A diary of the mundane and (some of) what we ate.

It has been so long now that we have been at home, and there’s just a month left of spring and we’ve spent most of it indoors. And because I’ve been dealing with a profound bout of brain fog and re-purposing your content for different audiences is Communications 101, here is the pandemic diary I recorded on Facebook of all our time up until yesterday, which has included more My Chemical Romance than I’d have otherwise anticipated, and about the amount of despair anyone could have predicted. How are you doing? I hope you are well, and that you have all of the toilet paper and hand sanitizer that you need. I hope that your Zoom calls are short and that you remember to mute your microphone and turn off your camera when you need to yell at someone or pick at your teeth.

March 14

“I’ve had six juice boxes, two Nutter Butters, a Choco Pie, and all those chocolate Twinkie cupcakes and if that’s the reason I can’t stop farting… anyway, does anyone want to hang out with me in my room?” Day 1.

March 16

Day 3. I never realized how loud Nick is and am remembering that time in 2007 when I yelled at him for not talking enough because I felt like he was keeping things from me. However, I recognize that gratitude is important in times like these and I am grateful that I have ignored everyone’s advice as to my drastic need for a hearing test. I cannot be annoyed by what I cannot hear. What I can hear is plenty.

March 18

Though I haven’t worn make-up for days and really do think I’m washing my face enough, every morning I wake up with new under-eye mascara circles. Have I ever been clean? I have never been better moisturized. Today the Zoom meetings begin and I’m going to try to make sunglasses indoors a thing. We are running out of chips and another box of granola bars has been depleted. The child is now one of those rioting Thai monkeys. Day 5.

March 19

Day 6. Molly Waffles has never been happier. Hours upon hours of deep eye contact. While feral child has now watched every single thing on YouTube, we are attachment-parenting the cat. She loves the piles of warm laundry no one ever folds. She sneaks licks from every bowl of chips she passes. She waits to poop until we are all nearby. There is cat hair in my tea.

March 20

Is this the seventh day? Time has no meaning. There are buds on the tree outside my window. There is honey everywhere from when I spilled it trying to do an Instagram story yesterday. Soon it will be the season for ants. Honey everywhere. I can’t tell if this back pain is just from couch work, no longer wearing real bras (just some “bras” I bought from an infomercial four years ago), or kidney failure because I only drink coffee now. Everything is sticky. Soon, the ants. We are doing just enough but not more.

March 23

Is it day 10? I have been online shopping so that more of my days can be like Christmas. This week Santa will leave me a spice grinder and vanilla bean paste. I have a Himalayan salt lamp in one of my shopping carts, it promises me health for zero effort aside from the $39 I have to spend on it, and I have a coupon. I have been sneezing, and I worry that if I fall ill I will still have to work remotely. I have four meetings over various videoconferencing platforms today, and a Google doc so we can all work together efficiently and not miss our deadline. I will remove the salt lamp from my cart, and beg the universe for the sweet release of death.

March 25

Day 12. I have more meetings now than ever. Productivity is nodding along on a video call with your microphone on mute. In between meetings I make sandwiches. I wonder at the limits of Zoom’s skin-fix feature, and worry that my hair was overdue for some attention months before all of this and everyone can tell. Maybe I will model myself after Imperator Furiosa and shave it all off; the mascara problem persists so the look could work. Is it Wednesday? I measure time in jars of peanut butter. Buy stock in Kraft.

March 26

Today I used my threatening Batman voice to coerce a child to eat oatmeal. I misunderstood a deal in a Hot Topic email and bought him a My Chemical Romance shirt that cost me fifty Canadian dollars. In the kitchen, Nick is quietly singing the chorus to I’m Not Okay. We’re all a little emo now. Me mostly for spending $50 to purchase and ship a T-shirt, Nick because I have made every surface sticky, and the child because he is FORCED to eat DISGUSTING things ALL THE TIME. Emo is a lifestyle you come to in different ways. Apparently all of the dish towels were hidden beneath the pile of half-empty chip bags I’ve been throwing on top of the fridge. Oh. If I had known that I might have wiped the counters. Check on Nick. He is not okay. Day 13.

March 27

As I listen to my strange son cackling to himself while adding weird nonsense to his group chat, I am concerned that he is spending too much time with his father. Children call at odd hours. Gen Z are phone people? Have we taught you nothing? The video calls keep coming. Bro. Bro. Hey bro. BRO. BRO WHERE ARE YOU. Our 30 day supply of gin ran out yesterday. Day 14.

