losing your mind is underrated AND so is really good soda bread


I saw this quote on the website True Activist  – and I’ve been thinking about it – trying to work out if it’s really true or not…. Continue reading “losing your mind is underrated AND so is really good soda bread”

fast, simple, tasty – garlic scape pesto

Garlic is one of those rare crops that gives you two harvests. First the scapes, which at least in Ontario, are usually ready to harvest around the summer solstice. Then the actual garlic bulbs which are harvested a bit later, typically on the first weekend in August. The bulbs can then be left to dry in the sun for a few days before storing for the winter.

Garlic scapes are lovely grilled or made into pesto which can be used on pizza, pasta, or bruschetta. This version is dairy-free and freezes well.


Garlic Scape Pesto

(this version is an adaptation of the recipe in A Taste of Wintergreen)

16-20 garlic scapes
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup walnut pieces
¼ tsp salt
Parmesan cheese as desired. I make mine without the cheese because I think it freezes better and that way it’s also vegan and dairy-free.

Wash the scapes and chop into approximately 1-inch pieces. Process all the ingredients together in the food processor until desired consistency is reached. Bottle and use within a week or freeze.



M.F.K. Fisher’s Tomato Soup Cake Revisited


“People ask me: Why do you write about food, and eating and drinking? Why don’t you write about the struggle for power and security, about love, the way others do?. . . The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. It seems to me that our three basic needs for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it. . . “

~M.K.F. Fisher

  Continue reading “M.F.K. Fisher’s Tomato Soup Cake Revisited”

Old-fashioned Soft Ginger Molasses Cookies

These cookies are a trip down memory lane. The recipe came from my mother-in-law. And likely from her mother before her. I think it’s fair to say that they are a very longstanding family favourite.

Old Fashioned Ginger Molasses Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fancy molasses
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment or butter well.
  2. Beat together the butter, sugar, and molasses. Add the dry ingredients all at once. Mix to form dough.
  3. Roll into small balls and place on prepared baking sheets. Flatten with a fork.
  4. Bake at 325 deg F for about 10-12 minutes or until just starting to brown. Don’t overcook – they are supposed to be soft.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on wire racks.

cranberry, almond & rosemary crisps

These crisps are perfect served with cheese and chutney or jam. They pair well with savoury and sweet and are perfect on a charcuterie platter. You can make them in advance and store them in a tin – where they will stay fresh for at least a couple of weeks.

cranberry, almond, and rosemary crisps

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice PLUS milk or milk subsitute to make 2 cups in total
  • 1/4 cup turbinado (or brown) sugar
  • 1/4 cup liquid honey
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup natural, sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (dried works too – use the same amount)
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 4 mini muffin pans
  2. Mix together the flours, baking soda and salt. Add the lemon juice & milk mixture, brown sugar and honey. Stir gently.

  3. Add dried cranberries, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax and rosemary – and stir gently until the batter comes together and is just mixed.
  4. Divide the batter between the pans evenly. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until just browning and springy to touch. Remove from oven and let cool thoroughly, preferably overnight.

  5. When the bread is completely cooled, slice as thinly as possible with a very sharp knife. Lay the slices on parchment on baking sheets. Bake at 300°F for about 15 minutes, before flipping the slices over and returning to the oven for another 10 minutes. They should be golden brown and crispy.

  6. When cool – store in an airtight tin. Make approx 6-7 dozen.

Thai Red Lentil Soup

thai red lentil soup

When I stepped out into the dark night to walk my dog on the first evening of this New Year – there was a magnificent Barred owl sitting in the linden tree in my front yard. I stood on the front steps, stock-still, watching. My daughter, several paces ahead of me, turned to see why I wasn’t coming. I motioned silently towards the tree. She froze too. So there we stood – the three of us including the dog – transfixed by an owl.

A moment later, the owl took flight. It swooped down towards the road beyond us – coming surprisingly close to the pavement before it lifted back up and flew off with just the faintest whoosh of its almost silent wing beat, into the inky black sky. If my daughter hadn’t been with me, I might have thought I’d dreamt the whole thing. If I’d stepped out the door one minute later, I might have missed it. Owl spotting is a lucky kind of business.

