Curry in a hurry?

Curry pot.There’s quite a lot to be said for pantry staples, and meals that come together in a half-hour while you drink the last beer and contemplate hibernation.

While I am not one to advocate one product over another, and would certainly never deliberately push a brand at you, I think that everyone ought to own a few key things to help themselves along on nights when it’s been dark all day and you’re cold and even your skin under your clothes is damp and your lips are chapping like snakeskin. For times like those, you ought to own a jar of madras curry paste. If you get yours in one of those little Indian shops, even better, and probably cheaper too.

Sure, you could make your own curry paste, but the point sometimes is not artistry or chemistry – it’s eating, fast. And because life’s too short to eat bad food, it’s got to be convenience food that tastes like slow-cookery, because it’s also got to soothe. So, on nights like these, a warm tomato curry is what you need. You can use madras, or any other curry paste that pleases you – I recommend an Indian-style curry paste, like madras or tandoori, because it goes so nicely with tomatoes. All that cumin and coriander. Use a hot paste if you like – I keep this pretty mild though.

Easy tomato curry

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. cubed boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp. madras curry paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 398 mL/14 oz. can of tomato sauce (make sure it’s pure – no spices, garlic, or onion powder … read the back of the can!)
  • 1 398 mL/14 oz. can of coconut milk (not the low-fat kind – it’s too watery)
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. red chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups whole spinach leaves

In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt butter and sauté onions until translucent. Add chicken, curry paste, and garlic. Brown chicken lightly.

Add your tomato sauce and coconut milk, scraping the bottom of the pan for any delicious brown bits as you do. Stir in the tomatoes and chili flakes, and reduce to medium. Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Season to taste, and then, just before serving, stir in the spinach leaves. Serve over rice, preferably rice that’s flecked with a little bit of toasted coconut, and maybe tossed with a handful of peas. The curry will cook in the same amount of time as the rice. Easy, simple, nourishing, and delicious. Which is what you want on a Thursday in October, you know?

Tomato curry plate.

A very long post about pumpkin pierogies.

Pumpkin patchery!A couple of weekends ago, my five-year-old nephew, who I call Comet, looked me squarely in the eye, as five-year-olds do, and asked when Nick and I were going to go with him to the pumpkin patch for an adventure. Hallowe’en is nearly upon us, and he is aware of the significance of pumpkin season. Pumpkin season means dressing up like Darth Vader and carving jack-o-lanterns and getting free candy and then Christmas starts coming up fast. Pumpkin season is very important to a small boy.

So Nick and I promised we’d go out and help him pick the perfect squash.

Nick, Dad, and Nephew.It was a chilly, damp day, the first day of the rainy season where any of us actually needed a scarf and gloves. And boots. Cold it was, so hipsters we were not.

There were also many, many pumpkins to consider.

... decisions ...

... decided. On the first one.

Of course, we go to the pumpkin patch as much for my Dad as for Comet. So there were several pumpkins at the end of the day, some of them too large for a small boy. But just right for an old guy.

A very good pumpkin.I only bought one pumpkin, a small one that weighed about three pounds. A tiny little guy. Perfect for cooking, as we can’t really have jack-o-lanterns at our place – it’s an apartment, and also we’re not really allowed to have fires in the hall anymore. My pumpkin came from under cover, because my gloves are more ornamental than functional and also I didn’t want to touch anything wet. I also bought a big, dense turban squash, which is going to be something wonderful once I figure out how many it’ll feed, and a few decorative gourds that aren’t hard or shellacked and that I am going to try and eat.

Pumpkins from a dry spot.

Decorative gourds. Clearly badass.

A lot of those pumpkins looked like they’d make a very good pie, but, to be honest, pumpkin season is pie-filled enough already, and I made two cakes last week. At a certain point, and you’ll know it when you’ve reached it, you can have too many baked goods. I know it’s hard to believe, but a lot of people never get there. I get there twice a week, which explains why my pants are so tight, and why my chin is quickly becoming chins. I’m pretending like that’s where all my extra sex-appeal is kept.

