• Jawohl! Sauerkraut steps up its game in New German Cooking

    Creamy Sauerkraut and Wheat Beer Soup

    They are some of the most hurtful words you can say to a German, or someone of such stock.

    And while they weren’t said directly to me, the hushed tones in which a fellow guest at a dinner party whispered to her date “I don’t like German food,” revealed that she knew their impact and she was trying to shield me from their harm.

    I stared in disbelief that someone could actually feel that way about the food I grew up with; the food that brings me such joy, even if now I eschew much of it as a vegetarian. Whenever I travel to Germany, I boast with pride when I’m with my husband at a restaurant and read him the menu, suggesting the best morsels to get a taste for my ancestral land.

    The dinner guest justified her decision about an entire nation’s cuisine by recalling a meal she had during a business trip to Frankfurt. It was a pork knuckle the size of her head on a plate garnished with a few pan-fried potatoes. To her, that heavy, fatty beast of a dinner was German food. To many, that is German food — the stereotypical sustenance of a country known for its other sweeping generalizations of being populated by an efficient, punctual, beer and Riesling-loving people with a knack for building great cars.

    How could she not see that German cuisine was more nuanced and diverse than that? That yes, they can do pork and potatoes like it’s nobody’s business and give you enough to last a week, but they can also do morels and white asparagus in delicate cream sauce to make a person swoon? Or do up a salad plate that puts to shame our simple Caesars or iceberg wedges, even those gussied up with cheese and bacon. And don’t get between a German and his trout — oh the magic they work with their beloved Forelle. Continue reading

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  • Get yourself in a CSA and love thy rutabaga

    An early-season CSA basket from Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm.

    I have a rutabaga the size of a human head in my living room.

    Perhaps you are unimpressed by this revelation. Perhaps you’ve seen bigger rutabagas. That’s cool but I find its girth a little overwhelming. I’ve been eating rutabaga nearly every week for the past couple of months.

    Again, you might find this unimpressive. But for someone who has maybe eaten it as many times in her whole life prior to this gorge-fest, this is big for me. So I might just name my human-head-sized rutabaga Vlad and hang with him a while longer before breaking out my vegetable peeler. You know, get a feel for him, chat him up and see what he’s about before turning  him into soup or fries. Or turning into a rutabaga myself since I’ve eaten so many… Continue reading

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    Category Food Finds, On the Farm

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  • Brewing new life into an old pear

    There’s something about persistence.

    It pays off, apparently. Although, one late November Saturday, as I hurtled down the QEW in my husband’s Corolla, bound for Toronto, it felt more like payback.

    It was 8:30 a.m. and for two sleep-deprived parents, it was painfully early to be up and vaguely resembling functioning people. But I had an invitation to brew beer at Great Lakes Brewery and precious cargo in tow — my wide-eyed daughter, Olivia, and 15 pounds of Kieffer and Bartlett pears — for the occasion.

    Rewind a week and I was scouring parks and boulevards in north St. Catharines for the last of the year’s Kieffer pears. A relic from the canning industry once omnipresent on the peninsula, the Kieffer is now an annoyance every fall when loaded branches drop bushels of fruit to rot on lawns. Continue reading

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  • Peach Tree
  • Cookbooks and coleslaw: Reviews of Yummy Supper, The Bread Exchange and Bar Tartine

    Rainbow slaw with purple cabbage, radish, green apple and orange.

    I was 15 when I got my first cookbook.

    It was What to Cook When You Think There’s Nothing in the House to Eat by Arthur Schwartz. With its red- and yellow-checked jacket, and heavy, black serif typeface leaving no room for photos on its pages, this book’s sales pitch was clearly in its title.

    I pointed it out to my mom when I found it in the stacks of the W.H. Smith bookstore at Fairview Mall in Kitchener, knowing it would at least get a raised eyebrow out of her, if not a chuckle. It was a time in our lives when she was growing tired of the usual refrain that happened every day when she got home from work around 5 p.m.

    “Mom, what’s for dinner?”

    “Can you give me a minute? I just got in the door. Besides, did you ever think I might like to come home to dinner already made?”

    “But there’s nothing to eat!”

    Cue my mom’s eye roll and her trip to the fridge where, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, she miraculously found the makings of dinner.

    “Will you use it if I buy it for you?” she asked about Schwartz’s book. Continue reading

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