• One, two, eat tofu (cheeseburgers)

    Barbecued tofu burger with cheddar and arugula.

    When I was in Grade 4, I made up a skipping rhyme about tofu for a creative writing assignment.

    Growing up in what was then a very German Kitchener, no one in my class knew what tofu was. I had the unfortunate experience of trying the stuff when my mom brought some home from a night course she was taking at OISE for her master’s degree. Her professor was a hippie who treated his students to a vegan meal at the end of the term. My mom got the leftovers. 

    Among them was tofu and seaweed stew, which made my nose wrinkle. I had never heard of tofu and seaweed conjured images of the slimy stuff that harboured all kinds of mysterious underwater life in the lake at our cottage. Continue reading

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  • Grown-up endeavours and Mexican spritzers

    Mexican spritzers from The Craft Cocktail Party by Julie Reiner.

    Having a liquor cabinet or bar has always struck me as very grown-up.

    It’s probably because my parents’ liquor cabinet was off limits to me and my sister when we were children. Of course, that made it all the more intriguing. What were they keeping in their oak sideboard that we weren’t allowed to touch? When my folks weren’t looking, we’d open it and marvel at the collection of potions inside.

    I felt a mix of fascination and disgust at the tequila with the shrivelled worm lurking at the bottom of the bottle. I was in awe of the brilliant evergreen mint liqueur. And what was with that stern-looking guard wearing a funny hat on that bottle of gin?

    Fast forward more than 30 years to my adulthood and I’m sad to say that I don’t have a liquor cabinet. I have a bottle of 12-year-old Guyanese rum and some lime bitters shoved in the back of a cupboard occupied mostly by pots and pans. And until I used it up to make borscht, a bottle of vodka languished in my freezer for nearly four years. Continue reading

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  • Rhubarb for the lazy

    I got an email this week that will likely wind up in the best emails ever file.

    It was from a local chef asking if I was doing another purslane giveaway. He was worried he may have missed it. Only one other person has ever written asking for purslane, rather than await my offer on Twitter, and when I replied enthusiastically with unlimited offerings and regular deliveries, I was stonewalled.

    My reply to the chef, though, was more tempered; one of good news and bad. He needn’t worry about missing purslane season. It was still far too early for there to be much of the succulent weed. Unfortunately, I’m no longer yardsharing, so I don’t have access to a plot of earth that was the most prolific producer of purslane I’d ever had the pleasure of working. Continue reading

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  • Digging into Seven Spoons

    Everyday yellow dal recipe in Seven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day, by Tara O'Brady.

    As Tara O’Brady handed me a copy of her cookbook to borrow for work a few weeks ago, she slid me a silver tin with it.

    Inside was a good one-third of a pie: a walnut oat cherry butter tart pie, the recipe for which can be found in her book, Seven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day. And with it came an apology. It was Thursday. She made the pie on Tuesday and was sorry the crust might not be as flaky as it was a couple of days ago.

    I waved off her caveat, and looked forward to a quiet moment that evening to tuck into it and the pages of her absolutely stunning debut as an author. Continue reading

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