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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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“Dirty” doesn’t have the same edgy cache it did last fall, what with all the hand washing and not touching things, but dirty blondies remain in regular rotation around here nonetheless. W has developed a habit of making these when he wants something cookie-like; they’re like chocolate chip cookies in bar form – blondies with a bit of a chocolate edge that take approximately three minutes to stir together.

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I’ve been making these like crazy these past few weeks, as I’ve been out celebrating and signing copies of Dirty Food – yes! It’s out in the wild! I wrote a bit about it in last weekend’s Globe & Mail. It’s slowly trickling into bookstores now… there have been issues with my decision to give it an exposed spine, which looks imperfect (enough that there was concern stores would think they were defective and send them back), but I chose because I liked the look of it, and because it allows the pages to lay flat, which I think is important for a usable book, especially in the kitchen, and particularly when it’s a smaller format than the norm.

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No, you don’t *have* to use crabapples for these – it’s officially apple season, and the markets abound with bins of crisp, flavourful apples – and just about any would do well here. But they do make good use of tart crabapples, which don’t need to be peeled – just slice off their cheeks, chop them a bit more if they’re big, and let the soft, sweet dough offset their tartness. It’s a delicious use for those apples that might otherwise compost themselves on your lawn.

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I haven’t made a batch of Phantom Rhubarb Muffins (from the Best of Bridge-so named because they’re so delicious they tend to disappear) for years, and keep meaning to. I love tart bits of rhubarb in my muffins, and this recipe doesn’t produce too big a batch – I know you can freeze them, but who ever needs 2 dozen muffins at a time? 8 is perfect. I made these one recent morning when we were packing up the car for a road trip, in order to avoid the mostly disappointing $2 highway muffins with our very necessary coffees. Note: because I was distracted (and am, in general, imperfect) I wasn’t thinking and used more butter and sugar in the simple crumble topping than necessary, which resulted only in more caramelly bits on top – nothing wrong with that. And though the recipe calls for pecans, I had almonds – use any nut you have in your baking cupboard, really.

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I have no shortage of ways to use the last of the sour cream or yogurt as it drifts past its expiry date (provided it’s not growing tiny Muppets on its surface, yes) – I stir it into pancake, waffle, muffin and banana bread batter, or make scones… I make green sauce or toss it in the freezer. But ladies and gents, we have a new contender… these tiny, tender fritters I came across in the great Edna Staebler’s Food That Really Schmecks (if you’re Canadian, you may remember it) – and though I didn’t think I needed a go-to fritter in my repertoire, it turns out I did.

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It’s unfortunate that the bialy has not achieved the same level of recognition as the bagel, as they are unquestionably as great. Originally from Bialystock, Poland, the soft rolls are made with a deep indent in the middle, rather than a hole, in which a small amount of filling (and sometimes a scattering of cheese) is added before baking – generally it’s caramelized onions and poppyseed. They’re regaining popularity at Jewish delis and bakeries in New York (particularly in the Lower East Side) and even Toronto, but I’ve never come across a bialy in Calgary. (Which isn’t to say they don’t exist… if you see some, let me know!) Fortunately, you can make your own – and if you have a veritable jungle of onions in your garden, this is a good way to attack them.

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My old friend Mairlyn (the friendship is old, not the people in it) was in town a few weeks ago, and we got together to record a podcast (her episode will be up soon!), which was a blast because Mairlyn is hilarious and fun and we could have recorded 6 hours of conversation with no trouble at all. Unfortunately my face hurt from laughing and she had to get to the airport, and so I sent her off with a batch of her own high-fibre Chocolate Fudgy Brownie Bites. It’s the first recipe I made out of her latest book, Peace, Love and Fibre, and one I’ve made two or three times since – despite the very healthy-sounding ingredient list, these are chewy and chocolatey and divine, and I started making them for W’s lunchbox. Though we’re at the end of lunchbox season, camping/hiking/road trip season is right here, and regardless of the time of year, we all need more cookies in our lives.

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I figured some of you could use some pink gummies this week. Yes! Homemade gummies you make yourself! I can hear you eye-rolling, but it’s about as easy as making a batch of Jell-O. Bonus: you get to use wine, even more than they use in those fancy champagne gummies that cost $20 per quarter pound. Rosé has good colour and flavour, but these work with white or red too—a great way to use up the last cup in a bottle (it can happen!), or some prosecco that has gone flat. And if you don’t want to use wine at all, you can swap in your juice of choice – cherry is delicious. Apologies for the lone photo, but I’m realizing that a short and sweet recipe share is better than none at all. Amiright?

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