March 29

Facebook suggests that it might be time to meet someone new, but dating right now would be complicated for several reasons. I can’t even make myself presentable to go down to the lobby and check the mail. And what if I met someone who has kids, and the next time there’s a global pandemic I’d be locked indoors with additional children? I’ve been trying to figure out if boarding schools have ceased operations during these complicated times, because why not plan for the future when we have so much time to dream. I’m not sure this is the right time, Facebook, but I’ll talk to Nick about it anyway. Day 16.

March 30

Day 17. Back to school, virtually. So far we’ve had several recesses plus a lunch break. After some art, it is time for a Fortnite break. I bought the child’s math workbook so he could keep up, but “we don’t do math EVERY day at school, that would be ridiculous.” Sounds legit. After a Fortnite break, I am told there will be cookies and possibly a nap. School is better than I remember, but I don’t think any of us are passing. “Can you teach me to play poker?” Yes.

April 2

Birthday offers from my old life appear in my inbox daily. A deal on pants, 50% off gigantic underwire bras, shoes with form and structure. I am starting to wonder if the brands really understand me at all. My birthday is ten days away. In a low moment, I clicked through an Instagram ad and ordered natural deodorant that promises to make me smell like lavender and roses, but also probably hot dogs, because now is the time to try something that may fail. Like toxin-free pit stick, or home-schooling. Day 20.

April 5

Day 23? We went to the forest because when some people don’t burn off all their abundant energy it’s converted into STRONG FEELINGS and OPEN WEEPING. So we threw boulders into the river and climbed across the fallen trees and some people peed in the woods and there weren’t other people around and everyone felt better.

April 7

Have you ever successfully copy-edited an annual report for physicists while a child hollers every two minutes for you to come see his Minecrafts? Me neither. A lot of people in this home like to talk through their thoughts to what I imagine is, to them, some sort of logical conclusion. No one here does “quiet contemplation.” No one here will look in the fridge to see what food we have before asking what food we have. It takes 30 days to establish a new habit and it looks like my family has mastered several new and slightly irritating habits ahead of schedule. I’m hiding outside. Day 25.

April 11

Last night I drank a lot of gin and baked chocolate chip cookies and presented an accidental TED Talk on the topic of Don Johnson and his career. “DON JOHNSON IS HAVING A RENAISSANCE.” I have seen two things Don Johnson was in recently. A RENAISSANCE. Maybe I will spend a part of this weekend thinking about why Don Johnson occupies this part of my brain. I watched the movie Born Yesterday with Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith on VHS every night for three months after I got a TV with a built-in VCR in my room as a teen. It was not a brilliant movie. Maybe you can accidentally train your brain to care about things subconsciously and I trained mine to pay special attention to Don Johnson. If I’d known this was possible I would have used my powers differently. How much gin is too much. Is my mind getting sharper or am I beginning to unravel? The cookies were good. Day 30.

April 13

Yesterday was my birthday and while I thought a pandemic birthday would be boring and sad, it was neither. It turns out the thing that makes me happiest is when everyone does what I want and everything goes my way. This is not surprising, especially to Nick. I turned 37. We ate almost constantly and walked in our neighbourhood and played Super Nintendo and I made ramen and cake with fresh mangoes and cream. Today everyone is being annoying and there was no breakfast platter waiting for me, so it turns out today is the day for bored sadness. Day 32.

April 18

Day 37. I feel reasonably confident that I showered on Tuesday. The bathroom, our only bathroom, is not a refuge as Loud Son never thinks to go until it is an emergency, and every locked door is an emergency. Emergency: I need to tell you something important: <20 MINUTE FORTNITE MONOLOGUE>. Emergency: MOM. I NEED YOU TO SHOW ME AGAIN HOW TO DO GIFS. Emergency: I DRANK THREE LITRES OF GATORADE (IT’S FINE DAD BOUGHT IT FOR ME) AND MY BLADDER IS GOING TO EXPLODE RIGHT NOW, OH MY GOD MOM IT’S HAPPENING. I’m not sure if I’m not showering because subconsciously I’ve realized that eventually I’ll have my own perimeter of personal space by default. The cat follows me constantly and when I stop, she licks at my wrists and ankles in a manner I can only describe as gluttonous. Emergency: MOM SMELLS LIKE FRISKIES CHUNKS CHICKEN DINNER IN GRAVY.

April 19

Son petulantly blasting My Chemical Romance and sulking while I try to watch my cooking YouTubes is both irritating and also just like me. No one understands us. Adults are so uncool. Misery and eyeliner. Day 38.