There are lots of things that you can do with pumpkin that doesn’t include pie or baked goods, things you can enjoy even if you hate pumpkins.

A really good thing you can do with pumpkin, or any squash really? PIEROGIES! Who doesn’t love them? No one, that’s who. Fact. And now, after making you look at my touching album of family-bonding pumpkin fun, you get an awesome recipe for deliciousness that you can top with buttery bacony caramelized onions. Which I think is the opposite of pumpkin pie (even though I love it done right), or, at the very least, resides at a much less hackneyed end of the spectrum.

Pumpkin Pierogies

(makes about four dozen)


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (go with the low-fat kind – it’s runnier, and makes the dough easier to work with. Don’t worry, you’ll make up for it by adding butter.)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp. melted butter (you can use olive oil if you want. I’m not Polish, I don’t know the rules, or if there even are rules about olive oil in pierogies, so it’s not really breaking them even if there are rules.)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


  • 1 3lb. pumpkin, roasted, seeded, pureed, and drained (will amount to about 2 cups. You can also use canned pumpkin if you want – the colour will be a lot bolder. Substitute squash, or even yams or sweet potatoes, if you like.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cooked bacon
  • 2 whole heads of garlic, roasted until soft and dark golden
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • Salt, to taste

First, make the dough.

Combine all your dough ingredients in a bowl, and stir until a dough is formed. It will be a stiff dough, and you will find that you need to knead it a fair bit at first – this is okay. Knead for about two minutes, then let rest in a bowl covered with a dish cloth, for about an hour. The goal here is for the flour to absorb and swell with the moisture of the wet ingredients, and also for the whole thing to get to room temperature, thus making it easier to roll out.

While the dough rests, make the filling.

I used a food processor, but you don’t have to. I prefer a uniform texture in my pierogies, and this is the easiest way. You can just mash everything together if you like – that’ll work perfectly well too.

Combine pumpkin, bacon, garlic, cheese, pepper, and nutmeg. Mix well, then taste. Adjust your seasonings if need be. This would be the time to add salt if you feel like it.

Divide the dough into two pieces, rolling the first out until it’s about 1/8-inch thick, same as a pie crust. The dough should be nearly two feet long, and just over a foot wide when it’s all ready to be stamped.

Using a cookie cutter or glass (about two inches in diameter), stamp out rounds of dough. Get as many rounds as you can out of the dough; from the first batch of dough (rolled once, stamped, and then re-kneaded and rolled and stamped again) I got 27 rounds. Only roll each piece of dough twice – any more and it gets too stiff and hard to work with*.


Stretch each round out a little bit, and then let it sit like a taco in the crook of your hand. Fill each round with about a teaspoon and a half of filling. To close these, you might find a little dab of water along one edge useful. Pinch it together along the outside, but don’t squeeze the middle. Your first couple of attempts at this might be messy – that’s okay. Just freeze those ones. They’re good fried, and they don’t leak as much when you cook them that way.

Pierogie station.

Get someone to help you. It’s more fun when you have someone to talk to.

Nick pinches pierogies.

Most likely, you will end up with a bit too much filling. I did. But I always do. I scooped the remainder into a container and shoved it into the fridge – it’s going to be a lovely little helper for a bit of squash soup later this week. No waste! In fact, the little remnants of the dough? Roll them out, and cut them into 1/4-inch pieces, like skinny little gnocchi. Then freeze them as well – they are a lovely little addition to a bit of minestrone on a cold December day.

To serve fresh, and you will want to cook up at least a few for your efforts, caramelize some onions in butter with as much bacon as you like. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then drop your little dumplings in. They’ll be ready when they float to the top. It won’t take long.

Getting there ...

When they’re done, drop them into the onion pan, and coat with the buttery bacon, oh, let’s call it “sauce.” Serve with sour cream or good yogurt.

