Smoked fish cakes.


I work at a health research institute where I regularly get access to some pretty brilliant people, and often my job is to translate their complicated science-speak into regular-person language. So I’m pretty lucky, as these are pretty high-profile scientists and because of the nature of my work, it’s often up to them to try and help me understand stuff. I tell myself that one day, one of them is going want to inquire about my expertise; until then, I’ll be figuring out just what that is.

One of the researchers I speak to studies human nutrition, specifically children and pregnant and nursing women. She is one of my favourite people to talk to, because she’s just so sensible. Did you know that feeding yourself and your family is nowhere near as complicated as so many articles, blog posts and news segments would have you believe? Just eat food. Choose variety, whenever possible. There no such thing as “super foods.” Fad diets are stupid and potentially harmful. Try to avoid really fatty and really sugary junk. No need to over-think it. Take a multi-vitamin if you think you need to. This is very empowering when you’re bombarded with so much misinformation and pseudo-science. It’s a huge relief when you’re always half-thinking the worst about your picky eater.

We were talking one day about some of her research around omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fats (which means our bodies don’t make them – we have to get them elsewhere). Omega-3s are important for brain health. The North American diet is not always rich in omega-3s; good sources of omega-3s include anchovies, sardines, herring, and mackerel – things we don’t necessarily eat a lot of. It’s also in salmon, lake trout, and other fatty fish (including fresh tuna), but your best bets are small, oily fish. The good news is that adding more of these to your diet is easy, and they taste good, and they are a lot more sustainable. They’re also cheap.

Side note: Alton Brown lost something like 50 pounds eating his Sardine-Avocado Sandwiches. I’ve tried them – they are delicious – but I am still heavier than I’d like. I wish it was possible to just eat one magic thing that would counteract all the other things I eat with no additional exercise. Come on, science – get on it.

One thing we eat a lot of is fish cakes; it’s a dish that’ll feed the two of us for dinner and then breakfast or lunch the next day; you can also double your batch and freeze them. They reheat pretty well in one of those office-kitchen toaster ovens, though you may want to heat them on a piece of foil or the person who toasts her lunch after you will be a little off-put.

My recipe uses tinned smoked herring, but you can use any smoked fish you like. I just spent my morning smoking the rest of last year’s lake trout, so I’ll be subbing trout for herring for the next little while. Smoked salmon or cod make these pretty fancy; smoked sardines and mackerel work pretty well too.

Smoked Fish Cakes

(Serves 2 to 4 people.)

  • 4 cups mashed potatoes* (approximately two large or three medium Russets)
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp. grainy mustard
  • 1 tsp. sambal oelek or other hot sauce
  • 1 180g to 190g tin of smoked fish (drained), or about a cup of chunked smoked fish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil, for frying

*You can use leftover mashed potatoes to make this even easier. Or, if you’re making them fresh, let them cool until you can handle them comfortably with your bare hands.

Put your potatoes, scallions, and garlic into a bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together your eggs, mustard, sambal/other hot sauce, and a dash each of salt and pepper.

Crumble your fish into the bowl with the potatoes, give them a bit of a mush, then pour the egg mixture over top and mix thoroughly.

Form into six or eight cakes, about three inches in diameter and about an inch thick.

Fry each batch in a pan with about two tablespoons of a neutral oil, such as canola. You will want the pan to be hot when you put these in, so they form a nice crust; they should sizzle when they hit the pan. Cook for about two minutes per side.

Serve with ketchup, more hot sauce, or fancy mustard.

fish cakes

Overnight pancakes.


For the past two weeks, this household has been in the sick of things, each of us weighed down by an assortment of pains and ailments, from migraines and colds to flus and sinus infections. I wish I could say that I have taken charge of our healing by simmering wholesome and restorative meals rich in love and nutrients. That would have been nice of me.

Last Wednesday the sick was so bad I skipped lunch and napped under my desk for an hour. The next day I took a sick day, and by the weekend I was sure I was going to die. I begged Nick to smother me, and when he wouldn’t I chastised him for not taking advantage of the out I had offered him. I tried to smother myself but the cat thought we were playing a game and ruined it.

