I’m not sure where August went, but apparently school is back in. Suddenly it’s dark at 8 o’clock, and I’ve put on my wooly socks and hoodie – although I’m strongly resisting turning the furnace back on. And so we’re shifting gears back to rushed mornings, packed lunches and dinner at a more regular hour than it has been over the summer. But because W turned 13 in August (!!) and is now as tall as me, he’s hungry all the time! Fortunately he can cook, but isn’t always inclined to do so. He can turn out a decent omelet and over-easy egg – his go-to meals or snacks when he wants to cook something himself, but as part of the year-long video series I’ve been doing with the EggcentricTV and the Egg Farmers of Canada, we decided to make frittatas in a jar, in part as a way to deal with the leftovers that always seem to be taking up space in the fridge.Continue reading

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Those little watermelons you see everywhere in grocery stores this time of year? Turns out they make the perfect vehicle for fancy patio drinks for one. I watched Alton Brown juice a whole watermelon with a hand-held immersion blender, and the next time I saw a stack of mini watermelons I envisioned a coconut or pineapple-style cocktail, only it’s far easier to access the innards of a watermelon, and being 94% water, it blitzes up into juice in a few minutes. So we gave it a try at Camp Hoo-ha this weekend, and it worked beautifully – we made watermelon-mint mojitos with rum and fresh mint, although you could do margaritas or really any other cocktail you can dream up. I made them again in a segment on BT Calgary on Monday, along with a snacky kind of patio nibble made up of cubed watermelon, olives and feta in a smear of garlicky yogurt.

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Crêpes are, truly, one of my favourite things to eat – and to me they taste like summer, perhaps because we always make them on mornings when everyone is around and on holiday, or perhaps because they’re best with berries and other seasonal fruit. (Honestly, my favourite way to eat a crêpe is still to spread it with butter, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, add a squeeze of lemon if there’s one around, roll it up and eat it standing at the stove while I make more crêpes.) This year I’m doing a series with the Egg Farmers of Canada, making video tutorials that suit the seasons, and this is what I chose for the summer. Crêpes are a fun thing to get the kids into making too – once you have the method down pat, it’s a skill you’ll keep forever. And you make plenty of friends and admirers when you know how to make a batch of crêpes.

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At my dad’s birthday last year, we made an entire menu of Indian curries – his favourite. But when I volunteered to make the naan, my mom insisted on ordering some to pick up from a local restaurant. It’s ok, I told her – I can make pretty good naan from scratch! But she insisted, and someone wound up stuck in traffic driving to and from the restaurant, and we wound up with cold, no longer fresh from the oven naan with which to scoop up our curries. A few months later she was over when I had a stack of naan on the kitchen counter. She tore into a piece and asked where I got it. “You made this?!” she asked, incredulous. We really could have had some of yours! Of course there’s no beating a batch of naan that has just been cooked in a tandoor oven, which is tall and cylindrical and reaches temperatures of about 800F, much like a pizza oven.Continue reading

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Hey, who loves cheese puffs? I’ve partnered up again with the Egg Farmers of Canada to make a video tutorial on how to make cheesy, eggy gougères for their EggcentricTV app, as part of their new spring recipe collection. Gougères are light, airy puffs traditionally made with gruyère, but I find aged Gouda a pretty amazing alternate. Gougères are fantastic for spring get-togethers – they’re great for nibbling any time of the year, particularly when there’s wine involved, but seem particularly well-suited to spring gatherings, and just as fitting for brunch as cocktails on the patio, if you’re lucky enough to be rid of the snow. If not, mix up a batch of these, open a bottle of wine and hunker down.

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My new favourite getaway is an escape to a not-so-back country lodge in the Rocky mountains – one you don’t have to access by ski or snowshoe with your stuff strapped to your back, but can in fact drive right up to, park your car, and be sitting in front of a crackling wood fire in five minutes. Although it’s spring break and my feeds are full of friends dipping toes into pools and sitting on beaches, to me this is the stuff dreams are made of. And it’s pure Canadiana. These not-so-back country lodges are a little off the beaten path (literally), and so tend to not be as front-of-mind as the usual Banff/Canmore/Lake Louise hotel destinations. I’ve been to a few, but once I started seeking them out I realized how much I love them, how they embody coziness and encourage unplugging, how (unless you ski – I haven’t for years) they offer a true hideout from modern day life. And while allContinue reading

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Chocolate should really be declared the official food of February, since at some point long ago someone decided it defined love, or professed it, or otherwise made people feel as good as love does. It’s always chocolate season, of course – but in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day I tend to want it more. The power of suggestion is strong with me. Of course Valentine’s Day is all about sharing the things you love with the ones you love. The folks at Green & Black’s asked if I’d play around with some of their bars and make a fondue for two, and I was more than happy to oblige. You hardly need a recipe for chocolate fondue, but a little guidance helps, and the ratios of cream:chocolate vary from bar to bar. Once you get the formula down – heat cream, add chopped chocolate, stir – you can play around with it a bit, adding a shot of booze to the cream, orContinue reading

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(Look at kindergarten W! Sniff.) I’ve always been a fan of breakfast. I don’t function well without it, and neither do kids. Particularly W – he’s lucky enough to have access to breakfast every morning before school, but 1 in 5 Canadian kids don’t. Among immigrants and newcomers, the risk is 2.5 times higher. This weekend, the Grocery Foundation launches their #Toonies4Tummies Campaign in support of student nutrition programs in western Canada and Ontario – the Foundation has raised over $88 million over the past 38 years, which has supported over 250 organizations that address health and wellness, including healthy breakfasts and snacks for school-aged kids. When kids start school with breakfast, it improves not only concentration and academic performance, but social skills and self-confidence – and there are fewer incidents of bullying.

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In general I’m not a very gadgety person, but there are a few kitchen tools I can’t be without, and one is a stand mixer. I was asked to take an Oster® Brand stand mixer for a spin (see what I did there?) and used it as an excuse to also test out a dessert I’ve been meaning to try for ages – a rolled meringue roulade, which sounds far more fancy and sophisticated than it actually is. A roulade is really anything rolled up, and in this case, meringue is spread out and rolled into a log around tart berries and cream – essentially the same ingredients as a pavlova, which just might be my favourite dessert ever. As much as I love plum pudding and the chocolate bundt cake old family friends bring over every holiday, after a big turkey dinner I don’t want something heavy – I love the sweet-tartness and acidity of something made with meringues and tart fruit and cream.Continue reading

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