Enjoy. It tastes like pumpkin, to be sure, but not the pie kind. The sweetness of the roasted garlic and the salty cheesy bacon-ness do interesting things to the pumpkin – they give it a life of its own, and invite it to be itself, not hidden under a veil of cinnamon and cloves. I promise they’re worth a try. And you’ll end up with lots of them – freeze most of them. And then when you feel like pierogies again (soon), fry them in butter until the outsides are crisp and golden and serve with a lot of sour cream and chopped green onions. Marvelous. Wonderful. Lovely, and a great way to get that pumpkin goodness into your mouth.

Perfection, plated.




Cake … again? Or, “How to get ‘curvy’ for winter.”

Yesterday morning Nick, whom I am now referring to as Fruit Fairy, left two lovely red anjou pears on the counter, evidently some sort of gift from people he works with. Earlier this week, he brought home the biggest carrot I’ve ever seen, one that, at its top, was as thick as one of the trees outside.


I was going to make a carrot risotto out of it, but we’re kind of too poor to afford cheese at the moment and are rationing what little we have left. And yesterday it looked like this outside:




And Nick hates it when I put landscapey outdoor pictures on here because he says they’re boring, but he only likes photos of meat and Megan Fox anyway so I don’t have to listen to him, and I wanted to show you why I decided it’d be a good idea to bake another cake. I don’t think I need to defend making two cakes in as many days, but this way you understand my motive. Gigantic produce. Incessant rain. You’d want carrot cake too.

And I made a little carrot cake awhile ago, but this recipe is a little different. It’s based on that recipe, but this one is bigger because that carrot was gigantic and I had different stuff in the fridge and was too lazy and warm to go back outside. These recipes evolve and grow and change, so I don’t think it’s slacking off to post a recipe for something that’s already on here. Maybe it is. No gold-star sticker for me.

Carrot pear cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tbsp. finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup grated pear (you don’t have to peel the pear if you don’t feel like it)
  • 3 cups grated carrot
  • 1 cup of the chopped nut or dried fruit of your choice (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices, ginger, and lemon zest.

Once combined, stir in liquids to form a batter, and then stir in grated pear and carrot, and fruit or nuts, if you so desire.

Pour into a greased and floured 9×13 baking pan, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

Cake on rack.

Once cool, frost with:

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Beat well, until perfectly smooth and spreadable. Put on cake.


Then, pour yourself a big glass of something potent, shove the cake into your mouth, and dance around your warm, nice smelling kitchen, possibly in your underpants (which is how I do it), preferably to something really terrible that totally tickles you and that you’re simultaneously kind of embarrassed about liking (*ahem* Taylor Swift *ahem*). This is how cake is best enjoyed. Don’t choke.

Handful of cake + mouth = happy!

Cake for breakfast.

Plums, hacked up.I had a lot of leftover plums. I’d bought some close to the end of the season – a few prune plums, a handful of red plums, some of those translucent-looking yellow ones, and a nectarine I bought on a whim that I thought would ripen but never fully did. All were hugely disappointing – I tasted a few of each and found them to be sour and unpleasant. Boo. But tomatoes, when they’re roasted, no matter how sucky they are when they start out, are always wonderful. The flavour intensifies, and the sweetness creeps out. So why can’t that sort of thing work for plums? Discovery: The same thing totally does work for plums.

Fourteen plums of various sizes, and a nectarine, cut haphazardly/however you feel like cutting them, at 200°F over two-and-a-half to three hours, will reduce and caramelize and sweeten up, giving you about two cups of roasty sticky goodness.

Roasty.Scrape out your pan, syrup and all, into a bowl or something so that you can think about what you want to do with these. They’d be great on their own with ice cream or yogurt, or you could top them with crumbly butter, flour, and sugar and turn them into a crisp. I stored mine in ramekins for a couple of days until I’d decided their fate.

Colours!Their fate turned out to be cake. Breakfast cake. Because I’m a grown-up and I do what I want.

You could make this cake with apples, or even a couple of cups of caramelized, sweetened green tomatoes, if you were so moved. Berries or pears would also be delicious, as would rhubarb. You can make this at any time of year, with whatever fruit you’ve got on hand. I like unfinicky stuff like that.

Here’s the cake. It’s adapted from a recipe from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book.

Fruity Coffee Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup chilled butter
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups soft fruit (such as roasted plums, chunky applesauce, mashed berries, etc.)