By Monday this past week I was certain I had cracked some teeth coughing, so I made a dental appointment. The good news is the teeth are fine; the bad news is my sinuses are pretty angry and infected. The worst news is that my wisdom teeth are pretty much one with my skull now but they have to be removed so it sounds like it’s bone-saw time. That’s the worst time!

2013 has not been off to a good start. And now that I have managed to attain a functional balance of NyQuil, antibiotics and codeine, the baby has finally succumbed and is fevered with a face full of ick.

It’s times like these when I can’t fathom coming down off my prescription and cough syrup high to go to the grocery store. We are out of eggs. And we had a late night. So somewhere between rescuing the little guy from a coughing fit and the two of us passing out in the dark, I whisked together some flour, water, yeast, honey and salt for pancake batter. If all three of us woke up in the morning, we would have pancakes. It would be a kind of reward.

Nighttime batter


Morning batter

This recipe makes 6 pancakes, and will serve between two and three people, depending on how hungry you are, or how much bacon your version of Nick decided to make. I like these topped with berries, or with chestnut cream. Because they are more like fried bread than flapjacks, you could take savoury liberties with them – try them with sour cream and apple sauce, or with cottage cheese and thinly sliced scallions, if that pleases you.

As a note – the berries on these were a mix of a pound of frozen strawberries, a tablespoon of cornstarch, a tablespoon of honey, and half a teaspoon of vanilla, simmered until the berries softened and released their juices and the whole thing thickened pleasingly.

Pretty pancakes.

Lazy pancakes

  • 1/2 tsp. dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter

Whisk ingredients together in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and stick it in the fridge overnight.

30 minutes to an hour before you’re ready to cook, take the bowl out of the fridge and let it rest at room temperature. Heat the oil and butter in a large pan over medium-high heat.

Gently spoon your pancakes into the pan, taking care not to stir the batter. Cook until edges appear crispy and bubbles form through each cake, about two minutes. Flip, and cook an additional two minutes, or until golden and puffed.

Serve hot, with a compote of berries, or maple syrup, or sour cream and apple sauce.


Toad in the Hole.

We’re moving next week, and we’re hiring movers, which we have never done before. We can’t really afford them, but I figure it’s the cost of saving our marriage and friendships, because while our new building has an elevator, our current one doesn’t and we’re on the third floor. This, and the fact that it’s Buy Nothing Day, have reminded me that we have too much stuff – so much stuff, and I wonder how much of it we would even miss if it was gone. You’d be surprised at how many chicken figurines and plastic dinosaurs two people can cram into fewer than 1,000 square feet.

Or maybe you wouldn’t?

One of the things we don’t need to spend so much on is take-out, which we’ve been eating too much of because my job is less a job and more a way of life, and because the dishes are dirty and one of us has to clean them and it isn’t going to be me. But those are excuses, and I know that. I am never so busy that I can’t just take half an hour and make dinner; that I’m doing so little of that is laziness. During the Depression, no one got to say “Uggggh, work sucked today, let’s just get wine and Thai food and watch dumb crap on TV with our pants off.” They might have wanted to, but they turned their powdered milk and canned tomatoes and elbow macaroni into a dish that would span four meals because that’s just what you did.

We need a little more “that’s just what you do” and less “eff, I just don’t feel like it.” I need to stop using fatigue and ennui as an excuse.

It’s Friday, and I probably could have gotten away with just calling in for sushi, but I wanted something homemade, something made out of stuff I have in the cupboards and fridge. So here’s a dish I’ve made a million times, one that won over Nick in the very beginning when he was just a fetus of a husband, back when we were young and never watched TV because we had too many roommates hogging the remote and no cable anyway. It’s something I made here a few years ago, but that has evolved and grown into a better dish – why did I never think to add cheese before?! Anyway, here’s Toad in the Hole: Version 2012. It’s an eggy, pancakey thing – basically Yorkshire pudding with stuff baked in – and it’s good with salad, but it’s better if you serve it with onions and cabbage fried with bacon. Because what isn’t?

