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One day over the holidays, I asked out loud to a room full of family, “what foods should everyone eat more of in the new year?” (I was planning my first radio segment of January.) My nephews answered, “apples!” “Vegetables!” The youngest yelled out, “TACOS!!” Everyone continued with their vaguely healthy resolution-style suggestions. Charlie kept yelling, “TACOS!” And so it seems fitting to start the new year with tacos. Also, we wound up with two open bottles of nice, local stout, and because no one wants to drink flat beer but it’s perfectly fine for braising meats with, I picked up some pork shoulder. (I told you I don’t like to waste food.) And who doesn’t have at least a few squidgy mandarins at this time of year? These were juicy and sweet, but soft with drying-out leathery skins, making them tough to peel. I did it over the pot of meat, tucking chunks of peeled orange in the spaces between. It worked beautifully.

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I had been fidgety about the unseasonably warm weather around here, and then winter went and showed up all at once. Temperatures hovering around -32 with the windchill is the perfect reason to have a pot of something or other simmering on the stove, and I had been meaning to make a pot of feijoada – a thick Brazilian black bean stew, simmered with miscellaneous cuts of pork (and sometimes beef). The beauty of it is that dried beans take a few hours to soak and simmer, just like tough, flavourful cuts of meat, like pork shoulder and ham hocks. If you’ve never worked with smoked pork hocks before – it’s the ankle bit – this is a perfect reason to; you toss it in the pot and it does its thing, flavouring the beans with smoky meatiness, and then the chunks of tender meat fall off when you pull the bone and leathery skin out of the pot. Once you’ve cooked one, you’ll noticeContinue reading

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I take a lot of pictures on my phone. Right now there are approximately 4,375 on there (no exaggeration) and yet they’re not quite good enough to post here. And so I finally knocked one thing off my to-do list that has been hanging out there for at least a year (I have plenty of years-old to-do items, sadly) and got up to speed with my phone, which means I can finally (maybe) try to catch up on Instagram and not have to lug my regular camera around and then have to connect it to my computer to upload images.. so archaic! Look at me all cutting edge! So this post serves as a test, to see if the new toy is up to snuff. I did also want to share this soup. We had three turkey dinners this weekend – a tryptophan triple header. The first was at our house, with friends who have no family in town, which involved me making the stuffingContinue reading

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Guys! I dunno.. my paper wall calendar says it’s October. I think it might be broken. We still have no kitchen.. our makeshift dining room kitchen now has a slow cooker and an electric skillet, which take turns on the chair closest to the one electrical outlet that is currently occupied by the microwave and coffee machine. Apples are in, butternut squash is in.. and sausage is always in. This is something you can chop on a rolling cart and make in a slow cooker – even without a kitchen. Update soon! Promise.

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We’re taking turns catching colds around here. As I write this I’m wrapped in a blanket with a stiff neck (my mom keeps telling me to wrap a wool sock around it, like my grandad did, and I just might) and a mug of warm lemonade (yes!), sneezing approximately every 3 minutes, my face fixed with that expression you get when you’re just about to sneeze. (This cold is such a cliché.) We’re anticipating a high of -19 tomorrow, not that we’ll likely leave the house anyway after getting up at 5 to watch the gold medal hockey game. My ambitious plan is to make doughnuts and bellinis – or perhaps fizzy wine smoothies – and plenty of coffee. But later in the day, when everyone is cold and sleepy and huddled on the couch to catch the last of the Olympics, a batch of mac & cheese will be in the slow cooker. Oh yes it will. I wish it was in there now.

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Who else is prompted to clean their basement when freezing rain insists on falling on the second weekend in April? And who else, once downstairs rummaging through the growing pile of stuff that is the even scarier grown-up version of the monster in the basement, finds small appliances they didn’t even realize they had? I discovered that not only did we already own a humidifier – and I didn’t need to go drop $70 for a new one – we do, in fact, have a slow cooker smaller than the big oval 6 quart one I keep hauling out every time I want to cook something slowly. It’s like Christmas down there, I tell ya. (Likewise for the guys who pick up our recycling this week.)

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It was -33 today. I can think of no better argument for bringing out the slow cooker. Wait – there was a better reason. Kelsey and Phoebe and Cara (from Big Girls Small Kitchen – who’s new cookbook I became smitten with in early December when I was bedridden with a wrecked back) asked me to be a part of their slow-cooker love-in. It’s cold, and I love slow cooked food. Why not? They’re giving away some slow cookers too, if you want to get in on the action. They’re also swapping ideas and links and pins and such, if you’re looking for slow cookin’ inspiration, which if my inbox is any indication, a lot of people are. I must keep this short – have a story due today, which technically ends at midnight, right? There are so many possibilities when it comes to slow cookers. So many cool things to make, but I couldn’t see past a bowl of baked beans. These are thickContinue reading

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For the boys, anyway. Uninspired but wanting to get rid of the wad of poorly arranged chicken thighs from my freezer, I skinned them and threw them in the slow cooker with a carrot, celery stalk, red pepper, lots of garlic, chicken stock and a couple handfuls of lentils and barley. The dry beans and grains absorbed almost all the liquid – almost like I planned it that way – but I couldn’t give the ratios here; aim to have the liquid come about halfway up the chicken, make sure the dry stuff is stirred in rather than propped on top, and you’ll be fine. As for me, well, Chef Giuseppe Di Gennaro from Capo cooked for me tonight. There might have been some other people around too – I didn’t really notice. It was the Avenue Magazine Food Awards, where they revealed the much-anticipated March issue (and Paul is on the cover! Yay Paul! Yay Rouge!) which is famous for its list of theContinue reading

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Have been reduced to a bobblehead with a wonky neck spring. Brain function reduced to a trickle. Discovered don’t have a waist upon trying on Julia Child outfits (Oxford-style shirt, tied apron, which makes me look more like Paul Prudhomme) in front of full-length mirror. Ghoulash for dinner. Wanted to tell you about it. V. good on brown rice. Leftovers. Better after a day or two in the fridge. Freezes well. One Year Ago: Beef Stu, Garlicky Cheese Biscuits and Blood & Gutscakes

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