, she would say, “milk or water?” and usually we’d say milk, because it was more interesting than water. But my dad didn’t like milk. So most nights the four of us (two sisters, my mom and I) would drink milk while my dad had water. Which is how preconceived notions about things come to be. And then one night my uncle came to visit from the west coast, and he asked for milk with his dinner. It was so weird, this dude sitting at the dinner table, drinking a glass of milk like it was the most normal thing ever. (Which of course it was…)

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