Make it vegetarian by folding mushrooms and shallots fried in butter into the batter. Use what you have, but don’t make a special trip to the store. It’s best if your milk and eggs are at room temperature, but it’s not the end of the world if they aren’t.

Toad in the Hole

  • 2 tbsp. butter or two strips of bacon, chopped
  • 2 to 4 sausages
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk or buttermilk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, milk or buttermilk, eggs, mustard, and salt and pepper until smooth. Set aside.

In a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat, melt butter or cook bacon. If you don’t have a cast iron pan, stick a pie plate in the oven as it preheats.

Melt butter or cook bacon. If cooking bacon, scoop out of the pan and drain it on paper towel. Brown sausages in melted butter or bacon grease – it doesn’t matter if they are cooked through, but you want them brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and slice into bite-sized pieces.

Add bacon, if using, and sausages back to the pan, or to the heated pie plate (if using), pour batter over top, sprinkle with cheese and stick in the oven for 25 minutes, until batter has puffed and turned golden. Slice and serve immediately with mustard or sour cream.


Strawberry lemon pancakes.

If last year’s strawberries – mouth-puckering and tannic – were the bitter embodiment of everything wrong with last summer’s weather, then this year’s fat, sweet berries have more than made amends. I can’t tell if I’m sunburned or turning into a red Violet Beauregard, I’ve eaten so many strawberries – handfuls and handfuls every time I’ve passed the fridge this past week. Berries dipped in sugar, berries sprinkled with cracked black pepper, berries melted into caramel and crushed into smoothies and boiled into jam.

I’m not tired of them, and raspberry season is already here. But we have to finish these before I can move on to a new berry – I am aware that this is the best problem a person can have.

So this morning we had pancakes.

There’s a breakfast place in New Westminster I liked to go to called The Jiffy Wiffy Waffle House. It’s changed, cleaned up, and isn’t the delightfully dodgy waffle purveyor it once was, but in its (my?) waffly prime, I would go there and order the waffle with peaches or berries baked right in. This was a novel idea, at the time – maybe it still is, because the last time I tried to do that here I burned frozen raspberries between the grooves of the waffle press and it took forever to scrub the thing clean. Don’t press fruit in your waffle iron unless you know what you’re doing, I guess.

Anyway. I like fruit baked into carby things. Who wouldn’t? And these pancakes, thin and crisp and lemony, topped with sliced fresh berries, whipped cream, and this strawberry caramel? It’s like breakfast strawberry shortcake, which is the embodiment of everything right with this summer in Vancouver at this very moment.

Strawberry lemon pancakes

(Makes eight pancakes.)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 lb. fresh strawberries, hulled and diced

In one bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, lemon zest and juice, milk, and one tablespoon of butter. Stir in diced strawberries.

In a large skillet heated over medium heat, pour half of the remaining butter into the pan and turn to coat. When it begins to sizzle, pour in four equal portions of batter, turning once the edges of each pancake have started to look crisp and bubbles have formed on the surface of each cake. Turn, cook another one to two minutes, until golden on the bottom. Repeat until you’re out of batter.

Serve with fresh berries, whipped cream if you’re feeling indulgent, and this strawberry caramel I keep talking about if you feel like you’ve sweated away enough calories already this week and therefore deserve it.

If you end up with more pancakes than you can eat, simply cool them completely on a wire rack, and then stack them between sheets of wax paper, stick them in a bag, and freeze them. You can pop them in the toaster as you need them. They are way better than Eggos.

Kimchi pancake.

Sometimes Monday is extraordinarily trying, and not for any other reason than that it’s the day after a very busy weekend. It means that getting out of bed is the least of the day’s troubles, and that by the time the work day is over I have little to no interest in doing anything but putting on pajamas and watching back-to-back episodes of Good Eats and whining to Nick about the punishing nature of employment in general.And so, for this Meatless Monday, I offer you the laziest recipe in the history of ever: a pancake that requires no baking powder, no prep work, and no talent. It requires club soda, which might seem sort of annoying if you don’t already have it on hand, but you’ll thank me, because it only takes a half a cup, which means the rest goes into a glass with vodka and lemon, and then isn’t your day instantly so much better? Sometimes I think a day should begin with vodka. I would be so much more awesome at life if I started the day with a cocktail.