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease and flour a 9″x13″ baking pan.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and mix well. Drop in the butter in cubes, working it in with your fingers to form a coarse crumb. Scoop out about 3/4 cup of these, and set aside.

Add the baking powder, baking soda, and spices to the remaining crumbs, and combine well. Stir in your milk and eggs until a cake batter is formed. This will be a lumpy batter, but don’t worry about it. That’s the butter chunks making it look lumpy, and that’s fine. Once the wet and dry ingredients are thoroughly combined, fold in your fruit.

Spread the batter into your prepared baking pan, making sure the fruit hunks are distributed evenly across the pan. Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over the whole cake.

Bake for 30 or so minutes, or until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Serve warm from the pan.

Good-smelling.We ate a bunch of this ourselves, but I also piled some up for Nick and sent it with him to work to make up for his perpetual lateness and hopefully score him awesome points. Since I don’t get awesome points at my work because I’m pretty sure most people don’t like me there, I just brought one piece for one person. He told me the cake was perfect, delicately spiced and actually rather light in spite of all the butter. Good for breakfast, or even dessert after a casual, homey dinner. So there you have it. Cake you can eat anytime.

Stacked cake.

Champion breakfast.

Dinner was fabulous. Wish you were here.

I didn't chop the mushrooms very finely because I'm sort of lazy like that.

At 6:30 pm, the apartment smelled like butter and garlic, and moist earth, as the mushrooms transformed themselves into duxelles. You could smell it down the hall, to the elevator, little whispers of thyme and bay leaf and a lick of white wine on top of everything, and it was like autumn decided on a signature fragrance and released it here, just for us. By 7:00 pm, it smelled like a grand sort of feast, the kind of thing you’d eat in a restaurant if you weren’t poor.

I wasn’t going to tell you about the burgers, because I figured they’d just be burgers like any other burger except with deer, and because I didn’t chop the mushrooms very finely, or even very well, so a lot of them were still in large chunks which means I did duxelles wrong. But they were marvelous, and sometimes things are better when you share them. If you have access to ground deer meat, you should absolutely make these. If you have a brother-in-law who hunts, hug him all the time.

Venison burgers with duxelles and brie

(makes four)

  • 1 lb. ground deer meat
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 small round of brie, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 batch of duxelles, made from 1/2 lb. mushrooms (I used garlic instead of shallots)
  • 4 hamburger buns

In a large bowl, working with your hands, combine the meat, butter, olive oil, garlic, seasoning, and egg yolk. Form into four equal-sized patties, and grill over medium heat, four to five minutes per side.

Spread buns with the condiments of your choosing. I minced some basil into some mayonnaise, and spread that on one half, with a bit of sweet Bavarian mustard on the other side. Maybe don’t use ketchup. It wouldn’t be right.

Divide duxelles between the four buns, placing them on the bottom. During the last minute of cooking, place two slices of brie on the tops of each burger, then remove from heat and place on top of duxelles. Let sit two to three minutes before serving, so that the cheese melts somewhat and the meat rests a bit.

The smell is magnificent. The taste? Oh, wow. It’s a wild sort of taste, big flavours with grassy touches from the cheese and the mild game-flavour in the meat. The basil adds to that, perfumes the whole thing. Drink a big red wine with this, a zinfandel or something like that. It’ll stand up nicely to the whole thing. It’s earthy and homey and wonderful, something you’d imagine eating if you were dating a lumberjack who lived in a log cabin but who also had excellent taste in wine and cheese. Just like that. And wouldn’t that be nice?

Anyway, I just wanted to tell someone about it. When you share a meal with boys intent on watching hockey, you don’t get to wax ecstatic about stuff like you would if you were eating with anyone else. Though I noticed that when the game was over, they were hardly heartbroken that the Canucks had lost. I’d like to think it had something to do with the meal.


Horses’ Arses.