April 22

Day 41. Everyone is annoying but it’s hard to know who the worst offender is. Since I’m the only one committing my story to the public record, assume I’m this family’s protagonist. I always do. An argument as to who’s being a little bitch and who is just married to the little bitch and therefore suffers THE MOST has ended in a stalemate. The cat literally requires all hands on deck. None of the leisure wear I ordered two weeks ago has shipped. The teacher is supposed to call at 2:00 today and I’m sure the younger antagonist will be honest, unfortunately. Should I have offered him more than Cheezies for lunch? Too late now. The cat is fussing. I broke our eye contact for a moment. I have to go.

April 28

Day 47. My coworker is aggressive and omnipresent. HOLY SHIT A MEETIN WITH FINANCE?! GUESS WHAT? BUTTHOLE TIME! BIG STRETCH! I HAVE BATH FOR YOU! I am covered in scratches. I am never alone. Finance would like us to get back to the real reason for the meeting which, it turns out, is not to witness me unravel as a five-pound cat shreds my professional veneer. BUTTHOLE TIME AGAIN! Help.

May 1

It has been fifty days and we haven’t all spent this much time together since Loud Boy was a reasonably quiet infant, only then we could go out for early brunches where they’d serve mimosas and decent coffee. There is roughly the same amount of crying now that the child is capable of refusing to do chores, only now I refuse his constant requests to nap. He is not exerting himself. I continue to wait for leisurewear that has and/or has not been “out for delivery” for several days. I checked the tracking number and it will arrive in 0 to 11 days. It is Schrödinger’s leisurewear at this point. I am not exerting myself. Fifty days. I have aged eight years.

May 9

Day 58. Child has developed several levels in Super Mario Maker that strangers online have “liked.” “I HAVE EIGHT LIKES!” I told him other things he can do for likes are clean the bathroom and put a shirt on, but he’s a skeptic. Everyone knows the approval of strangers online is more satisfying than a sigh of resignation from your mother when you half-ass but still technically complete a chore. “OH MY GOD MOM I GOT ANOTHER ONE!” Should I just set him up with an Instagram account so he can bask in the blue-light glow of attention and validation? Or should I scare him off the internet with tales of sinister perverts and identity theft so that he never has more followers than I do? Murder perverts it is.

May 12

My favourite emails from the school come from the PE teacher, who appears to be thriving. Each weekly email begins with a humblebrag about how he has managed to stay active, and proceeds with a list of things your kids can do to stay active and rather than explain the steps, if you do not know what he is asking your inactive children to do he invites you to Google it. Every week the activities are the same. I think I could have been a really good PE teacher since I too do not care if anyone is meeting their daily physical activity requirements. Remember in Grade 8 when instead of sports they had us do Tae Bo videos in the weight room? I think I could have been a really good PE teacher. For his fitness activity today, I am sending the child out with his father to find me a latte and bring it home to me without spilling, just like our PE teacher in high school who they made teach French for some reason. He did not speak French. If you were lucky, you could be the one to leave French class and grab him a vending machine Coke. I still do not speak French. Is it too late to become a PE teacher. Day 61.

May 18
Day 67. We were supposed to fly to Paris today. I’d imagined we’d eat a travel-weary dinner outside, fresh baguettes and terrine and oozy cheeses and maybe, if we were lucky, fraises de bois and a cold rosé on a bench in a park. We would wander around the city for a week before going to see Erin in Germany, then Tracy in Sweden. Instead we will trim the cat’s nails and put on the summer duvet cover and bicker about who has and hasn’t done enough around here lately. I will check our “travel bank” to see if our travel credits are there, because WestJet doesn’t give you your money back, just the airline equivalent of store credit and the hope that it will be safe to travel before they expire in 2022. There won’t be any wild strawberries or rosé, though you may find me drinking on a park bench by dinner time. It was appropriate and responsible to cancel the trip, but I will still spend much of today bothering everyone with my malaise.
May 20
That kid is despondent because McDonald’s doesn’t serve fries with its pancake meal before 11:00 am. “HOW am I supposed to ENJOY my LIFE?!” I don’t know, but I am not trying to help. “Make yourself a sandwich, you can’t bug me while I’m working.” An email from the school asks if he will be returning June 1. I don’t know. Are his friends going back? Do I want to add an early morning rush AND 3:00 pm pickup to my remote-work day? Now he is eating chocolate chips out of the bag and complaining that we have no food in this house. We have food. If I don’t send him to school is there somewhere else I can send him? How old do you have to be to go tree-planting? “You don’t care that I’m starving!” Correct. Day 69.