If you don’t have kimchi (why do you not have kimchi?!), you can buy it in the refrigerated section of your local market, Asian market, or even Whole Foods. It’s a condiment with a relatively quick expiration date, but it’s versatile, and you can use it in everything from pancakes to soup to rice. Go get some. You’re welcome in advance.

Kimchi pancake

(Serves two as dinner.)

  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 cups cabbage kimchi, chopped
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup club soda

In a large bowl, place kimchi, eggs, flour, sesame oil, and salt. Stir together until thoroughly combined.

Add soda, and fold in gently. You want to keep as many bubbles as you can here, because bubbles make this light.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. If you’re smarter than I am (which is highly probable), you won’t get lazy and decide to cook just one large pancake, struggling with the inevitable question of how the hell to flip; divide the batter in four, and cook as individual, smaller pancakes. Give them about three minutes per side, cooking until golden and crispy, especially around the edges.

Chop pancakes into bite-size or chop-stickable pieces.

Serve hot, with a sauce of one tablespoon soy sauce, one tablespoon mirin, and one teaspoon of minced fresh ginger. Salad on the side makes it a whole meal, but this is great as lunch, or as an appetizer for a party, now that the partying season is in full swing. If you’re feeling festive, serve with hot sake.

Oat crêpes.

This morning I really wanted crêpes, and I got up and discovered we’re out of flour. But we have oats! So we had oat crêpes, and now are so full. They’re the easiest things ever to make, and if you whip the batter up the night before and stick it in the fridge, they’re even better.

Fill them with whatever you like; I made a purée of yams, orange zest and juice, and spices. This time of year, applesauce would also be really fantastic, or a compote of this summer’s berries. And then, of course, top with whipped cream.

Oat crêpes

(Makes eight.)

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar

In a blender, combine oats, eggs, milk, butter, and sugar. Purée until smooth. Refrigerate 30 minutes, or overnight.

Over medium heat, melt a small amount of butter in a nonstick pan, rolling the pan to coat the whole cooking surface. Pour an eighth of the batter into the pan, rolling again to coat surface in batter, and cook until the surface of the crêpe loses its sheen, about two minutes. Flip gently, and cook for another minute.

I butter the pan once for two crêpes, but use your best judgment. Keep cooked crêpes in a warmed oven until all crêpes are ready to be served.

Sticky toffee pancakes.

Today I was going to drive three hours out of my way on a Road Trip of Extreme Gluttony, checking such important tasks as “comparing pies at the Home Cafe in Hope with the pies at the Chilliwack Airport” off my lengthy eating to-do list. But then I bought pants yesterday in case someone at some point wants to job-interview me, which is a big deal since I hate pants, and the resulting feelings were so mature and responsible that I decided to postpone my eating adventure until possibly Friday. Thursday is fort-building day, and Wednesday I am making stew, and tomorrow I was going to see how exercising felt, so you can see why I have to stretch it out a bit.

So today, I am going on grown-up adventures. I am going to shower! Get my hair cut! Take the cat to the vet! Clean the litter box! Pay the cable bill! Buy groceries! It is going to be incredible, or incredibly boring, and I am going to be a better person for it.

So to start the day off, I made myself pancakes. And then I realized that in the year or so that I’ve been writing this thing, I’ve mentioned my powerful love of pancakes an annoying amount of times, but have never given you an actual recipe for actual pancakes. Unfortunately, I decided to make them on a day when I have no camera, because I forgot it at my parents’ house last night. So, just imagine them. They were very pretty topped with too much golden syrup.

Sticky toffee pancakes

(Inspired by Sticky Toffee Pudding)

  • 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter

You’ll need two bowls, one slightly larger than the other.

