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It’s said that there are cooks and there are bakers. I consider myself both, but do tend to dive into dough when I’m happy/sad/stressed or otherwise in need of comfort – or when others are. The thing about baking is that you don’t do it out of necessity (as getting dinner on the table) and for the most part you don’t do it for yourself – baking is always about sharing. Pies seem to dig even deeper into our collective histories – pies of all sorts are associated with the comforts of home, of casual celebrations and being together. You only make pies for people you really love. I mean to make pies more often than I do, and I say this as someone comfortable with the thought of making pastry from scratch – the prospect of making something like an apple pie from just butter-sugar-flour-apples can be daunting – but you can do this. I always have apples on my countertop, and make aContinue reading

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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. 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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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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This tart, hey? I discovered it’s tricky to say “cranberry curd tart” (try it) – but it turned out to be one of the most stop-in-your-tracks stunningly gorgeous things I’ve ever made. (In that it’s a brilliant pink colour, not because I made a particular effort to get fancy on its behalf.) I made it a few weeks ago for a holiday story, and wanted to share before Thanksgiving weekend, since it is the first of two annual holidays during which cranberries are crown jewels.

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Stone fruits make the best pie. Truly. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the BC nectarines are unreal this year – better than any I’ve had. We bought a case and started rationing them toward the end – they were so sweet and juicy, we’d slice them thickly over our pancakes, and let the juices mingle with maple syrup. There were apricots, too – and some peaches, and plums. And the omnipresent blackberries, which add tartness and colour by the handful to just about any pie. I mean – look at it! The crumble top was a compromise of the best possible kind – some in the house wanted pie, and others wanted crisp – I kind of like getting the best of both worlds. And in the late summer and fall, which with all its apples and pears and stone fruits is undoubtedly crisp season, you can blend a big batch (I use equal parts brown sugar – flour – oats, with halfContinue reading

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I’m always intrigued by other peoples’ birthday cake choices. There are those who stick with tradition and get the same thing every year, and then those who are more opportunistic, seeing it as their one annual chance to request the most extravagant ice cream cake/croquembouche/peanut butter pie/tower of brownies/cupcakes/crepes/cream puffs (all previous choices of mine, yes) imaginable. Yesterday was my nephew’s 26th, and being a salty-over-sweet kind of guy, he thought about it for a few minutes, then remembered a coconut lemon tart he had had at a dinner out at Feast Tofino earlier this year, and not being able to find the source of said tart, I decided to come up with one based loosely on 1) his memory, and 2) our favourite Key lime pie out here at SoBo. And here’s something else: did you know you can whip coconut cream the same way you whip heavy cream? It’s true. And it tastes like coconut. It’s true. I’m sorry you’re welcome.

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How is it that I’ve never made a maple syrup pie? Such a Canadian thing and somehow, I hadn’t. I’ve corrected this. Maple pie is not super summery kind of pie in that it doesn’t incorporate berries or stone fruits, but it would be if you added a tumble of raspberries or blueberries over top. And it is when you consider the fact that you make it ahead and chill it in the fridge, then serve up cold slivers (or big wedges to share – it’s pretty intense) with ice cream or vanilla-scented whipped cream. Also, it’s about as easy as it gets to whisk together the eggs, cream, brown sugar and maple syrup and pour it into a crust. It could even be a store-bought crust – I won’t tell.

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Oh this week. So much rain. So much sad. From where we are right now, summer holidays seem like an insurmountable obstacle course away, and so I made a key lime pie. It’s been one of our favourite things to eat out on the west coast, in Tofino, at SoBo ever since it was a little purple food truck in the back of a gravelly parking lot (where Tacofino is now) and when it occupied the restaurant space at the botanical gardens I was pregnant with W, and the only thing that seemed even slightly palatable was wedges of their tangy-sour pie. We still stop to pick up pieces to go – unassuming wedges of pale yellow on graham crust in little cardboard carryout bowls, topped with whipped cream. When I slid a slice across the table to Mike the other night at dusk, he took a bite and said, “this tastes like the ocean”.

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On Monday, five friends gathered in one kitchen with three bottles of prosecco to tackle the monstrous rhubarb currently taking over one friend’s garden. It’s beautiful – thick and solid red, and I pilfer it as often as possible; when we pluck stalks from the crown (which is the size of a VW Beetle) it never seems to get any smaller. But this time she went in determined, and there was enough rhubarb to fill three of her biggest stock pots, and then some. We each brought strawberries, and pounds of butter. We nibbled on cheese as we chopped and trimmed, and got flour everywhere doubling up my grandma’s standard formula for pastry for a double crust pie (you don’t want to multiply this kind of thing too many times – plus pastry for ten pies in one bowl becomes rather unwieldy) and mixed, chilled, rolled, filled, almost managing a sort of assembly line by the end, with finished pies getting deposited on every spareContinue reading

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