It seemed like an omen – an auspicious start to the New Year. And I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

An owl has appeared at every critical juncture in my life. When I moved to Melbourne, Australia – a tiny Southern Boobook owl came and sat on the overhead wires along the abandoned railway-line-turned-recreation-path, directly across from my home. It stayed for weeks, softly hooting well into the night. When I moved to Brisbane, a family of Tawny Frogmouth owls inhabited a tree along my walking route. They were there for months. Not long after they flew away one-by-one, I flew away too. When I moved to my neighbourhood in Kingston, I wasn’t surprised when Barred owls started making regular appearances. And this past autumn, when I visited Killarney Provincial Park after a 34 year absence – an owl came and serenaded me all night long – hooting until the dawn chorus started up and the day began.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that I am completely smitten with owls and a night owl myself. This year I’ve been watching the dark, winter night skies, thinking about how I’ve finally learned to love winter. Perhaps it’s the incurable romantic in me, but I love to see snow falling and waking up to a fresh, clean, white world. And I like the long evenings by the fire, snugged up reading, or catching up on all the films I’ve missed.

I like the seasonal change in cooking too. This year I’ve been making lots of hearty soups. This Thai Red Lentil Soup is one of my new favourites. It’s thick and hearty, easy to make, inexpensive, vegan, and extremely tasty. Make sure you use red lentils – I’ve tried it with other kinds and it doesn’t work as well. Red lentils cook down to a much softer consistency because they have the husk removed.

From a nutritional point of view – lentils are high in protein, fibre, folate, vitamin B1, and minerals. Health magazine named lentils as one of the five healthiest foods on the planet. Combined with a grain – lentils form a complete protein – so serve your soup with a good multigrain bread.

One last remarkable lentil fact – Canada is one of the largest primary producers of lentils and the largest export producer of lentils in the world. Buying Canadian lentils helps Canadian farmers!

Thai Red Lentil Soup
1 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1- 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
5 cups vegetarian stock
2 1/4 cups red lentils, well rinsed
1 400 ml can coconut milk
Thai sweet chilli sauce for garnish
One bunch of fresh cilantro for garnish, washed, stems removed and chopped (optional)

In a saucepan, sauté the onion in olive oil until the onion is soft. Add curry paste and stir well. Add the lentils and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Stir in the coconut milk. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a swirl of Thai sweet chilli sauce (don’t skip this step – it enhances the taste so much) and chopped cilantro if desired.


duck commander – meet vegan kale with pan-fried veggies

A very good friend of mine sent me an email the other day with a link to a hilarious blog called Duck Commander. My friend suggested it was time to “stop posting sissy recipes,” and start posting something a bit more macho.

Macho really isn’t my scene. But I will admit to posting a few sissy recipes lately. So I went on over to Duck Commander and had a good goosey-gander around. There’s something about the Duck Commander – I have to admit. He currently has a recipe up for stewed garlic frog legs. Continue reading “duck commander – meet vegan kale with pan-fried veggies”

the joy of foraging

Vegan Applesauce Loaf

It’s the start of wild apple season in Ontario. I know this because along my dog-walking trail, there’s a huge, ancient, completely untended apple tree that has already started dropping its bumper crop. It seems early and perhaps that’s due to the extended drought we’ve had this summer. In many regions of Ontario, July 2012 was the amongst the driest since record keeping began.

The apples are small and gnarly and tart. They’re just starting to turn red. And they’re falling to the ground, laying about willy nilly. The branches are drooping with apples. I picked a few, brought them home and tried cooking them. Miraculously, they’re some sort of cooking apples. They make the most fantastically flavourful applesauce. I’m going back for more. I love foraging. Wild leeks, wild blueberries and wild apples; these are a few of my favourite things. Continue reading “the joy of foraging”

chocolate lunacy

It’s not over ‘til the chocolate course is served…

On her multi-award winning food site, Chocolate and Zucchini, Parisian foodie Clotilde Dusoulier recently interviewed a Lithuanian chocolate maker who is a self-described “chocolate lunatic.”

Perfect, I thought, that’s me!  I’m not fond of labels but chocolate lunatic is one I can live with. I’m sure chocolate lunacy is a spectrum disorder and I’m definitely somewhere on the spectrum. The Lithuanian chocolate maker is also a chocolate snob but that’s not something I suffer from. Almost any chocolate will suffice. Continue reading “chocolate lunacy”

a passion for pesto

lemon balm

This week I’m making pesto. Jars and jars of it. I’ll use some immediately, freeze some, and give some away. In the garden amongst a few other things, I’ve got basil, lemon balm, and garlic – all of them perfect for pesto. The garlic scapes are already harvested. The basil and lemon balm are starting to go to flower – a sure sign that I need to get to work.

If you don’t already have lemon balm (also known as Melissa) in the garden, I recommend you find some. A friend gave me a small plant a year ago and now I don’t know how I lived without it for so long. It’s like rhubarb in that it’s a brilliant perennial – hardy and useful. Continue reading “a passion for pesto”