As you may know, I tend to go on about food waste… I’ve been known to orchestrate entire meals around using up a half bunch of slimy cilantro or some wilting kale. I also get a lot of questions about composting, and so when The City of Calgary asked if I would post some guidelines around using your green bin, it seemed like a good idea. (Also, I needed an excuse to share this recipe for compost muffins, so named because you can toss just about anything into them—any grated root vegetable, sweet potato, apples, pears, or you could add berries, dried fruit, and any dairy product nearing the end of its lifespan (yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, milk).

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It’s that time- Saskatoons are ready for picking on shrubs along my street, at the dog park and along the riverbank… as always, I find myself rooting around for an empty coffee cup or other vessel to fill as I walk. I rarely manage to pick enough for pie, but almost always find enough for a batch of tarts-these are simple, made by simmering berries, sugar and cornstarch and spooning the mixture into pre-baked tart shells. Blueberries work just as well if you want to combine the two, or in case you don’t have access to saskatoons wherever you are.

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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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I’m a sucker for anything topped with torched meringue, but my preference is ice cream, baked Alaska-style. (Yes, this is essentially a baked Alaska.. though B.A. is typically frozen in a bowl, so it’s dome-shaped, like this.) Ice cream “cake” was my birthday cake of choice as a kid.. because really, the scoop of ice cream beside the cake is always the best part. If you’re making it yourself, layered ice cream negates the need to turn on the oven, or even follow a recipe—it’s ideal for the baking intimidated. You don’t require a specific cake pan size (or a cake pan at all, really), and an ice cream “cake” can be made in advance and stashed away in the freezer for days, weeks or even months— until you’re ready to finish it with a simple cooked meringue, which is easy to work with and finish with swirls and flourishes.

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Though I haven’t seen her much over the years, my Belgian aunt is known for her croquettes. She shapes them into short, stubby cigars – a mixture of mashed potatoes and other leftover ingredients that can often be found in the fridge, rolls them in breadcrumbs and fries them in hot oil, which she tests for the right temperature with the handle of her wooden spoon. They’re completely delicious, and the perfect thing to make when you happen to have leftover mashed potatoes and roasted turkey at the same time. (The only time she has made them for me, they were made with mashed potato and roughly or finely chopped turkey.)

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At this time of year, assembling multi-course meals for more people than you typically have around the table can be intimidating. And besides the Big Feast, there are dozens of other, smaller dinners that need cooking and parties that need DIY catering, generally under the (albeit festive) duress of the season, and very often for company.

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Given the choice of what to eat, W will always choose crunchy fried things and waffles. When he heard the two could be combined, he lost his mind a little and asked immediately if we could go out for brunch. But because I’m not a fan of getting dressed earlier than is absolutely necessary, nor of waiting in line for eggs and breakfast breads I could make myself, I convinced him I could do an acceptable job of it at home.

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Turkey has dominated my social media feeds this week, reminding me that (yay!) I had leftovers from our big feasts squirrelled away in the depths of the freezer. (I always roast a larger bird than we actually need, so there’s plenty.) Roasted turkey is infinitely useful – beyond the requisite sandwiches, for which I make an extra batch of Parker House rolls or Julia Child’s sandwich bread, it can be used in curries and casseroles, cheesy baked dishes and croquettes. (And of course soup, with all that stock.) Any meat that has been roasted on the bone tends to have more flavour, and having it pre-cooked is like having your own homemade convenience food, all ready to go. So when the Turkey Farmers of Canada asked me to come up with a few new ideas this season, and I was happy to oblige.

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Baklava is one of my favourite things—I love honey, and crisp phyllo as a carrier, with layers of chopped nuts. It’s something few of us consider making from scratch… it seems like a fancy, finicky thing, but the truth is, it’s not. Phyllo is very forgivable, so you can layer it with butter, honey, nuts and spices and however you shape and cut it, it will be delicious. (If it looks like a disaster, call it baklava mess, and serve it in a dish, with a fork and an extra drizzle of honey, as if you intended to do it that way all along.)

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