View this post on Instagram

Not uncommon.

A post shared by Emily Wight (@emvandee) on


Something to Read: Food and Trembling


I have so many cookbooks and books on food that my collection has its own shelf. We don’t really have room for it, but I’m quite happy to have a shelf full of books I don’t really have room for and won’t hear complaints about my hoarding, so Nick copes. My dream is that someday I will have a kitchen with two small rooms attached – one large pantry, the other a tiny library with a lamp and a desk and a chair. What a wonderful hiding place that would be! It would lock from the inside and maybe there would be a snack cupboard and a small electric kettle.

I wanted to tell you about some of these books. Between work and Toddler and all the little projects that turn into great big things I have to do, I have fallen out of the habit of working on things I’m actually excited about. So for April, while I am trying to wrap up a couple of things, I figured I’d get back into the habit of putting words on web-pages and talk books with you.

Yesterday, Alice B. Toklas; today, a strange Canadian named Jonah Campbell. His blog, Still Crapulent After All These Years, is one of my favourites. His December 24, 2013 posts, a “drink-by-drink Christmas eve exploration of Charles H. Baker’s 1939 cocktail compendium book, The Gentleman’s Companion,” had me all riled up and inspired and searching my local bookstore for a good drinks book of some glamorous vintage. Now that we have reclaimed Christmas Eve from the urgent familial madness that strikes us each November/December, I might go exploring my own book next year.


Campbell’s book, Food & Trembling, was an impulse buy when I had a giftcard and my neighbourhood store had no other books of food writing I didn’t already own. The back cover asks “What mysteries lie beneath the subtle perfection of the BLT? What is the etymology of the ‘croissant’? Why did I drink all that scotch?” and describes Campbell as “metalhead, misanthrope, unrepentant good eater,” and I was sold right then. I may never meet him, for he is in Montreal and airfare is expensive, but he seemed like my kind of people.

The book is good. It’s filled with little snippets, like his blog, and his words are like fatty bites of meat, all chew and savour, always with a little left on your tongue afterward. There aren’t really recipes. He is over the top and chaotic at times, but he is amusing and clever and I always get swept up by that.

“For whatever structural reasons, I seem to end up, as I am currently, drunk and alone in my brother’s house more often than my own (correction – getting and staying drunk and alone), and as such, a notable amount of my writing has emerged flanked by his giant cats, toy robots, tastefully arranged clutter, and just the right number of decorative bottles that I have somehow never managed to capture in my own life. The first week, more or less, of my blog’s existence, my late-night discovery of Julia Child’s twenty second omelet recipe, probably a bunch of stuff about fennel and/or rapini, because cheap fennel and rapini season often coincides with my brother needing a cat-sitter; I cannot discount this house in the framing of my creative production.”

It’s the kind of writing I really enjoy, the kind of thing you might devour in one or two long goes. If you buy it, and you read it, make sure you have chips. This seems important. Chips. Lots of them.

Julia Child’s 20-second omelette


A maple-scented pudding and a quiet moment alone.

It’s finally quiet, except for the squeak-bark of some cat-infuriating miniature dog or giant rodent on its leash and squatting beneath the wilted rhododendron bush beside the street. Nick is out for a nerdy night of board games with his friends. The baby is sleeping. I have sent out all the resumés I feel like sending out for today, and am no longer wearing pants (as is my preference). There are dried smears of yogurt and vegetable purée all over everything including the washable high chair I keep not washing, but I am not going to let that be my problem. That is why I have Nick.

We are spending a lot of time together now that neither of us is required at an office every day, and though the ratio of arms to babies is now 4:1, I’m still finding myself busy most of the time. There are cover letters to write and my resumé to tweak for each job application. Every time I click “submit” or “send” on some application I panic that I accidentally typed the bad words I’m always thinking, or that I used the wrong homonym, or that I spelled the word “editor” with two Ds.

There are meals to make: minimally spiced purées for the baby and interestingly spiced lunches and dinners for the diabetic, who answers “I’m not really excited about that” to most of what I suggest we eat. We keep producing dirty laundry. I spend a lot of time shaving my legs in case someone calls for a last-minute interview and there’s no time to find or buy pantyhose. I always have to go to the store.

But when there is no one around to bug me, I eat pudding.

The surest way to ensure that no one else touches my pudding is to make it with tapioca.

