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The first of the locally-grown greenhouse tomatoes and cukes and romaine are here! We’ve even eaten our first asparagus stalks. In April! So crazy, this year. I know you probably don’t need a recipe for a salad, but you might like the idea of it – fattoush is a Mediterranean toasted pita salad that’s easy to assemble and makes the most of spring greens and those first pops of mint in the garden. Romaine is typical, as is cucumber, tomatoes and purple onion. I like making mine with ribbons of cucumber – simply use a peeler to cut it into thin ribbons – and fresh cilantro. And instead of the usual croutons, you bash up toasted pitas into the mix, adding a satisfying, toasty crunch.

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Who needs a healthy dose of veggies after that long weekend chocopalooza? (I do.) Something crunchy and cruciferous, to give my jaw a workout. Something to provide a nutritional ballast against all that ham, all those cinnamon buns, and so many handfuls of eggies. And so it was good timing that a few food blogging friends had organized a virtual cookbook launch for our mutual pal Mairlyn, who recently launched a cookbook of Canadiana, Homegrown.

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Wouldn’t this make the best wallpaper? I believe all vegetables can be significantly improved by roasting; this isn’t to say they aren’t delicious raw, on their own, but apply a drizzle of oil, salt and a hot oven and any veggie you can think of is elevated to new levels of deliciousness. This is delicata that has been halved lengthwise, the seeds scooped out with a spoon and the squash sliced – it has a thin skin, sort of halfway between acorn and zucchini, that is perfectly edible and requires no significant upper body strength to wrestle a knife through. Not only is it manageable, it’s a good size – sort of twice a zucchini; manageable in your grocery basket, and enough for dinner for a handful of people without significant leftovers. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

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As the daughter of a gastroenterologist and fibre enthusiast, I have long been a fan of the bean, pea, chickpea and lentil. My BFF and I schemed up and wrote a book about them, in fact. (That I may or may not have ever mentioned won a Taste Canada award for best single-subject cookbook that year.) So I’m very excited that the World Health Organization has officially declared it the International Year of the Pulse – which is kind of a big deal. And a great thing for our Alberta pulse growers – did you know they grow in the prairies? In fact, Saskatchewan is the world’s #1 exporter of lentils. It’s true! (I love this Resolution of the General Assembly, with its very sincere and official-sounding words leading into each reason the world should love legumes: Noting, Desiring, Recognizing, Believing.) Which is why I just got back from a couple days in Toronto – I went to help celebrate the launch yesterday, and catchContinue reading

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There are few kitchen techniques as basic as baking a potato – yet I’ve been asked a handful of times over the past couple of weeks how to do it. What’s the best variety? Does it require a foil jacket? A good baked potato can be a beautiful thing – as basic (yet infinitely more satisfying) as a bowl of popcorn with butter and salt. I dig out the fluffy innards, then butter the crispy skin and eat it like a thin, floppy piece of toast. And sweet potatoes. I roast them when the oven is on, and keep them in the fridge to reheat for lunch. (If you happen to have a jar of bacon jam in the fridge? Ridiculous.) There’s nothing like a good traditional russet – which also happens to be the cheapest of the potatoes. To bake, give it a wash, dry it off and rub it down with whatever cooking oil you generally use in your kitchen (canola, olive, sunflower)Continue reading

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There are plenty of delicious things to be done with a new potato. If you haven’t tried forking them yet, you must – cooked new potatoes are squished with a fork (or use your hand) to flatten them, then cooked in a hot pan until golden and crispy-edged. The quick lemony vinaigrette elevates them to a whole new level that’s perfect for summer supping. This is what I would make if I lived in a French farmhouse or Italian villa, and serve them outside on one of those long rustic tables that instantly make you think of Martha Stewart or Pinterest. With plenty of wine, natch. Either that or I’d serve them for dinner with pan-fried fish and sliced cucumbers on the living room floor to a little boy who needs a bath after cleaning up his Lego and picking up his socks.

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