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As happens every year, I get into the habit of frying things during Stampede week, when I’m obligated to make at least one batch of corn dogs and mini donuts. For weeks after, I start seeing everything in the kitchen as potential for the deep-fryer – could it be battered? will it be crispier fried than roasted? I’m often asked what to do with the oil once I’ve used it, and the answer is: I use it again, and again (so long as I’m not cooking things that flavours the oil, like fish) and then once I’m in the habit I refresh the oil and the frying pot sits on my stove and gets used for much of the summer. When you think about it, it beats turning the oven on when it’s 30 degrees.

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Much of the time, I’d choose a fruit crisp over pie. Not only because it’s so quick to make (and I’m so often the one making it) and because measurements don’t need the same precision, and there’s no worry over whether or not you’ll be able to extract a clean slice, but because I love sweet-tart, juicy fruit, particularly berries and stone fruits, and especially topped with a rubble of butter and brown sugar. It’s the ideal vehicle for vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, which I am an enormous fan of.

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There are wild blueberries here in Muskoka, but they’re tiny and tedious to pick, and I miss the round, sweet highbush blueberries that had just come into season in BC before we left. We snuck away for brunch the weekend before this past one, which seems like forever ago, before heading out of town. It was early afternoon and we were hungry, and jumped straight to the fried chicken on biscuits, but they recognized we had missed an integral course and brought a tray of breakfast pastries anyway – croissants and other fancy breads, along with a pot of blueberry gin jam to spread all over everything.

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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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And then one night you realize it’s dark by 9. The next morning it’s cool and drizzly, so you use it as an excuse to turn the oven on and bake something simple enough to be ready by second coffee. I know I share a lot of scones here. Too many? Is there such a thing? Here’s one more. They’re full of blueberries and dark chocolate, but could be full of anything you like. Everyone tends to love the berry-chocolate combo in a scone – try raspberry (or blackberry, depending on where you are and what’s growing there) + white chocolate, or blueberries (which contain their own juices, making them easy to add and satisfying to slice through) with either, or chop up some tart, juicy apricots, nectarines or plums – the juicier they are, the more tenderly you’ll have to handle the dough. It’s OK – if they wind up too sticky, call them drop biscuits. And if they look a mess, remember thatContinue reading

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I want to do too many things. Most of the time I let ideas run rampant in my brain, sometimes I let them loose into lists, and occasionally I tackle them in real life. But my favourite ideas are the edible kind – the small culinary projects that don’t require a big time commitment, that you can dream up (even if you weren’t the first to do so) and start pulling out bowls and spoons and be done while you still have an appetite for it, before your mind wanders on to something else. Early every summer, when BC blueberries finally come into their own, I buy vast quantities of them to eat and freeze and bake with – they’re just about the best things in the world to nibble on, my mom taught me to throw handfuls into salads (even potato salads – for real), and of course they’re naturals in pies (with other berries and stone fruits) and crumbles and smoothies and muffinsContinue reading

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I made these last weekend, when we were invited over at the last minute to have dinner in our friends’ back yard. I wanted to make a pie, but there wasn’t time – and my crammed freezer had half a package of frozen tart shells left over from something or other that I kept having to move so I could close it, so I decided to solve two problems at once. Most berries are sweetened and thickened with sugar and flour or cornstarch before being baked in a pie; in this case, the tart shells get a quick 10 or so minutes in the oven to get toasty while you simmer some berries on the stovetop with those same ingredients, reserving half the berries to stir in at the end so that they burst and pop and retain their juice. You then satisfyingly spoon the berry filling into the tart shells, and you’re done.

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I fear this blog is becoming my excuse for making carb-heavy weekend breakfasts on a weekly basis. This time, though, my excuse was a quickly hardening crusty loaf that took up altogether too much real estate on the countertop, and there wasn’t even room for a bun in the freezer. My neighbour had been chatting her overnight French toast up on Facebook, and thus the seed was planted. (Aside: I also appear to be stockpiling frozen blueberries, for all those smoothies I haven’t been making lately.) I baked this the day before we left for Seattle, and brought a bowl of leftovers cold with us when we left the house before dawn, eating it in the car in the Tim Horton’s drive-thru in lieu of take-out. Essentially this is less-sweet bread pudding; the fact that the bread is torn or cut into chunks before soaking in an eggy bath classifies it as such. Not that it matters. What’s in a name? If you want itContinue reading

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