Stirring a sweet-smelling pot of goo can be relaxing, helping to erase the little panics and trifles that so often take up the days. The goo will burble softly, in a way that is wholly unlike something tedious like oatmeal or hot cereal (which splatters and plops and lacks euphony). You can make pudding for other people, and sometimes I do, but a small amount of pudding is the sort of easy indulgence that suits a night alone, in a room barely lit by a lamp in the corner that’s just bright enough to read a book beside.

The tapioca pudding recipe I like to use is at Simply Recipes, though once you make it the recipe will stick in your head forever (it’s that easy). I don’t know enough people who like tapioca pudding to have ever made a full batch, so I can tell you that a half-batch works quite nicely – it will make enough to fill four ramekins or two soup bowls (I always eat one serving warm, and then another much later after it’s been in the fridge for awhile).

I am not going to bother reprinting the recipe here as it’s all right there, but I will tell you that I make a few changes.

  • Instead of white sugar, I use maple syrup, and rather than add it after the pot comes to a boil, I add it at the beginning. It’s less sweet this way, but more complex. If you don’t have maple syrup, use honey, or brown sugar.
  • At the end, rather than add a drop of vanilla extract, I like a scrape of half of one vanilla bean.

When you are making something that is just for you, use good ingredients (tapioca costs so little anyway) – you will be more inclined to savour if you use the good stuff, and it will be the good kind of eating alone (there is a bad kind of eating alone, which I also enjoy, but for that just use the cheap stuff).

This is a good for-now recipe, for while we’re still not into the abundant-fruit season. Do you realize that in just a few short weeks and we’ll be having conversations like this one over lightly sugared local strawberries? And reading our books in patches of summer sunlight. I can’t wait.


I usually don’t do this, but Ethel the Dean is a good friend and when she suggests something, I go along with it. Also it’s my birthday so I’m feeling indulgent, so indulge me, won’t you? Even though I have to wonder who would want to know seven things about me – are there even that many that are interesting? My list of phobias is longer than that and I’ll bet no one wants to know the details about my self-destructive lavatory-specific neuroses. Suffice it to say I am very uncomfortable with camping. So instead, let’s talk dishes.

Seven dishes that I have enjoyed and hope you will enjoy too.

1. Momofuku Bo Ssam

I’ll admit to having what started as a culinary crush on David Chang … let’s just say that it has evolved with each Momofuku recipe I’ve made. This pork cooks so long and so low that when it comes out of the oven, it has the structural integrity of room-temperature butter. And that is such a good thing.

2. Pok Pok’s fish sauce chicken wings

You like honey garlic wings? Never make them again. Make these instead.

3. Martin Picard’s duck fat pancakes

There is really no excuse for these except that I sometimes have duck fat left over from roasting a bird and tend to feel extremely decadent on those Sundays we don’t go to my or Nick’s parents’. If you have leftover pork (see Bo Ssam, above), layer it between these pancakes and drizzle too much Canadian maple syrup over top. You will probably feel the heaviness of each beat of your heart for two to three days after, but it will be worth it, and you will feel alive, even if your lifespan is now three years shorter.

4. Vanilla roasted berries

I make these over and over again all winter long. Have you ever tried that coconut milk ice cream? It’s vegan and probably better for you than most of the things on this list; roast strawberries, and put them on that. Luscious.

5. Francis Lam’s ratatouille

This is probably the best ratatouille I have ever made. I make huge batches in September and early October and freeze it, and it reheats beautifully. It takes forever, but it is absolutely worth it. In the dark days of February, this dish thawed and reheated and served over cheesy polenta with crusty bread is one of the best things you can do for your mental health.

6. Pork meatball bahn mi

Nick prefers sandwiches to just about every other category of food. His favourite are pork bahn mi, which we get from Ba Le on Fraser and Kingsway, where they cost $3.75 and come served on fresh-made baguettes. At home, this is his favourite version of a Vietnamese sandwich. We eat these while watching No Reservations and imagining a life of leisure on the shore of some Southeast Asian country we can’t afford to fly to.

7. Scallion pancakes

I just really like pancakes, you guys. These are good.

Unrelated self-promotion.

For an ongoing list of stuff I want to make or eat or buy, you can follow my ish on Pinterest. Also I have a Facebook page now too. You know. In case you’re over there and want to hang out or whatever. And as always, there is Twitter, which is where I forget myself and Tweet whatever pops into my head regardless of how embarrassing it is.

Twenty-nine. Weird.

Merry Christmas!