I have two days off this week which is awesome and I’m finally catching up on my sleep after being sick this weekend and even though someone is very mad at me somewhere about a bill I thought I paid, I’m still being optimistic. With two days off and no money in the bank to distract me into doing things, I’m hoping that this will be the week that I finish my novel. I have to. I have managed to convince myself that if I just finish the damn story, Random House will pick it up immediately, and then it will be optioned as a movie, and then Anne Hathaway or that Evan Rachel Wood girl or someone will star as my protagonist and it will be the best chick flick ever and I’ll get really rich and then it won’t matter that I might lose my job because I’ll be in France anyway, with a villa near the water and you can all come and visit and we’ll have a grand time. This is what will happen if I just focus. It seems so easy, doesn’t it?

Which is why I went back to bed for two hours, and why I am here, now, blogging. And why I just made cinnamon buns, bonus points for them being the lazy kind. And why I did the dishes, which I never do unless I have to or unless Nick mutters something under his breath about leaving me for a harem of maids who never make fun of his eyebrows or move to the other side of the room when he eats. I remember now why I stopped writing the thing in the first place. It’s frigging hard. And also I am having a hard time making my protagonist relatable to anyone but me, because she’s manic and neurotic and painfully self-conscious but also incredibly narcissistic, and also mildly sociopathic, which is why I get her but I’m wondering if she shouldn’t just be the quirky friend of someone much more believable. Random House? Are you out there? You tell me what I should do.

Anyway, the cinnamon buns. They’re called Horses’ Arses because that’s what my Grandpa named them, because apparently if you look closely at the back end of any horse, it will be curly and twisty, and will resemble these fluffy little cinnamon buns, which are made with a baking powder biscuit base and are much quicker than the yeasty ones, which is perfect for breakfast on a weekday or for snacking all day long when you’re supposed to be doing something important and life-changing but you just can’t make yourself type another word of fiction because suddenly everything else in the whole world is super interesting and distracting.

I’m pretty sure the recipe is a Fannie Farmer recipe, but I’ve been making these for so many years now that the recipe is permanently etched onto my frontal lobe. It’s one of those family recipes that everybody’s always made, and I don’t think the recipe has ever changed, except that for my Grandpa, probably more brown sugar was added. You should make these. Go, preheat your oven right now.

Horses’ Arses

  • 2 cups all-purpose or whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar (if you don’t have this, don’t worry – I’ve omitted it before and it always turns out fine)
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar, and sugar. Drop your butter into the mix in hunks, and gently work it into the dry ingredients. Like many doughs, it’s best if the butter isn’t thoroughly combined – you want the majority of the mixture to resemble a coarse crumb, but there should also be larger hunks here and there. This is what makes everything fluffy, and fluffy is better than not fluffy.

Stir in the milk to form a dough, and turn the whole thing out onto a floured surface and gently knead the dough, for about thirty seconds, until it’s soft and no longer falls apart or is sticky. Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.

Brush the melted butter over the rolled dough. Sprinkle the sugar over top, pressing down so that it’s not loose. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m estimating that it’s a cup of sugar. It’s really about two and a half handfuls, and I have small hands – paws, you might even say. I never measure this, because I’ve never seen a parent or grandparent of mine measure it out ever. It’s probably more the case that if you like more sugar, go nuts and add it, and if you like less then don’t add as much I guess. Sprinkle the cinnamon over top.

Roll out!

At this point, you could get as creative as you wanted – add nuts, dried fruit, crumbled bacon, even – anything you like. I never add anything different, because I like it just how it is.

Roll the thing out lengthwise, like a jelly roll. Cut the roll into slices about one-inch thick – you should have about twelve buns. I ended up with eleven. Place close together in a greased baking dish, or in those round cake pans if you wanted to. My dish is about 8×10, and the buns filled it up, some touching. It’s okay if they touch.

Little assholes.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and melty and fluffy. You can smell when these are done – the smell of cinnamon and sugar baking is marvelous, especially when it’s just for you. Serve warm, with a big glass of milk. And then maybe take another nap, because those big goals of yours can be daunting, and sometimes it feels good to procrastinate.