In the smaller bowl, soak the dates for ten minutes or until soft in about one cup of warm water.

In the larger bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Drain the date water into a measuring cup, leaving the dates in the bowl. You should end up with about 3/4 cup. That is good. Pour date juice back into the smaller bowl, discarding anything over the requisite 3/4 cup. Stir in egg, milk, and butter.

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and beat until mostly smooth.

Pour about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake into a preheated non-stick pan (I cook mine with a little butter, of course, but you can do what you like here). Cook until bubbles start to form on the surface of one side, then flip and brown the other side. Serve as you like, but I prefer mine with a bit of golden syrup. Proceed with very important tasks.

When I was a kid, waffles meant it was a very good day.

Making breakfast.And KFC meant we were on vacation, and my mom’s jelly roll with the meringue mushrooms meant it was January 1. Now that I’m a grown-up I can have waffles whenever I want, which means I really should have more very good days, but for whatever reason, same way that I don’t own a pie plate, I don’t have a waffle iron.

Today we babysat my nephew at my parents’ house, and waffles are one of his favourite things too, more so than ice cream, which I told him he could have for breakfast if he wanted and he thought about it. He showed remarkable maturity in declining the offer.

We only ever had one recipe for waffles when I was a kid, and the recipe came from The New Purity Cook Book, which purports to be “the complete guide to Canadian cooking,” though I’m not sure what that actually means.

Cover shot.Apparently Purity was (is?) a company that made flour and assorted other baking products, and they put out a cookbook, though I’ve never seen any of their products for sale anywhere. And for some reason, my parents had the cookbook. I happened upon the same cookbook (in hardcover) a couple of months ago in a thrift store, so I picked it up and now I have the waffle recipe as well.

Flour ad.These are best made on a waffle iron with little squares. Not those big, hulking Belgian waffle squares, which are not sufficient if you want ample maple syrup distribution. I wish I could show you but I guess those must be hard to come by now because even Mom and Dad have the big-squared kind of waffle maker. The little squares sopped up the syrup far more efficiently, like a sponge, which is how you want to eat waffles. They’re plain because they’re vehicles for maple syrup, which I guess is why they are included in the complete guide to Canadian cooking. You can fancify these any way you want – add bananas, berries, pumpkin, spices, adapt however you like – I never do, because some things just don’t need gussying up. So here. Make these waffles, and have yourself a very good day too.

Waffles (adapted from The New Purity Cook Book)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Sift together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the liquids.

Heat the waffle iron according to your waffle iron’s instructions. You may need to lightly grease the iron before heating, depending on what kind you have or how old it is. I greased lightly, using a little bit of butter. My parents have that spray grease stuff, but ew.

Pour batter into waffle iron, drop the lid, and cook until waffles have stopped steaming, and are golden and fluffy. Don’t lift the lid during cooking, or else they flatten out and don’t work as well for syrup-sopping.

Waffling.Serve hot and steaming from the iron, doused in real maple syrup. Maple syrup is to real waffles as Mrs. Butterworth is to Eggos. It is glorious and perfect and should be used in abundance whenever possible, and waffles make it possible.

I challenge you to have anything less than a wonderful day if you start your morning with waffles. You won’t be able to do it – you’ll be all smiles until bedtime, I promise.


Spaghetti squash latkes.

Oh, I have so much to tell you this week! It’s been busy around here, and we’ve been chopping and canning and roasting and eating, almost nonstop. The weekend was busy, and it’s only Tuesday but it feels like we’ve been going-going-going seven days already. And come to think of it, maybe we have. So tonight seemed like a good night to have breakfast for dinner. (Note: It’s always a good night to have breakfast for dinner.)

But I still wanted to use up the spaghetti squash I told you about last week, and not in the boring way that everyone always serves up spaghetti squash. You know, plain with butter. Which is delicious, of course, but if there’s a way to make anything into a pancake, it’s advisable to try. So, Nick roasted the squash when he came home from work, so that by the time I got here it was cooked. I shredded it, let it cool, and then turned it into batter.

