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Most nights, dinner is predetermined – by recipe testing, leftovers from a photo shoot or radio column or some such, or some transformation of ingredients that need using up. Over the past decade or so we haven’t had the opportunity to fall into a sort of mealtime routine – or rut. We don’t really have our usuals. On tired nights, we wind up eating eggs and toast or spaghetti, which is often just the thing. Tonight, after a late night and long day of cousins and playing in the river and birthday cupcakes, the only thing I wanted to make was a call for takeout – but after eating close to my weight in ice cream that wasn’t surviving the hot afternoon in a cooler, I didn’t want to get sucked into multiple dishes. What I did want was tangy-sweet and noodle-y, and so with ground pork in the freezer and a plethora of noodles avalanching from the cupboard, I made a batch of dandanContinue reading

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I love it when a tub of cooked lentils and bowl of leftover rice in my fridge inspires me to leap out of my usual routine. (Wait, do I have a usual routine? Mike likes to say we never get the good stuff twice – as in, I’m always testing and experimenting and cooking things out of season or pre-holiday for magazines that come out two seasons from now. Peaches in January and pomegranates in July.) That said, I do have culinary habits I too easily fall into. I didn’t shake them completely; I love turning cold rice into fried rice (a vehicle for just about every other leftover in your fridge) and so kind of morphed fried rice and mujadara – a Lebanese rice-lentil-onion-cumin dish that isn’t much to look at on the page, but is so much better than the sum of its parts. Typically the onion is caramelized and the the rice and lentils cooked pilaf-style in the pan with lots ofContinue reading

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When W was still a baby, just starting to pull himself up to toddle around the coffee table, he skipped directly from fruit and veggie purees to grown-up food, going straight for a platter of ribs at one Sunday barbecue and never going back. I have photos of him sitting out in the grass in his swimmers, happily knawing on a pork rib in the sun, sauced from ear to ear. This is how I feel when I get to eat ribs – carefree and happy, loving the opportunity to eat with my fingers, and usually covered with sauce. W will still choose ribs if he has any say in dinner. It’s on the top of all our lists, but best eaten when it’s warm enough to sit in shorts and flip flops, leaning in over the rib in hand, letting any drips land on the grass, then washing up in the sprinkler afterward. Ribs are the ultimate summer food, best served in the greatContinue reading

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This week, I’ve had a love affair with pork. All parts of the pig – its loin, its shoulder, its butt. It started on our drive home from Tofino, when we swung by Meat & Bread between ferry dock and highway. It’s worth the trip – or pilgrimage, even – for a porchetta sandwich with cracklings, served with salsa verde, a brilliant green slurry of fresh Italian parsley, garlic, lemon and olive oil that acted as a bright, fresh, citrusy foil against the rich pork. I became preoccupied with said porchetta, and so when I went for coffee with our new neighbours, Cafe Gravity in Inglewood, and the owner, a recent transplant from the corporate world who went to India, had an epiphany and decided to open a cafe, pulled up a chair and asked for menu advice, I suggested he might be able to easily roast pork in his teeny kitchen for real-food sandwiches.

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Mike complained loudly last night as I was pre-roasting pork ribs for CBC that I always make ribs for Jim (host of the Eyeopener) and never for him. There is some truth to this. OK, a lot of truth. But who makes ribs for dinner on an average Tuesday night? Or ever, really, unless it’s someone’s birthday, or a baarbecue, or some other sort of big event? The only time we ever get ribs is when Mike plays the Palomino or my mom picks up take-out from Swiss Chalet. I adore ribs, but they are so high in fat that I never feel right about making them for myself. I reserve them for making other people happy. Well-made ribs are the best way to win friends and influence people. Then again, I’ve eaten a lot of black bean soup this year, dammit. So I bought a big rack of pork back ribs today, and popped them in the oven this afternoon. This is the secretContinue reading

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Today I’ve been working on an article about chiles, and as such, testing recipes that use them. My countertop is covered with dried guillano, ancho and as-yet-unidentified green, red and purplish chile peppers. One of the recipes I tested was sort of a pulled pork-goulash-sloppy José kind of thing. Using pork shoulder, I wanted to braise it, so since I didn’t get started until after 10 pm I browned it first in my skillet, then put it all in the slow cooker last night before I went to bed, fully intending to get up at 3am and check on it – in fact, I got a little giddy at the idea of sitting alone at the kitchen table in the middle of the night, writing something stirring that could only come to me at such an odd hour. The single light above me might swing subtly back and forth, as if I was in the bowel of a ship. Why does the image of aContinue reading

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