I still mean to tell you about my plums, and something about green tomatoes. Later today I am going to make venison burgers, using Alana from Eating from the Ground Up’s excellent brioche hamburger bun recipe. Last week I kind of fell off the face of the earth and didn’t do anything I said I would and then I felt bad, but I’ve promised myself I’d be productive and finish my story this week, so you know I will be all kinds of distracted and blog, probably more than anyone even wants to read. I say this now. I am completely unreliable, but that’s not something to worry about now – very little matters when you have a tray of warm cinnamon buns all to yourself.


An abundance of green tomatoes.

I scooped out the red ones and used them for something else.I have about a five pound bag of the things, which my mom donated to me after she made use of the other five pounds she’d been given and exhausted her list of possibilities. There’s only so much you can do with green tomatoes, right?

Actually, there’s lots you can do. You can make relish, cake, pie, and even mincemeat out of green tomatoes – things that all probably evolved out of necessity, once first frost loomed and people realized that their plants were still loaded with unripe tomatoes.

They act a lot like apples, these tomatoes, and you can use them like that if you want. But I like things to act like the things that they are – so how best to play up the taste of an unripe tomato? I like fried green tomatoes, and they’re great if you roast them low and slow and put them onto pizza. But it’s getting chilly these days, and soup is nice. I did promise you soup, though it’s probably the only promise I’ll actually follow through with this week.

Green tomato soup

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. green tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 soft, ripe avocado
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

In a soup pot, saute olive oil, onions, and tomatoes over medium heat until wilted and tomatoes are mostly dissolved, ten minutes, scraping the browned bits from the bottom as you go.

Add your garlic, jalapeño peppers, and spices, stir to combine, and add the liquids. Simmer for five minutes, and then add the avocado and lemon juice and blend with a hand blender, food processor, food mill, or other such blendy thing.

At this point, you can decide to go one of two ways. You can go the lazy way, which is what I did, and just leave it at that, content with the blending and the texture as is. Or you can further smooth things out by pushing the mixture through a mesh sieve, the result of which will be a velvety smooth soup fit for dinner guests or something. But you know what? If it’s just you, or even if it’s not, texture’s a good thing and it’s not like you have to chew even if you do it the first way. It’s very soupy.

Taste and adjust your seasoning as needed, and then stir in the yogurt and the cilantro. Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil, or a sprinkling of cheddar cheese. It’s a lovely, spicy creamy, tarty soup, with a taste like ripe tomatoes, and it’s completely good for you. I’m pretty sure it cures cancer. A cold, at the very least.

Stay tuned – there will certainly be more, because I still have tons of these tomatoes. And I want to tell you about my plums, which were sticky syrupy sweet and deserve a post of their own. Happy Friday!


I got crabs from Paul.

Plaid.Saturday was a good day. Crisp, a little chilly because the west coast has decided it’s not summer anymore and now periodically sneezes cold air to remind us that this is Canada and we ought to be wearing jackets. Well, not that cold, but it was a tad nippy at the water, which is where we were. Paul decided to teach us about crabbing. Dungeness crabbing.

Crabbing involves cages and beer. And, to look at my companions, it also seems to involve plaid.



Perhaps not enough plaid, as I didn’t get the memo on the dress code, which could explain why we didn’t catch all that much. I DID wear my crabbing socks, though it wasn’t a solid enough effort, apparently.


We caught starfish.

Murky ... can you make out what this is?


And I kept getting excited, because it looked like we were catching the kinds of things we could most certainly cook immediately and eat. I even helped.

Crabbing makes me look fat.

I am squealing with anticipation and glee in the background.

This one didn't measure up.

But every time we caught something, we’d have to throw it back, because of Paul’s “ethics” and the stupid “law.” So we tossed a lot of otherwise edible critters back into the sea, and we waited, and drank beer, and Nick whined about the cold because he’s a bit of a pansy delicate.

Ultimately, we had to quit on Saturday because there was a karaoke dance party I needed ample time to sparkle my cleavage for, and also it got a little windy and we all had to pee.

And then the rest of the weekend happened, and then I promised you I’d tell you all about soup and liar with my pants on fire that I am, that didn’t happen. Because today, Paul went crabbing. And he caught three. And then, not an hour later, he appeared at our front door with a bucket of crabs and a chilled bottle of wine.

