Archive for January, 2010

Simple tools for the kitchen

I own great knives. When they first arrived, as a gift, I thought they were too much. Why did I, a mere home cook chopping away in my kitchen a few nights a week, deserve these perfect, light-as-a-feather Japanese knives? They seemed like art objects at the time and sometimes still do. Nonetheless, I had them, they were mine, bestowed on me by one much wiser than myself.

These knives are a joy. I love using them. I was reflecting on that recently as I slowly sliced several pounds of potatoes into paper-thin rounds for scalloped potatoes one night. It wasn’t a chore; it was a delight. The slow, repetitive movement was like meditating, and all the while I felt such pleasure and gratitude at that simple thing of being able to glide through a dozen potatoes and effortlessly create perfectly thin slices every time. No mandolins or gadgets for me, thank you.

When I read food magazines or cookbooks, chefs and people who are passionate about food always say, “buy the best knives you can afford.” They are right. I’d actually take one step further and say that if you really like to cook, then buy the most beautiful knives you can even if you can’t afford them. I think most of us waste money on things that are worth a lot less. I’d much rather be rich in the kitchen and broke as I walk past the queue at Starbucks.


January 28, 2010 at 10:39 pm Leave a comment

Bright citrus sunshine

People in Calgary often brag about the sunshine we get here during the winter. It is cloudy, snowy and cold outside today. I try to be an upbeat soul, but sometimes I wonder what they’re on about. It is cloudy, snowy and cold here A LOT. I’ve been  trying to embrace the season by spending a lot of time curled up by a warm fire with the dog, a mug of hot tea and my project of reading through all of Virginia Woolf’s novels again. This has been enjoyable, peaceful, even restorative. (more…)

January 25, 2010 at 11:20 pm 1 comment

New stove!

This is the new stove in my life. Hello happy friend! Where have you been? Why did I hang out with that old dud for so long? All of your burners work. You don’t say 400F and actually mean 350F.  You won’t make people keep asking, “Are you going to get a new stove soon?” Nothing about you is crusty or ugly. I can hang a tea towel on you like normal people do – apparently that idea hadn’t been invented yet when the old one was made. AND…you have a light inside that works!

Life is grand.

January 23, 2010 at 12:24 pm 1 comment

One perfect breakfast

Beautiful Sylvan Star gouda, one of my very favourite cheeses, is pictured here as part of what I consider to be a perfect breakfast. A piece of fruit, a wedge of cheese, and a healthy muffin, toast, or a homemade granola bar filled with fruits, nuts and whole grains. There are other perfect breakfasts (here and here and here), but this is a good one and a quick one for when you’re running out the door to work or don’t want to waste a minute getting to the projects or relaxation you’ve been longing for all week.

January 22, 2010 at 12:04 pm 1 comment

Dreaming of summer

When is it coming back? Why is it so short? As much as I try to love winter, it’s summer that is real to me. Warm, healthy air streams into our lungs, embraces us, lets us be whole. Flowers grow in the garden, waiting to be cut and brought inside to make sunny kitchens even brighter. We sit outside, we eat outside, we read outside, we play outside. Clothes, shoes and houses are breezy, open and relaxed. Green, pink, orange, red, yellow and blue are all around us.

Winter has its beauty and its charms. I’m struck today and always by the silhouette of barren trees against snow and an icy blue sky; I would miss that sight if it wasn’t part of my world. But today I miss summer, I miss plants and I miss warmth.

January 16, 2010 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

Banana muffins

Banana muffins were one of the first recipes I mastered in the kitchen when I was learning how to cook in my teens. The recipe came from a Canadian cookbook called Muffin Mania. I still own it; the pages proudly wear all the slops and spills of a well-used cookbook. My family loved seeing a batch of warm banana chocolate chip muffins emerging from the oven on the weekend, and I loved the fact that they loved what I was making. That feeling of mutual enjoyment between cook and eater was born with this recipe and is at the heart of why I find cooking such a joy, a true source of peace and comfort. (more…)

January 9, 2010 at 8:13 pm Leave a comment

Homemade pizza

Homemade pizza is a beautiful thing. It tastes so good. It’s infinitely customizable. It’s the perfect food to find leftover in the fridge at the end of a long day or when you’re looking for an agreeable and easy lunch. I’ve become an even bigger fan of homemade pizza since finding a quick and easy recipe for pizza dough. It can also be frozen to keep you a step ahead of the game, so be sure to make a double batch next time if you find you like it as much as I do.

The recipe below is adapted from Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes. I’ve added in some dried herbs and flax seeds to increase flavour and health benefits.


January 5, 2010 at 7:21 pm 1 comment

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