I will never outgrow Easter egg hunts. Nor will I ever tire of Nanaimo bars, even though their sweetness level is high enough to turn off a lot of grown ups. How to bump them up a notch? combine the two – hide a few Cadbury’s Easter Creme Eggs in the middle frosting layer. I did this for the Eyeopener this week. Oh yes.

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I realize I’ve been dishing up a lot of sweet stuff lately – I promise we do eat real food too on occasion. You know what a fan I am of those rainbow peanut butter marshmallow squares – last time I made a batch W loudly wished they had been chocolate peanut butter, only the very best flavour combination ever, and so of course I obliged. It’s easy – just swap the butterscotch chips for chocolate, which I’m far more likely to have around anyway. And ever since a friend singed hers on the stovetop last Christmas, creating these irresistibly tasty crispy bits, I’ve imagined them with a slight crunch from a handful of cereal. Which turned out to be a Very Good Idea.

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This feels like a bit of a copout, but I’ve been meaning to mix up a batch of puffed wheat squares (a very prairie thing) and eat the whole pan myself for awhile now. And I think if anyone came across a plate of these on the kitchen counter, they’d eat them. I’d like to say I grew up eating puffed wheat squares, but I didn’t – hopefully W will not suffer the same fate. I’d make them more often if puffed wheat was a thing I normally kept in the house, but when I think to buy a bag, I remember that a panful takes about ten minutes to stir together. Well worth it.

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I can’t remember the first time I made these. I make them every year – and now, on the verge of cookie month, when I went to look up the recipe here, I couldn’t believe I haven’t shared it yet. Sorry, guys. For fans of the sweet-tart, these are it – a double whammy of pucker, with a layer of cranberries suspended in lemon filling. A smattering of coconut adds some sweet chewiness. I like that I can make them ahead of time and stack them in the freezer – in fact, freezing them first makes it easy to cut them cleanly, and they thaw nicely while sitting out on a plate. All they need is a shake of icing sugar.

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We’ve had a lot of jam this summer. Cherry to start, and peach and apricot, moving on to blackberry and combinations of such. Blackberries haven’t been in season early enough for the past ten years or so we’ve been spending a chunk of middle summer in Tofino, but this year and last we’ve been spending a chunk of every day picking them. My typical routine involves walking down the road for a (locally-roasted) coffee, drinking it on the log out front, and then filling my empty cup to the brim with ripe blackberries on the way home. My favourite jams are made with berries and stone fruits, all of which get along splendidly together in whatever ratio you happen to have attracting fruit flies on your countertop. The beauty of jam is that you can toss all that fruit into your pot, or slice it, or squish it, and add half or so as much sugar as there is fruit (a more typical ratio isContinue reading

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I’m a sucker for pecan pie in bar form – but particularly when someone else makes them, uses birch syrup, then brings them along, right in the pan, with a knife to cut them into squares on the dock, on a fishing trip on Great Slave Lake. Birch syrup is something you likely don’t have on your shelf – but yes, you can go ahead and use (real!) maple syrup instead. Birch is similar, made with the sap of birch trees rather than maple – its flavour tends to be more complex, and some say not as sweet. And because it requires 100-150 L of sap to produce 1 L of birch syrup (vs about 40 L of sap to make 1 L of maple syrup) and the tapping window is shorter than the opportunity to harvest maple, it’s pretty pricey. But if you live up north rather than out east, it’s more likely what you’re pouring over your pancakes.

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I keep buying bags of lemons, thinking one day I’ll make a pan of lemon bars. They used to be in regular rotation – I’d make them so often I knew the recipe by heart – sometimes plain, sometimes with cranberries, coconut, blueberries or chopped rhubarb scattered over the base before the filling went on top. Everything goes well with lemon – especially a buttery shortbread base. I offered to bake a few things for a small memorial service – a little something to go with coffee and tea – and lemon bars seemed a good fit. The occasion reminded me of my grandma’s funeral, and of the small group of ladies in the old, high-ceilinged, whitewashed church kitchen, baking and arranging small squares – dainties – on trays. Nanaimo bars, matrimonial slice, those peanut butter marshmallow bars, butter tarts, triangles of egg salad sandwich on white bread and tuna on brown. I imagined how many times they had done this over the years –Continue reading

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Sorry guys, Monday slid straight into Friday again. And October 1? For real? I just arrived home from a day in Kelowna, touring apple orchards, getting to know some growers – including the couple who twenty years ago came across a seedling amongst their plum trees that eventually bore what we now know as Ambrosia apples. We ate lunch at Grey Monk – and I can’t wait to tell you about all of it, but there are far too many photos to sort through, and I don’t have confidence in my eyelids to stay open. Besides, it occurred to me that I haven’t even brought you up to speed on Monday yet. Monday I spent the afternoon with a team of volunteers from PricewaterhouseCoopers making homemade lunchbox treats at Brown Bagging It for Calgary’s Kids, an organization that has been feeding kids who go to school without lunches for the past 14 years. They make and deliver – all by volunteer – about 1500 lunchesContinue reading

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