Which is infinitely more fun to talk about than soup.

And ordinarily, the first crab or lobster of a given season is to be prepared in its purest form, and that is boiled in salt water and served hot with melted butter. You can get creative with future crabs, of course – I like to wok-fry them in 1/4 cup butter, 2 tablespoons of sriracha or chili-garlic sauce, three cloves of minced garlic, and a handful of chopped scallions. If you’d prefer not to cut into them live, you can pre-boil them, ten to fifteen minutes depending on the size, and then bake them at 500F for eight to ten minutes until everything is sizzling and smells good. Paul likes them steamed in white wine, also with butter. The possibilities are buttery and almost endless.

Paul, avec Crab.

Legs + Butter + My Mouth, please.


Happy unsexy badger.

And we ate and ate and ate and I ate all the parts no one else wanted and we were stuffed, and it was wonderful. I doubt I’ve ever eaten a fresher crab, and I am a contented badger now, at almost 1:00 am as a result. Right now? I’m boiling shells down for stock and making bagels, which is unrelated but also quite exciting. It may not just be soup to tell you about this week, after all. I can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait!!!

This is not a post about turkey, because I’m not talking about leftovers yet.

It’s been another busy busy weekend, and we’re just at the end of it now. If you’re not Canadian, you probably didn’t do Thanksgiving this weekend, but up here, we celebrate in October. I don’t quite know why, because I had my head on my desk for much of Canadian history, because there is only so much one can hear about fur traders, and a certain amount less is all that can be absorbed by the brain and then retained. And I wanted to tell you what you should do with all that leftover turkey, but, to be honest? It can wait a day. Too much turkey all at once is why no one eats turkey at all the whole rest of the year. So leave the leftovers for now. We can talk about them tomorrow, or even the next day – they’ll still be there.

So instead of making turkey hash, sandwiches, curries, and soup, make fettuccine. With bacon and garlic. And since we’re very near first frost, gobble up the last of those heirloom tomatoes – they won’t be on the grocery shelves long. I inherited a five-pound bag of green tomatoes from my mom this weekend, and I’ve got big plans for them – I’ll tell you all about green tomato soup this week, I promise, and you’ll love it. But in the meantime, the red ones (and the yellow and orange and pink and striped ones) will be gone soon, and you must enjoy them while they last.

Tomatoes: The last of the fresh red ones for the season.Slice your tomatoes, and drizzle them with a little bit of good olive oil, a bit of your favourite vinegar, some chopped herbs, whatever kind, and a bit of cheese. And then set it aside, because in eleven minutes the rest of the feast will be ready.

You’ve probably been cooking all weekend, or at the very least doing a lot of things this weekend that took up a lot of your time, so pick up a package of fresh pasta. Dried pasta will work fine too, but dinner won’t be ready for sixteen minutes then, and you’ll want that extra five minutes for sitting and sipping wine and enjoying the quiet. You’ll be hovering over the stove souping up those leftovers soon enough.

Fettuccine Kind-of-Alfredo

  • 1 package fresh fettuccine noodles (350g or 3/4 lb.)
  • 3 strips of bacon, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated aged Gouda (or other hard aged cheese)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

While your pasta water is on its way to boiling, fry up your slices of bacon over medium-high heat.

When they are crisp and brown, reduce to medium, and add the butter and the garlic. About this time, the water should be boiling – dump in your pasta, and boil for three minutes. Right before the pasta is done, add the cream to your buttery garlicky bacon, and let simmer until the pasta is to your liking.

Dump the pasta into the frying pan, and then add the cheeses. I find that tongs are most useful for mixing this all together – you want the cheese to be melty but not sticky, and you don’t want the noodles to feel dry. If this has happened, add more cream. Nothing bad ever happens if you add a little bit more cream.

Once coated, toss with fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, with a side of sliced tomatoes, and revel in the easiness of this. This weekend marks the beginning of the eating season, which often means a lot of large, complicated meals that, while delicious, are an awful lot of work. There’s a lot to be said for lazy, hearty pasta dishes during this time of year – they’re like lulls, and you should certainly enjoy them (with wine).