‘Tis the night before Christmas, or, more accurately, the early morning of, and the cat and I are the only ones here stirring. I hear the rattle of paper on poorly wrapped gifts under the tree, and Molly hopping in and out between the branches. I hear the ornaments jingle as her tail flicks and flits, and the occasional soft “mew” as she reminds me that she has chosen my company over that of those warm, sleeping bodies in the room down the hall.

I should be sleeping. If I were smart, I would be – this is our busiest weekend of the year, and we have got to be at our best for these long days. There will be marathon meals and endless wine and rum drinks, and staying awake will be mandatory for most of it. Someone will have to watch the baby.

But it is my Christmas too, and I like being alone, puttering away in my kitchen, making something wonderful. If that has to happen well after midnight, then I’ll take it as it comes (with chilled vodka and a whisper of  Meyer lemon).

Time for myself and time with my knives and pots and stove has been hard to come by these past few months, which I suppose is to be expected with a newborn, though I don’t like being defeated so easily. I have taken to buying challenging ingredients just to have on hand in case a burst of energy lines up with a wide enough window of time. Last night I braised goat ribs. Tonight I am waiting on pork belly.

Christmas morning belongs to Nick and I, and for the past three years I have made something special for the occasion. This year I’m making David Chang’s pork belly buns, from the Momofuku cookbook. You can find the recipe online at Epicurious as well.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll sip chilled prosecco and assemble sandwiches of tender slices of pork belly on steamed buns with cold cucumber, hoisin sauce, and pickled red onions. Right now, the aromas of pork and vinegar and spices and yeast have taken over the apartment, overpowering the smells of cookies and cranberry-scented candles that lingered here before. These are my sugarplums. The meat is sizzling in its slowly rendered fat, turning golden in a burst of high heat. So this is Christmas.

So Merry Christmas. I hope that you find a moment today to enjoy your favourite sort of magic, and that you get to do a little bit of what you want to do. If you can find a few minutes for a sip of sparkly wine and a sandwich, all the better.

Season’s Greetings, and I look forward to being in the kitchen more often and spending more time with you here. Maybe even in daylight.

Halibut Ratatouille en Papillote.

Holy crap this pregnancy stuff is exhausting. Yesterday I ran out of breath walking while eating an ice cream cone, and any “glow” one might detect in my face is probably from climbing, like, three stairs. Or possibly it’s the aftermath of an ugly cry, which was probably related to some snack I couldn’t have and probably happened in the middle of a crowded Safeway or 7-11. I have yet to become serene. I have yet to stop perspiring. It’s all very romantic.

But I’m waddling around, because the pursuit of food is constant, and because the doctor said I have to eat protein and the only thing in my fridge right now is fruit (and there is so much fruit). Nick bought me a case of freezies and I am destroying it. With my face. I am getting all the exercise I need, but I can never eat enough. If you can imagine a sweaty Ms. Pac Man annihilating everything edible between Arbutus and Main, you’ve got a pretty accurate mental picture of me right now. No one may photograph this.

Even the cat is judgmental.

To add to my confusion and exhaustion, I am also supposed to rest more. “I can tell just from looking at you that you’re the type to retain water,” my doctor said, so now I have to lay around with my feet up for 10 to 15 minutes, three times a day. It seems that the only time I can find to do this is when Chuck Hughes is on TV, and even though I suspect he’d be reluctant to run away with me now, I do enjoy his pretty face and his lemon meringue pie tattoo. And his cooking show.

I found some time to lay around leering at Chuck this weekend, and it was fortuitous. He was making a lovely, summery dish with black cod; the fishermen down at the wharf at Granville Island have had long fillets of halibut that would suit the dish perfectly, and the makings of ratatouille are now available at my little market. And so, because I need to eat more protein and because I learned the recipe while sitting around getting rested, I adapted Chuck Hughes’ Black Cod Ratatouille en Papillote to suit some lovely local halibut. There’s not much sense in me re-writing the recipe here, as I literally did everything he did just with a different white fish (though I did add lemons, which was very clever), but I’ll show you how it went, and maybe you’ll make it yourself some hot day this week.

It cooks in 20 minutes, and should feed four people. “En papillote” sounds complicated, but it’s really just cooking in a strip of parchment that’s been folded over in the middle to form a seal and then twisted closed at the ends. What results is a perfectly steamed piece of fish, and beautifully cooked veggies, and it’s easy and requires few dishes and you don’t have to have the oven on too long. You could use salmon, or the long fillet of whatever fish that’s in season where you are. Serve with salad and lemonade.