The latkes were delicious, crispy to the bite and creamy on the inside. Squashy and delicate, and a delightful alternative to the traditional potato version.

Spaghetti squash latkes

(Makes 15 to 20 latkes. You can freeze any you don’t eat, up to one month.)

  • 2 lbs. spaghetti squash (about four cups), cooked, cooled, seeds removed and flesh shredded with a fork
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 to 1 cup oil

Preheat oven to 250°F.

In a large bowl, combine the squash and onion. Mix together, and then pour out onto a large kitchen towel. Roll the towel up like a jelly roll, securing the ends, and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Return the squash and onion to the bowl, and add the flour and salt and spices. Mix well, making sure there are no chunks. Break the three eggs into the bowl and stir to combine. When you’re done, it’ll resemble pancake batter.

In a large frying pan, heat 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the oil over high heat until it shimmers. Reduce to medium-high heat, and add the batter by the spoonful, gently pressing down to spread the batter so that it’s thin like a pancake, and two to three inches in diameter. You want the oil to touch the sides of the pancakes, but you don’t want the oil to cover them.

Batter!Fry for three minutes per side, or until the edges are crisp and the latkes are golden brown.

You’ll have to fry these in batches. To keep them warm and crisp, place them on a wire rack on a baking sheet, and place in your oven while the remaining latkes cook.

Serve hot with sour cream and chives. Possibly with other breakfast dishes. Like bacon. And eggs. And maybe eat in front of the TV, because if it’s breakfast for dinner night, then it’s possible that you’re not wearing pants and you don’t care about formal table settings or talking to each other. Enjoy!

Breakfast for dinner!

Winnipeg … you CAN have too much sky. And never enough pancakes.

After my travels, I was pleased to return home and realize that I have learned a few things.

  1. The sky is very large: This is unnerving. If aliens attack, they have a clear shot from anywhere above Manitoba.
  2. Mountains and large concrete structures make me feel safe.
  3. In Winnipeg, they eat pancakes out on the patio.
  4. I have reached the age where I’d rather eat a vegetable than an entire bag of Cheetos.
  5. My digestive system has reached the age where it won’t even try to cope with excess. It is a crotchety old bugger and won’t think twice about screwing me over to make a point.
  6. Winnipeg is the Slurpee capital of the world. More Slurpees are sold in Winnipeg than anywhere else on Earth.

    This dress is completely unflattering but very comfortable.
    This dress is completely unflattering but very comfortable.
  7. A container full of pancake batter will explode if exposed too long to direct sunlight.
  8. A container full of pancake batter will turn into pancakes along the side of a hot car in the middle of the day.
  9. Mini donuts are really just deep-fried pancakes covered in sugar and served hot in a wax paper bag. They can also be called: “Manna from heaven.”

And so my trip to Winnipeg is over, and I am safely at home. Five pounds heavier.

The wedding was lovely, and my friend Sarah was a beautiful bride. See?

I am allowed to exploit her bridely likeness on the Internet because I don't think she reads this.
I am allowed to exploit her bridely likeness on the Internet because I don't think she reads this.

But this is a food blog, so I’d best get down to business. Sarah and her groom, Kev, and their families were fantastic hosts, showing me around and feeding me practically nonstop. And while the first day, I had some concerns …

This is what they eat for breakfast in Winnipeg.
This is what they eat for breakfast in Winnipeg.
Communist bacon.
Communist bacon.

… by dinner time we ate real food. When I was in high school, I ate a Wunderbar and drank a bottle of Coke for breakfast pretty much every day (and I still have all my own teeth!), and Cheetos were pretty much a staple food. I was flattered that they thought my youth was still intact, and that I could still eat like that, and a little sad that I’ve reached an age where something with flax might have been more desirable after a certain point. (I am not looking forward to the blog post thirty years from now where I talk about how thoughtful Sarah and Kev were for feeding me crudités, but all I really wanted was a bowl of spinach purée, and a glass of Metamucil, so I wouldn’t have to chew.)