The long shot.Busy week though last one was, I hope to be able to tell you about a lot of lovely things this week. It may be soup week, because I’ve got a bit of zucchini and onion that’s itching to be made into this spicy Korean thing that will surely kill any cold that threatens you, and that green tomato business that I mentioned before. And the stew. You want a showstopper stew that’s not actually all that much work but tastes like you slow-cooked it for two days? Got it, in a pumpkin. And maybe something with turkey, though there’s a lot to be said for freezing the leftovers for a week or two. Or three. Maybe I’ll haul it out to celebrate American Thanksgiving in a month or so. It’ll be about time for it again then, yes? I think that sounds about right. But I’ll let you know if anything changes. And in the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving!

The close-up.

Eating chicken pot pie is like stuffing a blanket in the crack of a draughty door.

I don’t normally like pot pies, because they remind me a bit of those Swanson’s things that are filled with goop and stringy bits and, oh, let’s say “vegetables,” only you can’t tell which ones because vegetables aren’t shaped like that in real life, and what the hell, Swanson’s? I don’t like them, normally, but Nick does, and so I’ve had to devise a clever plan that will allow us all to enjoy the meal. That clever plan? Curry powder and biscuit dough, and large, hearty chunks to bite into. Nothing like those crappy little things you sometimes get talked into buying when your version of Nick comes shopping.

VegetablesAlso, I’m lazy and hate doing dishes and our sink is still kind of broken, so this whole thing takes place in a single pot, save for the mixing bowl you’ll use to mix the biscuit topping. One pot, hearty dish, kind of like a hug you eat. And when you’re chopping your vegetables, make sure you cut them so that they look like what they are.

Chicken Pot Pie

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium Russet potatoes, chopped into half-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped uncooked chicken (I prefer thighs, but chicken breast is okay too)
  • 2 carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, including leaves
  • 1 cup frozen peas (or lima beans!)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. curry powder (the regular yellow stuff)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 2/3 cup milk, also cold

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a pot that can be used on the stove and in the oven, melt the butter and brown the chicken with the onion and garlic over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, and sauté for a minute or two before adding the carrot and leek. Sauté for another minute or two, until the veggies are brightly coloured and have begun to sweat. Add the celery, and then sprinkle the spices and flour over top. Mix well, scraping up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan.

Aromatic!Add the chicken stock and milk to deglaze, reduce to medium, and allow to simmer while you make the biscuit dough. You want the veggies to simmer and the liquid to reduce slightly and thicken, about five minutes, or until the potatoes can be just pierced with a fork. Stir in the peas. This is the thing I forgot, and I was annoyed, because the peas add a lovely punch of colour to the end result, and also I super love peas.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Blend well, and then cut the butter into the mix. You want to work the butter in with a knife at first, and then with your hands, pinching the butter and the flour in your fingers and squishing flakes back into the bowl. You want this to look a bit like the early stages of pie dough, with chunks of butter, in varying sizes. Gradually stir in the milk, and knead to make a dough.

Flatten and roll out to the approximate diameter of your pot. Mine looks to be ten or so inches in diameter, and the dough ended up being about an inch thick. It doesn’t have to be perfect – go for rustic, it’s much nicer. Nothing like Swanson’s. Press the dough into the pot gently. It doesn’t matter if there are little gaps – holes are a good thing. Keeps the juice from bubbling out all over your oven.

A little leakage? That's okay.Stab a slit into the centre, and place in the middle of your oven. Bake for 15 minutes.

Toasty/wonderful.Serve with a green salad, and a cold beer. Everything about this dish is warming, from the actual heat of the thing fresh out of the oven to the hint of curry and thyme, to the steaming biscuit topping that tastes like something your grandma would have served with soup. It’s rich and aromatic, and perfect for a crisp fall evening when you don’t want to do anything but finish a very good book, all huddled up in a blanket.

Like a hug, but you eat it. Would've been better with peas.