The next day, we went to a place called George’s. It’s a greasy spoon somewhere off the highway, and it was pretty much AWESOME. Kev said that the restaurant had been built in parts. That is, at first, it was a tiny little place, and then they added wings, and a “patio.” The burger was fantastic, and the burger platter was epic. I can now state, without hesitation, that the best burgers in the world are in Winnipeg.

George's Burgers & Subs.
George's Burgers & Subs.
Oh, this? Yeah. I know. I want to make sweet passionate love to it also.
Oh, this? Yeah. I know. I want to make sweet passionate love to it also.

As you can see, the fries were some sort of miracle, but the burger! Oh, the burger! It was a cheeseburger, but they put all the delicious melty cheese on the bottom, which is preferable because your taste buds are on the bottom, and my tongue always wants to be hit with cheese first, if it has an option. The sauce that comes on everything at George’s is meaty chili, which is pretty much genius. I have never had a better burger. AND THE BUNS ARE ALL HOMEMADE … from the taste of them, every day.

Later that day, we went to The Forks, because I was all whiny that we hadn’t been to a city yet, even though people kept telling me, “This is the city.” Still full from George’s, we thought it would be a good idea to eat mini donuts, because it’s never been a bad idea to eat mini donuts.

Michelle (other bridesmaid/friend) watches mini donut batter being dropped into hot oil.
Michelle (other bridesmaid/friend) watches mini donut batter being dropped into hot oil.

And that’s when I realized that mini donuts are essentially deep-fried pancake batter, and then I realized that I have never loved anything more.

And speaking of pancakes …

The Original Pancake House.
The Original Pancake House.

In Winnipeg, they make a thing called a Giant Apple Pancake. And in Winnipeg, they eat pancakes out on the patio, the way that regular people drink beer.

Proof that there is a patio at a pancake house in Winnipeg.
Proof that there is a patio at a pancake house in Winnipeg.
The Giant Apple Pancake: A close-up.
The Giant Apple Pancake: A close-up.
My share.
My share.

The great thing about this pancake, aside from it being a pancake, was the sugar. The cinnamony, sugary apple part was sticky and sweet, but in addition to that, there was a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar on top, so in addition to the syrupy dissolved sugar, there was the slight crunch of unmelted sugar, but the fantastic thing was, it wasn’t cloying or excessive. It was pancake magic, and I couldn’t stop professing my undying love.

In Winnipeg, I am very annoying.

And Kev bought me a souvenir.

I loved this the way other people love children.
I loved this the way other people love children.

The trouble was, the instructions said to keep the batter chilled. And then we went to the park, and attempted the children’s museum, and then my batter breached. Breached! The hot Manitoba sun caused the baking powder to activate and suddenly there was carbon dioxide bubbling and the batter grew and exploded out the top of the container, and soon it was all over the ground, and my hands, and a picnic table. But I loved my souvenir, and wasn’t prepared to leave it, and we had to go home because the wedding rehearsal was in a few short hours, so Kev said I could keep it but only if I held it out the window of the car in case it kept leaking. And then the lid blew off, whacking Michelle in the face, and the batter began to splatter, coating me and the side of the car in the batter equivalent of a bloodbath. It baked on, and the car smelled like pancakes for the rest of the trip.

At the risk of this post becoming unruly and unreadable for it’s length, I’ll conclude somewhere about here. Winnipeg is a pretty all right place, and I had a good time. There were perogies AND meatballs included in the wedding feast. The cake was all strawberries and whipped cream. And the bar? It was open.

I flew back at 7:00 am the morning after the wedding, dead tired and sick with whatever gross germs were circulating on the plane, so I didn’t feel like writing or cooking yesterday. Tonight though, we will have a vegetable feast, and I will tell you all about it tomorrow. Because it’s been a long time, and I thought of a cool way to riff on moussaka when I was in Winnipeg, fantasizing about vegetables. In the meantime, I’ll sign off with a couple of wedding pictures, because if you can’t exploit your friends on the Internet, then you have to exploit strangers, which isn’t nearly as fun.

Sarah and Kev.



Just married!